Sanatana Dharma (Part 1)
Sanatana Dharma is literally translated as The Eternal Religion. Where did this originate? To whom did it belong? To understand this we need to find out the origin of the word ‘Hindu’.
People living on the eastern side of the river Sindhu (Sindh or Indus) were known as Sindhus. In course of time the ‘S’ changed into ‘H’ and they came to be known as ‘Hindus’. This race followed a set of principles that they called the ‘Sanatana Dharma’ or ‘Eternal Principles’.
Eternal means that which has existed, is existing and will exist. It is not dependent on anything for its existence. Something like Science! This is ‘Truth’. ‘Truth’ does not change at any point of time. This is ‘Sanatana’.
Dharma on the other hand is the conscious awareness of this Truth in and through all activities of life. This set of people lived a life that was closely associated with this ‘Truth’. This practice of complete consciousness of the ‘Truth’ in and through all life’s activities was practiced by these Hindus.
The foundation of this way of life is compressed in this aphorism – ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ (That Thou Art).
That = Unknown Reality, God
Thou = You, the Individual
Art = Are
Therefore; ‘You are God’
As Emerson puts it, “Every man is God playing the fool.”
As the Bible puts it, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”
With this truth reflecting in every aspect of life, ‘Sanatana Dharma’ or ‘Hinduism’ is a way of life.
Whenever ‘Dharma’ (righteous life) declines and ‘Adharma’ (unrighteous life) abounds, a Self-Realized soul appears to set things right again. Over the centuries, many realized souls, at different parts of the world, at varied times, have been born to establish Dharma and destroy Adharma and this has led to the establishment of many ways of life or ‘isms’. The truth however has never changed and all the ‘isms’ claim the same goal. Lead you to the same ‘Eternal Truth’.
When man stoops down to ‘Adharma’, or forgets his ‘Dharma’, he moves away from ‘Godhood’. Religion or ‘the various isms’ is but a way to get back to this ‘Eternal Truth’ or ‘ Godhood’ or ‘Self-Realization’. Religion helps man to re-discover one’s original self. The word Religion in English and Yoga in Sanskrit mean the same. Religion etymologically is derived from the Latin term ‘Re’ & ‘ligare’. ‘Re’ means back and ‘ligare’ means to bind. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the root word ‘yuj’ and it means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’.
This said Hinduism seems to contradict itself by claiming to advocate a single God but in practice worshipping so many gods, containing so many sects, creeds etc. Is this a contradiction or is there an explanation to the same? We will see in the next blog!!