Are the sense and mind different – which of them drives us?

by Chaitanya Charan dasDecember 3, 2016


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Transcription (edited) by- Keshavgopal Das

Question- We differentiate our senses from our mind and say that the senses are driving us but is it not that ultimately the mind is driving us?

Answer (short)-

  • We can be driven both by the mind and the senses.
  • When the temptation comes from an external source, it first enters the senses and then agitates the mind.
  • At other times, the past impressions in the mind rise up and agitate it. In such situation we ourselves start looking for a temptation and satisfy our desires.

Answer (long)- There are two perspectives to this – one is analytical and the other is synthetic. Analysis means that we divide things into its components; synthesis means that we bring them together.

To understand the synthetic perspective, BG 15.7 explains as follows:

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.

In this verse Lord Krishna talks about six senses, and He includes mind among the six senses.

In the tenth chapter also, we find a verse where Krishna tells, indriyāṇāṁ manaś cāsmi (BG 10.22) – of the senses I am the mind. In this verse also He counts mind as one of the senses.

There are other verses in the Gita, where the mind is categorized as distinct from the senses. In BG 2.67, Krishna mentions indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ, yan mano ’nuvidhīyate – even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence. Here Krishna differentiates between the senses and the mind.

However, we should not get caught in the technicalities of what is what, but recognize essential principles. The principle is that senses are associated with the gross physical body (e.g. we have sensory organs like eyes), and the mind is a subtle interface between the gross body and the soul. Who is driving us, the senses or the mind? It can work both ways.

Sometimes we see some temptation externally and the desire for the temptation enters from the senses and then goes into the mind. The mind then gets agitated, and then we are driven to fulfil that particular craving. In this instance the craving is coming from the senses to the mind and then to the consciousness.

On the other hand, sometimes it may happen that mind itself may get triggered even without external temptation. Some impression from the past when it rises up in the mind we feel agitated. In such situation, we ourselves through our senses look for some temptation and then we get stimulated. In this case the mind became the initial trigger for the agitation.

So, it can be either the senses or the mind that can drive us depending upon whether the trigger comes from external objects or internal recollection.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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