In Hinduism, Dharma means "duty." The concept of Dharma is that every person has a duty. When they have fulfilled their duties, they will stop reincarnating, and finally be at rest. Whether you call it nirvana or enlightenment, it is essentially the purpose of life for Hindus. When their Dharma is fulfilled, they will be free.
- Many characters, if not all, who have died show this idea.
- Boone died when he got over Shannon.
- Shannon died when she found a man who she truly loved, rather than just trying to take his money.
- Ana Lucia died when she gave up a chance to kill a man who harmed her.
- Eko died after that pivotal moment with his brother.
- Charlie died after getting over his drug addiction and living happily and normally with Claire.
- Seems somewhat like purgatory, although it is different in a way. They are not repaying for their sins, they are trying to settle their past qualms. They are "cleaning up their messes."
- Another problem is that this is one (basically new age Hindu) way of defining dharma. Dharma's definition(s) is/are much more complex, especially with regard to Buddhism's definitions (plural) of it, for example as the contents of mind or the constituent elements of the universe or our experience of it. That "dharma" in the show would be limited to this "Hindu" definition is inconsistent with the religious eclecticism of it in general, for example with regard to the Chinese cosmological symbols in the Dharma Initiative's logo (hexagrams and related yin/yang oppositions). On the other hand, it does see as if the characters were "lost" before the island and that on the island they are working out their karma (which literally means cause and effect) by dealing with traumatic pasts. This does not necessarily occur in the show through the fulfillment of "duty"--the various ways in which the shows character's find resolution or closure with their pasts. In this sense, its moralism is inconsistent with Buddhism, but not the Hinduism espoused by the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna teaches Arjuna that as a warrior making war is fulfillment of his sacred duty and the highest form or religious practice.
- Still another is how the show treats the issue of dharma as it applies to the fortunes of the Dharma Initiative. It could be argued that the show places the existence, practices, and goals of the Dharma Initiative in a somewhat negative light. In this sense, the way that the survivors of 815 initially discover the remnants of and then later interact directly with the Dharma Initiative could be seen as something of a criticism of the concept of dharma: as the symbol of an idealistic yet inept organization whose wild social experiment ended in disaster.