Dharma – Why do we need it?


In one of the ancient Sanskrit quote the importance of Dharma is given precisely.

आहारनिद्राभयमैथुनं च सामान्यमेतत् पशुभिर्नराणाम्।  धर्मो हि तेषां अधिकोविशेषो धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः ||

Hunger, sleep, fear and sexual desires are the basic needs of human and animal. However “Dharma” is the only gift given to human which differentiates themselves from animals. One who behaves or do not practice “Dhrama” in their life is equal to animal.

So if I take religion as Dharma then, am I a human? That’s the question which will differentiate the literal meaning of Dharma and the repeatable and ritualistic practices called religion.

I have seen many people coming to me and explaining about their religious practices. A post mid aged person explained me his daily routine about his multiple worships in a day, attending religious functions on festivals, also his weekly visits to the religious places, but during the talk his focus was more about explaining me his obedience to the religious duties and still the sufferings he faces in life. Outcome of this interaction was more like “I follow all rituals; still why am I suffering?”

As it is said in

दीर्घा वै जाग्रतो रात्रि: दीर्घं श्रान्तस्य योजनम् । दीर्घो बालानां संसार: सद्धर्मम् अविजानताम् ॥

Night feels longing to the one who is awake for whole night or suffering from insomnia. Even a little distance appears to be stretched to the one who is already tired of walking. Life sounds long to the people who do not know true Dharma.

The question remains if religion is not true Dharma, then what is Dharma? Before answering this question, I feel we need to understand the importance of Dharma. When we are talking about Dharma, we are surely not using the so called literal translation of it “Religion”.

During ancient time, there was a rich man. He was rich with few assets and a stock of animals. Among them he owned horses of premier clan. He was blessed with a son, and a very faithful servant. He was rich as well as generous; he used to do charity thru a village temple. Because of his humble, charitable, simple and approachable nature he was not just liked by people of that village but also by neighboring places, cities and villages. One day he died and before his death he wished to distribute his wealth among his son, servant and the village. Amoung many wishes of the wealth distribution, he had a wish of distributing his 19 premier clan horses. He wished his half of the horses should go to his only son; one fourth to the village temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.

The village elders, experts, lawyer came together for such distribution of wealth, but they could not stop scratching their heads as the biggest question was, how can they give half of the 19 horses to the son? You cannot cut a horse and distribute. It was a big puzzle for everyone. More than a fortnight they could not decide upon the solution.  Owing to such a dilemma a Dharmacharya (one who follows the path of Dharma/ righteous duties and provide judgment) from the capitol city was called upon, who was a very good friend of departed rich fellow.

The wise man arrived riding on his horse. The village experts told him about the rich man’s last will and testament which stated that half of the (19) horses must be given to his only son; one fourth must go to the temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.

The wise man laughed and said he will immediately resolve the issue and distribute the horses as per rich man’s will.

He placed all 19 horses in a row standing next to one another. Then he added his own horse as the 20th horse. Now he went about giving half of the 20 horses – that is ten horses to the son. One fourth of 20- that is 5 horses were given to the temple committee. One fifth of twenty- that is 4 horses were given to the faithful servant. Ten plus five plus four made 19 horses. The remaining 20th horse was his own which he promptly mounted, spoke a few inspiring words, and rode back home.

Surprised and amazed villagers admired his knowledge and the way he handled the issue which was like a mountainous problem for the experts, lawyers and elders of the village. While parting from the village Dharmacharya laughed once again and called all the experts and elders of the village. He said a few words and left from the village.

His words were inscribed in the mind of every villager and still today this story is part of various ancient Indian scriptures and tales.

He said “In our daily lives, in our daily affairs, simply add “Dharma” and then go about facing the day’s happenings. Ever come across problems in life that are seemingly insolvable? Add the Dharma principle in our daily lives and the problems will become lighter and eventually will disappear. In the manner of the ice which, with the addition of the water will turn into water and that will eventually evaporate as steam and disappear. And how do we add Dharma in our daily lives? Through pure thoughts, learning from each experience, adding devotion with sincerity of purpose and dedication, that only total faith can bring about.”

He further explained “Dharma is like the 20th Horse; after addition of this horse to the problem, the problem got resolved and even after the problem is resolved Dharma remained intact and pure. This purposeful addition of Dharma in our daily life will bring us and guide us for looking at the problem to solve it. One’s mind is pure and intentions are clear and the heart is full of simplicity and holiness, such a person is accessible to Dharma instantly and he becomes an instrument in the service of Dharma.”

Most of us know this, however the question in mind remains like Duryodhana- Prince of Kaurava had in mind.

जानामि धर्मं न च मे प्रावॄत्ति: । जानाम्यधर्मं न च मे निवॄत्ति: ॥

Duryodhana says “It’s not like, I cannot discriminate between Dharma and Adharma, Even though I have knowledge of Dharma, I am not able to put it into practice and it could not be my nature, and I could not leave the path of Adharma (opposite of Dharma).”

Be part of this journey of Dharma and let all our nature be full of Dharma. Let’s understand a basic principle

जलबिन्दुनिपातेन क्रमश: पूर्यते घट: स हेतु: सर्वविद्यानां धर्मस्य च धनस्य च

Drop by drop a vessel gets filled by water, likewise knowledge, dharma and money gets collected. Meaning no matter how small that knowledge, amount and act (filled with Dharma) may be, do not neglect it.

I will continue this blog series on Dharma with more stories and more compilation from ancient scriptures. Keep reading and keep sending your suggestions.

Image courtesy: http://www.uaeequafed.ae/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Photos-of-horses-7.jpg


6 thoughts on “Dharma – Why do we need it?

  1. Loved the post. Reminds me of what a wise man told me about dharma – dharayate iti dharma. That which holds life together is dharma. Fascinating isn’t it?

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another good read…but difficult part is to follow the path of Dharma in our present lifestyle…more so because we are discouraged from childhood not to question the rituals…to accept it blindly is Dharma, thats what is taught, encouraged and practised.


  3. dharma signifies behaviors that
    are considered to be in accord with , the
    order that makes life and universe possible,….. mamu… i will remember… dharmacharya’s resolvelution 🙂


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