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Meditation and Right Actions: Implications for Individuals and Society

Sarvam Gurukrupa

The logic of a free society points to a society of saints. For a free society to operate successfully:  Individuals without controls should act righteously. Righteous action is a result of enjoyment of a rich inner life.  Meditation and good action foster a rich inner life A by-product of a rich inner life is god-seeking. The fate of the god-seeking is divine, worthy of worship or adoration. That is, sainthood. All this is revealed in Rigveda.

 

In a philosophical verse, the sage traces the role of good actions and meditation for social behaviour. The verse reads:

अधारयन्त वह्नयोSभजन्त सुकृत्यया | भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम् ||(1.020.8)[1]

Those unsupported by guides/controls (अ-धार-यन्त) must be propelled by wisdom (वह्-नयो); those not enjoying an inner life (अ-भज्-अन्त) must be propelled by good action and meditation (सुकृत्य-या). Fate of the god-seeking, it is divine/adorable/worthy of worship (भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम्).

Comment

This verse is rich with advice. The Sanskrit word for a ruler is यन्तृ which also means, guiding controlling and directing. We interpret यन्त occurring in this verse to mean ‘guide, control’

Implications

The verse can be divided into three phrases. The three phrases are: अधारयन्त वह्नयो; अभजन्त सुकृत्यया; and भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम्. The discussion of the verse is divided into five parts, because the three phrases are connected with some missing links that will be suggested in this discussion.

  1. अधारयन्त वह्नयो (वह्-नयो): Those who do not have external guides or controls (अ-धार-यन्त), must be propelled by wisdom (वह्-नयो). The word for wisdom used here is  नयः. This means among other things, righteous conduct, virtue, foresight, statesmanship, justice, equity. This phrase applies to rulers as well as individuals:
    1. A ruler without a guide, (advisor or theory which shows the way) must be propelled by statesmanship, justice, equity and foresight.
    2. An individual free from external controls (rules, or rulers) must be propelled by righteous conduct, virtue and foresight.

Although the phrase has both meanings (1a and 1b), the remaining  part of the verse seems to favour individuals.

  1. For individuals to act righteously and virtuously even when they are free from external controls, they should enjoy a rich inner life. The Sanskrit word that denotes “enjoyment” is भज्, and the word denoting the “interior or inner” is अन्त. The second phrase refers to the enjoyment of the interior: भज्-अन्त.
  2. अभजन्त सुकृत्यया : Those not enjoying inner life (अ-भज्-अन्त) must be propelled by good action and meditation (सुकृत्य-या). This is presumably because a rich inner life is fostered by good action and meditation.

That meditation fosters an inner life is self evident, since meditation takes on to the inside of the being. What about good actions?

It can argued with reference to some verses from Bhagavad Gita that good actions also foster a rich inner life (see appendix for details). In short the argument is: Good action fosters Satva guna. Satva guna fosters inner happiness and knowledge. Inner happiness and knowledge constitute a rich inner life.

  1. Meditation and accumulation of Satva guna have another implication. It leads to god seeking. The relevant Sanskrit words are देव-इषः, or देवेषु. What does god-seeking lead to? The last phrase addresses this question.
  2. भागं देवेषु यज्ञियम् :  The fate of the god-seeking, is ‘divine, worthy of worship or adoration’ (यज्ञियम्). This suggests that those who seek God move towards sainthood. This is divine, worthy of worship and adoration.

This verse seems to suggest that the logic of a free society, (i.e., a society without external rulers and rules) leads to a society of saints. The explicit and implicit links in the chain of the argument are as follows:

For a free society to operate successfully:

Individuals without controls should act righteously (explicit). Righteous action is a result of enjoyment of a rich inner life (implicit). Those not enjoying a rich inner life should engage in meditation and good action (explicit). Meditation and good action generate Satva guna, Satva guna fosters inner happiness and knowledge (implicit, see appendix for details). Happiness and knowledge foster a rich inner life (implicit). Accumulation of Satva guna also leads to God seeking (implicit). The fate of the god seeking is divine, worthy of worship or adoration (explicit). That is, sainthood.

Thus the logic of free society leads to a society of saints.

Appendix

Argument: That good action fosters a rich inner life. Chain: Good action fosters Satva, Satva fosters inner happiness and knowledge.

The Gita says: कर्म-णः सुकृत-स्य-अहुः सात्विकं निर्मलं फलम् | (14.16)

Word meaning:  Action- ascertainment (कर्म-णः) good action is pervading (सुकृत-स्य-अहुः) Sattvika (सात्विकं) pure (निर्मलं) fruit (फलम्)

That is:  Action – determination of nature: good action is pervading with Satvika guna, its fruit is pure.

Thus, good action results in a strengthening of Sattvika Guna. What are the effects of Satva guna on inner life?

In another verse, the Gita says:

… सत्वं … सुख-सङ्ग-इन बध्-नाति ज्ञान-सङ्ग-इन च-अनघ ||  (14.6)

Word meaning:  Satva (सत्वं) happiness association master (सुख-सङ्ग-इन) binds not much (बध्-नाति) knowledge association master (ज्ञान-सङ्ग-इन) also sinless (च-अनघ)

That is:  Satva guna gives mastery in relation to happiness which does not bind too much, and, mastery in relation to knowledge which is also sinless.

What is happiness that does not bind too much? It is happiness that does not depend too much on external and sensual inputs. The latter are not denied, but are not overmuch required. That means the happiness must have an inner source. Thus, the dominance of satva gives inner happiness as well.

Inner happiness and knowledge establish and enrich the interior or inner life of an individual, enabling him to enjoy it. For this reason, such individuals act righteously and virtuously even without external controls.


[1] अ-धार  – यन्त वह् – न्यो – अभज् – अन्त सुकृत्य – या | भागं देव – इषु यज्ञियम् ||

Unsupported (अ-धार) guide/control (यन्त, यन्तृ = guiding, controlling) propel (वह्) wisdom (नयः) not-enjoy (अ-भज्) interior (अन्त) a correct action (सुकृत्य) meditation (या) | Fate (भागं) god (देव) seeking (इष: = इषु) divine/adorable/worthy of worship (यज्ञिय = यज्ञियम्)

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