How does one define a good character? What is the yardstick to measure it?

There is not one straightforward definition for good character. The yardstick varies with perspectives. For example, everyone’s minds have their own definition of good and bad qualities. A society might consider a person of character, only if he performs charitable social work like building schools, hospitals etc.

What we ought to consider as good traits, is what has been prescribed in the holy scriptures and epics. This is because the Maharshis had recorded the scriptures by dint of their severe austerities and not by anyone’s influence. So they are unbiased. Accordingly, Sri Rama can be considered as an embodiment of character. In this age, if one stands up to even one percentage of the qualities portrayed in Sri Rama, then he can be considered a man of character.

How can I stay away from a gossiping group and avoid indulging myself into it?

Cultivate the habit of reading good books, specially those about saints' lives.

Listen to divine lectures and spiritually awakening talks.

Observe silence for a few minutes or hours everyday.

The more interest you show in an unwanted conversation, the tendency of gossip grows. In such a conversation, it is always good respond with minimal words or by just nodding the head. As you stop encouraging such conversations, others will automatically refrain from talking to you.

My family members chant the Mahamantra regularly. This has not changed their behaviour or attitude. They seem to be finding fault with others and hurt others with their words or behavior. How will God grace remain with such people who knowingly hurt or insult others? If people do mistakes even after realizing that Satsang, Guru and Mahamantra can reach one to God, will Mahamantra help them? I am the victim of their behavior. I have totally lost my peace of mind due to this. I need your advice to come out of such frequent but difficult phases in my life.

"Let us assume that a person wishes to undertake a pilgrimage from Kanyakumari to Badrinath. He can take to any mode of travel in order to undertake his journey. Each mode has its own merits and demerits. Even if he chooses the best means of travel, would he reach Badrinath the moment he decides on his pilgrimage? No, isn’t it? It takes its own time and depends on a multitude of factors like the person’s interest, the effort he puts in, the environment and nature, and so many others.

Likewise, if someone wishes to attain God, he seeks a Guru and also chants. But it is unfair to expect to reach the goal immediately. At the same time, you cannot brand him as lacking progress entirely.

Hriday, who was very close to Sri Ramakrishna gave him a lot of troubles. Sri Girish Chandra Ghosh who was loved by Sri Ramakrishna never stopped drinking and womanizing until his last breath. Perumal Swami, who was one of the earliest devotees of Bhagavan Ramana and took such a good care of him later went against Bhagavan Ramana himself and wrote books tarnishing Bhagavan’s Name.

In fact, even Jagadguru Sri Dakshinamurthi has only four disciples.

True saints never try to hypnotize, mesmerize, brainwash or perform miracles and magic to change people; nor dothey change their disciples by mere command like in a military regiment.

True transformation largely depends on one’s sincere dedication and interest to get transformed. A flower has to blossom by itself. One cannot threaten it with a stick, can one? Everything will happen in its own course. So let us wait patiently. Until such a time, never allow any one or any event spoil your internal peace and happiness. Don’t interact with or react to anything. Watch it as a third person. Chant the Mahamantra and see everything as the Leela of the Lord. It might be initially difficult to be so, but it is not impossible. Practice it and you are sure to be successful."