असुर्य्या नाम ते लोकाऽअन्धेन तमसावृताः I
ताँस्ते प्रेत्यापि गच्छन्ति ये के चात्महनो जनाः II (यजुर्वेद ४०.३)
Those people who are indulged in or support sinful selfish activities and who refuse to pay heed to their inner voice/ conscience continue to remain in utter darkness devoid of knowledge and happiness even after death.
asuryaa – indulged in sinful, selfish, corrupt deeds
naam – who exemplify, characterize or support
te – those
lokaa – people
andhena – such a darkness where one can see nothing
tamasaa – no scope for light or knowledge or happiness
avritaah – completely covered from all sides
taan – those situations
te – those people
pretya – after death
api – even while they live
gachhanti – go towards
ye – such people
ke – who
cha – and
aatmahano – work against their conscience or inner voice
janaah – people
The first two mantras of Ishopanishad explain how one should live in the world and what precautions should be taken during our stay here. The third mantra spells out the fate of those who do not heed to this advice. It also provides a formula to assess whether you are in the right direction or not. Plus it implicitly expounds why we get only what we truly deserve and not a punishment due to whims of some super-power. Thus the first three mantra of Ishopanishad summarize within them the complete Corporate Governance policy of World Inc.
While the meaning of this mantra is straightforward and self-explanatory, let us review a few salient points:
a. The mantra defines who are Asur or evil people. It states that those who act against their own conscience are Asur. They kill their own self or in other words they destroy their own inner voice.
b. Thus the mantra also states that each of us has a guide within us who keeps directing us intuitively on what is right and what is wrong. When we resolve to do something noble, we get a feeling of satisfaction, enthusiasm, peace. When we force ourselves to do something wrong, we get a feeling of shame, guilt, fear, discomfort. This is the inner voice, coming not from us, but from Ishwar Himself.
THUS THE FORMULA OF ASSESSING THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN LIFE IS VERY SIMPLE. SIMPLY FOLLOW YOUR INNER VOICE.
c. It is however very critical to distinguish this inner voice from instinctive urge. For example, when a thief sees an opportunity to steal money from a blind man, he may not be able to resist the easy golden opportunity to become rich. He may argue that he got an inner urge to steal. Another person may be addicted to drugs or vulgarity. He may feel helpless when faced with situations giving opportunity to consume the narcotic or conduct lustful acts. In fact the western society of today tries to legitimize all this in name of ‘human instinct’ that is supposed to be natural in all humans. They confuse between ‘inner voice’ and ‘instinct’. Many a scientists would deny existence of any ‘inner voice’ and they would conduct experiments on instinctive behaviors to prove that humans are chemical reactions merely.
But that is not the case. ‘Instinct’ and ‘Inner voice’ are completely different. Instinct is simply a patterned behavior. When you repeat something again and again, it becomes part of your instinct. You thus need not think about it consciously and yet you can repeat the behavior. Human skills are results of these instincts that we develop. Walking is an instinct, running is an instinct, speaking is an instinct, stealing is an instinct, enjoying particular things is an instinct etc etc. Development of instinct is a wonderful gift to human beings that helps us use our thinking powers on more relevant things and free it from bothering about bulk of the large number of mundane tasks that we do in our life every moment.
Anything that you repeat would become more and more instinctive. Thus developing instinct has nothing to do with anything being good or bad. You drink alcohol for first time, it tastes horrible. Some people even vomit. You keep drinking again and again and it becomes part of habit – yet another word for complex instincts. Now more you drink, more you get the urge to drink again in similar situations. Instinct is working here. Some people, intolerant to alcohol, even start enjoying the vomiting sensation because of the instinct.
Thus if you have been enjoying watching blue films in past, you would instinctively seek to enjoy them again. If you have been an alcohol lover, you would seek to enjoy alcohol again. If you have been into self-destroying habits, you would tend to enjoy those acts again. Left to itself, thus, the first few instincts that you have developed accidentally in life would determine the rest of your personality throughout your life. This is not wrong, and in fact, the overwhelming truth for the vast majority of people today.
Such people are in effect nothing more than chemical reactions. If the driver is sleeping, the car is as good as a car without driver. These are the people whom this mantra calls Asur – those who are driven only by instincts and have no driver in the car.
d. However beyond the instincts that propel us, there is yet another propeller in our system. This is the INNER VOICE. This is a constant guide that is active even in sleep. This is the driver. This forms the force which can shape the patterns of instincts. This is the force that urges us to do good and not bad.
How do we prove its existence? Very simple.
Even a terrorist has certain facets in his life where he shows kindness. Even an atheist feels the urge to state to world that God does not exist. Why? What motivates a Richard Dawkins to try to prove that God does not exist and there is no soul. When there is no soul, why bother about telling all this and to whom? Still he would find a natural urge to propagate the truth, best known to him, to his domain of influence. This natural urge is like a source of pure light that filters through all our instinctive behaviors and our free-will to come out in some form or other.
Look at a child. It keeps trying to stand up, walk and run. Despite being hurt again and again, it does not give up. It would fall down, cry like anything, then again try to stand, then try to walk. As it grows up, it develops complex instincts. Now because society emphasizes pain and miseries a lot, it learns to give up after a few failures. Still we all, regardless of our frustrations, see a hope in everything. But then we force our instincts upon it and decide, “Well, no. No use of trying. It will not work!”. The reason that we had to justify ourselves that it will not work is that there was another propeller which said, “Try once more.” This is the INNER VOICE.
When some of us look at a scantily clad heroine with lust, another inner voice does come, “What if someone looks at my mother, daughter or sister like this and actually does all that with her in front of my eyes that I am fantasizing right now? Why don’t I exhibit the same feeling for my mother, daughter and sister and do with them what I am fantasizing right now? What is the difference? After all its skin and body that is attracting me and it is same in every female.”
So that INNER VOICE does try to slap you again and again. And if, God forbid, something happens with some lady in our family, we are filled with anger and even swear to kill the culprit.
The INNER VOICE tells us that considering all women with same respect as mother is the ONLY way that we can live safely and with dignity in this world. And if that not be the case, no relationship, no law, no enforcement – nothing matters. And why only women, if this logic be applied to anything that we lust for, living or non-living, then the only way to justify them is to justify a free-for-all jungle Raaj. All laws, all ethics, all code of conducts, all urge for discipline – everything is then stupid and at best relevant ONLY for them who can make them or break them for their own “instinctive” fun.
The inner voice does not tell us in so many clear words. It tells us all this as a feeling of shame, guilt, disgust or discomfort. Those who follow the inner voice also get to the reason because now they are in harmony with nature and can understand their own feelings more deeply.
To deny INNER VOICE is to deny our own existence.
If anyone says he does not hear any inner voice, it may be either of the following cases:
– He is simply lying because he cannot overpower instincts
– He has learned to dumb his mind into blankness so that the inner voice no more disturbs him.In other words, he deactivated the voice.
e. That is why Ishopanishad Mantra 3 gives another clue to know whether inner voice is activated or deliberately deactivated. It says, rascals shut their minds off. They find themselves covered with darkness everywhere with no knowledge. Hence, if ever you find that your mind is blanking, or your thinking power is diminishing, or your reasoning ability is reduced, or your alertness is decreasing during or after an act, that is NOT as per INNER VOICE. That will lead you to further darkness and miseries.
– Drinking alcohol is stupid because it dumbs your mind
– Eating meat is stupid because it harms environment, kills innocent animals, bad for economy, bad for longevity and hence cannot be logically reasoned
– Killing innocents is stupid
– Enjoying vulgarity or idolizing glamorous pimps and prostitutes is stupid
– Considering any woman to be anything except as respectful as mother is stupid
– Running behind short-term material wealth or fame without any higher goal is stupid
– Indulging in corruption is stupid
Instincts would lead us to do something as per our past behaviors. But INNER VOICE will act as an alert watchman certifying whether its worth doing or not. And if it is not, INNER VOICE would help us reprogram our instincts through practice. This is already explained in Mantra 2 of Ishopanishad.
But never ever deactivate the INNER VOICE.
Any action performed with INNER VOICE deactivated is stupidity and cause of all miseries. Period.
f. Note that we all are Asurs in some form or other, in some aspects or other. This is the SOLE cause of ALL our miseries. There are a huge number of actions that we perform purely on our instincts without consulting inner voice. Thus we shall suffer miseries, darkness and frustrations in those areas. Also know that our life is not divided into different water-tight compartments. Thus if we are Asur in one area, it impacts everything else also. This is same as the old adage: One rotten fish spoils the whole pond.
The goal of life is to KILL this Asur who is Aatmahana – Killing us.
Since soul is immortal, killing of soul means deactivating those traits which differentiate us from non-living things. Those who kill their souls also kill the capacity of soul to enjoy bliss of Ishwar. Thus they are naturally led to darkness and miseries.
In other words, since we ourselves attempt to kill our soul, we get the results that we truly deserve. If we are told to spend few days with a dead body next to us in a closed room, we shall rather die than face the infection and odor. Imagine what would be the result of living with our own dead soul closest to us!
REMEMBER, it is this INNER VOICE that differentiates us from non-living entities. Those who deny its existence either through their actions or thoughts or even arguments are actually Asurs attempting to kill themselves. They are destined, by their own deeds, to face miserable consequences of living with a rotting corpse.
g. The Mantra states that when we kill our soul, we face dumbness, reduced ability to enjoy happiness and miseries. This happens not only in this life right from the moment we kill our conscience aka INNER VOICE, but also continues after death in next birth. We take birth in species and environments that best suit our dumbness. Animals are supposed to be those species where those souls take birth who stopped using their INNER VOICE. Thus they face the results of their dumbness and only when they are suitable enough to exercise their free-will to heed to the INNER VOICE, that they take birth as humans again.
Thus the whole process continues without any disruptions due to death. Hence it is also futile to think of suicide as a way to escape the miseries of today. In fact, the tendency to commit suicide will add up to our instincts and hence make us even more dumb to listen to INNER VOICE. Thus it will make matters worse.
h. So what to do when we realize that we have got into bad habit of numbing our minds and not listening to INNER VOICE? How to kill the Asur inside us? What to do when we know we have committed many blunders and mistakes.
The answer is already provided in previous mantras.
But here are some more popular wrong ways:
– Suicide: It is out of question because that will make matters worse. You will become even bigger Asurs and face even more miseries.
– Running away from situations to start afresh: This will also not work. Because the instincts will recreate the same situations wherever we go. This world is a war against not anyone else but our own instincts. So run anywhere, even in most isolated jungles and yet your instincts will follow you. Just as head of a coin cannot run away from its tail, you cannot run away from your instincts.
– Becoming a sanyasi or monk: It will not help either.Sanyaas is not for those with deafness of INNER VOICE but those with extremely strong ears to INNER VOICE. Becoming a namesake sanyasi without the transformation inside will make you a hypocrite and hence an even bigger Asur.
– Confessing your crimes and saying sorry to the person against whom you committed crimes: Again of no use.Many intellectuals state that if you have done anything wrong you should confess that to the person against whom you committed wrong and then you shall be free of its guilt. Those in path of Vedas will not say so. Because Ishopanishad Mantra 1 clearly stated that everything belongs to Ishwar alone and nothing else is directly related to you. So the only person against whom you committed crime was Ishwar even though He remains unaffected by it. Thus confessing crimes in front of others – who are neither as intelligent nor understanding – as Ishwar would simply be foolishness.
Further, just as a drop of poison makes entire food poisonous, each act done by each person against his INNER VOICE affects innumerable souls linked to him directly or indirectly. Thus if confession be the way to get rid of Asur inside, then one will have to make billions of confessions.
– Some scholars are of opinion that one should detach himself from the crimes and if told to reveal his or her past, should honestly speak the worst of his crimes. This will give inner strength. This approach is also against Vedas and good for only those who doubt Ishwar or do not understand mechanism of mind.
Had detachment been so easy, what took us so many births and even in this birth we are struggling so much to get detached? Further, each time one is told to reveal his past and he states his misdeeds, he would only be strengthening the very instincts that made him commit those crimes in first place. So this approach would only make him more vulnerable. Also the very fact that he mentions certain crimes means that subconsciously he considers these crimes to be big enough to be discussed. Thus it means that in reality instead of being detached, he is still attached and perhaps even more attached.
And what about the millions of minor crimes that we all committed since birth. If I committed a bank robbery, then after being a so-called saint, I should discuss about it when asked to get rid of the Asur tendencies. But what about those petty things I stole since birth that turned me into a robber, each lie I said, each time I cheated in all the games we played as children, each time I abused anyone, each time I killed ants for fun etc etc. All these together made me into a bank robber. How much can I tell and how long can I tell. Each moment can take hours to elaborate.
i. Here is the Vedic way or Ishopanishadic way in current context.
– Surrender to Ishwar and humbly apologize for all the mistakes I have been doing since Ishwar-knows when. Do it emotionally and not by mechanical recitation of some dialogues or mantras.
– Promise to Ishwar that I would never ever repeat false ways again. Promise to Ishwar that I shall only follow the path of truth taking Ishwar alone as example, guide and benchmark. Request to Ishwar alone that He provide me strength to be successful in this vow.
– Now refuse to do anything with whatever you may have done in past. Even if it is in active memory, refuse to discuss it or even think about it. Think of something better. Surrender all evil thoughts of past and present to Ishwar and feel Idanna Mama.
Instead of carrying skeletons in suitcase and be eager to show it to anyone when asked as a mark of honesty, throw the suitcase in dustbin and travel light. Idanna Mama – Not mine, all for Ishwar.
– Now get into vigorous actions. Perform more and more of noble intentioned actions as much as you can with full enthusiasm. Mantra 2 clearly stated that this is the ONLY way.
– Obviously old habits die hard and even the noble actions would have many defects. Plus there would be many times when you would be swayed away by instincts to be Asur again.
But do not worry. Do not give up. Rise up again, even more aggressively. Repeat the previous steps again and again. In fact make it part of a new instinct that whenever you fall you rise even more enthusiastically refusing to do anything with past.
– Do ensure that even this does not become another bad habit to say sorry and work again and fall again and say sorry. Don’t think that by saying sorry you have another opportunity to start afresh then why worry!
Know clearly that each time you fall, you do lose something. Each time you try to fool Ishwar, He is smarter than you to know this.
And you HAVE to face the consequences of all your mistakes. No amount of worship, prayers or confession can delete the results of your actions. Just as obesity does not get cured by saying prayers or saying sorry. But if you refuse to do anything with past mistakes, reprogram your routine, become health conscious, take good diet etc, over a period of time you can become lean again. Whatever principle applies to body, same applies to mind and soul.
– To ensure that this works effectively, keeping yourself busy with vigorous and more ambitious actions is essential. Each time you fall, the actions and discipline should be even more tight this time.
To this with all your emotions, passions, feelings and reasoning. Set ambitious targets. Make sure you are doing something concrete for betterment of world and not your own self. Review the first mantra of Ishopanishad.
As you engage in better and more of noble actions, old patterns will start breaking and new patterns will start emerging. Refuse to think about old patterns because that will strengthen them. When found with a situation that arouses old instincts, simply start thinking of your new goals and immediately get to actions. Avoid the trigger situations in first place and if you cannot then make yourself busy in completely different noble deeds then.
Soon you will have all your instincts reprogrammed as per your inner voice. Life will now become much more easier, enjoyable and relaxing because you have stopped struggling with your INNER VOICE. The INNER VOICE will bring greater and deeper feeling of enthusiasm, fearlessness, peace, satisfaction and happiness with each act. Instead of killing your soul, you have started nurturing it.
Now seek newer ways to learn more, meditate better and perform even better actions. Soon this would spiral up towards enhanced wisdom, more pronounced INNER VOICE, ever-increasing happiness, heightened harmony with nature and you would find journey towards ultimate bliss of Ishwar the most enjoyable experience of your life!
O Ishwar! Grant me the wisdom to have this exhilarating experience RIGHT NOW!