In ancient times, Persians called people living on the bank of Sindhu River as Hindu because they lacked ‘Sa’ syllable in their language and pronunciation, and mixed with ‘Ha’ syllable, thus called Hindu instead of Sindhu. After the influence of European, especially British, due to the colonization of Indus Valley civilization, Hindu religion came to be called Hinduism. But the actual name of the religion is Sanatana Dharma, where Sanatana means eternal and Dharma means duty.
Therefore, Sanatana Dharma means the eternal duty of God. Not just Hindus, but all beings in creation, including animals, deities, gods, and rest of humanity, share this duty. In terms of humans and higher entities, Dharma is also used in reference to any set of moral and religious laws and principles that govern religious duty and human conduct upon earth. Hence, in popular usage Dharma is interpreted as morality or religion rather than duty. The essence of Dharma is to protect the order and the regularity of the world through specific obligation by morality and religion as a guiding factor.
Every living being and every object under God’s creation, reasoning above, has a special role and a specific duty in God’s manifested universe. Thus, Sanatana Dharma, which we popularly understand as Hinduism, is a duty obliged to God that is shared by all from the lowest to highest creative beings.
Who is a Hindu and why are conversions not accepted in Sanatana Dharma?
It will be unrealistic and unfair to name only to those who practice Hinduism religiously as Hindu, but to all those who contribute to God’s creation and continuity of the creation by performing and sharing the eternal and continuous duties and owes his or her life and adherence to the creator. That is why Sanatana Dharma do not actively seek conversions or increment of numbers of the followers, as everyone, knowingly or unknowingly, in God’s creation is bound to God’s eternal duties and therefore do not require to be converted. It is just that differentiation arises on the basis of good deeds and bad deeds, where good deeds are the religion of Devas (good) and bad deeds are of the Asuras (evil). With this karma, God decides the faith of the being to be rewarded or punished.
How to be more insightful of understanding Sanatana Dharma?
Only foolish argue which religion is the best, as every religion has its own value, just as every duty. Each accommodates to certain needs and fulfills certain aims. Whatever the presumption is, if the living being caters God’s guidelines, he or she is following Sanatana Dharma. Therefore, it is wise not to form hatred in one’s mind to any religion. If we act selflessly take good actions in protecting and putting effort on the regularity of the God’s creation, we are all under Sanatana Dharma.
Lower species have their own special duties, for example in the case of ants, younger ants work inside their nest taking care of the queen and her brood while older workers go outside to gather food and defend the nest against enemies. They are given special duties and perform accordingly. Since the actions of lower species are guided by Nature, they do not incur karma as much as human beings, who are intelligent and who can exercise their will for good and bad.
According to the scriptures of Sanatana Dharma, we all have a responsibility towards ourselves, family, society, towards ancestors and divinities, and to all living beings in general. These duties are essentially meant to establish peace and stability in us, in others and in the world in general.