At a time when there is a churn in global cultural politics, it has become necessary to highlight the differences between Abrahamic religions and Sanatan Dharma
Sanatan Dharma means “eternal religion”.
It is something that has no beginning, no end. It is something that is boundless, that is not contextual in ontology.
Its epistemological foundations date back to antiquity.
On the other hand are the Abrahamic religions or faiths that have originated from a common ancestor- Abraham.
Karen Armstrong in her book A History of God has given a succinct description of these religions.
At a time when a lot of conflict is occuring in the global cultural discourse over the very issue of religion, it has become necessary to articulate what are the differences between them.
Abrahamic Faiths-Everything is One
The Abrahamic faiths possess one book, one prophet and certain common principles.
In Islam, there is the Quran and their supreme deity “Allah”, in case of Christianity it is the Bible with Jesus Christ as the prophet, the supreme deity is “God”.
In case of Judaism, it is the old testament or the Hebrew Bible and the Torah as their sacred book. In it Moses is their prophet.
These faiths are not much old, at most Judaism is 3,000 years old.
A very serious character of these faiths is their missionary character. Unlike Judaism, Islam and Christianity are, no doubt, missionary faiths.
They seek to, either by use of money or sword, convert others forcibly to their “true faith”. India has had to deal with them for the past 1,000 years.
While European colonialism was brutal, its religious character was somewhat surreptitious and subtle.
Islam, however, was brutal and iconoclastic, several waves of Islamic invasions hit India between 712-1764.
Their singular aim was-to destroy Sanatan Dharma and cleanse this land of ‘infidels’.
Sanatan Dharma-Everyone is Welcome
Herein lies the beauty of Sanatan Dharma, whether you are a Muslim, Christian, Atheist or heathen doesn’t matter.
You are welcome to join our faith or you can say a way of life.
In Sanatan Dharma, there is no one prophet, God, holy scripture or a rigid set of straitjacket principles.
In this faith, you can practice as you want, provided you follow some of the basic precepts of Dharma and believe in the foundational principles of Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma and do your duty faithfully.
We Don’t Convert
Sanatan Dharma doesn’t believe in the idea of proselytization, you are free to preach your own principles.
Unlike Islam where being a Sunni, Shia or being an Ahmadiya for that matter is essential, it isn’t so in the case of Hinduism.
You can be a Vaishnavite, Shaivite or whatever.
Also, if you aren’t happy, then you can forsake your faith, there is eternal damnation like Christianity or death for apostasy as there is in Islam.
Herein lies the differences between Abrahamic religions and Sanatan Dharma.