The root of our Dharma is in Vedas. ‘Vedoakilo Dharmamulam’. What is Dharma? ‘Dharayatheethi Dharmaha’: the capacity of the individual to follow the right path, without swerving from it at any time, including times of adversity, with great discipline and courage. Rama was personification of Dharma - ‘Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmaha’. When Rama was going to the forest, his mother Kausalya advised him: ‘Dharmasthwam Abhirakshathu’ – the dharma that you are upholding by undertaking the vanvasa will protect you from all your troubles. Rama pursued dharma with dhriti and niyama, with determination and discipline. It is said, ‘Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshithaha’ – you stick to dharma, dharma will protect you. If we follow the path shown by Rama, we will get shreyas. Chant Rama nama, think of Rama and follow Rama.
We say ‘Krishnam Vande Jagatgurum’. Lord Krishna’s upadesa to Arjuna is called Bhagavad Gita – the song of the Lord Himself. Many truths are expounded in the course of the 18 chapters of the Gita and these are meant not just for Arjuna but for all of us.
What is the main message of the Gita – one can say, it is the removal of all sorrows. The 1st chapter is titled: ‘Arjunavishada yoga’, or the yoga of Arjuna’s grief. In the 2nd chapter, Lord Krishna, expounds the philosophy of Atman, which is indestructible and tells him not to grieve over things not related to paramatman. He then describes the state of true jnani or sthithapragna, a person with a steady mind. In the 3rd chapter, he explains karmayoga, or how by doing actions without expectation of results thereof, one frees oneself from the bondage of actions. Later, he expounds on the path of devotion or Bhaktimarga and lays stress on doing all actions in a spirit of dedication to God. In the 18th chapter, he concludes, by saying ‘Mashuchah’, do not grieve. Shri Krishna repeatedly says everyone should do his or her swadharma: this includes a father doing his dharma as a father, a mother as a mother, etc. It is only then everyone derives happiness from the actions.
Seemingly there is contradiction between the various paths propounded in Gita. Adi Sankara in his commentary resolves these so called conflicts. He says, the pursuit of swadharma, or, karma yoga, leads to chittasuddhi, or purity of mind, and this in turn leads to yogasiddi and finally jnanasiddhi. The mind is purified by karma, concentrated by yoga and ultimately it attains Brahmajnana. Bhakthi also leads ultimately to true knowledge of God and at the last reaches of Bhakti, the individual merges in Brahman. The clear message to everyone is: do regular parayana or read Gita and other works; do smaran or remember God through nama japa and pujas etc; and, along with meditation on the Lord and doing bhajans etc., pursue your dharma, or, do your duty.
(This is an article published in the South Indian Society Silver Jubilee Souvenir in 2014 with the blessings of HH Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal)