For Hindus, dharma is the moral order of the universe and a code of living that embodies the fundamental principles of law, religion, and duty that governs all reality. By following one’s dharma, a person can eventually achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara). In the traditional Hindu view, a person’s duties are dependent upon his or her age, gender, occupation, and caste.Mohandas Gandhi argued that dharma should be understood in more spiritual terms. He reinterpreted the role of dharma in Hindu society by highlighting its moral precepts and portrayed it as a dimension of human freedom.
The Buddha’s teaching and discipline (vinaya) are leading to dispassion, being unfettered, simplicity, modesty, contentment, independence, persistence, and not being burdensome.
While this can be seen as a form of ethical teaching, it is also a teaching about doing those things that support the cultivation of a peaceful and liberated mind.
On one occasion a confrontational individual wishing to debate with Buddha, asked him what he proclaims, then Buddha answered :
I assert and proclaim in such a way that one does not quarrel with anyone in the world… ; in such a way that concepts no longer underlie a person who abides free of sensual desire, perplexity, worry, and craving for any kind of identity.
—Middle Length Discourses 18.4
The external meanings of dharma are presented by the Buddha in order to help his audiences cultivate a basic understanding of the world and to lead
them to his ethical teachings as being in accord with reality. Dharma also means phenomena or the Law of Nature, as revealed in the the Buddha’s teachings of truth. While the external meanings dharma refer to things existing regardless of human involvement, the internal meanings of dharma refer to certain qualities, values or principles existing in the human mind or depending on human interpretation such as moral law, righteousness, and duty.
Dharma is the truth about the nature of things as represented in the Buddha’s teachings and penetrated by human knowledge and wisdom.
It is the truth needed by those who want to purify themselves, to end suffering in this world, to gain happiness and virtue, and to reach nibbana (nirvana).