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Varṇāśramadharma

Varṇāśramadharma. The code of conduct by which a Hindu should live, according to his ascribed status by birth (varna), his stage of life (āśrama), and the dharma, or appropriate duty laid down for each of these. Interpretation of the four aims of life—dharma (moral righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (pleasure), and mokṣa (release from the cycle of existence)—will be influenced by varna and āśrama. Conformity to varṇāśramadharma provides the ideal Hindu social order.

The most authoritative formulation is in the Manusmṛti. It remains the orthodox Hindu ideal, although it is seldom if ever followed exactly according to Manusmṛti.

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