Our religion is the eternal religion, sanātana dharma. It has three forms, ways, and activities of its own. Our religion has three forms. God is in the spirit within, in the mental and the physical worlds — in these three worlds, created by Nature, governed by the Supreme Consciousness-Force (Mahāśakti). He has expressed Himself as the universe. The attempt to unite with Him in these three worlds comprises the three forms of the eternal religion. Our religion has its three ways, mārgas. Knowledge, devotion, action, — these three, in their separate or combined working, such a state of union is within man’s reach. The yearning to be united with God by a purification of the soul through these triple ways constitutes the Triple Way of the eternal religion. Our religion is involved in three activities. Among the major human tendencies three tend upward, and give the strength that brings Brahman-realisation — truth, love and energy. The evolution of the human race is being fulfilled through the gradual expression of these three tendencies. To advance on the Triple Way through truth, love and energy forms the triple action of the eternal religion.
There are many secondary religions hidden or implied in the eternal religion; depending on the eternal men busy themselves with changing, great and small religions, choose their own line of activity. All activities and religions are born of one’s own nature. The eternal religion is supported by the eternal nature of the world, these many religions are the result of the inner nature of the various instruments. There are many kinds of religion — individual, racial, hierarchical, of the spirit of the age, etc. They are not to be neglected or rejected because they are impermanent, rather it is through the transient, changing religions that the eternal religion develops and establishes itself. The giving up of the religion of one’s individual nature, of the race, the hierarchy, and the spirit of the age, instead of strengthening the eternal religion, develops what is irreligion, and what the Gita calls mongrelisation, sankara; that is because of violating the eternal way and because of the downward momentum opposed to progress, the world suffers from sin and tyranny. When because of the excesses of such sin and tyranny the titanic (āsuric) powers that oppose man’s progress and trample religion swell and grow in strength, selfishness, cruelty and egotism spread everywhere, and the godless pretend to be God, then to remedy the sufferings of a panic-ridden world the Lord, manifesting in a human form as either avatāra or vibhūti, again clears the way of the true religion.
For the adequate preservation of the eternal religion the religion of the individual, race, the hierarchy and the spirit of the age are always to be recommended. But among these many religions there are the two forms: noble and small. It is better to observe the ‘small’ religion in keeping with and by correcting it in terms of the nobler religion. If the religion of the individual is not made to conform with the religion of the race, that race goes to seed, and when the religion of the race is lost the field and opportunity of individual religion are destroyed. This too is a confusion in the life of religion, because of which both the race and the agents of confusion fall into the deepest hell. The race has to be saved first, only then can the individual’s spiritual, ethical and economic progress be safeguarded. And if the hierarchy in the social order cannot be recast in the form demanded by the spirit of the age, because of the contrary force of the mighty spirit of the age the religion based on the hierarchical order is broken and destroyed, and the same consequences overtake the society itself. The small is always a part or support of the great; in a contrary state of this relationship a great harm, due to religious confusion, is perpetrated. In the case of a conflict between the great and the small religion it is better to give up the small and follow the great.
Our aim is to spread the eternal religion and, based on that eternal religion, the observance of the religion of the race and the spirit of the age. We Indians, descendants of the Aryan race, have a right to an Aryan education and ethics. This Aryan feeling is our family religion and racial religion. Knowledge, devotion and non-attached activity are the root of an Aryan education; liberality, love, courage, energy, modesty are signs of the Aryan character. To spread the light of knowledge among men, to hold before the race the impeccable ideal of elevated, liberal characters, to protect the weak, to punish the powerful tyrants are the aims of Aryan living; in the pursuit of these aims lies its religious fulfilment. We have fallen from the ways of our religion, moved away from our goals; victim to religious confusion and the gross illusions full of error we are without the Aryan education and its regulative ethics. In spite of belonging to the Aryan race we, dominated by the mighty and victims of misery and suffering, have accepted the law of inferiority and the servitude that follows from it. Hence if we want to survive, if we have the slightest desire to be free from an eternal hell, our first duty is to serve the nation. The way to do that is to rebuild the Aryan character. So that the future children of the motherland may become men of wisdom, truth-abiding, lovers of mankind, inspired by feelings of brotherhood, courageous, humble, it should be our first aim to give the entire nation, especially the youth of the country, an adequate education, high ideals and a way of activity that will arouse these Aryan ideals. Till we succeed in doing that the spread of the eternal religion will be like sowing seeds in a barren field.
The performance of the racial religion will make it easier to serve the spirit of the age. This is an age of energy, śakti, and love. At the beginning of the Age of Iron (Kali), the human tendencies try to fulfil themselves by subordinating knowledge and action to devotion, and with the support of love, truth and energy try and succeed in spreading the message of love. The friendliness and charity of Buddhism, the teaching of love in Christianity, the equality and brotherhood of Islam, the devotion and sentiment of love in the Puranic religion is a result of these attempts. In the Age of Iron the eternal religion, helped by the spirit of friendliness, action, devotion, love, equality and brotherhood, does good to humanity. Entering into and manifesting in the Aryan religion, composed of knowledge, devotion and non-attached action, these same powers are seeking for expansion and self-fulfilment. The signs of that energy of expression are severe austerity, high ideals, and noble action. When this race becomes once more a seeker after austere perfection, full of high ideals and undertaker of noble efforts, it should be understood that the world’s progress is under way and the withdrawal of anti-religious titanic forces and the rise of divine forces is inevitable once again. Hence this type of education too is needed at the present time.
When the religion of the race and of the time-spirit are fulfilled, the eternal religion will spread and establish itself throughout the world, without let or hindrance. All that the Lord has ordained from before, about which there are prophecies in the ancient canons, śastras, those too will be felt and realised in action. The entire world will come to the Knower of Brahman, who will arise in the Aryan land, as learners in the ways of wisdom and religion, and accepting Bharat as a place of pilgrimage they will accept her superiority with bowed heads. It is to bring that day nearer that the Indians are rising, that is why this fresh awakening of Aryan ideas.
(Dharma, No. 1, August, 1909)
- Dharma is usually translated as Religion, perhaps for the sake of simplicity. But a closer rendering — closer to the real sense — would be “the right law of life”, or simply “the Divine Law”.