Leadership Lessons from Bhagavad Gita #35 – Mind as a Shield

Chapter 2 verse 58 –

यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वश: |
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता || 58||

yadā sanharate chāyaṁ kūrmo ’ṅgānīva sarvaśhaḥ
indriyāṇīndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñā pratiṣhṭhitā

yadāwhen; sanharatewithdraw; chaand; ayamthis; kūrmaḥtortoise; aṅgānilimbs; ivaas; sarvaśhaḥfully; indriyāṇisenses; indriya-arthebhyaḥfrom the sense objects; tasyahis; prajñādivine wisdom; pratiṣhṭhitāfixed in

Translation : One who is able to withdraw the senses from their objects, just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell, is established in divine wisdom.

Link to the page – https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/2/verse/58

My interpretation – While the literal translation of this verse may say something else, my sense is Bhagwan Krishna is telling Arjuna that every human being is born with a “shield” for self defense. Every human being is besieged by desires, wants and needs. He is also blessed with an intelligent mind and a very obedient Universe. That intelligent mind shapes our world …. not the world as it is, but the world that we “see”.

A small example will bring this point home – When we see the bombings happening in Syria on television, we assume that it is extremely unsafe to be in Syria right now and no one would want to visit the country. Recently the Syrian tourism minister said that tourism has shown improvement in the past three years !!! Syria has nearly 10000 archaeological sites and 12 of them are UNESCO world heritage sites. Syria has the ancient city of Damascus, one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Many tourists flock to see these historical sites without being concerned about the bombings in Aleppo (yet another UNESCO world heritage site). Why do they do that? Because that intelligent mind of theirs acts as a shield, and shows them the brighter side of Syria’s tourism.

Our mind is a remarkable tool … it lets us create our own world while shielding us from “reality”.

So Krishna says, use the shield (mind) and keep desires at bay or be wise and think of them differently and create a different reality. The Tortoise is able to withdraw its limbs and its shell acts as a shield – in much the same way, re-interpret the stimuli using your mind and create a world of your choice.

Very interesting ! Milton who was blind said nearly 300 hundred years ago  –

“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”


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