Quotes such as ‘One cannot live without religion’ and ‘Religion is the opium of the people’ are contradictory and create confusion in the minds of ordinary people. When we talk about Dharma (Righteousness), most people relate it to words such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc. Others think that, since Bharat is a secular state, religion is an untouchable topic. There is no appropriate equivalent word for Dharma in the English language. The word ‘religion’ is derived from the word ‘relegate’. To ‘relegate’ means sending to a lower level. As per this meaning, religion would mean the one which sends us to a lower level; hence, this word itself is inappropriate. On the contrary, Dharma is one which elevates us to a higher plane.
According to Shri Shankaracharya : ‘Dharma is that which accomplishes the three tasks of keeping the setup of the society in excellent condition, bringing about the worldly progress of every living being, and facilitating their progress in the spiritual realm as well.’ We understand from this definition the vastness of Dharma and its extraordinary importance in human life.