Absolute Vision

An excerpt from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.19.27–45) in which Lord Kṛṣṇa answers Uddhava’s questions about seeing the world in the proper way.

Q: What is dharma?

A: That which produces devotion to Me.

Q: What is knowledge (jñān)?

A: Seeing the presence of the Supersoul.

Q: What is detachment (vairāgya)?

A: Disinterest in the sense objects.

Q: What is equanimity (śama)?

A: Being intent upon Me (not simply peace of mind).

Q: What is discipline (dama)?

A: Control of the senses (not control over others).

Q: What is tolerance (titikṣā)?

A: Enduring suffering (as prescribed by the scriptures or as inflicted by disrespectful persons; not a foolish self-induced attempt to endure heat or cold).

Q: What is steadiness (dhṛti)?

A: Mastery of the tongue and genitals (other types of steadiness are useless without this).

Q: What is the greatest charity (dāna)?

A: Giving up aggression towards others (not just giving wealth).

Q: What is austerity (tapa)?

A: Giving up enjoyment (for the sake of performing service and observing vows; not inflicting pain on the body).

Q: What is prowess (śaurya)?

A: Mastery of one’s acquired nature (not demonstrating strengths of the mind or body).

Q: What is truthfulness (satya)?

A: Seeing everything equally (seeing others’ suffering as one’s own; not simply speaking facts).

Q: What is honesty (ṛta)?

A: Speaking truth in a kind manner (not simply speaking facts, which can be distasteful and critical).

Q: What is cleanliness (śaucha)?

A: Detachment from worldly actions (not just a clean body).

Q: What is renunciation (tyāga)?

A: Completely giving up possessiveness (not simply giving up enjoyment).

Q: What is honourable wealth (iṣṭa dhana)?

A: Dharma (not cows, land, etc.).

Q: What is sacrifice (yajña)?

A: I am (serving Me is sacrifice, not giving up temporary objects).

Q: What is a reward (dakṣiṇa)?

A: Conveying knowledge (spiritual realisation; not money, cloth, etc.).

Q: What is fortune (bhaga)?

A: My opulence (not the majesty of the gods or others).

Q: What is the greatest gain (lābha)?

A: Devotion to Me (not children, wealth, etc.)

Q: What is learning (vidyā)?

A: Removing coverings over the self (not grammar, theory, etc.).

Q: What is modesty (hrī)?

A: Disinterest in sinful action (not simply shyness).

Q: What is beauty (śrī)?

A: Virtues such as impartiality (not ornaments, clothing, etc.)

Q: What is happiness (sukha)?

A: Overcoming sadness and (worldly) happiness (not enjoying objects of the senses).

Q: What is suffering (duḥkha)?

A: Seeking happiness in enjoyment (not being burned, diseased, etc.)

Q: Who is wise (paṇḍita)?

A: One who understands bondage and liberation (not one who explains scripture).

Q: Who is foolish (mūrkha)?

A: One who identifies oneself with the body and mind.

Q: What is the path (panthā)?

A: The way to Me (not simply a path that is easy to travel).

Q: What is the wrong path (utpatha)?

A: Indulging the mind (not simply crime, sin, etc.).

Q: What is heaven (svarga)?

A: The prevalence of goodness (not the abode of the gods).

Q: What is hell (naraka)?

A: The prevalence of ignorance (not just a place ridden with suffering).

Q: Who is a friend (bandhu)?

A: Śrī Guru, that is, I (not brothers, sisters, etc.).

Q: What is home (gṛha)?

A: The human body (not just a comfortable place).

Q: Who is wealthy (āḍhya)?

A: A person of virtue (not someone who possesses wealth).

Q: Who is poor (daridra)?

A: One who is unsatisfied (not simply someone who has nothing).

Q: Who is pitiable (kṛpaṇa)?

A: One who has no control over the senses (not simply someone who is poor).

Q: Who is independent (īśvara)?

A: One who is unattached to the sense objects (not a king or possessor of material things).

Q: Who is dependent (anīśvara)?

A: One who is attached to the sense objects.

Q: What is bad (doṣa)?

A: Seeing (worldly) good and bad.

Q: What is good (guṇa)?

A: Overlooking (worldly) good and bad.