VEDIC STUDIES – AN INTRODUCTION
The Vedas are the eternal truths revealed by God to the great ancient Rishis of India. The word Rishi means a Seer, from dris, to see. He is the Mantra-Drashta, seer of Mantra or thought. The thought was not his own. The Rishis saw the truths or heard them. Therefore, the Vedas are what are heard (Sruti). The Rishi did not write. He did not create it out of his mind. He was the seer of thought which existed already. He was only the spiritual discoverer of the thought. He is not the inventor of the Veda.
The Vedas represent the spiritual experiences of the Rishis of yore. The Rishi is only a medium or an agent to transmit to people the intuitional experiences which he received. The truths of the Vedas are revelations. All the other religions of the world claim their authority as being delivered by special messengers of God to certain persons, but the Vedas do not owe their authority to any one. They are themselves the authority as they are eternal, as they are the Knowledge of the Lord.
Lord Brahma, the Creator, imparted the divine knowledge to the Rishis or Seers. The Rishis disseminated the knowledge. The Vedic Rishis were great realised persons who had direct intuitive perception of Brahman or the Truth. They were inspired writers. They built a simple, grand and perfect system of religion and philosophy from which the founders and teachers of all other religions have drawn their inspiration.
The Vedas are the oldest books in the library of man. The truths contained in all religions are derived from the Vedas and are ultimately traceable to the Vedas. The Vedas are the fountain-head of religion. The Vedas are the ultimate source to which all religious knowledge can be traced. Religion is of divine origin. It was revealed by God to man in the earliest times. It is embodied in the Vedas.
The Vedas are eternal. They are without beginning and end. An ignorant man, may say how a book can be without beginning or end. By the Vedas, no books are meant. Vedas came out of the breath of the Lord. They are not the composition of any human mind. They were never written, never created. They are eternal and impersonal. The date of the Vedas has never been fixed. It can never be fixed. Vedas are eternal spiritual truths. Vedas are an embodiment of divine knowledge. The books may be destroyed, but the knowledge cannot be destroyed. Knowledge is eternal. In that sense, the Vedas are eternal.
The Yajurveda is different from the other Vedas in that it may be said to be divided into two Vedas which are considerably different from one another: the Sukla-Yajurveda and the Krsna-Yajurveda. "Sukla" means white, while "Krsna" means black. The Samhita of the Sukls-Yajurveda is also called "Vajasaneyi Samhita". "Vajasaneyi" is one of the names of the sun god. It was the sun god who taught this Samhita to the sage Yajnavalkya.
In the Krsna-Yajurveda, the Samhita and the brahmanas do not form entirely different parts. The Brahmanas are appended here and there to the mantras of the Samhita Vedăs are the basis of the Sanathan Dharma. It is basis for existence of all ‘lokăs’; including the ‘Bhu-lokăa where we all reside. It is also the duty (‘Rinam’ – debt) of the Brahmin for having born thus that he has the duty to learn, practice and propagate Vedăs. This has been carried out for time immemorial - from the ages of the Rishis even to this day. Traditionally our fore-fathers had done niyama -adhyayana, carried out vocation and have successfully reared their families to the appropriate living standards at that time Due to various compulsions of time, like regular foreign invasions, English rule and man-made blunders, the concept of Veda -Adhyayanam has declined steadily.
Very great tapasvis like our Shankaracharyas have had great fore-sight and have done long standing arrangements in establishment of institutions who encourage Veda–Adhyayanam and champion its related activities. Only because of such foresight, Vedam has got relevance and reverence to us even now.
Here are a few quotations from various sources regarding the greatness of Vedic studies.
Ananthaa vai vedaha -
Infinite are the Vedas - Yajur Veda
Pramanam vedascha -
The proof of all Dharma - Apasthamba
Vedaischa sarvai ahameva vedyo -
I am known through all the Vedas - Gita
Adhyathma vidya vidyanam -
Of all the vidyas, I’m the Vedavidya - Gita Viboothi Yoga
Vedho Nithyam Adheeyatham -
Practice the Vedas daily
Practise well their prescriptions - Adi Shankara
Yasya niswasitham Vedaha -
He whose breath are the Vedas - Vidyaranya
Vedhokilo Dharmamoolam -
Vedas are the root of all Dharmas - Manusmruthi
Veda ye naha param dhanam -
The greatest wealth is Vedas - Srimath Ramayanam
Veda vayam vaha sharanam prappannaha -
We surrender unto you, the great Vedas ! - A Saint
Dharmam Jignasamananam pramanam
Vedas are the prime source to know Dharma- Subashitham
From these above quotations, we can understand the greatness of Vedas.
To know Dharma and the principles of Dharma, we must refer to certain specific texts or books. Such books are referred to as “Dharmapramana” .
“Pramana” means that which establishes the truth. So ““Dharmapramana” means that which gives one the true knowledge of Dharma. which are the sacred texts that speak about true Dharma.
Angaani Vedaaschatwaro meemaamsa nyaaya vistarah
Puraanam Dharmasaastramcha vidyaahyetaah chaturdasa
These are fourteen and they are :
- Vedas - 4
1. Rig Veda
2. Yajur Veda
3. Sama Veda
4. Atharva Veda
- Vedaangas - 6 (Auxilliaries to the Vedas)
5. Siksha - Euphony and pronunciation
6. Vyaakarna - Grammar
7. Chandas - Metre
8. Niruktha - Etymology
9. Jyotisha - Astronomy
10.Kalpa - Procedure
11.Meemaamsa - Interpretation of Vedic texts
12 Nyaaya - Logic
13 Puraana - Mythology
14 Dharma Saastraas - Contains codes of conduct
- Knowledge and wisdom are enshrined in these. Hence these fourteen are known as the ‘Vidyaasthaanas’.
To these 14 may be added 4 more which are called ‘Upaangas’ or appendices to the Vedaangas. They are :
- Ayurveda - Science of life
- Arthasaastra - Science of wealth
- Dhanur Veda - Science relating to weaponry, missiles and warfare
- Gaandharva Veda - Treatises on the fine arts like
Music, dance , drama etc.
The four Vedas form the core of our religion. They are the supreme authority – Pramaana. The Vedas form the basic structure from which have been derived the 6 Vedaangas and 4 Upaangas, in order to supplement the understanding of the Vedas, The Vedas are
meant to be studied with the other 10 of its constituents.
At our Patashala, we make a humble attempt to initiate the pupils in this area of knowledge and impart skills in Krishna Yajur Veda in the traditional manner of our ancient Gurukula System.