Dharma is the basic and important factor based on which a human-being and an animal are distinguished. It is said “धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः”. A person devoid of dharma is equivalent to an animal . “धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः”. To establish various rules regarding many rituals and sacrificial rites the word dharma has been used in Rig veda. Chandogyopanishad establishes dharma in a broad perspective. It indicates dharma of a bachelor, a householder and a sage. It deals deeply with the duties of human-beings.
It is said in Bhagavadgita :
“श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् ।
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः ॥
One’s own duty, though devoid of merit, is preferable to the duty of another well performed. Even death in the performance of one’s own duty brings blessedness; another’s duty is fraught with fear.
The word dharma is dealt in detail in “Manu smriti”. Sages made a request to Manu :
“भगवन् सर्ववर्णानां यथावदनुपूर्वशः ।
अन्तरप्रभवाणां च धर्मान्नो वक्तुमर्हसि ॥
Dharma which has been told by Manu has been strongly established in Vedas.
“यः कश्चित्कस्यचिद्धर्मो मनुना प्रतिपादितः ।
स सर्वोऽभिहितो वेदं सर्वज्ञानमयो हि सः ॥”
The composers of Holy scriptures have even told that the Holy scriptures that establish something against what is told by Manu are not great. The greatness of Manu smriti lies in the fact that it has been composed in accordance with the Vedas.
“मनुस्मृतिविरुद्धा या सा स्मृतिर्न प्रशस्यते ।
वेदार्थोपनिबद्धत्वात् प्राधान्यं हि मनोः स्मृतेः ॥”
Manu smriti is the only Holy scripture which establishes Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha in a detailed manner. For instance,
“चतुर्थमायुषो भागमुषित्वाऽऽद्यं गुरौ द्विजः ।
द्वितीयमायुषो भागं कृतदारो गृहे वसेत् ॥”
A brahmin should spend the first part of his life with his teacher following brahmacharya and the second part in the grihastashrama leading married life. (to be contd.)