Skip to main content
July - September 2023

Editorial – Adharma is to be feared

A glaring feature among the vast majority of today’s educated youth is their expression: “I am not afraid of anything. I know what is right.” This tendency of misplaced boldness has uprooted the age-old wisdom of our society to be respectful to elders and their views on traditional practices. The majority of youth are unaware of our rich heritage of ethics, morals, harmony, honour, compassion and such values; they are not exposed to our ancient priceless literature of Dharma Shastras, Puranas, Itihasas, epics and poetry. It is unfortunate that the little bit of moral study curriculum, which the schools offered to students earlier, was also nixed in the name of secular education. The moral training, which used to be available at home, also vanished with both parents working. Hence the youth, devoid of all guidance, arrive unfortunately at their own findings and conclusions with the lopsided exposure they have.

Shastras lay down clearly the tenets of Dharma and Adharma. They describe Swarga and Naraka; they explain the theory of Karma. Dharma includes Samanya (common) Dharma, i.e. Truth, Ahimsa etc. and specific Dharma applicable to Varna and Ashrama. Minimum exposure to this fund of knowledge is required in order to s tick to Dharma while facing the complexities of life. Shastras say:

“Dharma, not followed, destroys the person; Dharma, observed well, protects the person. Hence Dharma should never be violated; for, the violated Dharma would pull down the person.” Shastras are the only true guide in ascertaining the correct path of Dharma. Bhagavan Krishna says in Gita:

“Shastra is the authority for you in determining actions to be done and not to be done. Study the rules of Shastra and proceed to perform your karma here.” But even while following the Shastras, it is sometimes difficult to know the exact course of action to be taken in a given circumstance; various Shastras might differ. Hence Mahabharata advises that the well- trodden path of the virtuous people should be followed.

Shastra makes it clear that while the human being has been blessed with intellect to be able to distinguish between Dharma and Adharma, he has to make the choice; and, surely, he will reap the consequences of his choice. No action of mind, body or words will go without bestowing its fruit, either merit (Punya) or demerit (sin or Paapa). But here comes the catch. People observe that most charlatans and corrupt politicians and executives, while adopting all illegal means to amass wealth, are not visited by any evil consequences in their lifetime. Hence their action is ‘smart’. This is where people have to be told that the fruit of Karma does not generally follow in the same birth. Evil forces enjoy the best of life now not because of their evil actions in their current life, but as a result of their meritorious acts in their past lives.

There is an interesting episode in Skanda Puranam. After Surapadma and the other asuras were vanquished at the hands of Subrahmanya, Devas reclaimed Swarga and its pleasures. Jayantha, the son of Devendra, asked Brihaspati, the Devaguru: “Guru, Devas were all punished severely by Virabhadra and Bhadrakali at the instance of Shiva for having participated in the Dakshayagna at the venue of the yagna itself; they were all mutilated and subjected to enormous misery and dishonour. Hence the fruit of the evil act of participating in Dakshayagna, where Shiva was not invoked and Sati was dishonoured, was borne immediately. How, then, did Devas have to suffer miserably for many, many yugas under Surpadma’s harsh rule?” Brihaspati replied:  , the course of Karma i s not straight. After Devas underwent the punishment meted out by Shiva, their evil Karma was not exhausted. The balance of that evil karma had to be expended by suffering the misery under Surapadma’s rule for such a long time.” Bhagavan also states in Gita:  the course of Karma is unfathomable. So it is clear that Karma follows accurately, but at a pace not discernible to us. In fact Shastra says:  “Just as the calf goes straight to its mother among thousands of cows, the Karma done in the past follows the doer.”

Bhagavan Vyasa, at the close of Mahabharata, exclaims in exasperation in a passage celebrated as Bharata Savitri:

“A thousand mothers and fathers and a hundred sons and wives arise on the earth for a human being in several births. Others will come and go too. There are a thousand places or occasions for pleasure and a hundred for fear. These would only affect the ignorant ones but not the wise. With uplifted arms, I cry but nobody listens to me. It is from Dharma that arises wealth and also the pleasure. Why must not Dharma be thus sought? Just not for the sake of desires, fear or greed, nor even for the sake of life, should anyone ever cast off Dharma. It is eternal. Sensory pleasure or sorrow is transitory. Jiva is the eternal soul; the body is transitory.”

Some people are under the mistaken impression that Narakas described in Shastras are not real; the misery experienced on earth is actually what is meant. Nothing is farther from the truth. There is nothing in Shastras to say that Swarga, other regions like Brahmaloka, Narakas, Pitruloka etc. do not in fact exist. Hence the very detailed explanation of the punishments meted out in various Narakas and the evil karmas committed on earth, which lead to that punishment, are all real and should be taken at face value.

It is not real courage to not fear Adharma, sin and its consequences, the misery of Narakas etc. Real courage is to practise and stand by Dharma, whatever be the cost. This is what our forefathers have taught us. Right at the stage of childhood, these lessons should be brought home. Parents, and specially, mothers should take the responsibility to execute this day in and day out. That is the only effective way out. Implicit, unquestioning faith in the dictates of Shastras and practical aspects of observance of Dharma should be inculcated thoroughly. The saying,”Fear of Bhagavan and his tenets is the beginning of Wisdom” should be drilled into their minds. Minds, not moulded in childhood, will not have the toughness to meet life’s challenges without deviating from the path of Dharma. They may pick up the dry facts relating to Dharma and Adharma in later life, but they will not have the mental strength to refuse the manifold temptations thrown by Adharma. It is worth remembering that Duryodhana, when advised by Krishna of the importance

of Dharma at Hastinapuram during the pre- war negotiations, said: “I know what is Dharma, but I have no inclination towards it; I know what is Adharma, but I cannot free myself from it.” It is essential for our youth to study the stories of Duryodhana and K a r n a , R a v a n a a n d S u r p a n a k h a , Tr i p u rasu ras an d J a l an d h arasu ra , Mahishasura and Shumbha, as of Krishna, Rama, Shiva and Devi.

Just as Dharma is subtle, Adharma is equally subtle. To not actively participate in an act of Adharma, but to be a silent spectator is also Adharma. While defining the five great sins, Shastras make an interesting point. The five great sins are: killing of brahmana, consumption of liquor, thieving of gold, coveting Guru’s wife, and the fifth one is, being with the person committing the above sins. Human birth is meant for achieving purity of mind and attaining the higher goal of Liberation from the cycle of Samsara. Hence Shastras guide us in being as far away from Adharma as possible.

In earlier times religious discourses very often stressed the requirement of being i.e. being afraid of sin. This is very important, in fact more important than being keen to reap religious merit. Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham has taken many initiatives to spread awareness of Dharma and the importance of observing traditional good practices and developing the fear of Adharma. Let us also play our parts.