By Shardha Batra
Dharma is the cosmic law which holds things, people, families, society, nations, and the countless, disparate elements of the cosmos together as a cohesive, harmonious and meaningful whole.
When this mystical law is translated into motivations and actions, appropriate to a specific individual in a specific situation, it transcends personal desires and attachments and manifests as dharma in its aspect as duty.
The ‘Vedas’ expand the word ‘dharma’ to include the abstract truths of ‘Satyam’, ‘Brihad’ and ‘Ritam’.
Satyam is the essential truth of a situation, deeper and more complex than the surface appearance. It is a result of ‘buddhi’ penetrating the threadbare essence of a situation.
Brihad means vast and all inclusive. It is a change of spectacles which enables integration of multiple warring facts into an all-sweeping eagle vision which joins visible and invisible dots.
Satyam and brihad when combined translate into ritam – righteous action. It is the warrior fighting the battle with soft skills of a psychotherapist. Ritam includes diagnosing feelings, wielding compassion and the art of relentless, disarming dialogue.
Satyam, brihad and ritam are the outcome of ‘Prajna’ which is a synthesis of a clear impartial objectivity with sensitive subjectivity and the practised ability to discover out of the box solutions to intimidating deadlocks.
The deity in-charge of dharma is also Dharma. He is born from Brahma, married to the daughters of Daksha and father of Nara Narayana. Symbolically, Dharma is born to Brahma – the creative waking consciousness or mind. Dharma marrying Daksha Prajapati’s daughters is symbolic of Dharma being lord of all potential talents required to connect diverse individuals. Dharma is the father of Nara, jiva atman, and Narayana, Paramatman, making it the seed leading to the birth of the embodied soul as both man and the divine avatar in a combined mission to restore cosmic integrity.
Dharma is the result of transcending the ego. Its foundation is the Vedic concept of yajna, sacrifice, and the lofty ideal of loka sangraha, collective well-being, which was given by Krishna to Arjuna at the critical juncture of the Mahabharata war.
In the Bhagwad Gita 3:20, Krishna says, “O Arjuna, Janaka and others attained perfection by action. You should perform action with a view to loka sangraha – protecting and holding together of people.” This does not allude to a Karl Marx-like principle where the individual is subservient to a homogeneous collectivity. Loka sangraha is collective well-being based on being able to appreciate and honour individual differences. Never giving up on an individual irrespective of his uniquely different view, religion and approach; it unites people based on the universal divine spark in all.
In the Gita, 3:21, Krishna continues: “Whatever a great man does, other men also do. Whatever he sets up as a standard, that is emulated by the people.” The common man closely watches and emulates the ideals and trajectories of such a leader, drawing inspirations to sacrifice the lesser for the greater ideal of ‘i win, you win’.
Such a leader becomes an arrow in the hands of the divine archer, an instrument for not only uplifting and supporting the weak but also ushering in global harmony and peace.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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