In this blogpost, guest writer Bibek Debroy expands on the complex nature of dharma. It isn't a monolith. In fact it varies substantially depending on one's stage of life, one's occupation, one's location and even one's circumstances - to name a few parameters! Begin to explore this tenet of the Hindu tradition, so deeply complex, that even the great sire Bhishma was left speechless by it on occasion.
धर्माधर्मौ सुखं दुखं मानसानि न ते विभो।
न कर्तासि न भोक्तासि मुक्तएवासि सर्वदा॥
न त्वं विप्रादिको वर्णो नाश्रमी नाक्षगोचरः।
These quotes are getting into terrain we will examine later. The limited point I wish to make is the assertion that dharma (or adharma) is a state of the mind. And “you” are not brahmana and the other varnas, or the (four) ashramas. We go back to the various definitions of dharma as religion, ordinances, precepts of good conduct, law, duty, custom and all or some of these. In a loose sense, if we are asked to translate dharma, we will probably pick religion. But, in the context of our texts, it seems to me that dharma is not religion.
|Dr. Bibek Debroy|