Thursday July 19, 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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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)