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Why is it essential to adhere to Righteousness (Dharma)?



1. Origin of Righteousness 

Since time immemorial God has created the universe. At the same time He has generated Righteousness.

चात्रो धर्मो प्रयादिदेवात् प्रवृत्त: ।
पश्चात् अन्ये शेषभूताश्च धर्मा: । - महाभारत १२.६४.२१

Meaning: The Supreme God first created the code of Righteousness of rulers (rajadharma) and then incorporated other codes of Righteousness in it. - Mahābhārat 12.64.21

2. Righteousness and its advocate

Sweetness is the quality of sugar. That which possesses the quality of sweetness is sugar. Righteousness and its profounder are inseparable. They are merged into one another. The relationship between God and Righteousness is akin to that between sugar and its sweetness which are inseparable. God is the righteous one. His quality itself is called Righteousness. A quote says 'धर्मो नारायण स्मृत: ।' meaning 'Righteousness is Nārāyan (God)'. Since codes of Righteousness of God cannot be varied ultimately there is only one code of Righteousness and that is the Sanatan religion (Dharma).' Hence history of Righteousness is the history of the search of God. Righteousness is the deduced form of the scriptures but God and Brahman are Those who illumine the scriptures.

3. Importance of Righteousness

This section below is a collation of some of the writings from our great scriptures, which illustrate the importance of following righteousness (principles in our Sanatan Dharma/Hindu way of life) in our day to day life. 

Just as there is no life without respiration so also life without Righteousness is not worth living as it amounts to mere existence like animals.

धर्मादर्थ: प्रभवति धर्मात्प्रभवते सुखम्धर्मेण लभते सर्वं धर्मसारमिदं जगत् ।। - महाभारत ३.९.३०

Meaning: Righteousness bestows wealth as well as happiness. In fact everything can be acquired through Righteousness. This entire universe sustains itself on the foundation of Righteousness. - Mahabharat  3.9.30

सुखंविना धर्मात् तस्मात् धर्मपरो भवेत् । - वाग्भटकृत अष्टांगहृदय, सुत्रस्थान २:१९

Meaning: Happiness (and Bliss, that is, a superlative spiritual state, which is far above and beyond happiness) cannot be acquired without becoming Righteous; hence one should be devoutly Righteous. - Ashtanghruday by Vagbhat, Sutrasthan 2:19

सुखस्य मूलं धर्म: । - योगवासिष्ठ   

Meaning: Righteous conduct is the root of happiness. - Yogavasishtha

धर्म: एव हतो हन्तिधर्मो रक्षति रक्षित: ।

Meaning: The one not observing Righteousness is destroyed while the one following it meticulously is protected by Righteousness (that is God) Itself.

 स्वल्पम् अपि अस्य धर्मस्य त्रायतो महतो भयात् । - श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता (२:४०

Meaning: Following Righteousness even to a small extent protects one from great danger. - Srīmadbhagwadgitā  (2.40)

धारणाव्दिव्दिषां चैव धर्मेणारञ्जयन्प्रजा: ।

तस्माद्धारणमित्युक्तंधर्म इति निश्चय: ।। - रामायण ७.५९

Meaning: Righteousness restrains the enemy (unrighteousness) and in accordance with the law protects the subjects.

This form of Righteousness is termed the sustainer (dhaaran). - Rāmāyan 7.49

अधर्म एव मूलं सर्व रोगाणाम्

Meaning: Unrighteousness is the root cause of all disease [physical (Ādhibhautik) and Divine (Ādhidaivik), that is spiritual and psychological respectively].

आगमानां हि सर्वेषामाचार: श्रेष्ठ उच्चतेआचारप्रभवो धर्मो धर्मादायु: विवर्धते ।। - महाभारत

Meaning: Righteous conduct is deemed superior to all the sciences (vidyā) because Righteousness depends on conduct. Righteous conduct prolongs the lifespan of man. - Mahabharat 

The vow of Righteousness : 'Righteousness has dominated man's mind extensively for the last ten thousand years because it promises man that it will reveal the meaning of life and God, and will also endow him with the ultimate benefaction.' (4)

धर्म एको मनुष्याणां सहाय: पारलौकिक: ।। - महाभारत

Meaning: Righteousness is the only companion of man after death, in the other worlds. - Mahabharat  13.111.17

प्रभवार्थाय भूतानां धर्मप्रवचनं कृतम् । य: स्यात्प्रभवसंयुक्त: स धर्म इति निश्चय: ।। - महाभारत १२.१०९.१०

Meaning: Righteousness has been preached solely for the upliftment of embodied souls (jīvas). A doctrine says that which has the capacity to bring about all-round progress is befitting to be called Righteousness. - Mahabharat  12.109.10

जातु कामान्न भयान्न लोभात् धर्म त्यजेज्जीवितस्यापि हेतो: । नित्यो धर्म: सुखदु:खे त्वनित्ये नित्यो जीवो धातुरस्य त्वनित्य: ।। - महाभारत

Meaning: One should not forsake one's code of Righteousness out of desire, being overwhelmed by fear or greed, or even when threatened with death as Righteousness is eternal, whereas happiness and unhappiness are momentary. The embodied soul is eternal whereas the gross body is perishable. - Mahabharat 

यतो धर्मस्ततो जय।। - महाभारत १३.१६७.४१

Meaning: Victory dwells where there is Righteousness. - Mahabharat 13.167.41

यत्र योगेश्वर: कृष्णो यत्र पार्थो धनुर्धर: । तत्र श्रीर्विजयो भूतिर्धृवा नीतिर्मतिर्मम  ।। - महाभारत ६.४२.७८

Meaning: (Sanjay tells Dhrutarashtra) I consider that there will be wealth, victory, immense opulence and morality only on the side which has Yogeshvar Shrīkrushna and the archer Arjun. [This is but natural, as Shrikrushna was an absolute incarnation (Purnavtār ) of God, rather God Himself (God incarnate).] - Mahabharat   6.42.78

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