Dharma, aka: Dharmā, Dhārma; 34 Definition(s)

Introduction

Dharma means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Dharmā (धर्मा):—Fifth of the eight Mātṛs born from the body of Ātmī, according to the Kubjikāmata-tantra. These eight sub-manifestations (mātṛ), including Dharmā, symbolize the different kinds of souls, as well as the impurities by which these souls are bound (except for Niṣkala or Śiva). They are presided over by the Bhairava Caṇḍa and his consort Brāhmī. Ātmī is the second of the Eight Mahāmātṛs, residing within the Mātṛcakra (third of the five cakras) and represents the ātman.

Source: Wisdom Library: Kubjikāmata-tantra

Dharma (धर्म, “virtue”) is accomplished by performing mantrasādhana (preparatory procedures) beginning with japamālā using a rosary bead made of lotus seed beads, according to the Kakṣapuṭatantra verse 1.43. Accordingly, “for the accomplishment of all kinds of kāma (love), one should recite a mantra using a rosary made of rudrākṣa beads. For the accomplishment of dharma (virtue), artha (wealth), kāma (love), and mokṣa (liberation), one should recite a mantra using a rosary made of lotus seed beads”.

Source: Shodhganga: Mantra-sādhana: Chapter One of the Kakṣapuṭatantra

Dharma (धर्म) is the name of a deity who received the Sahasrāgama from Bhīma who in turn, received it from Kāla  through the mahānsambandha relation, according to the pratisaṃhitā theory of Āgama origin and relationship (sambandha). The sahasra-āgama, being part of the ten Śivabhedāgamas, refers to one of the twenty-eight Siddhāntāgamas: a classification of the Śaiva division of Śaivāgamas. The Śaivāgamas represent the wisdom that has come down from lord Śiva, received by Pārvatī and accepted by Viṣṇu.

Dharma obtained the Sahasrāgama from Bhīma who in turn obtained it from Kāla who in turn obtained it from Sadāśiva through parasambandha. Dharma then, through divya-sambandha transmitted it to the Devas who, through divyādivya-sambandha, transmitted it to the Ṛṣis who finally, through adivya-sambandha, revealed the Sahasrāgama to human beings (Manuṣya). (also see Anantaśambhu’s commentary on the Siddhāntasārāvali of Trilocanaśivācārya)

Source: Shodhganga: Iconographical representations of Śiva
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Dharmashastra (religious law)

The author of the Smṛtivivaraṇa describes five kinds of Dharma or Duty:—

  1. Varṇa-dharma,’ ‘duties pertaining to caste;’
  2. Āśrama-dharma,’ ‘Duties pertaining to Life-stages,’
  3. Varṇāśrama-dharma,’ ‘duties pertaining to caste and life-stage’;
  4. Naimittika-Dharma,’ ‘Occasional Duties,’
  5. Guṇa-Dharma’ ‘Duties pertaining to qualification.’

Of these, that which proceeds entirely on the basis of caste, and takes no account of age, life-stage or any such circumstances, is called ‘duty pertaining to castes;’

Source: Google Books: Manusmṛti with the Manubhāṣya

Dharma (धर्म):—The term Dharma is derived from the root dhṛ which means to nourish, to uphold, to sustain, to protect and so forth with the affix man. Thus the word comes to imply that which sustains, and protects the creation in a disciplined manner. In the Manusaṃhitā, the word dharma is found in the second śloka of the first chapter for the first time. Here, the sages have addressed Manu as the god (bhagavān) and request him to explain the knowledge of dharma meant for all castes.

The law giver defines the term thus

“It is dharma, which is followed by pious men, well versed in Vedas and ass ented to in their hearts by the virtuous, who are ever exempt from hatred an d inordinate affection.”

In this relation, Kullūka explains dharma as best accomplishment acquiring from the Veda.

Source: Shodhganga: Facts of society in the Manusamhita
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Purana

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Dharma (धर्म).—A deva who is the abode of all luxuries in life. Birth. This deva broke the right nipple of Brahmā and came out in the form of a human being. Three sons were born to him: Śama, Kāma and Harṣa. Kāma married Rati, Śama, Prāpti and Harṣa, Nandā.* (See full article at Story of Dharma from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Dharma (धर्म).—With one foot in Kali (truth), the others are austerity, purity and compassion which have disappeared;1 dialogue with Earth in the guise of a bull;2 confusion of, due to different schools of metaphysics.3 The force of Dharma in administration;4 Sanātanadharma lost in Kali.5 Vyavastha done by sages in different periods of Manus.6 Thirty characteristics of.

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 3. 9; 16. 19; 17. 24-5.
  • 2) Ib. I. 16. 20-36; 17. 7-16.
  • 3) Ib. I. 17. 19-20.
  • 4) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 50. 53-7.
  • 5) Matsya-purāṇa 9. 28-31; 201. 6-8.
  • 6) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VII. 11. 8-12.

1b) The father of Nara, married Mūrtī.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa II. 7. 6; XI. 4. 6.

1c) A son of Brahmā, born of the right side of his chest; one of the first five created things for the propagation of people; the first devata who married the thirteen daughters of Dakṣa or the Dākṣāyaṇis (ten: Lakṣmī, Dhṛti, Tuṣṭi, Puṣṭi, Medhā, Kriyā, Buddhi, Lajjā, Vasu, Śānti, Siddhi and Kīrti;1 in the Vaivasvata epoch had for his wives Dākṣāyaṇī and Arundhatī;2 father of Kāma and Lakṣmī;3 presented Pṛthu with a garland of fame.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa III. 12. 25; IV. I. 48-50; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 9. 1, 49-50; IV. 1. 40; Matsya-purāṇa 3. 10; 4. 34 and 55; 5. 13; 146. 16; Va. 1. 69; 10. 26; 100. 43; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 7. 24, 28-31; 15. 77, 103. Vāyu-purāṇa 63. 41; 66. 2; 76. 3.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 203. 1-2.
  • 3) Ib. 171. 42.
  • 4) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 15. 15; VI. 6. 2.

1d) A constellation which goes round Dhruva keeping him to the right.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 9. 21; V. 23. 5; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 21. 176.

1e) Married Sūnṛtā and had sons like Satyasena and others.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa VIII. 1 25.

1f) The god of righteousness and appointed father of Yudhiṣṭhira;1 father of Dharmavratā, the future Śila at Gayā;2 did not comprehend Hari's māya.3

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 22. 27; Matsya-purāṇa 46. 9; 50. 49; 171. 26; Vāyu-purāṇa 96. 153; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 14. 35; 20. 40.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 107. 2. 111. 23.
  • 3) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 4. 57.

1g) The son of Gāndhāra and father of Dhṛta (Ghṛta: Viṣṇu-purāṇa).*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 23. 15; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 74. 10; Matsya-purāṇa 48. 8; Vāyu-purāṇa 19. 10; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 17. 4.

1h) A son of Haihaya, and father of Netra.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 23. 22.

1i) A son of Pṛthuśravas and father of Uśanas.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 23. 34.

1j) Caturmūrti in Benares.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 183. 41.

1k) A Devaṛṣi and the 14th Vedavyāsa; wife Lakṣmi and daughter Sūnṛtā; married ten daughters of Dakṣa; father of 12 Sādhyas, 8 Vasavas, 10 Viśvedevas, of Maruts, of Bhānus, of Muhūrtas and so on. Father of Yudhiṣṭhira; cursed by Māṇḍavya the sage.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 10. 26; 63. 41; 66. 2; 76. 3. Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 9. 1, 49-50.

1l) Manifold and subtle; to understand the truth is difficult; hence it is not possible to give a definite lead in the Vedic laws; hence sages do not attach weight to dāna and yajña but to sanātanadharma which leads to svarga; is knowledge of the Śrauta Smārta dharma and following of Varṇāśrama for attainment of heaven; Iṣṭaprāpaka dharma introduced by the Ācāryas.1 Consists of ten things: begging food, non-theft, purity, disinterestedness, activity, sympathy, non-injury, avoidance of anger, service of the guru, truthfulness;2 of four pādas;3 course of, in the four yugas.4

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 57. 112-8; 59. 21, 28.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 7. 178; Vāyu-purāṇa 8. 186.
  • 3) Ib. 23. 81-2.
  • 4) Ib. 58. 5.

1m) A son of Dīrghatapas.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 92. 7.

1n) One of the ten Sutapa gaṇas.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 100. 15.

1o) A son of Suvrata, and father of Śuśravas.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 23. 6.

1p) A Sutapa god.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 1. 14.

1q) A son of Raucya Manu.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 1. 104.

1r) A Vasu; wife Manoharā; father of a number of sons.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 15. 110, 113.

1s) A son of Haihaya, and father of Dharmanetra.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 11. 8.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Dharma (धर्म).—Purāṇic sources relate the story of Dharma becoming a four footed bull and the porter of Śiva. It is narrated by Lakkaṇṇadaṇḍeśa, author of the Śivatattvacintāmaṇi and minister of Devarāya II of the Karnāṭaka Empire. In the 3rd sandhi, he writes that Dharma is Nandin, and Śiva made him his mount. In the published edition of the Liṅgapurāṇa the story of Nandin is not there. The occurrence of this story in the Śivatattvacintāmaṇi, obviously, makes us to deduce that perhaps, there must have been another version of the Liṅgapurāṇa in Karnāṭaka not available to us to-day.

Source: Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (purāṇa)
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Vaisheshika (school of philosophy)

Dharma (धर्म, “merit”) is one of the additional guṇas (‘qualities’) added by Praśastapāda, on top of the seventeen guṇas in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras. These guṇas are considered as a category of padārtha (“metaphysical correlate”). These padārthas represent everything that exists which can be cognized and named. Together with their subdivisions, they attempt to explain the nature of the universe and the existence of living beings.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vaiśeṣika
Vaisheshika book cover
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Vaisheshika (वैशेषिक, vaiśeṣika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. Vaisheshika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similar to Buddhism in nature

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Mīmāṃsā (school of philosophy)

Dharma (धर्म).—Jaimini defines Dharma as: codaṇā-lakṣaṇaḥ arthaḥ dharmaḥ.—“Dharma is that which leads to the highest common good (śreyas) and is distinguished by Vedic injunctions”. Dharma is “right living” defined by the practice of universal ethics and personal morals. “Dharma” cannot be known through empirical means such as cognition. It can be known only either through intuition or through a impersonal source of knowledge. The problem with relying on reason or intuition is that individuals will come to differing conclusions about what the ultimate nature of the “Good” is. There are endless controversies on most if not all ethical issues by “experts” who take one side or the other. The best and most universal source of Dharma therefore, would be an “impersonal” source such as the Vedas.

Dharma is that act which is enjoined by the Veda through its injunctive passages and which is conducive to the happiness of all beings.

Source: Srimatham: Mīmāṃsa: The Study of Hindu Exegesis
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Mimamsa (मीमांसा, mīmāṃsā) refers to one of the six orthodox Hindu schools of philosophy, emphasizing the nature of dharma and the philosophy of language. The literature in this school is also known for its in-depth study of ritual actions and social duties.

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Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Dharma (धर्म).—A property which qualifies a thing or a letter or a word.

Source: Shodhganga: Vaiyākaraṇabhūṣaṇasāra: a critical study

Dharma (धर्म).—Defined as ऋषिसंप्रदाय (ṛṣisaṃpradāya), the traditional practices laid down by the sages for posterity; cf.केवलमृषिसंप्रदायो धर्म इति कृत्वा याज्ञिक्राः शास्त्रेण अनुविदधते (kevalamṛṣisaṃpradāyo dharma iti kṛtvā yājñikrāḥ śāstreṇa anuvidadhate) M. Bh. I. 1. Ahnika I ; cf also धर्मशास्त्रं (dharmaśāstraṃ) in एवं च कृत्वा धर्मशास्त्रं प्रवृत्तम् (evaṃ ca kṛtvā dharmaśāstraṃ pravṛttam) M. Bh. on P. I. 2.64, as also धर्मसूत्रकाराः (dharmasūtrakārāḥ) in नैवेश्वर आज्ञापयति नापि धर्मसूत्रकाराः पठन्ति अपवादैरुत्सर्गा बाध्यन्तामिति (naiveśvara ājñāpayati nāpi dharmasūtrakārāḥ paṭhanti apavādairutsargā bādhyantāmiti) M. Bh. on I. l.47; (2) religious merit, cf. धर्मोपदे-शनमिदं शास्त्रमस्मिन्ननवयवेन शास्त्रार्थः संप्रतीयते (dharmopade-śanamidaṃ śāstramasminnanavayavena śāstrārthaḥ saṃpratīyate), M. Bh. on P. VI. I. 84, cf also ज्ञाने घमै इति चेत्तथा (jñāne ghamai iti cettathā)Sधर्मः (dharmaḥ) M. Bh. I. 1. Ahnika l ; ' 3) property possessed by a thing or a letter or a word. e. g. वर्णधर्म (varṇadharma); cf Kas. on P. I. 2.29; cf also Kas. on P. II. 1, 55, II. 3.33, VIII. 1. 4. cf. also R. Pr. III. 8, 13 XIV. 1 etc.: (4) the characteristic of being in a substance; in the phrase अयं घटः (ayaṃ ghaṭaḥ) the dharma viz.घटत्व (ghaṭatva) is predicated of this (इदम् (idam)) or, in other words the designation pot (घटसंज्ञा (ghaṭasaṃjñā)) is the predication; the explanation in short, can be given as घटत्ववान् इदं-पदार्थः (ghaṭatvavān idaṃ-padārthaḥ) or घटाभिन्नः इदंपदार्थः (ghaṭābhinnaḥ idaṃpadārthaḥ)

Source: Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Dharma (धर्म).—The Hindu doctrine of sacred law or righteousness; the moral and religious duties prescribed for humans. Note: Dharma is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
Jyotisha book cover
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Jyotiṣa (ज्योतिष, jyotisha or jyotish) basically refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents one of the six additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas. Jyotiṣa concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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Itihasa (narrative history)

Dharma (धर्म) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.60.12) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Dharma) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

Dharma (धर्म) or Dharmamudrā is the name of a mudrā described in the Īśvarasaṃhitā 50-53.—Accordingly, “the two hands are to be kept apart and then the index fingers are to be joined face to face; leaving this formation for the two middle fingers; the ring fingers shall be left out, this shall be done to the two little fingers. This shall be done to the two thumbs while forming each. These four mudrās are for dharma and others and adharma and others. The lotus that exists above them (dharma and others) was described before with mantras”.

Mūdra (eg., Dharma-mudrā) is so called as it gives joy to the tattvas in the form of karman for those who offer spotless worship, drive out the defects which move about within and without and sealing up of what is done.

Source: archive.org: Isvara Samhita Vol 5

Dharma (धर्म) refers to one of the various Vibhava manifestations according to the Īśvarasaṃhitā 24.246-249.—Accordingly, “it is all pervading dharma which is of a general kind, is spotless, having no beginning and no destruction, which had to obtain without the favour of the enlightened. Listen to its gross form so as to get at it; it is like the hill of snow of pleasant countenance, having four hands, bearing kāma and artha under the pretext of śaṅkha and padma, which (kāma and artha) offer with knowledge to those who adopt the path of good. He (dharma) shall bethought of as having the hand offering boons, holding white rosary garland”.

These Vibhavas (eg., Dharma) represent the third of the five-fold manifestation of the Supreme Consciousness the Pāñcarātrins believe in. Note: Śaṅkha and Padma are the two treasures (nidhis) which dharma bears. These are intended to help those people who pursue the right course conduct in order that the pursuits (kāma and artha) would have been fruitfully taken up by them. Kāma means desires in life. Artha means wealth or economic condition. Money is required to pursue these. The two measures Śaṅkha and Padma are thus helpful for them in pursuing these goals .The Viṣvaksena-aṃhitā (XX 87-88) mentions conch, discus and yellow cloth while describing dharma.

Source: archive.org: Isvara Samhita Vol 1
Pancaratra book cover
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Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.

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Arthashastra (politics and welfare)

Dharma (धर्म).—In Indian tradition, the concept of ṛta (cosmic order) gave rise to the idea of dharma. The term dharma here does not mean mere religion; it stands for duty, obligation and righteousness. It is a whole way of life in which ethical values are considered supreme and everyone is expected to perform his or her duty according to his or her social position and station in life. In Buddhism, the word dhamma is used, which is the Pāli equivalent of the Sanskrit word dharma. The guidelines and rules regarding what is considered as appropriate behaviour for human beings are prescribed in the Dharma Śāstras. These are sociological texts that tell us about our duties and obligations as individuals as well as members of society.

The concept of right and wrong is the core of the Mahābhārata which emphasizes, among others, the values of non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, charity, forgiveness and self realization. It is only by performing one’s righteous duties or dharma that one can hope to attain the supreme path to the highest good. It is dharma alone that gives both prosperity (abhyudaya) and the supreme spiritual good (niśryas).

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Indian Ethics: Individual and Social
Arthashastra book cover
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Arthashastra (अर्थशास्त्र, arthaśāstra) literature concerns itself with the teachings (shastra) of economic prosperity (artha) statecraft, politics and military tactics. The term arthashastra refers to both the name of these scientific teachings, as well as the name of a Sanskrit work included in such literature. This book was written (3rd century BCE) by by Kautilya, who flourished in the 4th century BCE.

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Katha (narrative stories)

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Dharma (धर्म) is the name of an ancient king from Dakṣiṇāpatha (the Deccan), according to the twenty-fourth story of the Vetālapañcaviṃśati in the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 98. Accordingly, “... there was in the Deccan a king of a small province, who was named Dharma; he was the chief of virtuous men, but he had many relations who aspired to supplant him”.

The story of Dharma is mentioned in the Vetālapañcaviṃśati (twenty-five tales of a vetāla) which is embedded in the twelfth book of the Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’). The main book is a famous Sanskrit epic detailing the exploits of prince Naravāhanadatta in his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The Kathā-sarit-sāgara is is explained to be an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā which consisted of 100,000 verses and in turn forms part of an even larger work containing 700,000 verses.

Source: Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara
Katha book cover
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Katha (कथा, kathā) refers to narrative Sanskrit literature often inspired from epic legendry (itihasa) and poetry (mahākāvya). Some Kathas reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of important historical event and exploits of the Gods, Heroes and Sages.

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Nyaya (school of philosophy)

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Dharma (धर्म, “merit”) and Adharma (demerit) refers to two of the twenty-four guṇas (qualities) according to Praśastapāda and all the modern works on Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika.—Dharma (merit) and adharma (demerit) constitute adṛṣṭa (destiny). Radhakrishnan says “Dharma and adharma are qualities of the soul by virtue of which it enjoys happiness or suffers misery. Adṛṣṭa is the unseen power produced by souls and things, which brings about the cosmic order and enables selves to reap the harvest of their past experiences”.

Praśastapāda points out that dharma is a quality of puruṣa i.e., the self. It produces happiness and liberation. It is caused by the contact of the self with the antaḥkaraṇa (inner organ), conditioned by pure thoughts and decisions. It is not perceptible by the senses and is destroyed by the experience of final happiness. Demerit (adharma), on the other hand, produces undesirable results. It is produced by doing prohibited action, not performing prescribed duties, neglect and impurity of motives. Viśvanātha describes dharma as that which leads to heaven etc. In his view, dharma consists of actions like bath in the gangas and sacrifices. Similarly, adharma is the cause of hell etc. It is produced by such actions which are condemnable. Viśvanātha also maintains that these two are produced by subtle impressions (vāsana) and are destroyed by knowledge also.

Dharma and adharma are the special qualities of the self and are imperceptible by the senses. According to Annaṃbhaṭṭa, among the aforementioned eight special qualities of the self, buddhi, icchā and prayatna are both eternal and noneternal. In case of īśvara these qualities are eternal and in case of the jīva these are non-eternal.

Source: Shodhganga: A study of Nyāya-vaiśeṣika categories
context information

Nyaya (न्याय, nyaya) refers to a school of Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. The Nyaya philosophy is known for its theories on logic, methodology and epistemology, however, it is closely related with Vaisheshika in terms of metaphysics.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Dharma (धर्म, “eternal law”):—He is the father of Agni, one of the most important Vedic gods representing divine illumination. The wife of Dharma is Vasubhārya.

Source: Wisdom Library: Hinduism

Dharma (धर्म) refers to the “code of life” upon whose conduct Hinduism is based. Hinduism is a way of life and is based on the practice of dharma, the code of life. The ultimate objective of religion is the realization of truth by getting united with the Supreme Being, Paramātman. There are six recognized philosophical systems, which trace their origin more or less directly to the Upanishads. The systems are known as the Vedānta, founded by Vyāsa; the Mīmāmsa, founded by Kapila; the Yogā, founded by Patanjali; the Nyāya, founded by Gotama; and the Vaiśeshika founded by Kanada. The teachings of these philosophical systems form the basic tenets of Hindu religion. The two great groups are the Vaiṣṇavites and the Śivaites. Both the sects strictly follow the ancient Hindu rules of conduct which came to be known as dharma.

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Dharmas (Pali: dhammas):—For the Abhidharmikas, the ultimate components of existence, the elementary constituents of experience were called dharmas. These dharmas were seen as the ultimate entities or momentary events which make up the fabric of people's experience of reality. The conventional reality of substantial objects and persons is merely a conceptual construct imputed by the mind on a flux of dharmas. However, dharmas are never seen as individually separate entities, but are always dependently conditioned by other dharmas in a stream of momentary constellations of dharmas, constantly coming into being and vanishing, always in flux.

The four categories of dharmas in the Theravada Abhidhamma are:

  1. citta (Mind, Consciousness, awareness)
  2. cetasika (mental factors, mental events, associated mentality), there are 52 types
  3. rūpa — (physical occurrences, material form), 28 types
  4. nibbāna — (Extinction, cessation). This dharma is unconditioned  it neither arises nor ceases due to causal interaction.
Source: Wikipedia: Abhidharma
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Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

1) Dharma (धर्म):—The search for the Dharma by means of the non-apprehension of all the teachings. – The bodhisattva seeks the Dharma with resolutions associated with omniscience and [hence] does not fall to the rank of śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha.

There are three kinds of Dharma:

  1. The supreme Dharma of all (sarveṣu-anuttara), i.e., nirvāṇa.
  2. The means of attaining nirvāṇa (nirvāṇa-prāpti-upāya), i.e., the noble eightfold Path (āryāṣṭāṅgamārga).
  3. All good words (subhāṣita), truthful words (satyavacana) promoting the eightfold noble Path.

To seek the Dharma (dharmaparyeṣṭi) is to write it, to recite it, to study it and to meditate on it. These texts heal the mental illnesses (cittavyādhi) of beings. The bodhisattva sacrifices his life to gather together these text-remedies.

2) Dharma (धर्म) refers to “things” according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XXV).—There are two kinds of things (dharmas): i) mental things (citta-dharma), ii) extra-mental things (acitta-dharma).

a) Among the extra-mental things (acitta-dharma), some are inner (ādhyātmika) and others are outer (bāhya). Cold (śīta), heat (uṣṇa) wind (anila), rain (varṣa), etc., are outer; hunger (kṣudha), thirst (pipāsa), old age (jarā), sickness (vyādhi), death (maraṇa), etc., are inner: all the categories of this type are extra-mental.

b) Among the mental things (citta-dharma), there are two types: i) anger (krodha, vyāpāda), sadness (daurmanasya), doubt (saṃśaya), etc.; ii) lust (rāga), pride (abhimāna), etc.: these two categories are mental things.

Furthermore, all Dharmas are grouped into two categories: i) material Dharmas (rūpidharma), and ii) non-material dharmas (arūpidharma), Material dharmas can be divided down to the subtle atom (paramāṇu) and endless dispersion, as we have seen in regard to the refutation of the gift given in the chapter on Danāpāramitā. Non-material Dharmas are not cognized by the five faculties. Therefore it is by means of considering the moment of birth-duration-destruction of the mind that we know that the mind (citta) is composed of parts (sabhāga).

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Dharma (धर्म, “phenomena”).—According to the classical Mādhyamaka thinkers, all phenomena (dharmas) are empty (śūnya) of "nature," a "substance" or "essence" (svabhāva) which gives them "solid and independent existence," because they are dependently co-arisen. But this "emptiness" itself is also "empty": it does not have an existence on its own, nor does it refer to a transcendental reality beyond or above phenomenal reality.

Source: Wisdom Library: Mahayana Buddhism
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

Dharma (धर्म)  is the second of the “three treasures” (triratna) defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 1). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., triratna and dharma). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Dharma or dharmāyatana also represents one of the “twelve sense spheres” (āyatana), one of the “eighteen elements” (dhātu).

Dharma also refers to one of the “six spheres” (ṣaḍviṣaya) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 33).

Dharma also refers to one of the “four analytical knowledges” (pratisaṃvid) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 51).

Dharma or Dharmadhāraṇī refers to “the rentention of the dharma” and represents the “four retentions” (dhāraṇī) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 52).

Dharma or Dharmānusmṛti refers to one of the “six recollections” (anusmṛti) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 54).

Dharma or Dharmacakṣus refers to one the “five eyes” (cakṣus) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 65).

Dharma or Dharmavaśitā refers to the “mastery of dharma” and represents one of the “ten masteries of the Bodhisattvas” (vaśitā) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 74).

Dharma or Dharmamātsarya refers to “selfishness regarding dharma” and represents one of the “five selfishnesses” (mātsarya) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 78).

Dharma or Dharmayajñāna refers to the “knowledge of dharma” and represents one of the “ten knowledges” (jñāna) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 93).

Dharma or Dharmadāna also refers to the “gift of the dharma” and represents one of the “three kinds of gifts” (dāna) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 105):.

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

The word dharma is generally translated into English as law. The word "dharma" can also be translated as "the teachings of the Buddha".

The term Dharma is an Indian spiritual and religious term, that means ones righteous duty or any virtuous path in the common sense of the term.

In Indian languages it contextually implies ones religion. Throughout Indian philosophy, Dharma is presented as a central concept that is used in order to explain the "higher truth" or ultimate reality of the universe.

The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.

Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism

Dharma Skt., lit, “carrying, holding” (Pali, dhamma; Chin., fa; Jap., hō or datsuma); central notion of Buddhism, used in various meanings.

  1. The cosmic law, the “great norm,” underlying our world; above all, the law of karmically deter­mined rebirth.
  2. The teaching of the Buddha, who recog­nized and formulated this “law”; thus the teach­ing that expresses the universal truth. The dhar­ma in this sense existed already before the birth of the historical Buddha, who is no more than a manifestation of it. It is in the dharma in this sense that a Buddhist takes refuge (trisha­rana).
  3. Norms of behavior and ethical rules (shīla).
  4. Manifestation of reality, of the general state of affairs; thing, phenomenon.
  5. Mental content, object of thought, idea—a reflection of a thing in the human mind.
  6. Term for the so-called factors of existence, which the Hīnayāna considers as building blocks of the empirical personality and its world.
Source: Shambala Publications: General

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

1) Dharma (धर्म):—The fifteenth Tīrthaṅkara (Janism recognizes 24 such teachers or Siddhas). He is also known as Dharmanātha. His colour is red (rakta), according to Aparājitapṛcchā (221.5-7). His height is 45 dhanuṣa (a single dhanuṣa (or, ‘bow’) equals 6 ft), thus, roughly corresponding to 82 meters. His emblem, or symbol, is a Vajra.

Dharma’s father is Bhānu and his mother is Suvratā. It is an ancient Jain practice to worship the Tīrthaṅkara’s parents in various rites, such as the pratiṣṭhāvidhi, according to the Ācāradinakara (14th century work on Jain conduct written by Vardhamāna Sūri).

2) Dharma (धर्म) refers to “attributing faults the true religion” and is one of the causes leading to the influx (āsrana) of faith-deluding (darśana-mohanīya) karmas.

Dharma is a Sanskrit technical term defined in the Tattvārthasūtra (ancient authorative Jain scripture) from the 2nd century, which contains aphorisms dealing with philosophy and the nature of reality.

Source: Wisdom Library: Jainism

Dharma (धर्म).—What is meant by the true religion (dharma)? Non violence, non-pride (mārdava) etc known as dasalakṣaṇa or the ten indicators of spiritual purification are called dharma.

What is meant by finding faults in true religion (dharma-avarṇavāda) To denounce, find faults and say harmful for the nation’s cause, the religion based on non violence and as propounded by the omniscient is finding faults in true religion.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 6: Influx of karmas

Dharma (धर्म) refers to the “medium of motion” according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 5.17.—The functions of the media of motion (dharma) and rest (adharma) are to assist (upagraha) motion (gati) and rest respectively. The function of the medium of motion (dharma) is to support / assist in the motion of moving objects (living beings and matter). The function of the medium of rest (adharma) is to support the state of rest of objects (living beings and matter).

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 5: The category of the non-living
General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Dharma (“conduct”) is one of the gotras (clans) among the Kurnis (a tribe of South India). Kurni is, according to the Census Report 1901, “a corruption of kuri (sheep) and vanni (wool), the caste having been originally weavers of wool”. The gotras (viz., Dharma) are described as being of the Brāhman, Kshatriya, and Vaisya sub-divisions of the caste, and of Shanmukha’s Sudra caste.

Source: Project Gutenberg: Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume 1
India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

dharma (धर्म).—m (S) Religious practice; the customary observances of caste, sect &c.; a system of divine faith and worship: also any act or work required by it. 2 A precept enjoined in the Vedas; a sacred obligation or duty. 3 Alms-giving; charitable acts and offices gen: also alms or charities bestowed. 4 Virtue; moral or religious merit resulting from obedience to the Shastras and Vedas. 5 Nature, character, proper or natural state or disposition. Ex. gāīnēṃ dūdha dēṇēṃ hā gāīcā dharma āhē; pṛthvīsa vāsa yēṇēṃ hā pṛthvīcā dharma. 6 A property or appertaining quality. Any peculiar, appropriate, or prescribed practice or duty: thus giving alms &c. is the dharma of a householder; administering justice, the dharma of a king; piety that of a Brahman; courage, that of a Kshatriya. In this sense the compounds putradharma, bandhudharma, mitradharma, śatrudharma, sēvādharma, śējāradharma &c. 8 Law. dharma karatāṃ karma jōḍaṇēṃ or, inversely, dharma karatāṃ karma pāṭhīsa lāgaṇēṃ To bring upon one's self troubles and evils in striving to do good. dharmakhuṇṭīsa bāndhaṇēṃ To keep (cattle) pinned up without giving them food. dharma paṅgu Piety, religion, virtue, charity &c. is lame, i. e. having lost three legs in the three preceding ages, has, in this iron age, but one leg to stand on,--is tardy, feeble, scanty &c. dharmācā Relating to charity--money, food &c. 2 Assumed, supposed, conceived--a person as a father, brother, sister &c. in a religious view. dharmācē pārīṃ basaṇēṃ To sit idly dispensing the charity of others. 2 To obtain a favorable condition hereafter in reward of one's virtues. 3 To be ever performing charitable deeds. dharmasya tvaritāgatiḥ (A Sanskrit saying but common.) Give your alms quickly. Agreeing with Bis dat qui cito dat. dharmāvara sōmavāra Putting off of alms-giving on frivolous pretexts. dharmāsa bhiūna-cālaṇēṃ-vāgaṇēṃ- varttaṇēṃ-karaṇēṃ-&c. To walk under religious reverence or regard. dharmācī vāṭa bighaḍaṇēṃ or mōḍaṇēṃ To stop the flowing of any philanthropic course. dharmāvara lōṭa- ṇēṃ-ṭākaṇēṃ-sōḍaṇēṃ To give over to one's sense of justice or righteousness. dharmāsa yēṇēṃ g. of o. To approve itself (to any one) as fit to be done. Ex. tujhē dharmāsa yēīla tēṃ kara.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

dharma (धर्म).—m Religion. A sacred duty. Alms- giving. Moral or religious merit. Virtue. A property. Any peculiar duty. dharma karitāṃ karma jōḍaṇēṃ or, inversely, dharma karitā karma pāṭhīsa lāgaṇēṃ To bring upon one's self troubles and evils in striv- ing to do good. dharmāvara sōmavāra Putting off of alms-giving on frivolous pretexts. dharmāsa yēṇēṃ To approve itself (to any one) as fit to be done.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Dhārma (धार्म).—a. [dharmasyedaṃ aṇ] Belonging to justice or Dharma q. v.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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Dharmadhatu
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