According to APA (American Psychological Association) dictionary, in the modern context, Virtue is defined as a quality or characteristic that has a positive connotation in a particular society and that is considered beneficial to psychological health. Let us examine the virtues to be gained for Moksha as enumerated by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
(From the Lord’s teachings in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 16, Verse 1)
1. Fearlessness (Abhayam):
Fearlessness is indeed a divine quality. Blind attachments to all things that bind us to life – our family, possessions, properties… these give rise to fear. Attachment to the body causes fear.
“He who knows the Bliss of Brahman (God) from which words as well as mind turn powerless, fears nothing.” – Taittiriya Upanishad
Lead a life of honesty and truth, go by the scriptures and do not doubt their veracity. Live life according to dharma or good conduct and remember God always – you will become fearless.
2. Purity of heart (Satvasamsuddhih):
Become pure of heart – cleanse your life and mind of all things negative be it hypocrisy, untruth, cheating, lies and fear. Purity of mind cannot be got without devotion to the Lord.
3. Steadfastness in Knowledge and Yoga (Jnanayogavyavasthitih):
The Upanishads say, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ or ‘I am Brahman’. This is Knowledge. But to get to this understanding, we sometimes require the help of a guru. This can also be achieved through yoga, through concentration, meditation and control of the senses.
(Note: Fearlessness, Purity of heart, and Steadfastness in Knowledge and Yoga are the three pre-eminent virtues amongst the Sattwic attributes enumerated in verses 1 to 3. These three attributes are found in Jnana (Knowledge) Yogis only. The other qualities are common to Jnana Yogis, Karma Yogis, Raja Yogis, and Bhaktas or those following the path of Devotion. If you cultivate one virtue, all other virtues will automatically come to you. Fearlessness is the basis and the foundation of man’s moral structure.)
4. Charity (Dana):
To help the needy as much as one can. Food, clothing… any other aid that offers comfort to the distressed and helps the needy.
5. Control of the senses (Dama):
Self-restraint, self-control and control of the external senses. (Control of the inner senses or the mind is described in verse no. 2). When you practise self-control, you destroy the connect between the sense and the objects of desire. Thus, the senses turn inwards and become reflective. For a householder, this cannot be perfect – however, a moderation in all with disciple and self-restraint is the key.
With self-control comes forgiveness, harmlessness, truth, steadiness and patience.
6. Sacrifice (Yajna):
Fire worship (Agnihotra or havan) as described in the Vedas; (Deva-yajna) or worship of the gods, Pitr-Yajna, Bhuta-Yajna, Manusya-Yajna and Brahma-Yajna as prescribed in the scriptures (smritis) are important.
7. Study of the scriptures (Svadhyaya):
It is important to study the Vedic scriptures in order get the right knowledge.
8. Austerity (Tapas):
This is nothing but meditation on the Self (or Brahman).
True Tapas is meditation on the Self. There are three kinds of Tapas that are described in
The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verses 14, 15 and 16 come under this category. They include:
Verse 14: Worshipping the gods, teachers, the wise, Tapas includes purity, celibacy, and austerities of abstinence and self-discipline.
Verse 15: Pleasant and truthful speech, study of the Vedas – these are the Tapas of speech.
Verse 16: Sanatan or eternal dharma dictates that speech should be truthful, should be pleasant. False speech and unpleasant talk should be avoided.
9. Straightforwardness or Integrity (Arjavam):
A constant attitude of straightforwardness is part what the Sadhaka should aspire for. This would win him him respect and success.
Chapter 16, Verse 2:
10. Not causing harm (Ahimsa):
You should not cause injury of any kind, be it word or deed or in the mind. Do not injure any living creature.
11. Truth (Satyam):
Speaking the truth always, without being unpleasant or by lying. In the practise of truth, eschew jealousy, be forgiving, patient and compassionate.
12. Absence of anger (Akrodha):
Let go of your anger even if you are pushed to it.
13. Renunciation (Tyagah):
Give up all vasanas, give up the Ego and the fruits of your action.
14. Peacefulness (Shanti):
The mind should be still and peaceful.
15. Absence of crookedness (Apaisunam):
Do not be narrow-minded and judgemental.
16. Compassion towards all beings (Daya):
Compassion is a trait that displays your empathy with all living creatures.
17. Be free from greed (Aloluptvam):
When the senses come into contact with objects, they are not excited; instead they withdraw from it.
18. Gentleness (Mardavam)
19. Modesty (Hrih)
20. Absence of fickleness (Achapalam)
Chapter 16, Verse 3:
21. Vigour (Tejas):
This is a trait displayed by one who wishes to tread the spiritual path without fear or any of the negative emotions.
22. Forgiveness (Kshama)
23. Fortitude (Dhrti):
Steadfast and strong, this is a state where the Sadhaka does not get disheartened even in the face of the worst that could happen. He maintains a calmness even under the most severe trials and tribulations. Fortitude then is the tonic to pep him or her up.
24. Purity (Saucham):
Purity can be external and internal. The body and mind have to be kept clean and free of impurities. Internal impurities to be cast out are lust, anger, greed, pride, jealousy, hypocrisy and all their brothers.
25. Absence of hatred (Adroha)
26. Absence of pride (Atimanita):
Atimanita refers to great pride. One who is proud, thinks that he or she is so superior, that they are above all else.
These 26 qualities are Divine Wealth, and cannot be taken away from the Sadhaka by anyone. These qualities, when imbibed, help you find a shortcut to Moksha.