Dharma forms the bases of the Four Purusharthas in Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma. Dharma means the virtues, duties and conduct with which one lives one’s life. It is the truthful and rightful way to live. Dharma is the cosmic law which governs everything. It is the foundation for Artha (economic growth) and Kama (pleasure), without which these other pursuits would be meaningless and self-destructive. Without living a life of Dharma, all other pursuits are hollow and empty.
Dharma means living one’s life consciously and being sensitive to the needs of others. Being conscious of the divinity within, one must lead one’s life full of compassion and empathy. Dharma is a journey of self-discovery and offering our unique gifts to the world. It is not only the responsibility which we have towards our family and society, but also towards ourselves, by aiming for self-realisation by leading a spiritual and virtuous life. On a larger scale, Dharma refers to the laws which govern everything, from the Sun to the tides in the ocean; from the ants to the elephant. Dharma can also be looked at as the true nature of anything. For example the Dharma of fire is heat, that of wind is movement.
“Dharma is not upheld by talking about it. Dharma is upheld by living in harmony with it.”
~ Gautama Buddha
This brings us to the question, as human beings how do we recognise and follow our true dharma? How do we know what is the right thing for us to do and not do, in the context of our own individual lives? In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna counsels a doubting and confused Arjuna: “It is better to do one’s own dharma, however imperfectly, than to do another’s, however perfectly.” This basic premise helps us avoid the trap of living someone else’s life, and truly following our heart.
Dharma is just about how you are within yourself. If you are in a state of all-inclusiveness, you will act according to your intelligence, according to the situation. ~ Sadhguru
Living a life of Dharma brings stability and contentment, which leads to a sense of joy and fulfillment. When we lead a life of self-control and take only that which is necessary for us, when our actions are in harmony with nature, and we do not harm any other being in thoughts and words, we lead a life of Dharma. When we become an instrument of the divine, and spread happiness wherever we go, we lead a life of Dharma.