03. An approach to the concept of Dharma (1)

Many attempts have been made to explain the concept of Dharma. This will not be an essay neither a complete explanation, but just a humble approach to what I could grasp as of now about this vast concept. I am simply a passionate sanatan dharmi who enjoys learning, understanding and living more and more in the lap of Hinduism.

Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, a well known hindu scholar, speaks of “sanskrit non translatables” for which we have to make the required efforts in order to explain them as accurately as possible without translating. Because once translated and with the passage of time, all nuances will be lost in the translation, and with it, all the richness of our Hindu culture will be lost, this time in the form of the oldest of all alive languages, and the mother of all european languages: the Sanskrit.

Let´s try: in the first post I mentioned the need to be aligned to “What It Is”. “What It Is” is Dharma. The Universe functions in a perfect balance between Order and Chaos, in a constant dance between the two forces that gives as a result the flowing of the universe, both at a macro as in a micro atomic level, in fabulous constant swinging of creation (governed by Brahma), maintainance (governed by Vishnu) and dissolution (governed by Maheswar or Shiva). Don´t be scared, my dear westerner friend, so used to force stagnancy as the source of personal security. This is the main first change we westerners have to do in our stagnant framework to start grasping a little bit of Hinduism: a stagnant pond is dead, the flowing rivers are alive, and the Universe is as flowing as we cannot realise: as soon as we get it, it has developed to the following step of the dance. End of the disgression..by now.

Coming back to Dharma, in this particular nuance of the meaning, dharmic is the natural functioning and developing of the Universe, according to universal laws, and we are dharmic when we get to be as much in tune with them as possible.

This links to another beautiful nuance of the dharma, and it has always been put like this: the dharma of the sun is to heat, the dharma of the water is to wet, and the dharma of the scorpion is to sting. It is their inner nature. So as my beloved Shri Ramakrishna very cheerfully said, respect and honor the tiger from far, because his dharma is to eat you up.

Dharma has also been loosely translated as righteousness. Far from the sense of righteousness in the abrahamic religions, dharma is the rigtheousness that comes from the Conciousness in you. Provided one has purified their mind as to have the ability to discern. What you KNOW deep inside of you that it is right or wrong, when your mind is pure and able to have a clear vivek (discerning capacity). In case of doubt, you better ask your elders, your Guru or the shastras for taking the right decision.

Dharma is contextual: it depends upon time, place and circumstances. Which has not to be misunderstood as “everything goes”, like many biased westerners have done. No. It is just part of its dynamic nature that the context has to be seen in a whole to discern the right and the wrong in every circumstance.

As a result of all previous nuances, Dharma is also translated as duty. What is the core nature of the things becomes the duty to be exercised to be atuned to the Universe.

To be continued


One thought on “03. An approach to the concept of Dharma (1)

  1. Namaskaram dear Mariaji,

    Very well put.

    I shall augment your explanation of the concept of dharma / kartavya (duty) with a small story.

    Once a man was visiting the bank of a river. There he saw a sage trying to pull the drowning scorpion out of water.
    Every time the sage tried to pull him out, the scorpion bit him. He had many a marks of painful stings on his palm still he kept trying.

    Filled with curiosity the man question the sage. Oh holy man when you know its going to sting you, why you try this?

    The sage answered “Oh noble man, its my dharma which forces me to perform my kartavya(duty). And its scorpions dharma that it tries to dispel the duty it must.”

    Jai Siya Ram…!


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