Sunday, 22 January 2017

Sanaatan Dharm Explained : My Personal Path; The Basics

I am an ardent student of the Ancient Literature of our Religion, Sanaatan Dharm. The following article is the first in a series in an honest attempt to consolidate my readings in my mind, and represents a continuing hunt, a search and a struggle to understand. This article is basis two years of studying the following Sanaatan Dharm Literature repeatedly : The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta, Ishavasya Upanishad, Mundak Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Ken Upanishad, Kathh Upanishad, Prashna Upanishad, Aitareya Upanishad, Taittriya Upanishad and Shvetaashwar Upanishad.


My thanks to Naveen Nawathe & Amitabh D Sinha, without whose discussions I would never have crossed the rubicon, so to speak, and started writing on religion. It was these two gentlemen who first raised the issue and stated, what is the point of your reading if you selfishly keep it to yourself? Further, why don’t we Sanaatanis take our literature in a more friendly form to people? To them, my rejoinder – I am not an expert, just a student. There is a long way to go for me, many many years of study. But yes, I can use my writing in an effort to consolidate what I have learnt, by writing from memory thereby firming the information stored through my readings.


UNDERSTANDING THE PATH
Sanaatan Dharm, also & in my opinion wrongly called Hinduism, is more of a path, a path the basis of which is individual choice. Many people have noted lack of doctrinaire trends in our path; it goes far beyond that. There is actually no precedent, no tenet and no concept of collective action of any sort in the path that we have to follow; the path is a highly individual choice. Many other writers, more knowledgeable than me, have underlined the importance of Karm and Dharm; to be honest, even after reading the Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta four times, and the other books twice, I cannot be sure of what is Karm, and what is Dharm.

I have honestly no inkling of God, nor do I have the vaguest idea of my path, or indeed what it should be, beyond a vague idea. Suffice it to say the day I truly find my path, my hunt will be over. That, to me, is the eternal path, Sanaatan Dharm… my interpretation. The reason is that it is extremely hard to be specific about each person; the definition {if there is such a thing} will vary with the individual. At the current level of my study, I think it would be perfectly feasible to have 1 billion definitions from 1 billion people. That is the true nature of what everyone likes to call Hinduism; it is a highly individualistic faith, with many levels and layers.


This makes sense if you consider that each human is different, a fact that has been proven by psychology.  Thus, it makes perfect sense to have different interpretations depending on the individual. Since individual strengths, weaknesses, attitudes, values and behavior is  bound to be different, so too the belief systems and what one takes from the path is bound to be, and should be, different. It is dependent on one’s mind, one’s thoughts, experiences, learnings, attitudes, behaviour, conscience, values etc. Frankly, to understand Sanaatan Dharm fully, you will have to understand life itself – for that is what our religion is all about, at the absolute core : understanding life. And, to understand life, one first has to understand oneself… the day you do that, you are at peace, and one with the Lord… you attain, as we call it, Moksha…


FREEDOM OF THOUGHT IN SANAATAN DHARM {HINDUISM}
The concept of an all-powerful Single God, strange though it may seem, actually is the base of Sanaatan Dharm. It is a gross fallacy that we have multiple Gods; but more of that later. Further, this goes to the core of our path, our religion; and is one of the most complex facets that can be stated, with no easy explanation, and with certainly no easy way of putting it in writing for a student like me. Hence, let me start with my sights set smaller. I think we can all relate to the reality that all people are different, that each of us is a wonder in ourselves, no pun intended. Each person has a different reality, a different mindset, and cannot be so very easily put into a mould. The net result is that each person has different perceptions of the world, and varied desires & ambitions.


And that is why individualism is hard-coded into our path; in fact, the Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta is categorical : the path is not to be revealed at all, except to those who are genuinely interested and deeply passionate in their hunt; and that you require a Guru, a Guide to take you forward on that path. This immediately closes expansionism and proselytization; it also lays the hardwired code of individual interpretation and effort in the path. This also clarifies another important, critical aspect: not everyone wants to go on the path, or realizes the value of the path. However, in a stunning factor – if a Sanaatani is not on the path {or what you perceive as the path} it does not mean he is wrong!


It just means one of several alternatives : he or she may have self-realised; he or she may have different priorities; he or she may not yet value the path – which is perfectly acceptable so long as no evil is committed; or something else that I have not realized yet. Simply put, his or her reality is different to yours, and you cannot force your interpretation of the path upon him or her. Given that each mind is different, how each mind perceived the world and God is bound to be different. And that is one of the reasons why idol worship is practiced in Sanaatan Dharm. Not everyone can develop his or her existence to such a level as to be able to conceive the Lord in his or mind; idols help channelize the energy inside you, by the simple expedient of unlocking your faith and belief…   


This actually encourages individual freedom, thought, interpretation, as you are free to think for yourself. Over time, it helps develop the person and consequently the society naturally, as well as acting as a rock-hard belief base that is near-impossible to crack, as other religions have found over time, as India time and again proved the final frontier for them… enabling the path to survive unchanged for nearly 7000-10000 years, despite many inroads and invasions even on our Religion. This individualism is also why it has been so easy for us to accept other people, realities, belief systems and even incorporate it in us.



What is the path? I have used this word many times, but how do I define it for myself? What are the psychological or behavioural attributes on a broad sense that define perception in Sanaatan Dharm?  How does one perceive, and what does the religion say about that? This is a continuing series, and other articles will appear as I try to come to terms with, realize and imbibe my path within me. I shall continue to document my experiences in this series – feel free to read if you find it giving value. I shall document and try to answer these questions and more in the coming articles…. 

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