The Science of Living and Attaining World Peace
Most people associate the idea of Hinduism with India and the pantheon of gods and goddesses as depicted in this image to the right. But this is only part of the story that stretches back for tens of thousands of years.
There is no quick or five-minute description that can convey much of this subject, but what is called referred to as the Hindu or the Indian civilisation is the oldest and most enduring civilisation on record. In this world of fast moving politics, hostile takeovers and general corruption, India has survived against all the odds.
The country we call India today is smaller than it once was and like the rest of the world it is now facing almost unsurmountable challenges and yet within India itself the understandings that make up what is referred to as Hinduism continues to survive and around the world the well educated and leading intelligentsia of many countries are adopting Hindu practices.
To be clear, the term Hindu refers to the geography of the region and the term Hinduism has been given to the Indian people by the early colonists who could not fathom or understand what the Indian people believed in. Hinduism is not so much a religion as a way of life which from their own perspective would be more correctly labelled as Sanatana Dharma. (Indian History)
The original name of India was Hindustan meaning the land of the seven rivers and a more modern indigenous name is Bharat, but for the purpose of this article I will still use the term India for the land, people for people and Sanatana Dharma as the respect for life and the expression of life.
What is Sanatana Dharma?
Simply put it is simply a respect and an appreciation of life. It came about because people since time immemorial have been asking why?
Why are we here, where do we come from, is there any purpose to this existence?
In when asking why of anything, as you will know there is not always a suitable answer but sometimes when you sit quietly and relax, the answer simply appears. It is quite clear that we live in some far off corner of an incredibly vast universe and when we look out into space, we don't even know which way is up.
As to where we came from and why we're here is simply a matter of conjecture because we simply don't know. But when we look at the world that we inhabit, we see this amazing amount of life and as we look more closely we see that the lives of species that are most successful cooperate with other life forms. Conversely those lifeforms that don't survive for very long are those that attempt to dominate because in a way they piss off all the other lifeforms around them and trash their environment leading to premature extinction.
That last sentence, sounds a bit like humans eh? This seems to be little doubt that modern humans in their search for expression and acquisition and are trashing the planet that we rely on for our existence, yet the way of life represented within is Sanatana Dharma is far more harmonious, the people are kind to each other and respectful of nature.
Having survived for tens of thousands of years, the human population of India acquired a great deal of knowledge and a great deal of wisdom. Much of this has been accrued in the books of Vedanta, which have served to guide the lives of the population for the past 8000 years.
In 5000 BC, sailors from India were circumnavigating the globe and their science and technology was 2nd to none. In fact a way back then, Europeans were still struggling to emerge from the Stone Age. This European emergence was hindered by alcohol whereas in India a tradition of deep relaxation had been established.
This deep relaxation is referred to as yoga and meditation today, and this internal exploration of one's individual self or consciousness reveals a universe as vast and unimaginable as when we look up the night sky. But these early explorers defined pathways or spiritual practices to touch into aspects of reality that exists beyond our everyday perception.
These expanded states of consciousness gave rise to the sciences that were far more humane rather than the technological profit driven science we have today. The sciences of ancient India were about improving the quality of life for people and the environment on which they relied.
It is generally accepted by many historians that astronomers in India knew the circumference of the Earth, the distances between Earth and the sun, earth and the moon, Earth and Mars as well as relationships with our Milky Way galaxy and nearby galaxies. They never suffered belief in a flat Earth or a god that was going to come down and say that or an afterlife in heaven or hell.
view on Hinduism in the modern day context
In fact a belief of any kind was discouraged whereas the power of the mind was greatly appreciated as was its place in nature.
In this video, Dr David Frawley gives his opinion on Hinduism. We had some slight differences of opinion in terms of the use of the words Hindu and Hinduism. We also disagree on the idea of there being a Hindu philosophy which I see as being less important.
What is of vital importance is that what people call as Hinduism and many are now referring to as Sanatana Dharma represents a way of life and a way of living in harmony with all life. We need to remember that our current evolution in terms of human civilisation is destroying the environment we depend on and once were gone, that's it.
The gods and goddesses
Christians Muslims and Jews represent a monotheism that believes in an invisible God that permeates all existence and yet it cannot be verified.
Within Sanatana Dharma there are a wide range of gods and goddesses because there is a knowledge that the creative principal or God pervades the entirety of the universe. Therefore God, the creative principal or the spirit within exists in new, knee, the rock, the flower, the wheels on your car, and in fact everything in existence.
Therefore, because God or that creative principal exists within everything, everything in fact is a representation of the divine. So that is valid to offer praise to the rocks and trees, or anything existence because what we refer to as God is within everything.
But one of the key differences between Sanatana Dharma and the Abrahamic religions is that in Sanatana Dharma will Hinduism there is very little prayer for anything, the act of worship is the veneration of life and a seeking to become more intimate with the entire process of life.
This gives rise to the concept of the stages of life, young people are learning how to integrate themselves into life, learning how to be productive and responsible members of their communities. Then there is a period of service in support of one's fellow man and the environment on which we are dependent. When one's children have grown and one reaches that age of retirement, this becomes a time of spiritual contemplation and preparation for leaving this particular incarnation.
Within Sanatana Dharma is the idea of reincarnation of being born again into another body to experience physical life on earth from a slightly different perspective. This is an accepted probability because countless people have recounted past lifetimes. The idea of karma is simply cause-and-effect, and even that is described in the Christian Bible even though christian authorities denied this. "You can look up any Bible and find the statement "as you sow, so shall you reap".
In fact many historians are coming to the conclusion that Judaism developed out of a scant knowledge of Vedanta and more and more people are coming to recognise that modern religions of Christianity and Islam are more to do with politics than personal salvation.
What would life be like as a Hindu?
It is not possible to convert to Sanatana Dharma and become a Hindu, but you can become more dharmic in your nature. As David Frawley says in the video above, vast numbers of Hindu people have no idea what Hinduism Sanatana Dharma really is. The region has been continuously attacked for the past thousand years, the British rewrote Indian history to help subdue the population and complete their looting. Even though the got kicked out, they haven't quite got over that and now capitalism and communism are adding to the woes caused by Islam and the British.
In daily life with an awareness of Dharma, one may wake in the morning and offer a brief prayer of thanks simply for being alive because every morning there are millions of people who don't wake up. Then one may take a bath, light a candle and recite some players for your own well-being and the well-being of others. Then normal daily activities are carried out, but there are moments in the day to stop and appreciate life through prayer, through song, through dance or other medium.
Then in the evening there are more opportunities to combine appreciation of life in a more social setting be it in the temple, in nature or the comfort of your own home. It has been scientifically validated that the expression of gratitude for anything makes people feel better, so following a more dharmic lifestyle helps to banish depression and improve life quality.
On a deeper personal level, the divine principle is encapsulated in the idea of gods and goddesses. The goddess Saraswati at the top of this page represents the qualities of kindness and wisdom, therefore by expressing an appreciation to those qualities and what may be a carved stone or even a plastic model, one's energy is being directed toward those very human qualities that are needed to make life more pleasant.
Sometimes if you feel that your life is a little out of control and you need a little more assertiveness and clarity, the goddesses Dhurga and Kali help with the development of self empowerment. Then when you are contemplating when it all began and why, the deity of Shiva becomes the subject of appreciation and contemplation. Within Sanatana Dharma Siva is the divine principle referred to as God in the Abrahamic religions.
To keep this short, you are likely to feel much happier and joyful for no real reason other than the appreciation of the fact that you are alive. You may have noticed this and young children before they get an education. You may also notice that you are working for the collective happiness of the community and you are less interested in acquiring unnecessary stuff or short-term pleasure.
As this modern civilisation hurtles towards its destruction and that civilisation seems intent on demolishing Sanatana Dharma on the Indian subcontinent, Sanatana Dharma is sprouting like a weed across the developed world and the great new temples are sprouting in major cities.
Even in smaller communities, people are turning their living rooms into prayer rooms and instead of beaching about what so-and-so has done and engaging in negative gossip, those who are turning to a dharmic lifestyle are finding not only new reasons for living, but a deeper appreciation of life and a more profound understanding of existence.