World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Dharma (Jainism)

Article Id: WHEBN0014496971
Reproduction Date:

Title: Dharma (Jainism)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Dravya (Jainism), Jainism, Bhaktamara Stotra, Jain philosophy, Micchami Dukkadam
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Dharma (Jainism)

Jain texts assign a wide range of meaning to the word Dharma (Sanskrit: धर्म) or Dhamma (Prakrit: धम्म). It is often translated as “religion” and as such, Jainism is called Jain Dharma by its adherents.

The word Dharma encompasses the following meanings in Jainism:

  1. The true nature of a thing
  2. Rationality of perception, knowledge and conduct
  3. Ten virtues like forgiveness, etc. also called ten forms of Dharma
  4. Ahimsa – protection to all living beings
  5. Two paths – of the monks and the laity
  6. Dharma as a dravya (substance or a reality) (the principle of motion)

The nature of a substance

According to Jainism, Universe and its constituents are uncreated and everlasting. These constituents behave according to the natural laws and their nature without interference from external entities. Dharma or true religion according to Jainism is vatthu sahāvo dhammo translated as "the intrinsic nature of a substance is its true dharma." Kārtikeyānupreksā (478) explains it as : “Dharma is nothing but the real nature of an object. Just as the nature of fire is to burn and the nature of water is to produce a cooling effect, in the same manner, the essential nature of the soul is to seek self-realization and spiritual elevation.”[1]

Samyaktva - Rationality of perception, knowledge and conduct

According to Jainism, Samyak darsana (Rational Perception), Samyak jnana (Rational Knowledge) and Samyak caritra (Rational Conduct) collectively also known as Ratnatraya or the "Three Jewels of Jainism" constitute true Dharma. According to Umasvati, Samyak Darsana, Jnana Caritra together constitutes moksamarga or the path to liberation.[2]

Samyak Darsana or rational perception is the rational faith in the true nature of every substances of the universe.[3] Samyak Jnana or rational knowledge is the right knowledge of true and relevant knowledge of the reality, the tattvas. It incorporates the two principles of Anekantvada or non-absolutism and Syadvada or relativity of truth. Right knowledge must be free from three main defects: doubt, delusion, and indefiniteness. Samyak Caritra or rational conduct is the natural conduct of a (soul) living being. It consists in following austerities, engaging in right activities and observance of vows, carefulness and controls.[4]

Ten Virtues as Dharma

The following ten virtues constitute true Dharma [5]-

  1. Supreme forgiveness
  2. Supreme humility
  3. Supreme straightforwardness
  4. Supreme truthfulness
  5. Supreme purity
  6. Supreme self-restraint
  7. Supreme penance
  8. Supreme renunciation
  9. Supreme non-possessiveness
  10. Supreme celibacy

Ahimsa as Dharma

According to Jain texts, Ahimsa is the greatest Dharma (अहिंसा परमॊ धर्मः [ahiṃsā paramo dharmaḥ]: "non-violence is the supreme religion") and there is no religion equal to the religion of non-violence.

Two fold path of Ascetics and Laypersons

Dharma is the twofold path of Sravakadharma i.e. the path for laypersons and Sramanadharma i.e. the path of the ascetics or mendicants.[6][7] Sravakadharma is the religious path for the virtuous householders, where charity and worship are the primary duties. The dharma of a householders consists of observance of twelve vows i.e. five minor vows and seven disciplinary vows. Sramanadharma is the religious path of the virtuous ascetics, where mediatation and study of scriptures is their primary duty. The religion of monks consists of five Mahavratas or great vows. They are endowed with right faith, right knowledge and right conduct and engaged in complete self-restraint and penances.

Dharma-tattva and Dharmastikaya

Dharma is one of the six substances constituting the universe.[8] These substances are – Dharma (medium of motion), Adharma (medium of rest), Akasa (space), kala (time), Pudgala (matter) and Jiva (soul). Since Dharma as a substance extends and pervades entire universe, it is also known as Dharmastikaya. It helps the matter and souls in movement. It itself is not motion, but is a medium of motion. Adharma is opposite of Dharma i.e. it assists the substances like soul and matter to rest.


  1. ^ Kārtikeyānupreksā
  2. ^ Kuhn, Hermann (2001). Karma, The Mechanism : Create Your Own Fate. Wunstorf, Germany: Crosswind Publishing.  
  3. ^ Jaini, Padmanabh (1998). The Jaina Path of Purification. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.  
  4. ^ *Varni, Jinendra; Ed. Prof. Sagarmal Jain, Translated Justice T.K. Tukol and Dr. K.K. Dixit (1993). Samaṇ Suttaṁ. New Delhi: Bhagwan Mahavir memorial Samiti.  Verse 262 - 4
  5. ^ Varni, Jinendra; Ed. Prof. Sagarmal Jain, Translated Justice T.K. Tukol and Dr. K.K. Dixit (1993). Samaṇ Suttaṁ. New Delhi: Bhagwan Mahavir memorial Samiti.  verse 84
  6. ^ Varni, Jinendra; Ed. Prof. Sagarmal Jain, Translated Justice T.K. Tukol and Dr. K.K. Dixit (1993). Samaṇ Suttaṁ. New Delhi: Bhagwan Mahavir memorial Samiti.  verse 296
  7. ^ Acarya Haribhadra, Dharmabindu
  8. ^ Varni, Jinendra; Ed. Prof. Sagarmal Jain, Translated Justice T.K. Tukol and Dr. K.K. Dixit (1993). Samaṇ Suttaṁ. New Delhi: Bhagwan Mahavir memorial Samiti.  Verse 624
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.