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28 Jun 2018 | Thursday | by Admin

Morality without God consciousness A story of honest thieves

Honest Theif

By His Grace Sudama Vipra Dasa

 

Standard of morality means to abide by the orders of the greatest authority…So our standard of morality and immorality is to see whether Kåñëa is satisfied. If Kåñëa is satisfied, then it is morality. If Kåñëa is dissatisfied, then it is immoral. – Srila Prabhupada

 

A gang of thieves, they stole some property from different houses in a village, and after fleeing from the village they were dividing the booties amongst themselves. So one thief said, "Please divide the loot morally so that no one may be cheated." The basic act of stealing is immoral but when dividing the loot, they are thinking of morality.  This was a story narrated by Srila Prabhupada to highlight the fallacy of mere adherence to mundane moral principles without God consciousness.

Limitations of mundane morality

As highlighted by the above story, mundane moral principles cater to the needs of only a limited audience and hence cannot be considered absolute or complete in themselves.  They do not recognize the interests of beings beyond their limited circle of selfishness – either knowingly or unknowingly.  Because our knowledge of this material existence is limited, any moral principles framed for well-being of either oneself, children, wife, family, society, nation or humanity are all only extended forms of selfishness and serve only a limited section of people.  Therefore, what may be moral at one place or situation or time may be immoral at another place, situation or time.  For instance, drinking alcohol may be considered immoral in a certain country, but in another country it may be considered perfectly acceptable.  One may consider eating meat to be good for humans, but the act is not good for the animals.  Even the most harmless person cannot claim that he has a lifestyle by which no one is harmed.  Even in our normal course of walking or breathing we kill so many germs unknowingly. 

 

Different grades of thieves

Based on the influence of gunas or modes of nature, mundane moral principles are followed by different people.  A person in the mode of goodness would follow principles that would cause least harm to others while, those in the modes of passion and ignorance would advocate principles which are less tolerant.    However, no one in this world can claim to be absolutely moral.  Srila Prabhupada narrated the story of Alexander and the thief to explain this.  When Alexander the Great arrested a thief, the thief told Alexander, "What is the difference between us? I am a small plunderer, and you are a great plunderer." Being very sensible, Alexander released him, saying, "Yes, there is no difference." Therefore, unless one comes to the point of acknowledging who the Supreme Proprietor is, he is to be considered a thief despite his mundane moral qualities.  

 

Standard of absolute morality…

The Bhagavad Gita states that God or Krishna is the supreme proprietor of everything in this creation and beyond, and also the supreme well-wisher of all living entities (not just human beings.)  Therefore, the principles laid down by Him are beneficial for all living entities and are absolute despite they being sometimes contrary to generally accepted mundane moral principles.  For instance, when Lord Narasimhadeva was killing Hiranyakashipu, his son Prahlada was simply standing and watching.  Watching someone’s father being killed may be considered immoral by mundane standards.  However, because of being killed by Narasimhadeva, Hiranyakashipu attained liberation and Prahlada became one of the mahajanas or great personalities. In the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Yudhishtira was asked to tell a lie to Dronacharya that his son Ashwathama was dead.  However, because the instruction came from Krishna, Yudhishtira did not incur any sin on account of it.  It is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam that all the soldiers who died seeing Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where several instances of mundane immorality took place, attained liberation.  Such is the Absolute nature of God, that all his acts and instructions are for the supreme benefit of all living entities.  A killer of an enemy under the order of the government is awarded a medal but the same person when he kills a person for self interest in his village is arrested by the same government.  Therefore, adherence to the higher authorities is the standard of morality.

…is to accept God’s instructions

The highest principle of morality is to therefore accept God’s supreme proprietorship over everything and adhere to His instructions.  The Bhagavad Gita 3.12 states that one who only enjoys the various necessities of life without acknowledging the Lord’s proprietorship over the resources is to be considered a thief.  The same is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam 5.18.12 haräv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guëä manorathenäsati dhävato bahiù - he who has no devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no good qualifications because he is engaged by mental concoction in material existence.  Therefore, the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.19 states dharmaà tu säkñäd bhagavat-praëétam - Real dharma, real religion, morality, honesty can be decided on the words of the Supreme Lord.


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