ॐ गं गणपतये नमः
Hara Hara Mahādeva
I begin the first post with prostrations to the Remover of all obstacles, Ganapati. All hail the Great God, Lord Shiva!
We must now venture into the realm of Dharma, and the Eternal Law is not defined or pinned by singular opinions, it is as complex as creation and varied as the individuals present in it, both Man and Beast.
This however does not lead to the modern construct of Individualism and selfishness. Dharma is the origin of the conscience, and it behoves one to follow it and not walk into the path of degeneracy and evil. What it means is that, there are duties that have to be performed for the successful establishment of Dharma, because it always needs to be protected, then alone it can protect us. Adharma, like chaos is easy to descend into. It would be deplorable to just whine about rights and walk away from your duties. There are no rights, you follow your duty and you will have your liberty. It is of the utmost significance to not let Adharma take root, as it may hold with it the promise of wish fulfilment without any responsibilities, but it inherently seeks destruction.
The Vaiśeshika Sūtra begins with:
अथातो धर्म व्याख्यास्यामः।
(Athāto Dharma vyākhyāsyāmah)
Thus we shall explain Dharma
This is followed by the first definition of what is Dharma:
यतोऽभ्युदय निःश्रेयससिद्धिः स धर्मः।
(Yatobhyudaya nihśreyasa siddhih sa dharmah)
Dharma is that from which results the accomplishment of Exaltation and the Supreme Good
Of course, ancient commentators have not stopped at this superficial meaning and have gone on to expand on it with multiple explanations. This is the sutra of one of the Six Schools of Indian Philosophy; Vaiśeshika. However for our general discussion this would suffice.
That which results in Exaltation:
There can be no doubt that those who are the heralds of Dharma are exalted above even the mightiest warriors. Let us take the Epics, among the sons of Vichitravīrya; Dhritarāshtra was the mightiest, Pāndu the Fairest, the progenitor of the great Pāndavas, however Vidura was the best among Men:
Among countries Kurujangala was the first, that among virtuous men, Vidura was the first, that among cities Hastināpura was the first. (Ādi Parva section 109, MB)*
Notable is that, neither of his elder brothers were mentioned in that verse. Vidura, was the incarnation of Dharmarāja, the Lord of Dharma. Till the very end of the Great War, Vidura is honoured above and beyond all the stalwarts. Even the Lord Śrī Krishna, personally visits his home disregarding the opulence and luxuries of the Kuru princes.
That which results in Supreme Good:
Now, the misconception, that Dharma and Adharma are Good and Evil must be eschewed. Good and Evil as antithesis are purely abrahamic and binaries which will lead to disregarding the complexities of consciousness and creation. Dharma is that which will lead to Merit and Adharma will lead to demerit. This is closely entwined with Karma. The consequence of action, whether done for Dharma or otherwise shows the efficacy of Dharmic practice. The intentions don’t matter, it is the result that matters. The road to Dharma is difficult, but it must be protected at all costs. It is your very conscience, which a layman would ignore for transitory pleasures, which degrades the body, mind, and spirit eventually.
The Dhārmika lives in the here and the hereafter as exalted and unblemished, they live in our collective memory, because they chose to do what we only covet but dust off as impossible.
Dharma is virtue, patience, non-violence (but must be protected with necessary violence when threatened), charity, generosity. Follow Dharma, it is your raft in the stormy sea, you hold on to it and you sail safe amidst all the turmoil, let go, and well you know what will happen.
Yato Dharmastato Jayah!
*The Kumbhakonam rescension of the Mahabharata names Bhīshma. It changes nothing, Devavrata was a paragon of Dharma himself!