Tuesday, May 19, 2015



shreyaan swadharmo vigunah paradharmaat  swanushthitaat
    swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo  bhayaavahah // 3.35 //

Better  is one's own duty, though imperfectly performed, than the duty of another well performed.  Better is death in the doing of one's own duty;  the duty of another is fraught with peril.

Although  the word Dharma is meant here as duty, in a special sense it is one's own basic  nature or vasana. Swadharma is the type of vasanas one finds in his mind. To  act according to one's taste, inborn and natural, is the only method to live in  peace and joy. To act against one's vasanas is to act in terms of Paradharma  which is fraught with danger.

Here  the Swadharma of Arjuna is that of a prince and not that of Brahmana. He wanted  to take up the latter abandoning the former. In this verse Sri Krishna reminds  him that to act according to his own vasanas or Dharma, even though imperfect,  is the right path for his development. It is dangerous to suppress one's own  personality expression and imitate the activities of others, however divinely  they may be. There is more happiness in doing one's own work even without  excellence than in doing another's duty well. We must play our part, manfully,  be it great or small.

The  implication is that Arjuna's thought of desisting from fight and going in for  the calm and peaceful life of a Brahmana is prompted by man's natural desire to  shun what is disagreeable and adopt what is momentarily agreeable to the  senses.  He should on no account yield to  such weakness. It is indeed much better for a person to die while discharging  his own duty, though it may not have any merit, than doing the duty of another,  though it may be performed in a perfect manner, because the duty of another has  many pitfalls.

Here, we find an answer why one should follow his own Dharma, when testing times come. India started passing through these testing times when wanted to perform a Dharma that was not native to us and we were on the precipice of a collapsing state. Unless we open our eyes now and fight our own battles instead of fighting the battles of others, in the name of "walking together", when we do not know the person walking with us is taking a step back to stab us in the back, for not following his Dharma. Scriptures of any religion or nation teach this fundamental duty of protecting self before we embark on universal brotherhood.

In Air Plane, a clear signal is given to protect yourself with an oxygen mask before we help others.


Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Everything we delight in is evil to other beings and vice versa:
So let us hover through the fog and murky air.

This is a famous quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The whole story revolves around the theme that whatever is fair to normal humans is foul to the supernatural and vice versa.

The very evil nature of the witches in goading Macbeth that he is the Supreme and The King prompts him to kill his own king, prompted by Lady Macbeth. This ends in a tragic war where Macbeth gets killed because of his and Lady Macbeth's ambition.

The couplet with which the witches take their departure is a confession of their creed. All that is good, "fair," to others is evil, "foul," to them, and vice versa. This applies to both the physical and the moral world; they revel in the "fog and filthy air," and in every sort of mischief and evil-doing from killing swine to entrapping human souls.


 “Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”
― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“Let me have men about me that are fat... Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”
― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

These two famous quotes by Caesar speak immensely about the human nature and the fragility of one's thoughts. Caesar is considered as one of the best and valiant warriors that never feared an enemy.

In the first instance he says he fears not death and mocks at those who fear the inevitable occurrence.

Shakespeare's observation of human nature is brilliant. The valiant warrior, fresh from many victorious battles and who never feared death in spite of a warning by soothsayers "Beware of the Ides of March" and mocks them, is factually very timid in his heart.

The second quote makes it clear. "Surround me with strong men. At a distance Cassius has a look that forebodes his intentions of hunger to kill me" says the same Caesar that never feared death.

A great tribute to Shakespeare in portraying the human frailty.