Sanatan Dharma


Updated on: Created on 26-09-2020

Part I - Dharma, Chapter 3/5 - Svadharma

This is Part I - Dharma, Chapter 3 / 5

Table of Contents

Created on 28-09-2020

6.11 Svadharma

What is svadharma? In Gītā adhyāya 3, sloka 35, it is said that it is better to follow one's own svadharma though it appears to be defective or if we are not able to apply in our life properly then try to flow other dharma i.e. para dharma even though it appears to be a better one or we feel we are practicing it more effectively than our own dharma i.e. svadharma.

3.35 One's own duty [Customary or scripturally ordained observances of different castes and sects.-Tr.], though defective, is superior to another's duty well-performed. Death is better while engaged in one's own duty; another's duty is fraught with fear.

Let us now understand what it really means and in what context Bhagavan said so. In Gita Arjuna is the representative of a disciple and Krishna is both Iśvara and guru, a unique phenomenon.

As we have understood, dharma depends upon inherent predominant guṇas. In case of Arjuna, he had qualities or guṇas of a kshatriya and not that of a sanyasin who has śuddha sattva.

Second, in order to fight for dharma. It is dharma which keeps mind in control and the policies of a king help it's subjects progress on path of dharma or adharma. So establishment of a dharmika Kingdom is beneficial to both king and his subjects.

Hence for the greater good Bhagāvana, after many failed attempts for peaceful solution, had no choice but to ask Arjuna to take part in dharma yuddha (fight for dharma) but as an instrument of Iśvara and not for ego or pride or for his brothers and family members or for personal revenge. This fight was more than a personal affair. It was for a greater good, for loka kalyāṇa.

As we have seen it was Arjuna's predominant quality of a kshatriya and for the greater good of whole society that made Bhagavāna ask Arjuna to think and act like a kashatriya.

We have to learn that adopting a work or doing job or business according to our nature is always better then running behind high salary jobs no matter how lucrative it may appear.

These days everyone wishes to become a doctor or an engineer even though one Does not have liking for it. In securing admission in an engineering college, many students do not get admission in the subject of their choice as it all depends upon marks one scores.

In simple words, we must do what is necessary and not what we like i.e. shreyas and not preyas.

If one acts according to one's prakriti (basic nature), the work generates less stress keeping mind healthy. The work may not get you good salary but it can help nurture one emotionally and be mentally stable. It can also help one progress spiritually. Each one of us are unique. Doing job we like, we will feel free to think independently and not what is taught to us in schools. This will result in diverse thinking resulting in good sāhitya literature. Author feels, when one can freely think, it will create a society which will be open to unconventional way of work. It will also generate a good education system and good innovations and inventions. Society will flourish, people will be broadminded and ready to listen to a thought or ideology or way of thinking which is different than theirs. So people will not try to see or mould others according to their frame of mind, but will experience the culture of a different places. People when travelling or when going on pilgrimage, will adapt to local culture and way of life than trying to find modern facilities and live the way they are used to. An extensive traveller who visits off beat destinations, small villages and not tourists spots or big developed metropolitan cities will enjoy and experience life, people and culture fully and learn a lot from some minded courteous helpful villagers and locals. Similarly, a wildlife photographer will live with nature some in jungle, some with animals and will understand nature and animals better than us.

Following svadharma will help control lower animal nature and nourish divine qualities within oneself making one a better person and contributing to creating a better society, a vibrant society with comparatively less crime, less policing, high moral, high conscience and making world a better place always contributing positively to the society and nation, a nation with better thoughts, better emotions, less stress and no anarchy. One will live a free yet a disciplined life. Society is bound to flourish when dharma is established within us.

Following svadharma, one can experience life to the fullest, learn and adapt better. There is all round development of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

But Gītā has something more to add. Bhagavāna, though stressing on living a life of dharma, does not stop there. Dharma is a foundation, but not the end.

6.12 Gītā - Journey from following svadharma to renouncing all dharmas and surrendering to Bhagavāna

Now we have known that dharma is essential for individual and nation building. However, our śāstras do not stop at teaching one of living a highly moral and ethical life by following svadharma. The goal of life, as per śāstras, is to merge in the source of creation, our creator, the Supreme Brahman, Iśvara or Paramātmā. Hence it is a journey from developing and cultivating dhārmika divine guṇas by character building, controlling mind, living a disciplined life, contemplating on Self or meditating on Iśvara, unconditionally surrendering to him and finally merging in him, knowing and constantly abiding in our true nature which is Ātman (Ātmā) or Brahman.

In the last chapter, BG 18.66, Bhagavāna asks us to renounce all dharmas and unconditionally surrender to him. In return Bhagavāna promises to free us from all pāpa (sins) and grant us moksha, the ultimate goal of life.

We can say that, following svadharma, one can walk on the spiritual path until one is sufficiently inwardly pure to renounce and rise above the dharma and so gunas and merge oneself i.e. Jīva into Brahman and be eternally free.

6.13 To conclude -

Dharma is

Kartavya - duty on personal and social level

Guna dharma - basic inherent quality or property of subject

Svabhāva - basic nature of a person. Svabhāva is also used instead of main guna dharma of any object. For example svabhaava of water is to flow.

Varna and ashram dharma - dharma for personal upliftment and adherence to the scripturally ordained duties of varna and following the life of the ashram that one lives in.

Svadharma - follow one's own dharma for mental, emotional and spiritual development and for creating a positive vibration and a vibrant flourishing society with high moral values and ethics.

Dharma - dharma also means moral and ethical values

Dharma - dharma also means sadāchāra meaning good conduct or good behaviour.

(Dharma is both qualities and their application.)

Dharma is the foundation of individual, society and nation. Dharma is the foundation upon which one walks on spiritual path. Beyond dharma is moksha.

May we all follow the path of dharma and live a disciplined life full of devotion to the Iśvara and realise our true nature and remain abide in it.

May we all live a life of purity and detachment. May we all be one with Iśvara tatva.

Hari OM

After understanding svadharma and it's importance, many will be curious about the nature of the liberated one, the sthita prajña. Let us understand who is Sthita Ptajña