Discuss about the meaning of ethics in Indian tradition.

The Indian term for morality and ethics is ‘dharma’. Dharma comes from the root ‘dhr’, which means to hold together. And thus the function of dharma is to
hold the human society together for its stability and growth. Right conduct is essential if the human society is to survive.

The dharma in Hinduism is coextensive with morality. Dharma in the Vedas refers to the highest truth and power and it is very much understood as the performance of Vedic sacrifices and other rituals in the Vedas and Dharmasastras. So Dharma is understood in Vedas as duty par-excellence.

Dharma is also generally understood as the duties of
humans according to one’s own caste and stage of life (Varnasrama Dharma). And thus many Hindu thinkers say if one does his duty; he will achieve either heaven or a better birth in the next life or even prosperity here and now.

Thus the Hindu concept of dharma has been recognized by its very close association with
ritualistic and caste-oriented duties. And the purely moral sense of duty is overshadowed. But yet the Hindu thinkers advocate and recommend the practice
of moral virtues and moral norms, which make a man as man. These moral virtues are called Sadharana Dharma or universal duties.

Hence the term dharma in Hinduism has two connotations – performance of ritual sacrifices and duties according to one’s own caste and the second is the practice of moral virtues and norms. So when we speak of dharma as morality, it includes all the duties one ought to perform and all the virtues he ought to practice to attain moksa or liberation.