Manache Shlok is a text composed by the Indian saint, Samarth Ramdas Swami. It is a unique combination of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. It is composed of 205 shlokas, or verses, which contain timeless wisdom that can help us think more clearly, make better decisions, and live a meaningful and fulfilling life. It offers invaluable advice on how to live a better life and develop one’s personality. It teaches us to use our rationality to discern between good and bad, and to resist any temptation to do wrong. Some shlokas emphasize the importance of honesty and encourage us to always speak the truth. Other shlokas encourage us to keep good company and avoid bad influences. Additionally, shlokas teach us to guard against our ego and to always remain humble and open-minded. By following these, we can develop into better and more responsible individuals. Let us see in detail how these four components are explained.
One of the most important aspects of a good personality is effective communication. The intention of speaking and the content of what is being spoken are crucial. Manache Shlok expresses a similar idea. Remember the last time you lied? How did that feel? Was your heart racing, breathing heavy or perhaps you had a shaky voice and sweaty palms? Dishonesty causes our body to react as if it were in danger. Our dishonest brain is in a state of frenzy, whereas our truthful brain is in a state of serenity. Lying is an inherently stressful activity and elicits symptoms akin to anxiousness, which can lead to excessive stress. On the other hand, honesty is calming, tranquil and peaceful. These points are covered in Manache Shlok with many of the shlokas talking about Lord Ram. One of such shlokas goes as follows:
न बोलें मना राघवेवीण कांहीं।
जनी वाउगें बोलता सुख नाहीं॥
घडिने घडी काळ आयुष्य नेतो।
देहांतीं तुला कोण सोडूं पहातो?॥
The meaning is straightforward- Talk about nothing but Lord Ram. The verses repeat several times that Lord Ram is the truth. As a result, it can be interpreted as being truthful at all times. Another interpretation can be that whatever we say must hold value and good intentions. Anything said otherwise becomes meaningless and unnecessary. Let us look at another shloka:
मना सर्वथा सत्य सांडूं नको रे।
मना सर्वथा मिथ्य मांडूं नको रे॥
मना सत्य ते सत्य वाचे वदावे।
मना मिथ्य तें मिथ्य सोडूनि द्यावें
Here we’ve introduced to honesty once again and the wisdom is to hang on to the truth while letting go of falsehood. Another factor distinguishing between honesty and dishonesty is rational thought.
Do you sometimes think “Oh, I must be liked by these people!” Maybe you follow it up with “It would be a disaster if they hate me”. What if you thought “I want to be liked by these people, but if they don’t like me, that’s alright and I can handle it.” Rational thought is a core concept of RECBT- Rational Emotive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The shlokas that outline this notion discuss how having a realistic thought in mind will benefit one when dealing with any difficult situation. Realism is a crucial aspect of rational thinking. Sinful thoughts are also a type of irrational thinking as they are related to extreme reactions and are unrealistic.
One part of a shlok goes:
मना पापसंकल्प सोडूनि द्यावा।
मना सत्यसंकल्प जीवीं धरावा॥
This roughly indicates that we should let go of sinful thoughts and focus on the most realistic ones. The following verse elaborates on the concept of thinking wisely.
जनीं सर्वसूखी असा कोण आहे।
विचारें मना तुंचि शोधुनि पाहे॥
मना त्वांचि रे पूर्वसंचीत केले।
तयासारिखे भोगणें प्राप्त जाले
It begins with a question- who is truly happy in this world? The shlok asks us to introspect on this thought to realize that no one is really happy. We only encounter events in our lives due to our Karma.
Many of these shlokas contain the wisdom of the benefits of thinking rationally and the consequences of thinking irrationally. We can bear any obstacles that come our way if we follow this. Realistic thoughts encourage us to balance the positive and negative scales of any situation. Thus our intense reactions and negative emotions are controlled. Extreme demands or expectations are useless as they eventually lead to hurt, anxiety, disappointment, and depression. Manache shlok teaches us the psychological concept of thinking rationally by introspecting, keeping away from extreme desires, and being realistic.
धरीं रे मना संगती सज्जनाची।
जेणें वृत्ति हे पालटे दुर्जनाची॥
बळे भाव सद्बुद्धि सन्मार्ग लागे।
महाक्रुर तो काळ विक्राळ भंगे॥
Would you rather spend time with someone sad and complaining or someone happy and optimistic? We tend to mirror the actions and emotions of people around us. Psychologists have widely studied the topic called emotional contagion. It involves the spontaneous spread of emotions and related behaviors. Thus, it goes without saying that for good mental health and habits, it’s preferable to spend time with good and wise people. This principle is summarised in the shlok above. Manache Shlok devotes an entire section to encouraging the mind to be around wise and good people so that we can be better versions of ourselves.
म्हणे जाणता तो जनी मूर्ख पाहे।
अतर्कासि तर्की असा कोण आहे॥
जनीं मीपणे पाहता पाहवेना।
तया लक्षितां वेगळे राहवेना
This verse, like many others, talks about selfishness, pride, and arrogance. Psychologically, an arrogant person may have low self-esteem leading them to exaggerate their qualities to prove their worth. We’ve seen this around us- people who always argue to prove themselves right, are overly competitive, and who bring others down. These shlokas teach us to recognize and change such behaviors. The above shlok explains that people who claim they know everything do not really know anything. And a selfish person cannot understand the essence of God or the truth.
These gem-like verses are a blessing from Samarth Ramdas Swami. So let us resolve to put this wisdom to good use for ourselves and others.