Sanatana Dharma, meaning “Eternal or Universal Righteousness” is the original name of what is now popularly called Hinduism. Sanatana Dharma comprises of spiritual laws which govern the human existence. Sanatana Dharma is to human life what natural laws are to the physical phenomena. Just as the phenomena of gravitation existed before it was discovered, the spiritual laws of life are eternal laws which existed before they were discovered by the ancient rishis (sages) for the present age during the Vedic period. Sanatana Dharma declares that something cannot come out of nothing and, therefore, the universe itself is the manifestation of the Divine being.
Sanatana Dharma is by its very essence a term that is devoid of sectarian leanings or ideological divisions. This is evident by the very term itself. The two words, "Sanatana Dharma", come from the ancient Sanskrit language. "Sanatana" is a Sanskrit word that denotes that which does not cease to be, that which is eternal. The word "Dharma" is a term that is only properly rendered into the English language with difficulty. Its approximate meaning is "Natural Law," or those principles of reality which are inherent in the very nature and design of the universe. Thus the term Sanatana Dharma can be roughly translated to mean "The Eternal Natural Way."
Since Sanatana Dharma is referring to those ways of being which are in concert with the Absolute, and are therefore axiomatic laws, this term is not referring to something which is open to alteration. Just as the laws of gravity, mathematics or logic are not open to sectarian debate or relative opinion (gravity, for example, is an inherent law of nature regardless of whether one believes in the law of gravity or not), similarly the subtle laws of God transcend all partisan concerns.
Also sometimes known as "Hinduism", Sanatana Dharma is the world's most ancient culture and the religion of almost one billion of the earth's inhabitants. Though the majority of followers are Indian (South Asian), Sanatana Dharma claims adherents from almost every nationality, race and ethnic group in the world, including an ever-increasing number of Americans. There are approximately 2 million followers in America, of which roughly half are from India and half (1 million) are non-Indian Americans (Hispanics, Caucasians, African-Americans, etc.). Statistics aside, Sanatana Dharma represents much more than just a religion; rather, it provides its followers with an entire way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality.