[Advaita-l] Question: Swadharma

anantharaman anantharaman at touchtelindia.net
Tue Jan 31 20:20:45 CST 2006



While I am not a regular contributor to these columns, I certainly am a regular reader. 

It is difficult to accept your interpretation as it amounts to passing the buck on to elders/ancestors for not having 'transmitted' to you the nitya karma.  This will also tantamount to the "Ignorance is Bliss' postulate!

One may or may not have been formally been taught/initiated/transmitted one or more nitya karmas through family tradition.  I believe that so long as one is AWARE that there are nitya karmas  which are part of your swadharma, you cannot absolve/justify your not doing it. 

 In other words, while formal communication through the family channels in the norm of handing it down to generations, this need not necessarily be a prerequisite to its performance.  

Your interpretation would also mean that if one individual in the line breaks the communication/transmission/initiation rule, then all subsequent generations are de jure prevented from the performance of nitya karmas altogether.  This is perhaps being far fetched.

I would subscribe to the 'awareness' rule.  Once you become aware that your swadharma entails you to perform a nitya karma, you are required to perform the same.  It will then be up to yourself, to seek guidance from an informed person as to how to start performing it.



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rishi Lamichhane" <rishi.lamichhane at gmail.com>
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 4:21 AM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Question: Swadharma


I would just like to say a few words on this as I understand it.

The special thing about a Nitya Karma is that not doing them will
accrue demerit. In order for something to accrue demerit, the person
at least has to be told that they are to do this or that. For instance
if someone in my family stopped doing a nitya karma 15 generations
ago, I will not get demerit for not doing that Nitya Karma since no
one ever transmitted it to me.

If there is any fault, it is the fault of the generation that stopped
transmitting the Nitya Karma. If this happens to be your parents, then
you might save them some trouble by getting to transmit it to you, but
usually such things go back several generations.

This means whatever has been handed down as a Nitya Karma by tradition
and is in agreement (ie: does not contradict) scripture, this you have
to do otherwise you will get demerit.

Now I would imagine that all twice-borns are transmitted at least some
Nitya Karma, for instance at least reciting the Gayatri. In many
places twice-borns will probably not have been transmitted much else
(for me that was all - Gayatri twice a day 10 times and a somewhat
extended on Saturday). Non-twice borns in this age will probably not
be given any Nitya Karmas.

This means that they do not have actions that they have to do or
otherwise risk getting demerit. If they decide to look up family
history and revive a practice, then it is no longer done as a Nitya
Karma but as a voluantary karma which will give merit.

So I think it is fine for people to look back to their family and
revive whatever used to be done but this would no longer be a Nitya
Karma, but a Karma bearing specific merit.

If you have not been transmitted any Nitya Karmas, then all your
practices are voluntary. You may choose to look at your family
background, but this is not absolutely neccesary.

This is my understanding of how the system works, please tell me if
you think I am mistaken,


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