My That means of Dharam is Completely different From my Mom’s

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The suggestions from the microphone gratingly penetrated the vacant bubble I had fallen into after watching one more efficiency by the youth, educating us on the advantages of Jainism. I had been daydreaming of the skits I had placed on as a baby, remembering the diligence with which I memorized my traces. “Why did I?” I questioned. I by no means actually knew what these skits have been about. I knew the plot, however all of them felt somewhat too neat to me.

Each drawback had a solution; each story ended triumphantly. Victory over evil. Good deeds are rewarded. Again on stage, I noticed an auntie wrapped in a shiny pink sari strolling to the middle of the stage, her arms folded collectively graciously. “Let’s put one other hand collectively for these kids!” she stated, gesturing behind her. Some kids sheepishly peeked out from behind the scenes. “And let’s thank their mother and father. Mother and father, it’s your duty to convey your kids to the temple. With out your involvement, our kids won’t know the right technique to dwell. It’s your responsibility, your dharam.” 

Glancing over at my mother, I might see her eyes clouding as she clapped. The load of that phrase was not misplaced on me, and it definitely wasn’t misplaced on my mom. Dharam felt like a heavy phrase. To me, it felt prefer it someway encompassed morality, responsibility, and tradition all into one. Many religions have a model of dharam, all of them outline it in another way, nevertheless it all the time appears to boil right down to the identical concept: a information on easy methods to dwell one’s life. I felt prefer it was interpreted in a way more inflexible and arbitrary method. The skit highlighted waking up early, not spending too lengthy in your telephone, and doing all of your homework as dharam. Rising up, among the whims of my mother and father: not staying out after darkish, spending an excessive amount of time with our pals versus our work, and being obedient, additionally fell beneath the umbrella of dharam. Dharam was being diluted. 

Dharam, when damaged down into its roots, means ‘to help’. However usually it will really feel like the alternative of this, suffocating with heavy expectations that appeared to develop with every year. What did it imply to be daughter, good sister, or good particular person? How had a information on easy methods to dwell life changed into the one appropriate technique to dwell in any respect? 

[Read Related: Jainism and Mental Health: How my Renewed Faith Made Me Stronger]

I keep in mind telling my mom I wasn’t positive I believed in faith anymore. My mother was driving me again from the temple, and it now not felt peaceable to me; now not felt proper. Strolling round after the pooja, chatting with the entire aunties and uncles…I felt misplaced. All of them instructed me how fortunate I used to be that my mother and father have been such pillars of our religion. They pressured me to vow that I’d come to the temple each time I used to be on the town after I knew deep down that I wouldn’t. It felt improper mendacity; it felt improper to fake that I used to be non secular after I wasn’t anymore. 

My mom’s nostrils flared, however she stored her eyes on the street. She elevated the pace of the windshield wipers despite the fact that it was solely drizzling barely. 

“How are you going to say that? How are you going to reject a god that has given you a lot?” she fumed. “You realize nothing about Jainism. You realize nothing about what you might be simply throwing away. You don’t know the way fortunate you might be to be born into this faith.” I let her fume. My change of coronary heart hadn’t come out of skinny air. I hadn’t prayed in years. I solely went to the temple for my mom’s sake. Deep down, I believe my mother knew I didn’t have a powerful attachment to my faith anymore, however she didn’t wish to admit it. Perhaps she thought dragging me to the temple would someway make it recurring for me; part of my routine. However faith can’t be pressured, and irrespective of how onerous I attempted, it didn’t work for me. 

Perhaps a part of the shock of my disbelief was the truth that secularism feels non-existent in India. Indian cleaning soap operas emphasised the correct actions of daughter-in-law, spouse, and mom, and villainized those that deviated from conventional roles and values. Even progressive exhibits equivalent to “Anupamaa, which exhibits a housewife divorcing her husband, getting into the workforce, and creating her personal dance studio, confirmed that divorce is barely acceptable in excessive circumstances. Failing to impart these values to your kids is considered as a failure in your function of guardian. 

However my mom is an incredible mom. She raised me to study to query the world round me. She fostered the significance of working onerous and being humble. She taught me to be particular person and take care of others, not as a result of I used to be obligated to by my religion or karma, however as a result of it was what I ought to do. She supported me and taught me to help others, which I imagine is the which means of dharam. She didn’t fail her dharam as a mom, however due to how dharam was offered to her, she’s going to by no means know that. 

Picture courtesy: Casimiro PT via Shutterstock

Vashali Jain

Vashali Jain is a medical scholar at Virginia Commonwealth College. In her spare time, she likes to experiment within the kitchen, cross-stitch, and by no means feels too younger to play gown up in her mother’s closet. She enjoys studying, notably thriller novels, and falling asleep within the solar. She roams within the hopes of discovering the proper cafe and can by no means say no to cake.