[Advaita-l] Thanks [Was some questions on dharma]

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 20 20:10:44 CDT 2006

>-- Can I understand then that eating (or not) of meat is more a matter of
>pragmatism than a metaphysical principle. Is the logic of "cutting short 
>sAdhana of an animal" not sanctioned by the dharmashAstra (this was

I would describe it as more than a matter of merely pragmatism. It becomes a 
question of personal ethics and adoption of ahimsA as a principle, if not 
one of metaphysics.

The notion of cutting short the sAdhanA of an animal is not mentioned in any 
of the dharmaSAstra texts, as far as I know. Rather, some kinds of meat are 
listed as forbidden in some places and certain kinds of meat are allowed in 
other places.

>mentioned by a dvaitin svAmi suguNEndra tIrtha)?  (Because logic in such
>cases could cut either ways, I was wondering what the dharmashAstra has to
>say on this.)
>>This ancient rule of succession did not say anything about the
>>character of the eldest son - all that was needed to inherit was the
>>of birth.
>This was not always true. The character of the king was considered
>important. Two cases are king sagara banishing his son asumAnjas.h (at the
>request of his people), and king yayAti favouring his youngest son puru 
>yadu (against the wishes of his ministers). But probably you meant primacy
>of birth was more the established norm.

Yes, but note that although asamanjas was banished, his son inherited the 
kingdom. yayAti's case is a bit more complicated, because he gave the 
kingdom to the son who exchanged his youth and health for yayAti's old age.

>>bhIshma had a very tough choice, but in the end, he had to honor the vow
>>had taken of protecting hastinApura.
>Should one honour his vow or adhere to what is dharma? For example,

When in an extremely difficult situation, how does one know what is dharma 
or not? Honoring one's word even when pushed to an extreme is itself dharma. 
mahAbhArata depicts many situations where things are not black or white, but 
fall in one of infinite shades of grey in between. For example, was it 
dharma for yudhishThira to wager his brothers and draupadI in the game of 
dice? Were they his personal property to be essentially bought and sold? 
draupadI's challenge, asking how her liberty was something to be betted 
upon, could not be answered by all the wise men gathered in the court, 
including bhIshma and vidura. They had to remain mute.

In the epic, Krishna stands above the norms governing human beings. vyAsa 
does that quite on purpose, to emphasize that Krishna is Vishnu. As for 
human beings, the epic points out in numerous places, explicitly and 
implicitly, that dharma is not only specific to the person and the 
situation, it is also very subtle. Often, it is not obvious what the correct 
course of dharma is, which is one strong reason one has to adopt ISvarArpaNa 
- buddhi, the attitude of dedicating all one's actions to God.

With Deepavali wishes,

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