Have we become the slaves of our clothes?
Slaves. The word conjures images of miserable people forced into bonded labor, stripped of self-respect and denied life’s pleasures.
That’s not an image we will identify with ourselves.
Disconcertingly, Gita wisdom indicates that we are in fact slaves – slaves of our material bodies. The Bhagavad-gita (2.22) states that for us eternal souls, our bodies are like clothes. But these clothes don’t just drape us; they also drag us into slavery. Let’s see how.
Just as slaves are forced into bonded labor, we are forced to labor for fulfilling its endless desires.
Just as slaves are stripped of self-respect, we are stripped of our self-respect and even our self-knowledge. The body induces an amnesia that wipes out our memories of our true spiritual identity: our glorious position as beloved parts of Krishna in his spiritual family.
Just as slaves are denied life’s pleasures, we are denied of the pleasures of life at the spiritual level that is our natural right as souls. Does the body not offer pleasure? Yes, but that insignificant pleasure is basically a lure to keep us trapped at the bodily level and in the slavery thereof.
How do we break free from this slavery?
With the weapons of wisdom, renunciation and devotion. By acquiring wisdom through the study of scripture, we understand how life at the bodily level is slavery and life at the spiritual level is liberty. By cultivating renunciation through the practice of regulative principles, we turn away from the primary allurements that trap us at the bodily level. By reviving devotion through the practice of devotional service to Krishna, we experience the freedom of life at the spiritual level.
When we equip ourselves thus, we no longer remain slaves of the body, but use it as our servant in our spiritual pursuits.
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.”