What the Sanatanists need to understand

It is a great experience to listen to Dr. R. Ganesh speaking about the philosophical aspects of Sanatana Dharma. But the moment he turns to social aspects he is on shaky ground, although his confidence seems to suggest otherwise. For example, he eloquently claims that Sanskrit was a pan-Indian spoken language, the untruth of which claim has been demonstrated by linguistics. As another example, he admits that Shudras were not allowed access to the Vedas, but brushes it aside in one sweep of the hand, lest further deliberation should lead to the inevitable complications in his discourse.

The problem, of course, is not with the person of Dr. Ganesh but with Sanatana Dharma itself. As Dr. Ganesh himself admits, the main focus of Sanatana Dharma has been individual spiritual pursuit; anything social has always been secondary to it. Consequently, Sanatana Dharma is arguably the most developed system of philosophy and spirituality in the world. As a corollary to this, the study of the languages of the people - such as Kannada - has always suffered neglect. It is from such neglect that some can claim that Kannada is a derivative of Sanskrit. As another corollary to this, the study of Castes and steps to remove them has also suffered neglect. It is from such neglect that efforts to prove that Castes never existed stem.

Unfortunately for Sanatanists like Dr. Ganesh, however, social pursuits have risen to primary importance in today's world; one could argue that this was ever so. In such a world, no amount of rightful praise heaped on the philosophical aspects of Sanatana Dharma can save its face in the social sphere where the Varna and Caste systems have created a complete mess. I have heard Dr. Ganesh describe the 'real world' as 'a heavy load heaped on our backs'. If this is the way we continue to treat the real world, i.e., if our response to the 'real world' is to try and get rid of it in our thought, the days of Sanatana Dharma are numbered. Its death will begin and end in society, while its great philosophical and spiritual concepts will remain in the books and the chants of a handful individuals. Is this a desirable future for Sanatana Dharma?