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Elom Amematsro

Wijitha Bandara
Salt Lake Community College
I dont know what it is about ushumans that make us want to continuously punish
ourselves. As if the mental tortures of math and physics werent bad enough someone had to ask
the one question that no one should ever ask, what; I curse the day that word was invented.
The word religion is something that we take for granted in our everyday lives we use it without
truly understanding the meaning of the word, but that all changed when someone decided to eat
the forbidden apple and force us all out of Eden by asking the one question that no one was
supposed to ask what makes something religious?, and is Hinduism considered a religion or
way of life; Dharma?
The question seems simple at first but its just a rouse "If you do not ask me what time
is, I know; if you ask me, I do not know." (St. Augustine). Go outside and ask someone what
makes something religious?, and theyd probably say just as scholar E.B Taylor said Belief in
spiritual things" but that answer just doesnt do it for me; it fails to address the question what
makes something spiritual; and we cant define spiritual without first defining religion, so instead
of destroying the monster we actually fed it steroids and let it loose in the city. Hundreds of
scholars have tried to define religion but there is only one answer that I agree with and that is
"Try to define religion and you invite an argument." (P.H McNamara), I know that its not really
a definition of religion but its as close as were going to get without jumping across the table
and strangling one another.
Religion is so hard to define because of its subjective nature. Everyone experiences
religion differently the devout catholic nun experiences religion differently than the ten year old
girl forced to get dressed, go to church, and listen to some guy preaching for three hours every; a
good definition of religion would have to be able to account for thisAlfred North Whitehead
proposed a definition that can explain why each individual experiences religion differently
"Religion is what an individual does with his solitariness." This definition explains why Sigmund
Freud thinks that religion is a mental illness "Religion is comparable to childhood neurosis.", and
why the pope thinks that it is the essence of life, but it doesnt really explain what makes
something religious. I kick soccer balls into a goal when Im lonely does that make playing
soccer a religion, no. After reading hundreds of different definitions of religion I have come to
the same conclusion as Aldous Huxley Religion is the price we pay for being intelligent, but not
as yet intelligent enough. This is a prime of example of why we should go back to the dark
ages and blame everything on witches.
My dream is to define everything in the universe from the smallest atoms to the largest
stars with one word, orange. Wouldnt it be great if you could describe everything with orange,
you wouldnt have to write a two page essay for your classes anymore you could just write
orange on a paper and the teacher would understand exactly youre saying; Im going to make
that dream come true today by defining the most confusing word in the world with orange.
In the study of religion, there is no subject more confusing than Hinduism; is it
monotheistic, polytheistic, is it even truly a religion these questions would make it confusing
enough by itself, however there is one thing that makes it truly the most confusing of all
religionsDharma. There isnt even a word in the English language that describes what
Dharma is, in fact the only word in all of the known languages capable of describing what
Dharma is to Hindus; is Dharma just as there is no western are of inquiry which matches the
Hindu category of Dharma, (Hindu ethics pg.81). Since there is no English word to describe
Dharma then I guess its my responsibility to add the definition of Dharma to a commonly used
word, and I just so happen to choose orange.
Dharma is an orange. Not literally. At first glance Dharma is just a Hindu word that is
extremely hard to define, but it isnt until you look deeper and peel apart the many layers of
Dharma that you can truly define Dharma, just as you cant appreciate the juiciness of an orange
until you peel it apart the Hindi word Dharma, often translated into English simply as
religion, refers to a broad complex of meanings, encompassing duty, natural law, social
welfare, ethics, health and transcendental realization. (Living religions pg.73)
The first layer of Dharma is order. Not the type of order your mom wants by telling you
to clean your room but cosmic order. Dharma is the cosmic order of the universe, what keeps the
world working The golden age when Dharma firmly exists on four legs, the iron age, when
Dharma exists only on one leg (Wijitha Bandara), when Dharma exists, and is kept the world is
perfect and unicorns will take you to your school over the rainbow bridge, and when Dharma
isnt kept the world is terrible and you will have to walk five miles barefoot to school.
The second layer of Dharma; duty is very closely related to the first layer cosmic order
simply put it is your duty keep the cosmic order of the universe, and make sure that I dont have
to walk barefoot to school. The best example of this would be the Bhagavad Gita, in which
Krishna the reincarnation of the god Vishnu lays out all the duties of the different castes, and The
Mahabharata in which Arjun the king does his duty and goes to war against his brothers to
protect the cosmic order, Dharma.
To Hindus Dharma is a way of life Dharma is a word that they breathe eat and sleep, to
the rest of us Dharma is the most confusing word ever. But that problem is solved when we treat
Dharma as an orange. There are several aspects to Dharma but they are all included in the two
layers of Dharma, cosmic order and duty. Next time anyone asks you what Dharma means, tell
them the truth that Dharma is an orange.
Hinduism is very hard to classify because it is considered a religion but in actuality its
multiple religions that all believe in one thing. There are three major sects that believe in three
different gods as their ultimate creator, the Vaishnavites believe that Vishnu was the creator god,
Shaivites believe that Shiva was the creator god, and Shaktist believe that Shakti is the creator
god, these are only some of the major sects of Hinduism but there are hundreds of different sects
and cults in Hinduism. However all of these cults and sects believe that they should live their
lives by following dharma. Because of the fact that the different beliefs of the many sects and
cults I dont think that you can define Hinduism as a religion, but as the all believe that they
should live their live a certain way, that we can classify it as dharma.

Bandara, Wijitha. "Dharma." Salt Lake Community College , Salt Lake. 6 Sept. 2014. Lecture.
Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1999. Print.
Rodrigues, Hillary. Introducing Hinduism: The e Book, New York: Routledge, 2006.
Cunningham, Lawrence, and John Kelsay. "Toward a Definition of Religion." The Sacred Quest: An
Invitation to the Study of Religion. 5th ed. New York: Pearson, 2009. 11-23. Print.