Sustain Dharma for Sustainability
Ms V Chaitanya Lakshmi
Institute of Public Enterprise,
O U Campus,
Hyderabad 500 007
Dharma & sustainable development
Dharma and ecological sustainability
Dharma, Society and the Economy:
Some of the Reasons for the Present Scenario
Mismatch between Growth and Regulation
Things to be followed from Business management point of view
“You be the change”
Sustain Dharma for Sustainability
Ms V Chaitanya Lakshmi
Student of PGDM I Sem
Institute of Public Enterprise,
Dr. G. Vidyanath
O U Campus,
God has created all of us with equal abilities. Some of us are using our abilities for our
development besides contributing to the growth of the society around us, while most of us are
using them for self development. As a result, there has been uneven growth in the world
around us, increasing inequalities among us, etc., posing a threat to the sustainability of
humanity at large. This situation has arisen, because we have forgotten our human dharma of
“upholding dharma in whatever we do so that the dharma itself would protect us”.
Dharma is the duty of every one of us of maintaining the natural order in a righteous way.
“Sustainability is to uphold life within the carrying capacity of the supporting eco-systems
beyond a finite time boundary”. Therefore, it is the duty and onus of all of us to maintain
nature in a righteous way to sustain the natural human capabilities for an infinite time.
In this paper a humble attempt is being made to highlight the reasons for the present situation
of un-sustainability caused by ignorance and negligence of our dharma in maintaining and
sustaining humanity. It emphasizes the need for activities towards the direction of humanity
and the health of the environment we live in. It suggests how an individual, a family and the
society can uphold dharma in all perspectives to enhance sustainability of humanity.
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological
systems remain diverse and productive over time. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and
forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.
For humans, sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which
has ecological, economic, political and cultural dimensions. Sustainability requires the
reconciliation of environmental, social equity and economic demands - also referred to as the
"three pillars" of sustainability or (the 3 Es).
Sustainability interfaces with economics through the social and environmental consequences
of economic activity. Sustainability economics involves ecological economics where social
aspects including cultural, health-related and monetary/financial aspects are integrated.
Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national
law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism.
Dharma for sustainable development
The word "dharma" comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to "uphold" or to "sustain."
From this perspective, the best way to think of dharma is to say, "that which upholds or
sustains the positive order of things: the nation, the community, the family and ultimately
even the universe." At a social level, every individual has a particular dharma according to
their place in life. Children have a dharma, parents have a dharma, teachers have a dharma,
the police have a dharma and even the head of a nation has a dharma.
Dharma as the duty of maintaining the natural order in a righteous way. Dharma refers to
those behaviors that are necessary for maintaining the natural order of things-another way of
expressing the concept of “Duty”.“Sustainability is to uphold life within the carrying capacity
of the supporting eco-systems beyond a finite time boundary”. Therefore it is the duty of all
of us to maintain nature in a righteous way and caring the environment that gives us life to
sustain the natural human capabilities for an infinite time.
To practice dharma is to understand oneself. To understand oneself is to understand my
relationship to everything, including the earth. Therefore, to practice dharma is to be in an
appropriate relationship with the earth. One must include the principles of sustainability in
one‟s life.The need for us to take drastic measures for re-adjusting our lifestyles is urgent.
The Dharma teaches that we must consider the impact that every decision we make will have
on generations to come to enhance sustainability.
Dharma and ecological sustainability
In search for pleasure & affluence modern humanity has exploited nature without any
restraint to such an extent that nature has been rendered almost incapable of sustaining
healthy life. Invaluable gifts of nature have been polluted resulting disastrous consequences.
Humanity is now searching for ways and means of overcoming the pollution as health is
being alarmingly threatened. If we are to act with a sense of responsibility to the natural
world, to our fellow beings to future generations, we must find an appropriate environmental
ethic.For survival, humans depend on nature for their food, clothing &shelter medicine and
other needs. For maximum benefits humans have to understand nature so that they can
usefully utilize natural resources while living harmoniously with nature.
By understanding the work of nature for example, the seasonal rainfall pattern, methods of
conserving water by irrigation, the soil types, the physical conditions required for growth of
various food crops-humans can get better returns from their farming. But this learning has to
be accompanied by moral restraint if the benefits of natural resources are to be enjoyed for a
Dharma, Society and the Economy
According to dharma in the Buddhist teaching, Firstly, human beings have to live in peace
and harmony with each other, other beings and nature. Secondly, truth and non-violence are
essential and thirdly society has to be non-exploitative and human beings have to act in a
manner that optimizes health, happiness and welfare of everybody including those in other
societies or nations. Fourthly humans beings have to live a life of simplicity and lastly there
is need for self-control, friendliness,compassion ,love and forgiveness.
Humanity must learn to satisfy its needs and not to feed its greed., dharma advocates the
virtues of non-greed , non-hatred and non-delusion in all human pursuits. Greed breeds
sorrow and unhealthy consequences. Wealth should only be a means to an end; it is for the
satisfaction of human needs. Hoarding is considered a senseless anti-social habit.
Dharma advocates that a householder should accumulate wealth as a bee collects nectar from
a flower. The bee harms neither the fragrance nor the beauty of the flower, but gathers nectar
to turn it into sweet honey. Similarly, a human being is expected to make legitimate use of
nature so that one can rise above nature and realize one‟s innate spiritual potential.So to
reverse this process of moral decay is to restore Dharma.
We also have to accept that selfishness and greed are not going to vanish overnight. It would
appear that the first step of being dharmic would be to explain how the present way of life is
not in our own interest, let alone in the interest of millions of other beings and future
The second step would be to challenge the social strictures which sustain and promote values
that lead to ecologically destructive results. Two structures of particular importance would be
education and economics. In the secular democracies of the west, both of these structures are
based on belief in value-free knowledge, unlimited progress and the individual freedom. The
combined effect of these beliefs and the rapid erosion of the values(compassion, generosity,
self-control) which come from western religions. As a force of spiritual renewal dharma
would seek to inject fresh awareness of undisputed values.
In the modern economics the prime motto is raising the standard of living or maximsing the
consumption which is called materialism and there by optimizing the production. The
production philosophy of modern industrialism is based on the corporate need for profits,
technological determination and ecological indifference.
Following Dharma, the Buddhist economy may be briefly enumerated as: The goal of such
system is the maximization of human happiness , combined with full mental and moral
growth and the optimization of health and water. It is driven by morality and stress selfcontrol and the regulation of material consumption rather that its maximization
Some of the Reasons for the Present Scenario
In Indic religious traditions, a number of rituals and myths exist in which the environment is
revered. Despite this nature worship in India, its natural resources are under heavy pressure
with its growing economy and exploding population. We are not following the dharma of
nature and the nature is taking revenge on us. We are misusing the environment. We are not
respecting the pancha bhoothas, (the five elements), i.e., Air, Water, Sky, Fire and Land,
they are also showing their negative impact on all of us. The mother nature has an equation
made up of these five elements at which our lives would be very comfortable, healthy, etc.,.
This equation also has tolerance limits.
The mother nature is kind enough to permit us to make the necessary changes in the given
equation to make our lives more comfortable. But, only when we go beyond these tolerance
limits, the mother nature would react abnormally through natural calamities. Today, as we
have gone far beyond these limits our sustainability is threatened. According to the mother
nature any deadly disease can be diagnosed only in its third stage, where it is incurable. Then
we are left with the only option of living with it for as long as possible. Similarly the unsustainability .
How are we polluting these Pancha bhoothas at the expense of our necessities,comfort
and luxuries and those which have now lead to threats for the sustainability of people
planet and prosperity.
We are polluting the Air
We humans pollute the air by burning plastic which is non-biodegradable this to
when burnt gives off the gas co2. Believe it or not cows are also polluting the air as
each day they give off large amounts of a gas called methane which is harmful to the
We contribute to pollution of air by smoking, burning plastics, bellowing fumes from
our cars, chemical sprays, personal sprays,deodorants, perfumes, by cleaning
products that contain harmful ozone damaging chemicals. Heavy metal toxins also
play a part in polluting our atmosphere, and and bodies, because we inhale them
every day, and the build up in the body, and can cause some very serious illness's.
These are Mercury vapors, lead, aluminum, etc. Detoxing for specific heavy metals is
possible nowadays, and is very effective.
With the development of automobile industry, increase in the number of vehicles and
polluting the environment.We are contributing to the global warming and thinning of
Ozone layer when we switch on a few crores of air conditioners in this world.
We are wasting and polluting water
Today we are forced to buy the drinking water, and a lot of drinking water is being
wasted consciously and unconsciously. In the name of comfort we use a lot of water
for a purpose than actually required.
Direct sources polluting water include effluent outfalls from factories, refineries,
waste treatment plants etc.. that emit fluids of varying quality directly into urban
Indirect sources include contaminants that enter the water supply from
soils/groundwater systems and from the atmosphere via rain water. Soils and
groundwaters contain the residue of human agricultural practices (fertilizers,
pesticides, etc..) and improperly disposed of industrial wastes. Atmospheric
contaminants are also derived from human practices (such as gaseous emissions from
automobiles, factories and even bakeries).
We are polluting the Space &sky
Astronomers world-wide are concerned with the disappearing stars in the
night sky due to increasing skyglow from uncontrolled urban uplight. Lights in the
city illuminate night skies, hiding many of the stars. Outdoor lighting that interferes
with the natural landscape is called light pollution. As urban areas grow, so does this
type of pollution
Space pollution refers to the gathering debris in orbit around the Earth, made up of
discarded rocket boosters, broken satellites, and more. And just like the other types of
pollution, space pollution is a cause for increasing concern as the amount of material
continues to grow.We are causing a lot of ecological imbalances
We are not respecting the Fire
We are supposed to worship the Fire regularly and as we are not doing that the Fire is
converting our natural wealth into ashes.
We are polluting & overburdening Bhoomi, the mother Earth
Agriculture--Accumulation of animal manures,excessive input of chemical
fertilizers,illicit dumping of tainted crops on land.
Mining and Quarrying-using of explosives to blow up mines, using of machineries
which emits toxic byproducts and leaks to the ground. We are hallowing her by
sucking the rich minerals from her and misusing the same
Sewage sludge-improper sanitation system causes sludge to leak at surrounding soil .
Dredged spoils-improper method of dredging at fertile land causes soil infertility,
leaving the soil more prone to external pollution.
Household-improper waste disposal system causes waste accumulation, improper
Demolition and construction--non biodegradable rubbles or debris which are not
cleared settled in the soil undergo chemical reactions and increase soil toxicity.
Industrial—poisonous/toxic emissions of gases which are not filtered or neutralized.
Mismatch between Growth and Regulation
We have not regulated the growth, as a result we have grown in a haphazard way. For
example, Software industry, Insurance Sector, Tele Communication industry, Politics,
Power Generation, Education, etc., have grown in haphazard manner.
If we look at the global crisis 2008 such questions like Why loans were offered to people who
couldn‟t afford to pay them off(subprime lending). Why regulators failed to curb individual
financial practices that could bring down monolithic institutions. Why unsecured debt had
become so dominant a force in the economy. And why governments had consistently turned a
blind eye or actively encouraged this „age of irresponsibility‟ arises which are due to
mismatch between growth and regulation which in turn that caused the crisis .
Jealousy and greediness are the main reasons for the today‟s situation Desire for more
comforts is exhausting the limited sources.Allegations of corruption, bribery and improper
practices are being prevailing all over the world .
Look at the scams and unethical practices worldwide Unethical practice, resorting to
dishonesty, trickery, Distortion of facts to mislead, manipulating people emotionally by
exploiting their vulnerabilities, greed to amass excessive profit, creation of false docs to show
increased profits, avoiding penalty or compensation, lack of transparency, harming the
environment by exceeding the govt prescribed norms for pollution, sexual discrimination.
Business houses that comply with ethics to determine their conduct are shrinking in number.
The lack of business ethics in the market is the reason and this is why the whole world
economy is presently in crisis, several scams all over the world and recent scams in Inida like
2013 Chopper scam, 2G spectrum, CWG scam etc.
India ranks 95th among 182 countries on transparency Internationals corruption perceptions
index. While the index ranks countries according to their perceived levels of public sector
corruption. However it is not just public or private company but today most of the companies
follow unethical practices and discontent among the individuals and excessive of owning
wealth.If corruption can be tackled, perhaps the emergent Indian exceptionalism will take root.
As the Buddha said, "No one saves us but ourselves." Now if we could only get out of our
Overutilization of Available Resources
Population is growing day by day and hence leading to Excessive human consumption.
People for sake of their luxuries and comforts are exploiting the natural resources rampantly.
For example take bath in bath tub, generally it takes one bucket of water for bathing but
whereas in a bath tub it nearly takes 4-5 buckets of water. The purpose is same but
consumption and wastage is more. We humans for the sake of our pleasure we are wasting
water and now we‟ve come to situation where we‟re buying drinking water.
People use air conditioners and other chloro-flouro carbon emitting things which badly
effects the environment. As the Ozone layer is getting thinned with the emission of these
cholorfloro carbons from vehicles and A/c‟s.
Technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful,
even addictive.It is one of the major causes for enhancing the need for sustainability, number
of uses are increased for same material to make it all the more scarce.
Dependence on the technology should be reduced, so that the human ability would be utilized
properly.Using caluculator even for small calculations is making human brains so lazy and
being more dependent on computer has developed lackadaisical attitude in people.
We‟re losing the ability or willingness to think and memorise. How many of us today know
the phone numbers of our friends and family? Computers, cell phones, iPads and tablets are
wonderful things but our ability to think individually is definitely being diminished.
Sustain Dharma for Sustainability - Sustaining or enhancing the sustainability
How we can reshape the world so that we live in a sustainable, fairer and better way. And the
beauty is that the change that is needed will make us sustainable & happier. That change is
Sustain dharma and that dharma sustains the sustainability of People,Planet and Prosperity.
Things to be followed from business point of view
Broad-Based sustainable development
Too many are intent on maintaining corporate prerogatives and preserving a narrow focus on
short-term financial performance. BBSD is wholistic approach to development which extends
beyond the narrow goal of economic growth
Examples of Sustainable finance and sustainable business practices in India:
It was Godrej group, not Electrolux, which recently launched the world‟s cheapest fridge
costing less than $100, The world‟s most affordable clean water solution has been launched
not by Coca-Cola or Nestle, but by an Indian fertilizer company Tata Chemicals.Some of the
Indian companies are blazing a trial with affordable, low energy, development-friendly
products and solutions.
In global perspective companies such as Google, Wal-Mart and Apple are investing in solar
power. Such initiatives must be encouraged worldwide and efficient and effective utilization
of those resources can reduce the plant dependence on fossil fuels ,non-renewable sources
which is harming the People, planet and prosperity.
Dharma which means “that which upholds, supports or maintains regulatory order of the
universe”. Dharma refers to those behaviors that are necessary for maintaining the natural
order of things.“The global finance industry is sorely lacking dharma.”, perhaps more than
any other profession, it has lost its sense of purpose. Arguably this has led to a dramatic
collapse in the time horizon with which we allocate society‟s capital as we look to generate
instant returns and instant rewards and to the steady erosion of the ethics from the industry.
Indeed Capitalist myopia seems to have taken over the reins of the global markets.
Capitalism is myopic and cannot make long-term investments social investments in
education, infrastructure and research development that it needs for its own future survival.
It needs government help to make those investments, but its own ideology won‟t allow it
either to recognize the need for those investments or to request govt help. While this myopic
view played a large part in the financial crisis as well as the erosion of ethics that continues to
fuel the occupy movement, it has also negatively affected the Earth‟s natural environment.
However just because humans suffer from myopic choice and find it hard to make a sacrifice
now even for the sake of something better later doesn‟t justify taking a view of prosperity
based on more or less instant gratification.
While Gross domestic product may measure economic growth but it doesn‟t take into
consideration the ecological ramifications of that growth and says that it is critical to find a
credible vision of what what it means for human society to flourish in the context of
ecological limits. Certainly Dharmic view could help to rectify this situation .It is necessary
take into consideration the other GDP: Gross Damage to the Planet.
Don’t cut out ESG
Cutting social, environmental or governance corners costs shareholders in the long-run.
Poor corporate governance has brought large Indian companies such as Satyam Computers to
their Knees. Allegations of corruption, bribery and improper practices have seen the share of
many property and infrastructure companies plummet. Poor Community relations have
delayed multi-billion dollar projects for years. The reverse is also true. In almost every sector
the companies that have delivered the best long term returns are the companies that
have taken their environment social governance responsibilities most to heart.
“You be the change”
The famous saying “Dharmo rakshati rakshitaha” told by Sri Krishna to Arjuna, which means
“Protect the dharma and dharma will protect you”.
When dharma is sustained the nation will prosper and so as the humans sustain but In present
scenario here comes the reign of a-dharma by individuals having forgotten the ethics and
dharma leading to unsustainably of the people planet and prosperity.
All things cannot be achieved overnight. Similarly don‟t be in a feel that what happens with
change in an individual. As small drops makes an ocean.Definitely the change in you can
impact the society.
You be the change and make sure the effect should be felt and followed in your family and
then follows the society. Let us change our individual lifestyles such that it conserves natural
resources.Practice and uphold dharma is to be in an appropriate relationship with the earth.
We must include the principles of sustainability in our life.
In all worldly activities , you should be careful not to wound propriety, or the canons of good
nature.You should be prepared at all times to respect the appropriate dictates of conscience;
you should watch your steps to see whether you are in someone else's way; you must be ever
vigilant to discover the Truth behind all this scintillating variety. That is your dharma.
Discharge your duties as intelligently and as devotedly as you can; but carry out your duties
as if they are acts of worship offered to God, leaving the fruit of those acts to His will, His
Compassion. Do not be affected when the results you anticipate are not produced; leave it to
Him.Do your duty as a sincere sadhana .Whatever you do you must regard it as a duty done
without any motive of self-interest or selfish gain. Through desire-filled actions we take birth,
through desire less actions.
Follow the sustainability principles
1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, underground metals, and minerals
2. Reduce dependence upon synthetic chemical and other unnatural substances
3. Reduce encroachment upon nature
4. Meet human needs fairly & efficiently
Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions
(e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors
(permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable
architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable
energy and sustainable Fission and Fusion power), to adjustments in individual lifestyles that
conserve natural resources.
The need for us to take drastic measures for re-adjusting our lifestyles is urgent. Since the
reasons for the present situation of un-sustainability caused by ignorance and negligence of
our dharma in maintaining and sustaining humanity. It emphasizes the need for activities
towards the direction of humanity and the health of the environment we live in. The Dharma
teaches that we must consider the impact that every decision we make will have on
generations to come to enhance sustainability. It suggests how an individual, a family and the
society can uphold dharma in all perspectives to enhance sustainability of humanity.We‟ve
emphasized how we can reshape the world so that we live in a sustainable, fairer and better
way. And the beauty is that the change that is needed will make us sustainable & happier.
That change is Sustain dharma and that dharma sustains the sustainability of People,Planet