Ever since Hindu Dharma has evolved it has been known for its definitions of Dharma. It speaks of the moral laws that each individual should conduct. Dharma rules both the religious and societal chores. Virtue, Duty, Truthfulness, Morality, and Religion together have the power to uphold both the universe and the society. Dharma has played a pivotal role in shaping the events in The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. Hindu deities in each have preached people about the importance of Dharma. It is said that Dharma maintains the stability of one’s life. But what exactly is Dharma? What are its principles? Let’s dig into how Hindu religion defines Dharma.
What is Dharma?
According to Hindu Religion, Dharma is an organizing principle which applies to human beings in their interaction with other humans, objects and nature, in solitude and as well as between cosmic parts and inanimate objects. Furthermore, it refers to the orders, behaviors, and rituals that govern society and its ethics. In Hindu dharma every living being is tied within the knots of Dharma, for example, it is the dharma of a cow to give milk. Dharma does the needful of bringing the essence of interconnectedness and service to one’s life. Sanatana Dharma or The Eternal Law is the foundation of Hindu Dharma.
In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad it is defined as follows:
धर्मः तस्माद्धर्मात् परं नास्त्य् अथो अबलीयान् बलीयाँसमाशँसते धर्मेण यथा राज्ञैवम् ।
यो वै स धर्मः सत्यं वै तत् तस्मात्सत्यं वदन्तमाहुर् धर्मं वदतीति धर्मं वा वदन्तँ सत्यं वदतीत्य् एतद्ध्येवैतदुभयं भवति ।।
Nothing is higher than Dharma. The weak overcomes the stronger by Dharma, as over a king. Truly that Dharma is the Truth (Satya); Therefore, when a man speaks the Truth, they say, “He speaks the Dharma”; and if he speaks Dharma, they say, “He speaks the Truth!” For both are one.
Four stages of life as individual’s dharma
There are four ashramas according to Dharma-
1. Brahmacharya, the student life
This stage includes the practice of celibacy. The student visits Gurukul and learns about philosophy, logic, scriptures, science, and self-discipline. It continues till the person attains an age of 24.
2. Grihastha, the household life
The stage revolves around the married and family-centered life of a person that lies between 24-48 years of age. It is considered as the most important as the earnings of this stage are sustained for the proceeding stages.
3. Vanaprastha, the retired life
This stage stretches between 48-72 years of a person’s age. The person after handing over the household responsibilities to his next generation takes an advisory role and gradually withdraws from the world. A transformation from Artha and Kama (worldly and physical pleasures) to Moksha (spiritual liberation) takes place.
4. Sannyasa, the renounced life
After the age of 72 till the time person is alive he lives the life of a sanyasi. Free from all prejudices and material desires the person devotes his life to spirituality.
Fundamentals of Dharma
Practicing the life of cardinal virtues help you attain spirituality at its highest levels.
- Ahimsa or Non-Violence
Abiding by the rules and principles of Dharma takes you on a path of glory and perfection. The righteousness if protected becomes the companion of your soul after the death.