Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 5, Verse 22

ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दु:खयोनय एव ते |
आद्यन्तवन्त: कौन्तेय न तेषु रमते बुध: || 22||

ye hi sansparśha-jā bhogā duḥkha-yonaya eva te
ādyantavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣhu ramate budhaḥ

yewhich; hiverily; sansparśha-jāḥborn of contact with the sense objects; bhogāḥpleasures; duḥkhamisery; yonayaḥsource of; evaverily; tethey are; ādya-antavantaḥhaving beginning and end; kaunteyaArjun, the son of Kunti; nanever; teṣhuin those; ramatetakes delight; budhaḥthe wise

Translation

BG 5.22: The pleasures that arise from contact with the sense objects, though appearing as enjoyable to worldly-minded people, are verily a source of misery. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise do not delight in them.

Commentary

The senses create sensations of pleasure in contact with the sense objects. The mind, which is like the sixth sense, derives pleasure from honor, praise, circumstances, success, etc. All these pleasures of body and mind are known as bhog (material enjoyment). Such worldly pleasures cannot satisfy the soul for the following reasons:

Worldly pleasures are finite, and hence the feeling of deficiency remains inherent in them. One may feel happiness on becoming a millionaire, but the same millionaire becomes discontented on seeing a billionaire, and thinks, “If only I also had one billion, then I too would be happy.” In contrast, the bliss of God is infinite, and so it gives complete satisfaction.

Worldly pleasures are temporary. Once they finish, they again leave one with the feeling of misery. For example, an alcoholic enjoys the pleasure of drinking alcohol at night, but the next morning, the hangover gives him a splitting headache. However, the bliss of God is eternal, and once attained, it remains forever.

Worldly pleasures are insentient, and hence they continuously decrease. When people see a new Academy Award prize-winning movie, they are overjoyed, but if they have to see the movie a second time to give company to a friend, their joy dries up. And if a second friend insists that they see it a third time, they say, “Give me any punishment, but don’t ask me to see that movie again.” The pleasure from material objects keeps decreasing as we enjoy it. In Economics, this is defined as the Law of Diminishing Returns. But the bliss of God is sentient; it is sat-chit-ānand (eternal ever-fresh divine bliss). Hence, one can go on chanting the same divine name of God all day long, and relish ever-new devotional satisfaction in it.

No sane person enjoying a delicious dessert would be willing to give it up and eat mud instead. Similarly, when one begins to enjoy divine bliss, the mind loses all taste for material pleasures. Those endowed with the faculty of discrimination understand the above three drawbacks of material pleasures, and restrain their senses from them. Shree Krishna emphasizes this in the next verse.