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Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 14

Devadwijagurupraajna poojanam shauchamaarjavam;
Brahmacharyamahimsaa cha shaareeram tapa uchyate.

Worship of the gods, the twice-born, the teachers and the wise, purity, straightforwardness, celibacy and non-injury—these are called the austerities of the body.

Interpretation

In this shloka, Lord Krishna is talking about the austerities that a person who is on the spiritual path should follow. These austerities are the guidelines for every individual who wants to lead a happy, spiritual and fulfilling life without any unnecessary desires and cravings. Belief in God and His worship is the primary thing prescribed here. Apart from that, one should worship people who are sages, teachers and other wise men who have a purity of thought and straightforwardness in their actions. Then Lord tells a person to be celibate and believes in Ahimsa or non-injury. These are the austerities that one needs to follow for one’s body. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

We have already learnt from the previous chapters that there are 3 kinds of austerities, austerities of body, speech and mind. Lord in this shloka was talking about the austerities of the body. When we worship or admire or do service to good people, the goodness of them spreads to you. God created this universe and there is His element in every being. But some people are able to enhance it and bring it out and those people are called wise people and teachers. The second word in the shloka is “Jaguru” who is a teacher. According to Krishna, teaching is one activity that a person undertakes only when he has the supreme sense of sacrifice in him.

Why is a teacher so important in life?

Imparting knowledge selflessly is the purest thing that anyone can do. When you acquire a skill you would want to use that for your benefit with an intention to earn wealth or name and fame. But would you prefer imparting that knowledge selflessly for others and don’t use that knowledge for your own benefits?

Here I would like to give an example of a person who learnt stock markets and had the intention of earning some money from it, but at the same time, he also became a teacher. When he was selflessly teaching he was not able to trade or the trades that he took were not giving him any satisfaction. That is when he decided to stay away from trading and concentrate only on teaching. It happens to many teachers who selflessly undertake the activity of spreading knowledge.

When you set out on this path your thoughts become pure and your actions become selfless. Purity according to the Lord comes only when one is celibate and follows the tradition of non-injury. Celibate here means staying away from desires of lust. Non-injury is when you do not cause any kind of physical and mental harm to anyone, which includes staying away from physically abusing and hitting anyone. It also includes non-usage of derogatory and abusive language against people as well as staying strictly vegetarian. This, if practised by an individual then he would have achieved austerities of the body.