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ten commandments

Courtesy: Jaikumar,kumbakonam

Ten commandments for Hindus by Swami Paramatmanada

1. Ahimsa (non-violence) is the avoidance of violence and injury. Ahimsa has several aspects. The grossest form of himsa is physical violence. Physical violence is not confined to beating people but includes actions such as throwing or banging things. When we begin this program, we must first pay attention to physical violence. If we feel we are already free from this weekness, we can concentrate on verbal violence - shouting or using abusive or indecent language

2. Satyam(truthfulness) is primarily a verbal discipline. We maintain harmony between knowledge, motives and words. Our words must not hide our knowledge or motives. There must be harmony between thought and word. Satyam is a positive attribute and yet it is listed as a yama. So we have to redefine satyam as something to be given up, i.e. the avoidance of asatyam. We must emphasize more on eschewing asatyam, by not telling lies or speaking untruths

3.Asteyam ( nonstealing ) literally means nonstealing. We may wonder whether this value is required for us because we are not thieves. Steyam is not just breaking into a house and stealing. Any unfair transaction through which we derive some benefit is steyam. Noyt paying a person his due is a form of stealing because we keep what legitimately belongs to another person

4. Brahmacharyam(chastity) means having the right attitude towards members of the opposite sex. Men must have a decent and appropriate attitude towards women and similarly women must have a decent and appropriate attitude towards men. Like satyam, brahmacharyam is a positive characteristic and yet finds a place among the yamas. So we understand brahmacharyam as giving up a indecent and inappropriate attitudes towards the opposite sex

5. Aparigraha ( nonpossession) is the fifth yama. Parigraha means possession. Aparigraha is literally nonpossession and must be understood as leading a simple life. There are two aspects to aparigraha - owning less and having the right attitude towards what little we own. We give up luxury, pomp and show. We draw a line and limit our possessions to what is necessary. A simple life alone is suitable for high thinking. We should not develop possessiveness towards the limited possessions we have. This is even more important that owning less. We should remind ourselves that what we have belongs to the Lord and is given to us temporarily for us to grow. We can use our possessions with gratitude to the Lord and are willing to return it to the Lord who may claim them at any time giving advance notice or not.

6. Saucham (purity) means cleanliness or purity. We must first focus on gross or physical purity and later we can concentrate on subtle or inner purity. Saucham can be understood as keeping ourselves and everything around us clean. This includes our body, clothes, possessions and house. Saucham is not only cleanliness but orderliness. Our house may be very clean but due to disorderliness we nay have to search for anything and everything. A good maxim to follow is 'a place for everything and everything in its place'.

7. Santosha (contentment) means contentment or satisfaction. Santosha has to be developed at two levels because life is a twofold pursuit - earning and owning. Initially we aspire to earn a lot of wealth and also own many possessions. The first stage of contentment is at the level owning. We are satisfied with our possessions and stop yearning for more. Earning continues but spending decreases. Such a person produces more, consumes less and creates wealth for the community, society and nation is called a karma yogi.The second stage of contentment focuses on earning. We stop craving for moreand more.Such a person is ajnana yogi. Contentment at both the levels of earning and owning is calledsantosha or tripti and should be practiced as aniyama meaning with a positive attitude. We think of what we have rather than what we do not have and give beggarliness of the mind. We tell our mind that we have plenty. This is the principle of abundance. 8. Tapas (austerity) literally means austerity and kike ahimsa and santosha has many dimensions. The grossest form of Tapas pertains to physical activity. Activity is important not only from religious and spiritual angle but also from the aspect of health. In the olden days the very lifestyle ensured that people were physically fit. Today we can consider some form of exercise. An ideal exercise is the surya namskar. It is common to hear people say that they do not have time for exercise. Those who cannot spare a few minutes a day for maintaining their health today may have to spend months later recovering (lost) health due tosickness

9. Swadhyaya ( spiritual study) is the study of our scriptures and is a very important commandment. Many years ago swadhaya was done by every person. It is a daily ritual known as Brahma yagna. Today people do not give much importance to spiritual study. Many people think it is meant for intellectuals and those who want to take to monastic life. At minimum we must study a few verses of the Bhagavad Gita everyday and reflect upon the teaching

10. Iswara

Pranidanam (surrender to God) is looking upon every experience in our lives, favorable or unfavorable, as God's will because every experience we undergo is the result of our past actions. This is called karma-phalam and can be pleasure or pain. Behind every karma-phalam is the law of karma and behind the law of karma is the Lord. The Lord is invisible, the law of karma is invisible but when the Lord and the law of karma function, the result is a tangible experience. So we accept every experience without resistance. And the mind is free of negative emotions and thoughts. This acceptance is calledIswara Pranidhanam or saranagati. An inability or unwillingness to do so will produce unhealthy thoughts in the mind and lead to bitterness, anger, frustration, hatred etc.

For the 11th 12th months

The aspirant must strive to give up one bad habit- be it smoking or losing one's temper. Again, we can start from gross, physical habits and proceed to subtler weaknesses. During this month you can study the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna discusses the negative qualities of a person and how it can be modified During this month you must try to cultivate a good habit that you would like to have. If you have the habit of criticizing others you may want to develop the practice of giving praise where it is due. Incase of a doubt regarding what habits or attributes to focus on, you may again refer to the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita where Krishna discusses divine traits otherwise called Dhaivi Sampath or positive attributes

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