In this creation, for every living and non-living object there is a dharma. If there is that dharma, the object is known as such. If that dharma is absent, the object also loses identity. “Yenedam dhaaryate sa dharmah”, by this saying, if an object is borne by something, that something is called dharma. It is said ” dharme sarvam pratithitam” every thing in this world is based on dharma. Our dharma is the only one for this entire world. “Dharma viswasya jagatah pratisthaa” – the one that can uphold the world is this dharma only. Except the Hindu dharma there is no other dharma in this world. God incarnated himself in this land which is the only veda bhoomi, karma bhoomi and punya bhoomi in this entire world and gave the dharma needed by the world in different forms. At no other place, God has incarnated. In other places, only messengers of God and devotees were born. What human beings say are their opinions. They may be in different forms, suiting to each mind. But dharma is the only one, that too, God spoken. That is Hindu dharma.
Veda is commanding the world to practise dharma – “Dharmam chara”. That is a royal command and divine command which is undeniable. “Dharmannapramaditavyam” – means laxity i not permissible in the matter of dharma. This is how to Veda is giving instruction through “Sikshavalli”. In such matter of dharma, we will have result depending upon our practice of dharma. If we protect dharma, it protects us in turn. If we destroy such a dharma, we got the result commensurate with it. The same thing is told by the sentence “dharma yeva hato hanti – dharmo rakshati raksitah”. Dharma is in the form of witnenss “Dharmassa jaanati narasya vrittam” – this says dharma can know fully the nature of a human being. That goodness of dharma can give the appropriate result. That is why the sentence of veda, which is the word of God, tells us in the interest of our welfare that we should not behave or casual in the matter of dharma. It is very much necessary to know about dharma in a detailed manner. We use this word dharma in different meanings.
We say “what you say is not approved by dharma”. Here dharma is used in the sense of justice. If some poor man asks “please do dharma”, what means by the word. ‘Dharma’ is charity or donation. You have not spoken dharma – here it means it is its nature. “If deeds of dharma are done, one will hav nobler position” – here dharma deeds means “punya karyas”, meritorious deeds. Thus the great word dharma denotes justice, charity truth, nature, merit and several other meanings.
Yatoabhyudaya nisserayasa sidhihi sa dharma – Kanada’s ‘vaiseshika sidhanta’ tells us purpose of dharma as the one which best owes the best position on a person both on the earth and also in the celestial world. “Abhyudaya” means the happiness which a person enjoys in the heaven and also in the cycle of future births. ‘Nissreyasam” tells about the happiness of moksha. These dharmas are of two kinds, general dharmas and special ones. Performing yagna, tapas and like are general ‘dharmas. ‘Apat dharmas’ (dharmas to be followed in critical situations) and ‘Sookshma dharmas’ (subtle dharmas) are vishesha dharmas (special ones). The purpose of dharma can be fulfilled only in its practising rather than in knowing about it. That is why it is said “adhyanannacha panditah, dharam charitah panditah” – A scholar (pandita) deerves to be the one, not by acquiring scholorship, but only by practicing dharma. Dharma is to know how to conduct oneself before others properly. It is also dharma to know how to do things and when to do. Dharma is also the thought process which and when to do. Dharma is also the thought process which always gives a person happiness. For one who follows dharma, even though he is in a physical difficulty, his mind will have peace and happiness, but, if one does not follow dharma, even though he has physical happiness, his mind will be full of restlessness and conflict. In the matter of dharma, it is only the veda and sastra that decide as to how a thing should be and they are standard ones.They can be known in the form of sriti, smriti, purana, ithihasa and sadacharam.
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by Dr Annadanam Chidambara Sastry