Sanatana Dharma recognizes that the greater portion of human religious aspiration has always been unknown, undefined, and outside of any institutionalized belief.
The universal flow of Dharma, regardless of what name you call it, whether Dharma or some other name, has eternally existed. It has been before any of the great teachers were born. It is not better than, or alternative to, but is inclusive of all. Dharma is that out of which our earth and humanity itself emerged. Dharma not only is, but always was, and always will be. To live in alignment with, and to know the true nature of that Sanatana Dharma is one of the ways of describing the higher goal of life.
Sanatana Dharma thereby gives reverence to individual spiritual experience over any formal religious doctrine. Wherever the Universal Truth is manifest, there is Sanatana Dharma — whether it is in a field of religion, art or science, or in the life of a person or community. Wherever the Universal Truth is not recognized, or is scaled down and limited to a particular group, book or person, even if done so in the name of God, there Sanatana Dharma ceases to function, whatever the activity is called.
Sanatana Dharma comprises of spiritual laws which govern the human existence. Sanatana Dharma is to human life what natural laws are to the physical phenomena. Just as the phenomena of gravitation existed before it was discovered, the spiritual laws of life are eternal laws which existed before they were discovered by the ancient rishis (sages) for the present age during the Vedic period. Sanatana Dharma declares that something cannot come out of nothing and, therefore, the universe itself is the manifestation of the Divine being.
Since Sanatana Dharma is referring to those ways of being which are in concert with the Absolute, and are therefore axiomatic laws, this term is not referring to something which is open to alteration. Just as the laws of gravity, mathematics or logic are not open to sectarian debate or relative opinion (gravity, for example, is an inherent law of nature regardless of whether one believes in the law of gravity or not), similarly the subtle laws of God transcend all partisan concerns.
The world is made up of three tendencies called gunas: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Sattvic tendencies are those that are pure, clean, good, wholesome, calming, and peaceful. Rajasic tendencies are those that are active, moving, indecisive, and forceful. Tamasic tendencies are those that are inert, lazy, dull, and dark. If it were not for these three tendencies, we would not exist. Everything is a mixture of them. Even a saint, who is primarily sattvic, has some level of rajas and tamas in him/her, however small.
Sanatan Dharma makes use of yoga as the means to attain moksha (God-realization). Yoga has been poorly translated to mean “union”. It does mean “union”, but that is a poor definition because it encompasses so much more. Yoga is the union with Brahman (Absolute God). Yoga is also the means to achieving union with Brahman. Therefore, the word yoga is not merely a statement of union, but it encompasses the actual experience of liberation.