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Sanatana Dharma

Creating The Eternal Way  of Peace and Happiness

I have previously described Dharma as a way of living harmoniously with each other and with nature in the now. An extended meaning gives us Sanatana Dharma, meaning harmonising or enabling the best outcome not only for mankind, but for all life on Earth, for all eternity. To appreciate the evolution of this understanding, we must also ask the how and why it came about?

At some point that we may assume as a 'beginning', our historic ancestors began to more closely observe, remember and seek greater understanding of the phenomenal world, internally and externally. Perhaps this was the birth of true intellect as a tool of discernment and appreciation instead of division and grasping.

Asking resulted in learning,  realisation and knowledge that dispelled beliefs and began to create a shared memory, and a refinement of language This awakening took root in ancient India and initially gave rise to improved health, happiness, advancement in the sciences, and all the knowledge that modernity is founded on.

These ancestors having a certain amount of freedom to create simple tools and to travel, elevated themselves to the top of the food chain yet in their geographical explorations and meditations they came to know that humanity was confined to this planet. They saw that life was wonderful and valuable yet it was also the greatest mystery.

Then as now, there is no way of fully appreciating our origins or even our place in the universe yet this life is so magnificent and wonderful that perhaps there is some creator and some purpose beyond the simple experience of eating, sleeping and reproducing. Our ancestors saw life on earth as symbiotic, as interconnected and interdependent, with human beings as the most evolved species worth preserving.

Yoga is the science of self, of an internal harmony and Sanatana Dharma is its outward reflection, a science of living that mankind may endure for the eternity of our planetary home - and perhaps beyond.

A 1930s take of modern times

Our ancestors wanted to be in control of their destiny instead of living to the whims of nature and emotion, so they studied the nature of their greater environment and the nature of self. Those with the wisdom, who saw the answers were able to ease peoples fears and persuade people that life could be managed so that the parameters of human existence could be controlled.

By establishing peaceful coexistence between peoples, time became  available to explore other avenues in nature. Men and women were able to meditate which expanded their perception from which arose new questions to ponder. As a result the people became increasingly self-determined and they learned to live in harmony with nature and with each other.

Gradual improvements in health, living conditions and a general wellness or happiness beyond satisfying base desires became more normal. A real sense of civilisation was born and people turned their attention to studying all aspects of nature including the seasons and our position in space. The pioneers of these changes proved the effectiveness of their learning and the people, even those uninterested saw their lives improving and appreciated that improvement. The collective awareness grew that knowledge gave rise to measured actions that benefited everyone and the social structure began to evolve.

The instinctive knowing that a full belly, good health, contentment, happiness, states of joy and bliss were preferable to hunger, cold, frustration, anger, misery and all forms of suffering.  Recognition of these facts and doing something about it created language, understanding, collective memory, shared knowledge and more focussed enquiry.

The original leaders of change were the Yogis, healers and Shamen some who became the Brahmans, men and women prepared to delve into life's mysteries and serve without reward. They learned of the great illusion, that the outward reality we accept has no inherent existence, and that inner space and outer space are but reflections, yet real. They plumbed the nature of cause and effect (karma or consequence) and all the phenomena of the world. It was seen that the tides, seasons and events of nature were cyclical and seemingly affected by external forces.

A modern take on modern times

Our ancestors looked up into the night sky and began to wonder at the relationship between our planetary environment and the other spacial bodies. Tracing the time-line of their knowledge is not easy, yet our Hindu ancestors knew more about our position in space and the phenomenology of our solar system 30,000 years ago than anyone else before the 1500s when their knowledge spread to and began to be appreciated in Europe.

This observation of the phenomenon within our greater environment enabled the development of agriculture, permanent towns, and an increase in population. Technology such as water harvesting and distribution evolved along with improving crop yields and the evolution of urban societies.

One of the greatest problems was that of transmitting information down through the centuries and embedding a respectable life in the public consciousness. So the aspects of nature became deified, the essence of creation became Shiva and Shakti, and instead of trying to control life, the people were taught to bring their hands together in respect and appreciation.

 “Sana” is Sanskrit for “ancient” “old” “long lasting” this produces “sanat” meaning “forever” “always” and sanatana meaning “eternal” “ancient” “forever”. ~ James Robinson Cooper

A tribute to an ancient teacher

The learning was passed on through the generations through learned recitation, dance and symbolism which evolved into writing, the ancient language of Sanskrit that expressed the perception of life as much as describing life.

Through the research of those early explorers, the people were shown that they could live happy lives and they need not be in conflict with each other or with nature. Nature to a certain extent could be prepared for and engineered by producing extra food for anticipated droughts and water storage et cetera.

This new sense of civilisation which gave the people a certainty of continuity became valued enough that as the civilisation developed the four main Varna evolved. It is thought that this was in a time before capitalism or patriarchy emerged and it could be referred to as a golden age even though the earth was experiencing an ice age and other uncertainties.

In contrast to the democracy of the Greeks which only applied to the ruling class, the democracy of ancient India was more truly representative of all the people. It is said that this evolution of Sanatana Dharma became more refined some fourteen thousand years ago when Shiva, the first yogi gave a clarified teaching about the technology of being human.

"The world is burning in a hundred, a thousand different places, but theres no fire escape, no way out, the only solution is to understand who we are" ~ Jim Noll spiritual ecologist.

There is no doubt that the Hindu civilisation has endured for tens of thousands of years. We cannot presume it was always peaceful, wayward personalities and kingdoms rose and fell yet behind that, life was governed by Sanatana Dharma.

During the early Buddhist period, life was peaceful and the 'Sanatana' was dropped. When Islam arrived there was no defence and an estimated hundred million or so people fell to the Islamic swords but the Muslims have much more difficult time subduing the rest of India because of the Dharma was considered so important it was well defended. Even today there is a huge effort being put into destroying Sanatana Dharma yet it still resists because it is a natural way of living intelligently and designed to survive for eternity.

"The movements of the heavenly bodies so exactly held in their course by the balance of centripical forces, the structure of the earth itself, with its distribution of lands waters, the atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects, mere atoms of life, yet its perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible i say, for the human mind not to believe that there is in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things" ~ Thomas Jefferson.

Unfortunately Sanatana Dharma failed to take root in Europe and was corrupted giving rise to belief systems and harmful technologies based on ancient Hindu material science. These two true sciences are yoga, the exploration of what is to be human and to know oneself as a piece of technology. The second is Sanatana Dharma, a scientific way of living in harmony with each other with nature. And again I repeat' the reason is that we do not know exactly who we are, where we came from or our position and purpose in the universe.

People have been giving thought to these ideas for eternity and while we have learned some things of ourselves and some things of our place in the universe, we are far from any definite conclusions. If we think that we are precious because of who we are and not because of what we do, then it stands to reason that we should make Sanatana Dharma our way of living so that eventually these questions may be answered?

“Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually or spiritually, reject as poison” ~ Swami Vivekananda

If you would like to actually participate in life, you can begin by recognising the earth as your mother because essentially the physicality of the human body comes from the earth. So bring your palms together and bow your head in appreciation to the divine mother. When you have made your piece with her, then turn your thoughts to the masculine and Lord Shiva.

Devi Mantra

Devi Sutkam

namo Devyai mahā-devyai
sivāyai sa-tatam namah,
namah Prakrtyai bhadrāyai
niyatāh pranatāh sma tām.

Salutations to the Divine Mother who is ever auspicious. Salutations to Her who is the primordial cause and the sustaining power with deference, we make obeisance to Her.

raudrāyai namo nityāyai
Gauryai dhātryai namo namah,
jyotsnāyai ca indu-rūpinyai
sukhāyai sa-tatam namah

Salutations to Her who is terrible, to Her who is eternal. Salutation to Gauri, the supporter (of the universe). Salutation always to Her who is of the form of the moon and moon-light and happiness itself.

kalyānai pranata vrddhyai
siddhyai kurmo namo namah,
nairrtyai bhubhrtam laksmyai
Sarvanyai te namo namah

We bow to Her who is welfare Salutations to Her who is prosperity and success. Salutation to the consort of Shiva who is Herself the good fortune as well as misfortune of kings.

Durgāyai durga-pārāyai
sārāyai sarva-kārinyai,
khyātyai tathā eva krshnāyai
dhūmrāyai sa-tatam namah

Salutation always to Durga who takes one across in difficulties, who is essence, who is the author of everything; who is knowledge of discrimination; and who is blue-black and also smoke like in complexion.

atisaumya-atiraudrāyai
namas thasyai namo namah,
namo jagat-pratisthāyai
Devyai krtyai namo namah

We prostrate before Her who is at once most gentle and most terrible; Salutation to Her who is the supporter of the world.
Salutation to the Devi who is of the form of volition.

Image Credit: Shiva Shakti Thandava Dance by Nikhil Raj

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