Sanātana Dharma (सनातन धर्म) or eternal dharma or eternal religion is a native name for Hinduism or Hindu religion.The term goes back to Vedic times, namely the Rig Veda and used during the Hindu revivalism movement to avoid confusion with ‘Hindu’, a non-native Persian origin.
Sanatana Dharma emphasizes a conventional or orthodox “sanatani” or eternalist perspective in contrast to the socio-political Hinduism embraced by the Arya Samaj.
Classical Sanskrit literature in Manusmrti and Bhagavata Purana refer to “Sanatan Dharma’ as a cosmic order.
Manusmriti (4-138) quotes “…Satyam bruyatpriyam bruyanna bruyatsatyamapriyam. Priyam cha nanrtam bruyadesa dharmah sanatanah.” Translated, it means: “Speak the truth, speak the truth that is pleasant. Do not speak the truth to manipulate. Do not speak falsely to please or flatter someone. This is the quality of the eternal dharma.” Thus it is a religious tradition that encompasses layers of complex deposits from many different cultures over the centuries with remarkable diversity and doctrinal tolerance.
It is a code of ethics, a way of living through which one may achieve moksha – enlightenment or liberation. Sanatana Dharma represents a code of conduct and a value system that has spiritual freedom as its core. Any pathway or spiritual vision that accepts the spiritual freedom of others may be considered part of Sanatana Dharma.
The underlying principles and ideology of the ‘Dharma’ are:
Equality – the notion of sanatana-dharma as a basis for spiritual unity.
Interfaith dialogue and inter-religious understanding.
The relationship between faith, truth and opinion.
Sanatana-dharma implies duties which take into account the person’s spiritual (constitutional) identity as ‘atman’ (soul) and are thus the same for everyone. Purushārtha (Sanskrit पुरुषार्थ) literally means an object of human pursuit. It refers to the four goals or aims of a human life. The four purushārthas are Dharma (righteousness, moral values), Artha (prosperity, economic values), Kāma (pleasure, psychological values) and Moksha (liberation, spiritual values).
All four Purushārtha are important, but in cases of conflict, Dharma is considered more important than Artha or Kama in Hindu philosophy. Moksha is considered the ultimate ideal of human life.