Daily nectar of word meaning Day 14

நாள்தோறும் சொற்பொருள் அமிர்தம்

All of us are to follow the ’sāmānya dharmā ’ the universal values which are applicable for all occasions and for all. There can be no conflict.

But as we are all different, have different life-stages and different roles to perform, there is a need for additional set of values designed to support these differences. These subjective values are called ’viseshā dharmā ’ and it will differ from person to person, community to community, culture to culture and so on. Therefore, the differences in the ’viseshā dharmā ’ are to be respected to nurture social harmony.

Veda provides two streams of classifications to recommend the ’viseshā dharmā ’.

One is at personal level – reflecting the different stages of life, of life style followed. This is known as ’ashrama dharmā ’. Our life stages are divided into four: ’brahamacharyā’, ‘grahastā’, ‘vānaprastā’ and ‘sanyāsā’. For now, take these to mean the life-style for ‘studying’, ‘family-dwelling’, ‘retirement’ and ‘renunciation’ respectively. At each of these stages, we have different set of ’viseshā dharmā ’ to follow to maintain and uphold the values in the society. An example is the ’viseshā dharmā ’ for every family-dweller known as ’panca-yajna’ or five-obligations every day. These are ’deva yajna’ or worship of god, ’brahma yajna’ or reverence to scriptures, ’pitr yajna’ or offerings to ancestors, ’manushya yajna’ or offerings to fellow human-beings and ’bhuta yajna’ or offerings to other beings. It is not impossible to do these everyday as our parents and grand-parents might have shown for us; even feeding the birds and watering the plants are deemed as the bhuta-yajna.

The second stream of classification is based on our chosen role in the community and that depends on our predominant occupation in the world. This is called ‘varnā-dharmā ’ or the values for the occupational groups. But this concept is totally misunderstood and mishandled, especially in the last two centuries, decaying into artificial classifications of caste system and the related injustice.
Yet, without any prejudice, it would be good to understand the merits of varna-dharmā .

(to be continued – Mee. Rajagopalan – 23/05/2017)

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(தொடரும் – மீ. ராஜகோபாலன், 23/05/2017)

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