Monday Musings 51

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We will now see about the body and speech austerities, five each, vide the Bhagavad Gita slokas 17.14 & 17.15.

देवद्विजगुरुप्राज्ञपूजनं शौचमार्जवम् |

ब्रह्मचर्यमहिंसा शारीरं तप उच्यते ||

–Bhagavad Gita 17.14

Like five techniques for the penance of the mind, there are five techniques for the penance of the body. They are pujanam, shauchm, aarjavam, brahmacharyam & ahimsa.

  1. Pujanam – Worshipping (actual intent may be taken as ‘Respecting’) God, Learned (dwija in the sloka means twice-born and can be considered as reference to brahmins aka ‘Learned’), Teachers(s), Wise (shall include parents, elderly, mentors, etc)
  2. shauchm – Cleanliness includes external and internal cleanliness.
  3. Aarjavam – Simplicity, Simple ways of living. Simpler we live, more we have time for higher thinking. Can also refer to ‘straight forwardness’, acting without duplicity in thought, word or deed.
  4. Brahmachryam – Literal translation of brachmacharyam is celibacy. Lord Krishna used the word brahmacharyam to refer to ‘discipline against sensual pleasures’. It is included here as antithesis to ‘kama’
  5. Ahimsa – Literal translation is non-violence’. Not harming anyone / anything even if provoked.  Non-violence is included as an antithesis to ‘krodha’.

It is clear that Cleanliness is something to do with the body. While it might seem that qualities like Respect, Simplicity, Celibacy, and Nonviolence are more intrinsic traits, they are categorized under body disciplines in the context of the Bhagavad Gita because they have a significant impact on the physical body and its well-being. These qualities directly influence one’s actions, interactions, and behaviors, which in turn have direct physical implications. They help to control negative emotions – Lust, Anger, Greed, Ego, Attachment & Bias.  Lord Krishna indicates that controlling these shadripu (six enemies) enhances health and lustre of the body and hence they are categorized as body discipline. Lord Krishna indicates that the tool to control Kama is Brahmacaryam and the tool to control Krodha is Ahimsa.

Shariram here translates to body but the disciplines are given as five noble acts.

Ahimsa Paramo Dharma is a Sanskrit phrase that was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi and is often repeated by many leaders today to demonstrate the universality of Ahimsa.

Loosely translated, Ahimsa means Non-violence, paramo means topmost, ultimate, or supreme, and dharma means duty. Thus, non-violence is the topmost duty to the extent that it supersedes all other duties. There is no selective application of ahimsa… must be applied in every case and in all matters. This universal sense leads to an unconditional and unilateral abandonment of violent resistance, under any and all circumstances (as in the philosophy of Buddhists and Jains). “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma” is mentioned several times in the Mahabharata.

This sloka appears in ‘Vyadhagita’ in Mahabharata

अहिंसा सत्यवचनं सर्वभूतहितं परम

अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मः सत्ये परतिष्ठितः

सत्ये कृत्वा परतिष्ठां तु परवर्तन्ते परवृत्तयः

Virtuous men are always kind to all creatures, speak only truth and well-disposed to the welfare of everyone. They abstain from injuring any creature and are never rude in their speech.


Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article belong to the author. is neither responsible nor liable for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in the article.


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