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Manavadharma In Hindu Religion

Manavadharma in Hindu religion is action and not flight from reality and it binds man inexorably to what he must become ultimately in obedience to the alas of his inner being.

For dharma though understood severally is universal as manav dharma, the dharma of all beings irrespective of the distinctions of caste, creed, colour and wealth, status and inclination. As an urge within oneself to do aught that is right and proper dharma it is ‘which makes man seek for happiness in this word and the next. Dharma is established on work; dharma is impelling man day and night to run after and work for happiness.’ (Swami Vivekananda Complete Works Volume V page 349)

In its universal aspect dharma means ‘contentment, forgiveness, self-control, abstention from unrighteously appropriating anything, obedience to the rules of purification, disciplining of the organs, wisdom, knowledge, truthfulness and abstention from anger. (Manava Dharma Shastra VI, 92)

In the Vishnu Dharma Shastra, the dharma common to all human beings is described as ‘forbearance, veracity, restrain, self control, not to kill any living being, obedience towards one’s Gurus (preceptors), visiting places of pilgrimage, sympathy (with the afflicted), straightforwardness, freedom from covetousness, reverence towards gods and Brahmanas and freedom from anger.

The Bhagavata Purana defines manava dharma as harmlessness, truthfulness, absence of the tendency to steal, to be free from the passions of desire, anger and covetousness, activity in the direction of what is agreeable and good to beings.

Kautilya includes harmlessness, truthfulness, purity, freedom from spite, abstinence from cruelty and forgiveness as the essential constituents of the dharma of all human beings.

The Mahabharata describes non-violence as the highest dharma while the Bhagavad Gita points out ‘rightness’ as the essence of dharma.

In short dharma in its universal aspects is the embodiment of truth and non violence, self restraint and compassion in our everyday life and it is the instrument for remoulding our nature and sublimating our instincts.