What is limitless beyond nationalities, beyond religion, beyond species, beyond castes? There is, in fact, an eternal order that exists in the universe. The Indian Constitution has called Hinduism a way of life. Sadly today, it has been misrepresented as a religion “The reality is one without a second”.

Secret India brings you wisdom from the Vedas from the mouth of a powerful spiritual master or shall we say a spiritual activist Swami Chidananda Puri. He is like none other, tirelessly spreading the age-old science of Advaita throughout. He’s also authored more than 30 books on the subject and is the founder of the center of Vedanta studies. Advaita has been a classical age old system of spiritual realization in India.

Can you bring us a deeper understanding of  Hinduism, or as it’s properly called, Santana Dharma, the Eternal Dharma; that which always was, which will be, and, which always is.

The greatest Contribution Bharat gave to the world is the concept of Dharma. The concept of Dharma is the greatest contribution. Then comes the question, what is Dharma? The word Dharma Comes from the root dɑːrmə (Sanskrit: धर्म) That is “to hold”.  Dharma means “that which is holding everything together”.

That which is holding everything together, that is Dharma. Let me explain a little more.

We are living in this world, we are seeing this world, and just to observe different strata, or the phenomenal planes which we see, that with the smallest particle we can imagine. Take the case of an atom. How an atom is existing? What is an atom? How it is existing? When we analyze it we will realize incessant movements of the subatomic particles. An incessant movement that makes an immovable atom. And see these subatomic particles in specified orbits they are moving, without breaking an order. So, an order is there. A scheme is there. Or to use a more appropriate word, a rule is there. Obeying that rule all subatomic particles are moving, and, it makes an atom exist. And look at this universe. The extent of the universe we do not know How many trillions and trillions of galaxies are there, we do not know. But, one who is chanting Shiva Sahasranamama or Lalitāsahasranāma, will of course know. That means there are innumerable Brahmāṇḍas. Crores and crores of Brahmāṇḍas are there. And in one Brahmāṇḍa there will be millions and millions of stars. And how many planets are there around one star, we do not know.

The extent of the universe we do not know. We cannot say at all, but there is an order. There is a scheme, which is abiding everything together. So, right from the subtlest atom to the grossest universe everything is held together by a rule, by a scheme which is existing and that rule no one can break. What is that?

That rule or that scheme which is holding everything together we are calling it by the name Dharma (धर्म). “By which everything is held together”, that is dharma. So, Dharma is the universal scheme, the scheme, which is holding everything together. That is dharma. When we understand dharma like this, naturally a question will come “What is dharmic life?”

In our Shastras and in our day-to-day life we are speaking about dharmic life and all.

Our life must be according to dharma. We must lead a life of Dharma. So, what is that? If the order of the world, the order of the universe is meant by the term Dharma what is the meaning of dharmic life?

The replay is, we must understand the rule, the scheme, the order which is holding everything together,

and live accordingly. Our life must be tuned in such a way, as it will not distract or disrupt the scheme of the world. My thoughts, my words, or my deeds, they must not disrupt the world order. The universal pattern. With that thought within, I have to live in this world. Because each and every person, everybody is living here to have happiness. To get happiness. Whose happiness? One’s own happiness.

And to get that happiness, I am working here. I am living here in this world, and in the course of my life or in the course of the activities, which I am doing to have happiness I must not distract or disrupt the universal scheme, which is Dharma. So, when our life is attuned to that dharmic values, attuned with that Universal order, then our life is a dharmic life. Bhagwan Veda Vyasa in the Mahabharata says: “You please come and hear the essence of Dharma. I am teaching you the essence of Dharma. What it is. And after hearing what you have to do, abide by that. Adhere to that”. “Don’t perform to others what is not acceptable to yourself”.

We must not do anything to others which is not acceptable to ourselves. That is the crux of Dharma.

So, dharmic life is such a life which is attuned to the universal life. Which will not disrupt the scheme which is holding everything together, that is: by my words, by my thoughts, or by my deeds, I must not make any problems or troubles, I must not create any trouble in the universal scheme.

Such a life is a dharmic life.

Truly, Dharma is such a small word, with just two syllables, but the meaning can be explained for hours.

We often speak about right and wrong. The prejudiced nature of our mind dilutes the truth.

What is truth anyway, is it relative? There is in fact an eternal order.


Swamiji Explains the Eternal Order called Sanatana Dharma

Sanatana Dharma is Dharma and by the term, Sanatana eternal is met. Never-ending, eternal.

Rishis who discovered Vedas through their tapasia, through their inquiries realized reality on which all the universal phenomena are existing and after that realization, they exhorted to the world what they have realized.

What is real? What is the goal of human life? How you can reach there? They taught all these things.And that teaching is Veda. Even though they taught many things, what is the greatness of human birth what is our goal how we can reach there? What is the connection between the microcosm and macrocosm? Who is controlling the whole system? So many things they taught. How we can reach there. What are the hurdles, how can we cross those hurdles? So many subjects they taught through Vedas.

But the very base of their teaching, there is no doubt, is Dharma.

Based on Dharma they taught.

And that teaching which comes directly from Veda It is called Vaidic Dharma or Vedic dharma.

And the Vedic dharma is also called Sanatana dharma. Why it is called as Sanatana dharma?

Because it is Sanatana. Sanatana means eternal. Never-ending.

Because it is not some revelations of one person. It is not some ideas or some calculations of one person, but it is based on the order which is abiding, or which is holding everything together.

It is there. It is not a religion, it is not a philosophical proposition, it is not a set of dogmas It is not a bunch of mythological aspects, it is the very base on which all these are existing. It is the value system.

So, Sanatana Dharma is the Dharma which is the base of all philosophies, all mythologies, all rituals, all religions, and everything. By the term Sanatana Dharma, we must understand it is not something created or something made. Because, one thing or whatever be it has a birth, it will have a death. If there is a beginning there will be an end. There is no dispute in this.

When we say Dharma is Sanatana- eternal, it must not have a beginning also. So, Sanatana Dharma is that dharma which is prevailing here without birth and death. It was here, it is there, and it will be there.

That universal values, that eternal values on which all religions are built on which all social systems are built, on which all philosophies and everything are resting, that very base is called Sanatana dharma.

When Swamiji Vivekanandaji addressed the world through the Parliament of Religions, in his very first lecture he thanked the organizers of that fest with the word: “I thank you in the name of the mother of all religions”.

Sanatana dharma is not another religion. It is not another religion. It is the very substratum, it is the very base on which all the social systems like, religion, nationalism, everything is resting. It is the very base. That is Sanatana Dharma.

And because this Dharma spread in the world from Bharat, from the land that is in between Himalaya and Indus, this dharma is also called Hindu Dharma. It is called Sanatana dharma because it is eternal, it is called Vaitica dharma because it’s coming from Vedas. If we are going to explain Sanatana Dharma it will not come within the scope of a small question answer session. We will have to talk for hours and hours together, but this is a very basic idea of Sanatana dharma.


Reality is one without the second. That is why even though we have 330 million gods and the essence is just one. How is that possible? How is it practical to worship so many gods? 

A basic teaching of Veda is: Reality is one without a second. The truth is one and the same.

“Oh, my son, the truth is one, one without a second”. That is the basic teaching of Veda.

There are no many. Many are not there. Of course in the phenomenal plane, we are seeing many. Everything is different. One thing is different from another, nothing in this world is staying as identical. Differences are there everywhere. In all manifestations, differences are there, but, when we go deeper analyzing, we find out what is the existence absolute. Then, we will come to that reality, which is one without a second. And this reality our rishis called by the name Brahman (ब्रह्म). Way they used to such a word because everything else developed from that one existence absolute.

Everything else is just a manifestations of that reality. The very cause of all manifestations, they called by the name Brahman. Because, the process of manifesting, the phenomenon of manifesting came from it. That is why it is called Brahman. And in the phenomenal plain we are here, we are in this universe. So we as jiva are there, and the world in which we are living is there and, as the world is there, and there is a scheme which is holding all particles of this world. There is something or there is someone, who is controlling everything, so there are three things, one-the jiva, and the other, jagat-the world and Ishwara, the controller of our phenomenal existence.

And all these three jagat, Ishwara and jiva are manifestations of one and single truth. From one reality all this came, and that is Brahma. This is the basic teaching of Veda.

And, as long as we are living in this world as jivas, identifying ourselves with these limited objects of course, we have to obey the universal rules, we have to worship that which is controlling everything.

And that controlling faculty we are calling by the name Ishwara. Iswara is one who is controlling. Nobody can negate that Iswara.

If a scheme is there, if an order is there, there must be something or somebody who is controlling this scheme. Him we are calling Ishwara. How many Ishwaras are there? There is only one Ishwara.

There are no two Ishwaras. And this is Ishwara is responsible for all universal phenomena. That is creation, sustenance, and dissolution. These phenomena, we are seeing. Because of these phenomena, this universe is existing. Though in the phenomenal plane we must not, or we cannot negate this creation, sustenance, and dissolution. The aspect of Ishwara responsible for the creation, we call him by the name Brahma. And the same Ishwara when we look upon him from the viewpoint of sustenance we call him Vishnu. And the same Iswara we are calling by the word Rudra or Shiva when we look from the point of view of the dissolution. One and the same Ishwara is called Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

And these three are gods with differences in guna structure. Creation happens from rajas. Brahma is rajasic. And sustenance is always connected with sattva, and Vishnu is sattvic. As dissolution is connected with tamas, Rudra is tamasic. When we take trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, as those responsible for creation protection and dissolution, they are rajasic sattvic and tamasic.  But we must understand another thing for Vaishnava, Vishnu is not limited to sattva guna alone, because Vaishnava sees Vishnu as the all-powerful, all-pervading, Omnipotent. In the same way a Shaiva is seeing Shiva as, not as a God of dissolution, but as the Omnipowerful, Omniscient. In the same way, those who are worshipping Brahma they are reviewing Bramha is All-powerful Omnipotent and Omniscient. So, there are two levels of worship, one as different devatas with different qualities, and from the higher point of view, it is Ishwara, it is the manifestation of one and the same Ishwara. So we must understand that the Shiva of Shaiva, is the same as Vishnu of Vaishnava. There are no two Ishwaras. Because Ishwara is one and the same.

The same Ishwara Vaishnavas are calling Vishnu and, Shaivas are calling Shiva. And what is responsible for all these differences that is guna structure. And the collective of this guna we call it the Shakti. Shakti is the collective of the three Gunas, rajas, sattva and tamas. There are Shaktas who are worshipping Shakti, and Shakti also is being worshipped in different levels of manifestations, and different the permutations and combinations of this gunas roughly we can classify them as Shaktas. Amongst them also there are more sattvic, more rajasic, and more tamasic. Different groups are there, and different styles of worship are there. Shaktayas are there, Vaishnavas are there, Shaivas are there, and of course, Ganapatias are there, those who are worshiping Ganapati. The Skandhas are there, those who are worshiping Skanda Subramanya.


But we must understand, all these are different ways to reach the same goal. And all these are different manifestations of the same reality. The truth is one and the same. The reality is one and the same. Scholars are calling it by many names.


The Difference Between Rishis, Yogis, Avadhootas, Siddhas, Maharishis etc?

The word meaning of the Rishi is one who has realized or discovered mantra. Rishis are seers of mantras. That is those who realized or those who saw Veda mantras, and taught to the world. They are called Rishies. And there is another definition of Rishi, that is those who have realized the truth, they are called Rishis. So, in the common language, Rishi means one with the realization of the truth, and one who discovered Veda mantras is a Rishi.

But when we go to the root meaning the shabda Rishi comes from the root? When we take that root, the meaning of it will be “one who is moving”, “one who is traveling” One who is moving in the front, showing the path, showing the way to others. One who is leading the whole society is a Rishi.

And when we are qualifying him with the word “mahat”, to show his greatness, then Rishi becomes Maharshi. (The great Rishi). When he is qualified as a mahan, a great man, then he is a Maharishi. And, if we are qualifying him with the word “rajan”, that is to show he was the king earlier-before entering into the position of Rishi he was a king, who ruled a certain area like a king. To show that we will call him Rajarishi. Raja+ Rishi, Rajarishi. In the same way, one who has realized Veda fully or when we speak to Veda, one in whose hand, or in whose hold there is Veda he is called Brahmarishi. Bramha means Veda, and in common language when one and one person identified as a Brahmana and when he becomes a Rishi, he will be called Brahmarishi. Brahma + Rishi, Brahmarishi. In the same way, when devata becomes a rishi, he will be called Devarishi. All these are rishis. Mahan, Rajan, Brahma, Deva. All these are qualifying words, all these are rishis.

And now there comes the word Muni. What is the meaning of a muni? Muni is one who is immersed in the contemplation of the truth. He is a Muni. One who is always contemplating on the ultimate reality or meditating on the ultimate reality he is a Muni. A Muni need not be a Rishi. Or rishi does not need to be a muni, both are different, distinct.

Then there is a sannyasi. Sannyasi is one who has denounced all bondages. That is after renouncing three bondages like “my wealth, my children, and my world”. By the word world name and fame, all these things are meant. So, renouncing these three, one who is trying to reside in himself, one who is in quest of the existence absolute-Ishwara, he is a sannyasi. Or, in other words, Sannyasi is one who has renounced all Vedic rituals

One who has renounced all Vedic rituals to get Buhu, Buvaha, and Swaha, that is this world enjoyments of this world, and the worlds above, the one who has renounced all these words and rituals to get or to attain these words he is Sannyasi.

Rishi can be a sannyasi, or a sannyasi can become Rishi, but there is no rule that a Sannyasi will become Rishi or Rishi a Sannyasi. In our Shastras scriptures, especially in Puranas and Itihasas, almost all rishis were householders, almost all except a few were householders. They were living there with their wives and family, and still there were rishis. This is to be noted very carefully because in the present-day world, many time people think that rishis were sannyasin. I have heard even many scholars speaking that the sannyasins were giving advice as two kings in their palaces. No, they were all rishis. Sannyasins were not living in palaces and giving advices to kings, that were rishis. Rishi is different from sannyasi. Of course the  Sannyasi can become a Rishi, or Rishi can become Sannyasi

For example, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, we can see a great Rishi, Maharishi, becoming a sannyasi

He had two wives. And there is an incident explained in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, when he calls one of his wives and tells her: ” I am going to accept sannyasa. I am going to become a sannyasi”. ” I am dividing my whole wealth and I am giving to you…” Such an incident comes in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It shows Maharshi who in later days, became sannyasi. You must understand they are different. Muni, Rishi and Sannyasi.

And there is another category, Siddhas Actually, Siddha is a guna, guna means a set. That is within the celestial beings. There are so many sets of celestial beings amongst them comes in Siddha, also another meaning for Siddha is “One who has accomplished something”. Accomplishment is siddhi. The one with accomplishment is Siddha. So, what is the accomplishment? It varies from person to person. We cannot say such and such a person he is a Siddha. Don’t say that. Because in the eyes of one, will not be a Siddha in the eyes of another person. It is it is purely relative. Siddhi for one man will not be a Siddhi for another. It all depends on the attitude, it all depends on your vision. For example, when one man or woman take some basma from the air, waving his hands if he is taking basma, and common people may call he is a Siddha. He may be a Siddha, there is no doubt, but at the same time, he may be a magician also. A magician can do that. The same way, if he is waving his hand and he’s taking or jalebi, then he may be considered as Siddha. Of course, he may be Siddha, I cannot say he is not, but at the same time magicians can do the same thing. We cannot say who is the Siddha, observing from outside. But when we go deep into our Shastras, the greatest Siddhi human being can have is the absolute knowledge of the self. Ramana Maharshi says: “Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world”.


Swami ji has only touched upon the belly with these questions. His knowledge has so much depth that one episode is simply not enough. We do have some more interviews with him lined up.

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