Santana Dharma alias Hinduism is a timeless faith, not restricted to any particular geographical area or period. It sees ‘unity’ in entire universe, and encourages everyone to obtain total contentment – as perceived by every individual, according to the attributes of his personality. It is the faith that practices ‘live and let live’ in letter and spirit while remaining committed to the norms of the local environment, where one lives in. It offers philosophy that is universally applicable to the entire mankind cutting across national barriers of race, color and creed to identify individual roots within its fold.
Freedom of Thought and Worship
From its evolution, Sanatna Dharma has taken in its fold all that has been created by The Master Creator. One may worship rivers, lakes, trees, and stones. One may opt to worship living or non-living things or none at all. One may believe in one God or multiples, formless God or symbols, idols, or human manifestations or none. Even atheists are accepted within its fold. Hinduism visualized everything as manifestation of God, and there are no evil creatures. Snakes and pigs are also close to Him. Hinduism neither bound itself to monotheism, nor with multiplicity of Gods and goddesses. The Supreme Being is not remembered by any particular name, but more than thousands names have been attributed to identify Him, and even many more may be acceptable.
Furthermore, Hinduism has never denounced the symbols of worship of non-Hindu faiths. One can pick up any names out of thousands of names attributed to God to addresses Him, but no one may force others to accept any particular name. Almighty may be invoked directly and individually as there is no restriction to about approach the Supreme Being through His son, Prophet, relation or an agent.
Vast catalog of scriptures
There is a vast catalog of scriptures to choose from in Sanskrit, the mother language of the universe as well as any other languages known to mankind. Genuine translations in other languages are also regarded as valid as the Sanskrit texts. The wisdom of learned sages compiled in scriptures and ancient scientific literature has been a source of inspiration for the entire humanity and has more to offer, once it is deciphered and made use of. But even those who have not read any of the scriptures, are also as much Hindus as those, who compiled them.
Religion of Total Freedom
Without any compulsion one may perform Hindu rituals at any place, facing any direction, at any time, and in any manner, with or without the help of any priest acting as intermediates. A Hindu is free to eat, wear and adopt any form of life style according to individual traits. There are no fatwas or dictates from the clergy. Hinduism never indulged in conversion of others to its fold. It has been the religion that preferred religious identity of a person on the basis birth, but its doors are open to all those who volunteer to assimilate. It is a faith that propagated Vasudeva Kutambkum and treated entire universe as a large family, much before various nations actually knew the existence of each other.
The dogmas of Hinduism have always been open to introspection, adoption and tolerance towards dissent. From time to time, sages have questioned the old dogmas, interpreted thoughts and have made additions, but all of them originated on Indian soil within the framework of Hinduism. This is the foundation of our mixed culture. It is a dynamic faith constantly in pursuit of Truth.
Inter Faith Hindu Unity
With all the diversities allowed to its followers Hindu Santana Dharma qualifies to be a unified faith representing the true culture of India. In brief anyone who subscribes to the philosophy of Live and Let live within the constraints of local conditions is regarded as Hindu and is expected to preserve and replenish the natural resources for the use of coming generations. The Hindu culture has been founded on this most secular and universal concepts.
The following salient features are common to all the off-shoots of Hindu religion in India:-
- God is one but omnipresent. His presence is visualized in every particle and every living being.
- Though God is formless but God can be identified in many ways including icons. God appears on Earth in some form or the other. All forms bear His reflections.
- Shiva, Ram, Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Mahavir, and Guru Nanak are regarded as life models to be adopted. Additional models can also be adopted by individuals.
- Saffron color is associated with wisdom, sagacity and spirituality. However no color is discarded.
- Hinduism believes in re-birth after death.
- All off shoots of Hinduism have identifies some holy places in pre-partitioned India, Nepal and Tibet.
- Hindus treat whole world to be one family.
- Hindus do not indulge in the destruction of symbols of any other faith.
- Hindus do not declare any holy war against non-believers.
- They revere noble persons as saints.
- They refrain from eating beef.
- By and large practice monogamy and do not divorce their spouse.
- All of them are subjected to same civil code.
- All the versions of Santana Dharma harmoniously co-exist. There is a free movement of individuals and no one persuades other to convert. Conversions are not sought.
- Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian languages.
Obligations towards Environment
- River Ganga in particular is regarded as a sacred river but all rivers and water sources are respected.
- They regard Tulsi (basil) plant to be sacred besides several others.
- Their festivals are related to climatic changes, events and personalities within India. There are no festivals for crying or breast beating in public.
- People all over India cremate their dead bodies and immerse the remains.
Validity to Time and Place
Hinduism has always kept itself updated with the changes in the environment. Reformers emerged within Hinduism and we never imported any saints from abroad. Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are the reforms on Hinduism. It was thus natural that interpretations sometimes differed, but these sects stand as extensions of Hinduism. The idols of reformers have also been installed in Hindu temples. This is the unity in diversity of Hindu culture and secularism.
Exceptions of Insoluble Faiths
It is history that Christianity and Islam intruded to India and clashed with the main stream of Indian culture. They did not believe in the concept of secularism, tolerance, and co existence. It is the faith in Prophet Muhammad and his book Quran that made a Muslim. Similarly faith in Christ and his Bible made a person Christian. Dissent is not allowed. Non believers to their faith have no rights to live.
If one accepted the beliefs of Christianity and Islam, it can be surmised that even God was also biased against non Hindus and is merciful and beneficial to Hindus. He sends back Hindus to be re-born immediately after death to enjoy another spell of life, and do atonement for the faults of previous birth. Even to the defaulter Hindus He blesses them another chance to be reborn as Muslims, Christians, or even birds and animals to do some good work and get converted to Hinduism in their next life. Hindus get a rebirth, but for non Hindus, there is no second chance! They remain confined to graves after death till dooms day. And there is no life after dooms day as some of non-Hindu scriptures say.
Even today they are busy fighting like cats and dogs. As they were never a part of mainstream, they have remained aliens to Hindu culture. On the contrary Hindus have the tradition of recitation of their scriptures with a prayer of peace ‘Shanti paath”
सह नाववतु सह नौ भुनक्तु सह वीर्यं करवावहै तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषाव है
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः”
meaning that we are here to respect each other & not hate each other.
Thus Hinduism preaches all sects a natural way of life in harmony with nature. One may opt for any form for personal worship and customs. It is here that onlookers get blinded by the diversity in Hinduism and fail to see the unity of parts in the body of Elephant.
Chand K Sharma