The sanatana dharma is a worldview rooted in the existential significance and implication of dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.
Dhiyo no nah prachodayat– “awaken the intellect” – is the optative (icchasoochak) of the Gayatri mantra – Rig Veda 3.62.10. In one verb in English – “To THINK”.
This is the essence of the dharma. The dharma is reason-based (as distinguished from faith-based).
Therefore, it can and does evolve from within itself, through reasoning and awareness and comprehension and experience, appropriate to context.
“accepting of” – one may or may not know the Gayatri itself, one need only be accepting of its optative’s meaning.
It is a scientific fact that all creation (srishti) is an expression and manifestation of the same original substance (however “substance” is defined). The Nasadiya Sukta (RV 10.129 – http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv10129.htm) is in metaphysics what the Big Bang is in physics.
“significance”, therefore, is that all creation is a unity, we are all inter-connected.
“implication”, therefore, is how we inter-act with each other, with the rest of creation.
In other words, the dharma in its practice is about behaviour appropriate to context – of which the Mahabharata remains its extraordinary and very relevant exegesis and guide.
The dharma as an existential ideal of this is, for example, expressed through the various shanti mantras (e.g, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanti_Mantras).
The Gayatri’s optative is the guide to dharmic behavior. Reason does not preclude faith, but can explain it. Faith cannot explain reason.
Reason can explain the need, or not, for divinities and rituals and faith and their change and evolution, and different expressions of dharma (such as bauddhadharma).
In the practical context, reason can explain the need for chanakyaniti, and ahimsa paramo dharma / dharma himsa tathaiva cha, and The Golden Rule of Reciprocity with my Rider of the Pre-Emptive Strike.
A dharmi is a follower of the dharma.
A Hindu is a dharmi.
The non-dharmic (or anti-dharmic, asuric) existential ideal is quite the opposite of the dharmic.
It is the significance and implication of the imperative in Genesis 1.26-29 (HTTPS://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1%3A26-29&version=KJV).
Apply to that, as a dharmi, the Gayatri optative, and it should become clear that abrahamic history and civilisations follow from the abrahamic existential ideal.
Pagan faith may admit Jehovah and Allah as titles of ekam sad, but abrahamic faith – by its self-definition – cannot.
Reason can explain to us why not.
Reason shows that either the abrahamisms are false – or ekam sad is!
The Constitution of India (Article 25, Expln II) implicitly distinguishes Hindu from the abrahamists, and it follows that a Hindu is a non-abrahamist, and an abrahamist is not a Hindu.
Abrahamists are adharmi-s.
And reason explains why the twain never have and never can meet.
Shri Ashok Chowgule suggested “A Hindu is one who believes in ekam sad viprah bahudha vadanti“.
This is RV 1.164.46, and the full shloka translates –
“They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutmān /To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan” (https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv01164.htm)
Ekam sad is popularly translated “One Truth” or “One God”.
Whether it is “what is One” or “One Truth” or “One God”, this is a postulate that is a matter of faith, not of reason. Because, how do we know?
RV 10.129 itself concludes with scepticism.
That apart, the context of RV 1.164.46 suggests the One (or the One Truth) is Divinity, yet agnostics and atheists can be dharmi-s and Hindus.
I myself do not believe in “God”, at least as a concept for worship*. I do not believe in the divinity of the Vedas – as literature, as sociology, yes; but as scripture, no. I do not observe / practise rituals other than for social conviviality.
Yet I am Hindu, and proudly so.
My parents considered me Hindu, my in-laws consider me Hindu, my children consider me Hindu, their spouses consider me Hindu, their spouses’ parents consider me Hindu, my community considers me Hindu, my friends consider me Hindu, abrahamists consider me Hindu, I consider myself Hindu.
I am Hindu.
*[added later] The very necessary ”Sanskrit Non-Translatables” by Rajiv Malhotra and SD Babaji (New Delhi: Amaryllis, 2020:52) presents ”absolute reality” through a theistic interpretation. Here is a non-theistic one:
– BRAHMAN (‘’Consciousness’’)
– an expression of which is energy
– Rig Veda 10.129 / The Big Bang Theory
– energy and matter are interchangeable (E = mc2)
– (matter is condensed energy)
– all creation (srishti) is
– matter / energy
– | |
– material world the atma
– physical body in all forms of life
– |both are BRAHMAN|
It is a scientific fact that all creation as we know it is an expression and manifestation of the same original substance (however ‘’substance’’ is defined – Brahman). Within this macrocosm, the solar system is our particular microcosm. Human beings are quite literally creatures of the sun (solar substance evolved to form earth substance evolved to form us). Hence, in effect, the Gayatri as an invocation with an optative to our proximal creator (the sun deified) to awaken us to the awareness that we are Brahman (the advaita mahavakya-s). But why there is creation at all, who knows – līlā!