RE-INTERPRETING THE CONCEPT OF DHARMA IN CLASSICAL INDIAN ETHICAL PERSPECTIVE
-Dr Aditi Patra (Nee Ray)
In India, morality is never considered as separated from human existence and life. As a matter of fact, it is necessary to consider the basic factors of morality in relation to the study of human nature. Moral type of an individual depends on the basic intrinsic nature of the individuals. Each individual according to his own capacity is supposed to sustain a society, and that is value, that is his ‘dharma’. In my present thought provoking paper, my intention is to analyze and explicate the multidimensional interpretations of the concept of dharma from the classical Indian ethical perspective and more specifically from some of the thoughts of the Indian philosophical schools.
This paper is divided into four sections. The first section of this paper begins with the analysis of the etymological and other meanings of the word ‘dharma’. The term ‘dharma’ may be explained in the sense of objective morality as well as subjective morality. In the second section, the concept of dharma has been analyzed in the sense of objective morality. In the third section, discussions have been made about dharma as character trait and its consequences, i.e. in the sense of subjective morality. How does an individual achieve moksa or liberation by performing dharma has been critically analyzed in the concluding section.
Dharma, in the Indian ethics, is a key term and it is a term with many senses. The multivocal character of the word ‘dharma’ is evidenced by the fact that it has been used to denote such widely different things as nature, law, custom, religious rituals, rules, morality, duties, character-trait. This term, actually, covers the entire range of a man’s life. However, behind all of these dimensions, there is a normative one which constitutes also the central core. Dharma as a human value or purusartha, can be said to be the value which consists in, or is constituted by, living a morally good life, a life which is in accordance with the requirements of morality appropriate to a man’s just being a human being in his society or to his being a participant in interpersonal transactions .In this paper, the word ‘dharma’ is understood in the sense of morality and the other sense of dharma as religious consciousness has been excluded.
This article come to our forthcoming book entitled: Reconsidering Classical Indian Thoughts.