UNITY IN DIVERSITY
Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
Our religion is strange. In other religions the rules and exceptions are the same for all people. In our case even though religion is the same for us, rules of observance and prohibition are manifold. If a person performs a certain deed, we call it dharma; if the same act is done by another we call it adharma. If certain persons leave Veda, it is sin; if certain others chant Veda, it is sin.
Somebody has said that our dying is not strange; it is a wonder that life does not ebb out of the nine orifices in the body. In the same way we have to wonder that this religion, which has given rise to many doubts and differences, is vibrant for so many years. Some people feel restless that to have so many differences is a blot on a religion which has so many good aspects, which results in there not being even one good aspect. Some people quell their doubts somehow. When some people point out and criticise such differences frequently, we feel troubled. Some people join those critics.
What is religion? The path of redemption of soul is dharma; that is religion. The doctor alone knows the medicine appropriate to the disease in the body. If we had not acquired a body, there would have been no disease. There is a way by which we would not get a body, the cause and repository of disease. The doctor who shows this way asks us to have faith in what he says. That doctor is the author of Dharma Sastra.
We said that the rules and exceptions in the case of other religions are common to all. We also have such common rules and exceptions. They are given the name of common (samanya) dharma. Non-violence, truth, non-stealing, purity (bodily and mental), control of sense organs etc. are dharmas specified for all, irrespective of differences in caste, varna or asrama. Other than these, there are certain special dharmas. There are certain dharmas depending on the caste, family, place and condition in which Iswara has made us take birth. Certain facilities have also been specified for each person to suit the above conditions of birth. If everyone enters the ticket issue centre, what will the issuer of tickets do? Everyone should have certain facilities to do his duty. Is it proper for others to demand such facilities? In fact they are not facilities. Everyone should accept the special dharma of each and certain freedoms that are required by them. Why? What they do is not only for themselves. They should practise their special dharmas in order to generate common good for all. Let us assume there are four brothers in a home. The eldest stays at home and performs Puja. The second brother looks after accounts. The next brother looks after purchase of goods necessary for the family. The last brother goes to the field and looks after agriculture. Dividing and conducting the affairs of home in this manner is for the wellbeing of all. The affairs are thus handled conveniently and properly. On the other hand if everyone starts doing everything, what is the use? There will be unnecessary trouble. The family will not run. Varna dharma is based on this approach. Hence there is need for unity and diversity in dharmas. Some people wish to divide in all aspects; some wish to unify in all aspects. Dharmasastra says both are not recommended.
In fact whatever be the diversity, if there is love, there will be peace. Even if all are together, if there is no love, there will only be strife. There should be equal love towards all castes. That love should not be opposed to the path of dharma. Today people make certain suggestions; tomorrow the suggestions may differ. Those who accept mixed caste eating, inter caste marriages, abolition of untouchability etc. today may say at some future date that these are unnecessary. Note how many unethical competitions and quarrels are seen in western countries where all eat together, all marry one another and all embrace one another. Hence all should practise their own dharmas peacefully and firmly. May Iswara bless!
Now they say that there should be no differences of caste and high and low and that all are equal in God’s creation. But if we think deeply, it appears that whatever may be our effort, this is not possible and God’s will is also not that way. Let us consider Law College. Many are studying the same book under the same teacher in the same college. Yet all do not pass the examination. Even if they pass, their power and intellect are not the same. Let us consider a family. Let us assume there are four brothers in that family. Their father distributes his wealth equally among his sons. But one son develops his wealth further, whereas another son destroys it. A third son maintains it at the same level. When we see all this, it appears that it is not possible to equalise with human effort. A cow yields a lot of milk in one house, but the same cow does not yield any milk in another house. Then we think we are not destined to get milk. We can quote many instances like this. Ultimately there has to be some reason for all this. That reason we invoke by calling a man of comforts as lucky and a man suffering from troubles as unlucky. If we consider how good and bad luck are generated, there must be some reason. It is that reason which our Vedas and Sastras call as ‘according to karma’. Karmas are of many types. Some are karmas which must necessarily be performed by everyone. Some are karmas done for obtaining fulfilment of specific wishes. Sandhyavandanam, sraadham, honouring guests etc. are karmas that must be done without fail. Darshan of Bhagavan, pilgrimage to holy places, giving danam etc. are karmas done for obtaining fruits. Just as efforts put in agriculture give fruit according to the sincerity of effort, if we do karmas properly as per rules and with sincerity, the fruit sought will be certainly ours. Generally if we look at a family blessed with wealth and harmonious wife and son, we say that they have done meritorious karmas in their past births and that is why they are comfortable now. If we consider this example and our own experiences, it is clear that there was a birth before and that karmas done in this birth would determine in the same way the next birth and the experiences there. We all think alike. That is, we wish to live a life of comfort, free from troubles. But there is no thinking on what needs to be done and how one should behave in order to live comfortably. There is no effect without a cause. If it is right to think all are equal, why then are some people comfortable and some suffer? Two persons suffer from fever. They are administered the same medicine by the same doctor. But one survives, while the other dies. What comes out of this? Things will certainly happen according to one’s karma. Hence if we are to be comfortable, we must do acts accordingly, mustn’t we? If we just we wish for a good harvest, will it happen? Is it enough to wish to be comfortable? If we wish for a good harvest, we then have to plough the field properly, put manure, irrigate, plant good seeds, remove weeds and look after the field carefully till we get good yield. By remaining indifferent and by doing only certain of the above acts, we cannot get a good harvest. Similarly, if we wish to remain comfortable, we must perform all actions as instructed in Sastras. But there is no use doing a karma with a certain wish in mind and expecting instant fulfilment of that wish. Let us assume that water starts flowing in the river in the month of Chaitra. If we use that water for irrigating the field and plant the seeds, the growth will not be good. Similarly knowing the time, place and circumstance and purifying ourselves, if we do a certain karma with devotion and sincerity, fruit is bound to accrue. We see some people curing attack of poison by chanting mantras. If the same person had not preserved his power of mantra, it does not work. Our forefathers did all acts in complete accord with rules of Sastras. Hence they lived a long life in good health, free from disease. But when we keep doing acts that should not be done and eating food not to be eaten, how can we expect fruit (of good acts) immediately? Just as one cannot get good harvest in the first year itself in a field lying barren for long, we have been living like barren field, omitting to do our samskaras. If we purify our body by doing samskaras as per rules of Sastras, we will certainly get fruit in course of time. As in the adage, ‘Man in haste loses intellect’, without thinking deeply and finding out the basic reason for our multifarious troubles, some people think that by distributing wealth equally and eliminating caste differences, all wellbeing will land immediately. Many of the older generation would even now know that 40-50 years ago, when dharmas of varnas and asramas were being followed, not many fights and inter-caste strife were there. What is the guarantee that by equal distribution of wealth and elimination of dharmas of varnas and asramas as suggested by them, all fights would end and people will gain comfort? Let us take the case of an artisan doing the same kind of work. One carpenter is jealous of another carpenter. An ironsmith, a mason, a singer –all of them are jealous of others in the same trade and quarrel with them. Let us assume that brahmanas of the same caste live in the Agraharam in a village. Is there among them unity, love, respect and trust? Let us consider a family. Is there among brothers and sisters harmony and love? If we consider all this, it is certain that just by getting rid of varna and asrama, harmony and love will not result. Yet many among us think that if varna and asrama are thrown away, everything will be all right. When people follow the aacharas of their caste, where is the question of one subjugating another? The world is itself based on dependencies of each other. Iswara has not created any creature unnecessarily. If we cannot understand the principles behind creation, we should not conclude they are wrong. Once we realise that Iswara has created every creature only to be of mutual help with other creatures, there is no place for strife or for differences of high and low. Hence as stated in Gita, if everyone follows the dharma of his own, it is certain that all will attain wellbeing.
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA
Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
Click here to access the Tamil version of this article from this website