Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some Thoughts on Dharma & Nirvana

This is indeed a Kaliyug. I have no doubts about it. The tell-tale signs match the description. Understanding of Dharm is indeed weak. As a child I always wondered, looking at numerous temples as to why they says Dharm will disappear in Kaliyug. But as I get more & more opportunities to understand Dharm, I realize the great men who described Kaliyug were indeed correct.

A very large amount of time is spent by people on discussing either peripheral or irrelevant issues related to Dharm. Some of the usual questions or inquiries I have seen people indulge in are:

1. They want to discuss matters of after-life
2. They want to discuss the experience of Nirvana/Moksh
3. They want to know methods for attaining desired results without having to work for it
4. They want to discuss the special powers
5. They want to discuss the age of this or that Guru
6. Some even discuss the form of Life Force

But this list is only indicative, purely indicative. An exhaustive list will fill 500 pages, I guess.

Origin of Dharm

Knowledge of Dharm is the result of curiosity of human mind. I see two primary reasons behind this discovery, and it is discovery, for Dharm cannot be invented.

1. Control on the results of their action or over the natural occurrences in their surrounding
2. Purpose of their life

These two may have been triggered, in turn, by

1. Dissatisfaction with results of their own action
2. Dissatisfaction with results not meeting their desire
3. Effect of natural causes like weather, natural disasters etc on their surrounding and lives
4. Loss of near & dear ones
5. Their own imminent death

We can go on adding reasons, but the above should give a fairly indicative list.

Meaning of Dharm

Dharm means Laws. However, with time, it has taken over multiple meanings. While on one hand, as a Law it signifies the property of an element, or a pattern of cause & effect due to properties of elements around us, over a period of time it has become a Law of Duty. Duties, a man must do for this purpose or that.

In the worst description, Dharm has been misunderstood to be Religion. And this notion has to be strictly discouraged for the very own good of the Human Beings.

And in its strictest sense, Dharm must be equated with the Law of Cause & Effect. Every Karm bears its Fruits.

Purpose of Dharm

This is where a large number of people get confused. The confusion also bears in the usage of terms like Adharm. There cannot be anything like Adharm. Every Cause has its Effect and as long as this remains true, Adharm is an incorrect term. There can, however, be Kushal Dharm & Akushal Dharm.

Kushal Dharm – Actions that lead you to your desired goals

Akushal Dharm – Actions that lead you away from your desired goals

The question you may ask here is – What is the desired Goal?

A serious inquiry has led to a very simple answer – Attaining Moksh/Nirvana, being liberated.

Many have wasted time and age on attainment of power to control the results, on special powers, known usually as Siddhi or Riddhi-bal. But in the end, these specific powers haven’t been of much use, as a man still has to die. He may prolong his life, but not escape death. So, in the end, people have understood Liberation from the cycle of Birth & Death to be the ultimate & achievable goal of Dharm.

So, it is advised that a man may follow a lifestyle that will help him attain Nirvana a Moksh from the Bhavchakr of Birth & Death.

Attainment of Purpose of Dharm

Once the reason for suffering is understood, the method for attainment of end of the suffering becomes clear.

And if Birth is seen as the reason for Death, not being Born will mean end of the cycle of Birth & Death.

Those great human scientists, who worked on the subject of Dharm, of Cause & Effect, deduced the entire chain of events that cause the continuation of cycle of Birth & Death. Let me describe the 12 Links that create a continuity of this cycle.

Dependent on ignorance (avidyā), reactions (saṅskārā) arise,
dependent on reactions, consciousness (vigyāṇa) arises,
dependent on consciousness, mind and body (nāma-rūpa) arise,
dependent on mind and body, the six sense doors (saḷāyatana) arise,
dependent on the six sense doors, contact (sparsh) arises,
dependent on contact, sensation (vedanā) arises,
dependent on sensation, craving (trishnā) arises,
dependent on craving, clinging (upādāna) arises,
dependent on clinging, becoming (bhava) arises,
dependent on becoming, birth (jāti) arises,
dependent on birth, decay and death (jarā, maraṇa) arise.

Many a lives have been wasted when in spite of all this understanding, men have obsessively tried attaining Nirvana, without focusing on the principle of Cause & Effect.

Nirvana is an Effect, only a proper Cause can help you attain it.

And if Avidya or ignorance is the ultimate cause of it, Wisdom & awareness will yield the opposite result. It is Ignorance that causes desires; it is wisdom that will end the desires. It is desires that dirty our mind, it is knowledge that will help us purify our mind.

Since Nirvana is only an Effect, all our human endeavor can only work to the extent of purification of mind. If Nirvana is the light of a thousand suns, defilement of our mind is those dark black clouds that hide the brightness of these thousand suns. Just clear away these clouds, the defilements, impurities of the mind, the light will simply start showing. This light cannot be created, need not be created. It is there; just remove the objects that hide this light.

That is all that is there to Dharm, to attainment of Moksh/Nirvana. Let us not complicate it, let us spend our time fruitfully towards the goal.

May all beings be happy, may all beings be liberated.


  1. a simple question.... hmmmm, how did this entire cycle begin??? :)

  2. The chain of events was interesting. Saved it for future reference.

  3. Dharma is too sensitive and a personal issue that every opinion is going to be different that the other.Which doesnt mean that one is wrong and the other is right.

  4. Can Dharm be different for different people? Or is it the understanding of Dharm that is different in different people?

  5. Piyush, got a bit late on to this very interesting blog. It is a subject to ponder, interestingly.

    Excellent document for reference. :)