Daily nectar of word meaning Day 11

நாள்தோறும் சொற்பொருள் அமிர்தம்

How does the purushārtha ‘dharmā ’ help us in accumulating punyā ?

Dharmā is the path of righteousness that the Veda advocates. How can the ancient scripture define what is right and what is wrong for the modern times! Given that the Veda does not change, can there be universally valid and permanent moral codes within Veda? These are logical questions.

To understand this, we must first recognize that Veda provides an overall context by basing on eternal and universal truth, for what is virtuous in action and what is not and lets us to freely apply our will and intellect to make value out of it.

Firstly, Veda provides ’sāmānya dharmā ’ or the ‘common values’ that are applicable to the entire humanity, without any discrimination. As universal values, these are quite easy to understand and accept. It is because, ‘sāmānya dharmā ’ is what each one of us likes to have for oneself. For example, I don’t like anyone to lie to me; I don’t want anyone to be rude to me; If I make a mistake, I expect others to easily forget and forgive; I don’t want anyone to steal my goods…. these values that I want it for myself are examples of ‘sāmānya dharmā ’ that the Veda instructs me to offer to others. So, I must not tell lie to anyone, I must be kind to all, I must easily forgive and forget other’s misdeeds etc.! Is not that simple!

These values are reinforced in our heritage in all walks of our life and therefore there is no need to learn Sanskrit or recite the Vedas to understand this sāmānya dharmā . What is given in the Vedas is also propagated in its derived texts such as ’smriti’, ‘itihāsa’ and ‘purāna’ . As you may know, ’smriti’ is that which is ‘to be remembered’ as it recalls what is conveyed in Veda. The term ‘Itihāsa’, literally means iti + ha + āsa or ‘so indeed it was” to narrate a history to teach dharmā . The term ‘purāna’ is taken to mean (pura+nava+api) “old and new also” – old legends that convey forever applicable ideals.

So, the first requirement for accumulating punyā is to imbibe these universal human values in all walks of life. Then what about my special circumstances…. age, life-style, location, job etc.? Is there additional or specific dharmā to follow?

(to be continued – Mee. Rajagopalan – 22/05/2017)

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(தொடரும் – மீ. ராஜகோபாலன், 22/05/2017)

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