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Hinduism: Dharma
One of the Four Central Beliefs

There are four central beliefs in Hinduism:

  • Dharma (ethics and duties)
  • Samsara (rebirth)
  • Karma (right action)
  • Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)

Dharma (ethics and beliefs)

Dharma is one of the central tenets of Hinduism and is the path of right and living life as mentioned in the moral laws described by Hindu scriptures. Dharma is described by Hinduism as universal moral laws which if followed enables human beings to lead a happy and contented life. It combines with discipline to guide one's life in the right direction. Dharma is considered to be the very basis of life by followers of Hinduism and it means the "law of being" without which nothing can exist.

It has been mentioned in the 'Bhagavat Purana', life on the "dharmic" path has 4 distinctive aspects: purity, austerity, compassion and truthfulness which when followed ensure that the person reaches closer to God.

Dharma is mainly the means to go near God and its essence lies in having spiritual power and strength. A saint called Manu laid down the 10 rules of Dharma in his 'Manusmriti': Patience, forgiveness, self-control, honesty, sanctity, controlling the senses, reason, knowledge, truthfulness and not getting angry.

According to the Bhagvad Gita, the path of devotion along with the right code of conduct is the right path to finding God. Dharma in Hinduism does not mean achieving happiness in heaven but it shows the way to achieving eternal bliss here on earth itself. Hinduism believes that it is one's dharma to marry, raise a family and look after that family.

Hinduism also believes in reincarnation and what the individual will be like in his next birth depends on his "karma" in his present life. So, if he lives his life according to the principles of "dharma", his "karma" will be good, so dharma affects the future in accordance with the accumulated karma.

The practice of dharma bestows a sense of tranquility, peace and happiness on the individual and gives him strength to lead a righteous and disciplined life.

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