Krishna, why do we act sinfully
Even if we don’t want to, as if forced? 3.36
Arjuna, it’s from greed that arises from the natural attribute of passion
In turn causing anger, the greatest evil in this world 3.37
Just as fire is covered by smoke, mirror by dust, the foetus by the womb
The living being is wrapped up in greed 3.38
Even the wise one’s pure inner being gets clouded by greed
An enemy never satisfied burning like fire 3.39
Greed resides in the mind, senses and intellect through which
Greed covers the living being in confusion 3.40
Arjuna, control this greed by safeguarding the senses
Destroy this killer of wisdom of body, mind and spirit 3.41
Senses rule over the body, mind rules over the senses
Intellect rules the mind and the inner being rules the intellect 3.42
Arjuna, know that you rule the senses, mind and intellect
Center them in the Self to overcome the hungry enemy of greed 3.43
Would the world have been different had Eve not been greedy for the apple? Who knows!
I acknowledge this picture from the Net.
Christian lore lists greed as one among the seven deadly sins. Krishna traces its origin in these verses.
Arjuna looks for an escape route. Why am I forced to do what I don’t want to do, he asks plaintively. Why do I sin? Why then do I regret and then sin again?
Every religion seems to have its equivalent of confession. Hindus have their rites and rituals of making amends for all their sins. All you need to do is to bathe in the Holy river Ganga, preferably at Varanasi, to absolve all sins. Catholics have it easier. They merely need to walk up to the nearest church, confess and pay for their indulgence. I am not sure what Protestants do since the humorless Luther spoiled their fun!
Of course, we all love to sin. It’s only the hypocrite who declares otherwise. After all humans invented sin. Organised religion invented sin. They used it to control their followers and earn money. Sin arose from the greed of organized religion. Politicians used it later for more rigorous governance. They were smart though. The leaders, both in religion and politics, were above sin. Whatever they do, they can commit no sin.
Krishna treats greed as a sin not from a point of view of control by others, but from that of self-control. Where does it come from and where it leads, are his questions and answers.
Greed, Krishna says, arises from the basic human nature of active obsessive passion. It’s natural. It’s an energy. Without this energy all living species will cease to exist. However, like all energies we can use greed positively or negatively.
Vedic scriptures link our breath and its energy prana to all desires. The very fact we breathe is because of our desire to live. When that desire ceases at the cellular level. the outgoing breath does not return.
When we use this energy positively we create.
Desire when clouded by passion turns obsessive into anger and greed. It’s then no longer creative , but destructive of oneself and others. Desire can also be self less. Creative desire is almost always selfless. Musicians, dancers, writers and artists create for the joy of others. Greed is always selfish. When thwarted it turns into anger and becomes destructive.
Krishna tells Arjuna to control his mind and senses to retain his wisdom, unclouded by greed.
Patanjali, in his Ashtanga Yoga, provides the path to controlling the senses. Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are the surest routes to ridding oneself of selfish desires and greed. Controlling one’s senses and reaching samyama is the surest way to overcoming greed.