In everyday of our life we fall in dilemma in making dharmic decisions like

  • whether to use pesticides and save plants or not
  • whether to kill (green leaf) plants to cook or not
  • whether to steal milk from cows or not (making calf eat grass)
  • whether to use silk clothes made by killing worms or not
  • If i don't get anything for the day can i eat egg or flesh?

Like few of above quoted, if we fall into any such situation how to analyze which is dharmic? Are there any guides to help in making such decisions? what is the chronology of thinking process to ensure we make right decisions?

  • I think the questions are getting opinion based now, I can go on asking questions like how should I pray, how often should I visit a temple, how many times I should light lamps in mandir at my home etc --- Ref 1, Ref 2, and this question. I won't close, let the community decide over this
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 14:08
  • there is a chronology of references to make right decisions, the order of such guides to my memory are --> vedas--> smritis-->puranas-->life of spiritually enhanced people and the last is one's own conscience! Before make any decision one has to think if that gonna hurt anyone in anyway directly or indirectly. One has to think how he would feel if someone else does this on him. One should only enjoy which is truly earned by him not by harming anyone. I hope someone would give the right answer
    – pbvamsi
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 14:32
  • 1
    The short answer is, do good always and do the needful if necessary. For example, kill a mosquito if it is hurting you or your family. It will ofcourse doesn't count as sin.
    – Mr_Green
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 14:35
  • @Mr_Green yeah :) you always have an option to use mosquito net or some herbs dhoop which keeps them away!
    – pbvamsi
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 14:42
  • 1
    This question should not be on hold. A detailed answer is given in the Mahabharata Santi Parva sections CCLIX - CCLXV. Bharat and Krishna (partially) have come closest to the answer. The answer is definitely not Sruti, Smriti, practices of the good at least not according to Yudhisthira who tears into that answer in Section CCLIX. Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


Dharma is based on vedas! Since vedas cant be understood by common men, it is re-written by the seers in layman terminology in smriti and they are explained further in 18 puranas. To make it even simpler, panchama veda mahabharata is written. It is said that what is there in mahabharata is there in the entire universe, what is not their in it wont be there anywhere else in the world. Ramayana & Mahabharata are to epic histories which gives idea on how to live and how to make dharmic decisions.

In simple the order of the scriptures that have to be referred to make a dharmic decision at the time of dilemma are vedas->smritis->puranas->ramayana.

But Guru teachings are above all to a disciple, one has to do an act without a thought of how dharmic it is, as those are tailored for the disciple!

Incase if one cant understand all of these then he/she should follow the person who knows the above, atlast if even that is not possible then one's own conscience has to be used to make dharmic decision. One simple principle is it should not harm or hurt anyone, one has to think how would he/she feels if someone else does the same on him/her.

One more general ref to make decision is

matrvat para-daresu (see mother in every women)
para-dravyesu lostavat (all others’ property as no more than garbage in the street)
atmavat sarva-bhutesu (other living entities as he does his own self)


Your question arises out of personal dilemma and difficulty in resolving issues to your own convincing level.

In my opinion it would be wrong to say that the question is opinion based. The question is a genuine one and intrigues many people who take their inputs from others and get confused while forming an opinion of their own.

I would suggest you to go thru the texts of Bhagwat Gita where the evaluation of dharma and adharma was explained to Arjuna by Sri Krishna. Killing someone who does not respect others (Shishupal) or intentionally hurts others is considered as dharma. Anything done for greed is also not dharma. Greed is a result of lack of control over the five senses which drives a person towards committing sins.

Killing of an animal by another animal is always due to their natural demand which is the eternal food cycle and hence never termed as adharma. Extending the logic of milk from cows (stealing it from the calf) can also be extended to Trees for their fruits as adharma.

Yes if you are born as and brought up as a non-vegetarian person then you can put yourself in the category the tiger who has to kill to live. Thus killing for basic living is not adharma. Biting by mosquitos is a part of mosquito's livelihood but hurting to you. So you reserve the right to get rid of them the either way. An act of self defence cannot be adharma.

But killing for pleasure of your eyes or the pleasure of your tongue is not dharma. Till the time you are controlling your senses and are caring for others so as not to draw any unjustified pleasure to fulfill the greed of your senses you would not commit any adharma. The moment your senses start controlling you and due to that you start hurting others (plant or animal either thing) you can term that as adharma.

As defined in the Bhagwat Gita a yogi is not the one who tries to 'suppress' his basic needs. The real yogi always tries to mould himself and control his senses such a way that either abundance or the lack of anything does not disturb him. A yogi feels the hunger and is aware of it but is able to control the body if he is not able to find food. He does not indulge into overeating as soon as he finds food in abundance.

The yogi as defined in Gita is the one who follows dharma. Hope this will fire your imagination further and help you draw your own conclusion.

  • You should have come to this conclusion on my maturity levels on reading my comment hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/2401/…
    – pbvamsi
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 14:51
  • Krishna - you are answering your own questions. That means that I am successful in firing your imagination to come out of asking mode and enter the decision mode. I am sure you would get what I really mean in my answer. Your question includes your own answer and it is surprising that you are looking for approvals - from whom???
    – A Somani
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 16:52
  • Am not looking out for approvals, community encourages Answer your own question – share your knowledge, Q&A-style I was looking for much better answers than mine, but I answered my own on noticing the question being forced to closed/hold mode! My attempt is to understand the chronology of references available to make dharmic decision! Thanks for your answer and comments!
    – pbvamsi
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 17:31
  • The question should not have been closed, but got closed for lack of focus. Should four of five questions be deleted so many grind together on a single or few focused questions?
    – Narasimham
    Commented May 3 at 10:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .