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 strains. “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 just a little too neat to me.

Each downside had a solution; each story ended triumphantly. Victory over evil. Good deeds are rewarded. Again on stage, I noticed an auntie wrapped in a glittery purple sari strolling to the middle of the stage, her palms folded collectively graciously. “Let’s put one other hand collectively for these kids!” she mentioned, gesturing behind her. Some kids sheepishly peeked out from behind the scenes. “And let’s thank their dad and mom. Dad and mom, it’s your duty to convey your kids to the temple. With out your involvement, our kids won’t know the right option to dwell. It’s your obligation, your dharam.” 

Glancing over at my mother, I may see her eyes clouding as she clapped. The burden of that phrase was not misplaced on me, and it actually wasn’t misplaced on my mom. Dharam felt like a heavy phrase. To me, it felt prefer it in some way encompassed morality, obligation, and tradition all into one. Many religions have a model of dharam, all of them outline it otherwise, however it at all times appears to boil right down to the identical concept: a information on learn how 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 cellphone, and doing all your homework as dharam. Rising up, a number of the whims of my dad and mom: 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 typically it could really feel like the other of this, suffocating with heavy expectations that appeared to develop with annually. What did it imply to be daughter, good sister, or good particular person? How had a information on learn how to dwell life became the one right option 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 certain I believed in faith anymore. My mother was driving me again from the temple, and it not felt peaceable to me; not felt proper. Strolling round after the pooja, chatting with the entire aunties and uncles…I felt misplaced. All of them informed me how fortunate I used to be that my dad and mom have been such pillars of our religion. They pressured me to vow that I might come to the temple each time I used to be on the town after I knew deep down that I wouldn’t. It felt unsuitable mendacity; it felt unsuitable to faux that I used to be non secular after I wasn’t anymore. 

My mom’s nostrils flared, however she saved her eyes on the street. She elevated the velocity of the windshield wipers although 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. “ nothing about Jainism. nothing about what you might be simply throwing away. You don’t understand how 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 robust attachment to my faith anymore, however she didn’t need to admit it. Possibly she thought dragging me to the temple would in some way make it recurring for me; part of my routine. However faith can’t be pressured, and irrespective of how exhausting I attempted, it didn’t work for me. 

Possibly a part of the shock of my disbelief was the truth that secularism feels non-existent in India. Indian cleaning soap operas emphasised the right actions of daughter-in-law, spouse, and mom, and villainized those that deviated from conventional roles and values. Even progressive reveals corresponding to “Anupamaa, which reveals a housewife divorcing her husband, coming into the workforce, and creating her personal dance studio, confirmed that divorce is just acceptable in excessive circumstances. Failing to impart these values to your kids is seen as a failure in your position of father or mother. 

However my mom is an incredible mom. She raised me to be taught to query the world round me. She fostered the significance of working exhausting and being humble. She taught me to be particular person and look after 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 that means of dharam. She didn’t fail her dharam as a mom, however due to how dharam was introduced to her, she is going to by no means know that. 

Picture courtesy: Casimiro PT via Shutterstock

Vashali Jain

Vashali Jain is a medical pupil 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 costume up in her mother’s closet. She enjoys studying, significantly thriller novels, and falling asleep within the solar. She roams within the hopes of discovering the right cafe and can by no means say no to cake.