What is Dharma
Dharma has its root word “Dhr” means to uphold, to support, and to sustain; what is established. Dharma encompasses the natural, innate behavior of things, duty, law, ethics, virtue, etc. Every entity in the cosmos from electron to human beings has its particular dharma. Dharma is much more than religion. Nearest meaning of Dharma in English language may be “Righteousness”.
Religion is termed to the faith of large group of people who share a common symbol, a common religious text, a common GOD and a common founder. The word "Religion" may have been originally derived from the Latin word "religo" which means "good faith," "ritual," Or it may have come from the Latin "religare" which means "to tie fast.
The original term of Hinduism is Snatana dharma. Snatana means “eternal” or beginning less; Dharma means absolute set of duties or religiously ordained practices incumbent upon all Hindus, regardless of class, caste, or sect. No one can be credited to be founder to Snatana Dharma. Snatana Dharma is called Apaurusheya means which is not made by men. Over thousands of years, Snatana Dharma has been enriched by the contribution by a long line of divine incarnations, saints, sages and spiritual personalities. It offers most comprehensive and holistic view of reality than any given religion. Hence, it is often termed as more than a religion, a way of life.
Dharma, the source of Happiness:
As per Mahabharata, (Shantiparva, Adhyaya 109, Shloka 10) -
प्रभवार्थाय भूतानां धर्मप्रवचनं कृतम् । यः स्यात्प्रभवसंयुक्तः स धर्म इति निश्चयः ।।
Means: The sole aim with which Dharma is advocated is to bring about the evolution of individuals. A doctrine preaches, ‘that which is able to bring about evolution is Dharma.
Dharma gives pleasure both in this world and after death. Shankaracharya said once, “अर्थ अनर्थ भावय नित्यम”. When people think Dharma is more important than Artha, then life improves. Good impressions in memory, patience or forbearance, virtuous behavior, divine love and renunciation are the sources of pleasure.
Codes of Dharma:
Hindu scriptures have defined Dharma in various ways. Hence, it is difficult to define Dharma in absolute terms. However, Dharma can be classified in two categories:
Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapurana has explained Dharma in several ways as under: