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Meaning Of Word Dharma In Sanatana Dharma - Hinduism

This article takes a look at the meaning of the word Dharma in Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism.

The blanket term used to denote spiritual values is dharma. Unlike its popular translation, this well-known term does not mean religion. Dharma is derived from the root ‘dhri’, to hold. ‘That which holds life together is called dharma,’ says a celebrated definition.

In other words, those virtues, attitudes, principles and practices which keep us together is dharma. It protects us from moral disintegration and decay. Since dharma is based on our inner being, it defies all attempts to outsmart it. However clever one may be, one cannot ignore it. Dharma is the very basis of life.

If we do not cultivate the seeds of goodness, of dharma, the seeds of evil or adharma gets cultivated (adharma or evil means violation of our spiritual nature).

Dharma is the spiritual principle that holds us together. If we violate it, we go against the very nature of life, against ourselves. In doing evil, we injure others and also ourselves.

Dharma is simply tearing off the veil of false identity that hides our true self. The Self is the foundation of all unselfishness. Nearer we are to our core, the more unselfish we are because the same Self resides in all. Only when we understand that do we discover the real reason for becoming good.

(Source – excerpts from the editorial of Vedanta Kesari magazine date February 2008 published by Ramakrishna Mission.)

More additions on July 9, 2020

Dharma does not have an English equivalent. Righteousness can be approximate word to convey what dharma stands for. Dharma denotes the power or process of sustaining human life in all situations, in fortune and misfortune, favor and disfavor, prosperity and adversity. The power is truly applicable to the mind and intelligence, not to anything else in the human personality. (Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha Maharaj)

(Source - Article - Essential Of Hinduism - In The book - The Science Called Hinduism - The Play of the Divine in the form of the Rishis - Vanamali page XI - XII)