Yatha makia idam madhu nyanjanti madhavadhi Eva me aivina varchastejo balamojaicha dhriyatam
- Atharvaveda 9/1/17
"As the honey-bees add freshly collected honey to the previous accumulation, even so O Ashvini Devas, may knowledge, brilliance, strength and power abide in me (my virtues be continually augmented)."
We should continually engage in evaluating ourselves to see what is the pace of the development of virtuous qualities in our lives, because only this is the true touchstone of jivana sadhana. The speed with which virtues grow in us also determines the speed with which our jivana sadhana
sharpens and matures, our inner strengths awaken, our life progresses towards success and prosperity, glory and fame reverberate in the arena of life, a refreshing new surge of promise, verve and enthusiasm is felt, and every nook of our inner being is filled with the fragrance of joy and contentment. But all this will happen only by enrichment of virtues and by the meaningful pursuit of jivana sadhana.
Worldly people evaluate themselves on the touchstone of wealth and luxuries rather than virtues. For them, success, honour and power are everything irrespective of how and through what unjust means these have been acquired. They consider cunningness, chicanery, deception and flattery as valid means of success and are ignorant of the true art and joy of life.
It is the concretely experienced truth
of those who are privy to the mystical essence of life that worthwhile successes are always the result of tapa
(virtuous deeds) whether done recently or in some remote past. May be, we have forgotten the past now, but it does not matter. Vibrations set in motion by an action never perish. Energy is indestructible; its manifest forms keep on changing though. Good and bad actions both bear certain fruits. Good actions are the field expressions of our virtues and bad actions of vices. These action-seeds may, however, take time to fructify. This time lag depends on the germinating potential of the action-seed as well as fertility of the soil of inner consciousness. But in their due time, good and bad results, as the case may be, are a certainty.
When the individual, ignorant of this truth
takes recourse to sinful means and achieves some success, he forgets that he is, in fact, enjoying the fruits of some of his own good deeds done in the past. Even if he had not resorted to any immoral means now he would still have reaped these fruits, albeit after some time. In his impatience, he has unnecessarily injected bad deeds in the fruit of his success and made it contaminated. This contamination has reduced the life-span of this success and it will end prematurely while, otherwise, it would have endured for long.
Those who put forth contrary arguments should know that if success and prosperity depended on wrong means, then their practitioners should never fail, nor any person with vices ever suffer downfall. But it is not so. Every wrong-doer comes under the inexorable law of sowing-and-reaping. When this situation arises, all accomplishments desert him, and all accumulated misdeeds of the past start showing results. Hence wrong means or bad actions can never be the parameter of success or evaluation of life.
There is only one touchstone of self-evaluation – presence of virtues, and the only true source from which they spring is the individuals noble emotions. The more the flow of these emotions in a person, the more there will be the flourishing of virtues in him. But if the emotions have impurities, vices will soon start thriving. Yugrishi Gurudev used to say: "Wherever there is sensitivity, there will arise rows of virtues spontaneously. On the other hand, where there is insensitivity, there will grow a crop of vices before long".
In the days Gurudev used to live in Akhand Jyoti Sansthan at Mathura, a person came to him one day. He was sincerely remorseful of his wrong doings and vices. He truthfully confessed to Gurudev all his past misdeeds and expressed his desire to turn over a new leaf in life. But he did not know where and how to begin, and how he could know whether or not he was reforming. Gurudev replied very affectionately: "Son! If you want to be a good man, render selfless service to somebody daily without any expectation. Selfless service breaks the bonds of the ego and generates pious sentiments. Daily regimen of selfless service sounded difficult to the man.
He pleaded: "Gurudev, I have large scale business dealings which keep me very busy. I may not find time daily for such service". "In that case", Gurudev advised, "you pray to God for somebody. But this prayer should be honest, guileless and selfless. It should be your conscious attempt that you are able to pray even for the one who is your antagonist. This selfless prayer, too, will promote the growth of virtuous qualities in you."
One should evaluate oneself on the basis of the intensity of faith with which selfless service or selfless prayer is being offered and the honesty of ones feelings. Elimination of insensitivity and enrichment of empathetic sensitivities are the true criteria on which one can test oneself because it is refined sensitivities or emotions that are the well-spring of austere life and virtuous deeds. Noble emotions and noble deeds ultimately make a man successful in all his righteous pursuits. Keep testing yourself on this standard and after every success do not forget to ask: "Success! But is it through righteous means?"