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The term Dharma (from the root dhr – to uphold or sustain) is sometimes taken as meaning ‘duty’, ‘right way of living’, ‘virtue’ or ‘divine law’. In the context of the Hindu caste system, it refers to the expectations & obligations placed on an individual due to their position in the caste system and their stage of life – their ‘moral duty’, if you like. So the dharma of a Brahmin for example, would be different from the dharma of a merchant. Dharma is one of the four purusharthas “aims of life”. Dharma is both a pattern of ethical regulation and the (divine) justification of that pattern. It’s important to note that one’s dharma changes as one’s life-situation changes.

In Buddhism, dharma is sometimes used to refer to discrete phenomena, or “constituent factors” (constructs) such as mental states.