What is the innate characteristic of a human being? According to Shiva Purana, human beings seek and yearn for happiness placed beyond that originated in the satisfaction of the senses. The indisputable aim of all human beings, whether aware of this or not, is to obtain absolute peace and freedom, infinite knowledge and spiritual beatitude.
Hindus are taught to live a life of duty and good conduct. They learn to be selfless by thinking of others first, being respectful of parents, elders and swamis, following divine law, especially ahimsa, mental, emotional and physical non-injury to all beings. Thus they resolve karmas.
In the day-to-day practice of morality and ethics, there are different aspects of dharma, such as:
- Vyakti-dharma - the dharma of an individual
- Parivarika-dharma - family-dharma
- Samaja-dharma - society-dharma
- Rashtra-dharma - national dharma
- Manava-harma - the dharma of mankind
Vyakti-dharma - The Dharma of an Individual
These are observance of moral and ethical principles that sustain an individual's mind. Some of the examples of vyakti dharmas are:
- Dama — control of the external organs
- Arjava — straightforwardness at all times
- Ahimsa — abstention from injury to all forms of life
- Akrodha — absence of anger
- Satya — truthfulness in thought and speech
- Brahmacharya — control of carnal desires and passions
- Santosha — contentment
- Tyaga — renunciation of selfishness
- Apaishuna — refraining from vilification and backbiting
- Aloluptva — non-covetousness
- Aparigraha — non-acceptance of unnecessary gifts from others
- Hri — modesty
- Mardava — gentleness
- Daya — kindness and compassion
- Shanti — peace of mind attained through its control
- Kshama — forgiveness
- Shaucha — purification of body and mind
- Adroha — freedom from malice.
Parivarika-dharma or Family Dharma
These are the codes of conduct to be observed by individuals to prevent the disintegration of the family. Examples are:
- mutual self- sacrifice and respect.
- "Treat your mother as a God."
- "Treat your father as a God."
Samaja-dharma - The Dharma of Society
Individuals must observe codes of conduct to maintain a well-integrated society. This is called samaja-dharma or society-dharma. Examples are the practice of:
- refraining from speaking a truth which hurts,
- control of anger,
- control of the lower passions,
- practicing charity and kindness to all,
- refraining from backbiting,
- practicing hospitality, etc.
Rashtra-dharma - The Dharma of a Nation
The self-sacrifice made by the individuals for their country is called rashtra-dharma or national-dharma.
Manava-dharma - The Dharma of Mankind
Individuals have to act in a manner conducive to the sustenance of mankind. This is called manava-dharma. Self-sacrifice is the common denominator among all these dharmas. Without self-sacrifice the survival of the individual is not possible.
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