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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vedas_ F A Q

Vedas_ F A Q

  1. What are the Vedas...?
  2. What do the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda contain ?
  3. What are the Classifications ... ?
  4. Are the Vedas only for the Indians or the Hindus.?
  5. Goal of Vedas Spirituality & Materialism..?
  6. Idol Worship Vs. Spiritual Worship...?
  7. How were the Vedas saved without changes for more than 5,000+ Years ?
  8. What can I do for 'Veda Rakshana' or saving the Vedas ?

1) What are the Vedas for, are they collection of commentaries on Gods or do they specify ways of living ? The Vedas are divided into four (The Rig, The Yajur, The Sama ,The Atharva) of the 14 Vidyaasthanas ( texts that have Knowledge and wisdom enshrined in them ). These are the doors to Dharma. Dharmais that which, if we follow, will make us contended and happy. Thus these are called DharmaPramanas ,that which gives one true knowledge of Dharma. Top

2) What do the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda contain ? The whole of the Rig Veda Samhita is in the form of verses, about 10,170 in number (out of 20,500 in all the four Vedas). 'Rik' was the earlier name of 'slokas', a group of Riks are called a 'Sooktha'. It starts & ends with Agni's praise, symbolizing the light of the soul's consiusness (Atma chaitnayam)- the glow of the soul's awakening. The first place to Rig, may be because Yajur's actions and Sama's musical recitation emerge from basic Riks.

The word 'Yajus' from 'Yaj' means worship, the word Yajna (sacrificial worship) also derived from it. It gives a practical shape to in the form of Yajna. It describes in prose the procedural details of different Yajnas. The main branches are Sukhla (white) known to be learnt from the Sun God, Surya, and the Krishna Yajur Veda(black). The glory of Yajur Veda lies in its good presentation of vedic karma or rituals. Yajnas like Darsa Poornamasa, Somayaga, Vaajapeya (are you thinking of Vajpayee! actually it means one who has conducted this Yajna ), Rajasooya, Aswamedha and many others in all their procedural detail by the Thaitreeya Samhita in Krishna Yajur Veda..Yajur is of special significance to Advaitins - those who understand and believe in the "non-dualism" school of philosophy, that declares that there is but One Reality, that the individual self and the Brahman are one. ( Jeevatman and the Paramatman reside in you as same ). Any philosophical doctrine should contain a Sootra or aphorism, to enunciate the doctrine in a condensed and pithy form. Bhaashya is a detailed commentary and Vaartika, a further elaborate elucidation of the Bhaashya.

Atharva means purohit , named after Rishi Atharvan, who brought it to light. The Athava Veda contains many types of mantras to ward off evil, hardship and to destroy enemies. Also many hymns dealing with creation esp. "Prithvi Sookthm", the hymn extoling the wonder of creation.The Upanishads are Prasna, Mundaka, and Madukya, where the third one helps in ensuring Moksha or liberation of soul from continuous births. Top

3) What are the classifications & sub-classifications in Vedas? What do the others signify ? To understand the classifications one should know know the Vidyaasthanas : the four Vedas, the six Vedaangas or auxiliaries to the Vedas viz.

  1. Siksha which is euphony and pronunciation;

  2. Vyaakarna which is grammar;

  3. Chandas which is metre;

  4. Niruktha or etymology;

  5. Jyotisha or astronomy;

  6. Kalpa or procedure;

  7. Meemaamsa or interpretation of Vedic texts;

  8. Nyaaya or logic;

  9. Puraana or mythology and

  10. Dharma Saastras which contain the codes of conduct.

The four Vedas from the core of the vedic religion. They are the supreme authority - Pramaana. The Vedas form the basic structure from which have been derived the 6 Vedangaas and the 4 Upaangas, in order to supplement the understanding of the Vedas. The Vedas are meant to be studied with the other ten of its constituents.
The following table gives the various branches of the 4 Vedas:

Vedas

Veda Sakha Samhita / Brahmana Aranyaka Upanisad
Rig Sakala aitreya aitreya aitreyopanisad
Sankhyana kausitaki kausitaki kausitaki
Yajur Taitriya TAITRIYA

SATAPATHA

Taitriya Taitriya , svetaswaratha , katho
Maitriyaniya
Kanva BRHADARNYAKA brhadaranyakamaitriisa , isavasyo
Madhyandina
Sama RANAYANIYA PANCAVIMSA , ARSEYA, VAMSA , TALAVAKARA , DIAVATA , JAINMINIYA UPANISHAD , SADVIMSA , MANTRA , CHANDOGYA , SAMAVUDHANA

SAMHITO PANISHAD

kenopanisad
jaiminiya
chandogyopanisad
kauthama
Atharva SAUNAKA GOPATHA mundako , mandukyo
PIPPALADA prasnopanisad

The 'Samhita' ,which means that has been collected and arranged, is the main text portion, the hymns, while the 'Braahmanas' lists the Vedic Karmas (rituals to be performed) . When the mantras contained in a Veda Samhita are converted in to action, called Yajna , the Braahmanas serve as a guidebook or handy manual explaining how each word should be understood , or what construction should be placed on each word used ie. the proper use of the mantra. 'Aranyaka' is derived from the word 'Aranya'(forest). The chanting of Vedas, the Yajnas and other rituals are for materialistic benefits, for those living in homes, but only preliminary. It has to be understood that these rituals are intended to confer mental purity ( Chiththa Shuddhi) by constant discipline. For this one must seek solitude of forests for meditation on the true nature of the self and true nature of reality. Top

4) Are the Vedas only for the Indians or the Hindus or is it Universal? The Vedic religion aims at Universal Harmony. There are evidences of the Vedas prevailing around the Globe. The last sooktha of Rig Veda pertains to Agni ,contains verse of Universal appeal:
"Let all men meet and think as one mind,
Let all hearts unite in Love,
Let the goal be common,
May all live in happiness with a common purpose".
Top

5) Is spirituality the only goal of Vedas ? Does Veda support Materialistic living like commerce etc.? As the Vedas give us us the Dharma, the primary goal of the Vedas is to make us Self-realize ( note :neither to know nor to understand, but realize) the Brahman or the Ultimate Truth. But these scriptures are supported by a set of texts 'wordly sciences'.To the 14 Vidyaasthanas may be added 4 more, called Upaangas or appendices to the Vedaangas. They are:
1.
Ayurveda or the science of life and medicine.
2. Arthasaastra the science of wealth or economics.
3. Dhanur Veda the science relating to weaponry, missiles and warfare and
4. Gaandharva Veda or treatises on fine arts like music, dance, drama, etc. Top

6) Do the Vedas support 'IDOL' worship ? The Vedas support both ritual and spirtual worship. The Karma kanda refers to the rites, Yajnas etc.. while the Gnana kanda supports to spiritual enlightenment. While the Vedas guide in sacrifices, Vedanta/ Upanishads denigrates the performer as a cow - a witless person. To understand these one must look more in to the God, as a Supreme Reality. The functional and attributive names of the Supreme Reality are numberless. Sometimes they are names of Nature's Bounties also - primarily the sun, secondarily the bounties of mid-spaces & the earth. The SR (Supreme Reality) is not merely a philosophical abstract concept, it is a reality which we have to invoke and evoke for our personal becoming or for the fulfillment of our life. In this sense, Vedic Theism is a concept of Dynamic Reality. The SR is our concern every moment. The God or the Supreme Reality is known by different names in regard to its functions, attributes and nature. Taken out of context of its creation and suzerainty over souls, the Reality would have no name other than OM (= A-U-M), the all comprehensive syllable, embracing the limits of entire phonetic alphabet with potential creativity, sustenance and dissolution in it ('Om Kham Brahma' - Yajur 60.17)

The distinguishing feature of Vedas is that no Vedas say, "This is the only way", "This is the only God". All of them say that any path ( compare with other religious texts) followed with faith and loyalty and any Devata worshipped in whatever way, will lead one to the true goal. This is the greatness of the Vedas. The FAQ Author understands that only personal realizations, through a Guru ie. an able spiritual Teacher can help in finding answers to these questions, while people around you would be (still) debating. Top

7) How were the Vedas saved without changes for more than 5,000+ Years ? The Vedas were not given script form until recently. They were chanted or taught from Guru to Sishya in the Gurukula system of Education. They used many techniques like Computer encoding Schemes and redundancy, that protect the Vedic Hymns from loss due to time and intentional sabotage. This system is explained below. A fool-proof method use to chant each mantra in various patterns and combinations, Top

8) What can I do for 'Veda Rakshana' or saving the Vedas ? "Dharma protects one who protects it". Any one can take up the path laid out in the Vedas. He can also do Dharma towards the cause of Vedic Education. It may be a small contribution like a day's meals for students in a Patasala , a Vedic educational institution or contributing monetary help to student's educational expenses or providing help for developmental activities like land, building etc.. Top
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