आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा |
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च || 39||
āvṛitaṁ jñānam etena jñānino nitya-vairiṇā
kāma-rūpeṇa kaunteya duṣhpūreṇānalena cha
āvṛitam—covered; jñānam—knowledge; etena—by this; jñāninaḥ—of the wise; nitya-vairiṇā—by the perpetual enemy; kāma-rūpeṇa—in the form of desires; kaunteya—Arjun the son of Kunti; duṣhpūreṇa—insatiable; analena—like fire; cha—and
O Arjuna! Knowledge of the Self is covered by this everlasting foe of the wise in the form of desire, insatiable like fire.
The Lord elaborates the theme of kama, for it is the worst enemy of man, and more of its nature should be understood before one could deal with it in a suitable manner and overcome its destructive influence. Kama is the ever-lasting foe of the wise (Nitya Vairi) and it is insatiable like fire. Birth after birth, this formidable foe harasses man continuously. External enemies are not so persistent. Sometimes a former enemy may become a present friend. So they are not perpetual enemies. But Kama is a constant foe, ever-scheming and plotting how to fringe and bring down the spiritual aspirant. Highly learned scholars, kings and heroes, the Gods of the different worlds, are struck down by kama at one time or other. Even highly advanced spiritual seekers, if they are not careful for a minute, are trapped by kama and lose their freedom. Though its external manifestations are checked by conscious efforts, yet it remains in a seed-form in the heart, and comes out when there is a suitable opportunity. So the seeker should be vigilant and with firm determination should strike down the enemy whenever he lifts his head in any form whatsoever.
Insatiable like the fire: Like fire, kama can never be appeased. Any amount of fuel may be thrown into the fire, yet we do not find the fire crying ‘enough’. Such is kama. Enjoyments do not reduce the power of kama. On the other hand, it becomes stronger and stronger after every pleasure offered to appease it. It is already described as ‘all-devouring’ (mahasana). The attempt to fill kama is as futile as to draw water from a river in a sieve. The word analena meaning fire is significant. Alam means enough, analam means not enough. That is, the fire never says ‘enough’ however much you may feed it with fuel. Such is kama, and like fire, it burns anyone who touches it. So the policy of appeasement should be given up, and a total war should be declared against the enemy.
Everlasting foe of the wise: To the spiritual aspirant who is striving to know the Truth, kama is the immediate and most dangerous foe. When one is awakened from the dream of desire followed by enjoyment, and enjoyment followed by further desire he tries to progress towards Truth. Then he would understand how kama had enslaved him, how bitter and short-lived its pleasures were, how hard and long should be the struggle to destroy this subtle enemy whom he fed and entertained as the ruling principle of his life through a series of births.
Question: By what is the knowledge of self covered?
Answer: By Kama.
Question: What is its nature?
Answer: It is the constant foe of the wise, and all-consuming and insatiable like fire.