It is essential to follow the path of dharma to achieve abiding peace and happiness in life. People wrongly confuse dharma with ritualistic religion. In fact conscious observance of religious rituals inspires us to imbibe true attributes of dharma and eliminate from our minds, hearts, speech and acts the evil tendencies and practices.
Dharma, when rightly practised gives permanent peace and happiness. It provides right solutions to conflicts and averts crises. Life becomes more and more joy-filled and purposeful.
Prominent Indian seers and practitioners of the Art of Life discovered a sunlit path of righteous living through which life could be lived happily and peacefully. They termed it dharma (path of righteous living) with its ten main attributes or virtues. Any person who practises these ten virtues attains true happiness and also makes others happy. These features are:
dhriti kshama damo"stute yai shaucamindri nigrah
dhividya satyakrodho dashakam dharma lakshanam
Meaning: "Patience, forgiveness, self-control, non-stealing, cleanliness and purity, restraint over the senses, wisdom, knowledge, truth and calmness are the ten attributes of dharma" These are not only the attributes of dharma but also of humanism and are the cornerstones for bringing about world peace.
To consider anyone who practices these ten features as a follower of a particular organised ’religion’ would be a narrow-minded attitude. They are not confined to one sect or religion but have a universal import for all humanity. These virtues cannot be brushed aside as blind beliefs because they have been tested rationally and practically; they have proved to be eternally operating principles of noble human life. All religions, sects, prophets, saints and mahatmas have stressed the practice of these virtues for well-being of individuals, societies and humanity as a whole. Let us discuss them in some detail.
Dhriti (patience): Man cannot live without activity. The development of an individual, the maintenance of a family, social service, etc. is dependent on action. If man had not been active, he would not have progressed. There would have been no buildings, no crop cultivation; no distinct manmade edifice of human civilisation and culture. Whatever we see today has been made possible due to human activity.
Any work undertaken can only be accomplished with patience. Before beginning a work, a patient person thinks about its positive and negative results, and thus chooses the right method to execute it. An impatient person, on the contrary, neither thinks about the consequences of his actions nor of its worthiness. He acts haphazardly, without due planning, and so his actions remain infructuous. For him, it becomes a wasteful exercise.
Impatience is a very bad habit. There is lack of seriousness in an impatient person, due to which he is ignored, condemned and sneered at in the society. His mind remains unstable and hence he cannot think methodically on any subject. He also cannot make wide choices. Due to disorganisation, indecisiveness and incapability, he suffers constant failure and becomes miserable. A person who is patient performs all his actions wisely, with full concentration and zeal. He performs his duties without worrying about results. Hence the success or failure of his efforts does not bother him. Such persons achieve stupendous success and attain peace and happiness in life.
Kshama (forgiveness): A person who forgives others their trespasses creates no enemies and adversaries. He thinks about the welfare of everyone in the world and obtains people’s support and blessings in his endeavours. He receives love and respect wherever he goes.
Forgiveness is not a sign of cowardice or weakness but a sign and symbol of stable mind, peaceful heart and awakened soul. To forgive someone who has committed a crime, not to harbour ill feelings or feelings of revenge against such a person is beyond the capacity of a weak or fickle-minded person. It is impossible to imagine that a person who has no enemies, who is loved by all, lacks happiness and peace.
Dama (control over the mind and desires): It implies reining in of erratic, wayward and unbridled mad rush of chaotic thoughts, desires and unrefined instincts. It is not possible to overcome evil with a thoughtless, vengeful approach. Fire can be extinguished by water and hostility can be ended by kind-heartedness. A person possessing the quality of ’dama’ remains attuned to the noble urges of his soul and protects it from ignoble thoughts and rogue desires. He thus conserves energy which would otherwise have been wasted in self indulgence; and thus conserves, augments and refines his psycho-somatic energies for performing noble, joy-filled, altruistic acts.
Asteya (non-stealing): Here non-stealing also means integrity and honesty. An honest person does not covet what belongs to others. He practices truthfulness in thought, speech and action. Such a person acquires trust of all who come in contact with him. He lives a pious, pure, fearless and happy life.
Shauca (cleanliness and purity): The body of a person whose mind and praa are pure remains healthy. Bodily and mental disorders or sinful activities do not invade him. He always maintains an inner and outer purity and cleanliness. He keeps himself free of mental and physical impurities. He performs altruistic acts and attains inner peace.
Indriya-nigrah (sense-control):Res-traint over senses means the development of three qualities in a person: optimum food intake, judicious use of money and restrained speech. Optimum food intake protects him from diseases, judicious and wise use of money protects from poverty and indebtedness and restrained speech keeps him away from unwanted conflicts and arguments. He thus attains health and happiness. On the contrary a person who is a slave of the senses remains ever dissatisfied, discontented, unhappy and unhealthy.
Dhi (wisdom): A wise person is never daunted by the gravity of any difficulty because of his wisdom. Discriminative wisdom makes him ever wakeful and fearless and engages him in righteous deeds. Hence a wise person lives a life of abiding peace and happiness.
Vidya (knowledge): Vidya refers not only to school/university education but also to practical knowledge of the laws of life gained through experience. In the absence of practical knowledge a person rarely develops humility and becomes arrogant. He is not respected anywhere; people ignore him as much as they can. All his wealth and possessions become useless due to the lack of right knowledge. If an ignorant person inherits wealth, he would not be able to handle it wisely or use it for noble purposes. He suffers at every step in his life. Even in most adverse conditions, a person endowed with knowledge and wisdom would live in peace.
Satya (truth): Truth means absence of falsehood or distortions in all its masks. One who worships truth does not get influenced by the masquerade of any person or object and does not try to imitate anybody or covet any object. He ever remains a seeker of truth and tries to discover the reality behind every event, person or object. The speech of the seeker of truth is straightforward and his deeds resonate with his innate integrity and honesty. Truth is the essence of life. It is impregnable armour against all evils.
Akrodha (non-anger): Akrodha means refusing to be provoked to anger under all circumstances. Conquest of anger means conquest of the world. An angry person does not think about the consequences of his actions and commits unpardonable blunders. Anger stuns the reasoning and discriminative faculties and inexorably pushes a person towards self-destruction.
On the other hand a person who is calm and cool in the face of gravest of provocations meets all that life brings to his door with equanimity and becomes a source of inspiration and strength for others. Thus one who practises the above principles of dharma experiences unalloyed peace and happiness
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