Gita Series – 157: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. Verse 14 – 17
“Worship of gods, the knowers of Vedas, gurus and men of knowledge; and purity, straightforwardness, continence and nonviolence are called asceticism of the body. Unoffending others by means of speech that is truthful, pleasant and beneficial, study of Vedas, śāstra-s and recitation of divine names are called asceticism of the speech. Calm and contended mind, silence, self-control and purity of thought are called the asceticism of mind. This threefold asceticism practiced with absolute faith by wise men without expecting anything in return are called men of sattvic nature.”
Krishna talks about three kinds of asceticism, asceticism of the body, speech and mind. If body, speech and mind are controlled, one becomes a yogi.
One can progress in spirituality only if self-discipline is practiced with utmost faith. Faith is the fundamental aspect of spirituality. If one does not develop faith, one cannot make self affirmations. Mind can effectively be manipulated by affirmations and commands. If the mind is allowed to wander, by default, it comes under the influence of senses. Only the commandments to the mind can cause significant changes in the mind. Mind is like a cat on the wall and could fall either side of the wall. One side of the wall is good and the other side is bad. If one has intentions to avert badness, he has to naturally jump into the side of goodness. In the process of Self-realization, it is only the mind that always counts.
Purity of the body does not merely mean the external cleanliness of the body. One should worship his god, the god of his choice. This enables a person to develop concentration level. Worshipping is nothing but a part of cleansing one’s thoughts. If the mind becomes pure, every other thing attains purity. Engaging one in god worship begins the cleaning process of the mind. Knower of Veda is equivalent to god. Knower of Vedas does not mean a person who simply recites the verses of Vedas. It means only those who are able to understand the subtle impartation of Vedas. Vedas and their derivatives like Upaniṣhads unravel the Brahman from different angles. One has to seek the Brahman with the aid of Vedas and Upaniṣhads. Worshipping a true spiritual guru is as important as worshipping a god. It is only a true guru, who can really transform a person to pursue the right path of spirituality. Otherwise, a person could be wasting his life time in practicing religious rituals. One should clearly understand the difference between religion and spirituality. Purity of mind and straightforwardness are a few among other factors that make one’s physical body pure. Physical body is the encasement of the Self within. Self is nothing but the embodiment of purity. Purity cannot be encased with impurity, else, the purity cannot be realised. Self-constraint is another factor that helps in keeping the physical body pure. Refraining from excessive indulgence in sensory pleasures is self-restraint. Self restraint can be practiced only if the mind is pure. Nonviolence is nothing but not causing mental and physical agony to other beings. This does not merely confine to fellow human beings and extends to every creation of the Lord. Causing injury to animals is considered as a great sin. These are the factors that facilitate to maintain the gross body pure. Purity of both gross body and subtle body is important and if any of them remains impure, the other body also becomes impure. Impurity of thought, mind or body will never allow a person to pursue the spiritual path effectively.
Next is the purity of speech. When one speaks, he spends enormous amount of energy. Speech without purpose causes drainage of energy. One should never hurt others by speech. An ancient saying says that a wound caused by fire will be cured but a wound caused by speech can never be cured, as the latter causes a lasting impression in mind. Therefore, one should never offend others, as offending causes mental stress both to the offender and the offended. When one is soft and polite in his approach, he is not only relived from mental stress, but also relieves the mental stress of others. One has to be truthful in his speech. Speech is a tool to express one’s mind. Unless the mind is totally purified and is without fear, it is difficult to speak truth. In order to keep the mind from wandering, one has to chant the name of his favourite god. Mantra japa or the repetition of mantra is nothing but an aid to control the mind from wandering. As far as mantra japa is concerned, counting is not important, but the concentration on the mantra itself. There is no difference between god and his/her mantra. Study Vedas and scriptures, makes a person to stay connected with the Brahman all the time. These are the tools that aid in concentration and ultimate realization. When the mind becomes more and more tranquil, a person is bound to talk less, as a tranquil mind always has the ability to stay connected with the Lord.
Finally, Kṛṣṇa talks about the mind itself. Every action is nothing but reflection of the mind. A calm and tranquil mind makes a person soft, polite and egoless. An agitated mind is afflicted with too many thoughts. A mind that is devoid of too many thought processes is an ideal ground for realizing the Brahman. Silence is one of the best means to make the mind free from crowded thoughts. A person’s spiritual strength purely depends upon his ability to keep the mind free from any sort of contamination. A contaminated mind drags a person away from spiritual path thereby wasting the preciousness of human birth. A person with uncontaminated mind without expecting anything in unreasonable return for his actions is called a person of sattvic in nature. He is not only liked by the Lord but by His entire creation.