DharmDharm is one of the four fundamental pursuits of life.
What is Dharm?
This question has many answeres, because it has many meanings. This term is often used in place of other words such as religion, faith, justice, duty, righteousness, property, attribute etc.
However, the term in all its meaning includes, but not limited to these words.
The origin of the word is perhaps as old as human civilization if we take into consideration the deep sence of requirment of justice for all living beings. We have always been thinking in these terms and in due course of time evolved many systems of Dharm in various names. We are yet to achieve any perfect system that can agreeable to all. Therefore, it is obvious that many systems are bound to evolve in future.
A concrete stage
Mythological era in India was a concrete stage to have developed one of such a system that still exists, and which is the oldest one.
People thought of justice and propagated special mythological stories to drive home the concept of Dharm.
Dharm, thus became an epithet of Yam, the god and the judge of the dead.
However, justice for living being agitated the minds of people. Therefore, Dharm, the name of another god of justice for living being emerged into the picture. He was a Prajapati.
This Dharm, the god of justice for living beings, was married to ten daughters of Daksh Prajapati. Their names were Buddhi, Dhriti, Kirti, Kriya, Lajja, Lakshmi, Mati, Pushti, Shraddha and Medha.
This Dharm had several sons. Niyam was his son from his wife Dhriti.
He has three sons by his wife Kriya, named Dand, Nay and Vinay. Kam was his son by his wife Shraddha.
Dharm has another wife Dharmvrata.
The path of Dharm
What these two Dharm aimed at was the path to justice, both for living beings and for the deads. Therefore, the path of justice become the path of Dharm. Since, justice for all is the highest aim of Dharm, it naturally became the essence of Dharm.
In other words, the sense of justice is the primary requisite of Dharm. A Dharm ceases to be a dharm when the path diverts from justice or its course.
The ideal concept
Thus, Dharm becomes the ideal concept which the human civilization needs to achieve.
Since there is a limitation of mind and civilization is a continuous process, we are yet to achieve Dharm in its absoluteness.
We have always been trying, and this journey will go on. It is due to this reason many paths evolved in course of time which we call religions. We have only succeeded up to certain extent.
The function of Dharm
Dharm regulates Arth and Kama, apart from regulating itself. It takes us to a point beyond which we achieve Moksh or Salvation.