DharmaSankat is a predicament to the moral code of an individual and the context of his situational truth. “DharmaSankat” is the conjugation of two terms – “Dharma” (moral code) and “Sankat” (danger).
Let’s take an example to illustrate DharmaSankat in everyday life.
A wise man went to a shop to buy something and while transacting money, few coins fell from his pocket and rolled to a beggar who was sleeping nearby. The beggar took those coins and walked up to the man to return him his money.
Now the man is in “Dharmasankat”.
The man cannot accept his own money because he knows that the beggar needs it more than him. The man however, cannot deny to accept the money from the beggar since his intent was not to donate in the first place. The coins fell from his pocket and he was not even aware of the beggar’s presence nearby.
If he denies to accept his own money, he insults the beggar’s self esteem. If the man accepts the money, he crushes his own moral code because it is not worthy of a well to do man to take money from someone who needs it more than he does (even if the money belongs to him).
So what does the man do? This is DharmaSankat.
Moral Dilemma is coiled across ethics and only the people who are aware of their Dharma can face “Dharma Sankat”.
We can take few examples from the Hindu epic Mahabharata
- King Shantunu faced Dharmasankat when his son Devavrata renounced his marital life and pledged to remain a celibate so that he can marry the woman he loves. Choose the son or choose the woman?
- Kunti faced Dharmasankat when she gave birth to a son before her marriage. Choose social norms or choose the illicit son?
- Yudhisthira faced Dharmasankat when he gambled away his brothers and his wife in the dice game. Choose the kingdom and bet your own wife and brothers or let the kingdom perish and save your own brothers and wife?
- Arjuna faced Dharmasankat when he had to decide whether to fight against his own teacher for preserving Dharma or whether not to fight and simply give up for personal weaknesses.
- Karna faced Dharmasankat when Krishna told him that he is the eldest Pandava. Whether to fight for his friend Duryodhana or fight for his own brothers?
- Aswathama faced Dharmasankat when the Kurukhetra war started. Whether fight alongside a father and Guru or whether fight alongside the people who are fighting for Dharma and righteousness?
- Draupadi faced Dharmasankat when she was told to marry all the 5 men. Whether marry one (Arjuna) or marry all the five brothers, bind them together and encourage them to fight for the war that lies ahead?
In all the above examples, one thing is common. The observance of “Dharma” (cause).
All the subjects are simply observing their own Dharma, the cause for which they have descended. There is no question of right or wrong, since only the subject knows what is right and what is wrong and the reactions of this world does not matter. To the subject, their own “Dharma” defines what their “Dharmasankat” is and the bigger Dharma becomes secondary.
DharmaSankat is Self Serving, Dharma is not.
DharmaSankat is highly ego-centric and self serving.
But Dharma is not.
Dharma is not about the “Self”. Dharma is always about the “other”, about the greater cause, the bigger picture. DharmaSankat is only about the self.
Now the question is,
If Dharma is about the other, how can DharmaSankat belong to the self? Dharmasankat descends directly from Dharma then why is it not as impartial?
The answer is “Drishti” (vision).
It is the human gaze that defines what Dharmasankat really is. In the same situation or context, two people will react very differently because each one has a different gaze.
Duryodhana and Yudhisthira have the same Dharma – to protect the kingdom and do justice with all the citizens. However, since Duryodhana and Yudhisthira have different “gazes”, they have their own “Dharmasankat’s”.
Duryodhana’s dharmasankat is his own ego, he is not ready to submit to his own ego/ ambitions and make peace with Pandavas. Yudhisthira’s Dharmasankat is his righteousness, he is not ready to abandon his moral code, ignore the welfare of his own people and abandon all property to avoid the war.
So both the subjects have given a definition to their Dharmasankat’s through personal “Gaze”.
In our day to day lives, we face Dharmasankat every once in a while. In those situations, be aware that this Dharmasankat has arisen because of your personal “gaze” and may be miles away from the “real” Dharma which you must upheld.
DharmaSankat is a temporay test, which the Brahman has given to you to see how you react to a situation. The self alone is responsible for the birth of any Dharmasankat and only the self is able to come out of it, all alone without anyone’s help. It is a strange duel where your mind is the battlefield and your soul is split into two halves. No matter which half wins, you lose.