What is Dharma? (A Short Short Story)

A ten-year-old boy went to a Guru and asked him to teach him about Dharma.

The Guru agreed and gave him a lengthy lesson on Dharma for over 4 hours. “Go home and think about it,” Guru said at the end.

“I will, Guruji. At what time should I come tomorrow?” the boy asked.

“No need to come back,” Guru said.

“No, Guruji. I have to come back. My mother said she would not give me food unless I get this lesson from you.”

“Alright. Come tomorrow morning at ten.”

After the boy left, Guru’s wife asked, “He did not seem to have gotten the point. What is the point of telling him to come again?”

“He will get it,” Guru replied.

The wife insisted he would not. “He is willing to come back only because his mother would not feed him unless he takes the lessons,” she said.

“Have you heard of the proverb bhukti kudirite gaani nishta kudaradu”? It means one can’t focus on acquiring knowledge unless one is sure of getting food. He has understood the path to obtain food. His hunger for knowledge comes next.”


Author’s note.
I posted the Telugu version of this story on another site. At the time of writing this story, I was thinking of the proverb quoted in the story, which basically refers to a practical approach.

However, there was a comment by an eminent Sanskrit scholar, Brahmasri Rani Sadasivamurthy garu, which was interesting.
With his permission, I included his comment in translation here.

He said, “The story depicts the well-known Sanskrit maxim Dharmo rakshati rakshitah Dharma protects those who protect it).
The Guru appeared to have understood what his wife had observed. Yet, he performed his duty as Guru, which is to respect young boy’s wish to learn and taught him. That is what we call “Protecting Dharma.”

Your comments are welcome.

(October 20, 2022)

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