What is Dharma? (Q&A)


What is Dharma?

Dharma is a fundamental concept in Hinduism and has multiple meanings. At its core, it refers to the natural order, moral principles, or ethical duties that guide human life. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word “dhri,” which means “to hold” or “to sustain.” Dharma is like an invisible force that upholds the universe and maintains harmony and balance.


Now, let’s dive into a bit of history. The concept of dharma can be traced back to the Vedas, which are the oldest Hindu scriptures, written around 1500-1000 BCE. Over time, dharma has been further elaborated in various texts such as the Upanishads, Mahabharata, and Bhagavad Gita.

In Hinduism, dharma is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s important to understand that dharma varies based on one’s age, gender, caste, and stage in life. These specific duties are known as “svadharma,” or one’s personal dharma. For example, a student’s dharma may involve learning, while a parent’s dharma may involve raising and providing for their children.


Now, let me give you a couple of examples from Hindu mythology that illustrate the concept of dharma:

  1. The story of Rama: Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, is considered an ideal example of someone who upheld dharma. Rama, a righteous prince, was exiled from his kingdom for 14 years. Despite the hardships he faced, he always followed the path of dharma, which eventually led to the defeat of the demon king Ravana and the rescue of his wife Sita. Rama’s adherence to dharma throughout his life has made him a role model in Hinduism, and his story serves as an example of how following dharma can lead to success and happiness.
  1. The story of Arjuna: In the epic Mahabharata, Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, is faced with a moral dilemma when he must fight against his own relatives and teachers in the battle of Kurukshetra. Arjuna becomes overwhelmed and questions whether it is right to participate in the battle. It is during this time that Lord Krishna, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, imparts the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. Krishna explains the importance of performing one’s duties (dharma) selflessly, without attachment to the results. This guidance helps Arjuna understand his svadharma as a warrior, and he ultimately fights and emerges victorious.

These examples show that following one’s dharma, even when faced with difficult choices, can ultimately lead to positive outcomes. As a Vaishnava scholar, I would like to emphasize that the ultimate dharma for a devotee is to serve and love the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, or his various incarnations like Krishna and Rama.

In conclusion, dharma is a complex and multifaceted concept in Hinduism that helps individuals navigate their lives ethically and responsibly. It is a set of principles that vary depending on one’s personal circumstances but ultimately aims to create harmony and balance in the world. By understanding and following one’s dharma, one can lead a purposeful and fulfilling life.

This post was created with our nice and easy submission form. Create your post!


What do you think?

0 Points

Leave a Reply

Shiva’s prayer to Lord Narasimhadev

Srila Prabhupada Pranati (nama om visnu-padaya)