Sanatana Dharma and Time
From the standpoint of
Sanatana Dharma and its eternal vision, history is not a linear or
progressive development but a cyclic return, symbolized by the lotus
which is the most enduring symbol of Hinduism. We are ever moving
around the great center of Truth which lies within us. While we may
try to divide people up into different identities, religious or
otherwise, we are thereby only fragmenting our own deeper universal
nature. While we may place human beings on a time line leading to
heaven or utopia, we are only removing ourselves from Eternity, in
which alone is liberation.
The timeless view of
Sanatana Dharma affords two aspects to its teachings. First the same
basic or eternal teaching endures throughout all the diverse layers
of the Dharma, like a single thread on which many gems are woven.
Second, and complementary to this, the teaching is reformulated anew
with every generation, in fact with every practitioner. Each
practitioner must gain his or her own realization and cannot merely
be saved through belief or by the action of another, however great.
The teaching of Sanatana Dharma is thereby both eternal and
ever-new. This is its twofold beauty. It abides in the timeless
In this regard the Hindu
tradition is not only the oldest of the world's religions, it is
also the newest. On one hand, having no founder it goes back to
beginningless time. On the other hand, being recast by living sages
in every generation it reflects the present moment. The Hindu
religion provides not only the oldest teachings in the world but
living exponents of them in every age, great gurus who have realized
the Divine Self. In fact Sanatana Dharma teaches that we are all
that Divine Being and that we must realize That in our own lives. It
is a religion that is coterminous with Life itself and with our own
Seeing no final goal within
the realm of time, Hinduism is thought by some to be outside of the
progressive movement of history. However, being oriented in the
Eternal, Hinduism sees the final goal existent each instant of time.
It is not bound to a history that makes us look to the future rather
than to the present, but teaches that the Eternal itself pervades
all the waves of time.