Personal Development

Good Actions, Speech & Thoughts: Roadmap to Good Living

I covered five tapas each for the Body, Speech and Mind from 3 slokas in Bhagavad Gita 17.14 to 17.16. Kaya relates to actions and manasa relates to thoughts. They are essentially guidance for Good Actions, Good Speech and Good Thoughts. Good Actions, Good Speech and Good Thoughts define good life.

As per Bhagavad Gita:

Five good actions are – Giving Respect (to learned & elders), Cleanliness, Simplicity, Control against sensual pleasures & Non-violence - 17.14

Five good speech disciplines are - Not harmful to others, truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and regularly reciting our scriptures - 17.15

Five good thoughts are - Cheerfulness, Gracefulness (avoiding negative thoughts), Silence (introspection), Self-restraint & Purity of intent - 17.16

Good Actions, Speech & Thoughts: Roadmap to Good Living

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Beneficial Speech

Whatever we speak should be beneficial to others (or minimum for us). Hita Upadesh, beneficial advice is the motto of my blogs and hence I shall dwell more on hita upadesh.

My Blogs have been giving ‘beneficial advice’ consistently for the past 222 weeks with a clear directive not to include anything that is not relevant and/or not beneficial.

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Hita + Upadesha, ‘Beneficial Counselling', is a classical Sanskrit literature of stories based on human and animal characters akin to Panchatantra. Hitopadesha was written later than panchatantra and includes references from Panchatantra. The objective of this compilation was to instruct people in worldly wisdom and the principles of statecraft. Two concluding verses of the work say that one Narayana was the author of this treatise, and that his patron, who commissioned the work, was called Dhavala Chandra.

I shall conclude this blog with an interesting (and beneficial) story from hitopadesha.

Cat and the Vulture

On the banks of the River Bhagirathi, there is a hill called Griddhakuta, and upon it grows a giant parkati tree. In its hollow trunk there lived an old vulture called Jaradgava. Fate, in its cruelty, had deprived him of claws and eyes. The other birds who lived in that tree would, out of pity, give him some of their own food, and on that he lived. In return, he guarded their young in their nests.

One day a cat called Dirghakarna came there with the intention of eating the young birds. The little birds in their nests saw the cat approach and set up a terrified squawking and screeching. On hearing this, the old vulture came there.

The cat saw the vulture and grew afraid. The cat quickly decided to befriend the vulture by flattery.

"Who are you?" asked the vulture. "I am a cat." 

"Take yourself off at once, you villain, or I will kill you!”" said the vulture.

"First hear what I have to say, good sir, and then, if I still deserve to die, kill me," said the cat.

"Tell me, then," said the old vulture, "Why have you come here?"

"I live here on the banks of this holy river, bathing daily in its sacred waters, eating no meat and observing the month-long fasting of the Moon," replied the cat. "The birds all praise your knowledge and virtue, and so I came here, to learn about right conduct from you, steeped in the wisdom of years. But you are so virtuous that you seek to kill a guest! It is your duty to look after a guest, for in a guest reside all the gods!"

"You are a cat, cats like meat, and young birds live here," replied the vulture. "That is why I said what I did."

The cat pretended to be horrified, and touching first the ground and then his ears, declared, "I have undertaken this difficult fast after studying the scriptures and renouncing all passions, and while the scriptures might disagree with each other on many points, they all agree that non-violence is the greatest virtue. Those who give up all forms of violence and abstain from hurting others go straight to heaven. So why would I commit the grievous sin of killing when I can fill my stomach with the fruits and roots that grow in the forest in plenty?"

Deceived by the flattery, the vulture allowed the cat to stay there. After some days, the cat began to catch the young birds and bring them, one by one, to the hollow, where he would eat them.

With sorrowful cries, the parent birds began to search everywhere for their missing children. The cat, seeing this, decided it was time to leave, and quietly slunk away.

Meanwhile, the distraught parent birds found the bones of their young ones in that same hollow of the parkati tree. They assumed that the old vulture had eaten their children, and combining together, the birds killed the vulture.

Moral of the story – Don’t fall to flattery, discern the truth. Don’t trust someone whose nature and disposition is not known.

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Jaganathan T
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