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The Nature of the Sense Organs

When Krishna spoke of the sense organs he mentioned that they have the capacity to measure. For example, the tongue determines the taste of foods, deciding whether a thing is sweet or bitter. It does this by measuring the relative sweetness and bitterness of the food. Similarly, the ears determine whether some music is melodious or not and the eyes discern the beauty of objects seen. In this way, all the senses measure different qualities. Krishna also spoke of certain limitations of the sense organs, as ordained by God to insure their right use. For example, you can use the nose for smelling and for breathing. If you use the nose correctly, you are obeying the commands of the Lord and will surely benefit thereby. If, instead of using the nose for breathing and smelling good things, you use the nose to inhale noxious drugs, then you are not using it in the way specified by God.

As for the tongue, you have the Lord's gentle reminder, "Child, use this tongue to talk sweetly and not to hurt others' hearts. Use words which give them joy." The other function of the tongue must also be attended to. Use your tongue to take in fresh, wholesome food which is full of vitamins and proteins. On the other hand, if you use your tongue and sense of taste for smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol you will be misusing the tongue. Then you will be disobeying the commands of the Lord and you will come to harm. In this way, you should use all of the sense organs for the specific tasks which have been assigned to them by God. Then you will be fulfilling the purpose for which each instrument has been given. This kind of regulated behavior will help you to achieve your life's goal.

As a result of the functioning of the senses, you may experience joy or grief. This joy or grief that you feel does not come from the senses themselves. It is only after the senses have come into contact with the sense objects that you will experience these feelings. For instance, suppose you are on a protracted visit to a friend in a neighboring town, and while you are away something happened in your home. No matter what happened, whether good or bad, you would experience neither happiness nor grief, joy nor sorrow, as long as your ears had not heard the news. But once you get a phone call and came to know what happened at home, if the news is good you would feel joy and if the news is bad you would feel sorrow. It is only after the senses became associated with the sense objects that the joy or grief would have come to you.