Sanatana Dharma is the real religion of the world which applies equally for all the living entities in eternal relation to the Supreme Lord.
Sanatana means eternal. Sripada Ramanujacharya has clarified the term “Sanatana” as which has no start or end. According to the authority of the Shastra the living entities are found to have neither birth nor death. This fact is established in the Bhagavad Gita. The living entity is everlasting and he endures even after the annihilation of the impermanent material body.
With reference to the above idea of the Sanatana Dharma we can attempt to comprehend the idea of religion. Sanskrit root meaning of the term “Dharma” means unchangeable property of an object. The presence of fire automatically qualifies the presence of accompanied heat and light. There is no meaning of the word fire if there is no presence of heat and light. Similarly we understand that the indispensable part of a living being is his eternal quality of service and that state is his religion.
When Sanatana Goswami inquired Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu about the real constitution of the living being, the Lord answered that the legitimate position of the living being is to render service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On scrutiny, we find all living entities to be attending to another living entity in their own capacities. It is analogous to how a pet serves his master and how an employee serves his manager. Examples of friend serving a friend, mother serving a son or wife serving the husband are quite common. There is no exclusion of anyone from the activity of service. The politician tries to impress his voters through his serving capacity. The voter also reciprocates expecting the service of the politician to the society. This leads to a natural conclusion that all living beings have a common denominator of rendering service as their inherent eternal religion.
Designation of one’s claim as Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any sect does not fall under the Sanatana Dharma. These are only the corresponding faiths of the person according to his birth and other external features. One may change his faith from Hindu to Christian or vice versa but this does not alter his original property of being eternally engaged in rendering service. Professing a particular faith is not equivalent to Sanatana dharma.
There are many references of “Sanatana” in the Bhagavad gita. We would try to take the import of some of these statements from Bhagavad gita.
In the tenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad gita we find the reference of the word “sanatanam”. The Supreme Lord is referred as fountain head of everything hence he is referred as sanatanam. Although the Supreme Absolute is unlimited source of complete units He remains unchanged. Thus anything which undergoes depreciation under time and circumstances is not Sanatana. The Supreme nature of the Absolute is declared by the Isopanishad as “Even though there many complete objects emanating from the absolute source, Sanatana Person, He is not reduced in quality or quantity. He remains the same”
The eight chapter of the Bhagavad gita reveals the superior nature of the lord. This superior nature is completely different from the one in which we are presently situated. Just as the Supreme lord remains unchanged even though many entities emanate from him similarly there is no material changes observed in the superior nature. There is no difference between the two Sanatana entities; the lord and his abode are similar. Contrary to this cosmic manifestation the superior nature is never created or annihilated. Thus Lord himself is eternal – Sanatana and the abode of the lord also is eternal – Sanatana.
Again, in the fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad gita living entities are described as Sanatana. The Living entities are eternal part and parcels of the Sanatana Supreme lord. Therefore any attempt to be one with the lord is an abnormal attempt deviating from the original Santana dharma of the living entity. The impersonalists or monists are therefore addressed as non-sanatanists.
Thus the clear understanding follows from the authoritative scriptures that Sanatana is not a vocabulary of a particular sect of religion as conceived by a commoner. Sanatana is a word which is only applicable to the eternal lord and the living entities that are his part and parcels.
The living entities being part and parcels of the lord are qualitatively equal with the supreme lord. The living entities along with their mind and senses are struggling hard in this material world. They belong to the Sanatana atmosphere but now they are in an atmosphere which is temporary and full of ignorance.
Supreme lord Sri Krishna descends once in a day of Brahma to deliver the ignorant, fallen souls and teaches them the principles of Sanatana dharma through the lessons of Bhagavad gita. Being compassionate he descends and showers his mercy on the living entities especially the human beings.
This eternal knowledge of the Bhagavad gita was disseminated by the lord to the sun god, which was passed on to manu who in turn gave it to his son Ikshvaku. Thus this transcendental knowledge of Sanatana dharma was passed through a chain of disciplic succession. When this link was broken Arjuna was made a recipient of the same spiritual knowledge on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
The Supreme lord declares that he is the supreme father of all species of life. Every living entity in any form belongs to him as his part and parcel. Thus the Supreme lord by giving information of his supreme Sanatana nature and about his supreme abode in the Bhagavad gita attracts all living entities to give up this material world full of miseries in the form of Birth, death, old age and diseases and join him in his eternal abode.
Even in the topmost planet in this universe called the Brahma-loka also we find miseries in some or other forms. Only in Vaikuntha – the lords abode, we find no misery. That abode needs no sun, moon or fire. That life is full of eternal knowledge and bliss. This is known as Sanatana Dham. Therefore it is natural to conclude that all the living entities should aim at going back to god and enjoy with the Supreme Sanatana Purusha Sri Krishna in his Sanatana Atmosphere.
There is no satisfaction in the material world even up to the Brahmaloka and the arrangements and exercises to lift oneself to higher planes inside the material universe are carried out by the individuals who are less clever. The less intelligent men additionally take shelter of different demigods other the Lord Himself and determine profit which is of temporary nature. All such devout standards are just temporary measures for small profit.
The less intelligent soul therefore should surrender all such engagement for the sake of religiosity and must take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the supreme father promises his eternal blessings of protection on such souls. Sanatana Dharma is nothing but the procedure of Bhakti yoga by which one can know the Sanatana Lord and His Sanatana abode. Only this course enables us to go back to Sanatana Dham and enjoy eternal bliss.
Thus everyone who supports the Sanatana Dharma should try seriously to follow the principles of Sanatana Dharma as enunciated by the Bhagavad Gita. No one is barred from taking up of such principles. Even the so called low born can qualify themselves to go back to godhead.
All misguided souls of this age are busy in endeavors and acts of self-ruination. The Lord says in the Bhagavad gita that persons who take up the proclaiming work of the Sanatana Dharma are the dearest of all to the Lord. The Lord exclaims that such devotees are personally cared and delivered by him. Awakening of real conscience through self-realization is the utmost good one can do for a fellow human being. Perfection of human life lies in surrendering oneself in the service of the Supreme lord and become a real mahatma.
A real mahatma is a person who engages himself in constant service of the supreme lord always chanting Lord’s glories, laboring with great determination, prostrating before lord, great souls continuously worship the Supreme lord with devotion.