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Not Harming others is Dharma

There is a simple meaning to the word dharma. All those actions which do not come in the way of others, which do not impinge on the freedom of others, can be described as dharma. Here is a small example for this.

You are holding a long stick and playing with it, moving it this way and that, and at the same time you are walking down a main street. This street is a busy public thoroughfare. You may feel, "I have every right to move wherever I want." Well, if this is your right, then the person who is coming in the opposite direction has every right to save himself from being hit by your stick. You are indulging in an activity which is likely to put other people walking on the street in danger. However, correct conduct expects you to act so that you do not interfere with the freedom of other people walking on the same road.

If you can conduct yourself in a way that is not detrimental to others or that does not impinge on their freedom, then you are behaving according to dharma. Later, we will take up Krishna's teachings in which he points out that merely refraining from doing harm is not enough. You should also be friendly and compassionate to all beings. But if, at the very least, everyone were to consider it their duty to conduct themselves without causing any harm to others, then there would be peace, prosperity and joy aplenty in the world. Acting in this way is your real duty, a duty which has to be performed for the sake of setting an example to others and for upholding the essential ideals of dharma.