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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 1 - 6

BG 2.60, Purport:

There are many learned sages, philosophers and transcendentalists who try to conquer the senses, but in spite of their endeavors, even the greatest of them sometimes fall victim to material sense enjoyment due to the agitated mind. Even Viśvāmitra, a great sage and perfect yogī, was misled by Menakā into sex enjoyment, although the yogī was endeavoring for sense control with severe types of penance and yoga practice. And, of course, there are so many similar instances in the history of the world. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the mind and senses without being fully Kṛṣṇa conscious. Without engaging the mind in Kṛṣṇa, one cannot cease such material engagements.


SB Canto 1

SB 1.6.35, Purport:

In the service of the Lord Mukunda, the senses are transcendentally engaged. Thus there is no chance of their being engaged in sense satisfaction. The senses want some engagement. To check them artificially is no check at all because as soon as there is some opportunity for enjoyment, the serpentlike senses will certainly take advantage of it. There are many such instances in history, just like Viśvāmitra Muni's falling a victim to the beauty of Menakā. But Ṭhākura Haridāsa was allured at midnight by the well-dressed Māyā, and still she could not induce that great devotee into her trap.

SB 1.10.23, Purport:

The senses are active parts of the body, and their activities cannot be stopped. The artificial means of the yogic processes to make the senses inactive has proved to be abject failure, even in the case of great yogīs like Viśvāmitra Muni. Viśvāmitra Muni controlled the senses by yogic trance, but when he happened to meet Menakā (a heavenly society woman), he became a victim of sex, and the artificial way of controlling the senses failed. But in the case of a pure devotee, the senses are not at all artificially stopped from doing anything, but they are given different good engagements. When the senses are engaged in more attractive activities, there is no chance of their being attracted by any inferior engagements. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that the senses can be controlled only by better engagements. Devotional service necessitates purifying the senses or engaging them in the activities of devotional service.

SB Canto 2

SB 2.1.18, Purport:

The first process of spiritualizing the mind by mechanical chanting of the praṇava (oṁkāra) and by control of the breathing system is technically called the mystic or yogic process of prāṇāyāma, or fully controlling the breathing air. The ultimate state of this prāṇāyāma system is to be fixed in trance, technically called samādhi. But experience has proven that even the samādhi stage also fails to control the materially absorbed mind. For example, the great mystic Viśvāmitra Muni, even in the stage of samadhi, became a victim of the senses and cohabited with Menakā. History has already recorded this. The mind, although ceasing to think of sensual activities at present, remembers past sensual activities from the subconscious status and thus disturbs one from cent percent engagement in self-realization. Therefore, Śukadeva Gosvāmī recommends the next step of assured policy, namely to fix one's mind in the service of the Personality of Godhead. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, also recommends this direct process in the Bhagavad-gītā (6.47).

SB Canto 3

SB 3.27.5, Purport:

Since the senses are always active, their activities should be engaged in devotional service—one cannot stop their activities. If one wants to artificially stop the activities of the senses, his attempt will be a failure. Even the great yogī Viśvāmitra, who was trying to control his senses by the yoga process, fell victim to the beauty of Menakā. There are many such instances. Unless one's mind and consciousness are fully engaged in devotional service, there is always the opportunity for the mind to become occupied with desires for sense gratification.

SB Canto 4

SB 4.4.27, Purport:

According to Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, that Satī quit her body means that she gave up within her heart her relationship with Dakṣa. Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura also comments that since Satī is the superintendent deity of the external potency, when she quit her body she did not get a spiritual body but simply transferred from the body she had received from Dakṣa. Other commentators also say that she immediately transferred herself into the womb of Menakā, her future mother. She gave up the body she had received from Dakṣa and immediately transferred herself to another, better body, but this does not mean that she got a spiritual body.

SB 4.7.58, Translation and Purport:

Maitreya said: I have heard that after giving up the body she had received from Dakṣa, Dākṣāyaṇī (his daughter) took her birth in the kingdom of the Himalayas. She was born as the daughter of Menā. I heard this from authoritative sources.

Menā is also known as Menakā and is the wife of the king of the Himalayas.

SB 4.24.12, Purport:

Generally a woman becomes more beautiful when, after an early marriage, she gives birth to a child. To give birth to a child is the natural function of a woman, and therefore a woman becomes more and more beautiful as she gives birth to one child after another. In the case of Śatadruti, however, she was so beautiful that she attracted the whole universe at her marriage ceremony. Indeed, she attracted all the learned and exalted demigods simply by the tinkling of her ankle bells. This indicates that all the demigods wanted to see her beauty completely, but they were not able to see it because she was fully dressed and covered with ornaments. Since they could only see the feet of Śatadruti, they became attracted by her ankle bells, which tinkled as she walked. In other words, the demigods became captivated by her simply by hearing the tinkling of her ankle bells. They did not have to see her complete beauty. It is sometimes understood that a person becomes lusty just by hearing the tinkling of bangles on the hands of women or the tinkling of ankle bells, or just by seeing a woman's sari. Thus it is concluded that woman is the complete representation of māyā. Although Viśvāmitra Muni was engaged in practicing mystic yoga with closed eyes, his transcendental meditation was broken when he heard the tinkling of bangles on the hands of Menakā. In this way Viśvāmitra Muni became a victim of Menakā and fathered a child who is universally celebrated as Śakuntalā. The conclusion is that no one can save himself from the attraction of woman, even though he be an exalted demigod or an inhabitant of the higher planets. Only a devotee of the Lord, who is attracted by Kṛṣṇa, can escape the lures of woman. Once one is attracted by Kṛṣṇa, the illusory energy of the world cannot attract him.

SB Canto 5

SB 5.2.5, Purport:

Although Āgnīdhra, the son of Priyavrata, was practicing mystic yoga and trying to control his senses, the tinkling sound of Pūrvacitti's ankle bells disturbed his practice. Yoga indriya-saṁyamaḥ: actual yoga practice means controlling the senses. One must practice mystic yoga, to control the senses, but the sense control of a devotee who fully engages in the service of the Lord with his purified senses (hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanam (CC Madhya 19.170)) can never be disturbed. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī therefore stated, durdāntendriya-kāla-sarpa-paṭalī protkhāta-daṁṣṭra-yate (Caitanya-candrāmṛta 5). The practice of yoga is undoubtedly good because it controls the senses, which are like venomous serpents. When one engages in devotional service, however, completely employing all the activities of the senses in the service of the Lord, the venomous quality of the senses is completely nullified. It is explained that a serpent is to be feared because of its poison fangs, but if those fangs are broken. the serpent, although it seems fearsome, is not at all dangerous. Devotees, therefore, may see hundreds and thousands of beautiful women with fascinating bodily movements and gestures but not be allured, whereas such women would make ordinary yogīs fall. Even the advanced yogī Viśvāmitra broke his mystic practice to unite with Menakā and beget a child known as Śakuntalā. The practice of mystic yoga, therefore, is not sufficiently strong to control the senses. Another example is Prince Āgnīdhra, whose attention was drawn to the movements of Pūrvacitti, the Apsarā, simply because he heard the tinkling of her ankle bells. In the same way that Viśvāmitra Muni was attracted by the tinkling bangles of Menakā, Prince Āgnīdhra, upon hearing the tinkling bangles of Pūrvacitti, immediately opened his eyes to see her beautiful movements as she walked. The prince was also very handsome. As described herein, his eyes were just like the buds of lotus flowers. As he opened his lotuslike eyes, he could immediately see that the Apsarā was present by his side.

SB 5.2.20, Purport:

There are many instances in which Apsarās, heavenly angels, have descended to this earth by the order of a superior demigod like Lord Brahmā or Lord Indra, have followed the demigod's order by marrying someone and giving birth to children, and have then returned to their celestial homes. For example, after Menakā, the celestial woman who had come to delude Viśvāmitra Muni, gave birth to the child Śakuntalā, she left both the child and her husband and returned to the heavenly planets. Pūrvacitti did not remain permanently with Mahārāja Āgnīdhra. After cooperating in his household affairs, she left Mahārāja Āgnīdhra and all nine sons and returned to Brahmā to worship him.

SB 5.17.3, Purport:

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has perfectly enunciated and broadcast the process of bhakti-yoga. Consequently, for one who has taken shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the highest perfection of the Māyāvādīs, kaivalya, or becoming one with the Supreme, is considered hellish, to say nothing of the karmīs' aspiration to be promoted to the heavenly planets. Devotees consider such goals to be worthless phantasmagoria. There are also yogīs, who try to control their senses, but they can never succeed without coming to the stage of devotional service. The senses are compared to poisonous snakes, but the senses of a bhakta engaged in the service of the Lord are like snakes with their poisonous fangs removed. The yogī tries to suppress his senses, but even great mystics like Viśvāmitra fail in the attempt. Viśvāmitra was conquered by his senses when he was captivated by Menakā during his meditation. She later gave birth to Śakuntalā.

SB Canto 6

SB 6.18.41, Translation and Purport:

A woman's face is as attractive and beautiful as a blossoming lotus flower during autumn. Her words are very sweet, and they give pleasure to the ear, but if we study a woman's heart, we can understand it to be extremely sharp, like the blade of a razor. In these circumstances, who could understand the dealings of a woman?

Woman is now depicted very well from the materialistic point of view by Kaśyapa Muni. Women are generally known as the fair sex, and especially in youth, at the age of sixteen or seventeen, women are very attractive to men. Therefore a woman's face is compared to a blooming lotus flower in autumn. Just as a lotus is extremely beautiful in autumn, a woman at the threshold of youthful beauty is extremely attractive. In Sanskrit a woman's voice is called nārī-svara because women generally sing and their singing is very attractive. At the present moment, cinema artists, especially female singers, are especially welcome. Some of them earn fabulous amounts of money simply by singing. Therefore, as taught by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, a woman's singing is dangerous because it can make a sannyāsī fall a victim to the woman. Sannyāsa means giving up the company of women, but if a sannyāsī hears the voice of a woman and sees her beautiful face, he certainly becomes attracted and is sure to fall down. There have been many examples. Even the great sage Viśvāmitra fell a victim to Menakā. Therefore a person desiring to advance in spiritual consciousness must be especially careful not to see a woman's face or hear a woman's voice. To see a woman's face and appreciate its beauty or to hear a woman's voice and appreciate her singing as very nice is a subtle falldown for a brahmacārī or sannyāsī. Thus the description of a woman's features by Kaśyapa Muni is very instructive.

SB Canto 9

SB 9.20 Summary:

While hunting in the forest, Duṣmanta once approached the āśrama of Mahāṛṣi Kaṇva, where he saw an extremely beautiful woman and became attracted to her. That woman was the daughter of Viśvāmitra, and her name was Śakuntalā. Her mother was Menakā, who had left her in the forest, where Kaṇva Muni found her. Kaṇva Muni brought her to his āśrama, where he raised and maintained her. When Śakuntalā accepted Mahārāja Duṣmanta as her husband, he married her according to the gāndharva-vidhi. Śakuntalā later became pregnant by her husband, who left her in the āśrama of Kaṇva Muni and returned to his kingdom.

In due course of time, Śakuntalā gave birth to a Vaiṣṇava son, but Duṣmanta, having returned to the capital, forgot what had taken place. Therefore, when Śakuntalā approached him with her newly born child, Mahārāja Duṣmanta refused to accept them as his wife and son. Later, however, after a mysterious omen, the King accepted them. After Mahārāja Duṣmanta's death, Bharata, the son of Śakuntalā, was enthroned. He performed many great sacrifices, in which he gave great riches in charity to the brāhmaṇas. This chapter ends by describing the birth of Bharadvāja and how Mahārāja Bharata accepted Bharadvāja as his son.

SB 9.20.13, Translation and Purport:

Śakuntalā said: I am the daughter of Viśvāmitra. My mother, Menakā, left me in the forest. O hero, the most powerful saint Kaṇva Muni knows all about this. Now let me know, how may I serve you?

Śakuntalā informed Mahārāja Duṣmanta that although she never saw or knew her father or mother, Kaṇva Muni knew everything about her, and she had heard from him that she was the daughter of Viśvāmitra and that her mother was Menakā, who had left her in the forest.

SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)

SB 12.11.35, Translation:

Mitra as the sun-god, Atri as the sage, Pauruṣeya as the Rākṣasa, Takṣaka as the Nāga, Menakā as the Apsarā, Hāhā as the Gandharva and Rathasvana as the Yakṣa rule the month of Śukra.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Krsna Book 51:

The vivid example verifying this statement is Viśvāmitra Muni. Viśvāmitra Muni was a great yogī who practiced prāṇāyāma, a breathing exercise, but when he was visited by Menakā, a society woman of the heavenly planets, he lost all control and begot in her a daughter named Śakuntalā. But the pure devotee Haridāsa Ṭhākura was never disturbed, even when all such allurements were offered by a prostitute.


Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 2.58-59 -- New York, April 27, 1966:

There was a great muni, great sage, whose name was Viśvāmitra Muni, Viśvāmitra. He was formerly a very powerful king. Now, in his later life he gave up everything and he wanted to be a transcendentalist and great meditator, great meditator in the yoga principle of life. He was a yogi, great yogi. Now, this Viśvāmitra was performing meditation in the forest very supremely. So the... Now, Indra, the King of heaven, he became frightened: "So, this man is performing so much penance. So he might come. He might ask from God and claim my seat. So just wake him, wake him. Just detach him from this purpose." So he had many beautiful women at his control, one of whose name was Menakā. So Menakā was ordered that "You go there and try to induce him to have your association." Because in this world our real bondage is this... Either for man or woman, this is the real bondage, the sex life. So the Menakā was sent to Viśvāmitra, and Viśvāmitra was meditating, but his eyes were closed. So that woman made some sound of his (her) bangles, and Viśvāmitra thought, "Oh, in front me, a very nice beautiful woman, very young." Now, that woman was sent for that purpose, so he became implicated in that woman, and a girl was born out of that combination.

Lecture on BG 2.59-69 -- New York, April 29, 1966:

Last day I cited one example that a great yogi just like Viśvāmitra, he practiced yoga and he rose to the highest platform, but still, he failed to control his senses. He came in contact with Menakā, a society woman of the heaven, and Śakuntalā was born. So here Bhagavad-gītā says that viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ. There are some rules and regulation for drying up our sensual activities, artificially drying up. Just like "You are not to eat more than once. You are not to do this. You are not to do this." So many negative points. Just like a diseased fellow. A diseased fellow is advised by the physician to refrain from so many things. Similarly, there are rules and regulation for controlling the mind, for restraining the senses. There are so many rules and regulation, but still, those regulations, those restrictive regulation, may also fail. There are so many instances. But here the process which is recommended in the Bhagavad-gītā, dovetailing your consciousness with the supreme consciousness, that is the highest. That is the highest.

Lecture on BG 3.6-10 -- Los Angeles, December 23, 1968:

Just like Viśvāmitra Muni. There were many instances. He was a great king and he wanted to be yogi. And he went to forest, gave up his kingdom, went to forest. And he was meditating very seriously, and Indra, king of heaven, he sent some society girls of heavenly planet, Menakā. And she came. She began to dance before the closed-eyes yogi, and as soon as he heard, "Oh, there is very nice female voice and dancing," and as soon as he opened, he became captivated, embraced her. So everything gone. You see? So sense gratification, you cannot stop artificially. Nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe.

Lecture on BG 4.1 -- Montreal, August 24, 1968:

Now, here, the bhakti-yoga system is that if you stick to the hearing of Hare Kṛṣṇa and the music, melodious music of khol, karatāla, then naturally you become detestful for hearing other songs. So this is practically indriya-saṁyama. The bhakti process is that sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam (CC Madhya 19.170). You cannot stop the senses to work. That is the negative process. Because the senses are meant for working. Therefore you have to give better engagement to the senses. That will be explained in the... It is already explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, Second Chapter, paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate (BG 9.59). Paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate. If you force one to stop, it is very difficult. Therefore so many yogis also failed. Just like Viśvāmitra Muni. By force, he was trying to control his senses, but as soon as the sense got opportunity, one Menakā, a heavenly society girl, came before him, he became captivated. He became captivated. These examples are there. And the child was born, Śakuntalā. You know, everyone. So he was a great yogi. He also failed because it was artificially being tried.

Lecture on BG 4.26 -- Bombay, April 15, 1974:

Just like Viśvāmitra Muni. He was practicing yoga, that indriya-saṁyama. He was especially... Because he was king, so especially he was very sexually inclined. And the yoga process, he was trying to control the sex. But what was the result? The result was that Menakā, a society girl of the heaven, she appeared, and she was traveling there. There have been many instances like that. And tinkling of bangles, oh, immediately his yoga practice was broken. And he become attached by Menakā and there was birth of Śakuntalā. There is a drama written by Kālidāsa Kavi, "Śakuntalā." This is the subject matter, how a yogi failed to control his senses and was attached by a beautiful woman girl, and how Śakuntalā, the beautiful girl was born. That is the subject matter.

Lecture on BG 6.40-43 -- New York, September 18, 1966:

Heaven means that is also material world. So this competition—no businessman wants an another businessman go ahead. He wants to cut down. Competition of price, quality. Similarly, that Indra, he thought that "This man is so strongly meditating, it may be that I may be deposed and he come to my seat." Then he arranged one of his society girls, Menakā, to go there and allure this muni. So when Menakā approached that ṛṣi, Viśvāmitra Ṛṣi, he was meditating. And simply by the sound of her bangles, he could understand, "There is some woman." And as soon as he saw there was heavenly, celestial beauty, he was captivated. Then there was a result, that a great... Śakuntalā. Perhaps some of you may know. There is a book made by Kālidāsa, Śakuntalā. This Śakuntalā is supposed to be the most beautiful girl in the world, and she was born by this combination of Viśvāmitra Muni and Menakā.

Lecture on BG 6.40-43 -- New York, September 18, 1966:

So when this girl was born, then Viśvāmitra thought, "Oh, I was advancing in my spiritual culture, and again I have been entrapped." So he was going out. At the same time his wife Menakā brought this girl before her, and little child is always attractive. She showed that "Oh, you have got such a nice girl, such beautiful girl, and you are going away? No, no. You should take care." So there is a picture, very nice. That is a very famous picture. That Menakā is showing Viśvāmitra Muni the girl, and the muni is like that, "No more show me." Yes. There is a picture. That is... Then he went away. So there are chances of failure. There are chances of failure. Just like a great sage like Viśvāmitra Muni, he also failed, failed for the time being. But Kṛṣṇa says that this failure is not, I mean to say, unsuccessful. As we have sometimes the proverb, that "Failure is the pillar of success," so especially in the spiritual life, this failure is not discouraging. This failure is not discouraging.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lecture on SB 1.15.41 -- Los Angeles, December 19, 1973:

So yoga practice means the controlling the senses. This is the real purpose of yoga. There is certain mechanical process, that is called yoga practice. Therefore yoga practice is meant for a person who is too much in bodily concept of life. Otherwise, one who is convinced that "I am not this body," then where is the necessity of exercising the body? But it is meant for a person who is too much absorbed in bodily concept of life. For him, this yogic practice is recommended, that by mechanical practice of the different parts of the body, the air within the body, one can control the senses. And unless the senses are controlled... The whole thing is sense. Therefore consciousness, it depends on the senses, purifying the senses. Spirit soul is eternal, so his senses are eternal. You cannot stop the activities of his senses. That is not possible. Just like others. They think that "If we stop... " Just like Viśvāmitra Muni. He was a great yogi. He stopped the senses. He wanted to stop. He closed the eyes, "I'll not see a beautiful woman." But he failed as soon as he heard the tinkling sound of the bangles of the apsarā, Menakā.

Lecture on SB 6.1.15 -- New York, August 1, 1971:

Just like there are many examples. There are Dhruva, Viśvāmitra Muni. He underwent all this tapasya. He was a kṣatriya. He wanted to become a brāhmaṇa. There was a quarrel between him and a ṛṣi. So he saw the extraordinary power of the ṛṣi, and he wanted to become a brāhmaṇa. So he began austerity. But he became also a victim of Menakā, the society girl of heavenly planet. And being entangled, he begot a child. In this way he became implicated, because he was not pure.

Lecture on SB 6.1.15 -- Los Angeles, June 27, 1975:

The root remains there, and as soon as there will be facility or there will be rainy season, the same grasses and twigs and other things will come out again, new growth. That is... Even after so much tapasya... There are many instances. Just like Viśvāmitra Muni. Viśvāmitra Muni was a king. He wanted to become a brāhmaṇa, and he practiced mystic yoga for many years. Still, he became a victim of a woman, Menakā. He was meditating, closing eyes, and Indra sent this woman, Menakā. And simply by hearing the sound of the bangles, ching, ching, ching, "Oh, there is woman. Yes, very nice," (laughter) all mystic yoga finished. Then he begot one daughter. That..., her name is Śakuntalā, the famous beautiful daughter. So that history is there.

Lecture on SB 7.9.10 -- Montreal, July 10, 1968:

Just like Viśvamitra, a great sage. These are the historical references. He was a very great king and he wanted to realize self, and he began to meditate in the forest alone, as it is, this yoga system, that "He must be in secluded life. He must make his seat in a very sacred place and sit in this posture." There are... So he followed everything completely, perfect yogi. But as soon as Indra saw that "This man is performing a great yoga system. He may not acquire my position," so he sent one beautiful girl, Menakā, to entice him. So she came, she began to dance before her (him), and there was tinkling sound, and at once his meditation broke. And she was very beautiful, coming from heaven, so he became attached, and the woman became pregnant. Then she got a child, Śakuntala, and then Viśvamitra came to this senses: "Oh, I left my kingdom, I came to forest for meditation. Again I am going to be another kingdom." So he decided that "I shall go away." So Menakā tried to entice him, "Oh, why you shall go? You just see how nice girl you have got. Just see." There is a picture.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1977 Conversations and Morning Walks

Conversation with Yogi Amrit Desai of Kripalu Ashram (PA USA) -- January 2, 1977, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: Mayi ca. Ca means also. Simply practicing these things will not help. Unless there is bhakti, they'll not agree.

Yogi Amrit Desai: It's not complete.

Prabhupāda: No, no. It will not agree (avail?). One may be artificially tyāgī, but if there is no bhakti he'll fall down. Just like Viśvāmitra was a great yogi, but because there was no bhakti he fell down. He had relationship with Menakā and gave birth to Śakuntalā, such a big yogi. So he fall down, must fall down in māyā, because there is no bhakti. So they have so many cases we see, fall down. Then if you fall down, then where is your bhakti, jñāna? Nothing. But bhakti does not fall down. If he's really on the bhakti stage he does not fall down. Others must fall down. Must. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ (SB 10.2.32).

Facts about "Menaka"
Compiled byMadhuGopaldas + and Serene +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryMarch 12, 0011 JL +
Date of last entryOctober 8, 0011 JL +
Total quotes28 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 1 +, SB: 14 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 1 +, Lec: 11 +, Conv: 1 + and Let: 0 +