śaknotīhaiva yaḥ soḍhuḿ
sa yuktaḥ sa sukhī naraḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 5.23
Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
If one wants to make steady progress on the path of self-realization, he must try to control the forces of the material senses. There are the forces of talk, forces of anger, forces of mind, forces of the stomach, forces of the genitals, and forces of the tongue. One who is able to control the forces of all these different senses, and the mind, is called gosvami, or svami. Such gosvamis live strictly controlled lives, and forgo altogether the forces of the senses. Material desires, when unsatiated, generate anger, and thus the mind, eyes and chest become agitated. Therefore, one must practice to control them before one gives up this material body. One who can do this is understood to be self-realized and is thus happy in the state of self-realization. It is the duty of the transcendentalist to try strenuously to control desire and anger.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
No commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
5.23 When a man is able to withstand, i.e., to control the impulses of emotions like desire and anger by his longing for the experience of self, he is released ‘here itself from the body,’ i.e., even during the state when he is practising the means for release, he gains the capacity for experiencing the self. But he becomes blessed by the experience and gets immersed in the bliss of the self only after the fall of the body (at the end of his Prarabdha or operative Karma). [The implication is that in this system there is no Jivan-Mukti or complete liberation even when the body is alive. Only the state of Sthita-prajna or of ‘one of steady wisdom’ can be attained by an embodied Jiva.]
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
As moksa or liberation from the material existence is the highest and most profound goal for the human species and as moksa is only achieved by renunciation of kama or lust and krodha or anger. For their greatest good it behoves all humans to staunchly resist these greatest enemies of the human consciousness known as kama and krodha. Lord Krishna is stating that a person must resist these powerful impulses to wantonly enjoy and neutralise the explosive urges of anger even when they manifest, kama arising from lasciviousness for enjoyment and krodha arising from frustration in getting enjoyment. Such symptoms are characterised by agitation of the mind, callousness in demeanour and aggressive selfish behaviour. A person desiring their own best welfare must resist these two evils so detrimental to human existence. Not only for a moment but steadfastly throughout life until death one must be established in equanimity, poised, centered and content. Another interpretation is that just as one who is bereft of life is able to withstand the impulses of passion even while being embraced by a devoted wife weeping and wailing in separation and also able to resist the urge of anger while being cremated on the funeral pyre; such a person who while alive is able to likewise withstand the impulses of kama and resist the urges of krodha are alone happy and contented. As once remarked by the exalted sage Vasistha of the Ramayana in days of yore: The physical body after life has departed from it feels neither pleasure or pain; if one is able to get it to behave in this way when life is in it then this will lead to moksa.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna is praising renunciation of desires in this verse emphasising that one who is capable of being equipoised and resist the onslaught of the senses arising from kama or lust and krodha or anger is a true renunciate. He also states iha eva meaning in this very life. If human beings in their life are unable to control their mind and senses and neutarlise the effects of kama and krodha then there is chance for them to ever achieve even Brahmaloka which is the topmost material planet and where everything is in sattva guna or the mode of pure goodness. The mastery of one’s mind and senses is a prerequisite for higher existence.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
After expounding that desire and sense gratification are the sources of misery and suffering, Lord Krishna establishes that steadfast devotion to the eternal atma or soul is the source of eternal bliss. One may protest that without sensual pleasures life would have no taste. To refute the hyperbole of this mentality and to fortify the aspirants of moksa or liberation Lord Krishna strengthens the concept by the word sodhum meaning to tolerate or withstand. Withstand what? Withstand the impulses arising from kama or lust and krodha or anger. These impulses are very powerful and difficult like the strong current of a river. Kama is described as intense desire for sense objects which infatuate the mind due to increasing passion from seeing, hearing about or remembering objects of desire. Krodha is described as the modification of the mind in the form of anger caused by extreme situations of frustration in not obtaining the result of one’s desires. The person who is able to tolerate this impulses and subsequently neutralise them by spiritual practices even before the end of life is a yogi or one who has perfected the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness. Such a being is spiritually situated and is undoubtedly joyful and content. Such persons and no others are qualified to accomplish the goal of human existence and succeed in the achievement of atma tattva or realisation of the eternal soul within all naturally created beings. One who slavishly always follows the urges of sensual pleasures, like an animal is unable to control their mind and therefore is unable to accomplish this goal.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
5.23 Yah saknoti, one who can, is able to; sodhum, withstand; iha eva, here itself, while alive; prak, before; sarira-vimoksanat, departing from the body, till death-. Death is put as a limit because the impulse of desire and anger is certanily inevitable for a living person. For this impulse has got infinite sources. One should not relax until his death. That is the idea. Kama, desire, is the hankering, thirst, with regard to a coveted object-of an earlier experience, and which is a source of pleasure-when it comes within the range of the senses, or is heard of or remembered. And krodha, anger, is that repulsion one has against what are adverse to oneself and are sources of sorrow, when they are seen, heard of or remembered. That impulse (veda) which has those desire and anger as its source (udbhava) is kama-krodha-udbhava-vegah. The impulse arising from desire is a kind of mental agitation, and has the signs of horripilation, joyful eyes, face, etc. The impulse of anger has the signs of trembling of body, perspiration, bitting of lips, red eyes, etc. He who is able to withstand that impulse arising from desire and anger, sah narah, that man; is yuktah, a yogi; and sukhi, is happy, in this world. What kind of a person, being established in Brahman, attains Brahman? The Lord says:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
5.23 Saknoti etc. It is not easy to accomplish this; [for], if this force of wrath and desire, hard to bear is endured till the last moment of the body, not for a moment alone-then is the total Bliss achievement.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
saknotihaiva yah sodhum
sa yuktah sa sukhi narah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
śaknoti — is able; iha eva — in the present body; yaḥ — one who; soḍhum — to tolerate; prāk — before; śarīra — the body; vimokṣaṇāt — giving up; kāma — desire; krodha — and anger; udbhavam — generated from; vegam — urges; saḥ — he; yuktaḥ — in trance; saḥ — he; sukhī — happy; naraḥ — human being.