Magazine : Matrusri English
Language : English
Volume Number : 2
Month : January
Issue Number : 10
Year : 1968

IN one of her lectures delivered at Benares on “Dharma”, Dr. Annie Besant says, “When the nations of the earth were sent forth one after the other, a special word was given by God to each, the word which each was to say to the world. the peculiar word from the Eternal which each one was to speak. As we glance over the history of the nations, we can fear, resounding from the collective mouth of the people, this word, spoken out in action, the contribution of that nation to the ideal and perfect humanity. To Egypt in old days, the word was Religion; to Persia the word was Purity; to Cha dea the word was Science; to Greece the word was Beauty: to Rome the word was Law; and to India, the eldest-born of His children, God gave the word that samed up the whole in one, the word Dharma. That is the word of India to the world”. This emphasis on the word Dharma, we find in many and all of our sacred texts. We find it in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita which rightly begins with that word itself. “Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre” and so on. This entire immortal song of Truth so full of meaning. so rast in its out- reaching force, which has seen and yet to see innumerable commentaries in many a language of the world. is directed towards that particular word only, and this we find also in the following words of Sri Krishna: “Dharma samsthapanaarthaya. Sambhavami Yuge Yuge”, “for the sake of establishing righteousness I incarnate from age to age Here let us see what is meant by Dharma and how it is defined by our preceptors and expounded by learned ones.

Says Sri Amma in one of Her dialogues with a devotee. “Karma is the action which we see, and the Karta or the doer (akarma’ says Mother), is the Lord. the integral initiative. There is, in actuality, nothing like the nishkamakarma of the individual, as all doings are His. You cannot do anything unless He wills it. What you think you have done, happens only by his sufferance, It is svabhava which makes you feel that you could do this or that. Yet, whose sva bhava is it? It is again His, not yours. The ramification iniative, His forms. His qualities, His, we see as the universe.” So Mother does not enjoin upon us to do the so-called “dharma” assigned to us by precepts of someone, but asks us to do as His work, or His service. These same words are echoed by Swami Chinmayananda in his discourse: The term Dharma is one of the most intractable terms in Hindu theology. Derived from the root ‘dhay (Diri) to uhpold, sustain, support, the team Dharma cenotes that which holds together the different aspects and qualities of an object into a whole. “Dharanaad Dharma Mityahulu, Dharmenis Vidbrutah Prajah”. Ortinarily, the term Dharma has been trans lated as religious code, as righteousness, as a system of morality, as duty, as charity etc. But the origina Sanskrit term has an indivi dual personality of its own, which is not captured by any one of these renderings. The best rendering of this term Pharma that I have met with so far is “the law of being,” meaning “that which makes a thing or being what it is ” For example, it is the Dharma of the fire to burn. of the sun to shine etc. Therefore Dharma means not merely righteousness or goodness, but it indicates the essential nature of anything without which it cannot retain its inde pendens existence. For example, a coli. dara sun is impossible as heat and light are the Dharmas of the sun. Similarly, if we are to live as truely dynamic men in the world, we must also live faith ful to our true nature, and the Gita explains, to me my Dharma’. Hence Bagavan Sri Krishna says in chapter fourteen, “Gunathraya vibhaagayoga”, “I am of immemorial righteousness”, “Saswa thasya Cha Dharmasya”.

In the epics left behind to us by the great ones of our land, we find the stress more on this one particular aspect Dharma which is the prime factor out of which spring the other three concomitants Kaama. Artha, Moksha, the Chaturvidha Purusharthas (endis). The pre-eminence of our Pharma Sastras springs froca their vindicating the importance of Dharma and teaching its precepts in order that the ultimate end of existence might be attained by freedom from rebirth and the return of the self (atman) to its original abole in the Universal Self (Paran eswara). So the bedrock on which the culminating edifice mokslas tai ed and reached is firmly laid by Sri Devi Herself as She personifies in herself righteousness; and as Diarini and Dharmavardhini, She prometes righteousness in others.

Sri Shyama Sastriar, one of the saint composers of the famous musical trinity sings thus: Dharmasavardi ani Mayamma the Goddess stands as the base on which the founda tions of all that is good can be constructed. Unless the idea of Gohead symbolic of harma is deeprooted in us, and terra firma of faith is established, felicity in this life is impossible. Both our happiness and unhappiness depend entirely on our actions in accord ance with Pharma and in di-regard of it.

Here I crave the indulgence of th readers for my quoting in extenso. R. Tagore from his book Sadhana”: “Dharma is the innermost nature, the essence. the implicit truth of all things. Dharma is the ultimate purpose that is working in our self. When any wrong is done, we say that Dharma is violated, meaning that the lie has been given to our nature. Daarma, which is the truth in us, is not apparent, because it is inherent. So much so, that it has been held that sinfulness is the nature of man, and only by the special grace of Gol can a particular person be saved. This is like saying that the nature of the seed is to remain enfolded within its shell, and it is only by some special miracle that it can be grown into a tree. But do we no: know that the appearance of the seed contradicts its true nature? When you submit it to chemi cal analysis you may find in it carbon and protein and a good many other things, but not the idea of a branching tree Only when the tree begins to take shape do you come to sec its dharma, and then you can affirm without doubt that the seed which has been wasted and allowed to rot in the ground has been thwarted. in its dharma, in the fulfilment of its true nature. In the histoy of humanity we have known the living seed in us to sprout. We have seen the great purpose in us taking shape in the lives of our greatest men, and have felt certain that though there are numerous individual lives that seem ineffectual, still it is not their dharma to remain barren: but it is for them to brust their cover and transform themselves into a vigorous spiritual shoot, growing up into the ar and light, and branching out in all directions. The sacrifice by which a thing attains its fulfilment is not a sacrifice which ends in death; it is the casting-off of Lends which wins freedom.

We are perforce reminded here about that Master who is the greatest emb diment of Dharma that the world has ever seen, Acharya Bhishma, the son of Ganga, the mightiest incarnation of Duty. I cannot here better illustrate then quote Dr. Besant who graphically portrays the scene in the following words Come with me for a while, travelling five thousand years back in time, and see this hero, lying on his bed of arrows on the field of Kurukshetra, there holding Death at bay, until the right hour should strike. We pass through heaps upon heaps of the slaughtered warriors, over moun. tains of dead elephants and horses, and we pass by many a funeral pyre, many a heap of broken weap ns and chariots. We come to the hero lying on the bed of arrows, transfixed with bun reds of arrows and his head resting on a pillow of arrows. For he has rejected the pillows they brought him of soft down, and accepted only the arrowy pillow made by Arjuna. He, Acharya Bhishma, perfect in Dharma had while still a youth, for the sake of his father, for the sake of the duty that he owed to his father, for the sake of the love he bere to his father, made that great vow of renouncing family life, renouncing the crown, in order that the father’s will might be done, and the father’s heart be satisfied And Shantanu gave him his blessing, that wondrous boon, that Death should not come to him until he came at his own command, until he willed to die. When he fell at the battlefield it was Dakshinaayana when the sun was in his sculern path, and the season was not fav urable for the death of one who was not to take any more births. So he used the been cenfened by his father and made death tarry until the sun should open up the way to eternal peace and liberation, that is, ushering in of Uttarayana (sun’s nor thern course). As he lay there for many a weary day, racked with the agonies of his wounds, tortured by the anguish of the mangle body that he wore, there came around him many Rishis and Kings, and thither came also Sri Krishna, to see the faithful one. Thither’ came the Pandavas, the victors in the mighty war, and they stood’ round him weeping and worshipping him, and longing to be taught by him. To him, in the midst of that bitter anguish, came the words from One whose lips were the lips of God, and He released him from the burning fever, and He gave him bodily rest and clearness of mind and quictness of the inner man, and then He bade him teach to the world what Dharma is-he whose whole life had taught it, who had not swerved from the path of righteousness, who whether as son. or prince, or statesmen. or warrior, had always trodden that narrow path of Dharma. He was asked for teaching by those who were around him, and Vasudeva (Krishna) bade him speak of Dharma, because he was fit to teach. Then began that wonderful discourse, without parallel among the discourses of the world”, says Sri Veda Vyasa, writer of the great epic that he had with uplifted arms preached all his life to the world that Artha and Kama are offshoots from dharma only and that therefore Dharma should be observed. So we find Dharma is the pre-requisite for the fulfilment of the other three important wants of man, hence it seems our sankalpas also during our worship (puja offerings) commence with that word Dharma and Artha, Kama, Moksha, Chaturvidha Purushartha phala Siddhyartham”, (For the fulfiment of the fourfold am,). We first invoke Dharmia on y. Here I am reminded of one of the aphorisms of the woman Saint Avvaiyar of Tamiland. Her words in original say, ‘Veedu Pera Nill, which, if literally translated, may mean’stand to obtain a home, that is, family life with wife, children and riches. One will wonder, Is it that the above saying connote. ? and may ask, “Why so much effort for the worldly enjoyments? But in that pithy saying which conveys double meaning, the author meant only the liberation, Moksha (veedu) and with that in view she asks you to do penance by way of concentrated action (Nill). The Tamil word Veedu is both home and Moksha, pera is to get, and Nill ordinarily mears to stand, but here carries the meaning, concentrated effort. Sri Devi as One who combines in Herself both and figures as Bhogaksha pradayani”, as rightly mentioned in one of the songs of Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar, confers all that is good in life to Her devotees, first Bhoga, (material comfort) and ultimately liberation. Says the poet William Wordsworth.

Oh! There is never sorrow of heart

 That shall lack a timely end,

If but to God we turn, and ask

 Of him to be our friend!

Yes, Sri Devi as Dukhahantri (Destroyer of Woe) and Sukhaprada, (giver of Comfort) will wipe away all our tears of sorrow that well up in our eyes owing to worldly trials, the trials we undergo for the sins of past Karma. Bhoga is conferred on us by Her in the form of family life with all pleasures of homely life, with riches, kith and kin, full of pleasantness unbounded; and Moksha is conferred if that very same family life is found sour and which makes man hanker after liberation. So both are equally conferred by Sri Devi only. Says a poet:

What we feel of sorrow and despair

From ruin and from change, and all the grief

The passing shows of Being leave behind,

Appeared an idle dream, that could not live

Where meditation was. I turned away,

And walked along my road in happiness.

Happiness here can be summed up as that which the Christians know as “The peace of God which passeth all under standing”, and we Indians call Nirvana’, that state which Sri Devi as Nirvanasukhadayini (the giver of the bliss of Nirvana) confers on the great siddhayogis who by their tapas, (penance) are happily illuminated and attain emancipation as said in Gita:

Yo Antah-ukhontararamas

Thathantharjyotir eva yah

Sa yogi brahmanirvanam


It is a state where the individual feels all contentment, and joyous satisfaction within himself of having attained fullness, ‘Purnatyam’.

Attribution Policy : In case you wish to make use of any of the materials in some publication or website, we ask only that you include somewhere a statement like ” This digital material was made available by courtesy of Matrusri Digital Centre, Jillellamudi”.

error: Content is protected !!