The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha are the three refuges of Buddhism. The Buddha is the teacher; the Dharma is reality as it is, or the teachings, or the truth; the Sangha is the brotherhood of all Buddhists in general, and the brotherhood of Buddhist monks in particular.

Indeed, for one to officially become a Buddhist, all one has to do is say the following three times in a row. And, of course, one has to mean it:

In Sanskrit:

  • buddham saranam gaccami
  • dharmam saranam gaccami
  • sangham saranam gaccami

In Pali, same as in Sanskrit, except dharmam becomes dhammam.

A different, slightly more literal translation of the three refuges is: