Studying the dharmashAstra-s with an eye to the essence has been rewarding so far. Here is a very valuable principle that’s worked exceedingly well in my own domain (ie my household):
- prAyashcitta (voluntary expiation) >>> daNDa (punishment).
- When every one of us violates something we agree is the dharma (getting angry, neglecting to do something important, avoiding alien tongues etc.. ) an appropriate prAyashcitta is demanded (eg. a japa of “मन्युरकार्षीत्”, cleaning the house ) — and voluntarily performed.
- This has increased conformance to the dharma (as negotiated and agreed upon) with **far** less friction, compared to earlier attempts at relying on daNDa.
- As the sage Nassim Nicholas Taleb has said, a mere verbal apology should not count, since it does not really stop recidivism (true in my experience). There should be “skin in the game”. Given that such is the case, the prAyashcitta frame is extremely valuable.
Several are the insights one gains for how the broader society ought to function. But that’s for another time.