Sanathana is a Sanskrit word that means Anadi (beginningless). Sanathana further means timeless and beyond the time dimension. Its suitable meaning is something natural and which is eternal. It further implies that it was there, it is there and it will be there forever. It has no beginning or end.
Dharma is from the Sanskrit word ‘dhri’, which means to hold together, to sustain. It further means truth based on righteous conduct, integrity and harmony in the Universe and about the affairs of life. Dharma represents the character, rights, duties, religion, customs, and all behavior considered righteous and morally reputable. It further means that Dharma is in accordance with Nature, moral, ethical, pious, lawful, etc.,
Thus Sanathana Dharma means “the natural, ancient and eternal way”. Dharma otherwise called Vaidika Dharma, which is the original name of what is now we generally call Hinduism or Hindu Dharma. Hinduism is considered to be the oldest of the world’s existing religions. One may get Moksha(liberation) by following Dharma, the way of living which is the symbol of ethics. It is the world’s most ancient culture and religious tradition.
Sanathana Dharma consists of duties that are usually Spiritual in nature. It refers to Soul or Spirit and thus cannot vary from person to person. Swadharma is their own distinctive role in life by way of discharging their prescribed duties set up by the great Sages according to Vedas and Upanishads.
Bhagavat Githa in Chapter 3 verse 35 classifies what Swadharma is:
Sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah
para – dharmat svanusthitat
sva -dharma -Nidhanam sreyah
para – dharmo bhayavahah
It is better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though there may be defects in following them than following another’s duties. Death in the course of performing one’s own Dharma is better than following another’s path( Dharma) which is dangerous.
In the Indian epic Ramayana, Sri Viswamithra( Kaushika) was a great Rishi. He was a great saint and master in many arts and also in archery. Once he wanted to conduct a Yagna, and for this, he wanted the help of Rama and Lakshmana, the sons of Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya. As a Rishi, his Dharma is not to fight with anyone though he is well versed in Archery because fighting is Paradharma for him. As Rama and Lakshmana are Kshyatriyas, Viswamithra taught them the secrets of archery and about many terrible weapons and their use. While conducting Yagna, the demons Maricha and Subahu, created obstacles for the Yagna. Then Ram and Lakshmana killed them because their Dharma is to fight with Asuras(Demons) when they tried to create terror and kill the sages and other pious people.
In the Mahabarath, Dhronacharya, who was a Brahmana, and the royal preceptor to the Kauravas and Pandavas. He was a master of advanced military arts, including the divine weapons of Astras. As a brahmana, his Dharma is to teach the arts to his disciples and not to take part in the war. But he fought against Pandavas and killed thousands of Pandava soldiers and he was one of the persons who killed Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna by backbiting in the war. Participating in the war is the Dharma of Kshatriyas but not the Dharma of Dhrona as a Brahmana. He adopted Paradharma knowing fully well that it is very dangerous and as a result in due course of time, he was beheaded by Dhrishtadyumna, the Army General of Pandavas.
Sanatana Dharma comprises spiritual laws which govern human existence. Dharma is also said to be the force that maintains the Universe. Where there is Dharma, there is harmony and balance in life. When Dharma is not followed, there will be disharmony, imbalance along with fierce quarrel and fighting between the people of different religions
Lord Sri Krishna in Bhagavath Githa in Chapter l6 verses 1 to 3 described Dharma as follows:-
Fearlessness, purification of one’s existence, developing spiritual knowledge, charity, self-control, sacrifice, study of Vedas, austerity, simplicity, non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from Anger, renunciation, tranquility, aversion to fault finding, compassion and freedom from covetousness, gentleness, modesty and steady determination, vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, freedom from envy and the passion for honor, these qualities of spiritual nature belong to dharmic people endowed with Divine Nature.
In a simple way we can know that:
If any action is performed without fear, without hiding, without feeling shame and with valor, it is DHARMA and if any act is done by feeling shame, fear, hiding, hesitation and cowardliness, it is
“Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitaha”
If you protect Dharma, Dharma will protect you and still it holds good even now. Dharma and Karma are not separate and interrelated. They both support each other. If you do good, good will be returned to you. If you indulge in evil actions, you have to reap their consequences. Dharma is God itself. If we won’t follow Dharma, life becomes difficult and sorrowful.
Every soul’s ultimate goal is to merge in God. If we want to attain liberation from illusion( Maya) and reach God, the Ultimate, we must follow the path of Dharma, which helps unite everyone and develop love and affection among the people and universal brotherhood. Following Dharma will bring both materials well-being as well as final liberation from material existence.
The religions which do not teach that we are all children of the same God, who is not separate for each and every religion, and all are equal in the eyes of God, are Adharmic. They may not have real spiritual knowledge and true awareness of what God aspires from his devotees. But until they follow the Dharmic principles, they will continue to produce terror, chaos, restlessness, and even hatred among the people in the name of caste and religion. The reason is that they are not even ready and accept to know about the truth. When a group of people breaks the laws, there will be chaos and confusion in society. If a large number of people break the laws and indulges in terror activities in the name of religion, the country in which we live becomes unsafe to live.
The land of Sanathana Dharma has always been targeted by invaders between 1193 AD to 1947AD. They attacked, looted, committed atrocities on their ladies and killed the followers of Sanatana Dharma, and their kith and kin and ruled over Barath for several years. They tried to adulterate Sanathana Dharma, with their ideas forcefully or by luring the people during the said period. They could succeed in converting many people, yet some had stronger willpower people who supported the ideals of Dharma fought against them and cherished the glory of Hindu Dharma. Even after getting Independence to our country, still, attacks on Sanatana Dharma are being continued now and then either by way of riots or by conversions from other religions.
There is a strong belief in the followers of Sanathana Dharma that whenever there will be a severe threat to Dharma, the Savior(God) will come in the form of an incarnation and root out the evils, and reinstates the Dharma. They further believe Bhagavathe Githa, wherein Lord Sri Krishna
In Chapter 4 verses 7 and 8 says that:
Yada yadahi dharmasya
glanir bhavathi bharatha
vinaasaya cha duskritam
dharma samstapa narthaya
Sambhavami yuge yuge.
Whenever and where there is a decrease of Dharma and a predominant rise of Adharma, ‘Oh Arjuna’ at that time I descend Myself. In order to protect the pious and to destroy the adharmic, as well as to re-establish the principles of Dharma, I advent myself millennium after millennium.
They further strongly believe that sometimes God may descend personally, and sometimes He sends His bonafide representative in the form of His Son, or Servant, or Himself as a great leader according to the prevailing circumstances in a disguised form.
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