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Dharma

 

What is Dharma?


What is Dharma? Dharma is so called, because it holds: Dharma alone holds the people, etc. The word Dharma is derived from the root DHR- to hold- and its etymological meaning is ‘that which holds’ this world, or the people of the world, or the whole creation from the microcosm to the macrocosm. It is the eternal Divine Law of the Lord. The entire creation is held together and sustained by the All-powerful Law of God. Practice of Dharma, therefore, means recognition of this Law and abidance by it.


That which brings well-being to man is Dharma. Dharma supports this world. The people are upheld by Dharma. That which accrues preservation of beings is Dharma. Dharma leads to eternal happiness and immortality.


That which is Dharma is verily the Truth. Therefore, whosoever speaks the truth is said to speak Dharma, and whosoever speaks Dharma is said to speak the truth. One and the same thing becomes both.


Dharma includes all external deeds, as well as thoughts and other mental practices which tend to elevate the character of a man. Dharma comes from the Divine and leads you to the Divine.


Definition of Dharma


No language is perfect. There is no proper equivalent word in English for the Sanskrit term Dharma. It is very difficult to define Dharma.


Dharma is generally defined as ‘righteousness’ or ‘duty’. Dharma is the principle of righteousness. It is the principle of holiness. It is also the principle of unity. Bhishma says in his instructions to Yudhishthira that whatever creates conflict is Adharma, and whatever puts an end to conflict and brings about unity and harmony is Dharma. Anything that helps to unite all and develop pure divine love and universal brotherhood, is Dharma. Anything that creates discord, split and disharmony and foments hatred, is Adharma.


Dharma is the cementer and sustainer of social life. The rules of Dharma have been laid down for regulating the worldly affairs of men. Dharma brings as its consequence happiness, both in this world and in the next. Dharma is the means of preserving one’s self. If you transgress it, it will kill you. If you protect it, it will protect you. It is your soul companion after death. It is the sole refuge of humanity.


That which elevates one is Dharma. This is another definition. Dharma is that which leads you to the path of perfection and glory. Dharma is that which helps you to have direct communion with the Lord. Dharma is that which makes you divine. Dharma is the ascending stairway unto God. Self-realisation is the highest Dharma. Dharma is the heart of Hindu ethics. God is the centre of Dharma.


Dharma means Achara or the regulation of daily life. Achara is the 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.


Dharma In Other Religions


All other religions also lay stress on Dharma. Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and Islam are all remarkably alive to its value. 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. Each religion lays greater stress on certain aspects of Dharma.


Benefits of the Practice of Dharma


Of the four grand objects of human aspirations ( Purusharthas), viz., Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, Dharma is given the foremost rank in the scriptures. Dharma alone is the gateway to Moksha, to immortality, infinite bliss, supreme peace and highest knowledge. Dharma alone is the primary Purushartha. Dharma is the first and foremost Purushartha. 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.


Practice of Dharma leads to the perfect realisation of essential unity or the final end, the highest good, namely, Moksha (liberation). The practitioner experiences peace, joy, strength and tranquillity within himself. His life becomes thoroughly disciplined. His powers and capacities are exceedingly intensified. He realises that there is one underlying homogeneous essence, a living truth, behind these names and forms. He is transmuted into divinity. His whole nature gets transformed. He becomes one with the Eternal. He beholds Brahman (the Supreme Reality) above, Brahman below, Brahman to the right, Brahman to the left, Brahman in front, Brahman at the back, Brahman within, Brahman without and Brahman pervading the whole world.