Sanathana Dharma – Brain’s lokamotiv to Heart and Beyond
We hear a lot about Sanathana Dharma lately, mostly about how Brahmins thrusted an evil system upon gullible masses, the divisive and oppressive nature of it and so on…
Interacting with people makes it clear that not many have much of an understanding of what is Sanathana Dharma or even Hinduism. Most complaints come from people who never had any interest in these topics either.
It makes one wonder, if so, how could such an oppressive hierarchical system go unabated for so long? Are our contemporaries better off intellectually than all of their ancestors?
This piqued my interest, and I have summarized my findings for the reader to contemplate.
Culture normally is seen as the collection of practices native to a group of people inheriting a landmass. The more geographically secluded and for longer, the more distinct it is.
“Culture…is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society – Edward Tylor”
But it begs another. When and how does a society acquires the capabilities and habits? When did people first start to settle the geographic area? Were they natives or settlers? How did they start to evolve? When did it reach a pinnacle or was there one? Pinnacle with respect to what?
If we fail to find the timeline between the start and highpoint of a civilization, the bigger risk is that later inserts and amalgamations arising out of external influence will lead to a very distorted picture.
West’s imperialistic ways meant it had a good administrative apparatus and that was often misconstrued for a better culture. At best it could be termed loosely as lifestyle. It was savage for the most part. Greece was one nuanced exception. Successful imperialistic times were seen as ‘Better days’.
Bharath on the other hand, with its bounty of natural resources, manageable climate and relative isolation owing to himalayas and oceans had multiple thriving civilizations. A conscious call to seek than being faithful won. Methods were crafted to encourage seeking.
A system was put in place so people, when finished with their civic responsibilities would move to the seeking realm to progress. The point in time when such well oiled machinery was in place was when the civilization of Bharath was at its peak.
Westerners broad brushed religious practices of Bharath into the term Hinduism. A gross oversimplification of the culture of Bharath. It is instinctive of them to bucket things irrespective of whether they are objective or not. There neither is the intellect nor patience. For them, the eastern equivalent of western religion was Hinduism.
Before we discuss the highpoint of Bharathiya civilization, its imperative that we understand the western ways.
West had two institutions, the Church and the State.
West simply imbibed theology that suited their pleasure seeking ways and lack of interest. Its a very important distinction to be made because it dictated what religion to adapt. Christianity provided the what they needed. Soft enough to show the other cheek, tough enough to scare the masses. ‘Faith’ was easy. Not much care was taken to analyze the scriptures deeply or even when done, it was deemed enough for the masses. Both belief and faith were used interchangeably.
East also had two institutions. State and Dharma.
Participants of the State were SEEN on a varna basis. It wasn’t casteist but it simply indicated bucketing of people carrying out respective duties. None was superior or inferior.
Second would be a unique, interesting system, the Dharma; NOT the equivalent of church.
It is a process where men would philosophize and try logic. If warranted further merit, it continued, else another will be tried and so on. The next step would be to validate the logic. One way was to enter a debate with a person from another school of thought and see who wins. From the outset it would look like a couple of groups fighting for supremacy but subtly to ensure that the path followed was worthy of pursuance. The losing side would embrace the winning school. This process would continue until a school worthy of basing his journey is arrived at.
Ways to accelerate the seeking, shortening the learning curve, weeding out portions untenable was a continuous process. What remained were the tried, tested and gems polished to sophistication.
The system allowed for shorter correction cycles and the matter for each cycle was logic at lower levels and meditative/mindfulness experiences at higher levels. It meant that “the quantum of belief is kept to a minimum before it is tried and established to be a fact to base upon or fallacy to be discarded”.
After this point, when all logic pondered, the seeker is left to just experience thru internal reflection. Even the Upanishads claim to ‘only attempt to bring the seeker close to the brahman by calling it many names but eventually the questions have to be answered by experiencing itself’.
Gurus were respected not because they were wise but for paving the way for the seeker. When Karma were fulfilled, a guru will be there to emancipate. Guru would seek his sishya as well if he wished.
Sanathana Dharma is the guide book for the societal advancement.
All the ways to conduct one’s life so it was conducive to seeking, methods to apply, help to advance one’s own methods, guiding when in doubt is Dharma. It could be seen as encompassing Hinduism. The former would be interspersed with the latter.
Dharma transcended vedhic gods or other deities that each clan had. Dharma provided many spiritual paths for it was natural, they figured. The idea was to reduce dependency on strict faith, make it a belief and then make them seek.
While some curious westerners learnt and were being at awe at this amazing scheme of things, rest of them genuinely did not understand the intricate nature of the setup. It wasn’t conducive to their hegemony or lmperialism disguised as democracy.
Depending on their maturity, they saw dharma either as another primitive false religion or as brahminical fascism against which the proletariat must wage war.
It had to be denigrated and eliminated. It was an intellectual threat preventing them from wielding power. They had to alienate the guardians of dharma, the brahmins.
They were biding time and hit the jackpot inadvertently may be.
Europeans in power for over a century created institutions and jobs completely alien to the people of the land. Clerk and stenographer were unheard of. Bharathiya who were at the seeking end could easily understand and excel at these new west created job positions. It wasn’t just brahmins but, other literate people as well. Rest of the populace found it not so easy.
The west used it against them beautifully creating a narrative where the rest of the people were made to think that only the upper caste people were occupying all government jobs.
These outsiders who hate each other intensely and fought wars for supremacy elsewhere would become strange bedfellows to start a relentless campaign to disengage the guardians. Brahmins had their share of atrocities and deserve criticism for the wrongs. But we know the real motive. The means is well known to readers so we don’t have to get into it.
The outsiders would create an ideological brainchild, Dravidam to take up the war. Brahmins would be subject to ridicule and defamation. Them in tamir nadu too took a rather cavalier attitude towards the whole problem. Without realizing the bigger threat, they would take an apologetic tone, go aloof or migrate to other greener pastures where their talent would get due recognition. It was contributing to further alienation.
With them gone, the society gradually weakened where astrologers and charlatans would hold sway and Tantric type rituals, Mummery and Bhakthi movements becoming more enthralling to the common man. The society as a whole would demoted itself from its pinnacle to be mercantile. Money became the sole purpose of life. The seeker who would eventually be a guru became a mere follower.
The western masters are gone but their idealogical slaves are still amongst us. The west has clearly demonstrated that it is not capable of leading the world. It has ripped cultures of their individuality, subjugated them and made gullible line workers.
Before claiming Bharathiya culture is the greatest and striving for its return, one must understand the nature of the system. Contrary to popular dispensation, its not a Brahmin only exercise, it is everyone’s.
The quest for supreme knowledge alone can take the seeker upwards while material advancements only create horizontal accumulation of knowhow. More stuff only creates more suffering. Dharma alone is designed to take out the sorrow from the plodding existence that we call life.
With the dark depths of the heart disgruntled with the remission seemingly brought about by faith and demand answers, at wit’s end, only dharma in its sincerest attempts provide wherever he may be in the seekers path, a quantum of deliverance, a ray of light.
We, the guardians must understand this vividly, practice it and work our way to erase all misconceptions, remove all ill-will, abolish all wicked caste discriminations, restore the catalysts aka temples, lead the charge in the fight against the aggressors.
Dharma is the greatest and priceless gift of Bharath to mankind. It deserves to be preserved.