Glory of Sanātana Dharma
Sanātana Dharma is popularly known as Hinduism. It consists of two words both of which has a significant meaning.
Sanātana means eternal, one that does not have a beginning.
Dharma means that which preserves peace and harmony.
The teachings in Sanātana Dharma are called Śrutiḥ. We believe these teachings, originated from Īśvara and were revealed to humanity through the ṛṣīs. The Śrutiḥ was simplified, expanded and clarified in the form of Smṛti, Itihāsa and Purānas. These are considered as secondary scriptures; they remain as ever valid teachings for all times.
Through out history, Sanātana Dharma has faced many challenges, in spite of this, it continues to survive because it is eternal – it has no beginning or end. The eternal Vedic teachings will never become obsolete; they are relevant for all times. By following the Vedic teachings, humanity maintains peace and harmony at all levels. One who follows the Vedic teachings accrues puṇya and enjoys peace of mind.
Glory of these teachings
By following the four lessons of the Vedas, Sanātana Dharma teaches us to appreciate and express our gratitude to this great Universe of ours.
All the values are reduced to two basic principles:
- Paropakāraḥ– highest selfless contribution
Never hurt the infrastructure or never disturb any living being which is part of the infrastructure. If possible, contribute positively otherwise at least follow Ahimsā to the maximum.
- Ahimsā (non-violence) is the highest principle
The lesson learnt is to be a responsible member of this cosmic orchestra – music, rhythm and harmony.
Let us join and live a life in a responsible manner which makes one a follower of Sanātana Dharma.
We start the day by contemplating upon the universe as the body of Viśva Rūpa Īśvaraḥ. When we do various upacāra (worship) to Īśvara, when offering candanam we visualize Īśvara as the manifestation of Pṛthivī Mātā (Mother Earth). Similarly, when offering Puṣpāni we remind ourselves that space is a manifestation of the dig Devatās; when offering Dūpam (Incense) we relate to Vāyu Bhagavān; when offering Dīpam to Agni Bhagavān; and when offering naivedyam which is amṛtam, to Varuṇa Devata. Every upacāra reminds us that Īśvara is available in the form of Pañca Mahā Bhūtāni and their products.
Mātā ca pārvatī devī pitā devo maheśvaraḥ,
Bāndhavāḥ śivabhaktāśca svadeśo bhuvanatrayam
“With gratitude, we acknowledge and accept this gift, Pārvatī Mātā as my mother; Lord Śiva as my father; all my relatives, friends and devotees as my global family residing in this universe.”
Sārve Bhavantu Sukhinah: In this prayer let our request be for peace and joy in the entire creation by living in unison with all living and non-living beings. By performing Deva Yajña I find my narrow mind gets expanded to accommodate the whole universe and see Īśvara not as a small Mūrti in the altar, but as the universal life force.
Īśvara has blessed me with this human body which has come into existence because of my parents. I am able to appreciate and show my gratitude towards them who have endowed me with a wonderful education and culture. I revere them by doing namaskāra every day and it is my responsibility to always reverentially serve, support and take care of them. This is called Pitṛ Yajñaḥ and it is the responsibility of every Hindu ie. Sanātana Dharma follower.
Every Pāpa has a prāyaścita karma (atonement) but ingratitude has no prāyaścita karma. Learn to be grateful to the total universe and to your immediate source; your parents and towards the elders not only while they are alive, but to remember and acknowledge them even after their death.
I remember food, clothing and shelter are available to me because of the contribution of farmers (grains), weavers (materials), transporters, etc. Therefore, I share whatever resources I have with others.
Even animals, insects, worms and birds onwards are very valuable. For example earthworms make the soil fertile and trees release oxygen for us to breathe. Being aware of plant and animal’s contribution; we preserve and protect them, we become eco-friendly.
Brahma means Vedic scriptures which are available to us because of the ṛṣīs endless paramparā. In olden days, knowledge was received orally and preserved in the mind and transmitted to the next generation. When it was to be written, they had to use the palm leaf and etch every letter on it. The ṛṣīs and the ācāryas have preserved these scriptures in spite of calamities, onslaught by destructive people, the scriptures managed to survive. We can express our gratitude to the ṛṣīs and the ācāryas by studying the scriptures, teaching and doing our best to preserve this knowledge for our future generation.
This Pañca Mahā Yajñaḥ is the best scheme provided by the Vedas for the contribution to this wonderful infrastructure. Therefore, appreciate and be a responsible contributor.
Mātrāsparśāstu kaunteya śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkhadāḥ
āgamāpāyino’nityāstāṁstitikṣasva bhārata (2.14)
“Kaunteya (Arjuna)! The contacts of the sense organs both the sensory world that give rise to cold and heat, pleasure and pain, which have the nature of coming and going, are not constant. Endure them, Bhārata!”
Every arrival will be followed by departure, even union will be followed by separation. These are the infallible laws of the cosmic infrastructure. So, we have to understand and assimilate that everything that arrives in our life (situation, object, people), they all will also have to leave us. Learn to accept these events as natural events because they are not extraordinary events happening to us and about which we have the tendency to complain.
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyurdhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmādaparihārye’rthe na tvaṃ śocitum arhasi (2.27)
“For that which is born, death is certain and for that which is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, you ought not to grieve over that which cannot be altered.”
Just as birth is an event in time, death is also an inevitable event in time. Whether it is death of near and dear ones or my own death, I can gracefully accept without complain.
Kṛṣna defines death as not the end of life because according to vedic teaching, life is never created or destroyed; just as matter or energy can never be created or destroyed.
dehino’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṃ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntaraprāptirdhīrastatra na muhyati (2.13)
“Just as, for the jīva, the indweller of this body, there is childhood, youth and old age, similar is the gaining of another body. With reference to that, a wise person does not come to grief.”
Death is a transition of life from one body to another, not the end of life.
Why this transition? – Because the body is subject to time, becomes worn out and incapable of expressing life. Naturally a worn-out body will be replaced by a fresh, new and efficient body.
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya navāni gṛhṇāti naro’parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāni-anyāni saṃyāti navāni dehī (2.22)
“Just as a person gives up old clothes and takes up new ones, so does the self, the one who dwells in the body, gives up old bodies and takes others which are new.”
Similarly, death is not amaṅgalam (inauspicious) and there is no amaṅgalam in this creation. Thus, life and growth are beautiful, aging and death is wonderful; if these facts are assimilated, we can go through life with a cheerful face.
If one does not have emotional strength to go through these experiences, the solution is to chant Īśvarā’s nāma and draw strength from the infinite creation.
Sanātana Dharma is the greatest and wonderful gift from Īśvara. We are fortunate to be exposed to and to receive these sacred teachings.
This inconceivable universe with its wonderful infrastructure is a great wonder, it provides us with all the resources for our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. We should never take creation for granted. If there is any imperfection anywhere in the world, it is due to our contribution only. The cosmos is governed by countless principles (without violation) and the law of karma (moral order) both at the micro and at the macro level that we cannot even remotely visualize. Therefore, as an intelligent human being, take time to appreciate the glory of this creation.
In appreciation of the contribution of Sūrya Bhagavān that supports and nourishes us, we should show our gratitude by performing the nitya sandhyāvandanam. Without the Sun, life will not be possible. We must also remember the planets and the Pañca Bhūtās (5 elements).
Let us express our gratitude by following the teaching to the extent possible.
Adapted from the transcript by Sri T.Srinivasan and Sri Balasubrahnyam Patoo from a talk by Swami Paramarthanandaji