Satish B. SettyArchiveAboutRSS Feed

Sāmānya Dharma

Happy Śrī Rāma Navamī of Vikāri samvatsara!

Dharma can be of various shades:

  1. Sanātana dharma (eternal dharma)
  2. Sāmānya dharma (general dharma)
  3. Viśēṣa dharma (special dharma)
  4. Varṇāśrama dharma (dharma of varṇa and āśrama)
  5. Mōkṣa dharma (dharma for liberation)
  6. Āpad dharma (dharma during crisis)
  7. Svadharma (one’s own dharma)
  8. Yuga dharma (dharma of the age or period in history)
  9. Kula dharma (dharma of family)
  10. Mānava dharma (dharma of humanity)
  11. Puruṣa dharma (dharma of male)
  12. Strī dharma (dharma of female)
  13. Rāja dharma (dharma of king)
  14. Prajā dharma (dharma of subjects)
  15. Pravṛtti dharma (dharma in worldly life)
  16. Nivṛtti dharma (dharma in spiritual life)

In this article, I give citations from scriptures which explore Sāmānya Dharma, i.e., common dharma, which is also part of Sanātana dharma. This is a checklist of moral and ethical traits and qualities that every individual must strive to inculcate. The word sāmānya especially implies that it is mandatory for everyone, irrespective of religion, caste, sex or profession. I continuously update the list every now and then.

Relative Emphasis

One can get an estimate of relative importance of these traits by counting how frequently a particular trait is cited. Not counting the same scripture twice, here is a frequency count of the traits:

Virtue Number of scriptures Meaning
Satya 11 Truthfulness
Śauca 9 Purity
Ahiṃsā 8 Noninjury
Dayā 7 Compassion
Dāna 7 Munificence
Dama 6 Self-restraint
Kṣamā 5 Forgiveness
Akrōdha 4 Nonanger
Ārjava 4 Straightforwardness
Tapa 4 Austerity
Astēya 3 Nonstealing
Dhṛti 3 Steadfastness
Anasūyā 3 Nonjealosuy
Indriya-nigraha/samyama 3 Sense control
Dhī 2 Wisdom
Kṣānti 2 Patience
Ānṛśaṃsya 2 Kindness
Akārpaṇya 2 Non-miserliness
Prajana 2 Chaste progeny
Alobha 1 Non-greediness
Aparigraha 1 Non-possessing
Śama 1 Tranquility
Anukampā 1 Pity

That’s a long list already. What’s missing? Plenty. Sahānubhūti (sympathy), karuṇā (mercy), sahiṣṇutā (tolerance/acceptance). Sanātana dharma explicitly excludes the biblical virtues of love, faith, hope, thanksgiving, diligence, trust, obedience, etc. since these are subsumed by or can be derived from, more elementary traits listed above. Conversely, Christianity does not emphasize truth and non-violence vis-á-vis other virtues.

It doesn’t do full justice to give a one-word English translation to Sanskrit words. For example, ahiṃsā is not just abstaining from injury but also extends all the way to vegetarianism and beyond. So, the translation in last column is suggestive, not definitive or one-to-one mapped to English.

ānṛśaṃsyaṃ: (1) non-injuring, absence of cruelty = ahiṃsā ? (2) mildness, kindness, gentleness (3) Compassion, pity, mercy = dayā? (4) Patronising, protective nature

In classical literature of Hinduism, compassion is a virtue with many shades, each shade explained by different terms. Three most common terms are dayā, karuṇā and anukampā. Dayā (compassion) is not kṛpā (pity) in Hinduism, or fēling sorry for the sufferer, because that is marred with condescensioṅ compassion is fēling one with the suffereṛ[

dama | indriyanigraha | indriyasaṃyamaḥ | akrōdha = 5 + 2 + 4 = 11

Alobha | anasuya | akārpaṇya = 5

Yājñavalkya Smṛti

ijyācāradamāhiṃsā- dānasvādhyāyakarmaṇām / ayaṃ tu paramo dharmo yad yogenātmadarśanam // Yj_1.8 //

ahiṃsā satyam asteyaṃ śaucam indriyanigrahaḥ / dānaṃ damo dayā kṣāntiḥ sarveṣāṃ dharmasādhanam // Yj_1.122 //

9 qualities

satyam asteyam akrodho hrīḥ śaucaṃ dhīr dhṛtir damaḥ / saṃyatendriyatā vidyā dharmaḥ sarva udāhṛtaḥ // Yj_3.66 //

11 qualities

brahmacaryaṃ dayā kṣāntir dānaṃ satyam akalkatā / ahiṃsāsteyamādhurye damaś ceti yamāḥ smṛtāḥ // Yj_3.312 //

10 qualities are called “yama”

Viṣṇu Smṛti

kṣamā satyam damaḥ śaucaṃ dānam indriyasaṃyamaḥ / ahiṃsā guruśuśrūṣā tīrthānusaraṇaṃ dayā || Vi_2.16 ||

ārjavaṃ lobhaśūnyatvaṃ dēvabrāhmaṇapūjanam / anabhyasūyā ca tathā dharmaḥ sāmānya ucyate || Vi_2.17 ||

14 qualities

THE VISHNU SAMHITA enumerates forgiveness, truthfulness, control of the mind, purity, practice of charity, control of the senses, non-violence, service of the Guru, visiting places of pilgrimage, compassion, simplicity, absence of greed, worship of the gods and the Brahmanas, and absence of malice as the ingredients of Samanya Dharma, the general law for all men.

aśvamedhasahasraṃ ca satyaṃ ca tulayā dhṛtam / aśvamedhasahasrād dhi satyam ēva viśiṣyate || Vi_8.36 ||

Manu smṛti

ahiṃsā satyam asteyaṃ śaucam indriyanigrahaḥ / etaṃ sāmāsikaṃ dharmaṃ cāturvarṇyeʼbravīn manuḥ // Mn_10.63 //

dhṛtiḥ kṣamā damoʼsteyaṃ śaucam indriyanigrahaḥ / dhīr vidyā satyam akrodho daśakaṃ dharmalakṣaṇam // Mn_6.92 //

dhī = reason, correct discernment; vidyā = learning or knowledge; akrōdha = sweet temper

Nārada Smṛti

yatra dharmo hy adharmeṇa satyaṃ yatrānṛtena ca / hanyate prekṣamāṇānāṃ hatās tatra sabhāsadaḥ // NaṟM3.7 //

aśvamedhasahasraṃ ca satyaṃ ca tulayā dhṛtam / aśvamedhasahasrād dhi satyam ēva viśiṣyate // Naṟ1.192 //

[Same as Viṣṇu Smriti 8.36 above]

satyam ēva paraṃ dānaṃ satyam ēva paraṃ tapaḥ / satyam ēva paro dharmo lokānām iti naḥ śrutam // Naṟ1.195 //

nāsti satyāt paro dharmo nānṛtāt pātakaṃ param / sākṣidharme viśeṣeṇa satyam ēva vadet tataḥ // Naṟ1.206 //

Parāśara Smṛti

jito dharmo hy adharmeṇa satyaṃ caivānṛtena ca / jitāś coraiś ca rājānaḥ strībhiś ca puruṣāḥ kalau // Paṟ1.30 //

upavāsair vrataiḥ puṇyaiḥ snānasaṃdhyārcanādibhiḥ / japahomadayādānaiḥ śudhyante brāhmaṇādayaḥ (II,1, p. 361) // Paṟ10.40 //

Vasiṣṭha dharmasūtra

Va.4.4 sarveṣāṃ satyam akrōdhaḥ dānam ahiṃsā prajananam ca

5 tenets: truth, non-anger, charity, ahimsa, good offspring(?)


MBh12.txt–12060007a akrōdhaḥ satyavacanaṃ saṃvibhāgaḥ kṣamā tathā MBh12.txt–12060007c prajanaḥ sveṣu dāreṣu śaucam adroha ēva ca MBh12.txt–12060008a ārjavaṃ bhṛtyabharaṇaṃ navaite sārvavarṇikāḥ

9 tenets:

अक्रोधः, सत्यभाषणं, परस्परविनिमयेन भोजनं, क्षमागुणः, स्वपत्नीरतत्वं, शुचिः, द्वेषद्रोहभावयोः राहित्यं, सरलप्रकृतिः, सेवकानां पालनं पोषणञ्चेति नव गुणाः चतुर्षु वर्णेषु समानरूपेण आचरितुं आनुसर्तुञ्च योग्याः भवन्ति ।

saṃvibhāga = allowing others what is due to them, sharing one’s wealth with others

Akrodaha Being free from anger, Samvibhaga sharing one’s wealth with others, Forgiveness (Kshama), Truthfulness, Procreation of children from ones wife alone = brahmacarya or prajanana shoucham- purity (in mind, though and deed), Not betraying the trust or confidence reposed, Adrohaha- absence of enmity, Maintaining the persons dependent on oneself.

The principle of “Samvibhagaha”, requires that the employers must share the profit arising out of running any industry or business with the employees. It means that as an employer runs his business, trade or industry only with the help of the employees, they should be given a reasonable share in the profit earned. If the principle of ‘Samvibhagaha’ remains uppermost in the mind of the employers and in the light of this principle they regulate their own life style and appropriate only a reasonable portion of the profit for themselves and distribute the profit among the employees, the relationship between the two would be cordial, and it would also promote a sense of gratitude among the employees towards the employers, which in turn increases the output of work both in quality and quantity. It is a matter of common knowledge that only when the employees see that the employers are indulging in extravagant and wasteful expenditure, while denying a reasonable share of profit to the employees, the industrial unrest begins. Even today, we see that in certain industries or business or trade, where employers look after their employees as their own children with love and affection and give a reasonable share in the profit to them, not only is the relationship between the two cordial but also the efficiency of the workers increases and they work as missionaries and not as mercenaries. Therefore, the principle of Samvibhaga constituted the fundamental Dharma to be observed by the employers towards their employees.

The rest of the chapter (12.60) describes varṇa dharma, i.e., the dharma to be followed by brāhmaṇas (12.60.8–12), kṣatriyas (12.60.13–20), vaiśyas (12.60.21–26) and śūdras (12.60.27–35).

MBh14.txt–14094031a eṣa dharmo mahāṃs tyāgo dānaṃ bhūtadayā tathā MBh14.txt–14094031c brahmacaryaṃ tathā satyam anukrośo dhṛtiḥ kṣamā MBh14.txt:14094031e sanātanasya dharmasya mūlam etat sanātanam

13147022a ahiṃsā satyam akrodho dānam etac catuṣṭayam 13147022c ajātaśatro sēvasva dharma eṣa sanātanaḥ

4 tenets: nonviolence, truth, non-anger, charity

13023019a ahiṃsā satyam akrōdha ānṛśaṃsyaṃ damas tathā 13023019c ārjavaṃ caiva rājendra niścitaṃ dharmalakṣaṇam

5 tenets: nonviolence, truth, non-anger, renouncing cruelty, self-control, non-hypocricy–bhAhVNw4sKHULKAIoQ6AEwBHoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=anrsamsyam&f=false

See also 12.285.23–24

12,285.023a ānṛśaṃsyam ahiṃsā cāpramādaḥ saṃvibhāgitā 12,285.023c śrāddhakarmātitheyaṃ ca satyam akrōdha ēva ca 12,285.024a sveṣu dāreṣu saṃtoṣaḥ śaucaṃ nityānasūyatā 12,285.024c ātmajñānaṃ titikṣā ca dharmāḥ sādhāraṇā nṛpa

1.The performance of Sraddha or offering oblations to the forefathers, 2.Religious austerity, 3.Truth, 4.Restraint of anger, 5.Satisfaction with one’s wife, 6.purity, 7.Learning, 8.Absence of envy, 9.Knowledge of the Self and 10.Forbearance

apramāda: heedfulness

MBh 3.298.7–8 (Yakṣa to Yudhiṣṭhira, see Gretil)

7 yaśo satyaṃ damaḥ śaucam ārjavaṃ hrīr acāpalam dānaṃ tapo brahmacaryam ity etās tanavo mama 8 ahiṃsā samatā śāntis tapo śaucam amatsaraḥ dvārāṇy etāni me viddhi priyo hy asi sadā mama

13,128.025 maheśvara uvāca 13,128.025a ahiṃsā satyavacanaṃ sarvabhūtānukampanam 13,128.025c śamo dānaṃ yathāśakti gārhasthyo dharma uttamaḥ

5 qualities for gṛhasta: nonviolence, truth, compassion, forbearance, charity

anukampā = compassion, dayā?


12,007.006a sādhu kṣamā damaḥ śaucam avairodhyam amatsaraḥ 12,007.006c ahiṃsā satyavacanaṃ nityāni vanacāriṇām

7 tenets: all qualities of forest-dwellers: forgiveness, sense control, purity, non-enmity, non-jealosy, non-violence, truth

[Gita Press 5.35.55, Mahāsubhāśita samgraha 3599]

yajñō dānam-adhyayanaṃ tapaś-ca catvāry-etāny-anvavētāni sadbhiḥ damaḥ satyam-ārjavam-ānṛśamsyaṃ catvāry-etāny-anuyānti santaḥ

4 qualities associated with the good: yajña, dāna, Vedic study, penance 4 qualities followed by the good: dama (=indriya-nigraha), satya, ārjava (=saraḷatā/simplicity, honesty), ānṛśaṃsya (=kōmalatā/gentleness)

[Gretil, taken from “Applied Dharma”] 12,156.008a satyaṃ ca samatā caiva damaś caiva na saṃśayaḥ 12,156.008c amātsaryaṃ kṣamā caiva hrīs titikṣānasūyatā 12,156.009a tyāgo dhyānam athāryatvaṃ dhṛtiś ca satataṃ sthirā 12,156.009c ahiṃsā caiva rājendra satyākārās TRAYODAŚA

These 13 are forms of Truth: truthfulness (satya), equanimity (samatā), self-control (dama), absence of self-display (amātsarya), forgiveness (kṣamā), modesty (hrī), endurance (titikṣā), absence of envy (anasūyatā), charity (tyāga), a noble well-wishing of others (dhyāna), self-possession (satataṃ sthirā), compassion (dhṛti)and harmlessness (ahiṃsā)

Gautama dharmasūtra

GautAA_1,8.23 / GautSṯ8.22: athāṣṭāv ātmaguṇāḥ |

GautAA_1,8.24 / GautSṯ8.23: dayā sarvabhūteṣu kṣāntir anasūyā śaucam anāyāsomaṅgalam akārpaṇyam aspṛheti |

8 tenets (soul-qualities): compassion towards all beings, forbearance, freedom from envy, cleanliness, freedom from over exertion, auspiciousness, freedom from misery and freedom from greed


KAZ01.3.13/ sarveṣām ahiṃsā satyaṃ śaucam anasūya ānṛśaṃsyaṃ kṣamā ca //

Vāmana Purāṇa

svādhyāyaṃ brahmacaryaṃ ca dānaṃ yajanamēva ca / akārpaṇyamanāyāsaṃ dayāhiṃsā kṣamā damaḥ // VamP_11.23 //

jitendriyatvaṃ śaucaṃ ca māṅgalyaṃ bhaktiracyute / śaṅkare bhāskare devyāṃ dharmoʼyaṃ mānavaḥ smṛtaḥ // VamP_11.24 //

(14 qualities)

Bhagavad gītā

śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam /18.42/


amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam ācāryopāsanaṁ śaucaṁ sthairyam ātma-vinigrahaḥ

indriyārtheṣu vairāgyam anahaṅkāra eva ca janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam

asaktir anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ putra-dāra-gṛhādiṣu nityaṁ ca sama-cittatvam iṣṭāniṣṭopapattiṣu

mayi cānanya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī vivikta-deśa-sevitvam aratir jana-saṁsadi

adhyātma-jñāna-nityatvaṁ tattva-jñānārtha-darśanam etaj jñānam iti proktam ajñānaṁ yad ato ’nyathā


abhayaṃ sattvasaṃśuddhiḥ jñānayōgavyavasthitiḥ (3 qualities) dānaṃ damaśca yajñaśca svādhyāyastapa ārjavam (6 qualities)

ahiṃsā satyamakrōdhastyāgaḥ śāntirapaiśunam (6 qualities) dayā bhūtēṣvalōluptvaṃ mārdavaṃ hrīracāpalam (5 qualities)

tējaḥ kṣamā dhṛtiḥ śaucamadrōhō nātimānitā (6 qualities) bhavanti sampadaṃ daivīmabhijātasya bhārata

Total: 26 qualities

[Nagesh Sonde]

Absence of fear, purity of mind, equanimity between wisdom and action, charity, self-restraint, sacrifice, reflection on the self, austerity and uprightness, non-injury, Truth, non-anger, renunciation, tranquility, non-envy, compassion towards creatures, non-covetousness, gentleness, modesty and steadfastness, energy, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, non-malice, nor excess of pride.

ārjavam = uprightness


SB 7.11.8–12 satyaṁ dayā tapaḥ śaucaṁ titikṣekṣā śamo damaḥ ahiṁsā brahmacaryaṁ ca tyāgaḥ svādhyāya ārjavam

santoṣaḥ samadṛk-sevā grāmyehoparamaḥ śanaiḥ nṛṇāṁ viparyayehekṣā maunam ātma-vimarśanam

annādyādeḥ saṁvibhāgo bhūtebhyaś ca yathārhataḥ teṣv ātma-dēvatā-buddhiḥ sutarāṁ nṛṣu pāṇḍava

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ cāsya smaraṇaṁ mahatāṁ gateḥ sevejyāvanatir dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-samarpaṇam

nṛṇām ayaṁ paro dharmaḥ sarveṣāṁ samudāhṛtaḥ triṁśal-lakṣaṇavān rājan sarvātmā yena tuṣyati

(30 qualities)

Patanjali’s Yoga sutra

ahiṃsāsatyāsteyabrahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ || YS_2.30 ||

These 5 qualities (yamaḥ) are EXACTLY the 5 principles of Jains

śauca-saṃtoṣa-tapaḥ-svādhyāyeśvara-praṇidhānāni niyamāḥ || YS_2.32 ||

Chāndogya upaniṣad

[See Mohanty’s Classical Philosophy, Chap 7, pg 112]

atha yat tapo dānam ārjavam ahiṃsā satyavacanam iti tā asya dakṣiṇāḥ || ChUp_3,17.4 ||

5 qualities: austerity, chairty, simplicity, nonviolence, truthfulness

Āruṇeya Upaniṣad

brahmacaryam-ahiṃsā cāparigrahaṃ ca satyaṃ ca yatnēna hē rakṣata hē rakṣata hē rakṣata iti

Verse 3

Carefully guard (oh, ye all who are concerned) your chastity (in thought, word and dēd), non-injury, non-acceptance of (superfluous) gifts, non-thieving and truthfulness – guard them by all means, aye, do guard!

Padma Purāṇa

Matsya Purāṇa

dānaṃ śaucaṃ satyamatho hy ahiṃsā hrīḥ śrīstitikṣā samatānṛśaṃsyam / rājantyetānyatha sarvāṇi rājñi śibau sthitānyapratime subuddhyā / ēvaṃ vṛttaṃ hrīniṣevī bibharti tasmācchibir abhigantā rathena // MatsP_42.20 //


Truth · Nonviolence · Temperance · Purity


  1. https://webcache.gōgleusercontenṭcom/search?q=cache:Vxwf8uP_1CYJ:https://www.speakingtrē.in/blog/samanya-dharma+ʼcd=1ʼhl=knʼct=clnkʼgl=in


Manu Smriti (10.63) gives a list of five tenets; Artha-shastra (1.3.13) mentions six tenets; Yajnavalkya Smriti (1.122) mentions nine tenets; Mahabharata (12.60.7–8) also mentions nine tenets; Vamana Purana (11.23–24) mentions fourtēn tenets and Bhagavata Purana (7.11.8–12) mentions thirty tenets as sAmAnya dharma that are applicable to every persoṇ


Dharma assumes various kinds: Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law), Samanya Dharma (general duty), Visesha Dharma, (special duty), Varnasrama Dharma (duties of Caste and Order), Svadharma (one’s own duty), Yuga Dharma (duty of the Age), Kula Dharma (duty of family), Manava Dharma (duty of man), Purusha Dharma (duty of male), Stri Dharma (duty of female), Raja Dharma (duty of king), Praja Dharma (duty of subjects), Pravritti Dharma (duty in worldly life) and Nivritti Dharma (duty in spiritual life).


Manu, in his treatise Manusmrti goes to the extent of defining the features of dharma in terms of values like self-possession, forbearance, bodily discipline, non-theft, purity of body and mind, sense-control, intellectual efficiency, wisdom or knowledge (awareness), truth and non-anger and declares that they are the characteristics of dharma (Manusmrti 6.92).

List: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Shauca, indriya-nigraha, daya, danam, anasuya, ksama, svadhyaya, brahmacarya

Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Law), Samanya Dharma (general duty), Visesha Dharma (special duty), Varnashrama Dharma (duties of caste and Order), Svadharma (one’s own duty), Yuga Dharma (duty of the age or period in history), Kula Dharma ((duty of family), Manava Dharma (duty of man), Purusha Dharma (duty of male), Stri Dharma (duty of female), Raja Dharma (duty of king), Praja Dharma (duty of subjects), Pravritti Dharma (duty in worldly life) Nivritti Dharma (duty in spiritual life). / damaḥ manaso viṣayonmukhyanivṛttisaṃśīlanam/ y damo bāhyendriya-saṃyamaḥ | damaś ca bāhya-karaṇānām upaśamaḥ ahiṃsāhiṃsanaṃ prāṇināṃ pīḍā-varjanam | satyamapriyānṛta-varjitaṃ yathā-bhūtārtha-vacanam |

Lots more quotes : http://www.sanskrit-linguisticṣorg/dcs/index.php?contents=fundstellenʼIDWord=101165ʼIDTopic=66