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Gifts from Mother India: Sanskrit and the Sanatam Dharma

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Gifts from Mother India: Sanskrit and the Sanatam Dharma

Postby Kassandra » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:32 pm



This is a continuation of a thread originally about karma. I would like to change directions, and address the Sanskrit language here, as well as the concept of the Sanatam Dharma (the two are related).

Regarding Sanskrit, if you look at the etymology of much of the English language, you'll see that words took a winding journey through French, German, Latin, Greek, and in many instances started from a Sanskrit origin. Yet, ironically enough, few in America even know what Sanskrit is. They're speaking a morphed derivative of it, and don't even know it.

Anyway, let's see where this conversation goes. Feel free to post questions. And feel free to post comments expounding from your own wisdom of these topics. I am always the student


hermitage wrote:Kassandra - Wonderful post. I could not have said what you've said any better. You've really taken the time to write such a well informed and learned response here. I like how you've devlved further into the meaning of the word by looking at the definition of 'karm'. In present day Hindi, that word means 'work'. The Sanskrit language is quite beautiful, but tricky... So many meanings in a single word. After I had written my original post I had thought to mention some of the things you'd touched upon, but I had thought to myself "better to let it be as they're probably not interested in subject matter like this". Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for the words. I don't get to talk about these things often, so it's nice to have the opportunity here. One of my fondest memories is driving out of town to study with a real acharya of Sanskrit for a couple months. This chance doesn't come around often. I lost a car over it (engine eventually died, was an older car anyway), but it was worth it. He had been an IBM executive for many years, but was retired. As the grahasta phase of his life was winding down, as he entered the vanaprastha ashrama of his life, he devoted himself to teaching students, at the encouragement of his guru, Dayananda Saraswati.

How rare is it to find an acharya of Sanskrit who's 1. willing to teach it (I've met many who know it, but didn't care to teach it), but who 2. also spoke English (so I could understand the instruction), who 3. was also affordable (he barely charged anything for the instruction and the booklets, and who 4. also lived within driving distance? The stars lined up for me, so I went for it.

When I mentioned to an elderly lady we called Ba at the beautiful Vedanta center I attended that I wanted to study Sanskrit, she put a Hindi language booklet in front of me and told me to study Hindi first, not sure why. But she was one of those ladies you just say "yes ma'am" to and do as your told, so I did. It was helpful because I could see the connection between the two. So, I guess that's why I mentioned the Hindi meaning as well. I guess I kind of blur the two now, sometimes.

How I got interested is many years ago I was studying yoga and meditation. One day at my home I held a Sanskrit vocabulary booklet and as I read over the words and their definitions, each word seemed to have this energy cloud rising up from it, and swirling in my mind's eye in the air. I know this sounds strange, but I could peer into the cloud in my mind, and I would feel what the word meant, not just define it, but expound on it, bring it to life. I felt like I had had many conversations in Sanskrit in the past, that I taught something which I don't remember now. Only the feeling of it remains, the thrill of it, the passion of it. Seeing Sanskrit is like seeing a very old friend.

सनातन धर्म
Sanatana Dharma

The concept of the Sanatam Dharma also made sense to me instantly. India gave us this, like an Ancient Mother bestowing a gift to its worldly child. I view it as the truth that underlies all truth, all religions wrapped into one, yet no religion at all. I think of it as an enhancer of all spiritual endeavors, always providing a visible backbone, yet it itself remains invisible. It is written in the hearts and spirits of all men and women, yet remains undetectable, unspoken. I couldn't explain it, but I knew it. People like to separate Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other religions around the world are really expressions of a single Sanatam Dharma, just emphasizing a certain aspect or another. People fight wars and die over these things.

Sanatana means eternal, never beginning nor ending.
Dharma is from dhri, meaning to hold together, to sustain.
Sanatana Dharma eternally holds All together.

Sanatana Dharma means:

Eternal Path
Never Beginning nor Ending Way
Perennial Philosophy
Universal Tradition
All-Pervading Truth
Natural Flow

Sanatana is:
Never Beginning nor Ending

Dharma is:
The Way
Natural Law
Essential Nature
Purest Insight
Divine Conformity
Cosmic Norm
Inherent Nature
Intrinsic Nature
Law of Being

By its nature, Sanatana Dharma is:
Experience based rather than belief based.
Without any ideological divisions.
Beyond any historical date of founding.
The process of growth, which comes from the seed.
Inherent in, and inclusive of all.
Applicable to all people of all places and times.
In the world, while above the world.
God-centered rather than prophet-centered.
Devoid of sectarianism or denominationalism.
Both immanent and transcendent.
The whole and the parts.
Loving of all and excluding of none.

The universal flow of Dharma,
regardless of what name you call it,
whether Dharma or some other name,
has eternally existed.
It has been before any of
the great teachers were born.
It is not better than, or alternative to,
but is inclusive of all.
Dharma is that out of which
our earth and humanity itself emerged.
Dharma not only is,
but always was, and always will be.
To live in alignment with,
and to know the true nature
of that Sanatana Dharma
is one of the ways of describing
the higher goal of life.

Source: http://www.swamij.com/sanatana-dharma-what-is.htm

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Image source: http://www.swamij.com/sanatana-dharma-what-is.htm

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