What is Dharma?

Source: The Hindu

Dharma is what supports the world. There are many words to describe adherents to dharma-dharmaseela, dharmavatsala, dharmagnya etc. But Lord Krishna Himself says that no Sastras have defined dharma. But dharma has been indicated. One way of defining dharma is ‘that which saves us and others from destruction.’ It sustains life, said Kidambi Narayanan, in a discourse.

Let us take an example from modern times to understand dharma. In a highway, paths are clearly marked as ones for two wheelers to take and ones for four wheelers to take. We know that if we are on a motorbike and take the four wheeler path, it could lead to an accident. So we keep to the right path. The lifeless vehicle cannot make the decision, and we are the ones responsible for steering it in the right direction.

Dharma, similarly, is adherence to rules. Dharma is what is required of us, and this depends upon the various roles we play in life. As a mother or a child, or a sister, or aunt-we have different roles to play and therefore different duties.

Playing each role properly and doing the duties required of that role is our dharma. We play each role at different ages in our life, and so while we are someone’s daughter or son, we are at the same time student or office goer, and we cannot neglect one role for the other.

We cannot refuse to look after the family, because of tensions at the workplace. We cannot neglect official duties, because of domestic worries.

Every role that is assigned to us has to be played according to the rules of that role playing. Performing yagas, being vegetarian, studying the scriptures, giving liberally to others, penance, speaking the truth always, and kindness towards others- all these will help us adhere to dharma.

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