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Dharma – A Six letter Complicated Word In Hinduism To Make Life Simpler

Friday, December 11, 2009

India is the home and abode of religions. It occupies the proud first place in religious devotion and godliness. It is famous for its Yogis and saints. The word Dharma comes from India, from Hindu philosophy. Hinduism describes Dharma as the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one's life. The purpose of Dharma is not only to attain a union of the soul with the supreme reality, it also suggests a code of conduct that is intended to secure both worldly joys and supreme happiness. Regulation of daily life is supreme Dharma. It is the basis of Tapas or austerity. It leads to wealth, beauty, longevity and continuity of lineage. Evil conduct and immorality will lead to ill-fame, sorrow, disease and premature death. Dharma has its root in morality the controller of Dharma is God Himself.

In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma, what is right. Mathematically we can say Good Dharma =Good Karma. For explanation on Karma please read my earlier post (The Law Of Karma –A Unique Contribution of India to the World Through the practice of Dharma alone can you ever hope to achieve the crowning glory of all human endeavours, viz., Moksha (liberation) which is the best and the highest of all desirable things. For Hindus, correct performance of dharma has a favourable effect on their karma (fate), thus coming closer to the final goal of liberation from the cycle of reincarnation.

Dharma can be classified under two heads:
Samanya or the general, universal Dharma
Visesha or the specific, personal Dharma.
1.Contentment, 2.forgiveness, 3.self-restraint, 4.non-stealing, 5.purity, 6.control of senses, 7.discrimination between right and wrong, as also between the real and the unreal, 8. spiritual knowledge, 9.truthfulness and 10.absence of anger come under the general or universal Dharma.
The rules of the castes and orders of life are specific Dharmas. These are the tenfold characteristics of Dharma according to Manu (In Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind.)
Dharma assumes various kinds: Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law), Samanya Dharma (general duty), Visesha Dharma (special duty), Varnashrama Dharma (duties of caste and Order), Svadharma (one’s own duty), Yuga Dharma (duty of the age or period in history), Kula Dharma ((duty of family), Manava Dharma (duty of man), Purusha Dharma (duty of male), Stri Dharma (duty of female), Raja Dharma (duty of king), Praja Dharma (duty of subjects), Pravritti Dharma (duty in worldly life) and Nivritti Dharma (duty in spiritual life).

If,you have read Mahabharata, the Pandavas represent Dharma in life and the Kauravas represent Adharma.The four Asharams of life also have prescribed Dharma in all stages,details please read my earlier post The Four Ashrams Of Life –A Rational and a Scientific Approach of Life(

Other religions, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam all lay stress on the concept of Dharma in their own ways. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kant, Swedenborg and Spinoza are all striking examples in the interesting history of Western philosophy for the high pedestal on which they have placed morality, duty and righteousness, and adored them all as the only means to the attainment of the goal of life.


sm said...

interesting read

Priya said...

Nice article :) Just a question Meghana... For you to think, you need not reply to me. So other religions too have their own concept of Dharma, yes. But what makes Dharma, as it is in Hinduism, unique as compared to the concept of Dharma in other religions?


Meghana said...

Hello Priya,

Thanks for your valuable inputs on my post.I would try to answer your question below.

The unique thing about Dharma in Hinduism, is that in Hinduism the more focus is not on Dharama but its on Karma.And one can attain Dharam just by following Karma in his or her life.

For example,a king in ancient period they were Kshatriyas and that was his Dharama.But along with his dharama he had Raj dharama which was directly related to his Karma.If he failed to fulfill is Raj Dharam then he failed his kshatriaya dharam also.

And this combination of Dharam and Karma makes DHARMA unique in Hindu religion.

Priya said...

Hi Meghana,

Very good point. The concept of Dharma is unique in Hinduism, because of karma as well. Because karma is what compels one to do his dharma. We know that every action we do, gives good (punya) and/or bad (paapa) results. So by following our dharma, we earn more merits (punya) and therefore, in the future, more favourable situations are created.

I just want to share another point here too Meghana. Apart from your point. Other religions view Dharma as something that is based on certain universal values and ethics. Nothing beyond that. But in Hinduism, our scriptures describe Dharma as the Universal Order that governs everything, and that this Universal Order is GOD. By Universal Order, I mean everything from the orbit of the planets, to the functioning of the human body. Everything has an order. This is also called Dharma, apart from just values and ethics, which is more like our individual dharma.

When our individual dharma is aligned with the universal dharma, that is when we are really worshipping Ishwara (God)... :) Such a beautiful concept, I just wanted to share here with you and the others who might come across your blog... Thanks for allowing me to!


P.S. You might think where I am getting my basis for all this from. I am currently doing a Diploma in Hinduism, and this is part of what I have learned in the course. I do have scriptural basis for everything said here. These are not my viewpoints.