THE MEANING OF SANATANA DHARMA
The meaning of Sanatana dharma is made complicated by misinterpretation. Sanatana dharma can easily be said as the rules and discipline derived from the Vedas by the Rishis for the righteous way of life. No one dictated the people to follow it; they themselves followed the rules because the rules helped them to see the unity in diversity which is the goal of the Vedas. Later, when the concept of kingdom and rulership came in to existence the first ruler of the universe Manu, briefed these rules and discipline under the request of the Rishis. It was later brought out as Manu Smriti with different topics. The Rishis requested Manu to do so and he briefed the rules from the Vedas for the better living of the people in the future. According to the Vedas an individual is born to understand his real nature and unite with Brahman. The rules and discipline help one to realize his real nature. Later the rules were quoted in many smritis like Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavada, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita etc.
Sanatana dharma cannot be accepted as a religion, because there are no specific rituals or doctrine or commandments or a dictator in Sanatana dharma. It is purely based on the principles of the Vedas which are eternal and infinite. No one knows from when did Sanatana dharma began; it is eternal. In short, Sanatana dharma can be said as the righteous way of life to realize the Truth.
Sanatana dharma divides the society into four groups based on the guna (nature) and karma (action). It is only division and there is no place for discrimination. Discrimination is against culture. The Aryans, meaning people who are educated, are cultured and noble, will not discriminate people. Discrimination, insulting, defaming are all part of the uncultured society. The division of the society is strictly based on the nature of the individual and the action he performs is based on his nature. This division is called varna.
People who have the natural flair to learn Vedas, teach it and do karmas prescribed in the Vedas are called Brahmanas.
People who have the natural flair to save the people under all circumstance and look after the welfare of the people are called the shatriyas.
People who have the natural flair to do business and agriculture and have the talent to look after the economy of the nation by doing trade are called the vaisyas.
People who have the helping mentality by doing service to others, helping others to come up in life, serving the other three varnas are called sudras. They have the special talent to do rough and hard work.
In the ancient times each varna helped each other and the society developed uniformly. There was no discrimination then because each varna helped the other and the motive of all was Self-realization.
Brahmanas excelled in understanding Vedas and so they were respected by all and the Brahmanas treated others equally since they were well versed in Vedas.
Women were respected in the society and many women Rishis were part of revealing Vedas.
The people and their life style aligned with the Vedas and there were no other religion or beliefs during that time and hence no misunderstanding prevailed.
Later when the time moved on, people began to see everything very grossly and began to view in a narrow way and many noble facts were given wrong meaning; people also followed the wrong understanding and began to live an egoistic material life. The varnas were divided in to castes and some people dominated the others and made the system worse. The divinity of the Vedas and seeing unity in diversity which is the goal of the Vedas is questioned by wrong values.
The world is passing through the kali yuga. The understanding and the intellect of the people will align with the yuga. the understanding of the Vedas will also differ according to the yugas. It is better to understand the Vedas in the right sense; because misinterpretation will lead to decline in the values in the society.