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Dharma or 'Dharm' is a Sanskrit word (Sanskrit: धर्म, Pali: dhamma), from a root meaning "to hold up, to carry, to bear, to sustain",[1] with a great variety of meanings in the Dharmic religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Dharma in Hinduism

Dharma means Faith, Belief, Religion, and personal Law - all at the same time. Its most generic sense is that of righteousness or duty. It also refers to an ethical way of living; it is the path one should follow to live rightly in accordance with Hindu philosophical principles. The old name for Vedic Hinduism is Sanatan Dharm, meaning eternal law.

Rules for Brahmin Priests & Monks:

  • Yamas: Restraints or Dont's
    1. Ahimsa - non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness
    2. Satya - truthfulness, honesty (non lying, non bragging, non embelishing)
    3. Asteya/Achurya - non-stealing, non-coveting, non-entering into debt, non-misappropriativeness
    4. Brahmacharya - restraint of senses(not giving into Pleasure)
    5. Kshama - forgiveness for the past, mercifull for historic sins, patience in the present
    6. Dhriti - steadfastness, overcoming non perserverance, fear, indecision; seeing each task through completion
    7. Daya - compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.
    8. Arjava - honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing.
    9. Mitahara - moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor to little; nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs.
    10. Shaucha - purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech, cleanliness
    11. Aparigraha - non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness
  • Niyamas: Duties & Responsibilities or Do's
    1. Hri - remorse for misdeeds
    2. Santosha - contentment; being satisfied with the resources at hand - therefore not desiring more; peacefulness
    3. Dana - giving, without thought of reward
    4. Astikya - Faith, believing firmly in the Guru, believing firmly in the path to enlightenment, believing firmly in the religious scriptures
    5. Ishvarapujana - worship of the Lord, the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation, the return to the source
    6. Siddhanta shravana - scriptural listening, studying the teachings and listening to the wise of one's lineage
    7. Mati - cognition, developing a spiritual will and intellect with the Guru's guidance
    8. Vrata - sacred vows, fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully
    9. Japa - recitation, chanting Religious scriptutes daily
    10. Tapas - austerity, spiritual discipline
    11. Swadhyaya - introspective self-study, spiritual study
    12. Ishwarapranidhana - self-surrender to god, offering of one's life to God

Dharma in Buddhism

In Buddhism, followers adhere to these five principles of the dharma:

  • Faith in the triple gem, which is Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Sangha is the community.
  • The Precepts: don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t engage in sexual misconduct (rape or adultery), don’t lie, and don’t take intoxicants which cloud the mind.
  • Listening: Only through listening can we understand good and evil.
  • Giving: Engaging in charity and selflessness reminds us that the Dharma is not intended for us alone, but it is to be shared with everyone.
  • Wisdom: One has to listen, contemplate and put into practice the Dharma. Then one may gain wisdom, and realize the truth.


  1. http://www.sanskrit.org/www/Sanskrit/sanskritterms.htm

See also