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Musings on 'visEsha-dharmA'

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Sun Jan 05 1997 - 06:10:14 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

After cremating Jatayu, Lord Rama sat in the 'araNyA-s' of Dandaka and
performed a "dharma-vichAraNam" -- introspection --of all of Jatayu's great
deeds : its acts of "sva-dharmA" and "sAdhhAraNa-dharmA" which I have tried
to describe in the past dozen-odd daily postings of mine.

It is because the Lord did such intense introspection that we are today
enabled to know what 'visEsha-dharmA' it was that Jatayu performed !! If the
Lord had not done so we would all have been poorer in moral instruction
since we would never have come to appreciate the supreme act of
'visEsha-dharmA' that Jatayu performed and which verily earned for it, from
Lord Rama, His Grace without even "asking" for it!! (remember our old
discussion on 'Category B'?!)

It is said that Lord Rama introspected on two great events where
"pater-familias" -- A FATHER FIGURE-HEAD -- failed to transcend his
"sAdhAraNa-dharmA" and embrace "visEsha-dharmA" !!

One of those two events happened in the PAST ; the other event was in the

Lord Rama, an 'avatara' of the Supreme Lord of All Creation, recalled the
past event where His own father, King Dasaratha, was involved !

And as for the future event, Lord Rama's mind raced ahead to the
"dvApara-yuga" of Lord KrishnA's time, and dwelt on another Father Figure,
King DhritarAshtrA!!

Lord Rama, it is said, contemplated on the actions of these great PATERNAL
figures and how they failed to measure up, in decisive moments in their
lives, to their respective 'visEsha-dharmA'! 

Their failing was in sharp contrast, Lord Rama introspected, to the way
Jatayu had conducted itself !!

Dear "bhAgavatOttamA-s", of all the primeval authority-figures known to the
mind of man nothing is more powerful and more influential than that of the
FATHER. Most of our societal structures, legal systems, property
inheritance, art, literature and culture, from time immeorial, are all
deeply inspired by the "PATERNALISTIC" ethic. Even today in India it is the
father who is the fountainhead of all authority -- financial, moral and
filial -- in all communities. The destiny of all individuals, as of every
family household, is verily shaped by how fathers act and cope with the
vagaries of life. A strong and capable father authors a robust and
prosperous family. A dissolute and moral-weakling of a father invariably
brings his family to ruin. Ultimately the prosperity of a whole society is
inextricably dependent on the "acts" or "dharmA-s" of the FATHER.

King Dasaratha, Lord Rama's father, was a true 'dharmAtmA'. He was known as
a wise and strong king of the 'Raguvamsha' family. He was also known for his
piety. He was known for the many great 'yAgAs' he had performed. He was a
great character, undoubtedly.

So was King DhritarAshtrA of the MahabhArathA. He was a good king.

But both of them through their "acts of commission and omission" were known
to have brought their respective families to the brink of ruin. 

And that was because each had failed to perceive or discriminate between
what their 'sAdhAraNa' and "visEsha-dharmA" was !!

King Dasaratha placed too much emphasis on keeping his "good word" given to
Kaikeyi, His Consort. While this was impeccable of Dasaratha from the
viewpoint of his 'sAdhAraNa-dharmA', it was however an utter dereliction of
'visEsha-dharmA' which actually lay in he being steadfast in the pursuit of
the welfare of the Lord in the form of his son, Sri.Ramachandra.

King Dasaratha, thus, through misplaced emphasis on a "lower order" of
"dharmA" brought near-ruin to his family !!

On the flip-side, King DhritarAshtrA, too, in the MahabhAratha was more keen
on his 'sAdhAraNa-dharmA' of protecting the paramount interests of his son,
Duryodhana, when in fact his 'visEsha-dharmA' lay in clinging to the feet of
Lord Krishna. He too brought his family to ruin !!

Both fathers, King Dasaratha and DhritarAshtra, failed to "transcend" their
'dharmA-s', and fell by the wayside !!

But the old and venerable Jatayu of DandakAranyA however had the wisdom to
see where true 'dharmA' lay !!

It was old enough to be the father of Lord Rama and Sita and indeed did look
upon them as its own little family and little children !! It "gave up" --
"transcended", "abandoned", call it whatever it is that the "charama-shlOka"
of the Gita seems to suggest to you -- Jatayu "gave up" all its 'sva-dharmA'
and "sAdhAraNa-dharmA" and embraced the principle of the "divya-dampati"
(the Divine Couple) as its ONE and ONLY "family" !!

It would not for a moment tolerate any harm threatening its family !! It
gave battle to Ravana and willingly faced death to protect "Sita-pirAtti" as
if She were its own darling, little fledgling !!

Jatayu embraced a great 'visEsha-dharmA' !!

And thereby earned the supreme Grace of the Lord, "mOkshA", that He granted
to it without being even "asked" once !!

My next posting, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', shall be my last. I shall try to
show how all these discussions on "dharmA' we have had (since the 25th of
December, 1996, for those of you who have cared to follow this series!) on
this list are indeed relevant to the poetic content of Verse #39 of Swami
Desikan's "Raghuveera-Gadyam".

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha