Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 16

Manahprasaadah saumyatwam maunamaatmavinigrahah; Bhaavasamshuddhirityetat tapo maanasamuchyate.

Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, purity of nature, self-control—this is called mental austerity.

Interpretation

After talking about the austerities of the body and austerity of the speech, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the austerity of mind. The first aspect that He is touching upon is the serenity of mind. The mind can do many things and a disturbed mind can make many things worse, thus a serene or a calm mind can prevent such damages, and channelise in doing things that are productive. Then the Lord also talks about the good-heartedness and purity of nature which is required for someone to have a serene mind. Lastly, Lord mentions self-control as an important thing for mental austerity. Self-control can prevent many wrong things from occurring and a mind which has control on itself will automatically have a serene mind, a good heart and purity of nature.  

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The most important thing that one needs to understand here is self-control. There are many things that mind wants to do, it always runs behind things which you don’t have leaving things that are within your control. We also have a saying “The grass always appears greener on the other side” which directly means that something which you don’t have always appears attractive than a much superior thing you already have. This is where the self-control of a person comes into the picture. People get bored of things easily and want newer things and newer experiences, which also comes under the realm of self-control. So, how exactly one develops this self-control?

Satisfaction and having a realistic view of one’s abilities are very important for a person to have self-control. This is where it is linked to the serenity of mind, good-heartedness and purity of nature. Good heart thinks about others and is bestowed with the ability to do things selflessly. When someone comes to you for seeking advice, do you keep them in mind or do you keep yourself in mind, while advising them? If you want to be popular as a good adviser you will promote your interest and advise him, else you will not even allow your name to appear anywhere and advise him discretly. This requires a good heart and pure nature. When you do that it gives a lot of happiness to your mind. A person who goes in that direction keeps doing things that are selfless and that according to Lord Krishna is the serenity of mind.