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Dharma: A Path of Righteousness

Dharma: A Path of Righteousness
Dharma is a Sanskrit word which simply is a path of righteousness.

Dharma is a Sanskrit word which simply is a path of righteousnessDharma is a key concept used in HinduismBuddhism, and Jainism and has different meanings accordingly. The classical meaning of Dharma is "to hold, maintain, keep". In Hinduism, Dharma means the behavior that makes the life and universe possible with RTA, the order. It's a moral law that guides one's life when combined with spiritual discipline. Dharma in Buddhism means cosmic law and order. It is the second gem of three jewels – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. In Buddhism, Dharma is literally applied to the teachings of Lord Buddha. In Jainism, Dharma refers to belief and teaching that leads to moral transformation of human beings.


According to the legends of Vedic Hinduism, the origin of Dharma came to exist from the oldest Vedic literature of Hinduism. The root of Dharma is "Dhri" which means "to support, hold, or order". It is believed that the gods created the universe and hold the earth and sun and stars apart and they support the sky distinct from the earth and keep the quaking mountains and plains in the earth. It is also believed that the gods, particularly the god Indra hold the order from disorder, maintaining the law and order that are believed to be the actions of Dharma.

"O Indra, lead us on the path of Rta, on the right path over all evils"
- Rigveda

In ancient myths as well as texts of Hinduism, Dharma meant cosmic law, rules which created the universe from the chaos. But in later Vedas, Puranas, and epics, the meaning of Dharma became more diversified, complex, and richer. Dharma holds important roles in the literature of Indian Religions and also holds the central figure in newly founded religion like Buddhism, Jainism. Dharma considered the behavior of human beings a necessity for the law and order of the Universe that encompasses duty, rights, religion.

Dharma in Hinduism

Dharma Wheel

Dharma is believed to be originated from the ancient Hindu scriptures, Vedas, and texts. It is believed that Dharma is the foundation of all human goals which refers to obligations, conduct, as well as moral duties. It is described as the moral laws of the universe and without Dharma (law of being), things cannot exist. All human beings must accept and respect so that law and order can be sustained in the world.

"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."

An ancient sage Manu prescribes 10 important rules for the observance of Dharma. They are patience, self-control, reason, forgiveness, sanctity, honesty, truthfulness, knowledge of learning, control of senses, and an absence of anger.

According to some texts of Hinduism, there exist three sources which help to discover Dharma in Hinduism. First source is to learn knowledge with the help from a teacher studying various Sanskrit literatures. Second is through observance of behavior of good and noble people. Third is when one follows his hearts and respect his own feeling.

Dharma in Buddhism

Dharma or Dhamma is one of the most important aspects of Buddhism besides Buddha and Sangha. These three aspects together are known as the three jewels of BuddhismLord Buddha gave preaching on Dharma and started the "Wheel of Dharma". There are different meanings of Dharma in Buddhism like the state of nature, the teachings provided by Lord Buddha, and collective as well as individual laws of Nature. Dhamma refers to the teachings of Buddha about the cause of suffering and pain and the path to take to end the suffering and pain.

"There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than Dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute Nirvana. There is nothing in the universe or outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not included in this term."

Dharma in Jainism

According to Jain texts, nonviolence is regarded as the greatest Dharma and there is no religion which can be compared to the religion of non-violence. In Jainism, Dharma specially refers to the teachings of Jinas. Dharma has different meanings in Jainism. They are:

  1. True nature of a thing
  2. Ten Forms of Dharma
  3. Ahimsa (non-violence)
  4. Two paths of the monks and Laity.

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