By Dr Manish Pandit

Lets look at one of the well known roots of the word Dharma. I have frequently said that Dharma is having its root in Self restraint. This is why the Kshatriya kings of old often would forgive even their enemies.

Today of course in this age that we are in, we find numerous people who claim to be following Swa Dharma but they do not practice any kind of self restraint (neither in words nor in deeds). Is it that the idea of Dharma has changed or that the ancient idea of Dharma as having its roots in self restraint was fallacious? Lets look at it in a short blog.

Here is the word Dharma: its roots are in the word दीक्ष् and of course this word has a meaning. What is that meaning?

कौमुदीधातु says “दीक्षँ मौण्ड्येज्योपनयननियमव्रतादेशेषु”

Lets look at the meanings of that root दीक्ष् :

This word has a few meanings according to standard definitions in the koshas, however, two meanings which stand out are:

“To practice self restraint” and indeed “to initiate a pupil into a (spiritual) practice. It also allows the meaning of “consecration for a scared rite” and of course “ investiture of the Upanayanam and initiation into the Gayatri mantra” as the basis of this word दीक्ष् which is the root at the basis of Dharma. Thus before we even come to the Gita Shlokas on Swa Dharma, we must first consider that the ancients would already have reckoned these above definitions as sacrosanct in the observance of Dharma. 

This self restraint forms the basis of the actions of Sri Krishna when he is insulted 100 times by Shisupala for example. The idea behind the Diskihita being self restrained was an important part of non wastage of energy in non essentials (since death was always a heartbeat away possibility.)

Hence we must understand that Dharma, self restraint in words (and of course deeds )and the idea of Swa Dharma go hand in hand.

They are not wrong, nor are they somehow cancelled by the Gita but are in resonance with each other.

In the next part of this series, we will look at how these ideas fit in with the ideas of the “sacred word” which are part of the Tantra Shastra

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