Traditionally the word 'Dharma' means religion, belief, divinity, doctrines, ritual, duty, righteousness, and alms. It also implies justice, truthfulness,faith, solace, fulfillment, peace and freedom from fear.
Dharmasthala is the perfect embodiment of the word “Dharma” for it displays every shade of meaning with which this word stands for. The greatness of Dharmasthala, lies in the fact that it has added an active element to “Dharma”, which touches the lives of people with a transformational directness that is unique. To those who come for worship, Dharmasthala represents religious tolerance wherein caste, creed and faith of pilgrims are no bars. The uniqueness of this place is that here Jain Theerthankara is worshipped on the same consecrated grounds as the native Deities and Lord Manjunatha (Lord Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple is Heggade, a Jain by faith. Altogether form a confluence of faiths that harmonize in belief of the Lord Almighty. To those that come for justice, Dharmasthala is the scale that does not tip in favour of a lawyer's glib tongue. Here, without any legal formality or argument Shri Heggade dispenses justice, acting in the tradition of his ancestral role as the Heggade and as representative of the presiding Deity. To those that come in dire need of help, Dharmasthala is an Oasis, where succour, solace and hope abound in the serenity and munificence of the temple that provide food and shelter. And to those that come in curiosity, Dharmasthala represents a society full of uniqueness in terms of faith and practices. Here different faiths co-exist in harmony. High or low, rich or poor, devout or atheist, at Dharmasthala all are equal.
Dharmasthala has not been content being a source of inspiration to the devout. Having expanded the meaning of Dharma to encompass the advancement of society at large, it has played an active role in improving and empowering the lives of communities far and wide. Its initiatives such as empowerment and development programmes have renewed the faith and hope of the people.