This means Eternal Law. Some scholars often say that the word dharma cannot be translated. This is not right. Its best English translation is the word 'Law' , if we write it with a capital letter. Not a law in the human sense, but a law in a scientific sense. When the word 'sanatana', which means 'eternal', 'imperishable' is added, then the expression 'sanatana dharma' means 'Eternal Law', which is the Law that governs the whole Cosmos, the only one which is eternal and imperishable. The Sanatana Dharma is therefore the Cosmic Law, the Law of Nature. Hence we see that this expression should not be restricted to the word 'religion', as some people translate 'dharma'. However this translation is also good if we consider the word 'religion' in its original sense, derived from Latin re-ligare which means 're-bind'. Religion is that which binds man to His Essence, to His Being, and this binding is, precisely, the 'Cosmic Law'.
Man should therefore acquire the knowledge of the Cosmic Law and thus will understand himself, will know himself. This is why the true Hinduism, the true Sanatana Dharma, rejects blind faith, but on the contrary asks man to self-determine, to reject all dogmas. The path of the Sanatana Dharma, which is the path leading to the discovery of the Truth, can therefore be also called 'Science'. It is moreover characteristic to see that present science is in fact rediscovering the laws stated thousands of years ago by the Vedic rishis. Thus for example the "big bang" and "big scrunch" exposed (and dated) since time immemorial in the Indian Scriptures, but this is only one example among thousands.
Some people translate the term 'dharma' by the word 'duty'. This is of course a restricted sense but the term 'dharma' contains it as well. In fact, to find himself, man should live in harmony with the Cosmic Law, this is what constitutes his duty, this is what constitutes his "dharma".
The Cosmic Law applies to all beings, to every being which is born, which concerns also the most minute material or subtle particle. The whole creation, the whole Nature is subject to that Law about which Jesus has said: "Till sky and earth will pass away, not one jot will pass away from the Law", which means that no one can escape the Cosmic Law which governs the whole universe.
Hence we are far from the notion of "morals" or "ethics" which one has been willing to give also to the word 'dharma'. Morals consist of simply behaving in harmony with the Cosmic Law. To give an example, morals consist of equipping oneself with clothes when going during a brass-monkey weather. This is thus living in harmony; the body being unable to resist certain temperature, we must do in such a way as to make it live in harmony. The infringement of the law has an effect, as every action has a reaction, eventually the effect will be a cold, a bronchitis or a pneumonia. Hence it is moral to dress oneself, it is also a duty and it is the Law.
This notion is thus cleared now, as it needs to be.
All obey the Sanatana Dharma: the sun, the moon, the earth. The gravitation forms a part of the Universal Law, the Sanatana Dharma. That in mathematics 1 + 1 is equal to 2 in base 10, this too is Sanatana Dharma.
The gradual non-understanding of man, which also forms part of the Universal Law, as we will see afterwards, that which is called the 'levelling down'(1), has alas resulted in the fact that Sanatana Dharma has, in the course of time, been called "Hinduism" followed by the creation of a religion. Here an explanation is needed.
The real name of Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma. In this
sense everyone is basically Hindu. A child who is born is, by
nature, Hindu, because he is submitted to Sanatana Dharma as anything.
The sun is Hindu, the moon is Hindu, everything is Hindu. Hence
from where comes the word "Hindu" ?
The word Hindu is derived from Persian. As we know, Sanskrit has passed on to Persia with the migrations and has, like any language, undergone changes. A significant number of Sanskrit words exist in the Zend Avesta. But the "S" in Sanskrit often becomes "H" in Persian. Thus the term 'asura' which indicated some gods, then, in course of time, some demons, has become in Persian "Ahura", as in "Ahura Mazda". The term "Hindu" thus comes from "Sindu". The Sindu is one of the sacred rivers, at present known as Indus. The Persians called "Hindus" these people who lived on the other side of the river "Sindu". The term "Hindu" does therefore not indicate a particular religion, but it indicates a nation, namely the people whom we call Indian. Moreover, this word "Sindu" exists in the Indian vocabulary and we know the Indus region still called "Sind". It's only afterwards that this word has been applied to the philosophy or the culture or later to the religion of the people. But let us forget that religion born with the 'levelling down' and let us come to the essence, to the Sanatana Dharma.
Secondly, to expose the Cosmic Law with the help of words, the sages (in other words the knowers of this Law) have had recourse to numerous symbols, images. With the passing time, people not having the same knowledge have retained only the images devoid of their meaning. To help these very people, the sages have created rituals, symbolism, in order to help them acquire that very knowledge and in course of time, it has been the same thing: people have applied the rituals without living up to them, without knowing their meaning. Thus is born what can rightly be called a religion, the Hinduism, which for many people has changed like others into a blind faith.
Having said so, let us come back to the Natural Law. It is known that every action draws along a reaction. In other words, every cause has an effect. When we live in harmony with the Natural Law, with the Sanatana Dharma, it's like the scale of a balance, which keeps its equilibrium; there is no effect because there is no cause. Now, since the equilibrium is disrupted, that is, since we are no more living in harmony with this law, since we are infringing this law, then an effect will come up, the scale of the balance will be unstable. 'Action' in Sanskrit is called 'karma'. As the effects of the action are inherent in the action itself just as the tree is contained in the seed, the effect of the action is also known as "karma". The action is not finished until the last effect of it will be finished. Every action outside the Natural Law will therefore draw along a "karma" that is an effect, a reaction. The normal tendency is to regain harmony; the tendency of the scale of the balance is to reach the state of equilibrium. This come back to the equilibrium is effected by the actual experience of "karma", the power that makes the scale regain its state of equilibrium. This is the real meaning of the word "karma", which, in a sense, can be said to be scientific or moral or whatever you like. It is thus, it's Law and not even a jot of it can be discarded.
We are now going a step further. Let us imagine two beings absolutely identical, living completely in harmony with the Cosmic Law, that is: according to the Sanatana Dharma. They are absolutely pure, similar to God. And now, one day, one of them does an action contrary to that Law. He bears the consequences of it; that is, to be in line with Sanatana Dharma, he has to go through the results of his action, in other word he should purge his karma. Consequently his "destiny", which is his life trend, differs from the other.
Here is the notion of fate cleared: everyone has a different fate according to his past actions that he has to live up in order to reach ideal state of equilibrium. The destiny is the effects of past actions which he has to live up in order to regain the state of equilibrium, the original state, the first state. There is nothing in it that is purely moral or this or that. In fact, morals, religion, science are synonymous.
|His "duty", just to use another synonymous term, is to live up effectively the consequences, that is: the experiences born from his own actions. If he wishes to attain the original state of equilibrium, he should face these experiences, live them and overcome them. This is called his "dharma". This is called "doing one's dharma". One can easily understand that every living being has a different dharma according to the past actions done by him. The dharma particular to somebody is called in Sanskrit "svadharma" (one's own dharma). It's by doing one's dharma, that is by living the experiences born of karma that one gets rid of that karma, and he comes back to his original state of equilibrium. Hence some people call it "morals", others "religion", "duty", "science", "philosophy" no matter, these are but names. What is important, it's the truth, the reality hidden behind these different names and this truth is unique and the same. That people call the action not in harmony with the Natural Law 'karma' and the Christians 'sin', this doesn't change anything..|
Here it is, in a few lines, explained scientifically the fact that human beings are not equal by nature but they in fact are in essence. Here is explained in a few words the notion of Sanatana Dharma and the meaning of life summarized briefly.
For the rest, it is a question of logic.
Let us go further, more exactly let us go into some details
and see what different traditions say about it.
When man is in complete harmony with the Cosmic Law, he is one with the Cosmic Law. In other words he is united with God and he is God. Put differently, there is no creation, the creation coming in fact from the first imbalance. From where the first imbalance comes? It is the most difficult question of the metaphysics to which there is no answer. Some people say: "It is the Divine Play, the Divine playing with Himself", etc. That which we can know, it's the creation, that which certain traditions calls the "downfall" is created by desire. In Sanskrit it is called the "primordial desire". It is the coming out of the thought of the mind. Man analyses mentally, which means there is a splitting, a breaking away from the One. The thought that one is apart from the One.
But previously, there has been the coming out of the duality, that is we have on one side the Consciousness and on the other Nature. In fact the two sides are but the two sides of the Same One, more exactly of the same Non-dual (because 'one' can be defined only in relation to 'two'). Consciousness and Nature, or masculine and feminine. Consciousness will be God, Nature the Goddess, the Energy. Consciousness is similar to God. This is Adam, created in the image of God, Adam from Sanskrit Adi-Manu, the first man, and Eva is the Nature. In India we see Shiva (Consciousness) and Parvati, the Nature, also called Shakti or in the Samkhya system Purusha and Prakriti (the creating nature), but it is exactly the same thing seen through different points of view. Adam lives in the garden of Eden, in Paradise, he is not different from God.
With the coming out of the mind, comes the coming out of the particular sense of 'me', the splitting of the One, the illusion (owing to Nature, also called Maya, the illusion (hence the word 'magic')), man considers himself an individual, different from his source, in religious terms, from God. That's the downfall. Maya, the mind, is represented in the Bible by the serpent; it is the mind, which makes man believe that he is different from his Being, that he is an individual outside Himself. God says: "You will not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge which is in the middle of the garden". What is the fruit of the tree of knowledge? It is the discursive knowledge, the knowledge of mind. As soon as man begins to think, to mind, as soon as he eats the mental fruit, he falls. He leaves his being, he splits himself. "And he knew that he was naked." He becomes man : "mind" in Sanskrit is "manas" - and man is 'Manu' - from which is derived the English word "man" or "Mann" in German. Previously there was no notion of nudity, no mental notion, man did not think, he was. And man falls, that's the beginning of creation, of the manifestation. We next have the birth, the emergence of the two sons, "Abel" and "Cain" whose names mean what they want to convey, to make it simple: good and evil, notions which did not exist previously because there was no notion. As soon as Adam thinks, minds, then is the birth of 3: the subject, the object and the thought of the object, more precisely that which binds the subject to the object. It is the appearance of life, that which we can find also in the body, briefly: the two nadis, Ida and pingala, which intersect. "You will work with the sweat of thy brow, then will beget in pain". To regain the primary unity, the karma should be annihilated, in other words to live; this life will allow us to live the experiences, fruits of karma, and thus attaint the original state.
In India, we have the same thing, under an infinite number of symbols. Let us take two of them. The first is from the Shiva Purana. We have on one side Shiva, the Consciousness, and Parvati, the Nature, on the other side. It's Parvati, by Maya, the illusion that is Herself, who creates a child, from the exudation of her own body, (who later becomes Ganesha), who is no other that the mind, her own creation. The child is not created by the Consciousness, by Shiva, but by Parvati, the Nature. This child, the mind, prevents Shiva from meeting Parvati; he prevents the cosmic wedding, the reunification of the two, Consciousness and Nature. The Shiva Purana says more, giving details: when Shiva wants to put this child away, it's not possible for Him, He has to ask his "ganas" to come for helping him, but the little guy overcomes theses ganas. The ganas are the symbols of the virtues, of the good tendencies in us. That means that, for having his desires fulfilled, the mind will even kill the good tendencies in us.
The second can be seen in the Ramayana
where we see the separation of Rama (Consciousness) and
Sita (Nature) with the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana.
Ravana, the mind, the ego, is unable to seize Sita, Nature, and
so separates her from Rama (the Consciousness) by a play of Maya
(illusion). Le line not to be passed is the Lakshmanrekha. Once
this line passed, it is the fall. And so, it's the beginning of
the manifestation and Rama needs a life journey in order to meet
Sita, killing all the rakshasas, the demons and finally Ravana
When Shiva wants to meet Parvati and when he cannot, even with the help of the Ganas, the only mean to succeed is to chop off the head of the boy with his trishul. The meaning is that the Consciousness kills the mind). That being done, He replaces the head of the child by the head of an elephant. The elephant head is constituted of senses all increased to the maximum: large ears, piercing eyes, very big nose. He replaces the head of the boy, the mind, by the intelligence, by "buddhi": the faculty to discriminate, to distinguish the true from the false, the only means for Shiva to be able to be united with Parvati. The boy was a creation of Parvati; Ganesha is the creation of Shiva. Le sense of ego has been cut and replaced by the buddhi, the discrimination. From then, instead of killing the ganas, he becomes gana-isha, Ganesh, or Ganapati, the Lord of Ganas. And it's why in temples of Shiva you must first honour Ganesha before reaching Shiva. You must first give up your mind, your ego. Without doing that, you will never reach the Consciousness, Your Self.
Thus, to summarize, all the actions done by man, by Adam who previously was similar to God and One with Him, has given birth to a 'karma' so that with the passage of time that karma has hidden the Consciousness. The totality of this karma constitutes the ego, which prevents man from seeing his real Being, his true Consciousness. To come back to the primitive state, to be conscious again that the Consciousness and Nature are one and the same thing, one must do away with the mind, one must kill the ego. This is the meaning of life, like Rama going to Lanka to join Sita must kill all the demons that are on his way. In fact it's man who is evolving towards his source by killing all the karma, all the demons and ends by killing the mind itself, the ego itself: Ravana. Only then will he be able to unite with Sita. We have given here only the general sense without entering into the details, namely the intervention of Hanuman, the complete surrender, who alone has made the successful union possible.
Now, how does this levelling by the bottom take place? As we have seen, the ego sense is becoming denser and denser, hiding more and more the true being. The mind is analysing, cutting the things in pieces and in course of time the downfall is sharper and sharper. Look at the tree of knowledge, which is in the middle of the garden. At the beginning, there is only one matter of knowledge, the trunk. The discursive knowledge of man is still harmonious. In the olden days, and even not so long ago, scholars were at the same time great scientists but also great philosophers. Take the French Pascal for instance. But after cutting and cutting this whole universe in pieces, smaller and smaller, man has lost the idea of the whole. At the beginning, science and philosophy were the same thing. Then the mind has separated them. Afterwards, science has been cut itself in several portions : Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Geography, and so on. Then each part has been divided. Take the medicine for instance : it has been divided in Psychology and General Medicine, this latter has been divided afterwards in pieces : Stomatology, Urology, Cardiology, and so on and so on. So much and so well that now, everybody is a specialist in something. But go for your stomach, the specialist of it will give you pills. After 2 days, those pills will make you feel pain in your back. So you will go to the Urologist who will give you other pills, which will make you feel pain here or there. Nowadays nobody has any notion of the whole. Everybody has lost the notion of Harmony. Moreover, each specialist is so proud that, from the tiny part he knows, he will explain to you the entire cosmos! So it is possible to find great scholars who are but total ignoramus. That is the difference between manas and buddhi.
And so we pass from the Satya Yuga, where the Consciousness
is full, to the Tetra Yuga, then to the Dvapara Yuga and now to
the Kali Yuga, where selfishness is leading the world, where man
is totally cut from the Whole, from himself, no more seeing that
the other one is more than his own brother, that he is himself.
The levelling by the bottom explains also why, nowadays, very
few people are speaking Sanskrit, which is the perfect language,
while nearly everybody speaks English
And this explains
also nearly all the problems.
The Sanatana Dharma is universal and it has given rise to symbolic expressions, to different traditions in the expression here and there but it means exactly the same thing.
Man is God in essence and all his course during the numerous lives is a come-back to Himself. Whether he likes or not, whether he is conscious of it or not, he is driven by that and only by that. The very powerful sexual energy which traps so many is but born by the desire of the union of the masculine and the feminine, of the Consciousness and the Nature. Even on this point, don't we speak of reaching the "seventh heaven", which is meaningful all the same ! Due to illusion which makes him believe that he is an individual, man thinks that happiness is found above all in possession, in the union with external matters, because being an individual he finds it outside himself. But the real happiness is not to have but to be. To have is the act of the ego who sees things as being outside himself whilst everything is in oneself. The greatest discoveries of science are but the result for man to discover himself. What he sees outside are but the interior laws that rule him also, because man is a microcosm of the macrocosm, the whole universe is in him. As the inscription said : "Know thyself and then you will know the universe and the gods". Masculine and feminine are both in man.
Just as the karma accumulated since endless time has covered up the human being with an enormous shell called ego and the human being has been made to believe that he is that ego, likewise the Sanatana Dharma has been covered up in course of time with rituals, symbols, speeches, dogmas etc and man has been led to believe that all that covering was Sanatana Dharma which is now called Hinduism, and after that, with always more and more dogmas have appeared all the other religions. The sanatana dharma is exposed in what is called the Shruti, which means that everybody going back to Himself can hear that Shruti. It will be too long to expose that side.
Just as the jiva (individual soul) takes a body for a certain period, likewise the Being takes a body for a certain period. This body, it's the Cosmos, the Nature. Just as the body of man is not the being, likewise Nature is not the Being but illusion of the senses. Just as the body, Nature is born (Brahma), preserved for some time (Vishnu) and is destroyed (Shiva). As the body cannot survive without the being that inhabits in it, Nature cannot exist without the Being that resides in it. The Ramnam, the repetition of the mantra "Aum Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram" constantly reminds us this reality. "Victory to the Consciousness !" The cosmic wedding, union of Shiva and Parvati is the union of the Being and Nature. Being constantly conscious that the two are but one, that He is in the least blade of grass, that in fact He is everything. "Sarvam kalvidam Brahma" or as Yogi Ramsuratkumar said : "Only my Father exists", this is the Realisation. Nature, Consciousness and the being who made the distinction between the two become One.
What has been preached by Buddha, it's the Sanatana Dharma seen from a certain angle. What has been preached by Jesus (Isha), it's the Sanatana Dharma seen from another angle. Both have not created any religion, only men did after them. The teachings are by no means different, it's the angles that are different. Just as a clean sweep of the present Hinduism should be made and come to Sanatana Dharma, clean sweep should also be made of religions created after the teachings of Jesus and Buddha and come back to the primitive message which is that of Sanatana Dharma. As Sri Ramakrishna has said : "All those clothes will disappear, and at the end only the Sanatana Dharma will stay."
Science obeys Sanatana Dharma, in that it is the discovery of the laws of Nature. It helps man in his quest for knowledge and in the disappearance of false beliefs and superstitions. Science has presently reached the discovery that everything is one physically speaking, that all can be analysed as one heap of waves or corpuscles. These waves or corpuscles simply take forms which appear and disappear and which moreover are seen differently by the beings. For example, an ant does not perceive a horse in the same way as does a man. Hence it means that the perception of things is relative to the one who perceives and to his senses of perception. What one perceives is but a truth relative to the one who perceives but in the absolute it's just and illusion without absolute reality. Thus even on the physical plane, science can draw the same conclusions. Besides the mind functions from perception which it receives from the world outside. And these perceptions, as we have just seen, are quite relative and finally illusory. How can the mind perceive the truth! It's totally impossible! Senses are the creation of Nature, it's just Nature which is perceiving Itself, the illusion perceiving itself!
Besides science seen by the western world is confined to what is perceived by the senses, that is what is called 'material'. In other words, it stops to Bhuh. It has not reached yet the subtle plane, bhuvah, which is the cause of the physical and material sphere, or so few. What to say of Svah! These two spheres have also their scientific laws and obey also to the Sanatana Dharma, being in the field of Nature. The Rishis of yore have exposed these laws and the experiences acquired in these fields, just as they have exposed the laws of the physical sphere. It stops in the field of waking, but has not gone into that of dream or of deep sleep and when it enters the field of dreams, what it expose is not scientific but of the sphere of conjectures, guess.
To make a distinction between science, philosophy, morals, religion and logic, etc all this is purely illusory and mislead man all the more. Everything is "Sanatana Dharma". All these terms are but the attributes of the word "knowledge', Veda. And one of the main thing is that we are all related, as we are all One.
(1) We don't find an equivalent English expression for the French "nivellement par le bas".