What is Dharma? How do you define Dharma? How did it come into being, how does it exist, how should we look at Dharma in our day to day life, in our extended life? And what is the role of Dharma in our life?
As per the Shastras, Dharma is the natural law of life. That is the literal meaning. If I have to apply that in our day to day life, in an individual level, the individual’s Dharma is understanding the self, world and God. That understanding is the first Dharma. With this understanding, you start making decisions in the world. How we behave with people who are near, with the people who are far away, with people who have a conflict of interest, all these cognitions, decisions we come to, based on what we think as ourself, the world and God – Jeeva, Jagat, Ishwara, understanding these thre is a basic Dharma of an individual.
The natural law of life is evolution happening naturally to the next level. When we do not allow that natural evolution in our day to day life, it is called patterns. When a person does not let this happen to himself, it is his individual pattern. Too many people not letting the natural evolution happen, is a cosmic pattern. Whenever an individual is stuck with the individual pattern, to break that pattern and liberate him, Guru appears in his life. Whenever the universe is stuck with universal pattern, an Incarnation appears to break that and liberate the universe.
During the time of the Mahabharata, too many people were stuck in a pattern of trying to grab whatever they could, without working for it. Extreme consumerism was becoming the mainstream thought current and it was becoming a strong pattern. Production had dropped more than 90% but the need, demand and greed to take what they can in any method, was becoming a lifestyle. Krishna comes to break this pattern and reduce the load on the planet.
I can give you an example. 100 people are living in a community, 80 people are very responsible while 20 people are not responsible. We can enjoy their irresponsibility as cuteness. But if that 20 becomes 80, it is no more cute. It becomes a weight on the society. Even after it becomes a weight, and they are not ready to change that pattern, it becomes a strong thought current. There is no other way. The pattern or the persons who are not ready to give up that pattern, need to be eliminated. That thought current and the model need to be eliminated, otherwise planet earth cannot survive. It needs to be done to save the planet.
This is not the same as violence. It should be looked upon as a surgery. The outcome of what happens, decides whether it was violence or surgery. The after-effect of what Krishna did during the Mahabharata decided that it was a surgery and not violence.
Dharma towards society, Dharma towards the country or Dharma towards our own clan, all these are the next steps in our Dharma. For example, doctors have a certain Dharma towards the doctors clan, engineers have Dharma towards the engineers clan. The understanding of Dharma and the questions related to it can be answered by one formula – What idea do you have about yourself, what idea do you have about the world, and what idea do you have about God? How we behave with ourself, how we behave with the world, and how we behave with God should be the scale with which we measure at every moment how we should behave.