Vedas‎ > ‎

Vedas



Rigveda

The Rig-Veda Samhita is the oldest significant extant Indian text. It is a collection of 1,028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns and 10,600 verses in all, organized into ten books (Sanskrit: mandalas). The hymns are dedicated to Rigvedic deities. The books were composed by sages and poets from different priestly groups over a period of at least 500 years, which Avari dates as 1400 BCE to 900 BCE, if not earlier According to Max Müller, based on internal evidence (philological and linguistic), the Rigveda was composed roughly between 1700­1100 BCE (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab (Sapta Sindhu) region of the Indian subcontinent. Michael Witzel believes that the Rig Veda must have been composed more or less in the period 1450-1350 BCE. There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities between the Rigveda and the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the Andronovo culture; the earliest horse-drawn chariots were found at Andronovo sites in the Sintashta-Petrovka cultural area near the Ural mountains and date to ca. 2000 BCE.

Rigveda means the Veda of Adoration and mostly contains verses adoring or adulating deities. But it also dealt with other subjects, like the procedure of wedding, the folly of gambling. About two-thirds of Rigveda is about the gods Agni (Fire) and Indra (Ruler of the gods). Other Rigvedic gods include Rudra, the two Ashvins,Savitar and Surya, Varuna, the Maruts and the Ribhus. There are references to a divine creeper, the Soma, whose juice was an energizer. Some animals like horses, some rivers, and even some implements (like mortar and pestle) were deified. Rigveda contains a sense of intimate communion between Nature and the Rishis or visionaries. According to some, the concerns of Rigveda are those of simple, nomadic, pastoral Aryans. According to others, the people in the times of the Rigveda had a settled home, definite mode of life, developed social customs, political organizations, and even arts and amusements. Rigveda is the oldest, largest and most important of the Vedas, containing ten thousand verses forming 1017 poems in 20 groups.


Yajurveda

The Yajur-Veda ("Veda of sacrificial formulas") consists of archaic prose mantras and also in part of verses borrowed from the Rig-Veda. Its purpose was practical, in that each mantra must accompany an action in sacrifice but, unlike the Sama-Veda, it was compiled to apply to all sacrificial rites, not merely the Soma offering. There are two major recensions of this Veda known as the "Black" and "White" Yajur-Veda. The origin and meaning of these designations are not very clear. The White Yajur-Veda contains only the verses and sayings necessary for the sacrifice, while explanations exist in a separate Brahmana work. It differs widely from the Black Yajurveda, which incorporates such explanations in the work itself, often immediately following the verses. Of the Black Yajurveda four major recensions survive, all showing by and large the same arrangement, but differing in many other respects, notably in the individual discussion of the rituals but also in matters of phonology and accent.

Yajurveda refers to acts of worship such as oblations made into Agni or Fire. It has two branches, Krishna or Black and Shukla or White. While both contain mantras or incantations to be chanted at rituals, Black Yajurveda also has many explanations. The recensions of Black Yajurveda are Taittirya, Katthaka, Maitrayani and Kapishtthala. Those of White Yajurveda are Madhyanadina and Kanva. The literary value of Yajurveda is mostly for its prose, which consists of short terse sentences full of meaning and cadence. 


Samveda

The Sama-Veda is the "Veda of chants" or "Knowledge of melodies". The name of this Veda is from the Sanskrit word saman which means a metrical hymn or song of praise. It consists of 1549 stanzas, taken entirely (except 78) from the Rig-Veda. Some of the Rig-Veda verses are repeated more than once. Including repetitions, there are a total of 1875 verses numbered in the Sama-Veda recension published by Griffith. Two major recensions remain today, the Kauthuma/Ranayaniya and the Jaiminiya. P> Its purpose was liturgical and practical, to serve as a songbook for the "singer" priests who took part in the liturgy. A priest who sings hymns from the Sama-Veda during a ritual is called an udgat, a word derived from the Sanskrit root ud-gai ("to sing" or "to chant"). A similar word in English might be "cantor". The styles of chanting are important to the liturgical use of the verses. The hymns were to be sung according to certain fixed melodies; hence the name of the collection.

Samaveda consists of a selection of poetry mainly from the Rigveda, and some original matter. It has two parts, Purva-Archika (First Adoratona) and Uttar-Archika (Later Adoration), containing verses addressed to the three gods Agni (Fire), Indra (King of Gods) and Soma (Energizing Herb). The verses are not to be chanted anyhow, but to be sung in specifically indicated melodies using the seven svaras or notes. Such songs are called Samagana and in this sense Samaveda is really a book of hymns.


Atharvaveda

Atharvaveda means the Veda of the Wise and the Old. It is associated with the name of the ancient poet Atharvan (The Wise Old One). It is also called Atharva-Angirasa, being associated with the name of another rishi, Angiras. Although later in age, the Atharvaveda reveals a more primitive culture than the Rigveda. The custom is to enumerate Yajurveda and Samaveda after the Rigveda, and mention Atharvaveda last. Atharvaveda contains about 6 thousand verses forming 731 poems and a small portion in prose. About one seventh of the Atharvaveda text is common to the Rigveda.

Atharvaveda contains first class poetry coming from visionary poets, much of it being glorification of the curative powers of herbs and waters. Many poems relate to diseases like cough and jaundice, to male and female demons that cause diseases, to sweet-smelling herbs and magic amulets, which drive diseases away. There are poems relating to sins and their atonement, errors in performing rituals and their expiatory acts, political and philosophical issues, and a wonderful hymn to Prithvi or Mother Earth.

Vedas Wikipedia




The Vedas describe

Vimanas
or space ships

These hieroglyphs are in found in the Temple of Abydos but government officials deliberately tell guides to shy tourists away from this temple.




Upanishads

The Upanishads are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures. They primarily discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism. Considered as mystic or spiritual contemplations of the Vedas, their putative end and essence, the Upanishads are known as Vedanta ("the end/culmination of the Vedas") Ved means knowledge and anta means end. The Upanishads do not belong to a particular period of Sanskrit literature. The oldest, such as the Brhadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, may date to the Brahmana period (roughly before the 31st century BC; before Gita was constructed), while the youngest, depending on the canon used, may date to the medieval or early modern period.

The word Upanishad comes from the Sanskrit verb sad (to sit) and the two prepositions upa and ni (under and at). They are sacred tests of spiritual and philosophical nature. Vedic literature is divided into karmakanda containing Samhitas (hymns) and Brahmanas (commentaries), and gyanakanda containing knowledge in the form of the Aranyakas and Upanishads. Thus each Upanishad is associated with a Veda, Isha-upanishad with Shukla Yajurveda, Kena-upanishad with Samaveda, and so on.

The earliest Upanishads may have been composed between B.C. 800 and 400.There have been several later additions.  There are more than 200 Upanishads, only thirteen have been identified out as presenting the core teachings. They are the Chandogya, Kena, Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Katha, Mundaka, Taittriyaka, Brihadaranyaka, Svetasvatara, Isa, Prasna, Mandukya and the Maitri Upanishads. One of the oldest and longest of the Upanishads, the Brihadaranyaka says:

असतो मा सद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय
शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः


Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Meaning:
1: Lead us from Unreal to the Real,
2: Lead us from the Darkness to the Light,
3: Lead us from the Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortality.
4: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

This mantra was used in the movie, "The Matrix", at the end of the credits. A really powerful mantra to release us from the unreal.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNF_Ds8fa2I&feature=related

The crux of the Upanishads is that this can be achieved by meditating with the awareness that one's soul ('atman') is one with all things, and that 'one' is 'Brahman', which becomes the 'all'

The teachings of the Upanishads, and those of the Bhagavad Gita, form the basis of the Vedanta philosophy.

The Isha-upanishad emphasizes the identity of the human soul with the divine soul. The Kena-upanishad discusses the qualities of the divine essence (Brahman) and the relationship of the gods to the divine essence. The Katha-upanishad, through the story of Nachiketa, discussed death and the permanence of the soul (Atman). The fairly long Chhandogya-upanishad develops the idea of transmigration of souls. The rihadaryanaka -upanishad, the longest of the Upanishads, bears the message of the completeness of the divine essence, and the associated peace. As literary remnants of the ancient past, the Upanishads ­ both lucid and elegant - have great literary value. 

The authors of the Upanishads were many, but they were not solely from the priestly caste. They were poets prone to flashes of spiritual wisdom, and their aim was to guide a few chosen pupils to the point of liberation, which they themselves had attained. According to some scholars, the main figure in the Upanishads is Yajnavalkya, the great sage who propounded the doctrine of 'neti-neti', the view that "truth can be found only through the negation of all thoughts about it". Other important Upanishadic sages are Uddalaka Aruni, Shwetaketu, Shandilya, Aitareya, Pippalada, Sanat Kumara. Many earlier Vedic teachers like Manu, Brihaspati, Ayasya and Narada are also found in the Upanishads.




                                                                                                                                               


The  Puranas


The Puranas are of the same class as the Itihasas (the Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc.). They have five characteristics (Pancha Lakshana), viz., history, cosmology (with various symbolical illustrations of philosophical principles), secondary creation, genealogy of kings, and of Manvantaras (the period of Manu’s rule consisting of 71 celestial Yugas or 308,448,000 years). All the Puranas belong to the class of Suhrit-Sammitas, or the Friendly Treatises, while the Vedas are called the Prabhu-Sammitas or the Commanding Treatises with great authority.


Srila Vyasadeva is the compiler of the Puranas. They contain the essence of the Vedas. The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events. The sages made use of these things to illustrate the eternal principles of religion. The Puranas were meant, not for the scholars, but for the ordinary people who could not understand high philosophy and who could not study the Vedas.


The Puranas are meant for the masses who are not scholars but regular everyday people with mundane duties. Religion is taught in a very easy and interesting way through the Puranas. Even to this day, the Puranas are popular. The Puranas contain the history of remote times. They also give a description of the regions of the universe not visible to the ordinary physical eye. They are very interesting to read and are full of information of all kinds. Children hear the stories from their grandmothers. Pundits and Purohits hold Kathas or religious discourses in temples, on banks of rivers and in other important places. Agriculturists, labourers and bazaar people  also hear the stories.

18 Puranas

There are eighteen main Puranas and an equal number of subsidiary Puranas or Upa-Puranas. The main Puranas are: Vishnu Purana, Naradiya Purana, Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Garuda (Suparna) Purana, Padma Purana, Varaha Purana, Brahma Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Vamana Purana, Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Siva Purana, Skanda Purana and Agni Purana. Of these, six are Sattvic Puranas and glorify Vishnu; six are Rajasic and glorify Brahma; six are Tamasic and they glorify Siva.

Neophytes or beginners in the spiritual path are puzzled when they go through Siva Purana and Vishnu Purana. In Siva Purana, Lord Siva is highly eulogised and an inferior position is given to Lord Vishnu. Sometimes Vishnu is belittled. In Vishnu Purana, Lord Hari is highly eulogised and an inferior status is given to Lord Siva. Sometimes Lord Siva is belittled. This is only to increase the faith of the devotees in their particular Ishta-Devata. Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu are one.

The best among the Puranas and most important are the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Vishnu Purana. The most popular is the Srimad Bhagavata Purana. Next comes Vishnu Purana. A portion of the Markandeya Purana is well known to all Hindus as Chandi, or Devimahatmya. Worship of God as the Divine Mother is its theme. Chandi is read widely by the Hindus on sacred days and Navaratri (Durga Puja) days.

In Indian philosophy, there is a view as to why humankind finds itself in its present chaotic situation. The belief is that humankind passes  through different ages, or Yugas.  There are four main Yugas, and much like the different seasons, each has its own character. According to the Puranas, the Yugas last for thousands of years.  With each Yuga, the collective unconscious shifts, and gradually humankind finds itself adopting different principles and beliefs.  For instance, there is a Golden Age, or Satya Yuga. This is a divine time; an age of spirituality. During this time,  there is harmony between people; the world is a place of benevolence. People are said to be in a state of constant medititation. It is a time where there is no disease or sickness. Conflict is a thing of the past.

The second Age or Yuga is the Treta Yuga. This is an age characterised by mental abilities. This age is seen as a step down from the Golden Age of Satya Yuga. Man now has a sense of self. He develops the desire for power. A belief in man’s own mental abilities steadily rises.

The third age is Dvapara Yuga. In this age the sciences flourish. Inventions are abundant, especially inventions that seem to make distances between people and places disappear.

The fourth age, which is the one we currently find ourselves in, is Kali Yuga. This is the age of Darkness, where humankind has lost its inner connection with Divinity. It is, unfortunately, the world as we see it today. Here is an extract from the Mahabarata, describing the Kali Yuga. And remember, the Mahabharata was written thousands of years ago. So, this was written as a sign of things to come:

“Avarice and wrath will be common. Men will openly display animosity towards each other. Ignorance of Dharma will occur. Lust will be viewed as being socially acceptable. People will have thoughts of murder for no justification, and they will see nothing wrong with that mind-set. Family murders will also occur. People will see those who are helpless as easy targets and remove everything from them. Many other unwanted changes will occur. The right hand will deceive the left and the left the right. People will not trust a single person in the world, not even their immediate family. Even husband and wife will find contempt in each other. In the Kali Yuga even pre-teenage girls will get pregnant. The primary cause will be the social acceptance of sexual intercourse as being the central requirement of life. It is believed that sin will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish. People will take vows only to break them soon. Alongside death and famine being everywhere, men will have lustful thoughts and so will women. People will without reason destroy trees and gardens. As previously mentioned, men will murder. There will be no respect for animals. People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks. Men will find their jobs stressful and will go to retreats to escape their work. As the sin increases exponentially, so will the incidence of divine justice and wrath.”

While this is a bleak description, I think we have to admit that it is an accurate one.  There is, however, another Yuga, and it’s called Krita Yuga. Krita Yuga doesn’t last for thousands of years, but rather for several decades. It comes in between the four major Yugas and marks the transition from one to another.

According to the prophecies of Kakayyar Bhujander, a renowned Indian astrologer who lived almost 2000 years ago, this age of Darkness, or Kali Yuga, would begin to recede in the year 1970. It’s at this time the the world enters the transition stage, the Krita Yuga, which leads us to the promised times of Satya Yuga, the age of meditation, bliss and enlightenment.


Links for more information on Puranas: 

Srimad Bhagavatam: Full cantos and audio. Really good site on Srimad Bhagavatam: http://prabhupadavani.org/Bhagavatam/SB_index_I.html

Puranas: http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/features/01-08/features896.htm




Ten Avatars And Their Purpose

The Srimad Bhagavatam Purana is a chronicle of the various Avatars of Lord Vishnu. There are ten Avatars of Vishnu. The aim of every Avatar is to save the world from some great danger, to destroy the wicked and protect the virtuous. The ten Avatars are: Matsya (The Fish), Kurma (The Tortoise), Varaha (The Boar), Narasimha (The Man-Lion), Vamana (The Dwarf), Parasurama (Rama with the axe, the destroyer of the Kshatriya race), Ramachandra (the hero of the Ramayana—the son of Dasaratha, who destroyed Ravana), Sri Krishna, the teacher of the Gita, Buddha (the prince-ascetic, founder of Buddhism), and Kalki (the hero riding on a white horse, who is to come at the end of the Kali-Yuga).

The object of the Matsya Avatar was to save Vaivasvata Manu from destruction by a deluge. The object of Kurma Avatar was to enable the world to recover some precious things which were lost in the deluge. The Kurma gave its back for keeping the churning rod when the Gods and the Asuras churned the ocean of milk. The purpose of Varaha Avatar was to rescue, from the waters, the earth which had been dragged down by a demon named Hiranyaksha. The purpose of Narasimha Avatara, half-lion and half-man, was to free the world from the oppression of Hiranyakasipu, a demon, the father of Bhakta Prahlada. The object of Vamana Avatar was to restore the power of the gods which had been eclipsed by the penance and devotion of King Bali. The object of Parasurama Avatar was to deliver the country from the oppression of the Kshatriya rulers. Parasurama destroyed the Kshatriya race twenty-one times. The object of Rama Avatar was to destroy the wicked Ravana. The object of Sri Krishna Avatar was to destroy Kamsa and other demons, to deliver His wonderful message of the Gita in the Mahabharata war, and to become the center of the Bhakti schools of India. The object of Buddha Avatar was to prohibit animal sacrifices and teach piety. The object of the Kalki Avatar is the destruction of the wicked and the re-establishment of virtue.

Lilas of Lord Siva


Lord Siva incarnated himself in the form of Dakshinamurti to impart knowledge to the four Kumaras. He took human form to initiate Sambandhar, Manikkavasagar, Pattinathar. He appeared in flesh and blood to help his devotees and relieve their sufferings. The divine Lilas or sports of Lord Siva are recorded in the Tamil Puranas like Siva Purana, Periya Purana, Siva Parakramam and Tiruvilayadal Purana.

The eighteen Upa-Puranas are: Sanatkumara, Narasimha, Brihannaradiya, Sivarahasya, Durvasa, Kapila, Vamana, Bhargava, Varuna, Kalika, Samba, Nandi, Surya, Parasara, Vasishtha, Devi-Bhagavata, Ganesa and Hamsa.

Study of the Puranas, listening to sacred recitals of scriptures, describing and expounding of the transcendent Lilas of the Blessed Lord—these form an important part of Sadhana of the Lord’s devotees. It is most pleasing to the Lord. Sravana is a part of Navavidha-Bhakti. Kathas and Upanyasas open the springs of devotion in the hearts of hearers and develop Prema-Bhakti which confers immortality on the Jiva.

The language of the Vedas is archaic, and the subtle philosophy of Vedanta and the Upanishads is extremely difficult to grasp and assimilate. Hence, the Puranas are of special value as they present philosophical truths and precious teachings in an easier manner. They give ready access to the mysteries of life and the key to bliss. Imbibe their teachings. Start a new life of Dharma-Nishtha and Adhyatmic Sadhana from this very day, and attain Immortality.

Comments