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Practical Spirituality: The regulative principles – Part 2

This article  is in continuation of the Practical Spirituality: The regulative principles, in case you have missed it, read it HERE

It has been several months, since I got any time to sit down and type an article. It seems like it was just yesterday that I started going on my trips, but a year has already passed. So many things have been happened, time has flown past… and yet I remain.

Have any of you ever wondered on the futility of things that we do? We work so hard… set targets, measure ourselves or get measured, compared to other people… we boast about a certain % of economic growth, crib about a certain % of inflation… rejoice in the face of some good news, sulk in the face of not-so-good news…  I keep wondering why we do all that we are doing or made to do. Do we even have a choice in deciding that? Or is it that we do not ‘want’ to have a choice to decide otherwise?

Anyway, I wanted to start from where I left in my last article. To summarize, the 4 regulatory principles that any serious spiritualist must follow are as below:

1)      No meat eating (meat, fish eggs etc.)

2)      No intoxication (smoking, drinking liquor, coffee, tea, drugs etc.)

3)      No gambling

4)      No illicit sex

I had covered the first principle alone in my previous article. Let’s see what the next 3 are about.

There is big scene being created by some people and the media on the new law being proposed by the Maharashtra Government on increasing the allowed age for drinking liquor to 25. These ‘modern’ freethinkers question like this: “We are allowed to vote when we turn 18, why not drink?”, “The government should look inwards and then preach morality” and so on. Another comment was on the ‘maturity’ aspect… “If the people are matured enough to vote then they are matured enough to understand whether or not they should drink.” Another article in Times of India states that, “even in those countries (referring to Pakistan and China) the governments display a more mature attitude when setting a legal drinking age than some states in India”. Well, I don’t know about the people who are reading my article… but that comment on maturity seems pretty lame to me. But I am not going to spend time on dissecting the logical fallacies of the above arguments.

The second regulative principle is pretty explicit by itself, but let me put it in a different manner. The essence of the principle is that a person must not use any material that will cause him/her to perceive reality differently, or give a false sense of happiness and such. I think most people will not have a problem with my reference to drugs, liquor or smoking, but I believe the mention of coffee and tea (and associated products by extension) would ruffle a few feathers. But take it from me, an ex-coffee addict… I stopped drinking coffee almost 11 years ago… life is much better without dependence on it. Such an addiction not only degrades our consciousness, but also permeates a culture of easy going attitude where people cross boundaries, both civil and spiritual, and go to extent of points of no return to normal existence.

The third regulative principle is on gambling. Any activity where one puts his/her mind and aspires for material benefit disproportionate to one’s capability, including dishonest or illicit business dealings and such, come under this category. The simpler version is to be truthful in all activities and not to engage in speculative or entertainment betting and things like that. The main reason to avoid such things is that these kinds of activities increase anxiety, material attachment, envy and anger arising from helplessness, all of which are detrimental to physical, mental and spiritual well being.

The last regulative principle is and has been the most difficult one for a majority of people to digest. Again, many would draw the line of illicit sex at any such activity outside of marriage. But spiritual science requires a level of control beyond such mundane definitions. Vedic scriptures forbid sexual union which is purely for sensual and purposeless. This principle is validated by the point that sexual pleasure, which is actually endorsed by the Vedas as the ‘highest form of material pleasure’, is the most prevalent single point of failure for people, while trying to assimilate the fact that they should not be identifying themselves as their body. And this principle does not cover just the physical aspect, but also the mental urges which create the desire (sometimes uncontrollable) to experience such pleasures.

The last principle is also probably the most difficult one to accept and follow, but any serious spiritualist would accept and do what is best possible.

I am sure there will be so many varied opinions on these principles, but it does require faith to follow them, and ultimately realize that we get only elevated in our consciousness by doing so. We can either keep to our routine questioning on the why’s and how’s or take the plunge and see the results for ourselves.

Thus, we have covered a lot of fundamentals in the last 4 articles. I am kind of divided on what topic I should cover in my next article. Let’s see how it goes.

As a side note… in the first article of this series, I had mentioned about the scandal involving Nithyananda and Ranjitha, as well as the Kalki group… it is obvious that Nithyananda clearly broke the illicit sex rule. His act is even worse since he is a disgrace to the station of Sanyaasa, which he claims to belong. Nithyananda’s action is as disgusting as a person eating his own vomit. The Kalki guy and his so-called shishyas are clearly breaking the principle of intoxication.

It is a shame that times have become so bad that spirituality has been made as a cheap commodity. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

0 19 July, 2011 Bhagavad Gita-as i learned July 19, 2011

About the author

A techie by profession but spiritual by nature. Ambi writes about the ancient wisdom of our Indian culture in a way the modern generation can easily understand. Oh ya, his comments are as interesting as his posts and his posts always trigger healthy debates.

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  1. nandini

    Theoretically I might agree with the mentioned points but I doubt how far it can work out in practical life.

    1. Ambi

      Well, is your doubt actually on whether these will really work out? or how far will they work out?

      I agree that some people may really be like “OMG! NO WAY!” on seeing these… but believe me… spiritual life requires more discipline than everything else. And these ‘regulative principles’ are the fundas.

      (We will get to some more topics soon where we would be able to see how these alone are not sufficient… and also that we cannot follow these just by mere will power!! I will stop confusing people for now ;))

  2. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

    A really interesting article. I wish everyone could have such restraint.

    1. Ambi

      Well, unless someone is aspiring to be an easy-chair spiritualist, they need to have such restraints for their own progress.

      Otherwise, this place will become flooded with frauds like Mr. Nithyananda.

      1. Pranjal

        Is being a spiritualist the same as being a baba? i mean like Nithyananda is a baba only right?

        1. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

          Despite the sarcasm undertones, I think being spiritual is to ensure that hedonism isn’t the goal in life. Its quite a difficult task.

        2. Ambi


          I feel like I have been hit by a hammer on my head.

          My goodness… no wonder you are ‘atheistically’ agnostic!

          Nithyananda is a fraud, FYI.

  3. Pranjal

    No Meat, No Daaru, No Sex- In one sentence stop having fun!! Spirituality is tough tough task.

    1. Ambi

      You decided there can be no different types of fun? One where you can actually enjoy and not feel a hangover but a high later on?

      1. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

        I am not spiritual or religious. But this article on “regulative principles” is quite true and an essential guideline for good health (mind and body). That is all there is to it. As humans we are bound to fail in this. There are probably very few who actually have the restraint and attain “spirituality”. I bow to them in deference.

        1. Ambi


          “As humans we are bound to fail in this.”

          This is exactly why I put the statement “we cannot follow these just by mere will power” in my response to Nandini, the first comment in this thread.

          Just following these rule will give you the means to understand higher dimensions, not the understanding itself.

          I am still in the process of taking bath, not yet fully clean, so to say. I have been very fortunate to have known several people who are steadfast in their discipline. And it is their mercy and blessing that keeps me on track.

          1. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

            It is rather ironic that I am drunk on guinness while I write this. I am drunk not to mock you but because it is dinner time and a saturday and on the very so rare occasion, I do indulge in alcohol with all it’s deleterious effects.

            My point being… How is one to “just follow these rules”. There is always temptation. Although that leads to guilt and a truck load of insecurity, one would fall to temptation unless without theproper amount of will power or should I say, “wont power”….

  4. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

    I’ve led quite a questionable life in my 20s particularly given the general freedom one has in a foreign land where hedonism and pursuit of pleasure is not uncommon and a social norm. All it has brought me is guilt, insecurity and occasional emotional pain and trauma.

    So for me, this article does provide a perspective which I cannot ignore.

  5. Rakesh

    You are presenting Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhantas particularly Srila Prabhupada!
    Would it be good idea to let them know the real source of your ideas?

    Anyways good job! Keep it up! Are you from Pune?

    1. Ambi

      Hmm… I somehow have not been checking my own posts for comments.

      Rakesh, yes, you are absolutely correct.

      And I have already mentioned it.


      The closing lines say:

      “Ambi’s personal Note: I do not know how effective or useful my articles were. There were so many discussions, so many arguments. I am sure there are several readers who did not participate in the exchange of comments but were silent spectators, several people who liked the articles/ comments, and several who disliked those. Almost everything I have put forth in my articles, I had learned from Srila Prabhupada’s books and his disciples (and No, I am not a member of ISKCON).”

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