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Arya Dharma, or the Path to Perfected Being

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A continuation of What Is an “Aryan”?–the Hindu View

Arya Dharma is the course of action an arya follows to become a perfected being. Specifically, it is the mode of life and thought outlined in the upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. An arya is one who responds to the inner and upward call without hesitation. For there is nothing nobler than the struggle for higher degrees of life and awareness.

“And if by good fortune they gain the open gate of heaven, happy are the kshatriyas when they encounter such a fight” (Bhagavad Gita 2:32).

Truly happy are those who engage in such a battle, for it opens the door to Infinite Consciousness, the true “heaven.”

“Now, if you will not undertake this righteous war, thereupon, having avoided your own duty and glory, you shall incur evil” (Bhagavad Gita 2:33).

Sanskrit words have many meanings, and it is good to consider all of them, since the sages packed their words with many relevant aspects.

A righteous war

Certainly “righteous war” is the correct translation, but dharmyam sanghraman also means “dharmic assembly.” In the spiritual texts of India great emphasis is put on satsanga which, through literally meaning “the company of truth, is always considered to mean “company with the wise.” Sri Ramana Maharshi said that for success in yoga, satsanga was an absolute essential, and Sri Ramakrishna said that spiritual life was simply impossible without continual association with other seekers for truth–and, hopefully, with those that have found it.

It is interesting that Krishna says that avoiding the struggle for righteousness is an abandoning of both swadharma and glory (kirtim). Now we are able to easily consider that we have a higher duty, but usually forget that we are also glorious spiritual beings, however much ignorance may have covered up our glory.

Aspects of Arya Dharma

Human beings do not need to be told that they are miserable, awful, sinners, but the truth: they are glorious beings who are tragically caught in the net of “sin”–but freedom is not only possible, it is inevitable, for it is their true nature. We do not need God to forgive us our sins, we need to awaken, stand up, and shake them off like the barnacles they are, and walk onward in strength and freedom.

The word Sargeant translates as “evil” is papam, which is often translated as “sin,” but it means demerit–as opposed to merit (punyam). We can think of it as dirt or dust that obscures a pane of glass or a mirror. It in no ways means something that God has forbidden or which he “hates.” Rather, it is a self-injury that inhibits and limits us. It is a bond that takes away our freedom. Consequently, we are free to choose which we want, otherwise we will be only servants and slaves. Only those who are free to be foolish have the freedom to be wise. This is the basis of the “live and let live” attitude of the East that so infuriates the missionary from the West.


If we turn away from this holy conflict we will be denying our nature and betraying and disgracing no one but ourselves. “And also people will relate your undying infamy; and, for one who has been honored, disgrace is worse than dying. “(2:34) The word translated “disgrace” is akirtim–absence of our glory, loss of contact with what and who we really are. This is a death of consciousness much worse than physical death, for it can persist throughout countless incarnations.

“The great warriors will think that you have abstained from the battle through fear, and among those by whom you have been held in high esteem you shall come to be held lightly. And your enemies will speak many words of you that should not be spoken, deriding your capacity. What greater hardship is there than that?” (Bhagavad Gita 2:35,36)

Yes, it is a painful thing to have others speak ill of us and despise us, but how much more painful it is to despise ourselves and consider ourselves to be degraded and unworthy. There are many sad forms of humanity, but none is sadder than those who have turned away from higher life and spent a lifetime in shame and regret, condemned by none other than themselves.

Hidden Gems on OCOY.org:

Grow Your Spiritual Library and Learn Arya Dharma:

This article is an excerpt from The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: A Practical Commentary for Leading a Successful Spiritual Life, one of the six books in the Dharma for Awakening Collection. Explore the Collection at Amazon, where they are available as ebooks and paperbacks.

Dharma for Awakening collection


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