E-mail this to a friend
Printable version
Related Pages
Font Size    

Control of Indriyas

By Swami Sivananda

Indriyas, A Prolongation Of The Mind

Indriyas are objectified desires. Will to see is the eye. Will to hear is the ear. The Indriyas (senses) have two states, static and dynamic. When the desire begins to operate, the Indriyas are put in motion. This is the dynamic state. As soon as the desire is gratified, the Indriyas shrink through Tripti (satisfaction). This is the static or passive state.

Mind and Indriyas are one. Indriya is a prolongation of the mind. The sea is fed by the rivers; the sea cannot exist without the rivers. Even so, mind is fed by Indriyas and cannot exist without Indriyas. If you have controlled the Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind. Indriya is another name for mind.

Mind is a mass of Indriyas. Mind is a higher power than the Indriyas. Mind is a consolidated Indriya. Indriya is mind in manifestation. Just as a minister obeys the king, so also, the five Jnana-Indriyas act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. Indriyas represent backwaters. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. The desire in the mind to walk has manifested itself as legs and feet. If you can control mind, you can control the Indriyas.

Eyes can only see. Ears can only hear. Tongue can only taste. Skin can only touch. Nose can only smell. But, the mind can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Mind is the common sensory. The five senses are blended there. It can directly see, hear, smell, taste and feel independent of the senses. It is an aggregate of the five senses. All the sense-faculties are blended in the mind. You can see and hear directly through the mind by Yogic practice (clairvoyance and clairaudience). This blows out the Western psychological theory of perception.

Mind is termed the sixth sense: "Manah shashthanindri-yani-the senses of which mind is the sixth" (Gita, XV-7). The five senses are the five Jnana-Indriyas (organs of knowledge, sensation or perception).

Ayatana means mind (Chhandogya Upanishad, IV-vii) which is the substratum of the experiences of all other organs. Senses cannot do anything, if the mind is not connected with them. When you are wholly absorbed in the study of an interesting newspaper, you do not hear when your friend loudly calls you. You are not aware that the clock has struck five. It is everybody's daily experience. The mind was away at that time. It was not then connected with the sense of hearing. The eyes may be wide open during sleep. They do not see anything, because the mind is not there.

Sister Indriyas

Nose and anus are sister Indriyas. They are born of the same Prithvi-Tanmatra, nose from the Sattvic portion, anus from the Rajasic portion. These two Indriyas are the least mischievous. The olfactory sense and the olfactory nerve do not trouble you much. They can be controlled very easily.

Tongue and genitals are born of Jala-Tanmatra, the former from the Sattvic portion and the latter from the Rajasic portion. They are sister Indriyas. Eating strengthens the reproductive Indriyas.

Eye and feet are of Agni-Tanmatra, eye from the Sattvic Amsa (portion), feet from the Rajasic Amsa. They are sister Indriyas. Eye likes to see 'sights'. Her sisters, feet, say, "We are ready to take you to the Kumbha Fair at Allahabad. Be ready."

Skin and hands are born of Vayu-Tanmatra, skin from the Sattvic Amsa and hands from the Rajasic Amsa. They are sister organs. Skin says, "I want silk and other smooth articles for my enjoyment." Her sister, hand, says, "I can feel through my tactile corpuscles. I shall get for you fine soft silk. Do not be afraid, my dear sister."

Speech and ear are born of the same Akasa-Tanmatra, ear from the Sattvic Amsa and speech from the Rajasic Amsa. They are sister Indriyas. They help each other in the economy of Nature.

In a bungalow you will find two gates, one for entrance, another for exit. Our body is also a nice bungalow for the Lord. Eyes and ears are entrance gates for the reception of forms and sounds. These are avenues of sense-knowledge (sight and hearing). Upastha Indriya (organ of reproduction) and Guda (anus, organ of excretion) are exit gates. They throw out urine and faeces.

Tongue, The Most Difficult To Control

The most mischievous and troublesome Indriya is the generative organ. Then comes tongue. Then comes speech. Then comes ear. Then comes eye. Control of the organ of taste is far more difficult than control of the genitals, because you have been enjoying delicious articles of food even from your very birth. Lust manifests itself just before eighteen. You indulge in sexual pleasure only for a short period in every birth. But, you have to take food even in advanced senility. Control of tongue means control of all Indriyas.

Music, cinema, sight-seeing are enjoyed in human births only. Ants and rats do not enjoy cinema-show. The Indriya of sight is not so powerful as the tongue.

The organ of sight serves as a loving comrade to the organ of taste. The mind is at once tickled at the sight of a yellow colour of the mango. The eyes see a beautiful mango and the different dishes that are served on the table. At once, the glosso-pharyngeal nerves are stimulated. You get good appetite and relish. The food is rendered more palatable. A blind man may not have as good a relish as a man with sharp sight has.

Object Of Sadhana; to Prevent Externalisation By The Indriyas

The three organs of eye, ear and tongue externalise the mind and make a man altogether worldly. Eyes and ears are the avenues of sense-knowledge or Vritti-Jnana. Close the eyes. Shut the ears either with balls of cotton or balls of cotton beaten with yellow bee's wax or with the two thumbs making Yoni-Mudra. Now you have destroyed two-fifths of the world. Do not allow anything to enter the mind through these two doors of sense-knowledge.

The object of Sadhana is to internalise the mind by introspection or Antarmukha Vritti and to realise the Truth within yourself. Control the three organs of eye, ear and tongue. Then you can bring the mind under discipline and prevent the mental energy from flowing externally. These organs are the main causes of making the mind restive. Control over them helps the purpose of concentrating the energy internally.

He is a real Kshatriya who wages internal war with the mind, who fights with the Indriyas, the Svabhava, through Viveka and will-force and obtains absolute mastery over the mind. He is a real Kshatriya who fights with the host of evil Samskaras and evil thoughts, the Rajasic and Tamasic, by awakening and increasing the Sattva Guna. He is a real Kshatriya whose Sastra is Will, and Astra is Viveka, whose battle-field is within, whose band is chanting of Pranava and Udgitha of the Chhandogya Upanishad and whose coat-of-arms is the three qualifications, viz., Viveka, Vairagya and Mumukshutva.

How To Control The Indriyas

There are six ways of controlling the Indriyas: (i) through Vichara, (ii) by will-force, (iii) by Kumbhaka (retention of breath in Pranayama), (iv) by Dama (restraint), (v) by Pratyahara (abstention) and (vi) by Vairagya and Tyaga. Perfect control can be made only through Vichara.


Dama is restraint of the Indriyas. Dama blunts the Indriyas. Perfect control of the senses is not possible through Dama alone. If the senses are very sharp and acute, they carry away the minds of even good Sadhakas impetuously, just as the gale carries away the ship in stormy weather (Gita, II-67). They can be controlled perfectly through the help of the mind, through Vichara.

When you walk along Mount Road, Madras, each Indriya tries its level best to get hold of its objects of enjoyment and revelry. The Indriyas revolt vehemently if you do not procure them these objects. Tongue drags you to the coffee hotel or Hotel de Angelis. Tvak (skin) says, "Let me go to the Bombay Sait's shop and have a piece of fine China silk." Ear says, "Let me have a gramophone or harmonium." Nose says, "Let me have a bottle of Otto de Rose." The mind is at the bottom of these Indriyas to instigate. A tumultuous internal fight goes on between the five organs of knowledge, each trying to have a lion's share of enjoyment. Use Viveka, power of discrimination, always. Indriyas tempt and deceive you. Indriyas are the jugglers. Maya spreads her Moha-Jala through mind and Indriyas. Be on the alert. Practise Dama through Vairagya and Vasana-Tyaga. Happiness comes through calmness of Indriyas, through calmness of mind (Uparati). Go to the sweets' bazaar with plenty of money in hand. Walk hither and thither for fifteen minutes. Look with a greedy eye at the various sweets. Do not purchase anything. Return home. Even if dainties are served that day at home, reject them. Have a plain diet. By so doing, you will control the tongue which is at the root of all troubles. You will eventually control the mind also. You will develop will-power.

Give up all luxurious food and all articles of sensuous enjoyment. Practise rigid penance. Tapas thins out the Indriyas and eventually leads to control of mind. If you give up tea, you have really controlled a small portion of the mind; control of tongue really means control of mind.


When the Indriyas give up the objects, they take up the form of the mind-stuff. They are drawn into the mind. This is termed Pratyahara or abstraction. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from their respective objects, it is Indriya-Pratyahara. Mental abstraction takes place when the mind is disconnected with the Indriyas. Pratyahara is a general, broad term which includes Dama also. The effect of Dama (restraint of Indriyas) is Pratyahara.

If you can do consciously Pratyahara at will, consciously attaching and detaching the mind to and from the senses, you have gained really a great control over the mind. You can check at any time the outgoing tendencies or outgoing forces of the mind. Pratyahara is the stepping-stone to inner spiritual life. He who has succeeded in Pratyahara can concentrate his mind quite readily for a very long time. Dharana and Dhyana come automatically if Pratyahara is perfect. An aspirant has to struggle hard to have mastery over Pratyahara. Perfect Vairagya is indispensable for success in Pratyahara. You can succeed after strenuous and incessant struggle for some years. "Tatah parama vasyatendriyanam-Thence arises the supreme control of the organs" (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, II-55). If Pratyahara is perfect, all the organs are under perfect control.

During the period of Sadhana, do not mix much; do not talk much; do not walk much; do not eat much; do not sleep much. Observe carefully the five 'do-nots'. Mixing will cause disturbances in the mind. Talking much will cause distraction of the mind. Walking much causes exhaustion and weakness. Eating much induces Alasya and Tandri (laziness and sleepiness).

Control of Thought-A Great Desideratum

If you have the reins of the horses under your control, you can have a safe journey. The Indriyas are the horses. If you have the senses under your efficient control, you can have a safe journey in the path of Moksha. Indriyas cannot do anything without the help of the mind, their master and commander. Control of the Indriyas means control of the mind only. Control of thoughts leads to the control of mind and Indriyas also. It leads to the attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life. Control of thought is indispensable-a great desideratum for all.

Remember Your Original Home

O Mind! Do not ruin yourself by keeping company with the senses and their objects. Enough. Enough. Now get yourself concentrated on Brahma-Svarupa. That is your original home. That is your real, happy home. Remember this constantly when you chant OM. Brahmakara or Akhandakara Vritti will arise thereby. Svarupa is your original home. I have to repeat this again and again, as you always forget your real nature. You have taken your birth from Svarupa. Now, go back to your original home or birth-place through the help of Brahmakara Vritti generated by constant Nididhyasana (profound and constant meditation), through Mahavakya-Anusandhana or Chintana (enquiry into or thinking on the deep and real significance of the great sentence "Tat Tvam Asi" or "Aham Brahmasmi"). Then the Avidya (nescience) will be destroyed and you will be free from all kinds of miseries and pain and will attain the Paramananda state (highest knowledge coupled with infinite bliss). When the Svarupakara Vritti arises, all your vain Sankalpas will vanish. You will reach the Turiya state with Sahajananda (bliss which is your very nature). Then, O mind, you will be free from birth and death. You will no longer have to enter again this filthy house of physical body. You will not be clothed again by flesh and bone. You will be merged in Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman, your Adhishthana or repository.

copyright © 2011 the divine life society. All rights reserved.