Meaning of ‘Uttama Shaucha Dharma-Supreme Contentment / Purity’, quotes from the Jain scriptures & Shastras, its interpretation with real-life instances.
– Muni Sri Kamkumarnandi Maharaj
The word ‘Shauch‘ is a compound word derived by adding the suffix ‘anr‘ with the word ‘shuchi‘ to mean ‘shucherbhav shauchanam’. It means sacredness, cleanliness, to be pure, to be clean, to be spotless and to be non-greedy.
The humanitarian approach to lessen the miseries of living beings is included in the abstention from greed of worldly possessions. Contentment aims at putting a limit on the worldly possessions by individuals according to their needs and desires.
Stating the characteristics of the virtue of supreme contentment in ‘Sarvartha Siddhi’, Acharya Pujya Pad Swamy writes: ‘lobhprkaranramuparam shaucham’– To discard different types of greed is contentment.
Kankhabhavnrivitim kicha veragbhavnrajuto
Jo vatdi parammunri tas du dhamo havai saucham
The Supreme saint who conducts himself suppressing all desires and possesses the thoughts of renunciation is endowed with the virtue of contentment. In ‘Bhagwati Aradhana’ the erudite Acharya Shivery expresses his invaluable thoughts:
‘Dravayshu mamaidam bhavmulo vyasanopanipat sakal iti tat parityago laghvam’.
Such ambitious thoughts as ‘objects like riches and wife belong to me’ lead a man to numerous troubles. To do away with this feeling of attachment for worldly objects from heart is abstention or contentment. To be too greedy is disastrous. The soul becomes impure due to greed.
Once a Seth (a wealthy man) had been pondering for long that he would feed a Brahman at his home, if he could find one who ate a little food. Although the Seth was master of great property and was very wealthy, yet due to being extremely greedy and a miser of the meanest nature he went on searching for such a Brahman. As the Seth was known for harnessing such narrow ideas, the villagers knew very well that the Seth was greedy to the core of his heart.
One day the Seth chanced to come in contact with a village Brahman. During discourse the Seth asked him, “How much do you eat?” The Brahman replied about an oz. at a time.” Hearing this the Seth instantly invited the Brahman to take meals at his home the next day. The Seth said to him, “O Brahman! Tomorrow I shall go out of station to make some bargains. Come to my house and take meals.” The Brahman said, “Very well! May you be prosperous! We always eat your food.” Going home the Seth gave this information to his wife the Sethani; and instructed her saying, “I have extended invitation for tomorrow’s meals to a Brahman. As tomorrow I shall go out for business transactions, give the Brahman to eat whatever he demands.” In fact, the Seth was fully convinced that the diet of the Brahman was only one oz., why will he ask for more then?
The next day the Seth went away on his business tour. The Brahman came at his home in his absence and blessed the mistress of the house (Sethani). The lady was not greedy. She was a very generous, saintly, chaste and pious lady devoted to the Brahmans. She asked, “Well Panditji! Tell me, what are your requirements?” The Pandit said, “Five quintal wheat flour, one quintal butter, two quintal vegetables, one quintal sugar, five kg. Salt and two kg. Spices are my needs for home.” The Sethani arranged everything according to the demands of holy Brahman. After all these food articles were dispatched to his home, the Brahman said to the Sethani, “Now hastily serve the food to me as my growing appetite is troubling me.” The lady at once served the food and fed the Brahman to his fill. After taking food Panditji spoke, “O Gentle Lady! If I get one hundred guineas (gold coins) as my dinner gift, I shall bless you and return home.” The lady willingly offered him one hundred guineas. Then the Brahman blessed her and left for home.
On reaching home, the Brahman lay down in bed covering him with a sheet of cloth. He instructed his wife that if the Seth comes here, start weeping and tell him, “Panditji is laid up with serious illness ever since he has returned after taking meals at your home. The worst thing is that there is no hope of his survival. God knows, what you have fed him?” In the evening when the whole day starved Seth came home from his business tour, he asked his wife, “Did the holy Brahman come here and take his food?” The Sethani said, “Yes, he did come and asked for some food stuff for his home, which I supplied to him. Later on he ate down all the five kg. Purees prepared for him and then taking one hundred guineas as customary gift given to Brahmans after meals, he went away.” Hearing this the Seth became unconscious.
After sometime when the Seth recovered, he at once reached the Brahman’s house. The wife of the Brahman sat at the door. The Seth inquired of her, “Where is the Brahman?” Hearing these words of the Seth, the Brahmini began to weep bitterly and spoke, “Ever since he has returned after taking meals at your home, that he is unwell. God knows what has happened to him. He is seriously ill. There is no hope of his survival even. None can say what harmful thing you fed him along with the food?” The Seth was terrified and began to apologize to the Brahmini saying, “Don’t weep. Take these two hundred rupees and get the Brahman properly treated; but do not tell any body that the Brahman had taken meals at my house.” Thus the greedy Seth returned home dumbfounded. The Seth had to part with a great amount of wealth for his petty greed and had to undergo mental torture as well. Indeed, there is no lack of such greedy persons in this world. They are known as great sinners as well. Due to a little greed, sometimes they lose their precious life too. It is well said:
Makhi bethi shehd par, rahi phank phelae
Hath male aur sir dhune, lalach buri balae
i.e., A fly sat on honey, waves its wings, repents and tosses its head to and fro to come out of it, but in vain. In truth avarice is the root of all evils.
The Crown person of mankind, Lord Ram had to lose his beloved wife Sita out of her greed for the golden deer. If a wise person is possessed even with the least of greed, he also is sure to dwindle from the right path. Ram was an extraordinary superman, yet as a result of greed his wisdom was spoiled. Very often adversity and allurement for others’ shake even the right persons from their noble path. Hence, Sir Edwin Arnold says:
‘Give freely and receive, but take from none
By greed or force or fraud what is his own.’
It has been said:
Asambhavam haimmrigsya jnm tathapi lulubhai mrigaye Paraye samapanvipatikale dhiopi punsan malina bhavanti
Just as color gives out its full luster only on a neat and clean sheet of canvas; likewise virtues like contentment enter only a clean, pure and upright mind. Only when the impurity of greed is washed away by way of holy living, purity may come to the forefront. From the above it becomes clear that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. According to one view point cleanliness is of two types – external and internal; but according to another viewpoint it is of three types – bodily, mental and pertaining to speech. All these are supplementary and complementary to one another. Even in the absence of one of these, the work cannot be accomplished or perfect purity cannot be achieved.
If someone says that external i.e., bodily cleanliness is the real cleanliness, the question arises as to why the water animals like frogs and fish that always live in ponds, rivers and seas cannot acquire the virtue of purity. Water path has been assigned the fifth place among baths. There are four other baths in addition to it. The water bath accompanied by those four baths is the real bath. This is the only means of self-purification i.e., soul purification. Internal cleanliness cannot be attained by mere making the body clean through water bath or by arraying the body with ornaments and wearing neat and clean or costly costumes. In the absence of internal cleanliness, all other sources of cleanliness are futile.
One day all the five Pandav came to Narayan Lord Shri Krishna and requested him to accompany them on a pilgrimage. Shri Krishna declined to do so for some unknown reason. Then the Pandav urged him to send his some representative to keep company with them. The Lord refused for this as well. The Pandav again appealed, “At least give us something, which we may take on pilgrimage with us and bathing which we may again hand it over to you on our return.” On the repeated requests of Pandav, Shri Krishna picked up a gourd lying near by and gave it to the Pandav. The Pandav placed the pieces of gourd into their mouths, they all started vomiting with signs of distress on their faces. One by one they began to complain “I am feeling stomach ache; I am feeling headache; I am feeling giddy” and so on. Seeing all this Lord Shri Krishna asked them, “Well brothers! Why this distress on your faces?” All replied, “The gourd pieces taste very bitter.” Then Narayan Shri Krishna replied with a smile, “See, even after a thousand baths, the gourd has not shed its bitterness and acrid taste. Likewise, no good comes out of simply having an outward bath. Internal cleanliness is essential along with external cleanliness.” It has been said in the ‘Mahabharat’:
Atma nadi sanyamtoypurna, satyvha shiltata dyarmi
Tatravagahm kuru Panduputra, Na varina shudhyati chantratma
i.e., O Pandav! This soul is a stream full of water of self-restraint, truth is its current, chastity is its bank and mercy and compassion are its waves. The inner self becomes clean and pure only by bathing in this stream of soul, not by bathing in water.
While laying stress on the significance of internal purity Maharishi Vyas has also said, “Be he a house-holder or a renounced soul; be he a scholar of the Vedas or the Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, internal purity is essential for all.” Thus not only external cleanliness but internal purity is also a must for perfect cleanliness. They both are complementary to each other.
It has been clearly stated in the ‘Niyam Saar’ – ‘If there exists even an atom of passions like greed, vanity and conceit in the internal soul, there can be no purity; such a
Man cannot be called endowed with Perfect Belief.’ A precept is given in the ‘Samaysaar’:
“If there is a bit of poison equivalent even to a small mustard seed in a nectar like delicious ladoo, is the ladoo edible? No, the ladoo remains inedible, as eating it is an invitation to death. Even an atom of poison in the ladoo will also prove fatal. Likewise, even the smallest worldly possession is harmful for the virtue of purity and contentment. Therefore, it is necessary to give up both external and internal possessions to acquire the two types of purity – external and internal. Thus, perfect purity of soul is possible by discarding not only external possessions, but internal possessions also. If purity could be obtained merely by giving up external possessions, why then the birds and animals, which have no external possessions, do not obtain purity? It shows that besides renouncing external possessions, it is necessary to give up internal possessions viz. anger, vanity and greed as well. Only then the virtue of supreme purity ‘Shaucha‘ can be obtained.”
Anything kept in a clean utensil or container can be preserved fully pure for long, if all the rules of food preservation are observed. But a thing kept in a dirty or impure pot gets contaminated very quickly despite following all rules of preservation. Milk should be kept in a clean utensil to maintain its sweetness and properties. Milk kept only in such clean pot, can be preserved well, otherwise it turns sour. Likewise, a worthy person devoid of wrong belief, worldly attachments, malice, ill-will and greed is sure to be crowned with the virtue of supreme purity, or only then the virtue of supreme purity can be obtained or possessed. It is also necessary to keep the mind neat and clean i.e., perfectly pure to attain this virtue. If the mind is pure, the spiritual qualities acquired by it will also be grand, sacred and lofty. It has been said:
Untam Manama yasya, tasya bhagiam samuntam
He, whose mind is noble, pure, sublime, neat and clean, is blessed with a grand, lofty, holy and pure destiny too. In the absence of the purity of mind, one cannot enjoy good luck. Without raising the destiny to lofty heights, the mind cannot be holy. Someone has rightly said:
Man barhe, dhan barhe, dhane barhi man barhi jae
Man barte sab barhat he barhat barhat barhi jae
Man ghate dhan ghate dhan ghate man ghati jae
Man grate sab ghatat hae, ghatat ghatat ghati jae
Only when the mind is pure, a man can dedicate his mental energies to the acquisition of wealth and other worldly possessions. If the mind is impure, all our energies go on trifles. In the absence of mental purity, the holy sermons of Lord Jinendra cannot touch, appeal and influence our mind and stay there for long. Then we can neither meditate upon and cherish the memory of the omniscient Lord Jinendra cannot touch, appeal and influence our mind and stay there for long. Then we can neither meditate upon nor cherish the memory of the omniscient Lord Jinendra, nor sing hymns in praise of His celestial virtues.
A king very often visited a saint to seek his blessings. He would always pray to him only to give him some holy sermon. The saint paid no attention to his frequent requests. One day the king made a forceful appeal to the saint. At length the saint was appeased and said to the king, “Tomorrow I shall visit your royal palace and deliver my sermon there.” The king was overjoyed and again insisted that the saint should oblige him by taking his meals too in the royal palace. The saint readily consented to it. The saint readily consented to it. The next day the saint reached the royal palace at the appointed time taking his begging bowl. The king had devotedly got prepared various types of delicacies and dainty dishes for the saint. At first the king wished to serve to the saint kheer, a preparation of milk and rice. The saint brought forward his begging bowl to take it. The king peeped inside the bowl and drew back his hand without serving the kheer into the bowl. At this the saint stood up and got ready to go back. The king was terrified, as the saint had neither taken meals nor delivered sermon. The perturbed king said, “O holy saint! You neither took meals nor delivered a sermon as per your promise; still you are going back home leaving us in the lurch.” The saint promptly replied, “I have delivered my sermon, which you have failed to grasp.” The king stood dumbfounded. Then the king asked the perplexed king, “Why did you not serve the kheer into my bowl?” The king said, “Holy Sir! Dust particles and pebbles were lying in your bowl. I did not serve the kheer into the bowl, lest my nectar like sweet and tasty kheer should get spoiled.” The saint said, “I had also to teach you this lesson that your mind is full of filth and dirt in the shape of evil passions like anger, vanity, arrogance and greed. Until and unless your mind on being relieved of these evil passions becomes purified, how should I deliver my sermon to you? In the present state of mind my sermon will also be futile and go waste.”
By and by as a living being goes on discarding evil passions like greed, anger and vanity he marches on ahead in the direction of uplifting his soul and attains perfect purity of soul. We should aim at achieving purity of soul. Besides discarding the evil passion of internal greed, freedom from external greed is also very essential. In ‘Bhagwati Aradhana’ Acharya Shivarya has also emphasized the need of discarding greed;
Lobhe keyai atho, nr hohi purisas aparhibhogasya
Akevi havdi lobhai, athi padibhogvam tas
Despite being greedy a man bereft of good luck cannot possess wealth. On the contrary a man on whom fortune smiles can have boundless wealth without craving for it. Therefore, greed for money is in no way helpful in the acquisition of wealth, rather good luck helps it. Realizing this truth we should try to get rid of greed. The question arises, ‘How should we put an end to the predominating feeling of greed?’ This question has been answered by Acharya Kundkund Swamy in ‘Kartikeyanupreksha’ thus:
Sam santosh jalainr jo dhovadi tiv loh mal punjam
Bhoynr gidhi vihinro tas saucham have vimlam
i.e., He who washes away the fifth of ambitions and greed with the water of the feeling of equanimity and contentment, does not run after worldly enjoyments attains the unblemished virtue of supreme purity.
Ambitions of man are infinite. Ambitions grow eternal in the mind of man. Even if a man goes on getting all things that he aspires for, his ambitions know no end; rather they go on multiplying. Some saintly person has rightly remarked; ‘Every fulfilled desire leaves a bitter taste in the mouth before it is fully satiated.’
Itchati shatisahastram sahastri lakshmihatai
lakshadhipastha rajiyam rajyasth swargmihate
i.e., He who owns one hundred rupees aspires to obtain one thousand rupees; one who possesses one thousand rupees aspires to be a multimillionaire. A multi-millionaire cherishes the ambition to obtain a kingdom and a king desires to be the sovereign ruler of the kingdom of heaven. Thus, a man’s ambitions are always on the increase. This thing has been made clear below:
“If somebody were to give the whole earth to one man, even then the man will not be satisfied; a greedy person is extremely difficult to be satisfied.”
Lobhat krodh prabhavti, lobhat kam prajaytai
Lobhatmohach nashch lobh papasya karanam
i.e., Anger destroys love, pride puts an end to modesty, and deceit removes friends, while greed destroys everything.
There was a very miserly Brahman named Kankbhat. Once he went to take a holy dip in the Ganga. He was taking dips in the holy Ganga time and again. While bathing there, some persons informed him that his one-paisa coin had fallen into the river. So he started taking dips one after the other to search out the coin. That coin was counterfeit. In spit of making his best efforts, the Brahman could not find the coin. So he spoke, “Well, O mother Ganga! I offer this coin to you.”
At that time the Brahman was on his way to Southern India on a business tour. There one day he received the message of his mother’s sad demise. The Brahman was extremely miser. He thought that if he went back to his village to perform his mother’s funeral rites, it would be very expensive. But he had great regard and affection for his mother. So he decided to buy a coconut at that very place and perform his dead mother’s last rituals. With this idea in his mind he went to the market place to buy a coconut. He stepped into a shop. He inquired of the shopkeeper the price of a coconut. The shopkeeper replied that a coconut would cost him fifty paisa. Kankbhat said, “Brother! Reduce the price a little.” But the shopkeeper declined to do so. Kankbhat marched ahead. Another shopkeeper demanded forty paisas as price for a similar coconut. Kankbhat did not buy the coconut from that shop, too. Thus making inquiries from shop to shop he reached a wholesale coconut store. Kankbhat asked the salesman of the store the price of one coconut. The sales man replied, “Two paisa.” At this Kankbhat said, “Well, gentleman”! I hail from a far off place. Please allow me some discount and sell me a coconut for one paisa.” At this the owner of the shop said, “We are traders. How can we sell you a coconut below the price we paid for it? If you want to buy a coconut for one paisa, go to a coconut field. There you will get it for one paisa.”
Hence Kankbhat marched forward in search of a coconut field. After travelling a short distance, he came across a farmer. He enquired him the price of a coconut. The peasant answered, “The price is one paisa.” By this time the greed of the Brahman was roused all the more and he said, “Well brother! I come from a distance place. Please give me a coconut free of cost.” Being enraged the farmer spoke, “If you want to get a coconut cost free, go to the forest and pluck with your own hands as many cost-free coconuts as you like from the trees, which belong to none.” Being overjoyed Kankbhat proceeded towards the forest. In the forest he saw trees overloaded with coconuts. Seeing them he was overwhelmed with joy. But he did not know how to climb a coconut tree. Anyhow he climbed upon a tree. The problem was how he should pluck coconuts now. He did not know plucking of coconuts from the tree as well. When he tried to pull the bunch of coconuts from the tree, in this process his foot slipped from the stem of the tree and he hung in the middle holding the branch in his hand. No sooner did he peep downward, than he saw a deep well nearby. He wailed, “Alas! Now I shall meet untimely death.” He was greatly terrified.
A man on camel back was passing by that way just then. Kambhat prayed to the camel rider, “Brother! Save my life.” It was a golden opportunity for the camel driver to fish in others’ troubled waters. So he asked, “Well! Tell me what will you pay me for saving your life?” Kambhat replied, “I have five hundred rupees in my pocket, I shall give them to you.” The camel rider was overjoyed. He brought the camel close to the tree and making the camel stand under it, himself he stood on the camel back. As soon as he caught hold of the legs of Kankbhat to give him support, the camel slipped away from under him and fled. Now two persons were suspended from the tree instead of one.
Meanwhile, the king’s elephant driver, riding his elephant was passing from that side. Seeing the two men hanging from the tree, he began to laugh. The two persons hanging from the tree appealed to him to rescue them. The elephant driver was also overpowered by greed. He also asked “What will you pay me for saving you?” Kambhat promised to pay him five hundred rupees; and the camel driver also agreed to reward him with one thousand rupees. The elephant driver was thrilled. He made the elephant stand under the tree and hardly had he caught hold of the legs of the lower person taking right position on his elephant, the elephant also fled away being perplexed. Now three persons were swinging from one and the same twig of the tree.
By this time Kankbhat was dead tired of hanging so long. Ultimately he spoke, “My hands are fully unnerved; now my grip of the tree twig is getting loose.” Being terrified the two lower persons said, “Oh brother! Do not do so; otherwise all of us will be killed.” At this Kankbhat said, “Previously you had claimed money from me to save my life. Now it is my turn. Tell me, what both of you will pay me for it; otherwise I shall leave hold of the tree just now.” One of them said, “I shall pay you five hundred rupees,” and the second man offered him one thousand rupees. Kamkbhat rejoiced; for he thought, “How fine! I shall get cost free coconuts besides a good amount of money.” Indeed, it was a gala day for him. While he was thus fully absorbed in his wishful thinking and greedy thoughts, he lost his grip of the twig and instantly all the three fell into the deep well below. The three met their doom due to excess of greed. Likewise, daily the creatures in all the three worlds are meeting their sad and untimely demise being overpowered with endless greed.
Rightly has it been said:
Greed is the root cause of all crimes and sins.” Alas! To what a miserable plight greed leads a man. The evil passion of greed degrades a man so low that he does not hesitate to take off ornaments from the dead bodies of women floating on floodwater. He steals the luggage of persons killed in a train accident or air crash; and loots the goods of earthquake victims under the pretext of doing relief work. Indeed greed knows no end. Given below are the noble words of a great scholar:
“Contentment is the cheapest, safest and surest remedy for all troubles that may possibly come upon man. Want of it, only augments, intensifies and prolongs the pain, and sometimes perpetuates it.”
There lived a Seth named Sagar Dutt in Kampila city. Although the Seth, who lit the fuel of his heart’s ambitions with the fire of deep rooted greed, had inherited ten million gold coins (guineas) from ancestors besides his self earned five million guineas, yet he was extremely greedy. What to speak of the preparation of dainty dishes and sweet meats like ladoos even vegetables were never cooked in his house. He always thought if vegetables were to be cooked, money would have to be spent on oil, chilies and spices, and more foodstuffs would be consumed on its getting tasty. Not only this, he also did not go to anybody’s house to take meals or attend a feast. First, because he believed that the tongue becomes addicted to juicy and delicious foods on taking food at others’ house; secondly, one day in exchange he will also have to invite the person for meals at his home.
He would not let even members of his family to take food to their fill. He always told his attendants that a wise man should not waste money on buying oil, ghee, butter, salt, etc., from the market. After once buying the above articles, he should return them to the shopkeeper under the pretext that these were not of the standard quality and the oil stuck to the container should serve his purpose. Besides, he professed that it was foolish to buy perfumed oil to make the body fragrant. On the contrary, one should pass one’s hands over the head of the rich men’s children for this purpose, so that his own body may also get perfumed with the oil applied in their hair.
Very often while roaming about he passed through the locality of the oil crushers and enter their houses in order to realize interest on the loaned money. He would pick up from there a piece of oil cake-saying that the oil cake was exhaling a very sweet smell. Therefore, on returning home he would eat boiled rice along with the spiced water and smell the oil cake in between. After taking meals he used to chew the bark of the Peepal tree for mouth wash.
Once it rained cats and dogs in the city continuously for seven days. The rivers were flooded. Water and only water was seen everywhere in the city. A cold breeze was blowing. The people did not dare to come out of their houses. But at night the greedy Seth Sagar Datt went on the riverbank putting on a loincloth. He jumped into the flooded river and started taking out the fuel wood floating on the floodwater. The king’s palace stood on the riverbank. There was lightening and thunder in the sky. In the flash of lightening through the palace window the queen saw Sagar Datt gathering fuel wood and thought in her mind that undoubtedly the poor fellow must be extremely poor. She determined to urge the king to render him monetary help. Consequently, at a proper time the queen said to the king, “O King! You are the savior of your subjects and defender of the poor. An extremely poor person lives in your city. Please help him.”
At the appeal of the queen the king sent for the man and spoke to him, “O distressed fellow! It seems that you are a pauper like a church mouse. Therefore, I want to help you. Tell me, what do you need?” To this Sagar Datt replied, “I need a bullock.” The king said, “There are so many bullocks in my cattle-shed. Take away anyone you choose.” Accordingly on going through the bullocks in the king’s cattle-shed, Sagar Dutt came back and spoke, “O king! I need a bullock resembling the bullock in my home. Your cattle-shed has not even a single bullock to match the one present at my house.” Then the king said, “Bring your bullock and show me its specialty.” Seth Sagar Dutt said, “Your majesty! My bullock never goes out of the door.” Hearing this king’s astonishment knew no bounds. At length the king said, All right, I shall myself pay a visit to your house to see your bullock.” These words of the king perplexed Sagar Dutt. He could not utter a word; rather his heart began to throb with the fear that the next day the king would pay a visit to his house and come to know about his boundless wealth. If out of greed the king by chance demanded a little of his vast wealth from him, what would he do then? On returning home he suffered from fever.
The next day the king went to Sagar Datt’s house accompanied by his queen. Seeing his boundless wealth, elephants and horses the king was bewitched. He began to think at heart, “Alas! In spite of possessing so much of wealth, this greedy person is undergoing through so many tortures. Cursed be this greed.” The wife and sons of Sagar Datt said to him, “The king and the queen have made our house pure by their presence. We should entertain them and extend them proper and grand reception according to their high status. Hence, dear father! Offer this plate full of jewels and pearls to the king.”
On much insistence by his kith and kin, when Sagar Dutt picked up the plate full of pearls and diamonds, his hands began to waver. The king was also filled with remorse seeing the insatiable greed of the Seth despite possessing such a vast wealth. Therefore, he returned without accepting any present from the Seth. After sometime the greedy Seth breathed his last and after death was reborn in his own house as a snake. It sat coiling the boundless riches in the home. Seeing the snake in the treasure house, his sons sent for a snake charmer who brutally catching hold of the snake took it out of the home. Thereafter, being dead the snake took birth in hell.
Hence, one should never indulge in excessive greed for wealth and prosperity; otherwise one has to bear a miserable plight like that of Sagar Datt. Beware, “O Greed, what great crimes and sins have not been committed in thy name by persons overpowered by thee.” There is another example to prove the moral debasement caused by greed:
After completing his ten years educational study course at Banaras, a Pandit returned to his home city. His father was a renowned landlord and a highly dignified person. He exerted a great influence in the locality. The city people were overjoyed at his son’s return after becoming highly learned and educated. They extended proper welcome to him and put him several searching questions about life. He gave quite satisfactory replies to all the questions. His scholarship left a deep impression on all the people. But all of a sudden a man questioned him, ” Panditji, please tell me who is the perpetuator of sin?” Panditji was perturbed on hearing this quite simple question. When the people received no satisfactory answer from Panditji, the man said, “Panditji, you have come back after ten year long study at Banaras, but you failed to answer my simple question. You have wasted the money of your father.” The helpless Pandit stared blank in the face of the man.
Panditji returned home with a heavy heart. He could not sleep at night. He pondered deeply in his mind, “Today I have suffered great disgrace; how should I show my face in the city now. It will be proper for me to go back to Banaras and find solution to this question.” Lo! At dawn Panditji left home and set out for Kashi (Banaras). While he was on his way to Banaras on foot the evening fell. He took shelter on a platform in front of a well-built house in a village. After supper he spread his bedding on the platform and lay down there. Due to great fatigue he succumbed to sound sleep as soon as he lay down. He did not wake up and lay there for a long time even after sunrise in the morning.
The house, on the platform of which Panditji slept belonged to a prostitute. When the prostitute came downstairs in the morning, she saw the hale and hearty handsome young man sleeping on the platform. She was bewitched and dumbfounded. She woke him up and asked, “Who are you? Where do you hail from? What is your destination and what for are you going there?” Panditji replied, “I come from Samtapur and am on my way to Kashi.” At this the prostitute spoke, “Sir, you told me everything but I got no reply as to why you are going to Kashi? Please tell me.” Panditji said, “O Gentle lady! Don’t ask this question to me. I am pained at heart by this.” When the prostitute again insisted, Panditji said, “Now listen, I stayed and studied at Kashi for ten years. After completing my education, I came back home. As soon as I returned to the city, the people gave me a grand reception. Unfortunately that very day during a question-answer program the people put to me a question, “What is the root cause of sin?” I failed to answer this question. My heart was filled with remorse. This is why I am returning to Kashi for further study.”
The prostitute was very wise. She said, “Panditji, today I am lucky to entertain a learned guest like you at my house. Please go ahead only after taking mid-day meals at my house today. I shall prepare food for you with my own hands. Till then please take bath and say your morning prayers and perform worship.” Hearing this Panditji was in a fix. After a short pause Panditji asked the prostitute, “Who are you and what is your profession?”
Prostitute – I am a human being. I earn my bread and butter through prostitution.
Panditji – Curse it. O God! What a great sinner I am! I have slept in the house of an unholy prostitute. I will have to repent for this sin.
Prostitute – O dignified Brahman! I am also a human being like you. You consider me mean and hateful only for being a prostitute. Once I was also a young damsel of a dignified family, but the oppressions of your human society have forced me to resort to this sinful life. Today you are my guest, I shall not let you go without taking meals. Panditji – O wretched lady! What do you say? I am a holy Brahman – a Pandit. How can I take meals at your house?
Prostitute – No, No, Panditji! Meals you must take at my house. See there is a well in the compound of my house. Draw the water and prepare food yourself and then take meals. You are a Brahman, so after meals I shall give you a present of five hundred rupees as well.
As soon as Panditji came to know about a present of five hundred rupees, he was overpowered with greed. He at once got ready to prepare the food himself. When the prostitute saw that the food was ready, she came down and prayed to Panditji with folded hands – “O supreme Panditji! I have committed great sins in my life. I pray to you to purify me as well.”
Panditji – How is that possible?
Prostitute – If you accept two morsels of food from my hands, I shall be purified.
Panditji – Curse it. Why do you say this? How can I, a Brahman, eat two morsels from the hands of a prostitute?
Prostitute – Panditji, Please be merciful and do so. I shall offer you five hundred rupees more. At least accept one morsel from my hands and make me chaste.
Panditji agreed to take food from the hands of the prostitute out of greed for money. As soon as she brought her hand forward with a morsel to feed it to Panditji, the prostitute at once dropped the morsel on the ground and slapped the Brahman severely in the face saying, “O fool! You are going to Kashi to solve a quite simple problem. I
have answered your question. The greed with which you easily got ready to give up your religious faith and vows has overpowered you and is the root cause of all sins.”
Someone has rightly observed:
“Faith is like a bird, that sings when the at dawn is still engulfed in darkness.” On receiving a satisfactory solution for his problem from the prostitute, Panditji returned home.
From the above example we learn that the more greedy a person is, the more disgrace he has to suffer. To be over- greedy is a sin; greed is regarded as the root cause of sin. Hence, in order to attain the virtue of supreme contentment every living soul should discard the vicious tendency of greed and tread the path of religion.
The great poet Reidhu has described the virtue of supreme contentment or purity (Uttama Shaucha) thus:
Sauch ji dhamangu tam ji amagaun bhinrganu uvaugmu
Jarmarnr vinrasanru tijagpyasnru jhaijyi ah visi ji dhu
Dham sauchu hoi manr sudhiyai, dham sauchu venr dhanr gidhien
Dham sauchu kasaai ahavain, dham sauchu nr lippi pavain
Dham sauchu lohu vajantau dham sauchu sutab pahi jantau
Dham sauhuvanbh vay dharnri, dham sauchu meydath nrarnri
Dham sauchu jinraim manrai, dham sauchu sagunr anrumanrai
Dham sauchu sal key chae, dham sauchu ji nrimalbhae
1. The virtue of contentment is a part and parcel of religion; it is enthusiastic; it excels materialism; it gives utility to life; it relieves one from old age and death; it enlightens all the three worlds and is eternal. Pay heed to it day in and day out.
2. The virtue of contentment can be acquired through the purity of mind; it is acquired through purification by the treasure of truth speaking. This virtue is attained by subduing the evil passions and a man endowed with this virtue does not indulge in sinful deeds.
3. The virtue of contentment lays stress on abstention from greed; it leads one on the path of supreme austerity; this virtue is attained by observing celibacy; and this virtue of contentment is attained by discarding the eight types of arrogance or vanity.
4. The virtue of contentment is instilled in men by the study of holy scriptures; it is attained by getting rid of the three thorns i.e., ambitions, deception, and wrong belief; and finally this virtue is attained by maintaining purity in thoughts.
Hence, O Mortal Man! Be contented, be contented and be contented throughout thy life from cradle to the grave; for according to a French saying:
‘Grande fortune, grande servitude’ i.e., great wealth, great slavery.
To sum up, ‘The pleasure of possessing little is far more enjoyable than the prospect of getting much hereafter. The little you have, if properly used, will bring you more than you can expect or have the power to enjoy. Ambition ruins a man; contentment secures him the peace and happiness of heaven.’
In fact, all our existence and happiness in life depends on our mental attitude. Human mind is the supreme power that governs all our actions. Only a calm and contented mind will lead us to a blissful life. The great English poet Oliver Goldsmith after his long tour of five European countries in search of peace and happiness came to the conclusion:
Vain! Very Vain! My weary search to find
That bliss, which centers in the mind.
From ‘Traveler’ by Oliver Goldsmith