Dharma

 

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

TERMS:

 

1.    Dharma

2.    Dharmashastra

3.    Varnadharma (all 4)

 

Any locations on the map exercises and information from the course Timeline (top of syllabus) can appear on a quiz or exam.