Integrations of Dharma and Moksha


I.  Notions of Dharma


1.    Dharma as part of the Path of Action

a.    The dharma-focused traditions hold that it is necessary to uphold, preserve, perpetuate, and refine the physical world generally, and human society specifically; Human beings are affirmed as essentially social, governed by physical needs and must live with other human beings

b.    Definition: The word dharma refers to (a) the cosmic and social order and (b) the rules pertaining to it.

                                              i.     Dharma as structure, samsara as flow

c.    Texts:

                                              i.     Early Vedas – From Rta to dharma

1.    Rigveda: Purusha Sukta

                                             ii.     Bhagavad Gita – each person responsible for own duty, social function, upholding order of society and so contributing to welfare of society as a whole

                                           iii.     Dharmashastras (“treatises on dharma”) – individual well-being and prosperity dependent on order of society and cosmos.  Disorder is a constant threat (collapse of caste distinctions, etc.)

1.    Manavadharmashastra


2.    Varnadharma: the dharma-focused tradition are often concerned with the maintenance of caste system in order to preserve social and cosmic stability

a.    Caste or varna: the Aryan ideal of social order

                                              i.     Bhramans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras

b.    Hierarchy:  Purity and impurity

c.    Complementarity: division of labor

d.    Contextual nature of dharma


II.  Integrations


1.    Purusharthas:

a.    Dharma, Kama, Artha, Moksha

2.    Ashramadharma:

a.    Brahmacaryastudenthood.  Study of Vedas.  Lasting about 12 years after initiation (upanayana).  Education in home of preceptor, ritual skills, in exchange for service to teacher.  Terminates with marriage.

b.    Grhastya – householder.  Devoted to enjoyment of life, duties of care for family, acquisition of artha.
When one’s children are adults, temples graying.

c.    Vanaprasthya – life in the forest. Hand over worldly affairs to sons.  With wife.  Devote oneself to moksha.

d.    Sanyasa – world renunciation.  Life of homeless ascetic, possesses nothing, desires nothing but liberation

3.    Bhagavad Gita:

a.    The great War of the Mahabharata

b.    Arujuna’s dilemma: to kill or not to kill

c.    Action (in the world) vs. non-action (sanyasa)

d.    Krishna’s counsel:

                                              i.     Nishkamakarma: Action without attachment to the fruits of one’s actions

                                             ii.     No karma accrued

                                           iii.     Live in the world and move toward moksha