As the natural next step to our previous article on Stree Dharma, is its complement, Nara Dharma.
Traditionally, The Dharmasastra and Puranas have provided man with insight on what Dharma is, and both confirm the Veda as the ultimate authority of the Dharma which they express [1,4]. While Dharmasastra provides injunctions, Purana provides examples and demonstrates context-sensitivity. These were further illumined by various Commentaries such as the Mitakshara and formal law digests such as the Vyavahara Nirnaya. Nevertheless, much has changed since the composition of the last major Dharmasutra (Apasthamba). As such, it is imperative that in the present time, rather than inventing Dharma out of thin air, the Principles of Dharma are restated appropriately for modern context. While it is true that a number of Sampradayas (paths/communities) and Panths (religions) have had Swamis and Saints do the same, the time has come for the declaration of a modern Saamaanya Dharma, the common and foundational dharma, across caste and creed.
We cannot turn back the clock and we must understand that society has changed, and we cannot force-fit stone tablets from another Millennium or Yuga into the present one. Dharma must adapt to the present time.
With that in mind, having reviewed Sastra, Smriti, Itihasa, and Purana, we present a Dharmic guidebook of Principles for Young Bharatiya Men, of all castes and creeds, to ensure society guides them, and also educates them on being ethical citizens, equal stakeholders, and responsible leaders in the Revival of our Civilization.
Historically, Dharmasutra was appended to the Grihyasutra, itself ultimately part of the greater corpus known as Kalpasutra. [1,11] The historic division of Kalpasutra (ritual) into Grihya (domestic rites) and Srauta (yajnic offering) naturally was focused on a more limited audience, in a less universally literate time. Nevertheless, the Dharma of all four traditional classes of society was in fact described, just with varying degress of expansiveness and attention. The traditional phases (ashramas) of brahmacharya (student/celibate), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (hermit), sanyaasa (renunciate) still apply based on one’s jati, varna, or panth and modified for the present context. They are described in great detail by Apasthamba and his predecessors. While Varnashrama Dharma was the focus there and then, none of that obviated the existence of a Nara Dharma. In fact the traditional name for this has been Purusha Dharma, dharma of the Male. But in the present time the word Purusha has been affected in its meaning, and the word Nara implies the complete human male, including the family man.
As such, while there is varnashrama dharma, there is also dharma of the nara. Before a male is a brahmana, a kshatriya, a vaisya, or sudra, he is first a man. And to be a good brahmana, or kshatriya, or vaisya, or sudra, one must first be a good man. That is the foundational dharma applicable to all jatis, varnas, sampradayas, and panths which we focus on today.
At a time when Bharatavarsha is beset by bands of barbarians of all sorts, those who call themselves Dharmikas, must first break the barbarity within themselves imposed by wrong practice and frequently foreign fashion. In the quest for modernity, we have forgotten our morality. In prizing knowledge, we have forgotten wisdom. In seeking development and sophistication, we have forgotten character. It is time to remember who we once were, and revive the ideal of men we have the potential to be.
II. Nara Dharma
- Sukhasya Moolam Dharmam. The root of Happiness is Dharma.
- Maathru Devo Bhava. Mother should be treated as God. She is the first Guru.
- Streeya Maryada Uttama. Honouring women is the Best Path.
- Pithru Devo Bhava. Father should be treated as God.
- Acharya Devo Bhava. Acharya (spiritual educator) should be treated as God.
- Atithi Dharma. Today rather than treat as God, observe Dharma with Guest.
- Uddaret atmana atmanaam. One should elevate one’s self through education in & beyond school.
- Sadacharam leads to cultivation of good qualities in individual and all. Nithya & Naimittika Karma facilitate the fulfillment of Svadharma. Practice them.
- Knowledge is not Wisdom. Ergo, respect those who are elder to you, so that you may gain their wisdom and in turn be respected by those younger to you.
- Vedic knowledge is Not for Sale. Those who study the Vedas should observe the spiritual guidelines it requires during and beyond the student phase.
- Discretion is the better part of Valour
- Greed is Not Good. Practice daya, dama, dana.
- Selfishness is the real root of all evil
- Silence is Golden
- Culture is the Cure for Stupidity
- Duties balance Rights.You are not just an Individual, but part of a Society.
- Jyestha braatha dvitiya pitra. Elder brother is as a second father.
- Learn to be a good Lieutenant
- Tyajet ekam Kulasyarthe, Gramasyarthe Kulam tyajet; Gramam Janapadasyarthe, Atmarthe prithivim tyajet
- Yatha Raja tatha Praja. Yatha Praja tatha Raja. Lead by example. Be the change you want to see.
- A place for Everyone and Everyone in his Place. Win as a Team.
- Pursuance of academic goals with intent to be useful not just to self but to society at large is a must. Studies are good. Study of Niti is better. Study of Dharma best of all.
- Traditional dharmic principles are not in favour of either drinking or smoking. Even today it is advisable to follow these injunctions, but if one chooses otherwise, then it should be done responsibly with consideration for health, safety and reputation.
- Traditionally, it is not advisable to indulge in pre-marital sex. In the age of STDs, cancers and unwanted pregnancies, it is still the best advice but if a young man chooses otherwise, then the same advice as given for 23 above holds the same.
- Conjugal relations between the husband and wife have to be mutually respectful and fully consensual. A man who pressures his wife into immoral acts, sins. Pursuit of Kama should be in line with Dharma.
- Conjugal relations while being for pleasure should not lose sight of the procreation aspect. Sex for pleasure only is not the goal of a marriage and procreation has to also be a goal so as to bring forth and/or raise progeny to preserve society.
- Financial decisions and planning for the future has to be joint exercise between the husband and the wife. Saving for a rainy day should be the goal in order that those in your care do not suffer hardship.
- In-laws & Parents have to be respected and consulted on decisions that impact them. They have to be looked after with respect & dignity if they are staying with you.
- Grihastha dharma Sampoornaha
- Prathama kumara uttaradhikarin
- Age gracefully and see to it that you withdraw respectfully from your children’s lives once they become independent and start their own lives. Advise but don’t interfere.
- Karmanye vadikaraste, ma phalesu kadachana
Why was Bhagvan Ram called Maryada Purushottam? It is not just because he practiced Maryada (propriety & courtesy), or that he was the ‘Best of Men”(uttama purusha), but because he was the embodiment of Nara Dharma. Jatis and Varnas may vary, but through his life we understand the nuances of Dharma and the various dilemmas he faced. Kshatriya or not, all can learn from his example and understand through him that society comes before self. That is the dharma he taught.
However, per our sacred history, Sri Rama was born in the Treta Yuga, thousands upon thousands of years ago per our reckoning, to say the least. His actions were conducted given certain assumptions, indeed iron principles, of his time, which we do not find today. Honour of women was held in higher sanctity than it is in the present time, so concern for the safety of women was not as high as it must be now. Younger brothers were far, far more loyal in his time, than they are now. And citizens were far better in his time than they are now. As such, his dharma must be restated and adapted to the present time. Nevertheless, he remains the ultimate example for all time.
Before we commence with the exegesis of these principles, we will actually present a separate section focused specifically on principles two and three. These have been expanded to discuss a sub-dharma under Nara Dharma: Nara Dharma to Naari. Of late, there has been a movement to over masculinise all things in the name of reviving masculinity. Reviving Masculinity is indeed an exquisite goal, particularly in an era of Mama’s boys.
But reviving Masculinity doesn’t mean showing contempt to women. I wonder, when did the Itihasas and Puranas refer to the “Fatherland”? When did we consider women as weak? True, average males are said to have 3 times the upper body strength of the average female, and modern armies absolutely should realise this before placing women in frontline combat. But as Swami Vivekanananda, another advocate of strong minds and strong, masculine bodies, said, “which man can give birth?”. Inner strength and outer strength are complementarities and not mutual exclusivities.
It is Bharat Mata, as Bharatavarsha is our Maathru Bhoomi. It is the same even in my Maathru Bhasha. In countering our enemies, let us not seek to become like them. Our Civilization represents mankind’s cause precisely because it respected womankind.
Stay true to our tradition. By respecting women, boys become real men. By understanding how to interact with ladies, we become real gentlemen. And here is that Dharma.
III.Nara Dharma to Naari
If there is a Naari Dharma, then surely, there must be a Nara Dharma to Naari. If rights come with responsibilities, then men who seek to assert their rights must remember that they too have responsibilities under the Dharma, especially to women, their other half. Therefore, here we summarise Nara Dharma to Naari.
- Maathru Devo Bhava
- Streeya Maryada Uttama
- Protect thy society. Neglect not thy wife.
- Daughters are Music of the home
§. Maathru Devo Bhava
Man’s relationship with Woman is not 1 dimensional, as it may be in other modern societies. In fact, in our Tradition, we view women first and foremost as mother.
It is first Maathru Devo Bhava…then Pithru Devo Bhava…then and then only Acharya Devo Bhava…and in this era, depending on his character and cultural origin, maybe Atithi Devo Bhava. But above all a mother. Because even if she is not our mother, she is a potential one, or a mother to someone else. This is the foundation of respect for women in our society. And it has been since time immemorial.Though modesty (of demeanor and dress) are advisable for both genders, it is mentality that matters more. Also, it ensures healthier relationships with the woman who will be the mother of our kids. Mother is the storehouse of all good things.
It is not for nothing we say…
This doesn’t mean being a mummy’s boy. It means understand that to have not just the love but the respect of a real mother is to be on the side of goodness itself.
§. Streeya Maryada Uttama
Those of you familiar with Sanskrit and Sanskrit-enriched languages (like my own honey sweet Telugu) know that a single phrase, can mean many things. So it is with this one.
Firstly, Streeya Maryada Uttama
Honouring of women is the best path. The first lesson we are taught is Mathru Devo Bhava, and for good reason. Mother is the first guru. How can we not honour her? In our tradition, there is no lower form of life than an ungrateful student. A criminal may not be able to help his criminal tendencies, but even a thief looks after his mother. But like the Rakshasa who immediately seeks to use his boon against Mahadev, so too is the son who fails to respect and look after his mother. Showing honour to women, especially the one who gave you birth, is the best path not only for men, but for women, and for civilization itself.
Secondly, Streeya Maryada Uttama
Protecting a woman’s honour is of highest importance to man. More than his, more than his family’s, more than even his religion’s, is protecting a woman’s honour. In fact, it is the essence of all true religion. A society that fails to fight for its women’s safety, a society that seeks not to safeguard its stree, is no society at all. Dharmena heenaha pashubhih saamannaha. One without Dharma is like a beast.
In the great divide between “honour societies” and honourless societies are various questions about whether honour itself should be honoured. But whether a woman is honourable or not, the Shakti within her should be honoured through man’s good behaviour.
This means first and foremost controlling himself around her and not behaving like an animal. Man’s own civilization spouts from and depends upon his relationship and treatment of women. A man who barters his own woman’s honour or preys upon the women of others, is no real man. Whether she’s his woman, she’s someone else’s woman, or she’s her own woman, a man is not his own man if he cannot seek to protect women.
Rakshabandhan exists for a reason. Every woman who is not your wife is your sister (or mother or daughter). Safeguard her, welcome her, and above all cherish her.
Thirdly, Streeya Maryada Uttama
In the presence of women, being honourable is best. Here, Maryada means not just honour, but also propriety. Man should not simply content himself with not being a criminal.
Uddaret atmana atmanam. One should elevate one’s self. This means behaving appropriately in the presence of women. This neither means being an uxorious wimp nor a rude, crude, ruffian. It means being a man who respects others because he respects himself. For a woman to lose respect for a man is the kiss of death and a quest for cuckoldry. So man must respect himself. But, a true gentleman treats women well, not because of what it says about her, but because of what it says about him.
Finally, Streeya Maryada Uttama
For women, honourable courtesy is best.
Bhagvan Ram was known as the Maryada Purushottam not just for his propriety around women, but for his courtesy. A true gentleman of gracious mien. Whatever “Surpanakha’s Daughters” may say Ravana’s sister was not punished for being a wanton woman or a “liberated lady”. Lakshmana punished her for attacking Sita. Rama had been courteous to her up until that point.
Sri Rama was not only only proper in the presence of women and elders, but was also courteous and pleasant to all. It is chivalry and gentlemanliness that delights young and old or mother of your children and your mother. It is not just good manners or due courtesy, but that rare charm of friendly decency, to high and low, man or beast. It is not over-sophistication, but cultivation, of not just manners, but personality & prudent ideals.
So yes, accept the exhortations of the Smritis and be like Ram! But also be, the Ram…of the times. Yudhisthira attempted to be the Satyaharishchandra of the Dvapara, but Draupadi paid the price via dice as she was not born in the Treta. True Dharma lies in honouring women, safeguarding women’s honour, being honourable in the presence of women, and honouring through courtesy. Streeya Maryada Uttama.
§. Protect thy Society. Neglect not thy Wife.
Do your duty as a citizen, as a leader, as a protector, and as a father, but also as a husband. Do not neglect your wife.
If protecting one’s society first means protecting one’s womenfolk, then it also means not neglecting them. If Selfishness is the Real Root of all Evil, then neglect is its CO2. There is no greater poison in a relationship than neglect. There is no worse emotional feeling than feeling alone when you’re in fact with someone.
Not being a neglectful husband is more than just asking how her day was, or taking her out once in a while, or listening to her for 15 minutes then tuning her out the rest of the day. Neglect is also emotional distance, isolation, and cold-hearted selfishness: brutishness. If you can’t think of someone before you think of yourself, then you are not doing your dharma to your marriage, and your society.
This isn’t to say women are perfect. Nilambari has described at great length how ill-treatment of men and abuse of marriage laws is a precipitous path for society. But she and others like her have stood up for men. It is time we stood by such women, and not neglect our good fortune.
§. Daughters are Music of the Home
Sons may carry on lineages. Sons may carry on names. Sons may even carry us on to the afterlife (all per the Smritis). But daughters are the music of the home.
For far too long has the place of daughters been diminished in our own eyes as a dowry burden. Researched and presented by Nilambari in the first of our Shakti Series of Posts, dowry is adharmic, stridhaan is not. Stridhaan is not a profitable asset for greedy bridegrooms, but a gift to a bride from her own family, for her own security and maintenance. Even the Dharmasutras permit a young woman to choose her own suitor if one cannot be found by her father. If there are only greedy, money hungry would-be matches, better to let her be, and make her own choice and meet her own match.
Therefore, the birth of daughters should no longer be a financial calculation, let alone a burden. Daughters are in fact the music of the home. If we encourage a young man to marry a wife to add colour to his life, then we should encourage him to welcome daughters to bring music to his home. From laughter, to singing, to dancing, to innocence, to sweetness, more than his own wife, it is his own little girl that softens a man, and his own rough edges.
At a time in the dread Kali (5117), when daughters more than sons are increasingly looking after parents, the veritable dhvani for any true garhapati is his putri and dauhitri.
We are the Civilization of Satakarni and Samudra Gupta who proudly styled themselves as Gautami-putra and Licchavayah. Streeya Maryada Uttama.
Thus spake Nripathi on Nara Dharma to Naari.
IV.Nara Dharma Principles & Explanations
Maharajadiraja Samudra Gupta with veena & vaana
Uddaret atmana atmanam. One should elevate oneself. One should cultivate oneself. Not just spiritually, not just morally, but also culturally. Our tradition never condemned the man of the arts. In fact, it praised warrior poets, and cultured Kings. Maharajas like Paramara Bhoja and Maharajadirajas like Samudra Gupta were famed not only as Kings, generals, and warriors, but also as patrons of the arts & learning and musicians or men-of-letters in their own right. They held the veena in one hand and the vaana (bow) in the other. Do not be a sybaritic and overly refined poppinjay, but do not be a dour and brutish troglodyte either. Neither be a bookish wimp nor an uncultured ruffian. It is an art, an art as simple as Calligraphy, that disengages man from the severity of his duty, so that he can meditate on the right course of action.
A real man is not 1 dimensional. He has many dimensions to him. His jati or state origin are only 1 aspect. His varna is only 1 aspect. His marital status is only 1 aspect. His interests/desires are only 1 aspect. His talents are only 1 aspect. As such, his personal duty, his svadharma, is to ensure all these aspects are in harmony, and in harmony with his society’s needs. it also means knowing how to interact with others especially women, as we showed above, and understanding the nava rasa of life, especially Sringara rasa.
Some malefactors of dharma have characterised svadharma as something subjective and capricious. But this is false. Svadharma is evaluating the needs of society and understanding one’s talents and obligations, to determine the optimal course of action or duty to society. How can you best contribute? That is how svadharma is determined. Not everyone can be a King or captain. Not everyone can be a purohit or teacher. Not everyone is good at business. And not everyone is a good craftsmen or farmer or construction worker. Rather than being jealous of others, understand your current competence and overall potential, avoid the Arishadvargas, and put society before self. That is how svadharma is determined and achieved.
That is why Acharya Chanakya writes
Sukhasya moolam dharmah Dharmasya moolamarthah |
Arthasya moolam rajyam Rajasya moolam indriyavijayam ||
The Root of Happiness is Dharma. The root of Dharma is Artha.
The Root of Artha is Rajyam [Power]. The root of Power is Victory over the Senses [10,129]
That is the key to happy living and the basis for all the Yama & Niyama (do’s and don’ts) that characterise the Dharmasastra and are advocated by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Human life is a rare privilege in our tradition, and so, must be used wisely. Purusharthas are the aims of life: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure & love), Moksha (liberation). Of these, Dharma is the best, as it guides the next two and ultimately makes possible the last.
Nithya and Naimittika Karma facilitate the fulfillment of Svadharma. This is due to the spiritual discipline and hygiene that is promoted. Traditionally referred to as the more expansive Ahnika, Nithya Karma refers to daily rituals and rites, generally based on one’s station in life. Certain varnas, especially Brahmana, require more time dedicated to spiritual discipline, and the Apastamba, Baudhyana, Gautama, and Vasishta Dharmasutras all describe those associate rituals in greater detail (from Achamana (rinsing with water) and Dantadaavana (brushing teeth) to Snaana (daily bath) on) . Naimittika Karma is more expansive, but done more periodically. It deals with rituals and prescribed rites based on phase of life. i.e Namakarana, Annaprasana, Upanayana, Vivaha, etc. All these are again better dealt with in the Apasthamba Grihyasutra, among others. Naimittika Karma is in turn determined by and is part of the more expansive Kulachara and Achara. Because there is Kula and Desa Achara that are very dependent on context, the more general Achara refers to Good Conduct.
Foods forbidden per one’s station or varna or desa should be avoided. Go-mamsa in particular is forbidden to all classes as the cow is aghnya (that which should not be killed). Cow leather, therefore, should be avoided when possible. If these and other infractions or moral transgressions occur, the Dharmasutras of Apastamba et al, should be consulted for appropriate prayascitta. Apastamba also asserts that if engaging in one’s traditional vocation is not possible, another one can be followed while maintaining kulachara. However, in the present time, it is advisable for all varnas to learn the arts of self-defence, exercise regularly, and have plans in place and be ready to take up arms to defend their families. The safety of their womenfolk should be the foremost concern on their minds.
Man is not only a performer of karma (Nitya and Naimittika) and Yajna, but he is also an upholder of dharma, a protector of streeya (women), a sustainer of Kutumba (family –young and old), and a pillar of Samaaja (society). Boys forever seek frivolity and fun. While there is indeed a stage for such things, (Snataka) it is short and sweet, and cannot last for too long after completion of his studies. The best course of action is to take a wife after preparation for Grihasthashrama and after ensuring he has sufficient Artha (wealth) or source of income to provide for his family and progeny.
Live by a simple code. Whatever vocation or occupation, or dharma you pursue in life, remember, Bharat is Mother to us All…
b. Grishastha Dharma
Grihastha Dharma Sampoornaha. Grihastha ashrama is in fact considered dharma in fullness, not because it is the complete totality of it, but because it is a microcosm of complete dharma and creates complete men. In fact, none other than Maharishi Yajnavalkya advocated it to his own eventual wife Maitreyi (who sought brahmajnana). While yogis and swamis may choose the path of brahmacharya and eventual sanyaasa, Grihastha Dharma is the forerunner that provides grounding for performance of higher duties, as man learns to provide for dependents.
Svadharma finds a balance between a man’s duties, talents, and aspirations/hopes. But Grihastha Ashrama, and the associated Dharma, are predicated on balance between a mans’ Svadharma and his immediate obligations to society. He cannot neglect either himself or those who depend on him. Balance must be found.
True, man does marry, let’s face it, because he loves woman, all aspects of woman. The Dharmasutras encourage man to marry after his studies to beget sons to bear his name and perform his last rites. But Purana also asserts that marriage is man fulfilling his duty to his society and even mankind, by having children. He fulfills his duty to society by looking after a woman of his generation, ideally his own spiritual other half. While the best course is to abstain from physical relations prior to marriage (the lifestyle of the traditional brahmachari), those who failed to wait should neither exploit women, nor give false promises of marriage, and they should provide financial maintenance when children result. Bhrunahatya (abortion) and Sisuhatya (infanticide) are Mahapatakas (terrible sins) per the Dharmasastras. No matter what his accomplishment or learning, a man too will share in the sins of a woman who, due to his counsel or pressure or desertion, undertakes in abortion. That is why Grihastha ashrama is the best time for kama and rati bhava (love and erotic pleasure).
Manu asserts that a man remains spiritually unclean for 2 days after emission, and should take bath and avoid sacred places til this time passes. Varahamihira in his Brihat Samhita advises that couples avoid relations during certain sacred festivals, pujas, and phases of the moon. By regulating the frequency of relations, he writes that there will be no need to resort to dreadful measures (i.e. abortion, etc) for family planning. Hence moderation, as in all things, is advised for dharmic enjoyment of conjugal relations.
It is true that the ancients, especially since the Treta Yuga, practiced polygamy. But this comes with qualifiers. These was primarily made available to Kshatriyas for obvious reasons. As for the remaining varnas, a second wife was permitted only if the first one was barren (or the more archaic rule that the couple is sonless). It should also be noted that the most recent of the Dharmasutras (Apasthamba) condemned Niyoga (levirate) and banned it in the current Yuga. This is due to the weakness of the flesh that both men and women have in the present time. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, it is best to accept one’s fate (or the decision of God), rather than opportunistically marrying and divorcing (a worst case scenario) or undertaking assorted abominations.
Therefore, whatever natural (and of course, wholly normal) urges a man has, marriage is ultimately about procreation and learning to live for others. That is the heart of dharma. This baseline knowledge then transfers to higher and higher families (samaaja, rashtra, desa, bhoomi), ultimately leading to the concept of Lok Kalyan.
Prior to this stage, it is advisable to study selections of the Kamasastra. The Kamasutra of Vatsyayana touches on many topics, of which rati bhava (erotic pleasure and positions) is only 1 of 10 traditional chapters (or presently 7 chapters). In fact, the entire text was composed as advice to a gentleman of the nagara who has completed brahmacharya and was looking to learn how to be a worthy match to and win the affection of a loving wife. Some of the ancillary chapters are only there for descriptive purposes and for those involved in State Espionage. They should not be studied by the common man as they may corrupt public morals.
Just as a Nara is not a Kliba, neither is a Naari, nor especially, his dharmapatni. Therefore, whatever nonsense others may be purveying, while an aspect of sexual congress is about each spouse physically enjoying the other for pleasure, it is best to follow the advice of the sastras and only engage in traditional maithuna that, even if that is not the intent, has the potential to lead to reproduction. Kautilya and Manu both condemn the behaviour of catamites, and punished exploitation of minors.
If one strays from the traditional path, he should be aware that there are karmic implications for these infractions. Therefore, rather than condemning others or believing yourself to be condemned for all time, it is best to return to the traditional path. Failing that, attempt to graduate to the next higher level of dharmic sexuality, and limit behaviour to the least detestable. Behaviour that harms or exploits the vulnerable must be immediately given up. The purpose of Indriyavijayam (conquest of the senses) is not because mortification or denial is a virtue. The purpose is to gain control over the senses, so that you do not become a slave to them or oppress and degrade your spouse (or others in general).
Apramattho daaraannireekshet | 358
“Examine the potential wife with utmost care.” [10,169]
This is the advice of Chanakya to carefully evaluate the character of a woman before marriage. Character should be the key qualification; beauty, wealth, learning, and family name are secondary factors. This is because a man must not be a cuckhold. His self-respect ensures respect from others. While the laws of adultery may have been severe among the ancients, liberal among the medieval legal commentators, they are downright oppressive in the present time.
Kautilya and Vatsyayana both assert that it is in fact difficult to fully ascertain a woman’s character prior to marriage. Both assert, however, that once married, past conduct is no basis for a man to pressure his wife into moral corruption. Sastra asserts that the best guarantee to a wife of good character and family name is through perfect duty.
Nevertheless, a man should be wise and weigh the circumstances. As the Mahabharata writes, unhappy wives (through neglect or otherwise) destroy lineages. In a tragic era of degradation, even Dushasana pales in comparison to what the Ravanas born in human form have been doing to women, married or not. As the legal texts provide guidance on remarriage, maintenance, or forgiveness, they will be covered at the appropriate time. But where a woman was obviously innocent and a victim, relations may return to normal after 1 full lunar cycle. A woman who has been a victim should not be ostracised by the family or her husband. In fact, they should evaluate how to better ensure the safety of women in oppressive circumstances or asuric vicinities. Streeya Maryada Uttama.
If your blood doesn’t boil at this, you’re not a real man.
Here the Maharanas of Mewar stand as paragons in the protection of women. Above all, Maharana Pratap. From Chittor to Kumbalgarh to Gogunda, they stood as the foremost successful examples in always ensuring the safety and honour of their womenfolk. And I bow my head to their example. Namostute.
c. Pithru Dharma
When children are first born, it is natural for a new father to have boundless affection for them. Very often, no request or wish is not granted in order to respond to the normal impulse. But fatherhood is not just about providing for dependents, its also about creating an environment of structure and discipline so as to educate sons and daughters about the (frequently dangerous) world at large.
The Dharmasastras traditionally discuss fatherhood in terms of rites and rituals and customs. They are mentioned here only in so far as they should be passed on from father to son (and where relevant, daughter). Nithya (daily) and Naimittika (periodic) Karma provide rituals that not only encourage civilised living via hygiene and special care for loved ones, but also to help guide us during periods of liminality. That is, during periods of uncertainty where circumstances change, such as birth or death or marriage, Naimittika Karma provides us with structure to help navigate through such a period of ambivalence and emotional turbulence. As listed above, the stepping stones to dharma should be inculcated and Achara encouraged. Kulachara will vary from family to family and jati to jati, but the common Achara of Good Conduct, trains Good family members and Good citizens.
But as we commenced above so we end this section. Dhritarashtra is the textbook case of what kind of father not to be. An indulgent father who stokes his sons bad qualities to further his own ambitions and delusions, is not a good father. In fact, the Elder Kuru is a metaphor for the blindness of moha (attachment). Attached to his ambitions of securing the throne for his family, attached to his dangerously selfish son, and attached to achieving his own odd quest for vengeance against fate, he ultimately lost them all. That is the danger of being an indulgent father who puts what is pleasant to his children above what is good for them, and what is good for them, above what is good for his society.
That is why Grihasthashrama completes us. Dhritarashtra proved by being a terrible father he was also a terrible king. So how then to properly execute Pithru dharma? It comes from understanding the needs of society, the traditions of the family, and the talents of one’s children and planning for their harmony. If a son lacks Satvika guna, he should not be pressured into Vedic study as he does not have adhikar. If a daughter shows artistic talent, it should not be stifled, but channeled so that duty to society and family are fulfilled while the talent given expression and outlet. Above all, as with one’s wife, so it is with progeny. Children should not be neglected, and each child has his or her own level of confidence and social skills. It is best for a father to reach out and find an area of common interest where both can consistently bond at an early age. Chanakya provides excellent advice, suggesting play from 1-6, discipline from 6-16, then friendly counsel from 16 on. 
Finally, it is important to ensure that a strong team structure is in place. Those who make for terrible team players at home tend to be terrible team players outside. If the father is the team president, the eldest son or daughter is the team captain in managing family matters and overseeing family property.
Prathama kumara uttaradhikarin. Primogeniture was the traditional rule for kings and unpartionable ancestral property and last rites. Only exceptional circumstances circumvented this rule. While this does not apply to modern inheritance law, this principle at home exhorts younger brothers and youngers sisters to respect their elders, creating harmony and stronger family in the process.
The eldest son is not the only adhikarin or heir. Wealth and other property should subdivided equally per Medatithi and Apasthamba, who do not permit a special share (uddhara) to the elder. If stridhana is not given to a daughter, then she too can claim a share in her father’s property. The status as uttaradhikaran has other qualifers, however. These include responsibility to marry off sisters and sororal nieces. It also means that, should the elder be found obviously incapable or even malevolent, primary family authority can be granted to the younger. However, given the traditional role of elder brothers, it is best to assuage feelings and proverbially “kick him upstairs”, meaning providing a higher titular place with limited actual role or involvement (Chairman vs CEO). However, a wise father takes steps to ensure good familial relations, chastises the rebellious and ungrateful, and counsels the imperious. A family should be governed gently.
d. Kutumba Dharma
The tragic reality is, in what was once the Land of Lakshmana, Indian men have become horrible lieutenants. Make no mistake: they are grade A chamchas and have become filmi tyrants (when opportunity permits). But they have forgotten the first lesson of leadership: “He who wishes to command, must first learn to obey“.
It is not for nothing our tradition has advocated Primogeniture and even states that Elder brother is a Second father. Is that not how Lakshmana viewed Rama? Did he not obey Sita like a son does a mother?
In this disgusting time, a degenerate who does not respect his own sisters-in-law, let alone daughters-in-law, is no real man. And a clown who attempts to usurp the place of his elder brother (second in command to his father), is swine . Buffoons who point to Michael superseding Fredo, forget that the Corleones were a crime family. What kind of family is yours? Ahankaris drunk on Ambition look for any excuse and any example to take what is not theirs. That is why our archetype is not Michael Corleone, but Bharata of the Ikshvakus.
By respecting your elder brother, or your team leader, or your political leader, he in turn will respect you, and grant additional responsibility. That is the path to leadership and success. Not through ambitious and opportunistic backstabbing when his luck is down, but through loyality and selflessness that puts family and society above self.
Before putting on noble airs, before annointing yourself “best of brahmins”, remember, true Kshatriya nobility and true Brahminhood is through nobility of spirit…and respecting the chain of command.
Chandra Gupta II Vikramaditya and Adi Sankaracharya were all exceptions to the rule. Before citing them as examples, understand whether your circumstances are similar straits, and your qualities truly exemplary.
While it is true that not all fathers and elder brothers are like Rama and behave honourably, in the present time, it must be remembered that those who have the best reason to rebel are the least likely to do so. Where fraternal or familial relations cannot be congenial, rather than openly and publicly war, it is best for alienable inheritances to be civily divided, and have each go his own way. Even in the worst of situations, steps should be taken to avoid mahapatakas. Younger brothers and sons cannot be run roughshod over, but their cooperation and, where justified, obedience, should be expected. Rather than fight over parents and inheritances, it is best to follow the more basic aspects of dharma, such as achara (good conduct), maryada (maryada), saujanya (etiquette), or at least sabhyata (civility)
Chanakya provides the best guidance in this regard:
Vinayasya moolam vruddhopaseva | 6
The root of humility is in the service of the seniors—elderly or old persons. When one renders honest service to elders one learns the worth of humility. [10, 129]
Indriyaani jaraavamsha kurvanthi| 279
“(Over) Indulgence in sensory pleasures expedites the onset of the old age.”[10,162]
Naasthyahamkara samah shatruh | 287
“Arrogance is one’s greatest enemy.” [10,162]
e. Samaaja Dharma
Some Dharmas explain themselves. Or, more appropriately, are best explained with simple explanations, many of which already exist.
One such explanation was provided by Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy who quoted the Mahabharata as follows.
“Tyajet ekam Kulasyarthe, Gramasyarthe Kulam tyajet; Gramam Janapadasyarthe, Atmarthe prithivim tyajet”. It means that [rights of] individuals are to be sacrificed for the family; [rights of] families are to be sacrificed for a village; [rights of] villages are to be sacrificed for the country; and when it comes to realising God, the entire everything can be sacrificed.”
The meaning is that the individual owes duties to families, families to village [neighbourhood] village to the country. So the relation between the individual to the nation is interlinked and integrated by a sense of duty to one another. The traditional society is relation-oriented which binds everyone to duties to families, near and dear, community and society, even to nature and animals. This sense of duty is comprehended in the concept of Dharma.
But being a community leader is more than just being a dictatorial member of your jati sangham, or holding an important sounding title on your city council or wearing gleaming uniforms as an officer, it is about standing up for more than just your own rights or your family’s rights or even your own sacred vow. As written in our article on selfishness, the greatest adharma is facilitated not through conscious choice to join with adharma, but through failure or refusal to prioritise correctly…even when obvious and informed so. Should a vow to serve your king bind you to stand silently through this?
Do not bother calling yourself a community elder, or a leader or a “pitamaha” if you failed to do your duty here. Do not pretend as though such things do not go on today…in fact, they are infinitely worse. Draupadi was saved by Sri Krishna. Who stood up to save this common woman? Certain dharmas may be rooted in varna, but no dharma permits such treatment to any woman of any varna, whether brahmin or dalit. If you engage in such behaviour today, no matter what your caste or creed, prepare to face the sword.
Streeya Maryada Uttama. Learn from a King who understood this….
f. Rashtra/Desa Dharma
Interestingly enough, Rashtra and Desa dharma are connected. In previous eras, what we called rashtra was in fact referred to as Desa (i.e. Kosala mahajanapada, Vanga desa, Andhra desa) and modern desh referred to as Bharatavarsha or Bharatakhanda. This is because modern India (like the Maurya Empire and the Gupta Empire, and to a lesser extent the Maratha Confederacy) is a civilizational state or polity. Federalism being ingrained in Indian political philosophy, the system of saamantas (i.e. subordinate kings) under the Guptas was similar to having a Rajpramukh or governor under the Mauryas. Therefore, rashtra dharma cannot be in isolation from desa dharma.
It is good to do your dharma, it is good to advocate for your state’s interests, but this must be done in understanding the greater good of the nation or civilization.
g. Bhoomi Dharma
While patriotism remains of utmost importance in the present time, rashtra or desa dharma cannot be done in ignorance of or in dereliction to bhoomi dharma. There is a dharma of the earth, that all living beings must bear in mind.
Greed and Selfishness have destroyed man’s character and are now destroying the environment and the very land on which he lives, water he drinks, and air he breathes. Pseudo-philosophies, and piratical economic theories have been disseminated so widely and so insidiously, that they have been accepted as blind truths. But all truths can and must be examined and either validated or discarded in order to determine if they are actually Truth.
Modernity and modern warfare requires the technological infrastructure to defend one’s Desa. In order to do so, however, the desa itself must not be destroyed. Arthasastra and Vidura Niti should be studied to understand the timeless principles of economic prosperity and environmental harmony. These can then inspire modern variations and adaptations to eternal economic realities.
The ultimate motivation for Dharma is not profit, but Lok Kalyan. This necessitates Nishkama Karma, selfless duty and work. The greatest good for the greatest number should be considered.Note: it is the good (shreyas), not pleasant (preyas). The good of society, civilization, and the world should be man’s ultimate pursuit. To do so, he must ultimately put aside immediate individual profit, and look at Lok Kalyan. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad posits daya (compassion), dama (self-restraint), and dana (charity) as pillars to civilised life.[8, 289] Man must learn to show respect and courtesy to all form of life and all classes of society as Bhagvan Ram showed Shabari. The fruit of karma may not be ultimately reaped by you, but will benefit all in the process.
Karmanye vadikaraste| ma phalesu kadachana
Ma karmaphala hetur bhu|ma te sangostvakarmani 
You have the right to work only
but never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive.
Nor let your attachment be to inaction.
This is the highest dharma, that is pursued when all others are understood.
All this is ultimately why we pray for Lok Kalyan as the ultimate Nara Dharma, after all others have been attained.
Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
V.Teaching Nara Dharma
Instruction in Nara Dharma may no longer be able to proceed along traditional lines universally. Nevertheless, it remains the best. This is because when children and young men are taught by fathers, male relatives, and Acharyas through both instruction and example, they absorb the best.
Nevertheless, it is imperative that rather than merely having them rote-memorise injunction and mechanically conduct ritual, both should be explained to children (in tandem with their regular primary, secondary, and collegiate studies). By having them understand meaning and importance and relevance, they are more likely to not only appreciate but preserve and pass on their Dharmic heritage. In the present time, Nithya and Naimittika karma should be performed when possible. They may not always be. Ritual is important, but safety of one’s family and society takes precedence. Students should therefore be taught to prioritise correctly based on time and place. Basic weekly education in self-defence, and or, training in sastra and suhstra is advisable today for all classes and varnas.
Accordingly, at a time when hypocrisy is rampant, teaching by example is the best method, as children are keen observers. Fathers and elder brothers must themselves properly study and implement Nara Dharma to properly teach. While kulachara may determine the pursuit of Adhyapana by a student and traditional rites and studies associated with it, all should pass on the basics of pranayama, puja, nithya and naimittika karma, and study of itihasa-purana. In the present time, viewing of Pandit-advised serials such as the Ramanand Sagar Ramayan and B.R.Chopra Mahabharata are excellent supplements to individual study of Purana, Itihasa, Veda, Vedanga, and Sastra. Above all, it is best to pass on Buddhi (wisdom) which encourages Viveka (distinguishment) between right and wrong, which is facilitated by Niti (lessons). This arms the individual to be self sufficient and encourages him to pursue self-driven study and self study (svadhyaya), which is best of all.
Thus spake Nripathi on Nara Dharma.
Team, unit, discipline, chain-of-command, unity-of-purpose, strategic action, all these things are crucial for the victory of any family, any community, any state, and any civilization. All these are things Bharatiya men currently lack. Inflated with pseudo-intellectual arrogance, rotted by idiotic films, or addicted to the playboy lifestyle, they have become spoiled mummy’s boys.
This Sutra on a Modern Nara Dharma was composed to educate them on what they need to inculcate. But at present time, the slightest challenge to their ill-deserved egos results in a combustion of buffoonery (unless there are tangible consequences), making them easily manipulable. A real man is not the one with the most notches on his bedpost. A real man is one who has the self-respect to stand up for himself, the strength to defend himself, the forbearance to provide for and maintain his family, the maryada to be a pillar of his communty, and the courage to do his Dharma.
In the Andhra bhasha, there is a saametha (saying): Bharinchey vaardu Bhartha. It is the man who can bear all burdens who is the Husband. That is true manliness. Do you have it?
- Kane. P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.1. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research.1930. https://archive.org/stream/HistoryOfDharmasastraancientAndMediaevalReligiousAndCivilLawV.1/Kane_A-History-of-Dharmasastra-v1_1930#page/n0/mode/2up
- Kane. P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.2.P.1. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 1941. https://archive.org/stream/HistoryOfDharmasastraancientAndMediaevalReligiousAndCivilLawV.1/Kane_A-History-of-Dharmasastra-v1_1930#page/n0/mode/2up
- The Ramayana
- The Mahabharata
- The Panchatantra
- Bhagavad Gita. C6.S2, C2, S47
- Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers.1968
- Rangarajan. L.N Ed., Kautilya. Arthasastra. Penguin. 1992
- Chaturvedi, B.K.Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi.2015
- Gurumurthy, S.India’s culture — Past, Present and Future. http://lookintoculture.blogspot.com/
- Mathur, Ashutosh Dayal. Medieval Hindu Law: Historical Evolution And Enlightened Rebellion. Oxford University Press. 2007
- Iyer, N.C. The Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira. Delhi: Satguru.1987
- Dharmic Development. http://indicportal.org/dharmic-development/