Digest on Dharma

CHENNAI: : The scriptures never tire of emphasising the importance of upholding Dharma (righteousness) in life. Dharma is the very basis of the universe and hence an individual can enjoy peace of mind only when he does not swerve from Dharma. The scriptural canon envisages the welfare of all and for this it is necessary to maintain the moral order in the world. For this it is essential to know why a person flouts moral tenets. When one succumbs to desire, jealousy, and greed, Dharma generally becomes the first casualty.

In his discourse, Sri V. Rajagopala Ganapadigal said the circumstances that led to Vidura's exposition on Dharma — the Viduraniti — to Dhritarahstra reinforce the importance of living righteously. When the Pandavas finished their exile the king should have voluntarily returned their rightful share of kingdom. But his attachment to his son, Duryodana, made him blind to Dharma and he sent back the messenger of the Pandavas.

He despatched Sanjaya with the message that Yudhishthira should eschew war. Sanjaya was a reluctant envoy as he was aghast that the king had failed to check Duryodana but he went because it afforded an opportunity to meet the Pandavas.

When Sanjaya returned he went straight to Dhritarashtra and rebuked him for being unrighteous and allowing his sons to commit sins repeatedly. He refused to disclose immediately what had transpired there and said he would announce it in the court. Anxious about the outcome the king lost his sleep and in despair sent for his wise brother, Vidura, for solace.

It was then that Vidura dilated at length on Dharma after telling him that he had in vain been trying to instill some righteousness into him. "You have been responsible for the suffering of the Pandavas and the imminent destruction of the Kauravas. How can a sinful person like you get sleep? Yudhishthira has always paid you the respect due to a father. But you have always been behaving like a thief towards him. At this very moment if you decide to return Yudhishthira's kingdom to him, you can sleep like an innocent child. Please listen to me. You are not wise. You are foolish." The king then wanted to know the qualities of a wise man and a foolish one. Even after listening to Vidura's counsel, the king became no wiser.

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