Do you want to live a life with freedom, not merely physical, political or economic freedom, but emotional freedom - living without any feeling of guilt or remorse; mental freedom - living without the fear of the wrath of God, the pressure to do duties to please God, the fear of hell and the fear of death? If so there is a solution. By following the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma, you can lead a life with freedom and find salvation in death. Go through this write-up and then share it with your friends.
What is Sanatana Dharma?
Sanatana Dharma is a way of living based on rationality, compassion, ethics, simplicity, equality and in harmony with nature. Sanatana Dharma believes in non-duality and oneness of all things. Sanatana Dharma is all about freedom, love, brotherhood of mankind and living a life free from ego, hatred and pride.
How Sanatana Dharma is different from Hinduism?
The name Hindu was the word used by the Persians (Iranians) to describe the religion practiced by the people living on the eastern side of River Sindhu which they pronounced as Hindu. Hence the name Hindu for Sanatanis, Hinduism for Sanatana Dharma and Hindustan for Bharath (the real name of India) came into vogue.
According to Swami Abhedananda, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, as in our physical body there are different stages of growth like childhood, youth and maturity, so in the spiritual life there is spiritual childhood, spiritual youth and spiritual maturity. While the Vedas are the outcome of the spiritual childhood phase, the Upanishads are the outcome of the spiritual maturity phase. A majority of those who identify themselves as Hindus have adapted the tenets and practices as espoused in the Vedas and the Tantras (spiritual practices meant for the commoners as against the Vedas which is meant for the elite class). But Sanatana Dharma as interpreted by Swami Vivekananda follows the tenets enunciated by the Upanishads and the philosophy of Advaita which is based on the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.
Why Sanatana Dharma?
All over the world we are witnessing socio-political conflicts and religious strife taking heavy toll of human lives. Though there are forums to mediate disputes between conflicting groups, their role has been reduced to insignificance. Hence there is an urgent need for mankind to change his way of thinking and behavior if a major catastrophe has to be averted and human race being extinguished. A new all-embracing ethical order based on scientific temper, reasoning and humanness is the need of the hour and the tenets of Sanatana Dharma fulfill this. Sanatana Dharma believes in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbam (the whole world is one family) and Sarvam Brahmamayam (everything is Brahman i.e., Supreme Spirit). Sanatana Dharma does not make discrimination between races, nationality, religion, gender and class and recognizes divinity in all living forms including animals. In Sanatana Dharma there is no concept of a God sitting in the cloud and wielding a rod and punishing his followers for non-compliance of his orders or for people worshipping other Gods.
Purpose of human life
The purpose of a human life is to become aware of one’s divinity; to realize that we are a part of the Whole. This Truth was discovered by the ancient seers of Bharath (India), who spent their whole lives contemplating on the purpose and meaning of human life. The result was the composition of Upanishads, a vast body of spiritual treatise. It was based on the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, that the great spiritual Guru, Adi Shankaracharya propounded his Advaita philosophy, which is the rock bed of Sanatana Dharma.
Uniqueness of Sanatana Dharma
Anyone can adopt the principles as enunciated in the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma, be it a Muslim, Christian, Jew or a follower of animism. There is no need to change your name, diet, dress, say prayers in an alien language, undertake pilgrimages, sacrifice animals or worship new Gods. In Sanatana Dharma there is no central authority like a Pope/Imam, Church/Mosque or an exclusive holy book like Bible and Koran. You can continue to pray your former God and show reverence to your prophets. Practicing the tenets as espoused by Sanatana Dharma does not uproot you from your culture or country.
Sanatana Dharma has two level of spiritual progress for its adherents, a lower level called vyavahaarika and a higher level called paaramarthika. At the vyavahaarika stage a worshipper can venerate any God he wishes and with the grace of God becomes eligible to contemplate the oneness of the soul with the supreme soul, which he achieves at the paaramarthika stage. This contemplation he does with the aid of meditation which transcendent his mind to a higher level of awareness.
Main principles of Sanatana Dharma
- The tenets of Sanatana Dharma is universally applicable for all times
- Sanatana Dharma does not believe in the concept of heaven and hell or create fear about facing the wrath of God if He is not pleased with certain acts by his followers.
- Sanatana Dharma is not a religion with dogmatic rules and regulation with strict do’s and don’ts. Nor does it believe in attracting adherents by using force, by inducement or by trickery. Even followers of other religions without giving up their faiths can obtain salvation by following the philosophy of Advaita based on the teachings of Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.
- Sanatana Dharma is highly scientific and believes in the concepts of Karma (actions) and Rebirth. For achieving self-realization it offers different paths for people with different temperaments.
- Normally in all religions an adherent prays and begs God to fulfill his/her wishes; seek blessings and repents for his/her sins so that he may seek a place in the heaven. But followers of Sanatana Dharma can transcend from this materialistic mode of worship and seek for the ultimate bliss by knowing his true Self. Who I am, is the enquiry a follower of Sanatana Dharma makes and finally realizes that he is a part of the divine.
- Sanatana Dharma believes that everything (animate and inanimate) is a manifestation of Brahman (God), Sarvam Brahmamaya. This was a bold declaration by ancient Indian seers. When each one of us is God, where is the need for fear, to feel guilty or even the need to put efforts for salvation? The only thing is to realize our true being and this realization happens through contemplation and meditation.
How to become a Sanatani (a follower of Sanatana Dharma)
In just three steps, you can become a Sanatani
- Discontinue the rituals and obligations prescribed in your old religion. (But you can continue to offer prayers to the God of the religion to which you belong).
- Study books on the philosophy of Advaita, Bhagavad Gita and meditation.
- Start practicing meditation.
Is a guru/authority/institution ceremony required to accept Sanatana Dharma?
Sanatana Dharma is all about inner transformation. There is no initiation ceremony, taking a vow or undergoing purificatory rites to become a Sanatani. If you are convinced and have a desire to transform your life, all you have to do is abandon following the codes prescribed in your old religion, read books containing the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma and start doing meditation.
Why meditation is important in Sanatana Dharma?
It is through meditation that the individual consciousness merges with the universal consciousness. When this happens, an individual attains moksha or salvation, which is the ultimate goal of Sanatana Dharma.
Sources for acquiring knowledge about Sanatana Dharma
First read books on the teaching of Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda), Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj; majority of them can be downloaded from the internet for free. Written in simple English they are easily comprehensible even to a layman. After reading these books proceed to read Bhagavad Gita and books on Advaita philosophy and Upanishads, published by the Ramakrishna Mission. Finally read books on meditation and start practicing it. Some of the finest books on meditation can also be downloaded from the internet for free. See http://www.holybooks.com/