A Summary of the Divine Command

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A Summary of the Divine Command

Jul 17, 2017

Lord Lakulish, the 28th incarnation of Lord Shiva, our beloved Dadaji,  in His meeting with Swami Rajarshi Muni(Guruji), of February 15th, 1993, gave Guruji a Divine Command to spread the knowledge of the highest principles of culture, Sanatan  Dharm (The Eternal Culture), not just in Gujarat State or in India alone, but to the entire world. Dadaji also directed that the responsibility for spreading this knowledge should be assigned, not to the renunciates in the lineage, but rather to the householders and to the partially retired.

Dadaji has been so merciful.  He has given us all such enormous blessings. Not only as He given mankind the path of Divine Yoga, but He has also blessed us with the two foremost Yogi's of the 20th and 21st centuries in Swami Kripalavanandaji, better known to all of us as Bapuji, and Swami Rajarshi Muni (Guruji). 

Dadaji, through Guruji, has invited each one of the householders or retired persons in His lineage to take on this responsibility of spreading the knowledge of the eternal culture, Sanatan Dharm to the entire world. This, then, has become our own special Dharm.  However, before we can spread its knowledge and serve Dadaji and Guruji, we must first ensure that we have a thorough understanding of  its  principles and that we have incorporated its prescribed practices firmly into our own daily lives.

The following three articles are therefore presented for the express purpose of facilitating that level of understanding for each householder or retired person of our lineage in order that they become qualified to serve Dadaji and Guruji. 

The first article is derived from the teaching HH Swami Rajarshi Muni (Guruji) gave in a darshan this past December 24th, 2012 on the subject of Dharm.  The second article consists of extracts from Guruji's book, Infinite Grace and from a previously written article by HH Swami Rajarshi Muni, entitled " Sanatan Dharm in a Nutshell" as well as from the book,’Yoga the Path To Eternity”, all written by Swami Rajarshi Muni. The third article is excerpts of a speech that Bapuji gave on Sanatan Dharm on the occasion of his 60th birthday and is taken from the discourse of HH Swami Rajarshi Muni at the Centenary Celebrations at Rajrajeshwardham this past January 13th, 2013.

December 24, 2012 Darshan with Guruji (HH Swami Rajarshi Muni)

Guruji talked about:   What is  Dharm?

Dhru dharayati iti Dharm. One which holds the universe is Dharm. Who holds the universe? God holds the universe as the universe is the body of God, just as we also have a body. It is a cosmic body. Before the creation of the universe, there was nothing. So where did the universe come from? The answer is from within the God like the material of the web comes from the spider, itself. As we are present in the whole body, so God is present in the whole universe, in every particle of it. That is why God is omnipresent. Like the potter who has all the knowledge of the pot, similarly God has the knowledge of the universe and that is why He could create the universe. So God is omniscient. We are suffering because we are separated from Him. So all the rituals and practices of Dharm takes us towards God.

Dharm includes:

1) the natural laws upholding and sustaining the universe like the laws of physics;

2) moral laws - an ideal, moral and ethical way of life;

3) The concept of intrinsic justice wherein every good action has its reward and every bad action incurs punishment from God;

4) The performance of obligatory duties as prescribed in the scriptures-  Dharm rituals;

5) The observance of various rules of disciplining oneself in practical life;

5) Transcendence of spirit through the practice of yoga.

What offers success in life and spiritual development is Dharm. Scriptures related to Dharma lay down guiding tenets for the spiritual life.

These tenets include: charity; purity of inward disposition; perseverance; renunciation; non indulgence in back stabbing; humility; freedom from greed, anger and malice; nonviolence; forgiveness; compassion; celibacy; austerity; fortitude; self- restraint; subduing sensual pleasures; complete indifference to all worldly pleasures; truth; non possessiveness; devotion; straightforwardness; and worship to God.

Thus Dharma encompasses a wide field. It is concerned with ethics, social law, right behaviour, ceremonial rites, religious merits, cosmic laws and transcendence of spirit.

Dharm is sometimes translated as religion. The word religion comes from two words - re and ligare. Re means to return to the starting point or to the origin and ligare means taking to or bringing to. Thus religion means one which takes us to our origin, which is God. We are separated from God and so we are suffering.

Is Dharm religion?  No.  When people come to me and say I am a Muslim, I say that’s OK, I’m a Muslim too.  If someone comes and says I’m a Christian, I say, that’s OK, I’m a Christian too; ibid Buddhist, etc.  Religion is much more restrictive than Dharm and sets one religion against the other, as in the Crusades and Jihad.  I don’t ask anyone to change their religion.

Dharm is the universal law of God or Nature.  It sets the standard for how the universe operates. It sets the standard for how the law of Karma operates and how a human being is supposed to behave to fulfill being born as a human, thereby ensuring that one is born as a human being in the next lifetime.

Dharma is derived from the root “Dhru”, which means to hold or to grasp.  To grasp what?  It is Dharm which holds the universe together. When  Dharm vanishes, the universe will collapse, because the precepts of Dharm are the design parameters of the universe. In the absence of the strong pillars of Dharm, the universe cannot be sustained. Therefore, on the macro level, Dharm is what holds the whole universe together and enables it to operate coherently the way it does without everything running into each other, according to the laws of Dharm.  It is like a golden thread that holds everything in the universe together, much like a thread holds individual Mala beads together to form a complete rosary, rather than individual beads rolling this way and that. Everything in the universe is constantly moving in an orderly fashion. The earth rotates on its own axis. The earth moves around the sun.  We move around on the earth. Movement within movement - the principle of orderly movement is Dharm. 

The scientists tell us that the Big Bang is still continuing – the universe is still expanding, so everything is constantly moving, but it is still operating in an orderly fashion according to the laws of Dharm.  Everything conforms to its own orbit pattern and order is maintained throughout the entire universe.

The scriptures tell us that Brahma was born out of the navel of Lord Vishnu for the purpose of creating the universe and everything in it. Brahma has a life span of 100 Brahma years; 100 Brahma years is equivalent to one inhalation and exhalation of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu has a life span equivalent to one wink of the eye of Lord Shiva. What do you think will happen when the universe stops expanding?  It will contract and everything will collapse in on everything else and the universe will be disintegrated.  Then everything will remain quiet for a very, very long time.  This is known as the sleep of Lord Vishnu.  Then another Brahma is born and the whole thing starts with creation of the universe and everything in it once again and the whole cycle is repeated, again and again.

In the same way, on the micro level, the law of Dharm has been established by God to guide the way that life should be lived as a human being. Different species and realms have been created by God to provide the means of rewarding the good behaviour of human beings and punishing their bad behaviour. If one lives according to the laws of Dharm, one will either go to heaven after death or be reborn as a human being in a good family.  If one violates the laws of Dharm, one will either be sent to a hell for punishment or be born as a lower specie in their next life.  The law of Karma works within the laws of Dharm and works according to action and reaction.  Sometimes the reaction is immediate.  For example, we witness a quarrel where one man strikes another on the cheek and the other man hits back and strikes the first man back on his cheek.  This is an immediate reaction and immediate enactment of the law of karma.  The results are very apparent and obvious to all.  But, in another situation, the second man may not strike back immediately.  He withholds himself from striking back.  However, in a month’s time he stabs and kills his protagonist.  Anyone looking on this situation might not connect this action with the original offending hit on the cheek, but this is known as a delayed reaction.

For the Householder, Dharm means much more than making a living in a proper way.  It means living one’s life according to the rules of Dharm and seeking one’s spiritual welfare. The Vedas say, "Man should strive to attain spiritual well being rather than material well being".

In the Kali Yug, life expectancy is approximately 100 years, in the Dvapara Yug, is is 200 years; in the Treta Yug it is 300 years, and in the Satya Yug it is 400 years.  One story, set in the time of Satya Yug, tells of a young boy named Dhruv, who was five years old and who went to the forest to meditate.  Five years of age in the time of the Satya Yug converts to twenty years of age in the time of the Kali Yug, and you have to look at these stories in terms of the Yug they were written in. The Scriptures are never wrong, but we have to know how to interpret them correctly.  If someone says, ‘I don’t believe in the Law of Karma’, do you think God will relieve him of his actions simply because he doesn’t believe?  One’s good deeds are kept and recorded and when they have received their rewards, they are vanquished from one’s account.  Similarly, one’s bad deeds are squared up by punishment. When punishment has ended, they are erased from one's account. 

Nishkam Karma is the karma of action without one seeking rewards.  Some think Nishkam Karma is doing good deeds without any selfish interest, but this is not so.  In truth, Nishkam Karma is doing spontaneous yoga meditation.  As you do more spontaneous meditation, your account keeps building up, it is never diminished.  It can ensure that you are born happy in your next life as a human being. It can ensure that you are born in comfortable economic conditions and that you have the time to pursue spiritual interests. 

Indian philosophy states that to advance spiritually, there are four requirements: 

                         1) To be born as a human being;

                        2) To be born in India;

                        3) To find a realized Guru; and

                        4) To receive the Guru’s grace and blessings.

One pays insurance premiums to protect one’s family from the results of death.  In the same way, don’t you think some premium should be paid to protect your spiritual interests?  The premium to be paid is living one’s life according to the law of Dharm and engaging oneself in the practice of spontaneous meditation. We have to pay the premium in terms of following  Dharm at every step of our life in order to ensure better lives for ourselves in the future.

The Gross vs The Subtle

On the subtle level there are many things that the eyes cannot see since our eyes can only see things on the gross level. But this does not mean that the subtle things do not exist because you can't see them.   And to say that one doesn’t believe, because one cannot see them, neither negates their existence nor does it negate their effects. There are many subtle implications to the Law of Dharm and the Law of Karma that don’t necessarily appear at the gross level.

Everyone should be interested in Dharm and Mantra and Meditation.  One has to experience to understand.  I can tell you all about my experiences, but you will not understand until you experience them yourself.  Reading gives you theoretical knowledge that you will forget over time.  Practical experience you will never forget. For example,  If you were to read a manual on how to ride a bike, when you get on the bike you will forget most of the points in the manual.  But once you have fallen off several times and subsequently learned how to ride the bike, you will always remember.

Sanatan Dharm (Based on extracts from the book, “Infinite Grace” from the article, “Sanatan Dharm in a Nutshell” and from the book, " Yoga The Path To Eternity" all written by Swami Rajarshi Muni).

Sanatan Dharm (Eternal Culture) is the primeval and timeless culture. Though its philosophy developed from the Vedic thoughts, the Seers or Sages of the Vedic Mantras themselves declare:

        "We are not the creators of the Vedas. The Vedic Mantras are not                                                          composed by us. They are revealed to us during meditation as the             utterances of the Supreme Power of God. We have presented what            we have heard and perceived for the benefit of mankind."

Thus the Vedas are considered to be Apaurusheya, i.e., not the composition of any human author. There are many Sages who are the Seers of the Vedic Mantras. Hence the philosophy of Sanatan Dharm cannot be said to have been developed by any single person. It is a collective contribution of many Seer–Sages. Thus there is no single founder of Sanatan Dharm as is the case with the religions of the world. 1

 

The Three Pillars of Culture

The true meaning of Sanatan Dharma deals with the fundamental issues of human culture and describes a way of life that will last forever. 2.

Mankind can progress only if human conduct is based on the three pillars of culture: ethical, moral and spiritual values. Ethical behaviour is the foundation of culture, righteousness is the mansion built upon it, and spirituality is the rooftop that protects it. 2

 

A man becomes truly cultured when his spiritual development takes place along with his physical and mental development.  Culture without spiritualism remains incomplete. God created man, not that he would fall, but that he may ascend. The divine incarnations and sages of India have made astounding contributions to the all around development of human culture.  After conquering the highest spiritual peaks they contributed certain fundamental principles to the development of human culture. Indian culture has established certain high traditions by preserving these principles.  Thus, Sanatan Dharm - "the eternal culture" - can, even today, receive welcome and respect everywhere, and can guide the whole world because its fundamental principles can be accepted by all mankind. In this way, Sanatan Dharma has the capacity to become the culture of mankind. 2.

Dharma is very subtle and very profound.  Without its universal acceptance, the world community cannot experience peace.   Dharma itself is universal and non sectarian.  The Indian scriptures describe it as a comprehensive and indestructible principle (Tattva) - the sum total of morality, truthfulness, restraint, and right conduct.  Thus it is called sanatan or everlasting, for it contains life's eternal guiding principles.   Dharma, therefore, is the foundation of spirituality and the source of all good qualities. 2.

The Principle of Monotheism or the Principle of One God

Some mistakenly consider Sanatan Dharma to be wedded to the principle of polytheism because it acknowledges the existence of many gods and goddesses. 2.

In reality, Sanatan Dharma is bound to the principle of monotheism, but not in the same way as some of the religions of the world.  Many religions believe that God is One, that He resides in heaven above, and that He dispenses divine justice through decisions based upon good and bad human conduct.  In this view God exists in heaven alone and nowhere else.  This God sends His son or prophet to perform necessary works and also to send commands to human beings on earth at appropriate times.  2.

On the other hand, the view of Sanatan Dharma is that God does not reside in any heaven.  He is beyond heaven and transcends the limits and boundaries, not only of heaven, but also of the entire cosmos.  And yet,  God is contained within every atom of the cosmos. 2.

According to Sanatan Dharma there are several heavens, which contain not just one but a number of lesser gods and goddesses (devas and devis), each of whom exhibit certain aspects of divinity in greater or lesser proportion, and all of whom are more powerful than human beings.  There are 330 million such lesser gods and goddesses.  Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu and Yamaraj are considered to be the principle ones.  Among these, Indra is foremost and he administers and exercises control over heaven, earth and hell.  God has entrusted Yamaraj with the task of sitting in judgement upon the good and bad actions of human beings on earth. Thus, according to Sanatan Dharma, Yamaraj accomplishes the task that according to other religions is performed by God Himself.  This Yamaraj is subordinate to Indra, the king of lesser gods, who is subordinate to the Creator of the whole universe, Brahma, who in turn acts according to the commands of He, who is described in the Sanatan Dharma as Ishvar, the Supreme Spirit, or God.  Therefore, even while considering one single God as all powerful and supreme, Sanatan Dharma accepts the lesser gods and goddesses with fractions of divine aspects in them, and permits the offering of prayers and ritual worship to them in a manner similar to the Supreme God, thereby pleasing them and obtaining their grace.  Nonetheless, the worship of the lesser gods and goddesses does not yield the same fruits as the worship of the Supreme Lord.  All benefits and all results flow from the Supreme Lord.  Even the rewards conferred by the lesser deities flow from His grace because they are pleased in accordance with the will of the Supreme Lord. 2.

 

 

The Holy Trinity

God or the highest Essence, Brahman,  exists without attributes and is called by many names, including Brahmattva, Shivtattva or Paramtattva or Parabrahm or Parashiv.  This essence is without beginning or end.  It is eternal luminescence, all pervading, indestructible, changeless, formless, flawless and the One without a second.  He is the transcendental cause of the entire  creation.  When the time comes to undertake the process of creation, a motivation or sankalpa arises within this highest Essence to become many from One.  At that time this formless Essence imagines a divine, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent form that He Himself adopts out of mere play.  As a result, the highest essence assumes the form that is called Ishvar (God).  This God, Ishvar, produces from within Himself the primordial energy known as maya (projective power of illusion).  The highest Essence (God) is devoid of involution and evolution.  Maya is the causal matter that is composed of the three gunas: sattva, the quality of purity and harmony; rajas, the quality of activity, and tamas, the quality of inertia and ignorance.  This maya assumes numerous forms and shapes.  Thus the twenty four elements of nature (prakriti) are born out of maya, causing involution and evolution.  By resorting to maya, of His Own accord, God playfully assumes three forms known as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  Possessed of tamas inside and the predominance of sattva outside, He assumes the form of Vishnu, who maintains creation.  Possessed of sattva inside and the predominance of tamas outside, He assumes the fearful form of Rudra (Shiva, Maheshwar, Shankar, etc.).  Composed predominantly of rajas both inside and outside, He assumes the form of Brahma, the creator of the universe.  In this manner, the three manifestations of the Supreme Lord are forms that reflect a mix of the three different attributes (sattva, rajas and tamas), whereas the Supreme Lord (Ishvar) is beyond these three attributes.  The triune forms of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma are aspects of same Supreme God (Ishvar) and are mutually inseparable.  He who sees any separation or any difference between them is lacking in knowledge.  Consequently, those blessed with the power of discrimination do not see any difference between these three forms and accept the principle of the oneness of God. 2.

Other Distinctive Features of Sanatan Dharma:

i. There is only one reality which is the basic, the first and the last, the transcendent essence known as ‘Brahman’. It is beginning-less, all–pervading, infinite, changeless and eternal. That one and only Brahman is also known as Parmatman (Supreme Self). It has neither a form nor any attribute. But It further manifests as different forms with attributes;

 

ii. Atman, the inner essence, is in essence the same as Brahman.  As such it is unthinkable, unmanifest, unchanging, immovable and the same forever, i.e., eternal.  The Bhagvad Gita, which is also the supreme utterance of Lord Krishna, an Incarnation of the Supreme Being, describes the Atman, saying: "weapons cannot cleave it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it and wind cannot dry it;" 1.

iii. But when the Atman becomes shrouded in the veils of matter and a body, it becomes an ignorant embodied soul (Jeev), forgetting its own real nature and identifying itself as the body.  As such, it passes through the stages of life: childhood; youth; old age; and death, thereafter, again, attaining another body; 1.

iv. Only one Parmatman, Brahm, assumes three forms (Trimurti) namely Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Sustainer), and Maheshvar or Shiv (the Destroyer), each having different attributes suited for carrying out their respective tasks. Though they appear to be three different Godheads, they are the manifestations of one and the same Parmatman, who further exfoliates into thirty three crore (330 million) Devas (Deities).

 

Brahm is the complete omnipresent consciousness; one of four divisions of chaitanya shakti (Conscious Energy); also called by other names such as Parabrahm, Parameshwar, Maheshvar, or Paramatma, Akshar Brahm, Purushottam, Ishvar or Sadashiv.  All these names are the names of a single Brahm which is nirgun ( without attributes); eternal; niranjan (spotless); nirakar (formless); nirmal (pure); and nirvakar (devoid of distortion).4.

 

Out of its Own sweet will, Brahm takes on attributes, but without form, as Ishvar (God) to, in turn, as previously mentioned, assume three forms (Trimurti):namely, Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Sustainer), and Maheshvar or Shiv (the Destroyer), each having different attributes suited for carrying out their respective tasks.  So, Ishvara (God), Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (The Sustainer), Shiva (The Destroyer) and even the Devas (the lesser gods and goddesses) are all manifestations of one and the same Parmatman, Brahm.

 

v. The cosmos of the upper lokas (planes of the upper worlds) and the lower Patals (the nether worlds), together with the plane of earth in the middle, constitute the whole many storied universe.  All the different worlds are populated by different kind of living beings.  The entire cosmos is time bound and hence vanishes after an incredibly long period into the unqualified and unafflicted essence of Brahman only to appear once again in a time bound manner.  Lord Brahma supervises the process of the unfolding of the universe. Lord Vishnu supervises its long duration of existence and Lord Shiva supervises its dissolution into the Brahman; 1.

vi. Calculation of Time (Kaal) is done according to the duration of cosmic creation. From the beginning of creation to the great dissolution is the period of Brahma, Lord the Creator. That period is calculated in terms of Yugas, Mahayugas, Manvantaras, and Kalpas. The time of Brahma’s appearance and the time of the great dissolution can be easily calculated according to this system. When Brahma’s single day is over and he goes to sleep, there is an Avantar–Pralay (intermediate deluge), causing the three lokas (Earth, Bhuvar and Svar) to dissolve;

vii. Four Purusarthas (endeavours) or Purusharthas are prescribed for human beings:

These are Arth, Kaam, Dharm and Moksh. The first two endeavours are common to all living creatures. The last two are special endeavours for human beings.  Dharm is the protecting shield human beings have against sin and resulting sufferings. It brings happiness and real, not momentary joys. Moksh brings supreme bliss, everlasting peace and liberation. Pursuit of Dharm makes one fit to follow the Moksh endeavour in some life-time.

Arth, Kam and Dharm are all external activities, whereas Moksh entails internal activities, i.e., introversion.  Dharm is the preparation for Moksha. Yoga is a science through which the self and God (Brahm) are realized. The self is the identical same in everybody. Therefore, yoga is for everybody irrespective of their race, sex or religion. Yoga starts after Dharma.

      (1) Artha means earning a living or wealth. The importance of                     material wealth for the overall happiness and well being of an                   individual is recognized. A house holder requires wealth because he            has to perform many duties to uphold  Dharma and to take care of            the needs of his family and society. A person should not seek                   wealth for wealth's sake, but to uphold Dharma and to help the                members of his family and society achieve their goals; 3.

      (2) Kām is satisfying desires.  Kām in a broader sense means desire,              and, in a narrower sense, it means sexual desire.  Sexual activity             is part of obligatory duty and is not to be misused for enjoyment               as it would lead to attachment, delusion and one's downfall.  There            is permission for sexual activity up to a limit, so long as it is not in             conflict with the principles of  Dharma and it is used for the                    purposes of procreation, perpetuation of family and social order,               within the boundaries established by tradition, social norms and                scriptures; 3.

      (3) Dharm is the protecting shield human beings have against sin                   and sufferings. 2.  It has been variously translated as duty,                      faith, religion, righteousness, sacred law, justice, ethics,                         morality and so on.  Pursuit of  Dharm makes one fit to follow                  the Moksh endeavour in some lifetime; 3.

      (4) Moksh (liberation); The pursuit of moksha or salvation liberates                 oneself and leads one to the world of Brahman. 3.The pursuit of                Dharma usually begins at an early age, when one is initiated                   into religious studies. The pursuit of artha and kām begins in                   most cases after one becomes a householder.  The pursuit of                   moksh however is the most important of all aims and can begin                at any time. The other aims are preparatory for this final aim. 3.

The four Purusharthas are responsible for establishing balance in human life. They make life a rewarding and enriching experience. They cater to the spiritual and material aspirations of human beings and lead them in the right direction, within the theory of Karma, that, for every action, there is an equal and appropriate reaction. It is like the cause and effect theory. Every action produces an effect corresponding to it. If one commits a sin, he shall have to pay the penalty for it. If he does a virtuous deed, he shall reap the benefit thereof. Hence, do good deeds and avoid evil deeds or sins. If one does not receive rewards or punishments for all good and evil deeds during one life-time, he certainly will have to be born again. Thus, one is provided with the opportunity to square up all pending Karmas of the previous lives. Every rebirth provides a fresh opportunity to do pious deeds to wash away sin. Thus, the theory of Karma is closely related to the theory of rebirth and the path of liberation; 3.

viii. The doctrine of the incarnation of the Lord is a unique feature of Sanatan Dharm.  The Lord descends to the earth to establish the truths of  Dharm afresh when Dharm faces the danger of being lost.  During the incarnation the Lord looks like a mortal person in outward disguise, but, unlike human beings, He is not subject to the law of karma.  He is beyond everything. 1.

ix. There are four stations of life (Ashram Dharms) prescribed for every individual and dealing with the conduct and duties during each station of life. These stations are: Brahmacharyashram, Grihastashram, Vanprasthashram and Sannyasashram. The first station is for study as a pupil. The second station is for the life of a householder and covers the period of youth. The third station is for the recluse life for practicing detachment from worldly things. The fourth station is for renouncing the world by becoming a Sannyasi and turning the mind inwards towards the Lord.       

The purpose of Sanatan Dharm is to take the person, step by step, from worldly desires and pleasures (Kaam) to ultimate bliss (Moksh). In the Bhagvad Gita, Arjun asks Lord Krishna: “What drives a person to commit sins of his unwillingness?” Lord Krishna replies: “It is desire (Kaam) indeed.” Desires are never fully gratified. Unfulfilled desires goad one to commit further sins. How to vanquish desire and remain free from sin is taught by Lord Krishna in the Gita. He teaches Nishkam Karma yoga (Yoga of desire-less action), which purifies the inner being. Lord Krishna further says: “All such actions should be in accordance with the tenets of the  Dharm Shastras (religious scriptures).” So the starting point of  Dharm is Karma-yoga.

Let us try to understand Sanatan Dharm, the natural, moral and spiritual values that create an atmosphere of peace and righteousness in the world. Sanatan means eternal;  Dharm is the culture inspired by universal truths that are the sum total of morality, restraint, and right conduct.

This Sanatan Dharm is a primeval and timeless culture that developed from Vedic wisdom. The fruits of this knowledge, which were propagated by the Rishis and Sages of ancient India, have accumulated from time immemorial and have been confirmed by the saints of all religions. They include such moral beatitudes as truth, purity, compassion, non-violence, love, faith, forgiveness and devotion to God.

These truths have been passed on from generation to generation from time immemorial, touching upon all aspects of human life, especially spiritualism and elevated thinking, which are predominant. This Sanatan Dharm, or “eternal culture,” ultimately leads to the highest goal of every culture - the attainment of heaven in the life hereafter.

Sanatan culture is the foundation of spirituality and the birth-right of all mankind. It provides the universal shelter that the Prophet Jeremiah refers to when he says, “Thou art my strength, my fortress and my refuge in time of distress.” (Jeremiah, 16-19). In this way the time honoured precepts of  Dharm, or samskruti, are a refuge to all mankind, and it is our duty as children of God to honour them.

The prevailing religions in today’s world have come into existence in the past 2500 years. Does this mean that before this time the world was bereft of true spirituality? Or does it mean that there was nothing but ignorance and darkness prior to that time?

No!  In fact, if you go back in history to ancient times only one culture was adhered to worldwide, and there was only one ruler as well. The last of the Chakravarti Kings was King Janmejaya who lived some 4500 years ago. "Chakra" means “globe”, and "varti" means “encompassing." So, Chakravarti Kings means Kings who ruled the whole world.  The rulers of the ancient world administered their kingdoms according to the precepts of sanatan culture, and the people adhered to it as well. It was the habit of kings to go to the forest to learn the principles of sanatan culture from the Rishis and Sages who dwelt there.

Dharm has been the culture of all humanity for thousands of years. It is concerned with the activities of human life from birth to eternal life in God-realization. This culture places importance on the four basic human endeavours or pursuits of life. The first of these is arth, which constitutes material pursuits like providing shelter, security, and comforts. The second pursuit is that of Kaam, which includes the satisfaction of emotional desires, including marriage and family. The third is Dharm, which involves the observances of righteous living that leads to social harmony and peace.  Dharm encourages the development of personal virtues, such as living a devout life and abiding by the system of faith and worship of one’s choice for the purpose of higher evolution.  Dharm is also the endeavour for purity, the development of good character and the attainment of human ideals including truthfulness, fairness, and mental and emotional balance. Thus, human life is based upon Dharm.

Finally there is Moksh, which consists of spiritual pursuits that free the soul from the bondage of karma[1] and the cycles of birth and death[2], thereby attaining God realization, or liberation.

Moksh is considered to be the ultimate attainment of human existence. But when one indulges to excesses in the pursuits (purusharths) of arth (comforts) and kam (lust), he is living a life that is no different than that of an animal. It is said in the Shrimad Bhagavat:

“When mankind fails to act according to given duties and                             responsibilities and fails to live up to his place in society as                         described in the Vedas, Dharm goes astray and human beings                   engage in arth and kam only. Those who do so are living a life that             is no better than that of dogs and monkeys.”

Thus, although one should not renounce arth and kam, he should pursue these goals with restraint. If mankind is to survive it should not pursue wealth and sensual pleasures outside the boundaries of Dharm. The Shrimad Bhagwat also tells us:

“ If man practices Dharm through mind, body, speech and intellect,                       he attains heaven where there is no suffering. If he remains                       unattached even to the enjoyments of heaven, then the same                    Dharm takes him to Moksh, or salvation.”

This, then, is the essence of sanatan culture. This culture elevates man from the lower plane of sensual enjoyments to the higher plane of spiritual peace and understanding. His every thought and action is with God. All the prescribed means, acts, and solutions available to man are in harmony with the precepts of Dharm.

The beauty of this culture is that it values detachment and contentment above worldly enjoyments, and renunciation above sensual pleasures. Thus it is not important who has the most power and wealth; rather, it is he who is the most detached. That is why great kings with all their power and wealth would humbly bow at the feet of the Rishis, Yogis and Sages who had renounced all their possessions and pursued spiritual disciplines only.

Thus, there is very close relationship between human life and Dharm. In Indian Scripture there is a record of the aspects of Dharm that we are obliged to know and practice. The Shrimad Bhagavat and the Manu Srmiti have mentioned the following:

Truth; non-violence; absence of anger; non-stealing; sensual restraints; purity; self-study; tyag (making sacrifices and giving to charity); tolerance; contentment; self-control;  compassion; forgiveness; equanimity; discrimination; simplicity; service-mindedness; remembrance of God; praising and singing His glory and prayer.

As we engage in these simple forms of worship we slowly become detached from worldly entanglements and learn to focus on the Divine Soul within ourselves. This is our duty as human beings.

Indicating the importance of these virtues, Lord Krishna says:

“Everything in this world, be it living or inert, is pervaded by God, is a           part of God, and belongs to God. So enjoy this world with a sense of           humility and detachment, and never entertain the desire for                        another’s wealth. If one’s karmas (activities) are performed without            any attachment, and only for the sake of God’s satisfaction and                   Love, it will not bind us. There is no other path other than this.”

 

In brief, these are the characteristics of the sanatan culture. Its practice uplifts the human being. How can there be any disharmony in a culture that has these characteristics?

Sanatan Dharm promotes a central theme: the unity of the family of man. All human beings should live like one family and not indulge in hostile activities like war, etc. Also, there should be no disparities in respect to socio-economic systems and the basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. But this equanimity amongst the people of the earth should not be limited to human beings alone. It should also extend to the world of animals and birds, because God resides in all living beings. Thus the sanatan (eternal) culture of India declares that the same Soul (or Atma) is present in all creation, including humans, divine beings, demons, animals, birds, trees etc. The only difference between them is their name and form. 

The Bhagavad Gita says, “He who sees that God exists in all creatures is an exalted yogi. He only sees the Divine Soul (Atma), and views everyone with equanimity. He sees the same Atma in humans, cows, elephants and dogs and feels harmony amongst them all. Thus, sanatan culture perceives harmony in disparity. The whole cosmos is the creation of one God and He alone sustains it".

As we have seen, the universal culture of ancient India honours another principle, the principle of karma and rebirth. The law of karma operates on the principle of cause and effect: one reaps what one sows. How, then, are the scales of karma balanced? God is the witness of every act and every thought of all sentient beings, and he distributes his judgments according to their karmas (activities). Thus, man inevitably receives the fruits of his karmas, both good and bad. Everyone, without exception, has to undergo the results of his karma, which we enjoy or suffer according to our thoughts and actions in some birth, be it this birth or another.

The “conditioned existence” of the soul has its basis in the doctrines of rebirth and karma. Its modus operandi is the transmigration of the soul, which occurs in accordance with the karma of individual souls.

Yogic philosophy, like the Gnostic form of Christianity, maintains that the soul is immortal and transmigrates from life to life in an endless succession. Thus, Yoga addresses not only life in the here and now, but also after the death of the physical body. Although a person’s earthly body will sooner or later decay, the immortal soul is reborn after each physical death in an unending series of lifetimes. Until the soul is liberated, it remains in bondage to conditioned existence and to the “realm of births and deaths.” As long as our Soul (Atma) remains bound, the transmigration of the soul continues.

Those human beings who perform good karmas go to the upper realms, where the higher species dwell. Those who sin take their place with the lower species.

The performance of meritorious works leads one to the heavenly realms. After death such souls earn luminous, fast moving bodies and go to heaven. [3] Those who offer free, service-oriented medical work, for example, receive light, airy, swift-moving bodies and go to the heavenly realm of Pitrulok.

Those who perform vihit karm as ordained in the scriptures get reborn as human beings in righteous, spiritually-minded families. Conversely, those who engage in nishidh karm, or prohibited activities, are born amongst the lower species such as elephants, birds, or dogs. Those who live a deliberately sinful life take a body amongst a lower species like ghosts. They live in the hell worlds and experience pain and suffering. Nevertheless, after suffering for their sins, such jivas (souls) have the opportunity to take birth again amongst other higher species depending upon their karmas

Thus, those who perform good karmas go to the upper realms of heaven, while those who sin go to the lower depths.

The primary and ultimate aim of the human being is the attainment of moksh, or God realization. The means to the attainment of moksh, or liberation, is the spiritual science of Yoga. Ardent practice of Yoga sadhana brings liberation. When a yogi’s mind, senses, and intellect are purified, calm and still—immutable—self-realization becomes possible and the blissful state is attained. At this point we realize that Atma, the individual soul, and Brahm, the Universal Soul, are One and the same: Everything is Atma. Everything is Brahm. In this state one sees himself in everyone, and everyone in him. Under such conditions, how can he be jealous of anyone?

This elevated state of awareness is called Parampad. Once it is attained the “wheel of ceaseless becoming” and the “chain of bondage” dissolve, and there is no rebirth. Thus Sanatan Dharm protects mankind and serves as a guide to peace, purity, contentment, and ultimately Divine fulfillment in communion with God.

x. Yoga philosophy is, in many ways, similar to the Sankya philosophy of India. The meaning of the word "Sankya" is "enumeration".  In all, twenty five basic Tattva categories are enumerated in Sankya philosophy. These are Purush (the Self or the Soul); Prakriti (Nature); Buddhi or Mahat (Intellect); Ahankar (ego); Manas (Mind); the Jnanendriyas  (the five cognitive senses); the Karmendriyas (the five organs of action); the Tanmatras (the five subtle primary elements: sound; touch; form; taste and smell); and Mahabhuts (the five generic gross elements: ether; air; fire; water and earth).  But to these, Yoga adds one additional Tattva category, that being God (Ishvara), the supreme ruler of the universe, thereby forming twenty six Tattvas and making Yoga theistic in contrast with the non theistic philosophy of Sankya.  Yoga further differentiates itself from Sankya. Whereas Sankya philosophy mainly deals with the  process that binds the individual soul into matter, Yoga philosophy addresses the  reverse process by which a soul can obtain release from the fetters of matter and attain moksh, or liberation.

According to Sankya, the whole phenomenal universe evolves out of these twenty five Tattva categories, only two of which it considers primary - Purush (Soul) and Prakriti (Nature). When Purush interacts with Prakriti, Prakriti leaves its unmanifested state into the other twenty three metaphysical and physical Tattva categories. A Purush is an individual soul or Self and is known as the Atman or Jeevatma.  Purushas are countless in number, each is distinctly separate, yet all are identical in substance. 6.

Yoga also holds that maya is the illusory power of Brahm (God without attributes), wielded in its form that has attributes (Ishvar, God with attributes), to cause the unfoldment of prakriti (that which existed before creation). 5.

Ishvar, willfully assumes maya for creation and does not become entangled in maya, whereas the soul becomes entangled in prakriti. When the soul associates with prakriti, devolution commences. The greatest and first Tattva (categories of spirit and matter) that comes out from this association is called Mahat (Buddhi or intellect). When the soul comes into contact with prakriti, it then becomes a Jeev (an embodied soul, subject to conditioned existence. Before contact with prakriti, the soul is omniscient, omnipresent and its existence is unconditioned). But, subsequent to the soul coming into contact with Prakriti and Mahat being formed as the first result,  Prakriti and Mahat then together form the causal body, the first form of bondage for the soul. In a further process of devolution, from Mahat comes the ego, having the qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas.  The ego, in turn,  creates the five cognitive senses; the five faculties of action; the tanmatra and the mind, which forms the subtle body, the second form of bondage for the soul. In a further process of devolution, from Tanmatra comes the five primary Tattvas  called the Panch mahabhutas (the five generic gross elements of nature: ether; air; fire; water and earth), which forms the gross body, the third form of bondage for the soul. Chit is the pure consciousness of the soul before coming into contact with prakriti. This Chit or pure consciousness becomes increasingly impure and diffused by the subsequent layers of illusion . We are bound in three bodies or twenty four Tattvas, resultant from the Soul's contact with Prakriti.  We have to  reverse this entire process through the practice of Yoga by raising  the energy through pran, which is the motive force of the soul. And so, we surrender to pran in meditation.

 

1. "Sanatan Dharm in a Nutshell" article by Swami Rajarshi Muni

2. "Infinite Grace The Story of My Spiritual Lineage" by Swami Rajarshi Muni, Chapter 7, pages 326 - 329, Lord Lakulish's meeting of February 15, 1993 with Swami Rajarshi Muni and his verbatim explanation of the essence of Sanatan  Dharma, Life Mission Publications, 2002.

3. http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_aims.asp

4. "Shabdakosh", Guidebook of Sanskrit and Sanskrit Origin Words in the Works of Swami Rajarshi Muni, pages 22 and 26, Life Mission Publications, 2013.

5. "Shabdakosh", Guidebook of Sanskrit and Sanskrit Origin Words in the Works of Swami Rajarshi Muni, page 62, Life Mission Publications, 2013.

6. "Yoga, The Path To Eternity" by Swami Rajarshi Muni, pages 40-43, Life Mission Publications, 1994.

3. Sanatan Dharm - Excerpts from Bapuji’s 60th Birthday Speech (Taken from Swami Rajarshi Muni's Centennial Celebrations Discourse at Rajrajeshwardham, January 13, 2013)

India is the land of austerities and spiritual practice of its Sages and Saints. The kind of outstanding practice of thought and conduct that has been undertaken in the holy forests of this land for the welfare of the world has no parallel in any other land on earth.  It would be quite proper to say that India’s Sanatan Dharm is Immortal Dharm, World Dharm, Human Dharm and Divine Dharm.  It is all embracing and is devoid of all and any limitation or narrowness.

Dharm is that by which the individual, family, society, nation, and, indeed the whole world can rise to glorious heights.   Dharm is that, by the proper practice of which the animalistic and devilish tendencies in the human can be vanquished and humanity and divinity can be developed in their place.

This Dharm can be broadly of two types – ordinary and special. Of these, ordinary Dharm is for the ordinary individuals of society.  They can attain Arth and Kam by its proper practice and keep the strands of family, society and nation in proper order.

The second, Special Dharm, is for the most exceptional of individuals of society.  By its fullest practice, they attain Ishvar or Moksha or the Highest State.  While it is true that the noblest Sant is born in a particular country, in reality he does not belong to any one nation, but belongs to the whole world.  Being a representative of God, he believes that the entire world is his family and conducts himself accordingly.

Ancient India has been home to such great souls who realized this Sanatan  Dharm and spent their entire lives in the forests.  They had countless Kings and others possessed of wealth and affluence as their followers, but they themselves spent all the years of their lives with nothing on their body except a loincloth and survived on roots and tubers.  How could they, who felt no attachment to their own bodies, have had any attachment for any one family or society or nation?

They made not a single plan for making this Sanatan Dharm, a World Religion.  That is why never until now has Sanatan of all Dharm taken on the form of sectarianism.  The mechanism of Sanatan Dharm for the preservation of its identity is uniquely different from that of religions of the world.  Its Acharyas never gave any importance to mere numbers of followers.  It is a fallacious belief that the Dharm with the largest numbers of followers is the best.  Because of this, the principal belief of Sanatan Dharm is that one who adheres to right thought and right conduct is a true Sanatani.  Further, it has not sought to swell its numbers through conversion of followers of other faiths through pity, temptation or fear.  Not only that, they have permanently rejected all those who have transgressed the bounds of Dharm.

Streams run to meet the sea; no sea or ocean has ever run to embrace the stream.  Only iron is attracted to the magnet, not the magnet to iron.  The majesty of Sanatan Dharm has never been extinguished for it has ever remained distanced from temptations. 

Truth belongs to all. No one individual, society or nation can have its stamp on it.  It is more appropriate that Truth have its stamp on all of us.  Universally revered Sages first realize the Truth; thereafter, that very Truth guides them.  Truth alone is their Sect; Truth alone is their Ishvar; and Truth alone is their Guru.  Truth proclaims itself.  Ordinary mortals proclaim not Truth but their own self-interest. 

The modern world has developed materialism and the material sciences.  As a result, man has ceased to be a friend of man but has become his foe.  By constantly dwelling on lifeless material, he has himself become lifeless.

Ancient history bears witness that India, too, at one time developed material sciences to the loftiest of heights, but, reviewing its evil effects, it later completely rejected the same.  If it had not developed both spiritual and material sciences to their loftiest heights, it could not have compared the one with the other and completely rejected the latter.

Material science makes the individual, family, society and nation extroverted or outward looking.  It gains nothing other than suffering, restlessness and grief.  Spiritual science makes the individual, family, society and nation and, indeed, the whole world, introverted or inward-looking, by which happiness, peace and joy are attained.

 

SANATAN CULTURE

In present times, ‘culture’ is a word playing on the tongues of everyone, but few know how to establish it in one’s own life or in the life of the family, society and nation.  Perhaps never before has the word ‘culture’ and culture, itself, been looked upon with so much contempt in India as it is in present times.

Culture confers upon citizens of nation-states a particular life-style.  True, there have been changes in this from age to age, but that does not destroy its subtle essence, because such changes are delineated by some Sage of exalted state.  As a result, the body, life-force and soul of culture is protected and preserved.

Culture inculcates good character, restraint, affection, good thoughts, good conduct, service, sacrifice, and such divine qualities among the people, and makes them the travellers of the path of progress.

A culture is as great as its extent or pervasion.  If culture embraces only one nation or only one or the other province of a nation, it can be considered only an ordinary culture.  But if it embraces the whole world, it is considered a special culture.

The culture of India is called Aryan Culture or Sanatan Culture.  It is a human culture, world culture, immortal culture or Divine Culture.  Its influence over ancient, middle ages and the modern world has remained uninterrupted.

Culture is bonded to Dharm and Yoga is bonded to God.  Culture denotes a way of life.  It is the differences in ways of life that create conflicts in families, societies and nations that gives rise to countless divisions.  Because of this, uniformity in ways of life is indispensable in world culture, human culture or Divine Culture.

Uncultured and unrighteous humans have given rise to conflicts the world over.  Dharm and culture do not give rise to conflict, but pacify conflict.  One who establishes unity through war or force is not on the side of Dharm or culture, but on the side of oppressors.  One who is on the side of Dharm or culture does not war with another. He battles with himself in order to purify himself.   Dharm establishes innocence, peace and right conduct.   Adarm, or lack of Dharm, establishes malice, restlessness and bad conduct.

The India, which at its dawn, had awakened the world to the importance of  Dharm and culture is today gradually losing its glory and forgetting the importance of  Dharm and culture.  The people of India who made countless sacrifices for Dharm and culture today show scant regard for Dharm and culture, for which they in the past so assiduously practiced and preserved.

The highest support of Gyan is Scripture; that of Bhakti is Music and Dance and that of Yoga is Pranayam – these three methods of worship have given birth to Dharm and culture. 

Gyan, Yoga and Bhakti – these three paths have arisen because of differences in their nature.  As the land is the path for those who walk on earth, water is the path for those living in the water and the path of the sky is better suited for those that fly, so the path of Gyan is the more useful path for the Gyani, that of Yoga for the Yogi, and that of Bhakti for the Bhakta.

There are the four defenders of Dharm and culture: a sage of good character; scriptures; temples and ashrams.  In the absence of a sage of good character, the influence of Dharm and culture diminishes, but scriptures, temples and ashram save them from extinction. But when scriptures, temples and ashrams, too, vanish,  Dharm and culture are destroyed.  After the destruction of Dharm and culture, no society can establish its influence over any individual, family, society or nation.  Such a society is considered a fallen society and quickly becomes inconsequential.  

It is a matter of joy for us that Indian Yoga darshans, philosophical treatises, classical music and dance – which we include in Indian culture – receive respectful welcome in the world today.  In other words, it can be said that, in present times, Indian culture is becoming well established in the position of a world culture.

In the end, to summarize, I entreat you all that, if you wish to live an exalted life and have a determination to make future generations rise to greater heights, make the protection of Dharm and culture as the highest objective of your own lives.   Our true existence lies on their survival.

 

I rest by praying that God give us all correct understanding. 

 

Jai Bhagwan

 

Swami Rajarshi Muni

 

[1] Karma acts as a totally self-implementing arbiter of natural justice that makes every single person, without exception, inescapably responsible for his or her own actions, words and thoughts. The law of karma operates on the principle of cause and effect: one reaps what one sows.

[2] Human existence is linked by the transmigrations of the soul from one life to the next until liberation is achieved.

[3] There are fourteen realms within the Universe. If we think of the earth as the center of the universe there are six higher realms above the earth, and seven lower realms, or nether worlds, below. Yogis and Seers through the ages have attained the subtle vision that allowed them to meditate on the cosmos and witness both its composition and those that inhabit it. Based on their observations of the various realms—the untold glories and terrifying hell-worlds—they recorded the joys, sorrows and infinite peace of those who dwell there, depending upon the nature of the karmas they have accumulated while living on earth.

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