Hinduism has given to the religious world, Dharma, a Sanskrit term for which an exact equivalent has not been found in any other language. Dharma means that which holds everyone and everything together – that which integrates the personality and unifies the society. The nearest word meaning may be righteousness or virtue or moral law. This word Dharma envisages the practical application of certain rules which regulate man’s conduct and enables him spiritual elevation.
The scriptures never tire of emphasizing the importance of upholding Dharma in life. Dharma is the very basis of the universe and hence an individual can enjoy peace of mind only when he does not swerve from Dharma.
The now popular, New Age Guru Deepak Chopra says
“We aren't here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as individuals and then to spread that influence. In the wisdom tradition of Vedanta, the stream of evolution is known in Sanskrit as Dharma, from a root verb that means 'to uphold.' This gives us a clue how to live: the easiest way for us to grow is to align ourselves with Dharma. We don't have to struggle to grow--that would be unproductive, in fact.
The Dharma has always favoured non-violence. If we can bring ourselves to a state of non-violence, and connect with others who are doing the same thing, we have done a huge thing to reinforce Dharma.”
Religion and righteousness are inter-linked. The former relates to an individual while Dharma stands for the welfare of the society. If a person upholds virtue, in its turn it will protect him. Rama is often quoted as an example for a person who followed “ Svadharama”. Even though he was an avatara purusha, he chose to be a human being through out. That is why he never used his power of God, but went through the trial and tribulations of a man. An actor might be a very good man in personal life, but when he acts as a villain, he has to act according to the demands of his role ! That is his dharma in the role, he plays.
The root of culture is Dharma.
Dharma, here, is not to be confused with charity, good deeds, morality or anything like that. Our vedic culture defines it as "Dhaaranad dharmam idhyahu." It's called Dharma because it bears.
The dharma of fire is heat and that of ice is being cold. Like wise there are some inherent, implicit, unbreakable dharma for a human being.
As the famed Director of Ten Commandments said, 'We can't break His Laws (Dharma). We can only break ourselves against them”.
Dharma also means righteousness and envisages the practical application of certain rules which regulate man's conduct and stand for the welfare of society. Dharma or righteous conduct which is the basis of our culture and religion must express itself in the life of man. It is not something to be pursued , divorced from our daily life. The scriptures say, if we abide by Dharma, it would protect us. When we adopt Dharma in our personal lives, it leads to the well-being of the society and prosperity of the entire world.
Scriptures tell us that in following Dharma, the first and foremost aspect is good conduct in life. We should learn to obey and do our duty first, accepting that we do not always have the maturity to understand the entire principle and foundation of Dharma.
We have no right to cause other people unhappiness in the process of gaining happiness for ourselves. So, now, we can define Dharma as that which gives us both material prosperity and spiritual unfoldment.
As the religious and moral doctrine of the rights and duties of each individual, Dharma can refer generally to religious duty, and also mean social order, right conduct, or simply virtue.To lead an integrated life without stress and tension, without jealousy, greed or hatred of fellowmen and in peace with outer Nature and the vicissitudes of fortune, we need a golden key --"Dharma" !