btg1956.jpg - 5077 Bytes

Definition of Vice & Its Scope

Edited and Founded Under Direct Order of
His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhakti-Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada
by Goswami Abhay Charan Bhaktivedanta

prabhupada_desk.jpg - 8407 Bytes Delhi, Tuesday 20th November, 1956

Our esteemed friend Sri Bishan Prasad Maheswari one of the learned advocates of the Supreme Court has requested us to write something on the principle of fruitive action with special reference to Vice and its potency. We can define Vice is a symptom of material disease as fever is a symptom of malaria or typhoid or any such bacterial affection. The relative term of Vice is virtue which is exhibited in various forms in the dealings of living being. Even in the animal kingdom each and every animal has his specific virtues while they are prominent in the life of a human being. For example faithfulness to the master is a virtue of the dog and if we analyze the characteristics of the animals and men we can find in them many parallel vices both in man and animal. So far vice is concerned it is a foreign acquisition to the living being when he is in contact with the three qualitative nature called by the names of goodness, passion and ignorance or Satwa, Rajas, and Tama qualities. Vice is therefore not an inborn quality of the living being but it is acquired in association with the qualities of matter.

The matter is called Prakrti or Nature while the living entity or the Spirit Soul is called Purusha. We have already discussed in our previous articles about Purusha both Kshara and Akshara. The Purusha who comes in contact with the material nature is the Kshara Purusha or the fallible living being. And Vice is a symptom of such fallen condition. The living being becomes completely free from all sorts of vices when he is reinstated in his original position transcendental to material existence.

In the Bhagwat Geeta, this contact of the originally pure soul or living entity is explained in the following manner.

Prakrtim, Purasham, Cha,
Biddhi, Anadi, Ubhou, Api.
Vikaram, Cha, Gunam, Cha,
Eba, Biddhi, Prakriti Sambhaban.
(G. 13/20)
The living being and the material nature both of them exist eternally i.e., before the time of cosmic creation. Cosmic creation is similar to the construction of a big building. We should not make a mistake that while the building is constructed the building materials and the residents of the building are also created. The residents of the building and the materials of the building were there in potential stage even prior to the construction of a building. Therefore in this sloka the word "Anadi" has been purposely used, "Anadi" means beginningless. Therefore the living entities and the material nature as potency of the Supreme Lord remained existent even before the birth of time and space measurement of cosmic manifestation. Past present and future all these were born along with the cosmos but the living entity Purusha and the material Nature Prakriti both are transcendental to this cosmic time and space. It is never to be understood that the living entity or the material nature are born within the limits of time and space. As the Supreme Lord is ever existent so also His different potencies. The material nature becomes manifested as the cosmic universe and the living entities are impregnated within the material nature by the supreme will of the Lord. The section of living entities as conditional soul who are impregnated within this material nature are so to say disobedient sons of the Lord who refused to obey the supremacy of the Lord and tried to make an overlordship over the material nature. This temperament of disobedience to the will of the Lord desire to lord it over the material Nature is the root of all Vices. Otherwise the living being in his natural state, is the purest of the pure as the Lord is the purest of the pure. How this spirit of disobedience came into being in the pure nature of the soul -- is an inconceivable speculation in our present state. The only explanation can be offered in this connection is that even in our present state of life there are some men who are devoted to the Lord while there are others who do not even believe in the existence of the Lord. Some times we meet persons who frankly say that they have no belief in God and if we want to rectify such misconception about God even then they refuse to entertain discussion. Now who is right and who is wrong? The man who believes in God has many supporters in authentic literature all over the world. The Vedas, the Bible, the Koran and all such authentic literatures are tangible support to the man who believes in God but the unbelievers have practically no support save and except of some irrational argument of begging the question. Now how this happens. When the God believers were born or when the unbelievers were born nobody can say but still in fact we can experience that there is a class of believers and unbelievers never mind how and when they came in existence. For the present we can simply accept that there are two classes of men or living entities. The unbelievers are called materialist and the believers are called spiritualists. The more a man becomes a spiritualist the more and more he becomes freed from the contamination of material qualities. The material qualities in their varied degree are all vices where the spiritual qualities are inborn qualities of the spirit soul which are exhibited as virtues in the material world in contact with the material vices, otherwise all virtues are all spiritual and they are ever existent with the spirit soul. The vices are described as Vikara or derangement. When a man is overtaken by evil spirit and haunted by it the brain of the man becomes deranged and in the madness of deranged condition a man can perform many things unnatural to him in his natural condition.

The principle of vices are murdering, kidnapping, setting fire at other house, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. And according to big psychiatrists these vices are committed in a state of insanity. The present aggression on Egypt is an act of setting fire on others home and we consider it an act of vice in a state of insanity. This state of insanity on the part of the aggressors has also been accepted even by Lord Russel. This is called Maya. Maya means illusory energy and when a man is too much captivated by the illusory energy, he cannot but do commit only vices and vices.

How the illusory energy works is explained in the Bhagwat Geeta as follows:--

Karya, Karana, Kartritte, Hetu,
Prakriti, Uchchyate
Purusha, Sukha, Dukhanam,
Bhaktritte, Hetu, Uchcbyate
(G. 13/21)
Karya or the finished body that a living entity gets as the covering of his pure self is created by the laws of nature. Karana or the senses and the mind are also product of the material nature and therefore she is the cause of all these senses. Kartritta or the control of actions are also done by the Prakriti. The planetary actions as described in astronomy are some of the controls or Kartritta of the material Nature. In the revealed scriptures we find that there is control of different deities, whom we call by the name of 'Devata' a God even on the movement of our eyelids. So this control is also created by Prakriti by her stringent laws. No living being can change such laws even by the highest perfection of scientific knowledge. The so-called scientific knowledge of the mundane scientist are different varieties of illusions only to bewilder from spiritual on the conditioned souls who have fallen from the pure state of existence and such illusory scientific knowledge help us only in increasing the duration of our material existence. The so-called scientific knowledge is prompted by a desire to lord it over the material nature which is the root cause of all vices as described above. So Prakriti is the cause of all the above mentioned states namely the material body, the senses and the control.

And the Purusha is himself the cause for putting himself in the laws of Prakriti. Due to this cause the Purusha is subjected to three fold miseries of life on account of having the material body, mind and conditions of life. How the Purusha experiences pains and pleasures by such laws are explained in the following examples.

A state citizen is completely free to take advantage of all facilities of the state because the state is for his welfare only. But he is sometimes seen in the police lock up for some criminal offences committed by him. For this criminality of the citizen the state is not responsible. The state does not teach any body to act criminality nor does it invite any one to come and fill up the prison cells. On the contrary the state teaches the citizen to refrain from criminal activities, gives him full facilities for education, business, trade, industry and other civic activities. The welfare state is never meant for the misery of the citizen but if the citizen suffers in the prison house or in the police lock up -- it should never be misunderstood that the laws of the state is responsible for such anomalies. The state control is there and yet the citizen is free to act for his future pains or pleasure. Ignorance of law is no excuse and therefore if a man is placed under police lock up for his ignorance the state is never to be responsible for it but the man can rectify his own action by using his good sense.

Therefore it may be concluded that sufferings or pains of living entities are due to the different grades of vices and the vices are due to ignorance. The mode of ignorance is called by the name Tamaguna or darkness of life. The more a living being is put into such darkness of ignorance the more he is subjected to the conditions of material laws.

The other day we have been reading in the Soviet Land as follows:--

"Ever since the beginning of the universe the Sun has been shedding huge amount of heat upon the surface of the Earth. If this heat is properly utilized it is capable of changing the very face of the earth. So far man's effort in this direction were not very successful. Nature has been slightly more successful. It congealed a part of this energy in the form of wood, coal, oil, etc. Another part was used by it for causing rain, for setting the wind adrift and for doing thousands other things. But the amount of heat thus utilized was only one percent of the total heat shed by the Sun. The rest 99 per cent was simply wasted and did not fulfill any useful purpose.

"Ever since man appeared on the surface of this planet he has been dreaming of utilizing this huge mass of heat. The primitive man used it to warm his body during the bitter colds of winter. When he took up agriculture he used it for drying corn and doing some other minor jobs. As man's knowledge of natural phenomena increased his desire to use the solar heart also increased. It is only now that man's age old dream is beginning to come true." etc.

As we discussed before the root cause of a living entity's vicious life is his forgetfulness of the relation of Godhead and a desire to lord it over material nature. This fact is corroborated in the above writings of the Russian paper. We do not mean to stop any scientific research in the matter of utilizing the Sun rays but the fact that a conditioned living entity always dreams of utilizing the natural resources and thereby becomes captivated by the illusory energy of the material nature forgetting his real self as a pure spiritual identity. The dream of utilizing the material resources is the root cause of all vices. Because the material resources are sufficiently arranged to fulfill the necessities of life. In the ocean there is ample salt because salt is a necessary thing for our life. If we like we can produce more salt than what we require but that is an act of vice because the extra production of salt means diverting our energy for other purposes while the same was meant for realisation of the pure self. In the animal life the senses being covered by major ignorance (the animals) cannot make any use of them for exploiting the material resources. In the human form of life the extra intelligence and energy of the human being is meant for self realisation and not for exploiting the natural resources more than what we require. Because we cannot take in more salt than what we need although there is an ocean of salty water. The more he forgets his spiritual identity, the more he becomes subjected to the stringent laws of Nature. This fact is explained in the following words by the Bhagwat Geeta (Geeta 7/13).

Trivi, Gunamayii, Bhabai, Eve,
Sarbam, Idam, Jagat.
Mohitam, Na, Abhijanati,
Mamevya, Param, Abyam.
Those who are captivated by the three qualitative beauty and resources of material Nature, can not transcend it and know Me, who is the Supreme Lord the eternal fountain Head.

prabhupada_car.jpg - 8882 Bytes The conditioned soul dreams of utilising or exploiting the natural resources for turning the face of the earth. That is an illusion. We know when India was more primitive (?) there were thousands of cows owned by the agriculturalists and they used to enjoy life by the agricultural products and sufficient quantity of clarified butter, milk and curd. Even some hundreds of years before during the reign of Nawab Sawesta Khan, rice was selling in India at the rate of nine mounds a rupee and today ever since the beginning of scientific knowledge in India, rice is selling now at the rate of nine chatak a rupee. In the former days, the Indian kings and rich men used to perform yajnas by burning tons and tons of pure clarified butter made out of cow's milk and at the present moment there is not a drop of pure clarified butter made out of cow's milk even for daily use. That is the law of material nature. Leaving aside the stories of Nawab Sawesta Khan's history we can say from our personal experience that my father say 40 years before at most used to stock at our house (in Calcutta) always a cart load of rice (15 mounds), seers of pure ghee, a bag of potato and a cart load of soft coke always ready for use. Our family was not a rich family and my father's income was within Rs. 250/- per month. And it was within his easy reach to stock house hold provisions in the above manner. But at the present moment at no house in the cities and towns generally, there is stock of more than 15 seers of rice. Formerly they used to enquire rates of commodities in the terms of mounds and now they ask for it in terms of seers or chattacks although we are able to keep more glittering cars than cows at the present moment.

People in general may know it from Bhagwat Geeta that this earth cannot be turned into the peaceful abode of happy life because even if we are able to do so by exhausting our valuable energy for that purpose -- in due course of time, either the life itself will end or the happy home so much decorated will be set in fire and destroyed. That is the law of nature. Instead of wasting our energy for saving the wastage of heat shed by the sun, we may better use our perplexed energy in self realisation so that we may go Back to Godhead and back to home for eternal happiness. That is the highest perfection of life. The question of how to utilise the heat of the sun is not so much important in human life, as the question of solving the problem of miserable conditions within the laws of Nature. Ever since the beginning of man's increased scientific knowledge he has never tried to solve the big questions of birth, death, diseases and old age. From statistics, it is learnt that every minute there is an increase of birth rate in the proportion of one. And so far death is concerned, the recent report in India only is that every minute a man is dying untimely by T.B. and what to speak of other diseases and other countries. And the sufferings of diseases and old age have no end besides the three-fold miseries of the modes of Nature. So these are the problems of life and no scientific knowledge of the materialistic 'Pandits' can change the face of the earth by any amount of research work. That is the law of Nature.

So we wish to remind every one again and again that suffering of the living beings are due to vices of life and the vices of life are made possible due to ignorance of spiritual life. How the sufferings of the living being begins in contact with the material nature is explained in the Bhagwat Geeta as follows:--

Purusha, Prakirtistha, Hi,
Bhungte, Prakrtijan Gunan.
Karanam, Guna, Sanga,
Ashya, Sad, Asad, Jannia Yoinshu.
The Kshara Purusha or the fallible living being who is susceptible to the influence of Prakriti by his ignorance of spiritual life of association with Godhead from time immemorial -- is forced to make association with the material nature for dreaming continuously how to lord it over the resources of Nature. In that exploitative motive he is caught in the trap of 'Prakriti' and thus instead of utilising the heat energy of the sun, he becomes subjected and utilised in the modes of material nature. And due to such association of material nature, the living entity is forced to take his birth in different species of life by the management of natural laws: one who associates with the quality of goodness is promoted to higher status of life or is given chance to take birth in the higher and better planets than the earth. Those who associate with the modes of passion, they are stayed in the middle class family within the limits of this earth or a little higher than this but those who associate with the quality of ignorance are sure to go down in the species of cats and dogs or that of the swines and goats leading an abyss miserable life.

Why does the human being dream of committing vices? Transgression of the laws of nature is to commit vice. The human life is meant only for realising one's spiritual identity and direct his actions in that way. This sort of living a human life may be directed in the process of Karamyoga, Jnanayoga or Bhaktiyoga. That is the teaching of Bhagwat Geeta. If you are strongly inclined to creative energy like dreaming the utilisation of the heat of the Sun -- do it; but do it for the service of the Lord and not for your sense-gratification. That is called Karamyoga. If you are too much philosophically disposed to the speculative process of knowing the Absolute Truth do it; but do it for knowing ultimately the Supreme Lord as He is. And if you are already inclined to love of Godhead please increase it by his transcendental loving services and enter into the Kingdom of Godhead just immediately after leaving this encagement of matrial body. In any case non-co-operate with the dictation of illusory energy which has encircled us by the coils of sense-gratification. Try to sacrifice the result of fruitive action for the service of the Lord and that will save you from the sinful reactions of vicious activities. If you are businessman, administrator, professioner or labourer try to spend as much as possible for the service of the Lord but do not spend your earnings for sense-gratification. Sense-gratification is the basis of all vices and service of the Lord is counteracting the reaction of fruitive work. Our speculative designations of good work has no value unless it is done for the service of the Lord. Don't be captivated by false sense of altruism and make a show of service to the "Daridra Narayan" (?) at the sacrifice of goat Narayan (?) or chicken Narayan (?). If you have really a conception of Narayan then you shall find all living entities as your brother equal in importance. That is the sign of a "Pandit" according to the teachings of Bhagwat Geeta. A Pandit in the real sense does not discriminate in the evaluation of living being. He sees equally on every one. He does not maintain a slaughter house for the goats and cows and makes a plan for the happiness of his fellow brother. That will lead one to the path of vices or to the path of ignorance.

If we therefore want to diminish the forces of vices such as murdering, pilfering, kidnapping, stealing, cheating, adulteration and so many other minor things, then we must have to become a devotee of the Lord and thereby try to revive our divine forces dormant in every one of us for the purpose of going Back to Godhead. The Sreemad Bhagwat therefore advises us like this:--

Jasya, Asti, Bhakti, Bhagwati Akinchana,
Sarboi, Gunai, Tatra, Samasate, Sura,
Harou, Abhaktasya, Kuta Mahat, Guna,
Mana, Rathena, Asath, Dhabate Baio.
"One who has unflinching devotion in the service of Godhead, is certainly qualified with all the good qualities of Gods. But one who is faithless in that matter has no value of his mundane decorations -- because that would not save him from the path of mental plane where all conditioned souls hover on vicious acts."

In the Bhagwat Geeta it is said also like:

Api, Chet, Suderachana, Bhajate,
Mam, Ananyabiak,
Sadhu, Eba, Sa, Mantbhya,
Samyak, Vyabasita hi Sa.
"Even if a man who is primarily a vicious man, but is a staunchly devotee of Godhead constantly engaged in His service, he must be considered as Sadhu because he is well settled there."

A well settled devotee of Godhead cannot continue to be a vicious man because his cent per cent engagement in the service of the Lord will make him automatically a saintly person by the Grace of the Supreme. The Supreme Lord, who is living with every individual living being -- will act as his Chaitha Guru or the Spiritual Master from within and give him (the devotee) direction so that he may go Back to Godhead. There are thousands and thousands of instructive stories of the nature in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas which are all supplementary. To be cent per cent engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord is the real process of sense-control. Vices are seated on the senses. The different senses of a man are different strategic positions of the enemy Vice which takes us to the miseries of life. The Karmis or the fruitive workers who have been described as the Mudhas or the foolish ignorant, is cent per cent engaged in the matter of sense-gratification. Because the citadel of Vices, with its soldiers of the name desire, anger and avarice, is the sense-gratification means to follow the dictation of Mr. Vice. The Jnanis or the mental speculative philosophers are thousand times better than the Karmis because they can understand the real position of sense gratification and try to employ senses in a subtle form restraining the gross activities of the senses. By this action Mr. Vice becomes surrounded and he is stopped for the time being. The Yogins want to control the senses or make direct attack on Mr. Vice and therefore the Yogins are thousand times better than the Jnanis; the Muktas or the liberated souls are still thousand times better than the Jnanis and Yogins for the Muktas are completely free from the attack of Mr. Vice. And above the Muktas are situated pure Bhaktas who not only drive away Mr. Vice from the citadels of senses but also engage the seat for occupation of the Supreme Lord. The king of the senses is the master Mind. Senses are like the horses while the mind is the coachman who directs the senses. The Bhaktas therefore first of all depose Mr. Vice the Coachman from the seat of Mind and place the lotus feet of Shri Krishna on that coach. When Shri Krishna becomes the coachman of the chariot of Arjuna, there is no more fear of the attack of Mr. Vice called by the name Dhuryodhana. The Bhagwat Geeta is therefore concluded like this --

Jatra, Jogeswara, Krishna,
Jatra, Partha, Dhanurdhara,
Tatra, Sree Vijova, Bhuti,
Dhurban Niti, Mati, Mama.
Sree Sanjaya concluded relaying Bhagwat Geeta in the above words. He said "where there is the master of all energies Shri Krishna and where there is a Master Devotee like Partha (Sri Arjuna) -- undoubtedly there are blessings, victories, influences and morality and that is my conclusion."

So in order to be victorious over the dictates of Mr. Vice and to save ourselves from the sufferings of miseries and ignorance, we have to place the lotus feet of Shri Krishna constantly upon our mind. And doing so we shall be able to speak and write always the transcendental news of the kingdom of God. And in that way we shall be able to engage our hands, legs, eyes, nose, tongue, head etc. all cent per cent engaged in the service of the Lord. When these places will be occupied by the master, there will be no place vacant for accomodating Mr. Vice and that is the easiest process of conquering Vice and replace them with all blessings, victory, influence and morality.

Vice is compared with Mist and the living entity is compared with the Sun. Mist is in fact a creation of the Sun and Sun itself can drive away the Mist and in the similar way the living entity has to increase its spiritual heat in order to drive away the mist of Vice.

When the mist is cleared off the Sun is seen in its full fledged flowing beams and in the same way when the Vices are removed the living entity is seen in his full fledged purity.

[Please note: The articles in this series have been typed from copies of the original manuscripts which are sometimes unclear. As far as possible, every attempt has been made to reproduce them without change.]

[Return to BVML Home Page] sp.jpg - 3913 Bytes

Srila Prabhupada Page