This world is divided on dharma and all are involved in fighting for their respective dharmas. In this fight of dharmas, many people lose their lives, families and sometimes get punished in this world. How does dharma protect these people as per the sloka dharmo rakshati rakshitaha? I understand what shloka means but what is its relevance in this kaliyuga, how is this justified in this yuga.

  • If you're on path of Dharma, you will not lose life. So from this we can know whether we're in Dharma or not :) Sep 18 '18 at 11:28
  • We're involved in satisfying the needs of ours or family without knowing the route on how to do it. That's why there's loss of life. So let's be clear between Dharma and needs. Sep 18 '18 at 11:31
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    "people lose their life, family and sometimes punished" Once krishna said, path of dharma is actually very tough to travel, indeed this is the reason the travelers of this path are considered/called "Great (mahaan)".
    – Vishvam
    Sep 18 '18 at 11:43
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    Read Please hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/26515/14986 Sep 18 '18 at 13:31
  • thanks @Rishabh Indeed following dharma and travelling in its path is tough and attain greatness Sep 18 '18 at 13:47

The verse of which " Dharmo rakshita rakshitah" is a part is found in Manu Smriti.

We need to understand the context in which it was said.

The following is the translation of the full verse.

Manu Smriti 8.15. ’Justice, being violated, destroys; justice, being preserved, preserves: therefore justice must not be violated, lest violated justice destroy us.

This verse and the adjoining verses are discussing how the king's judgement should be impeccable in the court of justice. So, it's basically about courts, witnesses, judges, justice and the king.

The following verses should give you an idea about the context:

8.12. But where justice, wounded by injustice, approaches and the judges do not extract the dart, there (they also) are wounded (by that dart of injustice).

8.13. Either the court must not be entered, or the truth must be spoken; a man who either says nothing or speaks falsely, becomes sinful.

8.14. Where justice is destroyed by injustice, or truth by falsehood, while the judges look on, there they shall also be destroyed.

So, it is so easy to misinterpret the verse without knowing in which context it was said.

Coming to fights and deaths that result from inter-religion clashes, then those in no way prove this verse to be false.

Those people might be fighting for their own Dharma but what's the guaranty that such a Dharma is the one which is defined in Manu Smriti as Dharma? It is not actually.

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    last sentence seems very appropriate here. In all ages Dharma has its definition as per vrutti(work) dharma, manava(human) dharma, pitru(father/parent) dharma, dharma karyas/kartavya. Injustice in any means to any of these are considered as adharma, if am not wrong Sep 19 '18 at 5:41
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    Yes you are quite right @sunil.kms123
    – Rickross
    Sep 19 '18 at 7:52

As Vālmīki notes in his Rāmāyaṇa, the notion "dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ" (dharma protects its protector) in its traditional sense doesn't always hold true.

Rāma himself realizes this when Sītā was abducted and feels helpless. Speaking to Lakṣmaṇa, he says:

sughora hṛdayaiḥ saumya rākṣasaiḥ kāma rūpibhiḥ || 3-64-51
hṛtā mṛtā vā sītā hi bhakṣitā vā tapasvinī |
na dharmaḥ trāyate sītām hriyamāṇām mahāvane || 3-64-52

The highly stony-hearted demons that are guise-changers by their wish have either abducted, or killed or gluttonised saintly Seetha... but, they say that rectitude saves such saintly persons... yet that rectitude has not saved Seetha while she is being abducted in great forest... [3-64-51b, 52]

Commentary: Dharma or Righteousness does not go on safeguarding either its adherents or antagonists, everyone, everywhere, everlastingly. dharmo rakshati rakshitaH and suchlike sayings are also time-bound and when the time is negative, aapatsu raksha ko dharmaH, 'in difficulties which rightness safeguards?' is the ensuing dilemma.

Alternate translation and commentary from valmiki.iitk.ac.in:

O handsome one, those demons can change their form at will and are of dreadful nature. Have they abducted or devoured or killed her in this great forest. Even her righteousness could not protect the helpless Sita.

Commentary (Tattva-dīpikā): There is a maxim "apatsu raksako dharmah" (Dharma is the saviour in a calamity). Rama says that even Dharma did not save Sita when she was kidnapped.

(In the Critical Edition, this verse belongs to Araṇya-Kāṇḍa, Sarga 60)

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    As per your answer, I realize every life on this earth has to go through these tough times and those who abide to dharma will get protected by dharma. Sep 19 '18 at 5:46
  • 'those who abide to dharma will get protected by dharma' - most of the time, not always. @sunil.kms123 Sep 19 '18 at 19:11
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    But in this case it was Rama who had to protect and complete the meaning !! He is the dharma he is the humanity the truthfullness the righteous which had to be done only by him .
    – OM-ॐ
    Sep 20 '18 at 6:54

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