The concept of "Dharma" in the 21st centurySamarpanananda Saraswati, Faculty, Cultural Education Amrita Culture Camp 2012
What is “Dharma”• Dharma. It comes from the Sanskrit dhri, which means “to support, hold up or bear.” "Dharyate anena iti dharmah“• That which supports, maintains, nourishes, harmonises, brings together, and unites the inert and the sentient, the individual and the society, nation and the world is dharma.• The word means many things, but according to Eknath Easwaran, dharma “implies support from within: the essence of a thing, its virtue, that which makes it what it is.”• On a larger scale, dharma means “the essential order of things, an integrity and harmony in the universe and the affairs of life that cannot be disturbed without courting chaos. Thus it means rightness, justice, goodness, purpose rather than chance.”
The Foundations• Shruti (Vedas), Smriti (Dharma shastras), Sadachara (actions of educated), activities pleasing to ones own soul & desires arising out of the right resolve –is considered the foundation of Dharma. – (Yajnavalkya Smriti, Acharadhyaya, Verse: 7)
How does one decide what is Dharma and what is Adharma?Dharma is that, what is said to be, by the committee(parishad) of four knowers of the four Vedas or three knowersof Rik, Sama and Yajuha; or one person accomplished inspirituality. (Yajnavalkya Smriti, Acharadhyaya, Verse: 9)
The Essence• Yajan (worship), sadachara (right action), dama (restraint of senses), ahimsa (non- violence), dana (charity) and vedadhyayana (study of the vedas) – among these actions, that is dharma that leads one to self realization through Yoga (integration). – (Yajnavalkya Smriti, Acharadhyaya, Verse: 8)
The Process of Yoga• Awareness• Sankalpa (resolve) Catalyst: Purity or Strength of Prana
Inability to come out of Confusion• Sheer ignorance about life• Mind stained by insecurity, false knowledge, imbalanced cravings, excessive power, ambition, greed etc.• Untrained, uneducated, immature mind.• Lack of systematic approach to analysis or study of situations and events.• Weak mind or sick personality• Ponderous or Plethoric ego• Inability to find balance between between Principled Politics Vs Politicised Principals
Integrating the Ego Seeking challenges in life with:• Right focus supported by• Good circulation of energy within &• Healthy dynamics between the functional systems and• Continuous resolution of the undesired attributes.
Basic Premise• Scriptures are for us to learn and not judge.• Respectable characters in the scriptures are unquestionable.• Spirit of the scriptures is to be taken as has been presented --(unless repeatedly proved otherwise by the wise and ones own experience).
Ekalavya• Was it right for Dronacharya to have refused him?• Why would he put Dronacharya’s idol?• Was it right (dharmic) for Dronacharya to ask for his thumb?• What would be the result of such an sacrifice and what could have been Dronacharyas intentions?• What were the various karmas he was trying to fulfill in the light of dharma?
Conclusion• ‘Dharma’ like ‘life’ cannot have changing alternatives with time. Approach to uphold or reach the same, may change from person to person.• Dharma is the medium that leads one to self- realisation through performance of ones action.• Yoga is an essential component and medium to realise ones Dharma.• Inability to see things in the right light can lead one to wrong ideas as well as adharma.• Perfection and Nurturance have to go hand in hand. Neither can be sacrificed at the cost of the other.
Dharma & YugasIn Satyuga --Tapasya (askesis) is mandated tobe the greatest dharma, in Treta --Gyana(knowledge) is said to be the greatestdharma, in dwapara --yajna and in Kali Yuga --dana (Charity) is (by the knowers of theessence of the dharma) said to be thegreatest dharma. (Manu Smriti, Chp 1, Verse:86)