Significance of Dharma in Hinduism

vpaulose By vpaulose, 10th Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Religion

Dharma is the symbolic word heard often in Hinduism. It is not exclusive to Hinduism. It is a way of life common to the universal family of humanity.

What is Dharma?

Dharma is a way of life common to humanity. It is not restricted to any religion, but is applicable to every human person. Dharma is mentioned in Buddhism as Dhamma. Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism insist that dharma is the basis of any life which is rewarded in the next life, if the present life on this earth is lived perfectly according to the norms of dharma. A life of dharma leads one to moksha (heavenly bliss) or nirvana (freedom from all bonds of life). There is no need for the question if dharma exists outside India because it pertains to every life on earth.

What is Dharma?

The word “Dharma” is an intrinsic one with a lot of meanings. The Sanskrit word Dharma literally means “law of life” or “ways of life.” It is the core of Hinduism and Indian philosophy. According to Hinduism, dharma refers to one’s personal obligations, vocation and duties. Hinduism defines dharma according to every person’s age, occupation and status in society. Modern Indian languages refer this word simply to describe a person’s religion, depending on the context. Today, the word dharma refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Concept of dharma

The concept of dharma can be viewed in different angles from semantic, cultural and religious points of view. It is considered as the pivotal point of Indian civilization since it is not affected by any linguistic, sectarian or regional difference of the country. The term is too difficult to be translated into its real sense.
Rig Veda, the first Veda of Hinduism, defines dharma as the natural harmony and justice that pervades the natural world. It is manifested through the “rta” (the implicit order) of nature.

The Buddhist view of dharma or “Dhamma” is that it stands for something sublime, peaceful, subtle and trans-rational. It means the teachings of Buddha.
Jain literature interprets dharma as virtuous behavior, behavior in accordance with nature, and behavior in terms of activity, non-activity and cosmic order.

What is dharma in Hinduism?

The term Hinduism is an umbrella word since it does not refer to a unified system of belief encoded in declaration of faith or a creed. Hinduism is a term comprising the plurality of religious phenomena originating and based on the Vedic traditions. While explaining Bhagavad Gita, the sacred text of Hinduism, former President of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan says, “Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that cannot be defined but is only to be experienced.” This means that Hinduism is a not mere dogma or creed but it is a way of harmonious life.
In this context of harmonious life, Hindu dharma means that it is not restricted to Indian boundaries but it is universal.

Sanatan Dharma of Hinduism is not restricted exclusively to Hindus or Indians
By Sanatan dharma, Hinduism means doing one’s own duties in individual sense and living in harmoniously with others. Globally, it means the universal law by which all human beings are bound together. Although human beings are diverse in various ways, life of all should be motivated by a harmony. It is dharma. In nature, everything is in a certain order. Everything in the universe follows certain laws. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening because it is its dharma. A teacher cares for his students and prepares them for their better future, to be good citizens to make a good society. It is the dharma of the teacher. Mother Theresa devoted her life for serving the poor. It was her dharma.

Hence there is no question of Dharma existing outside India. It is not restricted in any religious sense. It is universal.


Common To Humanity, Devotion, Dharma, Hinduism, Peaceful Life, Universal, Way Of Life

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author avatar Retired
11th Oct 2011 (#)

A great Buddhist teacher named Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said the rgeatest gift we can give to anyone is knowledge of the dharma.

Very nice article. Dharma is universal...the SANATANA Dharma.

namaste, rd

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author avatar vpaulose
11th Oct 2011 (#)

Thank you my dear sister Rama Devi for an affectionate comment.

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author avatar Rathnashikamani
27th Oct 2011 (#)

Great exposition of the Sanatana Dharma in lucid terms.

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author avatar vpaulose
27th Oct 2011 (#)

Thank you Rathna. I was shocked at your article on plagiarism. How to find out if mine are stolen?

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