Be yourself, don't imitate others

Be yourself, don't imitate others

This is when the Lord tries to enthuse him by reminding him of his duty as a ‘Kshatriya’ warrior

In the Bhagavad Geeta, in the ‘Karma Yoga’ chapter, Lord Krishna advises the valorous Pandava Prince Arjuna on the true meaning of life and the right way to live. When a hesitant Arjuna expresses his anguish at the futility of war, the Lord patiently explains to him his duties, responsibilities and how to counter injustice. 

To drive home this message, the Lord makes the well-known statement, “it is better to follow your inner voice and instincts and do your duty, even if it is imperfect, rather than trying to do someone else’s work correctly. Doing your ‘dharma’ brings good, but doing others’ dharma is fraught with danger”. 

The situational context here is, as already mentioned, Arjuna’s unwillingness to cause bloodshed and suffering through war and his saying that he would rather let go of his rights and take to a life of solitude and meditation. 

This is when the Lord tries to enthuse him by reminding him of his duty as a ‘Kshatriya’ warrior. “You are a born Kshatriya. Your duty is to fight against wrongdoings and injustice, not to meekly submit and surrender. Meditation and solitude are for ascetics and men of renunciation. Not for you, a man who hath the sword of justice and societal welfare.” 

When the Lord speaks of Dharma, which has numerous connotations like uprightness, moral rectitude, straightforwardness, ethical conduct, the innate characteristic of a thing responsible for its existence and so on, he is highlighting another facet of this expression, which is in the psychological domain. 

Men differ in their thoughts and approaches to situations, which in turn are a result of their previous experiences which accumulate in their subconscious minds as memories, mental predispositions etc. Indian philosophy calls this ‘Vasana’.  So, every individual’s predilection, mental attitudes and inclinations and personality as a whole is but a reflection of the aggregated experiences of many lives. 

This is why each individual differs in mental abilities, predispositions and approach to life. This defining characteristic of every human is his ‘Dharma’. 

Listening to this inner voice and following its course is ‘Swadharma’, the true calling of the individual which is beneficial for him whereas ignoring it and trying to copy someone else is ‘Paradharma’, which is harmful and even dangerous.  

One sees people all the time trying to emulate others in all aspects and getting into trouble. “Be natural, don’t imitate,” advises the Lord.

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