Sanatana Dharma is a universal tradition which is primarily based on your experience rather your belief. The word “Sanatana” (सनातन) means “eternal”. Unfortunately, the word “Dharma” (धर्म) doesn’t have an English equivalent, however, it is a set of rules and disciplines that upholds, sustain and lead the humanity to the sublime heights of glory – both worldly and spiritually. Dharma is the natural law, the compassion, the morality, the truth, the cosmic norm that holds together and sustains natural order of things.
Dharmo hi paramo loke Dharme satyam pratisthitam
(धर्मो हि परमो लोके
धर्मे सत्यम् प्रतिस्तितम्) – (Ramayana 2.21.42)
“Dharma is supreme and the truth is based on Dharma”
and Mahabarata says:
Yatha dharma tatha jaya
“Where there is Dharma, there is victory”
Sanatana Dharma is an eternal, all-pervading universal path that leads the humanity to the ultimate truth – the realization that you are part and parcel of the Supreme Soul, Brahman.
Unlike all the religions that require growing number of followers for it’s very existence and future growth, Sanatana Dharma is everlasting and requires no followers for its propagation. It has no ideological divisions, it is universal, with no beginning or end. According to Sanatana Dharma, the ultimate truth comes to us through our consciousness of the divine, which is the ultimate reality that we are miniscule particles of the Supreme Soul itself and that the God is situated within us.
In contrast to many religions that believe that the truth comes from a single source, Sanatana Dharma believes that there is no single source or revelation by which people can achieve the ultimate reality. It believes that, there are many paths to truth and every human beings has the potential to achieve enlightenment, regardless of the religion / faith you follow.
Sanatana Dharma does not discriminate human beings into believers and nonbelievers. It is based on the human situations and has a set of principles and practices that help every individual to become a better human being, to live in harmony with ourselves, the nature and to lead a Dharmic life.
Bhagavad Gita says, “isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ‘rjuna tisthati” (The Supreme Lord (isvarah) is found within every living being – Gita 18.61). Sanatana Dharma is based on the same principle that every living being is an expansion of God’s energy and is capable of exhibiting its qualities.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita,
ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamyaham
mama vartmanuvartante manusyah partha sarvasah
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्।
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः॥
“In whatever way men identify with Me and worship Me, in the same way do I carry out their desire. O Partha (Arjuna)! All mankind only pursue My path, in all respects.” – Gita 4:11
and in another verse,
yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah sraddhayarcitum icchati
tasya tasyacalam sraddham tam eva vidadhamy aham
यो यो यां यां तनुं भक्तः श्रद्दयार्चितुमिच्छति।
तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्दां तामेव विदधाम्यहम्॥
“Whatever form [or formlessness] any devotee with faith, wishes to worship, I surely sustain firmly that faith in him.” (It does not matter whichever religions or faiths you follow, as long as you have faith in what you follow, you will attain Moksha / liberation / freedom from the endless cycle of births and deaths.)
All these reveals that, Sanatana Dharma is a universal path for all mankind that neither discriminate against human beings nor condemns their way of living.