The land of Bharat has been praised by all those who have experienced it. But what is Bharat? Is it the beautiful landscape that poets have written about? Is it the art and culture that millions have fallen in love with? Is Bharat the land of Brahmagupta who gave zero to the world, the land of Aryabhata who proposed that the Earth is round and the land of Sushrut and Charak – the first surgeons who had the skill to split a hair vertically? Or, is it the land of Takshashila and Nalanda, the motherland of Sanskrit and the land of civilizations like Mohenjodaro? Or, is Bharat just the name given to a 3,287,263 square kilometers area?
Bharat is all this and more. Bharat is a way of life which begins with our rich cultural heritage. No other country could have suffered what all our country has suffered- multiple invasions, centuries of slavery, partition, insurgencies, rioting and yet stay together as one nation. What is it about our country that has made it so resilient – that it could withstand all this and more?
Ask the country this and the country will respond “Sanatan Dharma”.
What is Sanatan Dharma? The word ‘dharma’ has been abused and misused often. Sanatan Dharma means eternal principles. The root of the word dharma comes from dhri, which means to uphold or maintain. A phrase in Sanskrit says “dharayati iti dharmaha”, which means that dharma is that which is upheld. However, dharma is also that supports “dhriyate iti dharmaha”. So dharma is the means as well as the goal.
The values of sanatan dharma are timeless, ageless principles. It would take a lifetime to try and understand all the values and nuances of Sanatan Dharma. However we can try to imbibe some of the values which have been taught to us through examples mentioned in our holy books.
Aspire for the immortal over the material: In satyuga, a popular lullaby used by the mothers was – “Suddhosi Buddhosi Niranjanosi Samsara Maya Parivar jitosi, Samsara svapanam traija mohan nidram, Nan janma mrityor tat sat svarupe.” A mother is telling her crying child, “My child, you are eternally true and pure. The illusions of this world will not touch you. Do not get enamored by what you see as that will lead to confusion. Stay true to what you are…you will achieve all that is beyond confusion.”
Such an important life lesson learnt in a simple, natural manner in the mother’s lap- that is the power of Sanatan Dharma.
Have a strong internal value system: A value system is that which makes one do the ethically right thing at all times. We know of the leading politicians like Chanakya using one torch for official work, and changing over to another one for his personal work. The Upanishads tell the story of two brothers – Shankh and Likhit. One day, Shankh saw a fallen fruit while walking in his brother’s farm. Since he was feeling hungry, he picked it up and ate it. However he felt guilty about having done so without Likhit’s permission and so he confessed to him and the king. Both Likhit and the king told Shankh not to feel guilty as he had only picked up a fallen fruit only. Shankh was still convinced of his guilt and in remorse, he cut off both his hands. Seeing his upright character, God blessed him with new hands and Shankh went on to write many Holy Scriptures.
What made Shankh react so harshly to his ‘minor act of transgression’? It was his own sense of integrity – doing the right thing even when nobody was looking. That is the power of Sanatan Dharma.
Peace of mind: The land of Bharat always valued peace of mind. The surest way to achieve this is to believe and experience god in every element. A shlok from Ishopnishad sums it up - "Ishavasyam idam sarvam" means "whatever there is in this world is covered and filled with Ishvara (God). The subsequent shlok says – “Tena tyaktena bhunjitha, Ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam:"What is given by him, allotted to you, you enjoy that; but do not encroach upon others' property. “
What a beautiful way to lead life – be happy in what you have. Do not envy or covet what others have. Their life journey is different from yours and as long as you have peace of mind, you are a rich blessed person. When has this been more relevant than in the shallow, hate filled, greedy times we live in?
Santana Dharma is based on such values, explained through metaphors and stories. As Swami Vivekananda said in 1897, “India is alive because of her inherent spirituality.” The noted historian, Mr. Will Durant, wrote in his book “Our Oriental Heritage” that “in no country in the world is religion as important and powerful as it is in India”.
However, instead of celebrating and learning from our cultural heritage and using it as a base for strengthening our country further, we have become like Arjun in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjun was a great warrior, but he still lost faith in himself before the war.
Are we also not losing faith in our strengths? We have 22% of Indians living below poverty line with 0.5 million at the point of starvation. We rank 79th among 176 nations in the Corruption Perception Index 2016. Our healthcare record is abysmal – we rank the highest in infant mortality rates in the world. These are not the indicators of a great nation, rather they are symptoms of a deep seated rot.
It is time for us to rise up and take action. We do not have to look far for inspiration. In the fourth chapter of the Bhagvad Geeta, Lord Krishna addresses Arjun as Bharat and says - tasmād ajñāna-sambhūtaṁ hṛit-sthaṁ jñānāsinātmanaḥ chhittvainaṁ sanśhayaṁ yogam ātiṣhṭhottiṣhṭha bhārata. This means –“Therefore, with the sword of knowledge, cut asunder the doubts that have arisen in your heart. O scion of Bharat, establish yourself in karm yog. Arise, stand up, and take action!”
So a call to all Indians – our Sanatan Dharma teaches us to become karmyogis. In the true spirit of Sanatan Dharma, we need to shed our sloth, and work selflessly, with integrity, with peace intact in our hearts and minds to transform our Bharat and take it to greatness again.
About the Author: Chetan Hingu is an engineer and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. He works in the corporate sector and has more than 20 years of work experience. An amateur tabla player, he believes in being true to one's roots and values.