19 March 2015
Talks by swami swaroopananda
What is dharma
- Dharma when practised should give peace of mind. Where there is Dharma; there is victory. Peace is our victory. Those who follow dharma have a sense of wellbeing. One must have a strong conviction to live the values. When any wrong action is done we have a conflict within.
- There are certain norms for dharma. Norms can be social, legal, cosmic laws etc. These are certain rules set to be followed. It varies with the society, culture, trend etc. What was considered wrong once upon a time or in certain places may be right in some other context. These norms became part of the system and minds are conditioned in doing things in a certain manner. The Pandavas always questioned themselves regarding ‘What is Dharma?’ before taking any action.
- Rishis in olden days always taught the students; ‘Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara’- Always speak the truth, follow dharma. Lead a life of dharma. Always take only the positive from others; never follow the negative. Whenever we face conflict in life; these scriptures like Mahabharata and Ramayana should act like a mirror and we must learn from them. What mistakes they committed in certain situations; we must learn from that and what right action they did should be emulated. We must know what actions will face what kind of consequences. It will help us in understanding dharma.
- Ramayana gives us the example of the two brothers Rama and Bharata and how they followed the dharma. Rama to keep the word given by his father to his step mother, leaves for the exile despite many others discouraging him to do so; as everyone was aware that the father himself was not agreeable to the unjust demand of Kaikeyi. But Rama was firm and clear that his dharma was to keep up the promise given by his father to Kaikeyi and it was the tradition of the Raghu dynasty to never break a promise even at the cost of one’s life. Bharata was another example who questioned what dharma was. Was it fair to send Rama who was the right heir to the throne to the forest? He refused to sit on the throne even after the convincing of his mother, father, guru and others because he knew that no one was actually happy with this decision not even his own mother who was just totally misguided by the wicked Manthara. So he did what was right. On Rama’s refusal to come to Ayodhya to keep up the promise made to father; Bharata took the padukas of Rama and ruled the kingdom on Rama’s behalf leading a very simple life of a hermit just like Rama. That was kind of dharma that the two brothers followed.
- What is dharma? The only one who can actually teach about Dharma was Lord Krishna who was totally detached.
- Spirituality is about confronting your own weaknesses and not judging others. Just as saint kabir said ‘Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye, Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa koye’, I searched for the crooked, met not a single one, When searched myself, “I” found the crooked one. It has been invariably noticed that we tend to find fault with someone else for our situations and circumstances. We find ourselves being busy in criticizing and condemning others and conveniently term them as crooked or evil. So Kabir says that instead of finding fault and maligning others, dive deep into your own-self. Amazingly, an honest introspection will reveal that all fault lies with “me” and “my” own perceptions and attitudes. If there is any evil or crookedness, it is in “me”. Correcting this and opting for a loving and compassionate attitude will change one’s perceptions and the world will appear wonderful all over again. It is like keeping a mirror in front of us.
- The above is valid for each of us to look into ourselves before we comment on the others. It is easy for us to say that Yudhistra was the cause of Mahabharata war, because of his weakness towards the game of dice. Before we comment or pass judgement we have to analyse what was right and what was wrong? Dhritharashra blinded by his love for his son Duryodhana agreed for every unjust demand his son was making. Vidura kept warning Dhritharashtra that this game of dice with all the evil intentions would be disastrous to the Kuru dynasty. But the blind king did not heed to his advice. Vidura also went to Yudhistra in presence of Draupadi and told him to refuse to play since he knew that it would be an unfair game and Shakuni the evil ‘mama’ would be playing on behalf of Duryodhana. Yudhistra questioned to himself what dharma was? When a king was invited to play a game of dice was it right to refuse? Wasn’t this happening with the knowledge of his uncle whom he considered as his own father; then was it right to refuse to play? All elders of the kuru dynasty knew about it; wouldn’t it be going against them if he refused? Though within his mind he never wanted to play, but after analysing what was his dharma at that time as a King; he agreed to play the game of dice so wickedly designed by Shakuni.
- After Yudishtra keeps losing his kingdom, people; even his brothers and then himself, he still keeps gambling to avert the destruction of so many people and make peace. Finally he is asked to stake Draupadi. Draupadi questions the dharma. What right does Yudhistra have as a slave after he has already lost to offer her as a stake or if he is yet to be a slave how could he put her at stake first without protecting her? For the sake of keeping peace and to avoid war Yudishtra underwent all this ordeal of cheating by the Kauravas.
- Draupadi was humiliated in presence of all elders and especially Karna instigated Duryodhana and Dushasana to act in such a shameful manner. What kind of Dharma did Karna follow? When it is always argued in the Mahabharata that Karna didn’t deserve such humiliation throughout, one should also realise how inconsiderate and insolent he was in his disrespect for Draupadi as well as the elders of Kuru dynasty.
- When Draupadi realised that everybody in the court hung their heads in shame without helping her through this humiliation, she sought out to Lord Krishna her only refuge to help her and he kept up the promise of never letting down his devotees and created a never ending saree for her to protect her dignity. This also the Lord did only when Draupadi just let go and lifted both her hands in complete surrender to the Lord. There is a learning for us here. In difficulties after we have done our best and nothing more is in our hands we must not keep holding on to the problem, just let go and surrender and the Lord will answer.
- Bhima was raging with fury at such a humiliation of Draupadi especially when Duryodhana asked her to sit in his lap. He then swore that he would break this very thigh of Duryodhana and he was also upset at Yudhistras helplessness. Arjuna was quiet; though seething with anger from inside because he respected Yudhistra and did not want to raise objection to his decision. Even Draupadi did not agree when all accused of Yudhistra’s weakness for gambling. She insisted that he was forced and he was following the dharma of the King when he accepted to play the game of dice. After so much humiliation of Draupadi; Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva promised that they would not spare any of these people for their disgusting behaviour with Draupadi. When Dhritharashtra realised that this was now going to a disastrous situation, he panicked and asked Draupadi to forgive them and granted her 2 boons. She asked him to first release Yudhishtra and then to release her other husbands with their weapons. They were given the kingdom back also.
- Soon Shakuni entices them to another game of dice where the pandavas lose again and are sent to the forest for 12 years and then one year incognito. If recognised during the incognito period they would have to go again on an exile for 12 years. For power and position and to have an upper hand unfair means are employed. Where is Dharma?
- When Dharma cannot protect and respect woman, who is the embodiment of right consciousness, it indicates that the value system has gone down.
- Only where there is Dharma, victory is assured.