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Dharmic Religion

  Dharmic religion is the name given by Chaturvedi Badrinath, and other radicals, to Hindu religion which centres on the performance of dharma. The word is difficult to translate, but is perhaps best rendered as ‘duty’, as in ‘England expects…’ and the Victorian concept of ‘filial duty’. Significantly, the Latin pietas (as exemplified by Aeneas in Virgil\'s Aeneid) is very similar, because both involve reverence for the gods and for one\'s ancestors, respect for elders, obedience to parents, loyalty to one\'s ruler and justice in dealings with fellow human beings. The difference is that in dharma people realize their dharma by fulfilling their appropriate roles in society according to their caste—a status determined by karma, the reward for doing one\'s dharma in a previous life. One can change neither that nor one\'s dharma, but faithfulness will be rewarded in a future life and an improved dharma. This is the theme of the Bhagavad-Gita, where Krishna appears to Arjuna, the king\'s warrior brother, and persuades him to be true to his dharma as a warrior and slaughter his cousins, despite his qualms of conscience about ahimsa (‘nonviolence’). God himself has a dharma, which is to emanate, to sustain and to reabsorb Himself. We are not free agents; our only choice is whether to fulfil our dharma or not, and even that choice is influenced by karma. A woman has no dharma of her own, generally speaking her thread is her husband\'s, which makes remarriage after his death impossible. A wife\'s loyalty and a widow\'s faithfulness are necessary for his salvation, not hers. EMJ

Further reading R.C. Zaehner, Hinduism.



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