śamena ca damena ca
yamena niyamena vā
kṣipanty aghaṁ mahad api
tapasā—by austerity or voluntary rejection of material enjoyment; brahmacaryeṇa—by celibacy (the first austerity); śamena—by controlling the mind; ca—and; damena—by fully controlling the senses; ca—also; tyāgena—by voluntarily giving charity to good causes; satya—by truthfulness; śaucābhyām—and by following regulative principles to keep oneself internally and externally clean; yamena—by avoiding cursing and violence; niyamena—by regularly chanting the holy name of the Lord; vā—and; deha-vāk-buddhi-jam—performed by the body, words and intelligence; dhīrāḥ—those who are sober; dharma-jñāḥ—fully imbued with knowledge of religious principles; śraddhayā anvitāḥ—endowed with faith; kṣipanti—destroy; agham—all kinds of sinful activities; mahat api—although very great and abominable; veṇu-gulmam—the dried creepers beneath a bamboo tree; iva—like; analaḥ—fire.
To concentrate the mind, one must observe a life of celibacy and not fall down. One must undergo the austerity of voluntarily giving up sense enjoyment. One must then control the mind and senses, give charity, be truthful, clean and nonviolent, follow the regulative principles and regularly chant the holy name of the Lord. Thus a sober and faithful person who knows the religious principles is temporarily purified of all sins performed with his body, words and mind. These sins are like the dried leaves of creepers beneath a bamboo tree, which may be burned by fire although their roots remain to grow again at the first opportunity.
Tapaḥ is explained in the smṛti-śāstra as follows: manasaś cendriyāṇāṁ ca aikāgryaṁ paramaṁ tapaḥ. “Complete control of the mind and senses and their complete concentration on one kind of activity is called tapaḥ.” Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is teaching people how to concentrate the mind on devotional service. This is first-class tapaḥ. Brahmacarya, the life of celibacy, has eight aspects: one should not think of women, speak about sex life, dally with women, look lustfully at women, talk intimately with women or decide to engage in sexual intercourse, nor should one endeavor for sex life or engage in sex life. One should not even think of women or look at them, to say nothing of talking with them. This is called first-class brahmacarya. If a brahmacārī or sannyāsī talks with a woman in a secluded place, naturally there will be a possibility of sex life without anyone’s knowledge. Therefore a complete brahmacārī practices just the opposite. If one is a perfect brahmacārī, he can very easily control the mind and senses, give charity, speak truthfully and so forth. To begin, however, one must control the tongue and the process of eating.
In the bhakti-mārga, the path of devotional service, one must strictly follow the regulative principles by first controlling the tongue (sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ). The tongue (jihvā) can be controlled if one chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, does not speak of any subjects other than those concerning Kṛṣṇa and does not taste anything not offered to Kṛṣṇa. If one can control the tongue in this way, brahmacarya and other purifying processes will automatically follow. It will be explained in the next verse that the path of devotional service is completely perfect and is therefore superior to the path of fruitive activities and the path of knowledge. Quoting from the Vedas, Śrīla Vīrarāghava Ācārya explains that austerity involves observing fasts as fully as possible (tapasānāśakena). Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has also advised that atyāhāra, too much eating, is an impediment to advancement in spiritual life. Also, in Bhagavad-gītā (6.17) Kṛṣṇa says:
“He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.”
In text 14 the word dhīrāḥ, meaning “those who are undisturbed under all circumstances,” is very significant. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna in Bhagavad-gītā (2.14):
“O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” In material life there are many disturbances (adhyātmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika). One who has learned to tolerate these disturbances under all circumstances is called dhīra.
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