Archive for the ‘Vedas Part I’ Category

Hindu Scriptures II

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The Vedas – Part I

Does anyone wonder how come so many philosophies are under one roof or one umbrella of single philosophy, called Hinduism? How come varieties of beliefs and practices can survive for thousands of years against many odds but under one name called Hindu religion? The reason is they all are rooted under one single fundamental book of philosophy, called Ved (also spelled as Veda). The name Ved is derived from the Sanskrit root word vid”, meaning “to know”, “to learn”, or “to understand”.

One Ved, later on, was divided into four Vedas, namely, Rigveda, Yajurveda, Sāmaveda, and Atharvaveda. Vedas are most sacred ancient scriptural texts of Hinduism. It is believed that the knowledge of Vedas called the Vedic knowledge is directly given by God to the mankind. Vedas are the direct gift of Brahmā – the creator and god of this world. They are believed to be “divinely heard” as mantras (hymns) by the ancient Rishis (sages) and that is why they are also categorized as “Shrutis” (heard) as against “Smrutis” (recalled or remembered) which were memorized through many generations of mankind. For millenniums, they were passed over verbally, as an oral tradition like so many other oral traditions in the world in the singing fashion, through thousands of generations until writing was discovered. It just flowed like a river whose root lies somewhere higher up at the top of a mountain and whose delta is spread in the humanity. There is no single human creator of Vedas. And, that is why Vedas are known as “apaurusheya.” Though, it is believed that the latest compilation available was done by maharshi Ved Vyas – a well known authentic author and character figure of Mahābhārat and Purāns. He was son of rishi Parāshar and mother Satyavati. {Vyas was married to Pinjalā (Vatikā), the daughter of Jābāli. They had son named Shuk (Shukdevji). Vyas also had children with Ambikā, Ambālikā, and a maid. Ambikā and Ambālikā were childless widows of Vyas’s half-brother Vichitravirya. Vyas had to father their children on the request of his mother Satyavati, an ancient practice called Niyog, where a chosen man can father sons with the widow of a person who dies issueless. Vyas’s son with Ambikā was named Dhritarāshtra, who was blind, with Ambālikā was named Pāndu, who was severely anemic, and with the maid (because other two children were unhealthy) was named Vidur.} It is believed that originally there was one Veda comprise of more than hundred thousand verses. Ved Vyas is said to have arranged them under four headings and passed them on to four of his disciples: the Rig Veda to Paila, the Yajur Veda to Vaishampāyan, the Sāma Veda to Jaimini, and the Atharva Veda to Angiras. It is also believed (according to the Vishnu Puran (Book 3, Ch 3)) that Lord Vishnu incarnates in every Dwāpar Yug as Ved Vyas to preserve Vedas and the Vedic knowledge for betterment of mankind. Thus, Vedas are the oldest scriptures and the foundation of Hinduism. Current texts of Vedas in the book form are available for about 3000-6000 years.

Vedas cover many subjects, from nature to human behavior, sociology to humanities, from god (Paramātmā) to soul (ātmā), from worldly life to the life after death, from the life of sanyāsi (renunciate) to the everyday life of common man, etc. Vedas are the original basic scriptures of Hinduism on the base of which other scriptures and philosophies of Hinduism were developed from time to time. Vedic theology is one of the oldest theologies of the world.