"Is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions?"
Hinduism and the Baha'i Faith
Dharma - ethical and spiritual pathways taught in Hinduism and the Baha'i Faith
The Dharma is divided into a number of sub-sections. The Sanatana Dharma, is the eternal, universal law which does not change. However, the condition of man is always changing. And so the part of the Sanatana Dharma which applies to man also needs to change. This is why the Lord renews his message to man from time to time. For after a period of time a decline in the affairs of men sets in and there is a `decline in righteousness'. Whenever this occurs, the Lord `sends forth His spirit'; an Avatar of the Lord appears and renews the message. This is the meaning of the words of Krishna as recorded in the Bhagavad Gita and quoted above, as well as a similar verse in the Bhagavata Purana:
Whenever righteousness declines and evil-doing increases, the Almighty Lord, Hari, creates himself. (1)
Baha'u'llah teaches that the Avatars are the main way in which God communicates with man. Their main function is to bring mankind back to the path of true Dharma. But man's condition is always changing. It is a characteristic feature of the world of man that it constantly changes and develops. The society of today is greatly changed from that of 200 years ago or even that of 100 years ago. The teaching that is suitable for mankind at one stage in its development may not be suitable at a later date. Therefore the supreme love and wisdom of the Lord results in the fact that each Avatar that comes to the world adapts his teaching. This is done so as to bring mankind to that part of the eternal Dharma (Sanatana Dharma) which is suited to the state of the world at the time that he appears. And so the message that each Avatar brings is in accordance with man's capacities at the time.
O Son of Beauty!
Thus the Avatars come to renew the religion of the Lord. They bring a teaching that, in one sense, renews the former message, but it also develops it so as to be suited to the needs of mankind at that time. Thus Baha'u'llah states that his message is a renewal of the Hindu Dharma and also a development of it to suit the needs of the modern world. The message that each Avatar brings can be divided into two: the Sadharama Dharma, the general code of ethics, which is for the most part eternal and does not change; and the social part of the Dharma, which are the laws and principles that change according to the changes in the social condition of mankind from age to age.
1. Bhagavata Purana IV, 24:56; see also I, 10:25; III, 17:31.
2. Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words, Arabic, no. 67.
To read the whole book, visit http://www.northill.demon.co.uk/hinduism/index.htm