My journey with “Hinduism” / Sanatan Dharma as a way of life in the modern world

As I settle back into Bharat Mata (mother India), breathing in the colourful sights, smells, sounds, the mystical energy she holds… I connect with a frequency so far removed from the western culture I grew up in, yet at the same time so familiar and comforting I know I have landed back home.

When one connects so deeply at soul level it is difficult to describe what it is that draws me here, the allure that continuously pulls me back, a culture with which I connect and resonate with completely, yet at times feel I do not understand or know much about at all, or ever would – even if I had lifetimes to fill here.

People always ask me what it is I love about it, why I spend so much time here, what do I do here…  Well the answer is not a simple one, it is multifaceted on many levels. But I know that the more I learn and immerse myself in it, the more I am challenged, the more I grow, find meaning, connection and the more I wish to go deeper, learn more, to find a deeper truth.  And in doing so, the deeper I fall in love… In love with a country, a culture, a way of life, a philosophy, an energy vibration, in love with myself, and in love with all that is… and so follows, the deeper compassion I have for myself, for others, for life itself.

Hinduism is a culture and a way of life originating from the Indus valley region in India, not a religion – as it is often mistakenly referred.  Yoga and its various branches, Vedanta, Joytish (vedic astrology), mantra and Ayurveda are a core part of this and from where they stem, they are not separate or to be separated.  For the last years I have been immersing myself in this culture in order to deepen my own knowledge, understanding, spiritual journey and practice, with intention to share this as best I can.

Indeed Sanatan Dharma – another name for and the original ancient form of “Hinduism” – is a “universal law” or set of values to live by.  It is essentially an exact science for a way of living which is in balance with nature and the energies of the cosmos. Which I think the world can and will benefit more from in the future.  It is the secret and science behind an ideal, most optimal, harmonious, peaceful, healthy, and joyful way of life.

As the world has been shaken up during this challenging time/ era (referred to in the ancient Indian texts as Kali Yug or “Dark Age”) and people are questioning and looking for a different approach and way of life, now it is time for the world to discover this hidden gift and treasure.  Which is science based and rooted in a practical framework for application, yet it does not dictate, follow set rigid rules, dogma or threaten.  It only encourages the follower to peacefully apply the tools and framework in a way that is right and fitting for them, in their own lives and observe the outcomes for themselves.  Its approach naturally addresses imbalances on all levels – mental, physical, spiritual -within (at an individual level) and without (externally – in one’s environment, and therefore naturally extends out on a more esoteric level, universally and at a cosmic level) – and therefore seeks to create an energy of peace, balance harmony, abundance – which permeates to all areas of life and living.

The word “religion” does not exist in Sanskrit or Hindu languages.  Yet “Hinduism” has been continually labelled as such since previous occupations, where the ideologies of these other countries were imposed on the people and the concept of the caste system as we see it now has evolved.

Indeed “Hindustan” was not even the original name of this land, nor the even more recent “India” as we know it – the original Sanskrit name was actually Bharat – as referenced in the Indian texts – the Puranas and Mahabharata. The name is often affectionately referred to as “Bharat Mata” (Mother India) – having deeper meaning and reverence to the nurturing mother goddess.  It was later named Hindustan following Middle Eastern invasion and later “India” following colonization – the name derived from and in reference to the river Sindhu (Indus) and people of the Sindhu/ Indus Valley region.

“Hinduism” refers to the people of this land, their culture, ancient knowledge and practices and those living in this way and in the light of its wisdom   – regardless of whether originally born and raised here in this life or not.  It is after all a “universal law and values”, and thus applicable to all.  Indeed one of its core principles is that of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – or “One Earth Family” – we are all brothers and sisters of the world / universe and are meant co-exist in peace and unity.

After following, studying, living in this culture and adopting a lifestyle for several years, from making certain rituals and offerings – aligned with my own truths and beliefs, to making puja (prayer), mantra, yoga, pranayama, meditation, applying principles of Ayurveda for health and wellness of the physical, mental and spiritual “bodies” – These represent a higher more conscious way of life and living, that holds deeper meaning to me and which have become my Sadhana (spiritual practice and way of life). Through beautiful ceremony, I have been welcomed into this path and culture by my teachers – as a marking of a “re birth” in a spiritual sense in this life.  And so in this way I consider myself “Sanatani”, or one could also say “Astik” (that is – one who believes in the truth and wisdom of the Vedas’ – Ancient Indian scripts) – I have had beautiful welcoming pujas’ (prayer ceremonies) with a Hindu Brahmin, and have been given Hindu names (Purnima Karunamayi Devi) – which has deep meaning, significance and is also seen as marking a “re birth” in a spiritual sense in this life. 

Though this ceremony, is just that – a welcoming, blessing and naming representative and in acknowledgement of one’s spiritual journey, evolution, path and existence in this life, which is beautiful in its depth of meaning and sentiment as well as setting the tone for the path ahead, as a natural unfoldment and knowing what feels right.  A seeking of your own truth of which is already held and in existence within.  What it is not, is an initiation, rule setting with consequences or dogma attached.

People following this way of life in its truest form are by nature peaceful, spiritually connected individuals and I believe, as such Hindu’s have been subject to persecution in the past which they have not so readily or willingly fought back against.  Though how such an ancient culture has been preserved in its various forms and applications in this land, despite numerous invasions and lengthy occupations of other countries is perhaps testament to how well it works and to the truth and wisdom it holds.  However – due to this historical backdrop perhaps we can also understand how – unfortunately it’s riches and gifts (from the arts, philosophy, science, natural medicine all of which are rooted in deep spirituality, as well as being science based) have not been so easily shared, truly understood, readily accepted or spread throughout the world at large. 

Although similarities do exist within many indigenous ancient cultures of the world, which seek to live in balance and harmony with nature, each other, the earth and wider universe – no other culture I know of details such a way of life and living with so much detail and integrated with science, art, knowledge and depth of meaning, understanding, context and complexity of the wider web of life and all existence.

Now is the time for Bharat Mata (“Mother India”) to rise up, share this knowledge and gifts with the rest of the world.  There is so much to learn and benefit from.  She is the unsung Guru (teacher/ guiding light) of the world.  Bhoomi mata (mother earth) herself is calling for it, for she and all beings that reside here depend upon it.

Jai Maa!