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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Jati-desa-kala-samayanavacchinnah sarvabhauma aha-vratam.

Jati = (by) class, birth-type; Desa = place; kala =time (and) occasion, circumstances, condition; samayanavacchinnah = not-limited, qualified or conditioned; sarvabhauma = extending or applying to all stages; the Great Vow.

These (the five vows), are not conditioned by class, place, time or occasion and extending to all stages constitute the Great Vow (II/31).

Once the great philosopher J Krishnamurthy, reportedly, asked a small group of students studying in one of his schools, something like this:
"Tell me, as you grow will you continue to be honest?"

One of the students replied, "Sir, in modern times, if we continue to be honest, we will not be able to survive".
It seems the great master, unhesitatingly, commanded, "Then don't live sir. Die...but don't compromise !"

This is the theme of the present sutra of Patanjali after he gave us the Yamas 'Don'ts : not to compromise come what may. These five laws are eternal values Sanatan Dharma to be followed by all, in all the times whatever be the circumstances.

There are two types of Dharma :- Yuga Dharma and Sanatan Dharma
Yuga Dharma (Contemporary Laws) changes from time to time. And this change in laws is sanctioned by 'tradition' and society. For example, there were times when a Brahmin was not considered a Brahmin unless he had a tulf on the head and unless he performed Tri-sandhya (doing 'Sandhya' three times daily). But in modern times it is not possible for most of the Brahmins to follow these rules. That does not deprive them from their Brahminhood.

These are changing values. They don't apply universally. Sandhya was compulsory only for Brahmins, not for other classes. Even in olden days when 'Sandhya' was compulsory for Brahmins, during some emergency (Apat samaya) it could be exempted as the saying goes - Apatti Kale Maryada Nasti (One need not abide by the formalities in emergency).

So, this exemption is all right for changing social and moral values. Morality is again, relative. While it is immoral for Hindus to have more than one wife, for certain societies it is sanctioned by law. But there is no compromise with eternal values like speaking the truth. Whether one is Brahmin (class), male or female (sex) British or Indian (place), at leisure or in emergency (occasion), one has to follow the path of truth if he or she has decided to walk on the path of self-realization through yoga. There is no compromise for such a person. Those who are not in hurry to reach their ultimate goal, can tell lies to escape, temporarily, from the difficulties or to have some gains (which are all, of course, short-lived) but a sincere Sadhaka never compromises with truth or any of the five Yamas. Our literature is full of stories of people who, to follow the path of Dharma, did not hesitate even to sacrifice their lives. Let us recall the age-old dictum from Ramayana 'Pran Jayi Par Vachan Na Jayi'. (One should keep his word even at the cost of his life). King Dasaratha died crying for Rama but never compromised with the Truth.

This world will come out of its present chaos and selfishness if a few top leaders take a vow not to compromise with TRUTH, with DHARMA.

This article appears in the Yoga Magazine, Yoga Sudha November, 1993 edition. This article has been published courtesy www.yogasudha.com

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