The mind is naughty and haughty

Naughtiness is an attribute frequently associated with children, who often restlessly move from serious things to frivolous things. The Bhagavad-gita (06.34) points to the mind’s childish naughtiness by stating that it is flickering (canchala). When we want to do something important, the mind often flits away to something trivial.

Troublingly however, the mind is much more dangerous than a mischievous child because it is not just naughty but also haughty. Haughtiness is an attribute associated with arrogant people who are too full of themselves to even respect others, leave alone learn anything from them. The same Gita verse points to the mind’s haughtiness by declaring it to be obstinate (drudham). When the mind gets obsessed with something, say, the notion that a particular activity is pleasurable, it holds on to that notion mulishly, even when given good reasoning that exposes the notion’s insubstantiality.

Whereas naughtiness is rectifiable through teaching, haughtiness isn’t – the haughty think that they don’t need to learn anything from anyone.

Haughtiness is more harmful than naughtiness, because, whereas naughtiness is rectifiable through teaching, haughtiness isn’t – the haughty think that they don’t need to learn anything from anyone. Haughtiness often has to be pound and ground in the school of hard knocks.

Thankfully, Gita wisdom offers a more palatable way to cure both naughtiness and haughtiness. Both are ultimately misdirections of our innate need for pleasure, one misdirected towards frivolity and the other, towards pompousness. The Gita offers a higher way to happiness – through devotional connection with Krishna, the reservoir of all happiness.

No doubt, the mind can misdirect our devotional practices too. But as devotion provides a higher taste, neglecting the mind’s misdirections and fixing it on Krishna is easier than merely repressing its naughty or haughty tendencies – a veritably impossible task, given its joylessness. The more we habituate ourselves to fixing our mind on Krishna and find joy therein, the more the mind naturally gives up its naughtiness and haughtiness.

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