What is Dharma? – Summary of Divine Discourse on 26 May, 2016 (Morning)

What is the meaning of saying that God incarnates on earth? God with His love, compassion and affection for mankind, comes down to man’s level on this earth with both individual consciousness and Divine consciousness juxtaposed together. Before we try to understand what it means to say Rama was the embodiment of dharma, we should understand what exactly dharma is.

The first stanza of the Bhagavad Gita starts with the phrase – Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre. If you look at the last stanza of the Bhagavad Gita, it says “Wherever there is Yogeeshwara Krishna, wherever there is the bow-wielding Arjuna, and there is going to be victory, prosperity and steady morality”. The last word of the Bhagavad Gita is mama, hence the essence of the entire Bhagavad Gita can be paraphrased with the last word and the first word of the Bhagavad Gita, which when put together becomes mama dharma – my dharma. The very essence, the fundamental thrust of Bhagavad Gita is “Follow your dharma, Follow your duty”.

It is dharma, which distinguishes human beings from all beasts and birds. One who is bereft of dharma is worse than an animal. Actually dharma is not any one particular religion. Dharma is what human beings ought to do. Body is the basis of all noble and charitable acts. Dharma is to always involve ourselves in good actions.

Being good is manava dharma – dharma of all mankind. In the word ‘manava’ – ‘ma’ and ‘nava’ – we understand that man is not new. Body comes and goes, and mind keeps changing. So, definitely it cannot be ‘manava’. What is eternal, what is permanent and what is always true is the divine principle. Therefore, the dharma of a human being is nothing but Sanathana dharma – the ancient, eternal religion. This dharma will not change depending on place, time and circumstances.

What is the eternal dharma or the universal religion? That is nothing but hridaya dharma, dharma of the heart. Divinity is installed in every human heart. The body is the temple of God and the individual soul is none other than God. The duty, the dharma, of all human beings is to follow the command that comes from the heart. In the mind, there are the weaknesses of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. The mind always goes after selfish pursuits because it believes it is the body and the mind. But the heart always tells us about selfless love and selfless service. When we truly understand our own heart, we will realise the essence of all religions. Therefore, hridaya dharma is nothing but prema dharma, the religion of love, which expresses itself in the dharma of service or seva dharma. 

Ritual is not enough. We have to recognise the spirit, which is there in the rituals. And when we do so, it becomes atma dharma. The most important thing we have to learn is hridaya dharmaprema dharma, atma dharma – that is the ultimate goal. In every character of Ramayana, we can learn the truth of hridaya dharma or prema dharma. Practice the ideals of the dharma of the heart – that is dharma of prema – and svadharma, which is nothing but atma dharma. Whatever duty God has given us, we have to discharge it heartily and sincerely. We should perform all our actions for the love of God. When we do it, we can fill our lives with joy and bliss.

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