Dharma

It is five in the morning and even though I keep yawning I just cannot sleep! So, I am reading this book ‘The Pregnant King’. It is awesome. It is set in the time of the epic: ‘Mahabharata’.  I was reading this intriguing part about Somvat and Sumedha, best friends who masquerade as newlyweds for the gift of a cow. They get caught and as they are left in the dungeon, awaiting trial, a Yaksha appears and transforms Somvat into Somvati. The next day they are brought before the King who is to decide if they are to be punished, as men who duped the Queens for a cow, or if they are to be freed as newlyweds who rightfully came for that which is theirs. It is complicated so I will not get into details. Anyway, it burns one’s heart to see young passionate lovers punished for choosing love and consequentially thrown to the flames. What is right and what is wrong?

I realised that thoughts and values may change across generations but wisdom does not. What my sister had told me last year is also mentioned in Hinduism: “There is one truth which depends on the point of view, changes with history (time) and geography (place). It is contextual, impermanent, incomplete.” When my sister said this, albeit in a different fashion—“Good and bad is subjective”—I was BLOWN AWAY. It made perfect sense. When I usually think about my religion, I guess like a lot of other people, I feel that the makers or writers were prissy old tw*ts. But some things don’t change with time, like wisdom. They are “opposite kind of truth, independent of all viewpoints, responding neither to history nor to geography.”

So, yes, truth varies with varying factors. The people of ancient India (I don’t know about the rest of the world) trusted the King with it. Whatever the King would say would be dharma. Kings were chosen by Gods, so, no wise person would contradict their decisions. And in the modern times whom does the perpetually confused humanity of Earth seek? People of the law: police, judge and jury. And when it comes to matters of the spirit, we assign the task of judgment to God. We say that he will punish those who defy his words and reward those who don’t. But what have we seen of God? Whatever we know about him, has been dictated by religion, has it not? What we think are the ‘rules’ of God are actually the rules coined by the aforementioned prissy old tw*ts.

So, let’s take a moment to look at this. To imagine that Kings are messengers chosen by God, and so are infallible, was stupid. To base our actions on the imaginary rules of a questionable God is again stupid. So, is not depending upon law to decide what’s right, stupid as well? Sure it does not clearly appear so, but in years to come, when our way of life will be termed ‘ancient’, it will. That much is unavoidable. And we already bear witness to how law is fallible.

Is it not clever to trust each person with the judgment of their own actions and leave the rest to the Universe/God/Fate/Whatever? I follow Kama (desire) unless I want to follow Yama (duty). Of course, we think that given the choice nobody will follow Yama but if you observe your daily actions you will realise that we often do (even when we have choice). And when Yama meets Kama, is that not when we truly become a nice person? And if they do not, not all the laws in the world can force you to be one. I know that trusting each of us to do what is right is outrageous because like I said, humans are easily confused, (I guess because we have the freedom of thought) so, there is no guarantee of what we may do. So, it is easier to trust a body of people to do what suits the interest of most of us. But we already know that that method is flawed too. We learn from our mistakes as individuals. Would it be so terrible to do that as humanity-as-a-whole? Can we not trust the species that is said to be the most intelligent one on earth, and possibly, even the universe? But I guess, we have scared ourselves with our own desires to such an extent that the possibility of open manifestation of others’ desires, seems unthinkable.

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