1. Sanatana Dharma is an eternal, inclusive, time-tested knowledge repository as opposed to strictly organized groupings of people like religions or social clubs. Comparing Sanatana Dharma with a religion (including native religions of India) is like comparing apples and oranges. It is an inclusive philosophy promoting Vasudaiva Kutumbakam, the global family as against a religion which is an exclusive club.
2. Sanatana Dharma never tells you to accept things blindly. Rather it is perhaps the only place where theories were never taken for granted unless those theories were debated and persons were satisfied with the answers. Rarely do you find “Thou shalt” attitude or a set of rules that one must obey without question.
3. There is a wrong assumption that Logic is only part of modern education system and Indian scriptures do not encourage logic. In fact, there is an entire school of logic as part of Indian scriptures going way back to more than 5000 years of Rigveda, 3000 year old anviksiki school of logic, 2500 year old works of Panini/Chanakya and most recent 13th century Nyaya-Nyaya school. However, Indian scriptures and philosophy believed that it is but only one of the ways to find the entire truth giving its due credit and encouraged those who are intellectually driven by logic to pursue the same.
4. Assumption of Indians adopting new religions because they found them great or have had trouble with their own native beliefs is incorrect. Only a small set of intellectuals adopted the new religions when they were introduced. The major adoptions happened only when they were state-sponsored or enforced. In fact, Sanatana Dharma prevailed whenever there was a pure intellectual debate. Last 2500 years of Indian history is an evidence to this fact. The trivial issue of using Gregorian calendar and birthday candles to demonstrate adoption is incorrect. Adoption of Gregorian calendar has got nothing to do with Dharma, but it is political in nature and the world knows the reason. Issue of Birthday candles are a trivial rite, one of those fads of society which come and go. It is not relevant to Dharma, not even to any religion.
5. It is not because there was anything wrong with any new religion, but just that Indians never found them to be innovative eye-openers. Sanatana Dharma with its intellectual debates and discussions over the millennia had it all covered. What was new for the rest of the world was nothing but one aspect of the all-encompassing universal truth already covered in Indian scriptures. So everything found a place in the bosom of this great land and enriching the knowledge and lives over the generations.
6. One naive modern day criticism of Sanatan Dharma is the ills of caste system. Groupism is in the nature of humans. The ideal is the Jagadaiva Kutumbakam, a global family which by the way is a Dharma principle. The biggest hindrance in achieving this ideal is the human mind itself and not any specific scripture. People generally tend to group based on different aspects – wealth, family ties, dietary habits, customs, favorite gods, genetics, blood groups, nationality, race, color, creed, alma mater and so on. Initially all groups start with good intention but over time some of them become troublesome clubs. Groups are given different names in different places and times. Fortunately whenever this trouble exceeded beyond limit in India, there were a set of good personalities who corrected it in time.
7. Please note that there is a difference between Dharma and Nyaya. Dharma refers to eternal wisdom applicable beyond time and location; however Nyaya as part of sutras refers to the “Law of the Land” and differs based on space and time. What is unacceptable based on law at a particular space and time may be acceptable at some other place and time. Nyaya keeps changing based on the needs of a given society at a point in time. In addition, perhaps improper interpretations and translations of the original texts in the past few hundred years has resulted in challenges and fractured societies.
8. Indian scriptures also include good contributions from Valmiki, Satyakama, Gargi, Viswamitra, Nachiketa among many others not because of their caste, gender or the current trend of making everything into a politically-correct issue. Their contributions were valued for their intellectual prowess and merit, defying the standard caste arguments made to benefit a particular view point. Most recent examples of Vivekananda or Saibaba exemplify the nature of people in this holy land who always embraced the spiritual and intellectual prowess and wisdom.
9. Religion is a personal choice of joining an exclusive club and Caste is a social grouping where power equations change from time-to-time based on the geopolitics. But Dharma is the eternal knowledge intellectually debated over millennia which not only helped humans in spiritual development but also enormous scientific discoveries.
10. Lets all wish that our society gets the wisdom to “not throw baby with the bath water” but uses this eternal knowledge from these Indian scriptures for the benefit of not just a religious group but the world at large. It provides us both with a macro perspective of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a global family and a micro perspective of the world within each of our hearts, atma jnana. The keys for personal and universal development that these knowledgeable seers found long ago and given us in this form of Dharma.
Let the rivers of knowledge flow from all directions into this vast ocean and in-turn become blissful for all. But ultimately it is the pure mind and heart (either by practice or destiny) that lets us see the truth.