Who are our inner enemies?


It is easy to recognize external enemies and take precautions to protect oneself from them. But if the enemy is inside, it is difficult to identify and more difficult to guard against them. Our ancestors identified such enemies and warned us too. They are i) Kaama (desire) ii) Krodha (anger) iii) Lobha (greed) iv) Moha(delusion of mind, by which one arrives at false understanding), v) Mada (arrogance) and vi) Maatsarya (jealousy). These are called Shadripu (the six enemies) of every person who stay inside him. These are called enemies because they are the sources of all trouble and distress one faces in this world. These are hurdles for his spiritual progress. These are more difficult to be contained than the external enemies. There were many warrior heroes who conquered many countries and became emperors. But they too failed to conquer their internal enemies. Alexander conquered many countries, but could not conquer his internal enemy greed, to become world-conqueror and died with his unfulfilled greed. Maharshi Vishwaamitra was a great king before he renounced it in favour of becoming a Rishi. He too could not conquer the internal enemy Kaama (sex desire) and fell its victim, when he saw Menakaa. For a long time to come he neither conquered his Maatsarya (jealousy) against Vasishtha nor gave up his Mada (arrogance) born out of royal descent. But he persisted, did hard penance and conquered his internal enemies. Then he became a Brahmarshi.

Antah Shatru

In Bhagawad Geeta, Bhagawaan Krishna describes that there are only two internal enemies Raaga (attachment) and Dwesha (hatred) and warns that one should not succumb to these duo. Raaga is the positive force (attraction), which draws a person closer to the object he likes. Obviously Kaama, Lobha and Moha come under Raaga. Dwesha is the negative force (repulsion), which pulls a person away from the object he dislikes. Krodha, Mada and Maatsarya come under Dwesha. Ultimately both statements describe the same phenomenon. Both Raaga and Dwesha motivate a person to act and feel the doership (Kartritwa) of an act. As a result, one has to take repeated births to enjoy the fruits of his actions, thus getting entangled in the cycle of births and deaths. Thus these are shackles that obstruct a person from achieving his goal of liberation (moksha).


KaamaEsha Krodha

Esha Rajoguna Samudbhavah

Mahaashano Mahaapaapmaa

Viddhyenamiha Vairina

Arjuna asked Shree Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, “What is it that provokes and compels man to do sinful acts even against his wish?” Bhagawaan Shree Krishna replied, “It is Desire (Kaama). It is insatiable.” That is the enemy of man, which just looks like a friend and well-wisher. Those who believe so, try to achieve the object of their desire. The more one tries to fulfill his desire, the more will it grow and is never satisfied. When some obstruction arises in the way of fulfillment of desire, it takes the form of Anger (Krodha) against the person or situations responsible for its non- fulfillment. A person swayed by anger loses his power of discretion, acts in a hurry and gets entangled in difficult situations, which may even lead to his own destruction. Hence desire is the source of human misery.

“This Desire (Kama) and Anger (Krodha) are born out of Rajoguna, the quality of great action and passion. A person, whose predominant quality is Rajoguna, cannot stay quiet and always involves himself in some work or other, good or bad. These two (Desire and Anger) are insatiable. These are motivators of sinful acts. Know that these are one s enemies in this world. ”

Generally, man is bound by the rope of desire and feels too weak to get out of the bondage. This desire is of three kinds called Eshana Trayam. The first one is Vittaishana (desire for amassing wealth and striving day and night for its achievement.) The second one is Putraishana (desire for progeny, especially for sons to continue the family line and be of help in one’s old age.) The third one is Lokaishana (desire to become famous and be praised for one’s great qualities or achievements, by the people around in the society.) This third type of desire is so potent that even those who could leave the first two could find it too difficult to renounce the third. We can see even some yogis who had renounced everything, still hankering after fame, not to speak of ordinary people.

Naasti Trishnaa Samam Duhkham

Naasti Tyaagasamam Sukham

Sarvaan Kaamaan Parityajya

Brahma Bhooyaaya Kalpate  Manu – 145

“There is no misery equal to insatiable desire; there is no happiness comparable to renunciation. By giving up all desires one would attain the state of Brahma, the Supreme Lord of the entire creation. ” It is common experience that intense desire to achieve material progress does not allow one to rest or sleep peacefully. He toils day and night and undergoes mental and physical torture. He has no time to enjoy while earning money, because he has no leisure time to spare. While keeping the earned money safe, he is haunted by doubts and fears, which won’t allow him to enjoy life. If unfortunately the money falls in the hands of robbers, Government officials or unreliable banks, his grief is unbounded. Still a person lives with the hope that in future he would enjoy the pleasures of opulence, which will never dawn because there is no end to his desires and there is no assurance of long life. In contrast, one who gives up everything and does not wish to acquire anything his own, is a happy man. Only an unfulfilled desire makes one unhappy. If there is nothing that can make him crave for, what can make him unhappy?

Na Jaatu Kaamaah Kaamaanaam upabhogena Shaamyati

Havishaa Krishnavartmeva Bhooya Evaabhivardhate

M.Adi 75-50/Anu – 145

“Never can desires be satisfied by enjoyment (because the fulfillment of one desire gives rise to another in its place and thus gives birth to an unending series of desires.) As efforts to satisfy desires proceed, they go on increasing in intensity just as fire in HavanKund blazes more by putting oblations (Havis, usually mixed with ghee) in it. “Satisfying a desire is compared here to putting oblations in fire, which will make it glow more intensely. Unsatisfied desire burns like fire; fulfilling that desire is like putting firewood or Havis in that fire. But, instead of putting off that fire, it generates a more vigorously blazing fire (more intense desires). The moral is that if one wants to put off the fire, the surest way is to pull out the firewood from the blazing fire and not to put in more firewood. In the same manner, the way to escape from the demands of desires is not to yield but to discard them.

Yat Prithivyaam VreehiYavam

Hiranyam Pashavah Striyah

Sarvam Tannaalamekasya

Tasmaad Vidvaan Shamam Charet

Decrying greed, Maharshi Kashyapa says to King Vrishadarbhi as follows. “Even the entire harvest of paddy and barley, the precious metal gold, cattle or women all over the world, all put together are not sufficient to satisfy the greed of a single person; so a learned person gives up desire and stays peaceful” This shows the reach of greed in the human heart if only he succumbs to it. If all the material wealth in the world is too little to satisfy the greed of one person, how can the billions of humans in the world get satisfied? Obviously it is not possible. What is certain to happen, is the clash of uncontrolled desires of various persons, communities or nations. Greed brings disastrous effects in human society, right from petty quarrels to world wars. A greedy person can never obtain peace in life because always various desires haunt him and make him restless. A learned person is he who recognizes the root cause of his own mental unrest as his own desire and gives it up to lead a peaceful and happy life.

Dambho Darpo’bhimaanascha

Krodhah Paarushyameva Cha

Ajnaanam Chaabhijaatasya

Paartha Sampadamaasureem

Bhagawaan Krishna analyses the factors that lead one to Moksha (Liberation) and those that lead to hell and to unending cycle of births and deaths. Those that lead to Moksha are categorized as Daivee Sampatti (divine qualities) and those that lead one away from Moksha, i.e. to hell are categorized as Aasuree Sampatti (demonic qualities). One should get rid of the factors of Aasuree Sampatti, if one wants to enjoy in heaven after death or to attain Moksha. Those factors to be given up are: Paartha, presenting oneself in a deceitful way concealing the reality, arrogance, thinking highly of oneself and expecting respect from others, anger, harshness in speech and deed and ignorance (lack of discrimination of right and wrong) are the qualities present in a person born with Aasuree Sampatti. ”

Obviously these qualities are a hindrance not only for spiritual progress but also for material progress. People with such qualities are ignored, despised or even hated by good people. They are unwelcome in a group of cultured people. Even in pursuing their professions too, they cannot command the faith and respect of others. These qualities cannot be helpful in achieving material benefits, not to speak of spiritual progress. So, one should try to give up such qualities, if one has them.

Maameyam iti Mohaattwam

Raajashriyam abheepsasi

Neyam Tava Nachaasmaakam

Nachaanyeshaam Sthiraa Sadaa

M.sha 227 – 45

Bhagawaan Vishnu took the incarnation of Vaamana and received the three lokas as a gift from Bali Chakravarti and gave them to Indra. After Indra got the lordship of the three worlds one day he was riding on his elephant Iraavata. He saw Bali in a very pleasant mood and asked him how he could be so happy even though he had lost his lordship of the three worlds. Bali replied thus:  “Oh Indra, this lordship of the three worlds, which you claim as yours out of delusion, is not yours; it is neither ours; nor anyone else’s. This Lakshmi does not stay even with others (at one place) permanently. ”

Bali Chakravarti meant that having attachment to worldly things is futile as they do not belong to anyone, but are claimed by many at different times as theirs. All those claimants disappeared being snatched away by inevitable death, but the material things continue to exist in the world to be claimed as theirs by many more ignorant people in future. Hence, wisdom rests in trying to attain the everlasting state and not in getting elated by possessing transient things.

Yaavad Bhriyeta Jatharam

Taavat Swatvam Hi Dehinaam

Adhikam Yo’bhimanyeta

Sa Steno Dandamarhati

We see in the world today many persons who hoard things, which otherwise may come for use by others. By doing so they are depriving others from having them. One who hoards food grains and creates artificial shortage with an intention of earning more money, is really accumulating their agony in the form of money. It is sinful. Surely it is not an act of Dharma. Even storing food grains for a year for personal use while there is famine around, is not an act of Dharma. Bhagawan has provided enough for everyone’s need and not for everyone’s greed. Shrimad Bhaagavatam says: “It is rightful for persons to claim as theirs only that much as to fill their stomachs. One, who accumulates beyond that, is a thief and fit to be punished.” The above statement may not be taken literally. The spirit of the statement is very pertinent. In the modern context, it means that all the hoarders are antisocial elements and they are fit to be punished.

The essence of this saying is that one should share what one has, with others around and enjoy. It is not proper to think of enjoyment, while there is misery in the society around. Our motto should be

‘Sarve Hi Sukhinah Santu (Let all be happy).’

Yah Samutpatitam Krodham Kshamayaiva Nirasyati

Yathoragastvacham Jeernaam Sa Vai PurushaUchyate

V. Ra 5-55-6

Hanuman burnt down Lanka in a fit of anger. Then he thought that even Sita too might have been burnt in the fire and felt repentant. He thought that he had spoiled the very purpose for which he had arrived in Lankaa. He cursed himself for being a victim of anger. He thought, “He alone is fit to be called a man, who expels anger born in his mind through endurance, in the manner of a serpent which leaves its decayed skin at will without much effort.”

A snake does not need great effort to throwaway its decayed skin. It does so quite effortlessly. In the same way one, who can put off his anger effortlessly, is worthy of being called a real man. A person becomes angry when he is denied of what he desired, when one is insulted or when one’s objects of reverence are attacked. Whatever may be the cause, an angry person acts in an impulsive way. He will not be in a position to weigh the pros and cons of his action. So much so, the result of such an action worsens the situation. So, a wise person should always try to keep his equanimity and should not allow anger to overpower his good sense. The antidotes to anger mentioned here are i) discriminating intellect and ii) endurance.