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Musings on visEsha-dharmA

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Sun Jan 05 1997 - 00:49:37 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

I would like to refresh your memories a bit by reproducing from my earlier
posting (dt.28/12/96) the way we defined "visEsha-dharmA".

" ..."visEsha-dharmA" are "holistic actions" inspired neither by "natural
order" nor by "high moral ordinance". These actions, instead, are inspired
by a "HIGH MORAL ORDER OF INDIVIDUAL CHOICE." These actions are a unique
category by themselves and are driven neither by "propensity" nor
"propriety". These actions are solely driven by a "supremely impersonal or
unselfish act of moral CHOICE."

We also said in the same posting above that :

"...In the THIRD and highest hierarchic order viz."visEsha-dharmA", actions
are driven by "pure and simple individual choice". Here the element of
"choice" is very, very strong and the influence of "sva-dharmA" (propensity)
or "sAdhAraNa-dharmA" (propriety) at this plane of "actions" is only mild,
if not wholly non-existent."

We also further noted in my posting of 28/12/96 that :

"...As for "visEsha-dharmA", it is but given to a fortunate few to be able
to perform it. One needs to be an extraordinarily advanced spiritual
'sAdhakA' to be able to exercise the degree of "individual moral choice"
involved in "visEsha-dharmA". It is not usually given to ordinary mortals
like us to venture to perform such a lofty "dharmA".

In the light of the above, we now proceed to discuss the "visEsha-dharmA"
that Lord Rama and Jatayu both exhibited in the 'araNya-kAndam'.

After having performed the "anthima-samskArAs" (last rites) for Jatayu, Lord
Rama, it is said, did not immediately get on with the more urgent job of
pursuing Ravana!

It is said that Lord Rama lingered around the Dandaka woods for a while and
carried out a great introspection or soul-searching!

It is said that Lord Rama sat down at the spot where Jatayu had been
confined to eternal flames and quietly carried out a silent
"dharmA-vichAraNam" --- a great introspection -- into the acts (dharmA-s)
and life of Jatayu !!

And that act of "dharmA-vichAraNam", dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', was the great
'visEsha-dharmA' that Lord Rama carried out!

It was an act of pure and individual choice which the Great Lord of All
Creation need not have done and that, too, for a lowly "janthu"(creature)
like Jatayu !! The Lord nevertheless did it because He wanted to demonstrate
through 'visEsha-dharmA' how humans should uphold their own "dharmA-s".

The Lord through His act of "introspection" and "dharma-vicharaNa" of
Jatayu's acts held out a lesson to all of us  i.e. in the moment of death of
a great soul we must all sit back and quietly reflect on all the "dharmA-s"
-- great deeds -- that the deceased may have performed while alive. This is
a duty that we must all never fail to carry out because as Shakespeare once
wrote : "the good that men do lives after them; the evil is interred in
their bones."

When men of great character and of noble deeds pass away from our lives we
are enjoined, by Lord RamA's example in the Jatayu-episode, to take enough
time out to deeply recollect and contemplate all the "good" that the one who
passed away did during his lifetime.

And what better time to do so, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', than in those last
sephulcral moments when a soul journeys forth from this world towards the

It is the time of a special kind of "brahma-muhurtham" (auspicious moment)
when it is ripe to reflect on the sublimest theme of all that is human :
"dharmA" !!

Lord Rama, too, sitting behind in the cremation-grounds of Jatayu, did
exactly that -- His 'visEsha-dharmA' -- and reflected on all the great deeds
(dharmA-s) that the Great Bird, Jatayu, had performed in an otherwise
ordinary, 'loukika', unregenerate, superficial, uneventful and petty
existence-- such as a forest-bird-of-carrion is known to live !!


In my next penultimate posting we shall see what "visEsha-dharmA" of Jatayu
it was that Lord Rama sat and introspected on, in that moment in the forest,
after cremating the Great Bird.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha