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What is Dharma ?

Discussion in 'Chitvish on Hindu Culture & Vedanta' started by Chitvish, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Hinduism has given to the religious world, Dharma, a Sanskrit term for which an exact equivalent has not been found in any other language. Dharma means that which holds everyone and everything together – that which integrates the personality and unifies the society. The nearest word meaning may be righteousness or virtue or moral law. This word Dharma envisages the practical application of certain rules which regulate man’s conduct and enables him spiritual elevation.

    The scriptures never tire of emphasizing the importance of upholding Dharma in life. Dharma is the very basis of the universe and hence an individual can enjoy peace of mind only when he does not swerve from Dharma.

    The now popular, New Age Guru Deepak Chopra says

    “We aren't here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as individuals and then to spread that influence. In the wisdom tradition of Vedanta, the stream of evolution is known in Sanskrit as Dharma, from a root verb that means 'to uphold.' This gives us a clue how to live: the easiest way for us to grow is to align ourselves with Dharma. We don't have to struggle to grow--that would be unproductive, in fact.
    The Dharma has always favoured non-violence. If we can bring ourselves to a state of non-violence, and connect with others who are doing the same thing, we have done a huge thing to reinforce Dharma.”

    Religion and righteousness are inter-linked. The former relates to an individual while Dharma stands for the welfare of the society. If a person upholds virtue, in its turn it will protect him. Rama is often quoted as an example for a person who followed “ Svadharama”. Even though he was an avatara purusha, he chose to be a human being through out. That is why he never used his power of God, but went through the trial and tribulations of a man. An actor might be a very good man in personal life, but when he acts as a villain, he has to act according to the demands of his role ! That is his dharma in the role, he plays.

    The root of culture is Dharma.

    Dharma, here, is not to be confused with charity, good deeds, morality or anything like that. Our vedic culture defines it as "Dhaaranad dharmam idhyahu." It's called Dharma because it bears.
    The dharma of fire is heat and that of ice is being cold. Like wise there are some inherent, implicit, unbreakable dharma for a human being.
    As the famed Director of Ten Commandments said, 'We can't break His Laws (Dharma). We can only break ourselves against them”.


    Dharma also means righteousness and envisages the practical application of certain rules which regulate man's conduct and stand for the welfare of society. Dharma or righteous conduct which is the basis of our culture and religion must express itself in the life of man. It is not something to be pursued , divorced from our daily life. The scriptures say, if we abide by Dharma, it would protect us. When we adopt Dharma in our personal lives, it leads to the well-being of the society and prosperity of the entire world.

    Scriptures tell us that in following Dharma, the first and foremost aspect is good conduct in life. We should learn to obey and do our duty first, accepting that we do not always have the maturity to understand the entire principle and foundation of Dharma.
    We have no right to cause other people unhappiness in the process of gaining happiness for ourselves. So, now, we can define Dharma as that which gives us both material prosperity and spiritual unfoldment.


    As the religious and moral doctrine of the rights and duties of each individual, Dharma can refer generally to religious duty, and also mean social order, right conduct, or simply virtue.To lead an integrated life without stress and tension, without jealousy, greed or hatred of fellowmen and in peace with outer Nature and the vicissitudes of fortune, we need a golden key --"Dharma" !

    Love,
    Chithra.



     
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  2. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    You did your Dharma!

    Yes Chitra!

    By writing this complicated explanation about Dharma, you did your bit. I now owe it to myself to understand your elaboration on Dharma and absorb it. I read it once and am hurrying to write a reply, wanting mine to be the boni fb.. A bit of adharma in doing my dharma as an IL'ite! I need to read it with much more reflection.
    Your write up was very profound indeed. Come to think of it, there is no equivalent word in English for dharma. Like you say, it is often confused with duty, morality or virtue. Obviously, it is not so simple. Hinduism defenitely has presented Dharma to the world.
    The root of culture is Dharma.
    It is called Dharma because it bears.
    The above two sentences say volumes. It is up to us to understand it, or atleast strive to understand.
    Once again, a very thought provoking article on Dharma by you. Thanks.

    L, Kamla
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2007
  3. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Kamla !

    What more can I ask for, when I post a heavy topic ? I cannot thank you enough.
    Read it slowly & absorb it. But let me put it in still simple, perhaps more practical way - dharma is doing things only righteous way. We see people indulging in doing things wrong ( know not for what reason) more to make others unhappy in a sadistic way, with jealousy, hatred.... the list is indless !
    If we think twice before going ahead with something, if your "heart" tells you
    " yes, you can go ahead - you are not harming anybody or inflicting pain on anybody", then you are following Dharma. Ofcourse, now a days, I see civility decreasing in every walk of life, can't help saying, "that is adharma" !
    I am sure you will understand !
    Thanks for the boni, my friend !
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
  4. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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    Dear ChitVish,

    As our Shastras say, in moving through the four stages of life, Brahmacharyam, Grihasthashramam, Vanaprastham and Sanyasam, a person seeks to fulfill four essential goals.

    While Artha and Kama are primary in Grihastham, and Moksha in the last two stages of life, Dharma is essential in all the four stages. You have presented the most essential of the qualities in such a concise and profound manner. A very beautiful write-up again from you Dear Chitra!

    Thanks,
    Vidya
     
  5. Hamsadhwani

    Hamsadhwani Senior IL'ite

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    thanks Mrs.C!

    It is a heavy subject but the way you have explained it makes it easy to understand. With constant reading, one will be able to understand much more!
     
  6. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Vidya !

    Your post speaks of your interest in the subject at a young age, which is less common, can't help saying Vidya !
    I personally feel, artha & kama continue with us through many janmas before we move away from them ! Present day life's demands are such.
    Following dharma comes out of habit, when we know that we alone are answerable to our own words and actions. The more we move away from dharma, the more we accumulate our "karmas" which might fructify in this or some future janma ! Unknowingly, we wonder, where we went wrong ! You will understand this better when I discuss The Law of Karma.
    Thanks for your interesting F B.
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
  7. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear RadhaV 1

    Yes, the subject is heavy, but has to be chewed and digested slowly for our own benefit.
    Thankyou for the F b.
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
  8. sihi

    sihi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear ChitVish,

    A very heavy subject to digest indeed. I atleast read the article 4 times before replying. From what I understood, dharma is like discipline for any living being's existence.
    I feel that by not just reading alone, but by practising it in our day-to-day lives we will understand it better and also we will now the consequences when we do not follow dharma.

    As you have very aptly mentioned that
    When we adopt Dharma in our personal lives, it leads to the well-being of the society and prosperity of the entire world.

    By reading this I am wondering if other religions too believe in dharma and any such equivalent?

    Regards,
    Sihi
     
  9. vidyasarada

    vidyasarada Senior IL'ite

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    Thumbs Up Chitvish !

    Lucid explanations for complicated principles. You've done it again, Chitvish. You are truly the kind of "Sat" friend my "Chit " wishes for to find "Ananda".

    Coming to Dharma . Given that "Dharmam thalai Kakkum" and "as you sow, so you reap" it is in our own interest to practice dharma in whatever we do. Even if no other altruistic intent impels us, at least let this "selfish" motive guide us in sticking to the path of Dharma.

    Regards
    VS
     
  10. anjana

    anjana Bronze IL'ite

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    My dear Chitra,

    I had to read it several times to absorb and fully understand.Dharma is a very small word that has such a wide variety of meanings,such immense implications. From what I understand can we say that Dharma is that which leads us to good health at the level of the body, mind and the intellect.
    Dharma is not in a particular action, but as long as the action is conducive,supportive, and contributes towards intergration then that action is also called Dharma.I just need your clarification so I know to what extent I have understood. Such an interesting topic and also written very well Chitra.
    Love,
     

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