Saturday, December 10, 2016

910. Dharma is Subtle.....!

Draupadi could not get the answer to her question at the Kuru Sabha, The Grand old man of the clan, Bhishma says “Dharma is subtle.” 

Moral Ambiguity is bewildering because when I take a moral stand about somebody's action, I must take the same stand when I am in the similar act in similar circumstances. The kind of behaviour I am ready to prescribe to others should be the same I observe in the same situation. It is very hard to develop this sort of reasoning, but it is not impossible. Draupadi’s question also points out to the most important issue about who has the authority to decide about Dharma. 

We Hindus do not believe in God to be the authority of Dharma, as He is just a witness. Human reason and the search for a rational basis of Dharma is often compatible with these religious traditions. But if God is not an authority, then who is? Manu in his book of Law, Manusmriti cites “The root of Dharma is the entire Vedas.” But many do not agree with Manu and questions if Vedas can be the arbiter. Could the wise decide on Dharma?  Though the intellect shines same in different individuals, the delight they take in applying it is different. Hence even the wise cannot conclude on Dharma. 

God is not the authority of Dharma, Vedas are not the arbiter, and wise cannot conclude on Dharma, so how can an ordinary individual know if his actions are Dharmic or not???

Draupadi questions Yudhishthira, “What is the point in being good when it brings grief? What kind of world is this where those who cause harm to others seem to be rewarded while those who uphold Dharma suffer? Dharma is supposed to protect the good, but I have observed that it did not protect you though you have never strayed away from following Dhrama. You have treated everyone alike. You remained faithful to your word even after losing the game of dice which was played cunningly.”

In a typically modest way, Yudhishthira expresses his instinctive sense of dutiful action, “I act because I must. I am not following Dharma because of any hope of reward. I act from a sense of what I have to do. The sense of what I have to do is a standard of conduct and a society needs standards.” 

Yudhishthira is setting a standard. He is saying, in effect, that following Dharma is its own reward. Just acting according to Dharma is itself a motivator. Dharma is neither a thing to be taught nor does it exist in the character. The character of a person is not something that one is born with. It is constantly evolving through repeated actions, and one can be guided to become better that what he was. To become a musician one requires skill and repetitive practice. In the same way, to follow Dharma one has to go on repeating virtuous actions.

I tend to view the old concept of karma in this light. When I repeat certain actions, I accumulate karma of a certain kind, which builds a certain kind of character and predisposes me to act in a certain way. Karma for me is not something Alaukika (Uncommon) but Svabhava (Inherent Nature). It is an inclination to act in a certain way as result of my Vasanas (Tendencies), which have been formed as a result of my past Samskaras (Impressions). If it benefits me alone and is putting other to hardship then I need to change those patterns.    

No comments:

Post a Comment