well known as the oldest religion in the world, the only major world religion without a
specific founder or an historical beginning. The very origins of Hindu Dharma relate back
to the beginning of time itself, to the very origin of cosmic creation. Yet not many
people, even Indians, are aware that Bharata (India) is also the oldest nation in the
world, perhaps the first of the nations of humanity. As far back as the Rig Veda, the
oldest Hindu text from more than five thousand years ago, there is mention of a great land
of the seven rivers that spread between the two oceans.
Ancient Vedic texts like the
Shatapatha Brahmana speak of many great Vedic emperors, including several figures from the
Rig Veda, who ruled this land between the eastern and the western seas. The people of this
vast region shared a common culture based upon a singular dedication to the spiritual life
and the practice of Dharma.
The Mahabharata, the foremost of the Hindu epics, is the longest epic poem in world
literature, and as well over two thousand years old, is one of the oldest as well. The
word Mahabharata, we should clearly note, literally means "Great (Maha) India
(Bharata)." This magnificent story documents the religion and culture of the land
between the two oceans in great detail. It speaks of the entire area from Afghanistan
(Gandhara) in the West to Assam (Prag Jyotish) in the East, from Kailas (Tibet) in the
North to Sri Lanka in the South. It shows the area dynamically linked together, sharing a
common rich culture, values and lifestyle.
The Mahabharata explains all the main teachings of Hindu
Dharma to the present day including the worship of Shiva, Vishnu and the Goddess (Devi),
Varnashrama Dharma (the Hindu social system and stages of life), Samkhya and Vedanta
philosophies, and the great system of Yoga. In fact Hinduism has not changed fundamentally
since its formulation in the Mahabharata and has remained consistent to the main
principles and practices set forth within this ancient text that itself reflects and
reformulates older Vedic teachings.