आहार-निद्रा-भय-मैथुनश्च सामान्यम् एतद्पशुभिर्नराणाम्।
धर्मो हि तेषाम् अधिको विशेषः धर्मेण हीनः पशुभिः समानः॥
āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunaśca sāmānyam etadpaśubhirnarāṇām|
dharmo hi teṣām adhiko viśeṣaḥ dharmeṇa hīnaḥ paśubhiḥ samānaḥ||
"Food, sleep, fear, producing offsprings — in all these humans compare with animals;
It is only 'dharma' or righteousness that is unique to them, without which, they are no better than animals."
Further, even मनु remarked that
धर्म एव हतो हन्ति धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः।
dharma eva hato hanti dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ|
"Dharma, when killed, kills and protects, when protected."
The unflinching followers of धर्म have always stood out in our epics such as Ramayanam and Mahabharatam, as also in the various puranas, with युधिष्ठिरः, रामः and हरिश्चन्द्रः coming foremost to the mind. It is even said that the only advice given to Rama by his mother before he set off on his 14-year exile to the forest was to follow dharma on all counts.