Understanding the Essence of Righteousness (Dharma) in Mahabharata

In this discussion, we explore a profound insight from the Mahabharata's Śānti Parva, specifically from Chapter 109, Verses 11-21. These verses offer a comprehensive perspective on righteousness (dharma), describing its purpose, essence, and significance in promoting the well-being and harmony of all living creatures.
"Righteousness (dharma) was declared for the advancement and growth of all creatures. Therefore, that which leads to advancement and growth is righteousness. Righteousness was established for restraining creatures from injuring one another. Therefore, that is righteousness which prevents injury to creatures. Righteousness (Dharma) is so called because it upholds all creatures." (Śānti Parva, 109, 11-21)


These verses from the Mahabharata's Śānti Parva provide a profound understanding of righteousness (dharma) and its purpose. They highlight that the essence of righteousness lies in its capacity to promote the growth, well-being, and harmony of all living beings.

The connection between righteousness and advancement emphasizes that actions that lead to progress and growth are in alignment with dharma. The pursuit of righteousness is inherently linked to actions that foster the betterment of oneself and others.

The verses also emphasize that righteousness was established to prevent harm and injury among creatures. In this sense, any action that safeguards living beings from harm is an embodiment of dharma.

Furthermore, righteousness is aptly named "Dharma" because it upholds and sustains the well-being of all creatures. The concept of dharma is not merely a set of rules but a dynamic force that maintains the balance and harmony of the universe.

Key Points

  1. Purpose of Righteousness: Righteousness is intended for the advancement and growth of all creatures, promoting their well-being and progress.
  2. Preventing Harm: Dharma is established to prevent harm and injury among living beings, fostering harmony and peace.
  3. Dynamic Balance: Righteousness is named "Dharma" because it actively upholds and sustains the balance and harmony of all creatures and the universe.


As individuals, let us strive to understand and embody the essence of righteousness in our actions. By pursuing actions that contribute to the well-being and progress of all beings, we align ourselves with the principles of dharma.

Across various belief systems, the concept of righteousness as a force that promotes harmony and prevents harm resonates universally. By embracing and practicing righteous behavior, we can connect with others through shared ethical values.

As stewards of our actions, let us recognize the dynamic nature of dharma and its role in upholding the balance of the universe. By embodying righteousness, we contribute to the betterment of ourselves, our communities, and the world at large.

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