Is it explicitly mentioned anywhere that dharma can change with desa-kAla conditions? If not explicit mention, is it implied anywhere? If it can change, how much can it change? What was considered dharma/adharma before can become adharma/dharma at some later point in time?

Comment I am aware of yuga dharmas. My question is more simple. Whether something that was considered as dharma/adharma, say 1000 years ago, can be considered the opposite now.

  • I am aware of yuga dharmas. My question is more simple. Whether something that was considered as dharma/adharma, say 1000 years ago, can be considered the opposite now. @sv.
    – user17987
    Feb 15, 2020 at 9:11
  • @yAdRcchika, of course, certain practices advocated for previous yugas are not advocated for current yuga. Does it mean the dharma 'changed' ? Suppose I write a law : If morning, work. If afternoon, eat. If night, sleep. Does it mean the law 'changes' with time ? Both Yes and No. The law is different for each time. But the law was created before the day even started, and it takes into account all possible future times, so there is no need to 'change' it to suit the current time, because current time is already accounted for. So the law is "static, but not same".
    – ram
    Feb 15, 2020 at 9:39
  • If you already know about Yuga Dharma then why are you asking "Does Dharma change with kala (time)?"@yAdRcchika
    – Rickross
    Feb 16, 2020 at 6:20
  • Regarding parishtithi (situation) then that is also dealt with here:hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/27617/…
    – Rickross
    Feb 16, 2020 at 6:21
  • Your Q is about Dharma more than anything else .. hence the Dharma tag. @yAdRcchika
    – Rickross
    Feb 16, 2020 at 6:22

1 Answer 1


Yes, definitely.

However, discard the desire (kama) and material wealth (artha) if contrary to Dharma; as also, any usage or custom or rules regarded as source of Dharma if at any time they were to lead to unhappiness or arouse people's indignation.

(Manu Smriti 4.176)

Basically what this means is that scripture must be reasonable. Otherwise a Hindu does not have to accept any thing simply because it is in scripture. I have given below 2 examples of such reasoning.

Yoga Vasistha II.18 says:

yuktiyuktamupādeyaṃ vacanaṃ bālakādapi | anyattṛṇamiva tyājyamapyuktaṃ padmajanmanā || 3 ||

The remark of a child is to be accepted, if it is in accordance with reason; but the remark of even Brahma Himself, the creator of the world is to be rejected like a piece of straw if it does not accord with reason.

REF: Vasistha's Yoga translated by Swami Venkatesananda, p 35.

Sri Vachaspati Mishra, another Advaita Vedanta philosopher, says,

Na hy āgamāḥ sahasram api ghaṭam paṭayitum īṣate (Bhāmatī, Introduction)

A thousand scriptures cannot make a jar into a cloth.

REF: Quoted by S. Radhakrishnan in his book, Indian Philosophy, Volume 2.

  • 2
    This looks like a blank cheque to disregard anything in the dharma-shAstras. Or could you provide an alternate interpretation?
    – user17987
    Feb 15, 2020 at 9:19
  • 1
    Not disregard anything. Only disregard things that lead to unhappiness or arouse people's indignation. Basically scripture must be reasonable. Feb 15, 2020 at 15:24
  • This does not seem to be the best interpretation. As yAdRcchika says it is coming across as carte blanche, either for the individual or for the collective conscience. Kindly refer to Medatithi's commentary here - wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/… . Feb 16, 2020 at 6:27
  • Also vedantists might place sabda pramana lower in the hierarchy among pramanas, but other Hindus may not agree. Feb 16, 2020 at 6:29
  • Sabda pramana is only necessary for spiritual matters that are beyond human reason. Sabda pramana can not be used in matters that can be decided by reason. Feb 18, 2020 at 6:51