Saint Ved Vyas relating the Bhagwatam to Shukdeo (3100 B.C.)

The Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism by H.D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (the most important site on Hinduism, the Upanishads, modern Physics, Bhartiya, Sanatan Dharm and more)

(65) The true path to God and Sanatan Dharm.

What is Sanatan Dharm?
God and His path of attainment are both eternal
The definition of bhakti (devotion)
The eternal significance of bhakti
(Continue to page two)
The forms of God and Their Divine abodes
Kinds of Divine liberation

What is Sanatan Dharm?

The religion which eternally exists in God, which is revealed by God, which describes the names, forms, virtues and the abodes of God, and which reveals the true path of God realization for all the souls is called Sanatan Dharm, the universal religion for the whole world.

The word dharm is formed from the root word dhryan (dhryan dharne); it means such actions and such spiritual or religious practices that finally result in all-good for a soul. A general description of dharm is:

It means that such actions, thoughts and practices that promote physical and mental happiness in the world (abhyudaya) and ensure God realization (nishreyas) in the end, are called dharm.

There are two kinds of dharmas: (a) Apar dharm, or varnashram dharm, or seemit dharm, or general dharm, and (b) par dharm or bhagwat dharm.

(a) Apar dharm, or varnashram dharm, or seemit dharm, or general dharm. The word dharm means the religious practices and thoughts that are aimed to fulfill a pious goal in life. Accordingly the apar or varnashram dharm is the religious discipline and injunctions of do’s and don’ts that are explained in the scriptures for uplifting the sattvic qualities of a human being in general. Varnashram word refers to all kinds and classes of people of this world living various orders of life (like a family man, a priest, a monk or a sanyasi), and apar word means ‘secondary’ or ‘general’ or ‘preliminary’ because it is not the absolute or prime dharm, it is the preliminary dharm for everyone in the world.

The discipline and rules of apar dharm vary according to the state of the spiritual consciousness of a person, and its rigidness also varies from age to age, that is, from satyug to kaliyug. In short you can understand that (for the existing age) all kinds of good deeds and philanthropic works that are beneficial to the society, and sincere observance of the religious discipline of the ‘order of life’ (religious student, family man, or a renounced person) you are following, come in this category, provided, that they are done with sattvic motivation. Sattvic motivation means having faith in God and then doing all the good karmas only to please God and not for any kind of personal gain. Even if you think of receiving compliments for your good karmas or the religious practices which you observe, it will not be classified as sattvic, it will become rajas, because you desired for the compliments and you have received them. Thus you have already availed the outcome of your so-called good deeds. According to the Gita:

There is hardly any further good outcome of such good looking karmas in the next lifetime.

So, apar dharm means good karmas with sattvic motivation where a person is devoted to God in a conventional manner, which means a general faith in all the forms of God. Such good karmas pacify the mind of the doer in the existing life, and in the next lifetime they create a good destiny which is called ‘abhyudaya’ that brings physical and mental well-being in a person’s life.

(b) Par dharm or bhagwat dharm. This is the main dharm which brings the absolute good (the nishreyas) of a soul, and the absolute good of a soul is only God realization which happens through the direct devotion to God in His personal form. It is called bhakti. It gives both, peace and happiness in life as well as God realization. Apar dharm is the general dharm for all and is only a preliminary dharm, which is like the preparatory practice for entering into bhakti for those who cannot accept it in their life right away. Bhakti is above all the religious formalities, rituals and intellectual practices of meditation. In one sentence you can say that bhakti is the true ‘love’ for your soul-beloved God. It could be observed by any person of the world. It is universal; it is for every age; it is said and revealed by God Himself; and it is sanatan which means eternal. Thus, the dharm which is based on such bhakti, which is eternally established in bhakti, and which establishes bhakti for God as a universal religion of the world, is called Sanatan Dharm.

God is: “dharmadhishthan.” It means that the Sanatan (eternal) Dharm is established in God and resides in God as a Divine power. It is revealed by God through Brahma before the human civilization and is represented through the Upnishads and the Puranas.

God and His path of attainment are both eternal.

Material beings are eternally under the bondage of maya and are ignorant. So the Divine matters are beyond the reach of human mind. It is thus quite obvious that a material mind can never find a way to approach the Divine. It cannot even know the nature of the Divine power on its own. It is thus only God Who Himself reveals His knowledge to the human beings. It is seen in the world that nature produces milk in the bosom of a woman before the birth of a child as the child may need it immediately on birth. So, even before the birth of human beings on this earth planet, God produces the knowledge of His attainment through the Upnishads, and the Puranas.

These scriptures reveal the form of God, personality of God, nature of God, greatness of God, Graciousness of God, path to God and also the procedure of the path. This path is called bhakti or divine-love-consciousness. Everything that relates to God is eternal because God is eternal. Thus, all the knowledges of the Upnishads and the Puranas along with the path of bhakti are eternal. Bhakti and the Grace of God are very closely related to each other.

The definition of bhakti (devotion).

Bhakti is the submission of the deep loving feelings of a devotee’s heart for his beloved God where all of his personal requisites are merged into his Divine beloved’s overwhelming Grace which He imparts for His loving devotee. This loving submission has been described in the scriptures and in the writings of the acharyas and Saints in many ways.

The Gita uses the terms surrender and single-mindedness.

These are the famous verses of the Gita that tell about surrendering all the social and religious (apar dharm) commitments at the lotus feet of Krishn and then wholeheartedly and single-mindedly worshipping Him with faith and confidence.

The Bhagwatam stresses on the selflessness of a devotee (bhakt) of Krishn and tells that the leela Bliss of Krishn is so deep, profound and limitlessly charming that even God Shiv’s heart was entangled in its fascination and He always wandered in Braj absorbed in the love of Krishn. So the Bhagwatam advises the souls, to drink the nectar of the leela Bliss of Krishn and selflessly desire for His vision and the Divine love.

The Ramayan emphasizes on the sincere humbleness of a devotee. Goswami Tulsidas says,

O my supreme beloved Bhagwan Ram, the crown jewel of the dynasty of King Raghu! I am the most fallen and humble soul of this world, and You are the most kind friend of all such souls. Your Graciousness has no compare. So, please lift me up from this unlimited cosmic ocean and make me Your own forever.” Selfless devotion to God with such feelings of devotional humbleness are constantly expressed in the Ramayan and also in the Vinay Patrika.

Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya introduced a method of devotional remembrance and meditation called ashtyam seva, which means that a selfless devotee should remember the leelas of Radha Krishn, whatever They normally do since the early morning when They get up from the bed and till the night when They go to sleep. In this way, meditating upon Their leelas, the devotee should feed and decorate Radha Krishn accordingly. (Ashtyam literally means the 24 hours.) This is just a procedure of meditation where a devotee develops his longing to see the Divine leelas of Radha Krishn and to be in Their Divine service forever in Vrindaban or Golok.

Jagadguru Ramanujacharya used a word prapatti to express the feelings of a devotee who very humbly surrenders his heart, mind and soul at the lotus feet of his loving God and earnestly desires for His Divine vision.

Vallabhacharya defined his path of devotion as the pushti marg. Pushti means the loving Graciousness of Krishn which fosters the devotional feelings of a selfless devotee, and marg means the path. So pushti marg means the path of devotion to Krishn where a devotee, depending upon the Graciousness of Krishn, humbly surrenders and dedicates his whole being for the service of Krishn.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji simplified the procedure of sadhana (devotional) bhakti for the devotees and said that the remembrance of Krishn is easily and most effectively done through the chanting of His name and the leelas, and the desire of His meeting is quickly deepened when you develop the feeling of longing for Him in your heart. He says in the Shikchashtak:

It means that a devotee should be humble, forgiving, forbearing, respecting to the devotional feelings of others but not desiring for any personal compliments for himself. With such a humble heart, which is yearning for the love and the vision of his beloved Krishn, the devotee should sing and chant the leelas and the names of Krishn.

These are all the descriptions and the definitions of the devotional bhakti (sadhana bhakti) as to how it should be observed in the practical life.

The eternal significance of bhakti.

As mentioned above, bhakti is eternal. It means that it is the eternally existing path to attain God. God is one, so the path of His attainment is also one, and thus, the same path of bhakti ensures the attainment of any of the forms of God. The path of bhakti is prevalent in every brahmand of this entire universe and it is for all the souls of this universe. It remains the same in all the four yugas (satyug, treta, dwapar and kaliyug) and, as it is directly related to soul and God, it is above caste, creed, sect and nationality. It can be adopted by any person of any nation of this world, because it is gifted by the supreme God Himself for the benefit of the humankind; and again, there are no physical requirements in doing bhakti. There are no meditation postures to adopt, no concentration techniques to follow and no rituals to observe. So it can be done by anyone, young, old or sick, and at any time in twenty-four hours, because bhakti is the pure love of your heart that longs to meet the Divine beloved of your soul in this very lifetime. The philosophy of bhakti is also described in Narad Bhakti Sutra and Shandilya Bhakti Sutra.

Karm-yog and gyan-yog.

Sattvic good karmas on their own only purify the heart to some extent; but if the doer of good karmas starts doing bhakti, his actions are classified as karm yog, and then, on the perfection of bhakti, he receives God realization. Literally the word yog means ‘the unity.’ Thus, the (Divine) uniting factor, bhakti, when it is predominantly added to the sattvic good karmas, it is then called “karm yog.” Similarly, when bhakti is predominantly added to the practice of gyan (or yog), it is called gyan yog. So, now we know that all kinds of good karmas and all kinds of yog and gyan-related practices are only sattvic, but when they are predominated with bhakti, they become the means of God realization, because bhakti unfolds the field of God’s Grace.

(Continue to page two)
The forms of God and Their Divine abodes
Kinds of Divine liberation



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