By Makarand Paranjape Life Positive, August 1997
The importance of dharma in Indian life has been summed up well by Sri Aurobindo in his famous Uttarpara speech in 1909: "When it is said that India shall be great, it is the Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country." When Aurobindo was in jail, the Divine actually spoke to him, giving him the following message: "Since long ago I have been preparing this uprising and now the time has come and it is I who will lead it to its fulfillment."
At the end of this historic speech, Aurobindo repeated his main contention: "I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines " Of course, it needs to be stressed that by Sanatan Dharma, Aurobindo meant the eternal, universal religion, not any particular sect or creed: "If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose."