CHENNAI: Spiritual quest demands rigorous mental discipline. The spiritual aspirant has to be prepared to undertake the painstaking rigours of Sadhana (spiritual practice) to train and condition the mind to contemplate on higher truths.

In a lecture, Swami Mitrananda pointed out that Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, while endorsing the austerities of spiritual discipline sanctioned by the scriptures, also condemned the violent practices not prescribed by the Sastras since these cannot lead to liberation.

It is only those people prompted by an arbitrary desire for power, admiration, egoism or ostentation, who indulge in these practices that include methods of habitual self-torture. Apart from being a merely painful and unprofitable exercise, it leads to the abuse/damage of the body that every individual needs for spiritual progress. It is the responsibility of each individual to care for the body until one experiences God and not torture it. Self-mortification cannot be equated with self-discipline or endurance.

Faith is the inward acknowledgement of the truth of the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent Supreme Being. The classification of the nature of faith inhering in individuals in the Bhagavad Gita characterised by the three Gunas Satva (good), Rajas (demonic) and Tamas (dull) indicates that it is the temperament that determines the quality of faith in each individual.

The primary identity of one with Satvic trait is that he is a devotee of God. His devout nature by virtue of remaining committed to God at all times is revealed in his behaviour and speech. Those with Rajasic nature are impelled to gain power, and have a longing to dominate and manipulate others, and invoke demigods and demons for this purpose, while those of Tamasic inclination worship the spirits of the dead, and make gods of ghosts.

Sastras are like signposts for determining what should be done and what needs to be avoided.

Violating the commands of the scriptures either due to ignorance or wilful neglect, and acting on impulse does not lead to perfection, happiness or liberation. One should strive to know what is declared by the rules of the Sastras and adhere to them.