A spiritual term arose from Vedic philosophy and was embraced through the entire history of the Hindu religion by the astika (orthodox) and nastika (heterdox) sects. Politically used, it became broadly and ambiguously defined. This Sanskrit word “dharma” arises from the basis “dhr” this means “to keep “.
The first Vedic meaning of dharma was the cosmic order, or what upholds the cosmos. It was also interwoven, through connections to the Vedic ritual, to the societal order. You could consider dharma to be “the law “.Later schools of thought used the term to mean the greatest reality and highest truth, that have been equal to some other meaning of the phrase, the teachings of the founders of the schools. It is thought that the basis “dhr”, since Sanksrit is an early on Indo-European language, might have led to words such as for example Deus, Zeus, Jupiter, Tao, and more, all which point to that which upholds and sustains the universe physically, socially, and morally.
Dharma was a term that would be embraced and employed by any group to help it’s own ideas or agenda. This really is precisely what occurred involving the brahmins (priests) and the samnyasins (renouncers). Brahmins had taught this one should follow the prescribed social order to reify the energy of the gods, which metaphorically allude to differing facets of reality and the cosmos. Following this established pattern of living, with respect to the class one exists into, ensures that every person within society, and thus society as a whole, performs their personal karma. If this social order is upheld, then it is alignment with the dharma. The motivation for individuals to surrender to this technique was the hope of an improved rebirth within samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth.
With the emergence of the cosmic and spiritual speculation of the Upanisads came a new focus on samsara and an escape as a result, moksa. The meaning of karma shifted, with less focus on the Vedic ritual, and more on the causal facet of the word. The entire cosmology was now understood by the ascetics being an allegory for the inner conditions of the human mind. Dharma obtained a transcendental aspect, karma binds someone to samsara, and liberation is no further an increased rebirth within samsara, but an overall total freedom from it. Karmic action lost its importance as moksa became the goal. Jnana, or knowledge of oneself as the highest truth, is the main element to liberation. This really is realized by yoga, a withdrawal of the senses and a cessation of the turning of the mind. Probably the most conducive atmosphere to do this is far from society. These new definitions contradict the ideas of the brahmins and deem much of the special status as unnecessary current affairs. An effort to reemphasize the importance of a cultural obligation and moral duty are available within the Ramayana.
The Ramayana tells an epic tale of an incarnation of Visnu, Rama, as he works through the results of following proper dharma while following his own purusarthas (goals of life), which ultimately result in a larger advantageous to all. The brahmins seek to explicate why you need to follow dharma before artha (things of personal value) and kama (sensual pleasures). Although the reason why may be beyond intellectual grasping, the greatest good arises by following dharma. The next is one bout of the Ramayana which displays this reasoning.
The King of Ayodhya, Dasaratha, really wants to elevate Rama, the son of his first wife, to kingship. But his third wife, Kaikeyi, uses this time to obtain two promises offered to her by Dasaratha after she once saved him on the battlefield. She decides these promised boons to be that her son Bharata be named king as opposed to Rama, and that Rama is exiled to the wilderness for fourteen years, comprehending that Bharata would refuse kingship if Rama was present.
Here the dilemma arises. Dharmically Dasaratha must hold true to the promises he offered Kaikeyi, his favorite wife. His purusartha, goals of life, are to follow along with his dharma, seek and protect his personal properties, and fulfill sensual desires. Dharma is demonstrated to be most significant as he chooses to exile Rama and name Bharata as king. Although he could have rather followed the social custom of primogeniture, naming his first-born son king, he did not. He chose to follow along with proper dharma, which held him obligated to be loyal to his oaths, and maintained his family structure, which is really a model for his citizens and part of his kingly dharma. In the long run, many events occur which result in Rama locating a worthy wife, solving many injustices, ridding the world of the asuras (demi-god demons), and becoming king anyways.
This polemical writing seeks to make sure people that the delaying of their particular gratifications is infinitely more rewarding when dharma reaches risk. For the individuals of the Vedic society, what this means is even their particular release from samsara must certanly be delayed in order to uphold the cosmic, social, and moral order, which eventually contributes to a global more conducive to attaining moksa for everyone. It attempts to remove the urgency of seeking liberation, thus convincing people to remain within society and their castes and perform their duties for the highest good of society and the cosmos. This keeps power within the hands of the brahmins, the highest and most privileged caste.
This argument hasn’t found a resolution. If dharma is understood to function as the upholding of the order of reality through performing moral and social duties, then one remains within society at the wish of the brahmins. If dharma is understood to be an ultimate, uninterpreted truth, which when understood liberates one from the dissatisfaction of life, then one renounces society and seeks solace in the wilderness while performing yoga. Dharma is completed or sought in either instance, but the decision of definition is wholly political.