By Ashok Jain
In my last and third article, I would like to end by summarizing my understanding as a common person to five vows of ‘Anuvrat.’
(i) Ahinsa (Nonviolence) – means refraining from causing injuries to any other living being (any form of life – humans, plants, animals, insects etc.). In its true meaning, one must be so careful to avoid using any word or language that can hurt others’ feelings. It is known that violent verbal expression can ignite fight and conflict between two people or groups leading to bigger and long-term issues of fight, violence and to the extent a war. In cases where verbal violent (hurtful) expression does not escalate the serious issue or war, however, it leaves a long-term inflammatory scar. Science has proven that chronic inflammation is linked with so many diseases and health issues. Therefore, if we want healthy and happy societies, the first vow of ‘Anuvrat’ has a much deeper impact on our behavior and society. Disagreement, debate, or professional discussion are healthy ways to resolve issues and differences.
(ii) Satya (Speaking Truth) – means refraining from false statements, falsifying the facts, or manipulating/misrepresenting things for self-benefit. In many cases, it is noticed that people lose trust once they find out about someone’s lies. Losing trust has mild to severe consequences, which is reflected as broken relationships or in extreme cases hateful feelings. Both situations lead to internal inflammation, which may have adverse health effects. However, we need to understand that the vow of ‘Satya’ does not mean that one is permitted to use insulting words or language while expressing the truth about someone who has limited capabilities, unattractive physical traits or comparing with animal characters etc. In fact, ‘Ahinsa’ superseded the seconds vow of Satya. We need to remember that hurtful feelings mean one is renouncing the first vow. Therefore, we must be careful when conveying the truth about choice of words.
(iii) Asteya (Non-stealing) – means refraining from claiming anything, which is not ours – physical or personal property, ideas, art, music, articles, or intellectual expression. Such actions would develop inner guilt and inferior feeling, which will lower self-esteem, demoralize, deteriorate self-confidence, and may lead to deep depression. Once caught in an act of stealing one will face the legal system, consequently, end up in a prison, which may affect social status.
(iv) Brahmacharya (Celibacy) – means non-indulgence in sexual activities. Whenever, brahmacharya is discussed in a diverse group, people think that it means ‘promise for not to marry.’ People with different religions or cultures think that one must follow the life of a ‘saint’ and never get married. For married people, it means not cheating on one’s spouse. For unmarried people means to avoid sex before marriage. In fact, practicing brahmacharya helps focusing and gaining deep knowledge and helps to become a scholar as one can focus better once, we can control our mind.
(v) Aparigraha (Non-
Therefore, I believe that if one wants to become a ‘Global Citizen’ or cares about ‘Human Rights’ one has to practice or follow ‘Anuvrat’ practically to achieve humanity at large. In fact, these basic five vows are powerful enough for self-awakening and changing one’s behavior that will create an environment where everyone will have a sense of belonging and regenerating moral values.
Ashok Jain is a professor of Biology at Albany State University (ASU), GA, USA, and program coordinator for Biotechnology program. Recently, the University System of Georgia selected four faculty members as ‘Leadership Fellow’ and Dr. Jain is one of them to receive this honor. Dr. Jain has secured 13.6 million in grants from various federal agencies such as NIH, DOD, and Congressional funding, which helped develop an epigenetic breast cancer research program and biotech core research facility. He is the recipient of ‘Researcher of the Year’ twice in 2012 and 2018. Dr. Jain also served on ASU-Darton College consolidation committee and as Director, Center for Undergraduate Research.