Three Important Virtues to Achieve Mastery


by Jayaram V

Three Important Virtues which are traditionally practiced in Hinduism to improve learning, achieve mastery, excel in in any subject or achieve success in any field.

There are three important requirements, conditions or virtues without which it is difficult to learn anything, master anything or excel in anything. The ethical practices of Hinduism also recognize them as the foundation of acquiring right knowledge or achieving liberation or perfection in any practice. A student cannot succeed without them. A teacher too needs them because without them he will not be able to impart knowledge to his students. When people lack them, there will be a general decline in society, whereby families will suffer, evil will arise and chaos will prevail. Whether you are a spiritualist or a materialist and whether you want to achieve spiritual goals or material goals, you will not succeed unless you possess them and use them.

Now you may wonder what are these three requirements and why they are so important. The good news is they are within the reach of everyone. You do not have to spend money or go to school or approach someone to acquire them. They cannot be bought or borrowed. You cannot acquire them from others. They already exist in you as your inherent nature or natural disposition. You just need to give yourself an opportunity to express them or strengthen them through constant practice and remembrance.

They have been the means by which our ancient masters, seers and saints and countless scholars excelled in their fields and are still remembered today for their achievements and contribution. They are relevant today, as they were a thousand or two thousand years ago. They have been the foundation upon which our whole civilization was built. When they decline, the world falls into chaos as morality declines and pervert ideas and unethical practices take precedence.

The three requirements are faith (shraddha), fear (bhayam) and devotion (bhakti). They are necessary to persist in your practice (abhyasa) and achieve success in any field. Unfortunately, in today’s world there is so much confusion, discord, violence, and lack of consideration and respect for others since people do not cherish them or value them. As a result, many societies are in turmoil.

Let us examine the meaning of each of them. Shraddha in Sanskrit has multiple meanings. It means having faith, belief, respect, desire, interest, inclination, willingness, enthusiasm, curiosity or inquisitiveness, and positive disposition. Without shraddha you cannot concentrate, persist or persevere or sustain your interest or curiosity. The Bhagavadgita identifies shraddha as indicative of one's very nature.

In other words, your faith reflects your essential nature. You are what your faith determines, which is in turn shaped or influenced by your natural disposition or your gunas. If you are a religious person, you will believe in God. If you are a materialist, you believe in personal success and in your own abilities. If you are a good person, you believe in the triumph of the good and pursue righteous goals, using righteous means.

Bhayam means fear. We are not speaking here about the fear of the debilitating kind which paralyzes the mind and puts one in a state of confusion, withdrawal, submission or defeat. Fear in this context means showing consideration and deference to those who deserve respect and reverence. They may be people, methods, techniques, approaches, ideas, traditions or practices, which have been proven to be successful and appropriate and which help people in reaching their goals, achieving perfection or excellence or in promoting and preserving the order and regularity of society. Fear of this kind includes moral and spiritual fear and the common fear of failure, loss, disrepute, sin, immorality, suffering, adversity, and so on.

More particularly it means to be wary of the consequences which may arise from one’s actions, judgment, behavior, thinking or attitude. It also means to be egoless, humble, modest and unassuming and show respect and humility towards others, especially those upon whom we depend such as gods, ancestors, parents, teachers, elders and those who help us, serve us or protect us. When we have such concerns, we will keep our promises and meet our obligations. We will be measured in our thinking and approach and careful about what we say or do or how we deal with people and situations. We will not seek change for the sake of change. We will weigh the consequences and make commonsense decisions.

Bhakti means devotion. The word bhakti is used mostly in connection with religious and devotional practices. However, devotion is necessary in other aspect of life also. Unless you are devoted to something, a goal, an object, an ideal or a profession, you will not achieve success. A householder is supposed to be devoted to his gods, family, ancestors, elders, moral and religious values, duties and obligations to ensure that he succeeds in reaching his spiritual and material goals. Most importantly, he has to be devoted to himself so that he will not neglect his own spiritual and material needs or ignore his priorities.

Thus, in this context, bhakti means being devoted to oneself, one's interests, values, religious and spiritual beliefs, or one's chosen profession or field of activity. It is reflected in showing respect and reverence or having love, loyalty, attachment, commitment, consistency or interest in someone or something. When you have it, you will set aside your ego and selfishness or self-centeredness and surrender yourself to the greater goal of creating peace and harmony through your actions. It means you accept without arguments the decisions or judgment of those whom you trust such as gods, teachers and elders or experts in the field. It means you will let go of your rigid opinions and beliefs and examine contrary opinions with an open mind, reserving your own judgments, egoism and negativity. It also means you will be devoted to your own beliefs and the path you have chosen, without hurting or harming others.

If you have faith, respectful fear or consideration and commitment or devotion, you can greatly improve your chances achieving perfection and excellence in any field. They make a student a better student, a teacher a better teacher and a householder a better householder. When they are absent, the mind becomes unstable, evil grows and chaos will spread. Rulers or those in positions of power and authority will become reckless and despotic. Society will fall into chaos as people lose fear of repercussions and retribution for their behavior and choices and engage in evil actions, disregarding established norms, values and proven methods and approaches.

Therefore, if you are serious about achieving success or excellence in any field and want to stay on course or protect yourself from failure, moral and mental degradation, you have to remember these three important virtues. The world and your life depend upon them.

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