Dharma is not a theory, but a desire

By Shri Shri Anandamurti

In ‘niti’ there is a happy blending of relative and absolute. Niti is based on certain mundane and supra-mundane principles. Dharma, on the other hand, is acharana, conduct. It is therefore something practical. It is not a theory but a desire, a will to do something. But the question arises, what to do? As regards niti, one can deliver some speech, say something on Yama and Niyama and that too can be understood. But as regards dharma, one has to actually do something. So what to do and what not to do?

In the case of niti, indeed, there are certain dos and don’ts. In Sanskrit these dos are called vidhi, system and the don’ts are called nishedha, restriction. The collection of dos and don’ts is niti. But in dharma there are no don’ts, everything is conduct to be performed. For example, “Serve the patient”, “Don’t steal”, “Speak the truth”, “Don’t tell a lie” – such a combination of observances and restrictions is niti. Dharma, on the other hand, is acharana, it is only “do this”, “do that”. “Do sadhana for Paramatman”, “Sing bhajans”, “Do pranayama”, “Do breath-control like this” – there is only vidhi and no nishedha. This is the fundamental difference between dharma and niti.

The Singular Entity has manifested in the form of the ten directions. He has been born in the past as the offspring of different living beings, and will continue to be so born in the future. He inheres in every object and is the witnessing counterpart of those objects. The essence of dharma is hidden in your own “I” feeling; the path pursued by practical saints is the real path. “The essence of dharma is hidden in the guha.”

The term guha in Sanskrit has two meanings. The first is ‘cave’. So does the shloka mean that Paramatman is concealed in a cave in a mountain; does one have to leave the world and go to the wilderness? No, it would not be wise to do so as this world is itself Paramatman’s – where will you go if you leave it? In the world, one may believe that one will be unable to concentrate because of the din and bustle; but in a cave in the Himalayas, one will start thinking that one was unable to get sweet fruit in a particular jungle, and that hence tomorrow one would have to go get ripe plums in a different jungle two or three miles away.

Whether in the world or in the wilderness, one will not necessarily be free. There should be oneness in thought and speech. If there is some difference between the two, one will not be able to invoke love for Him. Suppose in sadhana one says that one requires only Paramatman. Then if Paramatman, is hidden in your “I”-ness, do you need go to the Himalayas?

Live in the world and extend your entire self for service of society, and then you attain Paramatman as He is hidden in you, and is witnessing all your activities, physical or mental, and seeing whether you aspire for Him or for worldly objects. Hence niti will help you, but only through dharma and sadhana will you be able to attain Paramatman.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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