Dharma: Prescribed Duty

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. Today I have a very interesting topic to share with you all, and I hope it sheds some light on very crucial matters.

The word Dharma is a Sanskrit word which when translated into English the closest word we can get is Duty. Due to the limited nature of expression in the English Language it is sometimes difficult to convey the real meanings of words from ancient languages such as Sanskrit. To the uninitiated, Sanskrit is an ancient languages used in the Vedas; a scriptural text dating over 5000 years. Some define Dharma as codes and conduct according to scriptural injunction however if seen solely from this light, we risk having a situation where the word becomes like a “weight” on people. However when seen from the perspective of duty, then it brings out a natural sense of responsibility in people.

So the big question is what is our real Dharma or duty? We have a duty to perform as living entities, humans to be precise and we also have duties to perform according to our various socio-spiritual status. As Human Beings our first duty is to understand that we are part and parcel of a Supreme whole and our duty is to serve the Supreme whole. This Supreme Whole is referred to many as God, Jehovah, Allah, Krishna etc. Irrespective of the name the objective is the same; service. When we fail to realize that our original duty is that of service to God, we find it difficult to even make reasonable headway in other duties that we have. When I speak of making “headway” I mean having an all round success; materially, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, etc in our various duties. When we realize that we are spiritual sparks who are part and parcel of a spiritual world beyond this realm then we also begin to appreciate our original Dharma or duty.

The duty of an Ambassador is to maintain diplomatic relations between his home country and his residence country. He must always remember from whence he came and as such act accordingly. His dealing with the people in the country where he serves is cordial and must never jeopardize his relationship with his home country. Similarly we as spiritual beings must realize that whatever dealing we have here must be subservient to our original relationship with the Lord and our original home; the spiritual world. The second type of duty comes from our socio-spiritual circle and they differ according to people. The social circle consists of mainly four divisions; Administrators, Teachers, Merchants and Labourers. The duty of an administrator is different from that of a Teacher and from that of a merchant and likewise that of a labourer. In the spiritual circle we have the Celibate student, the Householder or family Men, the Retiree and the Ascetic; all four with various and distinct Dharma or duty.

When there is unrest and disorganization in the society we can easily see that there is an imbalance in the system that defines the duty of people. For example, if soldiers were to suddenly abandon their guns and take to the pulpit to preach, we won’t be sure what to expect. Likewise if we were to send businessmen in warplanes armed with guns, the security of the nation will be jeopardized. The system mentioned above thus in no way creates any disparity or tries to minimize the importance of anyone; rather it helps people to serve the society better. In a student-teacher relationship, the teacher instructs and the students follow, in a husband and wife relationship the man is to protect while the woman is to nurture, etc thus when people know their respective duties there is balance and tranquility in the society. The way to know one’s duty is to access and evaluate what socio-spiritual circle one belongs to. This is done by proper understanding of quality and action, or better put one’s nature and one’s activities.

Nowadays, people who want to choose a career often speak with experts and counselors who give advice based on what they deduce are one’s inclination and one’s abilities. People who have a flair for the arts and have the required talents for it are advised to venture into the world or Arts. This way their natural inclinations and abilities are put to use in the best way possible. Often times I say imagine if Bill Gates had gone into real estate instead of Computers and Programming? It would have been a case of lost talent and improper orientation.

Similarly if we fail to understand what our original Dharma or duty is then we are prone to be misled. Knowledge of our original duty is the key to understanding our second dharma or duty that stems from our socio-religious status. One interesting point about our original dharma is that it shouldn’t be done just due to obligation but out of love. The key factor in our original duty as part and parcel servants of the Supreme Lord is Love. When love is removed from the equation, then we have people who see the entire process as a disturbance rather than an opportunity to re-connect with the Lord. There is a deeper understanding of the subject of our original duty and this is nicely described by Gaudiya Vaisnava’s. However there is also a gradual way to access this knowledge for those who may find it all “new”, and that is to follow one’s duty in his socio-spiritual circle.

The simultaneous execution of our original duty and our second duty will bring about a gradual and sure rise to the platform of realized knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Supreme Lord. The spiritual practitioner then has a chance to access a relationship with the Supreme which he has long forgotten and thus rekindle this through service.

I hope this helps us get a little insight into the topic of Dharma or duty, those who are interested in knowing more can leave me a message and I will reply as soon as possible. Till then read, internalize and share. Follow for more







2 Replies to “Dharma: Prescribed Duty”

  1. Hare Krishna very divine and well written. Iskcon prabu. S are super intelligent and spiritual. All credits. Puja


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