[Advaita-l] Question: Swadharma

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Tue Jan 31 15:37:48 CST 2006

Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com> wrote:
  "Well, the Patels may not be dvija but they do not have the emotional
baggage of being "oppressed", unlike many other non-dvija communities.
For communities that do have such a baggage, delving into their
history often leads to anger and hatred. The issue is serious enough
to be a major threat to the survival of our culture. One needs to be
sensitive towards such matters and that is the reason why most
present-day commentators do not give much importance to jaati as a
basis for swadharma. Even in the past, jaati has only been the
dominant, but by no means unquestioned, basis for swadharma."
  Thanks Ramesh Krishnamurthy for raising some very pertinent points. Since moxa presupposes a life led in accordance to dharma, this issue needs to be looked into further details. Moderators, kindly restrain me if it goes beyond the scope of the list. Following are some of my thoughts.
  I also do not recommend looking to past for interpreting dharma. This may work well for dvijas but for others it will only lead into reactive modes of thinking. Personally, I must have interviewed hundreds of candidates of scheduled castes for government jobs and I have a yet to see a single educated person from my community who is proud of his traditions. I hope we are not advocating restriction on education as a solution.
  Even replacing the idol of Lord Rama with Lord Buddha has not helped. There are no bed time stories related with the life of buddha. In the village, there is no temple where buddha rested; no pond where buddha washed his feet; no tree where buddha plucked fruits. At the end of the day, it is the myths like this that make religion a living entity. It is like cutting a mature tree and trying to replace in a new soil. It doesn't work and it has not worked.
  Myths that are living in the collective psyche of the community are still related to rama and krishna despite the mandatory but superflous statue of buddha. But these myths are getting more and more disowned by each successive generation as they inevitably discover references lowering their self esteem as human beings. This would not have been such a cause of despair if they were replaced by other myths and ideals. Unfortunately, they are just leaving a spiritual vaccum behind them, which is sometimes filled with buddha, sometimes with missionaries and sometimes with some hypothetical dravida nationalism. Recourse to an introspective approach would only be disastrous here.
  How swadharma was interpreted in times of shankara is only of academic interest to me. I am more interested to know how it applies today. What rituals are followed in marriage or other ceremony doesn't carry any urgency compared to what I have to face and follow in my day-to-day life. If dharma is for chitta-shuddhi, it has to be practiced daily. But before that I have to know what  this dharma is. Unfortunately this fundamental question remains unanswered. The answers that are available are either too vague and sketchy or just irrelevant for today. 
  With regards,
  Ram Garib

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