There was once a young teen from Rajkot who was quite talented and was known as an ideal student. His friends and family had much hope for him. However, things took a turn when he acquired a mobile phone. His grades started decreasing and the hours spent on using the mobile started increasing – both exponentially. The teen’s father, realizing what was happening, took the instrument away and asked his son to refocus his attention on his studies. The teen, however, quite literally, could not live without his phone; he ended his life soon thereafter.
Another such case involved a young adult from Delhi who was obsessed with video games. To avoid his nagging parents, he secretly rented a room and equipped it with accessories to enhance his gaming experience. Pretending to go to school, he and his friends would lock themselves in the room and play for hours at a time. His father soon found out about the room and scolded him for it. Unable to bear the insult, the youngster murdered his father, mother and sister the same night. Upon being arrested, he showed no remorse.
Both these examples are extreme, yet their underlying causes are common factors that negatively influence the lives of many adolescents and young adults. This article considers two such factors – a lack of self-control and emotional instability – and examines solutions that the Vachanamrut offers to these hurtful phenomena.
Lack of Self-Control
Both youngsters in the scenarios presented above lacked self-control. Both started with electronic devices in their hands, but they soon had surrendered themselves to their devices without even knowing it. Parents often warn young adults about such dangers; youngsters, though, many times respond as follows:
‘Don’t tell me what I have to do. I know all that.’
‘Why do you keep nagging me about such small things? I am not a baby anymore.’
‘Don’t interfere with my life. Let me be independent.’
Ironically, while trying to be independent of their parents, such adolescents and young adults become dependent or even addicted to mobiles, computers, games, social media, fashion, clubs, parties, friends and sometimes even alcohol or drugs. Addiction is a constant need for a substance in increasing doses. A person at the mercy of addictions loses himself or herself in an imaginary world and thus loses out on academic and social opportunities in the real world. A person in such a situation needs to learn self-control – that is, where he or she should draw a line and say no.
Maharaj teaches the art of self-control in the Vachanamrut. He first advises us to discriminate between right and wrong and then act accordingly. In Gadhada I 8, for instance, he says, “One should indulge in the vishays only as prescribed in the shastras; but one should never indulge in them by transgressing the regulations that are described in the shastras.” Maharaj justifies the need for such discrimination in Gadadha I 18, wherein he states, “If one gives liberty to the five senses without applying the discrimination of what is suitable or unsuitable, one’s antahkaran becomes polluted. On the other hand, if one indulges only in pure vishays through the five senses, then one’s antahkaran becomes pure.” He emphasizes this vital concept in Gadhada II 2 with an example, saying, “If, through the five senses, one firmly abstains from (inappropriate) vishays… then the ‘flow’ of such objects cannot enter within from outside. For example, a well can be cleaned only when the small streamlets of water that flow into the well are clogged with cloth rags. In the same way, by keeping control over the outer senses, the external vishays cannot enter the antahkaran.” Maharaj thus stresses the importance of discernment. Indeed, just as polluted water cannot be used to quench thirst, a polluted mind is useless in achieving the constructive life goals we harbour during our youth. And to keep the mind unpolluted, there is a strong need to control the vishays we indulge in.
We all know, though, that it is not easy to resist temptation even when we know right from wrong. Implementing wisdom requires tremendous willpower. However, Maharaj advises us that, as the atma, we hold the upper hand in this struggle with the mind and senses. In Gadhada II 12, he compares the body to a kingdom within which the atma is the king, and the senses and mind are the king’s people. He further says that we must remain vigilant in this struggle, for the mind and senses will not act according to the atma’s wishes if the atma relaxes its authority.
Similarly, in Panchala 3, Maharaj says to treat the senses and the mind as foes; this involves treating them just as a king would treat an enemy, never trusting them and keeping them chained in close watch while extracting work or information from them.
In Gadhada II 22, Maharaj further explains the process of fighting the mind by citing his own, successful example. He says, “I then told my man, ‘I know your true form. So, look! If you harbour a thought about any object other than God, I will crush you to pieces.’ In the same way, I told my buddhi, ‘If you harbour any form of resolve other than that of God, you will be in trouble.’ Similarly, I told my chitta, ‘If you contemplate on anything other than God, I will also crush you to pieces.’ In the same way, I told my ahamkar, ‘If you harbour any form of pride except that of servitude towards God, I will destroy you.’”
Maharaj thus teaches us that, to achieve self-control, we must be cruel and relentless, not toward others, but towards our own senses and mind.
An uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction destroys. The same chain reaction, if controlled, can generate electricity. Similarly, youths are gigantic pools of energy. Without self-control, this energy can become destructive. Through the Vachanamrut, though, youths can and have been able to channel their energies constructively.
Let us consider an example. A youth by the name of Raj Vora shares such an experience: “I joined satsang in 2008. In katha, I used to hear about self-restraint, focus and niyams. Yet, my habit of watching TV and films continued, even just months before my final exams in 2016. One day, my eyes fell upon Vachanamrut Gadhada II 2. I was taken aback. It wasn’t the first time I was reading that Vachanamrut. However, today, the Vachanamrut started impacting me. If I control my eyes according to Gadhada I 18, I thought, my mind will become pure, and I will be able to better concentrate on my studies. I decided to put my mobile aside and also to stay away from movies. I continued attending ravi sabhas and reading the Vachanamrut daily. As a result, I did very well in my exams and made my way to the world-renowned IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Indore. I am thankful to Shriji Maharaj and his words in the Vachanamrut.”
Maharaj thus advises us through the Vachanamrut on how to learn the art of self-control. He tells us first to learn to discriminate between right and wrong and then garner the strength to act accordingly. Acting on that which is right, of course, requires courage, a quality that arises from knowing that, as the atma, we are in charge of our decisions. Lastly, by providing his own example, Maharaj suggests that we should learn the art of self-control from none other than the best.