Importance of Dharma
According to Shri Shankaracharya
‘Dharma (Righteousness) is that which accomplishes the three tasks of keeping the setup of the society in excellent condition, bringing about the worldly progress of every living being, and facilitating their progress in the spiritual realm as well.’ We understand from this definition the vastness of Dharma and its extraordinary importance in human life.
In the context of a Nation, Dharma is its life. Therefore, only if the lifestyle of the society is based upon Dharma, the Nation will become prosperous and immortal. A Nation that is devoid of the foundation of Dharma will, in time, face destruction.
A. Just as there is no life without respiration, so also life without Dharma is not a worthy life, as it amounts to an existence like animals.
B. Dharma is not for developing intelligence; it is for developing character.
C.आगमानां हि सर्वेषाम् आचारः श्रेष्ठ उच्यते । आचारप्रभवो धर्मो धर्मादायुर्विवर्धते ।।
– Mahabharat, Anushasanparva, Adhyaya 107, Shloka 147
Meaning : When compared with all knowledge, good conduct is considered to be superior; because Dharma is based on achars (Conduct conforming to Shruti and Smruti). When man abides by Achardharma (Code of righteous conduct), his life is prolonged.
D. धर्मादर्थः प्रभवति धर्मात्प्रभवते सुखम् । धर्मेण लभतेसर्वंधर्मसारमिदं जगत् ।। – Valmikiramayan, Aranyakanḍa, Sarga 8, Shloka 26
Meaning : Dharma bestows wealth and happiness. In fact, everything can be obtained through Dharma. This entire universe sustains itself on the foundation of Dharma.
E. ऊध्र्वबाहुर्विरौम्येष न च कश्चिच्छृणोति मे । धर्मादर्थश्चकामश्च स किमर्थं न सेव्यते ।। – Mahabharat, Swargarohanparva, Adhyaya 5, Shloka 46
Meaning : (Sage Vyas says) With my arms raised, I am mourning, yet no one listens to me. (O human beings) Dharma accomplishes both, earning of wealth and fulfilling of desires. Then, why do you not abide by Dharma?
F. सुखार्थाः सर्वभूतानां मताः सर्वाः प्रवृत्तयः । सुखं च न विना धर्मात् तस्माद्धर्मपरो भवेत् ।। – Vagbhat (Ashtangarhudaya, Sutrasthan, Adhyaya 2, Shloka 19)
Meaning : All the actions of living beings are for attaining happiness. (Even the motive in unrighteous conduct is attaining happiness). However, there is no happiness without Dharma; hence, follow Dharma always.
G. Materialistic happiness is, in reality, false, illusory; yet a person, due to ignorance, longs for it. Dharma is structured for such ignorant souls. Even if illusory, after experiencing and enjoying illusory happiness for a prolonged period, a person starts losing interest in it. To experience real happiness after this stage, Dharma exists. A self-enlightened person follows Dharma for the sake of the ignorant. – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon, District Pune, Maharashtra
H. सुखस्य मूलं धर्मः । धर्मस्य मूलमर्थः । अर्थस्य मूलं राज्यम् । राज्यमूलम् इन्द्रियजयः । इन्द्रियजयस्य मूलं विनयः । विनयस्य मूलं वृद्धोपसेवा । वृद्धोपसेवया विज्ञानम् । विज्ञानेन आत्मानं सम्पादयेत् । सम्पादितात्मा जितात्मा भवति । – Chanakyasutra, Adhyaya 1, Sutra 1-9
Meaning : Origin of happiness lies in following Dharma. Origin of Dharma is in earning wealth by righteous means which, in turn, helps in securing a kingdom. Humbleness is essential for gaining control over the sense organs and the mind. For achieving humbleness, it is essential to serve those who are rich in knowledge. Service unto such individuals helps acquire knowledge about the soul, leading to self-realisation.
I. लोकयात्रार्थमेवेह धर्मस्य नियमः कृतः । – Mahabharat, Shantiparva, Adhyaya 259, Shloka 5
Meaning : The code of conduct of Dharma is implemented for the sole purpose of running the administration smoothly.
J. धर्म एव हतो हन्ति धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः । – Mahabharat, Vanaparva, Adhyaya 314, Shloka 128
Meaning : Those who do not follow Dharma are destroyed, and those following it meticulously are protected by Dharma (that is, God).
K. स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् । – ShrimadbhagwadgitaAdhyaya 2, Shloka 40
Meaning : Even if Dharma is followed to a small extent, it protects from larger danger.
L. धर्मेणैव जगत्सुरक्षितमिदं धर्मो धराधारकः । धर्माद्वस्तुनकिञ्चिदस्तिभुवने धर्माय तस्मै नमः ।।
Meaning : The world remains safe if everyone follows Dharma; that is why Dharma is said to be the main supporter of earth. There is nothing more ethical than Dharma in this world. Hence, I pay obeisance to that Dharma.
M. अधर्म एव मूलं सर्वरोगाणाम् ।
Meaning : Unrighteousness is the root cause of all diseases. There are three categories of diseases, namely Adhibhoutik, Adhidaivik and Adhyatmik. Adhibhoutik diseases arise from physical causes such as earthquake, famine etc. Adhidaivik diseases occur due to malefic planets, curses of Saints and Sages and wrath of Deities etc. Adhyatmik diseases are distress due to negative energies such as ghosts, destiny etc. (Accordingly one school of thought, the aforementioned Adhyatmik distress is also included under Adhidaivik distress. Adhyatmik distress means physical and psychological distress occurring due to imbalance of bodily humours namely vata [Air], pitta [Bile] and kapha [Phlegm].)
N. The pledge of Dharma : Dharma has exercised unlimited dominance over the human mind for the last ten thousand years; the reason being, the pledge of Dharma. Dharma promises mankind that it will unravel the meaning of life and God and will also endow him with the ultimate support.
Effects of not abiding by Dharma
Unrighteousness is the root cause of all diseases. Due to not following Hindu Dharma calamities like cyclones, earthquakes, excessive rainfall, droughts, internal conflicts, attacks by foreign countries have become common everywhere. If everyone complies with the teachings of Dharma, nature will become favourable to human happiness. Saint Dnyaneshwar has said precisely the same thing in one of His works, that one gets results as per one’s desires and that is applicable not merely to human beings, but to the entire animal kingdom and immovable nature; for, depending on our karma (Action which gives rise to destiny), we can even get the birth of an unmoving living being. Only when human beings progress will the moving and unmoving components of nature become happy, and should they fail to progress, then they will have to face the demerit of making this all-encompassing environment unhappy. – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon, District Pune, Maharashtra.