Sanatana Dharma – A Profound Sense of Inquiry
Excerpted from a talk by Sadhguru to the board members of the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) in Chatsworth, California, on 4th Oct 2015. (DCF aims to establish academic infrastructure for the study of Dharma by establishing an endowed chair at US universities.)
You are trying to take the Sanatana Dharma into the platform of a university. This actually means you are trying to put an ultimate process on a limited academic platform. A time has come when it has to be done – there is no question. But it is important to take a few fundamental precautions to see it does not become another theological process but a stimulant for people to seek.
The Sanatana Dharma is not about telling you something that you have to believe or else you are dead. This is not that kind of culture. I tell you something that will raise more questions in you than you ever imagined possible. The entire process of the Sanatana Dharma is to raise questions in you, not to give you readymade answers – to raise questions, to deepen the questioning in such a way that you will naturally find the source of all this. To bring that dimension of seeking, it is very important that the necessary precautions are taken to see that it does not become another theological study.
For many people in India and outside India, in their eagerness to establish things, already a certain desperation is setting in, a feeling that some other competition is taking over. They are trying to convert what was an eternal knowledge into one more sacred book that all of you should follow. That has never been our way. People are now trying to say everyone must follow the Gita. No. Arjuna himself is asking a million questions. If you simply follow it, then the fundamental purpose of why this has been given is lost.
The fundamental purpose should be to bring that spirit of inquiry into everyone in the world, not to impose our way of doing things on someone else. There is no “our” way. We don’t have a particular way. We have found that if we arrange life like this, it works best for an individual human being and a larger society. But we are not saying “this is it.” Every day, it can be questioned – a million questions can be asked. If you are afraid of questions, it means you are standing on such a fragile ground that if I ask three questions, it will collapse. If you are in truth, I can ask you a million questions – what is the problem? Only if you are standing on a lie, a question is a problem. No question is ever wrong. Only answers can be wrong.
So, the purpose of the Sanatana Dharma should be to instigate a spirit of profound inquiry, not to impose our ideas on someone else – anyway, that is not going to work. Unless there is a major war or conflagration that disturbs the fundamentals of human life upon the planet, in fifty years, yoga will be more dominant than any religion. When we say “yoga,” we are actually talking about practices that the theory of the Sanatana Dharma is referring to in a certain way.
For the first time in the history of humanity, human intellect is blossoming like never before. For ages, it has been such that there would be one man in the village who thinks for everyone else. That time is gone. Soon, everyone will think for themselves in their own ways. And everyone will have access to just about everything in the world. When that happens, a “what-I-say-you-believe-otherwise-you-are-dead” policy is not going to work.
Philosophies offering solutions in heaven are not going to work. Elaborate philosophies that do not stand to reason are not going to work. People will want practical solutions for everything. You will see that in fifty years’ time, only that which stands to reason and that which is a practical solution that you can implement in your life and see the effect of here and now, will work. A solution in another place that you have not seen will become less and less relevant for humanity. That was only possible when human access to what is happening around was very limited, either naturally or by intent.
So, this is an appropriate time to put forth the Sanatana Dharma. It is very important that it is not propagated as Hindu religion, because it is not. This idea of Hinduism itself is a foreign idea – it never existed in the country. The word “Hindu” comes from a geographical identity. The land that lies between the Himalayas and “Indu Sagara” was referred to as “Hindu.” It has been causing a lot of controversy and stir-up in the national media in India that I said an earthworm born in India is a Hindu earthworm. They said, “What?” I said, “Well, you call an elephant born in Africa an African elephant. What is the problem? An earthworm born in Hindustan is a Hindu earthworm. So is a grasshopper. And so are you. If you were born in this land, you were called Hindu.”
We identified with the geographical features of this land. We realized we got this kind of freedom for 6000 to 8000 years, where we could seek with our own intelligence and we developed our spiritual process, our music, our mathematics, our astronomy to such heights without being interfered by anyone, without being attacked by anyone, because the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean protected us. We called ourselves Hindu out of deep reverence to these two geographical features without which we would not have had an uninterrupted culture evolving for thousands of years.
Someone who came from outside and could only understand that one could either belong to this group or that group branded this culture as Hinduism. Till then, there was no such thing as Hinduism. So, it is time that we bring this back, that this is a spirit of inquiry. This is not about belief. This is not about my belief versus your belief. This is about paying attention to everything with great reverence and perceiving what best we can. This is the nature of the Sanatana Dharma. That is why it is eternal. If you impose your belief on me, how long is it going to work? The Sanatana Dharma can be eternal only because what is offered is compatible with one's intelligence. That is the only reason it can live forever.
If we really want the Sanatana Dharma to become a universal practice in the world, which ultimately is the only wellbeing the world can look for, it is very important that it does not get identified with anything. It is the nature of human intelligence to inquire. This inquiry has been curbed because belief systems have been imposed upon people. “‘This is it,’ and if you don’t believe this, you cannot exist.” Using fear and guilt and the like, the natural inquiry of human intelligence has been hugely curbed. It is in the interest of the ultimate wellbeing of humanity that a profound sense of inquiry is brought into everyone’s life. This is the fundamental purpose of the Sanatana Dharma.