rasa-varjaḿ raso ‘py asya
paraḿ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.59
The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Unless one is transcendentally situated, it is not possible to cease from sense enjoyment. The process of restriction from sense enjoyment by rules and regulations is something like restricting a diseased person from certain types of eatables. The patient, however, neither likes such restrictions nor loses his taste for eatables. Similarly, sense restriction by some spiritual process like ashtanga-yoga, in the matter of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, etc., is recommended for less intelligent persons who have no better knowledge. But one who has tasted the beauty of the Supreme Lord Krishna, in the course of his advancement in Krishna consciousness, no longer has a taste for dead, material things. Therefore, restrictions are there for the less intelligent neophytes in the spiritual advancement of life, but such restrictions are only good until one actually has a taste for Krishna consciousness. When one is actually Krishna conscious, he automatically loses his taste for pale things.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“But even the fool is able to stop the movement of his senses by fasting or by being under the influence of sickness.”
For one who stops eating (niraharasya), the objects of the senses disappear, except for the desire for objects (rasa varjam). The desire (rasa) for objects does not disappear. For the person situated in prajna however, having seen the paramatma, the desire for objects does disappear. He does not deviate from his qualities. This implies that the ability to realize the soul directly is something that has to be attained through practice, not something that is naturally possible for everyone (such as the ignorant person fasting.)
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.59 The sense objects are the food of the senses. From the abstinent embodied being, i.e., from one who has withdrawn his senses from objects, these sense-objects, being rejected by him, turn away, but not the relish for them. Relish means hankering. The meaning is that the hankering for the sense-objects does not go away by abstinence alone. But even this hankering will go away, when one sees that the essential nature of the self is superior to the sense-objects and that the realisation of this self gives greater happiness than the enjoyment of sense-objects.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
It may be submitted that the lack of inclination of the senses towards sense objects may not necessarily be a viable characteristic in determining one of steady wisdom. This is because it is seen that the sick, the lethargic and those fasting from food also have no inclination in this regard. This argument is being neutralised in this verse. Enjoying the objects of the senses is known as ahara. Restricting the objects of the senses is known as niraharasya. An embodied being or one who identifies themselves as their body is in ignorance. When one declines to enjoy sense objects with the objects of the senses the physical experience ceases; yet the residue desire for sense objects still remains and the craving for them actually has not departed. But when one has experienced what is Supreme then even this residue desire for sense objects factually is dissolved. Another meaning is that although inclination for the objects of the sense automatically ceases for one who is sick having no desire to enjoy the senses; but as soon as one’s health has been regained the desire to relish the objects of the senses returns again being only temporarily inoperative. The rest is self-explanatory.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The attributes of those who are stitha-prajna situated in transcendent meditation do not manifest without effort. This is also explained in the subsequent verses. By the body abstaining from food and drink there develops a weakness in the body against experiencing sensual objects. But although the bodily desire is nullified the inner desire to enjoy the sense objects remains. Thus the rasa or taste for enjoyment is not terminated. Lord Krishna states that this taste can only be terminated by spiritual intelligence and by the attainment of stitha-prajna transcendent meditation. In the Vedic scriptures it has been stated that the wise master their senses by abstaining from feeding them. But this verse illustrates abstinence alone is not enough because even when abstaining attachment to them continues to grow.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
It is seen that in sickness even the ignorant who are not developed are able to control their senses from sensual objects. So how can not impelling the senses towards sense objects be considered to be indicative to one situated in transcendent meditation. Lord Krishna replies with the word visayah objects of the senses. The enjoyments of sound, sight, touch, etc. cease completely for the one who is ill having no desire to enjoy with the senses anything due to weakness in the overall power of the sense organs. Although this is true the taste for these sensual objects persists remaining dormant within the mind. The lust for these things does not vanishe from the mind to the contray while recovering from illness one in anticipation is thinking of all the pleasures to be enjoyed again once the sickness is finished. But all this is terminated and disappears for one who is sthita-prajna situated in transcendent meditation when such a one realises the unprecedented bliss of supreme soul within. One who realises the supreme soul within is no longer attracted to the trivial, mundane objects of the material world no matter how fantastic it may appear. Worldly pleasures is no longer appealing. The word param in this verse denotes Paramatma the supreme soul in every living entity, the source of eternal bliss, devoid of all material attributes and thus is the exclusive goal of everyones meditation. This is confirmed in the Vedic scriptures with the passage: All beings exist by but an infintisemal portion of His bliss. All beings manifestations depend completely upon the grace of the Supreme Lord. The nature of the Supreme Lord is complete knowledge and complete supremacy.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.59 Although visayah, the objects, (i.e.) the organs, figuratively implied and expressed by the word ‘objects’, or, the objects themselves; vinivartante, recede; niraharasya dehinah, from an abstinent man, from an embodied being, even from a fool who engages in painful austerity and abstains from objects; (still, they do so) rasavarjam, with the exception of the taste (for them), with the exception of the hankering that one has for objects. The word rasa is well known as referring to the sense of taste (hankering), as in such expressions as, ‘sva-rasena pravrttah, induced by his own taste (i.e. willingly)’, ‘rasikah, a man of tastes’, ‘rasajnah, a connoisseur (of tastes)’, etc. Api, even that; rasah, taste of the nature of subtle attachment; asya, of this person, of the sannyasin; nivartate, falls away, i.e. his objective perception becomes seedless; when drstva, after attaining; param, the Absolute, the Reality which is the supreme Goal, Brahman, he continues in life with the realization, ‘I verily am That (Brahman).’ In the absence of full realization there can be no eradication of the ‘hankering’. The idea conveyed is that, one should therefore stabilize one’s wisdom which is characterized by full realization. [If it be held that attachment cannot be eliminated without the knowledge of Brahman, and at the same time that the knowledge of Brahman cannot arise until attachment is eradicated, then we get involved in a vicious circle. In answer it is said that gross attachments are eliminated through discrimination which restrains the senses from being overpowered by objects. And the full Knowledge arising thereof eliminates the subtle inclinations as well. Hence there is no vicious circle involved.] Since the organs have to be first brought under his own control by one who desires to establish firmly the wisdom which is characterized by full realization, therefore the Lord speaks of the evil that arises from not keeping them under control:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.59 Visayah etc. Of course, in his (ascetic’s) case there is no contact with sense-objects, colour and the rest that are enjoyable. Yet, the sense-obects retreat [from him] leaving a taste in the form of longing that exists in his internal organ. Hence he is not a man-of-stabilized-intellect. Some (commentators) say that ‘taste’ denotes the sweetness etc., of the objects of experience. But, in the case of a man of Yoga there exists no longing as he has seen the Supreme Lord. On the other hand, in the case of the other, i.e. an ascetic, this does not retreat (disappear).
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya
param drstva nivartate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
viṣayāḥ — objects for sense enjoyment; vinivartante — are practiced to be refrained from; nirāhārasya — by negative restrictions; dehinaḥ — for the embodied; rasa-varjam — giving up the taste; rasaḥ — sense of enjoyment; api — although there is; asya — his; param — far superior things; dṛṣṭvā — by experiencing; nivartate — he ceases from.