Disciplined living is the most ennobling aspect of human life, and it establishes a mutually beneficial link between dharma and those who practise it. The result is an ideal social system that works at the collective plane as well as the individual level. This virtue, when upheld, confers untold benefits, including salvation, pointed out Nochur Sri Venkataraman in a discourse.
Good and evil manifest in the Lord’s creation. Satva, rajas and tamas are the qualities of prakriti and not the atma. The iniquity in Ravana or Hiranyakasipu is so because of prakriti. Though divine in nature they acquire evil tendencies owing to their lapses. In fact, every individual comprises a spiritual inner core that is blended with the body/mind complex. Prakriti and one’s karma prompt the actions and the Self is forgotten when engaged in worldly acts that bind one strongly to the cycle of birth. Narada’s exposition on the virtues of sanatana dharma in the Bhagavata Purana helps mankind to get liberated from this cycle.
Truth, kindliness, austerity, purity, forbearance, discrimination, control of mind and senses, ahimsa, compassion, contentment, detachment, and devotion to the Supreme Lord are some of the virtues that Narada talks about. Among the basic virtues that testify to one’s integrity, being truthful and honest tops the list. Anything done, spoken or thought for one’s personal gain is not truthful. Forbearance is a virtue that helps one cope with the ups and downs in life.
The Bhagavad Gita celebrates the single virtue of self control as holding the key to moral and ethical conduct and considers that person as “illumined” who can still the senses by controlling the mind. “A man may renounce physical actions but if his mind still dwells on objects of his sensual desire, he is deceiving himself and is hypocritical. But he who controls the senses by the power of his will is to be admired. His actions are disinterested and are directed towards union with the Brahman. … Just as winds turn the ship from its course in the stormy waters, the senses sway man’s mind adrift and distort his sane judgement from its course.”