Dr. Samuel Johnson had said: “…what is obvious is not always known….”. None can enter the Supreme Court, or address the Court without reading umpteen times the text on the emblem of the Court: Yato Dharmashstato Jayah upholding the lions on whose summit is Dharmachakra! These words were uttered not by a jurist or a judge, but by an ordinary housewife, Gandhari, who blessed her son Duryodhana, before he left for the Mahabharat War, telling him the inexorable rule that victory goes with Dharma [vide the Mahabharata Stripurva Chapt. 14. slokas 1-13 ]. She was reminded of this sovereign principle by Vyasa when she wished to curse the Pandavas at the end of the War.
Dharma, as Medhatithi says, means duties. The nature of dharma , as understood in Indian thought, is best expounded in the Bhagavad-gita. Vyasa aptly said in the Mahabharat : where Krishna is present, victory is there: yatah Krishstato jayah” as Krishna is Himself Dharma. Krishna taught us the grammar of kartavy-karma. Dharma varies from context to context both in time and space. It always involves working with prudence for lokamanga alone. Dharma is our grundnorm on which our Constitution itself is founded. The Court’s emblem is a brilliant sensuous shining forth of that idea. Lord Nelson’s famous call to the fleet at the battle of Trafalgar (“England expects every man to do his duty”) harks back to the Git. It is high time for us to variate on this: “India expects every man to his duty”.
One fallacy must be warded off. Success in litigation, or anywhere else, does not mean always that Truth is on its side. Such a misgiving is often sought to be created by a gloss on our national motto Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone triumphs), which mantra has travelled from the Mundaka Upanishad to its present resting place at the base of our national emblem. Queer are the ways of humans!