The entire edifice of Indian philosophical thought, known as ‘Sanathana Dharma’ is founded firmly on Vedas. It is the perennial wisdom of ages. Vedas are the original Scriptures of Hindu teachings, and contain spiritual knowledge encompassing all aspects of our life, also for the mankind in general. They can be really supposed to be the basic constitution of all religions. Humans did not compose it and hence it is known as ‘apourusheya’. They have stood the test of time. ‘Veda’ means wisdom, knowledge or vision. The laws of Vedas regulate the social, legal, domestic, and religious customs of the Hindus to the present day. All the obligatory duties of the Hindus at birth, marriage, death etc. owe their allegiance to the Vedas. The Vedas are mainly compiled by Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana around the time of Lord Krishna.
Sanathana Dharma, embracing Vedas, draw forth the thought of successive generation of thinkers, and so from time to time according as the situation demands, essential things are added on to it, unnecessary things are made obsolete from it and requisite modifications suitable to the time are brought to it periodically to keep it always new, fresh and most useful to man, without even any damage to its pristine glory. It is handed down through generations by the word of mouth from time immemorial by ‘Mantradrashtas’ or Rishis of the yore, as ordained. It is very strong and everlasting. No one can destroy it. Since it is intended for the well being of all people on the mother Earth, hopefully one day the whole world will accept it, irrespective of caste, creed or color, as a panacea. If the world is to live in peace and prosperity, it is also absolutely essential to propagate and cherish Sanathana Dharma. I believe that as long as Sanathana Dharma is there, nothing will happen to Hinduism, whatever may be done against it by anyone, since they are one and the same. We need not worry much about that, provided we trust, imbibe and follow its doctrines strictly, and put it into practice truly, sincerely and with dedication.
Sanathana Dharma has numerous connotations. Literally Sanathana Dharma may mean eternal righteousness. It is really Vedic Dharma. Dharma denotes duty. Dharma also means virtues, righteousness, natural laws, giving alms, sa`th etc. There is also a famous axiom, ‘Dharmo rakshathi, rakshitha’, meaning, one who protects Dharma, is protected by Dharma. “Ahinmsā Paramo Dharma”, meaning, non-violence is the chief of all Dharmas. Any type of cruelty is also considered as Adharma. ‘Dharmam chara’ is used to mean Practice righteousness — act according to your Dharma. Now, Dharma is a complex word with innumerable meanings.
Sanathana Dharma is a perennial philosophy. It is supposed to be the breath of Lord, and hence it is natural and ubiquitous and hence people who love Sanathana Dharma, love nature also. It extols love towards God and hence it is Supreme Dharma, by which the heart of man achieves his highest welfare. It is Eternal Faith. It embodies all ancient Hindu Scriptures, and it is Vaidika Dharma, embracing Vedic injunctions. Though it is very vast and exhaustive, at the core of Sanathana Dharma, we can find four fundamental doctrines to follow, namely:-
1. The entire phenomenal world –the perceptible universe – Drshya Prapancham, with all its diversities consisting of every animate and inanimate object of creation, is only the manifestation of ONE single Divine Ground, known as BRAHMAN, and apart from that they are all nonexistent.
2. Human beings can, not only acquire knowledge about this Divine Ground by study of Scriptures, observation, reasoning and inference, but can also realize its existence by a direct communion with it through contemplation and meditation.
3. Man possesses a double nature of which one is a phenomenal ego confined to the body, mind and intellect, and the other is higher Ego, which is the Eternal Self, surpassing the limitations of all earthly concepts of self-identification. It is possible for man through spiritual practice, and Divine Grace through Guru’s blessings, to realize his identity with the Supreme Eternal Self, the BRAHMAN.
4. Man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose; and that is to realize his identity with the Eternal self and thus attain the undivided, unitive knowledge of the Divine ground –BRAHMAN, and act accordingly.
BRAHMAN is the only one Scientific Supreme Truth and it forms the Akhanda (Infinite), Nithya, Sathya, Shudha, Budha, Mugdha Swaroopa or the Omniscient and Omnipotent.
The word ‘BRAHMA’ literally means ‘to grow’ or ‘to expand’ or ‘swell’. Adi Shankara puts it as the quintessence of his philosophy: “BRAHMA SATHYAM; JAGAT MITHYA, JIVO BRAHMAIVA NA APARAH”- Brahman (the Absolute) is alone real; this world is unreal; and the Jiva or the Individual soul, is non-different from Brahman. The forces opposed to Vedic Dharma were more numerous and powerful at the time of Adi Shankara than they are today. We owe him so much on that account, because without him Vedas would have remained inaccessible to us. BRAHMAN is not an object, it is the Subject- the only Subject and the Essence. It is constituted by Sat-Chit-Ananda; Sat, that which exists eternally; Chit, is the light of knowledge; and Ananda is bliss. This is precisely the true nature of our spirit.
The electro-magnetic waves of the Scriptures contained in Sanathana Dharma are helping all of us, in our day today life, knowingly or unknowingly to a great extent in making improvements in various fields of our lives individually, physically, mentally and spiritually. Sanathana Dharma is really meant for all and it is above religion; it envisages that every individual should attain the Self and thus bring about the welfare of humanity. It is beautifully depicted in Manusmrthy that we should handle Sanathana Dharma, little delicately aswell:
“satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyam apriyam
Priyam ca nanrutam bruyat esha dharmah sanatanah”, meaning:
All that you speak must be truth, but you do not have to say all that is true. Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. This is the path of eternal morality or Sanatana Dharma.
All Scriptures of other religions put together will come to only half of the Scriptures in Sanathana Dharma. Approximately 1280 foundation books are there, in hundreds of languages, with more than 10,000 commentaries, and more than one lakh of sub-commentaries. The Scriptures therein, reveal 330 million gods, hundreds of thousands of Rishis and a huge variety of ‘acharas’, rituals etc, among many other precious gems of axioms, aswell.
God Bless America.