What is Dharm?

‘A Philosophy and reason will remain the most beautiful sanctuary they have always been for the select few.’- Einstein

-Today science is considered different from ‘dharm’ (spirituality). Because of certain incidents, the belief that science is different from spirituality has developed. There is a basic principle of science which says that if one thing is possible at one point of time, then it is possible at another point of time also provided all the conditions present at one point of time are made available at another point of time. Our religious books do not differ from this basic principle of science. As such, when we talk of spirituality in accordance with our religious books, it is totally scientific. Every religion consists of three parts-

  1. mythology (true stories only. Nowadays, mythology has been considered to be a study of imaginary stories).
  2. Customs
  3. Philosophy

By Spirituality we refer to philosophy only whereas by religion we mean all the ibid three parts.

The meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘dharm’ is so vast that it is very very difficult to explain it.

To do what we ought to do and not to do what we ought not to do IS DHARM. Vedas give all the instructions what we should do and what we should not do. As such, WE CAN SAY THAT TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS OF VEDAS IS DHARM. Maharishi Manu has suggested ten symptoms of dharm, which are as follows:

  1. Patience- To have patience in pain-pleasure, loss-gain, honour-dishonour etc.
  2. Endurance-Endurance of pain by a weak person on having been given by a strong man is not symptom of dharm. Not to respond with an intention of taking the revenge on being capable of taking the revenge is endurance. Not to talk of injustice to others, even if injustice is done to one’s own self, it is against dharm to sit silently and not to respond, IF it can increase the courage of the injustice-doer or IF it amounts to setting up of wrong example in the society. (In this context, readers are advised to go through God’s attributes of justice and kindness.)

3.  Controlling ‘man’-To keep ‘MAN’ away from bad thoughts and to apply it in good acts.

4.   Non-stealing-Not to accept money etc. through unjust means, Not to use belongings of another without approval, It includes non-stealing by 'MAN' even. This symptom does not simply refer to non-stealing of articles of others but also means doing acts towards welfare of others. As such, not to act fraudulently with others also come under this symptom.

5.    Cleanliness-To take care of cleanliness of one’s body (external cleanliness) as well as of one’s mind (internal cleanliness). Cleanliness should be visible through one’s body, clothes, surroundings and behaviour. While external cleanliness is done by water, internal cleanliness is done through renunciation of attachment, ill-will etc.

6.    Controlling the senses-To govern the senses and put them in good deeds.

7.   Intellect- To constantly endeavour for enhancement of budhi (intellect) by avoiding meat, alcohol, tobacco etc, by saving semen through Brahamcharya (control over sexual desires), swadhaya (study of the Vedas), by taking good vegetation having medicinal properties, by avoiding company of bad people, by renunciation of inertness etc.

8.   Knowledge-To have knowledge of all the objects of this universe in order to obtain appropriate benefits from them.

9.    Truth-To know a thing as it is, to say so and to do according to one’s knowledge.

10.   Non-anger-To renounce the anger which is generated from non-fulfilment of one’s desire. The purpose of anger should be welfare of others or stopping of injustice.

A spiritual person must show the above mentioned symptoms through his behaviour. External signs like clothes, hair styles etc. do not make a person spiritual. Clothes, hair styles etc. very much depend upon place, time, season and interest. In short, we can say that to do what we like to be done to us and not to do what is not liked by us to be done to us is Dharm. As such, to speak politely and not to deceit any other person is dharm (as we want others to speak politely to us and not to deceive us).

- ‘Dharm’, often translated into English as Religion, of a thing cannot be more than one. It is not possible to translate this term ‘Dharm’ in any language. To have a glimpse of the meaning of this term, we can say that the term refers to the intrinsic qualities of a thing. For example, water has qualities of going downwards, remaining cool etc. As such, these qualities can be termed as ‘dharm’ of water. Similarly, man has certain qualities like liking the truth, hatred towards deceitfulness etc. These qualities as a whole can be termed as ‘dharm’ of man. For a man, there cannot be two sets of qualities. HE CAN NOT BE TERMED AS HINDU, MUSLIM, SIKH, CHRISTIAN ETC. FOR THE REASON THAT HIS INTRINSIC QUALITIES SHALL REMAIN THE SAME IN ALL SOCIAL CONDITIONS. If any rule of a sect acts like a hurdle for becoming a human being, that hurdle need be crossed to reach the goal.

-What cannot be proved cannot be Dharm. Here, ‘cannot be proved’ means inexplicable by reason by the highest level of intellect.

Looking at ‘Dharm’ from this point of view, dharm of a person cannot be changed and ‘change of dharm’ is a talk of foolishness.