It is very difficult to explain and understand Dharm, because somewhere one action becomes the Dharm and at another place the same action becomes A-Dharm. Although in simple language the Dharm can be explained as "duty". To perform one's duty may be called Dharm. Many people, even though not very educated, know true Dharm; while others, even being very religious, cannot know Dharm. Here are a few stories to show what is Dharm in awkward situations...
(1) Once a sage was meditating under a tree in a forest. He was so much lost in his meditation that he did not know what was happening around. Suddenly he heard a shriek and he opened his eyes. Besides seeing the beauty of the forest he saw a frightened deer running towards him. He ran away in opposite direction. In the meantime a hunter appeared on the scene carrying his bow and arrow, ready to shoot, maybe to kill that deer. The hunter came and asked the sage if he had seen any deer going from there. The sage once thought what to say to him - "I have seen him or not seen him. If I say I have seen him, this hunter will kill him, and if I say, I have not seen him, it will not affect him much and the deer will be saved. If I say one lie to save a life, it should not be taken as a lie." So he decided to tell the lie, he said - "No, I have not seen him." The hunter went away and the sage took the sigh of relief.
(2) Another story is of Sant Eknath Eswaran in which he gave his holy water, which he was carrying to offer to Shiv Ling in Raameshwaram, to a thirsty donkey to save his life.
3) Another story is of Jesus. Everybody knows this story of Jesus, still it is worth repeating here. Once Jesus saw that some people were throwing stones on a woman. Jesus asked the people what had happened. The people told him that she had done adultery, and she should be stoned to death according to the rule of the society of that time. Jesus was asked to judge her and pronounce her punishment, he had the choice of taking an easy course and pronouncing her guilty, which she was according to the law of the day in her society, a law Jesus was thoroughly familiar with, and which would allow the men who had brought her to him to stone her to death, OR to save her by giving some logical reason.
In all likelihood Jesus knew that this was a trap set for him if he forgave her, he would be breaking the law of the Pharisees, and if he condemned her, he would be practicing against his own teaching of forgiveness and love. So he decided to take the risk and chose the path of higher morality. As the adulteress presented a similar situation of value conflict, in which a man has to decides to choose the path of normal Dharm and morality or higher Dharm and morality. He decided to choose the path of higher Dharm and morality, He said, He who has never committed any sin among you in your life, let him first cast a stone at her. And that is how he saved her. So the Dharm is not in destroying something but in constructing something.
It is said that Jesus sealed his own death warrant by this statement for what he had done was expose the hypocrisy of the men who was trying to trap him to the glare of the day. Here again, like the sage in the earlier story, what Jesus had done was to forsake the conventional morality and rise to the level of higher morality.
Dharm is always in positive approach, not in negative approach; to do good to others, not to think about oneself
Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 10/02/13