Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

32 What Is Dharma?§


Dharma is one of the most beautiful and complex ideas in our faith. One of its meanings is shown here, our duty to serve and help others in need, as this hiker helps a friend to the top of the mountain.§


When God creates the universe, He/She endows it with order, with the laws to govern creation. Dharma is that divine law prevailing on every level of existence, from the sustaining cosmic order to religious and moral laws that bind us in harmony with that order. It is goodness, ethical practice and duty. It is the path which leads us to liberation. Dharma is at work on four levels of our existence: universal, human, social and personal. Universal dharma rules the natural world, from subatomic quantums to galactic clusters. Social dharma governs society. Human dharma guides life’s four stages. Personal dharma is your own perfect pattern in life. It is determined by your past karmas and how the other three dharmas impact you. The key to discovering and understanding your personal dharma is to worship Lord Ganesha. He knows our past lives and can clarify our right path in life. Gurudeva wrote: “When we follow this unique pattern—guided by guru, wise elders and the knowing voice of our soul—we are content and at peace with ourselves and the world.” At every step in life, your main dharma is to follow the path of good conduct. As a youth, a big part of your dharma is to be a good student and a good daughter or son. It is your parents’ dharma to care for you. It is your teacher’s dharma to teach you. It is the dharma of the police to protect you. As an adult, you may become a parent, and it will then be your dharma to raise and support your family. Later, as an elder, your dharma will be to guide the younger generations. Yogaswami said that dharma is like the tracks of a train, and like the train we must stay on the tracks to reach our destination. Dharma is so important that the Sanskrit name of Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma, the eternal path.§


GURUDEVA: Dharma is a rich word which encompasses many meanings: the path to God Siva, piety, goodness, duty, obligation and more. …By following the ancient path of dharma, we avoid all this suffering and mental pain and bring ourselves into positive, creative and productive states of consciousness, bringing us ever closer and closer to the holy feet of God Siva.§