‘Hinduism’ – a foreign way of calling what traditionally and historically termed as ‘Sanatana Dharma’, is what even most Indians think of as their religion. Because of this simple challenge in nomenclature – religion of ancient India may be thought of to be similar to that of the more recent religious faiths of the world. To understand why many other religious faiths are different from ‘Sanatana Dharma’ we need to be apprised of some basic facts.
‘Sanatana Dharma’ fundamentally does not mean religion or religious faith. It simply means Eternal Principles for Righteous Living. WOW! Every time i try to understand it, i think of the level of maturity that our ancient forefathers! Hence it was a guiding framework for right living. This is why every individual can have a personal form of God and its perfectly fine. Because ultimately as we evolve to higher levels of understanding, we all come to the same formless source.
‘Sanatana Dharma’ was not the message of one realized master. In fact much of the Vedic Literature does not have any human authorship. It has been maintained in the ancient Guru-Shishya parampara or Teacher-Disciple lineage. Most of the non-changing part of the literature was revealed through self-realized masters. Hence the realized masters never attributed the wisdom to themselves. Much of such revealed literature is called ‘sruti’. This shows the humility post self-realization too. They created another set of literature called ‘smriti’ that can be adapted based on the changes in the world outside. Hence the entire basis of the way of living (or called The Hindu Faith) is non-prophetic. WOW! Hence there was no way this eternal knowledge could be destroyed even though much of social and economic India faced tremendous assaults from numerous foreign nationals. I would say, they came because they must have heard about the very advanced and wealthy society that lived here. The reason for much misunderstanding about our own religion is also that we are attempting to understand it using a foreign language. Many of the western languages do not have Sanskrit equivalents. Hence a little effort to learn Sanskrit will help in delving deeper.
Because of these two fundamental facts – the huge repository of knowledge largely remains to this day. It is slowly becoming accessible to most Indians and citizens of the world. It is meant to be that way. These fundamental facts have become so ingrained in the overall culture and is rooted so firmly in the truth, which makes this land open to all faiths. We would never have heard any effort by the religious practitioners to put down or not accept other faiths. In fact historically India has been home to people of all faiths and has received people exiled from their homelands with open arms. The spirit of ‘Athiti Devo Bhava’ or ‘Guest is God’ is practised to this day. I wish and pray that we benefit from this non-prophetic religious base which gives us all (whichever sect or religion we belong to) a chance (unrestrained freedom) to dip into this knowledge base. It will enable fill a much felt and growing gap with respect to spiritual development within every individual.
While i will attempt to write about the structure of the ancient Indian literature in a different blog – this thought that fundamentally our knowledge is non-prophetic and is very broad in its definition made me feel more catalyzed to dive deeper into this wealth of knowledge. I hope it will make you to start re-looking at our spiritual basics more closely and understand its greatness, vastness and comprehensiveness for your own spiritual well being.