What is Desire

April 19, 2013 Comments Off on What is Desire

Devotee: Swamiji, what is desire? How do you define “desire”?

Swamiji: “Desire” is a very common word. There need not be a special explanation or definition for it.

Desire can be for personal things; it can also be for material acquisition. Desire is that kind of a thought process or persuasion arising in the mind, whereby one feels: “I want to have something more to get satisfaction. Whatever I now have is not enough. I want to have a house; I must get married; I must educate my children; I must have my promotion; people should recognise me. Without all these, I will not be happy.”

In the Vedantic or spiritual discussion, desire is explained as three-fold – related to progeny, putraishaNa; for wealth, vittaishaNa; and the desire for name and recognition, lokaishaNa. These are the three basic desires, which generally propel humanity.

Desire makes one disturbed and emotionally bound. It constricts and restricts the mind, making it discontented and agitated.

Now, understand that it is possible to take up tasks without any desire. Vedavyaasa has written Mahabharata consisting of 1,25,000 Sanskrit verses. It must have been a huge project spread over a few years. What do you call it? Was it a desire?

No, it was a spontaneous, irresistible need or recognition that arose in the Saintly mind due to the compassion it felt for the society. There was no desire at all. After all, the body is alive and it would continue to live. As long as it lives, some work will have to be done. It is the law of nature. So, we take up a work for the benefit of others and the work will lead itself to its completion, if the body lives. This is how a loka-sangraha (task of social welfare) is taken up. In this process, there is no desire. On the other hand, it becomes a very beautiful, spontaneous expression of human life. Am I clear? – Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
[This is an extract from a question-answer session published in Mar 2007 issue of Vicharasetu]

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