The origin of the word Dharma goes back in time. All the way back to the Rig Veda, the first of the Vedas. It has many interpretations. “To hold, maintain, keep.” That “which is established or firm” and hence “law”  Karl Friedrich Geldner in his translation of the Rig-veda employs 20 different translations for dharma, including meanings such as ‘law’, ‘order’, ‘duty’, ‘custom’, ‘quality’, ‘model’, among others. There is another wonderful word in Japanese that comes close to what I attempt to convey. It is called “giri” or duty. At times, it has also been associated with burden. Used loosely, the burden of duty.

We all carry the burden of dharma. Regardless of the role, we have been granted or the role that we acquire for ourselves, it comes with the obligation of dharma. The obligation to play our part. In solitude, dharma is perhaps easier to exhibit. In small cohorts perhaps, you may be challenged at times. In large groups such as the ones we live in today, it can become extremely challenging to act according to your dharma. We all know life is not simple. Social order, right conduct, being virtuous may be good ideals. However, in everyday life, you are constantly confronted with the need to act. Often, these actions violate not just the principles of justice but your belief in dharma itself. Even Arjun in the Mahabharata found himself in a dilemma. Should he fight his own family just to win a war? In fact, should he use questionable principles to do so?

I don’t have sufficient knowledge of life or the scriptures. What I do believe though is that life puts you in the roles that you are capable of playing. Your dharma is to play your role. Your dharma is to be effective in your role. Perhaps judgement on how you played your role can be resolved in another plane.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.