The literal English equivalent of the term sanskar would be virtue – a broad sense reflecting an individual’s principles or standards of ethical behaviour. It could imply character or behavioural traits, imprints on the subconscious mind, a sense of moral responsibility through practice, or imprints of good behaviour that depict the person as a good human being. He or she harbours respect for all, regardless of age groups, gender, or temperaments – the embodiment of an empathetic person.
To further reiterate, empathy is a key element of this virtue. Now, like other virtues, empathy cannot be taught. It has to be acquired or imbibed from the home and family. It is, in essence, a set of values that are already prevalent in the household and is attained by a child. Sanskar is an almost spiritual strain of DNA that seeps into a child’s system. This governs the child’s life – from the way he or she talks, acts or thinks. The transmission continues, and with the passage of time, is passed on to forthcoming generations.
Adherence to belief systems
It is difficult to comprehend what truly is good sanskar; it is tough, indeed, to define it within set parameters but it sure is closely intertwined with universal law. The works of certain spiritual gurus attempt to define this term in their developmental literature.
In recent years, there has been an erosion of values as nations have progressed on all fronts. These advancements were often witness to values being relegated to the ‘back seat’. Globalisation and consumerism have ushered in a culture built on the assumption that wealth signifies success. And further augmenting this mindset is the belief that success and wealth form the bedrock of happiness.
In collective terms, the richer a nation, the lesser is its adherence to values — or so it seems. They forgot that money, fame and riches add no value to their lives. Unhappiness and depression are all too commonplace. In their quest for more, they forget to live meaningful lives.
Jeff Bezos, the first person in history–according to Forbes–to register a net worth of US$200 billion is the new guru. According to Credit Suisse, 1 percent of the world’s most wealthy own 43 percent of the global wealth. In such an atmosphere of material desire, it would come as no surprise that human worth is, at times, weighed by what an individual has, rather than based on what he or she is. To place into perspective, an average individual who earns about US$75,000 is comfortably well-off. His or her lifestyle may not be as lavish as that of Bezos but it is fairly decent. How much wealth, then, is truly enough to lead a meaningful life?
The relevance of sanskar in human relationships
Regardless of your bank balance, human relationships exist and human interactions occur. Affection exists, as does love, friendship and marriage. Relationships between adults are interesting because each bring their sanskar to the bond. Friendships thrive or wane depending on the similarities or extent of differences each displays — the sanskar they were exposed to. On the same right, the casual drifting away of closeness between acquaintances with dissimilar interests and behaviour are usually neither painful nor important.
The problem arises with marriages. Have you ever wondered that many–who are married for a considerable amount of time–seem to shake off their ‘honeymoon’ sheen? They slip into roles somewhat apathetic and strangely different. This is in stark contrast to what they were when romance was heady and always in the air. Where did it go? What strange force or behavioral pattern draws them away or even back to the people they now are? What brought on this transformation?
A marriage, being a commitment with both social and legal bindings, cannot dissolve into a casual nonchalant ‘hello-goodbye’ relationship. As with any bond, each bring their own sanskar to a marriage and as time elapses, one realises the difference in sanskars each was exposed to. The presence of children further complicates matters for they are exposed to both parents’ value systems, their priorities, their dealings with other people, their behaviour, and more importantly, their disagreements when sanskars clash. In the latter instance, it is a quagmire of sorts, with long held values slipping swiftly under their feet.
A pragmatic route could be to discard one another’s dogmatic views of sanskar. Lay down each other’s good qualities, of either party’s positive sanskar attributes. This will enable choosing and following a value system that draw from the families of both parents, resulting in a middle path. When you have clearly outlined values, decision making becomes easier. It is imperative, therefore, for both parents to find common ground in this regard and agree upon which values their children should adopt.
Sanskar is fast slipping
Schools, in general, impart knowledge and education but it does not teach one how life should be led. Come to think of it, it is life itself that teaches everything. And in the bigger picture, parents are lifelong teachers; it is from them that we first imbibe a set of values. As we progress through life, and we meet a life partner, we develop our own set of values for our children to inherit and follow. More often than not, these values are upheld with tweaks from what we’d imbibed from the generation or two that immediately preceded us.
Unfortunately, however, human values are fast eroding – taking a back seat to material gluttony. In the ‘materialistic cacophony’ of greed, myopic vision and consumerism, one’s sanskar seems of little concern. In keeping with current mindsets, Quentin Bufogle summed it wryly when he said, “99 percent of all problems can be solved by money — and for the other 1 percent, there’s alcohol.”
This article has inputs from Mr Robindra Subba. His one other article can be read here.