What is Dharma for today?


“Clash of Civilizations” is a phrase familiar to most of us through history books, movies and more recently, video games. For a long time, I believed that it was limited to the ancient past. This is mainly because the stage, wardrobe, style of communication, logistics and weaponry all represented a bygone era. With grand empires and their powerful emperors, commanders and their galloping horses, soldiers and their swords, the ‘Monarch’ being the central figure, today ‘Clash of Civilizations’, at best represents a relic – piece of historical art. Just imagine the same in today’s context – what would the theatrical representation of it be? Armies with advanced battle tanks, ships, planes, camouflage uniforms, radio and satellite communications, espionage and so on! There would be one major difference though, the Monarch replaced by ‘democratically elected’ representatives.

With the rise of the digital age and the ‘world-wide-web’, the concept of conquest has become further complicated. Ordinary folk are connected and empowered as never before. Today, nobody wants to be known as a powerful or ruthless leader, whether it be in military, business or the sciences. Increasingly all the major players in society’s governance want to be seen as ‘friends and well-wishers of the world’ adorned with the virtues of compassion, charity and honesty.

To become something (pious, honest, truthful) you have to actually ‘be’ it internally.  But today, to be ‘seen to be’ is sufficient, as no one is bothered about the depth and authenticity of it.  So you can market anything by being ‘seen to be’ it. With the erosion of ethics and morality, marketing and packaging have become more important than content. Sentiment of being ‘virtuous’ is being increasingly marketed without the essential quality within. All these together have compulsively driven the concept of conquest from the gross to the subtle. Modern mechanisms of conquests have incorporated monopolizing techniques in business, vulgarity in art, manufacturing perceptions in journalism, misrepresentation in linguistics and so on. The ‘world-wide-web’ has connected everyone in these battles.

Dharma is the original virtue of existence and the original ‘world-wide-web’ encompassing every single facet of creation. It now waits to re-establish its ‘natural brilliance’ by replacing the ‘seen to be’ entities with those who truly represent dharmic values. Virtues are not to be manufactured and marketed by external means. It is a function that is internally present within the fundamental state of everything in creation. It encourages an ‘internal conquest for an external welfare’. Yet although the eternal and truthful are often met with challenges and obstacles, in the final analysis these very challenges and obstacles will create opportunities for Dharma to rise higher and shine brighter than ever before!

Dharma is not a monopoly of any class neither does it monopolize any aspect of life. It invites debate and discussion known as samvaad. Krishna being the absolute truth Himself, had a samvaad with Arjun on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. He did not impose His intellectual logic on Arjun. Traditionally, differences of opinion were resolved with samvaad. There is, however, a major difference between traditional debates and modern ones. In the former, both parties were essentially ‘seeking the truth’ and concurred on some fundamental definitions of consciousness and character. For instance, Krishna and Arjun both agreed on ‘welfare of humanity’  as a common goal. The debate simply was on how to achieve it. However, in modern times, thought leaders do not necessarily have a moral standing on any issue at hand. In the absence of a virtuous character, lack of loyalty to the subject or sense of purpose – they stand to defeat the very cause they represent. In the competitive mind-space, a winner is who can fire up people rightly or wrongly on ideologies.

Today, espionage is no longer limited to politics and governance – it is about capturing this mind-space. We can easily identify and have accepted corporate espionage as a factual fragment of the social fabric. However, espionage in history and literature, traditions and cultures, ethics and morality, is not that evident to the casual eye and busy fickle mind. It exists, nonetheless. Have we thought about its theatrical representation? Who would be the actors of such a theatre?

You only attempt to conquer something that is worthwhile. India, earlier known as Bharatvarsh, with her vast wealth, rich culture of arts, impeccable traditions and advanced sciences, has been a focal point for conquerors for thousands of years. And beware, this is not a thing of the past but holds true even today. You would think- but that’s incredible!  Why or what would anyone try to conquer in today’s advanced, aware and reactive world?  This lack of awareness and inability to accurately read the opponents’ motives coupled with the apathy towards the preservation and protection of this grand tradition is weakening the very fabric of India, the world’s oldest dharmic civilization.  It is not possible to free-ride on the benefits of this great culture without taking responsibility for its nourishment and preservation. Remaining neutral in this regard is NOT an option.

Awareness, Empowerment and Relevance is Dharma Today.

About Author

Jay Pandya

Jay Pandya is the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine Dharma Today (www.dharmatoday.com). He is also co-founder and mentor to Dharma Gurukul (www.dharmagurukul.com), the cultural program for teens. Jay is an advisor to International Applications of Vedic Concepts (iaVediC) that works to apply Vedic concepts in contemporary ways (www.iavedic.org). He is a graduate in Engineering and held the role of Director of Special Effects for Films and TV before he took to monastic life. He routinely conducts programs and seminars focused on Dharma, Leadership, and Practical Vedic Application for various organizations and NGOs across the US, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia, Africa.

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