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Swadharma - If fragrance is the essence of a rose, what is yours?

“Each flower is beautiful, but each one blooms in a different environment and season. One cannot and should not compare a rose with a daisy or a lotus.”

Each of us possesses a unique essence, a vital principle that guides our development and functioning. Aristotle called this essence entelechy, from the Greek word entelechy meaning “that which is realized or makes actual what is otherwise merely potential.” The Bhagawad Gita defines this essence as Swadharma. If one can align with their essence truly, the only way forward is fulfillment, joy, focus, and an energized state of being. In this state, one does not require external approval, be it through social validation or monetary compensation.


In the Gita, Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to perform according to his Swadharma and not go after Para-Dharma or follow the duties of others that are not in alignment with Arjuna’s true essence.


Swadharma can be further defined as swabhavam niyatam karm, which translates to “the actions that come naturally to a person by their natural preparedness, attitude, psychological, and spiritual inheritance.” In other words,, our Swadharma is defined by our personalities.


Any personality trait has both positive and negative connotations. Just like light is always accompanied by its shadow, every personality has its strengths and weaknesses, both of which we must accept. Enjoying a rose, one has to be prepared to experience the sting of its thorns.

How does one know what one’s Swadharma is, and how is it different from one’s likes and desires? We can start by asking ourselves the following questions:

  1. Does an external reward drive my motivation?

  2. Am I doing this task for acknowledgement by others?

  3. Am I doing this task for my satisfaction and fulfillment?

Following our Swadharma and being truly authentic with ourselves energizes us. If one feels drained by doing something, that is not one’s Swadharma.


It is important to note that Swadharma is not our capability or capacity. With enough concentration, focus, and training we can become experts in any field we choose. However, not every activity that we are capable of doing shall bring us endless energy.


In fact, outside Swabhava, this learning might lead to one feeling drained and exhausted. These actions, outside our essence, may lead us to feel more sensitive to criticism.

By living in a way that’s true to our Swadharma, we can find sanctity and sacredness towards our work and feel a sense of flow or single-pointed concentration. In such a state, there is a natural, spontaneous integration of mental resources, and one grows and evolves spiritually as a person.


The secret to maximizing our probability of success and inner fulfillment is finding the right field of work, something satisfying that is aligned with our natural inclinations and tendencies.


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