[Advaita-l] Question: Swadharma

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Sat Jan 28 11:20:35 CST 2006

Thanks Manish for your response. I will give my
understanding of shankara's position. Scholars on this
list may correct where I am wrong.

> How to determine one's caste and station in life
> then? Actually my  questioning
> is regarding the determining factor.
> Can we determine as to what is the caste; for as per
> my understanding it is
> determined by the level of understanding and
> knowledge or do you have some
> other meaning when you say so.

Shankara has defined "caste" and "station' in the
strict sense of words as they are understood. i.e.
caste by birth and station by samskaara. Your doubt is
well placed since nowadays one does not (and very
often cannot) take up the duties enjoined by caste and
station. What does "swadharma" mean in such a fluid
situation is an open question.
> I had heard someone saying that it is about doing
> that which you really feel
> like doing, which you really love doing, but that
> also isn't easily
> understandable, for life's situations put oneself in
> different circumstances.

I am also more amenable to a similar interpretation
but that is my understanding -- not shankara's.
Shankara is uncompromising in his stand -- take it or
leave it.

> Also in different situations isn't it that the
> swadharma changes for each
> individual in every situation and takes a different
> meaning.

In mahabharata, bhishma says that dharma is a deep
subject. In Gita Krishna says the same about the
nature of action. It is an issue that requires
constant and life long reflection and any answer would
be incomplete.

However, this need not be a cause of despair since in
most of the cases appropriate and righteous action is
known to us. Rarely does one commit adharma because
one did not know the correct course of action. This
predicament is beautifully described by duryodhana in
mahabharat. More often the cause of adharma is kama
and krodha. In few cases where one is really clueless
about the right course of action, it is advisable to
ask someone who is well versed on the subject.

Hope I am not way off the mark.

With regards,
Ram Garib

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