It is well known that Parabrahman takes the form of a human in order to establish dharma.

In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

[8, 4: Transcendental Knowledge, Bhagavad Gita]

But, as per my understanding, Parabrahman should have no biases: either towards dharma or adharma. Parabrahman is beyond both.

Where am I going wrong? Why is Parabrahman biased towards dharma only?

Note: I need answer(s) from scriptures only.

  • Yes, brahman (nirguNa) is beyond dharma and adharma, but Ishwara (saguNa brahman) is concerned about dharma.
    – user17987
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 11:41
  • kākatālīya correct! Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 18:14
  • 1
    Simple analogy - A Referee does not favor one player over another. Neither does he make players commit fouls. But if one player commits fouls out of his own free will, Rreferee penalizes him. Because if he doesn't, then game won't be interesting to either player A or to player B or to Referee or to Audience. As long as everyone plays according to rules, Referee has nothing to do. But that never happens in reality. So He has to blow whistle and give yellow or red card to repeat offenders now and then.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 3:12

4 Answers 4


Parabrahman is of course beyond duality. However, good and evil apply to jivas. Parabrahman privileges dharma over adharma for the welfare of jivas.

MASTER: "Brahman is beyond vidya and avidya, knowledge and ignorance. It is beyond maya, the illusion of duality.

"The world consists of the illusory duality of knowledge and ignorance. It contains knowledge and devotion, and also attachment to 'woman and gold; righteousness and unrighteousness; good and evil. But Brahman is unattached to these. Good and evil apply to the jiva, the individual soul, as do righteousness and unrighteousness; but Brahman is not at all affected by them.

"One man may read the Bhagavata by the light of a lamp, and another may commit a forgery by that very light; but the lamp is unaffected. The sun sheds its light on the wicked as well as on the virtuous.

"You may ask, 'How, then, can one explain misery and sin and unhappiness?' The answer is that these apply only to the jiva. Brahman is unaffected by them. There is poison in a snake; but though others may die if bitten by it, the snake itself is not affected by the poison.

"What Brahman is cannot be described. All things in the world — the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy — have been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue, for they have been read or uttered by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled in this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what Brahman is."

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Advice to Householders, August 5, 1882


First of all, the translation of the Bhagavad Gita verse 4.8 is incorrect. Dharma-samsthāpana is mistranslated as "establishing principles of religion". Dharma is not religion.

Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14:

यो वै स धर्मः सत्यं वै तत् तस्मात्सत्यं वदन्तमाहुर्धर्मं वदतीति धर्मं वा वदन्तं सत्यं वदतीत्येतद्ध्येवैतदुभयं भवति ।

What is Dharma is indeed Satyam (Reality). Hence they say when someone speaks Satyam, he is indeed speaking Dharma, and when someone speaks Dharma, he is indeed speaking Satyam. The one and same thing becomes both.

Satyam is commonly translated as "truth". However, it is derived from Sat, "that which is", the Real. Hence Satyam means Reality.

Since Brahman is Satyam, as said in Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1:

सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्म

Brahman is Satyam (Reality), Jñānam (Knowledge) and Anantam (Infinite)

Hence, Brahman is also Dharma.

Adharma is based in lies, deceit, falsehood. It is Unreal. Brahman is Real.

But because Brahman is the innermost foundation of all that exists, it is the Dharma within Adharma. In other words, we are able to recognize Adharma because of the Dharma within it, i.e. we recognize the Reality of the lies, deceit and falsehood.

This is why Krishna says in Gita 10.36:

द्यूतं छलयतामस्मि

Among the deceitful, I am gambling

It's because of the underlying Dharma and Satyam that we can recognize deceit as deceit, because Satyam shows the real nature of things.

Also, Brahman takes human form to uphold Dharma to serve as a role model. Again Krishna says in Gita 3.21:

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः । स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ॥

Whatever a role model does, the same is done by the rest. Whatever is upheld as a standard by the role model, the world follows that standard.

Gita 3.22,24:

न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किंचन । नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि ॥
उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका ... संकरस्य च कर्ता स्यामुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः

I don't have any pending commitments in the three worlds, nothing that I want to gain that I already don't have, but I still act (in Dharma). These people would perish... I would cause confusion and destruction of these people.

Finally, another angle from which to look at this... why does Brahman care at all about the world, maintaining order and Dharma in the world?

The answer is that the world is a playful creation of Brahman. As Brahmasutra 2.1.33 says:

लोकवत्तु लीलाकैवल्यम्

The reason for the world is solely play or recreation.

Just as anybody who creates or builds something even just for entertainment (like art, painting, sculpture, house, software app, etc.) takes great pains to protect and maintain it, similarly Brahman also ensures that his universe is maintained properly.


But, as per my understanding, parabrahman should have no biases: either towards dharma or adharma. Parabrahman is beyond the both.

Based on what Hindu scripture says about Parabrahman, Parabrahman actually does care very much about upholding dharma in this world.

There are many reasons for this, but one reason is because Shruti and Smriti are his commands:

shruti smriti mama AjnA - Vishnudharmottara Purana

Vedas and Smriti are my command

Those who follow his command (dharma) are regarded as devotees of him, whereas those who violate his command are hostile to him:

AjnA cchedi mama drohi - Vishnudharmottara Purana

One who disobeys my command is hostile to me

Hence, sins are those actions that violate the Lord's command, and good actions are those that are in accordance with his command.

Those who sin get punished through hell and inferior births, whereas those who do good actions get rewarded through heaven and superior births.

Punishment and reward is nothing but the expression of the approval and disapproval of Parabrahman:

... other than the Lord's pleasure or displeasure caused by--good or evil deeds. - Sri Bhashya of Ramanujacharya

This is the reason why he cares about Dharma.

The next question is, why does he take Avatars specifically when he can uphold Dharma without them? For example, he could've killed Ravana through a heart attack instead of incarnating as Rama and going through his whole journey.

The reason is given by Ramanujacharya in his Gita Bhashya:

The main purpose of the incarnation is to reveal the adorable [divine] form in order to foster devotion. The destruction of the wicked is the secondary purpose only. - 4.8

It is for the sake of the devotees that he incarnates.

Ultimately, Parabrahman is a being with infinite saguna qualities who cares about Dharma and his devotees. If Parabrahman was truly nirguna, then he wouldn't care about dharma and take avatars.

  • Interesting take. But why does brahman give AjnAs (commands) in the form of Sruti and Smruti?
    – user17987
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 13:55
  • @kākatālīya It is to make the Jiva eligible for moksha. If he gives moksha arbitrarily he would be tainted with the flaw of cruelty: giving people what they don't deserve. Also, he will not immediately liberate all souls at once, because samsara is lila for him.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 14:12
  • I understand the thing about making jIvas eligible for moksha. However, my question was about dharma and not moksha. Scriptures teach not only moksha, but also dharma.
    – user17987
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 14:15
  • @kākatālīya Oh, he leads people to moksha by first having them follow dharma. So first someone follows dharma and acquires purity of mind and distaste for material pleasures, and then pursues moksha.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 14:17

Mandukya Upanishad 3.1.1

Two birds, inseparable companions, perch on the same tree, one eats the fruit, the other looks on. The first bird is our individual self feeding on the pleasures and pains of this world; The other is the universal Self, silently witnessing all.

Parabrahman actually does not take part in Good or bad. I'd say Parahbrahman is Half Brahman. He does not know his other half asat part. Let's just say the first bird is Nirguna Parabrahman and the Second is Saguna Brahman. . It's the second bird Ishwar or Saguna Brahman (with qualities ) that establishes Dharma. Without any "Order" chaos ensues, similar to the fact that This whole answer's meaning is "conveyed" to you truthfully or correctly by your eyes and brain. Your eyes or the internet or this website does not alter the contents to convey what they want correct? Although they put their Ads bs etc. the intended meaning is conveyed correctly! similarly, there needs to be some correctness to the meaning of Saguna Brahman's creation - This world and other worlds - and that must be correctly conveyed to him. Dharma is a tool used to fix any issues so the creation is sustained. What do you do, say when, whatever you type appears garbled on screen? You delete it and restart the process right? similarly, our existence should mean well to higher realms for second bird to eat it's Karma phalam correctly at the highest level. Good. Now, Let's get to Nirguna PB. He silently watches on He is silence himself. He loves the only other bird - Saguna- there is nothing else! Suppose he realizes that something in this great creation created by the second bird that will cause his only other bird's painting and eating to go haywire then what would he do? He will point that out to the second bird. That's all he has to do! Saguna brahman is creating new entities all the time, new worlds, new simulations, new games. He does not know all the side effects of his creation. Nirguna PB sure does, as he watches the whole show and realizes what it means as that is Awareness incarnate, so a small nudge to the second bird would do just fine !

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