viṣayān indriyaiś caran
But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord. Bhagavad Gita, verse 2.64
Krishna has answered in this verse a corollary question that arises after reading verses 2.62-63. How do I prevent my inevitable fall from the self-trapping ladder that Krishna has described in those verses? Krishna says, become free from attachment and aversion and control your senses by following the regulative principles of freedom. Doing this makes one eligible for His grace, He says.
The expression “Be in this world but not of this world” best describes how we can use the objects of the senses without becoming attached to them. Avoiding these objects is impossible. We need things for physical survival and for emotional well being we need people, relationships. Our persistent attempts at avoiding what attracts us can make us repulsive. Repulsion is a negative form of attachment. Krishna says, neither be attached, nor averse.
How do we become equipoise? Follow the regulative principles of freedom, Krishna says. Regulation means a state of being controlled. While freedom means the condition of being free; the power to act, speak or think without externally imposed restraints. What an oxymoron! So, we should restrain ourselves to be free!
Restraining the senses sounds rabid to us because we’ve mistaken slavery of the senses for ultimate freedom. What is true freedom? It’s to be free from everything that sinks us into darkness. It’s to be free from lust, anger, greed, envy, illusion, and madness. Ironically, in this world, these six traps define how free we are. The more we’re driven by our senses, the freer we become, as the common notion goes. Is the freedom to take drugs or consume alcohol true freedom? By becoming addicted to these things, don’t we lose control over ourselves? Is it freedom, or is it our slavery to the mind and senses? On the other hand, consider someone who eats select eatables, eats less, and wears only plain clothes, sleeps at a certain time and wakes up pretty early. Is he depriving himself of pleasures? Is he starving? One who can control their senses remains free from the control of the senses. And therefore, such person’s joy is not relative to the acquired pleasures. His joy stems from self-realization. Noticing sincere efforts of this soul, Krishna, Hriskesha, the lord of senses makes this soul the master of the senses. Moreover, Krishna graces this soul with the highest form of purity of heart and purpose.
The taste of material pleasures brings excitement at first but initiates a vicious cycle of pain and suffering. The higher taste of devotion begins with loveful restraints that prepare us for unlimited joys. These joys are immune to karmic reactions. They set us free from karmas. These joys send us to our spiritual home and unite us with the universal lover Krishna.
The joy of Krishna’s gopis is not only beyond the pleasures of this world, it also renders most sort after yogic powers unattractive. The ecstasy of the gopis is not known to us. Nobody has tasted it in any universe. The ordinary-seeming gopis are the most exalted souls who gave up yogic achievements from their past lives for Krishna. Who can attract Krishna, the yogeshvara (ishwara of the yogis), with yogic powers? Only loving devotion conquers Him.
To remain unaffected by the material world, Krishna advises restraining the senses by following the regulative principles that set us free from the shackles of illusion. Only when the veil of illusion is lifted from our eyes, we’ll be able to see Krishna’s beauty. Only then we’ll know the highest goal of life: to love the Supreme, to love all that belongs to the Supreme. And love means selfless service. The art of serving Krishna can’t be self-learned. Krishna’s representatives descend to teach us how to please Krishna. They reveal to us what pleases Krishna, the lord of the senses. They train us and take us to Krishna, the All-Attractive.