What are the Hindu Code of Conduct (Ethics)?


In Santana Dharma, the "right way of living" is preached in many scriptures. Actually the Sanskrit word "Dharma" itself stands for similar meaning.

Ethics (Ethical code or Code Of Conduct) are taught in various ways in Hindu Scriptures like as Divine Commandments in Vedas-Upanishad, Bhagavad Gita. In terms of Yama (यम) & Niyama (नियम) in Smriti literatures ("Dharma Shashtra") and in Yoga.


  • According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः।।2.30।।

[1] 2.30 Self-restraint in actions includes abstention from violence, from falsehoods, from stealing, from sexual engagements, and from acceptance of gifts.

  • According to Hatha Yoga (Pradipika) [1]

अहिंसा सत्यमस्तेयं बरह्मछर्यं कष्हमा धॄतिः |
दयार्जवं मिताहारः शौछं छैव यमा दश || १७ ||

The ten rules of conduct are: ahiṃsâ (non-injuring), truth, non-stealing, continence, forgiveness, endurance, compassion, meekness, sparing diet and cleanliness. 17.

So, There are 10 Yamas:

  1. Ahiṃsa (अहिंसा): Non-violence, Non-injury
  2. Satya (सत्य): Truthfulness
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): Non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): Divine conduct, Chastity
  5. Kshama (क्षमा): Patience, Forgiveness
  6. Dhṛti (धृति): Steadfastness, Fortitude
  7. Daya (दया): Compassion
  8. Aarjava (आर्जव): Honesty, non-hypocrisy, Sincerity
  9. Mitahara (मिताहार): Moderate Appetite, Measured diet
  10. Saucha (शौच): Purity, Cleanliness


  • According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,

शौचसंतोषतपः स्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः।।2.32।।

[1]2.32 The fixed observances are cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study and persevering devotion to God.

  • According to Hatha Yoga (Pradipika) [1]

तपः सन्तोष्ह आस्तिक्यं दानमीश्वर-पूजनम |
सिद्धान्त-वाक्य-शरवणं हरीमती छ तपो हुतम |
नियमा दश सम्प्रोक्ता योग-शास्त्र-विशारदैः || १८ ||

The ten niyamas mentioned by those proficient in the knowledge of yoga are: Tapa, patience, belief in God, charity, adoration of God, hearing discourses on the principles of religion, shame, intellect, Tapa and Yajña.

So, There are 10 Niyamas:

  1. Hri(ह्री): Remorse (Acceptance of one's past, modesty, humility)
  2. Santoṣa(सन्तोष): Contentment (Acceptance of others and of one's circumstances as they are, optimism for self)
  3. Aastikya(आस्तिक्य): Faith (in God, Scripture)
  4. Dana(दान): Giving, generosity, charity, sharing with others
  5. Ishvarapujana(ईश्वरपूजन): Worship of (Ishvara, God, Brahman)
  6. Siddhanta Shravana (सिद्धान्त श्रवण): Scriptural listening
  7. Mati(मति): Cognition (thinking and reflecting to develop wisdom and spirituality according to guidance of Guru)
  8. Vrata (व्रत): Sacred vows (Fulfilling vows, rules and observances faithfully)
  9. Japa(जप): Recitation (reciting sacred sound, prayers)
  10. Tapas(तपस्): Austerity, persistence, perseverance towards the goal or purpose.

For the better understanding and explanation it is recommended to go through scripture or books on this topic. Also note that no. of Yama and Niyama may change according to different scripture, above is the most adopted or significant code of conduct in Hinduism universally.

Following are some useful pages/articles you may visit:

Iamge Source

[1] Quoted from Sacred Texts

Related: What are the canonical texts in Hinduism for morality and ethics?

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