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Swadharma

Part 31 of the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

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Better is one’s swadharma, though deficient, than the swadharma of another well performed. Better is death in one’s own swadharma. The swadharma of another brings danger (3:35).

Relative existence–and we who find ourselves evolving within it–is dual in nature, comprised of Consciousness and Energy. Krishna has just explained to us that our actions must match our energy-nature, our prakriti. When they do, that is our swadharma, our self-dharma. Now he says that our actions, including our livelihood, must be consistent with our state of consciousness, our swabhava, our self-nature. Our swabhava is our inherent psychic disposition, our psychological nature. It is not just the ebb and flow of our mental and emotional tides on the surface of the mind, but its bedrock condition that prevails throughout any momentary fluctuations.

That mode of external life which is consistent with our swabhava is our swadharma, the mode of life and duty that is natural to us, being based on our karma and samskara. Our swadharma is consistent with our natural current of evolution. Swabhava and swadharma are the natural consequences of our present evolutionary status. They both match our prakriti. Just as external restraint is worthless, so action not according to swadharma is wasted action and hinders our progress, sometimes even harming us.

This is no small thing. How do we determine our swadharma? Not by letting others tell us what it is, or letting society impose it on us. (This is the great evil of the degenerate “caste system” of India which is far from Krishna’s meaning when he speaks of caste.) The only way to intelligently perceive our swadharma is to engage in swadhyaya, self-analysis, as recommended by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, thus underlining the fact that yoga is inseparable from an ordered and meaningful life.

This self-analysis is both intellectual and intuitive, and our intellect and intuition must be developed through meditation if our endeavor is to succeed. We must discover and live out our swabhava through our swadharma. This is the only way to peace and harmony within ourself.

Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: In the Grip of the Monster

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Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Preface to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:

  1. The Battlefield of the Mind
  2. On the Field of Dharma
  3. Taking Stock
  4. The Smile of Krishna
  5. Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
  6. Experiencing the Unreal
  7. The Unreal and the Real
  8. The Body and the Spirit
  9. Know the Atman!
  10. Practical Self-Knowledge
  11. Perspective on Birth and Death
  12. The Wonder of the Atman
  13. The Indestructible Self
  14. “Happy the Warrior”
  15. Buddhi Yoga
  16. Religiosity Versus Religion
  17. Perspective on Scriptures
  18. How Not To Act
  19. How To Act
  20. Right Perspective
  21. Wisdom About the Wise
  22. Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
  23. The Way of Peace
  24. Calming the Storm
  25. First Steps in Karma Yoga
  26. From the Beginning to the End
  27. The Real “Doers”
  28. Our Spiritual Marching Orders
  29. Freedom From Karma
  30. “Nature”
  31. Swadharma
  32. In the Grip of the Monster
  33. Devotee and Friend
  34. The Eternal Being
  35. The Path
  36. Caste and Karma
  37. Action–Divine and Human
  38. The Mystery of Action and Inaction
  39. The Wise in Action
  40. Sacrificial Offerings
  41. The Worship of Brahman
  42. Action–Renounced and Performed
  43. Freedom (Moksha)
  44. The Brahman-Knower
  45. The Goal of Karma Yoga
  46. Getting There
  47. The Yogi’s Retreat
  48. The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
  49. Union With Brahman
  50. The Yogi’s Future
  51. Success in Yoga
  52. The Net and Its Weaver
  53. Those Who Seek God
  54. Those Who Worship God and the Gods
  55. The Veil in the Mind
  56. The Big Picture
  57. The Sure Way To Realize God
  58. Day, Night, and the Two Paths
  59. The Supreme Knowledge
  60. Universal Being
  61. Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
  62. Worshipping the One
  63. Going To God
  64. Wisdom and Knowing
  65. Going To The Source
  66. From Hearing To Seeing
  67. The Wisdom of Devotion
  68. Right Conduct
  69. The Field and Its Knower
  70. Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
  71. Seeing the One Within the All
  72. The Three Gunas
  73. The Cosmic Tree
  74. Freedom
  75. The All-pervading Reality
  76. The Divine and the Demonic
  77. Faith and the Three Gunas
  78. Food and the Three Gunas
  79. Religion and the Three Gunas
  80. Tapasya and the Three Gunas
  81. Charity and the Three Gunas
  82. Sannyasa and Tyaga
  83. Deeper Insights On Action
  84. Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
  85. The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
  86. The Three Kinds of Happiness
  87. Freedom
  88. The Great Devotee
  89. The Final Words
  90. Glossary

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Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.

Read The Bhagavad Gita (arranged in verses for singing) by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

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