The third verse included in ‘The Eternal Path’ is Lord Krishna’s view on Dharma.  So often in the Mahabharata he provides us with a common sense approach to life, this verse exemplifies this approach.


3.Mahabharata 8.49.48-50

48. The superior understanding is hard to achieve, but one may be able to reach a determination on the basis of logic. Many persons, however, assert that it is the sruti (scripture) that defines dharma.

49. I do not reject this point of view, but not every case can be resolved in this way. The precepts of dharma have been set in place in order to allow living beings to flourish.
50. Hence people conclude that dharma is based on the principle of sustenance, for dharma sustains living beings. Whatever may bring about the sustenance of living beings is therefore dharma; this must be the conclusion.

Even when the principles underlying dharma are established, it can be difficult to work out exactly how to implement them in any given situation. These verses directly address this issue. They were spoken by Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield when Arjuna was facing a dilemma over whether he should strictly adhere to the principle of truthfulness, even when to do so would be harmful to other people. Krishna‟s reply is interesting and unequivocal. For many religious people, scripture provides a code of unbreakable rules that must be followed in all circumstances, but Krishna is not satisfied by this approach. He does not wholly dismiss scripture (nor the power of human logic), but ultimately he concludes that dharma is not a fixed code of conduct. Rather each situation should be taken on its own merits with the crucial criterion being what is most beneficial to living beings. Honesty, intelligence, and integrity are required to reach a conclusion of this type, but ultimately the good of all beings transcends any necessity imposed by scriptural injunction. That is Krishna‟s view.

Hanuman Dass's blogs directly here. He is founder of as is the co-author of The Power of Dharma and The Eternal Path

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