Dharmic questions

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Apr 21 01:29:23 CDT 2003

On Sun, 20 Apr 2003, Sanjay Verma wrote:

> Pranam to all,
> Here is some more food for thought on the issue of dharmic duties and
> who is a [genuine] renouncer
> A religious man is a religious man in all situations. To him his first
> priority is his religion which requires that he should always be honest,
> kind, and just. Prayer and other religious practices do help, but they
> are not the criterion by which they should be judged. What kind of
> people they are is the only criterion.” [Vedanta in Practice by Swami
> Lokeswarananda, page 44]
> Lest the above be deemed iconoclastic, Swami Lokeswarananda also writes
> on page 200:

> The best thing to do is to cherish our traditions, even if this means
> cherishing things which have outlived their utility. Things we do not
> need will die out automatically. But we need not be in a hurry to
> replace old things just because they are old. Maybe they appear out of
> place in the context of our present-day life, but if we look closely we
> will find their intrinsic merit is still intact. We should respect our
> old traditions even if we are not able to live up to them.

The Swamijis heart is obviously in the right place but his defence is
(IMO) lacking.  He is trying to have it both ways.  He wants to tell
modern people "yes I know these things are obsolete but tolerate them anyway."
and he wants to tell the traditionalists "One can still respect these
things even while ignoring them."  Such an outlook would reduce its followers
to keepers of a dusty museum, not participants in a vital and spiritual

To me, the key is in his first observation that it is what kind of a man
one is that counts.  Dharmic obligations are represented as a threefold
debt: to the Devas, to the Pitrs, and to the Rshis.  What kind of a man
reneges on his debts?  Not the kind whose character we would admire.  The
Dharmic man does not do his duty grudgingly or out of duress but with the
joy of knowing he is doing the right thing.  And when he does renounce
duty, it is done in the full knowledge that there is not one being
mortal or divine who he has failed to repay.

> Also, BG 6:1 was quoted in a recent posting regarding renunciation. The
> following is Adi Shankaracharya's commentary [from Srimad Bhagavad Gita
> Bhashya of Sri Shankaracyarya as translated by Dr. A.G. Krishna Warrier]
> to fully elucidate the meaning of this verse. It should be evident from
> the commentary below that one cannot determine merely by another
> person's name whether he is a renouncer.

You are right the name in itself cannot determine renunciation but it is a
big clue don't you think?  From birth to school to work to marriage to
death it is a name by which a person and his deeds are known is it not?
This is why we have the custom of taking a different name at sannyasa. It
is a punarjanma.

Thanks for posting the Gita extract.  I've written more on the subject in
a seperate post. (And btw Krishna Warriers translation to English appears
to have lost some nuances in the process.  A. Mahadeva Shastris' is better

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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