In this article the importance of Achar is described.
1. Achar is the Foundation of Dharma and Sadhana !
आचारप्रभवो धर्म: धर्मस्य प्रभुरच्युत: ।
– Naradpuraṇ, Purvakhanda, Chapter 4, Shloka 22
Meaning: Dharma has evolved from achar, and the master of this dharma is Achyut, meaning Srivishnu.
Our religious life has been moulded by Achardharma. The aim of Achardharma, as well as that of sadhana (Spiritual practice) is God-realisation. The inclination of the human mind towards Achardharma and sadhana is dependent on the Sattva component. Since an average individual is Raja–Tama-predominant, he does not turn to sadhana immediately. By practising Achardharma, the sattvikta of an individual slowly begins to rise, and in due course, such an individual turns towards sadhana. Similarly, since Achardharma has to be practised all twenty-four hours of the day, it helps develop a foundation for performing sadhana throughout the day. Sadhana of evolved seekers and Saints is continuously ‘on’ in their subconscious mind; thus, effectively, Spirituality is a way of their day-to-day life. Hence, they are not required to practise Achardharma at the psychological and intellectual levels. They have crossed that stage.
धमर्स्य निष्ठा तु आचार: ।
– Mahabharata, Shantiparva, Chapter 251, Shloka 6
Meaning: (Brahma says), Sadachar is the backbone of Dharma.
आचारलक्षणो धर्म: ।
– Mahabharata, Anushasanparva, Chapter 107, Shloka 9
Meaning: (Bhishma says), Sadachar is the symptom of Dharma.
Dharma is Achar oriented; meaning, it has the foundation of sadachar. Achar reflects Dharma.
- The general definition of Dharma is – That which citizens should adopt or follow. Following of Dharma should always be accompanied by abiding by the rules of sadachar; Abiding by Dharma is the acharan (practicing) for all that is advised by the scripture; for Dharma is entirely subject of achar.
An Achar could be sadachar or a durachar (An evil Achar) ; whenever an achar gets linked to Dharma it is necessarily sadachar.
Achar has been given prime importance in Hindu culture. The science in our scriptures insists that everyone follow Achardharma as advised by the Shrutis and smrutis.
एवमाचारतो दृष्ट्वा धर्मस्य मुनयो गतिम् । सर्वस्य तपसो मूलम् आचारं जगृहुः परम् ।।- Manusmruti, Chapter1, Shloka 110
Meaning: Realising that Dharma takes inspiration, that is, it originates from achars, the entire assembly of sages accepted Achardharma as the basis of all penance.
Achardharma simplifies the practice of Dharma. It eases difficulties in life.
Those desirous of their own welfare should follow achars.
आचार: परमो धर्म: श्रुत्युक्त: स्मार्त एव च ।
तस्मादास्मन् सदा युक्तो नित्यं स्यादात्मवान् द्विज: ।।
– Manusmruti, Chapter 1, Shloka 108
Meaning: The superiority of Achardharma as extolled by the vedas and Smrutis has been explained here. Achar is the only supreme Dharma. Hence the Dwija or the knowledgeable one who desires his own welfare should consciously make efforts to abide by Dharma.
The Everlasting Varna dharma (Duty unto the class). Jatidharma (Duty unto the caste), Kula dharma (Duty unto the lineage) and traditions created by the Sages protect the body, mind and intellect from ruin.
Follow Dharma and Dharma itself will protect you
Those words of Manu carry a lot of weight and sacrosanct for all time.
The true fulfillment of human life is achieved not by modern education but through Dharmashiksha (Education on Dharma) and following the achars.
The fruit of abiding by Dharma is devotion unto God
Abiding by achars prescribed by the scripture, one gets the spiritual experience of the infinite grace of Sri Hari (One name of Srivishnu), because the tenets of the scriptures are God’s commands.
Achar imparts Moksha to the individual, and hence it is termed as Dharma. Only Hindu Dharma teaches the human body the finest behavior and provides it the finest achar.
The scriptures assure that abiding by Dharma ensures Moksha by the third birth.
Abiding by Dharma is the primary factor. The factor is termed ‘sandhan’. It is not something done with the desire of a result. Only sadhana performed without expectation enables abiding by Dharma in the true sense, and this factor alone helps in attaining Moksha.
2. Hindu Dharma is all encompassing because
of the fact that achar is considered as a proof of Dharma
It is because of the fact that sadachar or shishtachar is considered as a proof of Dharma, that Vedic Dharma, especially the Pouranic Dharma, has become all en-compassing. As various sects and sub–sects originated in Bharat, they all could be accommodated in Dharma. In short, the achars helped in retaining the integrity of Dharma.
3. Achardharma is application of the Purusharthas
of Artha and Kama with the expectation of abiding by Dharma
The distribution of the Artha – Kama (Pursuits of wealth and desire) with the expectation of abiding by Dharma takes place through the eternal mediums of Varna dharma, jatidharma and Kula dharma; such is the nature of Achardharma.
4. Achardharma is the seed for foundation of sadhana
The seed for foundation of spiritual evolution in the form of sadhana is entirely dependent on Achardharma. Only if achar is exemplary can it foster exemplary thoughts. These exemplary thoughts teach an embodied soul to imbibe Divine qualities, meaning to undertake sadhana. This results in generation of sattvik thoughts that bestow an individual with Chaitanya. This way, the individual moves beyond the governing energy within the Pinda and attains Moksha.
5. An individual who abides by achars is superior most
Amongst all beings the animals, amongst animals those with an intellect (birds and animals with intelligence), amongst the intelligent the human beings, amongst the human beings the Brahmans, amongst Brahmans the scholars of Veds, amongst the scholars of veds those with a sattvik intellect, amongst those with the sattvik intellect those abiding by achars and amongst those abiding by achars, the one who has Divine knowledge is superior.
6. Dharma has remained intact due to Achardharma
Since Achardharma is inherently capable of retaining the status quo of the concept of Dharma in all situations, even after facing major onslaughts time and again over thousands of years Dharma continues to remain active in the manifest form because of the fundamental nature of Achardharma (that is. Karmakanda and Karma yoga).
7. Dharma and achar are immutable
A retired chief justice of a High Court used to aggressively advocate the need to change Achardharma; however, the futility of his demands is obvious from the following reasons.
There is no change in the character of Mother Nature: There is no evidence of any change in the character of Mother Nature or the living world, nor has anyone ever proved so.
Conducts and principles are correlated: There is a definite correlation between achar– specific principles and the laws of Nature. Adherence to specific achar leads to the evolution of specific principles. The correlation between achar and principle is unique.
The Scriptures mention achars that help attain the goal: The scriptures mention the goals. The pursuits of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are the goals. Scriptures spell out the achars that help attain these goals.
Transformation in Dharma and achar is impossible: Achars are of two types. Those that nurture the society and those that protect the society. Ever since the creation, they have remained merged. Even the creation, does not attempt to bring about a change. There is no evidence of creation having modified achars. Similarly there has been no change in the physical frame or the sense organs of human beings either. Against this background, it is immensely surprising that our intellectuals, who advocate reforms and modernisation, see a major change in only the social laws, meaning, the laws that protect the society. When the laws pertaining to adhering to creation have been laid down in the scriptures and holy text, how can the achars structured by them be modified? Transformation in Dharma, as well as in achar, is impossible. Achardharma is immutable.
Should there be transformation in Achardharma, damage to the society will be immense.
Reference : Sanatan’s Holy Text Introduction to Achardharma