Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.
What is Hinduism?
We can't define an integral part of something without knowing what we are talking about. So here's a quick overview of Hinduism:
- Belief in one supreme being
- Belief in the four Vedas, which are an ancient scripture (possibly the oldest)
- Cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution
- Karma is the ultimate law of cause and effect that creates each person's destiny
- Souls are reincarnated, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved and the soul is liberated from the cycle by moksha
- Divine beings exist in unseen worlds and temples, rituals, sacraments and devotions create communion between the individual and the beings
- Transcendent and enlightened masters are essential
- All life is sacred
- All religions and teachings are facets of wisdom and light; all deserve tolerance and understanding
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- 0:00 What Is Hinduism?
- 1:05 What Is Dharma?
- 1:30 Applied Dharma
- 2:19 Opposition to Dharma
- 2:57 History of Dharma
- 3:35 Lesson Summary
What is Dharma?
Dharma is a word without direct translation, but implies 'religion,' 'duty,' and 'righteousness.' It derives from a Sanskrit root word meaning 'to uphold or sustain'. The concept behind Dharma is anything that upholds or sustains a positive order. For example, an individual, a family, a community, a nation and the universe all help uphold order.
Dharma changes, depending on the social expectation and level a person is at. A child's dharma is different than their parents', who have different dharmas than, say, a nation leader. Each individual's expectations of how they are to be treated and expectations of what they should be doing are different. A child is expected to obey the parents and grow into a responsible adult. Parents are supposed to protect and look after their child. The head of a nation is to provide security and leadership to their citizens. If everyone follows their dharma, then prosperity is had. But if people fail to maintain, then the system begins to fall apart. For example, what if the leader acted like a child? What if the child refused to grow up? The entire system begins to fall apart.
Opposition to Dharma
A-dharma is the opposite of dharma; it is the failure of the individuals in the system to maintain the system. The children do not grow up, the police do not protect, the educators do not teach. If there is too much a-dharma then the entire system breaks down, and families, communities, nations, even societies break down.
A-dharma is like a wall of rising water. As it increases, the amount of people needed to fight back against it also increases. One bad child can be influenced or removed. A bad group of educators poisons everything.
History of Dharma
Many of the great epics from India and in Hindu, called Varnashrama Dharma, have the system of dharma built into the story. In Ramayana, the hero exhibits all of the aspects of what dharma is, while the villain represents the idea of a-dharma. To a westerner, the idea is superficially similar to the concept of order vs. chaos, but this is overly simplistic. In Mahabharata, the dharma and a-dharma collide, with cosmic beings, heroes and villains. In the end of the story dharma triumphs, as this is the way the universe is.
Dharma lacks a directly translatable term, but is related to sustaining the order of one's duty based on one's position. A-dharma represents the opposite of this, i.e. the unraveling of order and the universe. Many epic stories discuss the role of dharma in the universe and how the world should work.
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What Is Dharma in Hinduism? - Definition & Overview
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