The Law of Dharma – 3
Each one of us is capable of erring. And the kind of errors each one of us commits is different. However, the wise have handed down to us the accumulated wisdom of their experiences that have withstood the vagaries of time. And their teachings point to good acts and vices that are either recurrent or which encompass all the acts that can be classified into their fold. Thus, we all err only within the precincts of Dharma’s justice. Consequently, these teachings are eternal.
Vidura, on Dhritarashtra’s earnest request, having elaborated on the qualities of the wise and the foolish, went on to advise him on the acts that would lead one on the path of righteousness. The prime tenets are: gaining mastery over one’s passions; abstaining from slander; avoiding quarrels with friends; keeping good company; controlling one’s anger and pleasant speech.
The different kinds of strengths a king has are FIVE: Mastery of arms is last in importance; strength of birth which is naturally inherited comes above it preceded by acquisition of wealth, above which comes acquisition of good counselors. The greatest strength comes from strength of intellect.
Only one’s actions follow one after one’s bodily death. Dharma warrants that one bathe in the river of the soul that flows owing to religious merit, with truth as its waters, self-control its banks and kindness its waves. Then one reaches the Supreme Self.
Now, Dhritarashtra requested of Vidura to tell him about the soul, about death and of how he could reach the Absolute Self. Vidura said: I am not competent to tell you more than I have already told you. I shall call the eternal sage Sanatsujata to answer your questions.
Vidura meditated upon the sage and the sage came thereupon. Vidura requested him to answer the questions of Dhritarashtra which were of the highest order.
The sage then told: Ignorance is Death and Knowledge is Immortality. The pursuit of Knowledge of the self leads one to Brahman which is Immortality. Adharma (unrighteousness) blinds the intellect and man moves in the path of selfishness; hence he tends to fall into hell over and over again. Hence Ignorance is Death. However one who has conquered his senses by self- restraint cannot be touched by death for he has no fear of death.
One that, despite the desires that arise in the course of his life, depends solely on knowledge, need not fear death. The body is destroyed by death while death itself is destroyed by knowledge.
Dhritarashtra asked: What is the purpose of renunciation and self- restraint? Please tell me how it is to be practiced.
Sage Sanatsujata said: The aim of renunciation is to reach the Brahman which is beyond the reach of language or the mind. Mauna (tranquility of silence) is reached by gradually merging the gross (physical) into the subtle, the subtle (mental) into the causal and the causal (the root of everything) into Brahman (the all-pervading infinite).
There are six kinds of renunciation: Never indulging in pleasures despite prosperity; abandoning rites and rituals for the sake of worldly benefits out of them; withdrawing from the world; transcending grief; justice in thought and action towards others vis-a-vis one’s own near and dear ones and giving to the deserving.
Brahman resides in our mind, yet we do not perceive It as It is not manifest. It is only through a thorough search for truth using pure intellect that Brahman can be perceived and attained.
Dhritarashtra asked: Tell me the qualities of the Omnipresent and Eternal Brahman that the wise is able to perceive in his own soul?
The sage said: Nowhere is there anything like It; It is visible nowhere; It is incapable of being compassed and lies beyond the intellect that is bound by limitations. It is the unchanging base upon which everything rests. It is this Universe we see around us. Creatures come forth from it and return to it. It is all-pervading and is without change. Those that are acquainted with It are blessed.
The sage having answered all of Dhritarashtra’s questions took his leave and returned to his eternal abode.