I was asked to supervise youngsters who were writing a yoga exam. To my surprise I found a few who were slyly passing on or getting information from their neighbour even after a couple of warnings. My ears happened to be sharper than they imagined. In between a teacher also tried distracting me with some inane conversation, which I postponed for later, when I got the real point of it. Cheating in an examination or in less apparent ways is not a big deal nowadays. I didn’t want to sound preachy to the youngsters, who thought that they were outsmarting me. Yet I could not help but make a point that they were only cheating on themselves. They are cheating themselves of many things they could have gained.


1. When you cheat you cheat yourself of confidence and courage

True confidence increases each time we realize that we can do something in a right manner. When we know we can give our best. We get the confidence and courage to move towards our goals without compromising on our values. When you are confident of your capacity then you will not feel the need to cheat. We must cultivate the courage to face life’s challenges. When we cheat we are running away from the challenge and each time we run away we become less and less confident. Truly confident and courageous people don’t find the need to cheat. They are not afraid of falling as they know that with the help of God/goodness they can pick themselves up. Courage is doing the right thing despite fear of failure. Swami Gitananda said that a righteous person is one who can put to right use everything. So we must cultivate the habit of putting to right use our body, emotions and mind and all resources and that will build real confidence. Hence being righteous builds confidence and conversely to be truly confident we must cultivate being righteous.


2. When you cheat you cheat yourself of comfort.

“Sukham Sthiram Asana”- An asana is comfortable and firm. The practice of yoga brings about comfort and stability in different states of being. We are aware of and learn to accept unconscious states of mind that are addressed through conscious asana work. Hence there is an inner comfort with all life’s permutations and combinations. With all the good, bad and the ugly. This reflects externally as one who is comfortable in any situation or environment. The more comfortable we are with ourselves the less we will want to cheat to project what we are not. So cheating is a sign of lack of comfort.

The reverse is also true. When you cheat and gain praise that you have not rightfully earned then you cheat yourself of comfort. There is no greater comfort than looking at a prize and knowing deep inside that you truly deserved it, that you have earned it.


3. When you cheat you cheat yourself of consciousness

Every time we get locked into an old pattern of taking the easy way out we have to remember that we are adding to our stress. Yes contrary to popular belief the so-called easy way is not so easy in energy terms. There is a great deal of loss of energy due to the inner conflict we face. Unless a person is completely in a dinosaurian state of consciousness there will be a tinge of guilt that one may or may not feel. Even if one does not feel it consciously it is there, grating on us deep within. This drains us of energy more and we spiral downwards repeating or even exaggerating the mistake. We may also block the memory out, as it is uncomfortable to face it. So the chance of rectifying the mistake is also lost to us.

This backlog dims our consciousness, there is also no energy for conscious application of the mind due to the clogging. When we use our prefrontal lobes, which is in charge of conscious choices we can actively decide to stop this downward spiral. Hence when we apply consciousness we can cheat less and by cheating less we gain more consciousness.


4. When you cheat you cheat yourself of the capacity to move from chaos to cosmos.

The world seems as orderly or as disorderly as our inner world is. There is a beautiful cosmic order that one can appreciate only if the same order is recognized within. The recognition of this order automatically means that you know that there are consequences for breaking the order. There will be more inner chaos when you break the law. I have seen in my own life the acting of his great order. I see the karma (law of cause and effect) of my actions either recent past or past. Each time when I make a conscious decision to do that which is right, despite the attachment to the old behaviour or person the great order has taken me a step above. And I see there are a many more steps to climb. Each step we climb we are able to see more clearly the connection between cause and effect. The higher we get the easier it is for us to see the layers of labyrinths or connections that create cosmos or chaos. We see we can make or break our destiny. So this also works two ways. The more order there is within the less likely we are to cheat and if we want to create more order we have to cheat less.


5. When you cheat you cheat yourself of connectivity and continuity.

Each time you cheat you become more disconnected from yourself. A schizophrenic is a disconnected individual. Multiple behavioural disorder is there in all of us in milder levels even if not diagnosed as a clinical condition. We may verbally say cheating is bad and should not be encouraged but you will be doing the very same thing that we speak against. This is a very prevalent disconnection present in most humans. There is no connection between what they say and what they do. In yoga one leads by example, in life as well the best way to teach is by example. The learning patterns of a child indicate that they observe and imbibe what the parent or role model does. When we are connected to all aspects of ourselves, our doing, feeling and thinking processes we see the continuity of consciousness. The more positive our thinking is the better we start to behave. The better we start to behave we start feeling better and there is a positive progression as a whole. When we want our will to be connected to the will of goodness then the willing or wishing itself serves as a means of behavioural change. The stronger the will the more sustained the change. There may be back and forth movements in the continuum of life but definitely we can see progress if we look at where we started. Hence if we cheat we deprive ourselves from this connection to the divine and ourselves and can never see true progress or positive continuum. Conversely the more times we cheat the more disconnected we get and there is more regression.


Youngsters have to see that though they now obey the law and don’t cheat out of fear they can also obey out of love for evolution, out of the adventuring spirit. A true adventurer does not shy away from the climb. There has to be a passion and enthusiasm along with periods of rest for recuperation. The yoga life is most enjoyable and fun and does not match up to any other fun that people have tried selling to me. Today’s youth can have loads of fun understanding and imbibing yoga.

I was teaching at a premium management institute in Pune and we discussed issues not from a moralistic perspective but from the perspective of growth. There was one boy in particular who did not seem too upset by the cheating that was happening among his classmates. He said that his mind was a lot freer and he was quite sure that they could not sustain their behaviour and still have an alive mind, as whether they saw it now or not their behaviour would add to their stress. He was much more attentive than the others and seemed more relaxed. This is the confidence and comfort that consistent effort gives a person.

There are many forms of cheating. One can cheat another of their time or love or energy by expecting them to take care of them when they have abused their system. I see many who have not lived righteously who self righteously make demands on another’s time and energy without wanting to do anything in return. The universe is fair and we must learn to earn our bread and not cheat others out of it by constantly evoking their sympathy with our sob stories. Neither should we manipulate their love. As we evolve we must be more aware of the many ways we cheat others as well as ourselves. So let us have fun playing the game of life and let’s play by the rules!


Aishwarya lived two floors above where I lived. My brother gave me the news. Was it a drug overdose or a suicide, they did not know? To me both meant the same. Aishwarya was getting thinner by the day yet her smile never faded. Even if I was focused on getting home she would always run towards me and greet me. “Akka (elder sister in Tamil) how are you?” she would ask. Despite her short skirts and coloured hair she was so Indian and endearing when she called out to me.

She would then show me one of her new acquisitions, new cell phone, outfit, hairdo or sunglasses and I’d point out to her that she needed to take care of herself else she would disappear. One day she told me that just in case any of her friends checked with me she had told them I was her real/blood sister? I smiled.

Some days she would speak of the shows or the beauty contests she has participated in. She never bitched about the other contestants, at least to me. A part of her was sensitive and refined and yet another could not grapple with herself and the world. Anger, loss of self- esteem and self- hatred were a natural outcome.

Aishwarya means wealth, greatness and power. True Aishwarya is finding all this within. An inner richness and healthy self- esteem is what we need to aspire for. But ask any Indian about Aishwarya and most likely they will associate it with the screen goddess who was miss world called Aishwarya Rai. This association is strongly embedded. Unfortunately the very same principles that were stabilizing factors are now being deranged through media created wonders. How can any teenager’s reality match up to the perfect waistline or storyline that has been created for Aishwarya. That illusion they aspire for is enough to take away all Aishwarya or self worth away. True Aishwarya is feeling valuable without having a million people endorse you. Or being the one selected to endorse a million projected needs. When we feel our life is of value how will we want to end it. That is why family is important, if not oneself at least another person makes us feel valuable, life seems worth living at least for them. In more singular societies we hear of not just suicides but group suicides like in Japan. When life is such a singular pursuit these youngsters chose company and oneness in death.

Most of us may not go that far but slowly start to kill our selves so that we can become blind to the speed with which we are moving towards our own death. We get so desensitized that it does not matter anymore. We may have moments of consciousness where we may see our own degeneration and our own dependencies. Waking up to our own self- delusion is definitely painful. So we may as well be comfortably numb. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and tobacco abuse are all ways in which we escape into another reality. Alcohol provides us with a space where we can be in touch with our emotions. It is not uncommon to find people flying into rage, laughing uncontrollably, crying or getting mushy after a couple of drinks. Drugs provide an altered psychedelic or intense state of consciousness that is often confused with spiritual awakening or creativity. Tobacco provides one with false alertness and release. Apart from these we can also bury ourselves in other unnecessary pursuits, which are less apparent.

These are just ways we yearn to escape from our reality, the reality of helplessness and despair. The ultimate reality of course is bliss but to get there we have to face our own fears and insecurities and rise above it. So the climb may seem arduous, tiring and again like a singular pursuit in a desensitized world. And yet we can feel kinship in the few subtle people still around or the subtleties that are there in parts in some. Or we can draw inspiration from the great people who have lived before us, from nature, life and love for goodness.

In Yogic life emotions are important, not emotionalism. Hence we must work on recognising and releasing emotions rather than suppressing them or inappropriately expressing them. Refined emotions are the key to loving refined things. To love the highest or the cosmic potential in ourselves refined emotions are necessary. In a world of instant gratification long-term satisfaction is forgotten. A stable marriage where both grow together in love and wisdom is what refinement indicates. Nowadays when we want quick fixes it is easier to grow apart. If we want our marriage with the Lord to last we need to cultivate emotional awareness. Emotional sensitivity and stability is what needs to be worked on for Aishwarya to grow in us.

Despite achievements many face a lack of Aishwarya. Not intelligent enough, smart enough, talented enough, organized enough, assertive enough, brave enough, beautiful enough, patient enough. Even those on a spiritual path may feel they are not good enough. Since we sense this deep lack we may mask it with arrogance. Or we depend on others to give us this self worth. Self worth is different from narcissism or being boorish. Christ the master had hundred’s plotting against him and thousands abusing him yet it did not diminish his spirit. Neither did it prevent him from putting his foot down when he needed to. Sankaracharya says that the enlightened man walks through praise and abuse untouched. True Aishwarya is being in touch with one’s true nature, that is a reflection of the divine. You cannot take away or add to it. We may never be able to match up to the ideal of perfection we have set, yet let that not diminish our efforts or self worth. May we keep the Aishwarya in each one of us alive.