[Notes on Dharma and Paramatma]
Theosophist, May, 1881
Article Selections by Vishnu Bawa’s “True Religion Defined” | Notes by H.P.B.
What is dharma, or that which is popularly interpreted to be Religion? Or rather, what is that which can truly and deservedly be called dharma or Religion?
The Sanskrit word dharma radically implies Duty and Nature. Dharma is the Duty and Nature co-existent with the very living or existence of a being in the universe. For instance, it is the dharma or the Dutiful Nature of the Fire to burn things, of the wind to blow, of the son to revered and love his parents, of the pupil to respect and obey his preceptor, and so on; it is the dharma, or the natural or innate and inborn duty of every being, and thing to perform or do that which proceeds and emanated from the very nature or birth of its essence, existence, being, or living in the universe.1
1. “Duty” is an incorrect and unhappy expression. “Property” would be the better word. “Duty” is that which a person is bound by any natural, moral, or legal obligation to do or refrain from doing and cannot be applied but to intelligent and reasoning beings. Fire will burn and cannot “refrain” from doing it.
. . . as the entire universe is visionary and false, there is nothing besides the paramatma which can deservedly be called real. Therefore, the unconscious and immaterial Paramatma is the only Truth or the only Existence. . . . Therefore, the highest, the best, the most beneficial, natural, common, uniform, eternal, and omnipresent Religion or dharma of a rational being (as well as of the irrational ones, when they will reach the state of rationality) is not only to know, but also to experience (anubhava) personally, i.e. to feel this nirvikalpa niracruti or unconscious immateriality, or Paramatma—the Infinity and Eternity of Existence and Happiness. This state of unconscious immateriality has been variously called Paramatma, the Parabrahm, the Satya Brahm, the Parameshvar, the Nirvan, etc.2
2. This teaching is the highest stage of Philosophical ultra-Spiritual Pantheism and Buddhism. It is the very spirit of the doctrines contained in the Upanishads wherein we would vainly seek for Ishvara—the after thought of the modern Vedantins.
It is the true or eternal state of every being, for saving it there can be found no other true existence; therefore every rational being’s dharma or natural duty and Religion is first to acquire the jñāna (knowledge) or vidya of its real Self, the Paramatma, and then by the annihilation of its atma, or worldly self or soul to experience the infinity of Happiness prevalent in its unconscious Immateriality.3
3. We draw the attention of the theoristic and dogmatic Spiritualists to the passage. The late Vishnu Bawa was, perhaps, the greatest Philosopher and most acute metaphysician and seer of India in our present century.
[Note: the article continues on with the discussion of Paramatma etc.; it is well worth reading; see The Theosophist, May, 1881, p. 181.]