I asked a question which indirectly asked about Adhamma. However there was no direct refutation of Adhamma.

So , I had to ask this question directly: Is there anything called as Adhamma in the Suttas ? In Sanskrit there is a word Adharma as opposite of dharma.

Adharma (Sanskrit: अधर्म) is derived from combining "a" with "dharma", which literally implies "not-dharma". It means immoral, sinful, wrong, wicked, unjust, unbalanced, or unnatural.

Suppose I say forms are you or yours or yourself . Feelings are you or yours or yourself. Perceptions are you or yours or yourself. Choices are you or yours or yourself. Consciousness is you or yours or yourself.

Then can the above observation or teaching be called Dhamma or Adhamma?

I am asking this to clarify the meaning of Dhamma.

2 Answers 2


Does https://suttacentral.net/define/dhamma?lang=en answer this question? It tries to "clarify the meaning of Dhamma".

And it mentions "adhamma", and references three suttas which include that word, including DN 26.

In DN 26 it's used in these words

  • adhammakāro (tr. "injustice")
  • adhammarāgo ("illicit desire")

So it's used there like an adjective to qualify a noun, meaning something like "wrong" or "unrighteous".

I guess saying, "forms are you or yours or yourself", is an example of what might be called "wrong view" -- for which the Pali is micchā-diṭṭhi.

  • I am not talking about just view.What if I not only hold the view but also believe it and teach it. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 18:29
  • 1
    Yes I think the word adhamma is used for that -- in MN 22, in the sentence, "By understanding the simile of the raft, you will even give up the teachings, let alone what is against the teachings".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 19:40
  • This is path breaking for me. I will do some more research and get back to you. Thanks. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 19:46

Adhamma is mentioned in Theragāthā 4.10:

“[The] Dhamma [itself] surely protects one who practices Dhamma;

“Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacāriṁ,

the teaching brings happiness when practiced well.

Dhammo suciṇṇo sukhamāvahati;

This is the benefit of practicing Dhamma:

Esānisaṁso dhamme suciṇṇe,

one doesn’t go to a bad destination.

Na duggatiṁ gacchati dhammacārī.

It’s not the case that Dhamma and what is not Dhamma

Na hi dhammo adhammo ca,

lead to the same results.

ubho samavipākino;

What is not Dhamma leads to hell,

Adhammo nirayaṁ neti,

while Dhamma takes you to a good [happy] place.

dhammo pāpeti suggatiṁ.

Similar to the contextual use above, the word 'adhamma' is found in MN 22:

By understanding the simile of the raft, you will even give up the teachings, let alone what is against the teachings.

Kullūpamaṁ vo, bhikkhave, dhammaṁ desitaṁ, ājānantehi dhammāpi vo pahātabbā pageva adhammā.

Footnote by Sujato translator: The pair dhamma and adhamma usually means “the teaching” and “against the teaching” (eg. AN 2.104). The negative form has a stronger sense than simply “not the teaching”; it implies there is something unnatural, in conflict with the way the world is.

Thus again from AN 2.104:

“Mendicants, there are two fools.

“Dveme, bhikkhave, bālā.

What two?

Katame dve?

One who perceives what is not the teaching as the teaching, and one who perceives the teaching as not the teaching.

Yo ca adhamme dhammasaññī, yo ca dhamme adhammasaññī.

These are the two fools.”

Ime kho, bhikkhave, dve bālā”ti


  • We are already blessed. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 20:29

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