Understanding Bharat in the Light of Sanatana Dharma

Understanding Bharat in the Light of Sanatana Dharma

It seems to be a peculiar tendency for unfolding events in Bharat that just when things are on the verge of being lost, somehow, true genius emerges. This applies not only in cricket matches but the Bhagavad Gita also emerged at the most tense moment imaginable – at the brink of the greatest war of the age. It seems we have an uncanny knack for compelling the Divine Itself to arrive and take charge of things at the last moment. Seeing the stories coming in through social media following the Ram Mandir’s pran pratishtha ceremony, of people recalling how their parents or grandparents dreamt of the Ram Mandir, it is worth reflecting on the fact that (for the most part of the population) we would probably be the last generation that would hold this kind of familial emotional value for the temple. One generation on, cultural memories would fade and very few of us would be able to say that we were witness to a parent or grandparent shedding tears for (or rather the lack of) the temple. And so Rama, the just, to protect the Dharma, had to arrive in Ayodhya just in time.

Why relate the unfolding of events in Bharat to spirituality? Because this is the land of Sanatana Dharma – that rises and falls by the Dharma. To navigate our journey to Ram Rajya successfully, we will have to understand what this means and awaken to deeper insights about ourselves and Bharat.

The Workings of Sanatana Dharma

Firstly, Sanatana Dharma, the eternal or universal law, is a living process. It is not understood through books but through inner experience and spiritual insight. There have been innumerable people in Bharat who may have been unlettered, but were great yogis, saints or sages. The import is that we have to strive towards Sanatana Dharma, not blindly follow a book or a person.

Dharma being the ‘law’ that governs or sustains, the effort in this culture was always for inner striving – to bring ourselves in tune with the universal law so that we could live out our lives in harmony with the unfolding of all Life and ultimately, be free of the process of life and death altogether.

So now, how has Bharat been the land of Sanatana Dharma? Bharat bhoomi, is also called yoga bhoomi or tapas bhoomi by the sages because here, the striving was to live our lives in yoga, and through tapas, to establish ourselves in alignment with Sanatana Dharma. With this rhythm for the nation already set forth by sages and saints thousands of years ago, Bharat can only truly be Bharat (where there is striving/ love/ ‘rati’ for the Light (‘Bha’)) if this connection between Sanatana Dharma and the civilisation is restored.

As human consciousness is awakening throughout the world, Bharat is also casting off the shackles of slavery – outwardly, as slavery to false leaders that continued well after independence in 1947, and inwardly, as a reaching for inner freedom – a freedom from domination by the psychological mind, through the ways the rishis have shown. Without this inner spiritual work, we cannot understand or uplift Sanatana Dharma for as we have known in this culture, the ‘outer’ reality mirrors the ‘inner’ in many ways. This means changing the current equation where we are pulled by ‘outside’ pressures and narratives and instead finding out own rhythm by leading from the ‘inner’. That would be the way to create Ram Rajya.

Is Bharat ready for Sanatana Dharma?

As inspiration, we should recall that Bharat has always been witness to great beings whose hearts were filled with devotion – whether for God or country. Bharat rose to great heights only when its leaders saw that serving the people was their service to the Divine or a way of dissolving their own identity in yoga. We recognized how each part of life could be a spiritual process – even war, as Sri Krishna showed Arjuna. And we recognised how all of life was in symbiotic relationship – each part interrelated – and therefore working with the vision of universality was what was required. PM Modi has in so many ways exhibited the marks of this understanding of Sanatana Dharma – from his anushthanam, to speaking to universality even at the occasion of the Ram Mandir pran pratishtha – something that should be a source of inspiration for the whole country.

In our recent history, the voices of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo stood out for their calls for the spiritual awakening of India. And as Sri Aurobindo revealed in his Uttarpara speech of 1909, as the intuition he received from God, “When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word, that it is for the Sanatana Dharma that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall rise. When it is said that India shall be great, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country.”[1]

Whether we were born here or not, Bharat is an opportunity for all of humanity to witness through this civilization, how the ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ has the potential to beautifully integrate. Not because of concocted beliefs or some selfish desires of a group of exclusive people, but because of the universal movement of Life itself – through Sanatana Dharma. So the question is, are we ready to understand Bharat, the land of Gods and sages and uncover the insights of Sanatana Dharma? We stand at an auspicious juncture as we correct narratives and understandings and move from ‘mythology’ to history, ‘religion’ to dharma, lies to the uncovering of truth. As we move forward, may we hold to the highest ideals set by the rishis:

Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya | Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |

Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya | Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih

(May we be led from untruth to Truth, from darkness to Light, from death to Immortality)

  • Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

For in that, and only that, lies our fulfilment both as individuals and as a nation.


[1]  Excerpt from speech first published in “Karmayogin”, June 1909 in SABCL, Volume 2 published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry

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