tasmāt tvam indriyāṇy ādau
pāpmānaḿ prajahi hy enaḿ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.41
Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The Lord advised Arjuna to regulate the senses from the very beginning so that he could curb the greatest sinful enemy, lust, which destroys the urge for self-realization and specific knowledge of the self. Jnana refers to knowledge of self as distinguished from non-self, or in other words, knowledge that the spirit soul is not the body. Vijnana refers to specific knowledge of the spirit soul’s constitutional position and his relationship to the Supreme Soul. It is explained thus in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.9.31):
jnanam parama-guhyam me
sa-rahasyam tad-angam ca
grhana gaditam maya
“The knowledge of the self and Supreme Self is very confidential and mysterious, but such knowledge and specific realization can be understood if explained with their various aspects by the Lord Himself.” Bhagavad-gita gives us that general and specific knowledge of the self. The living entities are parts and parcels of the Lord, and therefore they are simply meant to serve the Lord. This consciousness is called Krishna consciousness. So, from the very beginning of life one has to learn this Krishna consciousness, and thereby one may become fully Krishna conscious and act accordingly.
Lust is only the perverted reflection of the love of God which is natural for every living entity. But if one is educated in Krishna consciousness from the very beginning, that natural love of God cannot deteriorate into lust. When love of God deteriorates into lust, it is very difficult to return to the normal condition. Nonetheless, Krishna consciousness is so powerful that even a late beginner can become a lover of God by following the regulative principles of devotional service. So, from any stage of life, or from the time of understanding its urgency, one can begin regulating the senses in Krishna consciousness, devotional service of the Lord, and turn the lust into love of Godhead—the highest perfectional stage of human life.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The rule is that, by conquering the shelters of enemy, the enemy can be conquered. The shelters of lust are the senses, the mind and intelligence, which are respectively increasing difficult to conquer. The senses may be difficult to control, but they are easier to conquer than the other items. Therefore, first the senses should be conquered. Therefore, you should control the senses. Though the uncontrollable mind wants to steal others’ wives or properties, one should not engage the senses, by carefully considering the situation of the functioning of the senses such as eyes, ear, hands or feet. Kill this ferocious lust (papmanam). This means that by restricting the senses, after some time the mind will become freed of lust.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.41 For whatever reason a person engaged in Jnana Yoga, which is of the nature of abandoning the activities of all the senses, should control this enemy in the shape of desire which turns him away from the self through creating infatuation for objects of the senses — for the same reason, you, who are yoked to the activities of the senses by reason of being in conjunction with the Prakrti, should, in the beginning itself, i.e., at the very beginning of the practice of the means for release, control the senses by the practice of Karma Yoga, which provides for the regulation of the working of the senses. And then you must destroy, i.e., slay this sinful enemy, which is in the shape of desire and which destroys knowledge and discrimination, i.e., knowledge relating to the nature of the self and of the discriminative power, which is the means to gain this knowledge. Sri Krsna speaks of that which is most important among the adversaries:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna gives the antidote to avoid being controlled by kama or lust. For the novice practitioner the advice is to immediately by strength of mind control the sense in the very beginning before being deluded. For one more advanced knowledge of Vedic scriptures can assist one in evading being controlled by kama. For one even more advanced knowledge of the atma or soul and one’s true position can protect one from the ravages of kama. Or it can also denote accepting a spiritual master who is transcendant to kama and receiving relevant instructions to fortify oneself or by means of meditation on the Supreme Lord. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad IV.IV.XXI it states: The intelligent aspirant’s understanding should achieve intuitive knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
By controlling the stations where kama or lust resides it can be eradicated but Lord Krishna is giving special instructions that kama must be restrained within the senses at the very beginning well before they are able to make contact with the objects of the senses.
Now begins the summation.
The Supreme Lord Krishna is the maintainer and energiser of everything in creation. His authorised avatars and expansions are His parts and parcels. All other Gods without any exception are mere subsidiaries of His expansions and these other gods descend downwards from Brahma. Demons and asuras or those possessing no inner light are continuously being degraded by kama and mixed with their arrogance arouse great evil. The demoniac are the most deluded and degraded of all living beings. The least influenced by kama like smoke covering fire are the noble and righteous beings. The next more influenced by kama like dust covering a mirror are those of mixed natures sometimes aware of their actions and sometimes not. The most influenced by kama like an embryo imprisoned in the womb are the are demonic who are great evil doers. Like Agni or fire kama is also all devouring that is why it called analena or fire. Therefore kama residing in the senses it can be restrained and destroyed only by the weapon of Vedic wisdom. Kama envelopes the mind and intellect prior to atma tattva or soul realisation; but even after atma tattva is achieved it has been seen that kama is so powerful that it is able to exert its influence as kama is never satiated and thus vigilance is still required before moksa or complete release from the material existence has been attained.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna explains how to restrain kama or lust which is so terrible and destructive to the consciousness and development of a human being and which is the root of all evils because it obscures true knowledge arising from the teachings of the spiritual master which lead to inner wisdom which arises from meditation and reflection on the Supreme Lord. One must withdraw the senses away from the sense objects at the very beginning before they have contact and remain resolute with a steady mind.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.41 Since this is so, therefore, O scion of the Bharata dynasty, adau niyamya, after first controlling; indriyani, the organs; prajahihi, renounce; enam, this one, the enemy under consideration; which is papmanam, sinful-which is desire that is accustomed to sinning; and jnana-vijnana-nasanam, a destroyer of learning and wisdom, jnana, learning, means knowledge about the Self etc. from the scripures and a teacher. Vijnana, wisdom, means the full experience of that. Renounce, i.e. discard, from yourself the destroyer of those two-learning and wisdom, which are the means to the achievement Liberation. It has been said, ‘After first controlling the organs, renounce desire the enemy’. As to that, by taking the support of what should one give up desire? This is being answered:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.41 Or the passage jnana-vijnana-nasana may be an adverb [modifying the verb ‘must avoid’] meaning ‘by destroying it i.e., by keeping it off by means of knowledge (thought) i.e., by means of the mind and by means of superior knowledge (superior thought) i.e., by means of the intellect.’ The intention is this : One must not allow, in the fancy, [the wrath] risen in the sense-organs, and must not make any resolve about [the foe], fancied. The logic in this regard (in the above means) [ the Lords ] explains in a couple of verses:
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
tasmat tvam indriyany adau
papmanam prajahi hy enam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
tasmāt — therefore; tvam — you; indriyāṇi — senses; ādau — in the beginning; niyamya — by regulating; bharata-ṛṣabha — O chief amongst the descendants of Bharata; pāpmānam — the great symbol of sin; prajahi — curb; hi — certainly; enam — this; jñāna — of knowledge; vijñāna — and scientific knowledge of the pure soul; nāśanam — the destroyer.