Dharma & Religion: Where does Arya Samaj Fit in?

by Acharya Harish Chandra

September 2015

There are multiple religions and we are accustomed to hearing that one person has Religion ‘A’ and another Religion ‘B’, etc. Many people wonder: is it not true that multiplicity in religions is the principal cause that our beautiful planet is in turmoil today. The obvious question arises: What was the need of Arya Samaj, another religion? In this background, it should be pointed out that the words Dharma and religion are used synonymous by many people, but quite erroneously. Dharma signifies inherent characteristics of anything for that matter. For example, fire emits heat and light. This is Dharma of Fire, called Agni in Sanskrit. Every kind of fire exhibits these characteristics – the ‘Agni-Dharma’. In that sense, there must be ‘the Human Dharma’ – this is what we are concerned with – the Dharma. Dharma would mean the essential human characteristics without which the humanity will collapse. Humans are uniquely different from all the other infinite things in the universe that we have the freedom to act according to our Dharma or otherwise – even if I know my true Dharma I can choose to act contrary to it – there is absolutely nothing else in the universe that can behave contrary to its Dharma. This is why it is so important for everybody to understand the human Dharma, the Manav-Dhrama. What I finally act is called, my Karma. My Karma may be in accordance with Dharma or contrary to it whereas every other species’ Karma coincides with its Dharma. So, our Dharma is one and only one – what the entire humanity will agree upon. It’s not difficult to know our true Dharma – what I expect others to do to me. Arya Samaj stands for the universal principles – the Manav Dharma – that can lead the entire humanity to a lasting state of happiness based on universal love, brotherhood/sisterhood and peace. Arya Samaj is not a faith-based sectarian religion.