Sanatan Dharma Principles

Sanatan Dharma Principles

By Himanshu Bhatt
Sanātan Dharm is a phrase used to refer to the right way of conduct but on a general note it refers to Hinduism. The reason why it has been applied as a synonym to 'Hindu Dharma' is because the phrase itself reflects eternal, universal ethics or "laws." The phrase perhaps goes as far back as Atharva Veda wherein in Hymn XCI[1] it mentions the "eternal Law" and "eternal Order". It is also mentioned in the Bhagavad Gitā as "Sanātanah Dharme." Kurukṣetra War when Arjuna calls Krishna "the protector of the Eternal Religion" is noted in the Bhagavad Gitā.[2] The idea of a "protector of the eternal religion" has been taken up by the Swaminārāyan Sampradāy which uses the phrase Sanātan Dharma Sanrakśak. Krishna in the Bhāgvat Purana says that he incarnates when the Sanātan Dharm is misused (or misunderstood.)[3] Narada Muni proclaimed that he learned all about the Sanatan Dharm from the rishi Narayan (brother of Nara) himself.[4] Devahuti (mother of Rishi Kapila) had called Krishna sad-dharma-vidāṁ (“knower of the Eternal Religion.”)[5] Even certain Hindu sects use the phrase 'Sanatan Dharma' or a version of it in a different language. For example, the Bon sect uses the phrase 'Yungdrung Bon' which means Eternal Religion. Jainism too has used the phrase 'Eternal True Dharma'.[6]

Sometimes transliterated as: Sanatan Dharm Principle, SanAtan Dharm Principle, Sanatan Dharm Principle

Compassion and charity

Charity is considered a virtue in religion that rewards good karma to the generous giver. It is one of the 10 niyamas. Both Dāna and dayā are expounded by Patanjali to the asuras to civilize them. The Kama is to be conquered by dama or self-control, krodha is to be overcome by dayā or compassion and lobha or greed by dāna or gifts. In the "Pativratya-mahatmya Parva" of the Mahābharata, in the "Vara Parva, "Savitri is following deva Yama into the beyond and he is taking away Satyavan. Yama asks her to stay back. She says: Where my husband is being taken, or where he goes, I should follow him. This is the Sanātan Dharma. A little later when she pursues her path and Yama asks her to return, she says, "Compassion and charity are the Sanātan Dharma."

Compassion for others goes to the extent of respecting the proper burial of adversaries. In Ramāyaṇa of Valmiki, the rakṣasa Virādha says to Rama to give his body a proper burial because it is the Sanātana Dharma to give a rakṣasa such.


Truthfulness is one of the Panchavratas or Five Vows prescribed in religion, and its importance is reiterated by the scriptures connecting truth with religion. The Manu Smṛti[14] declares, "Speak truth that is pleasant. Never speak the truth that is not pleasant. Don't speak a lie, even if it is pleasant to hear. This is the Sanātan Dharma." The "Shanti Parva" of the Mahabharata declares, "It is good to speak truthfully; better still to speak truthfully; better still to speak what may benefit others. This is the Sanātan Dharma."

Marital faithfulness

According to the Bṛhaspati, a husband and wife should remain faithful to each other from the time of their agnihotra to death.

Parent-Child relations

  • Rāma in the Ramāyaṇa declares, that obedience to his father is the Sanātan Dharma.
  • Kausalya in the Rāmāyaṇa tells King Dasharatha that instead of banishing his son to the forest, he should have followed the "Sanātan Dharma" rules laid down in scriptures.
  • Rāma declares that he could not bear to live where he has to disobey his father's command and he will act just as his father has instructed him because that is the Sanātan Dharma.

Keeping Promises

The ‘Churning of the Lake’ on Mt. Mandara as it is called was a tug-of-war competition to win the Amrita nectar.

After the Asuras lost the game, there were still many among them that demanded the nectar. Some of them began saying that they should honor the agreement with the Devas, which they won fairly.

devāḥ svaṁ bhāgam arhanti
ye tulyāyāsa-hetavaḥ
satra-yāga ivaitasminn
eṣa dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ
iti svān pratyaṣedhan vai
daiteyā jāta-matsarāḥ
durbalāḥ prabalān rājan
gṛhīta-kalasān muhuḥ
- Bhāgvat Purana 8.8.40

In Bauddh Dharm

Although Buddha usually spoke of the Sanātan Dharma, he sometimes used other synonymous terms for "Sanātan Dharma," such as "Akaliko Dharma," and "Poranako Dharma."

As scholarship

The Buddha himself had used the term 'scholarship' when referring to the masters of the pure Sanātan Dharma: "Sanatanam va panditanam dhammo" or ''Scholarship is the Sanātan Dharma."

Against hatred

Buddha declared, "Hatred is never pacified by hatred in return, rather by love and goodwill only. This is the Sanātan Dharma."[26]

Actually, Lord Buddha said, "Truth is Nirvana's speech. This is the Sanātan Dharma."


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