Good Morals the Basis of all Qualities

After some time, Prahlada noticed a column of light in human form emerge out of his body.
Image used for representational purpose only.( File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only.( File Photo)

There is a story in the Mahabharata about Prahlada, the asura emperor. He had conquered the three worlds due to his good morals. Fearing Prahlada, Indra ran away from his throne of the king of heaven. Later, Indra came back disguised as a Brahmin to trick Prahlada.

Indra told Prahlada that he had come to learn from him. Despite Prahlada telling him that he was too busy administering the three worlds, Indra stayed and attended to him with devotion. One day, pleased with his devotion, Prahlada decided to grant Indra a boon. Indra asked for his Shila—good morals. Prahlada felt apprehensive about this request, but having given his word, he gave the boon to Indra who then left the palace.

After some time, Prahlada noticed a column of light in human form emerge out of his body. He was astonished.

‘Who are you?’ said Prahlada.
‘I am your Shila. Till now I have been inseparable from you, but now you have given me away so I am leaving you.’ Saying this, the light vanished.

After some time, another column of light emerged. ‘I am Dharma. I live where Shila lives. So I am leaving you too.’ Then, three more columns of light emerged from his body in quick succession.
‘I am Truth and I follow Dharma.’ ‘I am Good Conduct and I follow Truth.’ ‘I am Strength and I follow Good Conduct.’

Finally, a very bright column of light emerged from Prahlada’s body. It was in the form of a woman.
‘I am Sri—wealth and good fortune. I too am leaving you because I live where Strength is.’
Prahlada asked her, ‘Who was that Brahmin?’
He was Indra. He robbed you of your Shila. It was through your Shila that you had the other good qualities which had enabled you to conquer the three worlds.

Dharmah satyam tatha vritam balam chaiva tathapyaham |
Shilamula mahapragya sada nastyatra sanshayah ||
Dharma, Truth, Wealth, Strength, and I—all of us are rooted in Shila. Of that, there is no doubt.’

What this shows is that morality—the set of standards a person or a society has to distinguish good and bad—is the basis of all other qualities.

When we show good morals like empathy, fairness or kindness towards others, we do not get any short-term benefit out of it. But there is a huge long-term benefit. When we follow traffic rules, there’s no immediate benefit, apart from avoiding fines, but following them is in our own interest because without them there would be chaos on the roads and we wouldn’t be able to travel at all. Good morals are the foundation on which our society rests.

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The New Indian Express