Uprooting Weakness and Awakening Power: A Vedic Kautilyan Perspective

The following article by U. Mahesh Prabhu is a part of The Kautilya Project an initiative of Vedic Management Center. 

Every person has a weakness, according to conventional wisdom. It varies from person to person; it also depends on people’s perspective. What one may perceive as weakness may be considered strength by others. Yet, we have no substantial definition for “weakness” per se. It won’t be wrong to suggest that the lack of understanding “weakness” is itself our greatest weakness.

Weakness is essentially an emotional state which cripples our ability to deliver on our duties and external functions effectively. Therefore, weakness is a result of a sad state of mind. So, what makes our minds sad?

Weakness is essentially an emotional state which cripples our ability to deliver on our duties and external functions effectively. Therefore, weakness is a result of a sad state of mind. So, what makes our minds sad?

Mind is the key to everything. It’s the mind which seeks things, which makes our bodies pursue actions and feels joy or pain depending on the result of these actions. Therefore, mind is the source of all strength as well as weakness.

But what is mind? In earlier Vedic texts, sages revered five gross elements, or Pancha Mahabhootas Agni (Fire), Prithvi (Earth), Vayu(Air), Toyam (Water) and Aakash (Ether). Then, they mention the senses, or Indriyas, whose manifestation is Indra (lord of senses). However, their inquiry into these topics may not have led them to understand the greater questions and their answers. They realized there was something greater than Indriyas – senses that make our body function. Thus, came the subject of Manas or mind.

The Mahabharata, in various Parvas or chapters, explains this in great length. Krishna, in the Bhagavad-Gita describes Mana as intelligence. To understand it, Krishna insisted on the need to understand one’s true self – Aatmana. Interestingly, Aatmana comes from the word Mana –that which is beyond (or Aat)Mana.

Mana or Mind is like a CPU (Central Processing Unit) in a computer. It can only ascertain that which it can see and feel through Gyanendriyaas (organs that provide input like eyes, ears, nose, skin etc.), process and then execute it through Karmendriyas (organs that help us to do our work – legs, mouth, hands etc.) For the mind to understand its own self, it needs greater wisdom (Gyaana) and effort (Saadhana). These efforts are intrinsic in nature. Understanding Aatmana or Atman, which is considered the supreme objective by modern “gurus”, was the fundamental objective of Vedic people, including Kautilya.

“Just like by understanding clay, we can understand things made of clay, by realizing Aatmana, we can understand everyone in whom it pervades,” states the Upanishads. Unless we understand our own true self, Atman, there is nothing substantial for us to understand or achieve in the material world.

Atman is conscious energy within us – that which is neither born nor dead. Unlike other energies, this energy is always conscious. When the Atman loses its grip on the body, the body goes into a state of unconsciousness.

Mana or Mind is like a CPU (Central Processing Unit) in a computer. It can only ascertain that which it can see and feel through Gyanendriyaas (organs that provide input like eyes, ears, nose, skin etc.), process and then execute it through Karmendriyas (organs that help us to do our work – legs, mouth, hands etc.) For the mind to understand its own self, it needs greater wisdom (Gyaana) and effort (Saadhana). These efforts are intrinsic in nature. Understanding Aatmana or Atman, which is considered the supreme objective by modern “gurus”, was the fundamental objective of Vedic people, including Kautilya.

Many wonder if there’s a way to feel this conscious energy. The answer is yes!

First, ask yourself this question: Who are you? You may say a name – the name identifies your body. The name is not you. Then you may say that you are that body, but the body changes every minute. Your bodily appearance ten years ago and the person you are now are different. Cells have changed, perspectives have changed and what your body considered important then is different from your current priorities. So, you are not the body. You might then say that you are the mind – but what happens when you are in a state of deep sleep or a comatose state? When you’re in a deep sleep, you neither have thoughts nor expectations and your mind is absent; you feel nothing. Yet, when you wake up, you realize that while your body and mind were at rest, you were still there.

Interestingly, in a state of deep sleep, you neither have thoughts, expectations, desires nor feelings. Yet, that’s the most blissful state you ever experience without any of the sense organs being present. Vedic texts claim that state to be your true state. Your true nature.

In simple terms, by giving up everything, you can be happy. But that’s easier said than done. Some may even argue: why work, struggle and strain? Why not simply “be”, without doing anything? This is not possible because we can seldom do this. According to Vedic texts, even not doing anything is doing something.

The complexities of Vedic texts led to substantial misnomers. When people were unable to understand concepts, their interpretations were fictional – leading to scores of mythological tales. These misnomers and mythological ideas confused people further and away from Vedic knowledge and wisdom. There were either renunciates or extreme materialists. Although there were many Vedic seers who insisted on balance to be the perfect path – or Yoga – their logic was too confusing. Politics, therefore, became a domain of extreme materialists and greed-filled individuals.

Important works by Chanakya (also known as Kautilya) simplified Vedic texts for practical purposes – Neeti Shastra, Artha Shastra and Artha Sutras. Chanakya did not author Artha Shastra or any of these sutras; he merely compiled and edited them. Yet, his genius explaining the dynamics of the world was simple and effective.

In Neeti Shastra, he says, “It’s neither the horse nor the elephant and never ever the tiger, it’s the poor goat that is offered in sacrifice; even gods slay the weak.” But weakness, he says in Artha Sutras, “Is the result of an ignorant mind” and “ignorant mind is that which is infested with Arishadvargas.” The Ari (negative), Shad (six) Vargas (qualities) are Kaama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (infatuation), Mada (Ego) and Maatsarya (jealousy).

Unfortunately, our “modern” education and culture almost hail these qualities as sources of joy. Vedic seers, including Kautilya, even mention their momentary nature.

The complexities of Vedic texts led to substantial misnomers. When people were unable to understand concepts, their interpretations were fictional – leading to scores of mythological tales. These misnomers and mythological ideas confused people further and away from Vedic knowledge and wisdom. There were either renunciates or extreme materialists. Although there were many Vedic seers who insisted on balance to be the perfect path – or Yoga – their logic was too confusing. Politics, therefore, became a domain of extreme materialists and greed-filled individuals.

Sex, anger, greed, infatuation, ego or jealousy can never make us happy. It does give us momentary pleasure. It makes you addicted. Once addiction creeps in, you’ll desire more of it. When you don’t get it, you’ll do everything in your power to have it, often resulting in detrimental actions leading to certain pain. Once you let go of these six negative qualities, you will be on a path bereft of fear – i.e. free from weakness and on the path to strength and power.

Once a person is free of Arishadvargas, happiness is immediate and it’s also perpetual. It’s not that kind of pleasure which is momentary in nature. This perpetual happiness also leads to a clear mind and a state of perfect equilibrium. With a perfect state of mind, one can figure out solutions even in a hostile or stressful situation. The mind, undeterred by petty feelings, is soon able to provide solutions to the most complex problems and the body empowers to achieve all desires.

Ayurveda suggests, “When the mind is healthy, the body is healthy; when the mind is unhealthy, even a healthy body begins to deteriorate.” Modern science also confirms this idea, to some extent. If the mind isn’t at peace, your body suffers. It’s the restless mind that often lands us in trouble. If, while in trouble, the mind is at peace, we’re sure to get out of it undeterred.” Kautilya argues that by just letting go of these Arishadvargas and its resulting thoughts, a mind can be brought back to health.

Therefore, from the Vedic as well as Kautilyan perspective, Arishadvargas are the source of weakness in men. To be powerful, it’s important to overcome these six detrimental qualities.

0 responses on "Uprooting Weakness and Awakening Power: A Vedic Kautilyan Perspective"

Leave a Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *