Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Dharma - Mine, Yours, Ours & Theirs

Hinduism is a Dharmic religion. Dharma is the Sanskrit word for duty. Hinduism is known as a Dharmic religion mainly because it emphasizes on ones own duty. There are different types of Dharmas. We all have different duties in this world. Our duties are not always the same.

The Dharmas of Hinduism can be broken down into many types. Here are some of the Dharmas. I have included my own opinion about it. .

Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law)
This is the laws of the universe as mentioned in our faith. This is the ultimate reality of existence and non-existence. The fact that energy exist, dissolution of cosmos, wind moves, gravity pulls, animal eats, humans worship, fire burns, Vedas as non-human origin etc. Every fact of the universe and beyond is part of Sanatana Dharma.

Samanya Dharma (general duty)
The general duty of all humans is known as Samanya Dharma. We eat, sleep, bathe, interact, move around, perform chores, love, respect, care. It is a general duty which we all do irregardless of who we are. Common for all.

Visesha Dharma (specific duty)
These are the specific duties we encounter in our life. It is the duty of the house owner not his neighbour to paint his own house. It is the duty of a man who drank juice to throw the cup into the dustbin. Others can't be throwing it for him. So we do what is specific to us at that point of time. If I am organizing a feast in my house, then it is my duty to prepare dinner for my guests.

Varnashrama Dharma (duties of social classes)
In Hinduism, societies are divided into classes known as Brahmana (intellectuals and priests), Kshatriya (rulers and enforcers), Vaisya (business class), Sudra (working class). We see these classification in today's society too. It is just that they may not have these Sanskrit name tags on them. Each class has its own duty.

It is the duty of the police officers to protect the citizens. It is the duty of the intellectual community to disseminate proper facts. It is the duty of the politicians to manage the country. It is the duty of the businessmen to fund the nation. It is the duty of the working class to support the nation through their work.

Yuga Dharma (duty of the era)
According to Hinduism, the human civilisation can be divided to several periods. It is mainly known as Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali Yuga. Hindu scriptures have its own definition of the things to do and avoided during each of these 4 yugas.

A yuga can also be interpreted as an era. The present era which we humans live in emphasizes on globalisation, democracy and many other values. The concept of Yuga Dharma is applied more on the broader scope of mankind itself rather than on individual humans.

Kula Dharma (duty of clan)
A Kula Dharma is our duty towards our family and extended family. The extended family is known as clan, kulam or jati. We have duties to do towards our own blood relatives. When someone is in trouble, it is our duty as family members to protect them. Whenever there is an event like wedding or even funeral, members of the clan have a duty to do. Their duties are determined through their relationship with each other. For example, when my niece gets married, it is my duty as her maternal uncle to perform certain pre-marital ritual. Kula Dharma also requires members of the clan to help the clan to prosper. Each jati needs to take care of itself and ensure that they have a quality life.

Manava Dharma (duty of mankind)
Manava Dharma is the common duty of humans. It is our duty as humans to ensure that our species continues. It is our duty as humans to manage this planet and protect it from destruction. We have to establish colonies and manage our civilizations. We need to be careful with how we use our resources. It is our duty to be humane in our doings and strive to preserve humanity among us.

Purusha Dharma (duty of husband) & Stri Dharma (duty of wife)
A husband has his duty towards the family. He is responsible as the bread winner for the family. As a father, he needs to protect not just his wife but also his children. The security of the family depends on him. He needs to provide the family with its basic needs. A house to live in, a vehicle to move around, power of purchase 

The duty of the wife, or Stri Dharma is a very special one. Today, most woman have their own career. This also means that we men must share some responsibilities with them.

However, this should not prevent them from carrying out their own duties. Not only that they should love their husbands, it is their duty to nurture the children. No love can replace a mother's love. They have very special place in the family.

It is said that if men are the fence of a family, the women are its pillars.

Raja Dharma (duty of king)
The ruler of a nation is highly responsible for the wellbeing of its people. While it is the duty of the government to manage the country, the ruler is responsible to ensure that the management itself functions well. Today, we live in a democratic society. Therefore, rulers need to also ensure that they do not break the trust of the people who voted them into power.

Praja Dharma (duty of subjects)
As citizens, we are obliged to contribute towards the nation we live in. We pay taxes, obey the law, respect each other and have the power to even select our rulers in today's era. We are also responsible to protect the image of our nation.

Pravritti Dharma (duty in worldly life)
The wordly life has many demands. We need to get married, have children and continue our lineage. Each stage of life has its own needs. Material need is one of it. A house is needed. A mode of transport is needed. Entertainment is also part of the wordly life. We cannot ignore everything and detach ourselves from these. 

Nivritti Dharma (duty in spiritual life)
The demands of spiritual life is different from that of wordly life. Firstly, there are two main stages. One is practicing spiritualism by being part of the wordly life, and the other is through Sanyasa. Sanyasa is practicing spiritualism by detaching ourselves from wordly matters. 

Apad Dharma (duty during distress)
Each duty is different. But duties can be ignored or altered during emergency. For example, a Brahmin priest may see it as his duty to be a vegetarian. But if he is stranded in a land during war and the only way to survive is by eating dog meat, he has to do it in the name of Apad Dharma for the sake of survival. 

It is basic humanity to spread love among mankind. But if violence is needed to protect our families from robbers, then we have no choice but to do it. These are the demands of emergency situation.

So those were some of the basic Dharmas.

When Arjuna rode into the battlefield, he became very depressed. Hundreds of thousands of warriors stood infront of him in the battlefield. They were not only his enemies but also his kins and friends. His own family patriach, Bhisma stood against him.

Arjuna laid down his weapons and decided not to be part of the war.

How can he kill the people who he loved so much?

Krishna then explained that Arjuna has entered the battlefield as a warrior. He has to do his duty as a warrior and participate in the war. 

Even if he is required to kill his loved ones to uphold justice and bring victory to the Pandavas, he has to do it. Because that is his duty at that point of time.

Such conflict of duties happens to us too. This is known as Dharma Sankata. We need to realise that Dharma needs to be applied according to the situation. We need to also find a balance between the various Dharma we do.

Many of the problems in the society today happens because people do not do their Dharma properly. 

It is not the duty of the politicians to become billionaires through fraudulent means. Their duty is to manage the country. Not steal its resources to enrich themselves. If they want to be rich, they should have quit politics and become businessmen.

Similarly, it is the duty of the police force to protect the citizens. It is not their duty to be involved in politics.

What happened in Tibet is a conflict of Dharma too.

The Buddhist leaders known as Dalai Lama are supposed to be focused in spiritualism. It is not their duty to administer a state. They can be an advisor to the ruler, but they should not become the ruler itself.

So this caused Tibet to have weak leadership. It fell into the hands of China. If Tibet had a ruler like the Chinese, China would have not dared to invade it.

So what is the best Dharma among all Dharmas?

As explained by Krishna himself, ones own Dharma is the best Dharma. This is known as Sva Dharma.

Yes we are all humans living in the same planet but each of us have our own Dharma to do in this life. We need to be mindful of our own Dharma and carry out our tasks with sincerity.

Peace will prevail if everyone understood their Dharma. When we disturb the balance of Dharma and prevent others from carrying out their Dharma, Adharma will prevail.

Shreyam SvaDharma!
Shreyam SvaDharma!
Shreyam SvaDharma!

- Comments


  1. Such beautiful thoughts.If people start following these virtues there won't be any problem.

    1. Thank you. Yes. If everyone did what they are supposed to do then there won't be any problem :)