Our Vision of Glory – 2

Role of Dharma

When we say that we want to protect and rejuvenate dharma, do we mean the revival of its external form of rituals and formalities? In our country, some people wear the sacred thread – yajnopavita – while some do not. Some keep a tuff of hair, some do not. Some worship idols, some do not. These things have meaning for those who have faith in them. And they are just small external signs of our all-comprehensive dharma. They must not be confused with dharma itself.

Our definition of dharma is twofold. The first is proper rehabilitation of man’s mind; and the second is adjustment of various individuals for a harmonious corporate existence, i.e., a good social order to hold the people together.

Let us take the first aspect. What is meant by the rehabilitation of mind? We know that the personality of man is only a projection of his mind. But the mind is like an animal, which runs after so many things and it is so constituted as to be one with all the desired things. Ordinarily, man’s mind does not stop to consider what is right and what is wrong. It stoops to any level in order to fulfil its desires. With such a mind, man is not likely to rise higher than the level of an ordinary animal. Therefore the mind is to be cultivated in self-restraint and certain other great qualities. Those attributes of good conduct are mentioned in various contexts in the Bhagavad-Gita and our other holy scriptures. They have described five yamas for the body and five niyamas for the mind.

The other is the social aspect. Man’s life has to be attuned to the wider interests of the people as a whole. Both these aspects are complementary to each other. The first aspect is defined as –

यतोभ्युदयनिःश्रेयसिद्धिः स धर्मः ।

which means that the arrangement which enables and encourages man to control his desires and create within himself the competence to realise the Divine Essence or the Eternal Reality even while enjoying a rich material life, is dharma. The second aspect is –

धारणात् धर्ममित्याहुः धर्मो धारयति प्रजाः ।।

which means that the power which brings individuals together and sustains them as a society is called dharma. A combination of these two definitions shows that the establishment of dharma means the building of an organised social life wherein each individual has realised his oneness with others in society and is imbued with a spirit of sacrifice to make others’ material life richer and happier, and develops spiritual strength which leads to the realisation of the Ultimate Truth.

There is one more way of looking at this blending of the development of the individual with the integrity and welfare of the society. We have been told by our great thought-givers to discriminate between what is permanent and what is impermanent. Shankaracharya has called it nityanitya-vastu-viveka. Let us, for the time being, keep apart its high philosophical interpretations and apply to our national life. Individuals come and go. Countless generations have come and gone. But the nation has remained. Drops of water come, stay for a while and evaporate; but the flow of the Ganga goes on ceaselessly. So is the eternal flow of our national life. We, the individuals, appear on the surface like bubbles or drops for a moment, and disappear. The `permanent’, therefore, is the national life. The ‘impermanent’ is the individual. The ideal arrangement would therefore be to transform the impermanent-the individual-into a means to attain the permanent – the social good – which would at the same time enable the individual to enrich and bring to blossom his latent divinity. This is dharma in its twofold aspect, which leads mankind to its ultimate goal of Realisation of Godhead-moksha.

(The above passage is an excerpt from Sri Golwalkar’s “Bunch of Thoughts”.)


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