In Indian religion, the eternal law of the cosmos, inherent in the very nature of things. In Hinduism, dharma is seen as the cosmic law both upheld by the gods and expressed in right behaviour by humans, including adherence to the social order. In Buddhism, it is interpreted as universal truth or law, especially as proclaimed by the Buddha. In Jainism, it is conceived both as virtue and as a kind of fundamental substance, the medium of motion.
The word comes from Sanskrit, literally ‘decree or custom’.