What Is Dharam?

“Avar Basna Nahi(n) Prabh, Dharam Yudh Ki Chai”

“My existence serves no other purpose God, other than to wage the war of Dharam”

Guru Gobind Singh

The inspiration behind the name ‘Dharam Seva’ comes from a concept so deep, that in attempting to define it, one would drown. We humbly submit that under the blessed and watchful gaze of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the following is simply a meagre effort, to explain the reason for choosing our name. Dharam, governs everything in existence.  It is that, which brings equipoise, and is that, which brings order.  Dharam can ultimately only be experienced or done.  To attempt to understand Dharam, we must first understand its root, A-Dharam (that which is not Dharam).

The simplest way to understand Dharam, is using the metaphor of the Lotus flower.  The beautiful Lotus is born only in still water.  Still water has no life, it becomes rancid and lifeless.  Out of the depths of this poisonous water is born the most beautiful flower.  Sri HariMandhir Sahib is said to enliven this concept, by showing the voice of Dharama – Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, rising from the surrounding still water.   Yet, the power of this Lotus is so pure, that it turns the still water into life giving water (Amrit Sarovar).  In order for there to be Dharam, there must first be A-Dharam.  In order for Guru Nanak Dev Ji (order) to descend on Earth, the Earth needed to be A-Dharam (chaotic).   Today, we know that there is chaos everywhere, it is around us, in our politics, in our rituals and culture, in our interactions, in our roles and relationships.  It is in the way we treat each other and Mother earth.  It is ravaging our mind.  But out of violence comes peace.  Peace is the primary objective of Dharam.

Dharam comes from the Sanskrit root “Dhri”, which best translates, as that which upholds and sustains.  This natural order exists all around us.  Water has its Dharam, it must remain liquid.  Fire has its Dharam, it must be hot.  The Lioness has her Dharam, she must hunt, the Bee has its Dharam, it must pollinate.  Similarly, Man has his Dharam and Woman has her Dharam.  Within their respective lives, they have Dharam which is specific to their societal roles and relationships.  A child must respect his parents.  A Father must protect his family.  A Mother must care for her family.  A King must rule justly.  A Servant must serve earnestly.  A Policeman must uphold the law.  But what of the Dharam of a ‘Sikh’?

A beautiful sakha illustrates this (we can only give a very brief summary of it here):

The Rajput Rajas, led by Bhim Chand, attacked surrounded Anandpur Sahib, and lay siege to the Khalsa. This was out of jealousy (A-Dharam) of the popularity and success of Guru Gobind Singh.  After some important positional defeats, the Rajputs planned to break down the great wooden gates of the Guru’s fort with their most prized, powerful and aggressive Elephant, one which held a reputation for ripping huge trees out of the ground.  They covered the elephant with the highest quality spiked sarbloh shields and intoxicated him to multiply his already abnormal aggression.  A spy informed Guru Gobind Singh, who in turn, identified and chose Duni Chand, a mountain of man with gigantic muscular proportions and phenomenal strength, to fight the Elephant.  Guru Gobind Singh promised him success and countless blessings.  This however was not enough for Duni Chand, who spend all night trying to speak to Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Uday Singh and Bhai Gurbaksh Singh to escape this suicidal mission.  The GurMukhs gave Duni Chand their full conviction, backed by Gurbani that, he should have full faith and follow his Guru’s order.  Dhuni Chand waivered.  He chose to escape and was then bitten by a Cobra, and died the death of BeMukh (one without a Guru).  Dasam Pita chose again, this time from his personal bodyguards, he chose the small but brave Bhai Bachittar Singh.  He gave his blessings.  Bhai Bachittar Singh became filled with bliss and emotion, put his head on the Lotus feet of the Guru and thanked him.  Dasam Pita gave Bhai Bachittar Singh his most expensive Naagni Barsha (spear) and instructed the already accomplished Warrior on how to use it and the strategy to execute.  He then ordered him to crush the Elephant.  Bhai Ji responded, that with his Guru‘s grace, he would even crush the legendary battle Elephant of the King of Heaven himself, Indra.  When the time came, Bhai Ji rode out to meet the raging Elephant.  With blood red eyes, and a fierce curled moustache, he awaited his opportunity, jumped on the saddle of his horse, and with both hands, drove the specially designed spear through a sarbloh shield and deep into the Elephant.  He then pulled out the waved spear, which maimed the beast further still.  The Elephant in excruciating pain, turned around and crushed the Bhim Chand’s own troops.

Here, we are given the perfect example of a GurSikh’s Dharam.  But it starts with A-Dharam i.e. the betrayal of the proud and powerful Duni Chand.  From the A-Dharam is born Dharam, the true display of the ‘role ‘ of a GurSikh which is to obey each and every word of his Guru with mind, body and soul, and to never doubt the bachan of the Master of both worlds.

Through this exemplary historical act, does OUR role not become clear?  Do we obey EVERY word of the Guru?  For in the context of GurSikhi, Dharam, is to obey and enliven the Guru’s teaching.  The Guru gives all people an opportunity, even the enemy.  Both Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh, in the field of battle, refused to strike first.  In their historically recorded duels, they requested the enemy to commit the first strike, there by establishing, A-Dharam.  Then, with the Guru’s swift and skilful response, ending the enemy’s life, Dharam (order) was established.

Mankind must do all it can to fight for the cause of Dharam and fight to bring order into this A-Dharamic world.  On an environmental, sociological, cultural, psychological, parental, political, humanitarian, economical and religious level.

The Guru says he has came to perform Dharam Yudh – Fight to establish Dharam.  Our aim must be the same.  But how do we establish that correct fighting spirit?  We must first wage war on our mind, against the 5 Thieves; Kaam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh and Ahankaar (Lust, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Pride).  How do we do that?  By establishing Sat, Santokh, Daya, Dharam and Khima (Truth, Contentment, Compassion, Righteous Conviction and Forgiveness).  And how do we establish these virtues?

In Akaal Ustat, Guru Gobind Singh Ji in the most beautiful and simple terms, tells mankind what the ultimate Dharam is, not for us to theorise and intellectualise, but simply, DO.

ਭਜੋ ਹਰੀ ॥ ਥਪੋ ਹਰੀ ॥ ਤਪੋ ਹਰੀ ॥ ਜਪੋ ਹਰੀ ॥੧੨॥੬੨॥
Meditate on Hari. Worship Hari. Perform devotion to Hari. Repeat, Hari. 12.62.

The ultimate aim of DharamSeva records is to promote the fight for Dharama.  That cause is, for a GurSikh or person of any other faith, to follow their Guru’s (Divine Teachers) words without compromise, without concern for any worldly matter, and without concern for their life.  For the Guru will truly take care of all.  The propagation of Dharama will bring balance and peace to every aspect of our life and this Planet.  The Spear on the DharamSeva logo, metaphorically represents the Spear that the great Guru gave to Bhai Bachittar Singh, an instrument with which to destroy A-Dharma.  We do a sincere and heartfelt ardaas that the Guru gives us his divine blessing and that his thought (GuruMat) remains at the nucleus of all our humble efforts.