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Protecting dharma

CHENNAI: Amidst all odds Hanuman initiated the process of reunion of the Divine Couple Lord Rama and Sita in the Sundara Kanda. Hanuman's role as a messenger of exceptional calibre is authenticated by his intelligence, scholarship, extraordinary valour, fame, courage, fearlessness, etc. More inspiring is his utmost humility and absolute devotion.

In a discourse, Sri B. Sundarkumar drew attention to the appropriateness of the metaphors used by Valmiki to describe the forlorn plight of Sita when Hanuman's search for her led to the eventual discovery of her in Asoka Vana that became a turning point. These references are drawn from practical day-to-day situations and serve to capture her state of mind in captivity. Sita's distress is equated to a person whose faith is shaken to the core, or one who has fallen into poverty without any reason, or one whose reputation is tarnished or one whose expectations are destroyed at the very moment of fruition.

Sita's washed out appearance is compared to knowledge that is in ruins for want of repeated study, and to the Vedas that have lost their effulgence when not in vogue or practice. The learning and practice of scriptures is a challenging task and the effort demands sincerity, faith and tenacity. Dharma is preserved and survives through the inherited practice of successive generations, and scriptural teachings become effective only when scrupulously followed. On the other hand, if ignored or disregarded, dharma loses its strength. The Lord declares that the specific purpose of His incarnations is to reinstate the fallen dharma whenever there is a decline in righteousness.

For when in the first place even a theoretical grasp of dharma as expounded in the Sastras is not easy, to uphold it becomes still more difficult. Sometimes even what is spelt in straightforward statements remains subtle, complex and cryptic. The Puranas and the Itihasas that reinforce the cause of dharma, also highlight this gap between the statement of the code of dharma and its application in practical situations, throwing into focus the myriad ambiguities that can emerge.

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