What is Dharma: The Tale of the Selfless Saint and the Wife

What is Dharma: The Tale of the Selfless Saint and the Wife


What is Dharma?

According to the oldest texts in the world, the Veda and the Gita, “Dharma” is one of the four noble goals of life (Purusharthas). Dharma is the journey to a balanced and meaningful life that involves the pursuit of good deeds (Dharma); material prosperity (Artha); material contentment (Kama); and spiritual freedom (Mokshasa).

There may not be one simplified dharma definition, but “truth”, and “a Way of Meaningful Life”, comes close.

Understanding Dharma:

The Tale of the Selfless Saint and the Devoted Wife

Let us understand what is Dharma through this tale of a selfless saint and her Devoted wife.

Once upon a time, there was a sage (Wise Man), living in a peaceful place called an Ashram. He had stayed there for a very long time. As he grew older, he felt his time on Earth was ending. But he was happy because he believed that he had earned a lot of virtues with the Divine by praying and thinking about God for thirty years.

The Mysterious Lady in Dreams:

One day, a lady came to his mind in dreams. She asked him to exchange one day of his virtues for one day of her evil deeds. Then she disappeared.

This trade request made the wise man very worried. He tried to forget about her and concentrate on his prayers.

But the lady came back into his dreams. She asked the same thing again.

This time, the wise man tried to remember who she was, but her face was unclear. He couldn’t recognize her. He started feeling nervous, thinking about what the lady would do with his evil deeds.

Maybe she needed help.

But he remembered what his teacher had told him: “Your good deeds are your real treasure and virtue. Don’t give them away lightly.”

The Teacher’s Wise Counsel

The wise man returns to his mentor and shares the story of the lady. His teacher scolded him saying, “Haven’t you learned anything from my teachings? Good deeds (virtues) is not to be passed on. Virtue is your true earnings.”

The wise man returned to his ashram and started his prayers.

But the lady appeared in his thoughts again and asked the same question.

This time, the wise man tried to figure out who she was, but he couldn’t recognize her face. He started to feel worried about what the lady would do with his bad deeds.

Maybe she is in trouble. But he remembered what his teacher had taught him.

He went back to his teacher and shared his concerns. The teacher explained, “She’s trying to misguide you and force you to do her dirty work. Maybe she’s attached to you like an evil spirit.

Now, the wise man didn’t know what to do.

Neither the teacher nor the lady gave him a clear answer.

When all else fails, he directly connects with the divine and asks the divine what she wants.

Seeking Divine Guidance

Divine asked the wise man, “First, tell me, what good deeds have you done?”

The wise man replied, “I have spent thirty years praying and thinking about God. For thirty years, I have lived by seeking help from others, without saving anything for myself.  I believe in breaking ties with worldly things. I have left my family and children behind me.”

He was sweating and breathing heavily. He gathered his courage and asked the Divine, “Then, why is this lady asking for good deeds (virtues)?”

The Divine replied, “Do you know who this lady is?”

The wise man admitted, “No, but I want to know.”

The Divine Revelation:

The Divine revealed, “She is your wife. The one you left behind when you decided to lead a life without worldly attachments. Do you know what she has been doing?”

The wise man’s eyes widened in shock. He said, “No, my Lord, I don’t know anything!”

The Heartbreaking Truth:

The Divine continued, “When you quietly left your home all those years ago, she cried for many days in your absence. Then, one day, when the savings were gone and the children were hungry, her sorrow forced her to seek work. She wandered from place to place, looking for employment.

Actually, she was not well-educated, but she tirelessly worked for others. She considers herself a sinner because you abandoned her. She is still restless, hoping you will achieve your goal.

The Wife’s Suffering:

“She was suffering from leprosy and was on her deathbed, yet she wishes for your salvation.

While You have been focused on your salvation for thirty years.”

 A Revelation of Love and Sacrifice:

Divine’s words touched the wise man so much.

His wife had suffered so much behind her and still, she is devoted to his salvation, even on the deathbed.

This revelation hits the Wise Man like a ton of bricks.

He starts sweating and breathing rapidly.

 The Turning Point:

He looked out the window and noticed it was morning.

He packed his bags and stood in front of his teacher.

The teacher inquired, ” Why are you coming so early today?”

The wise man replied, “I am going back home.”

The teacher asked, “What will you do at home now?”

The wise man answered, ” I want to learn the true dharma.”

With these words, the wise man left the Spiritual Centre, determined to find his wife.


The story of the wise man and his wife is all about finding the right path in life and being honest with yourself.

So, what is Dharma?
Dharma is your moral compass, but not everyone has the same one.

It is all about finding a balance between your enlightenment and your responsibility towards your loved ones.

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