- Ramesh Gupta
Harmony through Vedic living
When we speak of harmony, it means a balance between meeting our needs and surroundings. Surroundings include our own body and mind, our family, local community, national and international community and the nature.
Throughout human history, there are innumerable examples where people with authority have violated and disturbed nature, the laws of dharma, and have created atrocities with disastrous results. The war of Mahabharat, many other wars through the millennia, and the 2 World Wars in recent times are the prime examples of such disasters. Creation of the United Nations is one example of the effort made to try to resolve these conflicts through dialogue when possible. There is a great deal of awareness now on preserving nature and fixing the massive environmental pollution that was created in last century in the name of development.
Harmony needs to be achieved at 5 levels: personal, family, social, national and universal. Harmony also requires that we respect nature and utilize its resources mindfully and cautiously.
Personal level: Ultimately, it is the individual who is the basic unit of family, society, nation and the world as a whole. Only by personal upliftment and high code of conduct can one be a useful member of society. Here are few basic principles to follow:
Social codes of conduct (yama), namely the ahinsa (nonviolence), satya (honesty), asteya (taking only what is ours), what has been earned by hard work and fair means, brahmacharya (controlling our sensual desires), and aparigriha (non-hoarding),
Personal codes of conduct (niyama), namely shauch (cleanliness of body mind and soul), santosh (being satisfied with that which can be achieved by honest efforts), tapa (continuing on the path of life while maintaining a positive attitude in the face of difficulties), swadhyaya (introspection) and Eeshwar praanidhana (always having full faith in the efficient cause of this creation, the God).
In simple terms, being honest, hardworking, having a positive attitude, being respectful to others, and friendliness rather than jealousy towards others will create a proper social order.
Follow Dharma: Society will not be divided based on caste/ race/ religion if teachings of Manu Smriti (Dharma) are followed. Dharma can be summarized as the conduct of others that we would like to have towards us. Here are some of the time-honored shlokas from the powerful epic by sage Manu:
धृति: क्षमा दमोऽस्तेयं शौचमिन्द्रियनिग्रह:। धीर्विद्या सत्यमक्रोधो दशकं धर्मलक्षणम्॥ Manu 6.92
Dhṛtih Kṣamā Damō’stēyaṁ Śaucam indriya nigraha: Dhīrvidyā Satyam akrōdhō Daśakaṁ Dharmalakṣaṇam.
It is important to have patience, forgiveness, control over your mind, not stealing, cleanliness of body, mind and soul, restraint on your senses, proper use of intellect, proper knowledge of God, soul and nature, honesty, and control over anger. This is potentially the strongest definition of Dharma.
ईशा वास्यमिदं सर्वं यत् किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् । तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद् धनम्। Yajurveda 40.1
Eeshaa vaasyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyaam jagat. Tena tyaktena bhunjeethaa maa gridhah kasya svid dhanam.
Lord pervades in all that exists in this universe. Enjoy what God has given you with feeling of detachment and don’t desire to take anyone’s possessions by unfair means.
Honest interaction defined: A person should speak the truth and do so pleasantly for the well-being of society and avoid what is untrue simply to please others. This is Sanātana Dharma, the Eternal Law.
Interaction with others:
मैत्री-करुणा-मुदितोपेक्षाणां सुख-दुःख-पुण्य-अपुण्य विषयाणां, भावनातश्चित्त प्रसादनम् Yog Darshan 33rd sutra
Maîtree karunaa muditopekshaanaam sukha duhkha punyaapunya vishyaanam bhaavanaataashchittaprasaadanam
Be friendly to those who are happy, kind to those who are unhappy, happy for those who are accomplished, and ignore those who have bad intentions.
Remove our bad qualities and give good ones:
ओ३म् विश्वानि देव सवितर्दुरितानि परा सुव।यद् भद्रं तन्न आ सुव ।। यजुर्वेद 30. 3
Aum. Vishvaani deva savitar duritaani paraa suvah, yad bhadram tanna aa suvah. Yajur Veda 30.3
Oh God, please take away from us all the evil traits, bad habits and miseries and give us all the good qualities, aptitudes and objects that are blissful and auspicious.
Family level: There are 3 main reasons for lack of peace and harmony in family. These are: economic, lack of trust among each other and personal ego. Personal ego can be solved by good personal conduct as outlined earlier.
अनुव्रतः पितुः पुत्रो मात्रा भवतु संमनाः।जाया पत्ये मधुमतीं वाचं वदतु शन्तिवाम्।। अथर्वेद 3.30.2
Anu vratah pituh putro maatraa bhavatu sammanaah, Jaayaa patye madhumateem vaacham vadatu shantivaam.
May the husband, wife, and children and extended family all be dedicated with love and loyalty to one another.
Social level: It is obvious that great family will result in great society. The 10th principle of Arya Samaj clearly dictates that one should regard oneself under restriction to follow the rules of society calculated to promote the well-being of all, while following the rules of individual welfare.
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामया । सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद् दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।।
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu niraamayaah, Sarve bhadraani pashyantu maa kashchit duhkha bhaag bhavet.
Oh God, may all be happy, healthy and may all see auspiciousness and may no one suffer pain.
National Level: Many of the problems in the world are due to poor Governance. Manusmriti can be called as the first book of law. This text states that there be 3 national sabhas or bodies. These are: 1. the governing council including the military, 2. religious counsel and 3. educational counsel. The ruler has to have high level of ethics and be educated and capable of governing. So should be the case with leaders of the two other counsels. These sabhas should work in harmony.
Universal level: ओ३म् द्यौः शान्तिर् अन्तरिक्षँ शान्तिः पृथिवी शान्तिर् आपः शान्तिर् ओषधयः शान्तिः ।
वनस्पतयः शान्तिर् विश्वे देवाः शान्तिर् ब्रह्मशान्तिः सर्वँ शान्तिः शान्तिरेव शान्तिः सा मा शान्तिर् एधि ।। Yajurveda 3.17
Aum. dyauh shaantir antariksham shaaantih, Prithivee shantir aapah shaantir oshadhayah shantih ,Vanaspatayah
shaantir Vishvedevaah shaantir Brahma shaantih Sarvam shaantih Shaantireva shaantih Saa maa shaantir edhih .
May there be peace in all the objects of nature as well as our thoughts and actions.
Unity Prayer: सङ्गच्छध्वं सं वदध्वं सं वो मनांसि जानताम्।देवा भागं यथा पूर्वे सं जानाना उपासते॥ Aum. Saṅgacchadhvaṁ saṁ vadadhvaṁ saṁ vo manāṁsi jānatām; Devā bhāgaṁ yathā pūrve saṁ jānānā upāsate.
We should work with unity with similar thoughts, and try to become wise in a manner similar to our sages and ancestors. If these basic guidelines laid down by our sages were followed, there would have been no wars, poverty, problems of drug abuse and violence resulting from personal desires and conflicts within us, other souls and nature.
Being a respectful consumer of nature: This has several components, namely vegetarianism as well as protecting plants, wild animals, water, earth.
Vegetarian Diet: Being a vegetarian has been emphasized in the Vedic teachings, not only because it takes a lot to produce meat, but that being vegetarian is healthier. Necessity of being non-vegetarian to ingest adequate protein has been proven wrong. Most of the large and powerful animals on earth are vegetarians. Incidence of diseases like carcinoma of colon, diverticulosis, heart disease, and obesity with its consequences can be reduced by following the principles of sleeping early, waking up early, exercise, yoga, meditation and vegetarian diet. The basis of all these can be found in Ayurveda and other Vedic scriptures. Recent research has proven that cow manure is the best organic fertilizer and cow urine has great medicinal values and of course cow milk is healthy.
It is now well known that cow dung, as well as milk and urine of cows are extremely useful. Less resources are required to procure milk, cow waste, fruits and vegetables than to procure meat. Use of non-meat products is better for the environment as well. Vegetarian diet is not only nutritionally sufficient but also a way to reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. It is important to make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and replace saturated and Trans fats with good fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. The results can be reduced consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, fiber, and more vitamins and minerals. This can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower the body mass index (BMI). If healthy/wholesome vegetarian food is ingested, it can result in longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases such as Heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Cancer such as colon cancer.
Manusmriti contains several shlokas which strongly advocate vegetarianism, one of which is:
अनुमन्ता विशसिता निहन्ता क्रयविक्रयी। संस्कर्ता चोपहर्ता च खादकश्चैति घातकाः।। Manusmriti 5.51
Anumantaa vishasitaa nihantaa krayavikrayee, Sanskartaa chopahartaa cha khaadakashchaiti ghaatakaa.
One who permits or orders animal killing, one who kills, the butcher, the buyer of meat, seller of meat, the one who cooks, one who serves and the one who eats are all guilty of killing.
Protection of plants and wild animals, water and earth:
God has provided us with all essential things in life free of cost. These are: fresh air, clean water, clean earth to live on, the warmth of sun, coolness of moon, the day to work and the night to sleep. We humans have done so much to destroy it for our selfish needs, whether with our knowledge or inadvertently. Nature has a perfect balance. Animal and plant life exist in harmony; we have disturbed it. Here are 2 verses from Yajurveda:
पर्यावरण -पृथिवि देवयजन्योषध्यास्ते मूलं मा हिंसिषम् I Yajurveda 1.25
Prithi deva yajanyoshadhyaste moolm maa hinsisham.
Oh earth, the abode of great souls, may I not destroy and uproot your medicinal plants.
Also, there is a statement in Yajurveda 6.22, that the water not be polluted and vegetation not be killed/destroyed. –मापो मौषधीर्हिंसीः। Maapo Maushadheerhinseeh .
अतस्त्वं देव वनस्पते शतवल्शो विरोह। सहस्रवल्शा वि वयं रुहेम ।। Yajurveda 5.43
Atastvam deva vanaspate shatavalsho viroh, Sahasravalshaa vi vayam ruhema .
Our lives will progress in so many ways only if vegetations/medicinal plants flourish.
In conclusion, I bow to the great rishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, who brought back the Vedic teachings in its real form and gave us the light of truth and the great institution called the Arya Samaj. It is our responsibility to bring back this inheritance to its full potential. If this is done, the harmony which can be achieved through the Vedic living will be at the grassroot level and lasing. Harmonious and happy society begins at the individual level, by practice and not preaching. Let there be no difference in our thought, speech and action. There is no question that this can then easily reflect in our children, rest of the family and society. Safety of society is also of utmost importance. This can be achieved only through strong defense and securing the boundaries. Teachings of Geeta and Ramayana are clear testimony for the need of a strong nation. Only by a position of strength, negotiations are possible and only then the peace and harmony can be lasting. I have no doubt that we can succeed.