Friday, March 09, 2007

The Ekalavya Debate: Should he have cut off his Thumb?

How many of you have seen the movie Eklavya?
I did, a few days back- and so the previous post.

"Dharma Matigrah Udghrutah" was quoted in the movie -
as THE virtuous path being that which your mind and heart says is right.

And so I had a this debate with my friend, about Dharma. He argued that the movie was a letdown, for Eklavya did not follow his Dharma in the end. The character was built up as one whose only motivation, reason for being and self-validation came from following his Dharma (in this instance, protecting the King).
Thus, when the quandary of following Dharma arises in the end- well,
Should he have killed his own son?
Should Eklavya cut off his thumb again???

According to my friend, yes, he definitely should have killed his son, and the fact that he did not takes away from the basic premise of the movie. The manner in which Eklavya was portrayed reinforces the values and sanctity of following Dharma (or at least, what one is brought up to believe).
Me- being a sucker for happy endings- loved it that he did not.

As the movie goes- Dharma Matigrah Udghrutah-
Dharma is what your mind tells you is right.

So is Dharma following centuries of mindless tradition?
Or is it laying down one's life (and love) for what one believes in?

Or is it just a matter of convenience?

However, I do think I would have cut off my thumb.
I nearly did, too...

But finally, my mind prevailed.
Dharma Matigrah Udghrutah...

So why do I still have this lingering sense of guilt??????????????????


Bhaskar Mitra said...

Haha...I just saw this. I think both you and the director of the movie does not understand dharma. Dharma is not tradition or rules or even ethical codes. Dharma is axioms on which one's life is based. They are not a matter of convenience. One cannot argue them out, because dharma forms the basis of argument.
Dharma generally gives latitude, and scope for intelligent application. For example it is my dharma to take care of my parents in their old age. I can probably have a valid sounding argument why it is not. But dharma is not a matter of argument. You can think of dharma as natural law. When our life is aligned with natural law, it is harmonious..even though in the short term it might be painful.
Taking care does not mean I have to be close to them all the time. It just means I have to use whatever means to make sure they are happy, nd their needs are fulfilled.

Following dharma does not mean one need not use inteligence. As it happense so many times in life there is a seeming contradiction between following two dharmas. But life is not an either-or situations. One can usually satisfy the requirements of both.

In the movie...amitabh's dharma is to protect the royal family. But he is in a quandry when they are fighting amongst themselves. Well in that case his dharma is to effect a reconciliation.
Problems arise not from following dharma, but the misunderstanding of it. Also, life is interdependent, and true harmony can follow only when everybody follows dharma...otherwise it leads to everybody suffering. Which means it is also our dharma to help other people to follow their dharma.

IdeaSmith said...

I think the question is about understanding what one's dharma really is. Was Eklavya inherently the servile perfect servant or was he the human, loving father? He played both roles but which defined him most of all? If it was the latter, he definitely did fulfil his dharma. And by coincidence I was thinking about dharma myself a few days back.

Thank you for the link by the way!

verona said...

thank u for ur explaintion of "Dharma Matigrah Udghrutah"
i am a chinese girl and i am doing the trans of the eng sub-to-chinese of the indian film eklavya, i couldn't understand the sentence "Dharma Matigrah Udghrutah" before, now i get it.thank u~~