The Concepts Of Dharma And Karma And The Caste System In Hinduism

1453 Words 6 Pages
In Hinduism, the concepts of dharma and karma are essential components of the religion, and they are invariably interlinked, both with each other, and the structure of the Hindu community, known as the Caste System. The term dharma is problematic in translation, with a range of suggestions such as ‘law,’ ‘duty,’ and ‘religion’ (Flood, G. 2004, p.52). The term, in short, refers to ritual and moral behaviours which are necessary to uphold to maintain cosmic order, or rta. (Flood, G. 2004, p.53; Rodrigues, H. 2017, p.30). Karma is the concept which expresses that any moral action, good or bad, will have consequences in this life or in a future rebirth (Rodrigues, H. 2017, p.63-4). Both are linked to the Caste System, a social structure in Hindu …show more content…
2000, p.172). Dharma is one of the four purusarthas , laid out in the Vedas and later smrti texts, which explain what is necessary or prohibited for members of different Castes to do (Flood, G. 2004, pp. 53, 56), and the different types of dharma, for example, varnadharma, which relates to one’s caste duties, or asramadharma, relating to the stage in one’s life , which is also context-based, depending on one’s varna. It is highly important that one performs their dharma, as each person performing their required duty is what maintains the cosmic order of nature and the universe, or rta (Sharma, A. 2001, p.103), for which the maintenance of the Caste System is necessary (Kinsley, D.R. 1993, p.89). Performance of one’s proper dharma extends even to the roles of the gods (Kinsley, D.R. 1993, p.89), highlighting how important it is. Each Caste duty is essential to the preservation of this order, including even the most ‘polluting’ jobs, such as those of the Dalits, and therefore each person is obliged to follow it (Kinsley, D.R. 1993, p.87). The neglect dharma would, therefore, bring about negative consequences. The observation, or non-observation, of one’s dharma is a factor in determining which Caste one will be a part of in their next life (Gould, H. 1990, …show more content…
It encompasses the notion of both varnas and jatis. The concepts of dharma and karma have had a major role in determining this hierarchical and occupation-based system. Dharma refers to one’s necessary duty and what is moral, specific to the jati they were born into, and karma sets out that whichever caste on is born into is a just reflection of their past actions. Therefore, one should live according to these rules and not attempt to change one’s situation in one life. However, in practice, especially in the modern day, there is a limit to the influence that the concepts of dharma and karma have on the structure of Hindu society, with some of the ideas being ignored, while other factors, such as politics, discrimination, or fights for more power, play an important role. Some of the parts of Hindu society, namely the Dalit class, have no Vedic basis, yet have been applied to the

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