We are now pursuing our goal of attaining progressively purer mind for achieving effectiveness (Holistic Competence). The following concepts of Indian philosophy will help us understand ourselves in proper perspective. Simultaneously, we will step by step, develop our mind stilling exercise for developing pure mind or Quality Mind, based on these concepts. You will also come across quotes from western researches and thoughts; to
validate the universality of these concepts. As the Vedic Ethics do not stem from a one-book one-prophet background, it is inherently safe from the danger of fragmentism and fundamentalism.
So our concepts are mainly based on Vedantic Ethics.
2.2 Concept-I THE GUNA DYNAMICS
We have already discussed that outer reflection or conduct of a person depends upon the values within. The personality or character of a person thus reflects his inner disposition or moods. Normally every person shows
variations in his moods within a given range from time to time. This depends upon the type of values that guide his mind at the given point of time. The Guna Dynamics helps us to understand the interplay of different types of values in a personality and gives us an insight how we can
undertake an effort to improve our personality.
After working through this unit we shall be able to:
- Describe the interplay of the three Gunas.
- Analyse the day-to-day situations according to Guna Dynamics.
- Practice inculcating values for selfdevelopment.
As explained in Bhagvad Gita and the various Upnishads, human nature is a combination of three types of Gunas. These are the Sattwa Guna, the Rajas Guna and the Tamas Guna.
Sattwa(S) is purity, fineness, goodness, compassion, gratitude etc.
Rajas(R) is restlessness, activity, passion and their derivatives like lust, greed, pride
Tamas(T) is darkness, obstruction, implying laziness, procrastination,(delaying action) confusion etc.
These gunas coexist and cohere. Human mind is also a synthesis of these three gunas. In general behaviour of a person or at a given point of time, any one of the Guna may be predominant compared to the other two.
The following comparative picture of Gunas is given in Srimad Bhagawatam:
- When Sattwa, which is pure and tranquil and which has the power to illumine, overcomes the other two gunas, then a man becomes endowed with happiness, virtue and knowledge.
- When Rajas, which leads, man to action, which rouses attachment, and causes the vision of multiplicity, overcomes Tamas and Sattwa, then a man becomes active, finds wealth and fame, and suffers misery.
- When Tamas, which is characterized by inertia, and which casts a veil of ignorance over one’s mind and makes one lose the power of discrimination, overcomes Rajas and Sattwa, then man becomes stricken with grief and delusion; he lives in a dream of hope; he becomes cruel; he falls asleep spiritually.
We can understand these Gunas and their relationship by realizing that personality of human beings evolve along the following three trends or moods:
- The emotional people are sensitive, daydreaming, and sentimental and soft- hearted, the group to which most artists belong, be it in the field of music, painting, poetry or architect. They are creative emotional innocent and free from all defilements. They have pure desire and their artistic creations have quality of divine joy. They tend to enjoy the natural harmony and rhythm. Normally we link these qualities with heart and moon. We have already seen in Unit I that these are the powers of the right hemisphere of brain. They represent the feminine aspects of a personality. These qualities are called Tamo Guna and are controlled by the left side of the Sympathetic Nervous system.
However, these temperaments when pushed to extreme bring imbalance in the personality and such people can sink in lethargy and depression. They can develop into self-destructive tendencies – and we say that they have become Tamasic. Such persons then struggle in their world of emotions, the past and the psychological conditionings (super ego) that he/she has wrongly developed.
They become very sensitive to feelings, questing for love, bemoaning their bad luck.
They become victim to their inner tortures and are dominated by others. Thus they represent darkness.
2. The Active or Dynamic people are builders of civilization and committed to the common cause. They represent the masculine aspect and the Sun. They have search for action and projection into the future. These qualities are called Rajo Guna and are controlled by the right side of the Sympathetic nervous system. So long they act with fairness, firmness, constancy and
moderation without overloading themselves with stress, they are in balance. But when they start going to extremes by neglecting others and becoming ego (self) centric – they run, rush, become impatient, are afraid of
failure, turn pale, get stomach ache; they become Rajasic. Such people call upon jealousy or envy to carry out their actions successfully. Vanity, pride and arrogance stifle their success. They do not have patience to await
victory till the end of the day. Their attention is shattered into thousand pieces as it is constantly exposed to the modern materialism. They dominate others and try to be the masters.
The western nations, which are rajasic in nature, are the illustration of the negative effect of this Guna, which has brought them to the edge of disasters and this disaster, is now being gifted to our country also. The
high technology and science has resulted in ozone layer, the depletion of natural environment and all perversions in human behaviour out of ego are the visible effects.
3. There are very few people with Moderate tendencies. They are able to control their actions and emotions, much better. They possess ability to watch with detachment, the ups and downs of life. They are peaceful, steady and have soothing influence on people around. They are seldom influenced by events. Their strength and discernment are such that they can play around with sticky situations and emerge victorious without great damage to themselves. They know how to withdraw from any excess in good time. They are balanced and unconsciously confident.
Each one of us predominantly belongs to one of these three categories. We also reflect these three gunas in different proportions in our general behaviour. Further, such behaviour is not constant. While we come to the
balanced state of Sattwa Guna also, our attention constantly keeps moving like pendulum from Rajasic to Tamasic. Thus our personality shows tendency for one of the two extreme behaviours- either sensitive emotional
and dreamy one or the active, dynamic and dominating one. It is difficult to maintain balance between the two, i.e. to be in the Satwic state.
The Manusmriti draws attention to the distinction between Gunas as follows:
When man experiences in his soul a feeling full of bliss a deep calm as it were, and a pure light, then let him know that it is among those three the quality of Goodness (Sattwa).
♦ What is mixed with pain and does not give satisfaction of the soul one may know to be the quality of Activity, which is difficult to conquer and which ever draws embodied souls towards sensuous objects (Rajas).
♦ What is coupled with delusion, what has the character of an indiscernible mass, what cannot be fathomed by reasoning what cannot be fully known, one must consider as the quality of Darkness (Tamas).
To put in simple words:
Sattwa is Illumination, Good.
Rajas is passionate, Activity and
Tamas is Darkness and Obstruction.
Sri Aurobindo has given Guna Theory in simple and clear words as follows:
Sattwa is the force of equilibrium and translates in quality as good harmony and happiness and light, Rajas is the force of kinetics and translates in quality as struggle and effort, passion and action: Tamas is the
force of in-conscience and inertia and translates” in quality as obscurity and incapacity and inaction.
Ordinarily used for psychological self- analysis, these functions are valid also in physical nature.
Thus Sattwic state is a balanced position between the two extremes the Rajasic state and the Tamasic State.
In fact the physical nature also displays manifestation of these three types of moods. When the sun rises in the morning, the nature looks cool calm and rejuvenated. The rising Sun illuminates the world. The nature of everything in the world also is in Sattwic mood. As the sun rises high
everything gets into activity, thus manifesting the Rajsic Guna. In the evening with the sunset every activity slows down as if with tiredness and dissipation of energy and then becomes inactive (the state of inaction) thus showing the inertia or the Tamsic Guna.
As is evident, every guna is important and we cannot do without any one of them e.g. without getting proper sleep, we cannot perform our activity properly in the daytime. The nature keeps dwelling in these three states and is able to maintain the balance without going to extreme in Rajasic or Tamasic state. We human being also need to learn how to maintain this
balance as Sattwa prevails/develops in this state.
2.3 THE RAJAS
Vinoba Bhave has picked up the R-guna in particular, and given us a number of examples from the world around to clarify its nature. In his own words:
The chief mark of Rajas is the desire to do all sorts of things, an overweening ambition to do superhuman deeds. Through Rajas we conceive a limitless desire for action, a consuming greed.
The bird flies in the air. Why should 1 not fly too? The fish lives in the water why should I not make a submarine and live in water too? Thus,
having got a human body we find satisfaction in competing the sub-human specie like birds and fish.
Under its (Rajas) influence man burrows deep into earth, brings out from its bowels of a few stones and calls them rubies and diamonds. Possessed by the same agitation, he dives into the sea and brings up the rubbish from the depths, calls it as pearl.
Today a reception in Madras, tomorrow in Calcutta and the day after in Bombay or Nagpur. His ambition is to get civic addresses from every
municipality in the land. He sees glory everywhere.
To the modem mind, however, all the examples cited by Vinoba constitute the symbols of progress and achievement by mankind. But do such activities bring the real progress and achievement for the mankind? If it was so, we should have been happy and peaceful in the prevailing situation. When the Rajasic Guna dominates us, we forget that all human endeavours have to be for the benevolence of the humanity on the whole, and not for the individual self-interest disregarding implication on others.
Such Rajasic achievements bring pain only to the achiever in the long run.
2.4 DYNAMISM: RAJSIC OR SATTVIC
Can you make out the difference in the dynamism of Mahatma Gandhi and that of Hitler?
Mahatma Gandhi’s dynamism is driven from Sattwic forces of Purity, Simplicity, non-violence, compassion, whereas Rajsic Guna like anger,
arrogance, dominance and selfishness drove the dynamism of Hitler.
The decisions taken in the earlier case were wise decisions, which were painful for a short term but brought long-term gains for the whole nation.
In the later case the decisions were egocentric and selfish, but destructive for the humanity. Even the self-interest achieved were which resulted in shortterm gains and resulted in long-term pains. Thus Sattwa result in wise decisions and Rajas in clever decisions.
Dynamism is very important and we need it. But if guided by Rajas qualities, it will be misguiding /blind dynamism. If it is guided by sattvic qualities, it will be constructive, productive not harming others.
Thus Dynamism under Sattwa is holistic.
- Sattwic Guna are qualities, which we term as Human Values.
- Sattwic psycho-forces enlarge the perspective of gain as a whole – not my personal gain, but gain for all.
2.5 INTERPLAY OF GUNAS
We can categorize the typical personality in real life as hybrids like Sattwo-rajasic or Rajo-tamasic and so on. In these hybrids it is the first guna, which is relatively stronger than the second. Thus, while in all phenomenal events and in mans empirical existence the presence of all the three gunas is inevitable, yet their formulation in a hierarchic order promises to be an important source for development and self- growth.
The key problem is that because of predominance of Rajas and Tamas and because Sattwa is nearly dormant, the effect of the interplay of the gunas is seen in the form of anger, abuse in parliament, armories at places of worship, corruption in bureaucracy, mutual envy and distrust, the
incidence of mutual diseases and suicides in society.
As Sattwa is pure, fine and good, it helps the human beings in becoming aware of and sensitive to the inner higher self. Progress and achievement have to be turned towards the inner world of man also. The worth and value of so-called progress and achievement in the external world
can be judged by the level of human development that it brings. In other words, it should help human beings in their emancipation and evolution towards a wider consciousness.
The strengthening of Sattwa hastens our approach towards a purer mind, taking it closer to the purusha or poorna or atman aspect or our being. Our
idiosyncrasies and biases then begin to be reduced, for Sattwa is the substance of purity and light itself And thus we can move closer to understanding things as they are. This is the crux of our quest for personal
organizational effectiveness, and the improvement of the quality of work-life.
As already explained, we are faced with the bad effects of Rajas or Tamas only when we go to extremes in any of them. However if we are able to
come out of these extremes we are in a balanced (middle) state on the pendulum of the three Gunas, i.e. Sattwa. Meditation or mind stilling exercise gives us an opportunity to withdraw from outer world for a
time being and attain the balanced state of sattwa within. Our intuitive power also helps us in this balanced state of Sattwa only.
Hiriyanna conveys the nature of the process of altering the balance or proportion of the three gunas, and its end-result in the following words:
2.6 THE GUNAS AND ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS
Some of the essential characteristics given for achieving effectiveness in any organisation are:
• Ability to inspire and motivate people
and get along well with others.
• Ability to take a decision
• Possessing skills of planning and organizing
• Being personally effective and efficient
• Having emotional stability and self control
As usual in all such enumeration, there is no reference to the cause or foundation on which such qualities can flourish. The theory of Guna dynamics (along with the law of Karma and concept of samskaras, which are discussed in later chapters) is a fool proof and comprehensive framework for understanding as well as developing human character, bearing the above qualities. In relation to the list of eight characteristics mentioned above, Rajas or Tamas dominated individuals can hardly manifest all or any of these qualities harmoniously or over long spells especially when we know that the essence of Rajas is passion and that
of Tamas is moha. These leadership qualities are all rooted in and sustained in awakened Sattwa.
In the modern times we as parents (under the influence of Rajasic guna) keep stressing on our children the only objective of better academic performance by drawing comparisons with their classmates. We tempt
them with different kinds of incentives if they score better marks or grades than their friends. The notion of ‘survival of the fittest’ (as in the animal world), and individualistic competition is thus drilled into them. They are even advised not to share their notes or reference books with their
colleagues. Thus, strong Rajasic samskaras of isolated, individualistic success are slowly built up in them over the years. It is therefore not surprising that in organisations there is little mutual trust, fragile teamwork constricted cooperation and so on. Various short-term courses on
team- building, organisational development, conflict resolution and the like fail to make any noticeable impact, because of the negative competitive spirit is already inbuilt.
If the foundation of an individual’s identity lies in the theory of differentiation then the differentiating conditionings (samskaras) will be so pronounced and active that our attempts to build team spirit, trust etc., are almost always likely to prove fruitless. Similarly, when a boss to a number
of his subordinates delegates comparable authority limits, how is it that some use them with care to good results, while others misuse the same?
Thus the way different persons internalize similar signals or messages in contrary and divergent ways depends on the values they have imbibed. It is Vritti or temperament by which a person is drawn to a particular action in a particular manner. This Vritti or temperament develops through our state in the three Gunas. So mere intellectual learning is almost entirely
incapable of coping with problems of attitudinal change.
Thus, for developing effective leadership and wholesome teamwork, both so vital for high quality workculture, we should be guided by the interplay of the Gunas.
It is the activated Sattwa in managers and employees, which enhances the probability of wholesome reconciliation between discipline and obedience on the one hand, and self respect on the other.
Similarly, integrity, personal effectiveness, emotional stability and so on are much more the result of Sattwa, rather than R or T. Thus for developing Sattwa Guna we have to develop purity of mind.
2.7 WORKING ON SELF
The all-important question which thus arises in our mind is: can we increase the proportion of Sattwa, after being convinced that this is a necessary step for enhancing ones effectiveness in the broadest sense? The following suggestion, if put to practice can really help:
- Looking at good in others: As explained earlier every person is a combination of all the three gunas in different proportions. We imbibe in ourselves whatever we pay our attention to. Thus if we start observing their positive qualities (sattwic), we are likely to gain from them.
On the other hand, if we keep condemning others, our attention is
on negative qualities, which we are likely to imbibe. So we should sincerely try to find what is good in others.
It is a normal human tendency to find faults with others and to appreciate the good qualities of ones own-self or of those persons to whom we are emotionally attached.
But how far are we able to see the truth is questionable on two grounds. One we have all justification for whatever we do. Out of ego we have a tendency to view it positively.
Second such an attitude does not help us improve upon our own-self, as unless we are able to see what is Rajsic or Tamsic in me, we cannot get rid of it. However, if we see the sattwic qualities of others (however small they may appear to be) we tend to inculcate them. On the other hand, if we always try to find fault with others and look at their negative qualities, we are bound to imbibe those only.
This tendency of looking at the negative aspects leads us to develop negative feeling for others. We cannot be positive to others unless we develop an attitude of seeing positive in others. For example a glass tumbler, which is half filled with water, may be seen by some people as half empty. Thus in our own interest it is important, not to look at negative
points and to see positive in others. Let us start this effort right now.
It may seem difficult, but it is not impossible, because, as already said every person does have some good qualities. Need is to look at those qualities.
One evening a middle-aged gentleman was slowly walking down a street pavement. He was carrying on his palms a largish closed cardboard box perforated on all sides. After a while a friend of his came up to the
pavement from the opposite side. As he came close, he asked: ‘What is all this about? What on earth is this mongoose suppose to do? The gentleman replied seriously, ‘Look you know, after I drink my evening pegs I begin to get tipsy, and start seeing snakes all around me.
And you know, how dead scared I am of snakes!’ The friend replied, ‘come on, you know they are all imaginary snakes. The gentleman retorted immediately, ‘but so is this mongoose also imaginary’.
The moral of this story is that we all need the conscious cultivation of counter-thoughts to weed out perverse thoughts. The mongoose and the snake are known to be sworn enemies of each other. This is the
symbolism underlying the psychological process in the realm of the human mind. Thus, if someone’s anger against a trusted colleague becomes a consuming fire within him, and he begins to realize that it is harming him
much more than his colleague, how does he confront it? The samsakara of anger should not be allowed to express itself. Instead, such angry person should sit down quietly with a firm command to the mind that it should visualize his colleague, try to summon up instances of his friendliness and good deeds in the past, and direct a flow of gratitude towards him. This process should be repeated as often as possible. Gradually, even at the sight of his colleague, his mind will not flare up with anger.
Another way is to forgive the colleague. Christ forgave all those who put him on the cross. Why can’t we forgive others? By not forgiving we are just harming ourselves only. Because, we are normally not in a position to teach lesson to others or set them right. We know we can control our own selves only and not others. So it is otherwise also of no use, if we do not forgive. Thus in our mind-stilling exercise also if we are not able to get rid of
our thoughts, we should suggest to ourselves that I forgive all those who have hurt my feelings or me. Very often, to the pleasant surprise of those who pursue such experiments with sincerity, it is found that some time later the erring colleague comes round, unspoken and directly or indirectly apologizes for his earlier act. One such victory will lead to speedier assimilation of good samskaras and relief from the bad ones. In the same way, jealousy has to be neutralized by congratulation, egotism by humility and greed by charity all in the mind. New thought must precede new behaviour.
Often we tend to blame the environment for lapse in our behaviour. It’s a common saying that nobody bothers for others and so why should we? But environment is only the effect the cause is our Rajasic and Tamasic substance constantly emitted by our personalities, which pollute the
environment. So how can we helplessly resign to the environment, which is our own creation? So why not take upon ourselves the task of contributing our humble might in improving the environment, within our small Zone of
Discretion. Such action can come through Sattwa Guna only. And as we all know whatever substance we emit in our environment, it has a multiplier effect (through an action and reaction chain). So why not make our
contribution to that environment a cordial one.
- Introspection: We need to see within ourselves to identify what shortfalls de we have, so that we can set ourselves on a task to improve. Introspection should not be confused with self-analysis. In self-analysis, we look at our actions to see how we feel about ourselves. Instead the emphasis should be on looking at what kind of effect do we or our actions have on other people.
Often we indulge in the feeling of guilt when our faults come to notice. We try to escape our faults. But the falsehood of guilt does not help us in any way. Need is to face our faults boldly and to remove them one by one
through our own consistent efforts. The above exercise will help us to get rid of our negative emotions through our affirmation in mind stilling exercise. After three days or so of practicing the mind stilling exercise as outlined in Unit I, it may be enriched in the following way:
Breathing normally, while inhaling a strong conscious affirmation should be made within, that along with the intake, the sattwic, ‘substances’ or serenity, poise, patience, illumination etc., are entering and saturating the whole body mind complex. While breathing out, on the other hand, an equally strong affirmation should be made that all greed, anger, restlessness, pride, crookedness, is being thrown out of the system.
Once we are able to introspect and identify our faults, it becomes easier to rectify them as we start watching them in our day-to-day activities and behaviour. There is no need to confess them before others but before one’s own self only, and to make an effort to rectify them. Of course we can ask for forgiveness from God Almighty, and pray for our own dignity and strength to witness our faults and overcome them. We need to be genuine to our own selves and should not deceive ourselves. We can pray for strength
so that we can face and improve our mistakes.
- Food habits: Food that we eat has a direct impact on the types of qualities that we acquire. The Geeta classif ies various types of food in terms of the three gunas.
Let us look at them:
The foods, which promote life, vitality, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, which are sweet, soft, nourishing and agreeable, are dear to the goods (Sattwic).
The foods that are bitter, sour, saltish, very hot, pungent, harsh and burning, producing pain, grief and disease are liked by the passionate (Rajasic).
That which is spoiled tasteless, putrid, stale, refuse and unclean is the food dear to the dull (Tamasic).
It may be noted that the above classification does not make any distinction in terms of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.
- The concept of food needs to be widened to include what we hear, see, read and so on. Thus, if our children go on watching, high-pressure consumption advertisements, or gory violence, or indecent dance scenes, it will be no wonder if a huge stockpile of unwholesome samskaras or conditionings will permeate their highly impressionable
minds. Similarly, if we adults try to relax by reading thrillers and saucy magazines, we cannot hope to combat unwanted tendencies. Sooner or later children also follow suit, often to the embarrassment of parents. These days, reasonably well-to-do homes decorate their parlours and bedrooms with shoddy prints of abstract art or curious
western photographs. All this too ignores, in the name of cultural finesse or openness, the psychology of conditioning through Visual Food. Such matters small in themselves add up to a lot when judged in totality. In the traditional homes, the pictures of Gods and Goddesses, prophets and great personalities provide a better psychological
The continuous association of a child’s mind with these images should generally produce better samskaras. Similarly, large coloured prints of the
Buddha or Christ or Vivekananda or Nanak or Shankaracharya hanging on the walls of the bedroom would be more wholesome for parents as well as children.
We can indeed visualize the all round effects of such portraits if hung in our offices, schools, parks and busy street corners. All the tempting and distracting, grossly romanticized advertisements of films and consumer goods could very well be replaced by them. National character comes first, business profits later. Similarly, before going to bed, instead of reading a book on crime, politics or sex, one might get into the habit of reading the biography or autobiography of a noble soul. It is true that the thoughts, which enter our mind before we sleep work in our subconscious throughout the night. Similar would be the effect of listening to soothing music and songs, which has a healing vibratory effect and charges the listener with positive vibrations. These are highly practical ways
of gradually absorbing better quality samskaras.
2.8 CASE STUDY
A suicide haunts Vaishali
A recent autobiography stated, in a coldly confessional tone: ‘but it was clear to me by now that Nirmal and the college must somehow be separated. My problem was one, which I feel compelled to define with brutal candour: how to kill him without getting into trouble.’ The words were from autobiography by Dr. P. Upendra, one of the world’s most renowned Sanskrit classicists, and they describe a series of events that preceded the suicide of Nirmal, teacher in Sanatan College at Vaishali, ten years ago.
How much responsibility-if any, Upendra bears for the death of Nirmal Sen, a brilliant but erratic historian, is a matter for public debate now that Dr Upendra’s unconventional autobiography has reached the bookstores.
The chapter, dealing with Nirmal’s suicide from pills and alcohol in October 1986 at the age of 50, constitutes a modern morality tale. Some see it as the story of Upendra who was the Principal of Sanatan College, Vaishali defending his ancient and beloved institution by dealing firmly with a teacher who had become unmanageable as a consequence of alcoholism and apparent mental illness.
Nirmal, who began teaching there in 1969, showed promise of a distinguished career. He was college librarian, and also editor of the journal Present and Future.
‘He was a central figure in the life of the college throughout the ’70s and 80s’, said Hemant. ‘He didn’t publish enough to be a great scholar, but he could match, any of them in conversation. He was a strong personality; a
daunting figure. But then problems began with bouts of moodiness and with drinking.
To Dr. Upendra, who was Principal of Sanatan College for 10 years beginning in 1979- and to others there-Nirmal was a pest and an embarrassment. There were squabbles over his housing, threats of lawsuits, disrupted meetings, and drunken scenes at the dinner table. ‘We could not have him lurching around the hall in front of the students or using violent language, in the hearing of guests or visitors,’ Upendra wrote.
I am 100 per cent behind Upendra’, said Binod Das an anthropology teacher at the college. ‘It’s astonishing he bore it all those years. Even knowing that he was a manicdepressive, you can’t hold up operations of a college with
700 people in it’.
In his account of his attitude to Nirmal, Upendra uses the word ‘conscience’ only when he is fantasizing about what would happen if he rejected an appeal for help from Nirmal in the throes of an overdose and in wondering what he would tell the authorities. I had no qualms about causing the death of a colleague from whose non-existence the College would benefit, but I hindered at the prospect of misleading the jury’, he wrote.
Dr. Upendra sent Nirmal a chiding letter and, in a final confrontation, informed him that a decision some time earlier to renew his seven-year contract was not unanimous but had squeaked through by a slim margin. Nirmal was upset and shouted: ‘You are trying to push me out of the
College!’ Upendra wrote that he did not deny it.
A few days later, on the night of 15th October Dr. Upendra was, telephoned by a friend who was concerned at Nirmal’s behaviour and warned that he might be contemplating suicide. He telephoned Nirmal’s doctor, but
the two of them decided to take no action.
In a telephone interview Dr Upendra contended that it was a notice of impending divorce proceedings from his second wife that drove Nirmal to suicide, not anything hehad done. ‘It wasn’t I who resolved it’, he insisted. ‘What I said in the book was that I contemplated the possibility of
causing his death by an act of omission. But that wasn’t in fact how things turned out.’
The moral, he said is that ‘there is a dilemma when one is weighing the duty of compassion to an individual with the well being of an institution. He added that he was surprised at ‘all the fuss’ his book had created. ‘The whole point of an autobiography is to tell the truth, as far as I’m concerned’.
Others see it as a case in which the Principal, was fed up with all the problems and aware of the teacher’s despondency and a recent suicide attempt pushed him to the brink by writing a letter expressing the collage’s
disapproval of Nirmal’s conduct at a time when his marriage was collapsing and he was particularly vulnerable.
Even those closely involved in the problems and Nirmal admit of being shocked by the icy detachment of the language and apparently, Dr Upendra’s feeling; and this from a scholar whose works on ancient Magadha are read by students throughout India.
‘The intellectual normally values reason above all, said Hemant Adhikari a lecturer in Kautilyan Studies. ‘Upendra demonstrates that reason divorced from emotion becomes cold clinics and inhuman’.
The author admits to being aware of Nirmal’s long and troubled psychiatric history. He admits to fantasizing about Nirmal’s death, consulting a lawyer to see if he would be legally at risk in ignoring a suicide call and failing to
investigate Nirmal’s room at the College after a colleague expressed concern the night Nirmal died. Dr Upendra also admits that he had a disturbing sense of elation the following day.
As already mentioned, every person is combination of the three types of Gunas already discussed. Here we find Dr. Upendra as a combination of Rajasic qualities like insecurity jealousy and pride against Nirmal who was a strong personality and a daunting figure, in the college.
The Tamasic qualities like negligence and procrastination are also exhibited by Dr Upendra as he is fantasizing about Nirmal’s death He also reflected dynamism guided by Rajas qualities, which misguided him to adopt inhuman behaviour towards Nirmal. Had he been guided by the sattvic guna, he could have elevated his own image among his colleagues in
the same manner as Nirmal had done. He could take timely action with the feelings of compassion towards a suffering colleagues (Nirmal), he could channelise Nirmal’s potentials once again towards constructive and productive contributions instead of harming him.
We have also discussed earlier that every person is able to find justification for his acts. Dr. Upendra also tries to justify his behaviour towards Nirmal under the cover of well being of an institution. The decisions taken by him were clever decisions and not wise ones. It is rightly pointed out by one
of his colleagues ‘Upendra demonstrates that reason divorced from emotion becomes cold, clinics and human’.
2.9 MIND IS A MYTH
We have talked about pure mind and brain, and their relationship in Unit I. We have discussed three types of qualities above and their impact in our day to day life as well as in an organisation. We have also seen that Sattwa
gives a balanced state which is attain by developing Pure Mind in Mind stilling Exercise. According to Indian philosophy, our mind takes us away from the real world into the Myth. Infect, mind itself is a myth, and gives a particular perception to our vision of the outer world. Thus our vision gets distorted. Whatever we received in our brain through our five senses from the exterior world; our mind reacts to it (a) on the basis of our past experiences and habits, which we may call as conditionings, and/or (b)
out of Ego or our own desires, feelings of jealousy envy, pride etc. If the mind becomes still, it will not react to all these situations and we will be able to witness the things in thoughtlessness. In such thoughtless witness state only, we can be in the reality. In such a balanced state, our perception is not tinted through our pre-conditionings (Tamas) or our Ego (Rajas). Thus thoughts are there so long we mind the things. When there is no thought, we may call it a state of pure mind. Such a state is a Sattwic state.
Does this mean that we are put to inaction in this state?
No. Action in this state is not a reaction of mind but an automatic response in the given situation and thus a pure action. It is an unconscious action like all the activities of the nature. Naturally the dissipation of energy will be very low. We can compare such actions to the working of our involuntary nervous system, the working of all our internal systems, the blood circulatory system, the respiratory system etc. We do not think that we have to respire. The process continues automatically. If the lungs are not
getting sufficient oxygen, or need more oxygen (during jogging or running), the respiration automatically becomes faster and deeper. Such spontaneous becomes the action, which are taken in the state of pure mind. We may call them actions in a Sattwic state, in a state of thoughtless awareness. We can thus perform in complete calmness without agitation, noise or rigorous thinking in mind.
In today’s world where Ethical Governance is a global concern, different countries are making efforts in achieving clean government. An outright approach is towards developing service orientation in the public service.
The government servants are expected to serve with the at your service attitude. Such a temprament can be an outcome of a Pure Mind only, which is neither influenced by the preconditions or the preconceived ideas, nor by the ego or the selfish interests: neither by the Tamasic guna nor by the
Rajasic guna. The balanced state of Sattwa can only provide the public services without deviation of funds or interest in one’s own interest.
2.10 MIND STILLING EXERCISE
Before we really start, choose one of the Rajasic or Tamasic guna, which you have already identified and the one, which you want to get rid of. Similarly, choose one of the Sawttic guna, which you feel you should inculcate in your self.
Now sit comfortably. If you are wearing something,
which is tight on your body, you can loosen it, relax, close
your eyes………… feel from your toe to head that you are
relaxed. Your mind is relaxed and you do not feel like
moving any part of your body. Keep your attention on the
fontanel area of your head, i.e. above your brain. Relax
your mind and body. If thoughts come just let them go.
You may continue to sit so for 5-10minutes.
You are comparatively calm and peaceful now.
If thoughts persist, suggest to yourself that I forget
all those who have harmed me in any manner.
Without thinking of any person or instance, take
this affirmation again and again to forgive everyone
without any condition. Try to feel so from your
heart. Say “I forgive, I forgive..”
When thoughts reduced to great extent, suggest to
yourselves I abandon anger or …… (the negative
You can say ‘ O God! Please keep me away from
ego that gives me ideas that I am superior to
others or in anyway that takes away my humility.’
You may repeat it a few times.
In the same fashion suggest to your selves “ let my
heart enrich with generosity, humility (whatever
Sattwic guna you have chosen) repeat this for a
while. You can also say O God please bless me with
2.11 LET US SUM UP
In our pursuit to attain Holistic Competence through purification of mind, we are depending on Indian Insights, which give us conceptual
In the first concept, the Guna Dynamics, we have seen that the personality of each individual is a combination of three types of moods – the
Sattwa, Rajo and Tamo Guna.
Tamo guna is qualified with Emotions, Desire, and Rest etc. Rajo Guna with Action, Dynamism and Sattwa Guna with moderation and purity.
While Rajo and Tamo Guna are important ingredients of a personality, they develop into negative qualities when we get involved in either
of them excessively, because of our ego, and are not able to maintain a balance between the two.
Persons with balanced outlook can only keep themselves away from narrow self-interests and ego and act with pure desire- the Sattwic.
The characteristics, which are identified as essential for development of a rich work-culture and a successful organization, can be constructed
on the foundation of Sattwic Guna only. Without Sattwic Guna all efforts to bring about change in behaviour can have little effect.
A consistent effort is required to be made to inculcate more and more Sattwic Guna and to get rid of the involvement in Rajasic and Tamasic
Meditation gives us an opportunity to introspect and identify Rajasic and Tamasic trends in our own personality and to get rid of them. It also
helps us in inculcating Sattwa and equilibrium.
Our food and the general impressions that we gain from our environment i.e. from books, magazines, media etc also have a vital impact on
the type of personality we develop.
2.12 UNIT END ASSIGNMENT
- List five qualities of each of he three gunas.
- Why do we need to attain a balanced state of Sattwa?
- How can this state of Sattwa help us
(a)In our personal life
(b)In our work life
- List some of the steps, which you resolve to take for selfimprovement w.r.t. your family and your office.
2.13. UNIT END ACTIVITIES
- In addition to the mind-stilling exercise, try in your routine life to gather the Satwic gunas of your family members, colleagues and others around. Also observe the negative qualities in self so that you can get rid of them.
- Please go through the article “Character: A sense of Right and Wrong” by Lu Ann Pierce MSW, CMSW, given in the following pages. You may like to follow the practical tips given in the article.
- Having understood the Guna Dynamics you will appreciate how beautifully has Rabindra Nath Tagore described the three Gunas in his article THE THIRD FLOOR.
- A small story at the end – please read and enjoy
1.14 SUGGESTED READING
- Human Values – The Tagorean Panorama (Translated from Bengali by S.K.Chakraborty & Pradip Bhattacharya)