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Dharma and rules of living

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Adhering to tenets of dharma will make society orderly and peaceful

Realising the importance of dharma does not come to most people as they fail to understand that this world is homocentric, that is, it is for the benefit of human beings. This world view is a falsehood that has been perpetrated by the Western attitude that God has given complete dominion to man over this natural world and is not concerned with how we treat this. Nothing can be further from truth.

This world is a part of the larger natural order where certain rules of living are to be observed if we want to ensure sustainability and peace. Perhaps, the idea of Noah’s Arc would give us some clues as to the God’s design of this universe. In management theory also, there is the notion of the system’s approach that talks about a holistic world view, the underlying premise being harmonious coexistence of various parts and subparts of the larger supra system of which this world is an independent yet connected unit.

The idea of how to live in this world can be understood by the analogy of the traffic rules that have been conceptualised for orderly flow of traffic on roads and safety of the travelers. Even as the Government is thinking of ensuring further order on the roads by laying down certain new laws and regulations, there is a need to compare traffic movement on roads with social order. Driving at early hours on the roads of Delhi, anybody would realise this if he or she has thoughtfully tread with his eyes and ears open. In the morning hours, when there is no policing and the traffic rules are not enforceable, just see how the vehicles ply. Different kinds of vehicles like scooters, rickshaws, motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks, all plying at their own speed on their own tracks. Now the point to be thought is that these vehicles follow a simple self-ordained rule, not to run over, crush or crash. As long as this is practiced, the journey is safe for all. Now, if they don’t follow this simple principle of safe and orderly driving, taking care of the interests of others, accidents will take place. Dharma is also like this. It provides rules for living harmoniously in society.

If those rules are not followed, accidents take place; peace and harmony is disrupted and the equilibrium is disturbed that ultimately affects the whole system. Dharma regulates the conduct of different elements of society. The lack of regard for a general and commanding idea like dharma is one of the weaknesses of the modern society, which has lead to such a chaotic situation. The values crisis, that is being witnessed in society, will have to be seen in this light. Dharma is the means through which the values crisis of this modern society has to be resolved.

We have mistakenly tried to see dharma as a religion. This is the problem. Dharma is not a religion, rather it is the religion which is to establish harmonious coexistence in society. Like the traffic rules, which need to be followed for disciplined driving on the roads. And adhering to tenets of dharma will make society orderly and peaceful, just as the traffic rules make roads safe and peaceful if followed religiously. Dharma provides the rules for living.

The writer is a professor, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad (Jharkhand). He can be reached at ppathak.ism@gmail.com




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