What is Sanatana Dharma according to you?

What is Sanatana Dharma according to you?

A friend asked me this question recently.

Sanatana Dharma is so vast; it has so many aspects. How to put it briefly? Let me try:

Sanatana means eternal and Dharm is difficult to translate. It means: to do what is right in a given situation, to do one’s duty.

How to know what is right? Our conscience tells us in most cases what is right. The human being is equipped with a moral barometer which gives the right direction. Only in some cases, there may be a genuine doubt. In those cases, texts like the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana or Dharma Shastras can prove helpful, or the advice of a trusted guru.

But, is the main thing in life to be an honest, upright, compassionate human being?

It is probably the most important part, because only on this basis, the other important aspect of Sanatana Dharm can be understood. Being honest and following one’s conscience makes one susceptible to finer layers of awareness, and such refinement is needed to understand the truth.

And the truth about us and the universe is the other very important aspect of Sanatana Dharma. The Vedas, Upanishads and innumerable other ancient texts contain wisdom which a human being cannot easily discover. This wisdom was “seen” by the Rishis and has never been proven wrong.

The main point of this wisdom is: you are not what you think you are, but you are one with everything. In other words: You are not a small person in a big world but your Essence is the one blissful Awareness which is the basis of the universe and beyond – SatChitAnanda. Or again in other words: your person is like a wave on the infinite ocean. In essence the wave is nothing but the ocean.

From this claim (that we are not a small person in a big world) follows naturally that the goal of life is to realize this Oneness, to “know” it as clearly as true as one now knows that one is a human being and not a dog.

Plenty of tips are given how to discover this Oneness. Probably the best guide is the Bhagavad Gita, which explains in detail Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga. Jnana means to approach unity (Yog) by reflecting deeply on the truth, Bhakti by devotion and surrender to that great Intelligence and its divine forms, and Karma by dedicating one’s actions and leaving their result to that great Intelligence.

There are many more helpful means, like poojas, mantras, meditation, pranayama, yog asanas, temple visits, vegetarianism, etc.

It follows that Sanatana Dharma fosters good humans who are aware that SatChitAnanda is within them and in all others, including in animals and nature. It gives them inner strength, and it makes them kind to other living beings and respectful to nature. It’s the ideal basis for society.

Now in comparison, Christianity and Islam, both of which claim to be the only true religion, do not foster universal goodness in humans, and also do not have the wisdom about the Oneness of all.

Both religions demand that the doctrine of their religion must overrule one’s innate knowledge of good and bad. The most important claim of their doctrine is that the Highest loves only the followers of their respective religion. Therefore, Muslims and Christians are taught from childhood that non-Muslims, respectively non-Christians, are inferior and will be rejected by the one Almighty. Their goal of life is to make the world free of those unbelievers either by pushing conversion or even by killing to please their God/ Allah.

And to hide that they have no proof whatsoever for their strange beliefs, they keep attacking Hindus as superstitious, caste-ridden, etc. to put them on the defensive and prevent them from exposing them.

Fortunately, Hindus are waking up and see through their game. And even several converted Indian Christians and Muslims wake up and realize that the almighty Creator cannot possibly be such a terrible tyrant, who enjoys making billions of people suffer for all eternity in hellfire.

by Maria Wirth


  1. Namaste Maa ji. The explanation is ingenious and straight. Please work on translating the Vedas and puranas briefly with summary. I know it’s not easy but world need this .

  2. K,M,Mittal · · Reply

    If still you are discussing what is Sanatan it means you are not सनातन

  3. Shaligram Singh · · Reply

    Sanatan Is not a Dharma Sanatan is TATVA and we all Human being are SANATAN.

  4. Res Maria,
    You have explained sanatana dharma in a magnificent way.but I am expressing my opinion reg.this the only point you for got may be .The “shankara advaitA” which gives perfect definition to sanatan dharmA.iam a stanch believer of sanatan dharma so I never utters the word of hindu.which derived from oxford dictionary.not adamant.truly rerealistic..Sanatani Never derails from the path of dharma.if you have time to go threw the ancient upanishads,puranas,etc.do it.not the translationes.original sanskrit text

  5. Often foreigners ask me to explain Sanatana dharma to them in 5 mins. This always confuses me, how to condense all that complexity for them. When I offer them a not so simple answer, then they assume the worst.

  6. Ashok gulati · · Reply

    Please clarify elaborate as to what are your

  7. Maria ji, needless to say, you have given another pearl of article on Sanatana Dharma. As you felt and the real practitioners of this Dharam also knew that Sanatana Dharma cannot be explained so easily in a few words. One needs to practice first, to understand later. Today, all those who claim themselves as Hindus are hardly real practitioners of this Dharma, I believe. However, with a little bit knowledge they claim themselves as Hindus. That’s why they do all forbidden things and give up the things that are to be practiced daily and consistently according to Sanatana Dharma.. Well, subject is so vast to discuss.

    One point to mention about yours. In the para starts with “Plenty of tips are given….” wherein you mentioned ‘Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga’. Although the points are correct, but the order has been put wrongly. It should be, ‘Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga’ and Jnana Yoga’. Without doing your prescribed ‘Karma’, one cannot develop ‘Bhakti’ on God and the ‘Bhakti’ is the tool to attain ‘Jnana’ which subsequently that leads to ‘Moksha’ – the ultimate goal of every true Hindus. That’s all I want to share.

    1. CHANDRA RANGNATH · · Reply

      Balaji, another way of looking at this is, bhakti is not a separate ‘yoga’ as such, it’s a bhava that pervades all yogas. Without bhakti, karma yoga is just ‘activity’, jnana yoga is ‘intellectual hair-splitting’ 🙂 Also, it is only the Shankaracharya tradition that holds that only jnana gives moksha. If we study the Bh Gita fully, we end with the teaching that karma can give us ‘siddhi’ as much as jnana. The yoga of the Bh Gita seems to be ‘poorna yoga’ (integral yoga) – a sadhana where the body, prana, mind and the intellect (the annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas) co-operate, in knowing our essential nature and manifesting that awareness in and through this life.

  8. Reblogged this on The Nerve Health Forum.

  9. Maria hi, thanks for a succinct answer. You are truly an inspiration. Beg you to consider this suggestion, if you could write a blog post on each of Karma, Bhakti, jnana, Hatha, and Kriya Yoga.
    For instance, according to Sri Ramakrishna, the method prescribed for Kaliyuga is Bhakti Marg; he was not in favor of the “dry” Jnana Yoga, and eschewed the strict physical practices of Hatha Yoga, and warned against the dangers of Tantrik Sadhana, where people may go astray and get into physical relations losing their spiritual path.
    If you could explore historical and other aspects of these different paths, that would make great write-ups! Just a suggestion.

  10. Suryanarayana Jagarlapudi · · Reply

    In Sundara Kanda, Ramayana, while offering hospitality to Hanuman, Mynaka says,” Esha dharma sanatanaha.” The act involved gratitude also.
    Thus both are part of Sanatana Dharma.

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