SANATAN DHARMA means the eternal religion, the Ancient Law, and it is based on Vedas, sacred books given to men many long ages ago. Sanatan Dharma is a code of ethics, human value system, principles of life and a way to enlightenment and liberation. Sanatan Dharma is the most ancient and also the most vibrant living traditions of the world.
In later days the religion was called the Hindu Religion and this is the name by which it is now usually known. It is the oldest of living Religions, and no other Religion has produced so many great men, great teachers, great writers, great sages, great saints, great kings, great worriers, great statesmen, great patriots. The more we know of it, the more we will honor and love it, and the more thankful we will be that we are born into it.
The term Sanatan points out to something that is anadi (beginingless) and ananta (endless), meaning that it is beyond time and is eternal. The term Dharma comes from the root word ‘Dhri’ that means to sustain or to hold together.
Sanatan Dharma is in fact the Natural Law or the principle of reality that is at the basis of the design of the universe and in this sense it is natural, ancient, and eternal. Freedom of belief and expression are at the root of Sanatan Dharma. Though different individual manifest religion differently, they are all enjoined to experience the oneness of God as the ultimate truth. Sanatan Dharma views the entire cosmos as the manifestation of the supreme reality. In this way, everything created including the living and non-living are considered to be Divine.
Our Spiritual Master emphasizes the inseparable bond that man enjoys with the supreme reality and enjoins him to make efforts to realize the sense of supreme oneness with God. This is said to be the true and ultimate purpose of human life. For strengthening this bond we have to repeat these dynamic words-
Hey Nath! Hum Aapke hein aur Aap humare hein.
Hey Nath! Hum Aapko bhulun nahi.
THE BASIS OF SANATAN DHARMA
The Ancient Religion is based on one strong foundation on which are erected the walls of its structure.
The foundation is called SHRUTI (श्रुतिः) “that which has been heard”, the walls are called SMRITI (स्मृतिः) “that which has been remembered”.
The Shruti has been given through very wise men, who heard it and received it from Devas; these sacred teachings were not written down till comparatively modern times, but were learnt by heart, and constantly repeated. The teacher sang them to his pupils, and the pupils sang them after him, a few words at a time, over and over again, till they knew them thoroughly. Sadhaks still learn the Shruti in the same way as their forefathers learnt it in very ancient days, and we may hear them chanting it in any Vadika Pathashala at the present time.
The Shruti consists of the Chaturvedas (चतुर्वेदः) -Tha four Vedas. Veda means knowledge, that which is known. The knowledge which is the foundation of religion is given to man in the four Vedas. They are named –
- Rigvedah (ऋग्वेदः)
- samavedah (सामवेदः)
- Yajurvedah (यजुर्वेदः)
- Atharvavedah (अथर्वेदः)
Each Veda is divided into three parts:
- Mantra (मंत्रः) or Samhita (संहिता) collection.
- Brahmanam (ब्राह्मणं)
- Upanishad (उपनिषद)
The Mantra portion consists of Mantras, or sentences in which the order of sounds has a particular power, produces certain effects. These are in the form of hymns to the Devas- whose relations to men we shall study presently-and when they are properly chanted by properly instructed persons, certain results follow. These are used in religious ceremonies, and the value of the ceremony depends chiefly upon their proper repetition.
The Brahmana portion of the Vedas consists of directions about ritual and explains how to perform the ceremonies in which were used the Mantras given in the first part; and further, stories connected with them.
The Upanishad portion consists of deep philosophical teachings on the nature of Brahman, on the Supreme and the separated Self, on man and the universe, on bondage and liberation. It is the foundation of all philosophy. Those who study it, find delight in it. Only highly educated men can study it; it is too difficult for others.
There was a fourth part of the Veda in the ancient days, sometimes called the Upavedah (उपवेदः) , Tantram (तंत्रम); this consisted of Science and of practical instructions based on the science; but very little of the truth ancient Tantra remains as the Rishis took them away as unsuitable for times in which people were less spiritual.
Some Tantrika forms of ritual are however used in worship along with or instead of the current Vaidika forms. The books now extant under the name of Tantras are generally not regarded as part of the Veda. That which is found in the Shruti is of Supreme authority and is accepted by every faithful follower of the Sanatan Dharma as final.