Protecting and Upholding Dharma

Dharma

by Jayaram V

The Upanishads are the heart of Hinduism. I was introduced to them by chance nearly forty years ago, and ever since my interest in them only grew. It was out of my interest I translated several Upanishads twice in the past. The first attempt was several years ago, and it was meant mainly for the Internet. In my recent attempt, which took me over a year, I translated 16 major Upanishads covering over 1700 slokas. For me the exercise was more like an active meditation with an opportunity to communicate with the best of the ancient minds and making sense of their universal vision of God and existence. In this section I want to share with you the wisdom of the Upanishads, whenever I am inspired to do so. I hope to present at least a few every month until my thoughts are exhausted or my interest has waned. I hope you will find them useful. Jayaram V

Please do not look for complete answers or information in these. They are fragments of thoughts which deal with only certain aspects of the chosen subject


There is an ancient saying in India, which many people know. It is also mentioned in the Taittiriya Upanishad as one of the teachings from a master to his students. It says, “If you protect Dharma, Dharma will protect you.” This is a powerful saying, which is timeless and still applicable in today’s world.

Dharma is a broad term, with multiple meanings. It is not just this law or that law. It encompasses all laws, duties, responsibilities, moral percepts, principles, beliefs, code of conduct and religious practice that are conducive to an orderly life and orderly world. In short, it is the operating system of God's creation, which ensures order and regularity and keeps things in their place.

Karma and Dharma

The idea is that if you abide in Dharma, Dharma will abide in you and becomes your armor. If you live righteously, the world will be on your side because the world also depends upon Dharma only for its order and regularity. Dharma and Karma are interrelated. They mutually reinforce each other. If you do good, good will be returned to you. If you indulge in evil actions, you will be responsible for their consequences. Thus, the principle of karma is guided upon earth by the force of Dharma only, and through Karma we practice and preserve the light of Dharma.

God and Dharma

Where there is Dharma, there is God, peace, prosperity and harmony. When they are absent, life becomes difficult for everyone. When you break the laws, you bring chaos and confusion into the world. If a large number of people indulges in similar behavior, the world becomes unsafe for anyone to live. In other words, the fate of our world depends upon our collective actions and our commitment to Dharma. If you want to bring God into your life, you should practice Dharma because where Dharma is, there God is. The two are inseparable. God may help an Adharmi, but only to open his eyes to its importance.

Dharma through sacrifice

We must realize that our lives are interconnected. If we selfishly live for ourselves and think of our own welfare, we will always be in conflict with others and contribute to unrest and suffering. The percepts of Dharma say that we must live life as a sacrifice, think of others too, and do something every day to help them and spread peace and happiness.

Hence, the scriptures prescribe five daily sacrifices for humans to help gods, humans, animals, ancestors and seers and sages or those who preserve religious knowledge. Our Dharma does not say that you should not strive for prosperity, progeny, success, or name and fame. You can aspire for all these without neglecting your Dharma, or the obligation to participate in the sacrifice of life.

For that reason only, we have four aims of human life namely, Dharma, Artha (wealth), Kama (sexual desire) and Moksha (liberation). Dharma comes before the other three, because it is the foundation for them. It is upon Dharma that you are expected to build your life and achieve the other three aims. God protects and upholds Dharma because it protects all others. It is the wheel that moves all other wheels in creation. The Chakra with which Vishnu preserves and protects the world is but Dharma Chakra only. In the hands of Shiva it becomes the three pronged Trishul and the Wheel of Time (Kala Chakra). In Brahman it manifests as Brahma Wheel.

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