I subscribe to Dictionary.com’s “Word of the Day” newsletter, because it’s the laziest way I know to increase my vocabulary. To be honest, many days I just throw’em in the trash and figure I’ll work on my vocab the next day, but every now and then, a word catches my eye and with a click, my curiosity is satisfied. Yesterday’s word was “Dharna”, not to be confused with “Dharma”, an “essential quality or character, as of the cosmos or one's own nature,” or the “Dharma Initiative”, the Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications from the television show “Lost.”
Per Dictionary.com “Dharna” refers to “the practice of exacting justice or compliance with a just demand by sitting and fasting at the doorstep of an offender until death or until the demand is granted.”
Can you imagine this practice being taken out of its context and utilized for relatively trivial pursuits?
- Girl dumps boy. Boy sits outside of house starving until girl agrees to get back together. Restraining order issued. Boy starves 300 yards from house where neighbors have no idea what he’s protesting.
- Clubber denied access to Studio 54. Freezes to death the following day.
- Man laid off from work, squats in front of previous workplace. Arrested for loitering. Starves or dies due to paperwork not being filed with HR fast enough resume his previous position.
These are all worst case scenarios, but I can’t help but think how different the world would be if people were actually able to sacrifice their body to the full extent for what they believed in, or wanted, or desired. Obviously I think after a few hours of Dharna outside a girl’s house the boy would come to the realization that there are other fish in the sea. And the clubber who then waits through the day while the club is closed and no one is around will realize that there are other clubs to enjoy himself. Despite the fact that when he got in he would probably just collapse anyway from malnutrition.
Out of my three silly scenarios, I imagine that the unemployed worker has probably the best reason for committing Dharna; although, I think it would be more productive to have a laptop and cell phone handy to search for jobs while the man starves outside his previous place of work. While the reason for being laid off may call for Dharna, the whole company could go under as well and then you’d be exacting revenge on nothing. And even though jobs are tough to find and even more difficult to obtain now in America, there are still jobs available, and many don’t require starvation for candidacy.