Sanatan Dharma can be seen as the foundational principle underpinning Hinduism. “Sanathan” means universal, and “Dharma” means religion or duty or purpose. Sanathan Dharma is the universal purpose of all beings everywhere, in all dimensions, on all planets, etc, to become self-realised. Whether these beings are conscious or unconscious about it, self-realisation is the goal towards which all beings are heading.
Essentially a religion and spiritual tradition differ in the way power is used. Religion assumes power over the way individuals interact with the divine. They dictate the terms, rules and have a network of middlemen (priests) that are the go-between God and the individual. On the other hand a spiritual tradition provides one with the tools to become self-actualised. To be able to connect to a higher spiritual purpose without the need for any external authority. However, we must realise that all religions are ultimately founded upon spiritual traditions. Therefore, there is a gradual gradient between a spiritual tradition and religion, whereby the distinctions between the two can oftentimes become blurred.