Press Esc to close
Thursday 29 September 2016
News updated at 12:16 AM IST
Weather
Max: 29.3°C
Min : 20.9°C
In Bengaluru
Generally cloudy

The concept of dharma

Last updated: 04 September, 2009
Mirle Karthik

Dharma is a term that is frequently used in Indian spiritual thought. Though it is a term with wide and far reaching ramifications, it essentially signifies a sense of duty, a sense of obligation or a sense of responsibility.


What follows is an extract from an exposition on Dharma by the eminent scholar late Prof S K Ramachandra Rao.

“Dharma basically means ‘to nourish’, ‘to uphold’ and signifies whatever supports the universal order and also the individual life in society. Dharma is the basic value in life as well as in transactions - social, religious, secular and vocational. Dharma is the first of the three normal human purposes, the other two being the acquisition of wealth (artha) and the enjoyment of pleasures (kama). Dharma is characterised by certain common human values like truth, generosity, compassion, sympathy, self-restraint, forgiveness, non-enmity, friendliness, absence of envy and rectitude in conduct. The scriptures say ‘attend to this, the essence of dharma, do not do to others what you would not do to yourself. Put yourself in the position of others and then act’. In other words, dharma is the inner light of clear conscience, mindful of the welfare of all and minimising ego involvement and selfishness in institutional behaviour.

Dharma is closely linked with the idea of original human indebtedness or inescapable obligation. Every human being is born with three debts. The first is towards his ancestors, the second is towards the sages and the third is what he owes to the Gods.

By continuing the family line by having his own children, he discharges his debts towards his ancestors, by studying, understanding the cultural context and milieu into which he is born, he discharges his debt towards the sages, as the sages have been responsible for the unbroken cultural heritage of the land. By respecting and worshipping the elemental and environmental forces like the air, the rivers, the mountains, plants, animals etc, he discharges his debts to the Gods. (The stress on environmental awareness is to be noted here). This concept of indebtedness is the very source of dharma, which shifts the focus from desire gratification to duty fulfilment, thus making human life meaningful and worthwhile.

The two great epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata both emphasise the role of Dharma in individual life as well as in collective existence. If the Ramayana illustrates the need to subordinate wealth and enjoyment to dharma, thus making it the mirror of Indian culture, the Mahabharata expounds on the challenges that dharma faces from greed and wealth in personal and public life and how real dharma is sabotaged by surrogates and counterfeits.” This is Dharma, the bedrock of human existence.


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Kane Williamson selects a suit length at a Garments shop in Kolkata on Wednesday...

Kane Williamson selects a suit length at a Garments shop in Kolkata on Wednesday...

Women practice Gujarati 'Garba' as they celebrate for the upcoming 'Navratri festival'...

Women practice Gujarati 'Garba' as they celebrate for the upcoming 'Navratri festival'...

A submerged temple after opening of Bargi dam gate at Gaurighat in Jabalpur on Wednesday...

A submerged temple after opening of Bargi dam gate at Gaurighat in Jabalpur on Wednesday...

Pranab Mukherjee  during a visit to Kedarnath Temple at Kedarnath in Uttarakhand on Wednesday....

Pranab Mukherjee during a visit to Kedarnath Temple at Kedarnath in Uttarakhand on Wednesday....

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut attends the GQ India Men of the Year Awards 2016...

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut attends the GQ India Men of the Year Awards 2016...

Ranveer Singh attends the GQ India Men of the Year Awards 2016, in Mumbai...

Ranveer Singh attends the GQ India Men of the Year Awards 2016, in Mumbai...

Prabhu Deva and actress Tamanna during a promotional event for their upcoming film Devi...

Prabhu Deva and actress Tamanna during a promotional event for their upcoming film Devi...

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Disha Patani and Kiara Advani talking to media person....

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Disha Patani and Kiara Advani talking to media person....

Sourav Ganguly and Indian cricket team coach Anil Kumble during a practice session...

Sourav Ganguly and Indian cricket team coach Anil Kumble during a practice session...

Ajay Devgn with his daughter Nysa during a campaign in Mumbai...

Ajay Devgn with his daughter Nysa during a campaign in Mumbai...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523