One of Shakespeare’s oft quoted saying is about the world being a stage and we are all players acting our roles. From being a child in the cradle to our journey till the end, we are constantly switching roles. Most often we have no choice as situations/circumstances force us to wear different mantles. The wise choose and the otherwise have roles thrust upon them. But whatever the reason, it is up to us to do justice to the role.
In the GITA, Krishna calls it svadharma.Each role has a corresponding duty which determines the effectiveness of its purpose. If we recognize that and follow the tenets, our actions become valid, thus avoiding conflicts. The common misconception about dharma is that it has to do with religion. Dharma is nothing but the science of behavior in any given situation or role. It is duty dominated by wisdom. Who is to decide the parameters of ones dharma? That is determined by the role responsibility.
Further elaborating on the dharma of a warrior, Krishna explains to Arjuna that it is better to die doing ones dharma than finding glory in another role. This is said in the context of Arjuna opting to become a sanyasi rather than kill his kith and kin. Faced with the difficult situation of having to kill his guru and Mentor, Arjuna wants to bow out of his role as warrior. Quite often, we are swayed by our emotions and tend to take the easy way out, avoiding our dharma.
A student’s role is that of a seeker of knowledge and that of the teacher is to impart learning. The mother’s role is to nurture the child and the father has to provide for the family. Some roles are constant while some change with time and its requirement. A woman’s role at one time was to cook, clean, keep house and tend to the needs of the family. Today, while these basic responsibilities continue, the added dimension of career brings with it many complications.
In a fast changing world, confusions arise out of role ambiguities. Conflicts arise out of cross functional roles and self inflicted responsibilities. Expectations about roles based on traditions and customs can also cause heartache. Shirking of ones responsibility contributes to misunderstanding which further leads to stress in relationships.
Peace is the result of effective role playing. As long as we stick to our designated duties and try to excel in them without jeopardizing another’s role, we can have a more harmonious society. This means minding our business and keeping out of others’! It also means finding joy in whatever we do, without envying others who may be having a better time. The world will be a great place if all carpenters are proud of their skill, plumbers do their work, sweepers clean with diligence, Doctors heal with commitment, Engineers apply their knowledge, and Mothers nurture their young ones……