The deep meaning of Sanatana Dharma is beautifully expressed in Sri Aurobindo’s The Renaissance in India, which is a comprehensive treatise on the subject. Essentially its core can be understood as follows:
- The Sanatana Dharma is a many-sided seeking and discovery of the One Reality, the last stable foundation of Truth behind the ever-changing landscapes and appearances of the world. There is but One Reality, it admits, and adds that the wise call this One with many names. Thus, in one stroke it cancels the meaningless dispute of not only different religions but also of Science and Religion. Both are, in their essence, the seeking for Truth. Science and Philosophy do take the route of rational mind whereas religion primarily moves through the heart. All these various approaches and the fundamental discoveries documented in various works and scriptures become the various Scriptures of Sanatana Dharma.
- Since Truth, in its manifestation is ever moving towards new formulations and ground of experience, the Sanatana Dharma admits progress and evolution in our inner and outer life spearheaded by lineage of saints, sages, seers, yogis, vibhutis and Avatars. Admitting this constant reformulation of the One Reality and its fresh revelations through unique approaches as the individual and the collective consciousness evolves, the Sanatana Dharma avoids becoming a narrow dogma. It allows a great freedom and plasticity of approach and makes only one demand from its adherents and that is Dharma.
- Dharma literally is the right law or the true law of everything from the work we do, the inner stature and the outer position we occupy, the roles that we are called upon by our swadharma and destiny to play. Even here it is not a fixed way of life as it is a matter of certain attitudes that one adopts. Depending upon the choices and the real motives we evolve towards the Divine or wander and thereby suffer in the maze and haze of ignorance.
- The outer rituals and ceremonies are of two kinds. One is occult and are based on a certain kind of inner knowledge of the physical and psychological forces that are hidden to our limited sight but nevertheless influence our life. The other aspect of these ceremonies was to give an outer body and flesh to the inmost truth. The inmost core is not easily accessible to many but the outer at least provides a foothold of connecting with the inner. Evidently the inner core, the seeking for Truth and Light and God, the spirit of Beauty and Harmony and Love, the cultivation of inner Peace and Godward aspiration, the discernment that helps us make the choices consistent with dharma and reject the promptings that compel us towards adharma are the most important elements of Sanatana Dharma.
The things therefore that we must teach our children are to value Truth and Love and Beauty, to subordinate Power to Wisdom and to be impelled in our actions by Love and Service to the Divine who dwells within all beings, to treat all creatures and every element of creation with the sense of sacredness since the Divine dwells in all things, to be courageous without being rash and sweet without being lax, to be firm in will for truth and beauty and good, yet plastic in our approach towards it, to be fearless in our pursuit of truth and the right action. All this is necessary to truly educate children in the spirit of Sanatana Dharma.
The best way for that is through stories, such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. When they grow up then they can be exposed to other works in ways consistent with their nature. Also, by becoming a true role models of selflessness and truthfulness and honesty and courage in our life we can help them enter through one of the many doors into the Sanctum Sanctorum of the vast and complex temple of Sanatana Dharma.