Dharma, aka: Dharmā; 18 Definition(s)

Introduction

Dharma means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, 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
Shaivism book cover
context information

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.

Dharmaśāstra (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
Dharmaśāstra book cover
context information

Dharmaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharma-shastra) is a category of Hindu literature containing important instructions regarding religious law, ethics, economics, jurisprudence and more. It is categorised as smṛti, an important and authorative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

Purāṇa

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)
Purāṇa book cover
context information

The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Vaiśeṣika (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
Vaiśeṣika book cover
context information

Vaiśeṣika (वैशेषिक, vaisheshika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (āstika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upaniṣads. Vaiśeṣika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similair to Buddhism in nature

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
context information

Mīmāṃsā (मीमांसा, mimamsa) 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.

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

In Buddhism

Abhidhamma

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
Abhidhamma book cover
context information

Abhidhamma (अभिधम्म) usually refers to the last section (piṭaka) of the Pali canon and includes schematic classifications of scholastic literature dealing with Theravāda Buddhism. Primary topics include psychology, philosophy, methodology and metaphysics which are rendered into exhaustive enumerations and commentaries.

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

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.

(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
context information

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.

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 Nagarguna 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).

(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
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.

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.

Relevant definitions

Search found 904 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Dharmakaya
The four aspects of the Dharmakāya are part of the Sixteen Aspects (ṣoḍaśākārā) of Gnosis (j...
Dharmashastra
dharmaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र).—n The code or body of Hindu law.
Dharmashala
dharmaśālā (धर्मशाला).—f A building erected for the accommodation of travellers.
Dharmadhatu
Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु) or simply dharma refers to the “thought element” and represents one of t...
Varnadharma
varṇadharma (वर्णधर्म).—m Function peculiar to a caste.
Kuladharma
kuladharma (कुलधर्म).—m A religious practice descended through a race.
Dharmopadesha
dharmōpadēśa (धर्मोपदेश).—m religious and moral instruction.
Anugatadharma
anugata-dharma (अनुगत-धर्म).—m An inherent quality.
Dharmapuri
dharmapurī (धर्मपुरी).—f (S) A place where Religion flourishes: also a city or place in which m...
Dharmayatana
Dharmāyatana (धर्मायतन) or simply dharma refers to the “sense sphere of thought” and represents...
Dharmacakshus
Dharmacakṣus (धर्मचक्षुस्) refers to the “Dharma-eye” and represents one of the five visual pow...
Dharmapitaka
Dharmapiṭaka (धर्मपिटक) refers to the “bhasket of dharma” according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśā...
Dharmamudra
Dharmamudrā (धर्ममुद्रा) refers to the “seal of the Dharma” according to Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāst...
Dharmaskandha
Dharmaskandha (धर्मस्कन्ध) is another name for Lokottaraskandha and refers to the “five super-m...
Smartadharma
Smārtadharma (स्मार्तधर्म).—(Smārta)—promulgated by Manu at the beginning of Tretāy...

Relevant text

- Was this explanation helpful? Leave a comment:

Make this page a better place for research and define the term yourself in your own words.

You have to be a member in order to post comments. Click here to login or click here to become a member.