Monday, December 29, 2008

The Essence of Dharma: Indian Perspective

The Essence of Dharma: Indian Perspective
Professor Mahavir Saran Jain

Ancient Indian thinkers had reflected on many of the important problems of Aesthetics. It is note worthy that the Indian tradition of aesthetics has always regarded great poets as seers and prophets. It is clearly mentioned that ΄ kaavya ́ (poetry/ literature) is different from aagamas, shastraas, itihaas etc. Tasting or appreciation of art is viewed as an expression of delight, bliss and ecstasy. It is well known fact that Bharat Muni formulated the theory of ΄ rasa ́ in his monumental work ΄NaTya shaastra . This theory of rasa had been later developed and enriched by others. The Indian philosophers of literary art have distinguished between ΄ Rasa ́ and ΄ Bhaava ́. Bhaava is a life emotion whereas Rasa is an art emotion. The theory of Rasa has dealt elaborately the process of transmutation of life emotion ΄ bhaava ́ into art emotion ΄ rasa ́. Rasa is always pleasurable even if the presented situation displays a painful emotion. This is the reason that literary pieces of ΄ KaruNa rasa ́ give pleasure although they depict pathetic, mournful, grief and sorrowful sentiments. The example of Sringaara rasa in relation to its corresponding emotion ΄ rati bhaava ́ can make things quite clear. Rati bhaava is a physical passion in its kinetic aspect; Sringaara rasa is its transmutation in art purged of all that is obsessive and disquieting in it, and realized as all tenderness and spiritual, super sensuous quality of love. The state of rasaaswaad (perception or appreciation of poetic sentiments or emotions) can be entitled as ΄ the state of universalized emotions. In general, what happens in the change from ‘bhaavas ́ to ΄ rasas ́ is that whatever is personal, self regarding and obsessive & disquieting come impersonal, reposeful and bright with the sun shine of consciousness which leads ultimately to transcendental bliss. The Indian model of aesthetics is based on the notion that profound and knowledgeable communion with art lifts a man of taste out of ones own time and space. In this model, like rasaaswaada of kaavya, aesthetic experience of any art form can be understood with the parallel of the realization of of ΄ Brahmaanand ́ ( Bliss or rapture of absorption into the Supreme Being). In this background, the substance of Dharma with reference to ΄ aatman ́ ( Soul) and Brahman ( Supreme soul) is being commenced.
Truth is one. It is said: ekam sad . It can be expressed in many ways: ΄vipraa bahudhaa vadanti ΄. Similarly, Dharma is one but is propagated to mankind through various religions. Dharma is the substantive (Noun). Every religion, in addition to a substance, has many adjectives that make it unique.
Dharma is the strength & force by which human qualities develop in an individual. Dharma makes the action of the individual pure and pious. Dharma elevates the qualities of humanity and social awareness in an individual. Dharma inspires a person to possess and practice those virtues and values, which make him a good human being. A good human being invariably means a good social being also.
What are those virtues and values that a human being is expected to possess in his life? Do egoism, anger, greediness, unrestrained sexuality, cruelty and violence deserve possession? If all the members of society possess these traits, if everybody breaks the moral or social order of sexual–life, can the concept of family be conceived and harmonious social relations can be established?
The basis for a happy life and harmonious social order is self-restraint. It does not mean renunciation or the total elimination of desires. Desires should not be suppressed or removed, but should be sublimated.
When a person governs himself, it is self-restraint. When a person observes social or governmental rules, leads his life with a sense of responsibility, then his rights and freedom exist. When a person controls and limits the acquisition of commodities, economic disparities become less. If every member of society does the same, the basic necessities of every person can be fulfilled. When there is no self- restraint in the members of a society, chaos prevails and the government punishes its citizens severely to protect the social–order. The grip of the government becomes severe and merciless and a centralized power or dictatorship comes into existence.
Thus, compliance of dharma is a prerequisite for having happiness & freedom in personal life and equality and harmony in social life.
The relevance of dharma on the personal level lies in welfare and happiness of an individual. His liberation from illusion/ Maya/ mental impurities finally results in attaining a state of salvation/ mukti/ mokSa / pure consciousness/ enjoyment of pure bliss/ nirvaNa/ baikunDa /devotional worship and supreme devotion to Ishwara. Dharma purifies one's consciousness and sublimates the human instincts. Dharma imparts individual feelings of compassion and affinity towards other beings.
The relevance of Dharma on the social level lies in establishing those social conditions that are essential for peace, goodwill, freedom, equality, progress and development of the society. The Vedic seers laid the foundation stone for harmonious social life. ΄Sam gachchhadhvam Sam vadadhvam sam vo manaansi jaanataam ΄ (You go together, speak together, let your minds think together) ( Rig-Veda 10/191/2). The Vedic seers began with worshipping gods or divinities. The principal Vedic gods are said to be 33 in number, namely eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapathi Brahma. These gods belong to the three regions of the earth, the heavens and the intermediate space. Most popular gods of the Rig Vedic hymns are Indra, Varuna, Agni , Rudra, Mitra, Vayu, Surya, Usha, Soma etc.Indra is the lord of the heavens. He is the most popular and powerful of the Vedic deities. He is described as the god of the blue sky. He rides a white elephant called Airaavata and wields the dazzling weapon of lightening called Vajraayudh .If we find in Indra the qualities of a war lord or a typical king, in Varuna we see the earliest signs of an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and compassionate god, the precursor of the Upanishad Brahman. Varuna is the ruler of the worlds, the ordained and enforcer of law and upholder of the world order. In one of the Rig Vedic hymns he is described as the Lord of the earth and heaven who sustains the tree that has its roots in heaven and branches down below. This description reminds us of the famous Ashvattha tree of the latter day scriptures. Varuna is the knower of all and controller of all. He is the supreme god capable of controlling and dispensing justice. Mitra and Varuna are both lords of the heaven. Together they uphold the law; they cause the cows to stream, the plants to flourish, and, ΄scattering swift drops, send down the rain-flood ΄. Agni is the chosen Priest, god, minister of sacrifice, the hotra, who lavishes wealth and dispels the darkness, no sacrifice is complete without his presence. His presence verily ensures the success of a sacrifice, because whatever sacrifices he accepts goes to the gods. Agni is the messenger, the herald, master of all wealth, oblation-bearer, much beloved, who brings the willing gods from the heavens and makes them sit on the grass with him near the sacrificial altar. The Rudra of the Rig-Veda is a fierce looking god, well built and golden in color, a militant god of storms and lightening and a provider of medicines. Though he did not enjoy the same status as Indra, he definitely enjoyed his own importance because of his tempestuous nature, his association with storms and storm gods called Maruts and his ability to bring medicines to the people to prolong their lives. Vayu is described in the Rig-Veda as a beautiful god, ideally the first partaker of soma juice which he seems to be especially fond of. He is a friend of Indra and a hero who shares the glory of victory with the latter. He is swift as mind, the thousand-eyed and the Lords of thought. Surya is the blazing sun. He is one of the Adityas, god among gods, the light that is most excellent, golden colored, who rides the skies in his golden chariot, drawn by seven bay horses, which are described in the hymns as the daughters of heaven. He is said to be extremely brilliant, with radiant hair, which flies in the skies like a bird and shines brightly like a jewel. Giver of power and strength, destroyer of laziness and darkness, with bright light radiating from him, he knows all that lives. Before him, the constellations pass away, like thieves, together with their rays. Swift and beautiful, Surya is the maker of the light, who illumines the radiant realm, who goes to the flock of gods as well as to the world of mankind with his light. Usha is dawn, the daughter of the sky, lady of the light, who rouses all life. She stirs all creatures that have feet, and makes the birds of air fly up. Borne on a hundred chariots, she yokes her steed before the arrival of the sun and is never late. She eludes the Sun who is always eager to catch her. She brings not just light to the sleeping mankind, but hope, happiness, riches and all the good things. On the physical plane, Soma is some kind of intoxicating juice. As a god, Soma is the god of inspiration, the intoxicant who stirs the minds, lures the gods and brings them to the place of worship. One of the most popular gods of the Rig Vedic hymns, the entire 9th Mandala of the scripture is dedicated to him. Also known as Indu or Somadeva, he brings joy into the lives of people, cures them from diseases and leads them to the worlds of bliss and immortality. He gives strength not only to mortals, but to the gods as well. Because of him, Indra was able to slay Vritra . Because of him Agni maintains his sway. He is also known as Lord of the speech because of his intoxicating influence on the movement of speech.
The Vedic seers do not stop at revealing the existence of gods. They went from the external to the internal cosmic body, God immanent in the universe, and ended in identifying the soul itself with that God, and making one Soul, a unit of all these various manifestations in the universe, and asserting that the whole universe is but one.
In the Vedas a number of hymns are addressed to Visvadeva . The Visvadeva is a class of the popular gods of the Vedas. When they were collectively invoked through a common ritual, they were addressed as Visvadeva. In the hymns of the Visvadeva, we generally find the names of all those popular gods which have been above-mentioned. In addition to these gods, we find the names of other gods also such as Bhaga, DakSa Prajaapati, Aditi, Aaryaman ,the Ashvins, Saraswatee, PuSan,Marut , Rta , and the Dikpala.
By addressing various gods collectively, the Vedic people acknowledged the unity of these gods and their inter relationships. The opinion of the Rig Vedic people was that the gods came into being from a common parentage and were helpful in nature. In contrast, the demons were wicked and troublesome. Although each god in the pantheon was endowed with specific qualities and responsibilities, the Vedic Aryans did not miss the larger picture and their underlying connection in the order of things. The changeless and immortal nature of supreme soul has been described in Atharva Veda. It is said that the supreme soul is free from desire, non-mutable, immortal, self-existent, satisfied with its own bliss and not deficient in any respect.
The Upanishads reveal the knowledge about Brahman and are known as Vedanta, meaning "end of the Vedas". They are the concluding portions of the Vedas. There are several interpretations of the word Upanishad. Shankar interprets it as a means to destroy ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit by cutting off the bonds of worldly existence. The Upanishad seers gave new dimensions to Dharma and Darshan. In order to establish social unity, Upanishad thought proclaims: "Ekastathaa sarva bhootantaraatmaa" (One or the same is in inner-Self / Essence of all Beings) and “Ishaavaasyamidam sarvam" (All the things in the universe are enveloped by the Supreme).
The relationship between Paramaatman and Aatman is likened to the indwelling God and the soul within one's heart like two birds on a tree.
Two birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship, in the same sheltering tree have found a refuge. (Rig Veda 1.164.20)
Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the same tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observe. (Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1)
They are two birds, close companions, clasping the same tree. Of the two, one eats sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating. On this same tree a person, sunk and grieving in slavery, is deluded, but upon observing the Lord happy and great, becomes free of sorrow. (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 4.7)
The Supreme Being that dwells in our heart is dearer to us than even our children, wealth and everything else. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.8)
Paramaatman or the Supreme spirit or Brahman is beyond knowledge and ignorance and is devoid of all material attributes. In Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad-Gita, Paramaatman is described as VishNu residing in the hearts of all beings and in every atom of matter. He is the overseer and judicature of their actions. Paramaatman is different from five elements, the senses, mind, intellect and jiva. The Jivaatman and the Paramaatman are known to be one and the same when the Jivaatman attains the true knowledge of the Brahman.
Brahman is the name given to the concept of the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality that is the Divine Ground of all being. It is regarded as the source and sum of the cosmos that constricted by time, space and causation, as pure being. Essentially, it is also beyond being and non-being alike, and thus does not quite fit with the usual connotations of the word God and even the concept of monism. It is said that Brahman cannot be known, that we cannot be made conscious of it, because Brahman is our very consciousness. Brahman is not merely coming to know Brahman, but to realize one's 'Brahman-hood', to actually realize that one is and always was Brahman. Indeed, closely related to the Self concept of Brahman is the idea that it is synonymous with jivaatma, or individual souls, our aatman (or soul) being readily identifiable with the greater soul of Brahman. It is described as Sat, Chit and Ananda in its essential nature. The features of the Brahman are described almost in all the Upanishads. Ishaavaasya Upanishad says, “All the things in this universe are enveloped by the Lord.” (The Supreme is) faster than the mind, and therefore beyond the reach of senses. One, who sees all beings in his own Self and his Self in all beings, has hatred for none. The Atman is self-sufficient, is everywhere, without a body, without blemish, radiant, pure, knowing all, seeing all and encompassing all. All the entities have been created by the omniscient, self-sustaining Lord and who is the controller of all the minds. This Upanishad has the central theme of extolling the all pervasiveness and all regulating nature of the Supreme Lord. The central idea of Kena Upanishad is that the Brahman is verily the source of all vital energies in this universe is infinite and therefore cannot be comprehended by speech and mind. He is beyond the reach of the senses, beyond words and even beyond the mind. Being Infinite, He cannot be brought within the compass of limited knowledge. One cannot know how He directs the senses, mind, etc. However, He does not remain altogether unknown, but is not completely known because of His infinite nature. He is unique, distinct from and Superior to all known things manifest or un-manifest. He cannot be known through speech, mind, eyes, etc., but knows all that is known through these and regulates them. The nature of self is aptly explained in KaTha Upanishad. Realizing by reverting to the contemplation of the Self to the eternal God, the wise man leaves both joy and sorrow behind. The Self is without sound, without touch, without form, without decay, likewise without taste, eternal, without smell, without beginning, without end, beyond the great; one is freed from the mouth of death by discovering that. MaaNDookya Upanishad starts with a mahaavaakya that this Atman is Brahman . The Upanishad also clearly explains the correct interpretation of the words OM, Aatman, Brahman, and akshara, all of which denote Brahman by describing Him with His special attributes. The liberated soul being free from ignorance attains similarity with the Supreme Lord in respect of being free from sorrow and enjoying bliss etc. The Supreme Lord and the soul are similar to each other. Their relation is like of an object compared to which it is compared. The second part of Taittireeya Upanishad describes how there is an ascending order of bliss, starting from that of a human being and culminating in Brahmaanand . The body is the physical sheath. Within the physical sheath there is an inner sheath made of vital energy that is PraaNa. Inside the sheath of PraaNa, there is an inner self consisting of mind. Different from the sheath of mind, there is an inner self which consists of intellect. Different from the sheath of intellect, there is an inner self consists of bliss, and which fills the sheath of intellect. This sheath of bliss is enclosed by the sheath of intellect. The knowledge sought by Bhrigu and imparted by VaruNa is ultimately established that bliss is Brahman, because all beings are born from bliss, remain alive by bliss, move towards bliss and then merge into bliss. The Aitareya Upanishad proclaims that Brahman is pure consciousness. The BrihadaaraNyaka Upanishad says that I am Brahman . The Chhaandogya Upanishad says that you are That. As per the language of Upanishads ́ that ́ means Brahman. This Upanishad teaches us that there is no difference between the Atman within a person and Brahman. It tells us how we reach a stage when we get rid of all bonds and achieve Aatmaanand . In various Upanishads, the Brahman is called as "Sacchidaananda". Broken down, it is "sat", "chitta", and "aananda" meaning "truth", "consciousness", and "bliss" respectively. In the Hindu pantheon, Brahman should not be confused with the first of the Hindu trinity of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer). Brahma is, like the other gods, Ishwar, or manifested Brahman, fundamentally ego-conscious, whereas Brahman is without ego and beyond form. The central theme of Upanishads is the delineation of a Supreme Being as the cardinal principle of the universe. This is designated as Brahman, Aatman, Akshara, Aakaasha, PraaNa, etc. It is also the one and only independent Principle upon which all other entities are dependent. It is immanent and transcendent. Being infinite in all respects, it cannot be comprehended by anyone completely. It has no drawbacks or blemishes of any kind. It directs all and is not directed or constrained by anyone. It is absolutely independent in its very nature and essence, functions and comprehension and innate unlimited bliss, none of which need any element external to it for its completeness. All others derive their limited qualities and capacities from it. It is thus described as Sat, Chit and Aananda in its essential nature. The features of the Supreme Lord are described almost in all the Upanishads.
The later stage of Vedanta is marked by the Bhagavad-Gita. It particularly dwells on the application of the Upanishad teachings to the practical life enunciating spiritual and moral disciplines for different types and grades of seekers and points out the way to conform normal life to the highest ideal. The Upanishads, Brahma-sutras and Bhagavad-Gita form the triple basis of Vedanta.

They are respectively called the Sruti-prasthaana, the Nyaya-prasthaana and the Smriti-prasthaana Vedanta as they follow the course of revelation , reason and regulation of life.
When the Jivaatman attains the true knowledge of the Brahman, the Jivaatman and the Paramaatman are known to be the one and the same. Those who are free from pride and delusion, who have overcome the evils of attachment, who are constant in contemplating the relation of the supreme and individual self, from whom desire has departed, who are free from the pairs of opposites called pleasure and pain, go undiluted to that imperishable seat.

The sun does not light it, nor the moon, nor fire. That is my highest abode, going to which none returns. An eternal portion of me it is, which, becoming an individual soul in the mortal world, draws to itself the senses with the mind as the sixth. When a man moves among the objects of senses having the senses under control and mind free from attachment and jealousy, he enjoys bliss. without balance of mind there is neither intelligence, nor concentration; without concentration there is no peace; without peace how can there be happiness. (Bhagavad-Gita 2/66). Besides Bhagavad-Gita in Bhishma parva, the Mahaabhaarat - one of two major or greatest epics of India-, narrates the main story of Pandavaas and Kauravaas and the war of Kurukshetra using the story within a story structure, also contains philosophical and cultural material. The nature of Aatman (Self), relationship of the individual to society and discussion of human goals namely (1) artha or material resources, (2) kaama or pleasure/ sex, (3) dharma or duty and (4) moksha or liberation have been discussed extensively. The characteristics of the Supreme or Brahman are that He is the eternal, the supreme, unchanging, everlasting light . The essence of religion has been expressed in this epic extensively. For example, some quotes are being submitted:
It is only when a man does not commit sin in thought, deed or word in respect of any living creatures; it is then that he attains to Brahman.
The wise and learned say: magnanimity is a virtue. Therefore acquire magnanimity, for you ought not to stay frivolity.
The dharma, which stands in the way of another dharma, is in fact no dharma but is really unrighteousness. That dharma is true dharma which is not conflicting to any other dharma.
Non-cruelty (Ahimsa) is the best dharma. Forgiveness is the best of powers. The knowledge of the self is the best of all knowledge. Truthfulness is the best of religious vows.
When one does not fear in any way, nor any creature is frightened at one, when one conquers one’s attachment and aversion, then is one said to have realized the Supreme soul.
The wise man, endued with equanimity, would neither be puffed up with joy nor be depressed with sorrow.
Eyes can not see the form of the soul. The organ of touch can not feel the soul. Attainment of soul can not be accomplished by any of the five organs of senses. The senses do not approach the soul. The soul however apprehends them all.
When one sees the one’s self in all beings, and all beings in the one’s self, is said to attain the Brahman.
When one contracts all one’s desires like a tortoise drawing in all his limbs, then the effulgence of his soul manifests itself.

Vedanta philosophy is realistic but not pluralistic. It has two main divisions and their classification into different schools is as follows:
1. Advaita Vedanta (Non-dualistic): VivarNa School / Vaachaspati School
2. Monotheistic Vedanta : VishiSTaadvaita (qualified nondualism) School of Ramanuja/ Shuddhaadvaita( pure nondualism) School of Vallabhaacharya / Achintya-bhedaabheda ( incomprehensible difference-nondifference)) School of Sri Chaitanya/ Dvaita ( dualism) School of Maadhvaacharya / Dvaitaadvaita ( dualism in nondualism) School of Nimbaarka
Each system of Vedantic philosophy is essentially an interpretation of the Brahman-sutras supported by commentaries on Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita. Each school has original writings also to elaborate on the teachings of the three primary works to confirm to its views.
The aim or the methodology of Sankhya and Yoga schools or doctrines of Indian philosophy is to quiet the Prakriti ( = nature ) as it exists in the body, so that, like a calm body of water, body can reflect the true and detached nature of PuruSa ( = self ), effecting liberation . Some quotes from YogavaashiSTha - an encyclopedic text comprising twenty four thousand verses on yogic disciplines -, are being presented:
Salutations to the Soul of all, the light illuminating the heavens, the earth and the intervening space, as also our hearts and their exteriors and all that has manifested itself everywhere as visible forms.
The wise say that the best thing for a man to do in the world is to give up longing for objects which cause the mind to fluctuate and that such abdication constitutes the liberation and that is to accomplish purity.
It is well said that four sentinels wait at the gate of liberation which are (1) patience and peace (2) knowledge of Brahma (3) contentment (4) association of sacred persons.
The Supreme one can not be attained by bodily suffering or pain and by visiting the places of pilgrimage. He can be attained only by the conquest of mind.
Persons can never have that happiness by the drink of nectar or by the blessings of the goddess of wealth, which persons having tranquility of mind enjoy.
Supreme bliss is possible only for those who are composed in mind. (iz’kfereul% Lods Lo:is Hkofr lq[ks fLFkfr#Rrek fpjk;A )
One who sees Him within one's self as the All-powerful One, as the All permeating One, as One of pure intelligence, does alone see Him in his conscience.

About 2600 years ago Lord Mahavir or Vardhaman (599 to 527 BC), the twenty fourth and the last Tirthankara of this era revived the Jain philosophy previously preached by his predecessor Lord Parshva (950 to 850 BC) in India. He expanded the code of conducts and implemented daily rites for his followers. He felt that such changes are essential for proper religious practice. Lord Mahavir said, “No logassa esanaam chare (Do not imitate or follow anybody)”, “Sampikkhae appagamappaenam (Communicate with and inspect your Self)”. Lord Mahavir also underlined the social relevance of dharma by accepting Ahimsa Paramodharmá (Non-violence - towards others as well - is the greatest Dharma).His advice to all is “Don’t kill any living beings. Don't try to rule them. To kill any living being amounts to killing one self. Compassion to others is compassion to one's own self. Just as you do not like misery, in the same way others also do not like it. You should do unto them what you want them to do unto you". “Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat other with respect and compassion”. Dharma is the highest good. It consists in Ahimsa (non-violence), self control and austerities. Even the gods revere him whose mind is always concentrated upon dharma.
Lord Mahavir is of the view that the soul is the home of excellent virtues, the best among the substances and the highest reality among the realities.
He, who is led by his senses, is extrovert or Bahiraatmaa and he who exercises self discretion (i.e. not guided by external factors) is introvert or Antaraatmaa. The self who is liberated from the pollution of the karmas is Paramaatmaa.
The pure soul is free from activities of thought, speech and body. He is independent, infallible and fearless. He is also free from meekness, attachment and delusion.
The pure soul is free from complexes, attachment, blemishes, desire, anger, pride, lust and all other kinds of defects.
The state of pure knower ship is neither vigilant nor non-vigilant. The knower self is called pure, because it is only knower and nothing else.
The soul is neither the body, nor the mind nor the speech, nor their cause. Nor is he doer, nor the cause of action nor the approver of action. In this way, I (Soul) am alone, really pure. It is not possible to describe the state of liberation in words as they transcend any such verbal expression. Nor is there the possibility of argument as no mental business is possible. The state of liberation transcends all the determinations and alternatives. But for the sake of expression it can be said that the bliss attained by the Siddhas in a moment is infinite times more than the pleasure enjoyed by the emperors, by the Jivas residing in the regions of the Karmas, and by the Fanindras, Surendras and Ahamindrasin in all the ages –
ChakkikuruphaNisurinda-devahaminde jam suham tikaalabhavam.
Tato aNantaguNidam, siddhaaNam khaNasuham hodi. (Triloka Saar-560)
The followers of Jain Dharma pray to those who have led the path to salvation, who have destroyed the mountains of karma, and who know the reality of universe. The followers pray to them to acquire their attributes.

Gautama Buddha gave a message of friendship and compassion to every man. He said: “Pariksya bhiksavo! Grahyamad vacho na tu gauravaat (You accept my words after having examined them, do not be influenced by my greatness)”. He who wishes to put on the yellow robe without having cleansed himself from sin, who disregards self-control and truth also, is unworthy of yellow robe. But who has cleansed himself from sin, is well grounded in all virtues, and endowed also with self-control and truth, he is indeed worthy of the yellow robe. ( Dhamma Pada 1/9-10) Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to insight into the true nature of life. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. NirvaNa is a Buddhist Sanskrit word describing the stopping of the process sustaining conditioned states and self-realization of Nirvana the unconditioned state. There are many explanations of the term NirvaNa (fuokZ.k ): (1) “cessation"(2) "extinction"(3)"extinguished"(4) "quieted"(5) "calmed"(6) "awakening" or "enlightenment “. Amongst them, two explanations are more prominent. One is that NirvaNa means "to extinguish," such as extinguishing the flame of a candle(extinction of craving and ignorance and therefore termination of all types of sufferings and the end of the cycle of involuntary rebirths ) and another is that NirvaNa is the completion of the path of Buddhism, where the real is won via self-enlightenment and self-awakening and all delusion and anguish are permanently ended even before death .
In the middle ages, the saints criticized religious rituals and religious pretension, and questioned the significance of studying and interpreting of the Vedas by the learned persons. While saying “PaakhanDa bhakti Raam nahin reeijhe (Ram is not attracted towards hypocrite devotion) ", Saint Namdeva has drawn our attention towards the inner core of Dharma. The purpose of life lies in such devotion that leads to self-realization - “Kaayaa antar paaiya, sab devan ko dev (The Self is in our inner-body. Self is the God of all gods)" (Dadu Dayal).
Dharma exists neither in the village nor in the jungle but in our antaraatmaa (Inner self). Does spiritual contemplation means prostrating before God to fulfill ones worldly desires? Can a person become religious by offering money at a temple? Does the significance of Dharma lie in the collection of articles and commodities or in being relieved from mental impurities like lust and aversion?
A religious person cannot be selfish. Having known that 'One', he knows everyone. He establishes in himself a sense of belonging to everyone. Every particle of the universe becomes as important to him as his body and soul. Through the identification of 'All', he identifies himself. Tulsidasa expressed it beautifully - " Parahit saris dharama nahin bhaaee, par peeRaa sam nahin adhamaaee (There is no Dharma better than doing well to others and there is no meanness worse than hurting others)". Tulsidasa has clarified that Lord Raama is devoid of birth, the totality of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss, wisdom personified, the home of beauty and strength. He is both pervading and pervaded, fraction less, infinite and integral, the Lord of unfailing power, attribute less, vast, transcending speech as well as the other senses, all seeing, free from blemish, invincible, unattached, devoid of form, free from error, eternal and untainted by maayaa (ek;k ), beyond the realm of matter (izd`fr ), bliss personified, the Lord indwelling the heart of all, the action less Brahma (czã ), free from passion and imperishable. For the sake of His devotees, the divine Lord look the form of an earthly sovereign and performed most sacred deeds, in the manner of an ordinary mortal, as an actor - who while acting in a drama on the stage, assumes various guises and exhibits different characters but himself remains the same.
Guru Nanak also characterized the ultimate truth as one universal creator god , devoid of fear and enmity , immortal and unborn, self-existent, has no physical form , without material attributes, True in the primal beginning. That is the true path where all paths have met. Conquer your mind and you will conquer the world. Bow to him again and again. He is the beginning. He is the end. He is without beginning, without break. He is the same through different ages. Nanak has said, “The sacred thread which is made of the cotton of kindness, thread of contentment, knot of self – control and freedom of truth, does not tarnish and does not burn. Blessed is that man who moves in this world with such sacred thread on his neck."

Swami Vivekananda explained the importance of dedicated service. His message has continued to inspire millions of his countrymen. His voice can comfort the suffering and sanctify of their lives. "You rejoice that you belong to the race of the great sages. But until those who belong to the upper classes help to uplift the downtrodden, and until exploitation ends, India will only be a grave. May Mother India step forth anew from the humble dwelling of the peasant! May she appear in the hut of the fisherman! May she step forth from the cottages of the cobbler and the sweeper! May she become manifest in godowns and factories! May the song of New India echo and reverberate amidst mountains and in forests and valleys!" The few very famous quotes of Swami Vivekananda are mentioned below:
"What is it that by knowing which everything else is to be known."
"Brave, bold men, these are what we want. What we want is vigor in the blood, strength in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel."
"Avoid all mystery. There is no mystery in religion. Mystery mongering and superstition are always signs of weakness."
“Arise, awake, for your country needs this tremendous sacrifice. It is the young men that will do it. ‘The young, the energetic, the strong, the well-built, the intellectual'- for them is the task. Lay down your comforts, your pleasures, your names, fame or position, nay, even your lives, and make a bridge of human chains over which millions will cross this ocean of life. Do not be frightened. Awake, be up and doing. Do not stop till you have reached the goal."
"I would rather see every one of you rank atheists than superstitious fools, for the atheist is alive and you can make something out of him. But if superstition enters, the brain is gone, the brain is softening, and degradation has seized upon the life."
“So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense pays not the least heed to them!”
"Work unto death - I am with you, and when I am gone, my spirit will work with you. This life comes and goes - wealth, fame, enjoyments are only of a few days. It is better, far better to die on the field of duty, preaching the truth, than to die like a worldly worm."
“My faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation; out of them will be my workers. They will work out the whole problem, like lions. "
"Truth, purity, and unselfishness - wherever these are present, there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor thereof. Equipped with these, one individual is able to face the whole universe in opposition."
The central theme of Sri Aurobindo's vision is the evolution of life into a divine life. "Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth's evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature's process". The aim of yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolves a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinize human nature. Shree Aurobindo has been a great visionary and has inspired the country and mankind. His very famous quotation is presented herewith: "Out of this awakening vision and impulse the Indian renaissance is arising, and that must determine its future tendency. The recovery of the old spiritual knowledge and experience in all its splendor, depth and fullness is its first, most essential work; the flowing of this spirituality into new forms of philosophy, literature, art, science and critical knowledge is the second; an original dealing with modern problems in the light of Indian spirit and the Endeavour to formulate a greater synthesis of a spiritualized society is the third and most difficult. Its success on these three lines will be the measure of its help to the future of humanity."
Thus, compliance of dharma is a prerequisite for having happiness & freedom in personal life and ultimately his liberation from mental impurities such as attachment & aversion leading to the deliverance of the soul from recurring births or transmigration, and for having accord & equality in social life and ultimately peace, freedom, friendliness leading to the progress & development of the society. In essence, Dharma means the spirit of non- violence, universal love and purity of heart. It should be our earnest desire and endeavor that no adjective added to qualify the substantive (Dharma) become more prominent than the substantive itself.
Professor Mahavir Saran Jain
(Retired Director, Central Institute of Hindi)
123, Hari Enclave, Buland Shahr (INDIA) Pin-203 001

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