Spiritual Message for the Day – Handling Desires by Swami Krishnananda

Baba Times Digest© | 22 June 2014 19:14 EST | New York Edition

 Handling Desires

Divine Life Society Publication: Chapter 9 – True Spiritual Living by Swami Krishnananda

All that is outside in the world of creation is connected with us by subtle appurtenances. So, whichever be the spot within us becoming predominant in its strength, that particular spot stimulates its corresponding part in the world outside and draws its counterpart towards itself. This activity of the mind is called indulgence, which it does through the senses, which are its instruments of action.

Many a time, we are likely to be under the impression that our troubles come from the outside world, and there are occasions when we feel that the troubles do not always come from the world outside – that they are all inside us only. Both these are partial truths because the trouble arises simultaneously from both sides.

But we are prone to a one-sided approach always. It is difficult for the human mind to consider both sides of an issue, due to a weakness of its nature. Either we hang on something outside, or we hibernate in our own minds.

While it is necessary for us to find out what are our weaknesses, we have also to recognize at the same time what are the things around us which may be in a position to stimulate these weaknesses into activity. We have to subdue our passions and inordinate urges within – not only by an inward analysis, philosophical contemplation, and company of the wise, saints and sages, etc., but also by keeping physically away from those counterparts of these inner urges which can stimulate us into activity in spite of our satsangas, studies, japas, meditations, etc. So, there is a necessity to perform a double action at the same time: inwardly, be wary, cautious, vigilant, self-introspective, and pure to the extent possible; but outwardly, also be guarded. So, seclusion is one aspect of the matter, and self-analysis is its other side.

As our great guide Patanjali puts it, success is quick in the case of those seekers who are persistent in their practice and do not break the practice by discontinuing it even for a day, and keep up the intensity of the practice in the same manner as they entertained it in their hearts at the commencement of a fit of renunciation with the love for God in their lives.  

The very caution that we have taken may become an instrument of our indulgence and fall. In other words, the conducive atmosphere that we are thinking of in our mind may become an obstructing atmosphere. Our desires have various stages and forms of manifestation, and they are very wise, like snakes. They know how to act when the time for action comes. They know how to withdraw themselves when it is time for them to withdraw themselves.

 Four Conditions of Desire


The prasupta condition is the sleeping condition of a desire. If circumstances are unfavourable, the desires will be sleeping. You would be undergoing a kind of compulsive austerity, and for a time it will look like you are on the spiritual path, practicing penance for the sake of God-realisation. But, beware! The desires are sleeping and are not destroyed, because they are lying in ambush to catch you at the earliest opportunity that may be provided to them.

Tanu avastha

Sometimes, the desires are thinned  like a weakened snake which has been starved for many days and is slowly trying to move, wriggle out of its hole and find an opportunity to fulfil itself. But it cannot, due to the restrictions of the atmosphere in which one lives.

When we voluntarily fast – not under compulsion – on ekadashi, for example, the desire for food is thin. It is not destroyed, because we have a satisfaction that tomorrow we will have a good meal. That satisfaction is itself a strength to bear the pain of today’s fasting.

Our attempt at a sublimation of desires would not always be fruitful, because who is to control or subjugate the mind? It is the mind itself that has to rectify itself by an internal adjustment of its constitution. In common language it is sometimes called the higher mind controlling the lower mind, etc.

Thinness of desire is an occasional device which the mind may adopt for the sake of making it appear that the desires are not there, while this subtle connection in the form of that thinned form of desire, thinned shape of desire, can swell it into inflated action the moment opportunities arise or suitable conditions are provided. The thinned form is called tanu avastha.

Vicchinna avastha

At other times, desires are intermittent; they come and they go. This is called vicchinna avastha. Today you are angry, and tomorrow you are in a very pleasant mood. So, it is possible for a person to behave in different ways under different conditions of pressure, appearing to be one thing now and another thing afterwards. This is the intermittent condition of human desire, which takes shapes suitable to the conditions prevailing outside.

Udara avastha

And when every condition to manifest the desire is fulfilled, it can fully manifest. That is called udara avastha. Then, it will come like a roaring flood and swallow us.

Prasupta, tanu, vicchinna, udara are the four conditions of desire mentioned by Patanjali; and we are always in one or the other of these conditions. It does not mean that we have controlled the desires, or subjugated or sublimated them, because the moods that manifest in daily life will indicate they are still there.

Methods to Overcome the Various Conditions of Desire

One of the methods is to live in a positive atmosphere even though there may be a rumbling of desires from within – for example, in the vicinity of a Guru. The proximity with a great sage or a spiritual master produces a positive effect of its own. It is like the light and warmth of the sun, which destroys all infectious germs and purifies the whole atmosphere outside.

While this is, perhaps, a very desirable method that can be suggested in the case of everyone, it may not be practicable for all people to be always witnessing holy worships in temples, or to be in the presence of a master. They have various difficulties of their own in their personal lives. The alternative method then suggested is to take to holy study for a protracted period – as, for example, Bhagavata saptaha or a purascharana of a mantra, which takes all our time so that we have no time to think anything else. Our desires are kept in subjugation for such a long time that they become very weak, and the positive influence exerted on them by the purascharana of the mantra or the holy reading, called the svadhyaya, may sublimate them, may liquefy them and rarefy them to such an extent that they get either tuned to our holy aspirations or are made to vanish altogether.

Study of these scriptures, is not merely a means of gathering information on spiritual matters, but a positive technique of transmuting one's emotions into those conditions of thought and life. Thus, svadhyaya of scriptures and japa of mantras, resorted to in a very consistent, austere manner as a sadhana, would be a safeguard against possible difficulties on the spiritual path.

Excerpts from:

Handling Desires - Chapter 9 – True Spiritual Living by Swami Krishnananda

If you would like to purchase the print edition, visit:
The Divine Life Society E-Bookstore

If you would like to contribute to the dissemination of spiritual knowledge please contact the General Secretary at:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=Contribution%20to%20Dissemination%20of%20Spiritual%20Knowledge">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SEND FEED BACK ON THIS ARTICLE >>> Email to BT Digest EditorThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=DLS%20Posts"> (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=DLS%20Posts">


Overcome the sources of trouble by Swami Krishnananda