The word dharma comes from the Sanskrit word dhri, which means to uphold or to sustain. From this perspective, dharma can be defined as that which upholds or sustains the positive order of things: the family, the community, the nation, and ultimately the universe. For the sake of this discussion, the concept of DHARMA can be broken down into two parts: the whole (Dharma) and its individual parts (dharma).
Dharma (the whole) refers to the set of actions that must be taken to sustain the overall order of a society or the cosmic order of the universe. For example, the Dharma of a policeman is to serve the people of the community and protect them from harm. The Dharma of a government is to rule its country with judiciousness. The Dharma of a religion is to provide people with a moral foundation on which to stand.
dharma (the individual parts) refers to the set of actions that must be taken to uphold or sustain the individual or the family. For example, the dharma of the householder is to earn enough money to sustain his or her family. The dharma of a student is to attend classes regularly and do the work required to pass them.