What is Swadharma in Gita


Svadharma (Sanskrit: स्वधर्म svadharma m.) is one's own duty or one's own right, one's own responsibility, also life's task, peculiarity, specific quality. This is a Sanskrit term made up of two Sanskrit words, namely Sva and Dharma. "Sva" means own, inherent. "Dharma" here means task, responsibility. So Swadharma is one's own task, one's own duty.

It arises from Karma and Svabhava: If a task is posed by karma, then it is determined by Swabhava how one can accomplish this karmic task. In the Bhagavad Gita, dealing with Swabhava and Swadharma is a crucial topic. Ultimately, it's about: How should I live? How should I choose?

Sukadev on Svadharma

Transcription of a lecture video (2014) by Sukadev about Svadharma

Swadharma is one's duty. Swadharma is a Sanskrit word and consists of two words: "Swa" means "own", "Dharma" here means duty and duty. Swadharma is one's own task, one's own duty. It's about finding out what is your own duty, what is your job? You have different duties at different times. Different people have different responsibilities. The Bhagavad Gita says that it is better to do your own duty than to do someone else's duty, even if you do it well.

And so the question of a spiritual aspirant is always: "What is my task here now? What is my Swadharma?" Suppose you see someone on the street who needs your help. You think: "What is my Swadharma now, what is my job?" On the one hand, you're closed on the way home, your husband, your wife, your children, maybe a parent in need of care may be waiting at home, and there is someone who needs your help. Of course you have to ask yourself what kind of help he needs.

Assuming someone is lying there and has collapsed, then it is clear that you have to take care of it immediately and call for help, call the police or, better yet, just call 911 and see what you can do in the meantime. But there is something in between. You meet a colleague and he is sad. What's your swadharma now? Do you want to help him, listen to him or what is the job? Or suppose you are faced with the question: "Do I stay in my job or do I become a yoga teacher?" Or: "Do I continue to work as a freelancer in fitness centers and adult education centers or do I open my own yoga studio?" There is always the question: "What is my Swadharma, what is my job?"

"Or would it be time now to live in a yoga community, to join Yoga Vidya?" That is the question, "Swadharma, what is my job?" Finding out Swadharma is always an important task for a spiritual aspirant. How do you find out For this you can read the Bhagavad Gita. I can't tell you that in a few sentences now. The whole Bhagavad Gita is ultimately a scripture about how to find out what your Swadharma is and how you can fulfill your Swadharma.

But Krishna says that sometimes you cannot be entirely sure. If you are not sure what to do, then do what you have to, want or can do to the best of your knowledge and belief, make a decision and offer everything to God. If you make up your mind and yourself to the best of your knowledge and belief feel as an instrument of God, then you are not doing anything wrong. At least that is what Krishna promises at the end of the Bhagavad Gita. So try to find out what your task, your swadharma, is.

Don't just think, "What do I like?" Don't just think, "How can I somehow wipe the other out or how can I get the most out of myself?" This is a wrong decision criterion and probably also not the relevant decision criterion for you, who are reading this lecture. A spiritual aspirant ponders, "What is my Swadharma? What is my job?" And strives to the best of his knowledge and belief, Swadharma, to fulfill his own task.

If you want to know more about Swadharma, go to our website, www.yoga-vidya.de. You can enter the term "Swadharma" or enter "Bhagavad Gita", because the Bhagavad Gita is nothing more than a long doctrinal talk from Krishna, the teacher, to Arjuna, the disciple, explaining how to find out your Swadharma and how to do your swadharma, your task, your duty.

What is Svadharma?

Article by Swami Sivananda from the book: "Practice of Karma Yoga"

In English there is no correct expression for the Sanskrit term "Dharma". Generally it is translated as "duty", "righteousness". Any act directed towards sreyas (supreme bliss) and abhyudaya is dharma. What brings well-being to people is called Dharma. The word is derived from the root word "Dhri", which means something like "support" or "maintain". What sustains is Dharma. Dharma sustains people too. Since it supports and holds together, it is called Dharma. That which ensures the continuation of being is Dharma. "Svadharma" means one's own duty in accordance with the Varnashrama (the laws of caste and stage of life), which are based on the Gunas.

God, religion and Dharma are one. Man develops through the practice of Dharma according to his caste and order of life and finally reaches self-realization, the ultimate goal of life, which brings with it infinite bliss, supreme peace, unadulterated joy, supreme knowledge, eternal contentment and immortality.

The essence of Svadharma

The essence of Dharma is Achara. Achara is the essence of good. Achara stands above all teaching. Dharma is derived from Achara and Dharma improves life. Through Achara man gains fame, power and strength now and forever. Achara is the highest Dharma and the root of all tapas.

Purusharthas and Svadharma

Dharma comes first of the four Purusharthas, namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Dharma confers prosperity, desire satisfaction, and ultimately liberation.

"The Brahmana (member of the priest caste) was Brahma's (creator god) mouth; Rajanya formed his two arms; Vaishya his two thighs; Sudra (member of the fourth caste: artisans, workers, employees of the other three groups) his two feet". The four castes are the Brahmana, Kshatriya (warriors), Vaishya and Sudra. The duties of a Brahmin are by their nature self-discipline, serenity, patience, hardness, purity, belief in God, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, righteousness, love of truth, wisdom, teaching and studying the Vedas, making sacrifices, but also to guide others in which one Makes sacrifices and presents and receives presents.

Courage, generosity, strength, ability, splendor, firmness, energy, not shying away from conflict, the nature of a regent, taking protection of people, bringing gifts, making an offering and studying the Vedas are the natural duties of a Kshatriya.

Plowing, protecting livestock, trading, charity, offering and studying the Vedas, doing business, finance and agriculture are the natural duties of a Vaishya.

The duty to serve all these castes without grumbling is naturally incumbent on a Sudra.

Much misery arises from those people of one caste who strive for the tasks of another caste and who ponder more about the rights than the duties of their own caste.

The Brahmins and Kshatriyas have vigorously exercised their privileges but shirked the heavy responsibilities of their castes. Of course, their behavior arouses opposition and hostility suppresses mutual goodwill and helpfulness. Instead of depicting a framework that regulates everything happily, the caste system developed into social bitterness. When the various caste members fulfill their dharmas, the confusion about the caste will disappear and peace and joy in exuberance will prevail.

Svadharma of the four ashramas

The Ashramas are four, namely Brahmacharya, the apprenticeship period, Garhasthya, the period of family life, Vanaprastha, the period of forest dwelling or seclusion, and Sannyasa, the calling to total renunciation. Each stage of life has its own duties. In none of these times should humans strive for the special tasks of the other areas. Right now it is difficult to keep and follow the exact details of these ancient rules as circumstances have changed a lot. However, if we have a clear idea of ​​our basic duties, we are able to adapt our lives to the orderly course of development and steady growth.

The student's life begins with the Upanayana ceremony (induction ceremony), his second birth. You will find in Manu Smriti: "Make sure that the student is always engaged in the study of the Vedas and serves his teacher. Keep the student away from wine, meat, perfume, savory dishes, garlands, the company of women. Leave him on Do without lust, anger, greed, dance, singing and playing on musical instruments, playing dice, gossip, defamation and untruth ".

"Let the student sleep alone and do not let him waste his semen; whoever destroys his semen for pleasure destroys his vows. He should develop a spirit of service, humility and obedience. He should form his character correctly. He should be chaste in thought, Be words and deeds ".

Then comes the time of family life. Upon completion of his duties and when he is ready for the duties and responsibilities of a head of family, the student enters the Order of Garhasthya. Of all the Ashramas, the head of the family has the highest position as it directly supports the other three. Just as all streams and rivers meet in the ocean, so all Ashramas come together in the family head. At this level, virtues such as mercy, love, generosity, patience, tolerance, purity, caution and right judgment are developed. Given the modern evils of child marriage, it is a pity to see that the grandeur, solemnity, and dignity of this age is lost in the mixing of one's duties with those of a student. There is no ideal in the life of a head of family. That is why the number of sannyasins is increasing now. The central teaching of the Baghavad Gita and Yoga Vasishtha states that self-realization should be achieved in and through the world.

Svadharma in the Bhagavad Gita

Let us remember an important lesson from the Bhagavad Gita that brings us peace of mind and bliss: "It is better to do one's duty, even if one receives no reward, than to do the duty of another well. Death by fulfilling the own duty is better, because someone else's duty is fraught with danger ”. There is another important point.

You understand well that the right exercise of duty without attachment at any stage of life brings self-realization and liberation. Now listen carefully to the following anecdote about a pious woman and a butcher:

The story of a sannyasin and a karma yogini

A sannyasin retired to practice yoga in a forest. He stayed in a cave for twelve years. He practiced pranayama, khechari mudra and various yogic kriyas (actions). So one day he was sitting in the shade of a tree. A crane sat on a branch of the tree. He dropped excrement on the sannyasin's head, which angered him. He stared at the crane. Immediately yogic fire poured from the top of his head and burned the crane to ashes. The sannyasin rejoiced in the wonderful power he possessed.

Now he went into town to collect his usual alms. He called out "Narayana Hari" at the door of a family head. The housewife was in the process of caring for her sick husband. She was a very chaste woman who was very devoted to her husband. She held pativrata dharma (devotedly serving the husband). She replied from the room, "Oh, Bhikshu (wandering mendicant), please wait a little." The sannyasin was quite angry. He thought to himself, "Look at this arrogant woman. She asked me to wait. She is not aware of my yogic powers". While he was thinking this, the woman said, "Oh, bhikshu! There is no crane here. Do not overestimate yourself. Do not inflate yourself with your siddhis". The sannyasin paused in surprise. He had to wait quietly. Finally the woman came out with alms for the sannyasin. He sat up at her feet and asked, "Oh Devi, how could you read my mind?" The woman replied, "Oh Swami! I don't know anything about pranayama or any yogic kriya. I kept you waiting because I was taking care of my sick husband. I am an ignorant woman. I am sincerely devoted to my husband. I regard him as my guru and God. I worship him. I do not visit temples or recite mantras (sacred words or prayer formulas). I serve my husband day and night. I expressly obey his word. I wash his feet. I follow in his footsteps by Savitri, Nalayani and Anasuya. I don't sleep until he sleeps. I get up in the morning before him. He is mine and everything. It is through such service, worship and duty to my husband that I have had enlightenment. I have a pure heart. I could read your mind. This is the secret of my abhyasa (serious, regular practice of the exercises). If you want to know more, go to a butcher who sells meat in the big market. He wi rd teach you something very interesting and important. In fact, you will be delighted. You will benefit a lot from it ".

The sannyasin went straight to the market where the butcher lived. He arrived right there when the butcher was chopping meat. The sannyasin thought to himself, "Oh my God! This is supposed to be the man from whom I should learn something interesting and useful! He is the devil in person. He is a villain". The butcher read the sannyasin's mind and said: Oh Swami! Did this woman send you? Please take a seat here. I'll be there for you in a moment. "The butcher finished serving his customers and asked the sannyasin to follow him to his house. He asked him to wait outside and went in. He looked after his elderly parents, bathed them and drank their charanamrita (Holy water with which statues of gods or feet were washed beforehand.) He fed her well and put her to bed. Then he came to the sannyasin and said, "Oh Swamiji, now I am here for you. You can dispose of me. "The sannyasin asked him a few things about Vedanta. The butcher gave him wonderful, soul-touching answers about atman, the nature of freedom, sadhana, the state of a jivanmukta, etc. The sannyasin was amazed. Many of his doubts cleared He was very pleased with the butcher. He asked him, “How is it that you have such great knowledge?” The butcher replied, “Swami, you are wrong. No duty or work is unclean or degrading. With every work one worships God. I do my duty well without attachment or motive. I serve my parents day in, day out. You are my god on earth. I adore her daily. I don't know any yogic practice. I am not an educated person. I perform my duties satisfactorily. This is my religion. This is my yoga. I achieve enlightenment, perfection, purity, and freedom through the performance of my household duties and service to my parents. This is the secret of my yoga and self-realization. "

Svadharma, duty and slavery

An ignorant, worldly man says, "I have to do my duty. I have to raise my four sons and three daughters. I have to please my employer. I have a lot of office work. I have to send money to my widowed sister. I have a large family with six brothers and five sisters. When should I do sandhya (holy time devoted to spiritual practice) and japa and read religious books? I don't even have time to breathe. I have no free time. I have to work even during holidays . I take office work home and work until eleven. I don't want sannyasa or yoga. Office work and maintaining my family is already yoga ".

Is that what you call duty It just means slavery. It's attachment. Man lives in constant fear of his superior. He even dreams of his office colleagues and the employer and records numbers. But that doesn't mean a sense of duty. That person cannot pray for even a second. He does not have time to read a single sloka (verse) of the Bhagavad Gita. He doesn't think of God once a month. He takes tea and food, sits at the table to write, sleeps and reproduces. All of life goes on like this. This is selfish work. This is not an obligation. This is work for the sake of gain and the satisfaction of lower instincts. Anything that happens under duress and expectation is not an obligation.One should not confuse slavery with duty. One must not engage in selfish work that is done with attachment, greed, and passion as a duty. You are doing a great wrong. This is homemade drudgery.

An office worker or civil servant takes money through bribery and when his conscience troubles him, he feeds some Brahmins and says, "I have fed fifteen Brahmins with Dakshina (ritual gift) for four annas each". Such is his understanding of duty. He adds, "Why should I start sannyasa and practice yoga? I make a lot of money and I am charitable. This is the best way of life." Poor deceived soul! May God give him understanding.

Svadharma and Ahimsa

Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah cannot be strictly practiced by family people. It can be performed by sannyasins who are walking the way of Nivritti Marga (Way of Return). You will have to practice it. When a tramp breaks into a house and starts molesting a woman, a family man cannot remain idle. He won't say, "I'm not opposing evil now." Instead, he'll pick up the club and beat the man up. Imagine a woman is in danger. Someone wants to murder her to get her jewels. She seeks refuge in a young, strong man. It is now his duty to put a stop to the evil and defend it by attacking the brutal man. He cannot say now, "Not hurting is the highest virtue." It is even his duty to save the woman's life by warding off evil. If he remains passive, he will not do his duty.

Morality and duty depend on the circumstances. Facing evil becomes a man's duty under certain circumstances. The king should always hold up his scepter to maintain peace and order in his country. He cannot say, “I am doing nothing against evil.” Ahimsa Paramo Dharma. “He will fail his duties if he does not punish the criminals and his country will fall into utter chaos. To hang a murderer or a robber is to a king Ahimsa. Himsa (hurting) and Ahimsa are relative. Killing a person who kills many others is Ahimsa. Have you understood the secret of Ahimsa? A true Sannyasin should not defend himself even if his life is in danger. A Sannyasin is someone who has no body and who identifies with the atman. To give the coup de grace to a dog or horse is ahimsa for a European. He wants to relieve the dog from its torment. This is a good motive.

Bhagavad Gita on duty and Svadharma

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: "Better is one's own duty, (even) without merit, than the properly fulfilled duty of another. He who fulfills the duty that nature has imposed on him does not sin. The duty to which one was born must not be given up, O Arjuna, even if it is faulty; for everything that one does is wrapped in evil, like fire in smoke. " (Chap. XVIII-47,48)

Then Krishna says again:

Sarvadharman parityajya mamekam saranam vraja,
Alham tva sarvapapebhyo mokshayishyami ma suchaha.

"Give up all duties and seek refuge only in Me: I will deliver you from all sins; do not worry". (Chapter XVIII-66)

In the previous two slokas, He asked Arjuna to give up all his duties. Is this a contradiction now? Does God exhale hot and cold air at the same time? No, this is not a contradiction in terms. Arjuna says to God: "My heart is overwhelmed with the stain of compassion; my mind confused about my duty. I ask you: Tell me clearly what is right for me. I am your disciple. Teach me, since I take refuge with you have been looking for ". (Chap. II-7) Krishna gives the answer in Sloka 66 in Chap. XVIII.

What do the words "Sarva Dharman" (all duties) really mean? Some think: give up all the Darmas of the Indriyas. How could this work? Even a Jivanmukta sees, eats, walks, gives in to the natural urge. According to Sri Sankara it means: "Both righteous and dishonest deeds, renounce all deeds". According to Ramanuja it means: "The desire for the fruits of actions and attachment to them, as well as the mentality that during an action one is the doer oneself. Actions should be performed without attachment to the latter or on their wages. They should be consecrated to the Most High, by giving up the idea of ​​self-direction ". For Madhva (name of a philosopher) it means: "The fruits of the action - renounce the fruits of the action". Tilak understands this as: "Various duties such as non-violence, truth, service to parents and teachers, sacrifice, charity, renunciation, etc.". The passage says that Arjuna should avoid the pitfalls of these duties and seek refuge in the Supreme. In other words, whatever actions one has to perform according to one's disposition and inner nature, one should simply do them and seek refuge in the Supreme. Krishna gives Arjuna an order, an assurance and a comfort.

Shloka 66 is the most important verse in the Bhagavad Gita. If one can live in the spirit of this sloka, then one can have sreyas. Vedantins explain this sloka as follows: "Give up Jiva Bhavana (becoming one with life) and begin Brahma Bhavana through meditation on" Aham Brahma Asmi "(I am Brahman - the all-embracing) Mahavakya (name for the major Vedic doctrines). You will attain deliverance. All sins will be erased ".

Morality, duty and Svadharma: Morality is relative

I want to emphasize that morality and duty are relative terms. They depend on the stage of life, the spiritual maturity and development of the individual, on the time, the accompanying circumstances and the country in which one lives. It is perfectly moral for a Bengali brahmin to eat meat in Kashmir. In the eyes of a Madrasi Brahmin, this is most immoral. For a Muslim or a Chinese it is quite moral to have four wives (polygamy), but for a Hindu this is totally immoral. A man or a woman can get divorced very easily in the West. In the West, marriage is a contract, whereas in India it is a sacrament or sacred ordinance performed before the holy fire. Divorce is quite moral in the west while it is highly immoral in the east. For an Arya Samaji (Hindu sect in Punjab) widow marriage is something completely moral, for a Sanatanaist it is highly immoral. Poliandry (where a woman marries several husbands, the opposite of polygamy) is entirely moral in Tibet, but extremely immoral in the eyes of people in other countries. It is highly moral for a Sikh to drink but not to smoke. People in cold countries need meat and a little alcohol to keep warm and to stimulate digestion. A soldier needs meat to maintain his strength and fighting spirit. A brahmin or a sannyasin wants vegetables, milk and fruits that will aid him in his meditation and keep his frame of mind sattviv. Rishi Visvamitra (name of a famous saint) had to eat forbidden meat when his life was in danger.

Morale changes when life is at stake. Ignorant people hate others when they see that they are doing something they are not doing themselves. A vegetarian madrasi brahmin hates a fish-eating Bengali brahmin. This is a sad fallacy that hinders spiritual progress. A madrasi is horrified to see a Hindustani eating with his hands from the same bowl as his children. Similarly, the ideas of duty vary among people in different countries. An African black cannot practice Agnihotra in his hot country in summer. A cashmere pundit cannot take a morning bath with himself in winter.

The duty of one group of people cannot be the duty of another group of people. A person's duty during one stage of life is not the same as a person's duty during another stage. The duties of the brahmin, vaishya, kshatriya and sudra, as well as those of the brahmachari (one who lives brahmacharya), family people, forest dwellers and a sannyasin are quite different. A brahmin cannot perform the role of a soldier. Killing the enemy on the battlefield is the duty of a Kshatriya. Practicing Ahimsa in thoughts, words and works is the duty of a sannyasin and a brahmin. Man develops quickly when he purposefully pursues the duties appropriate to his stage of life.

Fulfill your Svadharma

Sons of nectar! Children of immortality! Shake off all weaknesses! Do Svadharma satisfactorily and according to your caste or stage of life. Develop yourselves rapidly in the spiritual field. Eternal bliss, supreme peace, infinite knowledge and contentment can only be attained in Atman. Practicing Svadharma surely leads to God consciousness. There is no happiness in transitory things. Only the infinite is bliss. Understand the truth through the practice of Svadharma. This world is unreal. It is like an illusion. The senses and the mind are constantly fooling you. Wake up! Open your eyes and learn to distinguish. Do not trust your indriyas. They are your enemies. It's difficult to be born a human. Life is short, time is running out. Anyone who clings to the ephemeral in this world truly commits suicide. Strive hard to practice Svadharma. Always keep the ideal in mind. Make a plan for yourself and try to realize it. Hold on to Svadharma with the tenacity of a leech and achieve success. Practice and realize the state of Satchidananda right now at this second. May the blessings of God be upon you all! May joy, bliss, immortality, peace and serenity be with you forever!

Different spellings for Svadharma

Sanskrit words are written in Devanagari in India. In order for Europeans to be able to read this, Devanagari is transcribed into Roman script. There are various conventions on how Devanagari can be transcribed into Roman script. Svadharma in Devanagari is written "स्वधर्म", in IAST scientific transcription with diacritical marks "svadharma", in Harvard-Kyoto transcription "svadharma", in Velthuis transcription "svadharma" , in modern Internet Itrans transcription "svadharma".

Video on the topic of Svadharma

Svadharma is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is the language of yoga. Here is a lecture on yoga, meditation and spirituality

Summary German Sanskrit - Sanskrit German

German your own right or your own duty. Sanskrit Svadharma
Sanskrit Svadharma German one's own right or one's own duty.

Similar Sanskrit words as Svadharma

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