Dharmic principles form the bedrock upon which Indic civilization has thrived and hence need to be propagated as well as defended.
Stephen Knapp(Sri Nandanandana Dasa) grew up in a Christian family, during which time he seriously studied the Bible to understand its teachings. In his late teenage years, however, he began to search through other religions and philosophies from around the world and started to find the answers for which he was looking. He also studied a variety of occult sciences, ancient mythology, mysticism, yoga, and the spiritual teachings of the East. He continued his study of Vedic knowledge and spiritual practice under the guidance of a spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
What is the true heritage of India? It is the law of Dharma, Sanatana-dharma, and all the developments that came with it. This is the foundation that has preserved the spiritual development of its people. This is the essential greatness of India. And this is also what its children from an early age should learn and understand about the great heritage of India. They should learn to honor and respect the Vedic literature, from the Vedas to the Mahabharata, Upanishads, Ramayana, and up to the Puranas. They should know that when the West was still in its developing stages, the land of India, Bharata Varsha, was already unsurpassed in what it would contribute to the world. And this is why India should never cut itself off from its profound past and culture. It is what has built India into the great nation that it always was and still is today. Therefore, we should not take this lightly, but reflect on and learn the significance of India’s ancient traditions, and also participate in upholding them.
The Power of Dharma
India’s wonderful and immense Vedic spiritual knowledge is what has provided the deepest insights into the real identity and purpose of humanity. No other culture has provided such knowledge and depth of realizations about who and what we really are. It has provided the profound keys to the mysteries of life, such as why we are here, where we have come from, what happens after death, what is the soul, what is the spiritual level of reality, what is God, and so on. India has kept this truth, in spite of all the invasions and disruptions in her civilization, and the genocides and attempts to cause the complete demise of Sanatana-dharma. The spiritual knowledge and developmental processes remain. But we must make sure that it stays with us, which it can only do if it is held sacred in the heart of every Indian and Dharmist, and every person who values what India and her great rishis of ancient times have given to us. In the darkest of eras that this world has seen and will see in the future, this will remain India’s great gift to the people who inhabit this planet. It is this spiritual culture of Sanatana-dharma that remains the ultimate spiritual guide of humanity with the freedom to investigate it in whatever way is best for each individual. This is the reason why we must work to protect it.
India is facing numerous threats from such directions as Pakistan and China on the political front, but also from within by those who would prefer to see the demise of India’s culture for their own agenda, be it political, religious, or otherwise. India is certainly one of the oldest and most profound civilizations on earth, and there is no reason why it should not be proud of its past, its great history, its developments, and its potential for a bright and positive future. But India and all Indians must be ready to stand up and protect their country and its culture from all external and internal threats with great determination. This is like taking up the great cause of Arjuna to protect Sanatana-dharma, after receiving the instructions from Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.
Within the Vedic system of daily practice or sadhana are the tools, such as puja, worship, yoga and meditation, bhakti or devotion, pranayama, philosophical understanding, etc., that can provide the means for us to perfect ourselves and reach a perception of higher reality, of who we are and our purpose in this world. This naturally brings with it fearlessness, self-confidence, assertiveness, inner peace, freedom from ignorance and limitations, and the empowerment to continue with our development and progress, and attain the Grace of God by our devotion. This will also allow us to work toward and attain the higher goal of life, as we can see from the examples of the many previous acharyas and spiritual masters who have already done the same thing. This only shows that on the spiritual course of Sanatana-dharma and in the service of the Divine, anything is possible, up to and including moksha, or complete liberation from any further material existence and all its limitations.
If we can spread this consciousness, this will also bring about a new Era of Dharmic influence, free from the oppression of adharma or non-Dharmic cultures and religions which try to oppress anything different from them. But for this to happen, Dharmists or Hindus need to see clearly that there is nothing wrong with standing up for and working to preserve, protect, promote, and perpetuate the Vedic heritage and its traditions. Other saints and Indian heroes have already shown this example. There is nothing wrong with simply sharing the profound and spiritual nature of the Vedic teachings, knowing that they have already benefited millions of people throughout history, and can continue to benefit all of society and lead it in the right direction. If we can present this in an intelligent manner, or simply share the basics of it from one person to another, then it will naturally be attractive, and people will want to know more about it. Everyone can use some aspect of it to reach their higher potential.
It is not the Vedic style to make unwilling converts, but the universal spiritual truths within can be useful for anyone, regardless of a person’s background, culture, or religion. Thus, everyone can participate to whatever degree is right for them. That is the liberality, flexibility, and beauty of the Vedic system.
However, we need to realize that the Vedic culture is often more respectful toward other spiritual paths and the people who follow them than they are in return. Thus, there is a need to defend the Vedic tradition from those who, in their ignorance and lack of understanding, may want to destroy it. Dharma must be protected from adharma. We cannot be such humble Hindus that we allow others to come in and destroy us. What good would that do? We cannot humble ourselves out of our own existence. We must be willing to stand strong for Dharma. As has been said before,
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Hindus, Vedic Dharmists, prefer to live in peace. They do not want to be aggressive toward others, and are usually not, but they also do not want to see people from other religions come to their country and try to make converts by falsely denigrating the Vedic culture.
One of the best ways to counteract any campaign to destroy our Vedic heritage is to develop a cultural revolution by which people in society become united by a common identity, a common cause in a fully cooperative effort that excludes no one, but welcomes all. Nothing could provide such a vehicle for this sort of unity more effectively than to focus on the unifying and universal spiritual principles of the Vedic tradition of India. Herewith, by spreading such knowledge freely and effectively, using all avenues of promotion and distribution, a unifying spiritual revolution, gathering people from all walks of life and offering peaceful coexistence with one another, along with inner spiritual strength and support amongst all people, could be started. This could offer the ultimate defense of any negative outside force by merely rising above it, failing to give it any recognition or acknowledgement, other than pushing it back and out of the way where it belongs.
The way we can best make a stand for Vedic Dharma is to spread an accurate understanding of Vedic spiritual knowledge and encourage people to participate in it. That can help people comprehend, maintain, and be convinced of the importance of the Dharmic culture. This is what I mean when I say that over the long term, a cultural revolution is better than a militant revolution. This is actually what has kept the Indian people dedicated to the Vedic traditions for so long, and it can continue to do so well into the future if we do our duty and promote the Vedic spiritual knowledge and welcome anyone and everyone to participate. We can all be Vedic Ambassadors in this way. As it is said, many hands make for light work, and then it becomes easy and joyful for everyone.
We must become united. We must see beyond ethnic, national, class or caste divisions, and see ourselves as members of the Global Vedic Community, one family united in the universal spiritual knowledge that the Vedic scriptures advocate. We must see with this vision so our true spiritual potential is realized. This will create an air of positivity, which lends to an optimistic and constructive future for ourselves and the whole world. It is not enough to keep it to ourselves. But it is to our advantage when we work for the benefit of others and provide the means so that they can learn and participate in the Vedic traditions. This is Dharma, our Dharma, and Dharma will protect those who help protect it. That is one reason why it is sanatana, or that which exists eternally. Now let each of us do our part.