The Info List - Dharma

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DHARMA ( ; Sanskrit : धर्म _dharma_, _ listen (help ·info ); Pali : धम्म dhamma_) is a key concept with multiple meanings in the Indian religions
Indian religions
Hinduism , Buddhism
, Sikhism and Jainism
. There is no single word translation for _dharma_ in Western languages.

In Hinduism , _dharma_ signifies behaviours that are considered to be in accord with _rta _, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’. In Buddhism
_dharma_ means "cosmic law and order", but is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha. In Buddhist philosophy , _dhamma/dharma _ is also the term for "phenomena ". Dharma
in Jainism
refers to the teachings of _tirthankara _ (_Jina_) and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings. For Sikhs , the word _dharm_ means the path of righteousness and proper religious practice.

The word "dharma" was already in use in the historical Vedic religion , and its meaning and conceptual scope has evolved over several millennia. The antonym of dharma is _adharma _.


* 1 Etymology * 2 Definition

* 3 History

* 3.1 Eusebeia and dharma * 3.2 Rta, Maya and Dharma

* 4 Hinduism

* 4.1 Dharma
in Vedas
and Upanishads * 4.2 Dharma
in the Epics * 4.3 Dharma
according to 4th century Vatsyayana * 4.4 Dharma
according to Patanjali
* 4.5 Sources of Dharma
* 4.6 Dharma, life stages and social stratification * 4.7 Dharma
and poverty * 4.8 Dharma
and law

* 5 Buddhism

* 5.1 Buddha\'s teachings * 5.2 East Asian Buddhism

* 6 Jainism
* 7 Sikhism * 8 Dharma
in symbols * 9 See also * 10 Notes

* 11 References

* 11.1 Citations * 11.2 Sources

* 12 External links


The Classical Sanskrit noun _dharma_ is a derivation from the root _dhṛ_, which means "to hold, maintain, keep", and takes a meaning of "what is established or firm", and hence "law". It is derived from an older Vedic Sanskrit _n_-stem _dharman-_, with a literal meaning of "bearer, supporter", in a religious sense conceived as an aspect of Rta .

In the Rigveda
, the word appears as an _n_-stem, _dhárman-_, with a range of meanings encompassing "something established or firm" (in the literal sense of prods or poles). Figuratively, it means "sustainer" and "supporter" (of deities). It is semantically similar to the Greek _ Ethos _ ("fixed decree, statute, law"). In Classical Sanskrit , the noun becomes thematic: _dharma-_.

The word _dharma_ derives from Proto-Indo-European root _*dʰer-_ ("to hold"), which in Sanskrit is reflected as class-1 root _√dhṛ_. Etymologically it is related to Avestan √dar- ("to hold"), Latin _firmus_ ("steadfast, stable, powerful"), Lithuanian _derė́ti_ ("to be suited, fit"), Lithuanian _dermė_ ("agreement") and _darna_ ("harmony") and Old Church Slavonic _drъžati_ ("to hold, possess"). Classical Sanskrit word _dharmas_ would formally match with Latin o-stem _firmus_ from Proto-Indo-European *_dʰer-mo-s_ "holding", were it not for its historical development from earlier Rigvedic n-stem.

In Classical Sanskrit, and in the Vedic Sanskrit of the Atharvaveda , the stem is thematic: _dhárma-_ ( Devanāgarī
: धर्म). In Pāli , it is rendered _dhamma_. In some contemporary Indian languages and dialects it alternatively occurs as _dharm_.


is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion . It has multiple meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is difficult to provide a single concise definition for _dharma_, as the word has a long and varied history and straddles a complex set of meanings and interpretations. There is no equivalent single word translation for _dharma_ in western languages.

There have been numerous, conflicting attempts to translate ancient Sanskrit literature with the word dharma into German, English and French. The concept, claims Paul Horsch, has caused exceptional difficulties for modern commentators and translators. For example, while Grassmann translation of Rig-veda identifies seven different meanings of dharma, Karl Friedrich Geldner in his translation of the Rig-veda employs 20 different translations for dharma, including meanings such as ‘law’, ‘order’, ‘duty’, ‘custom’, ‘quality’, ‘model’, among others.

root is "dhri", which means ‘to support, hold, or bear’. It is the thing that regulates the course of change by not participating in change, but that principle which remains constant. Monier-Williams, the widely cited resource for definitions and explanation of Sanskrit words and concepts of Hinduism, offers numerous definitions of the word _dharma_: such as that which is established or firm, steadfast decree, statute, law, practice, custom, duty, right, justice, virtue, morality, ethics, religion, religious merit, good works, nature, character, quality, property. Yet, each of these definitions is incomplete, while combination of these translations do not convey the total sense of the word. In common parlance, _dharma_ means ‘right way of living’ and ‘path of rightness’.

The meaning of word “dharma” depends on the context, and its meaning evolved as ideas of Hinduism developed over its long history. In earliest texts and ancient myths of Hinduism, _dharma_ meant cosmic law, the rules that created the universe from chaos, as well as rituals; In later Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and the Epics, the meaning became refined, richer, complex and the word dharma was applied to diverse contexts. In certain contexts, _dharma_ designates human behaviours considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos, behaviours and action necessary to all life in nature, society, family as well as at the individual level. _Dharma_ encompasses ideas such as duty, rights, character, vocation, religion, customs and all behaviour considered appropriate, correct or morally upright.

The antonym of _dharma_ is _adharma _ (Sanskrit: अधर्म), meaning that which is “not dharma”. As with _dharma_, the word _adharma_ includes and implies many ideas; in common parlance, adharma means that which is against nature, immoral, unethical, wrong or unlawful.

In Buddhism, _dharma_ incorporates the teachings and doctrines of the founder of Buddhism, the Buddha .


According to the authoritative book _History of Dharmasastra _, in the hymns of the Rigveda
the word Dharma
appears at least fifty-six times, as an adjective or noun. According to Paul Horsch, the word Dharma
has its origin in the myths of Vedic Hinduism. The Brahman (whom all the gods make up), claim the hymns of the Rig Veda, created the universe from chaos, they hold (dhar-) the earth and sun and stars apart, they support (dhar-) the sky away and distinct from earth, and they stabilise (dhar-) the quaking mountains and plains. The gods, mainly Indra
, then deliver and hold order from disorder, harmony from chaos, stability from instability - actions recited in the Veda with the root of word dharma. In hymns composed after the mythological verses, the word dharma takes expanded meaning as a cosmic principle and appears in verses independent of gods. It evolves into a concept, claims Paul Horsch, that has a dynamic functional sense in Atharvaveda for example, where it becomes the cosmic law that links cause and effect through a subject. Dharma, in these ancient texts, also takes a ritual meaning. The ritual is connected to the cosmic, and ‘‘dharmani’’ is equated to ceremonial devotion to the principles that gods used to create order from disorder, the world from chaos. Past the ritual and cosmic sense of dharma that link the current world to mythical universe, the concept extends to ethical-social sense that links human beings to each other and to other life forms. It is here that dharma as a concept of law emerges in Hinduism.

and related words are found in the oldest Vedic literature of Hinduism, in later Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, and the Epics; the word dharma also plays a central role in the literature of other Indian religions founded later, such as Buddhism
and Jainism. According to Brereton, _Dharman_ occurs 63 times in Rig-veda ; in addition, words related to Dharman also appear in Rig-veda, for example once as dharmakrt, 6 times as _satyadharman_, and once as _dharmavant_, 4 times as _dharman_ and twice as _dhariman_. There is no Iranian equivalent in old Persian for Dharma, suggesting the word dharman had origins in Indo-Aryan culture outside of Persia, or it is a concept that is indigenous to India. However, ideas in parts overlapping to _Dharma_ are found in other ancient cultures: such as Chinese Tao
, Egyptian Maat , Sumerian Me .


_ Above rock inscription is from Indian Emperor Asoka , from 258 BC, and found in Afghanistan
. The inscription renders the word Dharma_ in Sanskrit as Eusebeia in Greek, suggesting _Dharma_ in ancient India meant spiritual maturity, devotion, piety, duty towards and reverence for human community.

In mid 20th century, an inscription of the Indian Emperor Asoka from the year 258 BC was discovered in Afghanistan. This rock inscription contained Sanskrit, Aramaic and Greek text. According to Paul Hacker, on the rock appears a Greek rendering for the Sanskrit word dharma: the word eusebeia . Scholars of Hellenistic Greece explain eusebeia as a complex concept. Eusebia means not only to venerate gods, but also spiritual maturity, a reverential attitude toward life, and includes the right conduct toward one’s parents, siblings and children, the right conduct between husband and wife, and the conduct between biologically unrelated people. This rock inscription, concludes Paul Hacker, suggests dharma in India, about 2300 years ago, was a central concept and meant not only religious ideas, but ideas of right, of good, of one’s duty toward the human community.


The evolving literature of Hinduism linked _Dharma_ to two other important concepts: _Ṛta_ and _Māyā_. Ṛta in Vedas
is the truth and cosmic principle which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. Māyā in Rig-veda and later literature means illusion, fraud, deception, magic that misleads and creates disorder, thus is contrary to reality, laws and rules that establish order, predictability and harmony. Paul Horsch suggests Ṛta and Dharma
are parallel concepts, the former being a cosmic principle, the latter being of moral social sphere; while Māyā and Dharma
are also analogous concepts, the former being that which corrupts law and moral life, the later being that which strengthens law and moral life.

Day proposes Dharma
is a manifestation of Ṛta, but suggests Ṛta may have been subsumed into a more complex concept of Dharma, as the idea developed in ancient India over time in a nonlinear manner. The following verse from the Rigveda
is an example where _rta_ and dharma are linked:

O Indra, lead us on the path of Rta, on the right path over all evils — RV 10 .133.6


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in Hinduism, is an organising principle that applies to human beings in solitude, in their interaction with human beings and nature, as well as between inanimate objects, to all of cosmos and its parts. It refers to the order and customs which make life and universe possible, and includes behaviours, rituals, rules that govern society, and ethics. Hindu
dharma includes the religious duties, moral rights and duties of each individual, as well as behaviours that enable social order, right conduct, and those that are virtuous. Dharma, according to Van Buitenen, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is neither the act nor the result, but the natural laws that guide the act and create the result to prevent chaos in the world. It is innate characteristic, that makes the being what it is. It is, claims Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one’s nature and true calling, thus playing one’s role in cosmic concert. In Hinduism, it is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of cow to give milk, of sun to radiate sunshine, of river to flow. In terms of humanity, dharma is the need for, the effect of and essence of service and interconnectedness of all life.


The history section of this article discusses the development of dharma concept in Vedas. This development continued in the Upanishads and later ancient scripts of Hinduism. In Upanishads, the concept of dharma continues as universal principle of law, order, harmony, and truth. It acts as the regulatory moral principle of the Universe. It is explained as law of righteousness and equated to _satya _ (Sanskrit: सत्यं, truth), in hymn 1.4.14 of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, as follows:

धर्मः तस्माद्धर्मात् परं नास्त्य् अथो अबलीयान् बलीयाँसमाशँसते धर्मेण यथा राज्ञैवम् । यो वै स धर्मः सत्यं वै तत् तस्मात्सत्यं वदन्तमाहुर् धर्मं वदतीति धर्मं वा वदन्तँ सत्यं वदतीत्य् एतद्ध्येवैतदुभयं भवति ।। Nothing is higher than Dharma. The weak overcomes the stronger by Dharma, as over a king. Truly that Dharma
is the Truth (_Satya_); Therefore, when a man speaks the Truth, they say, "He speaks the Dharma"; and if he speaks Dharma, they say, "He speaks the Truth!" For both are one. — Brihadaranyaka Upanishad , 1.4.xiv


The Hindu
religion and philosophy, claims Daniel Ingall , places major emphasis on individual practical morality. In the Sanskrit epics, this concern is omnipresent.

In the Second Book of Ramayana
, for example, a peasant asks the King to do what dharma morally requires of him, the King agrees and does so even though his compliance with the law of dharma costs him dearly. Similarly, dharma is at the centre of all major events in the life of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman in Ramayana, claims Daniel Ingall. Each episode of Ramayana
presents life situations and ethical questions in symbolic terms. The issue is debated by the characters, finally the right prevails over wrong, the good over evil. For this reason, in Hindu
Epics, the good, morally upright, law-abiding king is referred to ‘‘dharmaraja’’.

In Mahabharata , the other major Indian epic, similarly, dharma is central, and it is presented with symbolism and metaphors. Near the end of the epic, the god Yama, referred to as Dharma
in the text, is portrayed as taking the form of a dog to test the compassion of Yudishthira, who is told he may not enter paradise with such an animal, but refuses to abandon his companion, for which decision he is then praised by Dharma. The value and appeal of the Mahabharata is not as much in its complex and rushed presentation of metaphysics in the 12th book, claims Ingall, because Indian metaphysics is more eloquently presented in other Sanskrit scriptures; the appeal of Mahabharata, like Ramayana, is in its presentation of a series of moral problems and life situations, to which there are usually three answers given, according to Ingall: one answer is of Bhima
, which is the answer of brute force, an individual angle representing materialism, egoism, and self; the second answer is of Yudhishthira , which is always an appeal to piety and gods, of social virtue and of tradition; the third answer is of introspective Arjuna
, which falls between the two extremes, and who, claims Ingall, symbolically reveals the finest moral qualities of man. The Epics of Hinduism are a symbolic treatise about life, virtues, customs, morals, ethics, law, and other aspects of Dharma. There is extensive discussion of Dharma at the individual level in the Epics of Hinduism, observes Ingall ; for example, on free will versus destiny, when and why human beings believe in either, ultimately concluding that the strong and prosperous naturally uphold free will, while those facing grief or frustration naturally lean towards destiny. The Epics of Hinduism illustrate various aspects of Dharma, they are a means of communicating Dharma
with metaphors.


According to Klaus Klostermaier , 4th century Hindu
scholar Vātsyāyana explained dharma by contrasting it with adharma. Vātsyāyana suggested that Dharma
is not merely in one’s actions, but also in words one speaks or writes, and in thought. According to Vātsyāyana:

* Adharma of body: hinsa (violence), steya (steal, theft), pratisiddha maithuna (sexual indulgence with someone other than one’s partner) * Dharma
of body: dana (charity), paritrana (succor of the distressed) and paricarana (rendering service to others) * Adharma from words one speaks or writes: mithya (falsehood), parusa (caustic talk), sucana (calumny) and asambaddha (absurd talk) * Dharma
from words one speaks or writes: satya (truth and facts), hitavacana (talking with good intention), priyavacana (gentle, kind talk), svadhyaya (self study) * Adharma of mind: paradroha (ill will to anyone), paradravyabhipsa (covetousness), nastikya (denial of the existence of morals and religiosity) * Dharma
of mind: daya (compassion), asprha (disinterestedness), and sraddha (faith in others)


In the Yoga
system the dharma is real ; in the Vedanta it is unreal.

is part of yoga , suggests Patanjali; the elements of Hindu Dharma
are the attributes, qualities and aspects of yoga. Patanjali explained dharma in two categories: yama (restraints) and niyama (observances).

The five yama, according to Patanjali, are: abstain from injury to all living creatures (ahimsa ), abstain from falsehood (satya), abstain from unauthorised appropriation of things-of-value from another (acastrapurvaka), abstain from coveting or sexually cheating on your partner, and abstain from expecting or accepting gifts from others. The five yama apply in action, speech and mind. In explaining yama, Patanjali
clarifies that certain professions and situations may require qualification in conduct. For example, a fisherman must injure a fish, but he must attempt to do this with least trauma to fish and the fisherman must try to injure no other creature as he fishes.

The five niyama (observances) are cleanliness by eating pure food and removing impure thoughts (such as arrogance or jealousy or pride), contentment in one’s means, meditation and silent reflection regardless of circumstances one faces, study and pursuit of historic knowledge, and devotion of all actions to the Supreme Teacher to achieve perfection of concentration.


is an empirical and experiential inquiry for every man and woman, according to some texts of Hinduism. For example, Apastamba Dharmasutra states:

_Dharma_ and _Adharma_ do not go around saying, ‘‘That is us.’’ Neither do gods, nor gandharvas, nor ancestors declare what is _Dharma_ and what is _Adharma_. — _ Apastamba Dharmasutra_

In other texts, three sources and means to discover Dharma
in Hinduism are described. These, according to Paul Hacker, are: First, learning historical knowledge such as Vedas, Upanishads, the Epics and other Sanskrit literature with the help of one’s teacher. Second, observing the behavior and example of good people. The third source applies when neither one’s education nor example exemplary conduct is known. In this case, ‘‘atmatusti ’’ is the source of dharma in Hinduism, that is the good person reflects and follows what satisfies his heart, his own inner feeling, what he feels driven to.


Main articles: Āśrama and Puruṣārtha

Some texts of Hinduism outline _Dharma_ for society and at the individual level. Of these, the most cited one is _ Manusmriti
_, which describes the four _Varnas_, their rights and duties. Most texts of Hinduism, however, discuss _Dharma_ with no mention of _Varna_ (caste ). Other Dharma
texts and Smritis differ from Manusmriti
on the nature and structure of Varnas. Yet, other texts question the very existence of varna. Bhrigu , in the Epics, for example, presents the theory that dharma does not require any varnas. In practice, medieval India is widely believed to be a socially stratified society, with each social strata inheriting a profession and being endogamous. Varna was not absolute in Hindu
Dharma; individuals had the right to renounce and leave their Varna, as well as their asramas of life, in search of moksa. While neither Manusmriti
nor succeeding Smritis of Hinduism ever use the word varnadharma (that is, the dharma of varnas), or varnasramadharma (that is, the dharma of varnas and asramas), the scholarly commentary on Manusmriti
use these words, and thus associate dharma with varna system of India. In 6th century India, even Buddhist kings called themselves ‘protectors of varnasramadharma’ - that is, dharma of varna and asramas of life.

At the individual level, some texts of Hinduism outline four āśramas , or stages of life as individual’s dharma. These are: (1) brahmacārya , the life of preparation as a student, (2) gṛhastha , the life of the householder with family and other social roles, (3) vānprastha or aranyaka, the life of the forest-dweller, transitioning from worldly occupations to reflection and renunciation, and (4) sannyāsa , the life of giving away all property, becoming a recluse and devotion to moksa, spiritual matters.

The four stages of life complete the four human strivings in life, according to Hinduism. Dharma
enables the individual to satisfy the striving for stability and order, a life that is lawful and harmonious, the striving to do the right thing, be good, be virtuous, earn religious merit, be helpful to others, interact successfully with society. The other three strivings are Artha
- the striving for means of life such as food, shelter, power, security, material wealth, etc.; Kama
- the striving for sex, desire, pleasure, love, emotional fulfillment, etc.; and Moksa
- the striving for spiritual meaning, liberation from life-rebirth cycle, self-realisation in this life, etc. The four stages are neither independent nor exclusionary in Hindu Dharma.


while being necessary for individual and society, is dependent on poverty and prosperity in a society, according to Hindu
Dharma scriptures. For example, according to Adam Bowles, Shatapatha Brahmana links social prosperity and _Dharma_ through water. Waters come from rains, it claims; when rains are abundant there is prosperity on the earth, and this prosperity enables people to follow Dharma
- moral and lawful life. In times of distress, of drought, of poverty, everything suffers including relations between human beings and the human ability to live according to Dharma.

In Rajadharmaparvan 91.34-8, the relationship between poverty and dharma reaches a full circle. A land with less moral and lawful life suffers distress, and as distress rises it causes more immoral and unlawful life, which further increases distress. Those in power must follow the raja dharma (that is, dharma of rulers), because this enables the society and the individual to follow dharma and achieve prosperity.


Main article: Hindu

The notion of _Dharma_ as duty or propriety is found in India's ancient legal and religious texts. In Hindu
philosophy, justice, social harmony, and happiness requires that people live per dharma. The Dharmashastra
is a record of these guidelines and rules. The available evidence suggest India once had a large collection of dharma related literature (sutras, shastras); four of the sutras survive and these are now referred to as Dharmasutras. Along with laws of Manu in Dharmasutras, exist parallel and different compendium of laws, such as the laws of Narada and other ancient scholars. These different and conflicting law books are neither exclusive, nor do they supersede other sources of Dharma
in Hinduism. These Dharmasutras include instructions on education of the young, their rites of passage, customs, religious rites and rituals, marital rights and obligations, death and ancestral rites, laws and administration of justice, crimes, punishments, rules and types of evidence, duties of a king, as well as morality.


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In Buddhism
_dharma_ means cosmic law and order, but is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha. In Buddhist philosophy , _dhamma/dharma _ is also the term for "phenomena ": In East Asia, the translation for dharma is 法, pronounced _fǎ_ in Mandarin, _choe ཆོས་_ in Tibetan, _beop_ in Korean, _hō_ in Japanese, and _pháp_ in Vietnamese. However, the term dharma can also be transliterated from its original form.


For practicing Buddhists, references to "dharma" (_dhamma_ in Pali) particularly as "the Dharma", generally means the teachings of the Buddha, commonly known throughout the East as Buddha-Dharma. It includes especially the discourses on the fundamental principles (such as the Four Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
and the Noble Eightfold Path ), as opposed to the parables and to the poems.

The status of Dharma
is regarded variably by different Buddhist traditions. Some regard it as an ultimate truth, or as the fount of all things which lies beyond the "three realms " (Sanskrit: _tridhatu_) and the "wheel of becoming" (Sanskrit: _bhavacakra _), somewhat like the pagan Greek and Christian logos : this is known as _ Dharmakaya
_ (Sanskrit). Others, who regard the Buddha as simply an enlightened human being, see the Dharma
as the essence of the "84,000 different aspects of the teaching" (Tibetan: _chos-sgo brgyad-khri bzhi strong_) that the Buddha gave to various types of people, based upon their individual propensities and capabilities.

refers not only to the sayings of the Buddha, but also to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism
have developed to help explain and to expand upon the Buddha's teachings. For others still, they see the Dharma
as referring to the "truth," or the ultimate reality of "the way that things really are" (Tib. Cho).

The Dharma
is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism
in which practitioners of Buddhism
seek refuge, or that upon which one relies for his or her lasting happiness. The Three Jewels of Buddhism
are the Buddha , meaning the mind's perfection of enlightenment, the Dharma
, meaning the teachings and the methods of the Buddha, and the Sangha , meaning the monastic community who provide guidance and support to followers of the Buddha.


is employed in Ch\'an in a specific context in relation to transmission of authentic doctrine, understanding and bodhi; recognised in Dharma transmission .


Main article: Dharma (Jainism) Jainism

The word Dharma
in Jainism
is found in all its key texts. It has a contextual meaning and refers to a number of ideas. In the broadest sense, it means the teachings of the Jinas, or teachings of any competing spiritual school, a supreme path, socio-religious duty, and that which is the highest _mangala_ (holy).

The term _dharma_ also has a specific ontological and soteriological meaning in Jainism, as a part of its theory of six dravya (substance or a reality). In the Jain tradition, existence consists of _jiva_ (soul, atman) and _ajiva_ (non-soul), the latter consisting of five categories: inert non-sentient atomic matter (pudgala), space (akasha), time (kala), principle of motion (dharma), and principle of rest (adharma). The use of the term _dharma_ to mean motion and to refer to an ontological sub-category is peculiar to Jainism, and not found in the metaphysics of Buddhism
and various schools of Hinduism.

The major Jain text
Jain text
, _Tattvartha Sutra_ mentions _Das-dharma_ with the meaning of "ten righteous virtues". These are forbearance, modesty, straightforwardness, purity, truthfulness, self-restraint, austerity, renunciation, non-attachment, and celibacy. Acārya Amṛtacandra, author of the Jain text, _Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya_ writes:

A right believer should constantly meditate on virtues of dharma, like supreme modesty, in order to protect the soul from all contrary dispositions. He should also cover up the shortcomings of others. — _Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya_ (27)


Sikhism Main article: Sikhism

For Sikhs , the word _Dharm_ means the path of righteousness and proper religious practice. Sikh
is a distinct religion revealed through the teachings of ten Gurus who are accepted by the followers as if they were spiritually the same. In Sikhism, God is described as both _Nirgun _ (transcendent) and _Sargun _ (immanent). Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib
in hymn 1353 connotes dharma as duty. The 3HO movement in Western culture, which has incorporated certain Sikh beliefs, defines Sikh
broadly as all that constitutes religion, moral duty and way of life.


The wheel in the centre of India’s flag symbolises Dharma.

The importance of _dharma_ to Indian sentiments is illustrated by India’s decision in 1947 to include the Ashoka Chakra , a depiction of the _dharmachakra _ ( the "wheel of dharma"), as the central motif on its flag.


* Dhammapada * Dharmachakra * Karma
* Yuga Dharma


* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions : "In Hinduism, dharma is a fundamental concept, referring to the order and custom which make life and a universe possible, and thus to the behaviours appropriate to the maintenance of that order." * ^ David Kalupahana: "The old Indian term _dharma_ was retained by the Buddha to refer to phenomena or things. However, he was always careful to define this _dharma_ as "dependently arisen phenomena" (_paticca-samuppanna-dhamma_) ... In order to distinguish this notion of _dhamma_ from the Indian conception where the term _dharma_ meant reality (_atman_), in an ontological sense, the Buddha utilised the conception of result or consequence or fruit (_attha_, Sk. _artha_) to bring out the pragmatic meaning of _dhamma_." * ^ Monier Williams, _A Sanskrit Dictionary_ (1899): "to hold , bear (also bring forth) , carry , maintain , preserve, keep , possess , have , use , employ , practise , undergo"



* ^ Gavin Flood (1994), Hinduism, in Jean Holm, John Bowker (Editors) - Rites of Passages, ISBN 1-85567-102-6 , Chapter 3; Quote - "Rites of passage are dharma in action."; "Rites of passage, a category of rituals,..."

* ^ see:

* David Frawley
David Frawley
(2009), Yoga
and Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization, ISBN 978-0-9149-5581-8 ; Quote: " Yoga
is a dharmic approach to the spiritual life..."; * Mark Harvey (1986), The Secular as Sacred?, Modern Asian Studies, 20(2), pp 321-331

* ^ see below:

* J. A. B. van Buitenen (1957), Dharma
and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, 7(1/2), pp 33-40; * James Fitzgerald (2004), Dharma
and its Translation in the Mahābhārata, Journal of Indian philosophy, 32(5), pp 671-685; Quote - "virtues enter the general topic of dharma as 'common, or general, dharma,'..."

* ^ Bernard S. Jackson (1975), From dharma to law, The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Summer, 1975), pp. 490-512 * ^ Harold Coward (2004), Hindu
bioethics for the twenty-first century, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(22), pp 2759-2760; Quote - " Hindu
stages of life approach (ashrama dharma)..."

* ^ see:

* Austin Creel (1975), The Reexamination of Dharma
in Hindu
Ethics, Philosophy East and West, 25(2), pp 161-173; Quote - " Dharma
pointed to duty, and specified duties.."; * Gisela Trommsdorff (2012), Development of “agentic” regulation in cultural context: the role of self and world views, Child Development Perspectives, 6(1), pp 19-26.; Quote - "Neglect of one's duties (dharma — sacred duties toward oneself, the family, the community, and humanity) is seen as an indicator of immaturity."

* ^ _A_ _B_ see:

* Dharma, The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed. (2013), Columbia University Press, Gale, ISBN 978-0787650155 ; * Steven Rosen (2006), Essential Hinduism, Praeger, ISBN 0-275-99006-0 , Chapter 3

* ^ _A_ _B_ "Dharma". _ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA_. Retrieved 2016-08-18.

* ^ _A_ _B_ see:

* Ludo Rocher (2003), The Dharmasastra, Chapter 4, in Gavin Flood (Editor), The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, ISBN 978-0631215356 * Alban G. Widgery, The Principles of Hindu
Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jan., 1930), pp. 232-245

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ _I_ _J_ The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, _Dharma_ * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ David Kalupahana . _The Philosophy of the Middle Way._ SUNY Press, 1986, pages 15–16 * ^ _A_ _B_ Robin Rinehart (2014), in Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech (Editors), The Oxford Handbook of Sikh
Studies, ISBN 978-0199699308 , Oxford University Press, pp. 138-139

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ see:

* English translated version by Jarrod Whitaker (2004): Paul Horsch - From Creation Myth to World Law: the Early History of Dharma, Journal of Indian Philosophy, December 2004, Volume 32, Issue 5-6, pp 423-448; Original peer reviewed publication in German: Paul Horsch, ‘Vom Schoepfungsmythos zum Weltgesetz’, in Asiatische Studien: Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Asiankunde, Volume 21 (Francke: 1967), pp 31–61; * English translated version by Donald R. Davis (2006): Paul Hacker - Dharma
in Hinduism, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 479–496; Original peer reviewed publication in German: Paul Hacker, “ Dharma
im Hinduismus” in Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft und Religionswissenschaft 49 (1965): pp 93–106

* ^ Monier Willams * ^ Day 1982 , p. 42-45. * ^ Brereton, Joel P. (December 2004). "Dhárman In The Rgveda". _Journal of Indian Philosophy_. 32 (5-6): 449–489. ISSN 0022-1791 . doi :10.1007/s10781-004-8631-8 . * ^ Rix, Helmut , ed. (2001). _Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben _ (in German) (2nd ed.). Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag. p. 145. * ^ Karl Brugmann, Elements of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-Germanic languages, Volume III, B. Westermann & Co., New York, 1892, p. 100 * ^ Dhand, Arti (17 December 2002). "The Dharma
of Ethics, the Ethics of Dharma: Quizzing the Ideals of Hinduism". _Journal of Religious Ethics_. 30 (3): 351. ISSN 1467-9795 . doi :10.1111/1467-9795.00113 . * ^ J. A. B. Van Buitenen, Dharma
and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, Volume 7, Number 1/2 (Apr. - Jul., 1957), page 36 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Paul Horsch - From Creation Myth to World Law: the Early History of Dharma, Journal of Indian Philosophy, December 2004, Volume 32, Issue 5-6, pp 423-448 * ^ Hermann Grassmann, Worterbuch zum Rig-veda (German Edition), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120816367 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Steven Rosen (2006), Essential Hinduism, Praeger, ISBN 0-275-99006-0 , page 34-45

* ^ see:

* Dharma
Monier Monier-Williams, Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (2008 revision), pp 543-544; * Carl Cappeller (1999), Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Etymological and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-8120603691 , pp 510-512

* ^ see:

* "...the order and custom which make life and a universe possible, and thus to the behaviours appropriate to the maintenance of that order." citation in The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions * Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 2007

* ^ see:

* Albrecht Wezler, Dharma
in the Veda and the Dharmaśāstras, Journal of Indian Philosophy, December 2004, Volume 32, Issue 5-6, pp 629-654 * Johannes Heesterman (1978). ‘Veda and Dharma’, in W.D.O’ Flaherty (Ed.), The Concept of Duty in South Asia, New Delhi: Vikas, ISBN 978-0728600324 , pp 80-95 * K.L. Seshagiri Rao (1997), Practitioners of Hindu
Law: Ancient and Modern, Fordham Law Review, Volume 66, pp 1185-1199

* ^ see

* अधर्मा adharma, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Germany (2011) * adharma Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary, University of Koeln, Germany (2009)

* ^ see:

* Gavin Flood (1998), Making moral decisions, in Paul Bowen (Editor), Themes and issues in Hinduism, ISBN 978-0304338511 , Chapter 2, pp 30-54 and pp 151-152; * Coward, H. (2004), Hindu
bioethics for the twenty-first century, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(22), pp 2759-2760; * J. A. B. Van Buitenen, Dharma
and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, Volume 7, Number 1/2 (Apr. - Jul., 1957), page 37

* ^ RgVeda 6.70.1, 8.41.10, 10.44.8, for secondary source see Karl Friedrich Geldner , Der Rigveda
in Auswahl (2 vols.), Stuttgart; and Harvard Oriental Series , 33-36, Bd.1-3: 1951 * ^ Paul Horsch - From Creation Myth to World Law: the Early History of Dharma, Journal of Indian Philosophy, December 2004, Volume 32, Issue 5-6, pp 430-431 * ^ P. Thieme, Gedichte aus dem Rig-Veda, Reclam Universal-Bibliothek Nr. 8930, pp. 52 * ^ Paul Horsch - From Creation Myth to World Law: the Early History of Dharma, Journal of Indian Philosophy, December 2004, Volume 32, Issue 5-6, pp 430-432 * ^ _A_ _B_ Joel Brereton (2004), Dharman in the RgVeda, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 32, pp 449-489 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Paul Hacker (1965), Dharma
in Hinduism, _ Journal of Indian Philosophy _, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 479–496 (English translated version by Donald R. Davis (2006)) * ^ Etienne Lamotte , Bibliotheque du Museon 43, Louvain, 1958, pp. 249 * ^ Barbara Holdrege (2004), "Dharma" in: Mittal Book 12: The Book of Peace, Part 1 By Johannes Adrianus Bernardus Buitenen, James L. Fitzgerald p.124 * ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 17: Mahaprasthanika Parva: Section 3".

* ^ There is considerable amount of literature on dharma-related discussion in Hindu
Epics: of Egoism versus Altruism, Individualism versus Social Virtues and Tradition; for examples, see:

* Johann Jakob Meyer (1989), Sexual life in ancient India, ISBN 8120806387 , Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 92-93; Quote - “In Indian literature, especially in Mahabharata over and over again is heard the energetic cry - Each is alone. None belongs to anyone else, we are all but strangers to strangers; (...), none knows the other, the self belongs only to self. Man is born alone, alone he lives, alone he dies, alone he tastes the fruit of his deeds and his ways, it is only his work that bears him company. (...) Our body and spiritual organism is ever changing; what belongs, then, to us? (...) Thus, too, there is really no teacher or leader for anyone, each is his own Guru, and must go along the road to happiness alone. Only the self is the friend of man, only the self is the foe of man; from others nothing comes to him. Therefore what must be done is to honor, to assert one’s self...”; Quote - “(in parts of the epic), the most thoroughgoing egoism and individualism is stressed...” * Raymond F. Piper (1954), In Support of Altruism in Hinduism, Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Jul., 1954), pp. 178-183 * J Ganeri (2010), A Return to the Self: Indians and Greeks on Life as Art and Philosophical Therapy, Royal Institute of Philosophy supplement, 85(66), pp. 119-135

* ^ Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Dharma
and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 7, No. 1/2 (Apr. - Jul., 1957), pp. 44-45; Quote - “(...)In the Epic, free will has the upper hand. Only when a man’s effort is frustrated or when he is overcome with grief does he become a predestinarian (believer in destiny).”; quote - “This association of success with the doctrine of free will or human effort (purusakara) was felt so clearly that among the ways of bringing about a king’s downfall is given the following simple advice: “Belittle free will to him, and emphasise destiny.” ( Mahabharata 12.106.20) * ^ Huston Smith , The World Religions, ISBN 978-0061660184 , HarperOne (2009); For summary notes: Background to Hindu
Literature * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Klaus Klostermaier, A survey of Hinduism,, SUNY Press, ISBN 0-88706-807-3 , Chapter 3: Hindu
dharma * ^ Jha, Nyayasutras with Vatsyayana Bhasya, 2 vols, Oriental Books (1939) * ^ _A_ _B_ The yoga-system of Patanjali
The ancient Hindu
doctrine of concentration of mind, embracing the mnemonic rules, called Yoga-sutras, James Haughton Woods (1914), Harvard University Press * ^ The yoga-system of Patanjali
Yoga-sutras, James Haughton Woods (1914), Harvard University Press, pp 178-180 * ^ The yoga-system of Patanjali
Yoga-sutras, James Haughton Woods (1914), Harvard University Press, pp 180-181 * ^ The yoga-system of Patanjali
Yoga-sutras, James Haughton Woods (1914), Harvard University Press, pp 181-191 * ^ Kumarila, Tantravarttika, Anandasramasamskrtagranthavalih, Vol. 97, p.204-205; For an English Translation, see Jha (1924), Bibliotheca Indica, Vol. 161, Vol. 1 * ^ Patrick Olivelle , Dharmasūtras: The Law Codes of Ancient India, (Oxford World Classics, 1999) * ^ _A_ _B_ Paul Hacker (1965), Dharma
in Hinduism, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 487–489 (English translated version by Donald R. Davis (2006)) * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Alf Hiltebeitel (2011), Dharma: Its Early History in Law, Religion, and Narrative, ISBN 978-0195394238 , Oxford University Press, pp 215-227 * ^ Thapar, R. (1995), The first millennium BC in northern India, Recent perspectives of early Indian history, 80-141 * ^ Thomas R. Trautmann (1964), On the Translation of the Term Varna, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Jul., 1964), pp. 196-201

* ^ see:

* J. A. B. Van Buitenen (1957), Dharma
and Moksa, Philosophy East and West, Volume 7, Number 1/2 (Apr. - Jul., 1957), pp 38-39 * Koller, J. M. (1972), Dharma: an expression of universal order. Philosophy East and West, 22(2), pp 131-144

* ^ Kane, P.V. (1962), History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India), Volume 1, pp 2-10 * ^ Olivelle, P. (1993), The Asrama System: The history and hermeneutics of a religious institution, New York: Oxford University Press * ^ Alban G. Widgery, The Principles of Hindu
Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jan., 1930), pp. 232-245

* ^ _A_ _B_ see:

* Koller, J. M. (1972), Dharma: an expression of universal order. Philosophy East and West, 22(2), pp 131-144; * Karl H. Potter (1958), Dharma
and Mokṣa from a Conversational Point of View, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 8, No. 1/2 (Apr. - Jul., 1958), pp. 49-63; * William F. Goodwin, Ethics and Value in Indian Philosophy, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Jan., 1955), pp. 321-344

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Adam Bowles (2007), Dharma, Disorder, and the Political in Ancient India, Brill's Indological Library (Book 28), ISBN 978-9004158153 , Chapter 3 * ^ Derrett, J. D. M. (1959), Bhu-bharana, bhu-palana, bhu-bhojana: an Indian conundrum, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 22, pp 108-123 * ^ Jan Gonda , Ancient Indian Kingship from the Religious Point of View, Numen, Vol. 3, Issue 1 (Jan., 1956), pp. 36-71 * ^ Gächter, Othmar (1998). "Anthropos". _Anthropos institute_. * ^ _A_ _B_ Patrick Olivelle (1999), The Dharmasutras: The law codes of ancient India, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-283882-2 * ^ Donald Davis, Jr., A Realist View of Hindu
Law, Ratio Juris. Vol. 19 No. 3 September 2006, pp 287–313 * ^ Lariviere, Richard W. (2003), The Naradasmrti, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass * ^ John E. Cort (2001). _Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India_. Oxford University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-19-803037-9 . * ^ Peter B. Clarke; Peter Beyer (2009). _The World\'s Religions: Continuities and Transformations_. Taylor & Francis. p. 325. ISBN 978-1-135-21100-4 . * ^ Torkel Brekke (2002). _Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century_. Oxford University Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-19-925236-7 . * ^ John E. Cort (2001). _Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India_. Oxford University Press. pp. 192–194. ISBN 978-0-19-803037-9 . * ^ John E. Cort (1998). _Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History_. State University of New York Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-7914-3786-5 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Paul Dundas (2003). _The Jains_ (2 ed.). Routledge. pp. 93–95. ISBN 978-0415266055 . * ^ Jain 2011 , p. 128. * ^ Jain 2012 , p. 22. * ^ W. Owen Cole (2014), in Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech (Editors), The Oxford Handbook of Sikh
Studies, ISBN 978-0199699308 , Oxford University Press, pp. 254 * ^ Verne Dusenbery (2014), in Pashaura Singh and Louis E. Fenech (Editors), The Oxford Handbook of Sikh
Studies, ISBN 978-0199699308 , Oxford University Press, pp. 560-568 * ^ Narula, S. (2006), International Journal of Constitutional Law, 4(4), pp 741-751


* _Sanatana Dharma: an advanced text book of Hindu
religion and Ethics_. Central Hindu
College, Benaras. 1904. * Day, Terence P. (1982), _The Conception of Punishment in Early Indian Literature_, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, ISBN 0-919812-15-5 * Murthy, K. Krishna. " Dharma
– Its Etymology." _The Tibet Journal_, Vol. XXI, No. 1, Spring 1966, pp. 84–87. * Olivelle, Patrick (2009). _Dharma: Studies in Its Semantic, Cultural and Religious History_. Delhi: MLBD. ISBN 978-8120833388 . * Jain, Vijay K. (2012), _Acharya Amritchandra\'s Purushartha Siddhyupaya_, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 81-903639-4-8 , Non-Copyright * Jain, Vijay K. (2011), _Acharya Umasvami\'s Tattvārthsūtra_, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 978-81-903639-2-1 , Non-Copyright


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