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Ārjava (Sanskrit: आर्जव) literally means sincerity, straightness, and non-hypocrisy.[1] It is one of the ten yamas in ancient Hindu and Jaina texts.[2]


Ārjav means straightness, sincerity, and harmony in one’s thought, words, and actions towards oneself and towards others.[1] Kane translates arjava as straightforwardness.[3] It is described in ancient Indian texts as “self-restraint from hypocrisy", and "the absence of hypocrisy”. It is included as one of several virtuous restraints in an individual's path to spirituality. The Maharashtrian poet Vāmana in Avigita, at xvi.1, posits arjava is a form of honesty and purity in a person, and an essential virtue so that one may treat everyone equally, whether that other is one’s child, wife, relative, friend, a stranger, or someone hostile or oneself without any discrimination.[1]

The ethical concept of arjava is synonymous with Adambha (अदम्भ, composite word from अ+दम्भ). Adambha also means non-deceitful, straightforwardness, and sincerity.[4] It is listed as a virtue in the Indian Epics.[5]


Arjava is one of the ten yamas listed by Śāṇḍilya Upanishad,[2] as well as by Svātmārāma.[6][7] The other nine are:

  1. ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence
  2. satya (सत्य): truthfulness
  3. asteya (अस्तेय): not stealing
  4. brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): celibacy and not cheating on one’s spouse
  5. kṣamā (क्षमा): forgiveness[8]
  6. dhṛti (धृति): fortitude
  7. dayā (दया): compassion[8]
  8. mitāhāra (मितहार): measured diet
  9. śauca (शौच): purity, cleanliness

In some texts, such as by Adi Sankara, this virtue is called as bhavasamsuddhi, and explained as purity of motive and freedom of mind from hypocrisy, both in one’s social conduct and within oneself where one’s thoughts, words, and actions resonate.[1] It is a virtue that empowers one to act and live without anxiety, anger, prejudice, inner conflict, or confusion. It is also discussed in Bhagwad Gita in verse 17.16.[9]

The Mahābhārata, in book 12, chapter 60, lists adambha (non-hypocrisy) as a virtue along with akrodha (non-anger), kshama (forgiveness), and others.[5] In chapter 278, the epic explains how and why hypocrisy arises, suggesting that it derives from the sin of covetousness, greed, and attachment to superficial possessions.[10]

Patanjali's treatise on Yoga lists only five yamas, which includes non-covetousness and non-possessiveness (asteya and aparigraha respectively), but does not include arjava.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sinha, J. (1986), Indian Psychology, p. 142, at Google Books, Volume 2, Motilal Banarsidas, OCLC 1211693, page 142
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Śāṇdilya-Upanishad of Atharvaṇaveḍa". Thirty Minor Upanishads. Translated by Aiyar, K. Narayanasvami. Kessinger Publishing. 1914. pp. 173–176. ISBN 978-1164026419.
  3. Kane, Pandurang Vaman (1974). "History of Dharmaśāstra". Ancient and Mediæval Religious and Civil Law in India. 2 (1): 5. OCLC 134943.
  4. "Adambha". Sanskrit English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 27 December 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Proudfoot, Ian (1987). Ahiṃsā and a Mahābhārata Story. Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-7315-0143-4.
  6. Svātmārāma; Pancham Sinh (1997). The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (5 ed.). Forgotten Books. p. 14. ISBN 9781605066370. अथ यम-नियमाः / अहिंसा सत्यमस्तेयं बरह्यछर्यम कश्हमा धृतिः / दयार्जवं मिताहारः शौछम छैव यमा दश
  7. Lorenzen, David (1972). The Kāpālikas and Kālāmukhas. University of California Press. pp. 186–190. ISBN 978-0520018426.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Sovatsky, Stuart (1 January 1998). Words from the Soul: Time East/West Spirituality and Psychotherapeutic Narrative. State University of New York Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7914-3949-4.
  9. The Bhagavad Gita. Translated by Chapple, Christopher Key. State University of New York Press. 2009. p. 649. ISBN 978-1-4384-2842-0.
  10. "Shanti Parva: The Mahabharata, Section CCLXXIII". Translated by Ganguli, K.M.
  11. The yoga-system of Patañjali; or, The ancient Hindu doctrine of concentration of mind, translated by Woods, James Haughton, Courier Dover Publications, 2003, ISBN 978-0-486-43200-7