November 2022



Dharma is a duty or obligatory action by virtue of one’s position or station in life. The closest word for Dharma in English is righteousness, which is defined as morally right and good. The notion of Dharma as duty or propriety is found in ancient legal and in almost all the religious texts that originated in India. Dharma of the person will change depending on his personality trait and responsibility in life. Needless to say, in one’s life, when we are imbued to be students, we have a Dharma.

An individual when he is stationed as a student needs to function as per the characteristics and code of conduct of a student. For example, fire should burn and give heat to function, according to its dharma, and water in rivers needs to flow into the oceans. Dharma upholds the created universe, supports it and sustains it, without which the universe just falls apart.

The primary Dharma of a student is to constantly learn or in other words bring about a relatively permanent change in his or her behaviour. Towards this all actions done by a student to enable learning to encompass a Student’s Dharma. The Sanskrit word Vidyarthi (student) has Dharma subsumed in it and can be split as follows to understand this: –

Vidya = Knowledge / Skill

Arthi = Who desires & seeks

Therefore, Vidyarthi is the seeker of knowledge/skills, a learner, a student and there lies the Dharma of a Vidhyarthi.

Here is a list of some important actions a student must indulge in, as his Dharma: –

  • Attend all classes and learning opportunities offered in the campus.
  • Regularity in completion of assigned tasks/assignments.
  • Be inquisitive and be a constant seeker of knowledge.
  • Possesses a research attitude. Inculcate critical thinking and find some research questions which is in the line of ongoing research in your field or in some field of science and technology.
  • Develop a reading habit: Reading books can take students to unexplored areas they’ve never imagined before. Reading can help students widen their knowledge, thinking ability and enable different views to perceive this world to broaden the horizon.
  • Develop a physical routine or pick up a game: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy is the famous proverb. Mind and Body are two things to keep in best shape if you want to achieve success. Have a morning physical routine work on your body or play troupe games like football, volleyball and basketball. Keep your body fit, maybe play some sports or just do jogging or join the gym but stay in a good shape. But beware, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all play and no work makes him something worse.
  • Work on character building: A student’s times are the years that will define their future-self and character is the principal entity that matters.
  • Raise questions (and not your voice) if you see something wrong, but through appropriate and correct forums.
  • Participate in the activities of your college or institution for it will develop social skills and organizational skills too.
  • Have fun too, Life is better when you take time to let loose and kick back. It means it’s okay to let your hair down every once in a while, but indulge within limits of civility and restraint.

The reverse of dharma is Adharma – when the fire stops burning and rivers stop flowing, they are doing the opposite of what it is expected to do and it can result in the extinction of the Universal creations.  Likewise, when a student does not do what is expected of him to do, a tumultuous situation emerges.  Anything a student does to impede learning and other associated actions construes Adharma. A student must constantly strive for a victory of Dharma over Adharma. Following Adharma activities are taboo for students: –

  • Miss or bunk classes
  • Miss submitting your assignments and project work before deadline.
  • Procrastination of work
  • Indulging in bad habits like smoking, drinking and the like.
  • Wasting time in trivia like social media hangouts and such leniencies.
  • Indulging too much into junk food for it hampers health and impedes learning.

Success on any major scale requires one to search and follow one’s Dharma…. In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility and follow their Dharma.  A student’s Dharma is clearly cut out and students just need to follow it.


Written by,
Commodore SR Sridhar (Retd)

Registrar, IIITB