[Advaita-l] Question: Swadharma

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jan 30 13:54:17 CST 2006

On Mon, 30 Jan 2006, Ram Garib wrote:

> However, I entirely agree that approaching a qualified teacher is the 
> best (and quite possibly the only) way to learn ones swadharma.

But who is a qualified teacher on the subject of Dharma?  I think now that 
Indian society is more literate than in generations past (at all levels) 
we focus unnecessarily on "books" and ignore that which, along with shruti 
and smrti, is the third pillar of Dharma, shishtachara.

Last summer I had the occasion to perform a wedding in the Patel 
community.  This Gujarati caste is prosperous and has a high social 
position but it is not dvija and they have many customs which were not 
familiar to me as a Brahmana.  So what I did was to find the grooms 
great-grandmother and ask her about what was to be done.  She was a 
shishta despite never having studied a word of Sanskrit because in her 
long life, she had seen many such weddings as this.  This made her more of 
an expert than any swami ever could be.

Practicing nityakarmas like agnihotra are an aid to self-realization not 
because they have magic powers but because the practice eliminates egoism 
and other impediments to jnana.  So to does any karma that is an 
inheritence from ones ancestors since time immemorial (no caste in India 
has just sat there twiddling its thumbs and waiting to be taught Vedas.) 
Anyone who wishes to know dharma should first delve deep into his own 
history before consulting others.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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