Chapter 3 Verse 34

Likes and dislikes are there towards every object
indriyasyendriyasyārthe rāgadveṣau vyavasthitautayor na vaśam āgacchhet tau hy asya paripanthinau

indiryasya arthe – with reference to the object of every sense organ
raga dvesau – attachment and aversion
vyavasthitau – are there
tayoh – of these two
vasam – spell
na agacchet – may not one come under
hy – because
tau – these two
asya – one’s
paripathinau – enemies

There are longing and aversion in every sense object. May one not come under the spell of these two because they are one’s enemies.

The verse tells us that in every sense object, there are 2 factors present. I.e. raga and dvesa (likes and dislikes). This verse is the key to everything we have seen so far and contains the most contents of the gita. The senses themselves do not have an aversion or attachment to the sense objects. They are just reporters.

With reference to the sense object e.g. sound, touch, form or colour, taste, smell there are likes and dislikes. Everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes and this is natural as this belongs to prakruti. E.g. when you tell that ‘I love you’ and the person asks ‘Why’, you can only invent an answer. You do not really know why you love a person but there is definitely a reason. So if you look at the psyche, you will understand that there are certain things you like or don’t like about person which determines this. So many people came before you yet, you picked this single person. All that can be said is that you love someone because of your svabhava which can be called as subconscious. The subconscious also belongs to prakruti which may be the result of one’s own past. If a person has to live with someone however miserable the other person is, then there is some reason for that though we don’t know why. Only the Lord knows why. E.g. if you met at a Pizza Hut store or some other place, that place is not responsible for making you propose to someone. There is something deep in your subconscious which gets triggered. That which connects two people in this way is called Karma.

Adi Sankara says that karma, prarabdha-karma plays a role in everyone. This is why one person likes another person. In this life too, one picks up a lot of likes, dislikes from childhood which is unknown to oneself. It is like a submarine and is submerged and will emerge when it has to and there is a trigger.

Krishna in the previous verse said that everyone acts in accordance with his or her own nature. One’s nature is comprised of likes and dislikes and what he says here is that don’t come under its spell. He is not saying that you should not have likes and dislikes, but asks us to understand that they can hurt us and asks us to be careful. The mind behaves according to its own logic. It is meaningless to tell someone not to entertain a particular thought. The more person is told that don’t think about it, he or she will think about it. E.g. If you were told that every time you chant the mantra, do not think like a monkey, what happens? The person now starts thinking about the monkey instead of the mantra as he thinks that he should avoid the monkey first. So his thought is disturbed. Such strange is our mind.

To tell someone not to think about a particular object is useless. This is where the free will comes. Some people spend their life time trying to avoid certain thoughts because they are told like that. In the process, they get stuck with with the very thoughts that they are trying to avoid. In fact, these thoughts have got nothing to do with you, but it belongs to prakruti. Thoughts come and go and they are never constant.

Therefore, what can you do about thoughts? If a common man sees a princess and develops an interest in her what can he do? The palace guard would not even let him in and he has to take extreme trouble which can go terribly wrong as well. So there is a free will about thought. Either if he is confident he will take the plunge or he will not. In both cases, he is the decider and he can decide how he should go about. Will is not to determine what you should and not think, but how far you should go with the thoughts that arise. Your activities are not caused by the likes and dislikes appearing in the mind, but by your identification with them.

The raga dvesas themselves are not the problem, but us coming under the spell and that creates problems for us. Therefore, without worrying about what happens in the mind, simply go by what is to be done and not to be done using your free will but in conformity with the dharma.