Author:Haricharan Mylaraiah

In 1962, the Marxist historian D D Kosambi published a work titled Myth and Reality: Studies in the Formation of Indian Culture (hereafter referred to as 'M&R'). The first part of the book is called ‘Social and Economic Aspects of the Bhagavad-Gita’ and deals with the philosophical, ethical, and historical aspects of the Gita.

An exploration into three fundamental but interrelated concepts in Indian philosophy: dharma (principle of sustenance), brahma (or brahman; Supreme spirit that pervades everything) and rasa (the aesthetic experience). While dharma is an efficient tool for managing life, rasa bridges the material and the spiritual, and brahma is the all-encompassing absolute.

Since how long has the spirit of strength and courage been in the world? Indeed for thousands of years. In the Upanishads – the preeminent portion of the Vedas – we have a famous story of the creation of braahma, kshaatra, vaishya, and shudra along with dharma (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4). All the varnas arose from Prajapati (Brahma).

शुष्को वृक्षस्तिष्ठत्यग्रे
तदुपरि कश्चित्सर्पोऽप्यस्ति ।
नीरसतरुरिह विलसति निकटे
तदुपरि मणिमयकुटिलभुजङ्गः ॥

shushko vrkshastishthatyagre
tadupari kashchitsarpopyasti |
nirasataruriha vilasati nikate
tadupari manimayakutilabhujangah ||

An unfortunate outcome of the “modern” way of thinking–shaped by the all-are-equal assumption–is the fact that over the years, it has contributed to the reduction in the capacity of a society to produce heroes, role models etc. Today’s heroes derive from the entertainment, fashion, business and sports streams. Equally, the (primarily Marxist) widespread notion that all people–no matter what their genuine achievements are–are “subjects” to be “analysed,” has also hastened this reduction.

It seems to me that we Indians are quite talented at criticism. Rapier-sharp logic and critical reasoning has been a part of our heritage for millennia. Such criticality, in the right measure leads us to growth, but in excess leads us to pessimism, cynicism and eventually inaction. I often hear people complain about several historical blunders that we have committed and how it has brought us down, but I rarely get to hear solutions (especially ones we can implement at a personal level).

Dharma is broadly classified into two groups – general or universal (samanyadharma) and special or particular (visheshadharma). In the category of samanyadharma, all the basic values which generally never change with space and time are included. Here, the divisions of caste, creed, occupation, nationality, gender, race and other distinctions are not decisive. What we would call as human values today – values like truth, non-violence, freedom from greed, purity of thought, word and action, self-control, etc.

The Sanskrit Podcast hosted by Shoba Narayan and featuring Naresh Keerthi