Dharma to Karma

For Hindus, the flip coin of karma is what is referred to as dharma: the moral order of the universe and a code of living that embodies the fundamental principles of law, religion and reality. The Hindu worldview asserts that is one by following one’s dharma, “a person can eventually achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth, known as samsara. In the traditional Hindu view, a person’s duties are dependent upon his or her age, gender, occupation, and caste and it is no lie that dharma is construed at least in part in terms of prescribed rituals and caste obligations.

However, many Hindu reformers have interpreted dharma in multiple ways re-evaluating the role of dharma in Hindu society by highlighting its moral precepts and portrayed it as a dimension of human freedom.  In Hinduism, dharma is conceived as the moral precept that governs duty, religion, and law. Therefore, because dharma has the potential to affect all aspects of a believer’s life. Thus, colonists believed that these texts were the reason for prevailing caste practices and ritual obligation in society.

However, the relevance and potency of dharma is continuously challenged and even today the claim that dharma is compatible with a strict separation between the religious and secular realms is a matter of debate. The persistence of dharma in Indian society encourages spiritual practice and right conduct, but has also supported the persistence of the caste system. Even though the caste system was abolished when India gained independence from the British, it is still socially pervasive. Modern Hindu reformers argue that regardless of its connection to the rules of dharma expressed in ancient texts, the caste system is incompatible with democracy.