Your pious deeds will not help you

Acharya Prashant
6 min readJul 29

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

अलमर्थेन कामेन सुकृतेनापि कर्मणा ।

एभ्यः संसारकान्तारे न विश्रान्तमभून्मनः ॥ 10.७ ॥

alamarthena kāmena sukṛtenāpi karmaṇā

ebhyaḥ saṁsārakāntāre na viśrāntamabhūn manaḥ || 10.7 ||

Enough of prosperity, sensuality and pious deeds. The mind did not find repose in these in the dreary forest of the world.

~ Ashtavakra Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 7

✥ ✥ ✥

Questioner (Q): “Prosperity, pleasure, pious deeds enough, in the dreary forest of the world the mind finds no rest.” Here, the word ‘pious deeds’ does not seem to belong to the family, which the word ‘prosperity’ and ‘pleasure’ belong to. As per my understanding, ‘prosperity’ and ‘pleasure’ seem to belong to the materialistic part of life, while ‘pious deeds’ seem to belong to the Truth. Please help me understand what Ashtavakra means by the word ‘pious deeds’.

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, not that way. In the world of Ashtavakra, these three belong to the same dimension — prosperity, pleasure, and PD; PD referring to pious deeds. Prosperity, pleasure, and PD — they belong to the same dimension. Yes, you are right; generally, in worldly terms, in moralistic terms, prosperity and pleasure are held as something material and worldly, and pious deeds, virtues, PD are held as something belonging to the other world. No, not all.

We have had a long discourse on the difference between morality and spirituality in the very last session. I would advise you to go through that again. Pious deeds belong to the world of morality, and morality is not spirituality. Na papam, na punyam, na dukham, na sukham (neither sin nor virtue; neither sorrow nor pleasure).

You go to a Dattatreya, or a Ribhu, or an Ashtavakra — they all will be quick to denounce virtues as much as they denounce vices because they focus on the actor and not the action. They focus on the doer and not on the deeds…

Acharya Prashant