Adharma

अधर्म

A (not) + Dharma (in harmony with the nature of things)

Adharma Definition

In Sanskrit, Adharma means the opposite of Dharma. Dharma has positive connotations and means “that which supports and sustains”, whilst Adharma has connotations of unrighteousness, discord, evil, wrong, disharmony, and immorality.

In Hinduism, whereas Dharma is the path of spiritual growth, the Adarmic path impedes spiritual growth. Essentially, Dharma is what yu should do, and Adharma is what you should not do.

Revealed for the first time in the ancient Hindu Vedas, Both Dharma and Adharma are cosmic laws that underly right and wrong behavior, social order, and disorder.

The concept of Adharma is used in yogic philosophy, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, with slightly varying shades of meaning given the context.

Narasimha chases man who has committed adharma

Adharma Deep Dive

In Hinduism, according to the Bhagavata Purana, “the religious principles prescribed in the Vedas constitute as Dharma, and those that are not constitute as Adharma”. Therefore, Adharma is everything that goes against Sruti (the truthful revelations) and Smriti (that which has been remembered).

Adharma is personified in Hindu scriptures as Adharma, the mind born son of Brahma. Adharma marries his sister Mrisha who represents falsehood, and together they parent Dhamba (hypocrisy), and Máyá (deceit).

In yogic philosophy, Adharma can be caused by an imbalance of the Gunas (qualities): Tamas (darkness and death), Rajas (energy and action), and Sattva (harmony and balance). Through devotion to the Eight Limbed Path, and practicing yoga, a yogi can rebalance their Gunas and therefore turn their backs on the Adharmic path.

In Jainism, Adharma takes another definition as the medium of rest which allows things to be still or to stop moving.

Whilst in Mahayana Buddhism, Adharma refers to “untruth”.

narasimha disembowels he who has committed adharma

Adharma in your life

According to yogic philosophy, whilst everyone’s Dharma is different, acting out in blind faith is Adharmic.

It is important to be conscious in your decision making. Why do you do what you do?

When you practice yoga do you do so as a tick box exercise, or are you opening yourself up to receive the full benefits of your practice? Are you blindly making your way through your career, or are you taking each step intentionally so that it aligns with your core values?

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and immortal yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

Maria Andrews

Maria Andrews

Maria Andrews is a 200h Registered Yoga Teacher, long distance runner, and adventure lover. She finds joy in learning, experiencing, and connecting.

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