Among the followers of Santana dharmic tradition, there exists a general apathy towards study of Dharma Shastras and its role in shaping rules of conduct, law and social structure.
1) Dharma shastra rules are natural and local to diverse people following different Sampradaya – Paramparas. It respects their culture, customs, habits and environmental needs.
2) These rules are conducive to the preservation of their knowledge systems like oral tradition, arts forms and craftsmanship.
3) Foreign and alien laws affect natural response and behavior of local population and leads to aesthetic dissonance.
The decline in role of Dharma Shastras or Smriti is not a new phenomenon. Even prior to advent of Islam we see among adherents of Nivrutti Marga like Sannaysins, Shraman, Bauddha, kapalikas etc. and Bhakti schools like Vaishnava, Shakta, Shaiva, Saurya and others, a tendency to promote texts of their Sampradaya even above Smritis and Shrutis. Many eminent Acharyas have maintained this stand. Like some Vaishnava’s consider Bhagwatam as their Smriti and some among them put Bhagwatam even above Vedas. This is visible among all schools.
The effect of this development has been that Vyavharaika Paksa (the practical aspect) of reality and word affairs suffered and Sanskrit education became more (if I may use that word) ‘other-worldly’.
To reemphasize again, the fact is Dharma is holistic concept that moves from individual to family, society and universe. The dharma shastra rules are meant for wellbeing of all. Thus the Achara-Neeti (conduct rules policies) should be based on Dharma Shastra alone.
Adhytama Vidya is concerned liberation of self from cycles of birth and death. The Advaita Vedanta or Ananya Bhakti etc. that prioritizes knowledge or steadfast devotion at the cost of all other concerns, from wide social perspective has been detrimental to Bharata Varsha and our civilization. This reliance on Vedanta and Bhakti etc. at the cost of practical Dharma shastra has lead to weakening of Pitr-Shraddha Karma, Jati-Varna unity and inter-Jati and inter-Varna responsibilities. The connection of Bhakt Samaj or followers of one Sampradaya is always artificial and weak. This needs a correction.
This undue demonization of worldly life from Nivrutti Marga standpoint has left us defeatist and escapist. Instead of fighting the barbaric aggression with cohesion for Dharma, Truth and Nyaya, Sanatani Indian escape in Bhakti and Samadhi. Seers and Acharyas did try to balance this with the philosophy of Adhikarwada; but even today hardly anyone gives a thought to this.
We submit that today is high time that we revisit and strengthen Varnasharama based Dharma Shastras, only these texts are true conduct rules suitable to our nature, culture and civilization.
There is need to reestablish the high position of Sacred Shruti, Gau, earth, water, air and all creatures and elements and accordingly need to interpret Dharma Shastra conduct rules for agro-climatic and geographic zones through Chatur varna people following their ideals with sense of Dharma-Kartvvya.
[ Image : A Sushobhit Saktawat click ]