Fed up with the rampant corruption in all fields, the civil society in India is increasingly protesting against corrupt practices and pushing for stronger laws.

While we may push for stronger laws and monitoring—and I agree that we need them—another factor has a very important influence on corruption: character. Nothing can stop people with impure character from cheating. Even the tiniest of temptations can lure them, and the strongest of laws can fail to curb their soaring greed. Therefore, the need is to invest in creating good character in people. It is the strongest weapon in the fight against corruption.

Creating Good Character

Recognizing the need to create good character, many state governments have introduced value education in the academic curriculum. While it’s one thing to teach moral principles, it’s another to live by them. Integrity means living by high values in good times or bad times, in joy or in pain. Real integrity only develops when morality is combined with a spirit of devotion to God and His will. Only when we are aware of an omnipresent God watching all our actions will we know that we can cheat the world but not God. The knowledge of good and bad karma coming back to us will prevent us from indulging in selfish gratification. We will be satisfied with our own share and not hanker for more, knowing that it’s meant for our brothers and sisters, the children of our loving father, Krishna. We will be satisfied with simple living, knowing that our pure and honest hearts are the best offering, pleasing Lord Krishna the most.

A spiritual foundation will help us face the numerous hurricanes and tempests of life and remain truthful. As the Indian writer Chetan Bhagat said, “The political and economic corruption that India today faces is in fact a crisis of values. We need to understand virtues like justice, truthfulness, and charity. These values were available to us, but now we have forgotten them. For this reason alone, there is a place for God in society.”

Purifying Our Hearts

The root of all corruption is greed. Greed exists within all of us. Some people control it, while in others greed is in control. Greed is never satisfied. The more you yield to its demands, the more demanding it becomes. Like a raging fire, it consumes all offerings, only to erupt in a more virulent form.

The only way we can control greed is by purifying our hearts. Anyone who follows any true religion with sincerity, deep faith, and dedication to God will develop purity of heart. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu described chanting the holy names of the Lord as the perfect method for internal purification. When we properly chant the holy names of the Lord, we have less greed, anger, pride, and lust. We become content. We find satisfaction in our hearts. Then there is no drive to cheat. We are satisfied in simple living and high thinking.

We can purify our greed. Instead of serving our selfish interest, we can channel this impulse to serve others, to please Krishna, to surrender ourselves more to Krishna, to offer more to Krishna. When Krishna sees how we are fighting against temptations, when He sees our selfish greed transforming into greed for giving, He is pleased. And then He fills our hearts with the supreme gift: love of God. In this spirit of love, by living a simple life and using our excess wealth for uplifting and serving humanity, even while living in the filthy waters of this material society we can remain untouched and uncontaminated like a lotus flower.—Murari Gupta Dasa