Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 38

विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगाद्यत्तदग्रेऽमृतोपमम् |
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम् || 38||

viṣhayendriya-sanyogād yat tad agre ’mṛitopamam
pariṇāme viṣham iva tat sukhaṁ rājasaṁ smṛitam

viṣhayawith the sense objects; indriyathe senses; sanyogātfrom the contact; yatwhich; tatthat; agreat first; amṛita-upamamlike nectar; pariṇāmeat the end; viṣham ivalike poison; tatthat; sukhamhappiness; rājasamin the mode of passion; smṛitamis said to be

vishayendriya-sanyogad yat tad agre ’mritopamam
pariname visham iva tat sukham rajasam smritam


BG 18.38: Happiness is said to be in the mode of passion when it is derived from the contact of the senses with their objects. Such happiness is like nectar at first but poison at the end.


Rājasic happiness is experienced as a thrill that arises from the contact between the senses and their objects, but the joy is as short-lived as the contact itself, and leaves in its wake greed, anxiety, guilt, and a thickening of the material illusion. Even in the material realm, for meaningful accomplishment, it is necessary to reject rājasic happiness. As a reminder to steer him away from immediate but misleading joys, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, used to keep these lines from the poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, on his desk:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

The path to lasting and divine bliss lies not in indulgence, but in renunciation, austerities, and discipline.