As per Bhagavad Gita, mind is a powerful instrument in the hands of man through which he can rise to great heights or fall to immeasurable depths. In shlokas 6.5 and 6.6 it has been stated that :
‘One can himself, through his mind, elevate or degrade himself in life ; for the mind can be one’s best friend or the worst enemy. Mind is best of the friends of those who have conquered it ; but it proves to be the worst enemy of the ones who fail to control it.’
For man, the mind can be the cause of his bondage and it can also be the cause of his liberation. Whereas an indisciplined mind is the source of one’s fears, anxiety and stress ; the one who has brought the mind under control can easily overcome all his sorrows.
By referring to it as a friend or a foe of the man, it has been made clear that the mind is not the same thing as the person who possesses it. One has a mind and not that one is a mind. One can regulate his mind, if he has the required will to do so.
Gita has not only explored the essential nature of the mind but has also examined as to what ails it. The source of one’s miseries has been elaborated too. It has been stated in shlokas from 2.62 to 2.66 that likes and dislikes for different objects of the senses and the consequent desire for those objects plague the mind with various evils. They are the main source of one’s troubles. It has further been stated that a man of self-discipline, who even while experiencing all the objects keeps senses under control by not being swayed by likes and dislikes, he can attain purity of the spirit. And the purity of spirit erases all sorrows.
In other words, the one who works not under the slavery of the likes and dislikes for different objects but functions under the guidance of his illumined intelligence, he frees himself from the tyranny of insatiable desires. Even while working in all possible manner, his mind remains ever calm, contented and relaxed.
It has been conceded by Krishna that the mind being restless was very difficult to curb. Yet, it has been assured that the mind can be controlled by non-attachment and constant practice. In this regard, various techniques of meditation have also been prescribed.
Performance of penances (tapas) also help in control of the mind. Some of the penances have been enumerated in shloka 17.16. Developing a cheerful and joyful attitude towards life is one of the austerities described here. This attitude comes from maintaining one’s equanimity and composure in challenging as well as comfortable circumstances. Such a mind which is balanced under all circumstances is a happy mind.
Next what has been recommended is gentleness and gracefulness in dealing with others. Such an attitude can free one’s mind from hate, violence and cruelty. He then works for the welfare of all.
Contemplation in silence is another penance which helps in enrichment of the mind. In such a state of being, one constantly thinks of self-realisation.
Self-restraint is another quality which helps in keeping the mind under check. It implies that one should be the master of his own mind and not become a slave of various sense enjoyments.
Another penance, purity of mind, prescribes truthfulness and straightforwardness in one’s behaviour. When one obtatins purity of thought, whole of his being gets sanctified.
To summarise, taking the mind away from negative thoughts and making it dwell upon the positive aspects of life is considered to be the penance of mind. This is what brings about control of the mind.
Mind is conquered when it becomes capable of withstanding the urges of lust, anger and greed. It does not unnecessarily run after the glitter of the world. Instead, it remains established in the intelligence and the self. But conquering the mind does not mean suppressing it in some forceful or unnatural manner. What is required is the establishment of a harmonious relationship between the senses, mind, intelligence and the self. When such a harmony is established, vicious and disturbing ideas are weeded out from the mind ; and the virtuous and noble thoughts get cultivated.
Controlling the mind means not only outward cessation of one’s undesirable activities, but also abandoning of the selfish desires which impel those actions. It has been stated in shloka 3.6 that he who restrains his organs of action outwardly, even while thinking of pleasures of objects of the senses, only cheats himself. He is called a hypocrite. Conquering the mind implies comprehensive control – both internal thought and external activity.
Mind, thus, can be the source of unalloyed joy ; and also of the untold misery. The one with an equitable and stable mind can face all the challenges of life boldly. He is not shaken by the biggest of sorrows. He leads a blissful life.
In short, he who has conquered the mind, has conquered the world.