A dharma name is a sacred name that a student or disciple of a religious or spiritual tradition is given to mark his/her initiation or other special occasions. Someone being ordained as a monk or nun may also be given a dharma name.
Most common in Buddhist traditions, the dharma name is also called a precept name, refuge name, dhamma name, or sangha name. Dharma is a Sanskrit word meaning “duty,” “virtue” and “righteousness.” It also refers to the ethical precepts of Buddhism.
Dharma is an important Hindu, Buddhist and yogic concept, referring to a law or principle which governs the universe. For an individual to live out their dharma is for them to act in accordance with this law. Dharma is considered to be one of the three jewels of Buddhism, alongside sangha and buddha, together paving the path to enlightenment. In Hinduism, it is one of the four main philosophical principles along with Artha, Kama and Moksha. It can also be understood as a law of righteousness and satya (truth), giving order to the customs, behaviours and ethics which make life possible.
The implication of dharma is that there is a right or true way for each person to carry out their life in order to serve both themselves and others. Dharma is closely related to the concepts of duty and selfless service, or seva, and is therefore a fundamental principle of yoga. Although it can be a challenging concept to grasp since it has no single-word English translation, a close adaptation is “right way of living”.