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In the Hindu cultural tradition, stretching over more than three millennia, dharma is the concept that is generally considered synonymous with law. Dharma is also more broadly and importantly rendered as moral obligation or righteousness, and more loosely as religion. As the moral foundation of the social order, dharma is an aspect of cosmological stability (rita), which in turn is comparable with natural law.

Traditionally, it was the king's duty (raja-dharma) to uphold the prevailing laws, to command, to protect, and, when necessary, to administer punishment (danda) for violations of established norms. The king had no legislative powers; his commands were divine commandments. He was guided by his advisers, who were Brahmans well versed in the laws available in the textual tradition comprising mainly the Dharma ...

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