Bhagavad Gita has discussed in detail various evils which cause the human suffering. It has also been analysed as to why do these afflictions arise and how can they be managed.
Lord Krishna has identified lust, anger and greed as the three culprits which lead to one’s downfall. Hence, in shloka 16.21, He has termed them as three entry gates of hell. Further, He has cautioned that they lead to degradation of the soul and, therefore, should be abandoned.
In the next shloka i.e. in shloka 16.22, He has again emphasised the need for overcoming these vices. It is stated that the one who is freed from these three gates of darkness, he does what is good for himself ; and thus attains to the supreme destination.
Gita has examined as to why and how do the evils arise. It has been explained in shlokas 2.62 and 2.63 that thinking about sense objects produces attachment towards them. Attachment breeds desire, and non-fulfilment of desire leads to anger. And anger breeds delusion which leads to loss of memory and, in turn, decline in intelligence. Destruction of intelligence leads to one’s ruination.
These two shlokas have analysed the functioning of human mind very precisely. Depending upon whether one gets pleasure or pain from an object, he develops a like or dislike for that object. Object here obviously includes a person or any other thing that impacts the concerned senses and the mind. Such like or dislike i.e. attachment gives rise to desire – desire to get that object or to get rid of it.
Desire has the potential of giving rise to many ills. When it becomes excessive, selfish, unreasonable and beyond any control ; it then degenerates into lust. The lust shows itself in many forms – the urge for sexual excesses, the craving for wealth, physical impulses, hunger for social prestige and the drive for power etc. etc.
Unfulfilled desire results in anger and fulfilled desire leads to greed. When deluded by anger, one loses touch with reality and creates a false impression about himself and his situation. Delusion leads to loss of memory i.e. in the moments of anger one forgets the lessons learnt from the past experiences. Thus, one fails to discriminate between right and wrong. Such destruction of intelligence results in one’s downfall.
As is evident from the above discussion, all the three vices described here originate from the same source i.e. likes and dislikes and the consequent desires. The likes and dislikes and the resultant desires, though the root cause of all the vices, are not evil in themselves. Problem is created only when one is swayed by them.
Mischiefs of lust have been elaborated in shlokas from 3.36 to 3.39. When asked by Arjuna as to what impels man to commit sin even against his own will, as if by force ; Krishna replied that sin is committed due to lust. The lust is born of the mode of passion (rajas guna) and it later emerges as anger. It is all-devouring and most sinful enemy of man. Lust envelops the wisdom of the wise. It is their constant enemy because like fire, it has an insatiable appetite.
In shlokas from 3.40 to 3.43, it has further been explained as to where does the lust reside and how can it be controlled. It has been stated that the lust resides in senses, mind and the intelligence. Through them, it clouds the wisdom and deludes the embodied soul. As a result, one becomes a slave of the lust and is prepared to do anything to satisfy it. To break the stranglehold of the lust, one (the embodied soul) must manage the mind through intelligence and must not let the senses become slaves of lust. The senses must be controlled from the very beginning.
In other words, one should always remain vigilant and should not let his intelligence be carried away by lust.
Lust, anger and greed have been termed by Krishna as three gates of hell because they have the potential of generating many other similar evils. They keep on festering in the mind and prepare a fertile ground for other vices to grow there.
Ignorance, fear, arrogance, false ego, hypocrisy, doubting nature, excessive pride, anxiety, malice and envy, hate, ill will and enmity towards others ; and harshness are some of the other afflictions which have been identified in different shlokas of Bhagavad Gita. They continue to trouble the mind in one way or the other.
The importance of bringing the evils under control has also been emphasised in shloka 5.23 wherein it has been stated that the one who becomes capable of withstanding the urge of lust and anger before giving up his body i.e. in this very life, he is a yogi and he alone is a happy man. Though only lust and anger have been mentioned here in this shloka, it obviously applies to all the vices.
To summarise, the more a person is released from the clutches of evils, the more he becomes pure and capable of realising inner peace. He experiences joy from within.