Our scripture says:

महाभारते । १ । १५९ । २७ । “आपदर्थे धनं रक्षेत् दारान् रक्षेत् धनैरपि । आत्मानं सततं रक्षेत् दारैरपि धनैरपि ॥”) AtmAnam satatam rakshet.(Mahabharata, 1.159.27) One should always protect one's own life.

Another scripture of us (Gita, 3.35) says:

svadharme nidhanam sreyah. It is better to die than to accept 'para-dharma'(here dharma does not necessarily mean 'Religion')

For example, a brahmin's dharma are worshipping, working as priest, studying the scriptures and teaching them. But in these days it is difficult for many brahmins to live following these 'dharma'-approved duties and they are compelled to accept other professions.

They are NOT violating the first order. But may be they have to deviate from the second.

How to reconcile thses two scriptural injunctions? Does any scriptures or saint throw any light?

  • Dharma at anywhere never means religion. Dharma is also not morality. Dharma is also not righteousness. Dharma is Dharma. No word can replace it or give meaning to it. Religion is wrong word I think. Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 8:11
  • @AkshayS Yes, but not entirely wrong.Could be discussed in a separate question:)
    – user17294
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 8:14
  • Yes fine. But your second quote which scripture says? Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 8:15
  • The verses together seem to say: Dharma > Self > Wife > Wealth. Could you explain the contradiction? Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 18:22
  • @user1952500 Self and Dharma : the primary between these two.
    – user17294
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


I think the usual solution is noting from which kind of scriptures the injunctions are like Sruti, Smriti, Purana etc. Then we have to check the authority they have with respect to each other.

If both the instructions are found in the same scripture then both can be taken as authoritative.

Where you will find differences between S’ruti, Smriti and Purânas, accept the words of the S’rutis as final proofs. Wherever Smriti disagrees with the Purânas, know the Smritis more authoritative. And where differences will crop up in the S’rutis themselves, know that Dharma, too, is of two kinds. And where the differences will crop up in the Smritis themselves, consider, then, that different things are aimed at.

(Devi Bhagavatam, 11th book, Chapter 1)

As the passage says "different things are aimed at" and "know that Dharma, too, is of two kinds". So, both the instructions are equally valid provided they are from similar scriptures. And, if its the case of different scriptures then we have to judge accordingly.

Also, a Brahmin, who's not following his usual prescribed works, can not give as an excuse "My life is in danger" because usually that isn't the case at all.

But, understandably, following all the scriptural injunctions is not possible in today's time even if we have the intent to do so. That's because of the nature of the Yuga we live in and our lifestyle.

  • One is from MB and one from Gita.Then which one will be more effective?
    – user17294
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 14:26
  • Haha both from MB .. so nothing to choose from @commonman
    – Rickross
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 14:26

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