Etymologically Dharma means that inherent quality of entity that bears, or sustains its natural order of existence. In the present context, we take well known and widely accepted definition of dharma, that Dharma is nothing but Varn-ashrma obligation. Thus, while people can speak of their role or function in society, a Sanatani Indian speaks in terms of his dharma. Depth and width of his conceptualization makes all the difference.
The working of the value based order of dharmic tradition is our concern here. We see that the social order of dharmic tradition is based on three fundamental concepts: Jati, Varna and Asrhama. It is so natural, strong to this civilization that even in this era of the overall decline of dharmic values in our personal and social life and despite concerted actions of anti-dharmic religions and apathetic and at times hostile government policies, it still appears to be a strong resilient force.
Jatis means distinctiveness and cohesion related with Janma or origin. These are kinship communities (call Jatis) which are natural groupings of human beings based on affinities arising from birth and marriage. The bounding is biological, genetic, social and then political.
Varna Vyavastha is a system of four tier functioning of Dharmic society comprising of Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Shudra where Brahman’s dharma (as against role in western parlance) is to practice and impart spiritual, ethical and worldly knowledge. Kshatriya’s dharma is to protect the Varna order enunciated by the Brahmans, Vaishya’s dharma is to produce and provide material necessities to all Varnas and Sudra’s role is to provide labour and service to all Varnas.
The Varnashrama is science of managing natural values for jati order. We can understand it with the example of Panini’s grammar. He discovered some 3959 rules and based upon it, he created a more refined, scientific and precise language with context-free grammar. Thus out of natural words forms utilizing a finite set of rules he created ground of infinite linguistic expressions. Similarly Varna Vyavastha employing rules upon naturally found categories, Jatis, created the Dharmic order.
What is important to note here is that Varnashrama has saved Jatis from the natural predicament of rule of brute power. It is an order that tries to utilize all Jatis on mutual need and sharing. This is the reason no Jati of Kshatriya Varna of India despite being a formidable committed force ever became predatory plunderers. Many Proto-Indo-European tribes after losing connection with Varna ideals suffered this fate.
The conception of such state, based on such brute power of people is different from that of Rashtra. The former necessitated slavery, loot, plunders and genocide got religious sanction. Later, when offshoots of these religious ideas spread through sword and temptations, the political states started depending more on constitutional means for promotion of state; and as we see it in the history of Europe, these have weakened Christianity beyond imagination. The same thing will happen in the Islamic world if the rulers become more responsive to people and here there will be cycles of unending civil wars, this is the natural power of Jati or kinship communities.
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