--> Skip to main content

What Are Senses As Per Hinduism? - Teachings On Senses In Hinduism

Teachings on Senses From Hindu Scriptures And By Saints of Hinduism. The blog post also explains the meaning of senses in Hinduism.

What are senses as per Hinduism? They are the windows through which the body-mind perceives the world. We see or hear the world through the senses.

According to Vedanta, senses, ten in number, are of two types:  jnanendriyas and karmendriyas or organs of perception and organs of action. The five senses of perception or jnanendriyas are vision (eyes), hearing (ears), smell (nose), taste (tongue), and touch (skin). Through these, we import the external world into our inner world.

The five senses of action, or karmendriyas, are speech (mouth), manual movement (hands), locomotion (feet), excretion (anus) and procreation (organ of reproduction). Sometimes mind is also included as a sense organ, the eleventh organ. We export things into external world through these senses.

SourceVedanta Kesari – August 2012

People who are enslaved to the senses and mind seek to control those around them. Being in bondage themselves, they cannot recognize the freedom of other people. This exercising of control over others, even in the name of love or discipline, is just another way of clinging to life. (Vedanta Kesari)

Swami Vivekananda On Senses
Free! We who cannot for a moment govern our own minds, nay, cannot hold our minds on a subject, focus it on a point to the exclusion of everything else for a moment! Yet we call ourselves free. Think of it! We cannot do as we know we ought to do even for a very short space of time. Some sense desire will crop up, and immediately we obey it. Our conscience smites us for such weakness, but again and again we do it, we are always doing it. We cannot live up to a high standard of life, try as we will. The ghosts of past thoughts, past lives hold us down.

All the misery of the world is caused by this slavery to the senses. Our inability to rise above the sense-life, the striving for physical pleasures, is the cause of all the horrors and miseries in the world.

Ego sense is the source of all sins – Yoga Vasishta
Even as a tree is consumed by a forest fire, the youth’s heart is consumed by the fire of lust when his beloved leaves him.

The selfish person’s violent efforts to gain his selfish ends often lead to other results.

Ego sense is the source of all sins. Cut at the very root of this ego sense with the sword of wisdom of non ego.

There is indeed nothing which is worth desiring or renouncing.

Good and evil, great and small, worthy or unworthy are all based on the notion of desirability.

They alone are friends that generate in one’s heart true dispassion and self knowledge.

Bhagavad Gita On Senses

He knows bliss in the Atman and wants nothing else. Carvings torment the heart: he renounces cravings. I call him illumined. (2.55)

The recollected mind is awake in the knowledge of the Atman which is dark night to the ignorant: the ignorant are awake in their sense life which they think is daylight to the seer it is darkness. (2.69)

Sant Kabir Poem on the Senses

I have extinguished the flame:
There is no more smoke from the lamp.
Only the moon’s left:
There is nothing else.

I have dried out the wick:
I haven’t replenished the oil.
I have stopped beating the drum:
I have put the dancer to sleep.

I have broken the strings:
I have silenced the rebeck.
I have neglected my work
And ruined my routine.

Once I knew what I had to do,
I gave up singing:
My sermons, my satires,
My aphorisms, my tales.

Kabir says, those who break
The circuit of the senses
Aren’t very far
From the supreme station, their destination. 

Swami Sivananda
The sense of separateness is a colossal fetter. Kill this sense of separateness through Brahma Bhavana, by developing Advaitic unity of consciousness and by means of selfless service. This sense of separateness is an illusion created by ignorance or Maya.
Truth is indescribable as it is beyond the reach of the senses and the mind, it is capable of direct realization through direct and actual experience only. When the transcendental experience is attempted to be described in words; when the Infinite is attempted to be brought within the comprehension of the finite mind or intellect; when the immeasurable is sought to be measured by speech; it is only a very minute ray or rather a shadow of the Real that is really conveyed.

Training the Senses – Prabuddha Bharata

Apart from the maximum possible abstention from sense-objects, a change in attitude towards them would enable one to have the least possible harm from them, even when exposed to them.

This can be done by constantly reminding the mind that basic food, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs are required to continue one’s spiritual life and that the ultimate goal is to realize one’s true nature.

By constantly telling the mind to think in such a manner, the mind becomes gradually free of its attachment to things more than absolutely necessary. This is also an exercise to increase the strength of mental resolves.

Even these basic needs have to be fulfilled with an idea that one is divine. The sense-objects and the sense-organs should be seen as aids to the training of the mind. However, this training should not be through the abundance of the sense-objects but by abstaining from them. This way, the sense-objects become tools for realizing one’s divinity. (Source – Prabuddha Bharata Editorial Nov 2016)

The Power of Senses – Teachings from Hindu Scriptures

The Kathopanishad tells us that the Supreme Self present in every individual created the sense organs with natural outgoing tendencies. It is therefore that a man perceives only outer objects with them, and not the inner ever free, blissful Self.

In the Bhagavad Gita too, Sri Krishna warns, “Attachment and aversion of the sense organs for their respective sense objects are natural; let none come under their sway; they are one’s highway robbers.

Flowing by their very nature toward the sense objects, the turbulent senses rob us of our powers of discrimination. Hence, we identify ourselves with the body and experience the fruits of action.

The story of the fisherwoman who found it impossible to stay on a stormy night in the house of flower seller illustrates the power of the senses. You can read the story told by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa here.