Sunday, January 15, 2012




Sanatan Dharma known as Eternal Tradition was revealed to humanity by the Supreme Principle for the universal benefit of mankind. Religion which can be called 'Sampradaya' in Sanskrit started after great personalities. There is no appropriate word for religion in Sanskrit as religion is created by man. Great personalities themselves never started any religion. 'Sampradaya' literally means to give properly. They taught us Bhakti or devotion to the Supreme and established the same in the world. They gave a path called 'sampradaya' or religion. Religion has a beginning. Everything that has a beginning is bound to come to an end sooner or later. But Sanatana Dharma has no beginning, so it will have no end. It sprang from Vedas; it came from the Supreme itself. It has no end and it is Eternal. Sanatana Dharma is the lodestar of Spirituality.

Religion and Spirituality are not the same. Religion at best serves to provide ethical training and shows various outer ways of worshipping God through rituals and prayers, which can help to maintain harmony in society. Spirituality consists of internal attitudes and practices, which lead to Self-realization and transcends all external rules and rituals. One who has truly entered the spiritual path goes beyond all outer religious identities.

Today there is a new worldwide seeking for a universal form of spirituality above and beyond the limitations of organized religions. To meet the challenges of the global cultures coming together today we must create a universal spiritual tradition that encompass all the diversity of human cultures, both religious and secular. Universal tradition is the very foundation of Hinduism, the most diverse and oldest religion of the world, whose original name was Sanatana Dharma or the Eternal Tradition of Truth. Then there was no such word as religion which was coined later. To renew such a universal tradition it is important that we look to its already existent formulations which, though distorted by time, still contain a solid foundation and enduring structure on which to build. Hinduism as the religion of both the past and future shows the appropriate place for every spiritual practice within the greater science of Self-realization. Hindus in India in general and Hindu migrants in the West in particular should play a vital role by studying this Eternal Tradition deeply and propagate it for building a world spirituality for the future, not by converting but by incorporating all religions, arts and science into a higher level of thinking and higher view.

Hindu migrants to the West, have an opportunity to integrate East and West. The better part of the Eastern world is Spirituality. The better part of the Western world is its science and humanitarianism. For a complete human development both the inner and the outer sides of the human being must be developed. This does not mean that there has been nothing of spiritual value in the Western World or nothing of scientific value in the East. It is a matter of proportion. The greatest integration will occur when we recognize that East and West are just the two sides of our own nature wherever we are born. As long as the outer side of man is not developed--as long as we are living in poverty, disease and ignorance of the forces of Nature-- the inner side of man, the cultivation of the spirit must be limited. On the other hand, as long as we have no means of developing our deeper consciousness--the outer side of man, however well developed with science and technology, cannot bring happiness to any. Science without Religion is blind and Religion without Science is lame says Einstein.

The third face of Hinduism is occurring today as part of one of the most important spiritual moments of modern times, the expansion of Eastern teachings of meditation throughout the world. It also shows a combination of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as aspects of Taoism and the Himalayan spiritual traditions started in earnest with Swami Vivekananda's trip to the West in 1893. There are now various Yoga, Vedanta, Vedic and Tantric and Buddhist centers in most countries, and most major cities of the world. This moment is likely to last for many centuries to come. It will help to create a global spiritual tradition, though this may take decades or centuries to accomplish.

Hindu spiritual culture is playing a major role towards this integration. Hindu culture over the last three millennia has successfully, but quietly, absorbed assailable parts from other religions and cultures, from time to time and integrated them into itself. To mention few: Not harming others and respect for life from Jainism; Universal love and compassion from Buddhism; Sense of unity and brotherhood from Sikhism-this sense of unity and brotherhood is also seen within a caste or tribal group. A unique feature of Hindu culture is its self rejuvenating capacity. Customs that are obsolete are gradually dropped as seen in instances of human sacrifice as well as animal sacrifices to a large extent, sati and untouchability (asprisyata) etc. This culture tailors itself constantly to take the best of the modern technological age without loosing its roots.

If Hinduism can be defined more in its geographical context as a confederation of all religions, cults and sects that originated on the soil of India, then all the three religions mentioned above come within the orbit of the omnibus term Hinduism. If however, due respect is given to the feelings of the followers of these religions, who may like to keep a separate identity, they may be called as allied or sister religions bound by the same Spirituality or Eternal Truth.

Hinduism is not merely a single religion as many think, one among many, but a harmony of different religious teachings that maintained peaceful coexistence with each other as a part of Universal Tradition, Sanatana Dharma. It has not forced or molded the different teachings into uniformity, in fact the diversity itself manifested because of the Hindu view, which is that it is not the many who become One, but the One that expresses itself as all. This recognition of One in all and all in One is the basis of the creative and yet synthetic Hindu vision that can produce ever new teachings without losing track of the underlying Eternality of Truth.

One could even divide Hinduism into: 1) a Vedic Brahminical Sampradaya (religion); 2) a Vaishnava (Vishnu) Sampradaya; 3) A Shaivite (Shiva) Sampradaya ; 4) a Devi (Shakta) sampradaya; 5) a Ganesha sampradaya 6) a Solar (Saura) sampradaya 7) various local or regional systems including new spiritual movements which may have no defined affiliations. (Swami Narayana, s Saibaba, Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON etc)

These different teachings have neither merged into one common belief, nor separated off into conflicting creeds. They have come together while maintaining their particular approaches, in the recognition that true unity includes the fullness of diversity. They have realized that the truth of any religion need not exclude truth of others because all religions are merely aids to the enfoldment of the Universal, which is the real goal and origin of all. This harmony between the different Sampradayas (religions) of Hinduism can be used as a model by the Hindu immigrants to integrate the different religions of the world. It would not require any religion giving up its distinct flavor but only recognizing the validity of other approaches in the Universal Self, which is the real aim of all spiritual practices. The Hindu model is of many smaller spiritual groups and organizations in a general alliance or federation, respecting a unity of Truth but a diversity of approaches to it. In this way religion can grow in a natural and organic way and one in which the individual, the real bearer of the sacred flame of consciousness, is honored and nurtured, not scaled down to a belief system.

As minorities in Islamic countries, Hindus have a delicate role. They are the remnants of the original Hindus of the region in some countries. In the Gulf countries they came mainly as workers. Unfortunately Hindus are not treated well in Islamic countries, particularly as regards their religion. They are not allowed to teach their religion in public. They are often forbidden to practice their religion in public. This is all very different than in India where Muslims are generally allowed to do all these things. The same is true to a lesser degree in regard to members of other non-Islamic religions in Islamic countries, including Christianity. Traditionally Arabs employed Hindus as slaves, along with black Africans and other non-Muslims they captured in war. Under Islamic rule in India Hindus were oppressed, forced to pay religious taxes and otherwise looked down upon, just as the British later discriminated against them. Hence it has not been the tendency of Muslims to appreciate Hindus and fundamentalism. Islam has continued this tradition, with such a history and under such adverse circumstances, Hindus in Islamic countries must hold to their inner truth of their tradition though it may be difficult to express it outwardly. Above all, they should seek alliance with Hindu groups in other countries and Hindus in other countries should seek to help them. We live in global culture today and Hindus must create a common cause with Hindus all over the world. Otherwise Hindus who are suffering oppression will not be helped by anyone.

As first line immigrants we have a duty to raise our children, in a different environment than the one in which we were raised. Raising the Hindu children means not merely imposing Hindu beliefs or rituals upon them but following Sanatana Dharma or Universal law. It means living in the Dharma and having a culture of the Dharma, which includes communities that maintain living traditions of ritual, yoga and meditation.

Children are very impressionable to their environment. They want to be accepted and to be a part of the society in which they live. They are most affected by sensation and their minds can easily be disturbed by wrong impressions. For this reason children must be provided a field of learning in which they can blossom spiritually. This requires the right atmosphere at home and the right relationship between the parents. For this the parents themselves must have an active interest in some aspects of Sanatana Dharma and pass it on to their children.

On top of this, the right educational system must be created or at least occasional camps for children, which immerse them in higher form of life. Children must be brought into contact with real examples of the spiritual life, various gurus and teachers, so that they have an ideal, which they can follow.     They must be brought into the world of Nature so as to learn how to contact the immanent divinity. Without creating the proper environment and the right examples it will not be possible to get our children to become spiritual, just as a plant will not grow without water and light.

Hinduism contains many myths and stories that are helpful for teaching children like the Ramayana. Hindu children should be exposed to these literatures, which can be quite entertaining for them, so the seeds of spirituality can be planted in them.

A significant portion of Hindus in India and more so the Hindus abroad have little appreciation of their religion, lost in materialistic world. It is a sign of ignorance to abandon such a profound system for modern political ideologies like socialism and communism to pursue material affluence or to spiritually cripple oneself by following regressive religious traditions, which are devoid of any real way for developing higher consciousness. Those who have tried out Communism for long have come back to their religious fold.

Hindus generally suffer from passivity due to their strong belief in Laws of Karma and disunity. Hindus are not aggressive in asserting, and are generally apologetic if they assert themselves at all. A more positive, expansive and self confident spirit in their religion is essential. This does not mean they should become militant or violent but it does require that they wake up and become active. Perhaps in this process some of them may become temporarily over assertive but that is better than being overly passive. The present crisis in the world today and in India, demands action both inwardly and outwardly. We must all rise to the occasion and bring the light of Truth and Self–realization into the world. The beauty of Sanatana Dharma is that it provides many approaches to Self-knowledge as well as God's-realization as you find in the teachings of Upanishad.

Hindus must make it known who they are and what they really believe in, so common negative stereotypes about their religion—which breed so much misunderstanding and intolerance—are countered. They must organize themselves, not as a dogma, but as a community with the common interest to promote a deeper spiritual knowledge in the world. The immigrant Hindu community, drawn from top intelligentsia, is ideally placed for the same.

They must make known the value of Hindu religion for the entire world and its great treasures of spiritual and yogic knowledge that are very rare, and sometimes almost unknown in other religions. They must teach Hinduism particularly Yoga and Vedanta to non-Hindus, whether such people want to become Hindus or not. Like the ancient Vedic sages they should seek to make the entire world spiritual. They must become expansive, open-hearted, fearless, creative and compassionate, not in allegiance to a belief but contact with the Divine Self within that is greater than the entire world.

Yoga is the practical side of Vedanta. Without yogic practice Vedanta remains a mere theory. Without Vedic knowledge yogic practice remains superficial. Vedanta is the real essence of Hinduism and Yoga is its practice. The great teachings of Yoga-Vedanta are the core of Sanatana Dharma or the Eternal Tradition and should be spread all over the world. The purpose of meditation is to empty the mind of its concerns and fill only with the awareness of the Divine and the Universal, which pervade all the forms that it sees. Meditation occurs when we empty our minds of extraneous thoughts and focus on the Divine presence that is the True Reality behind all things. This is the main method of Yoga of knowledge (Jnana Yoga) and Yoga of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga).

It is better that Hindus should create missionary movements than idly sit by, while less spiritual ideologies spread, with little scrutiny, all over the world and in India itself. Here Hindu Temples can a play a big role. Islam, the Catholic Church or Evangelical Christianity may have succeeded better socially but they have generally failed in the spiritual quest which is what is of ultimate importance. Hindus should create educational movements all over the world promoting
Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda, Jyotisha, Sanskrit, Indian Music
and all aspects of greater culture of Sanatana Dharma. They should set up teaching centers, schools and universities, retreat centers and service organizations. While maintaining the diversity and freedom of Hinduism, Hindu groups should support one another and also work with any group that accepts Dharmic principles and is willing to live according to them.

Significant contributions in this regard are being made by various spiritual organizations like Ramakrishna mission, Chinmaya mission, Sivananda Trust, Divine Life Society, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, International Society for Divine Love and various temple trusts abroad, in some countries but these efforts need greater support from immigrant Hindus and Hindus in India as well as by their mass participation and support to meet the need of the hour.

A Hindu in the West is often confronted with simplistic and derogatory ideas about Hinduism--that it is a pagan, polytheistic, idolatrous, unscientific and socially backward or merely no more than a cult. Though more educated people in the West may not accept these opinions, they may still be influenced by them, and may not have consistent alternative views. They may not have any real understanding of it or its global relevance as Sanatana Dharma, a Universal teaching. They may not know how to present it to others under any circumstance. As Hindus are generally tolerant and resigned, they may say nothing or even apologize for their religion rather than try to correct wrong ideas about it. The thoughtful among them, seek to communicate better their tradition, particularly seeing the popularity of Hindu practices in the West, like Yoga and Meditation, once presented in Universal light. But many Hindus have so diluted their tradition with their statements like "all religions are the same'' that they have failed to give Hinduism any character of its own. However, a revival in Hindu consciousness is now occurring throughout the world. It is gladdening to note that Hindus are no longer willing to stand silent when faced with misrepresentation of their venerable tradition. A pride in being Hindu is arising, not as a religious arrogance but as recognition of value of this vast and ancient spiritual heritage for the whole world. Such Hindus are willing not only to affirm their tradition but also to express its teachings, even when it may call into question other belief systems. They are willing to give a Hindu point of view on religious and social issues, which is not simply to agree with every one but to point out the deeper wisdom that the Hindu sages had gathered through millennia of yogic practices. Along similar lines Westerners are beginning to recognize that there is a greater spiritual tradition – including such teachings as Ayurveda, Vedic astrology and Sanskrit--behind the yogic and meditation practices they have adapted and that the entire system has relevance.

As a conscious formulation Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism remains close to its basic principles of Universality and Eternity. This Universality even encompasses partiality. Hinduism holds that it is alright for any one of us to think that its particular religion is the best or that its teacher is the highest, if such thoughts increase faith and concentration in their inner practices. But Hindus should recognize the right of others to think the same of their teachings and not try to impose their point of view upon others. Sanatana Dharma requires that we respect the sacred nature of each individual and his or her own private relationship with Divinity, which is not for us to judge.

Hinduism is facing its greatest challenges also today, with its population explosion, migration of talented to foreign countries and declining proportion of Hindus who have the knowledge of their own religion or have the opportunity to learn about
their religion in a
different atmosphere than the one in which they were brought up for its propagation. Because of the lack of compulsion and the free thinking permitted in the religion, which does not force a Hindu to visit a temple, attend discourses or even pray at home, this freedom has resulted in license and, far worse, in ignorance which according to Hinduism, is the most undesirable of all vices of man.

There is an urgent need to turn our attention to the way contemporary Hindu culture is moving, especially because of the tremendous advancement of science and technology in the West. The satellite communication system allied with innumerable electronic gadgets has been bringing every type of information--good or bad-- to one's own drawing room or even bedroom. The disastrous effect of so called advancements in civilization is already telling on our age-old culture. Every aspect of whether individual or social refinement and culture, is seriously eroded. Alcoholism, drug addiction and promiscuity along with their inevitable concomitants of the most dangerous diseases and heinous crimes against life have reached explosive dimensions. This is the greatest danger that we are facing in our future generation. The problem needs to be analyzed before suggesting a remedy. Unbridled 'Kaama' and 'Kaanchana' (lust and greed) the root cause of all these problems to put it in the inimitable language of Ramakrishna are Paramahamsa and Buddha. If 'artha' and 'kaama' (desire for wealth and pleasures of the flesh) are pursued to the total exclusion of 'dharma' (righteousness) and 'Moksha' (spiritual emancipation) they will surely lead to disaster. Artha and Kaama can be kept under control by vigorously applying the principles of Dharma wherein self-control is all important. The Upanihads call it as 'tapas', austerity. Tapas, also means single minded intense pursuit of True Knowledge, the goal of life. Our ancestors achieved great things in life through such Tapas. We have to rekindle that spirit in us, which has been bequeathed to us, but lying dormant for the present. Once it is raised and there is a single minded pursuit of knowledge in both its aspects – the 'apara' (the lower, the secular) and 'para' (the higher and spiritual) by every one of us, then every one of us may even surpass the achievements of our ancestors. Swami Vivekananda's proclamation even a century ago should be a constant reminder to us:

"But one vision I can see clear as life before me, that the eminent Mother has awakened once more, sitting on Her throne rejuvenated, more glorious than ever. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction"

It should be the aim of every Hindu to re-establish the greatness of Hinduism by bringing it back to its original form as was in phase one, renew Indian pride in their heritage through education of authentic Hinduism, create an interactive forum to share ideas, input and concerns of the Indian community and build Universal spirituality for the world to live in peace and harmony.

Religion in the true sense is the seeking of higher knowledge. It is a means of discovering that Divine Reality within us, not as a dogma, defining God outside of ourselves. Such a religion is not an organized belief system but a set of spiritual practices to be adapted on an individual basis. While we should discard religion in the outer sense as organized dogma and social conditioning, we should embrace religion in the inner sense as yogic and meditation practices.

Rig Veda ends with these words: "Let all men meet and think as with one mind. Let
all hearts unite in love. Let the goal be common. May all live in happiness with common purpose" This in effect means that we should internationalize the commonness among religions, which amounts to living in happiness with Universal Spirituality.

It is the need of the hour for us particularly for our youth to learn about the greatness and sanctity of Hinduism and propagate it towards building a Loka Sampradaya, world religion, to be precise Universal Spirituality, with fearless heart and endless vision for all our tomorrow and repeat the song of the sages of Upanishads and pray with them:



Asato maa sad gamaya |
Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya |
Mrityor maa amritam gamaya |
Om Saantih Saantih Saantih ||

From the Unreal lead me to the Real
From the Darkness lead me to Light
From Death lead me to Immortality
(OM) Peace, (OM) Peace, (OM) Peace!


This discourse was delivered to Vedanta Class by N. R. Srinivasan to Verdanta Class at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN taking considerable help from the following literary sources.

  1. David Frawley, Hinduism, Voice of India, New Delhi
  2. T.K. Mukundan, A Concept of Hinduism, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, India.
  3. Swami Bhaskarananda, The essentials of Hinduism, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
  4. Swami Chandrsekharendra Saraswati, Hindu Dharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, India.
  5. Swami Vivekananda, Vedanta is the Religion of the Future, Ramakrishna Math, Kolkata, India.
  6. Viswanathan, T.R., Sanatana Dharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai, India.



    Religion and Conversion
    Posted by Jahnava Nitai Das | May 18, 2013 |  

    Please help spread Hinduism by sharing these articles on Facebook and others

                                          [From “Introduction to Bhagavad Gita” by Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.]
    The word “dharma” does not refer to a particular sectarian faith, but to the very function of the soul. The shastras teach us that it is the inherent nature of everyone to render service. When that service is directed ultimately towards ourselves  in a selfish manner, it becomes the source of our own bondage in the material world. When that same service propensity is directed to the absolute truth, it becomes the key to our liberation from bondage. That selfless service, when directed towards the absolute is “sanatana-dharma”, or the eternal function of the living entity.
    As is implied by the word “sanatana” (eternal) there is no question of changing or stopping this inherent nature of service. We may misdirect our service in a selfish manner, but we can never cease engaging in service. Thus dharma, or sanatana-dharma is not merely a matter of faith or belief, but it is the reality of the self. It is the quality of the soul.
    The quality of an object does not change based on a belief or faith. Water does not become wet due to our belief that it is wet. It is factual nature is that it is wet, regardless of faith or belief. The dharma of the soul is to engage in service; whether we believe or do not believe, whether we have faith or do not have faith, is irrelevant. We will factually engage in service, as it is our very quality. If we are selfless, our service will be directed towards the absolute; if we are selfish, our service will be directed towards our own senses, either directly or indirectly.
    Religion, on the other hand, is a belief or faith held within the mind. One may today be a Christian, and tomorrow change one’s mind (or faith) to become a Muslim. Does this mental belief have any factual bearing on the eternal spirit soul? The answer is no. One should not give in to the wavering of the mind. The Gita teaches us to rise beyond the body, beyond the mind, beyond the intelligence, and to come to the point of understanding the eternal self, the soul or Atma. Those who become attached to false mental conceptions of the self (material designations) remain in the shackles of Avidya (ignorance) despite their external rituals of religion.
    Material designations are nothing but the temptations of Maya (illusion) for the mind. The body is tempted by external sense enjoyment, whereas the mind is tempted by false conceptions of the self. These material designations may be focused on religion, nation, family, caste, creed, or belief. All of them are blocks on the path of self-realization.
    The great saint Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us that we are not the external material body or its temporary designations, but are factually an eternal servant of the absolute. To convert from one aspect of ignorance to another is meaningless. It simply satisfies an uncontrolled mind, which finds peace in constant change. Like the flickering of a candle flame, the mind pushes us to waver between various mental conceptions of identity (religion, nationality, race, etc.). These shallow changes of belief have no factual effect on the soul. They only increase our bondage by creating a false conception of accomplishment.
    Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, our divine master and guide, has stated in his introduction to Bhagavad Gita the following, which clearly explains the distinction between religion and sanatana-dharma (the eternal function of the soul):
    ‘Sanatana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord. Sanatana-dharma refers, as stated previously, to the eternal occupation of the living entity. Ramanujacarya has explained the word sanatana as “that which has neither beginning nor end,” so when we speak of sanatana-dharma, we must take it for granted on the authority of Sri Ramanujacarya that it has neither beginning nor end.’
    ‘The English world “religion” is a little different from sanatana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanatana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance, liquidity cannot be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly, the eternal function of the eternal living entity cannot be taken from the living entity. Sanatana-dharma is eternally integrated with the living entity. When we speak of sanatana-dharma, therefore, we must take it for granted on the authority of Sri Ramanujacarya that it has neither beginning nor end. That which has neither end nor beginning must not be sectarian, for it cannot be limited by any boundaries. Yet those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanatana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanatana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world–nay, of all the living entities of the universe.’
    ‘Non-sanatana religious faith may have some beginning in the annals of human history, but there is no beginning to the history of sanatana-dharma because it remains eternally with the living entities. Insofar as the living entities are concerned, the authoritative sastras state that the living entity has neither birth nor death. In the Gita it is stated that the living entity is never born, and he never dies. He is eternal and indestructible, and he continues to live after the destruction of his temporary material body. In reference to the concept of sanatana-dharma, we must try to understand the concept of religion from the Sanskrit root meaning of the word. Dharma refers to that which is constantly existing with a particular object. We conclude that there is heat and light along with the fire; without heat and light, there is no meaning to the word fire. Similarly, we must discover the essential part of the living being, that part which is his constant companion. That constant companion is his eternal quality, and that eternal quality is his eternal religion.’

    Basis of Vedic Sanatana Dharma
    Posted by Jagroop Arya | Aug 06, 2011  
     Trayo dharmaskandha yajno ‘dhyaanam daanamiti prathamah
    – Chandogya Upanishad
    Religion has three bases. Out of these, yajna, study and charity are the first basis.
    Yajna : A religious follower should adopt yajna in his life. All the works of charity and help come under yajna. Nowadays, it is used only for havan (sacrificial fire). However, yajna has a broad meaning. Acquiring knowledge of the five great elements (panch mahabhutas) created by God and taking help from them is yajna. As havan is beneficial only for the mankind, it purifies the environment, cures diseases and makes the atmosphere fragrant. The objectives worship of God, having the company of good people (satsang) and charitable deeds are fulfilled through yajna.
    Study: The human should improve and update his knowledge continuously with the study of Vedic literature and mythological texts, describing the God. Reading good and holy books improves the intellect and removes ignorance and enlightens the soul with the knowledge of light.
    Charity: A person should donate one-tenth of his income to destitute, helpless, sick, suffering, poor people, orphanages, Gurukul and other charitable places. The donation, which is given with selflessness at the right time, to the right person and at the right place  is most superior.
    Donating knowledge is superior to donating water, food, cow, land, clothes, sesame, gold and ghee.

    Devotion: Devotion is the second basis of religion. Facing the difficulties and tolerating them in fulfilling ones duties and responsibilities is called devotion. Tolerating fame-blame, happiness-unhappiness, gain-loss, cold-hot, hunger-thirst and other conditions and fulfilling our duties is called devotion. It has three forms – physical, mental and verbal. The secret of these three forms on the basis of satva-raj-tama (pure, passion-anger) are as follows:
    Worshipping God, Brahmans, Gurus and learned men, leading a chaste, simple, celibate and non-violent life comes under devotion of the body.  Polite speech, truth along with politeness, beneficial, study of good books and practicing the study come under the devotion of speech. The physical, verbal and mental devotion are called satvic devotion. The physical, verbal and mental devotion performed with the objective of gaining name, fame, show, exhibitions are called rajasic devotion. They do not last for long and are temporary. The physical, mental and verbal devotion, which is done with stupidity and meaninglessly by causing pain to oneself or for causing harm to others, are called tamasic devotion. The believer of religion should always tolerate the difficulties and indulge in auspicious deeds and try to overcome the difficulties with intelligence.
    A celibate in the ashram of his Guru giving pain to self is the third basis of this religion. Celibacy is the foundation for the human life. The stronger and deeper this foundation, the stronger and stable the life. Saint Dayanand Saraswati said that celibacy is the basis of all other stages in life, improves other stages if it is carried on well and ruins other stages if it is not carried on properly.
    acharya upanayamano brahmacarinam krinute garbhamantah
    tam ratristisra udare bibharti tam jatam drishtum abhisamyanti devah
    – Artharva Veda
    This means, the birth of human being, which resides in the womb due to the relationship of mother and father is called the first birth. The second birth is one in which father is the teacher and mother is the knowledge. The absence of the second birth does not give humanity to a person. Therefore the people should acquire it. When a person goes to a teacher at the age of eight and lives in his proximity from that time onwards they become celibates (both male and female); because they are engrossed in the thoughts of God and Brahma. The teacher keeps them in his womb for three nights, in other words worship of God, religion and the knack of learning and thinking and other important concepts are taught in these three days. After this learned men examine the students. A celibate controls his sensory organs and tolerates all sorts of difficulties in order to gain knowledge from his teacher. He develops his physical, intellectual and mental powers by leading a disciplined and austere life. He sacrifices the material comforts and leads a simple life, remains in the proximity of Gurus and acquires knowledge for all round development and becomes talented. A lazy, inactive and lover of comfortable and luxurious life can never acquire knowledge. A good celibate learns Vedas, establishes truth and religion in the world and works for the welfare of the mankind. Therefore Acharyas consider celibate to be the third basis of religion.


(E-Mail sent to HR Participants in May 2017 by N .R. Srinivasan)

Please recall my two discourses on the subject of understanding Sanatana Dharma and its role as World religion.  In this connection it is also relevant to go through my discourse on Vedanta, the  Religion Everlasting and Universal as well as Why I am Called a Hindu. I often receive letters from various Hindu American organizations deeply concerned about only Hindus in India and anything happening to Hindus in America is always related to Indian context. But who takes care of other Hindu migrants from all parts of the globe who are one with Hindu Americans?  Even Canadian,   British and Australian Hindus want to come to USA and find it a better place to practice Hinduism  Some Hindus are even thinking of migrating to Latin America of late but citizenship is a problem if they are not Hindu Americans!
After having migrated from India to USA due to frustration and discrimination or seeking greener pastures to enjoy better life we have to focus on Hinduism   as the World Religion coming out of Ancient Tradition of Sanataana Dharma with its basic principles    “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam", Krinvanto viswamaaryam ; Aatmavat sarvabhooteshu ” etc. We should not be worried about what is happening to Hindus in India but should be focused on  what is going  on with Hindus in America drawn from all parts of the World—Viswa Hindus. If we are so concerned about our close relatives in India  after seeing what  is happening in Puri Jagannatha Temple restricting temple entry. We should either get them here or get back and share their miseries and fortune with them.  Indian Government is a secular government and they know what is best for them. Indian Government has not even granted dual citizenship to migrants and consider them as prodigals though recently recognized their origin to grant permanent Visas.
We should be able to welcome all cultures in USA to Hindu-fold and spread the message of Universal Oneness of our Ancient Tradition to spread Spirituality, Peace and Harmony unlike India where they say a Hindu is recognized only by birth.Did Vedas say it? In this context I draw your kind attention to the thought-provoking article by David Frawley (Vamadeva Sastri). It is  heartening to note  that  Jains,  Buddhists, Sikhs and Arya Samajists bound by common culture,  migrated from India though walked  out of Hinduism in the ancient past  are having a second thought and are aligning more with World Hindus in USA than any other religion of USA often compelled by  the universal binding force of love culminating in wedlock.  Of course there are also vested interest pockets who want to remain independent and boost their parent religion ill advised by their Gurus and politicians in India.  Hinduism is slowly gaining grounds in USA due to its universal appeal, added attraction of Yoga, Spirituality and religious freedom of worship attracting people from Western Religions including rare few from atheist Chinese, Buddhism  and Islam. Many Christians are fed up with their regimental faith and monotony looking for spiritual direction and progress and are influenced by Hindu Americans.
Understanding Sanatana Dharma as Foundation for Hindu Religion      (Compilation for a discourse by N.R.Srinivasan, Nashville, TN....
The word Hindu is of geographic origin as per Historians and was derived from the name originally given to the people settled on the river Indus called ...

Many nations have changed the name of their country and consequently people who live in that country—Russia to Soviet Union  back to Russia; Ceylon to Sri Lanka; Burma to Myanmar; Siam to Thailand; Persia to Iran.  But India does not even want to correct   the wrongly pronounced word Hindu which should be Sindhu. Sindhu is a generic name for river and Sanatana Dharma is the Universal Spiritual Following that was developed on River Banks (Indus and Ganges) and forests (Aranyakas). Before English language coined the word Religion only Dharma existed to denote one’s following.  Modern Hinduism is a conglomeration of many walled beliefs, faiths and practices practiced over a long period influenced by Puranas and history though draws its basics  from Sanatana Dharma theoretically but practices as walled religions (shanmathas) differently. American Hindus lead a caste-less society attending one temple part-taking in all rituals and worships with inter-faith and inter-racial wedlock and so are more united than Hindus in India.  They should go back to  their correct name Sindhus and the religion to Sidhuttva (Sindhu Tattva) or Sanatana Dharma.  Words like Dharma, Pundit, Avatar etc. are now well-defined English words found in dictionary. Hindus in India being copy-cats of American culture will soon change their name also and even India to Sindhia. It is the Greeks that wrongly pronounced Sindhu to Indu and called the country India land of Indus. It also shows that in ancient past there were only Sindhus in India and so they called their country Bharat which name   was retained after gaining independence from British India. They only removed the word British, made the country secular theoretically like USA and did not declare any one religion as Religion of the State like Germany which is also democratic.

The Universal Relevance of Sanatana Dharma
Hinduism has always been a universal tradition and India has been its geographical center, not its limiting location.
As a western Hindu, I have sometimes been told that I can’t truly be a Hindu because I wasn’t born one. One encounters this opinion not only in India but throughout the world, where many non-Hindus think that being a Hindu is by birth only.
Recently, an Indian writer on mythology stated that Hindus should not look to the books of white Westerners for their study of Hinduism – even the books of Western Hindus – because they weren’t born Hindus. This kind of reverse racism, understandable to some degree because of biased anti-Hindu attitudes from the colonial era, is contrary to the deeper truth of Hindu Dharma that does not circumscribe its teachings in any historical, geographical or ethnic boundaries. That Hindus do not proselytize does not mean that Hindu Dharma is limited to a community of birth and is not of any universal relevance.
Ever since Swami Vivekananda brought the teachings of Yoga and Vedanta to the world in 1893, Hindu-based teachings have been spreading worldwide. This extends to all aspects of Yoga – not only asanas but also pranayama, mantra, and meditation, and now kirtan is a popular musical movement in the West. Ayurveda is similarly gaining a global following as a profound system of mind-body medicine. Sanskrit, Indian music and dance are expanding their influences as well. A global tradition now exists of numerous Hindu gurus travelling and teaching before millions of followers from all levels of society and relative to all aspects of life.
The Hindu diaspora is another important component of the new global Hindu movement. Hinduism is gaining respect owing to the success financially and educationally of immigrant Hindus, as well as their peaceful and tolerant nature. Beautiful Hindu temples can be found in the main cities of the West, which westerners are also visiting. The number of westerners formally becoming Hindus is slowly increasing through the efforts of organizations like Hinduism Today, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Arya Samaj.
Unfortunately, there has been considerable distortion and commercialization of Hindu teachings in the West, as with some Yoga groups downplaying or denying the Hindus basis of the practices they follow. This needs to be addressed by a proper presentation of the teachings, not by trying to limit these practices only to those born in India. The new globalization of Hindu Dharma should be promoted in an authentic manner for the benefit of all humanity.
Historical Spread of Dharmic Traditions
We should remember that Hindu, Vedic and Dharmic teachings have had a wide geographical influence for thousands of years. Their modern impact is only a new phase of the development of Hindu Dharma in its universal relevance.
It is well known that Buddhism spread throughout Asia over the past 2,500 years, but people forget that Hinduism also spread widely and from an earlier era. Hinduism was prominent in Indonesia, where Bali remains a pocket of its former influence, and in Indochina, where Cambodia’s Angkor Wat of a thousand years ago remains the largest Hindu temple in the world. Hinduism along with Buddhism spread into Central Asia along the Silk Route from China to Europe. The Hindu Ramayana remains the most popular story of Southeast Asia.
 Such Hindu groups outside India were clearly not born in the Indian subcontinent. The geographical idea of Hinduism as limited to India or Hindustan is a modern idea coming from western invaders, not the actual history of Hinduism. Hinduism has long shared its teachings with a wide variety of countries, cultures and ethnic groups.
 World Vedic Heritage
There is yet a greater world Vedic heritage extending through many cultures of the ancient world, East and West.
Vedic related teachings and traditions dominated Europe, West and Central Asia, as well as India going back 5,000 years, including various Indo-European groups like the ancient Germans, Slavs, Celts, Thracians, Greeks and Romans. The Hittites and Mittani dominated West Asia 4,000 years ago, with Mittani dynasties with Vedic names intermarrying with the pharaohs of Egypt.
Vedic teachings spread north and west from India through the Scythians and Iranians, who dominated West and Central Asia from the second millennium BCE to the later period of the Roman Empire. These groups followed similar traditions as the Vedas, with their sacred fire worship and honoring of the Sun. The Zoroastrians are only one such group with Vedic affinities.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had a religion that resembles Hinduism, with temples, iconic worship of deities, and similar traditions of philosophy, medicine and astrology. The ancient Middle East extending from Mesopotamia to Saudi Arabia had similar deities and forms of worship as the Hindu, with gods, goddesses, icons and temple worship in the pre-Islamic era, including an extensive trade with India.
Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma
We must remember that the term Hinduism is only a modern designation of a tradition properly known as “Sanatana Dharma”, the eternal or universal Dharma. Once we understand Hinduism as Santana Dharma, its relevance for all humanity becomes clear. We can easily set aside the misunderstanding that one must be born a Hindu, or that Hindu is merely a geographical term. Anyone who truly follows the principles and practices of Sanatana Dharma is a Hindu.
Hinduism has always been a universal tradition and India has been its geographical center, not its limiting location. Hinduism has shared the expansive nature of Indian civilization with its great tradition of travel and trade by sea and land, such as the terms Indonesia and Indochina reflect.
One must remember the ancient prayer of the most ancient Rigveda, Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam, “Make the Entire World noble”. Sanatana Dharma has the universal vision to link all humanity together in a recognition of the One Self or Paramaatman in all beings – the unitary consciousness behind and beyond all time, space, karma and manifestation, such as the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita proclaim.
[*David Frawley is an American Hindu teacher and author. He has written more than 30 books on the Vedas, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology.]