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Let’s bring back the discourse on Dharma and Adharma

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Sadhvi Pragya, BJP candidate from Bhopal, said after her nomination that this is a ‘DharmaYudh’ for her. Usual suspects in the media portrayed it as a divisive, communal statement by attributing Dharma to Hindu religion. Nothing less was expected from them who are baying for her blood since the announcement of her nomination.

Notwithstanding the narrative being built around her like it has happened for many Hindu leaders in the past, we should try and understand the intention behind using such a sacred ancient concept to summarize her fight in the electoral arena.

Many people can be seen asking on various social media platforms and in person; “why is Ravana considered bad or wrong when he did not even touch Sita”; “why is Duryodhana considered wrong when he was the rightful owner of the throne given that his father was the elder one and was the reigning King”; “How can Ram be considered Maryada-Purushottam when he abandoned his own wife”; “How can we say Pandavas were right when they waged their own wife in a dice game”.

These questions make me wonder that people are still looking at Dharma from the prism of western concepts.

Our scriptures are not about the sex, or the throne, or about what is the degree of wrong and right. As long as we keep reading them with a colonial or leftist mindset, we will never understand the difference between Dharma and Adharma.

It is about the blatant misuse of power against the weak.

When Ravana kidnaps a gullible Sita using treachery and force, he has already committed the sin of misusing the power against a weak person. It is irrelevant whether he touched her or not. When Duryodhan tries to derob Draupadi in public, it does not matter whether he was successful in his attempt or not.

It is about the sin of having arrogance and ego when you are powerful.

When Ram offers a settlement by returning of Sita and apologizing for his misdeeds, to avert war; but Ravana in his arrogance, rejects the peace offer. Similarly, Duryodhan rejects the peace offer of Krishna by handing over just six villages to the Pandavas. One should not have this much ego and arrogance when they are seating on powerful positions.

It is not about the responsibilities of the ruler but about his conduct.

There are no authenticated documents about the conditions of the citizens under Ravana. By no means can we claim that he was a bad ruler for his people. Hastinapur, under Duryodhan, was by no means a treacherous state for its citizens. He, in fact, made a common SutaPutra into a King and treated him with utmost respect throughout. You have responsibilities as a ruler towards your state, your people. You are expected to do justice to them. But what is more important is whether your conduct is becoming of a ruler or not.

It is about the intentions and not mistakes.

Lakshmana disobeyed his elder brother’s direct order and left Sita defenseless. He cut the nose of a woman which was unbecoming of a warrior. Sita ignored Lakshmana’s instruction and ventured outside the Lakshman-Rekha. Ram left Sita when questions were raised about her by his own citizens even at the cost of personal misery. Yudhustir waged all his brothers and wife in a game with Duryodhan. Draupadi made fun of Duryodhan for his goof-ups.

These all can be considered mistakes but the idea is not to be perfect and not make mistakes, but to have the correct intentions while doing something. Even the Gods make mistakes, our puranas are full of such instances; so how do you expect a human to not make mistakes? It is unnatural. But the stress is on understanding the intentions while analyzing any of the decisions made by anyone, specially by those in power.

Considering Sadhvi Pragya’s statement in this light, we can begin to understand the gravity of her words. She was tortured, beaten, humiliated by those in power; she was defenseless and weak in front of them; the powerfuls blatantly misused their power against her; their intentions were outright wicked and wrong; they were drunk with power and reeked of arrogance and evil; a regime which was not only corrupt but exploitative, insensitive and irresponsible.

If this is not Adharma then we have lost the perspective of what is Dharma-Adharma. No doubt this is a DharmaYudha for her, in fact it should be for all of us.


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