Most Hindus are familiar with the term "Sanātana Dharma" which is used in several scriptures. E.g., Manusmṛti 4.138 uses the term as follows:

satyaṃ brūyāt priyaṃ brūyānna brūyāt satyamapriyam |
priyaṃ ca nānṛtaṃ brūyādeṣa dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ || 138 ||

He shall say what is true; and he shall say what is agreeable; he shall not say what is true, but disagreeale; nor shall he say what is agreeable, but untrue; this is the eternal law. — (138)

But why is Sanātana Dharma also called Ārṣa Dharma (आर्ष धर्म) sometimes?

Is it a colloquial term or actually used as such in any of our scriptures?

If so, what are some scriptures that use the term ārṣa dharma?

  • @svCan u post some verses as well where its been so called?
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 6:08
  • 2
    @Rickross Google arsha dharma – some people are using that terminology. If I knew the verses then I can easily find the scriptures also myself :) Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 6:12
  • @sv.: Good question Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 17:39

3 Answers 3


According to Sanskrit Dictionary,

आर्ष relating or belonging to or derived from ṛṣi-s (id est the poets of the Vedic and other old hymns) , archaistic [1][2] etc. Image1

आर्ष the speech of a ṛṣi-, the holy text, the veda-s [3][4][5] Image

आर्ष the derivation (of a poem) from a ṛṣi- author. Image

[1] Literary Source: mahābhārata
[2] Literary Source: rāmāyaṇa
[3] Literary Source: nirukta, by yāska
[4] Literary Source: ṛg-veda-prātiśākhya
[5] Literary Source: manu-smṛti

You can refer Wiktionary also.

Let me quote two lines from Wikipedia:


In Sanskrit, forms of the root rish become arsh- in many words, (e.g., arsh)


Traditional Sanskrit scholars call such deviations ārṣa (आर्ष), meaning 'of the ṛṣis',

So, the Sanskrit word Arsh is related to or belongs to Rishis; you may heard Brahmarshi, Maharshi, Devarshi, etc.

The things related to Rishis (more precisely "of Rishis") are called Arsh like Arsh Grantha, Arsh Vakya etc.

In similar way, as Sanatan Dharma is based on Vedas and called Vedic Dharma. Vedas are handed down by Rishis who are the Drashta (seer) of Vedic hymns. So, Vedic Dharma laid down by Rishis is called Arsh Dharma.


We find the word "Arsha" being used in the Manu Smriti itself.Its used in the context of declaring the 8 forms of marriage.

Manu Smriti 3.20. Now listen to (the) brief (description of) the following eight marriage-rites used by the four castes (varna) which partly secure benefits and partly produce evil both in this life and after death.

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Brahmo Daivas Tatha Eva Arshah Prajapatyas Tatha Asuraha || Gandharvo Rakshas Cha Eva Paishachas Cha Ashtamo Adhamaha ||

3.21. (They are) the rite of Brahman (Brahma), that of the gods (Daiva), that of the Rishis (Arsha), that of Pragapati (Pragapatya), that of the Asuras (Asura), that of the Gandharvas (Gandharva), that of the Rhashasas (Rakshasa), and that of the Pisakas (Paisaka)

Description of Arsha Vivaha is as follows:

3.29. When (the father) gives away his daughter according to the rule, after receiving from the bridegroom, for (the fulfilment of) the sacred law, a cow and a bull or two pairs, that is named the Arsha rite.

So,Arsha basically means which is related to the Rishis(Sages) & "Arsha Dharma" is "Dharma which is related to the Rishis" or another way to put it-"Dharma of the Rishis".


A look at any samskRta dictionary reveals that the word ArSa has several meanings in Sanskrit ; primary among them are :-

  1. belonging to or related to or derived from rishis

  2. speech of a rishi

  3. veda

It also means hoary or sanatanam.

Hinduism is based on veda and divination of rishis and is hoary. All these are encapsulated in the word "ArSa".


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