Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism (as we know it today) is a way of life or Dharma. You do not convert, you just accept the Hindu way of life. Considering Hinduism as a religion is one of the most common misconception people have in today’s world. You will be surprised to know that the word “Hindu” or “Hinduism” has no existence in ancient scriptures or texts. In fact, it was a term coined by foreign invaders. To be more specific, it was used by the early inhabitants of Persia. They pronounced the name “Hindu” as it was the civilization that lived beyond the river Sindhu. The word Hindu and Hinduism thus have no origin from the land they truly belong to.
Try asking around ten Hindus about the god they worship. You might get ten different answers to the same question and all of them will be surprisingly correct. It is said that Hinduism has more number of Gods than any other religion in the world and that number is surprisingly more than the total number of Hindus. Another fascinating truth is that prior to arrival of Muslims and later on Christians, Hindus had no particular name by which they were called. Common people often called it just Dharma. Sanatana Dharma or merely Dharma was the term that was used in ancient scriptures. If we look into the entomology of the Sanatana Dharma, “Sanatana” means eternal and “Dharma” means Religion.
If we look into other religions of the world, we can definitely track its origin or founder. But, this is not true in the case of Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma is eternal and universal in nature. It is often referred to as the most ancient way of life or religion that is guiding millions of human beings till date.
In Bhagavad-gita, As It Is, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has beautifully simplified the meaning of Sanatana Dharma:
“The Sanatana-dharma is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord. Sanatana-dharma refers to the eternal occupation of the living entity. The word ‘Sanatana’ is explained as “that which has neither beginning nor end”. So when we speak of Sanatana-dharma it should be understood to have neither beginning nor end. The English word religion is a little different from Sanatana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but Sanatana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance, liquidity cannot be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly, the eternal function of the eternal living entity cannot be taken from the living entity. Sanatana-dharma is eternally integrated with the living entity. That which has neither end nor beginning must not be sectarian, for it cannot be limited by any boundaries. Those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that Sanatana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that Sanatana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world – nay, of all the living entities of the universe.”
Today, there are millions of foreigners following the holy path of Sanatana Dharma. It is believed that the foreigners have covered all the four major sects of Hinduism; Saiva, Shakti, Vaishnava and Smarta. Making the headlines, there are thousands of foreign celebrities who adapted the Hindu way of life. The list includes Julia Roberts, Claudia Ciesla, David Frawley, Timothy Leary and many more. If we look at the modern world today, it has indeed reduced to a global village. The ease of travel and the power of Internet have connected the world so well, that the cultural and the economic transfusion that has occurred over the last fifty years is simply remarkable. The world has evolved into being more compactly connected. The technology has helped in transmission of culture overseas. The figures say that more than 20 Million American practice Yoga today or are involved in some form of Hindu spiritual practice. There are thousands of Yoga Gurus, Rishis and Hindu Spiritual Leaders who are invited in different parts of the world to spread their wisdom about Sanatana Dharma.
The Kumbha Mela is the world’s largest Hindu festival. Foreign Hindu Monks and devotees from across the world gather in India during the Kumbha Mela time to celebrate their never ending faith, perform the Shahi Snan or Holy dip in the pious river, experience the positive vibrations, dedicate their time to find their true self and move forward on the path to salvation. For the world, Simhastha Kumbha Mela is like a hub where one can expect to find spirituality, mysticism and practice of yoga. It is the legends of India, the rich culture and the simplicity of life that has attracted so many people from across the globe to a land where air is filled with positivity, the water is considered holy and every being is on a quest to find their true self.
This Simhastha Kumbha Mela 2016, is simply an opportunity not to be missed. One of the major events that will be held from 22nd April to 21st May 2016 is the Yoga Kumbha where the great yoga masters and spiritual leaders will congregate to share the divine knowledge of Sanatana Dharma or the ideal way of life.