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Dharma (//; Sanskrit: धर्म, romanized: Dharma, pronounced [dʱɐrmɐ] ⓘ; Pali: Dhamma) is a key concept with multiple meanings in the Indian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, among others. Although no single-word translation exists for dharma in English (or other European languages), the term is commonly understood as referring to "order and custom" that sustain life, "virtue", or "religious and moral duties".
In Hinduism, dharma denotes behaviours that are considered to be in accord with Ṛta—the "order and custom" that makes life and universe possible. This includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and "right way of living". The concept is believed to have a transtemporal validity, and is one of the four Puruṣārthas.
In Buddhism, dharma refers to "cosmic law and order", as expressed by the teachings of the Buddha. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for "phenomena". Dharma in Jainism refers to the teachings of Tirthankara (Jina) and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of humans. In Sikhism, dharma indicates the path of righteousness, proper religious practices, and performing one's own moral duties.
The concept of dharma was in use in the historical Vedic religion, and its meaning and conceptual scope has evolved over several millennia. The ancient Tamil text Tirukkuṟaḷ, despite being a collection of aphoristic teachings on dharma (aram), artha (porul), and kama (inpam),: 453 : 82 is completely and exclusively based on aṟam, the Tamil term for dharma.: 55 As with the other components of the Puruṣārtha, the concept of dharma is pan-Indian. The antonym of dharma is adharma.
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