What is Sanatan?
This word and idea come from
• Sana which means old, lasting from long
• Atana means that which keeps coming along, is transmitted, gets passed on, is continuously there.
Sanatan thus means that which is continuous, coming from long as it keeps getting passed on, across time, generation to generation.
What is Dharma?
Dharma means that which you bear, you hold – Dhara. Earth is called Dharti as it bears, holds everything.
What does one bear or hold?
One’s innate, true nature or character.
Simply put, Dharma is the innate nature of every being – living and non-living. It is the way that being/entity is meant to behave or be. Sun has its Dharma, Earth has its Dharma, Plants, Animals etc. have their Dharma. Man has a Dharma.
Dharma is thus the order in the Universe that makes the Universe behave and exists the way it does.
Dharma thus is the dynamic, contextual interactions the beings/entities undergo to be in tune with time, need, situation, context, relationship with each other.
In short – to be in relevance for oneself and to each other.
Dharma by itself is eternal as it exists as long as the Cosmos exists and is applicable for everything in the Cosmos, including the Cosmos itself.
Sanatan Dharma is that Dharma which is continuous, coming from long as it keeps getting passed on across time, generation to generation.
Sanatan Dharma is a continuum of knowledge based sustainable living practices, practiced with a sense of balance to ensure sustainability of self, family, society, civilisation, mankind, Nature and the Cosmos itself. It is knowledge to live in synchronisation with Prakrti, Nature and Vignana, Sciences.
Being a tradition of knowledge that has been passed on across generation of humans, it thus refers to the Dharma of people.
Bharat, which means a land where people relish knowledge, has been preserving this continuum of knowledge and Dharma based living and practices. Hence it calls its Dharma, the innate nature of the people of this civilisation as Sanatan Dharma.
In course of time, especially under the British, this Sanatan Dharma came to be identified with the practices of those people of the land of Bharat who could not be classified as Christians or Muslims, the religions known to Europe then and hence came to be largely clubbed, associated and known as a single religion called Hinduism.
Further down in time, the term Matha for religion was also replaced with the usage of the word Dharam in Hindi for religion. Thus, Sanatan Dharma became associated with Hindu Dharam, Hinduism, Hindu religion.
Neither Hindu Dharma nor Sanatan Dharma are religions founded based on a single book of tenets propounded by a prophet or saint or their followers. They are continuums of traditions and way of living.
Sanatan Dharma is thus eternal as it is a continuum and will last as long as there are humans. For, it is the Dharma of humans to instinctively keep refining and evolving their practices to stay relevant and to ensure they sustain on earth. When a civilisation consciously keeps such valuable knowledge of sustenance alive and passed on, it is practicing Sanatan Dharma.
Sanatan Dharma is thus ever young, ever new, ever fresh, ever evolving – in long and short, eternal.
It is like the echo – whose original sound is old but the latest resounding of the original sound which is heard as an echo is new and young. The best example for such an echo is Omkara, the oldest sound that originated at the time of the Brahmanda Visfotak, the Big Bang that caused Creation, Srishti and continues to resonate through the Cosmos as an Echo which is known as the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR).