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There is no equivalent word to 'Dharma' in English vocabulary. Pixabay

By Dr. Devakinanda Pasupuleti

Every Indian knows the meaning of the word ‘Dharma’. However, just like the word ‘Puṇya’, there is no equivalent word to ‘Dharma’ in English vocabulary and hence any translation doesn’t do complete justice to this Sanskrit word.

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Ashtottaram 9


ॐ धर्मभूम्यै नमः


(Dharma: “That which supports, sustains or upholds”)

The word dharma is derived from the Sanskrit root-verb “dhr.” Which means “to uphold”,’ “to support”, and “to sustain”. As is the case with many Sanskrit words, it is rather difficult to translate. It has been variously translated as- ‘religion,’ ‘law,’ ‘duty,’ ‘religious ordinance or rite,’ ‘code of conduct’ and so on depending upon the context. There are other names for dharma: puṇyam, śhreyās, sukrutam, vrusham, and so on. Our scriptures wax eloquently about dharma (righteousness and universal code of conduct) and its role in Hindu society.

Dharma is viewed as the foundation of the world. Pixabay

There is a famous quotation in the Mahābhārata, “Dharma evahatohanti dharmorakshati rakṣhitah”. It is dharma that destroys (us) when destroyed; it is dharma again that protects (us) when protected by (us). Gāndhāri, the mother of the Kauravas, says “yatodharmasya tatojayah”– ‘(where there is dharma, there victory also is)’. Consequently, we are advised to accumulate dharma in our lives: ‘Anityāni śarīrāni vibhavonaiva śāśvatah, nityam sannihitomṛtyuḥ kartavyo dharma-saṇgrahah’-([our] bodies are short-lived, wealth does not last long, death is constantly knocking at our door, [so] accumulation of dharma is a must).’

That which upholds this created universe, supports it and sustains it, without which the universe just falls apart is dharma. From this point of view, dharma is akin to God. It is what the Upanishads describe as sat or tat, the very essence of one’s being. Dharma has four pādās (legs) sataym (truth), soucham (purity of mind and body), daya (compassion) and tapas (austerity). So dharma is viewed as the foundation of the world. Whatever the conduct or the way of life helps us to reveal this fundamental principle in us can also be called dharma, though in a secondary sense. Hence religious rites, ceremonies and observances, fixed principles of conduct, privileges, duties and obligations of a person depending upon his/her stage of life and status in the society, rules of law, customs and manners everyone of these can be included under the term dharma.

The way of life helps us to reveal the fundamental principle in us can also be called dharma. Pinterest

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We belong to the land of Yudhishtara (Dharmaraja) who eloquently said, “I don’t follow dharma because it gives me something or I get something from it; I follow dharma because it is my duty.”

Hence, what else can we call our land but “Dharmabhūmi”?



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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS ( is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences