Dharma in Kaliyug

Which Leg Of Dharma You Need To Hold In Kaliyug


Since we can count the four legs of dharma, we can also ask: In which order should we count? The Vedic texts describe that the four legs of dharma are dominant

Also Read: 4 Legs of Dharma

In the four yugas. The first yuga called Satya-yuga dominates in austerity – i.e. voluntarily inflicting suffering on the body and mind to detach the soul from the material world as well as develop the power of will that separates the soul from the body.

Next yuga called Tretā-yuga dominates in cleanliness—it involves the strict performance of elaborate rituals (processes and procedures) without mistakes.

The third yuga called Dvāpara-yuga dominates in kindness by performing charity and fixing one’s personality flaws because intense austerity and elaborate rituals are very hard to achieve for most people.

Finally, in the age called Kali-yuga truthfulness is the dominant form because charity, complex rituals, and austerity are very hard to perform.

Of course, the relative predominance of one of the legs of dharma doesn’t mean the non-existence of the others. But the fact is that when the body and mind are weak, they cannot tolerate severe austerities. When people are unable to perform complex tasks in a systematic manner, then the performance of yagna would be filled with many violations and mistakes. When most people are very poor and struggling to survive, charity is very hard and limited to a few rich people.

In the present age of Kali-yuga even truthfulness declines, and speaking the truth leads to quarrels. To avoid those quarrels, most people want to keep quiet, or offer false support to the misguided. At the bare minimum, therefore, truthfulness in this age means self-criticism through honest introspection. You may not offer honest guidance to others, but at least you must be honest with yourself. You may not be able to teach others the truth, but at least you must learn the truth yourself. Bringing oneself out of delusion, false hopes, and misapprehensions about one’s real state in life is our duty.

We can be assisted in this duty by other teachers, but the fact is that a teacher who offers the truth plainly may be disliked and challenged—making his or her task much more difficult—forcing them to recoil from their kindness, austerity, and cleanliness, because these are not easy anyway. The net result of such delusion partially impacts the teacher; but it greatly impacts the students themselves.

As a general principle, one must aspire to maintain all the four legs of dharma. But if all four cannot be maintained then one must aspire to at least practice truthfulness. But if even truthfulness toward others becomes impossible for a person, then at the bare minimum honesty with oneself is essential. The worst form of adharma is self-deception, which leads to the deception of others, and over time to unkindness, uncleanliness, and succumbing to the pleasure of the body and the mind over all else.

Also Read: A Lesson From Bhagavad Gita