rāga-dveṣau vyavasthitau
tayor na vaśam āgacchet
tau hy asya paripanthinau

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.34

There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.


Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Those who are in Krishna consciousness are naturally reluctant to engage in material sense gratification. But those who are not in such consciousness should follow the rules and regulations of the revealed scriptures. Unrestricted sense enjoyment is the cause of material encagement, but one who follows the rules and regulations of the revealed scriptures does not become entangled by the sense objects. For example, sex enjoyment is a necessity for the conditioned soul, and sex enjoyment is allowed under the license of marriage ties. According to scriptural injunctions, one is forbidden to engage in sex relationships with any women other than one’s wife. All other women are to be considered as one’s mother. But in spite of such injunctions, a man is still inclined to have sex relationships with other women. These propensities are to be curbed; otherwise they will be stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization. As long as the material body is there, the necessities of the material body are allowed, but under rules and regulations. And yet, we should not rely upon the control of such allowances. One has to follow those rules and regulations, unattached to them, because practice of sense gratification under regulations may also lead one to go astray—as much as there is always the chance of an accident, even on the royal roads. Although they may be very carefully maintained, no one can guarantee that there will be no danger even on the safest road. The sense enjoyment spirit has been current a very long, long time, owing to material association. Therefore, in spite of regulated sense enjoyment, there is every chance of falling down; therefore any attachment for regulated sense enjoyment must also be avoided by all means. But attachment to Krishna consciousness, or acting always in the loving service of Krishna, detaches one from all kinds of sensory activities. Therefore, no one should try to be detached from Krishna consciousness at any stage of life. The whole purpose of detachment from all kinds of sense attachment is ultimately to become situated on the platform of Krishna consciousness.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Since the rules and restrictions of scripture do not have effect upon those of evil nature, one should limit the senses, as much as one is not under the influence of sinful nature arising from past sinful habits. That is described in this verse.

The word indriya is repeated to indicate each of the sense objects of each of the senses. Attachment (raga) for what is forbidden by scripture, such as giving gifts to other’s wives, or seeing or touching their bodies; or repulsion (dvesa) for what is prescribed by scripture, such as distributing gifts to, serving, seeing and touching the guru, the brahmana, the holy places and visitors, are firmly fixed (visesena avastithau) in all the sense objects (form, smell, taste, touch and sound). One should not be under the control (vasam) of attachment and repulsion.

Another meaning is this. Attachment means seeing a woman (object of the eye) and hatred for those that obstruct that enjoyment. Therefore, the mind is attracted to what helps one attain one’s goals. The mind is attracted to tasty, tender rice as it is favorable for one’s goals, and the mind has dislike of tasteless hard rice, as it is against one’s goals. One has attachment to hearing and seeing one’s own sons, but dislikes seeing or hearing the sons of one’s enemies. One should not fall under the control of such attachment and repulsion.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

3.34 An unavoidable attraction has been fixed for organs of sense like ear towards the objects like sound, and for organs of action like that of tongue towards their objects like tasty food. This longing is in the form of desire to experience these objects, which is caused by old subtle impressions. When their experience is thwarted, an unavoidable aversion is experienced. Thus, these two, attachment and aversion, bring under their control one who aspires to follow Jnana Yoga, and forcibly engage him in actions appropriate to them, in spite of his having established some sort of control over the senses. Such an aspirant fails to get the experience of the self, and therefore becomes completely lost. So no one practising Jnana Yoga should come under the sway of attachment and aversion, which are ruinous. These two, attachment and aversion, are indeed his unconquerable foes that deter him from the practice of Jnana Yoga.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

If a persons inclination is dependent solely on their nature influenced by the three gunas or the modes of goodness, passion and nescience within prakriti or material nature then the question may arise what is the need for the injunctions and prohibitions in the Vedic scriptures? What Lord Krishna is emphasising here is that the attraction and aversion for each of the senses towards various sense objects is already established and fixed. This is why the word indriyasya is repeated twice to affirm this. Hence in accordance to this fixed relationship there is the inclination. Yet the Vedic scriptures declare that a person should not be influenced by dualities like attraction and aversion, agreeable and disagreeable because they are obstacles on the path of one seeking moksa or liberation. By stimulating attraction and aversion from the remembrance of various sense objects, prakriti forcibly engages an unwary person in sense gratification, like being dragged into a deep current. But the Vedic scriptures instruct one to offer all actions in yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord which will neutralise the dualities of attraction and aversion for sense objects and absolve one from all reactions. Exactly like a person safely taking refuge in a boat before entering a deep current.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

The senses are constantly being motivated by the force of attraction and aversion. Although Lord Krishna is emphasising the effect of restraining the senses is known to be temporary only still by His mentioning it opens the possibility that restraint may have an influence in dampening desires if engaged in regularly with determination and it might develop a lasting effect. Of course samskaras or past life impressions have a deep rooted influence on all living entities even in the case of Brahma and others but there is still the possibility to modify the situation by practising restraint of the senses in a regulated manner.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

If everyone must act according to their nature and no living being is void of their nature then the purpose of teaching the Vedic scriptures by the spiritual master could be deemed futile and unecessary. To clarify this point Lord Krishna repeats the word indriyasya twice to emphasise that for all the senses. Attraction to sweet tastes to the tongue which are pleasurable or the aversion to foul smells of the nose which are unpleasurable are all fixed and automatically happenning in accordance with samskaras or past life latent impressions in regard to all the senses. One who is fortunate to hear through the ears the holy words of the Vedic scriptures from the spiritual master should never come under the influence of attaction and aversion because they are two great obstacles on the path of moksa or liberation form material existence. These two obstacles take an aspirant from the path leading to moksa and deviate them to the false path of desires, attachment and the enjoyment of sense objects and are exactly like two bandits who guide a traveller down a dark road and then rob them of all their wealth. Contrarily when when a policeman sees a traveller in the clutches of a bandit he rescues him and guides him the correct way; similarly the spiritual master teaching the Vedic scriptures rescues an aspirant from being under the influence of the dualities of attraction and aversion and guides them in the right path of offering one’s actions as yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord which is the best and surest way to attain moksa. So teaching the Vedic scriptures by the spiritual master is never futile to the contrary it is highly beneficial and essential.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

3.34 Raga-dvesau, attraction and repulsion, in the following manner-attraction towards desirable things, and repulsion against undesirable things; (vyavasthitau, are ordained,) are sure to occur, arthe, with regard to objects such as sound etc.; indriyasya indriyasya, of all the organs, with regard to each of the organs. As to that, the scope of personal effort and scriptural purpose are being stated as follows: One who is engaged in the subject-matter of the scriptures should, in the very beginning, not come under the influence of love and hatred. For, that which is the nature of a person impels him to his actions, verily under the influence eof love and hatred. And then follow the rejection of one’s own duty and the undertaking of somebody else’s duty. On the other hand, when a person controls love and hatred with the help of their opposites [Ignorance, the cause of love and hatred, has discrimination as its opposite.], then he becomes mindful only of the scriptural teachings; he ceases to be led by his nature. Therefore, na agacchet, one should not come; vasam, under the sway; tayoh, of these two, of love and hatred; hi because; tau, they; are asya, his, this person’s pari-panthinau, adversaries, who, like robbers, put obstacles on his way to Liberation. This is the meaning. In this world, one impelled by love and hatred misinterprets even the teaching of the scriptures, and thinks that somebody else’s duty, too, has to be undertaken just because it is a duty! That is wrong:

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

3.34-35 Indriyasya etc., Sreyan etc. A person living the worldly life does entertain likes or dislikes towards every sense-object. For, due to his total ignorance he imagines that actions are performed only by his Self. Thus there is this difference between a man of knowledge and a man of worldly life, eventhough they perform alike their [respective] worldly activities such as eating etc. The established view of ours [in this regard] is this : For a person, who, freed from attachment in every way, Performs his own duty, there is hardly any bond of merit or demerit. Indeed one’s own duty never disappears from one’s heart and it is certainly rooted there deeply as a natural taste. Not a single creature is born without that. Hence it should not be given up.

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

raga-dvesau vyavasthitau
tayor na vasam agacchet
tau hy asya paripanthinau

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

indriyasya — of the senses; indriyasya arthe — in the sense objects; rāga — attachment; dveṣau — also detachment; vyavasthitau — put under regulations; tayoḥ — of them; na — never; vaśam — control; āgacchet — one should come; tau — those; hi — certainly; asya — his; paripanthinau — stumbling blocks.