Vidura was known as Neetijnya in english one who has knowledge of Neeti. Neeti word Derives from the word Naitikta in sanskrit, which in english is similar to Morality(proof). Since he was the wise consultant of Dhritrashtra and was the Wisest of Kuru Dynasty he was considered wisest consultant despite being born as Shudra.

The Dialogue between Vidura and Dhritrashtra is compiled to form the Vidura Niti. The Niti shastra of Vidura is considered even today as the best work of Niti/Morality knowledge,it is sort of ancient Moral Science Manual.

But Considering Yudhishthira he was Dharmajna one with knowledge of Dharma. He was staunch follower of Dharma,and attained Swarga for his pious deeds. So this means Dharma is above Niti. Since he followed Dharma more than neeti.

If dharma and neeti are two different things then what is exact difference between them, and why was Yudhishtira Consulting Vidura even when he had all the Dharma knowledge, was vidura knower of Dharma and neeti both? since he was greatest consultant in Kuru Dynasty?

  • 2
    Vidura was also incarnation of Yama Dharma Raja. BTW, Good question.
    – The Destroyer
    Apr 26, 2016 at 7:22
  • @TheDestroyer Thank you for Appreciation I know Yudhishtir was previous indra and incarnation of current Dhramaraja/Yama. If you like the question don't forget to upvote it! I didn't know about Vidura being incarnation. I just know he was niyoga putra of Vyasa.
    – Yogi
    Apr 26, 2016 at 7:38
  • @Yogi: Really good question. I too wait for a convincing answer to this.
    – Jatin
    Apr 26, 2016 at 9:57
  • 1
    Dharma =Righteous path... Dharma is always right while Neeti = Strategy... Neeti can be good or bad... for eg. There can be bad Neetis also like Dushta Neeti, Kutila Neeti, etc...
    – Tezz
    Jul 18, 2016 at 13:12
  • @Tezz I agree with you on dharma but I think there is a relationship between neeti and dharma and that is more than just good or bad
    – Yogi
    Jul 18, 2016 at 14:36

4 Answers 4


Good exploring, Yogi. Deserves upvote.

Here below is the explanation.

They are two, very different, words but very closely related.

Neeti is - 'code of conduct'.

Dharma is - 'to hold on to what is true and just'.

To understand Neeti & Dharma better, one needs to explore the relation between them.

Here below is how they are related;

[Keep in mind the above definitions, while investigating their relationship.]

It is Neeti to create a code of conduct that upholds truth and justice.

It is Dharma, to establish, i.e, to make prevail, that code of conduct.

Hope your exploration is satisfied.

Keep going, and share with us, whatever new you find.

I have marked this as my favourite, question.

Good luck.

Edit 1:

As far as the demand for citing from scriptures; what I want to aprise the readers about here is, what I have said in the answer above, is an extract of what I have read and contemplated through the years & further it is not feasible to establish right here through scriptural evidences, how I have arrived at that answer, because; the concepts of Dharma & Neeti have been discussed & debated since times immemorial in innumerable texts. If I have to show, how I derived that answer, I will have to write a thesis then! right here! It has taken me nearly my life time to arrive at that result. But anyway I will cite one quote from a scripture, which shows that Dharma & Truth go hand in hand. In Hinduism, there is a genre of texts called 'Dharmashstras', which are exclusive treatises on Dharma stating the duties, responsibilities and ethics to oneself, to family and as a member of society. This quote is from "Vashishta Dharmashastra". But before that, I would like to discuss on what @Yogi has said and show that Truth & Justice are not different. They are the two view points of the same thing.

Now, @Yogi said;

Quote "justification is result of human analysis" Unquote.

As I said above, Truth & justice are the two different faces of the same coin. They are inseperable. They go hand in hand. They do not exist in the absence of one another. Now let me show where the above statement that "justification is result of human analysis" goes wrong.

Justification is of two kinds; depending upon who justifies; because the Justifier is of two kinds.

The two kinds of Justifiers are: one is the Ignorant & the other is the All-Knowing.

The justification made by the ignorant is always wrong and so unjust.

And the justification made by the All-knowing is always right and so just.

This also shows that, what is wrong is unjust & vice versa. And what is right is just & vice versa.

So now the question arises as to what is right?

The answer is; Truth is always right. Truth can never be wrong. And nothing else can ever be right. What is wrong is not Truth. And above all;

Only an All-knowing person can do justice because only he can arrive at the Truth.

Now coming to the scriptural evidence.

The Vashishta Dharmasutra hints that, Dharma and Truth, and now Justice [It has been shown above, i.e, Truth & Justice are the two different faces of the same coin.], all three, go hand in hand. In Chapter-30, Sutra-1, it says; http://www.hinduonline.co/vedicreserve/kalpa/dharma/vasishtha_dharma_sutra.pdf

"धर्मं चरत माधर्मं, सत्यम वदत मानृतम्।",

which translates to- "Take the course of Dharma and not Adharma, speak the Truth and not the Untruth". It is said so because the two i.e, Dharma & Truth do not exist without one another. And from above discussion we have seen that, Truth & Justice are the same thing. So,

Dharma is upholding of "Truth & Justice".

  • 2
    Please cite sources. Here, you may cite Sanskrit dictionary as source. Sources are for comprehensive understanding.
    – The Destroyer
    Jul 14, 2016 at 9:27
  • 2
    Thankyou for your Appreciation Mr. Anil Kagi but I have few correction/comment that I would like to share with you 1) I agree with Destroyer on citing of source 2)It is not necessary that why is true would be just , justification is result of human analysis and Dharma is always constant which is propagated by vedas and therefore dharma is always true and need not to be justified in human measures or analysis. 3) From what I have understood Dharma is unchanged and is order of Supreme Bramhan Shriman Narayana. While neeti have many faces and may be altered/ovverridden in different circumstances.
    – Yogi
    Jul 14, 2016 at 13:19

The difference becomes clear by their meanings :

नीतिः f. 1 Guidance, direction, management. -2 Conduct, manner of conducting oneself, behaviour, course of action. -3 propriety, decorum. -4 Policy, prudence, wisdom, right course; आर्जवं हि कुटिलेषु न नीतिः N.5.13; R.13.69; Ku.1.22. -5 A plan, contrivance, scheme; भूयः स्नेहविचेष्टितैर्मृगदृशो नीतस्य कोटिं पराम् Māl.6.3. -6 Politics, political scicence, statesmanship, political wisdom; आत्मोदयः परग्लानिर्द्वयं नीतिरितीयती Śi.2.3; दण्डो दमयतामस्मि नीतिरस्मि जिगीषताम् Bg.1.38. -7 Righteousness, moral conduct, morality. -8 The science of morality, morals, ethics, moral philosophy; निन्दन्तु नीति- निपुणा यदि वा स्तुवन्तु Bh.2.83. -9 Acquirement, acquisition. -1 Giving, offering, presenting. -11 Relation, support.

धर्मः [ध्रियते लोको$नेन, धरति लोकं वा धृ-मन्; cf. Uṇ 1. 137] 1 Religion; the customary observances of a caste, sect, &c. -2 Law, usage, practice, custom, ordinance, statue. -3 Religious or moral merit, virtue, righteousness, good works (regarded as one of the four ends of human existence); अनेन धर्मः सविशेषमद्य मे त्रिवर्ग- सारः प्रतिभाति भाविनि Ku.5.38, and see त्रिवर्ग also; एक एव सुहृद्धर्मो निधने$प्यनुयाति यः H.1.63. -4 Duty, prescribed course of conduct; षष्ठांशवृत्तेरपि धर्म एषः Ś.5.4; Ms.1.114. -5 Right, justice, equity, impartiality. -6 Piety, propriety, decorum. -7 Morality, ethics -8 Nature. disposition, character; उत्पत्स्यते$स्ति मम को$पि समानधर्मा Māl.1.6; प्राणि˚, जीव˚. -9 An essential quality, peculiarity, characteristic property, (peculiar) attribute; वदन्ति वर्ण्यावर्ण्यानां धर्मैक्यं दीपकं बुधाः Chandr.5.45; Pt.1.34. -1 Manner, resemblance, likeness. -11 A sacrifice. -12 Good company, associating with the virtuous -13> Devotion, religious abstraction. -14 Manner, mode. -15 An Upaniṣad q. v. -16 N. of Yudhiṣṭhira, the eldest Pāṇḍava. -17 N. of Yama, the god of death. -18 A bow. -19 A drinker of Soma juice. -2 (In astrol.) N. of the ninth lunar mansion. -21 An Arhat of the Jainas. -22 The soul. -23 Mastery, great skill; दिव्यास्त्रगुणसंपन्नः परं धर्मं गतो युधि Rām.3.31.15. -र्मम् A virtuous deed. -Comp.

The words made bold point to the similarity in meanings of the words.



Dharma is eternal, Dharma is a law of nature, its the basis of existence, its the primary law behind every law.

There is nothing greater than Dharma.

All the books vedas, Puranas, Bhagwad Geeta are written in order to understand Dharma.

Some time Dharma can be very simple, if seen from purview of dharma, any killing even small or big is not acceptable for every soul has came to experience this life.

Some time Dharma can be difficult like in the time when Arjuna did not wanted to fight his family members, but Krishna explained him why he should fight because what they(the kauravas) are doing is Adharma.

Neeti is like a prescribed law, written or un written law. Which is generally in practice.

In modern example suppose someone has killed someone, the law says he should be punished. But what happens when its a solider fighting for its country and kills solider of another country. Or someone was try to do self defense and the other person got killed.

The Neeti can also be like policy and might be time bound, but Dharma is boundless, everything in Hinduism is to understand the Dharma.

If you understand the Dharma and practice the Dharma no need to read and study any book, you are already there. Though you may or may not read it would be a choice.

Understanding of Dharma is very basic of Hinduism and sometimes its very tricky as well.

  • 1
    Good answer, but can we have some references to your conclusions. Sep 9, 2018 at 2:51

A threshold level of consciousness gained from exposure, experience, adversity quotient, contemplation and instinct is required to best answer this question.

The experience, exposure and adversity quotient are best obtained by criss-crossing between the most inventive societies (eg Steve Jobs eclectic Silicon Valley), reflecting on the inate uber exponentiality and creativity of a #rambutan_seed, the holy subversion of sensibility in Tamilnadu, and the richest people on Earth with little money of stoic Java.

You will rise above the “fish does not know water” consciousness-blocking phenomenon. The “only when a man loses a foot does he realise the joy of walking” phenomenon exposed by Marshall Macluan.

You will arrive at the “Nyayam (ஞாயம் in Tamil) Vs Nyaya” conundrum. They should mean the same thing but they have become opposites. Nyayam arises from experience. Nyaya is docked on cognopathy. So too, dharma.


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