Published:  12:57 PM, 05 October 2019 Last Update: 12:59 PM, 05 October 2019

What is Dharma?

What is Dharma?


Let me, first, do a bit of deliberation on what is called Dharma: then I would like to talk about Manav Dharma. The word `Dharma' has come from the Sanskrit language. We will have to understand what the authors of our scriptures have said about it. It is not so easy as we think it to be.

Besides, there are many hurdles on the way. According to English dictionary the English translation of 'Dharma' is Religion. It is a horrible mistake! The English people, after coming to our Country have done many translations of our holy scriptures. Thereby, while some good has been done, the harm caused is not insignificant.

The biggest damage is done by translating `Dharma' as Religion in English language. Those who are not conversant with Sanskrit language, but are keen to understand Sanskrit literature etc through the medium of English language commit glaring blunder by assuming Dharma to be synonymous with Religion. The magnitude of this mistake can hardly be expressed in words. It will gradually reveal itself during the course of discussion.

If I say - "the `Dharma' of water is to quench thirst and that of fire is to burn - hope you quite understand it.' This after English translation becomes - the Religion of water is to quench thirst, the Religion of fire is to burn': Now, you Englishwallah can say whether it is correct or not - however the sentence - "the Dharma of fire is to burn was not wrong." Whatever great an Englishwallah you may be, you won't be able to translate this word `Dharma' correctly in English. There is no such word in the English language.

In a word, the term `Dharma' is not translatable into English.
By `Dharma' of a thing it means its innate nature or its intrinsic properties. What does it mean, in one word, that the 'Dharma' of fire is to burn? It means the property of fire is to burn. Its very function is to burn, if it does not burn, it is not there - this is its 'Dharma'.

Suppose a fire is burning and the wood- fuel is getting exhausted fast. Seeing this, you request the fire "please wait a bit. I am just fetching some more wood-fuel from the market ". Coming back, you find the fire has got extinguished. No fuel is there to burn; hence there is no fire. Its very function is to burn - this is its property, its `Dharma'. In English this is called 'essential property' or 'inherent quality'.

So, in absence of that if a thing doesn't exist, it is the `Dharma' of that thing -,roughly speaking the particular item, in absence of which, the very thing becomes extinct, is the 'Dharma' of that thing. This is the interpretation of the word `Dharma' in accordance with scriptures.

In this world, everything has a `Dharma' of its own. The sun has a Dharma' - it gives light, heat etc. Air has `Dharma' - it blows and helps us in carrying out our respiratory functions. The cloud has a `Dharma' - it brings out rains. Likewise, beasts and birds, plants and creepers and even an atom have their own `Dharma'. A hydrogen atom, an oxygen atom, has also a `Dharma'.

You won't find a single thing that has not got its own `Dharma'. In the scientific language this is called the 'property' of a thing.Nothing can exist without `Dharma'. Whether you recognize `Dharma' or not, without it nothing can exist. Just because there is Dharma', the dog is like a dog, the cat is like a cat, the tiger is like a tiger.

The tiger performs its Dharma', the cat practices its `Dharma', plants and creepers follow their `Dharma', hence they survive, and otherwise they cease to exist. All things in the world, individually and collectively have their typical characteristics and these are the Dharma' respectively.

So much has been said about Dharma'. Now let me talk about what we mean by `Manav Dharma'. Had the topic been on water I would have talked about the `Dharma' of water. Had it been on plants and creepers I would have talked about their Dharma ' . Had it been on zoology, I would certainly have, Eiscussed the Dharma of animals. Now that, the topic is on human beings, this discussion will be confined to the Dharma of mankind.

The qualities, whose presence in a human being makes him a man, and by its absence, he ceases to be called a man - are the `Dharma' of mankind. What is that quality by the presence of which a man is called or should be called a man? It is not so terrifying thing- it's called `Manusyatva' (humanity). As water has wateriness, fire fieriness, so human beings should have humanity.

Man and animals are almost the same. Particularly, from the point of view of medical science; there is practically no difference between man and animal. Don't you see that when a new medicine is invented it is first experimented on theThe writer is EX - Senior English Teacher and President National Freedom Fighters - 75 (Obstruction Fighter).



---RatishTalukder

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