dharma: righteousness; merit; religious duty; religion; law; a goal of life (puruShArtha); medium of motion (Jainism); scriptural texts (Buddhism); quality (Buddhism); cause (Buddhism); religious teaching (Buddhism); unsubstantial and soulless (Buddhism); (from the verb-root dhRRi = “to uphold, to establish, to support”)
- Literally it means “what holds together” and thus it is the basis of all order, whether social or moral. As an ethical or moral value, it is the instrumental value to liberation (except for the mImAMsaka who considers it the supreme value).
- varNa Ashrama-dharma is one’s specific duty.
- sanAtana-dharma is the eternal religion.
- sva-dharma is one’s own individual duty.
- According to the mImAMsA school, it is what is enjoined in the Veda. It is religious duty, the performance thereof bringing merit and its neglect bringing demerit.
- Generally dharma is twofold: sAdhAraNa-dharma, which is common to everyone, and varNa Ashrama –dharma, which is specific to each class and stage of life.