Why do we Commit Sin?

Often in life, we willfully take certain courses of action without knowing their consequences. Our choices are made from the seat of unawareness, and stem from the overpowering ego that blinds us with desire. Our actions impact others by either uplifting them or exerting a negative force on them, more often the latter than the former. Therefore, it becomes imperative to understand the repercussions of our deeds, which may play out as sins.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3, Verse 36, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna to explain a very realistic struggle, even today –
“O descendent of Vrishni, by what force is a person pushed to commit sinful acts, unwillingly so?”

Standing in the middle of the battleground, his karma bhumi, Arjuna is in a dilemma. Wanting to act according to his nobility and virtue, he finds himself incapable of committing the sin of attacking his kith and kin.

The Lord eloquently addresses Arjuna’s dilemma and, with immense clarity, dispels his confusion. He declares,
“Desire combined with obsession becomes lust or kama. Lust, when not fulfilled, becomes anger or krodha. It is the insatiable and grossly wicked desires that are the enemy. As fire is covered by smoke, mirror by dust, and embryo by the amnion, so is knowledge covered by desire.”

Worldly desires sheath the senses, mind, and intellect, and so hide from us our embodied soul, the Self. The Lord advises Arjuna to first control the senses and annihilate the evil shadow that obstructs the flow of jnana (knowledge of the unmanifest Absolute) and vijnana (knowledge of the manifested Divinity).

Simply put, the senses are greater than the body; greater than the senses is the mind; greater than the mind is the intellect, and greater than the intellect is one’s own inner Self. We can kill the enemy called desire if, by reason, we understand this and subdue the mind.

Thus, ignorance presents itself in the form of attachments, and shrouds our intellect, discouraging us to seek the true value of our objects of desires. Lust or kama is the fire that we fuel, as we try to appease it. This leads to anger or krodha which being all-devouring, leads us to commit sins.

Lust and anger combine together to create rajo guna or restlessness within, which in turn prompts us to attain material satisfaction at any cost. Most of us, unaware of this alluring force within, unknowingly run towards worldly pleasures, which further push us towards greed to fulfill these desires.

Lust is the root cause of all evil that coats our intellect with a layer of darkness, veils our knowledge and makes us easy prey to sin. To overcome this enemy, tap into the knowledge of the Self, which mirrors the divinity of the Lord. The intellect must be trained to control the mind and the senses, and to identify the longing of the soul, which can be misinterpreted as worldly needs. The soul finds fulfilment or bliss only by discovering Divinity in the nature of the Self.

May all find the strength to battle the evil desires within.

Swami Swaroopananda
Global Head, Chinmaya Mission