ahimsaa satyamakrodhastyaagaha shaantirapaishunam |
dayaa bhooteshvaloluptvam maardavam hreerachaapalam || 2 ||
Non violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, tranquility, absence of slander, compassion towards all beings, lack of covetousness, gentleness, modesty, lack of fickleness.
ahimsaa : non violence
satyam : truthfulness
akrodhaha : absence of anger
tyaagaha : renunciation
shaantihi : tranquility
apaishunam : absence of slander
dayaa : compassion
bhooteshu : all beings
aloluptvam : lack of covetousness
maardavam : gentleness
hreehi : modesty
achaapalam : lack of fickleness
Twelve additional divine qualities are listed in this shloka. Ahimsaa refers to non violence, harmlessness, to not injure anyone intentionally or unintentionally. Harm to others need not be caused by weapons all the time. Most likely, we cause the most harm to others through action and speech. Any time we harbour dvesha or resentment towards someone else, we not only cause harm to our mind but also create a barrier to access Ishvara within.
Next comes satyam or truthfulness. The Mundaka Upanishad says “satyam eva jayati”, truth alone prevails, which is also found on the seal of the Indian government. Speaking the truth is considered the highest dharma. But truth should also be communicated thoughtfully. It should be priyam or dear, not a harsh sounding truth. It should be hitam, which means it should benefit the other person. It should also be nitam, brief, short and sweet.
Akrodhaha refers to absence of anger or rage in particularly challenging situations. If someone instigates us, for example honking a horn at the traffic signal, it is difficult not to get upset. We have to learn how to keep an anger in check, especially when we know that it is our natural tendency to get upset whenever a tough situation comes up. This does not meet that we remain meek. It means that we can keep our cool while demonstrating our anger to get a certain objective done, just like a snake can hiss without actually biting anyone.
Tyaagaha refers to renunciation, it means to give up. In daanam or charity, we donate our possessions to someone else. In tyaaga, we just give up our possessions. For instance, food can be given up to someone, this is daanam. But the notion that I won’t eat food, this is tyaaga. At the highest level, we need to renounce our sense of I, our individuality. This is because all possessions, everything that we term as mine, are nothing but upaadhis or conditionings. The fewer conditionings that we identify with, the lesser will be our individuality. So we give up the sense of mine in daanam, but we give up our sense of I in tyaaga.
The next divine quality is that of shaantihi which means tranquility or calmness. This refers to the quietening of our antahakarana, of the mind, body and intellect. Even a tiny little thought of like and dislike can agitate our antahakarana, just like a speck of dust can agitate our eyes. So just as we are careful to not let anything enter our eyes, we should train ourselves to keep our antahakarana calm. Without calmness, progress on the spiritual path is not possible.
Apaishunam refers to the absence of slander, to not find faults in others, to not gossip about others. A simple policy to follow is to not agitate others, and to not be agitated by others. Unfortunately, many of us can agitate others without even knowing it. A seemingly harmless statement that we make about someone can balloon out of proportion and cause extreme distress to that person. It is usually best to not indulge in gossip.
Next we come across dayaa bhuteshu, which means compassion for all beings. It is the ability to relate to others when they are suffering. By being compassionate towards others, we acknowledge the unity of our self, of our I with someone else’s I. It does not mean we have to shed tears each time we encounter someone with sorrow. It means that we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see their point of view.
Aloluptvam is the ability to check our sense organs when they are near their favourite objects. Damaha, the ability to control our sense organs, is directly related to this quality. Let’s say we have decided not to each chocolates today. This vow will be tested if someone leaves a giant box of chocolates on our desk. The power of the sense organs is so strong that we will realize that we have consumed chocolates only after the fact. So the ability to prevent triggers from breaking our self control is called aloluptvam.
Maardavam means mridutaa or gentleness. It is the opposite of harshness. It is a measure of how soft, how tender one’s heart it. This is why children approach their mothers for requests rather than their fathers. Hreehi refers to modesty, the ability to discern between acceptable versus unacceptable behavior, between what is right and what is wrong. Finally, achapalataa is absence of fickleness. Many of us lack the ability to sit still. Our hands and legs are always moving or twitching. Or, we tend to speak when not needed, or let our eyes wander all over. All these are signs that we are not in control of our actions
ahimsaa satyamakrodhastyaagaha shaantirapaishunam |