From Hinduism to Sanatana Dharma: A Critical Journey whose time has come
Hinduism is a moniker given by the invaders to the practices that were followed in the land beyond Indus, which they couldn’t understand. Those who had been colored in Beliefs and thought that was the only way to conduct the business of interacting with and seeking the Creator of the Existence – slapped the cloak of belief and its damning impact on unsuspecting people from the sub-continent. Over the years, the ones with the Belief have rejected those who were Seeking, because they couldn’t understand them. But in the meanwhile, they – due to antagonism and aggressive belief systems, went about destroying Schools, Universities (Nalanda, Takshashila) and Hermitages across the land. Even Temples. Hundreds and Thousands of them.
The imparting of the ways of the Subtle is not easy. It is not in the reading of the book. Nor in the written or oral exams and tests. Nor in distinctions. It is a subtle dimension that is very individual in nature. And, although it can be developed by an individual on his / her own, it requires tremendous and unflinching work. Very few have that ability. That is why this “Science” was imparted from One who had walked and perfected a path to a serious seeker.
In the aftermath of invasions, unfortunately, the very instruments and institutions of imparting this subtle knowledge were destroyed. And during that time, the only path that can be taken on one’s own most easily, if one has the required craziness in his/her devotion – Bhakti – took precedence. Bhakti Yogis were amazing and great beings. But they had no or little understanding of the “Science” behind the whole work that had been done in this land to impart these systems in a systematic way. A society where every part of one’s life was used and lined up in order to seek the highest, was suddenly being viewed through the simplistic lens of a romantic. The Romantic was not wrong or bad. He just had “one” perspective of the way to the Truth.
Spiritual Sadhana requires dedicated work. Bhakti requires crazy stirring of emotions. While its difficult to indulge in the former easily, it was and has been easier to feign the latter. Keep long hair, act idiotic and chant and jump like a lunatic and to the world you may be one heck of a Saint. The benchmark is internal and the journey is internal. How does one differentiate between Bhakti and Feigning?
It is this loss of importance of Sadhana and distortion of Bhakti that has come to define the Hinduism of today. Most passionate Hindus aren’t willing to undertake Sadhana but are wont to profess their love and passion for something that they don’t really care enough about. For, on the path of Bhakti, if you really .. REALLY care… you would be a complete misfit for the society. No Bhakti Saint has ever been able to deal with the ways of the society. For they have their own world and moral, social, relational compass of that world runs totally counter to one who is bent upon complete dissolution.
What we have in our midst now are lazy, ill-informed but passionate people who call themselves Hindus.
Hinduism is nothing to pride in, Dharma is! Dharmic living has no preset notions and no principles as it is not predicated on Beliefs. It is defined by Seeking, Transformation and Realization. Believing is pretense. Rather fooling oneself and others that one has “found” the goal. Realization is the ONLY culmination of the urge to know. In many ways, it is like Mathematics. You cannot solve an equation by “Believing” in something. You have to seek the solution with all that you have. And at some point the solution emerges. Clear and Bright as a Diamond Crystal.
This land – the land of Seekers was a land of those who looked beyond the “easy”, the “fooling around”, the parochial. That is why from rituals to temples to ponds to cities (like Varanasi) were built to take a person from an unaware human to one whose consciousness had touched Divine levels.
A Ratnakar, the dacoit, when he confronted the Sages, was never given a lesson in Morality or Social Good. He was put on the path of Sadhana. And we had a Valmiki. Naren was not given books to read or lectures to watch and attend to solve his urge for the Ultimate. He was taken through Sadhana.. Hard Sadhana. And from that emerged Swami Vivekananda.
Inclusiveness of a Dharmic Society – which has found expression in the texts and utterances of Hinduism – is under threat. By Exclusive mindsets and people. But Hinduism cannot save it. Those who shun Sadhana but hug passionate feigning of Bhakti cannot save it. It needs Swami Vivekanandas and Valmikis. It needs hard work and tough journeys. Journeys that can again make Dharma the sine qua non of India. Not beliefs.
Such has to be the Ruthlessness of self sacrifice and Sadhana that if all the stories and beliefs that we have installed due to our coloring from Belief mindsets – when Sanatana Dharma became Hinduism – were to fall on the wayside in our quest for Truth. Then so be it.
Pursuit of Dharma is not easy. It should never be. Believing is easy. There is no benchmark, no way to test yourself other than profess passion through words or even hurting others. And that is what everyone in the world has been doing.. with more finesse and created large dumps of skeletons all over the world. But this land – that we call India – has not become divine by a bunch of people believing in something and “fighting” for it. Rather, it has been raised to the level of Divine possibility through sheer hardwork and sacrifice. Sadhana – unflinching, relentless and personally ruthless – has been the bedrock of this transformation culture.
It is time we move from Hinduism to Sanatan Dharma. From Belief to Realization. From Passion to Sadhana. And from Ordinary people to those who are worthy of predecessors like Shiva, Ram, Krishna, Vashishta, Valmiki to Ramana, Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.