Swadharma and Values

How to determine the right value which can lead to the harmonious evolution of the individual? The concept of Swadharma can provide some luminous clues. This article is based on the four-fold classification of human beings into Mentor, Marshal, Merchant and worker, discussed in the first article in this issue on the concept of unique intrinsic nature.

As we have indicated earlier, Indian thought held the view that for outer efficiency as well as inner development the guiding values and ideals for the individual and the collectivity have to be in harmony with their swadharma. For example, “high thinking and simple living” may be a good system of values for the mentor-type of personality like the sage, saint, thinker and the scholar or the religious, education or spiritual organization. But it is not the right system of values for the Merchant-type like the businessman or for the economic and commercial life. For the Merchant type the ideal is not “high thinking” of the transcendental, philosophical and spiritual kind but useful, pragmatic, honest and generous thinking; not simple living but a beautiful, harmonious and opulent living. This doesn’t mean the merchant-type should not be interested in philosophy or spirituality but the activity which will help him most in his development is not pure or abstract philosophy or spirituality but applied philosophy or spirituality or in other words in implementing higher values in the outer life.

Thus each individual has to find a system of values, which is in harmony with her swadharma. For the mentor type of personality it could be self-knowledge and world-knowledge, high thinking, inner peace and detachment, coaching and mentoring, and inner growth through a path of knowledge, meditation and contemplation. For the Marshal type it is courage, self-mastery, and wielding power under the yoke of high values, achievement, adventure, and conquest of unexplored territories of knowledge or life, progressive perfection in work, compassionate or crusading leadership.

For the merchant type it may be mutuality, harmony, rectitude in dealings; generosity of the mind and heart expressing itself through charity, philanthropy and friendliness; nimble and pragmatic flexibility in tackling the changing realities of life; capacity for organization; instinctive attunement to the rhythms of life; aesthetic sensibility. And finally for the worker-type, it is loyalty, faith, devotion, obedience to wiser guidance, skill in material execution and craftsmanship.

However we must note here that no individual is exclusively of a single type. These four types of personalities correspond to four basic clusters of psychological faculties within each human being. The swadharma of an individual is determined by the predominance of a particular cluster of faculties. Moreover, as the individual progresses in her psychological evolution, these clusters tends towards an integrated balance but still she may live predominantly in the consciousness of a specific cluster of faculties. Moreover, values, virtues and qualities are in their essential nature are an interrelated family. So a deeper and wider pursuit of a particular virtue or values belonging to our inborn and natural swadharma may lead to the virtue or values of other types. For example while a marshal type of personality may express courage through a natural and forceful exercise of will and vital force, a mentor type of personality may attain courage through a path of calm and detached thinking or idealism. Similarly, while the Merchant-type can attain the ideal of love through harmonious relationship, the worker-type of personality may reach the same ideal through devotion, loyalty and service.


The author is a student and practitioner in the path of integral yoga.

Courtesy: KIIT Journal of Management (partially reproduced)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...