dharmo hi teShAm adhiko visheSho
dharmeNa hInAH pashubhiH samAnAH || [ITRANS]
dharmo hi teṣhāmadhiko visheṣho
dharmeṇa hīnāḥ pashubhiḥ samānāḥ || [IAST]
आहार-निद्रा-भय-मैथुनं च समानमेतत्पशुभिर्नराणाम् ।
धर्मो हि तेषामधिको विशेषो धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः ॥
The king Sudarshana, in the preface of Hitopadesha, out on a stroll had heard two shlokas that set him thinking about the foolish, young, wealthy and powerful sons. After all he had to leave the kingdom to them one day! (see previous posts.)
Then he thinks about this shloka, also attributed to Chanakya where he uses 'vidyA' (knowledge) instead of dharma (right conduct). Both are appropriate, since without being aware of right conduct, proper way to use the knowledge, it is mere collection of facts.
Incarnation theory says that since life principle is same in all living forms, a soul can travel in various physical forms. Human body is the epitome of life perfection. Why? How? We see that we can not run faster, smell better, bite harder, swim deeper, hear better than animals. Nothing! Left alone in the forest, we won't survive for long.
Or would we?
That is how we evolved, progressed in survival.
So how did we manage to beat the odds against us, beat every life form and even nature at its own game? Oh, yeah! We beat the heck out of everybody and everything.
We have the brain. that can help us make things that make us powerful. Even without fur, we can survive the winter, without Sonar we can see in night, without claws we can kill wild beasts, without wings we can fly far distances...
But "With great power comes great responsibility." This same brain allows us to think of future consequences of present or past actions. The development of complex language has allowed us to transmit knowledge across generations and time.
But all these are tools, of progress, communication etc.
The biggest difference between us and animals is the ability to think forward and think for the good for others! And also bad for others. (For good and bad are two sides of the same coin.) At scales not possible for animals. Feudal or family revenge can destroy empires! Such long term planning out of hatred. Or entire religions can be formed, changing the face of mankind forever for the betterment of all. We, if we want, can choose between the right and wrong actions based on our own free will.
Animals don't have that. They usually work on their 'animal instincts' - eat/hunt when hungry, kill only what is needed and when it is needed. Sleep with the diurnal clock - mostly sleep in night or if nocturnal then sleep in day time. You never find animals sick due to lack of sleep or oversleep! Scared of natural powers beyond their control, we too were scared in the beginning, and even now if it is at the scale of hurricane Katrina, Haiti or Latur earthquake, or Indian Ocean tsunami. Animals procreate, only when it is the season. In a way they are less distracted all the other time. Most of their actions are guided by short term, instinctive motivations.
We on the other hand, may endure heavy pains for the great good - MK Gandhi, Virginia Wolfe, Martin Luther King, Joan of Ark, Sage Dadhichi ... why do we do that? For the dharma, for what is right. Or, we can also give heavy pains for the Greater Evil.
THAT, makes us special, more than the animals, working at more than the material or body level. More than the muladhara chakra (mūlādhāra-chakra)! forget about kundalini (kuṇḍalinī) awakening, Some people haven't moved above the muladhara chakra, they are still living at the animal level - selfish, survival, short sighted thinking and actions.
The wise Bhartrihari calls such people as - bi-ped animals, and says the animal kingdom thanks them that at least they don't eat grass, else even animals would curse them for food shortage.
So, be human. think beyond the consumption, ignorance, fear and entertainment.
See the modern market and politics. Consumption galore - fast food, carbonated drinks, alcoholic drinks, tobacco products make almost all of visible economy (money wise)! Everywhere advertisements - telling you to buy something or the other. Creating a product and then a need for it is the basic principle of today's market.
Politics is filled with fear tactics all over the world. Diversion tactics. Be it Osama bin Laden, Saddam or H1N1 Swine Flu.
Life today revolves around entertainment only. How often do we hear 'I am bored.' Everyone wants to be entertained. I say, 'Only boring people get bored.' We have started to forget being creative. We just want to sit back and consume. That is total 'tamas', inertia, pulling and keeping us down. How many channels are there on cable TV?
And everything has to be entertainment - be it culture to kids! Even Hanuman has to be a comic character to appeal to children! People want to be entertained, not enlightened. Not even slightly enlightened. Nope. If there is no entertainment, I am not going there! And what to talk of the sexual tension in our lives. Everything revolves around that weakness. All ads somehow find a reason to have a smiling, beautiful woman covering 80% of the ad space - be it an ad for a pen, car, rice, alcohol, diapers, vacation spot, airlines, or life insurance.
Market is out of control. Gives you no help in deciding what is the greater good. It only cares for the lesser self-gratification. But as Vidura warns, we need to sacrifice the smaller selfish interests for the greater social interests.
So? Be human. Think beyond the consumption, ignorance, fear and entertainment.
We started weak and slow as a race, but now we are strong and fast. We can destroy things, and destroy them fast - be it our waistlines or the world's resources or the fragile ecosystems of the oceans, or the rain forests! We have already succeeded in destroying many things, in our animal like ignorance, but humanly unique greed and avarice.
It is better to be a four legged animal than a two legged one.
Awaken! Arise! Be human, humane and of right conduct.
You are the epitome of creation.
Behave like one.
And now the language aspects of the shloka -
AhAra = food, act of eating
nidrA = sleep
bhaya = fear
maithunam = mating
cha = and
samAnam = equal
etat = this
pashubhir = pashubhiH = [as] by animals
pashu = animal. it has a very interesting etymology.
pAsha = net. pashu = that which is in the pAsha [of illusion and attached to the matter]
hence one who is not aware of the spirit is a pashu, be it walking on four or two legs.
narANAm = of humans
i.e. these acts of humans is same as by animals.
dharmo = dharmaH = right conduct
hi = only
teShAm = of them (humans)
adhiko = adhikaH = excess, more
visheSho = visheShaH = special
dharmeNa hInAH = without dharma
pashubhiH = [as] by animals
samAnAH = similar, like,
(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved.