Duryodhana in the Mahabharata declares: “ I know what is Dharma, but I am unable to follow it. I know what Adharma is, but cannot resist doing it.”
But what is Dharma ?
Dharmaputra as his name implies lives only for Dharma. But even he says: dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhaayaam. – “The secret of Dharma is well hidden in a cave.”
What is Dharma and what is Adharma has to be decided in a given context.
Dharma is not a mere religion as is popularly understood in the west.
Each of us is a spark from the divine and pursuit of Dharma helps fan the tiny spark into a conflagration.
One has to be true to one’s Svadharma which depends on Svabhava. Svabhava is inherited from our karmas in the previous births.
Kama and Artha, lust and lucre, are the two values usually pursued. These can be followed to the extent they are not in variance with Dharma.
Vyasa exclaims at the end of the Mahabharata:
“With uplifted hands I cry, and none listens to me. From Dharma flow prosperity and pleasure. Why then Dharma not followed by all?”
Some of the tenets are :
- Non-injury: One recognizes the validity of every creature’s position in the cosmic scheme.
- Truthfulness: Trying to perceive and relate facts as they are without prejudice is truth.
- Chastity: Chastity in thought, word and deed leads to higher and higher stamina and spiritual strength.
- Non-stealing: Coveting what belongs to another is stealing.
- Non-acceptance of gifts: Gifts creates a sense of obligation and independence is taken away.
This post is short, but is a start.
Dharma eludes a simpler write up as it encompasses everything, every being, every relationship, every event, every feeling and every emotion.