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Difference between Hindu-dharma and Sanatana-dharma

Dharma: Dharma as generally understood, refers to a structured religion or religious duties as mandatory in the scriptures of established monotheistic religions like Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism. But in the context of Hinduism or Hindu-dharma, it has a different connotation. The term Dharma can be traced to Sanskrit Dhri-dhatoo which literally means to sustain or hold or which is integral to something, as described by AC Bhaktivadanta Sri Sri Prabhupada. Thus dharma of sugar is to sweeten, dharma of fire is to create heat and burn or dharma of river is to flow or that of air is to blow. As such a human being’s dharma consists of certain duties which make his/her life fruitful. Thus dharma is the unchangeable nature of human beings irrespective of any religious affiliation.

Sanatana-dharma: Thousands of years before the term Hindu or Hinduism came into existence, the term ‘Sanatana-dharma’ finds reference in Veda the oldest literature in the world. The duties as mentioned above can be classified into Sanatana-dharma and Varnashrama-dharma. Varnashrama-dharma identifies the economic and social duties of human beings. Sanatana-dharma consists of duties which are typically spiritual in nature. It refers to atman or spirit and thus cannot vary from person to person. Sanatana-dharma is very difficult to define objectively. However the emphasis is on eternal or intrinsic inclination of human beings which is to do service as desired by God and without expecting anything in return. This, according to Rishis is universal and beyond life and death and has nothing to do with one’s belier system. It prescribes the eternal duties that human beings should follow irrespective of birth root. These duties are honesty, purity, non-violence, self-restraint etc.

Hindu-dharma: The term Hindu does not find mention in ancient literatures like Vedas and Puranas. It has been coined by Persians to mean people living beside the river Sindhu. Basically Hindu means the people living in a particular geographical territory, i.e. Indians living beside Sindhu river. Before Persians gave Indians the name Hindu, the geographical territory was known as Aryavarata. When Greek conqueror Alexander the great invaded this part of the world, Greeks used the term Indu instead of Hindu to denote people living in this territory. This ‘Indu’ later became India and the people came to be known as Indian.

During the period when Muslim rulers ruled India, they levied jazia, a discriminatory tax upon all non-Muslims, thus bracketing all non-Muslims living in India as a distinct religious and cultural denomination called Hindu. Later during 19th century ‘Hindu’ became to be recognised as Hindu religion engulfing the people of India and the Sanatana-dharma. Even today, in many countries Muslims and Christians from India are termed as Hindu-Muslims and Hindu-Christians respectively.

The root of Hindu-dharma is found in Vedas and Puranas. These books are collection of spiritual laws, discovered by Rishis. These laws are absolute and govern the spiritual world. With passage of time it became a complex tradition encompassing a number of inter-related faiths and practices with common characteristics. The underlying theme of Hindu-dharma is that a human being’s life both present and future is guided by the action or Karma one undertakes. Hindu-dharma is a mystical religion that teaches the practitioners to experience the truth within by way of Karma (action), Bhakti(devotion), and Gyana (wisdom), and feel oneness with God in death.

Hindu-dharma as commonly known is a synthesis of a number of beliefs and traditions, like Vaishnava, Shaiba, Shakta, Shikhism, Jainism etc. Hindu-dharma as practiced today by nearly 1.15 billion people spread over Indian subcontinent, and many parts of Asia consists of certain rituals, festivals, and strict customs. It is the third largest religion in the world after Christianity and Buddhism. Today Hinduism is a political force, synonymous with national identity of India.


Sanatana-dharma is the oldest religion in the world. It is based upon the collection of spiritual laws discovered by Rishis thousands of years ago. It prescribes certain duties that a human being must perform to achieve fulfilment of life. Sanatana-dharma is pre-historic and absolute in nature. On the other hand the term Hindu or Hindu dharma is a term given by Persians only a few centuries ago, to mean the people living beside the river Sindhu. With the beginning of the 19th century Hindu came to be understood as a collective term to describe the religion practiced by Indians as well as the people of India.

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  1. NO.

    I object on your article.

    1. Word Hindu was not given by Persians.
    You will find that word used in our ancient texts.

    2. Alexander could not invade India, instead it was only Indians who stopped him to that point.

    So, stop making false judgements on your website.

    • The term Hindu is not mentioned in the Vedas. In fact Santana Dharma is not a religion but our eternal relationship with God. It has always existed and will never die, we as individuals may deny it.

      Chapter 18: Conclusion-The Perfection of Renunciation
      TEXT 66
      sarva-dharman parityajya
      mam ekam saranam vraja
      aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
      moksayisyami ma sucah
      sarva-dharman—all varieties of religion; parityajya—abandoning; mam—unto Me; ekam—only; saranam—surrender; vraja—go; aham—I; tvam—you; sarva—all; papebhyah—from sinful reactions; moksayisyami—deliver; ma—not; sucah—worry.
      Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.

    • Where it is mentioned?

    • I have not find any text where Hindu word mentioned as a religion in ancient book. Please name the book. If not withdraw your comment.

  2. Since time immemorial, the human being set foot on this earth, there have been changes in the faiths and beliefs of human being.
    Dharma in real sense is only one and it is the root of all the dharmas or religions. Sanatana-dharma is the root of all . That root lies in all human being. Once people will feel their root then they will all their differences and unite into one religion of God Which can be called as “Vishwa Nirmal Dharma”

  3. Ref link -http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/religion-miscellaneous/difference-between-hindu-dharma-and-sanatana-dharma/


    It is clear that word “Hindu” is not originated from Bharat. Persians gave us this name, which they termed for all people living on other side of river Sindhu (Indus).

    How can we accept this name “Hindu” given to us by Foreigners ? It was definitely a fault, whoever committed it.

    Let us correct it now & call ourselves as “Bharateeya”.

    I pray to Shri Mohan Bhagawat (RSS) to replace word “Hindu” (..Tvaya Hindu Bhoome..by ..Tvaya Bharat Bhoome…………& so on…).

    I also request all ‘so called Hindu’ leaders to response to my above logic and prove me wrong.

    KK Modi, 72 yrs, Kolkata

  4. First branch of Sanatan Dharm is hindu dharm .all other dharma are more simplified and modified dr kanabar Nareshbranch of Sanatan Dharma,as like Sanskrit language are modified simplified sanatan dharm.all other dharma expect hinddu dharma do not accept fundamental like re birth and theory of karma.

  5. Well i am not opposing what you have mentioned, but wants to cite some points which need to be mention when we are writing or describing something!
    The literature of sanatan dharma includes vedas, upnishad, purans!!
    But you will find traces of gods like vishnu, shiva, adishakti, in almost all the books!!
    Yes here you are right you will find traces of sanatan dharma in budhism, jainism, sikhism,saranism,and few more religions, because all of them has evolved from it!!
    But there is a main stem of the hinduism, which follows the sanatan dharma and their depicted gods!!
    I can share scripts of rigveda, yajurveda, samveda, vishnu puran, garuda puran, shiv puran, upnishad 1, upnishad 2 where indian gods like bramha, vishnu, mahesh, avatar of vishnu, shiva and adishakti were discussed, their role is discussed!!
    Yes sanatan dharma deals with idealism in three ways!! All the three directs to different paradigm of power and gods!!
    This is considered one of the deadliest sin in hinduism or in sanatan dharma to do conspiracy with the literature and dharma!
    If the author have read the garuda puran properly, he should know the end of the world will be near as more the conspiracy grows!! And it will as it is clearly according to surya sidhanta, the world will go near to the end , when the trust over the religion and literature related to sanatan dharma fades!!

  6. .Your following sentence is not correct” It is the third largest religion in the world after Christianity and Buddhism”
    Instead of Buddhism it should be Islam

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