Rarely does the promoter of a company devote substantial time towards the personal well being of his employees. But Mr Subhash Chandra, Chairman of the Essel Group and Zee Network held a session spread over 15 days aimed at enabling Esselites to evolve into better human beings and thereby attain the state of bliss. Applying the lessons of the Chairman’s discourse which are reproduced here in twelve chapters, will help each one of us develop into much happier and successful human beings

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


To be happy, look inward

It is extremely important for us to introspect in order to achieve happiness

* * *

Today, we begin a journey — a journey of self-discovery. The aim of this journey is to understand ourselves, to look deep within, and to harness our untapped potential.

Let us first realise that the basic core of every human being is the same. We all have the same power and strength within us. But we continue to remain unaware of this unimaginable power and strength. We can create wonders by tapping this potential; but for that, we first need to discover ourselves.

Unless we learn about ourselves, it is impossible for us to understand the world. You should first know your inner Self. Introspection is a spiritual exercise, and a continuous process. The moment we stop introspecting or looking within, we begin to falter.

The story of Zee TV is a case in point. From the day Zee TV was launched in 1992, it witnessed a meteoric rise until 1999-2000. We soared because our introspection guided us. We were looking at ourselves and learning from ourselves. But the moment we stopped introspecting and started looking beyond ourselves, we began to slump and plunge into near-oblivion.

Today, we spend sleepless nights in our quest for Television Rating Points (TRPs). Our hard work does not yield higher TRPs. So, what do we do? We look towards the outside world for solutions. We rope in Shah Rukh Khan, hoping that he will work his magic with the TRPs. All our actions are aimed at increasing the TRPs. It is a classic case of chasing something which only gets farther and farther away from you, the more you chase it.

What happens when you chase a girl? She keeps running away from you. In the process of chasing her you are only distancing her from you. The more your chase her, the more elusive she becomes. This is a universal phenomenon.

Instead of chasing TRPs, our objective should be to make the viewer happy. Unfortunately, we are guided by the selfish motive of obtaining high TRPs so that we can hike ad rates and increase profits. The moment you eliminate this selfishness, your whole thought process will change.

Our priority should be to service our viewers. It does not matter if you have only two per cent of the viewership. Make them happy. This two per cent will increase to 20 per cent and then to 80 per cent.

Do not be bogged down by what your competitor does. Surely, there is no wisdom in blindly copying our competitors. Only when you stop being a copy-cat, will you start thinking innovatively. Only then will you stretch your creativity and come up with an original idea.

To begin with, let us at least start listening to the viewers. That is what made Zee successful. The moment we stopped listening to our viewers, the letters we received from them dropped from a peak of 400,000 a week, to just 20,000. Now, we are once again witnessing an upward swing because we listen to the viewers and look inward for inspiration.

These developments have compelled me to reflect on the beginning of my business career and the knowledge that I had gained from my grandfather. Whenever I was not attending school, I accompanied my grandfather who involved himself in striking matrimonial alliances as a hobby. At every house that we visited, he would make all the women folk stand alongside the bride. In case, he found any woman prettier than the bride, he would advise her not to be present when the groom visited the house. This ensured that the groom was not distracted from the bride towards a prettier woman.

I would marvel at his experience and wisdom. Such “native wisdom” is within all of us, but we choose to ignore it and look for answers elsewhere.

We have a right to be happy

Over the years, I have realised that introspection helps us to achieve both spiritual and materialistic goals. When I correlated the different lessons of my childhood, it became clear to me that unless we seek ourselves, we cannot understand our own personality… we cannot develop ourselves… we cannot be successful in our business… we cannot succeed in our relationships… The end result is that we cannot be happy. And an unhappy man creates unhappiness all around.

All of us have a right to be happy. As Sant Kabir said, there is nothing wrong in fulfilling our legitimate desires. For, as long as my legitimate desires are not fulfilled, I will not be a happy man. At the same time, I will not be a happy man if my desires are fulfilled beyond legitimate levels. Thus, it is important to strike a fine balance in life. But our ignorance prevents us from achieving this.

We should remain open to ideas and never allow ignorance to cloud our thoughts. For instance, when we started the Essel Group, we knew nothing other than trading in food grains, which was our family business. We did not know about plastics, packaging or amusement parks, leave alone satellites. When we were mulling over avenues to provide wholesome entertainment to the people, a friend suggested that the answer lay in satellite television. My instant reaction was: “What do you mean by a satellite?” The rest is history.

Ignorance creates cobwebs in our minds. It makes things look difficult. The moment we open our minds, even the most complicated concepts become simple. They begin to look so simple that you wonder: “Why did I not think of this earlier?” Nothing is unattainable as long as you do not have a mental block.

Besides the lessons that I learnt from my grandfather, I have during the past one year met several spiritual leaders who have guided me in the path of self-realisation. Today, I am at peace with myself. People say I look much better these days.

It is my intention to share this knowledge and learning with my extended family of 9,000 Esselites. Let us learn from the experiences of one another on how to improve our lives. The underlying factor, of course, is that we should be happy in the first place. Only then can we make everybody else happy.

The essence of this exercise is to help you understand yourselves. Instead of a third person pointing out your strengths and weaknesses, you should develop techniques so that you can assess yourself and improve your personality. This needs practice. Just as you need continuous practice to become a good musician, you will need practice to perfect the technique of understanding yourself.

Developing such techniques is important because human resource experts and management gurus offer solutions which are universal in nature. These solutions are not tailor-made for each individual. Thus, they do not address individual needs.

Four kinds of beings

There are four kinds of beings in this world: minerals, plants, animals and humans. Of the first three, only animals are endowed with a limited choice of decision. They normally operate as per the basic nature with which they are born. A lion will never turn herbivorous while a cow will not turn carnivorous.

But humans have an unlimited choice of decision. This is why you are an individual. This calls for acknowledging the individual character of every person. Ultimately, we should treat a human being individually instead of advancing a universal solution to everybody’s problem. This can be achieved only by understanding ourselves. The solution lies within us.

Now we follow a mechanical way of life. Often, our actions are guided by others. We are content with aping our peers, bosses or parents. We have perfected the art of herd mentality in both our personal and professional lives. This lack of reasoning leads to stress and strain.

Enjoy what you do

Our actions should bring us pleasure. We should find joy in what we do. But today, we have adopted the route of escapism. We would rather escape certain actions to avoid bad results. In the process, we are searching for peace in non-action and escapism.

This is because we are ignorant of our own potential. Once we understand the techniques of living, we will learn the dynamics of finding pleasure in our actions, instead of resorting to escapism. There is nothing wrong in thinking about ourselves first. That does not mean you are selfish. You should only ensure that your actions are selfless.

After one year of going through this spiritual exercise, it does not mean that I do not want the market capitalisation of the Group to go up to 50 billion dollars. But if that does not happen, I will not be unduly perturbed about it.

The key to happiness is to take success in your stride and not be depressed when you fail. Just keep doing your karma.


Unlimited desires cause unhappiness

All our actions, consciously or unconsciously, are motivated by our quest for happiness. The housewife strives for a clean and orderly house and well-brought up children so that she can be happy with herself. The husband aims to make more money so that he can be happy. We chase money, health, growth, fame, power, property and relationships, not for their own sake but for the satisfaction they promise.

According to the Vedas, there is a gradual increase in happiness as we evolve in life: worldly happiness, mental happiness, spiritual happiness. The first is the happiness that we derive from our routine actions in this world. You enjoy good health… you have a wonderful family life… you have a well paying job. Such happiness is temporary. The second stage is when we strive to achieve the state of mental happiness. This too gives us only temporary joy. What leads to permanent happiness is the realisation of the Self. The dawn of real happiness will be inferred only when there are no self-centered desires any more.

As Swami Vivekananda said, “In this little life of ours, if we can bring even a moment’s joy in another heart, that alone is true religion. Bring joy to others, and you shall attain joy, because the others and us are not different. We are one and the same.”

Happiness is a state of the mind. You will find happiness when you recognise the intrinsic wealth within yourself, instead of seeking wealth from the outside world.
In this materialistic world, human beings are guided by two motivational factors: to acquire wealth and to enjoy this wealth.

But wealth need not be in monetary terms alone. It can also be the desire to excel in one’s chosen field, be it music, sports or car racing. Our desire to achieve motivates us. But often there is no end to our wants. It is this unlimited desire that makes us unhappy.

Detached materialism

I am unhappy because the newspapers say I am the twenty-third richest man of Indian origin. I wonder, why not tenth, third or first. This question makes me unhappy. There is no harm in aspiring to become No 10 or No 1, but when you do not achieve this, do not become unhappy. You need to imbibe in yourself, a level of detachment.

As Swami Prahavananda remarked, “Life consists of a series of rises and falls. One should not get too much elated during the rise or too much depressed during the fall. And at all hours one should try to be in touch with the true Self. In this lies the secret of the balanced state.”

Today’s source of unhappiness can be traced to ignorance and frustration. We fail to understand that happiness is within us. Instead, we continue to chase materialistic happiness.

When we fail to derive happiness from our materialistic acquisitions, we wonder: “What is life?”
Life is a bundle of experiences that we gain when we come in contact with the world. The world comprises two entities, the subject and the object. You are the subject, while everything around you is the object.

Each time you come in contact with the outside world, you gain one unit of experience. The day you stop gaining experiences, that is the day of death of this human body.

An unhappy man in a happy world

The march of science has ensured that humanity at large is happy. Scientists have created a near-perfect world of push-button comfort. But in the process, they forgot to focus on the individual or the subject. Thus, while the world is largely happy, the individual still remains unhappy, unable to overcome worries and anxieties.

As we discussed in the previous chapter, the world comprises four entities: minerals, plants, animals and human beings. Only human beings are endowed with the choice to decide. This fires their quest for knowledge. Though by acquiring knowledge, we have emerged as experts in our respective fields, we still fail to understand ourselves. We fail to comprehend what actions are right, and what are not.

Our perception of what is right or wrong, is clouded by what we have been told by others, be it parents, friends or colleagues. This conditioning right from an early age prevents us from asking questions.

Do not accept anything without questioning

I am reminded of a story which illustrates the impact of conditioning on our lives. A Hindu and Christian gave birth in the same hospital ward. A negligent nurse exchanged the babies. The Hindu child grew up as a devout Christian, while the Christian child was brought up as a pious Hindu.

Another anecdote also exemplifies this point. A Seth was continuously being pestered by his wife to replace his assistant or Munimji, with her brother. Unable to tolerate the wife’s harassment, the Seth decided to put the young man to test.

A lorry was driving past the shop and the Seth asked the wife’s brother to find out what it was transporting. He was back in a minute with the answer: “The lorry is laden with cotton.” The Seth then asked the man about the origin and destination of the lorry. The man ran back to lorry and soon returned with the answer. Then, the Seth asked him about the owner of the lorry and the consignment. Once again, the young man made his enquiries and returned with the answer. This continued for quite a while, with the Seth asking new questions and the young man running back and forth.

The next day the same lorry pulled up before the shop and the Seth sent his old Munimji on a similar errand. Without any prodding, the Munimji asked the relevant questions and returned with all the details that the Seth wanted.

The young man represents today’s generation which has lost its faculty to question. Your faculties begin to rust, the moment you stop questioning.

We worship idols and forget ideals

Our ancient culture was rich and vibrant because our precursors never killed the faculty to question. During the Ramayana period, science was at its peak. We hear of Pushpak and the atom bomb even during those days. These are facts, not part of mythology.

Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara, on the other hand, fall within the domain of mythology. They are concepts, not real people. These were created to educate illiterate people about the phases of life: generation, operation and destruction (GOD). Brahma is the generator, Vishnu is the operator, while Maheshwara is the destructor.

But Ram, Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Guru Nanak and Bhagawan Mahaveer are real people. They are historical personalities, not mythological figures. They lived in this world. But we have forgotten their message. We perform arthi to the idol of Ram. We have made him a God, but we have forgotten his message to the world. Similarly, how many follow the teaching of Prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ?

A senior politician approached Sri Sathya Sai Baba a few years ago seeking his help to construct the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The Baba’s instant response was: “Build a temple of Ram in your heart. Worship his ideals, not his idol. Then, I will support you.”

We forget the teachings and get infatuated towards a personality. There is nothing wrong in carrying a picture of my devatha or a Cross with me. It reminds me of my God. But do I follow the teachings of my God in my day-to-day living?

The glory of India

The society during the time of the Ramayana was much more evolved than it is now. It taught the people to look inward and understand themselves. This had the following results:

§ India had the earliest civilisation at Harappa, when the rest of the world was filled with tribes. India could have forcibly acquired most of the world. But in its 10,000 years of history, India has not invaded a single country.

§ The system of numbers evolved in India, with Aryabhata inventing ‘zero’.

§ The world’s first university was established at Takshashila where 10,000 students studied 60 subjects every year.

§ The University of Nalanda was set up in the 4th BC.

§ Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to human beings.

§ The art of navigation evolved in River Sindh 6,000 years ago.

§ Bhaskaracharya was the first to calculate the time taken by the earth to orbit around the sun.

The list is endless. Why did we lose this glory? Because we stopped looking at our own people as wise men. We started looking at the outside world for knowledge. That is when the decline began.

There is a saying in Haryana, Gar ka jogni jogna, bahar ka jogi sidh. While we consider the intellectual within the house as insane, we welcome advice from outsiders as the gospel of truth.

Mental slavery continues

The British came to India through the East India Company. They plundered the country and destroyed everything. India’s share in world trade which was 18 per cent then, is now negligible.

The task of subjugating India was given to Lord Macaulay, who after travelling through the country, returned to London and delivered the following address to the British Parliament on February 2, 1835:

I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think that we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them to be, a truly dominated nation.

When we look at the India of today, there is no doubt that the British succeeded in their game plan. The phase of mental slavery has still not ended. We continue to worship everything that is western, while looking down upon our own rich culture.

Though there has been a perceptible change in the last 15-20 years, prejudices still continue. Indians are respected in the US, in Europe and across the world, but India has a long way to go. The country is divided on the basis of caste, creed and religion. We fight among ourselves. This is biggest plague afflicting India.

Live and Let Live

We are constantly at each other’s throats. You are familiar with the corporate wars in India. Today, the Business Standard carried a report on the setting up of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by Zee. I am sure that by now there are a dozen people devising ways to sabotage our plans. There is still so much more to do in this country, but we continue to prevent others from progressing.

This continues to be the bane of India and Indians.


The Three Cs of Success

While addressing my managers, I asked them a question: What does religion mean to you? I received over a dozen responses and each of them offered a different definition. The responses were as follows:

1. Beliefs
2. Way of life
3. Guidelines
4. Sets of do’s and don’ts
5. Worshipping
6. Our values
7. Karma or duty
8. Realisation of the Self
9. Fall back system for finding peace
10. Institutionalised way of finding truth
11. Set of values, beliefs and rituals to find the goal of life
12. To achieve the ultimate goal of our atma and become one with the paramatma
13. A framework which enables us to relate to the unknown
14. A prayer to achieve piece of mind

If we surmise all these views, we may conclude that religion encompasses the eternal principles of life and learning. These principles of life have not changed over the years. Religion binds one to his origin.

Religion is not about being a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain. The moment we look at ourselves as Hindus or Muslims or Jains, we start running away from reality. Religion is universal. It cannot belong to a particular sect.

Vedanta does not belong to any religion

Similarly, Vedanta does not belong to any particular religion. It does not belong to Hindus alone. Veda in Sanskrit means knowledge, while antha means ultimate or the end, that is, culmination of knowledge. If I find certain good principles in Christianity, why should I not adopt them? If my neighbour has some good qualities, why should I not emulate him? Likewise, Vedanta belongs to everybody. Everybody is free to adopt it.

We often speak of being spiritual or non-spiritual. What does spirituality mean? We have been conditioned to believe that to be religious is to be spiritual. Today, religion has become synonymous with Hinduism, Islam or Christianity.

The spirit is the cause which makes us do what we are doing. Spirituality is to practice this cause. We should first believe in the concept of aham Brahma asmi or I am God.

To quote Max Muller, a renowned Indologist: “If people conceive God as a kind of Jupiter, or even as a Jehovah, then the idea can only be considered blasphemous… But after the Deity had been freed from its mythological character, the human mind realises the fact that God is in all.”

Your past has a bearing on the future

Your destiny of today is the result of your past actions. Your present actions impact your future. You have no control over your past actions. But you are in command of your present actions. Though present and future actions are within your control, the rub-off effect of the past cannot be avoided. The past always has a bearing on the future.

Let me illustrate this with an example. Paint a yellow strip on the wall. On this strip, paint red. You will realise that the final colour turns out to be green and not red. This is the rub-off effect of the past. Your misdeeds of the past will haunt you in the future, even if your present actions are good. You reap what you sow.

In the words of the Buddha:

I am the owner of my karma
I inherit my karma
I am born of my karma
I am related to my karma
I live supported by my karma
Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit

Every religion or philosophy teaches us about the consequences of our actions. Hence, it is important that we act judiciously.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words
Watch your words, for they become actions
Watch your actions, for they become habits
Watch your habits, for they become character
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

Yoga is the solution

Human beings may be classified into four classes: those who are highly emotional, those who are highly intellectual, those who are highly intellectual and emotional, and those who are low on both these quotients. We should realise that none is superior or inferior to the other. Only when we realise to which class we belong and accordingly develop our personality, can we reach the state of bliss.

This can be achieved through yoga. Often people relate yoga with asanas or meditation. On the other hand, yoga means to unite with the Self. If you believe in this concept, you will not have any conflict with your own beliefs or faith. These are universal principles which apply to all of us, irrespective of caste.

To attain the unachievable you need to concentrate on the powers within you. Only then will you realise that enormous power that is within you. This can be illustrated with a simple exercise. Plant two saplings in two separate pots. Provide the same treatment to both the saplings—the same light, water and manure. But mentally believe that the plant on the left will grow faster and taller. You will notice that in the next 15 days, the plant on the left actually grows taller. This is the power of concentration.

The key to success

The three ingredients for success are concentration, consistency and cooperation. To quote a philosopher:

The discipline of concentration is to keep yourself focused on your present actions. The natural tendency of the mind is to step into the future or into the past. It hardly stays in the present. It thinks about the past or becomes anxious about the future. This dissipates your energies. You need a powerful intellect to control the mind.

The knowledge of Vedanta helps you to strengthen the intellect and hold your mind in the present, without allowing it to slip to the past or the future. You then become more objective and productive in your field of activity.

The next discipline is to maintain the consistency of purpose by directing your actions to a set goal. Here, your intellect chooses an ideal in life, a cause beyond your self-centered interests. Having fixed a goal, your intellect directs your actions towards it. Through consistency, your actions are rendered more powerful and successful.

The third discipline is to recognise and maintain the spirit of cooperative endeavour. To achieve results in any field of activity, you need to work with your colleagues as a team. You need the support and cooperation of others related to your work. The work performed with such cooperation reaches the height of achievement.

In a nutshell, when we practice the three disciplines of concentration, consistency and cooperation, we can be assured of success in all our activities. While these principles have been successfully adopted in business houses in the West, Indians continue to lag behind. As Vedanta exponent Swami Parthasarathy recently remarked, “Indians are not interested in these management techniques. They will take another ten years to wake up.”


Peace eludes the restless mind

The world comprises four beings: minerals, vegetables, animals and human being. We will today examine the level of consciousness that exists in them, before discussing the various aspects of human beings.

Though minerals appear dormant, they too exhibit a level of consciousness. They undergo chemical and physical changes. But these changes are almost imperceptible and so minerals are considered practically lifeless.

Plants display a higher level of consciousness when compared to minerals. Plants grow, branch out and take deep roots. But they cannot move from one place to another. Their motion is confined to one spot.

Animals are more conscious of the world than plants and minerals. They belong to a higher degree of evolution. Unlike plants, their motion is not confined to a spot. They are known to travel great distances when the need arises. Animals also are capable of expressing themselves, though in a limited way.

Humans are the most evolved among all beings. They encompass the qualities of minerals, plants and animals. Their consciousness or awareness of the world is supreme.

Human beings can plan their future course of action. That is what makes them supreme, both spiritually and materialistically. You can plan and reach your goal. No other species can do this. Human beings exhibit far more energy and motion than the routine and mechanical movement of animals. Human beings enjoy the power to control other beings.

Above all, humans alone can surmise the existence of God. To quote a spiritual leader, “Life sleeps in plants, dreams in animals and awakens in man.”

Man is defined by his degree of selflessness

Let us now examine the structure of human beings. Human beings can be categorised under five different heads: mineral person, vegetable person, animal person, human person and god person.

The degree of selflessness and selfishness is what defines a human being. A mineral person is the most self-centered. A mineral person will never look beyond himself—not even his wife or children. His primary concern is his own happiness. He is not concerned about his father, mother or spouse. He is not even conscious about the existence of others or about the needs and welfare of other beings.

Those in the mineral category are stone-like. They have no emotions. They are gross and lethargic. They hardly manifest any energy or activity. They are irresponsible and indifferent. They are heedless and they fail to react to the world. They remain only at the physical level. The nature of such a person is totally selfish.

A vegetable person is less selfish. He cares about his immediate family. But everything he does centres around his self-centered desires. His interest and attention revolve around his immediate family, spouse and children. He does not see anything beyond the periphery of his house. He mainly caters to the well being of his family. He is lost in the domestic world. He tries hard to stretch the world to suit the pleasure of his domestic service. And in this struggle, he becomes mentally disturbed and very unhappy.

Animal persons are also basically selfish. Their interests have crossed the periphery of their own body and their family. They start relating to their own community. They ideally move with their caste or creed, clan or clique, class or community and would cater to the welfare of those who belong to their fold. They are sacrificial to their own section and faction, but turn bitter to those beyond the boundary of their own group and clash with them. The angel metamorphoses into devil.

Thus different groups are at war with each other. They breed discontent and disruption in the society. The members of each group cause more pain to the other groups than the pleasure that they claim to their own people.

Human persons are far less selfish when compared to the mineral, vegetable and animal persons. They have wider interests: some identify themselves with their nations or nationals, others with all humanity. They do not find any distinction of demarcation within their enclave and advance the good to those who fall within the boundary of their circle, but not so with those who transgress their boundaries. Thus, one nation is set against the other resulting in wars after wars. The pages of history are blood stained and the good earth has turned into a veritable hell.

There is also a fifth form, which every human aspires to be. That is the god person. The god person is one who has shifted focus from the terrestrial world to transcendental reality. He reaches the state of absolute peace and bliss. Selfishness is not present in him. His love is all embracing and universal. His identification is with one and all. The godly person is free from worldly division and demarcation. His individuality has merged with the unifying divinity. Rare indeed is such a person.

A restless mind leads to frustration

The five categories of human beings—mineral, vegetable, animal, human and god—broadly fall into three mental conditions. They are: restless mind, imperfect mind and perfect mind.

A self-centered person is concerned only with himself. He focuses his attention and interest upon his individual self. His action and perception, emotion and thought are all directed towards his own welfare. He finds no desire to cater to anybody else. As a result, he remains frustrated.

As a person moves to the higher category of humans, the mind becomes more stable. It does not topple over all the time as would the restless mind, but when someone insults him, the mind becomes agitated. The agitation might last for hours and sometimes for days or months. A single incident can keep the mind disturbed for a long period.

Even before the mind can settle down, another incident can create further mental agitation. A single disturbance itself can play havoc. Such a mind is termed imperfect.

A perfect mind is free from mental agitation

You must learn to withstand external disturbances. They are an inevitable part of life.

A perfect mind, a fully evolved person is free from mental agitation. His mind possesses tranquility and peacefulness. He is the same in the best or the worst environment, situation or circumstances. Leave him in the heat or cold, he is undisturbed. Give him joy or sorrow, he is unperturbed. Treat him with honour or dishonour, he will remain the same. He is unaffected. He remains ever calm and composed and revels in the perfect state of mind.

This knowledge when acquired will help you reach the perfect state of mind. It provides the technique of disciplining the mind. An indisciplined mind can cause considerable damage and even prove fatal. You must continuously reflect on your daily life. Reflect upon the truths therein; apply them to your life. That will help you evolve further. Your mental agitation will gradually cease. You will lead a life of peace and bliss.


Understanding real Self results in happiness

All of us have a desire to be happy. How can everlasting bliss be achieved? By identifying with our real Self.

But let us first understand the individual mechanism of a human being. As human beings, we are composed of the immortal spirit and matter or the mortal body.

The physical equipment of a human being are the body, mind and intellect. They act according to what they perceive from the outer world.

The body perceives and acts according to the input it receives, the mind feels the emotion, while the intellect thinks and reasons it out. Your core Self provides stability to these three—the body, mind and intellect.

Your core is constant…it is at rest…it is at peace. When you identify yourself with your real Self, it provides you with the guiding force and the right energy. But most of us are not aware of ourselves. In such a situation, our real Self does not react.

On the other hand, when you understand your real Self, your actions, emotions and reasoning become pure. You become more productive and more dynamic. That leads you to real happiness.

Your inner Self determines your personality

Now, let us look at each aspect of the body, mind and intellect, to understand these concepts better.

The physical body comprises organs related to senses and action. Our interaction with the outside world, or in other words, the interaction between the subject and the object is through the five sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. These are the five gateways to the world.

The five organs of action are speaking, grasping, moving, excretion and procreation.

The mind comprises emotions and feelings. Based on a person’s emotions and feelings, we categorise him as being kind, passionate or cruel.

The intellect is beyond the realm of the mind. For instance, when we act in haste, it means we have acted on the command from the mind. We have acted swiftly on the analysis of a particular situation by the mind.

On the other hand, if the mind tinges its analysis with emotions and allows the intellect to step in, you do not act in haste. You deliberate on your actions. This is called a thoughtful act.

When a person angers you, your mind often commands you to beat him. The mind does not think of the consequences: How will the person react? Will he hit me back? Will he gang up his friends and assault me? But you see reason when you apply intellect to your mind. That is when you take a considered decision. In other words, you think before you act.

But there is something in all of us that is much more superior to the mind and intellect. That is our real Self. It is a silent witness to both the mind and intellect. It is a witness to all your actions. And because of its unique position as something apart, unlike the intellect it can retain its integrity, be itself and, therefore, be in a position to govern and guide not only the intellect, but even the mind. If its powers are developed, this third factor becomes the crucial factor, the most important factor.

The real Self within you is always constant, calm and quiet. It can be compared to electricity. You can touch it and feel it, but you cannot see it. Just like electricity powers the washing machine or refrigerator in your homes, the inner Self powers all the equipment of a human being.

Transactions of life

Life involves three kinds of transactions: Receipt, Reaction and Response.

When you receive, your senses get stimulated. The stimuli that you receive from the five organs of perception become the raw material for all your activities in life.

The quality of your reaction is dependent on the quality of raw material that you have received. For instance, if you associate yourself with righteous people, your reactions will also be good. Similarly, if you mingle with vicious people, your reactions will also be bad. Thus, your reaction is influenced by the quality of inputs you receive.

Your response to a situation is thus manipulated by your reaction. The quality of response is dependent on the quality of inputs and reaction.

These three transactions occur constantly in our lives, except when we are in deep sleep.

Thus, it is important to ensure that we examine and quality of inputs and avoid the inflow of impure stimuli. To quote from a book:

These are germs that can cause psychological diseases. They create mental agitation. You must examine the sight that your eyes see, the type of food that your tongue tastes, check your perception to ensure pure and healthy stimuli.

I would like to share with you my learning from my grand parents which serves as a constant reminder. As kids we would hear our grand parents opposing a matrimonial alliance from a family which had sinned. My grandfather would often remark, “They have fed their children with their ill-gotten wealth.”

A popular belief was: “Jaisa kaye ann, vaisa honge mann.” Literally translated, it means that your personality is influenced by what you eat. In those days these were just beliefs as they were not scientifically explained.

But today, when we understand the composition of the human body and the impact of stimuli on our reaction and response, we relate to what we studied in our childhood.
However, receiving pure stimuli does not always guarantee pure reactions.

The second transaction examines the reaction that takes place within you. You may regulate and receive pure stimuli, yet they may produce impure reactions like jealousy, greed and lust. Depending on your mind and intellect, there are two ways of controlling the reaction.

The initial and temporary way is to be aware of these impure reactions and check their effect from spreading further. A permanent solution is achieved by your reaction rehabilitating your mind and intellect through knowledge and understanding.

The third transaction of life is the responses transmitted through the organs of action and executed by the body. If the actions are self-centered and selfish, they tell upon your life. They agitate your mind and make you unhappy.

Selflessness leads to peace

If you are selfless, it generates peace and happiness. Hence, your actions have to be unselfish. That is the knowledge of Vedanta. Where ever you are, what ever you be, you must perfect the above three transactions in life.

All of us are equipped to correct these three transactions. There is no need to change yourself. You should realise that your present nature is best suited for your development. Do not try to imitate others.

There is no denying that all of us have an ideal. Often, I am asked if I want to be Murdoch. And I have always replied: “Certainly not.” Of course, I have also never said who I would like to be. But today after my learning experience, I can say confidently: “I want to be myself.”

Be positive in your outlook

Please do not think that you are not well equipped to ensure the purity of your transactions. Make good use of your faculties and discover peace and happiness within yourself.

The answer is to remain positive. Everyday, we complain about the state of affairs in Mumbai, the traffic jam, the bad roads, poor public transport and uncleared garbage. Our list of complaints is endless.

But do we realise that with a population of 150 million people, Mumbai is four times the size of some European countries? The entire city is managed by a commissioner. What is his budget? What are the resources at his disposal? Had this been the situation in Europe, the entire country would have collapsed.

When you start looking at things holistically, you start loving your country.

When you open your eyes and start looking at life positively, your whole attitude changes and you are in harmony with the world.


To succeed, have faith in yourself

We have understood that an individual’s mechanism comprises three transactions—receipt, reaction and response. Every individual has an inherent power to gauge the inputs he receives from his five senses, weigh them and then respond judiciously. This way, we can steer our way to perfection.

You should first have faith in yourself. You should realise that your present nature is best suited to achieve great heights in life. All of us live to play a role. We should understand this role and play it well. That is the essence of life.

For instance, if you are a home maker, execute your role with pleasure. If you have children, realise that you have a duty towards them. If you realise your duty or role in life, you will never suffer from superiority or inferiority complex. No one is superior or inferior. All of you have your own strengths which you should realise and nurture.

Every one has a distinct part to play in this world, so have you. Recognise your part and play it well. Thus, you will progress to perfection.

Let me give you the example of the mountain and the squirrel. The mountain was once boasting about its sheer size, the forest and water bodies that it carries… the birds and animals which live on it. To this the squirrel responded: “I agree with all that you say, but can you shell a peanut?”

This illustrates that each person excels in one field of activity or the other. No one is superior or inferior. The potential within me and my office boy, for instance, is the same. Though I am the Chairman of the company, there are many areas of work which I will not be able to execute as efficiently as my office boy.

All good things have a difficult start

Having discussed the individual’s mechanism, let us now understand the nature of the world. The year passes through four seasons; the day passes through morning, noon, evening and night; the human being changes from child to teenager to adult. In this flux of change, how do you expect wellness? Only your Self is constant, while everything else is constantly changing. But we fail to realise this and seek happiness in the temporary things of life.

As long as the world exists you will have to struggle. You will have to keep evolving with the changing atmosphere. For instance, if our competitor wins the cricket telecast rights, we find fault with them. But we do not question ourselves. We do not introspect on where we have faltered. In the ultimate analysis, competition only brings out the best in us.

All bad things have a good beginning and all good things have a difficult start.

Let us now understand the course of life and its characteristics. They are energy and motion.

You progress in life as long as you are in motion. We have seen some of the biggest industrial houses in the country perish because they failed to evolve with time. Of the 20 top industrialists of the 1950s-60s, hardly five retain their prime position today.

What happens in family businesses? One generation starts the business. The second generation takes it to new heights. The third generation gets into maintenance mode and remains satisfied with sailing with the tide. The fourth generation becomes lethargic and then the business dies.

If you do not keep pace with life, you will devolve. You will eventually go nowhere. The society which does not progress with time will be ruined. This is the universal law.

The world attracts you with its instant pleasure. When your senses contact the external objects you enjoy them forthwith. You do not realise that the pleasure arising out of these contacts are fleeting. They diminish and gradually disappear. Conversely, you find that true happiness has a distasteful beginning but a blissful end.

The ultimate goal of life is to find eternal happiness that lies within us. I quote from a lecture delivered by Swami Ramthirth Paramahamsa on December 13, 1902, at Washington:

There was a time when India possessed probably more riches than all Europe possesses at this time. There was a time when India had more jewels and diamonds, more pearls and rubies than all America has today. India had her day in material prosperity.

Nation after nation ran over India from time to time. Greeks became rich at the cost of India. Persia became rich at the cost of India. Afghanistan has become rich at the cost of India. And at this day, England is amassing fortunes at the cost of India.

India was once really the land of gold and diamonds. We need not repent that. We are not sorry at the present material backwardness of India. We know there is a law, a divine law, a law of nature which is ruling all affairs, which is bringing upon everything. The divine hand which guides and leads our affairs, we know, and knowing that, we do not pine at material backwardness.

We understand the laws of nature. These material objects…all these were tried, experimented, weighed in the balance by Indians and found wanting. America is very young today, so is Europe. They are trying these experiments at this time. All these material things are looked upon by Indians as just a drop of water, nothing else. They are no factors in your happiness. They cannot make you truly happy. Happiness and true bliss cannot be purchased.

The words of the Paramahamsa hold good even today. These are eternal facts that do not change. The world which seems to be changing, actually revolves around the unchanging, which is the Self. Ultimately, we do not understand this because of our ignorance.

The way to peace is meditation

Ignorance may be categorised into three distinct phases: lack of information, lack of understanding and lack of experience.

In the first stage of ignorance, we do not know about ourselves. We do not know the Self, but how do we remove this ignorance? It could be through seminars, interaction and observation. However, as the first step we should reflect about ourselves.

Lack of understanding is defined thus:

You have heard about the Self. You cannot say you do not understand it. Yet, you do not understand it. This phase of ignorance cannot be removed through interaction or observation. The knowledge consumed can be understood and absorbed only through your independent reflections.

You must maintain a constant awareness of your Self. One way of achieving this is through meditation. Meditation is the fixation of thought upon the Self to the exclusion of all other thoughts. This will give you peace of mind and connect with your Self.


Selfishness is a disease

It is often said that every human being is selfish by nature. Selfishness denotes the precedence given in thought or deed to self interests and self concerns, the act of placing one's own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others.

At the root of every problem is selfishness. Selfishness always breeds arrogance and ultimately destroys you. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Selfishness is the worst disease.” It degrades a human being.

In the words of another thinker, Swami Atmananda:

Individual view brings about selfishness and all its subsequent problems. Even though every person has some fundamental responsibilities towards himself, that alone should never be the sole objective of life. Everyone should take care of one’s basic necessities, but even to fulfill these objectives one has to look beyond oneself – to begin with towards one’s family and later towards the society as a whole too. Any person who is obsessed with himself so much that he does not have anytime even for the family around, is always a potential danger. They are demons in the making. Such people look at their children and other relatives too as pawns to be used for their own selfish ends. They have no love in their hearts; or rather do not know the real meaning of love. Their life is dry and lonely, and in spite of their obsessive and blinding concerns for themselves they do not satisfactorily fulfill even those objectives they are so concerned about. They definitely seem to be on the wrong path.

A human being brings sorrow and misery upon himself because of his ego and selfish desires. The world shares your pleasures, but not your woes. The law of life is: Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and none weeps with you. Rejoice, be cheerful and people flock around you. Grieve, be miserable and they leave you alone.

In order to evolve from selfishness to selflessness, it is imperative to study the three elements of right living: Giving, Love and Knowledge.

Two broad principles govern human actions based on the attitude of giving and taking. If the attitude of taking prevails in the society, that will bread selfishness and as a result we will be stressed out. We will be infested with unhappiness. Once you change your attitude and drop selfishness, you will enjoy peace and harmony all around.

The dignity of the human race is founded upon the principle of giving. In his famous classic ‘Les Miserables’ Victor Hugo maintains, “Life is to give, not to take.” No man has a right to claim anything as his. He ought not to desire, demand from society. Perhaps his only right in the world is to give, to serve.

To quote Jesus Christ, “Be content to serve. When you serve the world, the entire world stands in obeisance before you.” Objects and beings are at your beck and call. You are a master, not a servant.

The first of the two principles is based on the attitude of ‘giving’. The second is based on the attitude of ‘taking’. If the attitude of ‘taking’ prevails in a society you will find its members possessed with multifold selfish demands and desires. Consequently, there is struggle, stress and strain in that society. Let their attitude change to ‘giving’. Harmony, peace and happiness reign in the very same society.

The second element of right living is love. Love is realising your identity with the world. It means realising your oneness with the whole. The universe is made up of one infinite ocean of love. If you do not recognise this sublime truth you live in an island of your own. You segregate yourself from the totality. Your suffer the sorrows of separation

Love is to appreciate what is happening with you and around you. It is a feeling of oneness.

A person sensitive to others alone has a heart full of love and peace. He does unto others what he expects others to do unto him. This is possible only because of his high degree of sensitivity and love for everyone around.

We often use harsh words against others without realising the hurt that it causes to them. Only when we put ourselves in their shoes do we realise where it pinches. Love is to identify ourselves with the other person, to be loving and caring. This leads to oneness among the entire body of people in the universe. This is what is love, not a male-female relationship or a heterogeneous relationship.

People often say, they have fallen in love. But I do not comprehend why somebody should fall in love. They should rise in love. In love we are selfless and seldom expect anything from others. Thus, you should rise in love, not fall in love.

Lack of knowledge breeds ignorance

The third element of right living is knowledge. That is, when the body realises the importance of service towards others. True knowledge helps you to discriminate between the spirit and matter, between the real Self and the enveloping material layers.

True knowledge is gained through independent reflection, original thinking, and free reasoning. It is the faculty which helps you recognise the true Self which remains ever-constant in contrast to the changing world around. Thus, true knowledge has little to do with erudition and scholarship in religious literature. A man may be most learned in the scriptures, he may memorise and recite volumes of psalms and passages and yet lack the ability to perceive the unity in diversity, to see the true Self in everybody and everywhere. You acquire this knowledge when you recognise your real Self.

Serving others is the right thing for the human body. When the mind starts loving the universe as a whole, that is, all creatures around you, you renounce selfishness. That is how you start loving universally, rather than selectively. To achieve this, your intellect should seek knowledge. Knowledge is to understand, what permanent and impermanent are. This enables you to understand your true real Self. But we are unaware of the powers that we possess within ourselves. This is because we are living in ignorance.

Remain detached from worldly excitement

Ignorance of the Self manifests itself in three different temperaments. Based on this, human beings can be categorised as Inactive People, Active People and Super-active People.

Inactiveness is when you are oblivious to your surroundings. Such people are normally dull and lack motivation. They have to be compelled to do even their basic work. They fail to apply their mind. Only sustenance matters. They have no place for love and are selfish down to the core. They resort to negative ways very easily. They are insensitive, unhygienic and unintelligent. They seem to live in a dream world.

An active person is passionate and his mind works all the time. Such people are dynamic. They are totally involved in the affairs of the world. Thus, their equipoise is shaken soon. They are susceptible to emotional imbalances and upheavals. They are motivated to act only by some definite and perceptible results. The direction and nature of their work is decided by some extraneous factors rather than from within. As a result they remain dissatisfied. Such people are generally found to be under stress.

A super-active person is equanimous. Such people do not get over-excited about successes nor do they lose heart over failures. They are mature, contemplative and detached from worldly involvement and excitement. They are the most positive and creative ones. They are calm, cheerful and boast of a highly intelligent disposition. They are caring, yet do not get swept away by any emotion. Nothing shakes or deters them; they can retain their equipoise and a high degree of alertness under all circumstances. They seem to have inexhaustible energy with a never-say-die attitude. They are the originals, pioneers in which ever field they may be. As all pioneers their motivation does not seem to be merely some ego-centric gains. It is much more subtle. More often it is a passion and love for their particular work, which they feel inspired to do. They seem to take directions from within rather than outside. They can take risks easily, can tread an unbeaten path fearlessly, and have the strength to live up to their conviction. They learn from past, have a clear idea of their goals in the future but intensely live in present. They rarely have stress related problems and generally enjoy good health.

In other words, an inactive person is said to have tamsik pravrithi. An active person is rajsik, while a super-active person is satvik.

Nobody is free from these three temperaments, though the percentage of satvik, rajsik and tamsik tendencies many vary from one person to another. These temperaments manifest themselves at one point or the other in all of us. They also surface during different times of the day.

We are in a satvik state between 4 am and 6 am. Your satvik qualities are the most prevalent during this time. As the day progresses, our rajsik tendencies take over. This involves our office and work.

By evening, our tamsik temperament begins to surface. Between 6 pm and 4 am, the rakshasa qualities of the human being come to the fore. You think of the parties you have to attend or often allow vices to over take you.

You need to gain the right kind of knowledge to elevate yourself from tamsik to rajsik and then to satvik stage. That is, from inactive to super-active stage.

Do not be possessed by the world

Most of us are possessed by the world. That is because we claim certain possessions from the world. We expect certain fruits from all our activities or actions. Thus, we are attached to these actions and consequently to the world.

However, the same day-to-day work or action which binds you to various objects can be converted into an instrument of spiritual progress. This can be achieved by detaching yourself from the fruits of action. In other words, it is not work that causes attachment, but the desire for the fruits of action.

One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among human beings, he or she is a yogi and a doer of all action.

Many devotees would ask Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa if they should give up their jobs and families in order to be detached from the world. And Paramahamsa would reply that one could realise the true world by remaining in the world. You should be like the lotus leaf which remains in water, yet does not get wet.

When you leash your pet dog, you feel you are in control of him. But you do not realise that you are also possessed by him. The moment you let go of the chain, he is free to run. And so, you cannot leave him. You are possessed by him. You can possess things in life with a sense of dis-possessiveness. The moment you have a dis-possessive feeling towards your possessions, you will always be a happy man.

The biggest possessiveness is the present day caste system. We are today so possessed by our surroundings that we identify ourselves by our castes.
This is one of the reasons why I dropped my surname Goel / Goenka. In 1990, the entire country was consumed by the frenzy of Mandal, with one community being pitted against the other. The events that unfurled left an indelible mark on my mind.

The then Prime Minister, V.P. Singh divided the country on caste lines. Communal flames engulfed the entire country. It was very unfortunate.

As the Mandal mania raged, I met a couple of friends one evening to discuss the sad state of affairs prevailing in the country. That was when I had an urge to do something within my means to express my disgust.

That very evening, Subhash Chandra Goel became Subhash Chandra. I dropped my surname to protest against the present caste system which is dividing the society. When we recruit associates to the Essel Group, we never ask them their community, so why should I flaunt my caste?

Subhash Chandra can be born in a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Shudra’s house. When people hear my name today, they do not recognise me by my community.

The Varnashrama-dharma enshrined in our scriptures was a natural classification of human beings. Individuals have different innate tendencies for work and exhibit a variety of personal qualities. There are also natural phases in life, when it is easier and more rewarding to perform certain activities. Our scriptures teach that individuals best realise their potential by taking into account such natural arrangements, and that society should be structured and organised accordingly.

In an ideological framework, the castes were defined as priests and teachers (Brahmin), rulers and warriors (Kshatriya), merchants, craftsmen, and farmers (Vaishyas), and those who perform menial jobs (Shudras). In this way, the system of varnas placed individuals in positions that best suited their psychological makeup. The original class system was based on human temperament.

A person with the temperament of a satvik, that is, equanimous, contemplative, interpretative and able to impart knowledge was considered a Brahmin irrespective of whether he was born in a Brahmin or Shudra house.

In a Brahmin kind of a person tamsik qualities are at the lowest, while satvik qualities are the highest. In Vyshyas, for instance, the satvik qualities are low. Tamsik qualities are the highest among Shudras.

In the past, the society would consider a Brahmin as a Shudra if he indulged in tamsik activities. Similarly, a Shudra would be treated as a Brahmin if he was a satvik person. Parentage had nothing to do with one’s community.

I often advice the HR department that jobs should be assigned based on the temperament of the individual. This will help identify the right kind of person for the right kind of job. Such individuals will excel and progress in life. In the bargain, the company too will benefit.

The caste system was well planned for the benefit of the people. Later when the administrators misinterpreted the system, it lost its purpose. Thus, the division based on vocation has lost its relevance, with people developing their own castes and building barricades around themselves. It has now become impossible for people to cross-over these self-imposed walls of division. This has vitiated the atmosphere in the country, leading to distaste and distrust in the society. A blessing has turned into a curse. The present caste system is the biggest malady afflicting the country.


Act without selfish desires

The three components of life are karma, dharma and sanskara. They play a crucial part in our lives. They define our lifestyle.

Karma is the action not only of the physical senses, but also of the inner senses. Sanskara is the natural inclination of the mind. Dharma is our wisdom-full interaction with the world around us.
Let us first discuss action. There are five exigencies of action

1. Action is inevitable
2. The value of action
3. Chronology of action
4. Renunciation in action
5. Type of action

Action is inevitable: Life manifests most vividly in the form of actions. Any movement of our hands or bodies is not an action. A person turning in his bed while sleeping drops a glass and in the process makes a thief to run away is not said to have performed an action. Similarly, a person reacting to a situation as per his conditionings cannot be said to be performing any action. There is a difference between action and reaction. Those who do not understand the meaning of action stagnate in life. Very few people act, most of us merely react. Only those who act, move ahead in life.

Action is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Therefore, why should we not make the best out of an unavoidable situation? This can be applied to your office too where an effective manager is able to get the best out of existing situations without waiting for the ideal conditions.

Value of action: What matters in life is your ability to adopt action to obligation. Our business lies in action alone and not in the award accruing because of our action. That is the value of action. If you start enjoying your work, you will realise what a beautiful thing it is.

Work is worship, only when you enjoy your work. Otherwise, your work becomes a burden. It is a horrendous thing.

Mere acquisition of knowledge is not enough. It has to be translated to action. The motto of life should be to strive to struggle, not to succeed. Success will automatically follow. Work well and accomplish the joy of life. And once you start enjoying it, success and failures become irrelevant.

Once you start thinking and acting accordingly, your action will be more dynamic. Often, people do not realise the beauty and grandeur of work. They attach worldly motives to their work. They develop desires and become attached to their objects of desire.

While trying to fulfil desires, they crave for the fruits of their actions. In doing so, they pursue self-imposed duties. Then, work becomes a burden. We become bound by our work. The result is suffering and sorrow.

Instead, gain freedom and happiness. You cast off self-desire and the worldly motives appended to your action, render your work sacred, surrender to the total plan of nature. Your selfish desires and clinging render your life and business mundane. Work without attachment and craving are known as worship. That is the principle of renunciation.

Why should you attach any motive to work? Work itself is self-rewarding, entertaining and blissful. Employ this simple principle of work in practical life. All your actions become one nice song.

Often, we notice a single bearer serving over 60 customers in a restaurant, with a smile. You do not see any strain on his face. He genuinely serves the guests, without expecting any tip. He enjoys his work. On the other hand, you also come across bearers who wait on you only because they expect a big tip. Such people do not enjoy their work. They derive no pleasure out of their work. Instead, they view it as a burden.

If you begin to work in a spirit of renunciation, the world returns your courtesy. And as a result, wealth and prosperity are at your door. True value of life lies in renunciation. Action performed in the spirit of detachment leads you to the state of perfection.

Use the world to enjoy the world. Use the world to transform the world, just as you use a thorn to remove a thorn embedded in your flesh. Hence, act in the world with your mind fixed on the true Self. You are bound to reach the real truth.

Chronology of action:
Each and every one of us is an individual and we act as long as we live. Our actions differ from one individual to another. These actions differ because we are dependent on our inherent nature. This is what is called sanskaras.

Sanskara is the natural inclination of the mind. People who believe in re-birth define sanskaras as impressions derived from past experiences that form desires which influence future responses and behavior. They believe that sanskaras are mental impressions which exist as memories from past lives, or the present life, and which determine one’s desires and actions. They are not entities with substance or shape, nor are they forces, but are understood in psychological terms only. It is like a virtual account where your karmas are deposited.

Sanskara is also defined as tendency, habitual conditioning of the mind or impressions of the sub-conscious mind. Thus what you learn from your childhood also forms part of your sanskara.

This is also termed as vasanas.

The true meaning of vasana is something that is unmanifested in you. Each individual’s vasana is different. That is why every human being is drastically individualistic. Vasanas are the cause, and action is the effect. Vasana produces the thought. The thought produces the desire in us and desire produces an action.

For instance, when a painter is in deep sleep, his desires or vasanas are at a dormant stage at that point of time. But when he wakes up, the vasanas start acting. This produces a thought in the person and this thought progresses into desire and desire leads to the action of painting.
Vasana is the manifest which is not known, and action is the final manifestation of our vasanas. Each vasana, before reaching to its fullest expression, passes though the state of thought and desires.

Renunciation in action: While dealing with renunciation, let us pose a question: What is dharma?

As we discussed earlier, dharma is our wisdom-full interaction with the world around us; how we relate to people, our friends, relatives and others we come into contact with directly or indirectly. Our most immediate dharma towards them is to help each and every one to evolve. When we find ourselves in a position in which we must help others by supporting, nourishing or nurturing them, and when this position manifests in all areas of our life, we understand that this is our dharma, duty, commitment or obligation. The three foundations of dharma, in this regard, are right thinking, right behaviour and right action.

Dharma is to live with your true natural Self and to act according to your true natural Self. That leads to renunciation of the fruits of your action.

When you act according to your true nature and not according to your conditioned nature, it is called swa dharma. When you start relating to others and ignoring you own true nature, it is called para dharma. In other words, swa dharma is your true nature, while para dharma is the result of somebody else’s thoughts imposed on you.

You have the power to choose your action. If you have the desire, you can change your action. First, select a field of activity which is conducive to your own vasanas or shastras. Then, there is no reason why you will not excel in each and every field of life.

Anything virtuous or wise is a state of mind. Whatever your physical body does or acts is not right or wrong. Consider this example. A terrorist opens fire on a crowd killing 50 people. A police man present at the scene immediately pulls out his revolver and guns down the terrorist.

Both have committed the same act. Both have used a gun to kill other people. While the action of the terrorist who killed innocent people without provocation is bad, the action of the police man is considered good.

Thus, an act by itself is not good or bad. What counts is whether your act is motivated by selfish desires. Eventually, renunciation of action is work that is executed dispassionately.

Kinds of action: Actions are of three kinds

1. Action performed with selfish desires
2. Action performed with unselfish desires
3. Action performed without desires

Acting with a selfish desire is considered as the lowest mode of existence. Such people work only according to their self-imposed desires. A person who acts without desires is a supreme being. That is the best form of living.

How can you act without attachment? Simple. Just look at the nature around you—the sun, the moon, the earth, the vegetation, the forests, the rivers…

The sun rises every morning day after day, century after century. What is the sun’s self desire? None. Plants give you food. What is their self desire? Rivers give you water. What is their Self-desire?

We should also learn to perform our duties like nature without expecting any results.


Convert emotions to strength

Emotions play a very important part in our lives. If emotions are controlled with intellect they can be turned into strength. Otherwise, they are a weakness. You should keep your emotions well under control. Let us discuss emotions in relation to the following heads.

1. Emotions and intellection
2. Facets of emotion
a. Love
b. Kindness
c. Pity
d. Charity
3. Effects of emotion
4. Roots of emotion

As we have discussed, an action committed without applying intellect is invariably a bad action. This can be very harmful not just to you but to the entire mankind. You should keep your emotions well under the control of your discerning intellect.

Be a master and not a slave to your emotion. There is nothing wrong is entertaining passions, but do not turn passionate. You can harbour your emotions, but do not become emotional. Have sentiments, but do not become sentimental. Emotions upset your intellectual balance and therefore you have to be careful. Having emotions is a virtue, but allowing them to control you is a vice.

The Mahabharata represents the fight between the good and the evil. When emotions overpowered Arjuna he refused to fight against his brothers, cousins and relatives who were part of the Kaurava army. Arjuna picked up his sword only after Krishna convinced him that it was his karma to fight against the evil. This is what happens when you allow your emotions to overpower your intellect.

There are good and bad emotions. Among the facets of emotion that are listed above, only pity is bad, the rest are more or less good. However, other forms of emotion too can turn bad if you do not apply your intellect.

There once lived a snake outside a village that was given to attacking people. The villagers were even afraid to use the road on which the snake lived. Such was the fear of the snake. However, the snake one day came in contact with a holy man, who preached the virtues of life. Inspired by the priest and snake turned a new leaf and began greeting people politely instead of attacking them.

Taking advantage of this, the villages began beating the snake and stoning it. The saint who returned to the village a few months later was surprised to see the battered snake. On seeing the saint the snake said: “Look at the state I have come to because I listened to you.”

To this, the saint replied: “There was no need to bite the people, but what prevented you from hissing and chasing them away?”

This is the effect of emotion when intellect is not applied.

Impure emotions: Emotions born out of selfish desires are termed impure emotions. When there is a concentration of emotions which are governed by self-interest, it turns to poison.

This may be compared to a bottle of medicine which carries the legend, ‘poison’. Though the medicine is meant to cure your illness, if you consume it in excess, it can be dangerous. The same holds good in the case of human emotions. As in the case of medicine, an excess of self-desires can be fatal.

Love: Love is universal and not selective. Selective love or feelings towards a particular individual cannot be termed as love. What we understand of love is personal love with attachments. An attachment binds you to the object and makes you dependent on a particular individual.

When a young man falls in love with a girl (which we call rise in love) he is so deep into the relationship that he looks at the people around him as a burden. When the parents react negatively to his relationship he develops an aversion towards them. And then, he starts meeting the girl clandestinely. Ultimately, he may even elope with the girl.

Such selective love creates misery around you. Love and attachment are opposed to each other. Attachment is a perversion of love. Attachment to a particular object or being generates an aversion to other objects and beings.

You need not be a sage. But at the same time, if you say: “I love everyone, I do not hate anybody,” it shows that you do not understand the meaning of true love. What is true love? Love is kindness… love is giving…love is the feeling of giving, rather than taking…love is the nature of helping a person who wants help.

A selective attachment to a being creates detachment towards others. Do you think the young boy who eloped with his girlfriend hates his parents? No. As a result of his selective love, he is in no mood to listen to his parents.

Your action should be such that you should not hurt anyone else’s feelings. Once you believe in universal love and not in the narrow context that we understand it now, you will realise the meaning of true love.

When I travel, I often meet the son of a family friend at the airport. Every time the aircraft land, he calls up his house and says, “Mummy, I have landed safely.” When I asked him about this, he replied: “It is a principle in my house that every member travelling should call before take off and after landing.”

The parents are so attached to their children that they are worried and miserable when they are in the aircraft. If there is even a slight delay in the phone call, the family breaks into panic. Such problems are created by too much of attachment.

Parents are attached to their children, because they expect their wards to take care of them in their old age. Often, expectations lead to attachment. When the children neglect their old parents, they are forlorn. This is the result of expectation and attachment. We should understand that there is no cause without an effect and no effect without a cause.

You probably start your emotion of love with your partner. It then grows to your family, children and so on. You should not allow your love and affection to stop at your family. Having generated this noble feeling of love, do not confine it to the family unit. Let the rays of your affection radiate all over. Your house therefore should be the centre and not the boundary of your love and affection.

Look at a child, he is always spreading love. He does not do anything with a selfish motive. When you see a lovely child you feel like picking him up and cuddling him, though he is not related to you. Selfless love not only spreads but also makes other people love you.

Kindness: Let us now discuss another kind of emotion, kindness—gentleness towards other beings and compassionate attitude. Kindness is like a fragrance in a flower. The fragrance creates a good atmosphere all around. However, the concept of kindness has been wrongly understood in India. It is the act of kindness that is important, not the mere thought.

To quote His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “My true religion is kindness.”

Pity: Pity is the feeling of sympathy towards the suffering of others. Often we see people who inflict suffering on themselves because they pity somebody. We always want to satisfy somebody else’s ego. We also change our course of action because we do not want to hurt somebody. We spend our entire lives trying to please others. We consider it cruel to break other’s heart. This is a low level of emotion.

When we see somebody suffering we merely allow pity to take over us. For instance, when we witness a road accident, you pity the victim; you sympathise with him and move ahead. But when you apply intellect to this pity, you will extend help to the victim, transport him to the hospital and inform his relatives. This is a good example of how not to allow your emotions take over you and create a concentrated layer of emotions.

Do not allow emotion overpower your whole self. By applying intellect, even bad emotions will turn into positive or good emotions.

Charity: The next aspect of emotions is charity. You should not involve yourself in charitable activities only if you believe that it will help you in the future. You must believe in the concept of karma and not expect any fruits from your actions. You must enjoy your actions without worrying about the results.

But even when you make a donation, you should select the right person. Does the person really need the money or is he making a fool out of you? I would like to narrate a real life incident to illustrate this point. When we were in the business of rice trading an officer from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) visited our office on Lawrence Road in New Delhi, with two of his colleagues.

I was also walking into the office at the same time and happened to tune into their conversation. The officer was boasting to his colleagues, “I was passing this way and so I thought I could make a quick buck out of Subhash.” A little while later the man walked into my cabin and gave me a sob story of how he was in difficulty and had lost all his money. I told him point blank that I had overheard his conversation and that I would not give him any money. The moral is that charity towards a wrong person or cause is of no use.

Recently, I heard about an old friend in the film circle who was on the verge of bankruptcy. I immediately had an urge to help him by taking over his company. The person was so overwhelmed that he was in tears. “I really want to give this company to you,” he said.

When I decided to help this friend, I had no motive in mind. But as we moved along, we realised that this company would actually fit into one of our projects. An act of charity towards the right person, without any expectation stands you in good stead.

A pious man once gave food and shelter to a traveller. In the morning he found all his gold ornaments missing, only to realise that the traveller was actually a thief. But as luck would have it, the thief was soon caught by the police and brought to the pious man’s house. But to the thief’s surprise, the man said: “Why have you brought him back, I was the one who gave him all the ornaments.”

The thief was surprised. “Why did you let me off, though I stole your ornaments,” he pleaded. The pious man gave him all his gold and said, “You should learn how to give, rather than how to take. The moment you have the feeling of a giver, the whole world is at your feet.”

Today, we find people going to the temple to seek favours from God. We have become beggars in front of the deity. Instead of seeking, learn to understand how to give, whom to give and when to give. You will be happy.

Do not desire, but deserve. Your actions should be such that you should deserve whatever you want rather than developing the desire. Learn from nature, give away the things that you want and they will follow you.

Effect of emotions: Do not use your emotion without thinking. Do not use them indiscriminately. You will recall the story of the snake and the advice of the saint who said: “Without a feeling of hatred, you could have hissed and chased the villagers away.”

Root of emotions: As an individual you should reach out from yourself to family, community, humanity and ultimately to all beings. When you reach out to all beings, you touch the roots of emotions.

All of us have a desire to achieve something. And when we fall short of this achievement, we feel a kind of deficiency. These thoughts take us away from the truth of supreme oneself. You are all powerful. The kind of power that you have is unimaginable.

The stream of thought flowing from you to the objects of the world is known as kama. This is your desire which makes you ignorant of the true self. When desires are self-centric, when they are of a selfish nature, they get developed into greed. This greed is called lopa.

Once you become greedy, the thought process continues and thickens. And when somebody interrupts that thought process, you develop krodha or anger. To overcome your anger, you need to go to the source. That is, desire. Desire has created greed and greed has created anger. If you cannot eliminate desire, at least reduce it. To reduce your desire, you need to exercise your thought flow.

You will be able to do that only if you are intellectually developed. Your intellect should therefore be well developed and alert to avoid any such indiscriminate flow of thoughts. If however, the intellect is weak, you will develop desire and greed and you will devolve. Since the world cannot always cater to your desires, you will become angry at the obstacles you face.

As a result, as desire, greed and anger well up, you will get into delusion. This is called moha. Your emotions mount up to the extent that it has two effects on you. You become arrogant with subordinates or the people who have developed less than you or become envious of people who are superior to you.

Arrogance and envy are two bad emotions. When you manage to maintain a level of success in your achievement, you start fearing. This is called bhay. Thus, a host of emotions invade your personality. They lead you to grief, misery, perhaps to your ultimate destruction, if left unattended. Desire will still remain the cause of this confusion and the chaos that we land ourselves in. The moment you keep enlarging your circle from yourself to all beings, there will be no thought of desire. The unrelenting law of nature is that you get what you desire. Practice this law in life. Deserve, never desire.

The Holy Bible says: “Seek and it shall be yours; Knock and it shall be open unto you.” That is the law. It is a great message to humanity to seek the Self within. Then, everything will seek you.


Why do the honest suffer?

Why do I always suffer? Why am I victimised? Why is everybody against me? We come across these questions very often in life. But every time we are faced with these questions, we blame others for our problems. Not once do we look within to see if the root of the problem lies within us.

As a philosopher says:

This has been the general grievance everywhere. But only a few have attempted to analyse and investigate the cause of it. The lay person meekly resigns to his fate without realising that there is a reason for this paradox in life – the good suffering at the hands of the bad. A careful scrutiny will show that it arises from the distinctions in the nature of their inner personalities. Usually, the ones with a weaker constitution suffer. That is why those who remain in ignorance, complain of inequity and injustice prevailing in this world…that wickedness is rampant everywhere…that innocent are being deceived and harassed by the vicious.

As long as we will remain ignorant, we will continue to point fingers in different directions, without realising the source of the problem. Unless we understand the source of the problem, we will not be able to either resolve them or succeed in life.

How many times in our lives have we not wondered why the dishonest prosper, while the honest suffer? We all meekly resign to fate, without realising that it is not our fate which is to blame for our problems. The reason for this paradox in life lies elsewhere. Paradox is the good, suffering at the hands of the bad.

Let us first analyse how human activities are propelled. We have a body. The body cannot act on its own. It is directed by the mind, which in turn acts as per our desires and emotions. Up to this we are all fine, but we stop here and do not realise that if our mind has to act rationally and intelligently, someone somewhere has to question our desires and emotions… someone has to question the motives, desires and emotions of the other person…we have to explore who is creating those desires / emotions in such person… their motives have to be questioned. Only then can we carefully plan our actions. All our actions are required to be questioned by ourselves and carefully analysed. If required, we should then change our actions.

QUESTIONING: This can be achieved through questioning. You should question your own mind and your own actions. Analysing all actions and happenings cannot be done by our mind. In 99 per cent of the cases, we stop reasoning at the level of the mind. Most do not realise that we humans possess something more powerful than the mind. That is our intellect. Intellect gets developed only by constant questioning, contemplating and controlling our desires and emotions, thereby controlling our mind from making wrong and immature decisions, or decisions which end in failure.

Most of us humans fall into two categories:

1. The Aggressive
2. The Passive

To quote from one of the books I have read:

The term Aggressive and Passive is a special connotation derived from the use or the non-use of the intellect. The body is controlled by the mind. The body by itself does not act — the thought process starts…thoughts create desires…desires culminate in action…the mind instructs the body to act…and the body acts accordingly. But the mind is full of emotions and you act with your emotions. You go wrong because you have not planned your action…because you act impulsively.

But this is not the case when you apply intellect over your mind. Here, you will act only after carefully considering the consequences of the action.

The Aggressive are those who use their intellect in life’s activities, while the Passive operate from the level of their minds.

These two categories are further classified as good or bad. Hence, there are the Aggressive good and Aggressive bad persons. Likewise, there are Passive good and Passive bad people.

All human activities are driven by the mind and intellect. The actions are processed from either the mind or the intellect. A person is considered passive when he acts from his mind without the guidance / directions of the intellect. On the other hand, those who use their intellect to direct their mind and body to act are classified as aggressive.

PASSIVE NATURE: A passive person functioning from the mental level lives by his feelings rather than by reason and judgment. He does not think or discriminate with his intellect. Nor does he scrutinise or analyse his actions. Much less, question the merits or demerits of his actions. He lives a routine, mechanical life. He blindly follows the life of his family or predecessors. The environment around him, a given situation and circumstances shape his individuality rather than the other way round. By and large, he lives an unintelligent, dogged life of passive acceptance of the past that has gone by him. He lacks the intellect and initiative to use his human resources to rise above the external influences and steer himself to a meaningful and purposeful life.

Such passivity may lean towards good or bad.

A passively good person is involved in a way of life which happens to be good and moral without even realising it. He merely leads his life based on good impulses. He does not plan and execute a virtuous way of living. His intellect has not gone through the process of analysing and determining the right course of life. He carries on unmindful of the repercussion of his actions. Such indiscriminate action, however good, may at times prove detrimental to oneself and to the society.

AGGRESSIVE NATURE: The aggressive nature is the opposite of the passive. An aggressively bad person viciously plans and schemes, manipulates and manoeuvres. He follows the immoral and corrupt ways of life for pursuing his selfish motives. He observes no scruples. He breaks customs and traditions, rules and regulations, all for his self-centred, personal aggrandisement. Unlike the passive people, the aggressive constantly employ their intellect in programming their lives. Consequently, the aggressive are more powerful. The aggressive bad dominate over the passive good and bad and freely exploit them to serve their personal interests.

The fourth kind is the aggressively good person. They are rare to find. The aggressive good is inherently virtuous and divine. He uses his intellect to plan and programme his course of life for the benefit of one and all. He never functions impulsively. His reason and judgment steer every activity directed to the well being of the community. He studies facts, foresees consequences and works towards the best interest of the people. A single aggressively good person can bring about peace and harmony in the community.

The proportion of the passive far exceeds the aggressive everywhere. This is because human beings hardly use their intellect. They live at the level of their mind and its emotions, feelings, likes and dislikes. And suffer the consequences. They do not care to exert or strive for bettering themselves. The passive are rising in numbers.

Among the aggressive, the good are indeed very rare. So the aggressive bad exploit the weakness of the passive good and bad. The passive become victims of the vicious practices of the aggressive bad. This explains why the honest suffer while the dishonest prosper. It is the intellect scoring over the mind. This is the law of human nature.

The passive do not realise their weakness. They make no attempt to strengthen their intellect. They choose to remain in their mental and emotional frame. They get overpowered by those who operate from the level of the intellect and complain of the world being corrupt. To solve this problem they must shed their complacency and develop their intellect. Until they fortify themselves they may need to seek intellectual guidance from others to combat the viciousness of the aggressive bad.

The epic Mahabharata presents a picture of the passive and aggressive natures of human beings. The royal cousins, Pandavas and Kauravas, in the epic represent these two categories. The Pandava princes were distinct in their passive goodness and the Kauravas in their aggressive badness. Consequently, the Pandavas suffered untold humiliation at the hands of the Kaurava prince, Duryodhana. He was a clear specimen of aggressive badness. He schemed and planned the destruction of his passively good cousins.

The Pandavas sought the guidance of Lord Krishna. Krishna was a personification of aggressive goodness. He employed his intellect effectively to destroy the vicious plans of Duryodhana and the rest. The aggressive good prevailed over the aggressive bad. Krishna relieved the suffering of the Pandavas and resurrected righteousness in the country.

The moral is that we have to strive to become aggressive good to overcome the aggressive bad. So far we have remained passive good due to our basic nature. The solution likes in fortifying ourselves where we are weak. We need to study the inner constitution, reflect over it and strengthen the intellect. Having developed a strong intellect one becomes equipped to deal with the treacherous practices of the world. That is the only way to win the battle.


To find happiness, realise your true Self

Our ultimate aim is to realise the true Self within us. The road to self-realisation is tough, but not impossible. This chapter enables you to draw up your personality chart, initiate corrective measures where necessary and finally reach the goal of self-realisation. This exercise will be undertaken with the help of the following chart.

Culmination of human life

1. Role of religion
2. Concentration of life
3. Personality chart (human chart)
4. Gunas- knowledge
5. Karma-action
6. Karta-actor
7. Buddhi-intellect
8. Steadfastness
9. Renunciation
10. Prepare your personality chart

Role of religion: In the earlier chapters, we have understood that religion refers to the eternal principles of life and living. The word religion is derived from two Latin words, re and ligare. Re means back and ligare means to bind or to join. Hence, the purpose of religion is to unite one back to one’s own origin – that is your supreme Self.

But realising your true Self is a long drawn process. You will have to transcend the limitations of your body, mind and intellect. The body, mind and intellect have limitations, but the supreme Self has no limitations. Your Self is the subject, not the object of experience. Hence you cannot contact the Self with your material equipment, that is, your body, mind and intellect.

The road to self realisation is tough, as the mass of humanity experiences joy in the materialistic pleasures of life or in the objects and beings of the world.

But these objects and beings present only a false glamour of pleasure and joy. They inherently lack it. The truth is never accepted. People perceive their personal experiences as the truth. Even those who profess to know the truth are not well established in it. They understand it academically, and do not really live by it. Hence, it becomes virtually impossible to convince people about the absurdity of the worldly pursuits while they firmly believe and continue to draw their share of happiness from it.

The pleasures we draw from the objects and beings of the world are not real pleasures. Let us illustrate this with an example. There is only one sun above, while the reflection of sun’s light are innumerable in the countless reflective media of the world. The light reflected on a coloured glass or a prism is not the true light. The reflections have no light inherent in them. The true light belongs to the sun alone. Similarly, worldly pleasures are like the reflections of the sun light, not the sun light itself.

The human being is composed of the spirit and the matter. Spirit is that which enlivens your body, mind and intellect. The body is your gross body; emotions represent the mind, while thoughts comprise the intellect.

A human being’s components are his body, mind, and intellect. His spiritual core is his true Self, or the Atma. The Self remains ever the same — eternal, changeless – where as all other material equipment changes. The body changes, the mind changes, emotions change, our thoughts change. And the external world changes too. The Self is you, while the rest of the world is the object. When you the subject, come in contact with the object, there is experience created. But when both the subject and the object are in movement, when both are changing, and when two moving objects meet each other, it creates friction and this friction creates agitation. That is why there is disharmony and frustration. That is why you should not identify yourself with your material instruments.

But most people identify their material instruments—body, mind and intellect—with their true Self. We say we are feeling hot or cold, without realising that it is the body which is feeling hot or cold, not the Self. Similarly, when we feel happy or sad, we identify our emotions with our Self. But we do not realise that is the mind and not the Self that is feeling happy or sad. You true Self remains constant. It is eternal. It does not feel any joy or sorrow. As long as you identify yourself with your material equipment, you cannot understand your true Self.

Let us consider another example. Place a piece of wood against a magnet. You will notice that the wood does not get attracted by the magnet. On the other hand, a piece of metal gets instantly attracted to the magnet. The magnet here represents the world, while you are the metal. You get attracted to worldly pleasures or displeasures because you identify yourselves with your material equipment.

You should aspire to be the piece of wood, which does not get attracted by the power of the magnet. The piece of wood represents your real Self. The path to self-realisation is to disassociate with your body, mind and intellect.

This can be achieved by shifting your focus of attention from the material layers of the personality to the inner core, the Self. In all your actions, remember that it is your body, mind or intellect that is acting. Disassociate your real Self from your material equipment. When you begin identifying yourself with your real Self, you reach the abode of absolute peace and bliss. The role of religion is to enable you to understand your true Self.

Concentration of Life: The true Self is identical in every body. It is the same in a sage or in a sinner. Yet our personalities differ.

Your perceptions, actions, emotions, and thoughts experience heterogeneity, when you focus your attention on your body, mind and intellect. This causes friction and frustration. Your mind remains agitated. Therefore, to find harmony you should shift the focus of attention to the Self. Only when you recognise that the true Self is the same in every human being, that the true Self which is enlivening you, your body, mind and intellect is the same as the others, will heterogeneity give way to homogeneity.

We are all familiar with the dressing rooms of the kings. The octagonal shaped rooms would have mirrors on all sides, so that the king could have a 360 degree view of himself before stepping into the durbar. Imagine a dog entering this room. The dog sees the reflection of many dogs in the mirrors around and begins barking at them. The reflections, in turn, bark back. The dog does not realise that the other dogs are only its own reflection in the mirrors. The dog views the reflections as its adversaries and gets agitated. It continues to bark until it has no energy left.

Similarly, if you do not realise your real Self, you will be like the dog which sees adversaries all around. You should realise that the real Self is the same in all the beings of the world. For instance, if you hurt somebody, you will in turn get hurt. Others will refrain from hurting you, when you stop hurting them. This can happen only when you identify your true Self with others. You should realise that the true Self is the same in all beings.

Personality chart: The personality chart is also called the human chart.

The role of a human being in his lifetime is to rise from tamas to rajas to satvik. After satvik, comes trans-satvik.

The lowest of these three qualities is tamsik which is a state of inactive mind. It is steeped into inertia, indolence and indifference. A tamsik person displays an “I do not care” attitude.

The rajsik quality is your passion towards activities…your attachment to activities. You act with a desire for results or fruits. This is rajsik pravrithi.

When you start enjoying your action without the expectation of results, it is called satvik pravrithi.

In other words, tamsik can be defined as action with a selfish desire; rajsik is where you are unselfish, but still have desires for the fruits; satvik is actions without desires. It is important to draw up our personality chart in order to attain self-realisation and reach the satvik state.

Gunas (Knowledge): Let us now study the three Gunas – tamsik, rajsik and satvik. An analysis of how these three Gunas manifest themselves in the different facets of your personality will ultimately help develop your personality. The different facets of your personality are knowledge, action and intellect.

Such an analysis enables you to define the exact nature of your personality. It holds a mirror to your inner quality and character. It clearly defines your nature and helps you administer corrective measures by yourself. You can correct your faults and gradually rise to the state of true knowledge or the satvik state of temperament.

Let us first discuss knowledge by applying the three Gunas. Thus, knowledge is of three kinds—tamsik knowledge, rajsik knowledge and satvik knowledge.

A person with tamsik knowledge believes that ignorance is bliss. All his actions are driven by selfish desires. He would not even mind killing somebody to acquire wealth. For such a person, his own happiness is paramount.

A person with rajsik knowledge differentiates between himself and the rest of the world. He does not realise that all of us have the same Self. This creates acrimony with the rest of the world. Often you get a feeling that you are being persecuted by the world. Thus, your knowledge is confined to attaining greater material progress than somebody else. This could be in terms of overcoming business competition or overtaking your colleagues at work.

A person with satvik knowledge recognises the true Self and does not differentiate between himself and the world. He realises that the true Self is the same in all of us. Thus, his actions are not governed by selfish motives.

Karma (Action): Like knowledge, karma or action can be categorised as tamsik, rajsik and satvik.

Tamsik action arises out of confusion and delusion. A tamsik is not concerned with the consequences of his actions or its impact on others. He is not worried about the injury that his actions may cause to himself or to others. Such actions ruin one’s strength and vitality…they offend human dignity and prestige.

Rajsik action is a level higher than tamsik action. Yet, it is desire-ridden, coupled with a longing for its fruits. We undertake such actions with an egoistic feeling. When the feeling of “I am the doer” creeps in, it amounts to rajsik action.

Satvik action is based on one’s obligatory duties. We perform such obligatory duties without any expectations. Our actions are not driven by desire. Any action undertaken without a selfish attachment or anxiety for the results is called satvik action. Satvik action does not flow from personal likes and dislikes…it does not spring from attachment to action… nor is it action undertaken with cravings for the fruit accruing from the action. There is no selfish motive attached to the action.

Actions in themselves, together with their fruits, serve to bind the individual. However, action may indirectly lead to salvation if one acts in a detached and selfless manner with no intention of obtaining personal benefits. Action should be performed with out any desire for fruits. The goal should be to reach a stage where any action is not bound by the desire for results.
Karta (Actor): In the case of the Karta or actor too, we apply the three Gunas —tamsik, rajsik and satvik.

The tamas actor is like a repository of evil deeds. His behaviour is unrestrained and he does not know what is proper or improper. He swells by the satisfaction of his own evil acts. He is always deceitful. His whole body is made up of falsehoods. The good deeds of others turn into bad deeds by his involvement. He considers good qualities of others as bad qualities. When it is the time to do beneficial deeds he feels lethargic, and contrarily when evil deeds are to be executed the lethargy is under his control. He burns with jealousy when he sees the advancement of others. He remains jealous throughout his life.

A rajsik actor acts with a desire for the fruits of his actions. His actions are not selfless. He generally identifies himself with acts that bear fruits easily. If he succeeds in any task he mocks at the world in the surge of happiness and if he is unsuccessful then stricken with grief he denounces it.

A satvik actor is not egoistic. He does not have the “I am the doer” attitude. He is free from all attachments and is not bound to the world. A satvik actor possesses steadfastness and enthusiasm. He is energetic and cheerful in what he does. He is driven only by the love for self-realisation and does not bother about his physical happiness. When you see a person who is enthusiastic, happy and cheerful, your instantly recognise him as a satvik actor.

Buddhi (Intellect): The tamsik intellect is surrounded by ignorance which regards the unrighteous as righteous, understands vice as virtue and wrong as right. It has a perverted view of everything and leads you towards destruction.

Rajsik intellect wrongly interprets the ethical and unethical values of life. A person with rajsik buddhi does not understand his obligatory duties and responsibilities in life. In many cases, a rajsik person refuses to perform certain duties for the fear of poor results. However, he will perform such duties when the fear is removed out of him.

In the satvik intellect, it is the other way round. He will understand what is to be feared and what is not to be feared. Satvik intellect does not have any room for fear of the consequences of his actions.

The satvik intellect chooses the field of activity which is more suitable to his inherent nature. A person who rejects what is not according to his inherent nature is said to be of satvik buddhi. A person with satvik buddhi recognises that he is not cut out for a particular job. And having chosen the right field, he decides what ought to be done and what not ought to be done. Satvik intellect has the clarity to choose one’s course of life.

The intellect that understands which deed is good and which is evil after carefully considering actions and non-actions and measuring them with the scale of inclination to work and renunciation is the satvik intellect.

Steadfastness: Here again, the three Gunas are applied to steadfastness.

Tamsik steadfastness is the consistency with which a person foolishly keeps imaging, fearing, grieving and despairing. Such a person maintains an arrogant attitude in life

Since he loves his body and wealth, fear does not leave him. Because he has tied himself to dissatisfaction, sorrow makes friendship with him. Discontent does not leave him until death. And because of the attraction for youth, wealth and lust that grow within him arrogance also resides in him. He is always afflicted with fear and considers the whole world as his enemy.

Under rajsik steadfastness, you display a sense of insecurity. For instance, when you are advised to appoint a second-in-command at office you resist it. You become insecure about your own existence. You look at him as a threat.

You cling to duties and responsibilities that you have imposed on yourself. As a result, the thought of duty and responsibility makes you pale. You fear them. Also, human beings are driven by two motivations in life—acquiring wealth and enjoying it. For this purpose he develops an attachment to his work and anxiety for the fruits thereof. The consistency with which he works in this manner is rajsik steadfastness.

Under satvik steadfastness complete consistency is maintained in the pursuit of the supreme role of Self-realisation, the firmness in restraining the activities of the body, mind and the intellect to steer clear of the worldly entanglements and channelising the efforts to attain true enlightenment.

Ultimately, when we apply our intellect to our actions, we derive happiness. Happiness again falls into the three parameters of tamsik, rajsik and satvik.

Tamsik happiness springs from the ignorance of the supreme Self—a happiness delusive of the Self from the beginning to the end. There is a perverted pleasure which throws our true Self into oblivion, as in nefarious activities like murder, loot and rape. It is a kind of a negative happiness.

People often give up true joy and instead, mistaking the artificial sensuous pleasures to be more permanent, get anxious about them. Take the case of Ashwathama, born of poor parents, who had never tasted genuine milk in his lifetime. He asked his mother for milk. Being poor she could not procure cow's milk and had no desire either to disappoint her son. She therefore mixed flour in water and gave it to her son as milk. The boy jumped in joy that he too had tasted milk. Such is the state of most of us. We do not know the natural happiness inherent in our own Self but hanker after the alluring and adulterated happiness from worldly pleasures. This is rajsik happiness. Such happiness is temporary and ends in misery.

Rajas happiness exhausts the stock of happiness fast, destroys life and drains the wealth of merit. This happiness results in calamities. Worldly happiness which is sweet in the beginning leads to a bitter end.

On the contrary, satvik happiness which arises from the clarity of intellect feels detestable in the beginning but ends in blissfulness. This is long lasting happiness or ever lasting happiness. The bliss which is rooted in detachment ends in the peace of the Self-realisation,

The happiness derived out of the pursuit of the supreme Self which entails physical restrain, emotional detachment and intellectual understanding of the supreme knowledge is satvik happiness.

Renunciation: Is it possible for us to give up our duties entirely? Our mind thus vacillates between the renunciation of action and performance of action. Renunciation of action means performing it in a way untouched by blemish, that is, giving up attachment and desire for reward. A discussion of the three kinds of renunciation will enable you understand the concept better.

Tamsik renunciation is the relinquishment of one’s obligatory duties out of delusion. Such a person is ignorant and confused of what duties and responsibilities he has to perform. He does not understand how to destroy the bondage of actions through actions. He, therefore, abandons actions.

Rajsik renunciation is when you given up your actions due to fear. We renounce certain duties, responsibilities or actions out of fear of failure or suffering. This is not real renunciation.

Even though a rajsik person is aware of his duties, he becomes indifferent to them on the ground that their performance is troublesome. This is also abandonment of work, but it does not bear the fruit of relinquishment. When a person gives up his prescribed duties because he is attached to physical comforts, he does not gain the fruit of relinquishment. The abandonment of action through ignorance does not lead to emancipation and so being rajas-dominated, it is not true relinquishment.

Satvik renunciation is defined as the performance of action that ought to be done without appendages burdening it. Renunciation is actually performance – performing your duty without burdening it with certain other expectations. It is the relinquishment of the attachment for the fruit, while performing the obligations of life.

In short, if a man, in his ignorance renounces certain actions, his renunciation is inspired by tamas. If he abstains from any action merely because it is disagreeable, or because he fears it will cause him bodily pain, his renunciation is inspired by rajas. He will not obtain any spiritual benefit from such renunciation. But when a man performs an action renouncing all attachment and desire for its fruits, then his renunciation is inspired by satva. The true relinquisher is one who by relinquishing the fruit of actions, has turned action into non-action.

Personality Chart: A careful reading of this chapter will enable you draw up your personality chart. It helps you to assess your personality…what is the quality of knowledge that you possess…what is the quality of action that you execute…what kind of renunciation are you pursuing…are in treading on the tamsik, rajsik or satvik path?

On an apple tree, some of the fruit is ripe (satvik), some ripening (rajsik) and some overripe or rotten (tamsik). No matter which quality prevails, an element of each of the other two Gunas will always be present in all of us. Most of an individual apple will be ripe, but part will be rotten, and part will be in the process of changing from one state to the other. Our effort thus should be to reach the predominantly satvik stage.

Once you understand your true personality by applying the lessons of this chapter on yourself, you can administer corrective measures to convert your weaknesses to strengths. The personality chart would, therefore, serve as a yardstick to measure your spiritual status and programme your evolution.