Sunday, April 10, 2011

Straight path and crooked path - ऋजु-मार्गेण सिध्यतः

ṛiju-mārgéṇa sidhyataḥ
ऋजु-मार्गेण सिध्यतः

The unsuitability of accomplishing by complicated or crooked means, that which is achievable by simple or honest means.

The word ‘ṛiju’ means ‘simple’, as in easy. It also means ‘simple-hearted’, as in honest. The word vakra means ‘with bends, winding, crooked’. So we have to understand this at two levels.

When it is possible to do something simply and/or easily then it is not appropriate to do it in a more complicated and/or difficult way. Why catch the nose from behind the head? Why spend the extra time, energy and resource to do something with more difficulty or complication than necessary? Such complicated methods are only suitable to employ when the motive is to make some good amount of resource disappear without trace or reason. This wastage does not even get caught easily compared to the blatant ones that disappear in scams and scandals.

The second way to look at this is that when it is possible to do something honestly, it is not appropriate to do it by dishonest means. In general, we are guided by the ‘honesty’ thing. Whenever we do something dishonest, it keeps nagging us in the back of our mind. When someone starts a venture with the goal of ‘making lot of money’, it is a wrong goal. If the goal was just to make money, then we could employ any method, even illegal or unethical ones, even one for which we have no passion. But the general goodness in most of us makes us not take the blatantly dishonest path. Our goal should be ‘What good will come out of this venture for the customer, the people and the society?’ If there is a worthwhile answer to that question, then money will surely come with a little business sense.

The 100,000 shloka epic of Mahābhārata is summarized in 4 shloka-s at the end of the epic itself, and one of the four shloka-s has Véda Vyāsa saying – “With arms up in the air, I call out to people but no one listens. From following dharma (right conduct) you can get not only mokṣha (salvation) but also artha (wealth) and kāma (desires), then why not follow dharma?” ( ऊर्ध्वबाहुर्विरौम्येष न च कश्चिच्छृणोति मे । धर्मादर्थश्च कामश्च स किमर्थं न सेव्यते ॥ ūrdhva-bāhur_viraumyéṣha na cha kashchich_chhṛiṇoti mé, dharmārdarthashcha kāmashcha sa kimartham na sévyaté.)

Think of this from the society’s broader perspective, not individual narrow point of view. If everyone follows right conduct, things will be better for everyone.

So why does dishonesty start? Blame it on the ṣhaḍripu (six enemies) within us – kāma (desire, lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (pride) and matsara (jealousy). Greed – desire to have more than one deserves. Jealousy – comparison with others and getting discontent. Among people who are not fighting for mere survival, this is how it starts. This is how Rāvaṇa became what he became at the behest of his mother, who compared him with his cousin Kubéra, the celestial treasurer. Then he did penance for 10,000 years to get his almost invincible boon and created a menace that the universe had not seen before. He made the beings howl in terror and hence Shiva gave him the name Rāvaṇa – the one who made them cry.

Follow simplicity and honesty.

This saying is taken from a book on collection of Sanskrit Maxims. Click to find more.

Language notes:
ऋजुमार्गेण सिध्यतोऽर्थस्य वक्रेण साधनायोगः
= ऋजु-मार्गेण सिध्यतः-अर्थस्य वक्रेण साधन-अयोगः
= ṛiju-mārgéṇa sidhyataḥ-arthasya vakréṇa sādhana-ayogaḥ

ṛiju = simple, straight.
mārgéṇa = by path (mārga).
sidhyataḥ = achievable.
vakréṇa = by crooked (vakra), winding path.
sādhana = means.
ayoga = unsuitability.

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