Pronunciation: [dˈɑːmɐʃˌastɹə] (IPA)

The word "dharmashastra" is often misspelled due to its complex composition. In IPA phonetic transcription, "dharmashastra" is pronounced as /dʱərmaʃastra/. The first syllable "dhar" is pronounced with a voiced retroflex stop followed by an aspirated dental plosive. The second syllable "ma" is pronounced with a short "a" sound, while "shastra" is pronounced with a retroflex fricative, aspirated dental plosive, and "ra" sound. Due to its complex pronunciation, it is important to pay close attention to the spelling of "dharmashastra" to avoid any confusion.

DHARMASHASTRA Meaning and Definition

  1. Dharmashastra is a term derived from the Sanskrit words "dharma," meaning "law" or "duty," and "shastra," meaning "treatise," "guide," or "manual." It is a vast and ancient branch of Hindu law, jurisprudence, and ethics that encompasses a comprehensive set of rules and principles governing human behavior and societal norms.

    Dharmashastra offers guidelines on various aspects of life, including personal conduct, social hierarchies, family matters, contracts, commerce, crime, punishment, and inheritance. These laws are based on ancient Hindu texts, primarily the Manusmriti (Laws of Manu), which prescribes the duties and obligations for individuals according to their caste and stage of life. Other significant texts such as the Arthashastra (Economics) and the Niti Shastra (Political Science) also contribute to the formation of dharmashastra.

    The purpose of dharmashastra is to establish and uphold the moral, righteous, and just order in society, ensuring harmony, peace, and progress. It seeks to regulate human behavior by providing guidance on ethical conduct, social responsibilities, and the maintenance of social order. Dharmashastra emphasizes the importance of duty, righteousness, and virtuous actions.

    While dharmashastra is deeply rooted in Hindu religious and cultural traditions, it deserves scholarly attention and analysis as it has profoundly influenced the Indian legal and societal system throughout history. Its principles and ideas, although originated in ancient times, continue to inspire debates, discussions, and interpretations in modern times, contributing to the ongoing evolution and understanding of Indian ethics and legal theory.


The word "dharmashastra" is composed of two Sanskrit terms: "dharma" and "shastra".

"Dharma" refers to the concept of righteousness, duty, law, and morality in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It encompasses the moral and ethical principles that guide individuals and society. The word "dharma" is derived from the Sanskrit root "dhr", which means "to hold", "to maintain", or "to sustain".

"Shastra" means a text or treatise that deals with a particular subject. It is derived from the Sanskrit root "shas", which means "to instruct", "to teach", or "to order".

Therefore, "dharmashastra" can be translated as the "text or treatise on dharma".