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Sanatana Dharma - The Supermarket of Religions
The Vedic texts are not sectarian Hindu scriptures, as is commonlv misunderstood. The Vedic literature is meant for all mankind since time immemorial, whereas the word 'Hindu' has come up only a few centuries ago. When the Muslims invaded Bharata-varsha (as India was known in those days), they started calling the followers of the Vedic culture 'Sindhus' because they lived on the banks of the Sindhu river. However due to the difficulty they had in pronouncing the initial 's' in the word 'Sindhu'. they mispronounced it as 'Hindu'. And since then the followers of the Vedic religion have been known as 'Hindus' and the Vedic religion as 'Hinduism', although the people themselves did not use this term. So there is no reference whatsoever to any 'Hindu' religion in the Vedic scriptures, nor is the word found in the Vedic dictionary. The proper term for the teachings of the Vedic scriptures, as mentioned in these scriptures themselves, is 'Sanatana Dharma'. the eternal and universal religion, that religion which is not limited by time, place and circumstance.And this Sanatana Dharma stands strong even today, despite all kinds of onslaughts from all quarters. If we look back at the history of the various religions of the world. Islam started about 1300 years ago, Christianity about 2000 years ago and Buddhism about 2500 years ago. The Bhagavad-gita, on the other hand, was spoken about 5000 years ago. And although Lord Krishna spoke Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna 5000 years ago, He explains in the Gita itself: "I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.'" (Bhagavad-gita 4.1-3)
Accepting that before the birth of Manu, the Gita was spoken by the Lord to His disciple, Vivasvan, a rough estimate is that the Gita was spoken at least 120,400,000 years ago; and in human society it has been extant for two million years. It was respoken by the Lord again to Arjuna about 5000 years ago. That is the estimate of the history of the Gita, according to the Gita itself and according to the version of the speaker, Lord Sri Krishna.Thus Sanatana Dharma being the oldest religion is the supermarket of religions. This assortment of religions is designed to suit the nature and the inclination of people who range from the morally degraded to the spiritually exalted.