Blades of Dharma

Blade of Dharma

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om.  Lead me from the unreal to the ultimate truth, from the darkness to light,
From the death of ignorance to the immortality of knowledge.

Om.  Peace, Peace, Peace.

Like a pent up dam bursting forth, many significant changes gushed out through the government. From the reinstatement of संस्कृतं (Sanskrit) as a unifying factor in the national narrative, changes in the educational syllabus, to a revision of what is considered “history” of भारत (Bharat) today, many developments are being witnessed. However, with these gushing waters have also spilt many well-meaning, emotionally volatile, self appointed धर्म अधिकारी (upholders of Dharma) onto the social media space. With the blade of धर्म (Dharma) drawn, they are fervently searching for any slight incursion against their sensitivities, waiting to strike, to uphold धर्म (Dharma); whether it is through blogs, Facebook groups & pages or through user comments under articles (among which this op-ed could be considered one). One might be compelled, especially if you were at their receiving end, to ask the question: 

“Are these धर्म अधिकारी (upholders of Dharma) really helping uphold धर्म (Dharma), or, are they doing अधर्म (wrongdoing) ?”

While महर्षि वेदव्यास (Maharishi Ved Vyas) tried his utmost to answer this question through his compilation of the महाभारतम् (Mahabharatam) the debate, however, still rages on भगवान श्री कृष्ण (Bhagwan Shri Krishna) elucidates it through the श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता (Shrimad Bhagavad Gita),  but, its interpretations are many; of which this shall be another one.

Before we even touch the question “What is धर्म (Dharma) ?”, let us first try to answer: “Who is qualified to uphold धर्म (Dharma) ?”

The only thing the self cannot see is itself. So are we self aware or selfish? When Arjuna is wavering between action & inaction, overcome with many emotional forces, each pulling him in opposite directions, Shri Krishna advices him:

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि
Establish yourself in yoga O Arjuna and then do your karma

Now let us understand the character and capabilities of Arjuna very briefly. Arjuna was a very valiant and focused warrior, this can be inferred through two specific stories clearly:

a. The story of how he wins the hand of Draupadhi

b. An earlier tale, from his life in the gurukul, of when he is asked by Drona “What do you see Arjuna?” to which he replies: “Acharya I see only the eye of the bird” (Drona then asks him to release his arrow and Arjuna kills the bird in one clean shot)

Yet, standing in the middle of Kurukshetra Arjuna wavers emotionally and his mind falters, despite standing on the side of धर्म (Dharma). Even for a man of such high accomplishments & stature भगवान श्री कृष्ण (Bhagwan Shri Krishna) had to remind him of the importance of doing his duty, while being established in yoga. Shri Krishna says:

क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते । क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परन्तप ॥२- ३॥
Translation: “Do not become a coward, O Arjuna, because it does not befit you. Shake off this trivial weakness of your heart and get up for the battle, O Arjuna.”

Now, for a श्रेष्ठ (finest) warrior like Arjuna to get a reminder like this shows how difficult it must be to stand up for धर्म (Dharma), especially when we are emotionally torn. Most of these self-proclaimed धर्म अधिकारी (upholders of Dharma), I believe, are nowhere in comparison, in regards to qualities and character needed to stand up for धर्म (Dharma). Furthermore, hardly any of them appears to be established in yoga? One who is not established in his own self, is his own worst enemy.  As it is said:

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ॥६- ५॥

Translation: One must elevate and not degrade oneself by one’s own mind. The mind alone is one’s friend as well as one’s enemy.
The mind is the friend of those who have control over it, and the mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it. (6.05-06)

One who is a slave to emotions, as we can infer of these Facebook warriors, has a very weak mind that constantly falters, and is the least effective to stand up for धर्म. In my experience most of them appear to be driven by anger, insecurity, pride & boastfulness. I am compelled to reference the Gita, once again, in regards to such vices:

क्रोधाद्भवति संमोहः संमोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः । स्मृतिभ्रंशाद्बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ॥२- ६३॥
Translation: “From anger delusion occurs, from delusion bewilderment of memory.

 After forgetfulness of memory the loss of spiritual intelligence occurs. When spiritual intelligence is lost, one perishes”  

Such is the problem of these Dharmadhikaris (upholders of Dharma). Most of them appear to be very angry, a fair few are extremely delusional and the rest completely lack any common sense. How can such people stand up for धर्म (Dharma)? Yet they are there are out there waving the blade of धर्म (Dharma) drawn at every perceived threat. What is this blade of धर्म ? This can be explained through another beautiful story:

After his enlightenment at Kanyakumari Swami Vivekananda received a clear mission that he needed to spread धर्म (Dharma) in the West, so he decided to leave for America to fulfill his life’s mission. However, his Guru, Shri Ramakrishna, had passed away; so he went to Mother Sharada, his guru’s wife, to seek her blessing. When he arrived the Mother was cooking in the kitchen. Having not seen him for a long time, she was overjoyed to have him over. She invited him to stay for lunch, soon Vivekananda and the Mother became deeply engaged in conversation. Vivekananda completely forgot his reason to visit her. He started to assist the Mother in the cooking process. Their conversation continued as they prepared food. After washing the vegetables the Mother turned to Vivekananda and asked him to pass her a knife. Vivekananda handed the knife to her. After she took the knife Mother Sharada, always aware of Vivekananda’s reason for visiting her, said to him: “You have my blessings for your mission.”  Vivekananda, was very curious to know how the mother knew what he wanted to ask her, how she came to her decision? The mother said:

“It was the way you handed the knife to me that told me you were ready to spread धर्म.”  

Ordinarily, anyone without awareness, when asked to pass a knife, will hold the handle of the knife in his hand and hand it out, the blade directed toward the one who asks for it. However, Vivekananda held the blade of the knife in his palm and its handle was directed toward his guru’s wife.  Such is the character and quality of one who can stand up for धर्म (Dharma). The question then, that we have to ask is neither what धर्म (Dharma) is, nor, who is capable to stand up for धर्म (Dharma), but:

 “Do we have blade of धर्म (Dharma) directed towards whom we intend to expose it to? Or is it directed towards us?”

We have to ask this to ourselves every moment, in every word we write or say, in every action we take, and in every thought that crosses in our minds. It is important for this dialogue to happen in our अन्तर्यामिन् (inner guide) to constantly monitor whether the blade of धर्म (Dharma) is drawn out, or drawn in? We come from a culture that teaches: स्वाध्याय प्रवचन (self-study discourse). It implores us to be embodied beings not evangelists or Jihadis who march with the blade drawn. It is only when we rest the wisdom in our head on a pillow of discomfort and have sat as a disciple in the school of our enemy can we sleep with a smile on our face. For it is then that we have played the game of life well. Even our enemy can be our guru and the cause for our own liberation if we have the capacity to learn from them, with respect, the same way we learn from our gurus. Is it not said in the Isha Upanishad:

ॐ ईशा वास्यमिदँ सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् ।
God pervades in everything, and in whatsoever that moves in this World

If we have the capacity to rise above the bondages of the mind from the delineations we impose upon it of perceived differences we shall walk closer towards our मुक्ति (redemption). There is a predominance of blame game that pervades in the minds of the भारतीय (Bhartiye) consciousness today. While it is undeniable the atrocities we have had to suffer a the hands of our past colonizers and conquerors, let us also not forget that it takes two to make a fight and one to loose it. Instead blaming the other, “them”, who we can never change, let us instead review our roles in whatever was the outcome. Have we identified where our faults lay? Have we improved upon them? It is also very important to be aware that our rebuilding efforts should be devoid of any hatred, lest we become like them. Immediately there will be those who demand vengeance to be extracted and debts paid for millennia long oppression, tyranny, brutality & violence. In the same vein they quote that not only the benevolent Ram but also the blood thirsty Parashuram, who were both avatars, avenged similar oppression all those years ago, so oceans will need to run red.

It is easy for one to demand these from our armchair with a keystroke, however, are you willing to be the one to stand in the front of this blood thirst? Are you willing to put your head in the line instead of Lance Naik Hemraj?

We learn history, whether it is of Shri Ram or Parashuram, so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the offenders, not to be inspired to commit them again, because the solutions of the yesteryear will not work for the present. We cannot fight yesterday’s enemy today. That time has passed. Today our enemies are our own selves. We are still clinging onto the old hatred and anger, which is holding us back from progressing into the future. To illustrate how this enemy “within” is impeding our progress I shall share the story of how महाभारतम् (Mahabharatam) ends:

The war is done, everyone is dead and Yudhisitir is walking towards heaven, as he enters, he notices that all the Kauravas are there. He becomes outraged and is livid. Breaking his usual calm and composed demeanor he demands in a thundering voice:

“What are these murderers doing here? Where are my brothers? Where is my wife”?

Indra says that they are in hell. Yudhisitir becomes furious, he roars: “Is this justice? We fought for धर्म (Dharma) and my brothers are in hell? Why? What is the meaning of this outrage!!“

Indra comes to Yudhisitir and says: “O great king Yudhisthira, you have won the war, you have defeated these souls, you have fought for धर्म (Dharma), you are a winner. But you haven’t let go of one thing. Anger. Ego. You haven’t forgiven these souls. You are still holding on to your anger. If that is the case, what have you really won? A piece of land? All this mass killing for material things? What have you really learnt?”

We need to seek our own कर्म (Karma) and to do that, it is not for us to imitate and expect the same glory through repetition. Arjuna did what he had to do to be free of his own entrapments in order to reach his own next stage in his own spiritual evolution. If the war had not happened, and Yudhisitir had not gone to heaven to realize what he was still clinging onto, how would he himself have learnt ? Everything is necessary for those situations, but it is not necessary for today. Our कर्म (Karma) is different from their कर्म (Karma). So the question we should be asking is:

“What is my कर्म?”

How do we identify our कर्म (Karma) ? Each of us has been put in this birth for a very unique purpose that no one else can fulfill but ourselves. Find out what that is. What is it that you love to do that makes you loose track of time and space when you are involved in doing that? Find that out and make a profession out of it. When we sincerely question our अन्तर्यामिन् (inner guide) we will know what our कर्म (Karma) is. Is that not that what our अध्यात्म विद्या (self-study knowledge) teaches us? When a pillar is raised a roof can be laid. Be that pillar. Forget about the rest, take complete responsibility for your every action that helps towards the whole, stand on your own ground. Why does our culture reference Lotuses all the time? They are rooted in the worst of filth and yet rise up above that into beautiful flowers. Embody that ! Modi came from being a tea-shop boy, the more his detractors derided him the stronger he became, he turned every attack into an opportunity to reach more people through his fitting responses.

मन एव मनुष्याणां कारणं बन्धमोक्षयोः
– ब्रह्मबिन्दूपनिषत्

Mind is cause for one’s bondage or liberation
Brahmabindu Upanishad

There is immense potential for change in the Universe, however, it is confined to an infinitesimally tiny portion of it: Us. The quicker we realize this and implement it into our own individual thoughts and actions the faster our road to progress and recovery. There are a lot of posts, articles; and associated comments that are always shifting the locus of control from within our grasp onto “them”, reducing our chances of any true change. At the end of the day when our fingers finally tire from commenting, we shut our computers down and go to sleep, there will be more than 60 crore भरत वासि (Indians) who will continue debating into the night on how they can get their next meal. We can argue to the end of our individual lives and have done nothing to improve their condition, because WE (you and I) only debated. Have we forgotten the pledge in the Taitriya Upanishad, verse 9:

अत्रं बहु कुर्वीत । तदृव्रतम् । – तैत्तिरीयोपनिषद अनुवाक ९
Let us make food in plenty, this is our Vow !

We have to constantly watch how much of energy is wasted in our thoughts and actions by blaming “them”. Until we accept complete responsibility, each and every one of us, and do our कर्म (Karma) in addressing those problems, in whatever small way we are capable of, only then can we call ourselves a भारतीय (Bhartiye) and it is only then have we upheld धर्म (Dharma).

 सर्वेशां स्वस्तिर्भवतु 
 सर्वेशां शान्तिर्भवतु  

सर्वेशां पुर्णंभवतु  
सर्वेशां मङ्गलंभवतु 
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः  

May there be well-being in All
May there be peace in All
May there be fulfillment in All
May there be auspiciousness in All
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

~ by Ashok Vardhan