The Five Dharma Types: Discover Your Unique Spiritual Path and Mind Body Constitution


Discover Your Dharma Type

Below you will find a test to help you discover your dharma type. Choose the answers that describe you best; you can choose up to four for each multiple choice question if you are unable to decide. Not all of their qualities have to fit, though they should at least elicit a gut reaction of “yeah, that’s me”—even if you don’t necessarily like them! Check the answer key at the bottom of the test to tally your choices. The two that receive the most tallies likely indicate your dharma type.

*Another way to find your dharma type is to consult your Vedic life map. This requires an accurate birth time and place, though it is often possible to use general information such as “around 10 a.m.” This technique not only zeroes in on dharma type, which remains the same, but also on the sequence of life cycles (different periods experienced as we travel through life and assume different roles and karmas).

“Often we see ourselves differently from how the rest of the world perceives us.”


It is useful to have friends or relatives help us with the tests and descriptions. Often we see ourselves differently from how the rest of the world perceives us. We may also be in a cycle that makes it difficult to access our essential dharma type. Life cycles can tint our basic expression like different colored lenses—some enhance our light while others sometimes diffuse it—so take your whole life into consideration when reading the following descriptions, and have a friend or relative help you in the process. Looking at yourself from childhood to now will provide a complete portrait that should help determine your type.

Dharma Type Self Test

Circle the answers that best apply to you. You may choose more than one answer for each question if applicable. Try to think of qualities that are permanent in you, how you have always been, rather than how you are at times or during recent changes in your life. Tally them up at the end to determine your dharma type.

1. Choose the word that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. Freedom
b. Loyalty
c. Wisdom
d. Honor
e. Prosperity

2. Choose the phrase that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. Independence and Bliss
b. Love and Devotion
c. Worldliness and Knowledge
d. Discipline and Perfection
e. Entertainment and Fun

3. Choose the phrase that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. I love being alone. Sometimes I hate people, sometimes I like them, but they usually don’t understand me.

b. I don’t mind being alone as long as I have something constructive and productive to do.

c. I love being alone. I like people but I need time to spend by myself for quiet contemplation and rejuvenation.

d. I don’t mind being alone, as long as I have a goal to accomplish.

e. I hate being alone. I prefer the company of people, even if I don’t know them.

4. Choose the phrase that means the most to you or describes you best. 

a. I like strange, dark, or wild and remote places no one has ever thought of or been to.

b. I like the plains and wide expanses of earth. I like living close to the ground, on ground floors rather than in high-rise apartments.

c. I like high and remote places. I like upper floors, high-rise buildings, and living above others looking down.

d. I like challenging places, places that are high, but not so high as to be remote. I like fortified and strong places.

e. From the Beverly Hills to gently rolling slopes, I like places where the action is, places that are easy to get to, but also exclusive. I like living in the middle ground, not too high, not too low, where there is activity and access to the world.

5. Choose the sentence that describes you best.

a. I am the rebel or black sheep of my family. As a parent, I give freedom to my kids and let them individualize themselves from others.

b. I am deeply bonded with my family. As a parent, I nurture my kids by making sure they are well fed, healthy, and content.

c. I tend to teach my family and urge them to improve themselves. As a parent I make certain my kids learn how to think for themselves, get a good education, and understand the world.

d. I am the strong one in my family. As a parent I lead by example and earn my kids’ respect with discipline and order.

e. I actively support my family with shelter and resources. As a parent I provide for my kids and make sure they understand the value of money, self-effort, and making your way in the world.

6. In religion I most value the following:

a. Going my own way.
b. Faith and devotion.
c. Study and scripture.
d. Penance and discipline.
e. Rituals and observances.

7. In marriage I most value the following:

a. An unconventional spouse, one who understands my particular quirks and desires.

b. A dutiful spouse who is loyal and provides for me: a woman who cooks and cleans/a man who brings home the bacon.

c. A sensitive, intelligent spouse.

d. A challenging spouse with whom I can do activities.

e. A beautiful spouse.

8. I mainly watch TV for:

a. Horror, alternative political and spiritual viewpoints, science fiction (like the sci-fi, FX, indie, and alternative channels).

b. Family, drama, history, and community programs (like soap operas, reality TV, daytime shows, cartoons, entertainment gossip, and reruns).

c. Educational, thought-provoking, human-interest stories and entertainment (like National Geographic, PBS, Syfy, and documentary channels).

d. Sports, action, news, and politics; adventure stories and entertainment (ESPN, CNN, etc.).

e. Fun programs, drama, music, comedy, game shows, financial and motivational stories and entertainment (like HBO, the Comedy Channel, and Spike).

9. Under stress I tend to: 

a. Bend the rules or lie to get my way; feel invisible and self-deprecate.

b. Become lazy, close down in my own space, and worry a lot.

c. Be scatterbrained, feckless, and wishy-washy.

d. Become anger prone, inattentive, and reckless.

e. Be moody, depressed, loud, and restless.

10. At my best I am:

a. A revolutionary, an inventor, a genius.

b. A devoted friend, a hard worker, a caregiver.

c. A counselor, a teacher, a diplomat.

d. A leader, a hero, a risk taker.

e. An optimist, a self-starter, a promoter, an adventurer.

Answer Key for Self Test I

Tally your answers now. The most selected letter likely reflects your dharma type.

a. Outsider
b. Laborer
c. Educator
d. Warrior
e. Merchant

BE FIT: Your Type as a Guide for Life

In this chapter we will look at how to master your dharma type and use it to reach your potential in every area of your life. Even if you are completely new to these archetypes, the BE FIT five-step plan will take you from zero to hero in no time.

“Speak truth and do your dharma.” – Taittiriya Upanishad

spiritual-path-dharma-type-mountainsknowing your dharma type is a critical tool for helping you navigate the path of life. photo: joshua earle

“B”—Be Yourself

The first step is to get to know your dharma type. Once you’ve taken the test and narrowed it down to one or two types, read the summaries below and take them out for a spin. Get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses associated with each type.*

*For more detailed information on each dharma type, refer to my book The Five Dharma Types. Or you might consult with a dharma type practitioner to help you understand your type, the life cycles, and the specific challenges at any given time.


+ Strongly idealistic, but not necessarily practical
+ Noted for intelligence and grasp of abstruse concepts
+ Generally not forceful, physically less resilient than other 
+ Good counselors, but unable to follow their own counsel
+ Motivated by truth rather than money, but prone to indiscretions like anger, lust, or greed due to a lack of control over their senses
+ Sanskrit terms: jnanadayaakshanti: wisdom, compassion, forbearance


+ Culture, beliefs, race, physicality, and other traits make them different from their immediate environment
+ Travels to or lives in foreign lands and different or unusual places
+ Absorbs and adopts foreign ideologies and concepts
+ Incredibly adaptive, able to blend in and wear many hats
+ Resents establishment and the “normal” life of others
+ Keenly aware of injustices in society, be they economic, educational, or political
+ Values personal freedom over other things
+ Sanskrit terms: anandakaivalyasvatantriya: bliss, isolation/independence, freedom


+ Motivated by challenge to improve self and others
+ Interested in protecting those who cannot protect themselves
+ Responds to defiance and competition
+ Values knowledge, wisdom, and innocence in others
+ Sanskrit terms: yuktiviryaviveka: skill, strength, 


+ Strongly motivated to secure personal and family interests
+ Needs to be around others, feels lonely or empty without company
+ A smooth talker: likeable, glib, socially active, and highly entertaining
+ Feels best when giving, at first to family, then to community, and eventually the world
+ Understands how the Merchant society functions and is good at taking advantage of it
+ Sanskrit terms: shaktirasadanam: energy, juiciness, charity


+ Strong likes and dislikes
+ Deep sense of community and belonging
+ Emotional ties and loyalty to their own things: family, country, job, home team
+ Good physical strength and endurance, and a powerful work ethic
+ Capable of great service and self-sacrifice
+ Strong intuition and specific intelligence, but not well rounded
+ Sanskrit terms: bhaktisevadhriti: devotion/love, service, solidity/endurance

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