Tuesday December 12, 2017

Daya: Showing compassion to everyone and everywhere

0
190

By Nithin Sridhar

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 8

One of the most basic themes or tenets that is dealt with again and again in various Hindu scriptures, is the tenet of “Daya”. Shandilya Upanishad (1.1) describes Daya as:

दयानामसर्वभूतेषुसर्वत्रानुग्रहः।
(Translation: Daya means showing compassion and kindliness to every object, every creature present everywhere)

Vishnu_seated_on_Ananda._Cave3Badami

But Daya is not just a simple compassion. It is not a simple show of empathy. It involves showing compassion to every object, every being from the lowest plants to the highest gods. Secondly, this compassion should be shown always and everywhere. It is not just a momentary feeling generated from an external stimulation, it should be ingrained in the very nature, so as to remain compassionate always and everywhere.

Photo Credit: www.jdemirdjian.com
Photo Credit: www.jdemirdjian.com

This Daya, in-fact, is the very root of Ahimsa (non-violence) and Asteya (non-stealing). One does not cause harm to another person or creature, when one recognizes that he/she are all part of this universe, this big family. This ideology is the very essence of Daya. Compassion stems from the recognition that we are all sparks of the same divine fire. This compassion then manifests as Ahimsa and Asteya.

Daya is another name for detached love. Love as we normally understand is simply an attachment with someone or something. A mother loves her son, a husband loves his wife, or a brother loves his sister. These are all worldly loves, love that is rooted in worldly attachments. Why are these forms of love defined as attachments? Because, such love is shown towards only a few specific people. Hence, it is not universal. Secondly, such a love is associated with expectation of reciprocation. As a result such love is limited and hence cannot be called as compassion.

On the other hand, the love generated out of vairagyam (dispassion), wherein the person views everyone with an equal sight (sama-dristi) and always thinks and acts for the welfare of everyone, is considered as a truly compassionate person.

Practicing Daya does not mean a person will practice pacifism or will ignore the crimes of society. Instead, a person with Daya will do his best for the betterment of the society including punishing the criminals if needed. Few illustrations would help in understanding the concept better.

 

  1. A person who renounces eating meat or has never eaten meat because of the realization that meat is associated with too much violence against animals. Such an act is Daya. On the other hand, if a person does not eat meat simply because he has been taught so right from his childhood, or because a person is forced to abstain from meat due to health issues, is not asserted as Daya.
  2. A King punishing a murderer is Daya, because without punishment, the criminals would create havoc in the city and harm people.
  3. Living life in an ecologically harmonious manner is also an act of Daya.
  4. Giving charity, feeding people, taking care of animals, they are all actions borne out of compassion.
  5. Speaking truth in a pleasant way is Daya. On the other hand, speaking falsehood, or speaking harshly shows lack of compassion.

 

Photo Credit: rebloggy.com
Photo Credit: rebloggy.com

Daya is not to be understood as a conception of the mind, it is a dharmic tenet that must be lived and practiced in mind, body and speech. It is said that, when the rishis used to roam in India, in the places where they stayed, even the wild animals used to become calm and non-aggressive. That is the power of Daya. Just as the fragrance of flowers spread everywhere, so does the compassion of a person spreads and engulfs everything and everyone in his vicinity.

Practicing Daya means performing only those actions which are beneficial to everyone including one’s own self. Such a performance is only possible, when one gets rid of selfishness. There is a difference between wishing personal happiness and wishing personal happiness at the cost of harming others. The former is not contradictory to Daya, the latter is.

A person practicing Daya will do his best to help others, to do those actions that are beneficial to everyone. He would be kind to everyone and would never play politics or be a part of gossiping.

Such a person who sincerely practices Daya would slowly be able to wipe out human weaknesses like jealousy, selfishness, anger, hate etc. Therefore, Daya is very vital for leading a fulfilling life.

It is for this reason that the Hindu scriptures advice every person to practice Daya in his/her life.

More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7

Next Story

Decoding the divine!

0
92

By Nithin Sridhar

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 10

In the last few installments of this series, various tenets of Dharma (duty/righteousness) like Ahimsa (non-injury), Daya (compassion), and Kshama (forgiveness) were explained. In this installment, let us delve deep into the topic of Ishwara or Brahman that is usually translated in English as God.

The concept of God or the Almighty has been a matter of debate all over the world from early times of mankind. Various religions, philosophies, and even scientists have tried to answer questions regarding this Supreme Being. Though most people agree with the definition of God as one who is Supreme Almighty, there are many huge irreconcilable differences between the concepts of God of the Dharmic traditions and the Abrahamic religions.

Without getting into the debate surrounding these differences, the article will try to highlight the concept of God as understood, realized, and passed down in the tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Dharma) or Hinduism.

Any discussion surrounding the topic of God and His/Her/Its existence ultimately boils down to three questions:

What is God?

Where is God?

How to perceive/reach/realize God?

4b4365187335741
history-of-hinduism.blogspot.com

Let’s take up only the second question: “Where is God?” in this installment.

In the Isha Upanishad, the very first mantra (verse) gives an answer to this question. It says:

IshAvAsyamida.NsarvaMyatki~nchajagatyAMjagat | (Verse 1)

This translates into God has a habitat everywhere. So, to the question “Where is God?” the Isha Upanishad answers that God is present everywhere and in all objects of the Universe. Accordingly, from a tiny blade of grass to a big mountain, God is omnipresent. This understanding can be more profoundly understood by the event of Prahlada and Hiranyakashipu as mentioned in Puranas. When demon Hiranyakashipu asked his son whether God is in the pillar? Prahlada replied in positive. When Hiranyakashipu tried to break the pillar, God in the form of Narasimha came out of the pillar and slayed the demon.

The gist of the incident is that God is everywhere, in all sentient and non-sentient objects. He is in the rocks, the wind, the planets, the star, the space, the microbes, the plants, the animals or even in humans. The next question that may immediately arise is: When it is said God is in humans, plants, or objects, where exactly is the God located in them?

Lord Krishna answers this question in Bhagavad Gita (15.15) thus:

sarvasyachAhaMhRRidisanniviShTo

Translation: And I am seated in the hearts of all

So, Lord Krishna says God is located in the hearts of all. Here “Hrdii” that is translated as “Heart” does not refer to physical heart. The non-living objects don’t have a physical heart! The “Hrdii” refers to the central essence of an individual’s existence. This can be better understood with an example.

Every circle has a center. The center is the essence of the circle. It is not only the most important portion of the circle but also the very origin of the circle. In fact, the dot which represents the center can be considered as a circle in itself but with “zero” or “near zero” radius. From this perspective, a circle with any radius is nothing but a “zero radius circle” (i.e. the center) whose radius has been increased to form a particular circle with a particular radius.

Similarly, “Hrdii” or “Hradayam” does not refer to a physical heart, but to the center of “individual’s existence” of any object living or non-living. So, even though God is present everywhere and in all objects, He can be fully and directly perceived and realized in the “Hradayam” of all creatures.

How exactly this realization could be gained is a topic for another article. But it is sufficient to say that from one school of thought in Hinduism, God who is actually called as Ishwara or Brahman (each term has a specific meaning and context) in Hinduism is not some superman kind of existence present in heaven or something. Instead, God is present everywhere and in the heart of all creatures.

More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 8
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 9