India - Essay Example

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In the context of Buddhism, dharma refers to the teachings of Buddha, and is termed ‘the Law of Righteousness’ (Andrea and Overfield, 70). Buddha’s teachings emphasize the adoption…
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Instrurtor: Dharma: Buddhist and Hindu Perspective. The Sanskrit word ‘Dharma,’ signifies the upholding, or support, of the established law. In the context of Buddhism, dharma refers to the teachings of Buddha, and is termed ‘the Law of Righteousness’ (Andrea and Overfield, 70). Buddha’s teachings emphasize the adoption of the ‘Middle Path,’ avoiding both extremes of pleasure and mortification. This Middle Path, of ‘The Holy Eightfold Path,’ consists of Right Belief, Right Aspiration, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Endeavor, Right Memory, and Right Meditation. (Andrea and Overfield, 71). The rock edicts of Ashoka reflect the emperor’s strong adherence to the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. He unequivocally asserts that all the benevolent actions he has undertaken as a king have but one objective: “that the people might practice the Dhamma” (Dhammika, the Seven Pillar Edicts, 7). He urges his subjects to respect and practice Dharma. Although Ashoka does not explicitly expound on Buddha’s teachings, his exhortations to his subjects are undoubtedly based on the Eightfold Path. Ashoka’s edicts list the dictates of Dharma: “proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for father and mother, generosity towards friends, companions, relations, Brahmans and ascetics, and not killing living beings” (Dhammika, Fourteen Rock Edicts, 11). All this obviously falls under ‘Right Conduct.’ Again, Ashoka emphasizes “restraint in speech” (Dhammika, Fourteen Rock Edicts, 12) and that “the truth should be spoken” (Dhammika, Minor Rock Edicts, 2), in deference to ‘Right Speech.’ He urges is subjects towards ‘Right Endeavor’: “Great fruit will result from doing your duty” (Dhammika, Kalinga Rock Edicts, 1). Ashoka’s desire that his subjects practice “Kindness, generosity, truthfulness, purity, gentleness and goodness” (Dhammika, Seven Pillars, 7) expresses his hope that Buddhist Dharma will be adopted by all in his kingdom. Ashoka’s edicts define dharma as following the Eightfold Path.
In the context of the Bhagavad Gita, Dharma is defined as “the moral imperative of caste duty” (Andrea and Overfield, 67). The performance of one’s duty, as prescribed by one’s caste, is the highest moral obligation, and the best way to worship God. “Every man intent on his own respective duties obtains perfection” (Andrea and Overfield, 68). Krishna states that the man who transcends the physical senses, and maintains detachment attains bliss. The way to eternal happiness is to “perform actions, casting off all attachments, and being equable in success or ill-success” (Andrea and Overfield, 68). Despite apparent differences in the interpretation of dharma, the Buddha and Krishna are similar in much of their philosophy. The Buddha declares that “the destruction of desire” (Andrea and Overfield,72) brings an end to suffering. Similarly, Krishna asserts that the man who casts off all desires “obtains tranquility” (Andrea and Overfield, 68). The “equability” extolled by Krishna is but the “Middle Path” advocated by the Buddha. Just as Krishna emphasizes the importance of the performance of duty, Ashoka states, “Great fruit will result from doing your duty” (Dhammika, Kalinga Rock Edicts, 1). The qualities of Brahmins, as listed in the Bhagavad Gita, “Tranquility, restraint of the senses, penance, purity, forgiveness, straightforwardness,” (Andrea and Overfield, 68) mirror the virtues enlisted in Buddha’s ‘Holy Eightfold Path.’ The Buddhist Dharma, which comprises the Buddha’s teachings, and the Hindu Dharma of the Bhagavad Gita, share the emphasis on duty and virtuous living.
Works Cited.
Andrea, Alfred J. and Overfield, James H. “Dharma: the Imperative of Caste Law.” The Human
Record. Sources of Global History. Sixth Edition. Volume 1to1700. Blaine, Nancy.
Coryell, Patricia A. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. New York. 2009. 66-69.
Andrea, Alfred J. and Overfield, James H. “The Path to Enlightenment.” The Human
Record. Sources of Global History. Sixth Edition. Volume 1to1700. Blaine, Nancy.
Coryell, Patricia A. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. New York. 2009. 70-72.
Dhammika, Ven S. “The Edicts of King Ashoka.” DharmaNet Edition. 1994. Retrieved from
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