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When I read Adi Parva about the families of the gods and how they were classified, I read that when Brahma gave ten wives to the Dharma, they were "the ten doors of the Dharma":

13 नामतॊ धर्मपत्न्यस ताः कीर्त्यमाना निबॊध मे
कीर्तिर लक्ष्मीर धृतिर मेधा पुष्टिः शरद्धा करिया तथा

14 बुद्धिर लज्जा मतिश चैव पत्न्यॊ धर्मस्य ता दश
दवाराण्य एतानि धर्मस्य विहितानि सवयं भुवा

IAST Transliteration:

13 nāmato dharmapatnyas tāḥ kīrtyamānā nibodha me
kīrtir lakṣmīr dhṛtir medhā puṣṭiḥ śraddhā kriyā tathā

14 buddhir lajjā matiś caiva patnyo dharmasya tā daśa
dvārāṇy etāni dharmasya vihitāni svayaṃ bhuvā

English translation (by K. M. Ganguli):

Listen as I recount the wives of Dharma according to their names. They are ten in all--Kirti, Lakshmi, Dhriti, Medha, Pushti, Sraddha, Kria, Buddhi, Lajja, and Mali. These are the wives of Dharma as appointed by the Self-create.

Translation to English by Bibek Debroy:

Listen to me as I recite the names of Dharma’s wives—Kirti, Lakshmi, Dhriti, Medha, Pushti, Shraddha, Kriya, Buddhi, Lajja and Mati. As decreed by the one who created himself,20 these ten wives of Dharma are the doors to Dharma.

So my question is, what are the ten doors of the Dharma and its symbolism?

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  • 2
    @Sarvabhouma Is original Sanskrit shloka not allowed on the site???
    – YDS
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 2:48
  • 6
    @Sarvabhouma You could have added IAST without removing Sanskrit.
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 5:01
  • 5
    @Sarvabhouma IAST is one of the Devanagari Transliteration schemes that means the source is Sanskrit (Devanavari script).
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 11:04
  • 6
    @Sarvabhouma Devngari script is used for Hindi also that doesn't mean It's not used for Sanskrit or introduced for Sanskrit after Hindi! Sanskrit (Devanagari script) is the oldest one in which we do have Shastras in original form. Chek out this source which provides Shastras in Original Sanskrit.
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 11:11
  • 5
    @Sarvabhouma Visit Devanagari Transliteration schemes where you'll find IAST. Yes, I heard about Brahmi script but we don't have Shastras surviving in that form. The oldest surviving script we have for Original Shastras is Devanagari Sanskrit. It may be possible that many doesn't understand Devanagari Sanskrit, however many understand it. e.g. The symbol of our site is in Devanagari, not in Brahmi. Will continue further discussion in chat room...
    – Pandya
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 6:28

1 Answer 1

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The symbolism is that one who upholds these things is symbolically married to them. As for what they are, their meaning lies in how the ten are translated or what they translate to:

  1. Kirti - glory or splendour
  2. Lakshmi - fortune, prosperity, success
  3. Dhriti - firmness, maintaining support (the root of Dhriti is the same as Dharma,'dhṛ' - "to uphold")
  4. Medha - intelligence or wisdom
  5. Pushti - wealth, thriving, enrichment
  6. Shraddha - faith or belief, pertaining to the truth
  7. Kriya - desireless action, non-attached action
  8. Buddhi - intellect or discernment
  9. Lajja - modesty, humbleness
  10. Mali - determination, conviction, devotion

In the context of the verse, it just means these things are characteristic of Dharma and the absence of these things is the absence of Dharma.

1.60.13-14. Listen as I recount the wives of Dharma according to their names. They are ten in all: Kirti, Lakshmi, Dhriti, Medha, Pushti, Shraddha, Kriya, Buddhi, Lajja and Mali. These are the wives of Dharma as appointed by the Self-create.

The symbolism of wives lies in, itself, the word translated as wife - patnī. Patnī is the feminine version of pati, which means husband but it also means "lord" or "master" - as in, Brihaspati, Pashupati, Vachaspati, etc. In this context, it does not refer to the ordinary meaning of wife or marriage but union. The wives are the activating, enabling forces or Shakti of Dharma. Marriage to them enables the practise and upholding of Dharma. They enable the actualisation of Dharma, its fulfilment. This is no different to the union of Purusha and Prakriti or the inactive masculine and active feminine aspects of Brahma. The ten wives make Dharma possible; without them, it is not upheld.

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