Posts Tagged ‘Siva’

Divorce

Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2
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Dwell in this home; never be parted! Enjoy the full duration of your days, with sons and grandsons playing to the end, rejoicing in your home to your heart’s content.


Marriage Is Forever

There is a breakdown that has been under way among all of us some time all over the world. Complaints as well as suggestions come in daily to my publisher’s desk. These are some of the typical problems: mothers are no longer teaching righteousness, Vedic Dharma, worship and puja to their children, for fear their little ones won’t fit into the alien cultures in which they are living. That’s one. Fathers are no longer taking their sons into the family business or profession, but giving them choices of their own, for fear of being regarded as the “dominant” parent figure and not fitting in with the society in which they are living. That’s another. There are more.

Children are orphaned in their own homes because the minds of both mother and father are in the work-a-day world in which the children play no part. Kids content themselves within the asuric realms of video arcades and TV. Families have given up dharma and even the hope of moksha, liberation from rebirth. Instead, they are immersed in the insatiable search for artha (wealth) and kama (enjoyment) and the many other magnetic pulls, so that they, too, are able to blend into modern society.

Hindu people, we are told in many e-mails, have almost all become passive followers, with few active leaders among them. No one wants to stand out over another, lest he be harshly criticized and put down. Many moderners fear openly affirming the dharma if it conflicts with modern society. Society as we know it today is the doctrine of materialism governed by anarchy. Lay down a rule, and someone will break it, no matter what it is. Are we in the Kali Yuga?

There is one institution that there is still hope in saving. It has been cherished in scripture, in living cultures, in all the major religions for thousands of years. It is the precious institution of marriage. It is the binding, contractual agreement between a man and woman who have come together to take on the responsibility of birthing, raising and educating a new generation. How are we going to have a brave new world, a new world order, a new age, based on anarchy within the family itself?

Yet, here, too, Hindus are taking their examples from those who do not understand or observe dharma; they are seeing divorce as a solution instead of a problem.

When the institution of marriage breaks down, everyone suffers. We see this happening all around us. A husband and wife bound by holy sacraments are psychically attached to each other. To separate for a month, a week or even for a day can be painful on the part of one or both. They reach out to one another during the time of physical absence in dreams and longing. How painful then is their permanent separation? How much anguish does it bring to their beloved children, whose wounds never really heal? And how is it that only the priest, a person who invokes God and the Gods, can sanctify a marriage, and that a court judge, a man of the world, can cancel that divine contractual agreement? Impossible. Only in the Kali Yuga.

A long and joyous life is theirs who remain firmly on the faultless path of the control of the five senses. There are still a few elders left today who speak out, whether listened to or not. Their fire of righteous indignation, their love for dharma, is making an impression upon the younger generation and their parents alike. We appeal to these elders to take courage and proclaim the ancient values, whether their children and grandchildren listen to them or not. Some part of them will be hearing. Preach the dharma. There is little to lose and much to gain. We appeal to elders to speak against divorce, to patiently work to harmonize matrimonial tensions and diffuse difficult family situations.


Drawbacks Of Divorce

Divorce only begins new problems. Is a divorce similar to going out of business? Or bankruptcy? Yes, because in both cases everyone is the loser. The employees are losers, the children are losers, the suppliers are losers; everyone is a loser, and everyone takes sides. In the case of the failing business, the employees take sides, the partnership breaks up, the partners take sides, and their friends take sides. In case of a marriage, the friends of a husband take his side, the friends of a wife take her side, and there is a permanent division. Sometimes the courts take the side of the children, and the children are divided. It is the breakdown of the community, it is the breakdown of society, and it is the creation of a lot of kukarma that has to be worked out in this or probably in a future life. There’s another great loss in the case of a marriage that breaks up or a business that breaks up, and the loss is trust in the individuals concerned. They lose their ability to trust each other, to trust themselves; and, of course, no one trusts them.

Couples have been taught to look to psychiatrists, psychologists, family counselors and attorneys for solutions to marital problems. But who can give better solutions than our qualified elders who know the karmas, who know the adharma involved in divorce? Their experience has great value. Find a swami, sadhu, guru, a jyotisha shastri, someone who can help tighten the bonds of family love and trust and make this person an integral part of your family. Every family needs its spiritual preceptor to strengthen the support group, who in turn hold the family together when hard times come. The plea is to hang on to one thing: the family life. Marriage is forever.

Indian culture has within it all the solutions to maintain proper relationships of a man being manly and a woman being womanly. Today men are confronted by women who have, often out of necessity, nurtured their masculine qualities. Naturally, such couples will fight, compete and suffer. In my life-long ministry, those who are not getting along well in marriage come occasionally for advice. We work it out according to ancient shastric principles that transcend the immediate problems. Marriage is like a voyage by ship. Sometimes the going is easy and sunny, and sometimes there is bad weather to endure. But at all times it’s advisable to stay with the ship and not jump overboard. My experience is that the bad karmas, or kukarmas, as well as harsh astrology and difficult attitudes, are always finally overcome, so long as no one gives up the hope and the effort. The marriage continues. The word divorce is never uttered or seen as a solution in the hundreds of extended families who look to me as preceptor.

Those who don’t take such advice are overwhelmed by the tugs and pulls of pranic forces between them stimulated by hatred and confusion, tears, remorse, unresolvable misunderstandings which have gone on unattended for fifteen or twenty years. Couples who did not listen to my advice to not end their marriage ten years ago still speak to me today of their separation as though it all happened a week ago. They admit that divorce was no solution, only a postponement of problems that still linger, which could have been solved and still have to be. Those who have gone through the experience know that divorce and remarriage is just trading one set of problems for another. We have seen that divorcees remarry others with the same traits, temperament, faults, failings and even looks as their previous spouse. No one, however clever they may be, can run away from their birth karmas. No, divorce is no solution. Separation, though better, is still not the solution. Both are only the beginning of new problems.


Unofficial Divorce

In Hinduism marriage is still highly respected, and so divorce is a sign of failure, because life is a spiritual journey and failing to fulfill that journey is a weakness. In a sense, it is a crime against one’s own karma and dharma in this life. It is like saying, “I can’t do what I came here to do.” Divorce brings loss of social position and respect in the community. By getting divorced, one betrays a sacred covenant, a betrayal that weakens the whole of society.

There is divorce, and there is divorce. I have observed through the years that a modern form of Hindu divorce has become a part of Indian culture. It is a clever way to not hurt the feelings of elders, parents and relatives, or to avoid incurring the community stigma of divorce. A modern form of Hindu divorce, it seems, has cleverly been conceived in the following way. The husband is under great stress, a stress that is not natural for a human being, a stress based on living up to materialistic expectations. He comes home psychically wounded, tired, worried. If things do not go well at home, he may verbally or even physically abuse his wife and family, blaming her for everything bad that happens to him. Sensing his failure to cope with all of this, he secretly wishes he did not have to face his weakness.

He learns from compatriots that the Big Solution to the marriage problem is to get away from the wife and the kids. He is advised to accept a job in another part of the world, knowing that his association with his family will become distant and tenuous, and he will no longer have to confront his wife, who has become his conscience. He knows he will hardly have to speak with her, rarely visit her and will be able to avoid, most of the time, the challenges the marriage has brought to him which he is unwittingly unable or unwilling to resolve. He knows, too, that he won’t have to face the community’s disdain that a formal divorce would bring, and that he can avoid the financial pains of alimony.

After reorganizing his professional life, the husband takes a job in a far-off land. He returns home for brief periods and only occasionally, thus effecting a separation without the expensive inconvenience and social stigma of formal divorce proceedings. He assures everyone, mostly himself, that this is the right thing to do, since he is making more money. Of course, money will never make up for his absence, never buy the children their childhood back. Lacking in fatherly guidance, the children, are running wild, turning promiscuous, later to repeat the example of neglect that dad is teaching them. No one wins.

Husband and wife should always be together. If there is an unavoidable separation, he should call her daily, ask how her day was, inquire about the children. After all, it is the harmonizing of their pranas that will create through their children a brave new world, a new world order and a new age.


Whom to Hold Responsible?

HINDUISM TODAY ran a quiz about divorce on the women’s page. The subject struck a nerve among readers. Here’s a question that a young Hindu asked about coping with divorce.

Question: My mother and father got a divorce, and I really resent it. It happened seven years ago when I was sixteen, and almost every day I regret what I missed by not having my mom and dad together in a loving home. How can I deal with the resentment, Gurudeva?

Answer: It’s not easy experiencing the separation and divorce of one’s mom and dad, at any age — six, sixteen or thirty-one. There is a feeling of emptiness; something is lost, never to be regained. The feelings and thoughts of blame grow, they do not diminish, as the years go by. But look at it this way. Any marriage, yours maybe, needs a loving, strong support group that wants to help the young couple, or the older couple, work out their problems rather than avoid them through separation and finally divorce. Basically, when there are children involved as a result of a marriage, there really is no divorce — only separation. Every marriage is truly irrevocable, carved in the akashic records when the first child’s umbilical cord is cut. Thereafter, there can be no separation without a great deal of pain and unforeseen karmic repercussions.

Upon whom should the children put the blame? Put it where it truly belongs. Put it on the support groups — the mothers, the grandmothers, the grandfathers, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the next-door neighbors, the business partners and friends of the family. Everyone in the community shares the tragedy of the home’s breaking up — the members of the temple society, the marriage counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, the hairdresser, the gym instructor and the attorney were all responsible to become part of the solution rather than part of the dissolution of the marriage. Put the blame on them, not on your mom and dad.

An extended family that loves one another and looks out for the good of all, a religious group of loving souls who pride themselves on low percentage of divorce in their community or congregation — these and more are all the people who can or should see the tension growing between husband and wife and who have the ability to diffuse it at the early stages. Don’t blame your mother and father. If blame is to be cast, blame all those people that surrounded your family who were not alert enough, good souls that they may be, to help diffuse the tension between your parents.

Obviously, the support group has failed their marriage. You must admit that failure, lest it drag you down to its own depth. Be part of the solution. Don’t perpetuate the problem. Don’t make them feel guilty. For your own peace of mind, transfer the blame, the hurt feelings, the pain and resentment over to the relatives, the community and national value system. Become an agent of goodwill. Have kind words to say about dad to mom and kind words to say about mom to dad. Resist the impulse to criticize one to the other and cause an even greater separation within the family. They are not to blame. Society is.

If you take sides, you are creating bad karma, kukarma, for yourself, to be faced later. So treat each one the same. Don’t make deals, don’t deceive them or keep secrets from them, lest you psychically alienate yourself from the home. Maybe, just maybe, you can help them to understand and reconcile their differences if you follow this advice. Maybe, just maybe, time and the forces of nature will all come to your aid, and your parents will remarry and you will all become a family again. Don’t perpetuate the problem. Be part of the solution. Work with it. You, their child, may be their very best hope.


Support at Crucial Times

When the tensions of the burdens of life begin to build, if friends, relatives and community begin to pull away rather than come forward to help, mom and dad are rendered helpless, absolutely helpless. Certain crises are predictable in the course of a marriage. When the first child is born, everything changes. This is the first crisis in their life. He lost his sweetheart and lover when she gave birth to her first child and became a mother. She lost her lover, too, when he became a father. Their roles first began to change during the time of her pregnancy. He had to watch very closely his thoughts toward other women, while feeling neglect because she was thinking about their baby soon to be born more than she was thinking about him. She used to think only of him.

Moving into another home is another crisis time. It’s easy for dad because he is involved in new employment and new friends, but hard for mom because she has to adjust to the change of her entire environment. Is this a time for her to be emotionally upset? Yes it is.

At middle age, around forty, mom goes through menopause — another big crisis. Dad doesn’t admit it — no man ever does — but he goes through a corresponding change at that time, too. At that time they both begin to think how it would have been if they had married somebody else. Dad, maybe, especially is ready for one last fling. They both have a desire to return to the surroundings of their youth. This is another intense crisis time. If dad reaches fortyish first and mom later, then they experience two crisis times instead of one. When their daughter entered puberty, another crisis time occurred for the family. They didn’t know what she was going to do next, and they often blamed themselves and each other for her erratic and sometimes erotic behavior. Another crisis time.

Grandma, Grandpa, great aunts and uncles, the neighbor next door, even the deliveryman, can help in times of crisis. The temple community, the church congregation, the priest, the minister, friends, Rotary Club members, executive at the office, if they don’t help, are all negligent. We can blame them for the failure. Don’t blame mom and dad. They are helpless. Do we blame somebody who is sick for being ill? Of course not. Do we blame a person who is emotionally distraught for being emotional distraught? Of course not. We try to understand. We try to help. If the help is offered or is not offered, we blame those who do not help.

Therefore, I tell troubled youth, for your own peace of mind, dear child, love your mother and your father. Keep them as one in your mind. Don’t separate them in your mind. You yourself are the greatest marriage counselor. It is only you who at this juncture can become a binding force for the family. Rise above the accepted standards of the nonculture of today, which advise divorce to solve the problem. Remember, don’t take sides.


The Dreadful First Slap

Though divorce is not an acceptable solution to family problems according to Hindu Dharma, there is one regrettable exception to maintaining a divine union, and that is in the case of domestic violence. We’ve encountered much talk lately in Time, Newsweek, Hinduism Today and on TV about the taboo subjects of wife beating, date rape and even sexual abuse of children. Things once not even whispered about behind closed doors are now out in the open. No more secrets.

Of course, domestic violence never was much of a secret, for all those involved knew: husbands and wives, their friends, the kids, close relatives and neighbors. Knew but said nothing. If the neighbors are making too much noise at a party, no one hesitates to complain. But if that same neighbor is beating his wife and she is screaming and crying, nothing is done. No knock on the door. No call to authorities. We never allow a fist fight in a public place, but we do permit, by our silence, such heinous violence in the home.

In the spirit of standing for ahimsa and not permitting violence, when you see a man slapping his wife or a parent hitting his child, call the police! Don’t protect the wrongdoer. Don’t be a party to the crime by remaining passive. Don’t think that no karma is attached to inaction. It is no longer acceptable to turn up the TV to drown out the screams and sobs of a wife being beaten.

Recently, the California case of O.J. Simpson released an immense outpouring of sympathy for abused women. It took a world-famous athlete to bring forward an infamous worldly behavior. It is an admirable trait that an uncensored press can come forward to awaken a nation’s conscience. In a way, the images and stories that are appearing are not unlike Indian epics or Greek stage plays that seek to establish morals by depicting tragic happenings, or Italian operas which conceal morals in melodrama. All in all, the world has not changed that much.

As hard as it is to discuss wife abuse and why it happens, people are discussing it openly and without shame. We see graphic, real-life pictures of this violence and battered wives speaking out in magazines and on television. The big question is, will it ever end? Maybe not, but we can end the cultural sanction of the sport where father and mother watch their son slap down his wife and then drag her across the room by her hair.

A man who strikes his wife in an effort to make her cower, to control her, actually karmically does the opposite. His brutality turns against him, becomes his disadvantage. Her love and dependence weaken, and her psychic bonds to him unravel. After that, she has the spiritual upper hand, is more free from him than ever, less under his control than before that first slap. Yes, it all begins with the first slap.

It does not matter as much when they fight with words — the name-calling, insinuations, insults and arguments. That’s all part of the play of married life and may be fairly intense when their astrological compatibility is not as perfect as it might be. But that first slap changes everything! It is that first slap that brings dire kukarma, that degrades and demeans, that makes her his enemy and not his friend. This is not acceptable. Kids cannot accept it. Wives will never forgive it. Families should not endure it, even to defend beloved sons. It is not less violent just because it happens behind closed doors, just because we know the people so well. All who know of this crime and who do not speak up for dharma, for ahimsa, are accomplices. Like a thief or rapist, they are enemies of a stable society.
What Can Be Done?

“What can I do about domestic violence?” you may ask. You can refuse to remain silent. You can object, as I did recently upon finding in my own community three cases of wife abuse. Imagine, if devotees performing sadhana can succumb, how easy it must be for others. There is help available. Peer pressure, elders, police, counselors and shelters are there, and much more. It’s like the olden days when people first started objecting to slavery. Everyone knew in their heart it was wrong, but no one dared go against the conventional wisdom that it was “necessary.” Finally, mankind came to its senses and stopped it. It was no longer acceptable. In that same way, we are now coming to our senses about spouse abuse and child abuse.

What is the difference between beating a woman and raping her? Not much, really. Violent harm is done. Her body has been violated, moved by his body against her will. A sin has been committed, equally as psychologically serious. Kukarma for the man, bad consequences, results from that first slap. Prayashchitta, penance, must be performed to mitigate the backlash of his actions, lest they seriously affect his next birth.

The first push, bruised wrist, pinch without mercy, slap or bleeding lip tells her nerve system that “this is no place for me to be.” Her fear takes over, and the process of breaking up the family nest begins. His future is jeopardized as she instinctively withdraws her shakti. Perhaps he struck her to show that he’s the boss and that she cannot control him. But, in fact, he thereby appointed her as another boss that may well torment his consciousness the rest of his life and bring to him sorrows to equal her own, now or in his next birth.

Of course, it is the birth dharma of Hindu elders to rule society with a firm hand and demand of their younger male generation that they never defile themselves by giving that first slap. When a domestic situation is brought before me that involves violence, my immediate response is to advise the wife to run for safety. Unless counseling, if ever accepted, brings about an actual change in the offender, and there are actual apologies, remorse and genuine efforts to mend ways and transform that are acceptable to relatives and the congregation at large, I know it is my responsibility to step in and advise separation. Yes, this may lead to divorce, unless, of course, a deeply sincere correction has taken place and a new marriage covenant has been written by the couple. Continued physical violence is the singular justification for divorce in modern Hindu culture — a regrettable exception to the life-long covenant of marriage. This is comparable to an abortion performed to save the life of the mother, which is dharmically permissible because it is an even worse kukarma for a child to kill his mother. All concerned will accept the wisdom of these exceptions, both of which save the life of the mother.

Woman

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine part 2
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Be a queen to thy father-in-law, a queen to thy mother-in-law, a queen to thy husband’s sisters, and a queen to thy husband’s brothers.

Sanctity of The Home

From the point of view of the Second World, or astral plane, the home is the family temple, and the wife and mother is in charge of that spiritual environment. The husband can come into that sanctum sanctorum but should not bring the world into it. He will naturally find a refuge in the home if she is doing her duty. He will be able to regain his peace of mind there, renew himself for the next day in the stressful situations that the outside world is full of. In this technological age a man needs this refuge. He needs that inner balance in his life. When he comes home, she greets him at the entrance and performs a rite of purification and welcome, offering arati to cleanse his aura. This and other customs protect the sanctity of the home. When he enters that sanctuary and she is in her soul body and the child is in its soul body, then he becomes consciously conscious in his soul body, called anandamaya kosha in Sanskrit. He leaves the conscious mind, which is a limited, external state of mind and not a balanced state of mind. He enters the intuitive mind. He gets immediate and intuitive answers to his worldly problems.

How can he not be successful in his purusha dharma in the outside world when he has the backing of a good wife? She is naturally perceptive, naturally intuitive. She balances out his intellect, softens the impact of the forces which dash against his nervous system from morning to night. Encouragement and love naturally radiate out from her as she fulfills her stri dharma. Without these balancing elements in his life, a man becomes too externalized, too instinctive.

If a woman is working, she cannot provide this balance. She has to start thinking and acting like a man. She has to become a little tougher, create a protective shell around her emotions. Then the home loses its balance of the masculine and the feminine forces. Take for example the situation in which the wife rushes home from work fifteen minutes before the husband. She’s upset after an especially hard day at work. The children come over from Grandmother’s house or she tells the babysitter to go home. She scurries to prepare something for dinner before he comes home, then rushes to get herself looking halfway decent. Emotionally upset, she tries to calm herself, tries to relax and regain her composure. Her astral body is upset. The children’s astral bodies are upset. The husband enters this agitated environment — already upset by being in the world — and he becomes more disturbed. He was looking forward to a quiet evening. But is he going to get it? No. He begins to feel neglected, disappointed, and that leads him to become distraught, to say angry words that make everything even worse. The pranic forces are spinning out of control. It’s seems like a totally impossible situation for both of them. Furthermore, it’s not going to get better, but exceedingly worse, as the days wear on.

The Wife’s Special Power

The situation I have just described is one of the main reasons that marriages today have become less stable, that so many married couples — sixty to seventy percent, I’m told — are experiencing difficulties and breaking up. But couples never get married with the intent of breaking up. Never. The pranic forces do it. You put two magnets together one way and they attract one another. Turn one around, and they repel each other. The same force that brought the people together, when it is not handled right, makes them pull apart and hate each other. They can’t see eye to eye. Then to make up, they go out to dinner to talk it over — in another frustrating, asuric situation, as far out in the world as they can get — to try to make up. When that doesn’t help, they come home still frustrated. If they went to the nearby temple and worshiped the family Deity together, that would help. They would return home in a different state of mind and discover that their vibration had changed. Why does it help to go to the temple? Because the God is in the temple, the Deity is there to adjust the forces of the inner nerve system, to actually change the forces of mind and emotion.

In the home, the mother is likened to the Shakti Deity. She is the power, the very soul of the home. None other. So she has to be there. She has to be treated sensitively and kindly, and with respect. She has to be given all the things she needs and everything she wants so she will release her shakti power to support her husband, so that he is successful in all his manly endeavors. When she is hurt, depressed, frustrated or disappointed, she automatically withdraws that power, compromising his success in the outside world along with it. People will draw away from him. His job, business or creative abilities will suffer. This is her great siddhi, her inborn power, which Hindu women know so well.

It is the man’s duty, his purusha dharma, to provide for her and for the children. The husband should provide her with all the fine things, with a good house which she then makes into a home, with adornments, gold and jewels and clothes, gold hanging down until her ears hurt, more bracelets, more things to keep her in the home so she is feeling secure and happy. In return she provides a refuge, a serene corner of the world where he can escape from the pressures of daily life, where he can regain his inner perspective, perform his religious sadhana and meditations, then enjoy his family. Thus, she brings happiness and peace of mind to her family, to the community and to the world.

The Home As a Temple

This working together of the home and the temple brings up the culture and the religion within the family. The family goes to the temple; the temple blesses the family’s next project. The mother returns home. She keeps an oil lamp burning in the shrine room on the altar to bring the shakti power of the God and devas into their home. This is only one of the beautiful practices of her religious stri dharma, so sensitive and so vital to the furtherance of the family and its faith. All this happens because her astral body is not fretted by the stresses and strains of a worldly life, not polluted by the lustful thoughts of other men directed toward her, causing her to live in the emotional astral body to ward them off, or be tempted by them. She is not living in the emotional astral body. She is living in her peaceful soul body of love, fulfilling her dharma and radiating the soulful presence called sannidhya. She was born to be a woman, and that’s how a woman should behave.

If she does not do her dharmic duty — this means the duty of birth — then she accrues bad karma. Every time she leaves the home to go out to work, she is making kukarma. Yes, she is. That negative karma will have its affect on her astral body and on her husband’s astral body and on the astral bodies of their children, causing them to become insecure.

The Judaic-Christian-Islamic idea of just one life, after which you either go to heaven or to hell gives the impression that time is running out. Some even think “you have to get everything out of this life, because when you’re gone, you’re gone, so grab all the gusto that you can.” This has given the modern Western woman the idea that she is not getting everything she should, and therefore the man’s world looks doubly attractive, because she is just passing through and will never come back. So, living a man’s life is very, very attractive. She doesn’t want to stay home all the time and not see anything, not meet anybody, go through the boredom of raising a family, taking care of the children. She wants to be out with life, functioning in a man’s world, because she is told that she is missing something. Therefore, you can understand her desire to get out and work, start seeing and experiencing life and mixing with people, meeting new people.

The traditional Hindu woman, however, does not look at life like that. She knows that she was born this time in a woman’s body — this soul has taken an incarnation for a time in a woman’s body — to perform a dharma, to perform a duty, for the evolution of the soul. The duty is to be a mother to her children, wife to her husband, to strengthen the home and the family, which are the linchpin of society. She knows that the rewards are greater for her in the home. She knows that all she is missing is a man’s strenuous work and responsibility, that her stri dharma is equally as great as a man’s purusha dharma, even though they are quite different by nature. Because she knows these things, she fulfills her dharma joyously.

Mother in The Home

Now, a woman may wonder, “If I don’t work, how are we going to pay the bills?” The stated reason that most women work is economic. The economy of the world is becoming more and more difficult, and the first answer to money problems, especially in the West, where the family unit is not too strong these days, is to have the wife go to work. This is an unhappy solution. Much too often the sacrifices are greater than the rewards. It is a false economy. Many times I have told young wives to stay home with their children. They worry. Their husbands worry. But with the wife at home, working to strengthen her husband, he soon becomes confident, creative, energetic and that makes him prosperous. He is reinspired and always finds a way to make ends meet.

As long as the mother is home, everything is fine. There is security. Without this security, a family begins to disintegrate. Just think how insecure a child is without its mother. When the mother is there, security reigns in the home. As long as the mother is home, doing whatever she naturally does as a mother — she doesn’t even have to read a book about how to do it — the husband has to support the home; he feels bound to support the home. Of course, religion must be the basis of the home to make it all work. When women leave the home to work in the world, they sacrifice the depth of their religion. Their religious life then simply becomes a social affair. This is true of both Eastern and Western religions. As long as the mother is home, the celestial devas are there, hovering in and around the home.

How many of you here this morning were raised with your mother staying at home? Well, then you know what I mean. Now, what if she wasn’t at home when you were a child? You had to fix your own snack in an empty house. You didn’t feel much cared for. You were alone in an empty house, perhaps frightened, and you went around seeing if someone was hiding in the closet. You didn’t feel that motherly, protective feeling.

When mother finally does come home, she has other things on her mind. She is tired. She has worked hard, and now she has to work even more. She is not thinking about the helpless kid who can’t take care of himself. She may get home and think to herself, “I just can’t forget about that good-looking man I met at the office. I even see him in my dreams. I have a husband and I shouldn’t be thinking about such things, but…” And on and on and on. Arguments begin to happen for the first time in the home. What do you do? You worry for awhile. You cry a little. As soon as you can, you start fending for yourself. You work out ways to take care of yourself, or even to get away from the unhappy situation as soon as you can. You end up out on your own in the world at a young age, before you are mature enough to cope with it.

A Feminine Incarnation

The Hindu woman knows that she is born in a woman’s body to fulfill a woman’s dharma, to perform her duty and not to emulate the men. The duty is to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, whom she looks to as her lord. She performs that duty willingly, as does the man perform his duty which arises out of being born in a man’s body. The Hindu woman is trained to perform her stri dharma from the time she is a little girl. She finds ways to express her natural creativity within the home itself. She may write poetry or become an artist. Perhaps she has a special talent for sewing or embroidery or gardening or music. She can learn to loom cloth and make the family’s clothing. If needed, she can use her skills to supplement the family income without leaving the home. There are so many ways for a Hindu wife and mother to fully use her creative energies, including being creative enough to never let her life become boring. It is her special blessing that she is free to pursue her religion fully, to study the scriptures, to sing bhajana and keep her own spiritual life strong inside.

Then there is the situation in which the wife is working for her husband in the home. This is not ideal, but it is far better than having her out away from her husband, under another man’s mind. At least the family is working together toward a single goal, and the mother is there to care for the child and answer questions. Of course, if working in the home does not allow for closeness of mother and children, then it is to be avoided — if, for instance, the work is so demanding that the mother is never free to play with the young ones or is so pressured by her other duties that she becomes tense and upset. Otherwise, it is a positive situation. From the child’s point of view, mother is home. She is there to answer questions, to make a dosai or say, “Go make yourself a nice dosai and I will help you.” She is there with a kiss and a band aid for a scratch. She is there to explain why the grass is green, to tell a story, to teach a simple lesson in why things are the way they are. Mother is home, and that is very important for a young child. Yes, her prana in the house makes the house a home.

We are nowadays witnessing a big wave of change rushing to the shores of Hinduism in Colombo, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Durban and London. I have seen it coming. Hindu women no longer feel they have to adhere to the old traditions. They are changing traditions. They adopt new ways these days. Now a Hindu woman can go out and work, especially if she lives in the city, and she is encouraged by family and friends to do so. She can neglect her family, and that is deemed all right, too. She doesn’t have to fulfill her stri dharma. Staying home is old-fashioned, they say. I have been told that eighty percent of all Hindu women living in the West work in the world. Eighty percent! Apparently those who have worked for the demise of Hinduism have done their work quite well. Still, I am not worried. I know the nature of waves, and this one will ebb as soon as it reaches the height of its power, replaced by the greater power of returning to tradition.

Why Respect Tradition?

Let’s look at the word tradition. Webster defines tradition as “a story, belief, custom or proverb handed down from generation to generation, a long-established custom or practice that has the effect of an unwritten law.” We all know human nature, because we are people living on this planet. We are fickle; we are changeable. We are always curious to try new things. Change is a wonderful part of life, within certain bounds. We do not want to be too restrictive, yet we do want to be strict. Be strict without being restrictive, and life will be balanced between discipline and freedom. This has always been the Asian way. Take a look back into history, back to the time of Saint Tiruvalluvar, who lived 2,200 years ago. He would not have written the Tirukural if people were perfect, if they were, as a whole, strong, steady and self-disciplined. He wrote those sparkling gems of wisdom and advice for fickle, changeable people, so that they could keep their minds controlled and their lives in line with the basic principles of dharma for men and women clearly set forth in the Vedas six to eight thousand years ago.

Tradition adapts itself to culture and climate. The Hindu women raised in Western countries will not be able to follow all the traditions of the East. But they have to fulfill enough of those traditions to fulfill their stri dharma. And, of course, they will have to adjust slowly.

Scriptural advice is just as pertinent today, thousands of years later. Why? Because people are human, because they are little different today than they were then. Societies change, knowledge changes, language changes. But people do not change all that much. That is exactly the reason that traditions do not change much or change very slowly. They still apply. They are still valid. They are the wisdom of hundreds of generations assembled together. The wise always follow the ways of wisdom, always follow tradition. Does that mean they cannot be inventive? No. Does that mean they cannot use their mind and will to advance themselves and humanity? No. Does that mean they must avoid being creative, original, individualistic? No. It simply means that they express these fine qualities within the context of religious tradition, thus enhancing tradition instead of destroying it. Tradition, with its spoken and unspoken ways, is far too precious to throw out or tear down. The unwritten laws and customs of tradition are what has developed and proved out to be best for the peoples on this planet for centuries. We cannot casually change tradition. It takes centuries to build a tradition. We cannot sit at a meeting and arbitrate a change like that.

Take all of this that has been said into your meditations. Think deeply about the natural balance of masculine and feminine energies in the world and within yourselves. You will discover a new appreciation for the woman’s role and for the traditions which allow her to fulfill it.

A Personal Testimony

By way of illustration I will ask you now to read a fine message we received from a Saivite lady in Sri Lanka who follows beautifully the spirit of stri dharma.

“I am a Hindu wife and take pride and pleasure in being one. I am a graduate of the London University and was a teacher in a girls’ school before I got married in 1969. I belong to an orthodox Saivite Hindu family, and when I reached age twenty-six my parents proposed a marriage. My future husband, too, hailed from an orthodox Saivite family and was thirty years of age. After our parents discussed and decided upon details, an opportunity was afforded to us to meet. The venue was a Ganesha temple, and the time was 7AM. As each of us stepped into the temple from different directions almost simultaneously, the temple bells started ringing to herald the 7:00 puja. ‘A good omen,’ both of us thought independently. After the puja was over, we were introduced to each other by my mother. Out of inborn shyness and a certain amount of fear of meeting a stranger, I was hardly able to look up and even see the color of the man who was going to be the lord of my life. I heard him talk and even noticed him gazing meaningfully at me all the time. The ‘confrontation’ lasted about ten minutes, and we parted. Each of us approved the selection so carefully made by our parents and, to make a long story short, our marriage was solemnized in due course.

“From the date of marriage, I resigned my job as teacher because my duties as a housewife appeared more onerous and more responsible. My husband earned enough to maintain a family, and we started setting up a home of our own. I brought in some money by way of a dowry, and this helped us to furnish our home with all essential requirements. We loved each other very much and lived like Siva and Shakti. The most important corner of our house is the shrine room where our day-to-day life starts every morning.

“I get up from bed at 5AM every day. After a wash, I enter the shrine room and clean up the place. Remnants of flowers from the previous day’s puja are removed, the brass lamps and vessels are polished, water is sprinkled on the floor and the place kept ready for the day’s puja, performed by my husband. Then the kitchen is swept and the pots and pans washed. Water is kept on the gas to boil, and I go for a bath. Returning from the bath, I do a short prayer and pick flowers for my husband’s puja. By now it is 6AM — the time my husband awakens. I go to the bedroom and wait there ready to greet him for the day. He looks upon me as the Lakshmi of the home, and it pleases him a lot to wake in my presence — all gleaming with holy ash and kumkum pottu on my forehead. As soon as he gets up, he goes out for a half-hour walk and is back home by 6:30. A cup of coffee is now ready for him. He takes this and, after five minutes’ rest, enjoys a fine bath. He then makes the necessary preparations for the puja. I could do this myself, but my husband feels these preparations are also a part of the puja. Sharp at 7AM, the puja starts. I join him and so do our children (we now have two boys and a girl). It is a pleasure to watch my husband at puja, which he does very piously and meticulously. At 7:30 we come out of the shrine room for our breakfast. I personally serve my lord and the children meals prepared by my own hands and then get the two elder children ready for school. By 8:30 all the three are out of the house on their respective missions. I then clean up the house, put my little three-year-old son to sleep and by 9:30 I am back in the kitchen preparing lunch.

“In the evening I am dressed up and ready for an outing with my husband and children. Almost every day he takes us out, but occasionally he comes home tired and prefers to remain indoors. At 6PM I start cooking the dinner and at 7:00 we have a joint prayer in the shrine room. Dinner at 7:30, then a little bit of reading, listening to the radio, some chit chat and off to bed by 9:30. This has been my routine for the last eleven years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“In the house, I give first place to my husband. It has never been my custom to find fault with him for anything. He understands me so much and so well that he is always kind, loving, gentle and compassionate towards me. I reciprocate these a hundredfold, and we get on very well. My husband is the secretary of a religious organization, and I give him every help and encouragement in his work. My household duties keep me fully occupied, and so I don’t engage myself in other activities. I respect my husband’s leadership in the home, and so life goes on smoothly.”

Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.

How to Live With God

Religion teaches us how to become better people, how to live as spiritual beings on this Earth. This happens through living virtuously, following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma. For Hindus, these guidelines are recorded in the yamas and niyamas, ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. In Indian spiritual life, these Vedic restraints and observances are built into the character of children from a very early age. For adults who have been subjected to opposite behavioral patterns, these guidelines may seem to be like commandments. However, even they can, with great dedication and effort, remold their character and create the foundation necessary for a sustained spiritual life. Through following the yamas and niyamas, we cultivate our refined, spiritual being while keeping the instinctive nature in check. We lift ourself into the consciousness of the higher chakras — of love, compassion, intelligence and bliss — and naturally invoke the blessings of the divine devas and Mahadevas.

Yama means “reining in” or “control.” The yamas include such injunctions as noninjury (ahimsa), nonstealing (asteya) and moderation in eating (mitahara), which harness the base, instinctive nature. Niyama, literally “unleashing,” indicates the expression of refined, soul qualities through such disciplines as charity (dana), contentment (santosha) and incantation (japa).

It is true that bliss comes from meditation, and it is true that higher consciousness is the heritage of all mankind. However, the ten restraints and their corresponding practices are necessary to maintain bliss consciousness, as well as all of the good feelings toward oneself and others attainable in any incarnation. These restraints and practices build character. Character is the foundation for spiritual unfoldment.

The fact is, the higher we go, the lower we can fall. The top chakras spin fast; the lowest one available to us spins even faster. The platform of character must be built within our lifestyle to maintain the total contentment needed to persevere on the path. These great rishis saw the frailty of human nature and gave these guidelines, or disciplines, to make it strong. They said, “Strive!” Let’s strive to not hurt others, to be truthful and honor all the rest of the virtues they outlined.

The ten yamas are: 1) ahimsa, “noninjury,” not harming others by thought, word or deed; 2) satya, “truthfulness,” refraining from lying and betraying promises; 3) asteya, “nonstealing,” neither stealing nor coveting nor entering into debt; 4) brahmacharya, “divine conduct,” controlling lust by remaining celibate when single, leading to faithfulness in marriage; 5) kshama, “patience,” restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances; 6) dhriti, “steadfastness,” overcoming nonperseverance, fear, indecision, inconstancy and changeableness; 7) daya, “compassion,” conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings; 8) arjava, “honesty, straightforwardness,” renouncing deception and wrongdoing; 9) mitahara, “moderate appetite,” neither eating too much nor consuming meat, fish, fowl or eggs; 10) shaucha, “purity,” avoiding impurity in body, mind and speech.

Twenty Disciplines

The niyamas are: 1) hri, “remorse,” being modest and showing shame for misdeeds; 2) santosha, “contentment,” seeking joy and serenity in life; 3) dana, “giving,” tithing and giving generously without thought of reward; 4) astikya, “faith,” believing firmly in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment; 5) Ishvarapujana, “worship of the Lord,” the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation; 6) siddhanta shravana, “scriptural listening,” studying the teachings and listening to the wise of one’s lineage; 7) mati, “cognition,” developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru’s guidance; 8) vrata, “sacred vows,” fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully; 9) japa, “recitation,” chanting mantras daily; 10) tapas, “austerity,” performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice.

In comparing the yamas to the niyamas, we find the restraint of noninjury, ahimsa, makes it possible to practice hri, remorse. Truthfulness brings on the state of santosha, contentment. And the third yama, asteya, nonstealing, must be perfected before the third niyama, giving without any thought of reward, is even possible. Sexual purity brings faith in God, Gods and guru. Kshama, patience, is the foundation for Ishvarapujana, worship, as is dhriti, steadfastness, the foundation for siddhanta shravana. The yama of daya, compassion, definitely brings mati, cognition. Arjava, honesty — renouncing deception and all wrongdoing — is the foundation for vrata, taking sacred vows and faithfully fulfilling them. Mitahara, moderate appetite, is where yoga begins, and vegetarianism is essential before the practice of japa, recitation of holy mantras, can reap its true benefit in one’s life. Shaucha, purity in body, mind and speech, is the foundation and the protection for all austerities.

The twenty restraints and observances are the first two of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga, constituting Hinduism’s fundamental ethical code. Because it is brief, the entire code can be easily memorized and reviewed daily at the family meetings in each home. The yamas and niyamas are the essential foundation for all spiritual progress. They are cited in numerous scriptures, including the Shandilya and Varaha Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, the Tirumantiram of Rishi Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. All of these ancient texts list ten yamas and ten niyamas, with the exception of Patanjali’s classic work, which lists just five of each. Patanjali lists the yamas as: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha (noncovetousness); and the niyamas as: shaucha, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya (self-reflection, scriptural study) and Ishvarapranidhana (worship).

In the Hindu tradition, it is primarily the mother’s job to build character within the children, and thereby to continually improve society. Mothers can study and teach these guidelines to uplift their children as well as themselves. Each discipline focuses on a different aspect of human nature, its strengths and weaknesses. Taken as a sum total, they encompass the whole of human experience and spirituality. You may do well in upholding some of these but not so well in others. That is to be expected. That defines the sadhana, therefore, to be perfected.

Your Divine Chariot

The yamas and niyamas and their function in our life can be likened to a chariot pulled by ten horses. The passenger inside the chariot is your soul. The chariot itself represents your physical, astral and mental bodies. The driver of the chariot is your external ego, your personal will. The wheels are your divine energies. The niyamas, or spiritual practices, represent the spirited horses, named Hri, Santosha, Dana, Astikya, Ishvarapujana, Siddhanta Shravana, Mati, Vrata, Japa, and Tapas. The yamas, or restraints, are the reins, called Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Kshama, Dhriti, Daya, Arjava, Mitahara and Shaucha. By holding tight to the reins, the charioteer, your will, guides the strong horses so they can run forward swiftly and gallantly as a dynamic unit. So, as we restrain the lower, instinctive qualities through upholding the yamas, the soul moves forward to its destination in the state of santosha. Santosha, peace, is the eternal satisfaction of the soul. At the deepest level, the soul is always in the state of santosha. But outwardly, the propensity of the soul is to be clouded by lack of restraint of the instinctive nature, lack of restraint of the intellectual nature, lack of restraint of the emotional nature, lack of restraint of the physical body itself. Therefore, hold tight the reins.

It is important to realize that the yamas, restraints, are not out of the reach of the lowliest among us. No matter where we are in the scale of life, we all started from the beginning, at the bottom, didn’t we? This is our philosophy. This is our religion. This is the evolution of the soul. We improve, life after life, and these guidelines, yamas and niyamas, restraints and practices, are gifts from our rishis, from God Siva Himself through them, to allow us to judge ourself against these pillars of virtue as to how far we have progressed or strayed. In the early births, we are like children. We do not stray from anything. We run here and there and everywhere, disobey every rule, which when told of we cannot remember. We ignore any admonishment. As adolescents, we force our will on society, want to change it, because we don’t like the hold it has on us. Wanting to express themselves in most creative ways, rebellious youths separate themselves from other people, children and the adults. They do make changes, but not always for the best. As an adult, we see both — the past and the impending future of old age — and, heads down, we are concerned with accumulating enough to see life through to its uncertain end. When the accumulations have become adequate, we will look back at the undisciplined children, the headstrong, unruly adolescents and the self-possessed, concentrated adults and try to motivate all three groups. In our great religion, the Sanatana Dharma, known today as Hinduism, twenty precepts, the yamas and niyamas, restraints and observances, are the guidelines we use to motivate these three groups. These are the guidelines they use to motivate themselves, for each group is mystically independent of the others; so it seems.

Non injury

The first yama is ahimsa, noninjury. To practice ahimsa, one has to practice santosha, contentment. The sadhana is to seek joy and serenity in life, remaining content with what one has, knows, is doing and those with whom he associates. Bear your karma cheerfully. Live within your situation contentedly. Himsa, or injury, and the desire to harm, comes from discontent.

The rishis who revealed the principles of dharma or divine law in Hindu scripture knew full well the potential for human suffering and the path which could avert it. To them a one spiritual power flowed in and through all things in this universe, animate and inanimate, conferring existence by its presence. To them life was a coherent process leading all souls without exception to enlightenment, and no violence could be carried to the higher reaches of that ascent. These rishis were mystics whose revelation disclosed a cosmos in which all beings exist in interlaced dependence. The whole is contained in the part, and the part in the whole. Based on this cognition, they taught a philosophy of nondifference of self and other, asserting that in the final analysis we are not separate from the world and its manifest forms, nor from the Divine which shines forth in all things, all beings, all peoples. From this understanding of oneness arose the philosophical basis for the practice of noninjury and Hinduism’s ancient commitment to it.

We all know that Hindus, who are one-sixth of the human race today, believe in the existence of God everywhere, as an all-pervasive, self-effulgent energy and consciousness. This basic belief creates the attitude of sublime tolerance and acceptance toward others. Even tolerance is insufficient to describe the compassion and reverence the Hindu holds for the intrinsic sacredness within all things. Therefore, the actions of all Hindus are rendered benign, or ahimsa. One would not want to hurt something which one revered.

On the other hand, when the fundamentalists of any religion teach an unrelenting duality based on good and evil, man and nature or God and Devil, this creates friends and enemies. This belief is a sacrilege to Hindus, because they know that the attitudes which are the by-product are totally dualistic, and for good to triumph over that which is alien or evil, it must kill out that which is considered to be evil.

The Hindu looks at nothing as intrinsically evil. To him the ground is sacred. The sky is sacred. The sun is sacred. His wife is a Goddess. Her husband is a God. Their children are devas. Their home is a shrine. Life is a pilgrimage to mukti, or liberation from rebirth, which once attained is the end to reincarnation in a physical body. When on a holy pilgrimage, one would not want to hurt anyone along the way, knowing full well the experiences on this path are of one’s own creation, though maybe acted out through others.

Non injury for Renunciate’s

Ahimsa is the first and foremost virtue, presiding over truthfulness, nonstealing, sexual purity, patience, steadfastness, compassion, honesty and moderate appetite. The brahmachari and sannyasin must take ahimsa, noninjury, one step further. He has mutated himself, escalated himself, by stopping the abilities of being able to harm another by thought, word or deed, physically, mentally or emotionally. The one step further is that he must not harm his own self with his own thoughts, his own feelings, his own actions toward his own body, toward his own emotions, toward his own mind. This is very important to remember. And here, at this juncture, ahimsa has a tie with satya, truthfulness. The sannyasin must be totally truthful to himself, to his guru, to the Gods and to Lord Siva, who resides within him every minute of every hour of every day. But for him to truly know this and express it through his life and be a living religious example of the Sanatana Dharma, all tendencies toward himsa, injuriousness, must always be definitely harnessed in chains of steel. The mystical reason is this. Because of the brahmachari’s or sannyasin’s spiritual power, he really has more ability to hurt someone than he or that person may know, and therefore his observance of noninjury is even more vital. Yes, this is true. A brahmachari or sannyasin who does not live the highest level of ahimsa is not a brahmachari.

Words are expressions of thoughts, thoughts created from prana. Words coupled with thoughts backed up by the transmuted pranas, or the accumulated bank account of energies held back within the brahmachari and the sannyasin, become powerful thoughts, and when expressed through words go deep into the mind, creating impressions, samskaras, that last a long time, maybe forever. It is truly unfortunate if a brahmachari or sannyasin loses control of himself and betrays ahimsa by becoming himsa, an injurious person — unfortunate for those involved, but more unfortunate for himself. When we hurt another, we scar the inside of ourself; we clone the image. The scar would never leave the sannyasin until it left the person that he hurt. This is because the pranas, the transmuted energies, give so much force to the thought. Thus the words penetrate to the very core of the being. Therefore, angry people should get married and should not practice brahmacharya.

Truthfulness

The second yama is satya, truthfulness. It seems that little children are naturally truthful, open and honest. Their lives are uncomplicated, and they have no secrets. National studies show that children, even at an early age, learn to lie from their parents. They are taught to keep family secrets, whom to like, whom to dislike, whom to hate and whom to love, right within the home itself. Their minds become complicated and their judgments of what to say and what not to say are often influenced by the possibility of a punishment, perhaps a beating. Therefore, to fully encompass satya and incorporate it in one’s life as a teenager or an adult, it is quite necessary to dredge the subconscious mind and in some cases reject much of what mother or father, relatives and elders had placed into it at an early age. Only by rejecting the apparent opposites, likes and dislikes, hates and loves, can true truthfulness, which is a quality of the soul, burst forth again and be there in full force as it is within an innocent child. A child practices truthfulness without wisdom. Wisdom, which is the timely application of knowledge, guides truthfulness for the adult. To attain wisdom, the adult must be conversant with the soul nature.

What is it that keeps us from practicing truthfulness? Fear, mainly. Fear of discovery, fear of punishment or loss of status. This is the most honest untruthfulness. The next layer of untruthfulness would be the mischievous person willing to take a chance of not being caught and deliberately inventing stories about another, deliberately lying when the truth would do just as well. The third and worst layer is calculated deception and breaking of promises.

Satya is a restraint, and as one of the ten restraints it ranks in importance as number two. When we restrain our tendencies to deceive, to lie and break promises, our external life is uncomplicated, as is our subconscious mind. Honesty is the foundation of truth. It is ecologically, psychologically purifying. However, many people are not truthful with themselves, to themselves, let alone to others. And the calculated, subconscious built-in program of these clever, cunning, two-faced individuals keeps them in the inner worlds of darkness. To emerge from those worlds, the practice of truthfulness, satya, is in itself a healing and purifying sadhana.

What is breaking a promise? Breaking a promise is, for example, when someone confides in you, asks you to keep it to yourself and not to tell anyone, and then you tell. You have betrayed your promise. Confidences must be kept at all costs in the practice of satya.

There are certainly times when withholding the truth is permitted. The Tirukural, Weaver’s Wisdom, explains that “Even falsehood is of the nature of truth if it renders good results, free from fault” (292). An astrologer, for instance, while reviewing a chart would refrain from telling of a heartbreak that might come to a person at a certain time in his life. This is wisdom. In fact, astrologers are admonished by their gurus to hold back information that might be harmful or deeply discouraging. A doctor might not tell his patient that he will die in three days when he sees the vital signs weakening. Instead, he may encourage positive thinking, give hope, knowing that life is eternal and that to invoke fear might create depression and hopelessness in the mind of the ill person.

When pure truthfulness would injure or cause harm, then the first yama, ahimsa, would come into effect. You would not want to harm that person, even with the truth. But we must not look at this verse from the Tirukural as giving permission for deception. The spirit of the verse is wisdom, good judgment, not the subterfuge of telling someone you are going to Mumbai when your actual destination is Kalikot. That is not truthful. It would be much better to avoid answering the question at all in some way if one wanted to conceal the destination of his journey. This would be wisdom. You would not complicate your own subconscious mind by telling an untruth, nor be labeled deceptive in the mind of the informed person when he eventually discovers the actual truth.

Honesty with Your Guru

Some people use the excuse of truthfulness to nag their spouse about what they don’t like about him or her, or to gossip about other people’s flaws. This is not the spirit of satya. We do not want to expose others’ faults. Such confrontations could become argumentative and combative. No one knows one’s faults better than oneself. But fear and weakness often prevail, while motivation and a clear plan to correct the situation are absent. Therefore, to give a clear plan, a positive outlook, a new way of thinking, diverts the attention of the individual and allows internal healing to take place. This is wisdom. This is ahimsa, noninjury. This is satya, truthfulness. The wise devotee is careful to never insult or humiliate others, even under the pretext of telling the truth, which is an excuse that people sometimes use to tell others what they don’t like about them. Wise devotees realize that there is good and bad in everyone. There are emotional ups and downs, mental elations and depressions, encouragements and discouragements. Let’s focus on the positive. This is ahimsa and satya working together.

The brahmachari and the sannyasin must be absolutely truthful with their satguru. They must be absolutely diplomatic, wise and always accentuate the good qualities within the sannyasin and brahmachari communities. The guru has the right to discuss, rebuke or discipline the uncomely qualities in raising up the brahmachari and sannyasin. Only he has this right, because it was given to him by the brahmacharis and sannyasins when they took him as their satguru. This means that brahmacharis and sannyasins cannot discipline one another, psychoanalyze and correct in the name of truthfulness, without violation of the number one yama — ahimsa, noninjury.

Mothers and fathers have rights with their own children, as do gurus with their shishyas. These rights are limited according to wisdom. They are not all-inclusive and should not inhibit free will and well-rounded growth within an individual. This is why a guru is looked upon as the mother and father by the mother and father and by the disciple who is sent to the guru’s ashrama to study and learn. It is the guru’s responsibility to mold the aspirant into a solid member of the monastic community, just as it is the mother’s and father’s duty to mold the youth to be a responsible, looked-up-to member of the family community. This is how society progresses.

The practice, niyama, to strengthen one’s satya qualities is tapas, austerity — performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice. If you find you have not been truthful, if you have betrayed promises, then put yourself under the tapas sadhana. Perform a lengthy penance. Atone, repent, perform austerities. You will soon find that being truthful is much easier than what tapas and austerities will make you go through if you fail to restrain yourself.

Truthfulness is the fullness of truth. Truth itself is fullness. May fullness prevail, truth prevail, and the spirit of satya and ahimsa permeate humanity.