50. Ethical Living and the Bhagavadgita

Samatvam or sameness

by Jayaram V

Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V

Synopsis: This is about the importance of virtue, righteousness and ethical behavior according to the Bhagavadgita.

The Bhagavadgita is a treatise on dharmic (virtuous) living, which leads to peace, stability, wisdom, freedom and happiness here and hereafter. Its emphasis is upon ethical behavior, virtuous conduct, inner purity, responsible living, religious duty and an unwavering commitment to liberation. It puts together a comprehensive strategy to cultivate purity in thought and deed by following the example of gods and their divine qualities (daiva sampatti).

Spiritual transformation must begin from the outer aspect of your life and personality where conduct becomes central to your practice. However, the real transformation must happen in all aspects of your life, including conduct and behavior. There is no difference in being a religious person or an ethical person. They are complimentary and serve the ultimate purpose of human life, which is liberation.

You cannot be truly religious without being virtuous and vice versa. There is a vast difference between sattvic people who worship God and practice their Dharma, and those who are predominantly rajasic or tamasic and practice their faith for various personal and selfish reasons.

Sattvic people are more suited for the practice of dharma and liberation (Moksha. Rajasic and tamasic people are more qualified to pursue the worldly ends of wealth (artha) and pleasure (kama). Neither their virtue nor their conduct is pure. It is tainted by egoism, and even demonic qualities. Even if they pursue spirituality, they end up using it for selfish or egoistic ends. Those who worship wealth or power cannot truly experience devotion to God.

The inner self is the witnessing self, who is ever awake and sensitive to our actions and mental formations. You cannot escape from yourself. No one judges you. You are the judge of your own thoughts and actions, which create karma and become part of your fate or destiny. The Self keeps track of what you do and do not do in your egoistic striving for survival and success. All that you do and experience becomes recorded in your consciousness. A part of it accompanies the soul to the other world as latent impressions. Therefore, self-discipline is important to keep your consciousness pure.

Self-realization is a mirage for those who indulge in flowery speeches, intellectual debates and outward display of moral superiority, without adequate effort to purify themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. A spiritualized ego without corresponding inner purity is a bigger impediment to spiritual practice. It rationalizes evil conduct and moral aberrations, which may eventually lead to one’s downfall.

Any dharma is but an instrument, a means to an end. If a person is not careful, it may harm him rather than help him by feeding his ego and keeping him deluded. Purity, therefore is at the heart of any spiritual practice. Spiritual effort must go with the development of certain divine qualities for success on the path.

The Bhagavadgita recognizes this problem. Hence, self-purification is central to its teachings. Purity is at the heart of all the yogas which are mentioned in the Bhagavadgita. Whether you practice karmayoga, karma-sanyasa-yoga, jnanayoga, buddhiyoga or bhaktiyoga, virtue and righteousness should be at the forefront. Without self-purification, there is no self-realization. The impure cannot join the pure. Into the world of God only the purest go. Not even a trace of impurity is allowed there. This is an undeniable spiritual truth. Therefore, if you are a true seeker of liberation, you must have zero tolerance for evil nature. You cannot let evil in any form settle in your conduct, behavior, or consciousness.

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