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Why We Follow The Path Of Demons?

We need values to live well and be a success in society, to form our character, to be acceptable to others, and for our own perfection. Numerous studies on human values are being currently conducted and many courses on values are also on offer. Truth, loyalty, honesty, purity, altruism, non-violence, peace, love — these are among a list of noble qualities which each one of us is asked to cultivate. They are all interconnected and interdependent, and the practice of even one to perfection is bound to lead to the manifestation of other qualities in our lives. This has been proved by the examples of many saints.

Choosing the correct path — the path of virtue — is the issue at stake. In the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna has dedicated the sixteenth chapter to the exposition of divine and demoniac qualities.

Every child has two paths to choose from: the road to ‘godhood’ and the road to ‘demon-hood’. What impels children to take to either of them is the unconscious decision-making process based on past impressions, the environment into which they have been put — determined, once again, largely by past impressions — and the training they receive. This does not in any way mean that all is over for one who has chosen the wrong path. Karma is a positive philosophy and not fatalism. Vedanta is also all positive, and says that things can and will change for the better. And according to Swami Vivekananda, there is no ‘error’ but only ‘lesser truth’.

Why do an overwhelmingly large number of people choose the wrong path? As Sri Krishna himself says, the two paths are placed in such a way that there is this puzzle for the chooser: to select the one full of nectarine sweetness in the beginning or the other full of nectar in the end. What’s wrong if the nectar is in the beginning or at the end, one may ask?

There is the well-known story of a man who wanted to choose between hell and heaven. He went to see them both for himself. In hell there was a lot of singing and dancing and fun. In heaven he saw only silent and serene faces. So he chose hell at the time of death. The next moment he landed in a cauldron and found himself being fried. He was furious at being so cheated. What about those wonderful things, he asked. ‘Ah, what you saw was our showroom,’ came the prompt response.

So we must be careful not to be fooled by appearances; we need to deliberately choose the path of the gods. But why should we be gods? The traditional Vedantic answer is that we are gods, and we have only to remember this truth that we keep forgetting time and again. We are not becoming something new.

This, then, is the importance of human values. We are gods, but we suffer. We do understand why we suffer.  When we know who we really are, our suffering ends. To know who we are, we must follow the right path, the path of the gods. Values like goodness, purity, and truthfulness are important not only to live well here and to be persons with noble characters, but also to change our inner personality for the better, to clean ourselves of negative past impressions, and consequently to manifest our innate divinity.