Saturday, September 11, 2010


I was surfing about human behavior on internet and found many interesting fact/things about our behavior. So I decided to share some of these with you. First, we must know the origin and definition of the word ‘Obedience’.

       A. Base words
1. English word "obedience"
            a. Etymology - Latin oboedire - ob = towards; oedire = "to hear"
            b. Meaning: "to hear or listen towards"
            c. Popular English usage: "to follow, heed, comply with commands or injunctions within a sphere of    jurisdiction."
2. Hebrew word shama - "to hear, listen; obey"
3. Greek word hupakouo - "to listen under; obey"
4. Old English word herknen ("hearken"); both hear and obey

There are many references in history about obedience. Like in Old Testament:

Exod. 19:5 - "if you obey My voice ..., you shall be My possession"
Exod. 24:7 - "All that the Lord has spoken we will do; we will be obedient"
Deut. 6:4 - "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one"
Deut. 11:13 - "if you listen obediently to My commandments"

And in New Testament:

Rom. 1:5 - "obedience of faith among the Gentiles"
Rom. 16:26 - "obedience of faith"
II Cor. 10:5 -"taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"
II Thess. 1:8 - "those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus"
Heb. 5:9 - "He became to all who obey Him the source of salvation"
I Pet. 1:2 - "that you may obey Jesus Christ"

Moreover, Mohammad when asked about what Islam is, he replied, “Islam is Obedience and Abstinence”.

In Hinduism as well, obedience is considered a virtue, obedience of a spouse to wife of husband and a child to his/her parents. Likewise, we have heard or read many stories about obedience of a student (shishya) to his master (guru).

According to Wikipedia, the psychological definition of obedience is: Obedience, in human behavior, is the quality of being obedient, which describes the act of carrying out commands, or being actuated. Obedience differs from compliance, which is behavior influenced by peers, and from conformity, which is behavior intended to match that of the majority.

Starting from home, we all are trained to gain this virtue called obedience. A number of experiments and exercises are practiced on us to make us obedient. An obedient kid is always praised over a less obedient one. Our education system is designed in such a way, so that it produces obedient citizens.

Despite of all these, there are some brave humans who still escape the training they undergo. May be they are very insensitive towards what the system is trying to seed in them. To make sure that no such person disturb others, a law jurisdiction is formed, which again asks obedience, but this time with stronger authority.
The highest level of the authority to which everyone should be obedient, is GOD. This is why Socrates says, “He must be a genius, who invented GOD”.

There have been many experiments on this human behavior of obedience, whose results may be summarized as:
1. A person without any ability or expertise to make decisions, especially in adverse conditions, leaves decision making to the authorities. Hence starts following.
2. Another reason for obedience in humans is sense of being not responsible. A person, who is following someone, can throw the responsibilities of his acts on the person he is following.

In both the situations, obedience is found to have grown in the individuals out of their weaknesses. Certain strong individuals have exploited this phenomenon since ages. And in some cases, it is seen that obedience overtakes the morality of the individuals. An example of such exploitation is the ‘Holocaust’. Genocide of about six million (two-third of total population) of Jews living in Europe was the result of obedience of the murders. On the other hand, Hindus or Muslims killing people in the name of religion are the other examples. They keep their morality aside and participate in the massacre to obey the orders of their respective authorities.

In a manner, we are no different from those participants of Holocaust as we also surrender to our authorities. The only difference is, they are trained to obey orders in adverse situations where we might move out. However, to an extent we also leave morality to obey authorities (Why not, it is considered as a virtue, even if our actions are logically or morally incorrect).

Now going back to the historical times, when the concept of obedience formed, we will find that this is not what Jesus, Mohammad, or any other spiritual master must have projected about obedience. Otherwise, Mohammad would have never said that Islam is obedience. With obedience they meant, has nothing to do with following or obeying orders.

Let us once again consider the origin of the word; it comes from Latin words ‘ob’ and ‘oedire’, which means to ‘listen towards’. What their meaning must be from my point of view is- Listen carefully; once you listen carefully, you will be able to understand what truth is. And once you know the truth, you cannot deny it, and you automatically will follow me. But the usage has changed completely.


  1. True, and an interesting read.
    Though I am highly skeptic of what to substitute "Hindus and Muslims killing each other." It just doesn't feel right, its some factions that fight under these banners, "Hindus and Muslims" are two very big names to be dragged into this. These encompass not only those radical factions, but also the majority of people who live in harmony. Because of a few, the name of whole religion is tainted. They don't understand this, at least we should.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  2. Thanks for the read!!
    Very true that Hindus and Muslims are two very big names to be dragged into this.
    I must rather say the mutineers, who claim themselves to be the sentry of religions.

    During the course of my writing i just forget about the sensitivity of the statement.

    Thanks for the rectification. :)

  3. hi
    first time here and very nice blog :)
    very good research and very interesting points..old and new testament and all, u have worked a lot upon this :)

    keep writing :)

  4. @AS: Thanks!!
    Not everything is researched while writing, some of them I've read earlier, but eventually came to my mind while writing.
    Thanks again... Keep in touch... :)