'Dharma is not religion'

'Dharma is not religion'

 Astavadani R Ganesh delivering a discourse on ‘Dharmashasthra’ at SDM Law College in Mangalore on Tuesday, DH photoSpeaking during a discourse on ‘Dharmashasthra’ at SDM Law College here on Tuesday, he attributed the control on crime rate in our country to the unwritten constitution prevalent in Indian society that has a history of a millennium.

Ancient India was well developed when it comes to matters of law, ethics and Constitution. Over 1,000 books were written on Dharmashasthra, half of which were on Vyavahara or law, he informed.

Dharma not religion

Dharma was equated to religion in India until 120 years ago. But in fact, Dharma is not religion and the concept of God or faith never comes in the concept of Dharma.

Commitment, concern, withstanding power, control over senses, non violence, purity, wisdom, knowledge, truth and calmness are the qualities that define Dharma and it is secular. Samanya Dharma does not change with time while the Vishesha Dharma is transient, Ganesh added.

Many people think that Manu who wrote ‘Manusmrithi’ was biased against women for his comments like ‘Na sthree swathanthryamarhathi’. But according to Ganesh, Manu accorded a special status to women.

He advocated women’s education and allowed her to pursue Brahmacharya if she didn’t want to marry. Also a man’s life was complete if he sired one child, whether it be male or female.

In short, ‘Manusmrithi’ accords a female child the right to perform the funeral rites of her parents. It also advises a son not to abandon his mother even if she turns out of loose morals, while the same concession is not given to the father.


The Indian law is multi-faceted, which caters to various demands and circumstances. It has two sides, Achara and Vyavahara. The former is about a person being true to one’s own self.

The concepts such as sin comes under the Achara and it ends up in penance. On the other hand, Vyavahara is about a person being true to the society. The concept of crime comes under this and the culmination is in punishment.

Modern law does not emphasise on Achara or promote the concept of accountability, Ganesh said. He stressed that law students need to understand the ancient Indian law to find the loopholes in the modern law.  Principal of SDM Law College Dr B K Ravindra was present on the occasion.