Dharma

It is to give this [eternal dharma] that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great. 

Sri Aurobindo


 

Dharma, in its simplest sense, may be understood as the inherent intuitive sense of the True, the Right and the Vast — satyam, ritam, brihat — the ancient Vedic formulation of dharma. Satyam is the truth of being, ritam is the truth in action and expression (the Right), and brihat is the vast and the universal.

Satyam, or the True, must become the ever-growing infallible inspiration and guide of all our intentions, thought, speech and actions. When guided and inspired by Truth or Satyam, all our intentions, thoughts, speech and actions cohere in one single integrated stream. We are then no longer capable of contradictions and conflicts between what we intend, think, say or do. Everything is one, non-dual.

Ritam, or the inherent intuitive sense of the Right, must become the firmly established principle of all personal and collective action and existence. This is, in fact, the basis of a dharmic society.

Brihat, or the Vast, is the essential consciousness and context in which the Truth and the Right can effectively manifest. Where there is no vastness of being or consciousness, there will never be Truth, and therefore never the Right. Truth manifests only in vastness simply because Truth is vast. Any limiting of Truth, for whatever reason, in whatever context, distorts Truth. And Truth distorted is no Truth, then it is falsehood, delusion, error.

This then is dharma — an integrally lived expression of the true, the right and the vast. Thus has dharma been regarded as that which holds, upholds, sustains, nurtures and nourishes. In India, we have always known this dharma as timeless, eternal — not subject to time and circumstances. True for all life in all conditions and contexts. Sanatan dharma. The vastness is inherent in the idea of Sanatan-dharma.

Let none attempt to limit this vast sanatan-dharma within the confines of any one school of thought, philosophy or religion. Allow none to speak of this sanatan-dharma in terms of my religion, practice or truth. Sanatan-dharma is the principle of existence itself and any attempt to confine it to one or another religious system or culture is to falsify it.

It is this sanatan-dharma that is the quintessence, the psyche, of India. India is the embodiment of sanatan-dharma. This is what we must understand. If we dilute this understanding in any which way, we will end up diluting both, dharma and India.

Just as dharma cannot be reduced to religion or philosophy, India cannot be reduced to nationalism. All Isms are self-limiting and ultimately self-destructive. The idea of India is the idea of dharma — the True, the Right and the Vast. And there is no one single formula to define or describe the True and the Right. Each must grow conscious enough to discover the True and the Right for themselves. It is this necessity to grow in spirit and consciousness that India must bring to the world, for it is this that India has lived in its bones and marrow through the ages and that has given rise to the Vedanta and the Vedas, to the rich tapestry of mythologies, sciences, literature and arts, and to the hundreds of religious, quasi-religious, philosophical, occult and mystical streams that have, over the ages, nourished the Indian spirit and mind.

It is this that must be recovered, brought back to the front, to the foreground of Indian thought and discourse.