I would like to know whether there are any ideals or principles in Sanathana Dharma that make it distinctly different from other religious faiths of the world? What qualities or principles does Sanathana Dharma profess other than what the rest of the world religions have contributed for the welfare of humanity and betterment of our planet?
There are various attributes which differentiate Sanatana Dharma from other religions. Some of the main attributes are:
1) One Goal Many Paths:
This is one of the main attribute of Sanatana Dharma. Due to this attribute there are many Paths to reach the supreme.
A popular RigVeda Verse 1.164.46 declares:
एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति
ekaM sadvipraa bahudhaa vadanti
Wise people explain the same truth in different ways.
So, there are many paths in Sanatana Dharma. Advaita declares there is nothing other than God. Vishistadvaita declares Jeeva and God have body soul relationship and are not completely same. Dvaita declares Jeeva and God are completely different.
Some philosophy declare this world is fully illusion, some declare it is real. Some declare God having form and infinite attributes is Supreme, Some declare formless God without attributes is Supreme.
Popular verse of Mahmina stotra says:
त्रयी साङ्ख्यं योगः पशुपतिमतं वैष्णवमिति प्रभिन्ने प्रस्थाने परमिदमदः पथ्यमिति च। रुचीनां वैचित्र्यादृजुकुटिल नानापथजुषां नृणामेको गम्यस्त्वमसि पयसामर्णव इव॥ ७॥
The different practices based on the three Vedas, SaMkhya, Yoga, Pashupata-mata, VaishhNava-mata etc . are but different paths (to reach to the Greatest Truth) and people on account of their different aptitude choose from them whatever they think best and deserved to be accepted . But as the sea is the final resting place for all types of streams , You are the only reaching place for all people whichever path,straight or zigzag, they may accept .
Some say Lord Shiva is Supreme Brahman and is the final destination, Some Say Lord Vishnu is Supreme Brahman and is the final destination, Some Say the Supreme which is formless and attributeless is the final Destination.
The most interesting thing is that each of them can quote many verses from scripture to prove their Point. So, there are many path to realize the Supreme. In the chapter of 'Validity of Various Path' itself Suta Samhita of Skandha Purana states:
यथा तोयप्रवाहाणां समुद्र: परमावधि । तथैव सर्व मार्गाणां साक्षान्निष्ठा महेश्वरः ।।
As all streams ultimately empty themselves into the ocean, so all these paths ultimately lead to the Great Lord Himself.
Thus the statement that "Truth is one, Wise call it by different names" is one of the most important attribute of Sanatana Dharma. This is the same reason how the development of other religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism became possible in Land of Sanatana Dharma although they reject authority of Vedas.
2) Devotion even in Hatredness:
This is also one of the important attribute of Sanatana Dharma. Generally 'Devotion' means love towards God. But there is an interesting concept in Sanatana Dharma that hatred and enmity towards God is also considered Devotion. It is called Virodhi Bhakti. For eg. Shiva Gita section of Padma Purana says: For eg. In Shiva Gita of Padma Purana it is said:
अनादरेण शाठ्येन परिहासेन मायया । शिवभक्तिरतश्चेत्स्यादन्त्यजोऽपि विमुच्यते ।।
"Anyone while doing criticism or while disrespecting or due to jealousy if meditated or gains devotion for Shiva, he would get cleansed of all the sins immediately. "
Thus criticizing and disrespecting God is also considered devotion. It seems a weird thing but it is true. It is because his mind is constantly absorbed in thoughts of Supreme when he is criticizing and hating Supreme also.
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.29.15 also says:
"15. Persons who constantly direct their lust, anger, fear, protective affection, feeling of impersonal oneness or friendship toward Lord Hari are sure to become absorbed in thought of Him."
This is the same reason how Shishupala, Kamsa and other demons were able to achieve salvation. It is because their mind were constantly absorbed with thoughts of Supreme which helped them to get liberation. Some demons even use this type of devotion to get Liberation. Here is what Agastya Rishi tells Rama why Ravana kidnapped Sita:
Hearing those words given vent to bythe great ascetic Sanatkumar the night-ranger Ravana, being worked up with delight and surprise, began to meditate how he should enter into conflict with Hari......the vicious souled Ravana stole away Sita with a view to meet death at thy hands. Thou art NarAyana, holding discus, conch and club ; thou hast in thy hands....
Thus, some even use these type of Virodhi Bhakti to get liberation from God. However this should not be taken as license to hate and disrespect God. These are for only those whose intellect can't capture infinite mercy of God.
3) Leela Of God:
"Leela" is one of the important attribute of Santana Dharma. In other religions only prophet of God come to give message to people. However in Sanatana Dharma God himself manifests among people themselves and do Leela. Lord Krishna in Bhagvad Gita [4.7] states:
यदा यदा ही धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत !
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानम सृज्याहम !!
O scion of the Bharata dynasty, whenever there is a decline in Dharma and increase of adharma, then do I manifest Myself.
God not only incarnates but also shows human like behaviour. Ignorant people do not understand these Leelas of God and call it ignorant and foolishness.
God incarnating in human form also cries, laughs, fights, kills, liberates and do so much human like things. Sometimes Sages and even gods are confused seeing the Human like behaviour of Lord.
For eg. Some leelas shown by Lord are:
-Lord Rama crying and weeping while losing Sita in forest.
-Lord Krishna hiding clothes of Gopinis, creating Rasa and dancing among Gopinis.
-Lord Shiva beheading his son (Ganesha), being attracted towards apsara Tilottama and Mohini.
-Lord Shiva wandering holding dead body of Sati.. and so on other many Leelas...
Every Leela performed by Lord also has deep meaning also. But intellect of ignorants do not simply understand it. For eg.
Hiding clothes by Lord Krishna has deep meaning in telling removing barrier and attachment between Atma and Paramatma,
-Lord Shiva beheading Ganesha has deep meaning in removing Maila-Buddhi (dirt formed intellect) of Ganesha and adding Purush element in Prakirti formed Ganesh and so on.
Some Leelas are very hard to decipher and even great Sages can't understand it.
There are many other Attributes of Sanatana Dharma. One can feel free to edit and add verses if he/she wants to add other important attributes.
Sanatan Dharma (सनातन धर्म) Or Vedic Dharma (वैदिक धर्म) and it's Vedic spiritual way represents the view that "Every creature is sacred". Spiritually we are all of the same quality. As explained in the Shree Ishopanishad (ईशोपनिषद) -:
ईशा वाक्यम इदं सर्वमं , यत् किंचा जगत्याम जगत
Ishavasyam idam sarvam, yat kincha jagatyam jagat,
which means that everything in this creation, both animate and inanimate, is part of the Lord’s energy, and that God’s energy is within all of us.
Sanatan Dharma (सनातन धर्म) or Vedic Dharma (वैदिक धर्म) lead all of mankind towards glory, peace, prosperity, and elevates society to liberation from this earthly existence. And takes us to the spiritual dimension. This is why Sanatan Dharma is meant to help all of society, and not to divide society into those who are “saved” and those who are not saved , unlike others. It's a univarsal way of life.
The attainment of Moksha (मोक्ष) or liberation from material existence is unique in Sanatan Dharma (सनातन धर्म ) or Vedic धर्म (वैदिक धर्म) ,because most religions gives the idea of only reaching the heaven, which is still a part of the material creation. Yes," Moksha" also means rising above material suffering, ignorance, and the attainment of the Eternal Truth and Bliss, right here and right now, in this life. It is not necessarily something that only can be attained after death. Whereas the other religions often give importance to moral conduct, social behavior, ethics, etc. for reaching heaven in the next life, but with the idea of continuing the enjoyments of material life, so gives little emphasis on deeper spiritual philosophy. So in those religions there remains many philosophical questions for which there are limited answers.Sanatan Dharma gives an individual the freedom to choose which process or path he or she to accept in reaching a natural level of spiritual realization.and to attain Moksha That is why no Hinduism sect has tried to propagate or increase their followers through the use of the force or Sword through fear of torture, or other such means. It is spread only through the purity of its teachings and the means by which people can use it for their own enlightenment.
Om Shanti : Shanti :Shanti
There are few religion which safeguards very tiny creatures like fly, ant, worm or insect. It is our Vedic or Sanatan religion which does this in a Dharmic way. Supporting of offering food to these creatures, telling us not to harm them or to kill them
Ref.Apastambha Dharma sutra अपस्तंभ धर्मसूत्र.
Sanatan Dharma (सनातन धर्म) respects all the Dharmas , their teachings, daities and beliefs , never critised them. This is also why anyone of any religion can easily live amongst those who follow Vedic Dharma.
Thease are some of the few unique qualities of Sanatan Dharma in my opinion