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5.1 Dharma (Religion or righteousness)
5.2 Adharma (Irreligion or unrighteousness)
5.3 Basic Principles of Character Development
5.4 Knowledge and Action

5.1 DHARMA (Religion or righteousness)

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Love for humanity

To realise oneself in all the creatures of the world is the greatest of all the religions and the greatest humanity.  The root of all the conflicts lies in assuming that one’s self is confined to this three and half cubits long human body and not anywhere else.  Most of the difficulties and problems are created only by those who do not consider others as their own and do not know how to give their constant love to them. 

Religion and dress

Hey! What is this you are doing? Binding the religion in the beard and the hair tuft, enclosing it in the taboos on the sharing your kitchen with others.  You are hanging it by the holy thread and holy markings.  Does your religion consist only of this? You cannot bind the infinite, limitless religion in the knots of finite, limited, external signs and rituals. 

Universal brotherhood

Religion does not lie in any specific or special ritual.  It lies in transforming the drop of love present in man’s heart into an ocean.  Religion is the wide extension of loving behaviour. 

Jain religion says – consider all creatures of the world as not different from your own self.  Realise yourself in every creature. 

Nature of religion

Religion that spreads with the help of sword cannot be a religion.  And the religion that grows in the blinding temptation for the glitter of gold and silver is also not religion.  Real religion is that which rises above fear and temptation and touches in all aspects the loftiest feelings of sacrifice, friendship and love. 

Religion unites, does not break

The religion that considers eating at somebody’s house or touching somebody as unholy or practises hate and discrimination between man and man is not a religion, but irreligion, a great irreligion.  Mission of a religion is to bring together and join the scattered links of human groups, not to break them. 

The truth

Truth is a burning spark.  It burns and turns millions of tons of the wood of untruth into ashes.  Truth is a divine flame by which all dirt is burnt off and destroyed and by which life is filled with divine light.

What do we know about setting fires?

What kind of religion is that which goes on setting fires and rattling knives? Real religion extinguishes the raging fires of hate and enmity with the life saving water of love and compassion.  The veena of the heart of the followers of the real religion resonates with only one tune – “We are extinguishers of fires, what do we know about setting fires?”

A question from the religion

Real religion does not ask whether you are a family man or a sanyasi.  Whenever it does, it asks “Oh seeker, how much have your anger, ego, hypocrisy and greed decreased and how much has it increased?

Test of the religion

Do not test a religion by the criterion of how ancient or how recent it is.  Importance of a religion lies not in its antiquity but in its sacred tradition and practice of benevolence to self as well as to others. 

Goal of the religion 

What is the goal of a religion? It is the freedom from temptation and lust, and finally to achieve the ultimate truth on the strength of the spiritual practice with the consequent everlasting liberation from the cycle of birth and death. 

Aim of religious practice

Does your religious practice save you from the poisonous fumes of anger and enmity, free you from temptation and hate? If not then you must ask yourself where the fault lies. 

Religion and tradition

There is a vast difference between tradition and religion.  Tradition is the body while religion is the soul, tradition is the lake while religion is water.  Tradition is a flower while religion is fragrance.  Tradition is the fruit while religion is its juice.  Tradition without religion is poison for the human race.  Its welfare lies in abandoning it. 

Religion and life

Religion and duty are not just observing festivals where one can eat sweetmeats with friends and relatives.  They are like the food and water needed in our life every day.  Why food and water? It is like the clean air without which one cannot live even for a moment.  One must perform the worship of Bhagwan Satya (Truth as God) daily.  Those people who think of worshipping Satya on Purnima or Amavasya, on Sunday or Tuesday or Friday are not really performing the worship of Satya but are making a mockery of it. 

Religion and irreligion

Consciousness that is directed inward is religion and one that is directed outward is irreligion.  This is a concise statement of the principle.  Its elaborate form or commentary is that if a man’s tendency is progressing towards non-violence, truth, celibacy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, ethics, satisfaction, penance, sacrifice etc., then he is a religious person and if, by going for enjoyment, he is progressing towards the dark tendencies of anger, honour, delusion, greed, temptation, hate etc., then he is irreligious.  The basic nature of religion and irreligion does not pertain to external gross religious traditions.  It pertains to the darkness or light in man’s inner conscience.  If there is awareness inside, then it is religion and if the inner deity is lying asleep then it is irreligion. 

Religion and temptation

What can a religion that instils fear of hell on one hand and offers temptation of heaven on the other do any good to the people? Real religion sings the immortal tune of truth, it does not show them fear or temptation. 

Truth and tradition

What kind of truth is it that is confined within the limits of an individual or tradition? Truth is limitless therefore it cannot be bounded by limited beliefs and rituals.

Greatest religion

Which is the greatest religion of the world? The religion that teaches man to be internally satisfied within himself and does not get involved in others is only the greatest religion.

One sword in one sheath

How can both Rama and Ravana sit on the same throne? They cannot! How can both God and the Devil be installed on the throne of the mind? Give place in your heart either to God or to the Devil.  You will have to send away one of them.  How can God enter while the Devil is inside? To make Rama sit on the throne occupied by the Devil you will have to make Ravana get down from it. 

Love and Temptation

Love is something in which there is not even the slightest odour of lust and no bad feelings! Something that is clean and sacred like the water flowing in the Ganges!  And Temptation? Temptation is something in which there is the filth of lust, bad feelings and uproar of selfishness but no acclaim of the welfare of others. 

Religion and Sect

Good behaviour and self-control is the subtle form of religion that resides inside.  And traditional sectarian ritualism and dress is its gross form, which everyone can see and understand.  The outer gross cover is necessary for protecting the subtle form of religion – but what a great demoralizing irony would it be if one receives an envelope with beautifully painted pictures and find there is no letter inside!  Today’s religious sects must save themselves from this.

External ritualism

Externally attractive ritualism without any internal feelings is like the beauty of a lifeless body.  How long can the beauty last in the absence of the heartbeat? A dead body is bound to decay and it will do so sometime or other.

Sect without religion

I consider a dogma, sect or tradition that is without religion to be like a lifeless body without soul.  A lifeless body does not struggle but rots.  Similarly, a tradition without religion does not struggle for a sacred life but rots due to the unholy intolerance and ruins people who are ignorant about religion. 

Essence of religion

Oh man! What does your religion teach you? Does it teach you to show the way to people who have gone astray? Does it teach you to behave with all with equality, brotherhood and love? Does it teach you to set yourself in the service of and for the welfare of the poor and distressed? Does it teach you to extinguish the fire of hate and enmity? If it is so then install such religion on the throne of your heart! Worship it! It is only this kind of religion that can benefit the world.  Do so even if you have to give your life for spreading such a religion! And do so with a smile!!

Inner sight

The sweetness of a piece of sugar candy lies inside the sugar itself, not outside.  In the same way the truth of the soul lies in the soul inside man, not outside.  Therefore to improve our life the beginning of good behaviour must start from inside ourselves, not in external gross rituals.

Inward oriented religion

As long as religion remains engrossed inside, it remains whole, steady and alive.  But as soon as it emerges outside and reaches external signs like tilak, holy thread, beard, tuft, rosary string, Math and temple – mosques, it immediately breaks and becomes lifeless.  If religion has to be kept alive then do not let it flow outwards but inwards. 

The root of the religion

Differences in the external practice of religion due to the difference in place, time and society can all be excused.  But the basic form of religion is the victory over the self and decline of enmity and anger.  Neglecting this is not excusable under any circumstances. 

Understanding religion

Does your religion give you an opportunity to think and contemplate independently by taking you out of the petty limitations of individuals, caste or sect etc.? If yes then your religion is great, hold on to it, never leave it.  It is sacred.

Good and bad

There is a way of finding out whether the work you are going to do is good or bad.  Just weigh it using the scales of discrimination to find out whether there is more of your self-interest or the interest of the public.  If you find that your self-interest is more then that work is bad and if welfare of the public is more then it is good.

Intention of the religion

Intention of the religion is to see the pure form of the soul.

The life-force of the religion

The religion that has deviated from life is irreligion and its practice is a bad practice.  Every tune of religion and its practice must resonate on the string of every breath of the veena of life. 

Activity and renunciation

Controlling the mind does not mean anything by itself.  Thousands of philosophers say, “Stop your mind, control it.” But I ask, “After all, what does one do after stopping the mind?” If the mind is not made to tread the path of the holy thoughts after making it stop the unholy thoughts then it is the same as stopping a horse from going on a wrong path but instead of making it go on the right path pulling the reins to make it remain where it was. 

Today’s religion

You cannot change the mind of today’s man by showing him the lure of heaven or the fear of hell.  Today’s man wants to solve the problem of heaven and hell in this life itself.  Therefore he needs the kind of thinking that can inspire him to become a human being while he still lives.  Can the leaders of today’s religions and sects ponder calmly over the above problem?

Religion and humanity

The religion of life is the only superior religion in this world.  The meaning of religion of life is – religion of non-violence, truth, culture, equality, compassion, brotherhood and humanity.  A religion will be a more superior and public welfare oriented religion more it develops an active form of humanity.  Leading a sinless life is the ultimate aim of the religion of life.

Yoga and Liberation

Yoga is vast, pleasant and great

But liberation is greater than yoga.

Therefore do not waste unnecessarily

The opportunity to be born as a human.


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Is this also religion?

Oh man! What does your religion teach you? Does it teach you to use weapons to hurt innocent children?  Does it teach you to violate the honour of your sisters and daughter? Does it teach you to strangle someone? Does it teach you set fire to somebody’s home? If so then kick that religion and trample it under your feet.  This kind of religion has no right to survive even for a moment.

Good man and bad man

Persons who remove the misery of others, as sandalwood does, are really sandalwood themselves.  In this world, only those who are active and ready to bear the greatest difficulties for public welfare and if needed, sacrifice even their lives are the ones who are laudable.  In the words of saints,  “Sinner and a bad person is he who, in spite of having the ability, does not mitigate the sorrows of the distressed.”

He is also a sinner

Just as oppressing somebody is a sin, tolerating the oppression silently and bending your head before of it is also a sin.  Oppression must be opposed.  Not opposing oppression means supporting it.

Activity and renunciation

The conflict between action and renunciation is not a matter just of today.  It has been going on for thousands of years.  Some people give importance to action and some to renunciation.  But in my understanding this conflict is not between action and renunciation but between too much action and too much renunciation.  Well, a seeker must save himself as far as possible from too much of either.  Too much renunciation makes a seeker lazy and idle while too much action gives birth to meaningless conflicts and problems.  The proper path of spiritual practice in life lies in between the two extremes keeping in mind the available resources, place, time and feelings.

Rama and Ravana

Strength is not a bad thing in itself.  But one must be the master of the strength, not its slave.  Rama was a master of the strength while Ravana was its slave.  Both had strength.  Strength is not bad.  It is being its slave that is bad.

Greatest crime of all

An English doctor was asked, ”Which is the greatest of the diseases?” the doctor replied, “Not recognising the disease as a disease.” And if somebody were to ask me, “Which is the greatest of the crimes”, then I would say, “Not recognising a crime as a crime.”


A person who looks with greedy eyes at the wealth and the means of pleasure of others is, even though he is a great spiritual seeker, a thief and a robber from inside.

Sin and merit

If before starting any work one experiences fear or shame in doing it then it should be understood that it is not good for the inner soul, it is a sin.

Sin, like darkness, likes to remain hidden and merit? Merit wants to expose itself, wants light.  Sin is secret, merit is open.


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Advice and practice

I pray to all the religious leaders and missionaries on this earth that wherever they may be going to preach their religion please take the books of their beautiful behaviour also along with their religious scriptures.  Books of behaviour are more effective than paper books.

Become not slaves but master of desires.

Oh man! You are becoming a toy in the hands of your own desires.  Your prestige lies not in being governed by desires but becoming their governor.

Rama and Ravana

What is the difference between Rama and Ravana? One is the master of desires and the other is the slave.  One remains within the limitations of life and calls himself Maryada Purushottam (Superior person honouring the limits of conduct), while the other destroys the limitations of life and is called a demon.

Influence of mind over body

It is necessary to keep the body and mind pure from inside as well as outside in order to remain healthy.  Purity of mind is much more important than purity of the body.  The success of a healthy and superior quality of life depends upon the mind, because the body is within the sphere of influence of mind.  Therefore mental health is more important than physical health.  When the mind becomes corrupted then the body also gets affected in one way or other.  The shadow of the inner conflicts of the mind does fall on the body.

Keep the mind under control

The body may be busy anywhere in any kind of work, but mind must always be connected inside with the centre of the soul.  If the mind does not wander then the body and the organs can remain under control and return even when they fly far away.  A kite may fly high up in the sky but there is no danger as long as its string is in the hand. 

Four consequences of anger

The lowest tamasic facet of man is to use anger for beating and causing harm.  The middle facet is to express the anger but not going farther.  A better facet than that is to swallow the anger from the inside itself and not to express it outside.  And a still better facet is to end the anger and try to develop love for the opponent.  But the best and the greatest facet is to love all and not to let the feelings of anger and enmity enter the heart.


More a man considers himself to be small more he becomes great and superior.  Greatness of man lies not in his ego but his humility, not in remaining stiff but in yielding. 

“You can drink water only when you bend, if you don’t then you remain thirsty”. 

To drink the refreshing water from the lake, don’t stand erect.  Bend a little. 

This or that

You desire the unclean pleasures of the world and at the same time you also desire self-realisation and Divine vision.  But how can both be achieved at the same time? Beastliness and Godliness cannot both be pursued at the same time.  You will have to leave the attraction of one of the two.  Which attraction you are going to leave depends upon your worth.

Look upwards

Why are you wandering here and there in the ditches?  Do not look downwards.  Look upwards and reach the top.  Remember, there are more crowds below, more filth below.  The place at the top is open and clean.  You can enjoy the bliss of life better there.


What kind of wisdom is it when you eat indigestible junk food first and then go to the doctor for medicine? What kind of religiousness is it when you commit sin after sin and then beg forgiveness after forgiveness from God? 

Same from inside as outside

Oh man! Why do you show off? You remain what you are.  To remain the same from inside as you appear outside is the real humanness.  If a person declares to be what he really is then he will be liberated.

Not talk but action

Swami Ramatirth Paramhans has aptly said that, “Actions speak louder than the words.” Therefore, oh religious seekers of the world, remain silent; let your conduct speak.  People are more anxious to listen to the advise of your conduct than your advice.


Is it necessary that your wealth should be kept for its safekeeping in a beautiful golden safe? The answer to this question also applies to the relation between celibacy and adornment.  Celibacy cannot remain safe in the presence of unrestrained vulgar adornment that excites the flames of lust. 

Celibacy is the fire principle of life, its lustre.  Its light, its actions are extremely important for life.  All kinds of health, worldly and spiritual, physical and mental, depend on celibacy.

The purpose of celibacy is not to save just the ultimate essence of the body (i.e. the semen) and purity, but to save the purity of all the three, i.e. mind, speech and the body.  Its practice must involve mind, speech as well as actions.  Even improper thoughts in the mind weaken the purity of celibacy.  Pleasures sometimes get lodged inside even if they are abandoned outwardly.  Therefore it is necessary to be extremely cautious so that the pleasure objects abandoned outside do not enter inside. 


Watch very carefully your every thought, word and action, like a strict and wakeful watchman.  Commit no mistake.  Discipline is the life force of life.  Keep strict control on your smallest action and behaviour.  Enforce discipline in everything.

Softness Vs strictness

The mind is pervaded by softness towards the whole world so thoroughly that there is no place for softness towards one's own self.
Even soft cotton, when firmly pressed into a bale, loses its softness and attains the hardness of wood.

Therefore, softness should not be handled with force; it needs to be handled gently.

The height of sacrifice

 Sacrifice is that high level of soul where the sounds of the body and organs do not reach and the sound of mind also cannot be heard.  All other sounds become weak in the solemn sounds of the soul.

Get rid of your weakness

Your fall lies in your own weakness and your uplift lies in your own strength.  You will progress on the path of advancement of humanity to the extent you get rid of your inner weaknesses.


When the darkness of temptation covers the illumined heart of man, he becomes totally devoid of any thoughts about religion and irreligion, duty and non-duty.  It does not matter if you encounter thorns in the path of life.  What you should really worry about is encountering flowers spread along that path.

Real Abandonment

Abandonment does not mean just giving up something.  True meaning of abandonment is to give it up both physically as well as in mind.

As long as desire does not go away, feeling of desirelessness does not come.  Until then abandonment is only a mockery – 

                    “Abandonment does not last without detachment”.

Restrain your mind

If you let your mind go unrestrained it will not stop anywhere.  It will never reach a limit.  Try to set a limit for it through the soul.  Those who could not set a limit to their minds became Ravana, Duryodhana, Kansa and Kunik.  Those who set these limits became Mahavir, Buddha and Gandhi.


More you earn more you give unto others and faster.  It is this divine principle that abundantly sustains the scarcity-filled life of the neighbours, society and nation and turns the darkness into light.

In the context of the above, some old sage has said, “If wealth increases in the house and water rises in the boat then the prudent thing to do is that is to scoop it out with both hands.  Like the water in the boat, accumulation also becomes some day a burden and that burden suddenly sinks the floating boat of human life.”

“Water rises in the boat,

Money rises in the house,

Scoop it with both hands

That is the work of the wise.”

Let the critics be close

If somebody slanders you let him do so.  Why do you pay attention to it? Why do you continue to feel sorry from inside?  Search your inside and if there is really some fault within you that deserves slander, then get rid of it, otherwise go on with pleasant feelings without any fear and doubt.  It does not matter what others say.


Today’s man likes to relax and to keep away from work.  The naked dance of poverty going on everywhere in the society and the nation is only due to this tendency to relax.  There is a big noise around about productivity, but how can productivity increase when people sleep and snore lying down on cots? After all, it is the human hand that creates productivity.  Man should continue to labour as long as he lives and die also doing labour.  Labour is life and rest is death.  Not a single moment should be wasted in idleness.


Let your heart be clear as a crystal.  The clear stream of compassion and service should surge from it fast.  Can the pleasure and happiness one gets from desireless service be found elsewhere?

Diseases of the mind

Violence, lies, hate, jealousy, enmity, hypocrisy, temptation and ego are the diseases of the mind and the intellect.

The boat of life

If the cracks in the boat of life are not sealed it will sink.  Has anybody ever been able to go across sitting in a boat weakened by cracks? Therefore, seal whatever holes of desires, anger, arrogance, greed etc. there are in the boat of life and cross this worldly ocean happily.  

Improvement of self

Dear brothers!  If you want to see your wife to be like Sita, you become like Rama first.  Sita can stay in Rama’s house but not Ravana’s.  And my dear sisters, if you want your husband to be like Rama, then first you become like Sita.  Rama can become the husband of only Sita, not of any other inferior woman.

Brick of foundation

Fear is the greatest weakness of man.  The soul that resides in a frightened person’s heart is a vulture’s soul.  It is destined not to do any work but to die after wandering, hiding here and there.  A man cannot go on the path of truth as long as there is fear inside him.  He can possess neither morality nor religion nor welfare of the society, nor patriotism.  Only fearlessness and courage are the first bricks of the foundation of a man’s character. 

Diseases of the speech

Fever, breathing trouble, cough, debility, tuberculosis, gas and headache are the diseases of the body.

Talking too much, talking at a wrong time, telling lies, bitter talk, hurting talk and talk that creates anger and enmity are the diseases of the mind. 

Where there is anger, there is also hate

Anger and enmity are twin brothers.  Where one is present other is also present.  If there is anger against somebody, there is also enmity against him and if there is enmity with somebody there is also anger against him.  It is necessary to be free of both in order to achieve a state of detachment.

Joy and sorrow

Consider yourself to be in bondage as long as the waves of joy and sorrow rise in the ocean of your mind.  There is time yet to reach the high level of a man of knowledge. 


Power has a companion who is known as ego.  This is why a person, as soon as he gains power, considers himself to be extraordinary and different from others, dances in arrogance.  Great are those who have power but not its companion ego.  Power shines when touched by politeness and humility and only then can it do good to the people.

Wakefulness towards evil

Evil is evil, whether it is small or big.  It is wrong for a seeker to think that if evil is small and negligible then it can be ignored.  Sometimes evil comes in the form of a very tiny seed.  With time it sprouts, grows, flowers, gives fruits and spreads all around in the form of a big tree.  How much effort and time are needed to cut it then?  Like the money-plant creeper that sucks the juice of a tree like a parasite, evil also slowly spreads and sucks the juice of the spiritual efforts.  Therefore do not trust it even in a dream.  Always do introspection, keep account of every moment of your life and see which evil has entered inside, when and in which form.  As soon as you find out, take it out and throw it away, and then resolve to remain away from any touch of evil in future.


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The art of swimming

Be it a lake or a river, you will not be able to swim in it if you just stand on the shore discussing the art of swimming even for a thousand years.  To learn how to swim, you have to jump in the water and move your hands and feet.  The effort made at that time to save yourself from drowning is what will make you swim. 

It is the same thing with religion.  It is not just something that can be discussed in discourses.  It is directly related to its practice.  Therefore those great people who stop debating on religion and bring it instead into practice will definitely be able to swim in this ocean of worldly affairs.

You cannot complain against a piece of candy closed in your fist that you are not able to taste its sweetness.  Yes, if you put it in the mouth, suck it and still are not able to taste the sweetness then the complaint is justified.  But such complaint can never occur.  Can it ever happen that sugar does not taste sweet?

Do not go around enclosing the sugar of religion in the fist of a book.  Bring it on the tongue of practice and then see how much peace and sweetness you get.

Knowledge and action

Knowledge is a number while rituals are the cipher (zero) that comes after it.  Without the number what is the value of that cipher in mathematics? Nothing! Does wealth come first or the safe? Knowledge is basically wealth while practice of rituals is the safe.  One gets the knowledge about non-violence and truth etc. first and later the same is brought into the practice of non-violence and truth.  The seed of knowledge planted in the soil of the rituals becomes a giant tree but should there not be the seed first! Today’s spiritless ritualists should judge the value of knowledge honestly.

Discrimination and scriptures

If you close your eyes and try to look through a telescope capable of seeing up to thousands of miles, then what will you see and how much?  It is the same thing in relation to eyes of discrimination and the telescope of scriptures.  Without discriminating knowledge what can poor scriptures do?

Action without knowledge

Practice of copying, retrospection, rosary, penance (tapas), non-violence etc.  done without knowledge are all actions of ignorance.  The actions of ignorance are the purpose of Asrava (flow of karmas), which is the cause of bondage by karmas.  To expect eternal youth and liberation from it is nothing but a fantasy.

Being learned without practicing

Learning without bringing it into practice is like an insect-eaten piece of wood, hollow from inside.  Paint and polish can make it shine from outside but cannot put strength into its inside.

Yoga of devotion, Action and knowledge

Life progresses from childhood to youth and from youth to old age.  In the same way the upward order of the progress of spiritual practice is also in ascending order, from yoga of devotion to yoga of action and from yoga of action to the yoga of knowledge.  In a way, there is no special spiritual practice needed in the yoga of devotionin the fulfilment of yoga of knowledge it is not needed towards the end. Therefore, the yoga of action is the main centre of spiritual practice.  But the one thing you should not forget in the practice of yoga of action is that we need to take adequate help from both the yoga of devotion and yoga of knowledge.  Therefore we must steady ourselves on the centre of spiritual practice and progress with the help of devotion and knowledge, Metaphorically, devotion is our heart, knowledge is our head and body, hands, feet etc. are our actions.  A beautiful balance of the three is the foundation of an all round spiritual practice.

What is the relation of religion to the inner heart?
It is to be the soul of the world.

It is to get away
From the conflict of yours and mine.

How can there be religion
Where anger and enmity are?

How can there be sun
In the darkness of the moonless night?


     ENGLISH:     Portal                 Preface                 Introduction              AMARVANI - Chapter No.:  1    2    3    4    5    6    7             Glossary
     DEUTSCH:    Portal                 Vorwort               Einleitung                   AMARVANI - Kapitel:         1    2    3    4    5    6    7                Glossar

Ó Copyright:  V.V. Shirvaikar

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Last update: 2009-DEC-03