The never ending debate through all factions of society is about the existence of good and bad. Every single aspect of our life can be divided into one of the two. Or, at least we keep trying to do so. But, the million dollar question still remains, what is good and what is bad?
They both are essentially relative terms. What is good for one, might be bad for another and vice-versa. But that is not what I want to talk about right now. What concerns me more than this is our reactions to good and bad. Because of the individuality in the very definition of good and bad, a certain individual element in our reactions to these is obvious. But what kind of responses are valid? And where do we need to draw the line? These are issues that need serious thinking over.
The debate over good and bad goes back several millennia. To those who are into mythology, this issue forms the centre-piece of an entire Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. And the God incarnate in fact does explain the difference. It is said that since good and bad are relative we should not concern ourselves with them. We should focus on ‘Karma’ i.e. the task at hand. This further links us to the concept of ‘Dharma’ and later what Lord Krishna links to ‘Nirnaya’ i.e. decision making. These are complicated issues, and one cannot hope to completely gauge the meaning of these statements. If one could do so, that would be the attainment of ‘enlightenment’. However, I shall still try to understand this as far as I can.
In the crudest terms possible, ‘Dharma’ means justice. Everyone doing their rightful duty and everyone receiving the corresponding reward or punishment. This is why texts claim that nobody is good or evil. It is what they do that is. It is the roles that they play that are good or bad, as the Almighty has planned for them. And every role is essential for the functioning of the society. Whenever this balance of good and evil is disturbed to an extent that it becomes impossible for the ordinary human to restore, then the Almighty shall come upon the land as a human and do what should have been done by the humans in the first place.
Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya,
Glanirva Bhavathi Bharatha;
Tadatmanam Srijami Aham.
Coming back to the roles that we have to play in life. Performing the karma for that role will lead to establishment of the perfect order and hence ‘Dharma’. This leads us to the point that even the bad and evil forces in our lives have to exist. Rather than worrying about the outcome, we should continue our actions and eventually, everyone shall reap the fruits they deserve. This however does not mean that I am advocating that the bad should go unpunished. It is the role of the corresponding people in the society. And if everyone does what is required of them, then ‘Dharma’ shall be established. However, a utopia of only the good is an impossibility. Righteousness is the ability to follow the role and the karma involved without fail.
One episode from the Gita that I particularly like is the heated conversation between Lord Krishna and Bheeshma. To those who do not know of these characters, here is a brief explanation. Lord Krishna is the God incarnate, while Bheeshma is a mighty warrior who has pledged his loyalty to the crown. Bheeshma refuses to go against the crown in spite of knowing that what was going on was not in the interest of ‘Dharma’; claiming the pledge to be his excuse. To this Krishna replies that Bheeshma let the pledge decide what he had to do rather than stepping up for what was in the interest of ‘Dharma’. The scripture says that abstaining from decisions and letting others make the choice for you is wrong. Especially when that choice compromises ‘Dharma’ or justice for mankind. Taking charge of your role in life is essential.
Now let us get back to the real world.
From The Backbencher’s Perspective; we need not concern ourselves with what others are doing. Whether good or bad. Our aim in life should be to do our job sincerely and without hesitation of the outcome. We have not been given the authority to judge people (unless you are actually a part of the judiciary). Also, existence of evil is an essentiality to the society. The war against good and evil shall never end. To keep fighting is essential.
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