All the scriptures of the World Religions have talked of “enemies within”. Unless and until they are faced, acknowledged and annihilated, human beings cannot ascend in their consciousness. They remain hidden within us like snakes in a hole and can erupt anytime without a warning. Those with a desire to transform themselves have to make a conscious effort to overcome them through strict vigilance and inner honesty.
Only when one is able to conquer these evil tendencies within us, that our true ascent starts. Till then it is a constant game of “snake and ladder”.

The early Vedic literature bears no direct reference to the concept of ‘five evils’;

  • moha (attachment),
  • kama (lust),
  • krodha (rage) and
  • aham (ego)
  • lobh (greed)

do occur in the Vedic texts, but they are not explicitly enumerated as a series of evils.

However, each of these is separately condemned in various sections of The Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. We observe that ascetic sages of both the Vedic and non-Vedic tradition propounded the philosophy of renunciation and the methods of sense-control. In the Bhagvad Gita, the control of one’s senses, as well as being imperturbable in the face of kama, moha, krodha and aham, lobh are among the marked traits of the Shresta Vyakti (the Perfect Man) and Yogi (Knower).

The five thieves (panchadosh or panj vikar) are, according to Sikhism, the five major weaknesses of the human personality at variance with its spiritual essence. The common evils far exceed five in number, but a group of five came to be identified because of the obstruction they are believed to cause in man’s pursuit of the moral and spiritual path. The group of five evils comprises Kaam (lust), Krodh (rage), Lobh (greed), Moh(attachment) and Ahankar (ego) in Punjabi; translated into English these words mean :

  • lust/addiction,
  • wrath/rage/anger,
  • materialistic greed,
  • attachment/worldly infatuation and
  • ego/pride respectively.

The first two in the list of five hindrances, viz. sensuous desire (kamacchanda) and ill will or malice are the same as the first two in the list of five evils mentioned in the Sikh canon. Likewise, belief in a permanent individuality (satkayadrsti), sensual passion (kamaraga), ill will, conceit (mana) and nescience (avidya), included in the Buddhist list of ten fetters, are comparable to egotism, lust, wrath, pride and delusion or attachment of Sikh enumeration.
The Buddhist list of ten ‘defilements’ , includes the following:

  1. greed (lobha),
  2. hatred (dosa),
  3. delusion (moha),
  4. conceit (mana),
  5. false views,
  6. skeptical doubt,
  7. sloth,
  8. distraction,
  9. shamelessness and
  10. recklessness.

In this list, again, the first four defilements are nearly identical with those included in the list of’ ‘five evils’ minus lust (kama). This last evil is mentioned separately and repeatedly in the Buddhist scriptures in Pali as well as in Sanskrit. Similarly wrath (krodha) is mentioned separately as a powerful enemy of holy life. Early Buddhist sources describe the triad of lobha, dosa (dvesa), and moha as the three roots of evil (akusala-mula).

One of the standard Buddhist words for evil is klesa which may be translated as ‘defilement’ or ‘depravity’.

A list of six defilements is found in some Buddhist Sanskrit sources and includes

  1. passion (raga),
  2. ill will (pratigha),
  3. conceit (mana),
  4. nescience (avidya),
  5. false view (kudrsti), and
  6. sceptical doubt (vichikitsa).

The Jaina sources also contain details concerning evils and defilements. All the five evils of the Sikh list are found repeatedly mentioned in the sacred literature of Jainism. The Avasyakasutra has a list of eighteen sins which includes among others

  • wrath (krodha),
  • conceit,
  • delusion (maya),
  • greed, and
  • ill will.

The standard Jaina term for evil is ‘dirt’ or ‘passion’ (kasaya). The Dasavaikalikasutra states that four kasayas, viz. wrath, conceit, delusion and greed, cause rebirth. The Uttaradhyayanasutra mentions moha, trsna (synonym of kama) and lobha as the sources of sorrow.
The Yogasutra (II. 3) has a list of five defilements or hindrances called pancha-klesah. These are

  1. nescience (avidya),
  2. egoity (asmita),
  3. passion (raga),
  4. ill will (dvesa) and the
  5. will to live (abhinivesa).

It should be pointed out here that avidya equals moha; asmita is identical with ahankara; raga is similar to kama; dvesa is not different from krodha; and abhinivesa belongs to the category of lobha understood as continuous desire for existence in sansar.

The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, is a classification of vices (part of Christian ethics) that has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity’s tendency to sin. In the currently recognized version, the sins are usually given as

  1. wrath,
  2. greed,
  3. sloth,
  4. pride,
  5. lust,
  6. envy, and
  7. gluttony.

Though there are no direct references to “enemies within” in Zorashtrian Religion and how to overcome them, it is often mentioned that one’s life should be a constant struggle to overcome the work of “angare mainyu” (evil spirit) by siding with “spenta mainyu” (holy spirit created by Ahura Mazda) at all times.

article shared by Armaity Bhabha

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