The western myth is that there is someone that you will fall in love with, your soul-mate who will do anything for you and completely absorb your mind and you will completely absorb their mind. You will share common interests and passions and be passionate about each other.
The eastern myth is that your father will test and find a husband like Rama for you and you will both uphold dharma as Rama and Sita did. The couple is not only devoted to each other, but devoted to each other as dharma and karma and also devoted to dharma and karma.
The western myth is that parents give you psychological problems. The eastern myth is that parents are God on earth and will do everything with your best interests at heart and in their greater wisdom and in a spirit of dharma and self-sacrifice.
In western society a grown-man staying with parents is a leech. In Indian society a grown-man who stays with his parents, siblings, wife and children under the same roof is a noble gruhastha.
Colonial rule followed by corporate rules and cultural invasion by hollywood and pulp fiction are termed all together as westernization and viewed as evil or glamorous depending on who is talking.
The eastern question is not what conditions have been handed to you as whether you are able to accomplish your dharma, do your karma and attain your moksha.
The western question is the pursuit of happiness.
Veda Vyasa says at the end of the Mahabharata, that with outstretched arms he is appealing to people that they should follow dharma, and that artha, kama, moksha, yashas and what else will all follow.
The dictum is not “do what makes you happy” it is “do what is right. Do your dharma”.
It is not likely to appeal to young people who are yet to make the transition from play to duty. For them the western pursuit of happiness and individualism is what appeals to their heart.
There is no channel which teaches them the value and benefit of dharma. Only exams. Exams. And exams.
And the few who do wish to pursue their dharma are not even sure what it is. How do I know, they ask? And when and how do I do my duty to the country, to humanity, to family and to self?
Read the Gita, I tell them. It is a manual for life. Oh! But that is for old people and retirement they say. Now I have exams and deadlines. My parents/husband/wife do not want me to study gita.
So, they live in conflict between western and eastern values and expectations. They have an arranged marriage and expect romance instead of dharma, or a love marriage and expect dharma instead of romance.
Author : Satya Sarada Kandula : All Rights Reserved