Dharmo Rakshati Rakshit – धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः

Published On: February 23, 2023

The Origin

I think many of you have heard this phrase. This phrase is taken from two places one is the VanaParva of the Mahabharata (313/128) and another is in Manusmriti’s 8th chapter’s 15th verse.

The full verse is as follows: 

धर्म एव हतो हन्ति धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः ।
तस्माद् धर्मो न हन्तव्यो मा नो धर्मो हतोऽवधीत् ॥


The phrase means, the one who destroys dharma, dharma destroys them, and one who protects dharma, dharma also will protect them. That’s why dharma should never be destroyed so that the destroyed dharma can never destroy us.

In the first verse of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata war is Dharmayudha.

‘धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युजुत्सव: ।
मामका: पाण्डवाश्चैव किमकुर्वत सञ्जय।।’


The Mahabharata war was fought on the battlefield of Kurukshetra for the protection of dharma. whoever is from the dharma side they will be protected and whoever is from adharma side they will be destroyed, and the war was won by the Pandavas, the protectors of dharma. 

In both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the evil forces got destroyed as a result of the evil deeds committed by them. They tried to destroy Dharma but instead, they got destroyed.  On the other end, Shree Ram and Pandavas tried to protect Dharma and got protected by it.


What is Dharma?

Dharma is in first place in Purusharth Chatushtaya (Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha,) so, it means the following dharma must be our first duty then the other three purusharth will automatically come to us.

Dharma means one’s own duties, moral rules, conduct, etc. The person who follows them is the protector of dharma. It is related to the particular karma, duty, conduct, etc. of the person in the society. dharma implies the value system, traditions, and culture of a society or a person.

“The meaning of the word Dharma. “Dharayati iti Dharmah” – Dharma means “to hold“.

It is very difficult to find an equivalent word for the word ‘dharma’ in western languages. The closest synonyms for Dharma in English are righteousness and ethics.

In simple words, dharma has many meanings, some of which are duty, non-violence, justice, good conduct, virtue, etc. The literal meaning of Dharma is, ‘the most appropriate belief to be held’, that is, which should be held by everyone. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain or Buddhist, etc. are not dharma but only sects (sampradaya) or communities. “Sampradaya” is a group of followers of a tradition.

 It is believed that dharma makes man human.

Our glorious past..

A few decades ago, Sharda peeth, Nalanda, Multan, and many universities were famous as today’s Oxford and Cambridge, but today’s kids might have heard of that. Why??? Because we didn’t save our dharma. You will be surprised to know that Nalanda University’s library which was burnt by the invader took continuously one month to burn all the books in the library, this much knowledge we were having at that time. But unfortunately, we couldn’t save it. Because at that time only a few people were worried about dharma and that few were not enough in front of all invaders so, ultimately, we lost both dharma and Dharma rakshak too. 

It is not required to be powerful or wealthy, you just need to be wilful to follow dharma. Dharma is a duty that must be held till death. In chanakya niti there is a famous shloka:

चला लक्ष्मीश्चला: प्राणाश्चलं जीवित-यौवनम्।
चलाचले च संसारे  धर्म एको हि निश्चलः॥

‘Wealth comes and goes, life comes and goes, youth also will go away from life, only one religion is stable in this moving (coming and going) world.’


Why protect dharma?

I don’t think this is a question at all about why to protect dharma or what will happen if we don’t follow dharma. Dharma is paramount and permanent. There is no question of why. Just imagine what will happen if a mother abandons her dharma of feeding a baby?


Dharma has nothing to do with caste. Dharma is eternal truth. Now see, giving water to the thirsty is dharma.  If someone gives you water when you are on the verge of dying of thirst. what will come out of your mind?  Blessings will emerge from your mind. Because the one who gave water followed his dharma and if he does not give you water then??? only and only curses would come out of your mouth. That’s why friend, religion is paramount.


Dharma is our first priority.

There is a story of Arjun that how he keeps dharma all above his personal choice and leaves Urvashi. In Mahabharata, Arjun was once invited to his father, Indra’s palace, where one of the heavenly maidens, Urvashi was attracted to him. She tried enticing Arjun, but he showed restraint out of respect, since she had once been married to Arjun’s ancestor King Pururava, Arjun considered her as a ‘mother figure’. Urvashi felt insulted because a mere mortal was able to resist her, and so she cursed Arjun, that he would become a eunuch (impotent) and have to live amongst women, dancing and singing, for the rest of his life. Later, upon Lord Indra’s request, Urvashi curtailed the curse to a period of just one year.

So, Arjun was ready to sacrifice anything for the sake of dharma, whether it will be beauty, bread, or bucks.


Rupabhai’s Dharmanistha.

Now I would like to tell you about a devotee of Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan Rupabhai Darbar, he was a true disciple of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan. He was well known in his village for his truth and pious nature. He was serving at the royal court of king Vajesangji at Bhavnagar. And he was a hardcore follower of Shikshapatri. Once the king asked Rupabhai to go hunting. Rupabhai respectfully said, no, I can’t come with you because I am a follower of Shikshapatri in which Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan has told us not to kill any innocent creatures“.

King said “if you are not willing to hunt then it’s ok but, you come along with me” and he took Rupabhai with him.

In the forest, while hunting one wild boar was coming towards Rupabhai.

King said Rupabhai to fire on the boar. Rupabhai shot with his gun but in the air, not on the boar. King got furious and said “Rupabhai you have insulted my command. don’t come to work tomorrow onwards,” he said yes and went towards his home.

After some time, the king needed help from Rupabhai, he called him and reinstated his job. The work that Rupabhai had to do was to take the Queen and her friends on a pilgrimage to the holy river Ganga. So Rupabhai agreed and went along with the Queen and her friends. During the trip, once Queen called Rupabhai late at night to her tent. Rupabhai respectfully sends a message to the Queen that it’s late night and he can’t go to visit her tent just for gossip, but will meet her in the morning.  So the Queen got angry with Rupabhai and when they returned she complained to King and so again Rupabhai was fired from his job. Again to say here satangi should never go and visit alone women just for gossip as per Shikshapatri.

Once he was called by the King to his party and asked to drink alcohol and as this was against the religion, Rupabhai kindly replied to the king that as this was against the religion he would not be able to drink it. So the King once again got mad at Rupabhai and just fired him from his work as he did not like Rupabhai not drinking at the king’s request. Rupabhai bowed down to the king and left for home. Again say here Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan told his disciples not to drink alcohol.

Once in the village, one big and furious lion comes from the forest. And he went to the sugarcane fields. There he killed some animals and some farmers. Even he killed 4 soldiers who came to save farmers. So, all the other farmers went to the king and said to save them from the lion. There was a group of servants who were jealous of Rupabhai. They said to the king this lion can be killed by one and only Rupabhai, no one is brave enough as him“. So, the king calls him again on the job and told to kill a lion. After this Rupabhai went to his home and sat down to pray Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan, till morning four o’clock he was doing mala, and suddenly Maharaj gave him darshan and said what happened dear, why didn’t you sleep till now?

He said Maharaj, show me the some way, I am unable to understand what is going on and what should I do. On one side you told us to follow non-violence and another side lion is killing our farmers, to save them is also my duty. Oh lord! Please tell me what to do?Maharaj smiled and said “my dear! Go to the king, ask him for his sword, and kill that lion with his sword. I will not let the sin of killing that lion fall on you.

In the morning, Rupabhai went to the king and asked him for his sword, from there with 30 soldiers he went to the field where the lion was hidden. Rupabhai stood up at the gate and all soldiers were standing in all directions. All soldiers shot with guns in the air. Hearing this line got scared and found his way to the gate where Rupabhai was standing. In one hand he was holding the king’s sword and another hand was wrapped in a thick blanket. That hand he put in the lion’s mouth and with the other hand in the blink of an eye he killed the lion. 

King Heard the news, he gave his real pearl garland and so many gold coins. Then the king said to Rupabhai “today onwards I am increasing your salary and whether you come to work or whether you worship Maharaj at your home your salary will be paid until your last breath this is my order.” Rupabhai got the fruits of his devotion. And indirect permission to do service of Shreeji Maharaj without worrying about food or family.



So, this is how Arjun, Rupabhai, and many more unsung heroes of our Sanatan dharma never miss their duty to follow dharma, even though we also should never miss our duty. sooner or later Maharaj will shower his blessings if we will be intact upon our duty to protect dharma. Despite several onslaughts against it, Dharma was not destroyed. Dharma triumphed in the end.


Thank You 

Jay Swaminarayan