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Thus Spoke Mahapragya - Vol.1: 18. Small Vows: A Change Within

Published: 13.04.2011

Small Vows: A Change Within


The big question that lies in front of us is when everybody accepts the importance of moral values, then why is it not being followed in our daily lives?

Anuvrat (small vows) is the code of conduct of moral values. One who practices it definitely consider it to be of great value and the one who doesn't practice it also consider it to be of great value. Code of conduct, is a subject which cannot be ignored.  There can be difference of opinions on any subject but when it comes to ethics, there is no difference of opinion. Everybody considers it as an important aspect of life. The influence of moral values is such that the people who believe in religion also consider it important and people who do not believe in religion also acknowledge its importance. Whether it's a capitalist, socialist or a communist nobody can disregard its value. It not only influences our inner soul but also the society. It is very important for the smooth functioning of the society. The big question that lies in front of us is when everybody understands the importance of moral values, then why is it not being followed in our daily lives?

The code of conduct is related to the Veetaragata (total freedom from passions and affections). The lack of moral values in people is due to the kashaya (Passions like anger, conceit, deceit and lust). Kashaya makes the soul wander in this worldly life. The different Kashayas are:

  • Krodha (anger)
  • Mana (ego)
  • Maya (deceit)
  • Lobha (greed)

The biggest factor among them is the greed. If one is able to control the greed then to a great extent, the moral values can be followed. Today there is a mad rush for money. There is a big competition lying ahead. Everybody wants to top the chart of rich man's list. The motto of the companies and individual is also to maximize the profit and earn billions in profits. When such a mad rush is going on and the greed is so high, moral values is bound to take a low prominence.

You can categorize the Kashaya - anger, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, pride and sloth into two categories: High and Low. One who’s Kashaya is low can become ethical. In him the inclination towards moral values will grow automatically. Once this happens he would not get into any unethical way of leading his life. He would continue to live a truthful life. One who’s Kashaya is high, even though he might attend thousands of seminars, conferences or religious talks but he would not be able to act ethically. The problem lies internally. The external deeds of a man are because of the directions he receives from within. Till he controls this internally, he will not be able to grasp the external preaching's, advice or religious talks.  We have to bring about a change first from within. Unfortunately today the focus is on changes which are external.

How do we bring about a change from within? This is a big question. Some people with practice are able to transform the high Kashaya into low Kashaya. The first sign of low Kashaya is that the person will never use harsh words. When you see someone using harsh words, you should understand that his Kashaya is high. One, whose Kashaya is low, would be soft-spoken, use gentle words, would not ridicule others and would avoid a conversation which hurts somebody. If you see this, you can easily say that the person's Kashaya has calmed down or is of low intensity.

The second sign of low Kashaya is that even when a person hears offensive language or criticism against him he will always forgive them. When Jesus Christ was being hanged he said “O Lord. Please forgive these people. They do not know what they are doing?” For a society this conveys a very important message. Sometime back, I had read in newspaper that there was a research going on 'Forgiveness' and millions were being spent on that. How do we 'Forgive'? How do we develop this attitude of forgiveness? How do we forgive the criticism and the critic? It is really a matter of courage to forgive a person who abuses or criticizes us. Abusing is a weapon which is more powerful than a nuclear weapon.

To build something is not easy. The foundations to build something should be Ahimsa (non-violence) and forgiveness. To destroy something is very easy. For an insane person how much time does it take to burn a house or a village. He just needs a match stick to light. To reconstruct back a destroyed village, it may take months or years. Earthquake, Tsunami occurs for a few seconds but they leave behind a devastating effect.  It takes a good amount of effort for a potter to make a pot but it hardly takes a few seconds for a child to throw a stone at it and break it. One doesn't need much energy to destroy things but he needs tremendous energy to reconstruct it back.


It doesn’t take much energy to destroy things. But it needs tremendous energy to reconstruct it back.

Once Gautama Buddha and Dacoit Angulimal came across each other. Angulimal was a dacoit who chopped fingers of passengers and wore a garland made out of it. Gautama Buddha asked Angulimal to pluck five leaves from the tree. Angulimal quickly plucked five leaves and handed it over to Gautama Buddha. Gautama Buddha gave him back the leaves and asked him to attach it back as it was before. Angulimal was surprised and said that it is easier to pluck the leaves than attach them back in their place. He said it was beyond his ability to attach back the leaves in its original place and form. Anybody can destroy but to reconstruct it back at times, can be impossible also. Somebody had asked “When does God smile?” The answer given was that God smiles when a doctor says “I will give life to someone.”

One must understand that destruction is very easy and reconstruction is very difficult. At times, it can be impossible also. When does life develop and progress? It happens when the Kashaya is low. When someone's Kashaya is high, development is not easy. The problem that lies in front of us is how to reduce the intensity of this Kashaya. We all accept the fact that this Kashaya is bad for everybody including the society. However when it comes to action, the situation changes and we cannot change those events or circumstances. It is very difficult to build a person with good character and behavior. Till this Kashaya is reduced, one cannot develop a good behaviour.

The third sign of low Kashaya is that a person accepts only good things and filters anything that is bad. A person of high Kashaya on the other hand will find bad things even in good things. Bhatrahari has beautifully written “There are very few people who make a mountain of small good things and keep it in their heart. However there are many people who make a mole out of small things.” There are numerous people who can find thousands of shortcoming’s in people around them. When people approach me and say that someone was criticizing a person, I say it is very natural of him to do that. He has high Kashaya and hence he is doing that as a result of it. It's his nature to do that. If he doesn't do that he will be left with nothing to do. There is nothing to feel bad about it and one must just let that person be on his own. In this world you can find people who criticize you. If you make a sincere attempt, you will find equal number of people who also praise you. If there are many people doing destructive things then you will also find equal number of people doing constructive things. It is impossible to imagine that they all will become good. This neither has happened and nor will happen in the future. Don't expect that everybody will praise you. If everybody praises you, then the value of that praise would only decrease. When somebody criticizes you then at least there is some benchmark which is established for you. If there is no one to criticize then there is no meaning behind praise. You will always find this dual side of life. You will find both good and bad. You will also find both ethical and non-ethical.

In the context of Anuvrat, Acharya Tulsi had said that we should never think that we would be able to make everybody adhere to moral values. This may not be possible. Somebody raised a question then if it is not possible why even attempt to do it using Anuvrat? Acharya Tulsi said that we are making an attempt only to ensure that the unethical doesn't totally cast its shadow on the ethical. This is the only attempt that we are making. There has been no era where bad elements were not there.

Even in the era of Ramrajya, Rama, Krishna, Mahavir or Buddha, evil elements were present. Good and bad are the too sides of a coin which can never be separated out. Somebody had asked why we have engagement before, and wedding later. Why this can't be done together. The answer is that from the period after the engagement and just before the wedding, one gets ample time to evaluate what lies ahead of him. If it's done together the person can become perplexed. Good and bad are like pairs and they can never be separated out. You will always find construction-destruction, good-bad as pairs. This is because of the high and low intensity of Kashaya. If everybody’s Kashaya is not high, so is everybody's Kashaya not of low intensity. If we address this problem externally or try to change the circumstances around us, then it is a good thought and a good attempt though. However the real success of it would only come when we bring about a change within ourselves. We need to bring about a change in our mind-set and a change in our situations and conditions.

One whose Kashaya is low accepts everybody's good qualities. It is a well-known fact that Yudhisthir's Kashaya was of a very low intensity. In fact he is the best example of a person with the least Kashaya. Truly he was an ascetic from within and taken the form of a king for the external world. Duryodhana was truly opposite of him. Once Lord Krishna asked Duryodhana to find out how many good people were there in Dwarika. He then asked Yudhisthir to find out how many bad people were there in Dwarika. A duration of six months was given to both of them by which they had to do their work and give their assessment. After six months both Duryodhana and Yudhisthir approached Lord Krishna with their findings. Duryodhana gave Lord Krishna an empty sheet of paper. Krishna asked him that the list contained no names. Duryodhana replied saying that the task given by Krishna was such a difficult one that he could not find one single good person in the entire Dwarika.

Krishna looked at Yudhisthir who also gave him a blank sheet of paper. Krishna was surprised and asked Yudhisthir the reason for it. Yudhisthir replied saying that he could not find even a single bad person in the entire Dwarika. Hence, he could not give a false report to Krishna.  Whom all he met they were all good people.

One city and two survey and both the survey reports were blank. One says he didn't find any good person and the other says he didn't find any bad person in the entire city. Which survey report to trust? Who is telling the truth in their report? It becomes very difficult to assess who is right and who is wrong.

This is an example of high and low intensity of Kashaya. One who’s Kashaya is high, will never see anything good. For him everything is bad and he would always find some fault in everybody. Somebody's good character would also appear to him very small which is comparable to a mole. On the other hand for a person, whose Kashaya is low, will always look at the positive aspect of the person. He would never see anything bad or wrong with any person. He only tries to look at the positive aspect and ignore the negative ones.

Two streams and two viewpoints. The fundamental reason beneath is the intensity of the Kashaya. We can observe this in our daily lives also. One who has a high Kashaya, will always speak negatively. However good the arrangements are, he will always find a fault in it. One, who has low Kashaya, will always speak positively. However bad things could be, he will always look at the positive aspect of it.

We must look at the reasons within ourselves. One who wants to live peacefully should first look at himself and probe himself from within. The fundamental principle of Preksha Dhyan is “To see oneself from within. To explore one’s soul from within. To explore one's own vritti (instincts or impulsions). To see ones own Kashaya and find out if it is of high intensity or low intensity? What messages one is getting from this Kashaya?” In a family you would normally listen to the head of the family. In a city, you would listen to the responsible government official and in a religious sect he would listen to the religious head. If someone were to ask me, I would say that nobody listens to the family head, official or a religious head. They always listen to their Kashaya, which is deep within oneself. It is his order that a person obeys and all the other orders are left behind. We all know that we should not speak impolite words. One should be polite in their speech and their behaviour. Till the Kashaya inside us, orders us, all these thought would remain as just thoughts. Hence we must focus on this Kashaya. We should request it so that it issues good orders from within and thus one can lead a peaceful, ethical and a truthful life.

We have seen many poor people whose Kashaya is of low intensity. They are really leading a very ethical life. Acharya Tulsi was doing his chaturmas in Delhi. A person was facilitated amongst a very large gathering. This person was not any industrialist, wealthy or a politician. He was an ordinary cab driver. He dropped a passenger to the railway station. The passenger paid him the fare and headed inside the railway station. The cab driver then realized that the passenger had left behind a wallet which contained one hundred thousand rupees. The cab driver returned to the Anuvrat Bhawan where he had picked the passenger. On reaching Anuvrat Bhawan, he requested the concerned authorities to hand over the money to the passenger who had left it in his cab.

One should ponder on if such honesty can be seen in the people belonging to the higher strata of the society. It is normally seen that the people at the higher strata of life have a better appetite and can digest things when compared to a poor man.

The cab driver was facilitated amongst a large gathering of crowd and it is because of such people our faith exists that the honest people still do exist in this world. People who believe in moral values and ethics still do exist. A cab driver who suddenly gets a couple of hundred thousand rupees would never run a cab again. In today's greedy world how does honesty still exist? Externally we may not be able to find an answer to this question. However when we explore from within we will get the answer. The answer is if a person's Kashaya is low, no matter whether he is a rich man or a poor man, he will always remain honest. If his Kashaya is high, even though a person may be a billionaire, he will be dishonest.

Anuvrat is an internal code of conduct. It is a code of conduct, which needs to be followed and adhered from within. It is, purify oneself from within. We and the volunteers of Anuvrat must focus our energy on how we can use the code of conduct and Dhyan to realize ourselves from within.

On a 23rd January


Mahapragya ne Kaha - Vol.1 Translated by:
Rakesh Kumar Jain Online Edition: 2011

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Anger
  5. Anuvrat
  6. Bhawan
  7. Buddha
  8. Chaturmas
  9. Conceit
  10. Deceit
  11. Delhi
  12. Dhyan
  13. Gautama
  14. Greed
  15. Kashaya
  16. Kashayas
  17. Krishna
  18. Krodha
  19. Lobha
  20. Mahavir
  21. Mana
  22. Maya
  23. Non-violence
  24. Preksha
  25. Preksha Dhyan
  26. Pride
  27. Rama
  28. Soul
  29. Tulsi
  30. Veetaragata
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