When we do things questions arise if our actions are correct or not. When these questions arise we are supposed to use one of the three pramanas (bench marks or standards).  These are 1. Sasthra Pramana 2. Shresta Acharana Pramana 3. Atma Pramana (one’s own consciousness).

  1. SASTRA PRAMANA: This is the scriptural standard for our actions. In similar situations whatever is recommended in scripture is the standard to be followed. Thus scriptures act as a guide for our actions.
  1. SHRESTA ACHARANA PRAMANA: Standard followed by good people in society is the next standard.

yadyad ācarati śhreṣṭas

tad tad evetaro janaḥ

sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute

lokas tad anuvartate B.Gita 3-31

“Whatever action is performed by a great man, all other people will follow”.

  1. ATMA PRAMANA:  Third and most important pramana (standard) is Atma pramana. This atman is our Consciousness. When our Consciousness tells us clearly, then that overrides all other pramana.

One problem here is how clearly this Consciousness (Atman) is reflecting. The clarity of this reflection is directly proportional to the degree of transparency of mind (chitta suddhi or trikarana suddhi or purity). When this transparency is 100% the Atma pramana is 100% correct. When it is 75% transparent the Atma pramana is 75% correct and so on.

PROACTIVE VS. REACTIVE ACTIONS: Another way to look at this is if our actions are proactive or reactive. Most reactive actions stem from our ego (body-mind complex) hence are fallible. Most pro active actions are based on Intellect which is a reflection of Atman and are less fallible.  Again the degree of infallibility depends on the degree of transparency. All our actions should be guided by our intellect but not by ego. Actions stemming from ego tend to be survival actions not rational proactive actions.

DHARMIC OR ADHARMIC ACTIONS: one way to judge our actions is if our actions are dharmic or not. Then the question that needs to be addressed is what dharmic actions are. Any action that enhances common good is dharmic action and anything to the contrary is adharmic action.  Any action that unites us is dharmic action and the one that divides us is adharmic action.

KARMA: SUKARMA: VIKARMA: AKARMA:  All actions other than nishkama karma produce karmic baggage.  Actions that are good that produce positive karmic baggage is sukarma. Actins that are forbidden that produce negative karmic baggage is called vikarma and selfless action (nishkama karma) that does not result in karmic baggage is called akarma.

When we are doing selfless work (akarma), when our conscious is very clear and have no traces of selfish motives, any derogatory comments by others should not perturb us in continuing that action. In such situations we should not be reactive to the provocative comments. Our conscious (Atma) is the absolute guide in those circumstances.

It is common that even good selfless actions often attract derogatory comments, mostly from the commenter’s own mental status (world is a mirror in front of us) or from jealousy. We should not be affected by such comments and continue our selfless work un perturbed. This is the test for our steadfastness.  Only people with steadfastness reach the destination. Steadfastness is the quality of stitaprajna.

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