Swadharma: A Bird’s eye view of Hindu Idea of Cosmos & the Purpose of Life
There are so many aspects of one’s religion that one is unaware of. Especially Hindus. For eg. At Yoga Institute, Santacruz, I learnt of Swadharma.
Swadharma is doing one’s duty for oneself. It includes doing what is necessary for one’s survival, taking care of oneself, and doing one’s duty.
Swadharma for a lion is to eat other animals. While for a deer it is to eat grass. That then is the simple allegory for Swadharma.
Whatever one needs to do for its existence, as per one’s own nature, is Swadharma.
So a person who is inclined towards arts would naturally take up a career in arts. And a person who likes the sound of iron core being beaten into iron, will want to become a blacksmith.
Such are the ways of the world, such is the living in synchronicity with nature.
Unlike the modern Consumerist culture, where Competition, Demand and Supply, Trends etc. decide what an individual should do
Most in the US, as far as I know, would think doing law and running for the post of the President would be the most noble career. In India these days, the craze is to become a Doctor, Scientist, or a Bollywood (movie) Star.
However, God, when he chose to incarnate on Earth as Krishna, took up the profession of a shepherd.
In the Hindu scheme of things then, whatever is one’s nature, accordingly one chooses his dharma or duty, failing which there is narak or hell which might be called suffering, or dukha.
And as varied are the fingers of our hand, thus varied are people.
Somebody maybe moody, some short-tempered, some service-oriented, some wise and tactful… the attributes of different men would make an endless list.
And the world/ or Srishti needs people of all these mental inclinations to participate in their chosen professions, following their own inner nature.
Unlike the modern world, there is no stereotype IQ level that one has to reach upto, no educational standard that one needs to aspire. There is only taking up one’s swadharma and dedicating oneself to it.
Following one’s swadharma does not need to meet people’s expectations of you, or the society’s expectation or standards of individual wealth creation.
The only thing to bear in mind is the credits one receives for one’s Swadharma. For though one’s nature is something that one is born with, it is one’s samskara (conditioning and karma) that leads to one’s nature, the fruits of which one has to encounter in this life or next, there is just no escape.
Every action, even inaction leads to Karma. Karma is inevitable, as long as it is selfish. Good Karma leads to Punya (plus points) and Bad Karma leads to negative points (negative points). According to one’s balance of Karma, one reaps either Sukha (happiness) or Dukha (suffering).
The cycle of Sukha and Dukha, happiness and suffering, is unending because Karma is inevitable. This vicious cycle is what Hindus term as Samsara.
To get out of this vicious cycle one needs to encounter light (gyan, true knowledge) in order to repel the darkness of ignorance (avidya, maya)
To do that, Yoga is essential. Yoga leads to Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)
Maharishi (the great sage poet) Pathanjali wrote in the Yoga Sutras different ways one can attain liberation. In the Gita, Lord Krishna elaborates different Yoga paths for people of different natures. So whenever He answers Arjuna on Yoga, he speaks of ways in terms of Or, not and.
This then, is the DIVERSITY that India has respected throughout the ages. There is no one standard model of Virtue, no one standard of Morality from the point of Dharma (Universal Law).
Each person has his birthright to follow his own pravritti (nature) according to his own buddhi (intelligence)
So, a person who commits atrocities gathers as much negative points as much as the people who accumulate negative points because they tolerate his atrocities.
Breaking free of somebody’s atrocities is also Swadharma.
In all this Samsaric leela (play of the Cosmos), if there is a way out it is the grace of God, or Guru (Gu means darkness and ru means to repel)
With His Grace, one can start Swadhyaya (observing and knowing one’s own self). This and other Sadhanas (spiritual practices) as suggested by the Guru, leads one to accumulate Punya, burn Karma, and gain release from the cycle of suffering.