Sat Sanatan Dharma
The Vedic culture is known as Sanatan or the eternal culture. Sat Sanatan Dharma is not a religion in the sense of a specific religious doctrine, as most of today's religions are. The latter have one person, a founder, whose spiritual experiences serve as a foundation for that particular belief. Sat Sanatan Dharma is based on spiritual experiences of tens of thousands of spiritually enlightened individuals, both men and women, called Rishis (from the word dris – to see) that aretransmitting the message of spirituality. The important factors in this regard are kal – time, and des – space, which means that this culture was and is conforming itself to the specific time and space circumstances. Its founders and transmitters – the Rishis – chose to remain anonymous, hence they named themselves according to their role, as for example Vyasa – the compiler, the translator, the one who collected knowledge.
This process made it possible for their realisations to become connected with the earlier teachings in a simple, immediate and nonjudgmental manner, conforming to the particular time and space requirements and transmitted through an unbroken chain of a Master-Disciple relationship – Guru parampara.
Sanatan has far too many founders to be able to knowtheir number. The teachings of Sanatan Dharma are known as apauruseja, which means they are not based on an authority, but on principles. This is an important fact to remember, as Sat Sanatan Dharma is not a discovery or an invention of any individual or a group of individuals but, the same way scientists do not find the laws of nature but come to know them, these founders, the Rishis, did not find the spiritual laws but came to know them, i.e. they were revealed to them through meditation.
Sat Sanatan Dharma is a relationship between an individual and the universe; moreover, Dharma implies eternal cosmic wisdom, law and action. Sat – true, Sanatan – eternal and universal, Dharma – what contains and maintains the universe. Sat Sanathan Dharma is therefore what keeps the society and the civilization together by means of proper living. In a wider sense it means getting to know the eternal laws of theuniverse which control everything. The search after these laws and the implementation of them for the benefit of all is the way of practicing Sat Sanatan Dharma.
All religions known so far are created, last and after some time vanish in order to be replaced by some other religion which is more in line with the mentality, culture and social system of that particular time. Sanatan is eternal because it contains eternal values on which the human evolution is based. It is divided in two branches:
- Gyana kanda – includes gyana – knowledge and vigyana – science, both deriving from experience-based knowledge gained in the course of life. Vigyana relates to the theoretical and philosophical records that transfer universal spiritual knowledge without being limited to a particular divine concept or figure. It is the knowledge about spiritual principles and cosmic laws as well as about tattvas – the elements. Gyan Kanda includes Yogis and Sanyasis, the Swamis.
- Karma Kanda – the branch regarding actions or rituals. It covers subjects on karmas – acts, and upasanams – sacrifices. Karma Kanda concerns practices and includes hymns, prayers and mantras, i.e. Samhitas and Brahmans, customs and ceremonies. This is where Pandits – the priests – belong.
Sat Sanatan Dharma advocates that a man must not neglect hiswork, bodily needs or his family. In this regard there is purusharth – human purpose, four principles that each human being must accomplish in his/her life in order to become a Human, as follows:
- Artha – material wealth, which means that a man should have enough for himself and his family. If you have a roof over your head and food and clothes, you will not continuously fear what the future brings, and a stable and prosperous society is only possible to achieve through the wealth of each individual. It is not a sin to possess and to be rich. In one bhajan it is said: "Lord, here's your mala, I cannot meditate while hungry."
- Kama – enjoyment in happiness, safety, creativity, usefulness and inspiration. Sat Sanatan Dharma does not tell us that the emotional needs for happiness and pleasure are bad, only that we always should try to feel content because when our spiritual journey begins "crying can only pull us back".
- Dharma – proper life. Accomplishment of virtues, duties and responsibilities, doing an honest job, responsibility towards family and society –that is moral dharma. A man should not neglect his duties and promises. Spiritual dharma means to accomplish Atam Gyana, self-realisation in this life.
- Moksha – liberation. Freedom from continuous birth and death, self-realization. Moksha is attained by respecting dharma, kama i artha, and the goal of every human being is to come to know their own self and finally become free from the attachment towards wordly pleasures and suffering. This is the supreme goal of life, to reunite with our source – Paramatma – the Apsolute, God.
In Sanatan or eternal culture life is divided into four levels. This is not done by chance because there is a main principle that says that our individual phenomenon is but a reflection of the universe. Since on the cosmic level time is divided into four Jugas, four seasons, our life is also divided into four periods – Ashrams. Bramacharya Ashram is till the age of 25 and is dedicated to studying and learning. Grihastha Ashram, from the age 25 to 50 is dedicated to creating a family and working. Vanaprastha Ashram, from the age 50 to 75 is the time when we slowly withdraw ourselves from the active role in life and slowly leave our business to our children. We teach our grandchildren and we can say we have an advisory role. Sannyas Ashram, from the age 75 till the end of life is the period of withdrawal from activities and of the total dedication to our goal, Atam Gyana.
Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda – a part of the lecture about Sanatan Dharma, Strilky Ashram, Czech Republic, 2007
In the holy scriptures brought to us by the Rishis, in the Upanishads and Vedas, and even in Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, no particular name of religion is mentioned, because there was only one religion, and that is Sanatan Dharma. Sanatan Dharma means the universal principle which is followed since the mere creation of the universe.
Hinduism believes in one God only, and that God has no name; He is Ishvara, the universal principle, the cosmic law, and that cosmic law is Sanathan Dharma. Those who understand it, respect it, and accept it are called the Dharma followers. If you are Dharam Karan, it means you accept, and follow the Dharma. Vedas and Upanishads teach us about one thing only – the Universal and only one God. At the same time, there are millions of Gods and beliefs in Hinduism. Both coexist. If you wonder how that is possible, Holi Guruji will give you a simple answer: "One in All and All in One". All types of liquids on Earth have one origin, and that is water. You can see different forms and shapes, but in reality they are all one, their substance is the same. Likewise there is only one quality – God, Ishvara – and different forms originating from it. Brahma Satya Jagat Mithya, where Brahma Satya means – the Ultimate Truth is Brahman, and Jagat Mithya – all of this world of change is unreal. For us, Sanatan Dharma means Dharma given to us for this life. The Sanatan values are love, happiness, contentment, harmony and peace – these are the universal principles and nobody has acopyright on them. It is equally given to all creatures – plants, animals and humans alike.