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Sanatana Dharma - A Philosophy and Religious Practice of Hindus for a Peaceful and Unified World
I am a very religious person (I will explain the term religious later in one of my Hubs). At the same time I do not want any religious brand name tied to my existence. I need the full freedom to live on this earth to accept all the good things around me for my own betterment, for the benefit of my family, my neighbors and friends, my nation and people all around the world. To my knowledge, only Sanatana Dharma can help one to live religiously without a religious tag.
Sanatana Dharma is the oldest living religious, philosophical and social practice in the world (>10, 000 years). It is not a religion like Christianity or Islam created by one person and is not written by God. It is a collection of knowledge acquired by thousands of intellectual humans, over the course of the history, who dedicated and sacrificed their whole life for the advancement of humanity. While all the great civilizations and religious concepts of the world were wiped off from the face of the earth, Sanatana Dharma is still living and millions of people follow it, even after centuries of foreign invasion, including religious invasion, brutality, looting and plundering. Now it is gaining world-wide acceptance including America and Europe and is reviving back to its original glory within India. So I am trying to explain some of the key concepts of Sanatana Dharma which are misunderstood by others including Hindus and was used as a major weapon to convert Hindus to other religions and deliberately making them a part of world-wide religious slavery. If this hub could help at least one person to overcome the trap of religious slavery, and live freely and happily on this earth, then I am blessed.
Definition of God in Sanatana Dharma
Before I explain the misconception of people about Sanatana Dharma, I should like to state explicitly how Sanatana Dharma define God.
"GOD (Brahman) IS DEFINED AS THE CONSCIOUSNESS IN LIVING AND NON-LIVING THINGS". This is why Sanatana Dharma says God is only one and God is omnipotent or omnipresent.
NOTHING CAN EXIST ON THIS EARTH AND BEYOND WITHOUT THIS CONSCIOUSNESS. This is why Sanatana Dharma says everything is a manifestation of God (not creation by God).
IT CANNOT BE CREATED OR DESTROYED. It can take any shape or form.
IT HAS COMPLEMENTARY CHARACTERISTICS. In Sanskrit we say (guna and nirguna). For example,
- Earth rotates at very high speed beyond human imaginations but at the same time we feel it as stationary.
- Incline and decline of a hill defined by the position or your location. Incline of one side of the hill may be decline of the other side.
Comparison with other Religious concepts
Unlike other religious concepts, God in Sanatana Dharma is NOT a human like image sitting in the heaven counting the number of sins people do in order to be destroyed at the time of His second arrival to this world. According to Sanatana Dharma, God is NOT the one who creates disease in people, causes suffering to humans or that destroys human race by natural disasters. God is not the one who make you rich, cure diseases, gives you all the happiness, sadness etc…
In other religious concepts, God is portrayed as a cruel entity that will destroy a human life or a human race if they do not follow the scriptures or his words creating a fear factor in layman so that they will not abandon that religion.
Modern Scientific Definition for God in Sanatana Dharma
In modern scientific terms, God in Sanatana Dharma may be defined by energy, matter and direction.
An extremely simplified explanation: A stone has matter and if you pick it in your hand, it has energy (potential energy), but if it needs to move in a direction and path (like earth/electrons rotating and revolving around the Sun in a same path and direction without any change for millions of years), it has to be determined by the mind of that person who is carrying the stone and mind directed physical action (throwing). The latter consciousness may be depicted as God in Sanatana Dharma.
Einstein turned his interest to Bhagavad Gita because, he was looking for the explanation for that ultimate consciousness of this universe and beyond.
Sanatana Dharma is misunderstood
Sanatana Dharma was misunderstood by westerners, leaders of other religious concepts and even by Hindus itself. On the other hand, to a great extent, this misunderstanding was exploited by other religious leaders for the mass conversion of people to their respective religions. Unfortunately, there are only very few knowledgeable people to explain the reality and the concepts of Sanatana Dharma to the lay man and help them to break the religious bondage and come back to real normal life. Being a Hindu (Indian by birth), it is my duty to explain and convince other people the philosophy, culture and the practices we followed thousands of years. I will try my best to answer many of the questions with logical, scientific and intellectual reasoning. If I am wrong, please enlighten me with your knowledge.
Westerners defined GOD in Sanatana Dharma based on their religious concept. They thought that human like Gods that people in India pray are the true Gods like the westerners have their own humanized Gods and started criticizing Sanatana Dharma as a false religion. However, while every religious concept was worried about WHO IS GOD (name of God and scriptures associated with those Gods), Sanatana Dharma is focused on WHAT IS GOD? Sanatana Dharma is to achieve, while you are living in this world, the truth of life –the essence of yourself or self-realization, the consciousness/God in yourself AND NOT WHO IS GOD. You can achieve this by following any path that leads to self-realization including other religious concepts. For example, people can do multiplication on a sheet of paper, a calculator, can Google it, use excel software or advanced SAS statistical application for the same purpose. The path used for calculation has no significance at all because the final result will be the same irrespective of the method used.
Why Sanatana Dharma supports numerous Gods and allows Idol worship
Santana Dharma proclaims only one omnipotent and omnipresent God or Brahman. When people criticize Sanatana Dharma for supporting numerous humanized Gods, I started asking questions to myself. Why can't I have as many Gods as I want? Is there any problem with that? Why can’t I think beyond what is in scriptures? Otherwise, let's say, I am an atheist. My intellect telling me that there is no God and all these kinds of religious stuffs are crap. By doing so, am I doing a sin? Does God Kill or punish me for not believing in what I do not want to believe and found it as crap?
By discussing with knowledgeable people and doing some research myself on this aspect, I found out that (and many others too) the humanized Gods have a different role in Sanatana Dharma and is discussed below.
Why unlimited number of Humanized Gods are acceptable in Sanatana Dharma? The Concept of Personalized believes.
Sanatana Dharma has three parts: Philosophy (upanishads), mythology (puranas) and rituals. The apparent religious signature of a society that follows a particular religion is its mythology and rituals. So, major criticisms on Sanatana Dharma are directed to these two parts of the religion. Philosophy is usually handled by a small group intellectual people. These intellectuals conveyed the philosophical concepts with the lay man through mythological stories and rituals including temples, temple-associated art forms and a number of festivals.
We all agree to the fact that no human being is the same. Each and every one is different in all aspects including their intellectual capabilities. For example, the 1st grade kids can only understand the concept of addition in math by using objects or idols. But when they reach 4th grade they can calculate big numbers on a sheet of paper and as they reach college or higher level they can even perform complex mathematical calculations within their mind. So there are different levels of understanding a concept among different people. Then how can we transfer this philosophical knowledge to a common man in a personalized manner which is otherwise hard to understand by the lay man? The approach that is developed to convey the message was by using humanized gods, their idol worship (rituals) and stories associated with them (mythology) so that they will practice the principles in their daily life. Just like the example I mentioned above, a lay man begin learning the concept of God from the level of understanding using idols and as they acquire the knowledge and move to a higher level of thinking, then, they do not need the idols and could do the same process as well as advanced thinking without any idols or humanized Gods.
By explaining the Trinity concept, the whole idea could be clarified. Trinity concept in Sanatana Dharma is entirely different from the other religious concepts. It explains to the lay man that every living and nonliving things in this universe and beyond follow the natural phenomenon of creation, maintenance and destruction (srishti, sthithi, samhara). So one god creates, one god maintains and other one destroys. Each God represents the complete process of each phenomenon. So, for example Lord Shiva has all the tools for destruction, such as flood (Water from head), fire (third eye) and poison (represented by snake). It will be a difficult task to explain the biology, chemistry, physics, metaphysics or other sciences of creation, maintenance and destruction to a lay man. So whenever, a story is needed to explain a concept, these Gods can be easily used in many mythological stories and the concepts could be easily explained to lay man. So each and every humanized Gods have a specific role in conveying the philosophical concept of Sanatana Dharma.
Therefore, there is no limit for humanized Gods in Sanatana Dharma. Based on the intellect and to practice certain principles in life, each individual can follow any number of humanized Gods of their own choice. Although not perfect I would like to put the concept of multiple Gods in this way for easy understanding.
“With the condition that the goal in life of a man is to achieve self-realization, the concept of god that satisfies his intellect will be his god in Sanatana Dharma and that concept will change at all stages as he evolves intellectually”.
Therefore, for a Muslim, the concept of God that satisfied his/hers intellect is the concept of Allah or as in the case of Christian it is the Jesus Christ. So he/she can go ahead with it. But for intellectuals these concepts may be silly and will be treated as crap. So he has to find a better concept for self-realization. By doing so, he/she is not a sinner and even an atheist is not a sinner in Sanatana Dharma. In extreme case, if Sanatana Dharma doesn't satisfy one's intellect, and you have a novel concept to achieve self-realization, it requests you to enlighten the people by sharing that great knowledge.
Comparison with other religious concepts
Sanatana Dharma is a concept that is personalized for each and every human being in this world and each individual decides which path he should take to achieve self-realization.
But other religious concepts are strict on which God to believe, which scripture to follow, what to believe, think, and do (LAWS OF GOD) irrespective of the intellectual capabilities or nature of human beings. They even take a step further and say that their God is only the God, their scripture is the ultimate truth and their belief it is the ultimate path to self-realization. However, history has proved that such stubbornness of religious, social, philosophical thoughts are only short-lived and will disappear without a trace on the face of the earth.
In simple words, other religious concepts and also modern political concepts like capitalism, communism, Marxism, socialism and other -isms were not personalized to suit each human being’s needs. Many of these concepts have almost wiped off or failed and others will fail soon. This is the reason why when all the civilizations were wiped off from the face of earth, Sanatana Dharma still living in the minds of people and appreciated all over the world.
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