26 Qualities of the Liberated

26 Qualities of the Liberated

Quality by Chripell
Quality by Chripell

Dayanand posted an article on the 26 qualities of spiritual development that Krishna lists. It’s in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 16, verses 1-3. I also reviewed Maharishi’s translation, the Yoga Sutra, and some related resources.

These are qualities of someone established in the Self. Some may arise prior to awakening and some may take more time, depending on our history and nature.

I do not suggest these as practices, as is so often found in teachings and translations. Rather, they are listing qualities that show results of correct practice. We might favour the qualities when there is the option, but trying to control is just ego getting involved. That is not the way to liberation.

1: Fearlessness (abhayam)
We don’t hold back from right action. Fears like of death fall away.

2: Purity of the Heart (sattva samshuddhi)
Clarity and purity of the nadis (channels) allowing the heart to flow.

3: Established in Yogic Knowledge (jnana yoga vyava sthithi)
Knowing the Self, we know all that can be known.

4: Charity (dana)
When our nature overflows, we naturally give. No justification or self-serving required.

5: Control of the Senses (dama)
Breaking ego identification means the mind isn’t driving the senses and they come under control. Not by force but by the end of identification.

6: Offerings (yagyas)
When we’re not trying to get something from life, our life becomes an offering.

7: Study of the Self (swaadhyaaya)
Mindfulness of the Self or presence shifts the habits of the mind. A Niyama of Yoga.

8: Warming (tapas)
Warming action softens inertia so it can transform. One of the 4 legs of the bull of dharma, and a Niyama of Yoga.

9: Honesty (arjavam)
Straightforwardness, sincerity, and harmony in one’s thought, words, and actions. See also #11 Truth.

10: Non-violence (ahimsa)
When we heal, violence of thought, emotion, and action falls away. Closely related to #12, Absence of anger and #15, Absence of calumny (malicious speech). A Yama of Yoga.

11: Truth (satya)
Truth does not have to be harsh. Yet truth is closely related to #9, honesty. One of the 4 legs of the bull of dharma and a Yama of Yoga.

12: Freedom from Anger (akrodha)
When we heal our unresolved experiences, we’ll find unresolved anger in there. We become free when healed. See also #10, nonviolence.

13: Renunciation (tyaga)
Letting go of identification, then all is renounced. We can be in the world but not attached to it. We can love without bondage.

14: Peace, serenity (shanti)
When we become established in silent being, the Self, we become peace. Related to the contentment of Niyama of Yoga.

15: Absence of Calumny (slander, malicious statements) (apaishunam)
When we cease judging others and needing to be right, we release the need to attack others. See also #10, nonviolence.

16: Compassion Toward All Beings (daya bhuutesu)
Like love, a feeling that is collective. Mercy. One of the 4 legs of the bull of dharma.

17: Non-covetousness, Freedom from Greed (aloluptvam)
Closely related to the yamas non-possession (aparigraha) and non-theft (asteya) wherein “all jewels rise up.” Without attachment, we cease being possessed by possessions.

18: Gentleness (mardavam)
Established in #10, nonviolence, we become gentle. We can still be fierce, but it’s on a platform of gentleness.

19: Modesty (hrih)
When pride falls away (#26), we become modest.

20: Freedom from Inconsistency (achaapalam)
When we’re established in the unchanging within and have clarity, inconsistency falls away. The way is clear.

21: Radiance of Character, brilliance (tejas)
This relates to the inner light, effulgence, and Ojas, a substance on the skin. Tejas (fire) is also related to Vigor.

22: Forgiveness (kshama)
When we let go of attachment and heal our old wounds, we cease taking things personally and can forgive.

23: Fortitude (dhriti)
Related to #20, when we become clear and stable, we gain insight into our circumstances and gain patience and fortitude.

24: Purity (shaucha)
Of body and mind. This starts with cleanliness but goes much deeper, as some of the other qualities illustrate. One of the 4 legs of the bull of dharma and a Niyamas of Yoga.

25: Freedom from Envy (adroha)
When we gain infinity and attachment falls away, so too does envy.

26: Lack of Conceit (naatimaanitaa)
Also translated as “lack of expectation of honours.” When we cease identifying with the personal ego, pride loses it’s meaning. See also #19.

These qualities “come to one who has gained Divine consciousness.” We could call them the layers of liberation (moksha).

On the flip side, the demonic leads to “ostentation, arrogance, self-conceit, anger, insolence and also ignorance.” The verses go on to describe a number of other undesirable qualities. These all lead to bondage.

In your life, simply notice what you’re favouring or giving attention to. Favour the positive. Don’t resist if darker emotions come up. Don’t act on them but allow them to release. Then when they complete, bring the attention back to the good. This, and a good effortless meditation practice, will take you a long way towards these qualities.

Last Updated on February 17, 2024 by Davidya

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 15

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. Sharon

    D, thank you so much for putting these all together in one place. I’m looking forward to
    experimenting with them, mainly using the Sanskrit sounds and probably just one at a
    time. Also will enjoy looking at the devanagari while pronouncing.

  2. This is a nice list. I like to define enlightenment as not merely some inner liberation, but also as a transformation of all the outward expressions of one’s personality. People who are supposedly enlightened yet are alcoholics, sexual abusers, etc., are deluded fools in my book, no matter how eloquent they seem to be.

      1. Lewis

        Great list…. These flow form being established in awareness, correct? Although great to aspire to, are not a path in and of themselves. The list leaves out a sense of humor. Balance and eveness are also important. In any case, once infused with the light of Brahman, what else is there to want from life. Lakshmana Swamy (according to David Godman) said, “Once you realize the self, there is nothing more to do in life.” I would also add that enlightened soften,enliven and enhance the environment around them and have the support of nature, things flow easily.

        1. Hi Lewis
          Awareness, yes, but also sattva. We can have a very clear awakening and yet still be carrying some heavy baggage as Rick commented on.

          Some of these qualities can begin to show up well ahead of awakening if there is sufficient sattva, but they’ll grow much more easily after. And some will take their time appearing.

          Yes, there are other qualities mentioned in other lists, even on this blog. And some on the list are quite similar to each other.

          On the Lakshman quote, keep in mind that when the Self wakes up to itself, the sense of doership falls away. So we have nothing more “to do”. But in many ways, the doing that then happens is more productive and efficient, with greater benefits. It is nature acting so it is in harmony with nature.

          You also have to be a little careful if it’s a renunciate speaking. They can take that more literally, but those in the world continue to act. This supports the whole and fulfills remaining desires.

          As the closing verses of the Rig Veda put it:
          “Integrated is the expression of knowledge, an assembly is significant in unity, united are their minds while full of desires. For you I make use of the integrated expression of knowledge. By virtue of unitedness and by means of that which remains to be united, I perform action to generate wholeness of life.”

            1. Hi Charlotte
              The last 3 verses are:
              “Go together, speak together, know your minds to be functioning together from a common source, in the same manner as the devas [celestial beings], in the beginning, remain together united near the source.

              Integrated is the expression of knowledge, an assembly is significant in unity, united are their minds while full of desires. For you I make use of the integrated expression of knowledge. By virtue of unitedness and by means of that which remains to be united, I perform action to generate wholeness of life.

              United be your purpose, harmonious be your feelings, collected be your mind, in the same way as all the various aspects of the universe exist together in wholeness.”

              I’ve written several articles on these, like “by means of that which remains to be united”.

    1. JulianGiulio

      26 hey?

      This is pretty good…

      But I very much Doubt freedom from anger!
      Where do I start?
      Anger is this mammalian emotion which gets terrible press, apart from -somewhat – for the European countries of Italy and Span -where they see it as a form of Love…
      But in most cultures, we shame it and don’t meet it healthily -hence we just see unhealthy anger, and worse, we think it is a violent emotion!
      I can tell you now, that the anger I work with in myself, is not violent, nor does it want to be violent; that would be utterly inarticulate for itself!
      Rather it is just Mr. or Mrs. Serious….: It is Heavy, suddenly stopping the easy flow…
      But -like any real feeling (-that is deeper than our ‘mego’), it is saying something for our being that our overall intelligence wants us to hear – usually that we -or someone we care for are being Disrespected; and/or that our Boundaries are being infringed; or that there is cruelty -at least injustice taking place! (as can be evidenced by the wholly legitimate anger re this Israel-Palestine conflict)

      The reason why I am moved and confident to say what I am saying is because
      I have Sat with my anger on quite a few occasions, as part of a ‘Meditative’ Endeavour, …and I have to say, EVERY time it has revealed itself as having a beautiful nature at its heart… : indeed, it is a beautiful form of love.
      But I am talking of anger-anger-, ‘fierce love’ if you like, or Passion…; it is from Deep in the Heart. This is not sinister, fear-based or even shame-based anger (-which are more tricky; but still need healthily managing!)
      But it is really, actually, moreover egoless…This is my consistent intuition and observation -which may be even more counter-intuitive: It is about our being in relation to other beings… so on this level, yes there is an apparent subject-object, but as part of an inter-connected whole, sometimes we have anger and we have to respond with a fiery tone to communicate with another part of this whole…
      It is OK. It is part of our Wholeness…

      Those who work with their anger in this way, are the most genuinely Peaceful… for there it is being Sorted… and there is little -if any, anger left in the Subconscious…

      If you strongly doubt or are confused by this maybe you have not also stayed intimately with it… and reveal its true nature
      This is however, usually one no-go-area for ‘Buddhists’ -as hey see it as ‘aversion’, one of the three poisons..
      What is poisonous for anger is not dealing with it properly!

      1. Hi Julian
        I completely agree with you. What “Freedom from Anger” means is not no anger, it’s freedom from it’s binding effects, some of which you describe. In other words, anger can express in healthy ways, then completes and is done. It doesn’t stay with us like shadow, popping up seeking ways to express or creating excess reactivity.

        And agreed, anger can be healthy and drive action and change.

  3. Sanjay

    Regarding self-improvement, another thing that some teachers point out is that it is an egoic driven effort to improve oneself, which ultimately ends up keeping the seeker searching for something (self-improvement, etc) and hence, only strengths the egoic identify by keeping them in the dream of the separate self.

    And as regards, their iconoclastic behavior, these teachers say that human morality is fickle and changes with time. It is just a consensual agreement among the majority of people beloging to a particular society at that period in time. For example:- in Christanity it is prohibited to loan money and charge interest. Other religions like Islam also share this view. In due course of time, these religious observanaces became moral codes or virtues to be followed. But when these rules beacme unsustainable, people disregarded them even when they must have intially been labelled as avaricious. Similary, in Hinduism, widow re-marriage was probhited. But, later on it has come to have more acceptance in society. The people who took the first steps in breaking out of the mould must have done so despite having asperions cast on their morality.

    1. Hi Sanjay
      Well – there’s several factors in play here. If you experience yourself as a separate person, there can be value in some forms of self-improvement.

      But yes, some of that may reinforce the sense of personal identity. So it’s a question of balance. It can be helpful to learn effective communication or relationship styles, for example. But some programs emphasize that it’s all about you. Those are less helpful if you’re also working to surrender control.

      To some extent, the seeker drives spiritual practice. Yet at the same time, it’s not the seeker who wakes up – we wake up from the seeker. You also have to be alert to teachings that over-emphasize monkish renunciation.

      We continue to have a person post-awakening. It just ceases being the center. In that sense, we still have to take care of it. Feed it properly, etc. I read about the Love Languages post-awakening and found them insightful, so shared them on the blog. Certainly someone can make their language part of their identity but they remain useful for understanding relationship dynamics. So again, balance.

      The issue is about identification rather than self-care.

      Iconoclastic behaviour is a whole other topic. There is the tendency for rules to fall away as enlightenment deepens and we can become like a law of nature. However, that’s no excuse for acting out, etc. That’s one of the reasons I joined the ASI – ethical standards for teachers and students.

      And yes, morality is relative but that’s not an excuse for abusive behaviour. We can still be reasonable. And there’s always room for growth. 🙂

  4. Guru

    Some authors commenting on these qualities write that some qualities are for particular varna system. For example Shudras are not expected to ask for honour. Grahstha gives dana etc. Does it depend on varna system and ashrama stage like grahastha etc?

  5. Sorry, Guru, but that’s caste bigotry. A Shudra may not expect honors but that doesn’t mean he’s not bound by a desire for them. A poor man suffers more if he craves wealth. #26 isn’t about gaining honours but losing their binding influence. That’s what many of the qualities are about.

    Dana doesn’t have to be about money. Many give in the form of service, like in volunteering. The caste doesn’t matter. As such, a renunciate can also practice dana. As I mention in my notes, when we overflow within, we naturally give in whatever form we have to offer. It may be love, presence, bliss, writing, whatever.

    These qualities are about spiritual development not the family we’re born into.

    1. The word “Varna” is commonly translated as “caste” in English. I can appreciate there’s a difference between social hierarchy and birth but in practice, they’re similar. Someone born in a poor family is unlikely to reach high society. I was born to academics, so don’t think like a businessperson. And so forth.

      Again, these qualities are about spiritual development, not social standing. This goes beyond karma.

  6. harrison

    Love those 26 qualities….the path is more like a highway with lights and signs and rest stops. It’s the mind and all its conditioning that complicates things with either/or particularities. Thanks for this list and revisiting the Riga Veda verses that MMY shared with us many years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest