Lust is something that is so much eulogized by the world and it is something that occupies all of one's mind space and heart space. It is a powerful energy that can potentially consume anyone and everyone in it's magical grip. Even though it is so much the goal of everyone in this world, the wise and the experienced see it as a peace sucking, hellish emotion. We may consider lust to be our best friend but the reality is that, lust is our worst enemy which will destroy our peace, our happiness, our sanity and our very life. Lord Krishna declares lust to be our greatest enemy in Bhagvat-gita 3.37 -
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam"
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world."
Interestingly, not only does Lord Krishna declare lust to be our greatest enemy but he warns us that lust along with it's counterparts anger and greed are the gateways to hell -
dvāraṁ nāśanam ātmanaḥ
kāmaḥ krodhas tathā lobhas
tasmād etat trayaṁ tyajet"
"There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul." - Bhagvat-gita 16.21
To help us achieve more faith in the words of Krishna, here are the experiences of four people who lusted and enjoyed to the highest possible superlative degree. Probably, their story and their experience may be eye-opening for us and may make us rethink how we view lust.
LUST STORY 1 - Bhartrahari & his wife
Bhartrahari was a King of lore who had an extremely beautiful wife. He was so enamored and infatuated by the beauty of his wife that he wrote hundred Sanskrit verses glorifying her beauty called Shringar-shatak. One day, a sadhu came to him and gave him a precious jewel and told him to give it to the person he loved the most. Without a thought, the King gave the jewel to his wife, to whom he had sold his heart fully. But, he was surprised to see that one day, another beautiful lady came to give that same jewel to the King, considering him to be her sweetheart. On researching a little, the King found out that his wife had given the jewel to another man whom she loved the most and that man had given that jewel to another lady whom he loved the most. And, this particular lady gave the jewel back to the King as the one whom she loved the most. King Bhartrahari was so frustrated with this entire experience of lust and the love quadrangle that, he wrote another set of hundred verses explaining the futility of material lust called Vairagya-shatak. In one of the verses he condemns this entire lustful experience as hellish -
"yam chintayami satatam mayi sa virakta
asmatkrte ca paritushyati kachidanya
dhik tam cha tam cha madanam cha imam cha mam cha"
"My wife, the constant subject of my thoughts, is indifferent towards me.
She is in love with another fellow, but that fellow longs for someone else.
This someone is madly in love with me. To hell with my wife who betrayed me. To hell with the man whom she loved. To hell with lust, to hell with Kamadev who made a fool of us all. To hell with this whole episode and to hell with me who was so attached to my wife."
LUST STORY 2 - Pururava & Urvashi
In the pages of Srimad-Bhagvatam is another super-romantic love story between the Emperor of the world, Pururava and the most beautiful celestial damsel, Urvashi. King Pururava's long cherished dream was fullfied when he got married to his dream girl, Urvashi, something that even demigods couldn't dream of. But his dream didn't last long as is the case with all dreams. Urvashi left him for good, when one of her condition for the relationship was not met. Conditional relationship cannot be a continual relationship. True relationship is unconditional. Pururava was so attached to her that when she left him, he was left high and dry and lost all his mental balance. He just couldn't function normally. The only thing in his mind was - Urvashi. He couldn't live without her. He wanted her at any cost. He did all kinds of severe austerities, penances and sacrifices to please the demigods so that they will give back Urvashi to him. Finally, after years of struggle and austerity, one day he suddenly met Urvashi who was sporting with other demigods. He fell at her feet, begged her and pleaded her to come back to him and satisfy his burning lusty desires. Just see, how lusty desires reduces even an Emperor into a mere beggar. She agreed...but to spend only one night in a year with him. Pururava had no choice - at least something was better than nothing.
He waited the entire year, 364 days for that one night of enjoyment. The night when she came, passed by as if it was a few seconds but the remaining 364 days, seemed as if it was a millennium. Time is very relative in this world - times of enjoyment passes very quickly but the times of suffering passes very slowly. After years and years of such enjoyment, one day he realised that he was not enjoying but actually suffering - that, Urvashi was giving him more suffering than enjoyment. For a few cents of enjoyment he was paying the price of millions of dollars of suffering. He realised that it was not worth it. This was his moment of transformation. He let go of his insane attachment to Urvashi and felt liberated. He explains the futility of lust in the following words -
"svārthasyākovidaṁ dhiṅ māṁ
yo 'ham īśvaratāṁ prāpya
strībhir go-khara-vaj jitaḥ"
"To hell with me! I am such a fool that I didn’t even know what was good for me, although I arrogantly thought I was highly intelligent. Although I achieved the exalted position of a lord, I allowed myself to be conquered by women as if I were a bullock or a jackass." - Srimad-bhagvatam 11.26.13
LUST STORY 3 - Yayati & Devyani
Yayati was a great King who got married to Devyani, the daughter of the great sage, Sukracarya. The history of their marriage is as follows. Once Devyani was sporting in the water with her girl friends amongst whom was a girl called Sarmishtha. When the young girls saw Lord Siva, seated on his bull along with His consort, Uma pass by, they immediately dressed themselves, but Sarmishtha mistakenly put on Devayani's clothes. Devayani, being very angry, rebuked Sarmishtha, who inturn also became very angry and responded by rebuking Devayani and throwing her into a well. By chance, King Yayati came to that well to drink water, and he found Devayani and rescued her. Thus Devayani accepted Maharaja Yayati as her husband. Thereafter, Devayani, crying loudly, told her father about Sarmishtha's behavior. Upon hearing of this incident, Sukracarya was very angry and wanted to chastise Vrishaparva, Sarmishtha's father. Vrishaparva, however, satisfied Sukracarya by offering Sarmishtha as Devayani's maidservant. Thus Sarmishtha, as the maidservant of Devayani, also went to the house of Devayani's husband.
When Sarmishtha found her friend Devayani with a baby she also desired to have a child. Therefore, at the proper time for conception, she also requested Maharaja Yayati for sex. When Sarmishtha became pregnant also, Devayani was very envious. In great anger, she immediately left for her father's house and told her father everything. Sukracarya again became angry and cursed Maharaja Yayati to become old, but when Yayati begged Sukracarya to be merciful to him, Sukracarya gave him the benediction that he could transfer his old age and invalidity to some young man. Yayati exchanged his old age for the youth of his youngest son, Puru, and thus he was able to enjoy with Devyani again. Just see how lust makes one so shameless that one is ready to exchange one's old age even with one's own son, only to enjoy more and more. After many, many thousands of years of sexual relationships and enjoyment in the material world, King Yayati finally became disgusted with such materialistic happiness. He states his realisation and his state of mind in the following verse -
"tathāhaṁ kṛpaṇaḥ subhru
mohitas tava māyayā"
"O my dear wife with beautiful eyebrows, I am exactly like a foolish he-goat, so poor in intelligence that being captivated by your beauty, I have forgotten the real task of self-realization." Srimad-bhagvatam 9.19.12
LUST STORY 4 - Pingala & others
There was once a prostitute named Pingala in the city of Videha. One day, she dressed herself in very attractive clothing and ornaments and was waiting from sunset until midnight for a customer. She waited in great anticipation, but as the time passed, her mind became very uneasy. No man came to see her, and in disgust she finally gave up her hankering for the arrival of a suitor. She explains her foolishness in the following verse -
"aho me moha-vitatiṁ
yā kāntād asataḥ kāmaṁ
kāmaye yena bāliśā"
"Just see how greatly illusioned I am! Because I cannot control my mind, just like a fool I desire lusty pleasure from an insignificant man." - Srimad-bhagvatam 11.8.30
These are just a few stories that show us how lust makes our life hellish and ourselves foolish. We unconsciously give in to lust thinking it to be heavenly pleasure. No doubt, lust gives us a glimpse of heaven but then after that brief stint, we are dumped to suffer a hellish experience for a long time. Therefore, wisdom is to give up lust knowing it to be hellish before it makes our life hellish.