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Lord Kṛṣṇa describes four classes of Duṣkṛti (those who have done bad deeds) and Sukriti (those who have done good deeds) one after another in Bhagavad-Gita. They are defined by a single criterion—surrender to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Four kinds of good people surrender to Kṛṣṇa, and four kinds do not. Since these verses are adjacent to each other, therefore, we can contrast the qualities of the four classes of people against each other. I will do that in this post.

By this contrast, we understand that acceptance or rejection of God is not merely the outcome of a person’s ideology. These are instead the results of moral and immoral lives led by people previously. Those who reject God have generally led immoral lives and those who accept God have generally led moral lives (we will also note exceptions to this). They tell us about a person’s character than just their ideology. We will use this toward the end to discuss how moral character development is a precondition to spiritual progress.

The Descriptions of Bhagavad-Gita

Bhagavad-Gita 7.15 and 7.16 describe the nature of the Duṣkṛti and Sukriti.

na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
prapadyante narādhamāḥ
māyayāpahṛta-jñānā
āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ

Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.

catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha

O best among the Bhāratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.

The Meaning of Sukriti and Duṣkṛti

The Sanskrit root kṛt stands for “action”. The term kṛti stands for “actor”. The prefix su stands for “good” and the prefix duṣ stands for “bad”. Thus, Sukriti and Duṣkriti stand for “good actor” and “bad actor”. These two terms are employed for those who have performed good and bad deeds in the past respectively.

Every action has three effects—(a) a person gets better at doing something by doing it, (b) a person develops the habit and desires to do it over and over, and (c) a consequence—good or bad—is created as a result of the action. For instance, a thief gets better at stealing by stealing. He develops the habit of stealing and starts enjoying it through repetition. He acquires consequences due to which something that he values would be stolen from him in the future. A philanthropist gets better at charity through practice. He develops the habit of charity and starts enjoying it via repetition. He acquires consequences due to which he will get something he values in charity in the future.

The terms Sukriti and Duṣkriti thus have three meanings—(a) people who are experts in good or bad deeds, (b) people who are habituated to good or bad deeds, and (c) people who have consequences of previously performed good or bad deeds. All these three meanings of Sukriti and Duṣkriti play an important role in the present life. For instance, a person develops a desire for spirituality due to his previous habits of doing good deeds. He meets a truthful teacher due to the consequences of past good deeds. Finally, he is able to understand and follow the teacher’s teachings due to previously acquired expertise for good. Conversely, a person develops a desire for materialism due to his previous habits of doing bad deeds. He meets cheaters in the form of teachers due to the consequences of past bad deeds. Finally, he is able to understand and follow the cheater’s teachings due to previously acquired expertise for bad.

Contrasts Between Sukriti and Duṣkṛti

Before we discuss each of these characteristics in detail, below is a summary.

Sukriti Duṣkṛti
Ārta Distressed Mūḍhāḥ Foolish
Jijñāsur Curious Narādhamāḥ Worst of Mankind
Arthārthī Desiring Wealth Māyayāpahṛta-Jñānā Ignorant
Jñānī Seeking the Truth Asura Demoniac

Ārta vs. Mūḍhāḥ

Everyone has some suffering in their life. But the Sukriti seeks the shelter of God when he suffers, while the Duṣkṛti does not. The Duṣkṛti in this case is just like an ass. Although the ass is beaten by his master, and he toils day and night for a little hay, he isn’t awakened by this suffering. He says—Life is like that; I don’t have a choice; there is no alternative; nothing can be done about it.

We have to remember that God doesn’t necessarily solve our materialistic problems. However, by taking shelter of God, we don’t feel those problems to be big harassments. In fact, what seems like a crisis to most people, becomes an opportunity to those taking shelter of God. Factually, a miserable situation is an opportunity to ponder the causes of our suffering, become detached from the world, and develop the willpower to endure it. Since suffering helps us realize problems, develop endurance, and get detached, it is an opportunity.

There are situations in which the Lord solves materialistic problems. The examples of Gajendra (who was about to be killed by a crocodile), Draupadi (who was about to be disrobed in an assembly), and Pandavas (when Durvāsa arrived at their hermitage with his ten thousand disciples asking to be fed) are often cited as examples of distressed or Ārta who took shelter of the Lord and received an immediate reprieve. Dhruva (who had left his home distressed at being rejected from his father’s lap and rebuked by his step-mother for thinking that he deserved to sit in his father’s lap), is also cited as an example of a distressed devotee although he performed severe austerities too.

The Lord solves a materialistic problem when it is unbearable for the devotee. He doesn’t solve the problem when it is bearable, or if He considers bearing it to be better for the devotee than solving it (owing to the above benefits of bearing it). The devotee is relieved of the distress of the problem either because the Lord solves the problem or because he develops detachment and forbearance and learns the lessons about right and wrong. The devotee also stops feeling harassed by the problem due to the feeling of protection from the Lord.

But the foolish don’t approach the Lord. They don’t realize that even if the Lord doesn’t always solve the problem, the situation would be better in the Lord’s shelter because—(a) the Lord gives us intelligence on how to deal with the problem, (b) makes us feel secure and safe even through the problem.

Instead, the foolish try to forget about their problems by indulging in intoxication, illicit sex, gambling, eating a lot, sleeping a lot, working a lot, or meaningless entertainment. A Sukriti responds to a problem by facing it head-on—(a) How can we deal with the problem in the most intelligent manner? and (b) How can we not let our fear of the problem get the better of us? The response of the Duṣkṛti is instead burying the head in the sand. The Duṣkṛti tries to shirk the problem through various kinds of sense enjoyment. The problem remains unsolved and comes back to haunt him over and over. In fact, when a person is trying to forget about the problem through enjoyment, a feeling of guilt constantly nags and reprimands his escapism. To overcome this feeling of guilt, a person takes to more dangerous and outrageous modes of enjoyment to temporarily deflect his mind from it. These tendencies worsen the problem by creating new issues as the previous ones remain unsolved.

If we tell foolish people about taking shelter of God in a crisis, their standard question is: Will God solve my problems? They cannot imagine that there are better questions to ask, namely: (a) Can God show me the best path on which to deal with a problem? and (b) Can God mitigate my feelings of anxiety so I can focus on the best solution instead of impatiently trying many different things?

Thus, there are two connotations of Ārta—(a) one who expects a miracle in life to solve his problems, and (b) who expects guidance on the best solution and mitigation of anxiety to stick to the best solution. The former connotation is accepted only when we have no solution to a crisis, and the crisis is fatal. We can cite the case of Draupadi, Gajendra, and Pāndavas for this situation. But this is not the only case. There is also the case of Dhruva who performs penances because the crisis is not fatal, there is a path on which the problem can be solved, one needs to understand the path, and stick stridently to it.

Both cases of Ārta are accepted in the Vedic texts. But by and large, the latter case is more common for most people and situations. Those who take shelter of the Lord can understand which case applies to their current situation. It is not always a miracle and it is not always the test of endurance. Generally, the devotees who take shelter of the Lord seek guidance from the Lord on how to deal with the crisis. If the crisis isn’t solved or becomes fatal, then the Lord also performs miracles. Thus, miracles are rare because most crises are not fatal and we have a solution on which we have to stick stridently and calmly.

These two cases are contrasted as the behavior of a baby monkey and a baby cat. A baby monkey holds on to the mother’s belly as the mother goes from place to place. But the mother cat holds the baby cat in her jaws as she goes from place to place. Similarly, in the former case, devotees make the effort to stick to the Lord. In the latter case, the devotees are carried by the Lord. There is no conflict between them because they pertain to different situations.

Jijñāsu vs. Narādhamāḥ

Everyone has some curiosity. We ask: Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? How did the world originate? Why are some people rich while others are poor? Why are some people born talented while others don’t have talents? The difference is that the Sukriti believe that there is a higher power, a creator, who is also righteous and moral, and there is a purpose or “sufficient reason” behind everything that justifies why it happens. But the Duṣkṛti believe that there is no higher power, no creator, nature is random and purposeless, and there is no good reason or justification for things happening around us. These differences are to be attributed to their past actions. Those who have performed good deeds, or have lived moral lives, naturally believe that the world is a moral and just place, and good comes to those who do good. Those who have performed bad deeds, or have lived immoral lives, naturally believe that the world is an immoral and unjust place, and good is not rewarded with good.

The Jijñāsu searches for the creator, seeks the reason and justification for everything, and is inclined toward a rational answer—that includes soul and God—to the ordinary curiosities about life and death, happiness and misery, morality and purpose. The Narādhamāḥ rejects the questions themselves. For him, happiness is whatever you consider happiness. Morality and purpose are similarly man-made ideas meant to make life more enjoyable in an otherwise purposeless existence. The goal of life is maximizing pleasure and death is the end of that pleasure. The complexity of life appeared from simplicity due to chance and randomness, and searching for answers to these questions is a futile exercise. We should try to enjoy ourselves as much as possible, rather than waste our time trying to find answers to unanswerable questions.

Both Jijñāsu and Narādhamāḥ consider each other irrational. For the Jijñāsu, it is irrational to say that there is no reason for things to happen in one way when so many other ways are possible. How does one of the infinite alternatives become the reality? There must be a necessary and sufficient reason for it. The Narādhamāḥ says that it is irrational to seek answers to difficult questions when we could spend that time enjoying life. The fact is that even a person who has performed bad deeds considers himself a rational person unless he suffers. The bad actor is not going to accept that there is a purpose, morality, or sufficient reason for everything, because that acceptance will require him to eschew immorality, although he is not keen on it unless he is forced to suffer.

The questions of a Jijñāsu are easily rejected if one’s life is comfortable. In such cases, the Narādhamāḥ rejects the quest for answers to deep questions as a waste of time. But there is a limit to this rejection. It is reached when suffering becomes intolerable. A person remains a Narādhamāḥ under little suffering. He considers all existential questions irrational as long as life is tolerable. He is unable to rationalize and tolerate miseries when they grow beyond a certain threshold. That threshold is also not the same for everyone. But everyone has a threshold of misery. When that threshold is crossed, then either a person ends life through suicide or starts seeking answers to existential questions.

We can see this trend among developing and developed nations at present. A greater value is attached to existential questions in developing nations, compared to developed nations. This is because when a person lives in a developed society, he becomes addicted to pleasures and denies the value of existential questions. Even if he believes in God, he will not dive deep into existential questions. He will always seek some oversimplified answers. Nuance will not be his forte. In contrast, people in developing nations attach greater value to existential questions. They don’t mind going deeper into a subject to fully grasp nuanced answers to their questions. Thus, those who have comfortable lives devalue all existential questions. But those with relatively few life comforts generally attach a higher value to such questions.

Of course, a person going through a crisis of survival is also incapable of asking deep questions. We cannot teach philosophy to a hungry man. He has to be fed before he can ask intelligent questions. But if he is overfed, then he will sleep, rather than ask such questions. Hence, a Jijñāsu exists in between hungry and overfed states. A curious and inquisitive society must be neither too poor nor too rich. They must neither be sinking in deprivation nor in indulgences. Excessive luxuries destroy a person’s curiosity and make him a bozo. Excessive scarcity shifts a person’s focus to short-term survival instead of long-term happiness. Hence, a curious society is neither deprived nor luxurious.

All over the world, on average, the middle class is more curious than the upper or lower class. The middle class, on average, reads books, asks important questions, discusses nuances, and searches for meaning and purpose in life, while the upper class wastes its time in sensuality and the lower classes lose their lives in the struggle for survival. When a society loses its middle class and is reduced to upper and lower classes, then it loses its curiosity. A primarily middle-class society is therefore essential for the pursuit of deep questions.

Arthārthī vs. Māyayāpahṛta-Jñānā

Everyone is Arthārthī in some sense—we want wealth, comforts, and basic necessities to be fulfilled. However, the Sukriti want to acquire all these things in a moral and harmless way, and minimize their acquisition to the bare minimum necessary for survival. But the Duṣkṛti are not restricted by morals or harm to others; they continue maximizing their acquisition even if it is immoral and hurtful to others. The Sukriti have empathy for others; they understand that everyone has needs and desires; they try to acquire these things in the least harmful way. The Duṣkṛti have no empathy. They might even be sadistic. They continue taking things even if they don’t need them and even if it harms others.

The term māyā means that which is not. It appears in a person as insecurity, incompleteness, and inferiority, and it creates a burning desire in a person to complete oneself through something other than the self, such as material acquisitions. A person suffering from inferiority validates himself by acquiring things he doesn’t need, but he acquires them because they are a source of self-validation. A person suffering from insecurity cannot think about the problems of others. He lacks empathy for others. He commits the most heinous deeds because he is not considerate toward anyone else. He is always preoccupied with his own desires. A sadistic person goes a step further. He derives pleasure from hurting others. By hurting them, he feels superior for a short while, and that feeling of superiority overcomes his innate sense of inferiority.

Thus, there are two kinds of Arthārthī—(a) those who want to fulfill genuine needs in the least harmful way, and (b) those who acquire things for self-validation to overcome the sense of worthlessness. For instance, everyone needs some clothes. We can also live comfortably with a few clothes—those are necessities. But people buy clothes that they don’t need for self-validation. Buying things briefly makes a person feel good about themselves. They don’t need those things, but they buy them for temporary self-validation.

The Sukriti minimizes his consumption and asks the Lord for the basic needs because he realizes that the feeling of incompleteness can never be overcome without the Lord. Instead of entangling oneself in the pursuit of wealth, which will take away time from thinking about the Lord, the Sukriti says—If the Lord were to provide me with the bare minimum necessities, then I can devote most of the time to Him. The Duṣkṛti, however, maximizes his consumption, because he is ignorant about the fact that the inner feeling of inferiority can never be overcome by trying to project outward superiority. He doesn’t know that the feeling of incompleteness is an artificial imposition on the soul which has to be removed by taking the shelter of the Lord, rather than trying to fulfill it. The more we try to fulfill it, the more it will expand. Thus, the Sukriti is frugal in his consumption while the Duṣkṛti is excessive in his consumption.

The fact is that we cannot get more than what is predestined by our previous actions. However, we can acquire whatever is predestined in a moral and simple way (that which comes to us with the least effort) and we can acquire the same thing in an immoral and complicated way (that which increases our effort, anxiety, and dissatisfaction). The Sukriti gets whatever is predestined with little effort and the Duṣkṛti struggles for the same thing. The Sukriti remains satisfied with what he gets and the Duṣkṛti remains dissatisfied with the same.

The connotation of Arthārthī as a person who approaches the Lord for material luxuries and surrenders to Him for prosperity is a false one. Even the demigods fulfill a person’s desires by consuming their karma—which, just like money—can be spent in many ways. If we spend the money in one way, then we cannot spend it in another way. The demigods ensure that we can get the things we want easily. For instance, by worshipping demigods, the food we grow becomes very nutritious. Then we don’t need protein and vitamin supplements. The herbs we grow become powerful remedies against diseases. Then we don’t need a medical industry to research the use of chemicals for diseases.

Everyone needs a healthy body and mind. A person asking for a healthy body and mind is an Arthārthī. But we can get a healthy body and mind with little effort or great effort. The worship of the demigods reduces the effort, but it also means that other things will become harder. Hence, those who worship demigods, don’t ask for everything and don’t endeavor for everything. They take the minimum necessities and revector their focus toward transcendence. Similarly, Arthārthī doesn’t mean worshipping the Lord for luxuries. It means one who approaches the Lord for arranging an easy way to survive, get the essential necessities of life, and increase focus on transcendence.

An Arthārthī does his job diligently and doesn’t get involved in politics and perception manipulation. He knows that he cannot get more than what is predestined. So, he does whatever is moral and takes whatever comes as a result of that dutifulness. A Māyayāpahṛta-Jñānā instead plays politics and manipulates perception. He lies and cheats to get more but he doesn’t get it. He becomes angry, dissatisfied, and frustrated and runs around to escape his emptiness. This is how his life is wasted in futile pursuits when he could have gotten the same material benefits much more easily and far greater spiritual benefits—in the same life—simply by turning toward the Lord for assistance.

A common complaint these days is that people don’t have “time”. This is Māyayāpahṛta-Jñānā. Everyone has exactly 24 hours in a day, not more, and not less. But they are spending it on things that can come with minimal effort. Hence, they don’t have time for the most important things. Their ignorance is that they don’t believe in karma, which has fixed their material destiny. They don’t believe that they cannot get more than that destiny, and they will get that destiny easily if they take shelter of the Lord. They think that material results are proportional to one’s efforts. So they go on working and get the same result, but they waste their life in futile pursuits and remain disappointed.

Jñānī vs. Asura

A Jñānī is one who understands that nature is organized in an inverted tree structure of qualities. To rise higher in that tree, one has to acquire better qualities. Even if one wants a more powerful position, it must be preceded by self-improvement. An Asura on the other hand doesn’t understand this inverted tree of qualities. He thinks that rising to a higher status in life requires no self-improvement. So, he tries to get to a higher status in life without trying to improve himself. If he succeeds, he becomes a huge disappointment for everyone else because a person in a higher position without good qualities is a nuisance to himself and others. He uses his power and wealth to gain more power and wealth and is incapable of doing any good with wealth and power. He is suited for a low position, but he has risen to a high position. In that position, he creates chaos and confusion through his bad decisions and choices.

Śrīmad Bhagavatam 5.18.12 states: “All the exalted qualities of the suras are manifest in a person devoted to the Supreme Lord. What good qualities are there in a person who lacks in devotion?” The suras are defined by good qualities and asuras by their absence. In this regard, we have to distinguish the effects of guna and karma. One can ascend to a powerful position by good karma, without good guna. The result is chaos. Only a person who ascends to a powerful position (due to good karma) and also has good guna can raise others and becomes a force for good. Those who ascend to a powerful position (due to good karma) but without good guna, become a force for bad. Hence, asuras are powerful, but they don’t have good qualities. They are a natural force for bad.

Jñāna or knowledge is the essence of all good qualities. All other good qualities—such as humility, tolerance, and kindness—are natural byproducts of knowledge. If a person doesn’t become humble and kind, then he is ignorant. The Supreme Lord is therefore described as jñānam-advayam, or perfect knowledge. The Jñānī knows that one acquires good qualities by associating with good persons. The Supreme Lord is the best person to associate with. By associating with Him, we get good qualities, beginning with knowledge.

Hence, the above verse says that those who are devoted to the Lord have all the good qualities of demigods. The reason is that by associating with the Lord, the person acquires knowledge, and with that, one gets all other good qualities. The Jñānī is not worried about when he will get power and position. He knows that when a person with bad qualities ascends to a powerful position, he becomes a cause of chaos. So, he just focuses on self-improvement. He understands that with great power comes great responsibility. Preparation for responsibility is more important than aspiring for great power. The Asura is instead impatient for power, without a sense of responsibility, and creates much chaos.

Sometimes the Asuras also worship the Lord—not to acquire His good qualities, but to acquire His power. An example in Vedic texts is Bhasmāsura. He worshipped Lord Shiva and asked for the boon of being able to burn anyone by placing his hand on their head. When Lord Shiva gave that boon, Bhasmāsura wanted to ensure that nobody else can get that boon. Hence, he tried to burn Lord Shiva by placing his hand on His head. This is the trait of an asura. He has obtained power, but he has no good qualities. He is like a snake that bites the hand that feeds him. Lord Viṣṇu then appeared before Bhasmāsura and said: “Lord Shiva gives boons easily, but they don’t always work. Why don’t you put your hand on your head to check whether the boon works?” Bhasmāsura then put his hand on his head and was burnt to ashes. This is also a trait of an asura—he cannot trust anyone. He thinks that everyone is a cheater, liar, deceiver, and manipulator like himself. Hence, he is manipulated into self-destruction.

It is said that knowledge is power. However, power is not knowledge. One can have power without knowledge, and that power is worse than not having it. The Jñānī aspires for knowledge before power, and an Asura aspires for power before knowledge. A Jñānī becomes a better person before taking power but an Asura becomes powerful to validate himself without becoming a better person.

This is how almost all modern leaders are. They don’t have knowledge but they want power. They don’t agree that knowledge is a precondition to power. They imagine that they will hire someone with knowledge and rely on his knowledge to manage in a powerful position. Or, whenever required, they will search for knowledge by supplying keywords to a search engine. If we give them the process to acquire knowledge, they reject it. They are too eager to be leaders. Due to their good karma, they ascend to a leadership position, make bad decisions, act in horrible ways, and are overthrown. But they have set bad precedents that their followers emulate to perpetuate the cycle of bad leadership. An ignorant follower doesn’t test his leader’s knowledge. He admires his powerful position, hero-worships the leader, and claims that people in positions of power need not always be knowledgeable; they separate leadership from knowledge. Thus, a society that prioritizes power over knowledge is the society of Asuras. They are also led by Asuras. The Asuras are made for each other. Their marriage is made in heaven and lived together in hell.

Good karma can be acquired without good qualities—if a person strictly follows a person with good qualities. They may be obedient due to fear of retribution or being called out for disobedience, but they follow. They wait for the time when they can ascend to power, but they don’t have the good qualities of a leader. The Asuras don’t test a person’s knowledge to validate if he is qualified. They say—He has been a loyal and obedient follower, and so he is qualified to lead.

I have spent close to 24 years in corporations and everywhere I see a common trait—the loyal and obedient follower is appointed to a leadership role over the capable and qualified person. The loyal followers hate their bosses but they are found bootlicking the bosses to ascend to positions of power. All these so-called “leaders” self-destruct over time because they aren’t interested in a truthful understanding of reality. Whatever role or duty they take, they make numerous mistakes, whose cost is borne by many people, not just the leader.

Contrasts Among the Four Classes

Below is a summary of four classes of Sukriti and Duṣkṛti based on the above.

Sukriti Duṣkṛti
In times of crisis, use the best solution calmly In times of crisis, bury your head in the sand
Accept relevance of deep curiosity questions Reject deep curiosity questions as irrelevant
Seek to fulfill only the basic needs of life Seek excessive consumption for self-validation
Pursue knowledge above everything else Pursue wealth, power, and fame above all else

Every Sukriti may not take shelter of the Lord, but most will. Every Duṣkṛti is not necessarily opposed to the Lord, although most are. There are rare cases in which even the Duṣkṛti come to spiritual life. And there are rare cases in which the Sukriti do not go to spiritual life. This variance can be understood based on the direction of a person’s life trajectory. The Sukriti are mostly rising in their spiritual understanding. However, there are Sukriti who have done good deeds in the past but are now going down as a result of enjoyment of the results they got due to good deeds. The Duṣkṛti are mostly falling in their spiritual understanding. However, there are Duṣkṛti who have done bad deeds in the past and are now reforming as a result of the lessons they have learned from the consequences of past deeds. If we understand these exceptions of directions, then we can appreciate the general principle of Sukriti and Duṣkṛti.

Morality vs. Spirituality Distinction

That general principle is that those who have led moral lives are far more likely to go toward God than those who have led immoral lives. It doesn’t mean that an immoral person will never go toward God. However, the likelihood of an immoral person going toward God is very low. The prominent likelihood is that a moral person will go toward God. Thereby, when morality declines in society, spirituality also dies. Conversely, when morality rises in a society, then spirituality also increases. Even as every moral person is not necessarily inclined toward God, most moral people will not be averse to approaching God for four reasons—(a) to deal with life problems in times of crisis, (b) to lead a simple and contented life, (c) valuing deep questions about life, and (d) pursuing perfect knowledge of the ultimate truth. In contrast, most immoral people will be averse to approaching God for the above four reasons.

Vedic texts thus distinguish dharma from sanātana-dharma. Dharma means a moral life and sanātana-dharma means spiritual truth. The Sukriti are those who have followed dharma and led a moral life, and Duṣkṛti are those who haven’t followed dharma and have led an immoral life. By accepting dharma, one naturally moves toward sanātana-dharma. By rejecting dharma, one naturally moves away from sanātana-dharma. Thus, morality makes spirituality almost imminent and immorality makes spirituality almost impossible.

It is not necessary that every moral person is inclined toward God. It is also not necessary that everyone talking about God is a moral person. In an ultimate sense, one who is fully devoted to God will naturally become moral. Similarly, in an ultimate sense, one who is fully moral will naturally become devoted to God. However, these ultimate positions are far less likely. The more likely scenario is that the immoral person will naturally move away from God and the moral person will naturally move toward God. Hence, every person pursuing spiritual perfection is required to lead a moral life. When immorality enters a person’s life or is rationalized by religion, then the death of spirituality becomes almost a certainty. A religion can keep talking about the soul and God, but if it is not improving morality, then it will not take a person toward spirituality. Instead, that person will become Duṣkṛti and use religion for abominable purposes.

Morality is a Precondition to Spirituality

All over the world, we see a rise in crimes, political corruption, economic exploitation, people demanding rights but not doing their duties, and lies, cheating, and hypocrisy becoming normalized. These point to a decrease in Sukriti and an increase in Duṣkṛti. The increasing Duṣkṛti will not surrender to God. Instead, when problems will arise, they will bury their head in the sand. If we talk about deep questions of life, they will deny their importance. When we talk about simple living, they will talk about excessive consumption. And when we talk about the truth, they will talk about wealth, power, and fame.

For example, the West invented a “pragmatic” conception of truth. It means that if your theory gives you wealth, power, and fame, then it can be provisionally considered true. If later on it stops giving you wealth, power, and fame, or something else does it much better, then we can reject that theory and replace it with another one. This pursuit of “pragmatic” success is the method of science. Science rejects all deep questions and substitutes them with those that will increase wealth, power, and fame. You don’t become famous by talking about deep questions. You become famous if by using your theory someone can build a popular gadget. Anything that increases material consumption is good. When problems arise, the “pragmatic” scientists just bury their heads in the sand. If we talk about simple living, they always talk about economic growth.

Based on Lord Kṛṣṇa’s words, Sukriti or morality is a precondition to the adoption of spirituality, because only the Sukriti are likely to surrender to God. Becoming an honest, kind, clean, and a simple person is more important than faith in some religion that talks about the soul and God and yet indulges in all kinds of immoralities and rationalizes them based on concocted theologies. Unless we become Sukriti, it is not likely that we will surrender to God. Hence, the science of morality is a precondition to spirituality. Every moral person may not surrender to God. But immoral people are highly unlikely to surrender to God. If there is no dharma, then there will be no sanātana-dharma.

The science of dharma and karma is a precondition to the practice of yoga and the pursuit of transcendence. Theology is irrelevant without morality. Moral science is the theory of action and reaction, choice and responsibility, the cycle of birth and death, and the reincarnation of the soul across many species of life. Of course, moral science is a material subject, not a transcendent one. But because transcendence cannot be attained without morality, hence morality is necessary although not sufficient. This is the essential import and conclusion of saying that only the Sukriti surrender to God, while the Duṣkṛti do not.