Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Whatever a man desires, that for him is his duty

I need to explain more what I mean by dharma. This is a continuing meditation on my own poem. When I reposted it, by some coincidence I reread the post I made about the Gita verse kāmo'smi bhāratarshabha. I was struck by the words from the Mahabharata (14.13.9-10)--

In this world, men do not commend a man whose very self is desire, and yet there can be no progress (pravritti) without desire, for the gift of alms, the study of the Veda, ascetic practice, and the Vedic sacrificial acts are all motivated by desire. Whoever knowingly undertakes a religious vow, performs sacrifice or any other religious duty, or engages in the spiritual exercise of meditation without desire does all this in vain. Whatever a man desires, that is to him his duty (dharma). It cannot be sound to curb one's duty.

"Whatever a man desires, that is to him his duty."

This describes, of course, the idea of Berüf or vocation. Prabhupada once said, "Find Krishna in the direction of your service." Or, find Krishna in the direction of your desires. We generally see dharma in terms of the unpleasantness that must be overcome. And of course, even when trying to fulfill a desire, there are challenges that must be overcome. Tests. But one who is faithful to God is faithful to his original inspiration or desire, recognizing ultimately that it comes from God.

There are subtleties related to the modes of nature or the purity of desire, but the whole point of the Gita is to show that one's desire indicates his level of qualification or adhikara. He says, when someone chooses to worship a particular demigod (to fulfill a particular desire) that he strengthens the person's faith in that god. Why? So that he can come to a knowledge of that particular (partial) manifestation of God. And he continues doing so until he comes to an awareness that prema is the prayojana.

The obligations that are imposed upon us by society, nation, family, our inner gods and demons, our "Superego" are the dharmic obstacles that are placed upon us. These are often harder to give up than adharma, precisely because we associate the duties related to this body with religion.

Of course, this is a huge debate in religion itself--and something to which we originally objected. Gaudiya Vaishnavism _is_ mystical. It is about cultivating direct experience of God--bhagavat-sākṣātkāra--the true price of which is sarva-dharmān parityājya.

So what is this obsession with "worldly religion"? Which, I may add, also has a connection to my Sahajiyaism. Ah... This shall have to wait. I have surely been down this road before... It starts with "This world is real."

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