Faith

Intricacies of dharma

When Rama enters Dandakaranya, Valmiki is quick to point out the new responsibility that has fallen on His shoulders, namely to guard the rishis against the troublesome rakshasas. The poet skilfully clarifies that the life of penance that Vana Vasa entails is not antithetical to Rama’s Kshatriya dharma as heir to the kingdom of Ayodhya, through the conversation that ensues between Sita and Rama at this juncture, pointed out Damal Sri Ramakrishnan and Srimati Perundevi in a discourse. Sita perceives a basic contradiction in Rama carrying a bow and arrow when He is pledged to live the life of a hermit in the forest. Sita humbly says that out of her love for Rama she wishes to share a few thoughts, though not in the attitude of giving advice to Him who is the very embodiment of dharma.

She begins with a general opinion on human nature. Any jivatma born in this world is susceptible to desire that could prompt him to sin on three counts, namely, telling lies, coveting another’s wife and killing or hurting anyone who has done no harm to him. The first two kinds of sin are totally irrelevant in the case of Rama. But Sita is afraid if the third kind of sin might attach itself to Rama who has given word to the rishis that He would protect them against the rakshasas. Would it be wise to kill the rakshasas when they have not attacked them directly?

Rama gently reminds Sita that a Kshatriya cannot sit still when helpless people suffer persecution. He has already vowed to protect the rishis and He cannot withdraw the pledge. A Kshatriya proudly bears weapons to protect others. This brief exchange also indicates the future course of events when together they have to tread the path of dharma and cannot differ in their views.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 4:29:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/intricacies-of-dharma/article29712866.ece

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