Adjusting for reality

Often one comes across paradigms and rules that seem to apply absolutely. However, humans are conditioned by space and time. Thus many rules have a tendency to adjust based on location and time.


It is something to theoretically know something. It is totally something else to apply it practically.

This is part of the life long education that one goes through.

This principle also applies in the programming world.

One can know all the algorithms and theories. However applying these concepts in practical problems is what differentiates good programmers.


Humans have evolved to realize that performing certain actions which are tough in the present moment, but lead to great rewards in the future. Also, it has been observed that hankering after results also leads to several problems.

Hence performing actions without the anticipation of results appears to be the best approach.

As Krishna delineates the three ways to perform actions, penances etc, he categorizes those actions performed for their own sake as belonging to the the Sattvika category.

aphalākāṅkṣhibhir yajño vidhi-driṣhṭo ya ijyate
yaṣhṭavyam eveti manaḥ samādhāya sa sāttvikaḥ

This can be roughly translated to:

That sacrifice which is offered by men without desire for reward as enjoined by the ordinance (scripture), with a firm faith that to do so is a duty, is Sattvika or pure.

 – Bhagavad Gita 17.11

Food is only the beginning

There is a common saying that “Man does not live by bread alone”. This indicates that people require something else higher than the basic needs to live. Once the basics (food, shelter, clothing) are covered, being inspired by beautiful art, poetry, literature, architecture etc is absolutely crucial for a society and individuals in a society to thrive.


Safety drives much of the decisions taken by most people. The word safe is ultimately derived from a Sanskrit root word “sarvah” that means whole. It indicates the idea that being whole and intact is one of the main drivers behind most actions undertaken by humans across the generations.


With the evolution of the human mind, the possibility to transcend the base nature of human existence appeared possible with the help of knowledge.

prakāśhaṁ cha pravṛittiṁ cha moham eva cha pāṇḍava
na dveṣhṭi sampravṛittāni na nivṛittāni kāṅkṣhati
udāsīna-vad āsīno guṇair yo na vichālyate
guṇā vartanta ity evaṁ yo ’vatiṣhṭhati neṅgate

This can be roughly translated to:

O Arjuna, The persons who are transcendental to the three guṇas neither hate illumination (which is born of sattva), nor activity (which is born of rajas), nor even delusion (which is born of tamas), when these are abundantly present, nor do they long for them when they are absent. They remain neutral to the modes of nature and are not disturbed by them. Knowing it is only the guṇas that act, they stay established in the self, without wavering.

– Bhagavad Gita, 14.22-23

Stating facts

In stating the truth, one may come across obstacles. However the ancients recognized the absolute power of truth.

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṃ satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ
yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā yatra tat satyasya paramaṃ nidhānam

This can be roughly translated to:

Truth alone wins; not falsehood
Through truth, the path of the gods widens
That by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled
That highest treasure is attained by truth

– Mundaka Upanishad, 3.1.6


In overcoming limitations or in achieving goals, practice is essential. This is the idea behind Krishna’s message to renounce all fruits of action as a way to perfecting the practice of yoga. By practicing the performance of work without expecting rewards, one can gain a lot in terms of control of the mind.

athaitad apy aśhakto ’si kartuṁ mad-yogam āśhritaḥ
sarva-karma-phala-tyāgaṁ tataḥ kuru yatātmavān

This can be roughly translated to:

If you are unable to do even this, in that case, take up Yoga for Me and renounce the results of all works by becoming controlled in mind.

– Bhagavad Gita 12.11


When thinking of complex problems, a helpful approach could be to get to the essence of the problem. This is a difficult process in most cases and takes some training and experience.

Of course, one needs to also make one’s assumptions clear at the outset and then identify the first principles.

After these two steps, the complex problem may become easier to understand. Once such an approach is adopted, it becomes easier to think in terms of first principles.