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Judging Personality in Hinduism Part 2

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Judging Personality in Hinduism Part 2



By John D. Mayer, Ph.D. on February 02, 2009 in The Personality Analyst

This post continues a discussion of how wisdom traditions address the question, "How, and when, should we judge personality?" (See here for a post that sets the stage)...

The book of Hindu teachings, the Bhagavad Gita, was written sometime between 500-200 BCE, probably drawing on an earlier oral tradition.

The Bhagavad Gita distinguishes between Hindu ways of devotion and divinity, on the one hand, and the confusion and evil that results from ignorance of such teachings, on the other.

Especially relevant to this series of posts, the Bhagavad Gita contains writings concerning how best to judge oneself and others.

The Bhagavad Gita involves a conversation between Arjuna, a prince and warrior, who must decide whether to risk his life entering into battle to defend his family, and a teacher Sri Krishna. Krishna ultimately reveals himself as a manifestation of god.

Krishna describes those who are closest to the divine -- those dearest to him -- and in so doing, implies how their judgments of their fellow men and women might differ from those who are evil and confused.


Dear to me is the man who hates no one, who feels for all creatures,


Who has shed thoughts of "I" and "mine", who is not excited by


sorrow or joy.


who is patient and serene, steadfast and subdued.


Dear to me is the man who neither annoys nor gets annoyed,


Who is free from excitement jealousy, fear and worry.


Such enlightened individuals, Krishna says, are distinct from the unenlightened:


The demonic confuse what should be done with what should not be done:


they have neither virtue, nor good conduct, nor truth.


Hypocritical, vain and fierce, inflated with overreaching ambition,


They let their ignorance breed evil thoughts, and strive for the world's ruin.


"...Today I enjoyed this, tomorrow I'll enjoy that;


...I know success, power and pleasure.


I have untold wealth, I was born auspicious.


What man is like me ?"...


Vain, selfish, and obsessed with possessions,...


insolent and passionate, they loathe the Atman


in themselves and in others.


Although the Bhagavad Gita does not address direclty how one person should judge another, the descriptions of the dear-to-Krishna and the deluded and confused seem highly suggestive in this regard.

A person who is dear to Krishna and is balanced and near grace (sattvika), "who hates no one...feels for all creatures, neither annoys nor gets annoyed...[and is]...free from attachment," seems likely to judge with empathy, and in a detached, mild, and impartial manner.

By contrast, someone who is deluded and confused (tamasika) is "vain...inflated...insolent," and asks "What man is like me?." Such a person will view others as less than him or herself and, as a consequence, would likely judge others negatively and with contempt.

A person who is confused and deluded, in other words, is likely also to be harshly and negatively judgmental toward others. The followers of Krishna, in contrast, are more detached, less easily annoyed, and less likely to be judgmental.

The followers of Krishna are instructed to seek out and understand their true inner selves, their atman. To do this often requires the help of a yoga (teacher). Teachers, however, in order to be successful, must themselves make judgments about their students and their students' characters, so as to help those students choose the proper path for learning.

I will describe more about this in the next post on judging people in the Hindu tradition...

* * *

Click here for information about the Personality Analyst including schedules, earlier series, and policies.

Click here for earlier posts in this series.

Notes. As a general resource, I have referred to Smith (1991). The world's religions. San Francisco: Harper Collins. The quotes from the Bhagavad Gita are from Lal, P. (Trans) (1965). The Bhagavad Gita. Lake Gardens, Calcutta: P. Lal. "Dear to me is the man who hates no one..." From Chapter 12: The Way of Devotion (p. 49), "The demonic confuse..." Chapter 16: The Devine and the Demonic. p. 60.

© Copyright 2009 John D. Mayer

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