Understanding of Sanatan Dharma by a non-Hindu.

Sanatan Dharma - Idol worshipping and illogical rituals
Sanatan Dharma, more popularly and falsely known as Hinduism and its followers, the Hindus are poorly understood or rather misunderstood; this included me also sometime ago when I had assumed that Hinduism was all about idol worshiping and illogical rituals, until I dug deep and unearthed its mystery, beauty, ethereal and eternal philosophies. Below is my understanding, which I acknowledge is limited yet enough for me to conclude that Dharma is the only philosophy, which can bring peace and harmony in today's chaotic world.

The word Hindu only came into existence because of foreigners, who named the people living near the Indus river as Hindus. Hinduism is not a religion, contrary to what is commonly misunderstood. It is a philosophy on life, death, after death, Universal truths and the final Self Realization,which when achieved is said to liberate the Soul. Like any system or culture in the world, Indians also had certain practices like Sati, child marriage, women subjugation and so on, but with changing times, modern Hindu has been steadily evolving as a result of which, the cultural practices have also been modernising. This willingness of the modern Hindu to change comes from the fact that Sanatan Dharma is not an organized and rigid religion but is meant for the betterment of society and mankind. The real essence and deep teachings of Sanatan Dharma are beyond the understanding of ordinary people and need's a spiritually evolved mind to grasp it. The literature is so vast and deep, that even the most modern intellectuals will not be able to comprehend it. To understand Dharma, one need not have worldly formal education but needs to have spiritual knowledge and wisdom, the grace for which comes only from God. What most people follow and practice is superficial and full of rituals, which is a good start for ordinary people to stay connected with God.

For as long as I remember and as taught to me by my Islamic teachers in school, I had believed that Hinduism was all about idol worshipping, which I will admit that I was taught to look down upon, so that I can feel superior as Muslims are taught to pray to a formless God. Unfortunately not only non-Hindus but even most Hindus are not aware that Nirguna Bhakti or formless worship is the highest form of devotion to God. That being said, worshipping to a God in form is not wrong either, which is known as Saguna Bhakti. This form of devotion came into existence to make it easier for people to worship God and as one progresses on the spiritual path, one also shifts towards Nirguna Bhakti, which is the essence of concentrated deep meditation, which leads to the state of Samadhi. This flexibility of worshipping God as per one's convenience and preference makes Sanatan Dharma unique in nature and hence literally encompasses all faiths! This is the reason why there is no judgement or criticism of other faiths and the ignorant ones who actually criticize are absolutely wrong and bigoted. Even the great saints like Sri Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri ParamhamsaYogananda have preached that anyone can attain Moksha from any religious background, so long as one follows the prescribed process, essentially Kriya Yoga.

Every ritual performed during the process of pooja has significance but sadly how many Hindus are aware of it? I checked with many of my friends and asked them why Kumkum or Tilak is applied, why lamp is lit or why offerings are made to God? I was disappointed to find that hardly anyone knew why they did all that but they were just blindly following the practices, where as there is a spiritual meaning behind each one of these practices. Kumkum is applied as a gesture to awaken the Third Eye or Higher intuition while diya is lit as a symbol to ask God to light our path and to illuminate our consciousness. Not a single practice is done illogically and mindlessly but its the ignorance of people because of which, Hindu rituals have been ridiculed.

Why is there so much ignorance and lack of knowledge? Why have so many modern Hindus become enemies of their own culture and resort to mindless bashing? I believe that education begins at home and children always emulate parents so start teaching your children at home all that they need to know. Stop promoting nonsensical Bollywood and Hollywood movies in the name of modernisation and instead make them study about their roots and who they are. If not, that day is not far when India will lose its identity completely and will be taken over with the identity of a lost nation. This is the revolution that Hindus need to bring about, not be resorting to violence or fighting but by simply teaching the truth. If you are yourself unaware then first educate yourself. This is what I have been doing, since no one taught me and if I can erase all my childhood's mental conditioning and understanding then I am sure that all Hindus can do it easily. Study, meditate and understand our hidden treasure of knowledge and wisdom, which is readily available to all those who seek for it. So seek for it and it shall come to you.

To bring light in the world, we need to become a small lamp, which is enough to light up the greatest of baton of flame. Let us stop wasting our time in fighting with ignorant people but enlighten ourself, so we can share our wisdom with others. Knowledge is the ultimate power.

~  Sofiya Rangwala