Dharma is the path of righteousness and living one's life according to the codes of conduct as described by the Hindu scriptures
Moral Law of the World
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. Hindus consider dharma the very foundation of life. It means "that which holds" the
people of this world and the whole creation. Dharma is the "law of being" without
which things cannot exist.
According to the Scriptures
Dharma refers to the religious ethics
as propounded by Hindu gurus in ancient Indian scriptures. Tulsidas
author of Ramcharitmanas
, has defined the root of dharma as compassion.
This principle was taken up by Lord Buddha in his immortal book of great wisdom,
. The Atharva Veda
describes dharma symbolically: Prithivim dharmana dhritam
, that is,
"this world is upheld by dharma". In the epic poem Mahabharata
the Pandavas represent dharma in life and the Kauravas represent adharma.
Good Dharma = Good Karma
Hinduism accepts the concept of reincarnation, and what determines the state
of an individual in the next existence is karma
which refers to the actions undertaken by the body and the mind. In order
to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma, what
is right. This involves doing what is right for the individual, the family,
the class or caste and also for the universe itself. Dharma is like a cosmic norm and if one goes against the norm it can
in bad karma. So, dharma affects the future according to the karma accumulated.
Therefore one's dharmic path in the next life is the one necessary to bring
to fruition all the results of past karma.
What Makes You Dharmic?
Anything that helps human being to reach god is dharma and anything that hinders
human being from reaching god is adharma. According to the Bhagavat Purana
, righteous living or life on a dharmic
path has four aspects: austerity (tap
), purity (shauch
) and truthfulness (satya
); and adharmic or unrighteous life
has three vices: pride (ahankar
), contact (sangh
), and intoxication
). The essence of dharma lies in possessing a certain ability, power and spiritual
strength. The strength of being dharmic also lies in the unique combination
of spiritual brilliance and physical prowess.
The 10 Rules of DharmaManusmriti
written by the ancient sage Manu, prescribes 10 essential rules for
the observance of dharma: Patience (dhriti
), forgiveness (kshama
piety or self control (dama
), honesty (asteya
), sanctity (shauch
control of senses (indraiya-nigrah
), reason (dhi
), knowledge or
), truthfulness (satya
) and absence of anger (krodha
Manu further writes, "Non-violence, truth, non-coveting, purity of body
and mind, control of senses are the essence of dharma". Therefore dharmic
laws govern not only the individual but all in society.
The Purpose of Dharma
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. Rishi Kanda has defined dharma in Vaisesika
as "that confers worldly joys and leads to supreme happiness". Hinduism
is the religion that suggests methods for the attainment of the highest ideal
and eternal bliss here and now on earth and not somewhere in heaven. For example, it endorses the idea
that it is one's dharma to marry, raise a family and provide for that family
in whatever way is necessary. The practice of dharma gives an experience
of peace, joy, strength and tranquillity within one's self and makes life disciplined.