Sanatan means Eternal; Dharm doesn’t get translated into English and Urdu as Religion and Mazhab, but as Duty and Farz. Therefore Sanatan Dharm means never ending duty/farz. Duty towards whom?
Duty first towards self, then to family and through that to one’s society and Nation.

To start with I want to state that I am not a scholar, much less an intellectual to claim my whole grasp of the Vedic world-view as detailed out by illustrious scholars in the past. My endeavour in the last 40 years has been to get a hold of it within the limitations of my intellect and thinking/grasping faculties and don’t hesitate to state that even today, for all my effort, I am all at Sea. Yet, whatever understanding I have acquired I want to share it with this group that hosts some known scholars for the reason of improving my understanding through their inputs.

Before I proceed further, I want to state that the intent that drove me to read our profound philosophical thoughts was to understand how, possibly, I could relate such profound thoughts to my existence.

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The Journey:

The initial and final destinations are: Sat Chit Anand

The voyage in between is Samsara. What is Sat Chit Anad?

Sat- Pure Existence, Chit- Pure Conscience/ Intelligence and Anand- Pure Bliss.

While Nirguna Brahman (Jiva/Being) - the Absolute Truth- is all these attributes personified that are immutable; the jiva (embodied/manifested Jiva) is not so blessed. While jiva, on voyage, has to strive to acquire the qualities of the Jiva while interacting with and acting/performing in the manifested world. So, this jiva can’t afford to be inactive as it is imbibed with Gunas like, Sattvik, Rajas and Tamas; whereas the Jiva is inert.

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The Q is why so? It is attempted to answer this Q in the following lines. As I stated in the beginning, my answers are subject to corrections.

The Jiva (The Absolute Truth):

The One that doesn’t draw its cognizance from others and exists beyond cognizance is Absolute because It simply exists; is Immutable; Was, Is and Shall Be; is Unborn and therefore doesn’t countenance Death. Because it’s Absolute so It is Real and because It is Stationary/Real therefore It is the Ideal- the Reference Point for all that’s mutable.

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To relate it with Mathematics, we know that a real number is Immutable while a complex number mutates in the Cartesian co-ordinates being dictated by the references on two real number Axis- X and Y. The Y-axis is denoted as Imaginary Axis because of its displacement in Space and yet it holds the numbers that are real. The Reference point for a complex number is a set of 2 real numbers.  We also know from Mathematics that Absolute of a complex number is Real.

Why is it Nirguna?

Because there is no Other for It. Because It encompasses all manifested jivas (the Saguna Brahman). If I was to put it in simple words, I would draw a parallel, like: My eyes see everything, but I can’t see them; can’t see my body parts placed within my body; and if I were to wholly cover my body with a piece of cloth then I wouldn’t be able to see any part of my body as the cloth encompasses them all. So, it’s the same case for the Jiva That encompasses all. The cloth that covers my entire body including blindfolding my eyes puts me in a state that “there is no other”.

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So, the Gunas cease to exist. Hence Nirguna. And, therefore Pure Existence.

Pure Conscience/Intelligence:

Shorn of Gunas it’s like a Pure lake of water that’s not disturbed by pelting of a pebble and not dirtied by muddy inflows. As there exists no Other for the Jiva, there arises no Impulse within motivating It to perceive what It sees and act accordingly. Therefore, there is no possibility of That Conscience/Intelligence getting defiled since no emotions arise within.

That in an infinite set of Real numbers, the addition of two numbers to yield a higher number is the Axiom that’s beyond the pale of mathematical theorems and corollaries; it’s not possible to prove mathematically that 2+2=4 and therefore it’s accepted as the Axiom. And that’s Pure Intelligence not subject to any litmus test.

Anand (Pure Bliss):

State of bliss is described in the dictionary as a state of joy, ecstasy; etc. But, in the said context, it’s not that, insofar as my understanding goes. It’s being in an undisturbed state; a state that transcends grief and joy; accomplishments and failures; acquisition and renunciation and remains unmoved and unperturbed. The Jiva remains in that state because It countenances no other; no dynamics and no change.

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All jivas (Saguna Brahman):

Nirguna as manifested. Upanishad tell us how and why of it, but I am not going to bring in that in this text as that subject is beyond the present scope. Having said that, yet the process of manifestation need to be understood in simple terms. And for that, I intend reverting back to Mathematics only for the sake of deriving a parallel.

Nirguna is Real. It is Absolute. So, from this Absolute how to derive different shapes/forms which are, as we are informed, only due to modulations in Space and Time, taking these two variables as a continuum.

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When we take a multi-dimensional plane (two, three or higher), we know that all the Axes denote location in Space, as Time is independent variable and hence implicit.

In a two dimensional plane; an Absolute value can be resolved into its two components (X & Y) and depending upon the (x,y) co-ordinates, all 2-dimensional objects like rectangle and square can be obtained. So the Absolute is manifested in many shapes.

Similarly in a three dimension plane, an Absolute value (Real number) is resolvable into three components and depending upon the co-ordinates (x,y,z), we can have different shapes like a cube, cuboid, sphere, trapezoid, etc. Once again an Absolute (Real) number is manifested in infinite number of shapes. So is true for higher dimensional planes (don’t ask me to explain because I can’t).

The Absolute (Real number) is inert as it’s just a point in the set of real numbers, but the moment we resolve it, it manifests itself into many shapes and forms. There is intelligence behind this resolution as there is “Maya Shakti”- Intelligence Radiance- of the Jiva that transforms Nirguna into Saguna.

And therein starts the problem! Created by none other than Nirguna Itself by imparting Gunas to Its manifestation.

Sat: It becomes mutable, ever-changing, subject to the cycles of birth and death; all because jiva is embodied form of the Jiva and hence subject to all limitations. Its existence is unreal as it draws its cognizance from others- utility based it is for all animate and inanimate beings.Because jiva has a beginning and an end, so also it is unreal.

Chit: No longer pure, as it-unlike the Jiva-can’t escape attributes conditioned upon by a proportionate mix of Gunas as ingrained; with the result that the perceptions differ from one jiva to another and so do the responses to the obtained situations; driven by desires, wants, needs and aspirations arising from the sea of emotions within. The intelligence gets clouded as it becomes prone to cater to the base instincts.

Anand: Embodied jivas being face to face with other embodied shapes and forms-all in a transitory phase with respective unknown time spans- desire to achieve/acquire/accomplish everything they can and in the process get afflicted with states of depression, sorrow, grief, joy, sense of achievement and lack of it, etc. The desires disable jivas to transcend all the states and hence aren’t able to achieve Bliss.

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What is the Path to the attainment of that State of “Sat Chit Anand” which is Nirguna personified? For me, it’s Sanatan Dharm. How? I attempt to explain in the text to follow, with all the limitations at my command.

Sanatan Dharm:

Sanatan means Eternal; Dharm doesn’t get translated into English and Urdu as Religion and Mazhab, but as Duty and Farz. Therefore Sanatan Dharm means never ending duty/farz. Duty towards whom?

Duty first towards self, then to family and through that to one’s society and Nation. Duty towards self is to take care of one’s physical and mental health enabling this carrier of jiva to discharge its duties towards family, society and Nation, respectively. And, how this duty towards others is to be performed? It’s by doing selfless work (Karma) that one is trained and qualified to do.

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The remarkable aspect of it is that it doesn’t talk of rights because the fruits of one’s actions are a function of the obtained circumstances, the inter-play of forces within a society and the dominant truth that the dynamics of a society are the net outcome of Karmas of many jivas and therefore not driven by an individual effort. So, says Sri Krishna in Srimad Bhagvat Geeta that one should not worry about the fruits of one’s actions, much less desire them. Does it mean detachment? Yes, perhaps, in the sense that fruits are not under any jiva’s exclusive control.

What’s the meaning of selfless duty? In my understanding it is to do Karma without being influenced by the sense of personal loss and gain; without the intent of hurting or pleasing someone; without meaning to favour or disfavour anyone.

Why am I to do Nishkam Karma? Because my workplace is my Karma-bhoomi and it’s no less worthy of worship than a temple, for it affords me a chance to serve the people who are nothing but manifested form of Nirguna. And it’s only through my work there that I can contribute to the welfare of my society and Nation; the work I am trained for and hence qualified to do. There is no other way for me because there is no other role for me. And there I am not a father, a son, a brother and/or a husband, but only a Karmi.

This is what Sri Krishna tells Arjuna on the battlefield: Kurushetra is your Karm-bhoomi and you are a Kshatriya; you are nobody’s cousin, nobody’s sishya and nobody’s friend or enemy; your duty is to fight like a warrior without anticipating victory or defeat, not for the gains of the kingdom in case of win, and you are not to shy away from your duty for the fear of defeat and the guilt that your beloved ones may be killed by you.

Pic via. Bhagvat Gita As It Is

The above tells us how ruthless and focussed a Nishkam-Karmi is. It’s this absolute focus on designated Karma that surely transcends jiva from the domain of greed, selfishness and bundle of emotions and enables experience of Bliss. Because the very Nishkam-Karma is naturally preceded by withdrawal of Gyan-Indriyas from the temptations of the Temporal world and the Mind restrained to focus on Dharm. Therefore, in my understanding there is an indirect way of restraining the mind and senses and that way is to resolve that duty is to be performed, no matter what. Obviously it’s jiva that shall resolve. But how?

Says Sri Krishna: entrust everything to Me; do everything for Me and in My name. That’s where jiva fully surrenders to the Jiva and comes under His protection and that establishes a direct relationship between the two. What’s called experiencing the Being, feeling His presence for, the Absolute is beyond the domain of Indriyaan. That Ehsaas-unexplainable by words- of the presence of the Jiva around is bound to be experienced by those who despite all hurdles and difficulties choose the Path of Righteousness. That’s the invisible, therefore subtle, unification of jiva with the Jiva, even though it may be for some fleeting moments. And that state of existence, howsoever impermanent, is State of Bliss.

There is another way of restraining one’s mind and that’s to block its thought process that may result in acts inimical to the interests of the society. It’s a very simple way but very effective. Whenever an undesirable thought emanates from within, on seeing an object, simply start chanting some thing while looking at the object and experience the effect. Its effect is that the thought process recedes into some oblivion. And, one can make it as an habit in such situations. This is from my own experience. I repeatedly chant Om Namah Shivay even while engaged in some activities. One may chant anything that’s divorced from the material world. This chanting if soundless doesn’t disturb anybody in the outside world. And, if made into a practice, the mind shall remain focused on selfless Karma. (No claims to Sainthood, just shared my own experience)

The Conscience remains uncontaminated by being on the Path of Righteousness and Existence attains a semblance of permanence in the sense that jiva is ever remembered for selfless Karma.

The Yog:

What’s generally pronounced as Yoga- the limitation of British imposed on Natives.

It’s not a set of physical exercises as Baba Ramdev would make the world to believe. But then it has a commercial value and more than that it affords its entry (as a cultural attribute) into the alien land. And, thereby attempts to promote Indian Culture outside the boundaries. If it helps in the process of acculturation then a time may come when Sanatan shall hold the sway in alien lands.

Yog is the state of existence wherein the Mind has transcended the cause-effect dynamics of Temporal world and is in a state of Bliss as it is unperturbed and remains balanced under any obtained situation. That implies that jiva has established unity with the Jiva and therefore susceptible to doing Nishkam-Karma.

To attain that state, the first and the only Imperative is unflinching, unwavering and unquestionable Faith in the Existence of Being. For, the search starts for something that’s either “known to be” or “is believed to be”. The search methods may differ, but the ultimate Realization is Same.

42Yogis via. Pinterest

So, the Karma Yog is about performing Karma accompanied by ever present intuitive feeling of the presence of the Jiva in all forms and shapes of the Universe and therefore service to the ever changing world is, indeed, service to the Absolute because everything that’s manifest is combinable to be the Absolute again. Like, vector addition of the components of a Real number yields the Absolute. Similar to Deluge.

Sri Krishna places Karma Yog at the highest pedestal in comparison to Bhakti, Gyan and Dhyan Yog. Because, as He says, Karma Yog not only emancipates the Yogi, but also does good to His manifestations; whereas the other forms of realizing the Brahman emancipate only the Yogi.

In my understanding, a vast majority from amongst us may not be qualified for other Yog, but Karma Yog is relatively easier to adhere to. It need be admitted, nevertheless, that one can’t be a true Karma Yogi unless ingrained with Bhakti, Concentration (Dhyan) and Knowledge (Gyan).

In my understanding, the state ‘Sat Chit Anand’ as related to the Brahman ( the starting co-ordinate) through the voyage in the manifested world is achievable at least qualitatively in the manifested world through Karm-Yog that is not devoid of Bhakti, Gyan and Dhyan.

Don’t know about physical presence of Heaven and Hell elsewhere, but, yes, the collective Karma of jivas shall lead the manifested world to either the state called Heaven or the state called Hell. And, the world-view that will determine it is: 1) We hold this Creation that includes Mother Earth in Trust for our generations next or 2) the manifested world is there for me to exploit with my intelligence and single mindedness to avail all the luxuries in life.

The former necessitates inseparability of the Spiritual from the Temporal while the latter insists on separating the two.