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“Dharma is explained for us by nature”
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“Dharma is explained for us by nature”

Time changes, and the meaning of the words changes with time, writes Mridul Upadhyay, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from New Delhi in India, as he explores the meaning of Dharma.

‘Dharma’ is an Indian/Hindi word, which is now usually translated as ‘religion’ in the Indian subcontinent, but the word has lost its pure meaning.

There is no single word translation in western languages, but the dictionaries say that Dharma is a noun, with meanings that include: in the Indian religion, Hinduism or Buddhism, it is the eternal law of the cosmos, inherent in the very nature of things; in Hinduism, it is one’s obligation in respect to one’s position in society; in Buddhism, it is knowledge of or duty to undertake conduct set forth as a way to enlightenment; it is also described as virtue and religion.

So, while without understanding its meaning, people fight to prove the superiority of their own religion. Yet I would say that Dharma means the intrinsic nature of a thing. Dharma is something which doesn’t change with time.

To understand nature’s law, we need to see things as they really are. With our keen observation of the natural world, we can understand how all living and non-living things retain their own nature, so much that it can be recognised as a part of identity. This is ‘Dharma’.

Nature clearly shows that Dharma of fire is to burn, Dharma of water is to moisturise, Dharma of the earth is to bear weight. Nature designates Dharma and considers it necessary for the order of things in the universe. Dharma designates appropriate human behaviour, considering it necessary for the same order of things in the universe. Thus, Dharma of humans is to follow the law of nature. And it is the way and permanent means to achieve peace.

Knowledge is of three kinds: heard, mentally evaluated and experienced, and the third, being supreme knowledge. It is almost impossible to understand the taste of chocolate by hearing or mentally evaluating, one needs to experience by tasting the chocolate to understand its taste. The law of nature is beyond the materialistic properties. It needs to be experienced personally to gain complete knowledge of it.

The natural law is beyond any common or shallow understanding of religion, faith or sect. It’s just ‘Dharma’, which we have got from nature; equal and the same for every human. One’s Dharma (religion) is not better than others. Natural law exists every time and everywhere, whether it is applied and experienced or not. As per this law, if we, the humans, do not fulfil our duties, we will lose our rights. And this is the only reason behind suffering.

Earth doesn’t react to what it likes or dislikes. The earth doesn’t shrink away if we throw something disgusting on it. Similarly, fire can burn disgusting things and doesn’t recoil in disgust. And without reacting to the quality of things, water and air, too, accept as things are, and wash or blow these things away. Doing so is their Dharma. They don’t react, rather they act – which means they just follow their Dharma.

Developing such equanimity by learning not to react to situations is the second step; understanding Dharma is the first; and acting according to Dharma is the final step of the process of purification and regaining synchronisation with the law of nature.

Knowing Dharma and acting according to the law of nature eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, dislike or hatred, and lack of knowledge. The continuous synchronisation with the law of nature supports the human in non-emergence of tensions by reducing conflicts, and because of the balanced act of humans to the pleasant and unpleasant situations. Dharma, given by nature, fulfills life with increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

Once again, our understanding of religion is very limited. The entire path of Dharma is a universal remedy for universal problems, and has nothing to do with any organised religion or sectarianism. It just has to do with nature and its law. It can be practised freely by everyone, at all times, without conflict due to race, community or religion. And it will bring peace for one and all.

Photo credit: courtesy of Mridul Upadhyay

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About me:  A thinker, a social volunteer, a mechanical designer, a theatre artist, a guitar player, a lyrics-writer, an amateur sketch artist, a cook, a traveler, a wannabe civil servant – there are many phrases I enjoy trying on me to describe what I see myself as.
Currently I work for the Oil and Gas Pipeline refineries as a design engineer and am studying for Management in Business Administration. I aspire to enlighten society with the knowledge and experience I gain.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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