Dharma (help·info) (Sanskrit: धर्म dhárma, Pali: धम्म dhamma; lit. that which upholds or supports) means Law or Natural Law (as in the natural order of things) and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender. In modern Indian languages it can refer simply to a person's religion, depending on the context.

The idea of dharma as duty or propriety derives from an idea found in India's ancient legal and religious texts that there is a divinely instituted natural order of things (rta) and justice, social harmony and human happiness require that human beings discern and live in a manner appropriate to the requirements of that order. According to the various Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Jainism?, Buddhism, and Sikhism?, beings that live in accordance with dharma proceed more quickly toward dharma yukam, moksha or nirvana (personal liberation).

In traditional Hindu society, dharma has historically denoted a variety of ideas, such as Vedic ritual, ethical conduct, caste rules, and civil and criminal law. Its most common meaning however pertains to two principal ideals: that social life should be structured through well-defined and well-regulated classes (varna), and that an individual's life within a class should be organized into defined stages (ashrama, see dharmasastra).

The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.

Dharma also refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of Buddhism and Jainism?, the Buddha and Mahavira?. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for "phenomenon". Wikipedia - dharma (external link)

Page last modified on Friday 12 of August, 2011 15:31:35 MDT

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