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Sanatan Dharma

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: IE

 Context: The term “Sanatan Dharma” is a Sanskrit phrase that can be translated as “eternal religion” or “eternal law.” It is commonly associated with Hinduism but is also used by Jains and Buddhists who believe in rebirth.

  • The term gained popularity in the late 19th century when it was used to signify Hindu orthodoxy in response to reform movements led by missionaries and groups like the Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj.
  • In the 19th century, “Sanatan Dharma” was used to promote Hindu orthodoxy as a reaction to reform movements. This term was adopted by various organizations and sabhas to defend traditional Hindu practices against reformers.
  • It was seen as a way to preserve the caste system and idol worship as essential aspects of the Sanatan Dharma tradition.


While the term “Sanatan Dharma” has been used to signify Hinduism, it does not represent a universally recognized philosophy within Hinduism, as there is no agreement on a static or universal doctrine. Instead, it has been employed to evoke a sense of homogeneity within Hinduism without specifying the exact nature of that homogeneity.