Press Esc to close
Monday 08 February 2016
News updated at 5:32 PM IST
Weather
Max: 32°C
Min : 18°C
In Bengaluru
Partially 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
A leopard attacks a man in a school premises in Bengaluru on Sunday...

A leopard attacks a man in a school premises in Bengaluru on Sunday...

Sand sculpture of turtles at Marina Beach as part of a 'Save a Turtle campaign'...

Sand sculpture of turtles at Marina Beach as part of a 'Save a Turtle campaign'...

Awareness about road safety rules at the launch of 'Aster SafeRoads campaign in New Delhi...

Awareness about road safety rules at the launch of 'Aster SafeRoads campaign in New Delhi...

Tourists enjoy Shikara rides at Dal Lake as tourism in J&K comes back to life after 2014 floods...

Tourists enjoy Shikara rides at Dal Lake as tourism in J&K comes back to life after 2014 floods...

Gen DS Hooda pays tribute at Jagdunath memorial on the occasion of Nowshera Day celebration...

Gen DS Hooda pays tribute at Jagdunath memorial on the occasion of Nowshera Day celebration...

Swimmer Sayani Ghosh during final round of women 400M Medley event at the 12th South Asian Games...

Swimmer Sayani Ghosh during final round of women 400M Medley event at the 12th South Asian Games...

Swimmer Sayani Ghosh (M), Shraddha Sudhir (L) and Sri Lankan swimmer JUI Silva (R), with their medal

Swimmer Sayani Ghosh (M), Shraddha Sudhir (L) and Sri Lankan swimmer JUI Silva (R), with their medal

Indian Swimmers Sajan Prakash (M), Saurabh Sangvekar (R) and Bangladeshi swimmer Mahfizur Rahman...

Indian Swimmers Sajan Prakash (M), Saurabh Sangvekar (R) and Bangladeshi swimmer Mahfizur Rahman...

Indian and Nepal women Hockey Team players in action during the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati..

Indian and Nepal women Hockey Team players in action during the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati..

Cyclists on a 40 kms criterium race during 12th South Asian Games, in Guwahati on Sunday...

Cyclists on a 40 kms criterium race during 12th South Asian Games, in Guwahati on Sunday...

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