धर्म की उत्पत्ति

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Defining 'Dharma'

'Dharma' is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from the stem or root. The word 'dharma' is derived from the root dhri, which means to hold, to keep, or to maintain. So, what which holds, keeps or maintains is dharma. Dharma maintains, keeps, or holds the very basis of this universe, the cosmic order. In that sense, dharma means the proper functioning of the various cyclical activities of this universe that maintain its balance. Dharma also means righteousness since it enables one to be closer to the truth, which maintains the cosmic order, also called rta. So, for an individual, sva-dharma, one's own dharma, would mean that which one has to do because of one's committing to it or because of one's station in life. Dharma can also mean the faith and tradition of people because these traditions have been conceived and strengthened by the meditations and realizations of rishis. These traditions are eternal and that is why the name Sanatana Dharma. Dharma should not be confused with the English 'word' religion. Religion generally means a group bound by its belief systems.

Basic aspects of Dharma

As 'Samskara' given to an individual particularly from childhood acts as a powerful antigen for the mind against the mental diseases flowing from the six inherent enemies of man, it is necessary to expound what are those fundamental rules of Dharma;

While Dharma touches on a wide varieties of topics, the essence of Dharma common to all human beings is also declared in various works.

"अक्रोध: सत्यवचनं संविभाग: क्षमा तथा |

प्रजन: स्वेषु दारेषु शौचमद्रोह एव च ||

आर्जवं भृत्यभरणं नवैते सार्ववर्णिका: |"

Truthfulness, to be free from anger, sharing wealth with others, (samvibhaga) forgiveness, procreation of children from one's wife alone, purity, absence of enmity, straightforwardness and maintaining persons dependent on oneself are the nine rules of the Dharma of persons belonging to all the varnas. (Yaj. 1-122 is similar).

A reading of each one of the above rules at once makes an individual realise what he should do and what he should not do. The observance of the above rules alone secures real happiness and harmony in life.

Manu Smriti is more concise and brought 'Dharma' under five heads.

"अहिंसा सत्यमस्तेयं शौचमिन्द्रियनिग्रह: |

एतं सामासिकं धर्मं चातुर्वर्णेऽब्रवीन्मनु: ||" (Manu X-163)

Ahimsa(non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not acquiring illegitimate wealth), Shoucham (purity), and Indriyanigraha (control of senses) are, in brief, the common Dharma for all the varnas.

Rules of Dharma

  1. Not to indulge in violence against other living beings.
  2. Every one must be truthful in day to day life.
  3. Not to indulge in 'asteya' i.e., acquiring wealth by illegitimate and immoral methods. It is the desire to secure wealth by illegitimate methods which makes a man corrupt, a cheat, a smuggler, a black marketeer, an exploiter, and makes even men in noble professions exploit the miseries of others to make more and more money in utter .disregard to professional ethics. Therefore, it is very essential to ingrain this important rule in the heart and mind of every individual.
  4. Every individual to maintain purity of thought, word and deed (Trikarana shuddi i.e., Kaya, Vacha, Manasa), which is also called Antaranga Shuddi (internal/mental purity) and Bahiranga Shuddi (external purity or purity in action). This rule means absolute honesty in that there should be harmony in thought, word and deed of an individual. One should not think something in the mind, speak something else, and do entirely another thing. '
  5. Control of senses. It is lack of control over the senses which results in individuals indulging in all types of illegal and immoral actions, being instigated by the one or more of the six inherent enemies (Arishadvargas). This lands himself as well as others in misery and loss of happiness.

The mere knowledge of the rules of Dharma, however does not make a man 'Dharmishta' i.e., a man acting always in conformity with Dharma. Therefore, Dharma has to be ingrained in the mind of every individual from child hood. Just as triple antigen for giving immunity to the body against dreaded disease has to be administered to a young child for giving immunity to the mind against sinful thoughts Dharma- the sextuple antigen has to be administered to the mind of an individual as part of education. It is a slow but a sure process. This process was called 'Samskara'.

Defining 'Samskara'

Adi Shankara in his commentary on Vedanta Sutra has explained this process thus:-

"संस्कारो हि नाम गुणाधानेन वा स्याद् दोषापनयनेन वा ||"

Sanskara is a process by which good qualities are generated and bad qualities are removed in an individual. Thus, when knowledge of rules of Dharma and of Dharma abiding nature is ingrained in the mind of an individual, it acts as antigen against the six enemies inherent in him and always makes him conform to dharma. That is why 'Dharma' is given the pride of place by our ancestors. This aspect is declared in Mahanarayanopanishat Section 79-7 thus:-

"धर्मो विश्वस्य जगत: प्रतिष्ठा |

लोके धर्मिष्ठं प्रजा उपसर्पन्ति |

धर्मेण पापमपनुदति |

धर्मे सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितम् |

तस्माद्धर्मं परमं वदन्ति ||"

Dharma constitutes the foundation of all affairs in the World. People respect those who adhere to Dharma. Dharma insulates (man) against sinful thoughts. Everything in this world is founded on Dharma. Dharma therefore, is considered supreme.

The role of Dharma is, that it acts as an internal check, a preventive against sinful actions as it destroys the very cause of such actions, namely sinful thoughts. To put it in a nutshell, the power of law is to punish those who commit offences after the acts if only they are caught and evidence is available. It is punitive in nature. But "Dharma" has the power to prevent a man from committing an offence by acting as an antigen against the six enemies inherent in every man. It is preventive. Therefore, it can rightly be described as the six antigen for the mind which gives immunity against sinful thoughts arising on account of the instigation of one or more of the six inherent enemies (arishadwarga).

Dharma and Religion

As Western self-styled Indologists claims Dharma is not synonymous to Religion. The word 'dharma' cannot be translated into any single word in English, and has multiple meanings. Another meaning is property, attribute, or nature. So, if one says that fluidity is the dharma of water, it means that fluidity is the property of water. Dharma could also the intrinsic nature of a thing or person. For instance, it is the dharma of fire to burn. Another meaning of dharma is social code or law. Since these laws are considered to be the basis of social fabric, they are called dharma. Several such social codes exist like the Manu Smriti and Yajnavalkya Smriti. Dharma can also mean any rule, decree, ordinance, or statue. The decree of the government or the king could be called raja-dharma.

The use of the concept of Dharma

The concept of dharma in the sense of a cosmic harmony has been denoted in various symbols like the Dharma Chakra or the wheel of dharma, which finds place in the Ashoka Chakra depicted in the Indian national flag and also in the Indian national emblem. In essence, dharma is something that has to be practiced according to the Indian tradition. The Upanishads exhort one to practice dharma and speak the truth. And in this sense, which has to be considered as the main meaning of the word, dharna meaning harmony through the practice of righteousness and many other similar virtues.

Significance of Dharma in Human Life

Dharma was formulated as the solution to the eternal problems confronting the human race, originating from natural human instincts.

"अकामस्य क्रिया कचिदृश्यते नेह कर्हिचित् |

यद्यद्धि कुरुते किञचत् तत्त्कामस्य चेष्टितम् ||" (Manu, II: 4)

There is no act of man which is free from desire; whatever a man does is the result of the impulse of desire.

In the above verse, analyzing the human instinct, Manu states that the force behind every action of a human being is his काम || kama (desire). Then the next question was what were the natural desires of man? The natural desire of man was found to be the desire to have enjoyment of wealth ie., अर्थ || artha (material pleasure) as also emotional and sexual enjoyment. Artha is explained by Vatsayana as connoting material wealth such as gold, cattle, com, including education or knowledge (intellectual property) necessary to earn wealth. The source of all evil actions of human beings was traced to the desire for material pleasure which in turn gave rise to conflict of interests among individuals. Further, it was found that the desire (kama) of human beings could also be influenced by the other impulses inherent in human beings such as anger (krodha), passion (moha), greed (lobha), infatuation (mada), and enmity (matsarya). These six natural impulses were considered as six internal enemies of man (arishadvarga), which if allowed to act uncontrolled could instigate him to entertain evil thoughts in the mind for fulfilling his own selfish desires and for that purpose cause injury to others. Manu, on this basis, explained the causes of all civil and criminal injuries inflicted by the action of one against the other. Dharma or rules of righteous conduct was evolved as a. solution to this eternal problem arising out of the natural instinct of man. In Shantiparva of the Mahabharata (Ch.59- ????


  1. Jois, M. R. (). Dharma-The Global Ethic. :​Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan​.