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By A. H Keane

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The other paradigmatic person we meet in the moral field can be described as an imaginative poet. He becomes a perspectivist and understands the contingency of the human situation. 17 He looks at the particularity of the situation but also looks beyond it. He is our Krsna. So Krsna allows for flexibility in dharma. But this flexibility never means the 'anything goes' kind of morality. He is the poet who accepts the constraints of metres, verses and metaphors. But he is also the strong poet who has absolute control over them.

Moral dilemmas are, in fact, very common in everyday life. Stories in classical and contemporary literature are full of such cases. Most moral dilemmas seem to remain unresolved in such stories. Very roughly, such dilemmas arise when the agent is committed to two or more moral obligations, but circumstances are such that an obligation to do x cannot be fulfilled without violating an obligation to do y. Dilemmas present irreconcilable alternatives, and the actual choice among them becomes 24 / Philosophy, Culture and Religion either irrational or is based upon grounds other than moral.

It was Brahman who empowered the gods to win, so they should not be too self-congratulatory. In the Mahäbhärata story, a similar yaksa appeared in the form of a stork, who finally revealed himself as Dharma, father of Yudhisthira. In the form of the deer, he had stolen the sacrificial sticks. All these deeds were to teach Yudhisthira a lesson—about the intractable and the ever elusive nature of dharma. The brahmin's sacrifice or agni-xiiudA may be violated, and the ksatriya may thereby fail to perform his duty or dharma.

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Asia by A. H Keane


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