Be not allured by the pleasure that is pregnant with suffering

Why does the Bhagavad-gita ask us to regulate indulgence in sensual pleasures?

To protect us from unnecessary suffering.

The Gita (05.22) states that such pleasures are the wombs of suffering. The graphic analogy of a womb (yoni) conveys how we may mistakenly equating invisibility with non-existence. Just as the infant within the womb is not visible in the early stages of pregnancy, the suffering within sensual indulgence is not visible in the early stages of enjoyment.

But just as the infant will be born in due course of time, so will the suffering materialize. When we see hedonistic lifestyles glamorized on billboards and in commercials, we don’t see the distressing and disastrous consequences of such living. However, such invisibility of those consequences doesn’t imply their non-existence; we just need to look in the right places. A simple look at sociological surveys reveals alarming statistics of sexually transmitted diseases, divorces, rapes, and lust-induced psychological problems that range from depression and addiction to suicide and murder. These problems may have varying specific causes, but they frequently have an underlying generic cause: uncontrolled sexuality. In terms of the womb analogy, these sufferings comprise the delivery of the suffering pregnant in sense pleasure.

Abortion can prevent the delivery in ordinary pregnancy, but there is no abortion to prevent the delivery of the suffering pregnant in sense indulgence. That’s why the next verse of the Gita (05.23) states that, if we wish to live happily, we need to tolerate the desires for sensual enjoyment and not indulge in them. Tolerance becomes easier if we cultivate remembrance of Krishna and experience a higher happiness thereof, thus making the lower pleasures of sense indulgence initially resistible and eventually undesirable.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 05 Text 22

“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.”

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Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

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