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Sanatana Dharma: The Eternal Natural Way


Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya


Sanatana Dharma: The Eternal Natural Way An all-in-one guidebook to the world of Yoga, Vedanta, meditation and Hinduism. This book is a celebration of the tradition of Sanatana Dharma. In this magnum opus, Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya has provided us with a valuable introduction to the philosophy and practice of this ancient spiritual path.

Sanatana Dharma: The Eternal Natural Way
is a comprehensive summary of this profound spiritual tradition. It is the first English language systematic theological and philosophical exposition of the entire world-view of Sanatana Dharma.

With an easy to follow format, detailed glossary, and style of writing that is both authoritative, yet inviting to any reader, this book is your doorway to a rarely visited realm of spiritual awakening.

Author: Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya
Pages: 450
Price: $23.99
Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback


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From the Introduction

Sanatana Dharma (commonly referred to erroneously as "Hinduism") is a spiritual path that has existed since before the beginning of time. It is a path that is both ancient in origin, and profound in its understanding of the nature of reality. Sanatana Dharma is completely unlike any other religious tradition in existence. Rather than reflecting the dogmatically inclined expressions of denominationalism, sectarianism, and divisive religious doctrines that are of more recent origin, Sanatana Dharma is a spiritual expression of the divine intelligence that naturally underlies the more empirical aspects of our cosmos. Sanatana Dharma is the Eternal Natural Way. As such, this path represents the pre-religious, primordial essence of all true spirituality, philosophy, and yearning to know the higher Reality, as well as the very foundation of any and all attempts to establish any civilizational constructs based upon such eternal ideals.

Despite the fact that Sanatana Dharma is one of the most ancient and profound philosophical cultures known to humanity, I have had the sad experience over the last four decades of my personal study of the world’s many diverse religions of witnessing the perpetuation of more misconceptions, stereotypes and outrageous caricatures about Sanatana Dharma than exists about every other religion on earth combined! Even more troubling than the perpetuation of so many misconceptions about this noble religious tradition has been the fact that so few leaders, scholars, or even so-called "gurus" of Sanatana Dharma have ventured to correct these gross misconceptions.

During my public discourses and spiritual presentations on Sanatana Dharma, I am invariably asked by my students if I can recommend a good book that serves as a well-written, systematic, accurate and conclusive introduction to the philosophical world-view, historical and social factors and practice of Sanatana Dharma. Sadly, I have always had to answer no to this question. There had been no such book available for sincere seekers who wished to understand Sanatana Dharma in its pristine and authentic form.

Remarkably, every book that currently exists that purports to be an introduction to Sanatana Dharma falls far short in a number of respects. The two primary poles in which these books fail at their task are that they are either written by a) well-meaning, but ultimately woefully unknowledgeable and unqualified, adherents of the tradition, who thus miss the very philosophical essence of Sanatana Dharma; or are b) well-written academic treatises penned by professors and scholarly researchers who inevitably gut the spiritual tradition of anything of spiritual, experiential, practical and aesthetic value, and who thus miss the very spiritual essence of Sanatana Dharma.

For the first group of unknowledgeable and unqualified "gurus", Sanatana Dharma is relegated to being merely an expression of personal cultural heritage, if not merely a money-making venture. For the latter group of academicians, Sanatana Dharma is nothing more than a dead relic of the past whose sole value consists in providing material and literary data for the uninterrupted churning out of speculative academic theses. For both groups of authors, Sanatana Dharma is merely a means of fostering a career and making a profit. For both groups of authors, Sanatana Dharma is not a living tradition meant to be practiced and experienced, but a tool to achieve material success.

The "Sanatana Dharma" that is the subject of this book is necessarily an ever-living and eternal Sanatana Dharma. The following is a work that has been over thirty-five years in the making, but that has in actuality been crucially missing from the annals of world literature and religious discourse for the last several thousand years. This book is a work of scholarship, it is a philosophical-spiritual treatise, it is an untold story about the survival of an ideal, but more importantly, it is a revolutionary manifesto signaling the beginning of a wholly new era in humanity’s eternal yearning for a grasp of reality that makes immediate and vibrant sense. It is a call to arms for all those whose lives are dedicated to manifesting Truth. It is a rebirth of unbridled idealism, and a signal that hopefulness is again alive in our age. The focus of this book is living and dynamic Dharma, and not merely a static concept.

Sanatana Dharma: The Eternal Natural Way is designed to be the first English language summa theologica, a theological summary, a systematic theological and philosophical exposition of the entirety of the Sanatana Dharma world-view. The overall organizational outline of the book is a multipart structure. The Sanskrit name of this work is Sanātana-dharmāmta-sindhu - "The Nectarean Ocean of the Eternal Natural Way". Accordingly, the work is divided into several sections in the form of "Waves". These four sections are: A) the Foundations, B) Philosophical Grounding, C) Socio-Historical Grounding, and D) Grounding in Practice. It is my hope that this work will serve as a comprehensive general guide in your personal exploration of the ancient tradition of Sanatana Dharma.



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Table of Contents

Other Works by Śri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya v
Table of Contents vii
Dedication xiv
Introduction 1
Acknowledgements 9

First Wave - The Foundations 11

Chapter 1 The Eternal Natural Way
13

The Two Approaches to Our Cosmos 13
Normative Religion Versus Sanatana Dharma 14
Uniqueness of Sanatana Dharma 16
The Vedic Revelation 18
Who is a Dharmi? 22
Monotheistic Panentheism 23
Vishva Dharma: The Universal Path 26
Ethnicity Versus Religion 27
Sanatana Dharma is not an “Indian” Religion 28
Ancient Dharmic Cultural Sphere 29
Dharmi Population 30

Second Wave -
Philosophical Grounding 35

Chapter 2 The Philosophical Foundations of Dharma 37

Dharma as a World-view 37
Understanding the Concept of Dharma 42
Dharma as Axiomatic 47
Dharma as Universally Applicable 50
Universal Elements of Dharmic Civilizations 53
The Logic of Dharma 56
Dharma as Replicable 58
Dharma as Scientific 59
The Metaphysical Principles of Dharma 61
The Divine Descent of Dharma 69
The Behavioral Principles of Dharma 71
The Epistemological Principles of Dharma 73
Three Necessary Factors of Knowing 74
Three Ways of Knowing 75
Truth Verification System 77

Chapter 3 Epistemology in Literary Form: The Scriptures of Sanatana Dharma 81

The Vedic Literature 81
Genres of the Vedic Scriptural Canon 83
Important Scriptures 85
The Bhagavad Gita 88
Central Importance of the Bhagavad Gita 89
The Outer and Inner Wars 91

Chapter 4 Metaphysics: The Nature of Reality 109

Tri-Tattva: The Metaphysical Foundations of Reality 109
Atman – The True Self 111
Brahman – The Absolute 112
Jagat – The Power of Prime Materiality Enformed 113
Inter-relationships Between the Tri-tattvas 115
Tri-tattva and the Three Dharmic Traditions 116

Chapter 5 Ontology: Human Person, God and Creation 123


A) The Human Person 123

Atman 124
Aham-pratyaya vs Aham-kara: I-Cognition vs. Illusory Ego 126
Equality of Spirit and Hierarchy of Form 128
Karma and Reincarnation 134
Karma and Fatalism 142
Refuting the Theory of Collective Karma 146
Is There "Evidence" for Reincarnation? 147
Discerning Spirit from Matter 151

B) God: The Nature of the Absolute 156

Brahman is not Anthropomorphic "God" 157
Does God Have Attributes? 158
The Nature of Brahman 160
God and Determinism 160
Brahman as the Source 162
The Final Goal and the Final Cause 162

C) The Material Cosmos 163

The Three Gunas 163
The Sattvic Program 166

Chapter 6 Ethics: Walking the Talk 169

The Virtue-Ethics System of Sanatana Dharma 169
Ten Ethical Principles of Dharma 170
A Comparative Analysis of Dharmic Ethics and
the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments 175
Inherent Virtue Ethics and Proscribed Ethics 179
The Twelve Qualities of a Dharmi 184
The Four Jewels (Chatur-ratna) 185
Honoring Life: The Principles of Vegetarianism 185
Vegetarianism for a Better World 192

Third Wave - Socio-Historical Grounding 195

Chapter 7 Comparing Religious Traditions 197

Sanatana Dharma and Buddhism 197
Jesus: The Dharma Master 210
Sanatana Dharma and Islam 219
The Abrahamic World-view Versus the Dharmic World-View 226
2000 Year Genocide Against Dharma 230

Chapter 8: Sanatana Dharma Today
237

The Current Global Crisis 237
Dharma and Spiritual Empowerment 239
Dharma Ascending 242
Sanatana Dharma's Contributions to the New Age Movement 242
Bridging the Gap: Indian Hindus and Western Dharmis 248
Does Sanatana Dharma Have a Future in America? 252
The Sun of Dharma Arises in the West 267

Fourth Wave - Grounding in Practice 271

Chapter 9: Taking Refuge in Dharma 273

Why I Should Be a Dharmi? 273
Choosing Sanatana Dharma as One’s Spiritual Path 279
The Importance of the Guru 279
The Art of Questioning 290
The Process of Diksha 295
Requirements for Initiation 297

Chapter 10 Dharma in Practice 301

The Inner Dimensions of Sadhana Practice 301
General Principles of Daily Sadhana 304
Yoga: The Heart of Sanatana Dharma 308
Meditation: The Heart of Yoga 311
Mantra – Meditation Upon God’s Name 313
How to Meditate 314
Bhakti: The Heart of Meditation 317
Bhakti Yoga 321
The Descent of the Infinite 324
The Difference Between Devotion and Emotion 325
The Science of Prayer and Meditation 330
Establishing a Home Altar and Performing Puja Meditation 335
Performing Puja 337
Puja Mantras 338
Where Do I Get Puja Supplies? 339
The Validity of Puja Meditation 340
Eating as Meditation: How to Prepare Prasada 342
Guidelines 344
How To Offer Food to God 345
Mantras Recited Before Eating 346
Balancing Spiritual and Material Life 347

Chapter 11 Living Dharma Today 351

Being a Dharma Activist 351
25 Things You can do to Support Dharma 354

Chapter 12 Resources 359

International Sanatana Dharma Society 359
Becoming a Member 364
Books and Periodicals 366
Dharma Websites 367

Appendix - Sanatana Dharma by the Numbers 369
About the Author 371
Glossary 373
Bibliography - Primary Sources 385
Bibliography - Secondary Sources 391


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