Friday April 20, 2018

Decoding Adharma: Unrighteousness of mind

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Nithin Sridhar

Gleanings from Hindu scriptures: Part 15

In the previous two installments, we dealt with how unrighteousness can be committed through the body and through speech. We also saw that Dharma by very definition is those actions that take one to overall wellbeing and happiness and Adharma is that which takes one to sorrow and pain.

But, actions are not limited to those committed physically or verbally. Hindu philosophy perceives even thoughts that flow in the mind as ‘actions’ or ‘Karma’. And these thoughts of the mind are the very source of all physical and verbal actions.

Thus, in order to truly prevent the body and the speech from committing various types of unrighteous actions, it is very necessary to restrain the mind by ripping out Adharmic thoughts at their very source.

In this installment, let us now see the various kinds of thoughts that have been considered as ‘Adharma’. Manu Smriti (12.5) says:

paradravyEShvabhidhyAnaM manasA anishtachintanaM |

vithaThAbhinivEshashcha trividhaM karma mAnasaM ||

Meaning: Desiring for the property and belongings of others; thinking in one’s heart of what is undesirable (i.e. thinking about committing unrighteous actions that may cause harm to oneself and others); and adherence to falsehoods and false doctrines, are the three kinds of (unrighteous) mental action.

Before taking up various Adharmas committed through the mind, it is important to understand how the mind works. As we noted earlier, mind is the root of all physical and mental actions. But, mind itself is in the grip of internal passions and tendencies that drive every mental thought.

These internal passions are often referred to as ‘Shad-ripus’ or six internal enemies, because they delude an individual and make him or her to commit Adharma. The six internal enemies, which makes one’s mind ‘impure’ are: kama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (pride), and matsarya (jealousy). Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (16.21) declares that desire, anger, and greed are three gates to hell because these internal tendencies often give rise to selfish and Adharmic thoughts, which if acted upon will take a person towards his own destruction.

The Manu Smriti has broadly classified these Adharmic thoughts into three categories as seen above. The very first tenet of mental Adharma is thinking about coveting what belongs to others.

In our previous discussion regarding the Adharma through the body, we had discussed in depth about what non-coveting actually meant. To quote: Cheating people by fooling them, extorting people using force, stealing, dacoity, corruption, and bribery, every action that results in unethical accumulation of wealth are all considered as Adharmic actions.” Thus, stealing, cheating, dacoity, corruption, bribery, etc. are all included under bodily action of taking what does not rightfully belong to one.

If a person even ‘thinks’ about committing all those acts of Adharma, or if he hankers for possessing another person’s wealth, property, objects, or even another person’s spouse or children, then such a thought is considered as Adharma of mind. The gist of the tenet is that one should forever be vigilant about one’s own thoughts and should not entertain unrighteous thoughts even for a moment, because if such thoughts are entertained, they would become deeply rooted in the mind and finally they will impel the person to commit Adharmic actions.

The second tenet isthinking bad or undesirable with respect to others’. Here undesirable is a very generic term. Undesirable thoughts could be anything ranging from thoughts of physically harming someone to thoughts of ruining someone’s career. It may include mental conditions which are today categorized as misogyny, sadism, masochism, etc.

In many a sense, this single tenet defines the Adharma of thoughts. Any thoughts, which, when implemented, if it leads to undesirable unrighteous consequences to one’s own self or to some other person or being, or even nature in general, all such thoughts are Adharma.

The third tenet of mental Adharma is adhering to falsehood, propagating false doctrines, or simply being dishonest inspite of being aware of the fact that one is propagating falsehood is mental Adharma. In other words, speaking falsehood is verbal Adharma, but committing that act inspite of being aware that it is Adharma constitutes mental Adharma. While preaching false doctrines and fooling people with ulterior motives (example: evangelism through fraud) constitutes verbal and physical Adharma, mental adherence to these unrighteous actions for selfish reasons constitutes mental Adharma.

To illustrate with an example, consider two persons. One is involved in converting people by fraudulent means like speaking about fake miracles, staging fake miracles, etc. The other person, though he does neither indulges in nor speaks about conversion activities, he does support conversion activities including the use of fraud and falsehood as a principle. He considers use of the fraud and falsehood as legitimate. In this example, the latter commits only the Adharma of the mind, whereas the former commits all the three kinds of Adharma– of body, speech, and mind.

Thus, Hindu philosophy advises people to be very vigilant about their thought process and restrain the mind so that the mind can be purified and put to use in righteous (Dharmic) actions. The purification of mind, called as ‘Chitta-Shuddhi, plays a very central role in Hinduism for the same reason. Realizing this, people should make efforts to adhere to Dharma in mind, speech, and action, and should avoid catering to unrighteous and undesirable thoughts. (Photo: freedomfightersblog.com)

More in this segment:

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 8
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 9
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 10
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 11
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 12
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 13
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 14

Gleaning from Hindu Scriptures- Part 15

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  • Pradeep Sreeram

    If source of Dharma is god… then is the source of Adharma?

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Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

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Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.