Dinesh P. Sinha
6014 Stevens Forest Road Columbia, MD 21045-3829
Telephone: 410-964-9310 E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 10, 2006
Sorry for not responding to your Yajnya before. I got caught up in the mundane things I keep myself busy in.
In the bitter cold of Manitoba when the outside life comes to a standstill, looks like you have been doing lots of reading and thinking. The very fact that you have written this web-site in English you are translating your Bharatiya thinking into English as people have translated Sanatana dharma as Hinduism. You say the origin of our Dharma began in pre-history and measure it in English calendar—3300 BCE. We have a calendar, but I can’t say what the Bharatiya date today. Please define me the boundaries of the Bharat where the Sanatan dharma was being followed before it became Hinduism.
I do not know about all but I am a Hindu (or Sanatam dharmi) because to begin with I was born in such family. As I grew up, I followed some of the rituals of our dharma which my parents and the society taught me, some of which may not have been mentioned anywhere in our scriptures. But growing up I never had the occasion to read and understand my scriptures myself, because they were in Sanskrit and not easily available in Hindi (sorry, I should say Devanagari). I just followed blindly what others told me to do. My first attempt to read about our religion was through a book written in English by the most learned S. Radhakrishnan, one of our late Presidents, a book named “The Hindu View of Life” (published by the Macmillan Company, New York) when I was in college. The language was terse and I did not understand half of what he was saying. My next attempt to understand our religion was reading a book “Hinduism—Its Meaning for the Liberation of the Spirit” written by Swami Nikhilananda of Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center, New York, (17 East 94th Street, New York, NY 10128). This was the first book which I read and which gave me a comprehensive and most probably authentic knowledge of Hindu religion when I was living in Boston (I will recommend you to read this simple little book, if you have not read so far). Since, I have read other books and articles about our religion, most of them written in English, and many of them written by well read Western writers.
To me, more important than the name is the fact that how many of us know our dharma and really follow its tenets. We may begin calling it as Sanatana Dharma in our regular conversation or writing but if we do not follow it in practice, it does not matter what we call it. On the other hand, even if we call it Hinduism and follow its principles and practices, to me it is good enough. Saint Rahim was a Krishna worshiper, it did not matter that he was born in a Muslim family and his name was a Muslim name. An apple is a nourishing food, only if you eat it, it does not matter what you call it—Sew or apple. But you may call it Sew; you don’t get its nutritional advantage if you do not eat it, however many times you may recite the word Sew.
Some how people think that by changing the name given by the British to a name in the pre-British era will bring back the goodness of that era. So we have changed Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, and Madras to Chennai. More recently Bangalore has changed itself to Bengaluroo (a town of Boiled beans) and I am waiting for Patna to become Pataliputra, but as long as we keep producing Laloo Yadavs, it does not matter; hell is a hell what ever name you may call it by. As I understand people in India are becoming more materialistic than the West and it has become worst than what it was even in our times, when we lived there.
Bans! Pandit <email@example.com>
October 31, 2006 12:34:22 PM
Ashok Bhagat <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Re: A question all Sanatan Dharmawalambi must ask
Q. Is there a mention in our scriptures about what is the name of our religion?
In the early Vedic period our religion was called Vedic Dharama. Following the evolution of the Vedas into Upanishads, the tradition was called Sanatana Dharma, which is also the name in our post-Vedic scriptures, especially Epics. We were called Hindus in about third or fourth century AD and that is the name that got stuck in our throats. The word Hinduism does not exist in our scriptures. From a practical standpoint, 'we are what we are' and the name does not matter much. A rose is a rose by whatever name you call it.
Q. Was not there a dharma when Chandra Gupta, Vikramaditya, Harshavardhana and Ashoka ruled in Bharata?
Yes, but the definition of dharma changes with time. Dharma means spiritual laws, social and cultural laws, laws of the land, and individual and social responsibilities. Only spiritual laws are changeless and everything else changes with time.
Q. Was not the dharma practiced at that time, based on the principles contained in Veda, Upanishada and other scriptures?
Yes, but as practiced dharma changes with time.
Q. Is it not a fact that the word 'Hindu' is not indigenous to Bharat and that it was first used by ancient Persians to address people who inhabited area adjacent to river Sindhu?
There are several different theories on this subject. There are some who suggest that the word 'Hindu' is indigenous to Bharat. There are others, including Swami Vivekananda and Dr. Radhakrishnan, who have suggested that this word was first used by ancient Persians to address people who inhabited area adjacent to river Sindhu?
Q. Is it not a fact that initially the Greeks, then the Muslim invaders and rulers of Western Bharat and finally the British slapped on us the name of our religion, Hinduism on us?
Everybody agrees that the word Hinduism was given to us by foreign invaders and was popularize by British, who wanted our religion labeled as another "ism" to spread Christianity in India..
Q. What is the validity on which Sanatana Dharma is accepted as an alternate name for Hinduism?
Sanatana Dharma means "eternal (or universal) righteousness (or religion). If you look at our basic doctrines (such as law of karma, divinity of soul (atman), doctrine of ahimsa), you will notice that these doctrines are based upon universal vision of life. Even our prayers are universal. Unlike other religions, Hindus don't pray for themselves, they pray for all creatures of the universe. Unlike other religions, our concept of life is not limited to humans only; it includes all life - humans, animals, and plants. This is why Sanatana Dharma was the original name of our religion. (Reference: Hindu Mind by Bansi Pandit <http://www.bansi-pandit-hm.blogspot.com/>