The forgotten fundamentals of Sanatana Dharma
Religious practices among the people living in different social settings present the spectacle of myriad paths in the worship of God. The confusion that arises in a seeker in seeing the complexity in religious practices can be resolved only by a fully realized Guru who should show at the experiential level the truth and untruth engrained in different methods of worship. Notably different from other spiritual philosophies, ancient Indian spiritual science has presented insightful accounts about the means through which the Supreme should be worshipped in accordance with Yuga dharma (ethical code of the age) intended to be the basis of human deeds in each age. It is the Manu tradition of Indian spirituality that constitutes the basis of the Rishi culture (Aarsha Bhaarath Samskaara) which provided humanity a time reckoning, knowledge and worship pattern of the Supreme in accordance with the dharma of a Yuga.
As per the realizations of the sages, each of the four Yugas in a Chaturyuga has an ordained Dharma to be followed. This is relevant over the entire solar system within which this Creation has taken place. Nature changes with every yuga. The connection between the different dimensions also changes. Along with this, subtle perceptional changes too occur in the soul of man. The Yuga Dharma determines the limits up to which the souls can evolve.
As per this, in the Satya Yuga, the soul lives quite absorbed in Brahman – The Absolute. In the second and third Yugas (Treta and Dwapara) a gradual extroversion takes place in the soul necessitating spiritual discipline and external mediums. In this period, the deva-devis, the high celestial evolutes of the last Chaturyuga, who however had not attained liberation (mukti) become the deemed authorities of spiritual intercession. They can accept prayers, reveal visionary knowledge, scriptures, advices, mantras and generally lead the souls as per the will of Brahman. But they can lead the souls up to their avasta or spiritual stage. Some people may evolve beyond the celestials up to the position of Rishi or sages in Rishi Loka. Then comes the Kali Yuga. Nature changes; subtle perceptive changes occur in the souls too. In this age attainment of highest spiritual transformation, realizations, leading up to salvation- mukti become possible.
In the Dharma of Kali Yuga everything becomes Supreme oriented. The Guru must be Parabrahma Guru – the Supreme Guru. The Mantra initiation, prayer, meditation and all else must be to the Supreme. In the scriptures the Jnana portion becomes relevant. Only visions (darsan), revelations (asariri) emanating from the Supreme must be accepted. The auspicious souls of the previous two Yugas - the devi- devas, rishis, and others will take birth in the purified families, gotras, which have got into the path of the Supreme Guru. They along with us will then continue in the efforts to attain salvation. Though the essence of a great truth is indicated in these ways, its logic must be worked out to its fullest in all spheres of life and after-life. The civilization must become Jnana oriented. In every Yuga, the Yuga Dharma will be taught and revealed by great souls who are born in that Yuga.
In our world the Kali Yuga Dharma was first preached by Sri Krishna to Arjuna. He taught Arjuna the jnana yoga, karma yoga and bhakti yoga. He also told Arjuna the dangers in the lower forms of worship and said that Arjuna must repose his faith in Him only. Foreseeing what Krishna was going to preach, His very birth was opposed by the diabolic forces and their earthy devotees (e.g. Kamsa).
During His life the traditionalists opposed Him at every turn as a Sudra, as a dark person (non-Aryan), as an immoral person and as opposing their deity worships etc. But many respected his teachings as truth and accepted Him as Paramatma. Six Hundred years after His life the traditionalist did what they were always good at. They accepted these teachings but infused it with the traditional lore and practices. Krishna, the Yuga Acharya became one of the gods of the Hindu pantheon. This is a good example of a truth preached, becoming a part of religion.
Then came Sri Buddha, Sankara, Prophet Muhammad, Christ and innumerable others. We have been told that 2444 Acharyas came into this world in this Kali yuga alone to preach the Dharma of Kali. They had limited success. In India today other than isolated traditions, the bulk of religiosity is traditional fused with some of the teachings of these Acharyas. We must go to the jnana path – the path of knowledge. Otherwise we cannot progress materially and spiritually in right direction so as to resolve the manifold sufferings that we face today.
In the West the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and Christ was able to lead
people away from the then existing Roman, Greek and other isolated religious, spiritual traditions to the path of saints or Rishi marga. But they had not attained the jnana path or mukta avastas (stage of liberation). As such the intellectual pure sciences that grew in the West completely refuted the religions there. The scientific search confined itself to empirical, confirmable matters only. The perceivable world was studied. The agent perceiving through the body was outside such a purview. This agent was the soul. Though the body is created and dissolves at death, this is only ‘hardware’. It by itself is meaningless. We can chemicalize and atomize it into nothingness. We will not discover anything. There is a soul, the software which is coming and going in life and death. This software is an accumulation of the Karmagathy (karmic propensities) of lakhs of births and deaths. The knowledge about the soul, its existences in the various dimensions, the inherent, inalterable laws by which it earns good and badness and evolves higher are the ‘soul knowledge’ (atmajnana).