SUPREME UPRIGHTNESS OR HONESTY
(Uttama Arjava Dharma)
A renowned English poet writes about uprightness:
A man of life upright
Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,
Or thoughts of vanity.
The Hindi word 'Arjava' is a compound word framed by the addition of the suffix 'anr' with the root 'riju' i.e., riju + anr. The word Arjava means uprightness, straight- forwardness, simplicity, frank speaking, honesty, non- hypocrisy, large-heartedness and freedom from deceit.
In 'Baras Anupekha' Acharya Shri Kundkund Swamy has defined the virtue of supreme uprightness or straight- forwardness (Uttama Arjava Dharma) as below:
Motunr kudilabhavam, nrimlhidiyenr charrdi jo samnro
ajvdhmam tyio, tas du sambhvdi nriymenr
A Jain saint (Shraman Muni) acts in life with an unblemished heart discarding crooked feelings, and follows a definite moral code of conduct; as a rule he practices uprightness (Arjava Dharma) i.e., the third virtue out of the ten supreme virtues. 'Rijorbhav aarjvam'. Simplicity in ideas is known as straight-forwardness (Arjava). Its opposite is hypocrisy or crookedness. To give up hypocrisy is the supreme virtue of uprightness (Uttama Arjava Dharma). Hypocrisy is a hindrance in life journey. So long this obstacle lurks in a devotee, he cannot fully perform his devotion. If a devotee wants to carry on his life journey in a well planned, simple and unhindered manner, it is essential for him to give up hypocrisy or crookedness. Acharya Gun Bhadra has stated the same thing in ‘Atmanushashnam’;
Yansmalina na lakshyante krodhadivishmahiya
We should dread the pit of hypocrisy, which is covered with the dense gloom of crookedness or deceitfulness and inside which are concealed fierce snakes in the guise of the evil passions of anger, vanity and deceit. Generally, a deceitful person thinks that the harm caused by his deceitful conduct remains either unknown or unseen. He is mistaken to think so. Just as the moon concealed temporarily by clouds comes to light again and thrills the world with delight by dispelling heat with its pure and cool beams. Even if Rahu swallows it deceitfully, it still becomes visible to the people - it can never be fully concealed. The deceitful conduct that a man does may or may not come to limelight then and there, but it is sure to be exposed in the long run. A fine example of it is:
Due to resembling a crow in shape, size and color, the bird cuckoo leaves her eggs in the nest of a crow. She does not hatch and safeguard her own eggs on account of herself being crooked and deceitful. When the eggs get fully hatched and young ones come out of them, they grow young and are recognized by their voice; soon after they themselves fly away from the crow's nest. Thus, as a result of deceitfulness a crow looks after the young ones of the cuckoo. Very often we see that deceitfulness is found in a great degree among the animals.
The person who indulges in excessive deceitfulness is reborn in animal state of being (Trianch Gati). Its proof is available in the sixteenth couplet of the sixth chapter of 'Tatvartha Sutra' written by Acharya Uma Swamy: "maya teryagyonasye" - By practicing hypocrisy one gets birth in animal state of being i.e., 'Trianch Gati'.
In 'Atmanushashan' Acharya Gun Bhadra Swamy has drawn a very fine picture of hypocrisy.
Yasho marichiyam kankamrigmayamlinitam, hatos hvthamoktya pranryilghurasidhmsut
Sakrishnr krishnrobhutkptbtuveshenr nitrampichhdyalpantdvishmmiv hi dugdhsya mahta.
The glory of Mareech was rendered gloomy by his deceitful role of golden deer. Yudhister lost his high honor and fell to low esteem amidst his kith and kin by the utterance of his deceitful words, "Ashwathama hata" - Ashwathama has been killed. In Vamnavtar, Lord Krishna had to assume a dark complexion due to adopting the guise of a deceitful child; and as a result he suffered the black stain of defamation on his clean character. True it is, 'Even a little deceitful conduct proves fatal like milk mixed with poison."
Most of the politicians indulge in deceit; for they believe that politics cannot be run without deceitful conduct. But it is a confirmed truth that religion cannot be practiced without giving up deceit. The two things are contradictory. Politics is the thing of the physical world. We can carry on life even without politics. But the boat of life cannot sail across the river from one bank to the other in the absence of religion.
"Yogsyavkrta aarjvam" - S.Si. 9/412/6
Not to be crooked or deceitful in mind, speech and body is straightforwardness (Arjava).
A string becomes straight on pulling it by catching hold of its two ends. Likewise, the mind becomes straightforward by uprooting deceit from it, i.e., the simplicity of mind is known as straight-forwardness (Arjava). Gentle and virtuous persons are simple hearted; they neither nourish deceitful feelings, nor practice deceitfulness in their daily deeds. It has been said:
Manasekam vachasekam karmnrekam mhatmanam
Mansyanad vachsyant karmnrynyad duratmnam
The saints are same in speech as they are in mind, and they practice what they preach. But the deceitful persons have one thing in mind and a different thing in speech, and in actual practice they are contrary to it. In 'Sarvartha Siddhi' Acharya Pujya Pad Swamy has termed the same thing as crookedness or hypocrisy (Yog Vakrta). In Kartikeyanuprekskha Acharya Kundkund Swamy tells:
Jo chintayi nr vankam nr kunrdi vankam nr jampade vankam
nrya govadi nriya dosam ajyav dhammo have tas
The monk, who neither cherishes deceitful thoughts nor does deceitful deeds, nor speaks a deceitful thing; nor conceals his faults, possesses the virtue of straight- forwardness (Arjava).
Hridi yatdhachi bahi phalti tadaivajarvam bhavatayt
Dharma nikritirdharmo dvavih sursadmnarkaptho
Whatever thoughts one sustains in one's heart, the same should find expression in speech and the same put to action in outward life i.e., the body should also conduct accordingly; it is known as uprightness or straight- forwardness. On the contrary to cheat others, is irreligious or sin. Thus, the above two characteristics - uprightness and deceitfulness - are respectively resultant factors for divinity i.e., heavenly abode, and deviled i.e., hellish abode.
Despite trying to conceal faults to your utmost power, they are sure to be exposed in the long run. Therefore, no attempt should ever be made to conceal crimes on having committed them; rather one should try to get rid of one's crimes by undergoing repentance or apologizing for them. It has been said:
"Papam kritva na guayt guhmanay vivardhatay"
On committing a sin one should not try to conceal it; a sin concealed does not subside, rather it goes on increasing day by day. In short, a guilty conscience needs no accuser, it is self evident from the face of the criminal. It has been well said:
"The spirit should not die and the time has come when we should prove by our independent work the truth of our convictions."
If a snake bites some one, poison spreads his body by and by, and a burning sensation develops in the whole body. Likewise, if the snake of hypocrisy bites somebody, the person soon begins to neglect all vows, self-restraint, penance and meditation. Thus, hypocrisy in no time destroys the blessings of good luck (Punya) earned by the good deeds of previous births.
Two saints named Gundhar and Vineydhar were staying in a garden. One of these saints Gundhar performed the penance of self-torture (aatpanadi yog). During the four months of his rainy season stay at one place 'Chaturmas' he used to remain standing, unmoved at one and the same spot in a posture of bodily torture. Once, when the prescribed period of four months stay 'Chaturmas' was over, the Gods worshipped him. The whole sky resounded with the slogan 'Victory! Victory to thee'. The smell of flowers showered by the Gods made the whole surrounding atmosphere fragrant. This news spread in the whole city like forest fire. Next morning the city people set out to visit and pay homage to the saint. But by the time the city dwellers reached the garden, the saint had left the place on the completion of his Chaturmas; and saint Vineydhar had come there instead and settled there.
The city people mistook him for the saint Gundhar who had performed his four months rainy season stay (varshanuyog) there. Worshipping him with great devotion and respect, and singing hymns and saying prayers they began to adore him, "O Holy Saint! Even long accumulated sins are washed away in on time by seeing a detached saint like you." It has been said:
Darshanain jinendranram, saddhunam vandnen cha
Na chire tishthatay papam, chidrhaste yathodkam
I.e., On seeing the holy saints and sacred images of Lord Jinendra, the sins accumulated since times immemorial are destroyed in the twinkling of an eye, just as water held between two joined palms with a gap is wasted in no time.
Saint Vineydhar thought that if he disclosed the truth to the people, they would not worship him. Thinking so, concealing the deceitful feeling in his mind, he sat motionless with closed eyes in a posture of deep meditation. Having worshipped him, the city people left for home. Holy Vineydhar's mind was polluted a bit by deceitfulness. Therefore, after death he was reborn as a semi God (Deva). Again, on the completion of his life period as semi God, he was born as an elephant named Triloke Mandan. One day Ram was frolicking in water in the company of Sita. In the meantime the elephant named Triloke Mandan, uprooting a pillar, reached the city near the same tank where these people were frolicking in water, and as soon as he saw them he had recollection of his previous birth (Jati smaran). Now he began to repent on his deceitful conduct in the previous life.
"Ah! Bharat and I had performed penance together at the same time. But on account of my deceitful conduct to entertain people's worship and homage, I am born as an elephant." Ultimately, by performing severe penance in successive births the elephant, Triloke Mandan, later on attained the superb state of man i.e., Godhood.
Thus, even a petty deceitful deed may lead to birth in an evil state of being. On being reduced to this low state of birth, a creature has to suffer untold types of tortures. One who is deceitful in conduct is fated to be born in an animal state due to his bondage of Karmas. So every living being should give up deceitful conduct.
King Pushpchu ruled over Pattanpur City. Seeing the Grey hair on his head, he became detached from the worldly enjoyments. Being initiated as a nude Jain monk, he began to perform severe penance. His queen Pushpdatta also followed suit to him. Going to a Head Nun (Aryika Pramukh) named Brahmila, she got herself initiated as a female ascetic or Nun (Aryika). But she had not the least feeling of detachment in her heart. She adorned her body day in and day out and applied perfumed oil on her body. One-day nun Brahmila said to her, "It does not befit a renounced lady like you to adorn yourself thus." Hearing this Pushpdatta said, "My body has natural fragrance. I apply no perfumed oil." Consequently, she suffered for her deceitful action. After death she was reborn as a daughter of a maidservant a Seth. Her body now gave out foul smell. Hence, all the city people looked down upon her. Right it is, "Those who are deceitful in conduct with their teachers and elders, come to such a state of affairs." Therefore, one should never do a deceitful deed in order to escape ill luck. After committing a deceitful deed, even if we try our best to conceal it, we shall utterly fail. Hence, "If you are wrong, don't be afraid to admit it. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. No one is perfect. Do not be ashamed of having erred. Be ashamed if you are so little, so lacking in broad-mindedness that you cannot own up to your mistakes. Then indeed you need pity." It has been said:
Kapt chhipate na chhipe, chhipe na mota bhag
dabi dubi na rahe, ruyi lapeti aag
I.e., Deceit can never be concealed in spite of our attempt to conceal it; nor can bad luck remain hidden. Fire wrapped in cotton cannot be kept suppressed for long.
The snare of deceit must break down one day or the other, there after when it is exposed, the deceitful person has to undergo a very miserable plight. Therefore, we should always follow the superb virtue of uprightness or honesty (Uttama Arjava) beneficial to self and others as well.
Deceit (Maya) wrong belief (Mithya) and ambition of reward for a good deed (Nidan) are the three thorns (shaliya). If any of these thorns persists in somebody's mind, the person cannot lead a happy life. Likewise, when the thorn of deceit enters a man's heart, it goes on pricking him. A deceitful person is always worried and remains suspicious, lest his deceit should be exposed. It is a well-known saying: 'A guilty conscious is always suspicious'.
One day a king began to ease himself sitting under a jack fruit tree. Ripe jackfruits had dropped ala around the tree. On seeing the jack fruits the king's mouth watered. Finding it a secluded place, he picked up a jackfruit and put it into his mouth. But soon fear overpowered his mind with the doubt lest some one should have seen him. After easing himself, the king came back to his palace. That day, while dancing in the royal court, the court dancer began to sing, " I shall disclose today's secret, O King". As soon as the king heard this, filled with his own mental doubt, he began to think, "Probably she has seen me eating the jack fruit." Doubting lest she should disclose the secret in the presence of all counselors and citizens, he took off his necklace and offered it to the court dancer. When the royal dancer sang the same song the next day as well, the king took off his earrings and presented them to her. The court dancer mistook the king's bounty. She began to sing the same song in the royal court and got one or the other present from the king daily. When the king was fed up with presenting her ornaments, one day in great rage he asked, "Why do you daily repeat the same song? Disclose everything if you want to do so. I have not done any improper act by eating a jack fruit while easing myself." Hearing this the court dancer was dumbfounded. From the above example it becomes amply clear that so long as the thorn of deceit exists in the heart of a person, he remains perturbed and loses the peace of mind.
If fire is kept wrapped in a piece of cloth, after having burnt the cloth it comes out taking a more fierce shape than before. Likewise, a deceitful deed cannot be concealed by any effort. Therefore, how does a deceitful deed benefit anybody? Not at all, if good fortune does not smile upon us, our faults are faults are but exposed despite our utmost effort to conceal them. But true it is that people do not regard a deceitful person guilty, even when his fault is exposed. It shows that there is no need for a virtuous person to be deceitful. Even wealth is obtained only by good luck and diligence. Thus, deceit gives rise to many evils in this world and spoils the charm of the other world, too.
Not only mean persons, but sometimes- even persons of high status also indulge in deceitful deeds, which result in infinite bondage and ultimately lead to the worldly cycle of births and deaths. Nobody trusts a deceitful person. Highly virtuous people, who cross the river of deceit with the boat of honesty or straight-forwardness (Arjava Dharma) become victorious in life. On cheating his teacher Dronacharya by uttering the deceitful words 'kunjro na nara': Yudhister was filled with so great remorse that he concealed himself from the saintly persons. Thus, even great persons have suffered due to deceit. Knowing this fact deceit should be given up.
When Narayan Shri Krishna and Arjun stood face to face in the battlefield, seeing his kith and kin Arjun spoke, "They are my brethren. I shall not shoot arrows at them." Saying so he dropped the bow and arrows on the ground. On hearing the words of Arjun, Shri Krishna was perturbed and spoke, "O Arjun! No body will admit that you are kind- hearted. All will say that Arjun is a coward. So he fled away from the battle field out of fear." As soon as Arjun heard these words, he picked up the bow and started fighting. A fierce battle took place between the armies. When innumerous human beings were being killed in the battle, Abhimanyu also met the same fate. Shri Krishna was dumbfounded as to how he would console Kunti that they could not safeguard Abhimanyu. Henceforth, the Pandu family would come to end.
In fact, it is very easy to give rise to a war, but very difficult to bring it to a close. Likewise, it is easy to give rise to disputes between two societies, two nations, two religious groups, two communities, two politicians, and two brothers but it is a hard nut to crack to put an end to their quarrels. Narayan Shri Krishna was much worried, as a cease-fire could not be worked out between the two war groups of Pandav and Kauravas without the use of deceit. He said to Yudhister, "O Yudhister! If you say 'Ashwathama has been killed', the Kauravas will believe your words and take for granted the death Dronacharya's son Ashwthama and instantly the battle will come to an end." To this Yudhister replied, "Even if I loose everything, I will not tell a lie." An elephant named Ashwthama was killed just then. Then Yudhister thought, "There is no harm, if I speak the truth now." No sooner Yudhister utter the words 'Ashwathama hata' 'Ashwathama killed', and he was going to add 'gaj' - elephant than Shri Krishna sounded the conch shell. Those who were present in the battlefield could not understand if it was an elephant or a man that was killed. And in no time there was complete cease-fire. Thus, deceit was applied to put an end to the battle of Mahabharat. Indeed, Shri Krishna in this case applied the axiom, 'Everything is fair in Love and War'; which is irreligious.
Likewise, men in general believe and act according to the saying, 'End justifies the means'. It is why professionals and common men use deceit in their daily routine. Some corrupt businessmen rob the consumers. Some treacherous lawyers exploit their clients. Some inhumane doctors make operation table bargains with the patients and some mean tutors mint money from their students by the use of deceit and fraud. Taking and giving bribes is also nothing but deceitful conduct and a punishable offense. Many times housewives also extort money from their husbands by deceit, or applying trick. The modern materialistic society may approve of such immoral conduct; but religion always insists on 'fair work and no foul play' under all odds.
It has been nicely said about hypocrisy: "The world is a place where humbug or hypocrisy cannot find much scope for a long time. The real nature of every man comes out prominent in due course."
The great poet Reidhu has described supreme uprightness thus:
Dhamhu varam lakhanru aju thir manru duriy vihandnru suhjanru
Tam ith ji kijeyi tampalijeyi tamnri sunrijeyi khrey janru
Jarisu nrijay chiti chintijyi tarisu anrhampunu bhasijyi
Kogyo punru tarisu suhsanchnru tan ajyu gunrmunrhu achynru
Maya salu mnrhu nrisarhu ajyu dhamu pavitru vyarhu
Chuuo tau mayaviyu nrirthu ajyu siv pur panthhu sathau
Jath kudil parimanru chijyi thim ajah dhamu ji sampajah
Dasanr nranr saruv akhandu param atindrya sukh krandu
Apim apu bhavhu tardu airisu chainr bhav pyandu
So punru ajyu dhamay namyi ajvainr beyiriy manru khumyi
Ajyu parmapu gye sankapu chimatu ji sasu abhu
Tam nriru jhayijyi sansu hijyi pavijyi jihin achal pau
1. Uprightness (Arjava) is the superb religious virtue. It makes the mind stable, annihilates evil, gives birth to happiness and puts an end to sins. Hence, O holy souls! Follow this virtue of righteousness, practice over it and give ear to it.
2. Whatever thoughts arise in your mind, speak them out to others as such; and make efforts to make a similar type of action with body i.e., be honest in mind, speech and action. This is the eternal rule to usher in happiness.
3. This virtue of uprightness is acquired by giving up deceitful ideas. It is a sign of infinite belief and knowledge and is a storehouse of extreme non-sensual (celestial) happiness.
4. By uprooting the thorn of deceit from your inner self, meditate upon the holy virtue of uprightness; because all the vows, self-restraint and observance of holy rules by a deceitful person, are futile. Only the virtue of uprightness paves the path of salvation.
5. The virtue of uprightness itself takes the soul across the ocean of the universe; intense feelings of advanced spiritual development are obtained through the virtue of uprightness. Uprightness conquers the pride or vanity of the opponents.
6. The virtue of uprightness is the symbol of the divine; it is free from any pledge (sankalp); it is a living image of the lord; it is friendly to the soul; it is eternal and sign of fearlessness. The person, who meditates upon this virtue of uprightness, attains the imperishable state of salvation (Moksha).
Hence, O Mortal Man! Be upright, be upright and be upright in all thy daily dealings; and shun all deceit and fraud, for 'Honesty is the best policy'.
Many people think that honesty and integrity cannot possibly be maintained in this mundane world; but they do not know that without these, life is nothing but chaos.
In truth, honesty is a great asset in life. Even if you become a beggar, it will be your glory to think that you are an honest beggar. A clear conscience shines far more bright than a heap of gold coins - fresh from the mint, and is far more valuable than a whole mine of diamonds.
The great poet sings:
'How happy is he born or taught
That serveth not another's will
Whose armor is his honest thought?
And simple truth his utmost skill!’
- Sir Henry Wotton