Can anyone please explain what is Dhamma in few paragraphs if possible?

A similar question was asked by Rahula in Samyukta Nikaya but what I have is English translation of the conversation which leaves me with doubts. Also I want to establish meaning of Dhamma before asking few more questions based on it.

  • 2
    This question seems very broad because dhamma can mean many things. Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 11:39
  • In Samyukta Nikaya Buddha answers the question of Rahula thus put :"Then the Venerable Rahula approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: "Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief, so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute."" Then Buddha goes on to explain Dhamma. Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 11:44
  • @DheerajVerma Could you quote the exact sutta that you are referring to? Perhaps providing a link to it as well?
    – ruben2020
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 4:59
  • I have a book "A translation of Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikku Bodhi" in which on page 694 the above conversation between Rahula and Buddha is reported. Online it can be found here Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 5:14
  • In this answer I summarized nearly all the suttas which Dhammadhatu's comment says are the handful of sufficient core suttas. And the other answers to that topic might interest you.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 21:33

7 Answers 7


The term dhamma has multiple meanings in Buddhism. Dhamma is defined in the accesstoinsight.org glossary page as:

dhamma [Skt. dharma]:(1) Event; a phenomenon in and of itself; (2) mental quality; (3) doctrine, teaching; (4) nibbāna. Also, principles of behavior that human beings ought to follow so as to fit in with the right natural order of things; qualities of mind they should develop so as to realize the inherent quality of the mind in and of itself. By extension, "Dhamma" (usu. capitalized) is used also to denote any doctrine that teaches such things. Thus the Dhamma of the Buddha denotes both his teachings and the direct experience of nibbāna, the quality at which those teachings are aimed.

If you want to know more about Dhamma, the doctrine and teachings of the Buddha, see this page.

If you want to know more about dhamma (mental quality or mental object), the fourth foundation of mindfulness, see this page, this page and the Satipatthana Sutta.

  • I want to know Dhamma as understood by Buddha when he was asked "Could you please explain Dhamma in brief?"... Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 13:51

In the Rahula Samyutta, the word 'Dhamma' refers the teachings of 'ultimate or higher truth' (lokuttara dhamma), which lead to developing the Noble Eightfold Path & enlightenment. As stated:

Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief, so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent and resolute.

In response, the Buddha teaches Rahula about impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & not-self, which is a teaching leading to Nibbana (rather than mere mundane teachings about kamma & 'rebirth', which are not 'Dhamma' with a capital 'D').

The Pali is: "bhagavā saṃkhittena dhammaṃ desetu"; if searched at: https://suttacentral.net/, will probably find wherever this phrase is used, the outcome of the suttas found (see link) is Nibbana or enlightenment. This shows the word 'Dhamma' in the contexts means 'higher truth' rather than 'phenomena' or 'mind object'.

This is the right or proper way to study Buddhism, namely, examining how a word is used in the context of the various suttas.

Using dictionaries & ordinary scholar explanations is the wrong way to study Buddhism, causing lifelong confusion. Dictionaries & commentators is 2,400 years of the blind leading the blind.

  • Buddha answers 3 characterizes of 6 āyanana to rāhala to go to dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent and resolute, so dhamma that asked by rāhula definitely is not lokuttara dhamma (4 magga 4 phala 1 nibbāna). He asking for an object of kammaṭṭhāna (6 āyanana).
    – Bonn
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 16:44
  • Your comment is wrong. Anatta-Ayatana is lokuttara. Please stop commenting on my posts with unless Abhidhamma. MN 117 & SN 20.7 define what lokuttara dhamma is. The sutta to Rahula ends with a teaching about Nibbana. Thanks Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 18:58
  • It is end with nibbāna, but the end is not answer of sutta. The answer id before the end. And the topic owner ask for Dhamma word that buddha answered before the end of sutta. Reference of lokuttara: Suttanta K.N. Paṭi (by sāriputta-mahāsāvaka)-- katamo lokuttaro vimokkho? cattāro ca ariyamaggā, cattāri ca sāmaññaphalāni, nibbānañca – ayaṃ lokuttaro vimokkhoฯ (What is lokuttara-vimokkha? They are 4 ariya-magga, 4 phala, and nibbāna.)
    – Bonn
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 19:55
  • I follow the Buddha (and not scholars who have never practised). Your comments are wrong. Your method of study leads only to blind faith & repeated recitation of magical words. It is like the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) who wrapped himself in blankets and recited endless words. Regards Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 23:37
  • You lying everybody by using theravāda-tipitaka, but you never faith any theravāda-methods. I am a theravāda. I can claim to make the listener see the truth, that you try to hide from them. because I use theravāda-tipitaka without a bad faith to lie the listener by cutting tipitaka off. You trying to cutting off tipitaka, dhammadhātu. I see it in every post of you. I always straightforward by tipitaka, commentary, sub-commentary, bh. pa-auk word by word. So I just make people see your lying by making them see the truth that appear in tipitaka. I'm sorry, for your vippaṭisara.
    – Bonn
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:53

Dhamma is truth. Dhamma is wisdom. Dhamma is the path to liberation of suffering. Dhamma is the teaching about truth to attain wisdom.

  • What is the Truth ? Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 12:19
  • 1
    I would need to talk for innumerable amount of years to tell you what is the Truth. You would not realize it because of the wisdom I communicated to you, but because of you being bored of me communicating it to you. What I'm telling you is that nobody can tell you what is the Truth, but you. Only by yourself you can realize the Truth. I cannot realize it for you. I can guide you towards realization of the Truth, but cannot tell you what it is, because realization of what the Truth is depends solely on you.
    – beginner
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 13:00

The saṃyuttanikāya cakkhusutta that was quoted by the topic owner, already answered by buddha.

Rāhula asked for an object (dhamma) for contemplating (insight meditation), so buddha answered 6 āyatana (dhamma) that have 3 characterizes (dhamma's property) for contemplating, to him.

    1. 1.

(1) Cakkhu - The Eye

  1. I heard thus. At one time the Blessed One was living in the monastery offered by Anāthapiṇḍika in Jeta's grove in Sāvatthi.

  2. Then venerable Rāhula approached the Blessed One worshipped and sat on a side.

  3. Sitting on a side venerable Rāhula said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, Blessed One, may I be taught (dhamma) so that I would withdraw and seclude and abide diligent and zealous to dispel.”

  4. “Rāhula, is the eye (dhamma) permanent or impermanent?”

“It's impermanent, venerable sir.”

“That which is impermanent is it unpleasant or pleasant?”

“It's unpleasant, venerable sir.”

“That which is impermanent, unpleasant, a changing thing is it suitable to be considered `that is mine, I am that, it's my self?'”

“That is not so, venerable sir.”

  1. “Rāhula, is the ear ... re ...

  2. ... re ... nose ... re ...

  3. ... re ... tongue ... re ...

  4. ... re ... the body ... re ...

  5. ... re ... the mind permanent or impermanent?”

“It's impermanent, venerable sir.”

“That which is impermanent is it unpleasant or pleasant?”

“It's unpleasant, venerable sir.”

“That which is impermanent, unpleasant, a changing thing is it suitable to be considered `that is mine, I am that, it's my self?'”

“That is not so, venerable sir.”

  1. “Rāhula, the noble disciple seeing it thus turns away from the eye, turns away from the ear, turns away from the nose, turns away from the tongue, turns away from the body and turns away from the mind.

  2. “Turning away detaches himself, is dispassionate and is released. Released, knowledge arises, `Birth is destroyed, the holy life is lived, duties are done, there is nothing more to wish'.”

  • Yes. That is correct but I was looking for a summary. Something like "Sabbe sankhara anicca" "Sabbe sankhara dukkha" "Sabbe sankhara anatta" Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 22:27
  • It is "Sabbe Dhamma Anatta" not "Sabbe sankhara anatta"
    – SarathW
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 22:37
  • 1
    Summāry are truth: 121 consciousnesses, 52 mind objects, 28 matters, and 1 nibbāna. And summary also is imagination: paññtti. This is called abhiññeyyadhamma in sutta. See paṭisambhidāmagga, abhidhamma, and learn pāli for more detail.
    – Bonn
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 2:08

You want to know what Dhamma is in briefly, well Dhamma is everything that prince siddhartha understood by himself when he became the lord buddha. Dhamma is everything lord buddha taught to his followers. in very briefly Dhamma is what we learning and following today as Buddhists.


As if you want to know same as Buddha explained to Rahula it is, nothing is eternal. Everything has to cease and that he trying to get from Rahula if he understand suffering at all. And what we desire with sensation of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind that we have to overcome sensuality with these sixth strings of sensuality and further things he explained are Form, Consciousness, Contact, Feeling, Perception, Volition, Craving, Elements, and Aggregates. Buddha explaining Rahula that all Forms, Consciousness, Contact, Feeling, Perception, Volition, Craving, Elements we get sense with sixth strings of sensuality and those aren't permanent. He explained with Element that after we die body and soul merge in the earth Elements and that elements also aren't eternal. And eventually aggregates that everything Form, Consciousness, Contact, Feeling, Perception, Volition, Craving, Elements (That we could get sense with sixth strings of sensuality are eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) are Impermanent.

Forms : sounds, odors, tastes, tactile objects, mental phenomena forms we get through sixth sense.

Consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness , tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness and mind-consciousness.

Contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact and

Feeling: feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of tongue-contact, feeling born of body-contact and feeling born of mind-contact.

Perception: perception of sound, perception of odors, perception of tastes, perception of tactile objects, perception of mental phenomena.

Volition: volition regarding form, volition regarding sound, volition regarding odors, volition regarding tastes, volition regarding tactile objects, volition regarding mental phenomena.

Craving: craving for form, craving for sound, craving for odors, craving for tastes, craving for tactile objects, craving for mental phenomena.

Elements: The water element, The heat element, The air element, The space element, The conscious element

Aggregates: form, feeling, perception, volitional formation, consciousness

So see the beginning and the end. I'd say telescopic like if we have to sensuality with sixth strings of sensation we experience(impermanent) everything as Buddha explained so Rahula experiences revulsion towards forms, revulsion towards consciousness.
Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. He understands.
So we have to free from this all and have to achieve peace and Nirvana.
This is Dhamma


The Dhamma is a way of training that prompts intelligence and freedom from torment. One's comprehension of Dhamma turns out to be ever more profound and significant as one advances along the way, old exercises uncovering new certainties as one creates further knowledge and comprehension of Dhamma; "Similarly as the sea has a slow retire, a continuous slant, a steady tendency, with a sudden drop-off simply after an extended length, similarly this Doctrine and Discipline (Dhamma-Vinaya) has a slow preparing, a continuous execution, a slow movement, with an entrance to gnosis simply after an extended length". The fundamental significance of rehearsing Dhamma is to Mindfully hone contemplation, learn and show Dhamma as one has comprehended it, and consolidate it with the ethical standards of Sila , and to utilize these devices to live as indicated by the standards of the Noble Eightfold Path.

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