Unlike the other religions of the world, Hinduism was not “established” or “found” one fine day. There is a reason it is called “Sanatana Dharma”. It means an eternal way of life. It has survived through the centuries because it represents a lifestyle which is spiritual. Unlike other religions, it does not penalise or forcefully inculcate itself upon the individual.
The spread of Sanatana Dharma was not just by the Indians but also by the travellers and traders from around the world. Such was the inspiration of the Sanatana Dharma that they not only adopted it but also spread it across the globe.
Ancient India also transcended the boundaries it has today. The Akhand Bharat was a magnanimous land and it’s subjects were happy, healthy, wealthy and spiritual!
Third Largest Religion
Sanatana Dharma is the third largest religion in the world today. Much of its foreign spread was by Greek philosophers like Pythagoras, Orpheus; Iranian philosophers like Mani, all of whom preached Sanatana concepts of Karma, Bhakti, Moksha.
The Hindu scholars also spread the Sanatana Dharma by going to the courts of foreign rulers as advisers. Central Asian Kingdoms, Mongolia, mainland China, Tibet had Hindu advisers who promoted Hinduism throughout their lands.
With the exploration of the Indian Ocean in 3000-4000 BCE, India started trade with Mesopotamia and Oman. There was a general sense of curiosity for places outside India by the Indians. The outsiders had a curiosity for the Indian culture and diaspora.
The Yamnaya culture of Europe saw people from Indo-Iranian and native European ancestors between 3500-2500 BCE. Along this time period, Hindu scholars, scientists and advisers roamed to distant lands.
Sanatana Dharma in Middle East
Hinduism spread to the Middle East as well. The tablets found in Tell-El-Amarna in Egypt and Boghaz Keui in Asia Minor talk of Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nasatya. These tablets date back to 1600 BCE. They clearly indicate that the people were familiar with the Vedic Gods of India.
Zoroastrianism resembles Hinduism in many ways from its origin, beliefs to iconography. The Swastika is a popular symbol in the Iranian history and they call it the “Four Horses of Mitra”.
Many Zoroastrians of India also believe in reincarnation though the concept is neither mentioned in the scriptures nor denied. This also perpetuates the belief of Karma, similar to Sanatana Dharma.
Sanatana Dharma in Asia
Tibet records Hinduism with the Bon religion of Tonpa Shenrab. He also meditated at Mount Kailasa like the Hindu Rishis Rishabha and Shukracharya.
China was culturally dominated by India. Indian monks worked with Chinese monks for the teaching of Moksha. Bodhidharma was one of the most important persons to have increased the Indo-China bond in Hinduism.
Japan and India have had heavy exchange of culture and in Japan Lord Ganesh is known as Kanti-ten and Binayaka-ten – an origin from the Sanskrit Vinayaka.
Indonesia has perhaps the richest influence of Hinduism after India. They believe that Sage Agastya and Markandeya brought Hinduism to Indonesia. Their major dynasties have been the Srivijaya, Mataram, Shailendra and Majapahit.
Thailand and Malaysia share the Hindu linkages like Indonesia. Burma has been referred to as Brahmadesh in our Indian scriptures.
Sanatana Dharma For Eternity
Many have tried fracturing the heartland of Sanatana Dharma but they forget that one cannot destroy Eternal Truth. It lived before they existed and will continue to thrive and grow after as well, because Sanatana Dharma is a lifestyle of spiritual upliftment.
Note: This article draws inspiration from The Spread of Hinduism by Himanshu Bhatt