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Dharma is distinct from religion: Vaidya

DHARMA IS the principle of universal harmony, defined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) thinker (chintak) Madhav Govind Vaidya. He was speaking today on the topic of ?pillars of Indian culture? at the 47th summer lecture series organised by Abhyas Mandal at Jall Auditorium.

india Updated: May 16, 2006 23:53 IST

DHARMA IS the principle of universal harmony, defined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) thinker (chintak) Madhav Govind Vaidya. He was speaking today on the topic of ‘pillars of Indian culture’ at the 47th summer lecture series organised by Abhyas Mandal at Jall Auditorium.

Vaidya said that dharma was a not an absolute term, but a relative concept as it envisaged provisions not only for humans but every living or non-living entity on the planet.

Dharma was beneficial to all, as animals and plants have also been connected with divinity in some way or another making them revered for the people and thus making them a part of life.

However, it was difficult to comprehend for those speaking a foreign tongue as firstly, there was no term in their language that comes even remotely close to defining an all pervasive and comprehensive term like ‘dharma’ and secondly, its meaning could not be understood by them in totality.

Dharma bound together the varied constituents/elements of the universe with the rope of love, cooperation, respect and other such high values.

It was a thing to be felt in order to be believed. Explaining this phenomenon, he said that just as country was considered motherland, cow as mother figure, river like Ganges and trees like ‘Peepal’ were venerated and considered sacred, so was dharma a matter that could be taken in its element only by reposing complete faith in its principles.

Dharma taught people to love each other, live in a society and follow the rules laid down by this society. In the Mahabharat, Bhishma had explained that before kings and kingdoms people conducted their life according to the tenets of ‘dharma’ and the concept of government having some one else adjudicating, implementing and deciding for others collectively had to be brought in only when people misinterpreted and misconstrued ‘dharma’.

Religion was a part of ‘dharma’ but not its synonym and both should not be confused as one. India was never a theocratic state but always a ‘dharma rajya’.  Its ideals were Lord Ram, Buddha, Maharana Pratap and Shivaji who had sacrificed for maintaining the sanctity of ‘dharma’ and the understanding of this sacrifice is culture. Charity (daan) is culture (sanskriti) and use (bhog) is ‘pravvati’.

The Indian morals and ethos enshrined in the Vedas, Puranas and other texts have guided the countrymen so far on a virtuous path providing them an identity of their own. People should remain aware of their duties in preserving this culture and not fall prey to the cultural invasion with which the country is faced today.