Difference between revisions of "Pramanas for Dharma (धर्मप्रमाणानि)"

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Dharma (धर्मः) is a samskrit expression of the widest import. There is no corresponding word for Dharma in any other world language as it is a unique and ancient concept promulgated by rshis since ages. Any single definition of Dharma would be an insufficient attempt to define the word. It can only be explained and has a wide variety of meanings in various contexts.  
 
Dharma (धर्मः) is a samskrit expression of the widest import. There is no corresponding word for Dharma in any other world language as it is a unique and ancient concept promulgated by rshis since ages. Any single definition of Dharma would be an insufficient attempt to define the word. It can only be explained and has a wide variety of meanings in various contexts.  
  
None of the faiths which are now widely spread across the world have such an extensive literary tradition nor the depth of concepts as antique as those advocated in Sanatana Dharma. 
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In this article we revisit and compile the pramanas or basis of Dharmas from Vedas and the subsequent vaidika vangmaya. The extensive vedic literature has shown the irrevocable link between Dharma and Vedas, a few instances are presented here.
 
 
In this article we revisit and compile the pramanas or basis of Dharmas from Vedas and the subsequent vaidika vangmaya. The extensive vedic literature has shown the irrevocable link between Dharma and Vedas, a few instances are presented here.
 
  
 
== व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ Etymology ==
 
== व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ Etymology ==
The samskrit word veda (वेदः | knowledge, wisdom) is derived from the धातुः (root) विद् (vid) - ज्ञाने (वेत्ति) in the meaning "to know" (Dhatupatha 1064)<ref name=":122" />. Apart from this, Veda is derived from विद् (vid) धातुः with the addition of Bhavarthaka (भावर्थकः), Karmarthaka (कर्मार्थकः) and Karanarthaka (करणार्थकः) "धम" Dhama pratyaya (प्रत्ययः | suffix) to form the meanings "knowledge, pertaining to knowledge and instrument of knowledge" respectively (See Page 2 footnote 1 for further reference).<ref name=":2">Singh, Ahilya. (2010) PhD Thesis Title: [http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/180070/3/03_chapter%201.pdf Pracheen bharat mein aarthik jeevan prarambh se vaidik kaal tak.] V. B. S. Purvanchal University.</ref><blockquote>वेद्यन्ते ज्ञाप्यन्ते धर्मादिपुरुशार्थचतुष्ठयोपाया येन स वेदः। vedyante jñāpyante dharmādipuruśārthacatuṣṭhayopāyā yena sa vedaḥ।</blockquote>Meaning: That which is the means for obtaining the knowledge of Dharma and other (अर्थः ॥ Artha, कामः ॥ Kama and मोक्षः ॥ Moksha) purusharthas is called Veda.<ref name=":2" /> Thus, the inseparable link  between Dharma and Vedas is well established by scholars in many instances.
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The samskrit word veda (वेदः | knowledge, wisdom) is derived from the धातुः (root) विद् (vid) - ज्ञाने (वेत्ति) in the meaning "to know" (Dhatupatha 1064)<ref name=":122">Patel, Gautam. (1999). ''Traditional Vedic Interpretations.'' New Delhi : Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan</ref>. Apart from this, Veda is derived from विद् (vid) धातुः with the addition of Bhavarthaka (भावर्थकः), Karmarthaka (कर्मार्थकः) and Karanarthaka (करणार्थकः) "धम" Dhama pratyaya (प्रत्ययः | suffix) to form the meanings "knowledge, pertaining to knowledge and instrument of knowledge" respectively (See Page 2 footnote 1 for further reference).<ref name=":2">Singh, Ahilya. (2010) PhD Thesis Title: [http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/180070/3/03_chapter%201.pdf Pracheen bharat mein aarthik jeevan prarambh se vaidik kaal tak.] V. B. S. Purvanchal University.</ref><blockquote>वेद्यन्ते ज्ञाप्यन्ते धर्मादिपुरुशार्थचतुष्ठयोपाया येन स वेदः। vedyante jñāpyante dharmādipuruśārthacatuṣṭhayopāyā yena sa vedaḥ।</blockquote>Meaning: That which is the means for obtaining the knowledge of Dharma and other (अर्थः ॥ Artha, कामः ॥ Kama and मोक्षः ॥ Moksha) purusharthas is called Veda.<ref name=":2" /> Thus, the inseparable link  between Dharma and Vedas is well established by scholars in many instances.
  
 
== धर्मप्रमाणानि ॥ Pramanas for Dharma ==
 
== धर्मप्रमाणानि ॥ Pramanas for Dharma ==
Many Sanatana Dharma texts proclaim that Vedas are the pramanas or basis of Dharma. These texts being the oldest in the world with no precedents to them, it is accepted with authority and respect by every follower of the concept of Dharma. Vyasa Maharshi's sayings stand testimony to the vedic authority of dharma as mentioned in Smrtichandrika are as follows<ref name=":4">Srinivacharya. L, (1914) ''Smritichandrika by Devana Bhatta, Samskara Kanda Prathama.'' Mysore: Government Branch Press (Pages 5 to 13)</ref> <blockquote>धर्ममूलं वेदमाहुः ग्रन्थराशिमकृत्रिमम्। तद्विदां स्मृतिशीले च साध्वाचारं मनःप्रियम् ॥</blockquote>Meaning : The Vedas are said to be the source of Dharma, as are the abundance of texts which are not created (apaurusheya), along with traditions (based on smrtis) and the virtuous conduct of those who follow Vedas; ultimately the source of Dharma also lies as given by the inner conscience of a human being.
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Many Sanatana Dharma texts proclaim that Vedas are the pramanas or basis of Dharma. These texts being the oldest in the world with no precedents to them, it is accepted with authority and respect by every follower of the concept of Dharma. Vyasa Maharshi's sayings stand testimony to the vedic authority of dharma as mentioned in Smrtichandrika as follows<ref name=":4">Srinivacharya. L, (1914) ''Smritichandrika by Devana Bhatta, Samskara Kanda Prathama.'' Mysore: Government Branch Press (Pages 5 to 13)</ref> <blockquote>धर्ममूलं वेदमाहुः ग्रन्थराशिमकृत्रिमम्। तद्विदां स्मृतिशीले च साध्वाचारं मनःप्रियम् ॥</blockquote><blockquote>dharmamūlaṁ vēdamāhuḥ grantharāśimakr̥trimam। tadvidāṁ smr̥tiśīlē ca sādhvācāraṁ manaḥpriyam ॥</blockquote>Meaning : The Vedas are said to be the source of Dharma, as are the abundance of texts which are not created (apaurusheya), along with traditions (based on smrtis) and the virtuous conduct of those who follow Vedas; ultimately the source of Dharma also lies as given by the inner conscience of a human being.
  
 
Following Vyasa Maharshi's words the following sources are listed below as accepted pramanas for Dharma.
 
Following Vyasa Maharshi's words the following sources are listed below as accepted pramanas for Dharma.
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* '''साध्वाचारम् ॥ the virtuous conduct of those who follow the Veda'''  
 
* '''साध्वाचारम् ॥ the virtuous conduct of those who follow the Veda'''  
 
* '''मनःप्रियम् ॥ the inner voice of the person'''  
 
* '''मनःप्रियम् ॥ the inner voice of the person'''  
Kurma Purana describing what dharmas are to be followed mentions that  Shrauta dharmas involving the tretagni are the most advisable followed by Smarta dharmas. When both Shruti and Smrti texts are unavailable (in unusual situations), Shistachara forms the third kind of dharma that is taken as standard for enforcing dharma.<ref name=":5">Kurma Purana, Hindi Translation. Gorakhpur: Gita Press. (Page 371)</ref><blockquote>श्रौतस्त्रेताग्निसंबन्धात् स्मार्त्तः पूर्वं मयोदितः । श्रेयस्करतमः श्रौतस्तस्माच्छ्रौतं समाचरेत् ।। २४.१५ </blockquote><blockquote>उभावभिहितौ धर्मौ वेदवेदविनिःसृतौ । शिष्टाचारस्तृतीयः स्याच्छ्रतिस्मृत्योरलाभतः ।। २४.१६ (Kurm. Pura. 24.15-16)<ref name=":6">Kurma Purana ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D-%E0%A4%89%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%9A%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%81%E0%A4 Uttarabhaga Adhyaya 24])</ref></blockquote>Thus it is to be noted that Shistachara is also one source of knowing dharma that is to be followed in particular situations when the same cannot be understood from the vedic and smrti texts.
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Kurma Purana describing what dharmas are to be followed mentions that  Shrauta dharmas involving the tretagni are the most advisable followed by Smarta dharmas. When both Shruti and Smrti texts are unavailable (in unusual situations), Shistachara forms the third kind of dharma that is taken as standard for enforcing dharma.<ref name=":5">Kurma Purana, Hindi Translation. Gorakhpur: Gita Press. (Page 371)</ref><blockquote>श्रौतस्त्रेताग्निसंबन्धात् स्मार्त्तः पूर्वं मयोदितः । श्रेयस्करतमः श्रौतस्तस्माच्छ्रौतं समाचरेत् ।। २४.१५ </blockquote><blockquote>śrautastrētāgnisaṁbandhāt smārttaḥ pūrvaṁ mayōditaḥ । śrēyaskaratamaḥ śrautastasmācchrautaṁ samācarēt ।। 24.15</blockquote><blockquote>उभावभिहितौ धर्मौ वेदवेदविनिःसृतौ । शिष्टाचारस्तृतीयः स्याच्छ्रतिस्मृत्योरलाभतः ।। २४.१६ (Kurm. Pura. 24.15-16)<ref name=":6">Kurma Purana ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D-%E0%A4%89%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%9A%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%81%E0%A4 Uttarabhaga Adhyaya 24])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>ubhāvabhihitau dharmau vēdavēdaviniḥsr̥tau । śiṣṭācārastr̥tīyaḥ syācchratismr̥tyōralābhataḥ ।। 24.16 (Kurm. Pura. 24.15-16)</blockquote>Thus it is to be noted that Shistachara is also one source of knowing dharma that is to be followed in particular situations when the same cannot be understood from the vedic and smrti texts.
  
 
=== शिष्टाचारः ॥ Shistachara ===
 
=== शिष्टाचारः ॥ Shistachara ===
Shistachara is founded in turn on Shrutis and Smrtis (which are again based on Shrutis). Kurma Purana and Manu define who a शिष्टाचारः or a person of virtuous conduct is, as follows<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः । ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणाः प्रोक्ता नित्यमात्मगुणान्विताः ।। २४.१७ </blockquote><blockquote>तेषामभिमतो यः स्याच्चेतसा नित्यमेव हि । स धर्मः कथितः सद्भिर्नान्येषामिति धारणा ।। २४.१८ (Kurm. Pura. 24.17-18)<ref name=":6" /></blockquote>One who is knowledgeable in the dharmic concepts given in Vedas and Paribhrimhanas (परिबृंहणः । Includes the vedic extensions such as Ramayana and Mahabharata Itihasas and Purana texts), and who is filled with Atmagunas (such as Ahimsa, Daya, Satya and eight such others) engrossed in pursuing the knowledge of Brahman (Brahmana) is called Shista (शिष्टः). It is laid down that the views  (policies) held by these Shistas, which are ever present in their Antakarana (Chetas), are called Dharma by scholarly people and not the views of those who live otherwise.<ref name=":5" />
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Shistachara is founded in turn on Shrutis and Smrtis (which are again based on Shrutis). Kurma Purana and Manu define who a शिष्टाचारः or a person of virtuous conduct is, as follows<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः । ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणाः प्रोक्ता नित्यमात्मगुणान्विताः ।। २४.१७ </blockquote><blockquote>dharmēṇādhigatō yaistu vēdaḥ saparibr̥ṁhaṇaḥ । tē śiṣṭā brāhmaṇāḥ prōktā nityamātmaguṇānvitāḥ ।। 24.17</blockquote><blockquote>तेषामभिमतो यः स्याच्चेतसा नित्यमेव हि । स धर्मः कथितः सद्भिर्नान्येषामिति धारणा ।। २४.१८ (Kurm. Pura. 24.17-18)<ref name=":6" /></blockquote><blockquote>tēṣāmabhimatō yaḥ syāccētasā nityamēva hi । sa dharmaḥ kathitaḥ sadbhirnānyēṣāmiti dhāraṇā ।। 24.18 (Kurm. Pura. 24.17-18)</blockquote>One who is knowledgeable in the dharmic concepts given in Vedas and Paribhrimhanas (परिबृंहणः । Includes the vedic extensions such as Ramayana and Mahabharata Itihasas and Purana texts), and who is filled with Atmagunas (such as Ahimsa, Daya, Satya and eight such others) engrossed in pursuing the knowledge of Brahman (Brahmana) is called Shista (शिष्टः). It is laid down that the views  (policies) held by these Shistas, which are ever present in their Antakarana (Chetas), are called Dharma by scholarly people and not the views of those who live otherwise.<ref name=":5" />
  
 
==== शिष्टानां स्वरूपम् ॥ Qualities of Shista Brahmanas ====
 
==== शिष्टानां स्वरूपम् ॥ Qualities of Shista Brahmanas ====
Manusmrti reiterates the importance of Shistas and their exceptional qualities.<blockquote>धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः । ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा ज्ञेयाः श्रुतिप्रत्यक्षहेतवः । । १२.१०९ । (Manu. Smrt. 12.109)<ref name=":222" /></blockquote>Those who have thoroughly studied the Dharmashastras, well-versed in the Vedas and vedangas, and leading a life according to the prescribed way laid down in the Shrutis are to be known as qualified persons of virtuous conduct or Shista Brahmanas (शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा-s).<ref>Pt. Manmath Nath Dutt, (1979) ''The Dharmashastra, Hindu Religious Codes, English Translation and Text. Volume 5.'' New Delhi: Cosmo Publications (Page 436)</ref>
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Manusmrti reiterates the importance of Shistas and their exceptional qualities.<blockquote>धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः । ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा ज्ञेयाः श्रुतिप्रत्यक्षहेतवः । । १२.१०९ । (Manu. Smrt. 12.109)<ref name=":222">Manusmriti ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%83%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83 Adhyaya 12])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>dharmēṇādhigatō yaistu vēdaḥ saparibr̥ṁhaṇaḥ । tē śiṣṭā brāhmaṇā jñēyāḥ śrutipratyakṣahētavaḥ । । 12.109 । (Manu. Smrt. 12.109)</blockquote>Those who have thoroughly studied the Dharmashastras, well-versed in the Vedas and vedangas, and leading a life according to the prescribed way laid down in the Shrutis are to be known as qualified persons of virtuous conduct or Shista Brahmanas (शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा-s).<ref>Pt. Manmath Nath Dutt, (1979) ''The Dharmashastra, Hindu Religious Codes, English Translation and Text. Volume 5.'' New Delhi: Cosmo Publications (Page 436)</ref>
  
 
=== आचारप्रमाणम् ॥ Achara Pramana ===
 
=== आचारप्रमाणम् ॥ Achara Pramana ===
 
It is further debated that if one who follows the activities as given by the Vedas and one who knows the Vedas (वेदविद्) becomes the pramana or standard for Shistachara, then even the (unlawful) living of Ahalya and Tara with Indra and Chandra respectively is be called as virtuous conduct (इन्द्रचन्द्रादेरहल्यातारादिगमनमपि प्रमाणं स्यात् किम्?) That is not the case. Then how is Aachara pramana (कथमाचारप्रामाण्यम्?) to be determined?
 
It is further debated that if one who follows the activities as given by the Vedas and one who knows the Vedas (वेदविद्) becomes the pramana or standard for Shistachara, then even the (unlawful) living of Ahalya and Tara with Indra and Chandra respectively is be called as virtuous conduct (इन्द्रचन्द्रादेरहल्यातारादिगमनमपि प्रमाणं स्यात् किम्?) That is not the case. Then how is Aachara pramana (कथमाचारप्रामाण्यम्?) to be determined?
  
In the case of knowing what Aachara pramanas are, even though deviations from Dharma are observed in examples such as that seen with Ahalya and Tara with Indra and Chandra respectively, Gautama this as follows<blockquote>दृष्टो धर्मव्यतिक्रमः साहसं च महतां ॥ (Gaut. Dhar. Sutr. 1.1.3)<ref>Gautama [https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%97%E0%A5%8C%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Dharmasutras]</ref> (तेषां तेजोविशेषेण प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते) इति। साहसं परशुरामादेः मातुः शिरछेदादि। </blockquote>Meaning : Bigger instances of transgression of dharma and bold adventurous acts are observed such as the beheading of Parashurama's mother. But such instances not diminish their greatness owing to their glorious deeds.
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In the case of knowing what Aachara pramanas are, even though deviations from Dharma are observed in examples such as that seen with Ahalya and Tara with Indra and Chandra respectively, Gautama this as follows<blockquote>दृष्टो धर्मव्यतिक्रमः साहसं च महतां ॥ dr̥ṣṭō dharmavyatikramaḥ sāhasaṁ ca mahatāṁ ॥ (Gaut. Dhar. Sutr. 1.1.3)<ref>Gautama [https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%97%E0%A5%8C%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Dharmasutras]</ref>  </blockquote><blockquote>(तेषां तेजोविशेषेण प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते) इति। साहसं परशुरामादेः मातुः शिरछेदादि। </blockquote><blockquote>(tēṣāṁ tējōviśēṣēṇa pratyavāyō na vidyatē) iti। sāhasaṁ paraśurāmādēḥ mātuḥ śirachēdādi।</blockquote>Meaning : Bigger instances of transgression of dharma and bold adventurous acts are observed such as the beheading of Parashurama's mother. But such instances not diminish their greatness owing to their glorious deeds.
  
Similar lines were expressed in Bhagavata Purana as follows<blockquote>धर्मव्यतिक्रमो दृष्ट ईश्वराणां च साहसम् ।  तेजीयसां न दोषाय वह्नेः सर्वभुजो यथा ॥ ३० ॥  </blockquote><blockquote>नैतत्समाचरेज्जातु मनसापि ह्यनीश्वरः ।  विनश्यत्याचरन्मौढ्याद् यथारुद्रोऽब्धिजं विषम् ॥ ३१ ॥</blockquote><blockquote>ईश्वराणां वचः सत्यं तथैवाचरितं क्वचित् । तेषां यत् स्ववचोयुक्तं बुद्धिमांस्तत् समाचरेत् ॥ ३२ ॥</blockquote><blockquote>कुशलाचरितेनैषां इह स्वार्थो न विद्यते । विपर्ययेण वानर्थो निरहङ्‌कारिणां प्रभो ॥ ३३ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 10.1.30-33)<ref>Bhagavata Purana (Skanda 10 [https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4% Purvardha Adhyaya 33])</ref></blockquote>Transgressing the limits of dharma and over-adventurous acts are found to have been committed by mighty divine beings. But that does not amount to a blemish for those glorious beings, just as the fire having numerous flames (which does not get polluted by consuming impure things). These (transgressive) acts should not be committed even mentally by those beings who are not divine. Such people meet with destruction (people who transgress dharma) just like a person, other than Rudra, who swallows the poison that arose by the churning of the ocean. The words of those having divine wisdom are irrefutably truth and authoritative but their actions may be emulated only at certain times. A prudent and intelligent person should follow the actions of such virtuous men only when consistent with their own personal precepts. Such authoritative persons who are devoid of ahamkara (ego) have no selfish ends for they work for the welfare of others and gain nothing by acting on the contrary.<ref>Bhagavata Purana, English Translation. Volume 5 Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass. Pvt. Ltd. (Page 1463)</ref>
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Bhagavata Purana talks about deviations from dharma as follows<blockquote>धर्मव्यतिक्रमो दृष्ट ईश्वराणां च साहसम् ।  तेजीयसां न दोषाय वह्नेः सर्वभुजो यथा ॥ ३० ॥  </blockquote><blockquote>dharmavyatikramō dr̥ṣṭa īśvarāṇāṁ ca sāhasam । tējīyasāṁ na dōṣāya vahnēḥ sarvabhujō yathā ॥ 30 ॥</blockquote><blockquote>नैतत्समाचरेज्जातु मनसापि ह्यनीश्वरः ।  विनश्यत्याचरन्मौढ्याद् यथारुद्रोऽब्धिजं विषम् ॥ ३१ ॥</blockquote><blockquote>naitatsamācarējjātu manasāpi hyanīśvaraḥ । vinaśyatyācaranmauḍhyād yathārudrō'bdhijaṁ viṣam ॥ 31 ॥</blockquote><blockquote>ईश्वराणां वचः सत्यं तथैवाचरितं क्वचित् । तेषां यत् स्ववचोयुक्तं बुद्धिमांस्तत् समाचरेत् ॥ ३२ ॥</blockquote><blockquote>īśvarāṇāṁ vacaḥ satyaṁ tathaivācaritaṁ kvacit । tēṣāṁ yat svavacōyuktaṁ buddhimāṁstat samācarēt ॥ 32 ॥</blockquote><blockquote>कुशलाचरितेनैषां इह स्वार्थो न विद्यते । विपर्ययेण वानर्थो निरहङ्‌कारिणां प्रभो ॥ ३३ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 10.1.30-33)<ref>Bhagavata Purana (Skanda 10 [https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4% Purvardha Adhyaya 33])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>kuśalācaritēnaiṣāṁ iha svārthō na vidyatē । viparyayēṇa vānarthō nirahaṅ‌kāriṇāṁ prabhō ॥ 33 ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 10.1.30-33)</blockquote>Transgressing the limits of dharma and over-adventurous acts are found to have been committed by mighty divine beings. But that does not amount to a blemish for those glorious beings, just as the fire having numerous flames (which does not get polluted by consuming impure things). These (transgressive) acts should not be committed even mentally by those beings who are not divine. Such people meet with destruction (people who transgress dharma) just like a person, other than Rudra, who swallows the poison that arose by the churning of the ocean. The words of those having divine wisdom are irrefutably truth and authoritative but their actions may be emulated only at certain times. A prudent and intelligent person should follow the actions of such virtuous men only when consistent with their own personal precepts. Such authoritative persons who are devoid of ahamkara (ego) have no selfish ends for they work for the welfare of others and gain nothing by acting on the contrary.<ref>Bhagavata Purana, English Translation. Volume 5 Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass. Pvt. Ltd. (Page 1463)</ref>
  
 
==== धर्मज्ञसमयः प्रमाणम् ॥ Dharmajna Achara Pramana ====
 
==== धर्मज्ञसमयः प्रमाणम् ॥ Dharmajna Achara Pramana ====
According to Apastamba the acharas that are followed by a Dharmajna, who is one well-versed in dharmashastras, is also a pramana for dharma.<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>धर्मज्ञसमयः प्रमाणं वेदाश्च। </blockquote>
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According to Apastamba the acharas that are followed by a Dharmajna, who is one well-versed in dharmashastras, is also a pramana for dharma.<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>धर्मज्ञसमयः प्रमाणं वेदाश्च। dharmajñasamayaḥ pramāṇaṁ vēdāśca। </blockquote>
  
 
=== परिषद्वचन-प्रमाणम् ॥ Parishad Vachana Pramana ===
 
=== परिषद्वचन-प्रमाणम् ॥ Parishad Vachana Pramana ===
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Groups of Shistas formed Parishads which worked selflessly to set the social standards based on existing dharmas given in the Shrutis and Smrtis after due judicious deliberation. Smrtis have taken into account such minute aspects about changing Dharmas and instituted a system of having Parishads as decisive authorities with high standards of quality.  
 
Groups of Shistas formed Parishads which worked selflessly to set the social standards based on existing dharmas given in the Shrutis and Smrtis after due judicious deliberation. Smrtis have taken into account such minute aspects about changing Dharmas and instituted a system of having Parishads as decisive authorities with high standards of quality.  
  
The people constituting the Parishad should have exceptional qualities described in the shastras. The concept of Vidvat Parishads led to modern day thesis defence in our education system wherein a thesis is evaluated by a panel of experts in that particular field. Formation of parishads has extended to other areas where a group of experts in any given field form the Parishad. Manu discusses this aspect as follows<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>अनान्मातेषु धर्मेषु कथं स्यादिति चेद्भवेत् । यं शिष्टा ब्राह्णा भ्रूयुः स धर्मस्स्यादशाङ्केतः।। १२.१०८ । । (Manu. Smrt. 12.108)<ref name=":222" /></blockquote>Meaning: How are the dharmas not found in the Vedas dealt with if present? That which the Shishta Brahmanas pronounce is the Dharma without any doubt (in such situation).
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The people constituting the Parishad should have exceptional qualities described in the shastras. The concept of Vidvat Parishads led to modern day thesis defence in our education system wherein a thesis is evaluated by a panel of experts in that particular field. Formation of parishads has extended to other areas where a group of experts in any given field form the Parishad. Manu discusses this aspect as follows<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>अनान्मातेषु धर्मेषु कथं स्यादिति चेद्भवेत् । यं शिष्टा ब्राह्णा भ्रूयुः स धर्मस्स्यादशाङ्केतः।। १२.१०८ । । (Manu. Smrt. 12.108)<ref name=":222" /></blockquote><blockquote>anānmātēṣu dharmēṣu kathaṁ syāditi cēdbhavēt । yaṁ śiṣṭā brāhṇā bhrūyuḥ sa dharmassyādaśāṅkētaḥ।। 12.108 । । (Manu. Smrt. 12.108)</blockquote>Meaning: How are the dharmas not found in the Vedas dealt with if present? That which the Shishta Brahmanas pronounce is the Dharma without any doubt (in such situation).
  
'''Gautama''' mentions that when dharmas in question are not found in the available Amnayas (vedas) (as many Vedas themselves are lost over a period of time, or the issue of a particular dharma in the present day is unavailable in the vedic references) then the decision, of what is best suitable, made by a group of selfless (अलुब्धः। not a greedy person) Shistas are to be implemented without any doubt. The additional qualities of a Shista Brahmana are mentioned here, i.e., selflessness or devoid of greed or not acting for personal gains. <blockquote>अनान्माते दशावरैः शिष्टैः ऊहवद्भिः अलुब्धैः प्रशस्तं कार्यम्। यत्तैः प्रशस्तमित्युक्तं तत्कार्यमित्यर्थः।</blockquote>Meaning: The best (for a given situation) solution given by a group of not less than ten selfless Shistas has to be enacted. It means that which is best as suggested by them is to be implemented.
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'''Gautama''' mentions that when dharmas in question are not found in the available Amnayas (vedas) (as many Vedas themselves are lost over a period of time, or the issue of a particular dharma in the present day is unavailable in the vedic references) then the decision, of what is best suitable, made by a group of selfless (अलुब्धः। not a greedy person) Shistas are to be implemented without any doubt. The additional qualities of a Shista Brahmana are mentioned here, i.e., selflessness or devoid of greed or not acting for personal gains. <blockquote>अनान्माते दशावरैः शिष्टैः ऊहवद्भिः अलुब्धैः प्रशस्तं कार्यम्। यत्तैः प्रशस्तमित्युक्तं तत्कार्यमित्यर्थः।</blockquote><blockquote>anānmātē daśāvaraiḥ śiṣṭaiḥ ūhavadbhiḥ alubdhaiḥ praśastaṁ kāryam। yattaiḥ praśastamityuktaṁ tatkāryamityarthaḥ।</blockquote>Meaning: The best (for a given situation) solution given by a group of not less than ten selfless Shistas has to be enacted. It means that which is best as suggested by them is to be implemented.
  
'''Bodhayana''' also mentions the importance of the Parishad formed with not less than ten people.<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>तदभावे दशावरा परिषत्। तदाभावे श्रुत्याद्यभावे।</blockquote>'''Yajnavalkya''' mentions that a Parishad could consist of lesser number of Shistas and among them even if one Atmajnani is present his decision is to be accepted and followed as dharma in matters of ambiguity.<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>चत्वारो वेदधर्मज्ञाः परिषत्रैविद्यमेव वा। सा ब्रूते यं स धर्मस्स्यादेको वाऽध्यात्मवित्तमः।।</blockquote>Meaning: That which is pronounced by those who are well-versed either in the Four Vedas and Dharmashastras, or even in three Vedas, or a single Adhyatmavid (Brahmajnani), in a Parishad, is said to be Dharma.  
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'''Bodhayana''' also mentions the importance of the Parishad formed with not less than ten people.<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>तदभावे दशावरा परिषत्। तदाभावे श्रुत्याद्यभावे। tadabhāvē daśāvarā pariṣat। tadābhāvē śrutyādyabhāvē।</blockquote>'''Yajnavalkya''' mentions that a Parishad could consist of lesser number of Shistas and among them even if one Atmajnani is present his decision is to be accepted and followed as dharma in matters of ambiguity.<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>चत्वारो वेदधर्मज्ञाः परिषत्रैविद्यमेव वा। सा ब्रूते यं स धर्मस्स्यादेको वाऽध्यात्मवित्तमः।।</blockquote><blockquote>catvārō vēdadharmajñāḥ pariṣatraividyamēva vā। sā brūtē yaṁ sa dharmassyādēkō vā'dhyātmavittamaḥ।।</blockquote>Meaning: That which is pronounced by those who are well-versed either in the Four Vedas and Dharmashastras, or even in three Vedas, or a single Adhyatmavid (Brahmajnani), in a Parishad, is said to be Dharma.  
  
'''Vasishta''' clearly spells out that<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>वेदाः प्रमाणं स्मृतयः प्रमाणं धर्मार्थयुक्तं वचनं प्रमाणम्। यस्य प्रमाणं न भवेत्प्रमाणं न तस्य कुर्याद्वचनं प्रमाणम्।।</blockquote>Vedas, smrtis and the advices of dharma and artha are pramanas. Those whose pramanas do not include any of the above pramanas such a person’s words are not to be considered as having any basis or pramanas, and hence should be ignored.
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'''Vasishta''' clearly spells out that<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>वेदाः प्रमाणं स्मृतयः प्रमाणं धर्मार्थयुक्तं वचनं प्रमाणम्। यस्य प्रमाणं न भवेत्प्रमाणं न तस्य कुर्याद्वचनं प्रमाणम्।।</blockquote><blockquote>vēdāḥ pramāṇaṁ smr̥tayaḥ pramāṇaṁ dharmārthayuktaṁ vacanaṁ pramāṇam। yasya pramāṇaṁ na bhavētpramāṇaṁ na tasya kuryādvacanaṁ pramāṇam।।</blockquote>Vedas, smrtis and the advices of dharma and artha are pramanas. Those whose pramanas do not include any of the above pramanas such a person’s words are not to be considered as having any basis or pramanas, and hence should be ignored.
  
 
=== सम्प्रदायोऽपि प्रमाणम् ॥ Sampradaya Pramana ===
 
=== सम्प्रदायोऽपि प्रमाणम् ॥ Sampradaya Pramana ===
Along with the above Dharma pramanas, Sampradaya also has been considered as pramana in some instances according to Manu. Sampradaya is defined as those aacharas (activities) that have come down traditionally in one’s own community/family. Where there are differences in aacharas according to shastras, that particular sampradaya has to be followed.<ref name=":4" /> <blockquote>तथा सम्प्रदायोऽपि कचित्प्रमाणमित्याह मनुः। स्वकुलपरम्परायात आचारः सम्प्रदायः। सोऽपि शास्त्रविप्रतिपत्तौ द्रष्टव्यः। </blockquote><blockquote>येनास्य पितरो याताः येन याताः पितामहाः। तेन यातात्सतां मार्गे तेन गच्छन्नरिष्यति।।</blockquote>Meaning: One always go in the way (follow those acharas) in which the forefathers and grandfathers have traveled.  
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Along with the above Dharma pramanas, Sampradaya also has been considered as pramana in some instances according to Manu. Sampradaya is defined as those aacharas (activities) that have come down traditionally in one’s own community/family. Where there are differences in aacharas according to shastras, that particular sampradaya has to be followed.<ref name=":4" /> <blockquote>तथा सम्प्रदायोऽपि कचित्प्रमाणमित्याह मनुः। स्वकुलपरम्परायात आचारः सम्प्रदायः। सोऽपि शास्त्रविप्रतिपत्तौ द्रष्टव्यः। </blockquote><blockquote>tathā sampradāyō'pi kacitpramāṇamityāha manuḥ। svakulaparamparāyāta ācāraḥ sampradāyaḥ। sō'pi śāstravipratipattau draṣṭavyaḥ।</blockquote><blockquote>येनास्य पितरो याताः येन याताः पितामहाः। तेन यातात्सतां मार्गे तेन गच्छन्नरिष्यति।।</blockquote><blockquote>yēnāsya pitarō yātāḥ yēna yātāḥ pitāmahāḥ। tēna yātātsatāṁ mārgē tēna gacchannariṣyati।।</blockquote>Meaning: One always go in the way (follow those acharas) in which the forefathers and grandfathers have traveled.  
  
 
The above lines mean that it is better for one to perform the same dharmik activities that were previously followed by one’s forefathers and grandfathers.  
 
The above lines mean that it is better for one to perform the same dharmik activities that were previously followed by one’s forefathers and grandfathers.  
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For example, specific vratas (vows) for deities such as Vishnu and Lakshmi are typically performed in many families as a tradition because their forefathers had performed them in a certain way. Newly-weds perform Satyanarayana vrata in many families in South of India as a tradition, but is widely performed in all regions of Bharat for well-being and auspiciousness at prescribed times.  
 
For example, specific vratas (vows) for deities such as Vishnu and Lakshmi are typically performed in many families as a tradition because their forefathers had performed them in a certain way. Newly-weds perform Satyanarayana vrata in many families in South of India as a tradition, but is widely performed in all regions of Bharat for well-being and auspiciousness at prescribed times.  
  
'''Sumantu''' reiterates<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>यत्र शास्त्रगतिर्भिन्ना सर्वकर्मसु भारत। उदिते-नुदिते चैव होमभेदो यथा भवेत्।।</blockquote><blockquote>तस्मिन्कुलक्रमायातमाचारं त्वाचरेद्रुधः। स गरीयान्महाबाहो सर्वशास्त्रोदितादपि।।</blockquote>
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'''Sumantu''' reiterates<ref name=":4" /><blockquote>यत्र शास्त्रगतिर्भिन्ना सर्वकर्मसु भारत। उदिते-नुदिते चैव होमभेदो यथा भवेत्।।</blockquote><blockquote>yatra śāstragatirbhinnā sarvakarmasu bhārata। uditē-nuditē caiva hōmabhēdō yathā bhavēt।।</blockquote><blockquote>तस्मिन्कुलक्रमायातमाचारंत्वाचरेद्रुधः। स गरीयान्महाबाहो सर्वशास्त्रोदितादपि।।</blockquote><blockquote>tasminkulakramāyātamācāraṁtvācarēdrudhaḥ। sa garīyānmahābāhō sarvaśāstrōditādapi।।</blockquote>
  
 
=== आत्मनः प्रमाणम् ॥ Atma Pramana ===
 
=== आत्मनः प्रमाणम् ॥ Atma Pramana ===
 
Apart from all these pramanas, one's own inner conscience is also a dharma pramana as given by Vyasa.   
 
Apart from all these pramanas, one's own inner conscience is also a dharma pramana as given by Vyasa.   
  
A good example of Atma pramana is seen in Mahabharata in the Adi Parva, when Dushyanta speaks about his inner conscience advising him that it was not against his dharma to make an offer of marriage to Shakuntala, at Kanva Maharshi's ashram, even though he does not know her lineage. <blockquote>न मेऽन्यत्र क्षत्रियाया मनो जातु प्रवर्तते। ऋषिपुत्रीषु चान्यासु नावरासु परासु च।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.20)</blockquote><blockquote>तस्मात्प्रणिहितात्मानं विद्दि मां कलभाषिणि। यस्यां मे त्वयि भावोऽस्ति क्षत्रिया ह्यसि का वदा।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.21)</blockquote>Dushyanta, while on a hunting trip visits the Kanva ashram one day. There, he comes across an exquisitely beautiful Shakuntala and is immediately attracted to her beauty. Dushyanta had never seen a maiden of such grace, charm and beauty. He comes to know that she is a hermit girl. Realizing that he has lost his heart to her, he is intrigued by the thought as to how he can fall in love with a sage's daughter. He enquires about her and finds out that she is born to Vishwamitra, a Kshatriya, and Menaka and comes to know that she is indeed a Kshatriya-girl. He is elated about the fact that even his heart did not fail him in performing the dharma or the righteous act and since Shakuntala is a Kshatriya-girl, he was not wrong in losing his heart to her.
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A good example of Atma pramana is seen in Mahabharata in the Adi Parva, when Dushyanta speaks about his inner conscience advising him that it was not against his dharma to make an offer of marriage to Shakuntala, at Kanva Maharshi's ashram, even though he does not know her lineage. <blockquote>न मेऽन्यत्र क्षत्रियाया मनो जातु प्रवर्तते। ऋषिपुत्रीषु चान्यासु नावरासु परासु च।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.20)</blockquote><blockquote>na mē'nyatra kṣatriyāyā manō jātu pravartatē। r̥ṣiputrīṣu cānyāsu nāvarāsu parāsu ca।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.20)</blockquote><blockquote>तस्मात्प्रणिहितात्मानं विद्दि मां कलभाषिणि। यस्यां मे त्वयि भावोऽस्ति क्षत्रिया ह्यसि का वदा।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.21)</blockquote><blockquote>tasmātpraṇihitātmānaṁ viddi māṁ kalabhāṣiṇi। yasyāṁ mē tvayi bhāvō'sti kṣatriyā hyasi kā vadā।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.21)</blockquote>Dushyanta, while on a hunting trip visits the Kanva ashram one day. There, he comes across an exquisitely beautiful Shakuntala and is immediately attracted to her beauty. Dushyanta had never seen a maiden of such grace, charm and beauty. He comes to know that she is a hermit girl. Realizing that he has lost his heart to her, he is intrigued by the thought as to how he can fall in love with a sage's daughter. He enquires about her and finds out that she is born to Vishwamitra, a Kshatriya, and Menaka and comes to know that she is indeed a Kshatriya-girl. He is elated about the fact that even his heart did not fail him in performing the dharma or the righteous act and since Shakuntala is a Kshatriya-girl, he was not wrong in losing his heart to her.
  
 
== धर्मस्थानानि ॥ Dharmasthanas ==
 
== धर्मस्थानानि ॥ Dharmasthanas ==
Yajnavalkya smrti summarizes all the sources of Dharma comprehensively, <blockquote>पुराणन्यायमीमांसाधर्मशास्त्राङ्गमिश्रिताः । वेदाः स्थानानि विद्यानां धर्मस्य च चतुर्दश ।। ३ ।। (Yajn. Smrt. 1.3)<ref>Yajnavalkya Smrti ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%9C%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%9E%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%B2%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%83%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%86%E0%A4%9A%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%89%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%98%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Achara-adhyaya Upodghata-prakarana])</ref></blockquote>Puranas including the Brahma purana and others, Nyaya including Tarkashastra, Mimamsa which involves discussion about the content of Vedas, Dharmashastras including the Manu and other Smrtis, Angas including the Shad Vedangas, and Vedas (four of them) - these are the fourteen vidyasthanas and dharma-sthanas.
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Just like the Chaturdasha Vidyasthanas and Ashtadasha Vidyasthanas form the sum total of the syllabus for holistic education, so also our Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras form the primary texts that explain our dharmas extensively. In fact Yajnavalkya smrti emphasizes that the very Vidhyastanas are also the [[Sources of Dharma (धर्मस्थानानि)|sources of dharma]] or Dharmasthanas (धर्मस्थानानि) for our reference.  
 
 
A few examples of how some of the above mentioned texts relate to Dharma are discussed below.
 
 
 
=== वेदः ॥ Vedas ===
 
 
 
==== ऋग्वेदः ॥ Rigveda ====
 
A word whose exact meaning cannot be given in English or any other language, Dharma appears to be used in Rigveda as an adjective or noun in the form of dharman (धर्मन्) in neuter gender. The word is clearly derived from dhatu धृञ् (in the meaning धारणे) meaning - "to uphold, to support, to nourish".<ref name=":3">Kane, Pandurang Vaman. (1930) ''History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law), Volume 1.'' Poona : Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute</ref>
 
* Dharma is used in the sense of - 'upholder or supporter or sustainer' as in Rigveda (1.187.1 and 10.92.2 and 10.21.3)
 
* It is used in sense of religious ordinances or rites
 
* It is also used as notation for fixed principles or rules of conduct
 
Aitareya Brahmana mentions a whole body of religious duties associated with Dharma. 
 
 
 
=== स्मृतिः॥ Smrtis ===
 
Smrtis are the Dharmashastra granthas, given by seers as the 'remembered texts'. They are also texts which among many things mostly discuss the dharmas to be followed by people. 
 
 
 
==== मनुस्मृतिः ॥ Manusmriti ====
 
Manusmriti has attached great importance to the Vedas and primarily advocates their authority.  <blockquote>वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलं स्मृतिशीले च तद्विदाम् । आचारश्चैव साधूनां आत्मनस्तुष्टिरेव च । । २.६ । । (Manu. Smrt. 2.6)<ref name=":0">Manusmriti ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%83%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AF%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83 Adhyaya 2])</ref><ref name=":1">Kumar, S. (1996). ''The Vishuddha Manusmriti.'' Delhi:Arsh Sahitya Prachar Trust.</ref></blockquote><blockquote>vedo'khilo dharmamūlaṃ smṛtiśīle ca tadvidām । ācāraścaiva sādhūnāṃ ātmanastuṣṭireva ca । । 2.6 । ।(Manu. Smri. 2.6)</blockquote>Meaning: Indeed ! Vedas are the source of all Dharma. Secondly it’s source is attributed to tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who follow the Veda, thirdly, to the customs of holy men and finally Atma-tushti (आत्मनस्तुष्टिः । satisfaction of the inner self).<ref name=":122">Patel, Gautam. (1999). ''Traditional Vedic Interpretations.'' New Delhi : Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan</ref><ref name=":03">Acharya Dharma Deva Vidya Martanda. (2002). ''[https://archive.org/details/RigvedaWww.aryamantavya.in The Rigveda, with Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati's commentary, English translation, Vol I]''. New Delhi:Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha.</ref><blockquote>धर्मजिज्ञासानां प्रमाणं परमं श्रुतिः ॥ (Manu. Smrt. 2.3)<ref name=":0" /></blockquote><blockquote>dharmajijñāsānāṃ pramāṇaṃ paramaṃ śrutiḥ ॥ (Manu. Smrt. 2.3)</blockquote>Meaning : For those greatly interested seekers of Dharma, the Vedas (Shrutis) are the highest authorities.<ref name=":03" />
 
 
 
That the Vedas are the very treasure house of all Dharma, i.e. religion, morality, righteousness, and good conduct, was unequivocally and unquestionably proclaimed by Manu, the first Law-giver after the Vedas as follows:<blockquote>बिभर्ति सर्वभूतानि वेदशास्त्रं सनातनम् । तस्मादेतत्परं मन्ये यज्जन्तोरस्य साधनम् । । १२.९९ । । (Manu. Smrt. 12.99)<ref name=":222">Manusmriti ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%83%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%83/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83 Adhyaya 12])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>bibharti sarvabhūtāni vedaśāstraṃ sanātanam । tasmādetatparaṃ manye yajjantorasya sādhanam । । 12.99 । ।</blockquote>Meaning: The eternal Veda shastra upholds or protects all beings (by being their flawless guideline). Those endeavoring for the welfare of all beings, regard Vedas as their supreme authoritative instrument in achieving it.
 
 
 
The necessity of scrupulous practice of Dharma is forcefully expressed in Manusmriti thus:<blockquote>धर्म एव हतो हन्ति धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः | तस्माध्दर्मो न हन्तव्यो मा नो धर्मो हतोऽवधीत्  || (Manu 6-11-15)<ref name=":1" /></blockquote><blockquote>dharma eva hato hanti dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ | tasmādhdarmo na hantavyo mā no dharmo hato'vadhīt || (Manu 6-11-15)</blockquote>Meaning : Dharma protects those who protect it. Those who destroy Dharma, get destroyed. Therefore, Dharma should not be destroyed so that we may not be destroyed as a consequence thereof.
 
 
 
==== याज्ञवल्क्य-स्मृतिः ॥ Yajnavalkya Smrti ====
 
The Yajnavalkya Smrti, which is one of the important texts that is consulted for the present day Hindu Law, further lays its claim on being founded on Vedas. According to Brhadyogi-Yajnavalkya-Smrti (Page No. 11 of Ved aur Vedarth)<ref name=":03" /><ref name=":13">Shastri, Jwalanth Kumar. (2009) ''Ved aur vedarth'' Rajasthan: Sri Ghudhmal Prahladkumar Arya Dharmarth Nyasa</ref><ref>Gharote. M. L. (1982) ''[https://archive.org/details/BrihadYogiYajnavalkyaSmritiEnglishTranslationBruhadGharoteM.L.BadekarV.A.KaivalyaDham Brhadyogi-yagnavalkya-smriti, English Translation]'' Lonavla : Kaivalyadhama S. M. Y. M. Samiti</ref><blockquote>न वेदशास्त्रादन्यत्तु किंचिच्छास्त्रं हि विद्यते । निःसृतं सर्वशास्त्रं तु वेदशास्त्रात् सनातनम् ॥ (Brha. Smrt. 12.1)</blockquote><blockquote>na vedaśāstrādanyattu kiṃcicchāstraṃ hi vidyate । niḥsṛtaṃ sarvaśāstraṃ tu vedaśāstrāt sanātanam ॥ (Brha. Smri . 12.1)</blockquote>Meaning : There are no greater shastras other than the Vedas, as all shastras arose from the eternal Veda shastras only.
 
 
 
==== अत्रि-स्मृतिः ॥ Atri Smrti ====
 
Atri Smrti attributes the highest position of a Guru (गुरुः । teacher) to Vedas<ref name=":03" /><blockquote>नास्ति वेदात् परं शास्त्रं, नास्ति मातु:समो गुरु: || (Atri. Smri. 5.148)</blockquote><blockquote>nāsti vedāt paraṃ śāstraṃ, nāsti mātu:samo guru: || (Atri. Smri. 5.148)</blockquote>Meaning: There is no other shastra greater than Vedas, just as there is no greater Guru than the mother (to the child).
 
 
 
=== उपनिषदः ॥ Upanishads ===
 
Chandogya Upanishad - peculiar duties of asramas and dharma came to mean 'duties and privileges of a person as a member of the Aryan community, as a member of the one of the varnas or as in a particular stage of life.
 
 
 
Same meaning is seen in Taittriya Upanishad (1.2) Bhagavadgita.
 
 
 
==== महानारायणोपनिषद् ॥ Mahanarayanopanishad ====
 
<blockquote>धर्मो विश्वस्य जगतः प्रतिष्ठा लोके धर्मिष्ठ प्रजा उपसर्पन्ति धर्मेण पापमपनुदति धर्मे सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितं तस्माद्धर्मं परमं वदन्ति ॥ ७॥ (Mahanarayana. Upan. 79.7)<ref>Mahanarayanopanishad ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%A3%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D All Anuvakas])</ref></blockquote>Meaning : Dharma is the
 
 
 
=== षड्-दर्शनानि ॥ Shad Darshanas ===
 
[[Shad Darshanas (षड्दर्शनानि)|Shad Darshanas]], include साङ्ख्यः ॥ Sankhya, वैशेषिकः ॥ Vaisheshika, न्यायः ॥ Nyaya, पूर्वमीमांसा ॥ Purva Mimamsa, उत्तरमीमांसा ॥ Uttara Mimamsa (वेदान्तः ॥ Vedanta) and योगः ॥ Yoga. As they are deeply rooted in vedic principles, they are called आस्तिक-दर्शनानि ॥ Astika darshanas according to many scholars. Although some believe that Sankhya is not an Astika Darshana. 
 
 
 
==== न्याय-दर्शनम् ॥ Nyaya Darshana ====
 
गौतम-महर्षिः ॥ Gautama maharshi gave the न्याय-शास्त्रम् ॥ Nyaya shastra to the world. It is also classified as one of the उपाङ्ग-s || Upangas which, as part of the [[Vaidika Vangmaya (वैदिकवाङ्मयम्)|Vaidika vangmaya]], is important to understand Vedas.<blockquote>मन्त्रायुर्वेदप्रामाण्यवच्च तत्प्रामाण्यमाप्तप्रामाण्यात् || (Nyay. Shas. 2.1.69)<ref>[https://archive.org/stream/TheNyayaSutrasOfGotama/Vidyabhusana_Nyaya-Sutras_1913#page/n67/mode/2up/search/Book+II Nyaya Shastra of Goutama]</ref></blockquote><blockquote>mantrāyurvedaprāmāṇyavacca tatprāmāṇyamāptaprāmāṇyāt || (Nyay. Shas. 2.1.69)</blockquote>Meaning: Just like the mantras (spells) counteract the poisons and Ayurveda (medical science) prescribes reliable remedies (for diseases and prevention of disease) with authority (as they are given by the maharshis and sages who are authoritative about the subjects), so also Vedas are standard (unequivocal guidelines), as the मन्त्रद्रष्ट-s || mantra drastas or ऋषि-s || rushis to whom they were revealed are the righteous sages.<ref name=":03" />
 
 
 
==== वैशेषिक-दर्शनम् ॥ Vaisheshika Darshana ====
 
कणाद-महर्षिः ॥ Kanada maharshi who authored the वैशेषिक-शास्त्रम् ॥ Vaisheshika shastra also considers that the Vedas were revealed by Supreme Being <blockquote>तद्वचनादाम्नायस्य प्रामाण्यम् । वैशेषिक-१,१.३ । (Vais. Shas. 1.1.3)<ref>[https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%88%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Vaisheshika Sutras] </ref></blockquote><blockquote>tadvacanādāmnāyasya prāmāṇyam । vaiśeṣika-1,1.3 । (Vais. Shas. 1.1.3)</blockquote>In expounding पदार्थानां धर्म ॥ padārthānāṃ dharmaḥ (nature of matter), Kanada took for प्रमाणम् ॥ pramana (source of valid knowledge), the Vedas (आम्नायः ॥ Amnaya)
 
 
 
==== मीमांसा ॥ Mimamsa ====
 
पूर्वमीमांसा ॥ Purva mimamsa deals extensively with कर्मकाण्डः ॥ Karmakanda while उत्तरमीमांसा ॥ Uttara mimamsa (वेदान्तः ॥ [[Vedanta]]) deals with मोक्षकाण्डः ॥ Mokshakanda of vedas. Mimamsa attained significance as many vedic interpretations are based and debated on the basis of the logic and rules set forth by this shastra.<blockquote>नित्यस्तु स्याद् दर्शनस्य परार्थत्वात् || (Mima. Shas. 1.1.18)</blockquote><blockquote>nityastu syād darśanasya parārthatvāt || (Mima. Shas. 1.1.18)</blockquote>
 
 
 
=== महाभारतम् ॥ Mahabharata ===
 
Maharshi Vedavyasa in Mahabharata extols that Vedas are the path of life for all beings. Abundant instances about the Dharmas to be followed and their Vedic foundation are emphasized in Mahabharata, many instances being instruction of Yudhisthira by Bhishma and reputed rshis.<blockquote>अनादिनिधनानित्या, वागुत्सृष्टा स्वयम्भुवा | आदौ वेदमयी दिव्या, यत: सर्वा: प्रवृत्तय: || (Maha. Shan. 232.24)<ref>Shri Mahabharatam ([http://www.rsvidyapeetha.ac.in/cgi-bin/maha/out-parva.cgi Shanti Parva])</ref></blockquote><blockquote>anādinidhanānityā, vāgutsṛṣṭā svayambhuvā | ādau vedamayī divyā, yata: sarvā: pravṛttaya: || (Maha. Shan. 232.24)</blockquote>Meaning : In the beginning of सृष्टिः ॥ Srishti, the self existent Creator, revealed the Eternal and Divine Vedas, as they show the path for all activities of every being.<ref name=":03" />
 
 
 
Mahabharata which is acclaimed as the मानव-कर्तव्य-शास्त्रम् || Manava kartavya shastra, has a discussion on this topic in the form of conversation between Yudhishthira and Bhishma thus. (Pt. Ramnarayan's Mahabharata: Volume 4<ref>Shastri. Pt Ramnarayan. (1955). ''[https://archive.org/stream/Mahabharata04SanskritHindiPanditRamnarayanGitaPress/Mahabharata04_Sanskrit-hindi_panditRamnarayan_gitaPress#page/n5/mode/2up Mahabharata Vol.4].'' Gorakhpur:Gita Press.</ref>  and Vol 5 Shanti Parva Page 323)<ref>Shastri. Pt Ramnarayan. (1955). ''[https://archive.org/stream/Mahabharata04SanskritHindiPanditRamnarayanGitaPress/Mahabharata05_Sanskrit-hindi_panditRamnarayan_gitaPress#page/n321/mode/2up Mahabharata Vol.5].'' Gorakhpur:Gita Press.</ref><blockquote>तादृशोऽयमनुप्रश्नो यत्र धर्मः सुदुर्लभः । दुष्करः प्रतिसंख्यातुं तत्केनात्र व्यवस्यति  ॥(Maha. Shan. Parv. 109.9)</blockquote><blockquote>प्रभावार्थाय भूतानां धर्मप्रवचनं कृतम् । यः स्यात्प्रभवसंयुक्तः स धर्म इति निश्चयः ॥  (Maha. Shan. Parv. 109.11)</blockquote><blockquote>tādṛśo'yamanupraśno yatra dharmaḥ sudurlabhaḥ | duṣkaraḥ pratisaṃkhyātuṃ tatkenātra vyavasyati || (Maha. Shanti. 109.9)</blockquote><blockquote>prabhāvārthāya bhūtānāṃ dharmapravacanaṃ kṛtam | yaḥ syātprabhavasaṃyuktaḥ sa dharma iti niścayaḥ || (Maha. Shanti. 109.11)</blockquote>Meaning : It is most difficult to define Dharma. Dharma has been explained to be that which helps the upliftment of living beings. Therefore, that which helps ensure the welfare of living beings is surely Dharma. The learned rishis have declared that which sustains is Dharma.<blockquote>धारणाद् धर्म इत्याहुर्धर्मो धारयते प्रजाः | यत् स्याद् धारणसंयुक्तं स धर्म इति निश्चयः || (Maha. Karna. 69-58)</blockquote><blockquote>dhāraṇād dharma ityāhurdharmo dhārayate prajāḥ | yat syād dhāraṇasaṃyuktaṃ sa dharma iti niścayaḥ || (Maha. Karna. 69-58)</blockquote>Meaning : The above verse eulogizes Dharma as follows: Dharma sustains the society, Dharma maintains the social order, Dharma ensures the well being and progress of humanity, Dharma is surely that which fulfills these objectives
 
 
 
Therefore, Dharma embraces every type of righteous conduct, covering every aspect of life essential for the sustenance and welfare of the individual and society and includes those rules which guide and enable those who believe in God and heaven to attain Moksha (मोक्षः । eternal bliss).  
 
  
 
==संवादः ॥ Discussion ==
 
==संवादः ॥ Discussion ==

Revision as of 20:26, 23 December 2019

Pramanas for Dharma (Samskrit : धर्मप्रमाणानि) are the Vedas (वेदाः) which have been the pillars on which Sanatana Dharma (सनातनधर्मः) stood ground since time immemorial. That Vedas are the source of all Dharma (in moral, social, religious, judicial, and spiritual sense) is irrefutably advocated by all authoritative texts of our Bharatiya Samskrtika Parampara.

Many scholars have debated as to what is the source and pramana (basis) for Dharmas that have been prevalent from ancient times. With the advent of modern social conditions, it is time to revisit the gold standards for moral and social conduct of human beings. The word Dharma (धर्मः), for which no word of any language can be substituted, is used erroneously and loosely in the sense of sanctioning various unrighteous deeds in the name of changing society and times by different people all over the globe.

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

Dharma (धर्मः) is a samskrit expression of the widest import. There is no corresponding word for Dharma in any other world language as it is a unique and ancient concept promulgated by rshis since ages. Any single definition of Dharma would be an insufficient attempt to define the word. It can only be explained and has a wide variety of meanings in various contexts.

In this article we revisit and compile the pramanas or basis of Dharmas from Vedas and the subsequent vaidika vangmaya. The extensive vedic literature has shown the irrevocable link between Dharma and Vedas, a few instances are presented here.

व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ Etymology

The samskrit word veda (वेदः | knowledge, wisdom) is derived from the धातुः (root) विद् (vid) - ज्ञाने (वेत्ति) in the meaning "to know" (Dhatupatha 1064)[1]. Apart from this, Veda is derived from विद् (vid) धातुः with the addition of Bhavarthaka (भावर्थकः), Karmarthaka (कर्मार्थकः) and Karanarthaka (करणार्थकः) "धम" Dhama pratyaya (प्रत्ययः | suffix) to form the meanings "knowledge, pertaining to knowledge and instrument of knowledge" respectively (See Page 2 footnote 1 for further reference).[2]

वेद्यन्ते ज्ञाप्यन्ते धर्मादिपुरुशार्थचतुष्ठयोपाया येन स वेदः। vedyante jñāpyante dharmādipuruśārthacatuṣṭhayopāyā yena sa vedaḥ।

Meaning: That which is the means for obtaining the knowledge of Dharma and other (अर्थः ॥ Artha, कामः ॥ Kama and मोक्षः ॥ Moksha) purusharthas is called Veda.[2] Thus, the inseparable link between Dharma and Vedas is well established by scholars in many instances.

धर्मप्रमाणानि ॥ Pramanas for Dharma

Many Sanatana Dharma texts proclaim that Vedas are the pramanas or basis of Dharma. These texts being the oldest in the world with no precedents to them, it is accepted with authority and respect by every follower of the concept of Dharma. Vyasa Maharshi's sayings stand testimony to the vedic authority of dharma as mentioned in Smrtichandrika as follows[3]

धर्ममूलं वेदमाहुः ग्रन्थराशिमकृत्रिमम्। तद्विदां स्मृतिशीले च साध्वाचारं मनःप्रियम् ॥

dharmamūlaṁ vēdamāhuḥ grantharāśimakr̥trimam। tadvidāṁ smr̥tiśīlē ca sādhvācāraṁ manaḥpriyam ॥

Meaning : The Vedas are said to be the source of Dharma, as are the abundance of texts which are not created (apaurusheya), along with traditions (based on smrtis) and the virtuous conduct of those who follow Vedas; ultimately the source of Dharma also lies as given by the inner conscience of a human being.

Following Vyasa Maharshi's words the following sources are listed below as accepted pramanas for Dharma.

  • वेदः ॥ the Vedic texts
  • स्मृतिः ॥ the Smrti texts
  • साध्वाचारम् ॥ the virtuous conduct of those who follow the Veda
  • मनःप्रियम् ॥ the inner voice of the person

Kurma Purana describing what dharmas are to be followed mentions that Shrauta dharmas involving the tretagni are the most advisable followed by Smarta dharmas. When both Shruti and Smrti texts are unavailable (in unusual situations), Shistachara forms the third kind of dharma that is taken as standard for enforcing dharma.[4]

श्रौतस्त्रेताग्निसंबन्धात् स्मार्त्तः पूर्वं मयोदितः । श्रेयस्करतमः श्रौतस्तस्माच्छ्रौतं समाचरेत् ।। २४.१५

śrautastrētāgnisaṁbandhāt smārttaḥ pūrvaṁ mayōditaḥ । śrēyaskaratamaḥ śrautastasmācchrautaṁ samācarēt ।। 24.15

उभावभिहितौ धर्मौ वेदवेदविनिःसृतौ । शिष्टाचारस्तृतीयः स्याच्छ्रतिस्मृत्योरलाभतः ।। २४.१६ (Kurm. Pura. 24.15-16)[5]

ubhāvabhihitau dharmau vēdavēdaviniḥsr̥tau । śiṣṭācārastr̥tīyaḥ syācchratismr̥tyōralābhataḥ ।। 24.16 (Kurm. Pura. 24.15-16)

Thus it is to be noted that Shistachara is also one source of knowing dharma that is to be followed in particular situations when the same cannot be understood from the vedic and smrti texts.

शिष्टाचारः ॥ Shistachara

Shistachara is founded in turn on Shrutis and Smrtis (which are again based on Shrutis). Kurma Purana and Manu define who a शिष्टाचारः or a person of virtuous conduct is, as follows[3]

धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः । ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणाः प्रोक्ता नित्यमात्मगुणान्विताः ।। २४.१७

dharmēṇādhigatō yaistu vēdaḥ saparibr̥ṁhaṇaḥ । tē śiṣṭā brāhmaṇāḥ prōktā nityamātmaguṇānvitāḥ ।। 24.17

तेषामभिमतो यः स्याच्चेतसा नित्यमेव हि । स धर्मः कथितः सद्भिर्नान्येषामिति धारणा ।। २४.१८ (Kurm. Pura. 24.17-18)[5]

tēṣāmabhimatō yaḥ syāccētasā nityamēva hi । sa dharmaḥ kathitaḥ sadbhirnānyēṣāmiti dhāraṇā ।। 24.18 (Kurm. Pura. 24.17-18)

One who is knowledgeable in the dharmic concepts given in Vedas and Paribhrimhanas (परिबृंहणः । Includes the vedic extensions such as Ramayana and Mahabharata Itihasas and Purana texts), and who is filled with Atmagunas (such as Ahimsa, Daya, Satya and eight such others) engrossed in pursuing the knowledge of Brahman (Brahmana) is called Shista (शिष्टः). It is laid down that the views (policies) held by these Shistas, which are ever present in their Antakarana (Chetas), are called Dharma by scholarly people and not the views of those who live otherwise.[4]

शिष्टानां स्वरूपम् ॥ Qualities of Shista Brahmanas

Manusmrti reiterates the importance of Shistas and their exceptional qualities.

धर्मेणाधिगतो यैस्तु वेदः सपरिबृंहणः । ते शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा ज्ञेयाः श्रुतिप्रत्यक्षहेतवः । । १२.१०९ । (Manu. Smrt. 12.109)[6]

dharmēṇādhigatō yaistu vēdaḥ saparibr̥ṁhaṇaḥ । tē śiṣṭā brāhmaṇā jñēyāḥ śrutipratyakṣahētavaḥ । । 12.109 । (Manu. Smrt. 12.109)

Those who have thoroughly studied the Dharmashastras, well-versed in the Vedas and vedangas, and leading a life according to the prescribed way laid down in the Shrutis are to be known as qualified persons of virtuous conduct or Shista Brahmanas (शिष्टा ब्राह्मणा-s).[7]

आचारप्रमाणम् ॥ Achara Pramana

It is further debated that if one who follows the activities as given by the Vedas and one who knows the Vedas (वेदविद्) becomes the pramana or standard for Shistachara, then even the (unlawful) living of Ahalya and Tara with Indra and Chandra respectively is be called as virtuous conduct (इन्द्रचन्द्रादेरहल्यातारादिगमनमपि प्रमाणं स्यात् किम्?) That is not the case. Then how is Aachara pramana (कथमाचारप्रामाण्यम्?) to be determined?

In the case of knowing what Aachara pramanas are, even though deviations from Dharma are observed in examples such as that seen with Ahalya and Tara with Indra and Chandra respectively, Gautama this as follows

दृष्टो धर्मव्यतिक्रमः साहसं च महतां ॥ dr̥ṣṭō dharmavyatikramaḥ sāhasaṁ ca mahatāṁ ॥ (Gaut. Dhar. Sutr. 1.1.3)[8]

(तेषां तेजोविशेषेण प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते) इति। साहसं परशुरामादेः मातुः शिरछेदादि।

(tēṣāṁ tējōviśēṣēṇa pratyavāyō na vidyatē) iti। sāhasaṁ paraśurāmādēḥ mātuḥ śirachēdādi।

Meaning : Bigger instances of transgression of dharma and bold adventurous acts are observed such as the beheading of Parashurama's mother. But such instances not diminish their greatness owing to their glorious deeds. Bhagavata Purana talks about deviations from dharma as follows

धर्मव्यतिक्रमो दृष्ट ईश्वराणां च साहसम् । तेजीयसां न दोषाय वह्नेः सर्वभुजो यथा ॥ ३० ॥

dharmavyatikramō dr̥ṣṭa īśvarāṇāṁ ca sāhasam । tējīyasāṁ na dōṣāya vahnēḥ sarvabhujō yathā ॥ 30 ॥

नैतत्समाचरेज्जातु मनसापि ह्यनीश्वरः । विनश्यत्याचरन्मौढ्याद् यथारुद्रोऽब्धिजं विषम् ॥ ३१ ॥

naitatsamācarējjātu manasāpi hyanīśvaraḥ । vinaśyatyācaranmauḍhyād yathārudrō'bdhijaṁ viṣam ॥ 31 ॥

ईश्वराणां वचः सत्यं तथैवाचरितं क्वचित् । तेषां यत् स्ववचोयुक्तं बुद्धिमांस्तत् समाचरेत् ॥ ३२ ॥

īśvarāṇāṁ vacaḥ satyaṁ tathaivācaritaṁ kvacit । tēṣāṁ yat svavacōyuktaṁ buddhimāṁstat samācarēt ॥ 32 ॥

कुशलाचरितेनैषां इह स्वार्थो न विद्यते । विपर्ययेण वानर्थो निरहङ्‌कारिणां प्रभो ॥ ३३ ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 10.1.30-33)[9]

kuśalācaritēnaiṣāṁ iha svārthō na vidyatē । viparyayēṇa vānarthō nirahaṅ‌kāriṇāṁ prabhō ॥ 33 ॥ (Bhag. Pura. 10.1.30-33)

Transgressing the limits of dharma and over-adventurous acts are found to have been committed by mighty divine beings. But that does not amount to a blemish for those glorious beings, just as the fire having numerous flames (which does not get polluted by consuming impure things). These (transgressive) acts should not be committed even mentally by those beings who are not divine. Such people meet with destruction (people who transgress dharma) just like a person, other than Rudra, who swallows the poison that arose by the churning of the ocean. The words of those having divine wisdom are irrefutably truth and authoritative but their actions may be emulated only at certain times. A prudent and intelligent person should follow the actions of such virtuous men only when consistent with their own personal precepts. Such authoritative persons who are devoid of ahamkara (ego) have no selfish ends for they work for the welfare of others and gain nothing by acting on the contrary.[10]

धर्मज्ञसमयः प्रमाणम् ॥ Dharmajna Achara Pramana

According to Apastamba the acharas that are followed by a Dharmajna, who is one well-versed in dharmashastras, is also a pramana for dharma.[3]

धर्मज्ञसमयः प्रमाणं वेदाश्च। dharmajñasamayaḥ pramāṇaṁ vēdāśca।

परिषद्वचन-प्रमाणम् ॥ Parishad Vachana Pramana

Formation of a Parishad (a group of people forming a deciding authority) is an important aspect of our present day social fabric as well as the judicial system. We can now see how the pramanas for dharma evolved over time. Initially it was directly Veda pramana, then Smrtis, followed by practicing seers. As the rshi-parampara started dwindling the words of Shista Brahmanas following dharmik activities were considered as dharma pramanas. Further, in handling exceptional situations wherein the texts were not available the verdict of the Parishad of Shista Brahmanas was considered as authority or dharma pramanas.

For dharmas which have Vedic and vaidika vangmaya references any question arising therein can be resolved. However, as the socio-economic changes are happening, as the yugas are changing, how does one arrive at a pramana for a dharmik point that is not mentioned in vedic or smrti reference? Simply put, who in the present era, decides about a particular dharmik activity/issue not found in the vedas and dharmashastras?

For example, the usage of plastic items for pujas or dharmik activities are not directly mentioned in Vedas or even dharmashastras, as plastic is a product created in the past 50 years. Plastic items and their merits of usage are not directly mentioned in vedas or dharmashastras whereas usage of bronze, copper or other metallic containers or vessals are explicitly mentioned and found to be used in archaeological evidences. In such cases the decisions of the Dharma Parishads are accepted as pramanas. Questions like is the dana of a plastic item bringing the donor any merit or punya, are to be addressed in the present day.

Whenever there are no pramanas for a  dharmic point in question then the decisions of Shista Brahmanas are unhesitatingly to be followed. Nannaya, the great poet who translated Mahabharata into Telugu language, pays his respects to the Vidvat Parishad before whom his literary work was presented for evaluation. Parishads have played an important role as quality control and regulatory bodies in the ancient days.

Groups of Shistas formed Parishads which worked selflessly to set the social standards based on existing dharmas given in the Shrutis and Smrtis after due judicious deliberation. Smrtis have taken into account such minute aspects about changing Dharmas and instituted a system of having Parishads as decisive authorities with high standards of quality.

The people constituting the Parishad should have exceptional qualities described in the shastras. The concept of Vidvat Parishads led to modern day thesis defence in our education system wherein a thesis is evaluated by a panel of experts in that particular field. Formation of parishads has extended to other areas where a group of experts in any given field form the Parishad. Manu discusses this aspect as follows[3]

अनान्मातेषु धर्मेषु कथं स्यादिति चेद्भवेत् । यं शिष्टा ब्राह्णा भ्रूयुः स धर्मस्स्यादशाङ्केतः।। १२.१०८ । । (Manu. Smrt. 12.108)[6]

anānmātēṣu dharmēṣu kathaṁ syāditi cēdbhavēt । yaṁ śiṣṭā brāhṇā bhrūyuḥ sa dharmassyādaśāṅkētaḥ।। 12.108 । । (Manu. Smrt. 12.108)

Meaning: How are the dharmas not found in the Vedas dealt with if present? That which the Shishta Brahmanas pronounce is the Dharma without any doubt (in such situation). Gautama mentions that when dharmas in question are not found in the available Amnayas (vedas) (as many Vedas themselves are lost over a period of time, or the issue of a particular dharma in the present day is unavailable in the vedic references) then the decision, of what is best suitable, made by a group of selfless (अलुब्धः। not a greedy person) Shistas are to be implemented without any doubt. The additional qualities of a Shista Brahmana are mentioned here, i.e., selflessness or devoid of greed or not acting for personal gains.

अनान्माते दशावरैः शिष्टैः ऊहवद्भिः अलुब्धैः प्रशस्तं कार्यम्। यत्तैः प्रशस्तमित्युक्तं तत्कार्यमित्यर्थः।

anānmātē daśāvaraiḥ śiṣṭaiḥ ūhavadbhiḥ alubdhaiḥ praśastaṁ kāryam। yattaiḥ praśastamityuktaṁ tatkāryamityarthaḥ।

Meaning: The best (for a given situation) solution given by a group of not less than ten selfless Shistas has to be enacted. It means that which is best as suggested by them is to be implemented. Bodhayana also mentions the importance of the Parishad formed with not less than ten people.[3]

तदभावे दशावरा परिषत्। तदाभावे श्रुत्याद्यभावे। tadabhāvē daśāvarā pariṣat। tadābhāvē śrutyādyabhāvē।

Yajnavalkya mentions that a Parishad could consist of lesser number of Shistas and among them even if one Atmajnani is present his decision is to be accepted and followed as dharma in matters of ambiguity.[3]

चत्वारो वेदधर्मज्ञाः परिषत्रैविद्यमेव वा। सा ब्रूते यं स धर्मस्स्यादेको वाऽध्यात्मवित्तमः।।

catvārō vēdadharmajñāḥ pariṣatraividyamēva vā। sā brūtē yaṁ sa dharmassyādēkō vā'dhyātmavittamaḥ।।

Meaning: That which is pronounced by those who are well-versed either in the Four Vedas and Dharmashastras, or even in three Vedas, or a single Adhyatmavid (Brahmajnani), in a Parishad, is said to be Dharma. Vasishta clearly spells out that[3]

वेदाः प्रमाणं स्मृतयः प्रमाणं धर्मार्थयुक्तं वचनं प्रमाणम्। यस्य प्रमाणं न भवेत्प्रमाणं न तस्य कुर्याद्वचनं प्रमाणम्।।

vēdāḥ pramāṇaṁ smr̥tayaḥ pramāṇaṁ dharmārthayuktaṁ vacanaṁ pramāṇam। yasya pramāṇaṁ na bhavētpramāṇaṁ na tasya kuryādvacanaṁ pramāṇam।।

Vedas, smrtis and the advices of dharma and artha are pramanas. Those whose pramanas do not include any of the above pramanas such a person’s words are not to be considered as having any basis or pramanas, and hence should be ignored.

सम्प्रदायोऽपि प्रमाणम् ॥ Sampradaya Pramana

Along with the above Dharma pramanas, Sampradaya also has been considered as pramana in some instances according to Manu. Sampradaya is defined as those aacharas (activities) that have come down traditionally in one’s own community/family. Where there are differences in aacharas according to shastras, that particular sampradaya has to be followed.[3]

तथा सम्प्रदायोऽपि कचित्प्रमाणमित्याह मनुः। स्वकुलपरम्परायात आचारः सम्प्रदायः। सोऽपि शास्त्रविप्रतिपत्तौ द्रष्टव्यः।

tathā sampradāyō'pi kacitpramāṇamityāha manuḥ। svakulaparamparāyāta ācāraḥ sampradāyaḥ। sō'pi śāstravipratipattau draṣṭavyaḥ।

येनास्य पितरो याताः येन याताः पितामहाः। तेन यातात्सतां मार्गे तेन गच्छन्नरिष्यति।।

yēnāsya pitarō yātāḥ yēna yātāḥ pitāmahāḥ। tēna yātātsatāṁ mārgē tēna gacchannariṣyati।।

Meaning: One always go in the way (follow those acharas) in which the forefathers and grandfathers have traveled.

The above lines mean that it is better for one to perform the same dharmik activities that were previously followed by one’s forefathers and grandfathers.

For example, specific vratas (vows) for deities such as Vishnu and Lakshmi are typically performed in many families as a tradition because their forefathers had performed them in a certain way. Newly-weds perform Satyanarayana vrata in many families in South of India as a tradition, but is widely performed in all regions of Bharat for well-being and auspiciousness at prescribed times.

Sumantu reiterates[3]

यत्र शास्त्रगतिर्भिन्ना सर्वकर्मसु भारत। उदिते-नुदिते चैव होमभेदो यथा भवेत्।।

yatra śāstragatirbhinnā sarvakarmasu bhārata। uditē-nuditē caiva hōmabhēdō yathā bhavēt।।

तस्मिन्कुलक्रमायातमाचारंत्वाचरेद्रुधः। स गरीयान्महाबाहो सर्वशास्त्रोदितादपि।।

tasminkulakramāyātamācāraṁtvācarēdrudhaḥ। sa garīyānmahābāhō sarvaśāstrōditādapi।।

आत्मनः प्रमाणम् ॥ Atma Pramana

Apart from all these pramanas, one's own inner conscience is also a dharma pramana as given by Vyasa.

A good example of Atma pramana is seen in Mahabharata in the Adi Parva, when Dushyanta speaks about his inner conscience advising him that it was not against his dharma to make an offer of marriage to Shakuntala, at Kanva Maharshi's ashram, even though he does not know her lineage.

न मेऽन्यत्र क्षत्रियाया मनो जातु प्रवर्तते। ऋषिपुत्रीषु चान्यासु नावरासु परासु च।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.20)

na mē'nyatra kṣatriyāyā manō jātu pravartatē। r̥ṣiputrīṣu cānyāsu nāvarāsu parāsu ca।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.20)

तस्मात्प्रणिहितात्मानं विद्दि मां कलभाषिणि। यस्यां मे त्वयि भावोऽस्ति क्षत्रिया ह्यसि का वदा।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.21)

tasmātpraṇihitātmānaṁ viddi māṁ kalabhāṣiṇi। yasyāṁ mē tvayi bhāvō'sti kṣatriyā hyasi kā vadā।। (Maha. Adi. Parv. 92.21)

Dushyanta, while on a hunting trip visits the Kanva ashram one day. There, he comes across an exquisitely beautiful Shakuntala and is immediately attracted to her beauty. Dushyanta had never seen a maiden of such grace, charm and beauty. He comes to know that she is a hermit girl. Realizing that he has lost his heart to her, he is intrigued by the thought as to how he can fall in love with a sage's daughter. He enquires about her and finds out that she is born to Vishwamitra, a Kshatriya, and Menaka and comes to know that she is indeed a Kshatriya-girl. He is elated about the fact that even his heart did not fail him in performing the dharma or the righteous act and since Shakuntala is a Kshatriya-girl, he was not wrong in losing his heart to her.

धर्मस्थानानि ॥ Dharmasthanas

Just like the Chaturdasha Vidyasthanas and Ashtadasha Vidyasthanas form the sum total of the syllabus for holistic education, so also our Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras form the primary texts that explain our dharmas extensively. In fact Yajnavalkya smrti emphasizes that the very Vidhyastanas are also the sources of dharma or Dharmasthanas (धर्मस्थानानि) for our reference.

संवादः ॥ Discussion

There are different versions and ways in which many shlokas and mantras have been interpreted by different scholars across ages. Enforcement of Dharma was of prime importance since Vedic era.

In the present days, numerous questions and doubts about the dharmik activities, unknown to the present generation, are preached but not practiced by many people who have studied the Dharmashastras. Sadly, practicing dharmas and acharas laid down in the dharmashastras for various people of four varnas and ashramas have become very limited in this age, some for valid and some due to devious reasons in the name of religion. Much confusion exists in the society as what and who is to be approached as a valid source for deciding dharmas pertaining to the present generation.

Also in the name of traditions many superfluous traditions have cropped up, many new dharmas and shastra asammata paddhatis have been floated such as pouring milk (abhisheka) on the idols and statues of politicians, in the name of puja and dharmachara. Consider ancient times when Rajas and Maharajas, took great responsibility of their subjects and strove to set an example to the society. Kshatra dharma was the foundation of their very character, which, is totally lacking in many politicians of the present system of social administration. So is the case regarding people of all four varnas and ashramas.

Our acharas have a dharmik background and a valid reason for performing them was explained in the ancient times. Gradually they became symbolic as we lost the people who could explain any particular tradition and without appropriate guidance younger generations are turning towards modern faiths as they are “easier and fashionable” to follow.

References

  1. Patel, Gautam. (1999). Traditional Vedic Interpretations. New Delhi : Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan
  2. 2.0 2.1 Singh, Ahilya. (2010) PhD Thesis Title: Pracheen bharat mein aarthik jeevan prarambh se vaidik kaal tak. V. B. S. Purvanchal University.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Srinivacharya. L, (1914) Smritichandrika by Devana Bhatta, Samskara Kanda Prathama. Mysore: Government Branch Press (Pages 5 to 13)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kurma Purana, Hindi Translation. Gorakhpur: Gita Press. (Page 371)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kurma Purana (Uttarabhaga Adhyaya 24)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Manusmriti (Adhyaya 12)
  7. Pt. Manmath Nath Dutt, (1979) The Dharmashastra, Hindu Religious Codes, English Translation and Text. Volume 5. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications (Page 436)
  8. Gautama Dharmasutras
  9. Bhagavata Purana (Skanda 10 Purvardha Adhyaya 33)
  10. Bhagavata Purana, English Translation. Volume 5 Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass. Pvt. Ltd. (Page 1463)