Ten Characteristics of Dharma

Those who follow the path of dharma should cultivate ten characteristics of dharma within. The first one is dharti or Patience. In the spiritual sphere, if someone expects immediate results after starting the practice of Tantra, that would not be realistic. Therefore, be patient. Thus, dhrti is the first characteristic of dharma.

The second characteristic of dharma is kshama or forgiveness. Each and every action produces an equal and opposite reaction provided the three relative factors remain unchanged. But these three factors often change – because of transformation from one state to another. Suppose someone has started doing some mischief by hitting you: this action will certainly have a reaction. When the time comes for you to take revenge, you should not express any reaction yourself. In this way you will break the continuity of the chain. The point at which the cycle of action and reaction stops, due to your initiative, is called forgiveness. This is the second characteristic of dharma.

The third aspect of dharma is damah or control. Damana is the state of achieving control over internal enemies – that is, debasing propensities. The fourth is asteya. Asteya literally means not to steal anything physically or mentally. The fifth characteristic of dharma is shaocha and this is of two types: external and internal cleanliness. External cleanliness refers to body, clothes and surroundings. Internal cleanliness is that of mind.

The sixth feature of dharma is indriyanigraha. In Sanskrit Indra means ‘controller’, ‘headman’ or ‘patriarch’. There are ten indriyas or organs: five sensory and five motor. As they exercise control over the physical activities, they are called ‘indra’, meaning “dominating entity”. The subtler mind or atman is superior to these organs. The indriyas are to be kept in check with your mental and spiritual power. This is why in dharmic life the control of organs is considered imperative. In the spiritual sphere one will have to exercise control over the sensory and motor organs.

The seventh characteristic of dharma is dhi which means ‘benevolent intellect’. If human intellect is not channelised well it becomes destructive; it corrupts and exploits society. It may even become a demonic force. Dhi means intellect that helps regenerate society, which can benefit not only human beings but all beings.

The eighth characteristic of dharma is vidya meaning ’internal assimilation of external objectivities’. It is of two types: vidya and avidya. Avidya is mainly concerned with external life whereas vidya is concerned with internal life. According to Ananda Marga philosophy, we cannot afford to ignore the external world, and thus ours is a subjective approach through objective adjustment. Avidya means ‘modern science’. You should not ignore modern science because whle avidya helps us develop in the physical sphere, vidya, helps one strive to attain liberation. Vidya and avidya will help human beings achieve success in material and spiritual spheres.

The ninth characteristic of dharma is satyam or truth and it is to be observed in your individual and collective lives. The tenth and final characteristic is akrodha or non-anger, a very subtle propensity. You should not be misguided or swayed by krodha or anger. Anger means to remain under the influence of nerve cells and fibres instead of being influenced by subtler layers of mind. It is therefore very dangerous. You may show anger to stop unholy activities of sinful people in society. This is called “sentient anger”. These are the ten characteristics of dharma.

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