[Advaita-l] sAmAnya dharma and viSesha dharma

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Thu Jan 12 23:49:00 CST 2006

sAmAnya dharma and viSesha dharma.

sAmAnya dharma is what every one understands by the word dharma, such as,
one should respect and obey parents, teachers and elders, one should not
tell lies, etc.  These are to be followed by all in normal circumstances.
But sometimes special circumstances arise which necessitate the violation of
these general rules, in the interest of a noble purpose. One example is
prahlAda who disobeyed his father. Another is vibhIshaNa who went against
his elder brother to the enemy' camp. In rAmAyaNa, sItA, when asked by the
rAkshasIs who the monkey who spoke to her was, replied that she did not know
him at all. This was clearly false and a violation of sAmAnya dharma, but
her intention was to save Hanuman from harassment by the rAkshasas. These
are instances where viSesha dharma has been applied. To take a mundane
example, the general rule is that a man should not touch any woman other
than his wife. But a doctor violates this when he performs a surgical
operation on a female patient. This can also be taken as an instance of
viSesha dharma.


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