In this single verse Manu Smriti has equated good conduct or ‘sadachara’ to Dharma or penance or sound knowledge and has added that there is nothing which cannot be achieved by good conduct. How true it is. If an individual were to develop good conduct, it is as good as practicing Dharma or undergoing penance or acquiring knowledge. In sum, there is nothing which cannot be achieved by good conduct.
Common rules of Dharma and their significance:“Ahimsa(non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not acquiring illegitimate wealth), Shoucham (purity), and Indriyanigraha (control of senses) are, in brief, the common Dharma for all the varnas.” [Manu Smriti X-163]“Dharma protects those who protect it. Those who destroy Dharma get destroyed. Therefore, Dharma should not be destroyed so that we may not be destroyed as a consequence thereof.” [Manu Smriti VIII-15].“Those who indulge in adharma attain immediate success and secure fulfillment of their desires. They overpower their opponents. But ultimately their ruin down to the roots is certain.”
“Reject desire (kama) and material wealth (Artha) if contrary to Dharma.” [Manu Smriti II-224]
However educated a person may be, whatever may be his knowledge about Dharma, unless he has secured capacity to follow rules of Dharma, all his knowledge is sure to be a waste and further all his knowledge is likely to be used to do harm to fellow human beings instead of being helpful to them and the society as a whole. This aspect which is an eternal truth is depicted in the character of Duryodhana of Mahabharata. Both Pandavas and Kauravas who were cousins were educated under the same guru. Pandavas headed by elder brother Dharmarya became ‘Dharmatmas’ in that they were always inclined to follow the rules of Dharma. But Duryodhana by character and conduct was just opposite. This aspect has been put in his own inimitable language in Mahabharata.
“I know what are the rules of Dharma, but I have no aptitude to follow or practice them. I also know what constituted Adharma, but I cannot get rid of it.”
After securing political independence, our education system was not designed so as to create more and more Dharmatmas, those who are by nature Dharma abiding. The result is, number of persons who have no aptitude to follow Dharma are far more than the number of persons who knowing full-well what is Adharma , they have the weakness to follow Adharma or have no will power to get rid of Adharma. Today, the resultant position is, those who indulge in corruption; who are addicted to consumption of alcohol or other intoxicating liquor or indulging in sexual crime against women, out number individuals who are not addicated to aforesaid immoral or illegal activities. That is why there is devil dance of Adharma everywhere and more so in making sexual onslaught on women, even on tender age girls. When such persons are in large numbers, how can we expect peace, tranquility, happiness in society. How can women expect safety to their persons and dignity.
In other words, our present education system is not producing more and more men of good character who have been educated and trained to live as a useful and law abiding citizens. Unless this situation is changed through National Educational System as advised by Swami Vivekananda and reiterated by the Supreme Court of India in Aruna Roy case [2002 (7) SCC 368] there is no hope for a better future. Such a situation cannot be brought about by law which is punitive in nature but can surely be done by producing more and more Dharma abiding citizens which is preventive in nature.