However complicated (textually, theologically/philosophically and historically) could be the word ‘dharma’ always remains as ‘duty’ in practical life. This is always explained beautifully as ‘svadharma’ once own duty. Here we need not dwell on the complicated and controversial aspect about what is even this ‘svadharma’ is (which is traditionally linked with ‘varnashradharma’ and brow beaten in several ways).
For me, this practical aspect of dharma as ‘duty’ is always based on the eternal, unchallengeable, unquestionably undeniable principle of ‘relationship’. For me no one can do one’s duty in isolation even for one’s own need (which is accepted and acceptable for all). That is why even a samnyasi cannot do his (sorry a sannyasini cannot do her) duty without a society around him/her. So sannyasini who renounced all her relationship with the people and world also is in need of ‘relationship’ with people and world somehow or other.
At the same time, however we are interdependent with each other to carry our respective ‘duty’ (dharma), there are avenues in one’s life where one has to do her duty ‘independently’ and ‘irrespective’ of others’ co-operation and relationship. This is beautifully explained in Muktiveda by two vachanas: everyone has to carry her own burden and let us carry each other’s burden. We can replace the word ‘burden’ to duty as it gives every scope for this according to the context of the text (sorry for this hermeneutical textual torture). And when we refuse to carry out our duty by blaming others’ lack of c Mind againooperation will spoil the life for all.
Points for reflection (and also discussion):
- What are my ‘duties’ which I have to carry out individually without blaming others’ lack of cooperation?
- What are the duties of us collectively where we need to carry out each other’s duty so that we can equip everyone to carry out her own responsibility joyfully or at least not feeling the burden too much?
I have done my ‘duty’ individually kicking this discussion expecting others’ cooperation to do my duty joyfully in future also or at least not feeling the burden of always ‘kicking’ to discuss something in the name of teaching.
Db. Gurukulam, January 16, 2012