The title of this short write up, Yato’bhyudaya-nihshreyasa siddhih sa Dharmah, is, in fact, a couplet defining Dharma according to Maharishi Kanada, the founder of the Vaisheshika philosophy –one of the six foremost schools of thoughts* within the ambit of the Vedic-Hindu philosophy or the view of life, and which is known as empiricist school of atomism minutely explaining, discussing and analyzing issues related to matter, apparent universe, atom and nuclear in particular. The meaning of this couplet is as follows:
“That, which directs and leads to the attainment of abhyudaya in the world; that shows the pathway to cessation of grieves and pains in toto, and get the one to nihshreyasa thereafter, is Dharma.”
This definition accorded by Maharishi Kanada through this short couplet is considered as one of the best descriptions of Dharma revealing not only the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma itself, but explaining the purpose and importance of Dharma in life simultaneously. Along with this, Kanada’s definition categorically divulges the eastern viewpoint of Dharma –the great Indian perspective pertaining to it in particular. It could be well analyzed, comprehended and understood on the basis of the review of just two words incorporated in this statement, which are, in fact, the central points of the whole of the proclamation made by Maharishi Kanada. The reality of the couplet could also be well realized by the review of these two words.
The two words emerging predominantly in this couplet are: Abhyudaya and Nihshreyasa. Abhyudaya signifies rise, progress or development of a human being. It is undoubtedly dedicated to his prosperity. Nihshreyasa on the other hand divulges eternal bliss –infinite happiness with contentment, which is, in fact, the state of Mukti, Moksha or the Nirvana –liberation of soul.
Hence, Dharma is, if analyzed by having these two words in the centre, the way and means to lead a human being to the prosperity in the world on the one hand, and to direct him to achieve the state of Moksha –liberation on the other. In other words, Dharma is an injunction to direct man to his all-round development, to attain prosperity in the world on the basis of development and prosperity to achieve Moksha, which is the real goal of life. Thus, just from the brief analysis of these two words –Abhyudaya and Nihshreyasa, which have been used by Maharishi Kanada in his above short couplet or the statement, the meaning and the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma become clear and it reveals its significance in life all together. Along with this, through this the eastern viewpoint pertaining to Dharma, the great Indian perspective predominantly and that is based on the Vedic-Hindu philosophy in particular, also becomes obvious.
In this very perspective it should be borne firmly in mind that the short discussion, which we have had about Abhyudaya [rise and prosperity] and Nihshreyasa [attainment of goal], despite deeming individualistic or focusing on an individual, is, in reality, not an individualist viewpoint. The Vaisheshika school of thought developed by Maharishi Kanada is a part of the Vedic-Hindu philosophy that is dedicated to the universal acceptance and unity of all. Therefore, it cannot confine to the welfare, prosperity and development of an individual. In reality it cannot be individualist; otherwise, in case of its being so, it would categorically violate the great proclamation of the Atharvaveda in which it has been said, “Prithvim Dharmana Dhritam” –meaning thereby, this world is uphold by Dharma.
Reality is this that the beginning of Abhyudaya –prosperity takes place from the individual level. The goal is achieved on the strength of one’s own righteous acts. However, both the achieved prosperity and the goal of the one work simultaneously in following two ways for the welfare and rise of others:
· By making efforts for the rise and prosperity of others along with one’s own self; and
· By emerging as an ideal and, thus, by inspiring others to follow the suit.
Hence, similar to the message of Gautama Buddha in which he called all, general and particular to follow the principle of “Appo Dipo Bhava” [be a light unto yourself], it is the prime duty of man to make his own life meaningful and worthy first, while passing through the inevitable process of Karmas on the one hand, and to inspire and assist others simultaneously to their rise and prosperity on the other. This is the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma in reality.
Not only this, through one’s own righteous and continuous practices, while passing through the inevitable process of Karmas –actions, overcoming of numerous obstacles, difficulties and miseries at various levels, which are also investable in worldly routines, getting rise –Abhyudaya and on the basis of it achieving the goal –Nihshreyasa is the focal point or the part and parcel of the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma and the purpose of following it. That is why; Dharma has been declared as the eternal and natural law, which leads man to realize and follow the sense of duty, and also leads him to the pathway to liberation –the Moksha. The popular message of the Gita, “Yato Dharma Tato Jaya” –victory is where Dharma prevails, could be well observed in this very perspective. It could also be seen categorically in another short statement, “Yato Dharmastato Jaya”, which appears in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad [1:4:14], and which views Dharma as the universal principle of law, order and harmony, and meaning of which is, “Where there is Righteousness [Dharma], there shall be victory.”
Dharma, thus, accords an art of living well in the world and to make the life meaningful thereafter. So, explanation of Dharma, “Yato’bhyudaya-nihshreyasa siddhih sa Dharmah” given by Maharishi Kanada through this short couplet deems not only the best, but seems real as well. ______________________________________________________________________________
*In the six schools of thoughts besides Vaisheshika, the other five include: 1-Samkhya –expositioning consciousness and matter; 2-Yoga –emphasizing the importance of meditation, contemplation and liberation [Moksha]; 3-Nyaya –exploring source of knowledge; 4-Mimansa –emerging as an anti-ascetic and anti-mystic school of orthopraxy; and Vedanta –the last segment of knowledge in the Vedas [Janna-Kanda].