Gandhi Journal Article-III (April 2016)
Reinterpreting Gandhi's Notion of "Dharma": An Entanglement of Duty, Religion, and Ethics
The term 'dharma' is an enigmatic term. It is one of the purusarthas of Hindu tradition. Scholars belonging to classical age have described 'dharma' variously: faith in God(s), recognition of the quality of an object, and understanding the laws of the cosmos. These descriptions are found in classical manuscripts such as Mahabhrata, Ramayana, Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, Vedas, and Manusmruti. But there has been a gradual change in the interpretation of 'dharma' with time. In modern times, 'dharma' is interpreted as 'duty', 'ethics', and 'religion'. This paper examines the modern interpretations of 'dharma' from the Gandhian perspective and critically evaluates Gandhi's view on 'dharma' in relation to purusdrthas. It discusses why 'dharma' must be given highest priority among the purusarthas. Finally, it attempts to answer how dharma is associated with duty, religion, and ethics.