‘I believe that Veda to be the foundation of the Sanatan Dharma; I believe it to be the concealed divinity within Hinduism,—but a veil has to be drawn aside, a curtain has to be lifted. I believe it to be knowable and discoverable. I believe the future of India and the world to depend on its discovery and on its application, not to the renunciation of life, but to life in the world and among men.’ [CWSA 12]
We delve a little deeper into the key aspects of the Sanatana Dharma.
The first truth that the Sanatana Dharma reveals to us is that there is but One Reality, ekamevadwitiyam, behind the manifold appearances. It may seem from this that the Sanatana Dharma is saying something very similar to what most religions say. And yet there is a fundamental difference. But the ONE God or Supreme Being or simply Truth or the undefinable Reality has no Name and yet capable of assuming any Name. Similarly IT is Formless and yet capable of assuming the Form through which the seeker approaches IT. IT is beyond everything that we know and do not yet know, that is to say IT is the supreme Unknowable. And yet IT can be known through an ultimate identification of our self and being with That Self and Being. It is so because our self and being have emerged from Him, live by Him and lapse back into Him as the wave and the ocean. So long as the wave is identified with its wavehood it cannot know the ocean except that the ocean is its essence and Source but the wave can turn towards that Source and become one with the ocean vastness and the ocean might. IT is Impersonal and yet capable of assuming every possible personal relation with the creatures each of which is a figure of His thought. Most importantly as far as the practical implications of this Reality is concerned, IT is above, below, outside, within, in one word, Omnipresent. It is the essence of everything and we ourselves are in our secret truth nothing else but THAT, tattvamasi. God is not only our secret truth but we ourselves are God in a state of self-oblivion, ahambrahmasmi. There is no greater and more powerful truth ever uttered. Let us read about this most profound life-changing wisdom in the words of Sri Aurobindo.
‘Lift your eyes towards the Sun; He is there in that wonderful heart of life & light and splendour. Watch at night the innumerable constellations glittering like so many solemn watchfires of the Eternal in the limitless silence which is no void but throbs with the presence of a single calm and tremendous existence; see there Orion with his sword and belt shining as he shone to the Aryan fathers ten thousand years ago at the beginning of the Aryan era, Sirius in his splendour, Lyra sailing billions of miles away in the ocean of space. Remember that these innumerable worlds, most of them mightier than our own, are whirling with indescribable speed at the beck of that Ancient of Days whither none but He knoweth, and yet that they are a million times more ancient than your Himalaya, more steady than the roots of your hills and shall so remain until He at his will shakes them off like withered leaves from the eternal tree of the Universe. Imagine the endlessness of Time, realise the boundlessness of Space; and then remember that when these worlds were not, He was, the Same as now, and when these are not, He shall be, still the Same; perceive that beyond Lyra He is and far away in Space where the stars of the Southern Cross cannot be seen, still He is there. And then come back to the Earth & realise who this He is. He is quite near to you. See yonder old man who passes near you crouching & bent, with his stick. Do you realise that it is God who is passing? There a child runs laughing in the sunlight. Can you hear Him in that laughter? Nay, He is nearer still to you. He is in you, He is you. It is yourself that burns yonder millions of miles away in the infinite reaches of Space, that walks with confident steps on the tumbling billows of the ethereal sea; it is you who have set the stars in their places and woven the necklace of the suns not with hands but by that Yoga, that silent actionless impersonal Will which has set you here today listening to yourself in me. Look up, O child of the ancient Yoga, and be no longer a trembler and a doubter; fear not, doubt not, grieve not; for in your apparent body is One who can create & destroy worlds with a breath.’ [CWSA 17]
It is from this profound truth that all other truths of our manifold relation with creation and other creatures emerge. It is here that we shall find the secret of Unity and the real key to Brotherhood. So long as God is someone beyond creation with whom our only contact is through beliefs and concepts of a Religion or Philosophy, there can never be any real Unity. The human mind is like a distorted mirror and does not reflect the One Reality in the same way everywhere. Therefore each individual forms his or her own conception of Reality and acts according to their conception. By its very nature the mind can experience only in a partial and distorted way. Thereby arise the many schools and systems and cults and religions and sects that do not agree and even quarrel with each other. But there is a possibility of rising beyond the divided and dividing consciousness of the Mind and arrive at the fundamental Divine Unity through Yoga. Though this Unity exists at every level in creation if we go deep enough but it is only when we arrive at the Divine Unity (which is not the same as a kind of Material Monism of the physical science) that the full significance of this Unity begins to emerge. The Non-dual consciousness (as it is called nowadays by some) that the Advaita Vedantin Yogi discovers is not an ignorant Unity of Matter or Energy or even the Mind. It is the Unity of the Spirit, the Omnipresent Reality that alone can give us the master-clue to the last secret. All other forms of Unity at different levels will surely release various powers and possibility of each level (which can even be dangerous as it is an ignorant power in the hands of arrogant humanity) but the true authentic Wisdom and Power, the Original Knowledge and Will, the primal Cause, the true Omniscience one with Omnipotence can only be found when the doors of the Spirit have been opened.
It is this discovery (the greatest of all) that made the ancient Indian Culture and civilization great, one that has survived a thousand cuts on its body and defilement of its mind. It survives and rebuilds itself by the power of its Immortal Soul. This discovery of God within us, and His eternal portion, the Soul is among the greatest gifts of the Sanatana Dharma. It is a gift of the Rishis who discovered it undertaking a difficult journey and then they gave it to man mapping out the details of the journey in a most meticulous way as a scientist would give us the map and co-ordinates of a travel through sea or air. This is what the Vedas are in essence, a path of Yoga now lost to man. Of course the Path was never fully lost in India, the land that is destined to be the sacred guardian of the Eternal Law. Its broad lines and the mightiest streams may have been lost like the river Saraswati, but its many branches and tributaries have remained open thanks to the countless seers and saints and sages and yogis who kept renewing the core spiritual experiences in their soul and thereby kept the path open and the Yoga intact. This is another main difference between the Sanatana Dharma as it flowered upon the Indian soil and elsewhere. The seeds of Sanatana Dharma are everywhere but the yoga has been lost in a mass of pompous ceremonies and rituals. rigid religious dogmas and institutionalisation as well as commercialisation of God. The Yoga has also been lost or diverted from its true purposes by a politicisation of its motives, evangelistic conversions to increase the numbers through propaganda, fear and favours. These ills have touched the Indian mind as well but the saving Grace has been the lineage of Yogis and seers and mystics that always flourished in the fertile soil and whose word was held superior to the dictat of a religious system or even a derivative ideology through the interpretation of the scriptures. The soul of India always longed for and returned to the core spiritual experiences and thereby the Yoga remained intact. The Sanatana Dharma is primarily a spiritual way of life, as different from the religious, ethical and moral. And it is in this regard that we need to understand the word Dharma which has as little to do with Religion as science has to do with mathematics. Mathematics has a place in Science but Science is much more than mathematics.