A unique concept and word
It is said that there is no equivalent word for Dharma because of which, Dharma has been multifariously translated as righteousness, goodness, duty, nobility, giving alms and similar other terms.
Of late, in the local parlance of India, the word Dharma is used interchangeably to denote religion.
Meaning of Dharma
Dharma is all the above and more.
Dharma, at a simplistic level means character, nature. Every object, animate or inanimate has its own character, a basic nature, its Dharma.
It is human character, nature, to have an ego from which stems most of his actions and reactions.
At the same time, love and compassion too are emotions that are innate and fairly well developed in humans.
Dharma is inexplicable in words, more so, in non Indian languages where, while Dharma innately exists, the concept is not innately acknowledged.
Dharma – not just for humans
We speak of Ahimsa, not hurting another, as a human quality and say it is as per Dharma. But can this Dharma be valid for a Tiger?
A tiger’s nature is to kill its prey for food. That is the Dharma of a tiger.
The industrious nature of ants to collect miniscule bits of foods and travel distances in a thin line is the nature of ants, which is their Dharma.
Dharma – not just for earthlings
Similarly, this earth rotates at a tremendous speed. The basic nature of the earth, to spin on its axis and go around the Sun, is its Dharma while that of the moon is to go around the earth, waxing and waning very fortnight.
It is the basic nature of the Sun to be scorching hot, spread light and to make the planets revolve around it. That is the Dharma of the Sun.
Dharma is thus not limited just to human beings but is equally the discernable characteristic of humans, animals, plants, all the animate objects and the inanimate objects such as earth, sun and all astral bodies in the Universe, as well.
Dharma – the innate character of character
Dharma is the very characteristic of character itself i.e. the nature to be a nature and is innate to one and all.
The character of a person or another object in this creation is a part of the self. It lies within the person. It gets exhibited, comes into relevance, only when it interacts with another body of creation. It is then, that the character, Dharma finds expression.
Dharma is the principle of the “suchness” in the cosmos. That which makes the “such”, be “as such”.
Dharma – a relationship, a role
This means, Dharma is not in isolation but in relation to, in relationship with another. So, for the practice of Dharma, relationship is an important component.
Dharma is thus a conjoint product of the characteristic of an entity and its relationships. The Dharma for each person, in each relationship will be different and takes different, even contradicting priorities, in different circumstances.
Hence if we are all to live as per Dharma, we have to think of others first and the expectations of the role we have to play with the others, before we don that role and play it to perfection.
Every person and everything in this universe has a role to play.
Dharma includes the co-existence and cooperation of the entire Universe, not just people alone.
Dharma – the binding law
This Universal message of Dharma which came into play ever since the Universe came into existence, has echoed from this land, eon after eon, Yuga after Yuga, as a living brand of India.
For, even without intelligence or without mankind too, this Universe, in its natural state has been living in Dharma. It is mankind with his intelligence, who tries to defy it.
India is a civilization that has been bound by the law of Dharma since inception.
The difference between Law and Dharma is that,
As a brand ambassador of Dharma, it is the Dharma of India, to bring out the power of this “suchness”, the power of character, to the world for order, peace and harmony to prevail world over.
More on Dharma in our book, Brand Bharat – Unique To India.