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  • Writer's pictureAshok Kumar Burra

An Indian dimension to Spirituality and methods of Self Control

This Indian (Hindu) dimension of Spirituality is our small effort to make our readers know something about ancient India’s wisdom which was precisely preserved in the form of Vedas, Epics, Puranas, Upanishads, etc, all of which at more than one occasion have never refrained from the discussion on the human behavior and the methods of Self-control. A little consideration will explain the fact that with the gained material knowledge on any subject, people try to do different things and in the process of doing things people make mistakes and those mistakes teach important lessons to improve our lives if those underlying lessons are understood properly

Our experiences both good and bad will give way to critical thinking and the process of critical thinking more often is linked to our intellect and to our minds which in turn connect us with our own true selves to let us understand our true nature and the natural principles of this world. So if the culture is very old and ancient as that of India, which is very evident from Indian history, there are certain things that are very wisely defined due to the ancient Indians’ vast knowledge and experience over hundreds of generations. The sacred Hindu scriptures like Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, etc are derived in the same way and are composed by great sages. They are sacred because they speak about the simple and great things to improve our lives.

If not looked at with a stained glass approach – an approach which stains the viewing glass as per the existing problems modern India is facing today like poverty, mediocrity, corruption, crime, terrorism, etc – Indian history during India’s glorious period was always great. It has shown that India was more prosperous at that time like the USA and some European countries are today. (The world’s recorded history clearly shows the reasons for India’s downfall and whoever is responsible for such downfall. Now India is reviving herself but there are gigantic problems like poverty, corruption, crime, terrorism, etc and however, it becomes another lengthy topic not suited in this context).

Through this article ‘An Indian dimension of Spirituality to understand Human behavior and methods of Self-control’, we would like to share some views about Human behavior, Personality development, Mindpower, Spirituality. The following words, phrases, and paragraphs are not new altogether but are a selective blend of Indian Philosophy, Spirituality and some Mythology.


The word ‘personality is often misinterpreted by a majority of people as something related to good looks, physique, bodybuilding, fashion and so on. But only such features can’t fully make a person.

There are other important qualities like Emotional balance, Intellect, Spiritual dimension to be added to the complete personality of a person. Many of us think that we need physical development during the youth and that the development concerning the emotional balance, psychology or spirituality are needed at later stages of life but in the eyes of a wise man, the best stage to develop on different dimensions and directions is from the student life itself. Many books say it is wise to improve one’s intellect by staying in the company of great people (wise and pure–hearted persons) than to read many books because it gives you more wisdom and thereby knowledge within a short period of time.

Personality development means the development of thoughts in a productive manner too. It doesn’t mean only to develop the physical dimension but more importantly, it refers to Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual dimensions. A mere bodybuilder or a fashion model is not to be called a personality.

A great Personality may be someone like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Einstein, Leonardo DaVinci, Abraham Lincoln, APJ Abdul Kalam, etc because all these persons possess these above-mentioned qualities.

Human Behavior due to senses

To start with the understanding of the basic human nature, we have five senses namely Drishti (Vision), Shabda (Sound), Vaakh (Speech), Ruchi (Taste) and Sparsha (Touch) which influence human behavior. The Atman (Soul), the Manas (Mind) and the Buddhi (Intelligence) drive us to perform our regular tasks.

There are six senses (traits) that destroy the man if they are not put under control. These six senses are referred to as ‘Arishadvarga’ in Sanskrit. They are:

1. Kama (Sexual desires, Passions or Obsessions),

2. Krodha (Anger),

3. Lobha (Greed),

4. Moha (Attraction),

5. Mada (Ego, Pride, stubbornness) and

6. Matsarya (jealousy).

This is only a brief introduction about the enemies of the Mind. In the Hindu epic ‘Bhagavatham’ it was explained that these six traits depict the six gates of Vaikunta (Heaven, the abode of Supreme God) and the seventh and the last is Ahankara (Pride), the most dangerous one. From the macroscopic point of view, the ‘Ahankara’ can also be referred to as a constituent of ‘Mada’.

The need for Meditation

First of all, we should know something about our own mind. Even from the scientific point of view, today it is said that our mind has three stages of consciousness as described by many scientists and psychologists. They are the Conscious mind, the Subconscious mind and the Unconscious mind. Out of these Subconscious minds is the most powerful phase of consciousness. Our brain has mainly two hemispheres (lobes) left and right. The left brain makes you think laterally and logically. It needs reasoning. The right brain listens to whatever illogical you say. When you are in a meditated state the right brain works and the Subconscious mind comes into play. In such a state you can be able to visualize the thoughts that creep into our mind. The right brain accounts for noble ideas and creativity. This was also proven from the biographies of great people that they used to have the habit of some form of meditation in their lives.  Knowingly or unknowingly they were doing the Creative Visualization and achieved in reality all those they visualized with their creativity.

Swami Vivekananda explained the power of the mind very well in his book ‘Brahmacharya’.  We are responsible for everything that happens to us.  Everything happens for a reason, purpose and it serves us. The mind acts in a dual manner, it acts as a servant if controlled and as a master if uncontrolled. The only thing is you should direct your mind properly by practice and effort and then it acts as a servant. For achieving this, the process of Meditation is the ultimate means. A sound body contains a sound mind. For a sound body, we need good health. And good health is maintained by proper breathing. So first you concentrate on your breathing, so you control your health, and if you control your health, you control your mind, if you control your mind you will know about your mind better. If you understand your mind better, you will also understand the ‘Universal Mind’ which is unique. That Universal Mind is the Supreme God.

The mind is like a garden. The thoughts are like plants and weeds. A useful thought (positive thought) is a plant and is a good idea. The positive thoughts are like useful crops and the negative thoughts are like weeds. We should not cultivate bad thoughts because they will spoil the ‘mind garden’. You might have studied in physics that when a water bubble is inside or at the bottom of the lake its size is small but when it comes to the upper surface its size increases enormously and it finally bursts when it reaches the surface of the water. In the same manner, the negative thought is so small but when once enters the mind and gets stuck in the mind, its impact is very high and it ultimately spoils the person. The best method to control our mind is through Meditation. As each thought is associated with some brain wave frequency, the process of meditation reduces this frequency because of meditation. In the modern personal development programs, there are some techniques developed such as SWOT analysis though their core principle is the same old method of meditating and discovering one’s self to improve good habits and to eliminate the bad habits. This will help in reaching the goal.

Creative Visualization is one of the best methods of meditation. Close your eyes and sit in a comfortable posture, it is effective when your backbone is straight. Visualize your goals to be achieved and the appreciation you get after reaching your goal. The mind has such a power to make dreams into reality. Remember psychology affects physiology and physiology affects psychology. Thought always gets transformed into physical form. You are what you think. Visualize that you are strong, healthy, genius, etc. Swami Vivekananda explained the mind in his book The Powers of Mind.

Finally, you are what you think! If you think you are a winner, you are! If you think you are weak, you are! Whatever you visualize in your mind about yourself, you get directly affected in the reality. So by controlling your thoughts in your mind, you are actually controlling your reality too!

Importance of Spirituality

Let us talk about the powers of mind and the character of a yogi and about open–heartedness. To know well about our own minds we should have faith in divinity and religion. Many people think that belief and faith are the same. Swami Paramananda in his book ‘Faith is Power’ explained that belief is different from faith. For instance, we generally listen to our friends or well-wishers and took advice from them. We start our investigation on the things we don’t know based on the observations of others, if the given data is correct then we believe it firmly or else we lose belief in the person who has suggested it. So first we believe the things and make research on them with our intelligence and reasoning, and if it is reasonable we will then get faith. So belief is superficial. When we come to know about a certain thing on our own we strongly say we are right and it is called faith. When a person has a doubting mind he will certainly lose his idea on the task which he is performing.

In Bhagavadgita, Lord Krishna says that a man should develop himself on his own and there is no one to rescue him. We generally believe in God but we don’t have faith in God. Religion is a philosophy or a path to reach God, the rituals we perform are only meant to pay attention and discipline towards reaching God. In Bhagavadgita, it was clearly said that a man has to work only to fulfill his responsibility without getting influenced expecting the outcome. Man has the authority only to do things but not on the results. God is indirectly responsible for all the thoughts either good or bad because the entire world is run by Maya (Illusion existing in the form of nature) which is the cause for all the thoughts and the Maya is one superficial form of the same supreme God in the materialistic sense. Those who have faith in God can come out of this Maya. Only God is eternal and the entire world is perishable. God is the soul of our soul, the Supreme soul. In Sanskrit, ‘Atma’ means ‘Soul’ and ‘Paramatma’ means Supreme soul meaning Supreme God.

With great faith, we can reach god. Lord Sri Krishna said that a man can get him in two ways. One way is by adopting Karma Yoga (Path of Action) for those who work sincerely and the other way is Dhyana Yoga (Path of Meditation) for the sages. But the lord says Karma yogi is better than a Dhyana yogi. Karma implies the work we do – we have to perform our work with devotion towards God. Every work we do is to be dedicated and offered to God with ‘shradda’ (faith). The qualities of a yogi are patience, the balance of mind and desirelessness. Yogi or a Sanyasi doesn’t mean a person dressed in a robe and/or wearing a turban. A person can’t become a Yogi simply by attire. A real Yogi or a Sanyasi is a person who always keeps his heart filled with Bhakti (devotion). A man who has attained such a state of intellectual equilibrium about happiness and misery, joys and sorrows, friends and enemies, rich and poor, etc is called a Yogi.

Many of you may question how it would be possible to treat our own self and others equally! Swami Vivekananda, in his works, has used the word ‘Non–Attachment’ to explain this point. The Atman (soul) is bonded to the universe. The entire universe has only one soul and it is spread in all the living beings. The man’s soul is a part of the unique universal soul. This is what Vishishtadvaita speaks about. Some scholars explain in a wiser way that if we are not born from the unique infinite source (Supreme God) then how can be it called infinite because we are different from it and are independent of this infinite source. So there is no other possibility and there is only one soul in the entire universe and the whole of it is you itself if you explore yourself spiritually. This can be explained with an example that when sun rays fall on the water bubbles we see the image of the Sun on each bubble, but they are not many suns, and the sun is one and the same for each bubble, but each bubble is different with its size and lifespan. Likewise, we are all the images of god. That is why the great sages of ancient India said to love everyone equally because every living being is a form of the same God. So a pure Brahmin has the same respect for all the people and all the living beings. Hence meat-eating is considered to be a sin by the real Brahmins because it involves violence like the killing of animals for pleasure and taste.

The reason behind the philosophy of Vishishtadvaita is that all the living beings are from the same divine source, so if you love anyone you indirectly love God and yourself.  For example, there is a pile full of clay and many pots of different shapes are made with it, if you study the properties of clay you can say the properties of pots without studying them individually and vice versa. In a similar manner if you purify your soul the entire universe is purified for you. But for this, you need a pure heart that is devoid of hatred, jealousy, selfishness, etc. The heart should have the feeling of oneness. When the thought of self enters a mind it leads to selfishness, selfishness spoils the heart by creating hatred towards the other humans, hatred creates jealously and jealously leads to greediness, this, in turn, increases ego in man, ego spoils the thinking ability of man and thus the downfall of man starts.

Bonding with other Humans is like bonding between different waves and bonding with the Supreme God is like bonding with the ocean.

Another analogy is that the humans are like waves in the sea and the Supreme God is like an ocean. The waves are busy bonding with other waves thinking that their bonding is permanent. And very soon they perish. This is how life goes on. The waves must understand the bond with the Ocean and not with the other waves. So the real happiness lies in the understanding of the bond with the ocean which is permanent while bonding with other waves leads to sorrow. But till this ignorance is not broken, the waves only see the other waves and not the ocean. In this way, a human must understand that the bonds with other humans are just like the waves bonding with other waves and the bond with the ocean is like bonding with the Supreme God.

Wandering mind and its control

The mind is not stable as a chair but it wanders all throughout the world and provokes you with many useless thoughts. In Bhagavatham it was clearly said that a man has Buddhi (intelligence) Manas (mind/heart) and Atman (soul). We have organs for each and every function. A man should control his organs from worldly pleasures with patience and practice, he should use his Buddhi to direct his mind and in the process when the mind becomes stable he can find his soul inside his physical body. Soul then attains the state of happiness and reaches the super consciousness state which we call God.

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said that the sole aim of man is to reach him. Those who deviate from this path will not attain Mukthi (liberation) and should reenter the cycle of birth and death. Kindly remember that God has no Manas (mind) so he neither loves you nor hates you. If you pray to him with devotion he will definitely help you, all you have to do is pay attention to your work. When Arjuna asked the lord, ‘What happens if a man fails to move in the right path even though he tried effortlessly?”, then Sri Krishna answered to Arjuna that the mind is not stagnant, it gets attracted to the perishable world due to the effect of Maya, so man should be careful. Like a tortoise dragging its body parts under its shell for protection in times of perils, man should divert his attention from worldly pleasures using his Buddhi (intelligence) and should concentrate on God with the efforts through Bhakti (devotion). Despite such efforts, if a man fails to reach God he has to take the next birth, but as he made an effort in last birth there would be some effect of his deeds and he will be born in a family with good customs and culture, so he will be diverted again towards Bhakti or Devotion.

We can see the evidence of the above-said statement in our daily lives, like for instance, we see some rich and prosperous people living their life harmoniously and peacefully and they get good fortunes, while some others lead their lives with misery and still suffer from more setbacks. Some are born in great families while some are born in starving families. Some are born in great and prosperous countries while some are born in troublesome countries.

If according to any other religion there is no birth and death cycle, then the above real-life events we are witnessing every day would not justify the presence of God as we describe Him because God should not be partial to anyone. Differently, the Vedic culture of India believes in this birth and death cycle, so we can easily understand that the differences in the fortunes of the people are just the results of the deeds of their past births. Everybody in their life will do certain activities and in this process accumulates the results and to experience their results, they would take the next birth. At a certain stage, when they don’t accumulate any bad results, they attain the Mukthi (liberation) and their soul will be united with the Supreme soul. In this materialistic world, there is no real enjoyment other than Bhakti (devotion) because apart from the devotion, there is no other thing that only gives happiness.

When a man has more attention towards enjoyment it will lead to lust. Man needs money only for his needs, but when Lobha (blind attention towards making money and passion for amassing wealth) enters the mind it will transform into Moha (Attraction), Moha creates Kama (Passions, obsessions, sexual thoughts) and the Kama transforms into Krodha (Anger), Anger destroys Buddhi and man loses his memory power, common sense and thinking ability, thus man gets destroyed by choosing the path of enjoyment.

Occasionally, in this article, we have used the word ‘Purity’. The purity is attained by humans when their hearts are filled with love. The purest form of devotion again is love. The two great qualities of love are that Love doesn’t bargain, and, Love has no fear.

Love is not to be understood only in the sense of attraction towards a man and a woman. Love is always divine and universal as it exists between couples, between parents and children, between humans and animals, etc in different forms. When we love someone we try to do anything for them, we serve them selflessly. When we love something we try our best to safeguard it.

Many people pray the God asking for something they require by offering some valuable things in favor of God and they believe that their wishes would become true. This is a common practice by the majority of Hindus due to their sentiments (though it gives a wrong impression about real Hinduism). This is principally wrong because if you try to worship God only for getting some returns, then it is a form of bargaining but not real devotion. This way of blind devotion (though it is not at all to be termed as devotion) is of no use in any kind. This will not liberate anybody from this life and death cycle. Not only a majority of Hindus but also in other religions, this practice is found that by offering something to God, people expect that they are getting rid of all their sins. For our actions, we need to experience the results and there is no escape. Nobody knows how the results of our actions would occur in our real life.

We should pray to God only with a pure form of devotion by doing the right things and offering our efforts to God.

God never gives what we want, but he always gives us what we need.

He has created this world and if he accepts offerings then there is no difference between man and god. Love is giving but not taking. We can see many persons saying I had did so and so but in return they give nothing. The problem here is everyone expects something from others, if they are dissatisfied their minds will fill with misery. Expectation always reduces joy, so if you love anyone truly then if you want to give them something give it without expecting anything in return otherwise it is more a shop-keeping rather than love. Do the things without selfishness. If your heart is pure you can get everything you need. When you are pure the universe is ready to open its secrets.

The best Mantra during our prayer:

Kayena vaacha manasa indriyairva buddhyatmanaava prakruthe swabhaavaath

Karomi yadyat sakalam parasmaihi narayanaa ithi samarpayaami

The meaning is, “Whatever I do (Karomi Yad Yat Sakalam) with my Body (Kaya), Voice (Vaacha), Mind (Manasa), Senses (Indriya), Intellect (Buddhi), Soul (Atman), Behavioral tendencies (Swabhava Prakruthi), hereby (Ithi) I offer (Samarpayaami) to the Supreme (Param) God (Narayana)”

When you have faith in God you need not worry about your life. Even you should not have fear of death. All the divinity is within you, you only have to ignite the spirit inside you. Shatter all the fears and have faith alone as it is enough to give you everything.

Finally, the wisdom we can learn in this modern generation (also based on our previous posts) in simple terms is this:

  1. God is unique and the only one. The whole universe is itself derived from the same and unique Supreme God.

  2. Energy is Magnetic and all the thoughts have some energy associated with them. Thoughts can be controlled by the practice of Meditation and worship, by controlling your thoughts, you control your mind, and by controlling your mind, you achieve control over this physical world.

  3. You are what you think. If you think you are divine you are! But the thinking must be pure and honest and relating to your inner self.

  4. Every thought by proper empowering transforms into an Action.

  5. A trained mind acts as your slave and an untrained mind acts as a master. You can’t resist your thoughts, but you can control your thoughts and thereby your actions which will provide the results to be experienced.

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