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What is Dharma?

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Dharma refers to one’s duty or purpose in life, as determined by their role and station in society. It is believed that fulfilling one’s dharma is necessary for spiritual progress and generating positive karma. Dharma is often associated with virtues such as honesty, compassion, and generosity.

What is Dharma?

Dharma, is truly another majestic concept that resonates within the realms of Indian cultural wisdom. Let us explore its essence and significance.

Dharma, derived from the Sanskrit root “dhr” meaning “to uphold” or “to sustain,” embodies the cosmic order, righteousness, and the ethical and moral duties prescribed for individuals within their respective roles and contexts. It encompasses the principles and values that guide human conduct, fostering harmony, righteousness, and the well-being of both individuals and society.

In the Bhagavad Gita, a revered Indian scripture, Lord Krishna imparts profound wisdom to the warrior prince Arjuna, shedding light on the nature of Dharma and its significance.

The Gita unfolds on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where Arjuna faces a moral dilemma, torn between his duty as a warrior and his reluctance to start a war with his extended family and friends (though his side of the family was wronged and denied their rightful part of the kingdom). He questions why he is in this position – he surely knows in battle he is certain to vanquish most of those who stand before him, and questions if it’s worth spilling the blood…

Click here For more details on Arjuna and the battle

Lord Krishna elucidates the multidimensional nature of Dharma, emphasizing that it encompasses not only one’s social and occupational duties but also the pursuit of spiritual growth and the realization of one’s true nature.

Dharma is portrayed as the guiding light that leads individuals toward righteous action, aligning their thoughts, words, and deeds with universal principles.

The Bhagavad Gita highlights the importance of fulfilling one’s Swadharma, the duty or role prescribed by one’s inherent qualities, skills, and station in life.

Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to recognize his duty as a warrior and uphold it with valor and righteousness, emphasizing that neglecting one’s duty leads to chaos and societal decay.

Additionally, the Gita emphasizes the concept of Nishkama Karma, the performance of selfless actions without attachment to the fruits of those actions.

Lord Krishna encourages Arjuna to engage in his duties without seeking personal gains or succumbing to the distractions of desire, thus purifying his intentions and aligning his actions with Dharma.

The Bhagavad Gita further illuminates the timeless principle that Dharma extends beyond social and individual obligations.

Dharma – Wikipedia

Toggle the table of contents From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( Dharma (;[7] Sanskrit: धर्म, romanized: Dharma, pronounced [dʱɐrmɐ] listen ); Pali: Dhamma), although there is no direct single-word translation for dharma in European languages,[8] is commonly translated as “righteousness”, “merit” or “religious and moral duties” governing individual conduct.[10] It


It emphasizes the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and the realization of one’s divine nature. Lord Krishna emphasizes the importance of inner virtues such as compassion, self-control, and equanimity as integral aspects of Dharma, guiding individuals toward self-transformation and the ultimate union with the divine.

The significance of Dharma lies in its ability to uphold the fabric of society, foster individual growth, and guide human actions toward righteousness and harmony. It serves as a moral compass, inspiring individuals to live a life of integrity, duty, and spiritual awareness.

By adhering to Dharma, individuals cultivate a sense of purpose, contribute to the well-being of others, and nurture their own spiritual evolution. Dharma engenders a harmonious coexistence, facilitating social order, justice, and the preservation of cosmic balance.

How do I do my Dharma?

Dharma, is like a guiding compass that directs each individual on their unique journey in life. It reflects the notion of fulfilling one’s duty, aligning actions with one’s role and responsibilities within their current circumstances.

Imagine life as a grand play with a diverse cast of characters, each playing a distinct role. Dharma, in this theatrical analogy, is akin to each character performing their part flawlessly, according to the script. It’s about recognizing and embracing the responsibilities and obligations that come with our particular role in the unfolding drama of existence.

Just as a king must rule with wisdom and justice, a teacher must impart knowledge, and a parent must provide love and guidance, each person has their own set of duties and responsibilities in their given situation. Dharma, therefore, emphasizes the importance of understanding and fulfilling these duties with sincerity, dedication, and excellence.

In the revered Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna enlightens Arjuna about the significance of fulfilling his duty as a warrior in the midst of a great battle. Krishna emphasizes the concept of Swadharma, which refers to one’s duty based on their inherent nature, social position, and personal circumstances.

Dharma is not a rigid set of rules, but rather a flexible and context-dependent guide. It considers the intricacies of each situation and encourages individuals to discern the most appropriate course of action based on their roles, moral values, and the well-being of those around them.

By embracing Dharma, we find fulfillment and purpose in our lives. It allows us to recognize that each action we take, no matter how small, carries significance and can make a positive difference in the world. Whether we are a student, a professional, a parent, or any other role, Dharma reminds us to approach our responsibilities with dedication, integrity, and compassion.

So, as we journey through life’s grand play, let us embrace the wisdom of Dharma. May we understand our roles, recognize our duties, and carry them out with excellence and devotion. By doing so, we contribute to the harmony and well-being of the world, fulfilling our unique part in the cosmic symphony of existence.

What about the results?

Dharma is not only about fulfilling one’s duty but also about doing so without attachment to the outcomes. It emphasizes the notion of performing actions selflessly, without expecting personal gains or rewards.

Imagine a gardener who lovingly tends to the plants, nurturing them with care and attention. The gardener performs their duty diligently, not with the expectation of receiving something in return, but simply out of a deep sense of dedication and love for their craft. Similarly, Dharma encourages us to carry out our responsibilities without being attached to the fruits of our actions.

This idea is explained in the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to perform his duty as a warrior without seeking personal gains or being driven by the desire for the outcome of the battle. Krishna highlights the importance of detaching oneself from the results and focusing instead on the sincerity and righteousness of the action itself.

By practicing Dharma without attachment to the results, we cultivate a sense of equanimity and inner freedom. We learn to perform our duties selflessly, offering our actions as a service to others and to the greater good, rather than being motivated solely by personal gain or recognition.

This aspect of Dharma teaches us to surrender to the larger unfolding of life, trusting that our sincere efforts will contribute to the overall harmony and balance of the universe, regardless of the immediate outcomes. It reminds us that our duty is to do our best and leave the rest to the natural course of events, or as some may say, in the hands of the divine.

This concept tells us to embrace the joy of action itself, focusing on the integrity and righteousness of our endeavors, and trust that our sincere efforts will bring about positive transformations in the world, even if the specific outcomes may not always align with our expectations.

About... Desi Words or Terms Indian culture Spirituality in India

Karma is a what?

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A lot is said about Karma nowadays. There is a popularly used phrase which indicates bad deeds will not go unpunished. Where does this word come from? What does it really mean? Read on….


Karma is the concept that actions have consequences. In India, it is believed that every action, thought, and word generates karma, which can be positive or negative.

This karma accumulates over time and affects an individual’s future experiences, including their next birth. The goal of spiritual practice is to perform actions that generate positive karma and lead to liberation from the cycle of samsara.

The understanding of Karma encourages us to cultivate virtues, foster personal growth, and live with integrity, knowing that our actions today can plant the seeds for a brighter and more fulfilling future, both in this life and the next ones…

Karma embodies the notion that every action, intention, and thought leaves an indelible imprint on an individual’s life, shaping their present circumstances and influencing their future

What is Karma?

Karma, is a concept intertwined with the fabric of Indian culture.

Karma, derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “action” or “deed,” forms a fundamental pillar of Indian philosophical systems, including Jainism, and Buddhism. It embodies the notion that every action, intention, and thought leaves an indelible imprint on an individual’s life, shaping their present circumstances and influencing their future.

In essence, Karma is the law of cause and effect, asserting that every action carries consequences, both in this lifetime and in future rebirths.

The concept of Karma urges us to recognize that individuals are not mere passive recipients of their fate but active participants in the cosmic unfolding.

Like the ripples that emanate from a stone thrown into a still pond, Karma echoes throughout one’s existence, molding their experiences, circumstances, and even the nature of subsequent rebirths.

Karma is intricately linked with the cycle of Samsara, which refers to the continuous process of birth, death, and rebirth.

The accumulated Karma from past actions determines the quality of one’s present life, influencing factors such as health, social status, and the joys or sorrows one encounters.

This framework of cause and effect is an integral part of the ancient Indian understanding of cosmic justice and personal responsibility.

Jainism shares a similar perspective on Karma, emphasizing its impact on the individual soul’s journey toward liberation. Here, Karma is viewed as a subtle yet powerful force that binds the soul, perpetuating the cycle of birth and death.

By understanding the nature of Karma, adherents of Jainism strive to cultivate right conduct, moral purity, and spiritual discipline to gradually free themselves from the karmic bondage.

In Buddhism, Karma is closely linked to the cycle of Samsara as well.

However, it emphasizes the role of intention behind actions rather than the actions themselves. The quality of one’s intention, be it driven by ignorance, aversion, or wisdom, determines the karmic consequences. Buddhism teaches that by developing mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion, individuals can transform their intentions and cultivate positive Karma that leads to liberation from suffering.

While interpretations of Karma may vary across different Indian cultural texts and philosophical systems, the underlying principle remains consistent: our actions have consequences. Karma urges individuals to be mindful of their intentions, choices, and deeds, for they shape the trajectory of their lives and influence their spiritual evolution.

So, as you navigate the tapestry of existence, remember the profound interplay of cause and effect, and let the awareness of Karma guide you toward actions that bring harmony, growth, and liberation.

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Source – Karma symbols such as the endless knot (above) are common cultural motifs in Asia. Endless knots symbolize interlinking of cause and effect, a karmic cycle that continues eternally.

Now as a man is like this or like that,
according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be;
a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad;
he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;

And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.

— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 7th century BCE[19][note 1]

Karma – simplified

Imagine Karma as the gentle breeze that carries the echoes of your actions throughout the vast landscape of existence. It’s like a cosmic boomerang that reminds us that every action, intention, and thought we put forth has consequences.

Just as you sow seeds in a garden, Karma suggests that the seeds of our actions bear fruit in due time. Whether those actions are loving, generous, or harmful, they ripple through our lives and shape our future experiences. It’s like writing the script of our own lives, with each word and deed adding to the narrative.

Karma teaches us that we’re not mere spectators but active participants in the grand dance of cause and effect. Our choices and intentions carry weight, influencing not only our present circumstances but also the trajectory of our future. It’s a reminder that we have the power to shape our destinies through conscious action.

This knowledge of Karma encourages us to be mindful of our thoughts, words, and deeds, urging us to cultivate kindness, compassion, and positive intentions. By doing so, we create a harmonious symphony that reverberates through our lives, bringing joy, fulfillment, and even favorable circumstances.

On the other hand, Karma also serves as a gentle nudge to steer us away from harmful actions. It reminds us that the negativity we project into the world will find its way back to us, like a boomerang returning to its thrower. It’s a call to reflect on our choices, redirect our intentions, and strive for growth and understanding.

As we traverse through life, let us be mindful of the seeds we plant. Let our actions be driven by love, compassion, and integrity, knowing that the energy we put out into the world will find its way back to us. When we consider the power of Karma, and let it guide us on a path of conscious living and positive transformation.

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Karma – follows us past this life?

The echoes of our Karma do follow us beyond our current life. The concept of Karma suggests that the consequences of our actions transcend the boundaries of a single lifetime.

Imagine Karma as a river that flows through time, carrying the imprints of our thoughts, intentions, and deeds. It connects the dots between our past, present, and future existences, weaving them into a tapestry of cause and effect.

According to the belief in Karma, the quality of our actions leaves an indelible mark on our souls, shaping the circumstances and experiences of our future lives. The seeds we sow in one lifetime bear fruit in subsequent lifetimes, like a continuous cycle of cause and effect.

If we have engaged in virtuous and compassionate actions, these positive energies ripple through the fabric of our being, influencing the direction and quality of our future experiences. Similarly, if our actions have been unkind or harmful, the repercussions of those actions may manifest as challenges or difficulties in our subsequent lives.

However, it’s important to note that the concept of Karma is not deterministic or fatalistic. While our past actions influence our future, we also possess the power to shape our present and future through our current choices and intentions. Karma invites us to embrace personal responsibility and strive for positive change, knowing that our actions in this very moment can shape the trajectory of our journey.

So, as we traverse the river of existence, may we navigate it with awareness and compassion. Let us be mindful of the ripples we create through our actions, recognizing that the consequences of our choices extend beyond the confines of a single lifetime.

May this knowledge of Karma guide us towards a life filled with love, wisdom, and the liberation of our souls from the cycle of rebirth and transmigration.

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Top Image: Photo by Heiko May on Unsplash

About... Desi Words or Terms Indian culture Spirituality in India

What is Moksha?

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Moksha is a concept in ancient Indian philosophies which refers to liberation or release from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, known as samsara. The term “moksha” comes from the Sanskrit word “mukti,” which means “release,” “liberation,” or “freedom.” It is the ultimate goal of spiritual practice, and is considered to be the highest state of being.

What is Moksha?

To understand the concept of Moksha, imagine a cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In this cycle, individuals are born into the world, live their lives, die, and are then reborn again. This cycle continues indefinitely, with each new birth determined by the actions and karma of the previous life.

The goal of spiritual practice is to break this cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and to attain Moksha. In Moksha, the individual is liberated from the cycle of samsara and attains a state of eternal peace, bliss, and unity with the ultimate reality.

The attainment of Moksha involves a transformation of the individual’s consciousness, from a limited perspective of the individual self to a state of awareness of the ultimate reality. This transformation is achieved through various spiritual practices, including meditation, self-inquiry, devotion, and good deeds.

Moksha is the realization of one’s true nature, the Atman (loosely understood to be the Self), and the unification with the cosmic principle, Brahman (the divine).

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What’s the whole point?

The endless cycle of birth and rebirth, known as Samsara, holds deep meaning Indian philosophical schools of thought including Buddhism. It happens because of something called Karma, which is like a law of cause and effect.

In simple terms (Karma means), every action, thought, and intention we have leaves a mark on our consciousness. These marks are like seeds that can grow and affect our future lives. So, the things we do and the choices we make now can have consequences that carry over into future lives.

Moksha – Wikipedia

Toggle the table of contents From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Moksha (; Sanskrit: मोक्ष, mokṣa ), also called vimoksha , vimukti , and mukti ,[1] is a term in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism for various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, liberation, and release.[2] In its soteriological and eschatological senses, it refers to freedom from saṃsāra , the cycle of death and rebirth.


Why does this Samsara exist?

Well, it’s because of our attachments, desires, and lack of understanding. When we get attached to things in the world and don’t see the true nature of reality, we keep going through a cycle of wanting, suffering, and being born again.

However, this cycle isn’t meant to be a punishment or a curse. Instead, it’s like a spiritual journey where we can learn, grow, and become better versions of ourselves. Each life gives us chances to learn important lessons, let go of our attachments, and become more spiritually evolved.

By experiencing different lives and situations, we slowly start to see through the illusions of the material world (Maya). We learn to let go of our desires and cravings, and we seek to go beyond the cycle of birth and rebirth. The more we learn and grow, the closer we get to breaking free from this cycle and finding true freedom from suffering.

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What is Nirvana? Is it not Moksha?

Moksha, a sacred term cherished within Indian cultural texts, embodies the ultimate liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death, known as Samsara. Rooted in the teachings of ancient philosophies including Jainism, and Buddhism, Moksha beckons the seeker to transcend the limitations of earthly existence and merge with the divine essence.

Moksha is considered the highest goal, the culmination of spiritual evolution. It is the realization of one’s true nature, the Atman (loosely understood to be the Self), and the unification with the cosmic principle, Brahman (the divine). Through the pursuit of righteousness, self-discipline, knowledge, and devotion, an individual seeks to break free from the illusions and attachments of the material world, leading to the ultimate emancipation.

Moksha is envisioned as a state of eternal bliss, where the individual soul merges with the universal consciousness, transcending the boundaries of time, space, and individual identity.

Jainism, another ancient Indian tradition, explains Moksha as the emancipation of the soul from the karmic cycle of birth, suffering, and death.

By adhering to the principles of non-violence, truthfulness, non-possessiveness, and asceticism, one seeks to shed the accumulated karmas and attain liberation.

Moksha, in Jainism, represents the liberation of the soul, achieving a state of infinite knowledge, perception, bliss, and eternal existence.

Buddhism, born from the profound insights of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, also delves into the notion of liberation through Nirvana.

In Buddhist teachings, Nirvana denotes the extinguishing of the fires of suffering, attachment, and ignorance. It is the transcendence of the cycle of birth and death, the cessation of craving and aversion, and the realization of the true nature of reality.

Nirvana is an experiential state beyond words, an awakening that liberates one from the sufferings of existence and offers the possibility of true enlightenment.

Both Moksha and Nirvana, despite emerging from distinct philosophical traditions, share a common aspiration: the transcendence of mundane existence, the dissolution of illusions, and the realization of profound spiritual liberation. They are the summits of human quest and spiritual endeavor, beckoning seekers to embark on a transformative odyssey toward the highest truths and ultimate freedom.

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Where do Dharma and Karma fit in?

Dharma and Karma are seen as important because they are essential to spiritual evolution and the attainment of Moksha. Dharma is the cosmic law that governs the universe and defines the duties and responsibilities of individuals in society. By fulfilling one’s Dharma, an individual can accumulate positive Karma, which leads to spiritual evolution and eventual liberation from Samsara.

After achieving Moksha, the individual is liberated from the cycle of birth and death and becomes one with the divine. In this state of oneness, there is no sense of individuality or separation from the divine. It is the ultimate goal of spiritual seekers, and is considered the highest achievement one can attain.

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