Morality is the differentiation of decisions, actions, and intentions between the ones that are right or good and the ones that are wrong or bad. Morality is also defined as conformity to the right conduct rules. Ethics is the philosophy of morality. Therefore, morality means rightness or goodness. A moral code refers to a particular system of morality in a certain religion, philosophy, culture among others. A moral on the other hand is any teaching or practice within a particular moral code.
However, the opposite of morality is immorality, which is actually the opposite of what is right or good. A morality is the indifference toward, disbelief in, or unawareness of a given set of principles or moral standards.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the questions about morality. ‘Ethics in most cases is interchangeably used with ‘morality’. Certain ethical theories types such as deontological ethics in some cases distinguish between morals and ethics.
Morality in descriptive sense is the social mores, codes of conduct, and cultural or personal values.
Here it does not actually connote objective claims of wrong or right but it only refers to what is considered wrong or right. On the other hand, morality in normative sense is defined as whatever is actually wrong or right that may be independent on mores or values that are held by a given culture.
The virtues of morality in dharma are honesty, truth, and obedience. Dharma is an imperative concept in India philosophy. Some mean natural law or universal justice translates it. In its general meaning it is defined as doing what one is required based on his or her stage and position in life. The other crucial moral concepts that are found in Hinduism are ‘anugraha’ (divine grace), ‘prarabdha’ (fate), and ‘papa’ (moral evil). According to Hinduism morality, dharma is a code of moral duties and conduct that is regarded as essential truths that individuals seek in their lifetime.
Dharma is linked with responsibility and righteousness and mostly it is viewed as living in conformity with someone’s caste traditions. Among the Buddhists, it is the eternal truth, ultimate reality to which Buddha was awakened. As the opposite of morality is immorality, the opposite of dharma is adharma that is generally a behavior, which is opposed to someone’s dharma. The two terms are like yang and yin because they oppose each other but also they are complementary. Right and wrong, falsehood and truth, and good and evil can be viewed in terms of adharma and dharma but they are relative to a particular individual and his position in life.
Karma and dharma are given a lot of attention by the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics of the Hindu religion. Purity is vital in Hindu religion. The Hindus has a belief that body purification leads to mind purification and someone’s caste is determined by the impurity or purity of his or her past deeds. The five ‘pancamakra’ that pollutes are meat, wine, parched grain, sexual intercourse with a woman who is on periods, and fish. The purity idea is the main concern of caste system.
Relation between morality and dharma
The concept of morality and dharma are in most circles defined and explained inter-changeably. Dharma is primarily concerned with the designation of behaviors seen as necessary in order for the natural order of things to be maintained. Dharma is essentially the sustainer and cementer of the human social life. It provides a solid foundation through which people interact. Because of these functions, dharma is seen as a propriety or duty that is aimed at promoting orderliness, social harmony, justice, and happiness in the human life. An individual existing in a particular society or community derives his/her own dharma from the immediate environment or setting.
Therefore, dharma dictates many human aspects including the concept of morality. Anyone who abides by the code of dharma is expected to lead a moral life. Morality is seen as one of the most important traits of human beings. It serves as a code for self-governance of conduct for an individual. The best way of understanding dharma is by intuitively listening to one’s conscious.
Morality enables one to be able to differentiate between good and evil. Morality draws its main aspects from Dharma. Dharma is therefore seen as a combination of the universal principles of morality. However, the concept of morality should not be confused with that of legality. As seen earlier, morality draws its power from dharma, which is usually an unwritten code of conduct. Therefore, not abiding by the principles of morality does not necessarily constitute breaking the law.
In essence, the concept of morality in any particular culture can most effectively be defined if it contains provisions for the application of dharma concepts. By fully assimilating and incorporating the terms dictated by the dharma, it becomes relatively easy for any individual in a given premise to lead a moral life.
Honesty refers to the face of moral character that indicates positive and righteous attributes like truthfulness, integrity, and straightforwardness that goes along with the absence of cheating, lying, or even stealing.
Honesty is an eternal value, which mirrors the Buddhist moral teachings that is bases on Dharma. This value of honesty aids one to advance on the spiritual side and to lead a morally upright life. This precept is an important factor in social dealings and life since it encourages one not to opt to falsehood or to tell a lie. This precept makes one develop reliability, honesty, and moral integrity. On reliability meaning on what scale, can one rely on you? Are you efficient in doing something by yourself or something asked of you?
On honesty, it deals with how trustworthy you can be regarding something or certain issues. On moral integrity, it deals with the ethical notion and moral values of a person. Respecting the truth is something that strongly deters somebody to lean towards committing wrong actions or getting into temptation to commit wrong actions. If one assumes and disregards the value of respect in honesty it will lead to the opposite of the later, which will only lead to inspiring of evil doings.
Honesty in Dharma is also simply practicing to love what is right. Loving what is right makes us release our deceptions. We release our deceptions mainly for two aims: first is that we have a wanting to know the real motivations and causes for our defensiveness. When we properly polish that wanting this will be our gateway to the completion of morality. Honesty thus makes us be straightforward, upright, simple, large-hearted, frank speakers, simple, non-hypocrites, and free from deceit.
Roles of Truth
According to dharma, truth is the supreme reality. The absolute existence of trust needs to be reflected in deeds, words, and thoughts. Believers should do what is right; there deeds should reflect what their religion teaches them. Spoken words need to reflect truth in them. The same concept applies to believers thought. All these concepts are interrelated in one way or another, and should be practiced concurrently. Of all the three virtues of dharma, truth is the most established. Truth is the most valued virtue. “And it is within the rights of the King and the peasant alike to maintain truth and righteousness”  .
The role of truth in relation to dharma is to constitute the glory and crown of ethical life. “Practice of truth and Ahimsa constitute the crown and glory of ethical life”  . Truth is the sustainer and cementer of societal life; hence, the world should be rooted on it. Any religion that is not embedded in truth does not serve their congregation appropriately. Justice, straightforwardness, sincerity, and honesty are expressions or modification of truth. Knowledge has to be true to examine the concept of truth and for it to be valuable. The concept of truth according to dharma is to dedicate commitment and to attain noble goals.
Many people often use unethical means to achieve noble goals. Therefore, the role of truth is to ensure all people achieve their noble goals in a truthful manner that is ethical in nature. The main objective of truth is to ensure people remain on the right track. “What do I share with a rustic girl reared among fawns, unskilled in love? Don’t mistake what I muttered in jest for the real truth, my friend!”  . Truth plays a pivotal role in preventing moral decay among believers and promotes moral commitment. It is imperative to enrich both public and scholarly understanding of truth when tracking human understanding. Truth is the cornerstone and fundamental value of any religion.
Role of obedience
Under the dharma beliefs, there are certain major roles of growth that are of utmost importance in the Hindu religious and philosophical beliefs. The society has generally termed certain things to be right while others are considered wrong. “Noble-minded are they all, but the wise man I hold as my own self; for he, remaining always at peace with me, makes me his final goal”  .
The dharma like any other concept of religious or philosophical beliefs has set its own standards morality. Only a few chosen and selected religious elders who serve and coordinate the societal religious and philosophical functions, knows when the standards were developed or formed and where this standards at some times fails to uphold the set standards. However, for the ordinary societal the set standards are mainly considered generally good.
Many religious and philosophical scholars to be a duty have defined dharma. Thus, If God is one, and then our innermost duty is to obey him. Under the dharma beliefs, obedience to God is the only path leading to him. It is believed that every living creature reflects an inbuilt tendency to this eternal obedience. This is reflected by the famously used illustration in the Hindu religious beliefs that even the crudest animal such as a tiger is tamed and brought into obedience by its trainer. This highly supports that the idea of obedience is inbuilt and eternal in all the living creatures. If obedience were not so, it would have not been possible to tame and bring into obedience all the cruel creatures such as tigers, snakes and the many other wild forms.
The duty or the responsibility of obedience is naturally developed in the human consciousness. This natural and universal instinct is what is referred to as dharma depending on the specific societies. Even the many other similar religionist groups and those who do not believe in God such as the Buddhists’ have the same obedience to their Lord Buddha and his supreme laws.