Dharma and Bhakti

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Dharma is not religion; it is that which is constructive, creative, positive and conducive to one’s growth. Bhakti is the channelling of one’s inner expressions and emotions towards an experience of inner harmony. Thus, on the one hand the aspirant is channelling human faculties with the aim of experiencing inner harmony or bhakti, and on the other hand, the aspirant is imbibing those qualities which can give an understanding of human relationships or dharma. These two should go hand in hand if life is to be lived fully and the goal of life attained.

Everyone seems to be thinking along one track only: take birth, become educated, get a job, rise high on the ladder of name, fame and status, have a family and educate the children so that they can continue the rat race, and die. This is the most prevalent social system in the world today. In this form of life, there is little scope for fully realizing or expressing either dharma or bhakti.

Yogis have always maintained that dharma is the highest expression and bhakti the highest attainment. As spiritual aspirants, no matter how involved you are in spirituality, whether superficially or deeply, you should try to be aware of the qualities that you can develop and express for the betterment of the family, friends, society and the world. That is dharma. You should learn how to channel your mental expressions so that your mental energies are not dissipated and confusion does not occur. Once you learn to do this, you can then ultimately experience purity of heart.

When you combine dharma and bhakti, you can experience a natural life, be one with nature and the divine, with the manifest and the transcendental. Therefore, you should move towards an application and understanding of dharma and bhakti in your life through whatever method or process you can adopt.

This is the natural urge in every individual, especially when people are feeling a need to express themselves in a different way. If you can combine dharma and bhakti, that is the best way to see a new dawn and find a positive direction in the 21st century.