- Definition of Dharma
- Yuga Dharma
- Srṣṭi Nirūpaṇa
- Varṇa Dharma
- Jāti Viveka
- Āśrama Dharma
- Vedavratas (4)
- Ānhika Prakaraṇaṃ
- Kāmya Snānaṃ
- Ūrdhvapuṇḍra Dhāraṇaṃ
- Tripuṇḍra Dhāraṇaṃ
- Āhāra Pramāṇaṃ
- Bhōjana Vidhi
- Māṃsabhōjana Niyama
- Tāṃbūla Sevanaṃ
- Kāla Prakaraṇaṃ
- Definition of Kāla (Time)
- Tithi Nirṇaya from Pratipad to Chaturdaśī
- Various Vratas etc. to be performed in specific tithis
- Prāyaśchitta prakaraṇaṃ
- Adhikārī for Prāyaśchitta
- 11 Narakas
- Pāpa Phalaṃ
- Types of pāpaṃ
- Robbery - Prāyaśchittaṃ
- Agamyāgamanaṃ - Prāyaśchittaṃ
- Cause of Aśuchi
- Pratigrahaṇaṃ - Prāyaśchittaṃ
- Sādhāraṇa Prāyaśchittam
- Kṛcchra Swarūpaṃ
- Pāda Kṛcchram
- Āśaucham & Śrāddhaṃ
Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa are four principal puruṣārthas in Sanatna tradition. Puruṣārtha means ‘one’s purpose’ . Purpose is ‘that which oneself desires to acquire after knowing it’ . Among these puruṣārthas Dharma comes first and foremost, followed by artha (wealth, riches, property, money etc.) and Kāma (Love or Desire of sensual enjoyments). In order to maintain decorum and prevent unmārgapravṛtti (following evil courses or indiscipline ways) in the society, Artha and Kāma are bound by Dharma. That means that in pursuit to attain Artha or Kāma, dharma has to be consulted.
All the three puruṣārtha’s main purpose is to attain the state of Mokṣa (final emancipation, the deliverance of the soul from recurring births or transmigration) and hence, Mokṣa is considered the ultimate puruṣārtha. In the pursuit of Mokṣa, Dharma has a significant role.
Definition of dharma
The word Dharma is formed from the verbal root ‘dhṛ’ . The etymological meaning is ‘the prime cause for the order (lack of chaos) in the universe’ . The same meaning has been established by Sri AdiSankara in the opening lines of his commentary of Bhagavad Gita – ‘sabhagavānsruṣṭvedamjagat, tasyasthitimchikīrṣuḥ, ....dharmam-grāhayāmāsa’ .
According to the texts of Sanatana Tradition,Definition of Dharma differs from text to text. Like -
• According to tarkasangraha dharma is defined as ‘a property of ātma, born by performing rituals etc. prescribed by the Vedas’ .
• Dharma, according to pūrvamīmāmsā is ‘rituals prescribed by vedas’ .
• Haradatta, prominent scholar of dharma sastra, defined Dharma as ‘A property of ātma, bearing the name -apūrva- and the prime cause for prosperity and eternal bliss, born by performing prescribed rituals and good conduct’
Even though the definition may differ, but the aspect of Dharma being the prime cause for prosperity and eternal bliss does not differ.
According to samskara manjari sadāchāra means the customs that are being observed in the particular place form ages by the ancestors. These customs are to be in accordance with śruti and smṛti.
There are four yugas. 1. Kṛta 2. treta 3. dvāpara and 4. Kali. In dharma sastra the characteristics of each yuga are described in yuga dharma prakarana. For Example -
a. Age – in kṛtayuga the age of people is 400 years. In dvāparayuga it is 300 years. In tretāyuga it is 200 years. In kaliyuga it is 100 years.
b. Paradharma – paradharma means the most virtuous act that can be done. According to Mahabharata the paradharma in kṛtayuga is penance (tapas). In tretāyuga it is knowledge. In dvāparayuga it is yajna (sacrificial rite). And in kaliyuga it is danam (giving away for char
There are four varnas namely, brāmhaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra.
a. Brāhmaṇa - brāhmaṇa is the sect which is the most honorable in a society by its virtue. Because according to dharma sastra, brāhmaṇa is instructed to mainly engage himself in (i) adhyayana (keeping oneself well versed in sanatana literature like vedas, puranas etc.), (ii) adhyāpana (teaching sanatana literature to other varnas), (iii) yajana (sacrificial rituals for the well-being of the society and one’s self), (iv) yājana (guiding others in sacrificial rituals), (v) dāna (charity) and (vi) pratigrahaṇa (accepting charity given by others) .
adhyāpanaṃ cādhyayanaṃ yajanaṃ yājanaṃ tathā | dānaṃ pratigrahaśceti ṣaṭkarmāṇyagrajanmanaḥ ||
In the above six duties, adyayana, yajana and dāna are the means to attain dharma (punya) and therefore are to be performed without fail. The other three are called as jīvikā dharmas (livelihood). Thus according to dharma sastra there is no wide scope for brāhmaṇa to attain power or wealth but, is instructed to indulge in practices for the well-being of the society, he is considered to be the most honorable sect by virtue in the society.
b. Kṣtriya - kṣtriya is the sect which is responsible for the security and administration of the society .
pradhānaṃ kṣtriye karma prajānāṃ paripālanaṃ |
And like brāhmaṇa, kṣtriya is also instructed to perform adyayana, yajana and dāna without fail. And prajā paripālanaṃ is his jīvikā dharma.
c. Vaiśya – vaiśya is the sect which is instructed to indulge in business, farming, and taking care of the cattle as jīvikā dharma. And like brāhmaṇa and kṣtriya, vaiśya is also instructed to perform adyayana, yajana and dāna without fail .
paśūnāṃ rakṣaṇaṃ dānamijyādhyayanameva ca | vaṇikpathaṃ kusīdaṃ ca vaiśyasya kṛṣimeva ca ||
d. Śūdra – śūdra is the sect which is the workforce of the society. Śūdra is instructed to work under the three other varnas. If not they are given the permission to sell salt, honey, oil, curd, buttermilk and ghee as livelihood .
lavaṇaṃ madhu tailaṃ ca dadhi takraṃ ghṛtaṃ payaḥ | na duṣyecchūdrajātīnāṃ kuryātsarveṣu vikriyaṃ ||
The lineages of these four varnas do continue with the offsprings of the parents belonging to the same varna.
brāmhaṇyāṃ brāmhaṇāt jātaḥ saṃskṛto brāmhaṇō bhavet | evaṃ kṣatriyaviṭśūdrāḥ jṅeyāḥ svebhyaḥ svayōnijāḥ ||
The child born for a brahmin mother and father is a brahmin. And Kshatriya, vaisya and sudra also are determined by the parents varna, i.e. if the parents belong to the same varna then the child also belongs to the same varna. If not he is considered be sankara-jati (hybrid).
The off springs born to the parents belonging to the same varṇa, belong to the varṇa of the parents, i.e. child born to brāhmin parents is brāhmin, child born to kṣatriya parents is kṣatriya and so on.
Off springs born to parents belonging to different varṇas are categorized differently. They neither belong to the varṇa of father or mother. They are categorized into two groups – 1. Anulōma jāti 2. Pratilōma jāti.
Anulōma jāti – The off spring born to a father belonging to a higher varṇa and mother to a lower varṇa, belongs to Anulōma jāti. Each and every combination is given a different name.
• The child born to a brāhmin father and a kṣatriya mother is called - mūrdhāvasakta.
• The child born to a brāhmin father and a vaiśya mother is called - ambaṣṭha.
• The child born to a brāhmin father and a śūdra mother is called - niṣda/pāraśuka.
• The child born to a kṣtriya father and a vaiśya mother is called - māhiṣya.
• The child born to a kṣtriya father and a śūdra mother is called – ugra.
• The child born to a vaiśya father and a śūdra mother is called - karaṇa.
Pratilōma jāti - The off spring born to a father belonging to a lower varṇa and mother to a higher varṇa, belongs to Pratilōma jāti. Each and every combination is given a different name.
• The child born to a kṣatriya father and a brāhmin mother is called – sūta.
• The child born to a vaiśya father and a brāhmin mother is called – vaidehika.
• The child born to a śūdra father and a brāhmin mother is called - chāṇḍāla.
• The child born to a vaiśya father and a kṣatriya mother is called – māgadha.
• The child born to a śūdra father and a kṣatriya mother is called - kṣatta.• The child born to a śūdra father and a vaiśya mother is called – ayōgava.