The Forum dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ancient texts => Tripura Rahasya and other ancient works => Topic started by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 06:18:14 AM

Title: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 06:18:14 AM
Friends,
I just happen to chance upon this introduction on upanishad by Graham:

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Unlike the Vedas which can only be read and chanted by initiated Brahmins, the Upanishads can be read and chanted by anyone.
The Vedas do not deal with the Self and final Liberation, but the Upanishads deal with the Self, its Source, Attainment and Final Liberation and are thus the jewel in the crown of Vedic literature.
It is taught that to read and chant the Upanishads, as well as other authoritative works dealing with the Self, helps to destroy the ego and leads to Emancipation.

Please refer here:
http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/upanishads/upanishads.htm (http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/upanishads/upanishads.htm)

The upanishads are part and parcel of Vedas.As such ,although everyone may study them,the chanting (adhyAyana)is to be done only by Brahmins who have learnt it directly from the Guru.It is a oral tradition and the chant is to be heard and then recited only By Brahmins.This is what Sri Bhagavan has also said categorically. Ofcourse,everyone can listen to it and derive the benefit.

It is totally wrong to say :

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Vedas do not deal with the Self and final realization.

This is a vast subject and everyone should know at least a wee bit of what the Vedas truly are.The Essence of Vedas is the Gayatri mantra-the King of all Mantras.This is the essence of all the Four Vedas-To chant The Gayatri mantra and to dwell on its essence is no less than self-enquiry.

Sri Ramakrishna says:

'The sandhya merges in the Gayatri, the Gayatri in Om, and, Om in samadhi'.

I will post here from Sri Aurobindo's 'Secret of the Veda' and from the Talks on the vedas by Sri Kanchi mahAswAmi in this thread.

Namaskar.
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 07:25:41 AM
Preserving the Vedas: Why it is a Lifetime Mission-By Sri KAnchi mahAswami

This excerpt from mahaswAmi's talk contains an illuminating exposition of the physics and metaphysics of sound.

'If the divisions of labour on a hereditary basis is good for all society, what specifically is the benefit gained from the vocation of Brahmins, that is preserving the Vedas?' is a question frequently asked.

The potter makes pots for you; the washerman launders your clothes; the weaver weaves clothes for you to wear; the cowherd brings you your milk; the peasant tills the land to grow rice for you to cook and eat.Everyone does some work or other essential in the life of everybody else. The rice (or wheat) grown by the tiller sustains us all. The cloth woven by the weaver is indispensable to our modesty; it is also needed to keep us warm in the cold season. We drink the milk brought by the cowherd and also use it to make buttermilk; we cook our food in the pot made by the potter. We find that all jatis provide commodities useful for the society. What is the Brahmin's contribution in this context? What vocation is assigned to him by the Sastras which are the basis of varna dharma? The Brahmin has to learn the Vedas by listening to his teacher chanting them; this is adhyayana. If adhyayana is chanting the Vedas, adhyapana is teaching the same. The sastras have charged the Brahmin with the additional duty of performing various rites including Vedic sacrifices.

The Vedas contain lofty truths. People in modern times may not be averse to the idea that these truths are worthy of being cherished. Society requires knowledge, arts, etc. The Vedas are a storehouse of knowledge. So the idea that we must have a special class of people to propagate the truths contained in the Vedas may seem reasonable enough. According to the sastras, however, such a special class is needed to preserve the sound of these scriptures. This class is constituted by the Brahmins and they perform their function on a hereditary basis. The idea that propagating the truths of the Vedas will help mankind may be acceptable to many, but not the belief that a small group of people can contribute to the good of the world by preserving the sound of the Vedas.
The community stands to lose if the peasant does not till the land and the potter, weaver, carpenter, etc., do not do their respective jobs. But would you say the same thing about the work of the Brahmin? What difference would it make to the society if he ceased intoning the Vedas?

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 07:36:41 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the Vedas continued....

To understand the questions raised above we must first try to find out the nature of the Vedas. No purpose is served by approaching the subject entirely on an intellectual level. We must accept the words of great men who know the Vedas deep in their hearts. 'How can we do that, sir?' some people might protest. 'We are rationalists and we can be convinced of a truth or statement only on the basis of reason or direct knowledge. '

What do we do then? How can anyone claim, as a matter of right, that all subjects ought to be brought within the ken of human reasoning? Man is but one among countless creatures. Take for instance the experiments conducted by a physicist in his laboratory. Does a cow understand them? If the scientist formulates certain laws on the basis on his experiments, does the cow say that 'These laws of physics do not exist?' How are humans ignorant of physics to know about such laws? They trust the statements made by people proficient in the subject. To illustrate, take the example of any common appliance. Let us assume that you are told that it works on the basis of certain principles of science. Don't you accept these principles by observing how the appliance works?

In the same way we must have faith in what great men say about the Vedas, great men who live strictly adhering to the sastras. We must also place our faith on our scripture on the basis of the fruits or benefits yielded by them, the benefits we directly perceive. One such 'fruit' is still there for all of us to see. It is Hinduism itself, the religion that has withstood the challenges of all these millennia. Our religion has produced more great men than any other faith. People have been rewarded with the highest inner well-being [the highest bliss] as a result of their faith in the Vedic tradition. There is no insistence on their part that everything on earth must be brought within the realm of reason or direct perception.

The sages transcended the frontiers of human knowledge and became one with the Universal Reality. It is through them that the world received the Vedic mantras.This is one of the basic concepts of our religion. If you do not accept that human beings can obtain such Atmic power as exemplified by these seers, any further talk on the subject would be futile. One could point to you great men whom you can see for yourself, great men who have perfected themselves and acquired powers not shared by the common people. But if you think of them to be cheats or fraudulent men, any further talk would again be useless. In your present state of limited understanding, the argument that denies the existence of anything beyond the range of human reason and comprehension itself betrays the limits of rationalism.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 07:45:42 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

You have come here to listen to me instead of going to a political meeting where you can hear interesting speeches. So I believe that few of you here are full-fledged rationalists. You may not therefore refuse to listen to me if I speak to you about why the Vedas should be preserved according to the time-honoured tradition. But it is also likely that even if some of you happen to be rationalists, you may still be willing to listen to me thinking that there may be some point in what the Svamiyar(swami-ravi) has to say.

Some people are at a loss to understand why the sound of the Vedas is given so much importance. How does sound originate or how is it caused? Where there is vibration, where there is movement or motion, there is sound. This is strictly according to rational science. Speech is constituted of vibrations of many kinds. We hear sounds with our ears. But these are sounds that are converted into electric waves and these we cannot hear. We know this from the working of the radio and the telephone. All that we hear or perceive others are indeed electric waves. Science has come to the point of recognizing all to be electric waves- the man who sees and listens, his brains, all are electric waves.
There are countless numbers of inert objects in the world- land masses and mountains, rivers and oceans, and so on. Also there are sentient creatures of many kinds. All of them must have been created out of something. During creation this something must have vibrated in many different ways and given rise to all that we see today. If all movements are sound, there must have existed numerous different kinds of sound before creation. In this creation one is sustained by another. In the process of mutual sustenance, different movements and sounds must be produced. It is not necessary that vibrations should form a part only of gross activities. Science has discovered that even our thinking process is a kind of electric current or energy. Each thought process is a form of electric current or energy and it must produce a vibration and a sound. This kind of sound being very subtle we do not hear it with our ears. Just as there are bacteria which we do not see with our naked eye, there are many sound that our ears do not pick up. According to science any physical or mental movement must produce a sound.

The idea that each movement produces its own sound may be put differently thus: to create a particular sound a particular movement must be produced. Take the case of vidvan singing. If you want to sing like him or creates birquas like him, you will have produce the same vibrations that he creates in his throat. Sound and vibration(or motion) go together. The vibrations produce either a gross object or a mental state. We come to the conclusion that creation is a product of sound. This ancient concept is substantiated by science itself.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 08:14:01 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Creation, the many things connected with it, thoughts and movements and the sound associated with them fill space. What happens to the sound produced by the clapping of our hands? It remains in space. Good as well as bad action produce their own sounds as well as movements associated with them. Conversely, the creation of these types of movements will result in good as well as evil. To produce good thoughts in people, good movements must be created: the sounds corresponding to them must be produced. If we can generate such sounds for the good of mankind ,what can be more beneficial than such good thoughts? The mantras of the Vedas are sounds that have the power to inspire good thoughts in people.
One more thing. We need food for our sustenance. And to grow food there must be rain. The formation of clouds and their precipitation are dependent on certain vibrations. Rainfall depends on the production of particular sounds which, in turn, create particular vibrations. The same applies to all our needs in life. It is true that unnecessary and evil objects are also produced by sound. But the one and only goal of the sound of the Vedas is the creation of well-being throughout the world.
But are sound and vibrations spontaneously produced? If vibrations arise on their own they will be erratic and confusing and not related to one another. But what do we see in the cosmos? There is a certain orderliness about it and one thing in it is linked to another. What do we infer form this? That a Great Intelligence has formulated this scheme that we see, that it has created it from its own vibrations.

The Vedas are sounds emanating from the vibrations of this Great Intelligence, the Great Gnosis. That is why we believe that the mantras of the Vedas originate from the Paramatman himself. We must take special care of such sounds too,as they ensure the good of the world. Yes, the Vedic mantras are sequences of sounds that are meant for the good of the world.

Doubts are expressed on this point. People argue: 'We hear the mantras of the Vedas distinctly. But we do not hear the sounds in space, the sounds of creation. How can the two be the same? '

What exists in the cosmos in present in the individual being. The belief that the "microcosm" inherits the "macrocosm" is not in keeping with our commonsense view of things. But all people, including atheists, will agree that there are "instruments" in our body in the form of the senses that we can grasp what exists in the macrocosm. The sun in the macrocosm is felt by our body as heat. We perceive the flower in our garden through its scent. We savour the sweet taste of sugarcane with our tongue. With our eyes we learn that one object is red, that another it yellow.
Unless the macrocosm and microcosm are constituted of the same substance the one will not be able to be aware of the other. Indeed the very conduct of life will not be possible otherwise. If we go one step further, the truth will dawn on us that it is not merely that the macrocosm and the microcosm are constituted of the same substance but that it is the same substance that becomes the macrocosm and the microcosm. The yogins know this truth directly from their experience.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 02:04:37 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Whatever is present in space is also present in the individual being. These elements exists in the human body in a form that is accessible to the senses. The sounds a person makes in his throat have their source in space in a form not audible to us. The radio transforms electrical waves into sound waves. If a man can grasp the sounds in space and make them audible, he will be able to create with them what is needed for the good of the world. Yoga is the science that accomplishes such a task. Through
yogic practice (perfection) one can become aware of what is in the macrocosm and draw it into the microcosm. I shall not be able to give you proof of this in a form acceptable to human reason. Yoga transcends our limited reason and understanding. The purpose of the Vedas is to speak about matters that are beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
You must have faith in the words of great men or else, to know the truth of such matters, you must practise yoga strictly observing its rules. It may not be practicable for all those who ask questions or harbour doubts about the Vedas to practice yoga in this manner. Even if you are prepared to accept the words of a true yogin, how are you, in the first place, to be convinced that he in indeed a true yogin and not a fraud? Altogether it means that you must have faith in someone, in something. Later such
faith will be strengthened from your own observations, inference and experience. There is no point in speaking to people who have either no faith or refuse to develop it through their own experience.
There is a state in which the macrocosm and the microcosm are perceived as one. Great men there who have reached such a state and are capable of transforming what is subtle in the one into what is gross in the other. I am speaking here to those who believe in such a possibility.

When we look at this universe and their complex manner in which it functions, we realise that there must be a Great Wisdom that has created it and sustains it. It is from this Great Wisdom, that is the Paramatman, that all that we see are born and it is from It that all the sounds that we hear have emanated. First came the universe of sound and then the universe that we observe. Most of the former still exists in space. The space that exists outside us exists also in our heart. The yogins have experience of this hrdayakasa, this heart-sky or this heart-space, when they are in samadhi (absorbed in the Infinite). In this state of theirs all differences between the outward and the inward vanish and the two become one. The yogins can now grasp the sounds of space and bestow the same on mankind. These successions of sounds that bring benefits to the world are indeed the mantras of the Vedas.

Continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 02:16:29 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

These mantras are not the creation of anyone. Though each of them is in the name of a rsi or seer, in reality it is not his creation. When we say that a certain mantra has a certain sage associated with it, all that we mean is that it was he who first "saw" it existing without a beginning in space and revealed it to the world. The very word "rsi" means "mantra-drasta" (one who saw- discovered- the mantra), not "mantra-karta" (one who created the mantra). Our life is dependent on how our breathing functions. In the same way the cosmos functions in accordance with the vibrations of the Vedic sounds- so the Vedic mantras are the very breath of the Supreme Being. We must thus conclude that, without the Vedas, there is no Brahman: To put it differently, the Vedas are self-existent like the Paramatman.

The mantras of the Vedas are remarkable in that they bring blessings to the world in the form of sound- even if their meaning is not understood. Of course, they are pregnant with meaning and represent the lofty principle that it is the One Truth that is manifested as all that we perceive. They also confer blessing on us by taking the form of deities appropriate to the different sounds (of the mantras). Sound does not bring any benefits, any fruits, by itself. Isvara alone is the bestower of benefits. However, instead of making the fruits available to us directly, he appoints deities to distribute them in the same manner as the king or president of a country appoints officials to carry out his dictates. The mantras represent various deities in the form of sound. If we attain perfection (siddhi) by constant chanting and meditation of a
mantra, it should be possible for us to see the deity invoked in his physical form. The deities also arise if we make offerings into the sacrificial fire reciting specific mantras
. If a sacrifice is conducted in this manner, the deities give us their special blessings. We do not pay taxes directly to the king or president. In the same way, we pay taxes in the form of sacrifices and Vedic chanting to the aides of the Paramatman for the sake of the welfare of the world. The sounds of the mantras constitute their form.

The sound of some mantras have greater value than their meaning. Their syllables chanted in a particular manner create a special energy, but their meaning has no special significance. Take the mantra recited to cure a man stung by a scorpion. The words, the syllables, constituting the mantra have no special meaning. Indeed, they say, the meaning is not to be told. But by chanting the mantra, the vibrations are caused in space and one stung by a scorpion will be cured: the potency of the syllables of the mantra is such. The efficacy of sounds varies with the difference mantras. Evil is caused by reciting certain mantras or formulae: this is called "abhicara"[understood as the black magic in the West]. In all this the clarity with which the syllables are enunciated is important. There was the practice of knocking off the teeth of those who practiced billi sunyam (a form of black magic). The black magician, if toothless, will not be able to articulate the mantras properly and so his spells will not have the intended effect. If the syllables of the spell are not clearly and properly enunciated, they will not give us the desired benefit. If we appreciate the fact that sounds have such power, the question of the language of the mantras loses it importance. It would be meaningless then to demand that the mantras must be expressed in some other language [that we understand]. It would be equally meaningless to wonder whether the mantras of the sraddha ceremony should be rendered into English, Tamil or some other language so that our departed parents would understand them better.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 02:25:35 PM

kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

The question that now occurs is- why there should be a separate caste committed to Vedic learning practices, even if it is conceded that Vedic mantras have the power to do good?

In answering this question we must first remember that the Vedas are not to be read from the written text. They have to be memorized by constant listening and repeated chanting. The learner then becomes a teacher himself and in this manner the process goes on from generation to generation. Maintaining such a tradition of learning and teaching is a whole-time occupation. Neither the teacher nor the taught may take up any other work.

We must also remember that the Brahmin is expected to master subjects other than the Vedas also, like the arts and crafts and the various sciences(sastras). He has in fact to learn the vocations of other jatis (but he must not take up any for his own livelihood). It is the responsibility of the Brahmin to promote knowledge and culture. He is expected to learn the hereditary skills of all jatis, including the art of warfare, and pass on these skills to the respective jatis to help them earn their livelihood. The Brahmin's calling is adhyayana and adhyapana (learning and teaching the Vedas). According to the sastras he must live in a modest dwelling, observe strict rules and vows so as to gain mastery of the mantras. He must eat only as much as is needed keep body and soul together. All temptations to make money and enjoy sensual pleasures he must sternly resist. All his actions must be inspired by the spirit of sacrifice and he must pass his days sustaining the Vedic tradition and practices for the good of mankind.

It is the duty of other jatis to see that the Brahmin does not die of starvation. They must provide him with bare necessities of life and such materials as re needed for the performance of sacrifices. Wages are paid to those who do other jobs or a price is paid for what they produce. The Brahmin works for the whole community and serves it by chanting mantras, by performing sacrifices and by leading a life according to the dictates of religion. That is why he must be provided with his upkeep. The canonical texts do not say that we must build him palace or that he must be given gifts of gold. The Brahmin must be provided with the wherewithal for the proper performance of sacrifices. In his personal life he must eschew all show and luxury. It is by taming his senses- by burning away all desire- that he gains mastery over the mantras.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 02:32:42 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

I have said more than once that the Vedas are to be learned by constant listening, that they are not to be learned from the written text. Let me tell you why.

The sound of the Vedas must pervade the world. This is of paramount importance, not that the text itself should be maintained in print. Indeed, the Vedas must not be kept in book form. If the printed text is available all the time, we are likely to neglect the habit of memorizing the hymns and chanting them. There is not the slightest doubt about this."After all it is in the book. When the need arises we can always refer to it. Why should we waste our time in memorizing the mantras? ?
Thus an attitude of indifference will develop among those charged with the duty of maintaining the Vedic tradition
.

Nowadays we have what is called the "pancanngaran" (pancangakkaran), that is the "almanac-man". We understand his job to be that of officiating at the rites performed by members of the fourth varna. But from the term "almanac"-man" we know that this is not his main duty. The pancangakkaran or almanac-man is truly one who determines the five angas or components of the almanac. Each day has five angas: tithi, vara, naksatra, yoga and karana. To find out whether a particular day is auspicious or whether certain work or function may be performed on a particular day, all these five factors have to be taken into account. Today astronomers in Greenwich observe the sun, the moon and the stars to fix the timings of sunrise and sunset. Three or four generations ago, every village had an almanac-man who was an expert in such matters. He could predict eclipses, their exact timings, with the precision of present-day astronomers. He inscribed the five angas relating to the day on a palmleaf
and took it round from house to house to help people in their worldly and religious duties. In the past he had also another name "Kuttai Cuvadi"(meaning "Shortened Palm-leaf").


How have the present day almanac-men forgotten their great science? With the advent of the printing press the almanac could be printed for a whole year and made available to people. There was no longer any need for the old, type of almanac to pancanga, an important part of astronomy, is now on the verge of extinction.
The Vedas would have suffered a similar fate had we stuck to a system of learning them from written or printed texts. Their sound would not have then filled the world and created all-round well-being
.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 02:40:11 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Our forefathers realised that to put anything in writing was not the best way of preserving it since it bred indifference to the subject so preserved. One who recited the Vedas from the written text ("likhita-pathaka") was looked down upon as an "adhama" (one belonging to the lowest order among those chanting the Vedas).

In Tamil the Vedas are known as the "unwritten old text"(ezhutakilavi). In Sanskrit the Vedas are also called "Sruti", which means "that which is heard", that is to say not be learned from any written text. Since listening to the Vedas as they were chanted and then memorizing them was the practice, preserving the Vedic tradition came to be full-time vocation. The teacher taught pada by pada(foot by foot) and the student repeated each pada twice. In this way the sound of the Vedas filled the whole place. It was thus that the study of our own scripture, with all its recessions which are like the expanse of a great ocean, was maintained in the oral tradition until the turn of the century. This treasure, this timeless crop that sustains our inner beings, has come to us through the ages as ordained by the Lord. There can be no greater sin that that of neglecting this treasure and allowing it to perish.

If the Vedic tradition becomes extinct there is no need for a separate caste called Brahmins. Nowadays the cry is often heard, "Brahmin, get out". But do we hear cries like, "Potter, get out" or "Washerman, go away?? If the potter and the washerman leave the village they will be brought back by force and retained. Why so? Because the community needs their services.

So long as the Brahmin possessed sattva-guna (the quality of goodness and purity) and so long as he kept the Vedic tradition going and lived a simple life, others recognized his value for society. They regarded him with affection and respect and paced their trust in him. They realised that if society was not afflicted by famine and disease (as in the case today), it was because the sound of the Vedas pervaded everywhere and the performance of Vedic recites created a healthy atmosphere around and brought its own blessings.

This was not the only way in which the Brahmin served society. His personal example was itself a source of inspiration to people. They saw how he curbed his sensual appetites, how he lived a life of peace, how he was compassionate to all creatures, how he mediated on the Lord, how he performed a variety of rites strictly adhering to sastric rules and without any expectations of rewards. They saw a whole case living a life of selflessness and sacrifice. Naturally, they too were drawn to the qualities exemplified by its members. They emulated their example, observed fasts and vows to the extent permitted by the nature of their occupations.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 03:00:23 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

It is preposterous to accuse the Brahmin of having kept other jatis suppressed. There is a special way of life that the scriptures have prescribed for him and in remaining true to it he becomes a personal example for others desirous of raising themselves. It is equally preposterous to suggest that other where kept down because they were denied the right to learn the Vedas. I have already spoken to you that preserving the Vedic tradition is a hereditary and lifelong vocation. Any calling must be pursued on a hereditary basis. Otherwise, there is the risk of society being torn asunder by jealousies and rivalries.

The maintenance of the Vedic tradition is a calling by itself. There will be confusion and chaos in the system of division of labour if people whose vocations are different are allowed to pursue one common tradition. Also, as a consequence, will not the social structure be disturbed? Every vocation has as high a place on the social scale as any other. Why should anyone nurse the ideas that the pursuit of the Vedic dharma belongs to a plane higher than all other types of work?

Some castes are not permitted to learn the Vedas but there is no bar on their learning the truths contained in them. This is all that is needed for their Atmic advancement. We need only one class of people charged with the mission of keeping the sound of the Vedas alive in the world. The ideas contained in them for spiritual uplift are open to all. The songs of non-Brahmin saints like Appar and Nammazhvar are replete with Vedic and Vedantic thoughts. Were it true that Brahmins had monopolised Atmic knowledge and devotion and kept others downtrodden, how would you explain the rise among the non-Brahmin jatis of so many great saints, not only the examples just mentioned above, Appar and Nammazhvar, but a number of other Nayanmars and Azhvars? The Nayanmars included men belonging even to jatis regarded as "low". Where do you find men of inner enlightenment like Tayumanavar and Pattiinattar? Apart from the fact that there were among non-Brahmin men worthy of being lauded by Brahmins for enlightenment and devotion, there were individuals from the fourth varna who established empires and gave new life and vigour to the Vedic dharma. That Brahmins exploited other castes is a recently invented myth.

I do not claim that Brahmins are free from faults or are not guilty of lapses. Nobody is free from faults. But on the whole the Brahmin has done good to society and has been a guide to all its members. That is why he was enabled to live with dignity all these centuries. When other communities now see that the Brahmin no longer serves
society in any manner, they raise the cry, "Brahmin, get out". If they do not serve society and if all they do is to join others in the scramble for money, where is the need for a separate caste called Brahmins? It occurs to me that, if the caste called Brahmins serves no purpose to society, I shall be the first to seek its destruction. Nothing has any right to exist if it has no utility value. There is no need for a caste called Brahmin if the world does not stand to benefit from it.

Now there are "toll-gates" located in many places but often without any "gate". In the past a toll used to be collected from people crossing the boundary marked by these "gates". Later such a system was discontinued and no purpose was served by the gate. Nothing exists without a purpose. Now, if the Brahmin without Vedic learning has become as purposeless as the toll-gate without any toll actually charged, with what reason or justice can we say that he must not be thrown out?

The Brahmin today deserves to be reproved, if he expects to be treated with any special respect. Criticism, however, should be it. The Brahmin must be faulted for abandoning his dharma, but the dharma itself, the Vedic dharma, is another matter. It is not proper to find fault with the dharma itself and it is the duty of others to help the Brahmin practice it. the Vedic dharma must be sustained so as to ensure the well-being of the world. Other jatis must support the principle that there must be a caste whose hereditary calling it is to maintain the Vedic tradition. If they themselves have lost faith in the Vedic dharma, they cannot find fault with the Brahmin for having forsaken it. If they believe that the Vedic dharma is not wanted, then it would mean (according to their own logic) that the Brahmin is not committing any offence by giving up his hereditary vocation. It also follows that for the sake of his livelihood he will have too take up some other job, competing with the others for the same. So to hold that there is no need for the Vedic dharma and that, at the same time, the Brahmin should not do any work other than the pursuit of that dharma does not stand to reason. On the other hand, it is proclaimed that the Vedic dharma is all wrong and must cease to exist but, on the other, the man whose duty it is to practice that dharma is hated for trying to do some other work. Is this just? It is part of humanity to see that not even a dog or a jackal goes hungry and it is a dharma common to all religions.Even those who maintain that we do not need any religion, talk of compassion and the spirit of sacrifice in all our actions. So it is not just to insist that a man must not pursue his hereditary vocation and that he must not, at the same time, do any other work but die of starvation.

continued...

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 03:11:44 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Others can help greatly by making the Brahmin true to himself as the upholder of the Vedic dharma. I have heard it said that in the old days some Brahmins would go to the untouchable quarter and tell people there: "You and we, let us become one.? Whereupon the untouchables would reply: "No. no. You keep doing your work. That is for the good of both of us. Don't come here again". They would prevent the Brahmins from approaching them again by breaking their pots in front of them, the pots which were their only asset. Though people then were divided in the matter of work and did not mix together, they had affection for one another and believed that each did his work for the common good.

Even today the common people are not non-believers, nor have they lost faith in the Vedas. I feel that they will continue too have respect for the Vedic dharma and that the propaganda of hate [against Brahmins and the Vedas] is all to be attributed to political reasons. People, I repeat, do have faith in the Vedas, in Vedic rites and customs and if the Brahmin becomes a little better [that is by being true to his vocation] all hatred will vanish.
As I said before, instead of expecting respect from others, he must remain true to his dharma even at the risk of his life. It is my belief that society will not allow him to suffer such an extreme fate. But my stand is that, even if it does, he must not forsake his dharma. Whatever the attitude of others, whether they help him or whether they run him down, the Brahmin must uphold the Vedic tradition for the well-being of all.

What I have spoken for the Brahmin community applies in principle to other also. The duties about which I have to speak to them (non- Brahmins) are many. They too are eager to know about them and I am confident that, things are properly explained, they will pursue faithfully their respective dharmas. I must, however, be qualified to give them advice. It is generally believed that I have a special relationship with the Brahmin community. In the Matha a number of Vedic rites are performed. So, rightly or wrongly, the impression has gained around that I have much to do with the case whose duty it is to uphold the Vedic dharma. That being the case, a question will arise in the minds of people belonging to other communities if I speak to them on matters of dharma, even if it is assumed that they will listen to me with affection and respect.
The question is this: "Brahmins are so much dependent on his support. Yet we don't see them acting on his advice and correcting themselves. So why should he come to speak to us of our duties? "
As a matter of fact, both are same to me, Brahmins and non-Brahmins. I am indeed more dissatisfied with Brahmins than with the others because they have abandoned the Vedic dharma, the dharma that confers the highest inner well-being on all. Even so, since it is believed that Brahmins are specially attached to me, I keep admonishing them to go back to the Vedic dharma with all their hearth, with all their strength. If Brahmins observe in practice a fraction of what is expected of them, then alone
shall I be qualified to remind other communities of their duties. Brahmins must try as best they can to keep up the Vedic tradition. That is how they will help me to speak to other communities of their duties
.

All mankind, all creatures of earth, must live in happiness. Everybody must practise his allotted dharma for the good of all with the realisation that there is no question of any work being "higher" than any other or "lower". Preserving the sound of the Vedas must remain the duty of one class so as to ensure plenty in this world as well as to create universal Atmic uplift. To revert to the question I put to you first. Leaving aside the vocation of the Vedic dharma, let us assume that the hereditary system is beneficial in respect of all types of work. But why should the preservation of the Vedic dharma be the lifelong vocation of one class? It is now established, as I conclude, that however it may be with the other vocations, whether or not they exist, whether or not there is a mix-up in them, the pursuit of the Vedic dharma must remain a separate calling.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 03:31:03 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

I could live in solitude in some village somewhere, performing puja and meditating. For the conduct of the Matha it is not at all necessary to have so much money as I receive from people in the cities. In my opinion the mathas ought to have only the minimum of strength in terms of money and men. A large entourage and a battalion of hangers-on are not essential to their maintenance. A matha's financial support and strength are nothing but the quality of the individual presiding over it.

If I leave my life of solitude and come to the city it is not because you give me a lot of money. You have great affection and devotion for me and you are so glad that I am present here at your request. You wanted me to come here and you are happy that I am in your midst. This is your business. But I have my own business, my own work, in coming to this city . What is it?

I have come with the hope of making some arrangement according to which Brahmins will not give up the Vedic dharma and will continue to practise it without a break. The purpose of my being here is to ask to prepare a scheme for the promotion of the Vedic dharma which is the source and root of all our systems of thought and ways of life; the scheme must ensure that the dharma does not become extinct in this generation itself. The Vedas which know no origin should be kept shining for ever their original authentic form. The Brahmin must be a servant who will keep holding up this light, this torch, to illumine all the world. This is a duty he cannot but perform not only for today but for the generations to come.
"Brahmanya" or Brahminhood did not come into being for Brahmins to lord it over others or for their own individual advancement. Its purpose is that the Brahmin should serve as a peon to hold up the Vedic lamp and show the path of Vedic dharma to mankind. If I come to the cities it is to urge the Brahmin community there not to extinguish this lamp, for to put out this light would be to plunge the whole world in darkness for all time.

In the towns and cities people come to listen to me in their thousands. So I am able to talk directly to a large number of people. It is with this idea in mind that I come to the big towns though it means some detriment to the observance of the rites associated with the Matha.

You spend a lot of money on constructing pandals in locality after locality for people to gather and listen to me. You come to hear my discourses in the midst of all your problems. However, my conscience does not permit me to give an entertaining talk without speaking to you about what is wrong with your way of life and perhaps causing you hurt thereby. It would serve you no purpose if I take all your money but fail to tell you about what is good for you and the world. That is why I keep asking you
again and again to protect the Vedic tradition and to practise the ancient dharmas. Whether or not I will succeed, I have come here to urge you again and again to do it.

You honour me with a "shower" of gold coins and celebrate with much pomp the day of my installation on the Pitha. You do so because of your great affection for me. You appoint committees, collect money and toil day and night for the purpose. But how are we to be sure that the acaryas who will succeed to the Pitha in the future will also be similarly honoured? If the Vedic dharma becomes extinct why should there be a matha at all or a mathadhipati ( head of the matha)? So I tell you: "I see that you are so enthusiastic about honouring me with a shower of gold coins to celebrate the day of my ascending the Pitha. Why don't you have the same enthusiasm to work for the preservation of the Vedic dharma? Why don't you appoint committees for the purpose, draw up schemes, raise funds?

It does not matter if you are unable to create conditions in which Brahmins henceforth will make the pursuit of the Vedic dharma their lifelong vocation. All I ask you is the minimum you can do, make arrangements to impart to your children the Vedic mantras, to teach them to recite the scripture for at least one hour a day from the time they are eight years old until they are eighteen. Teach them also the prayoga (the conduct of rites). Do this on a cooperative basis in each locality. If you succeed in this you will have truly honoured me with a shower of gold coins.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 03:39:16 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Nothing is achieved without effort. If we take up some work for own sake we are ready to suffer any amount of hardship. There is a university in a distant land and you are told that if you take a degree from it you will get a very attractive job. What do you then? You get the syllabus from that institution by post at once, manage to go and study there. Must we abandon our dharma on the plea that its pursuit involves a great deal of trouble? If there is trouble it means the benefits yielded will be
proportionately greater- also it should be a matter of greater pride
.

I have come to give you trouble in this fashion. I wonder why I should not stay here and keep giving you trouble until you agree to complete the arrangements to carry out my suggestion. After all, I have to stay somewhere, so why not here? It gives me joy that more and more bhajans are conducted in the towns than before, that work connected with temples is on the increase and that puranic discourses are given more often than before. But we must remember that the Vedas constitute the basis of all these. If our scripture suffers a decline, how long will the activities based on its survive? The Vedas must be handed down from father to son, from generation to the next. It is because we have forgotten this tradition that our religion itself has become shaky. All the trouble in the world, all the suffering and all the evil must be attributed to the fact that the Brahmin has forsaken his dharma, the Vedic dharma. I am not worried about the system of jatis destroyed, but I am worried about the setback to the welfare of mankind. I am also extremely concerned about the fact that, if the Vedic tradition which has been maintained like a chain from generation to generation is broken, it may not be possible to create the tradition all over again.

The good arising in a subtle form, the sound of the Vedas and the performance of sacrifices is not the only benefit that constitutes "lokakshema" or the welfare of mankind. From Vedanta are derived lofty truths that can bring Atmic uplift to people belonging to all countries. How did foreigners come to have an interest in our Vedanta? When they came to India they discovered here a class of people engaged in the practice of the Vedic dharma as a lifetime calling. They were curious to find out in what way the Vedas were great that an entire class of people should have dedicated themselves to them all their life. They conducted research into these scriptures and discovered many truths including those pointing to the unity of the various cultures of the world.

The Vedas bring universal good. This is not all. In the beginning, in my opinion, the Vedic culture was prevalent throughout the world. Others also, it is likely, will arrive at the same view on a thorough inquiry into the subject. The fact that there is something common to all mankind should be a source of universal happiness and it should also contribute to a sense of harmony among the various religions.

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Subramanian.R on May 31, 2014, 03:46:28 PM
Dear Ravi,

Nice discourse by Sri Kanchi Mahaswami on the Vedas.  I have only one doubt, not in this connection.  He has said that when
animal sacrifices were done in the Yagnas, the brahmin priests used to take a bit of roasted animal flesh, to the size of a
moong dhal.  Is it a correct information?  In another place, it is said (not by Him) that they used to make a paste of moong
dhal as in the case of making vadas, and they will place it in the Yagna fire and then eat it. 

Arunachala Siva.   
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 03:48:27 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

If a separate class of people ready to sacrifice everything for the cause of the Vedic tradition did not exist, how would you expect people of other countries to become interested in this tradition? If we ourselves discard something that is our own, thinking it to be useless, how can we expect others to take an interest in it? Because of our neglect we have been guilty of denying others the benefits to be earned from the Vedas. It is the responsibility of the present generation to ensure the continuance of
the Vedic tradition not only for the happiness of people belonging to all castes in this country but for people throughout the world. Without this task accomplished, no purpose is going to be served by honouring me with a shower of gold coins
.

Why then did I agree to the kanakabhiseka? Had I not agreed to it, would you have gathered in such large numbers to listen to me?
To dispel the hatred, anger and bitterness that vitiate our social life people whose duty it is to sustain the Vedic dharma must remain true to it and set an example to others by living a life of virtue and tranquillity. The benefits that come from such a life may not be immediately perceptible. What happens when there is a hartal? All shops are closed and people have to suffer much inconvenience. Think of what will happen when the work of preserving the Vedic dharma come to a stop? The ill effects suffered by society will not be felt immediately but over a period. People then will realise the advantage of having an exclusive class that is devoted to Vedic learning as a lifelong mission. If you (Brahmins) alone do not fall in your duty, one day all the present hatred in society will be wiped away and happiness will reign instead.

Our religion places on its followers more restraints than any other faith does on its, but these are meant to elevate man to his true state, to take him to his true destination. There are restraints to be observed by the individual as well as by the community. Any restraint is like the embankment of a lake or a river. If the embankments are damaged, or if they are swept away, the whole area will be devastated. Today there are no restraints at all in the life of the individual or of society, no restraints in a religion that once imposed the maximum number of restrictions on its followers.

I go from place and keep giving discourses. I do so to keep Brahmins under some check or restraint because they are expected to be pathfinders for the rest of the entire society. There is a general belief that Brahmins are more attached to me than are others- whether or not Brahmins themselves think so or I think so. So, if I first succeed a little in binding them to their dharma, I will have the strength to teach others their dharma.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 04:03:44 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

In brief, what do I ask of Brahmins? Before giving up his mortal frame, the Acarya composed five stanzas that contains the essence of his teachings. I keep telling Brahmins today what the Acarya says right at the start:' VedO nithyam adhiyathAm'. The same exhortation is made by the saint-poetess Auvvaiyar. It reads almost like a Tamil translation of the words of the Acarya- "OdAmal orunaLum irrukkavEndAm". What the Acarya says in a positive manner ('You must chant the Vedas every day'), Auvvaiyar puts in a negative way ('Not a single day should you pass without chanting the Vedas'). In Tamil the Vedas are called "Ottu". The Thirukkural has also the same term. The place where the Vedas worshipped Isvara is known as Vedapuri: in Tamil it is "Tiruvottur" ("Tiru-Ottu-ur"). Vedic chanting has survived up till now from the time of Brahma's creation. I keep visiting places to give people trouble and make them spend money during these visits. I do so only to impress upon them that the chanting of the Vedas must go on for ever.

So many thousands of you are gathered here. It is my hope that my words will have made an impact on at least ten or twenty of my listeners and that these ten or twenty will remember them and try to act according to them.

It was only after people emigrated to the big towns and cities that they found themselves compelled to lead a life contrary to the teachings of their dharma. It is in urban centres that you see some of the worst aspects of modern civilization. That is why I had decided not to come to such places, preferring to stay in the villages. But people from these urban centres insisted that I should visit them and, though I was touched by their affection, I was at first reluctant to accede to their request. I told them: "I shall come if you agree to return to our old ways of life, even if it be to a small extent. You need not take lessons in the Vedas all at once. But, as a beginning, you must adopt the external symbols of our Vedic dharma. The peon wears a uniform, doesn't he? The Brahmin must wear the pancakaccha and sikha. There are not symbols proclaiming his superiority; on the contrary, they denote that he is a servant of all other communities, a servant of the Vedas. You must wear these symbols if you want me to come to your city."

It was in vain that I had laid down these conditions. Perhaps there was no desire on the part of the Brahmins I had spoken to,to change their style of dress or their outlook or perhaps they did not have the courage to do it. But they requested me again and again that I should visit them. Eventually, I reconciled myself to accepting their invitation even though they had not acted on my words. "They still have some respect and affection for me, "I told myself.?I will agree to their request and see whether my purpose will be served if I go into their midst and speak to them directly again. After all, what is the Matha for? It is meant for the welfare of the people, to cure them of their ills and turn them to the right path. It is my duty to speak to them again and again- whether or not they like it- about how in my opinion they have gone wrong".

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 04:13:27 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Thus I started visiting the towns again. When people welcome me in great joy, honour me wherever I go, decorate the roads with bunting, how can I wound their feelings by speaking about what is wrong with them? Everybody has problems in life. The world is plunged in turmoil and people face all sorts of hardships. In the midst of all this they come to me hoping to forget their problems. Is it right for me to remind them of their faults? Or am I to keep everybody happy by turning my religious discourse into an entertaining performance?
Am I to speak to people about what is good for them, what is good for society, or am I to make them happy for the moment by making my talk a kacceri(Music performance-Ravi)-like performance? But there are musicians for kacceris and why should I be invited to perform something similar? If I were to give a kacceri-like performance for the sake of money, I would have to make the listeners happy for the time being. But my purpose is not money. If money comes, it is spent in feeding more than the usual number of people, in holding assemblies of the learned, etc. The affairs of the Matha could be managed with the smaller amounts received in the villages.However, an effort must be made, all the same, to speak to the entire community of people about what is good for them, for their life. Is this
not the very purpose of the Matha?

Thinking on these lines, I came to this conclusion: "It is up to them (the people I am to address in the towns) to listen to me and act on my advice. Whether or not they like it, I will speak to them about their duties, about what they should do for spiritual uplift as well as for the happiness of mankind. "I can do no more than speak to them about their duty. I have no authority to punish them if they fail in this. Even in political parties which believe in the oneness and equality of all, disciplinary action is
taken against erring members- some are expelled like untouchables. I have no authority to excommunicated anyone for any of their offences. Nor do I ask for myself such authority to be exercised over men. The only right I ask for is to have the ears of people. I cannot but do what I can do that is why I am here.

Sufficient it would be even if a single individual somewhere paid heed to my words and acted according to them. He would be the starting point in the direction of the desired growth. Have not movements that do not have an iota of justification behind them grown with just ten people to start with? For a good cause also it would be enough if ten people joined together initially.
I keep speaking in the hope of finding such people. You must not feel unhappy thinking that I am very much dissatisfied with you. I am not unaware of the complexities and problems of modern life. If one is trapped in it, I know how difficult it is to be freed from it. In the midst of all this, you make arrangements in a big way for kumbhabhisekas, bhajans, discourses, etc. I am happy about it all. I feel encouraged by it to speak to you about that which is the very basis, the very life-breath, of these activities of yours. It is that of fostering the Vedic dharma.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 04:28:09 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

Though there is much room for offences against the sastras in the present way of life and though there is cause for worry about the future. I am reassured by certain signs that promise our well-being. Instead of lamenting that "all is lost", the proper thing to do is to promote the good aspects in present-day life and to speak about what still needs to be done. In this way those who have taken the wrong path will sooner or later see the light and turn to the path of wisdom.
All this gives me the confidence to speak about the old ways of life and the old customs. I do not claim that all that is old is necessarily good. At the same time, I feel that nothing should be rejected merely because it is old. An object (or deed) is to judged not on the basis of whether it is old or new; it is to be accepted or rejected after finding out how useful it is.
Let us accept what is good in the new and reject what is bad in the old. Likewise, let us reject what is bad in the new and accept what is good in the old. Kalidasa says the same thing. You have invited me with much affection and treated me with much honour. So I feel reluctant to tell you about what is bad in your present way of life. I have dealt with many subjects- about devotion, jnana, culture, and so on. True, they are edifying topics. But they are all like the branches, flowers and fruits supported by something deeper, supported by the root constituted by the Vedas. Nothing grows without this root, without the Vedic tradition being nourished. It is pointless to speak about other matters after leaving out this vital subject. The preservation of the Vedic dharma is the basic service we render to our religion, and while on the subject, we have necessarily to do well on the drawbacks in the present way of life. After speaking to you about other matters, about mixing with you. I have become friends with you and I feel I could take up then topic of the Vedas since I feel I need not be as reluctant as I was before in telling you about what is wrong with your way of life.
The very purpose of my visit is this. But is it proper for me to speak about it right at the start? Since you have done your job by honouring me and pleasing me, I feel I can now do my job by speaking about the importance of sustaining the Vedic way of life. I have given you so much trouble for this purpose and put you to a lot of expense. As if this were not enough, I am asking you, like Vinoba Bhave, for "sampatti-dana".

Every Brahmin must learn the Vedas and teach his sons the same. Necessary though this is, there is something even more important to be done as a matter of priority: it is to make sure that the schools that teach the Vedas (the pathasalas) which are gasping for breath as it were are not closed down but given new life. For this purpose both teachers and taught must be given monetary help. More Vedic schools must also be established not only to teach the mantras but also their meaning and to conduct examinations. During the years of study the students must be given a stipend. On passing their examinations they must be given substantial awards, the amount depending upon their marks. You have to do all this to maintain the Vedic dharma. Naturally, you need capital for it.Trusts have been created for this purpose. A number of people have made gifts of land (bhudana)- like Vinoba Bhave I too have received bhudana. Now ceilings of landowning have come into force. It is difficult to foresee how the rights of landowners will be affected in the future. That is why I am asking for sampatti-dana.

Everyone of you must put one rupee in a piggy bank every month on the day on which your janma-naksatra falls. Think of me as you do it for, after all, it is I who am asking you to do it. After twelve months you must send the Rs 12 so collected to the Veda Raksana Nidhi. On your janmanaksatra, the Matha will send you prasada (vibhuti-sacred asheskumkum, mantraksata). You will be the recipient of the blessings of Candramaulisvara if you contribute to the Veda Raksana Nidhi year after
year.

You pay taxes and spend so much on so many things. Take this contributution to the Veda Raksana Nidhi as a tax imposed by me: pay one rupee every month for my sake. If everyone agreed to do so, it would mean great support to the task of preserving the Vedic dharma. The maintenance of the Vedic tradition is uppermost in my mind and it is a duty we have to carry our for the good of future generations.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 04:34:38 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

If you ask me why the Vedic dharma must be perpetuated, the answer is that the sound of Vedic mantras and the conduct of Vedic rites like sacrifices will bring universal material and spiritual well-being. Second, if people in every country of the world are to know that the Vedic religion was once a universal religion and, if unity and peace are to be achieved on the basis of such awareness, there must be a class of people in our country who will devote themselves solely to Vedic learning. I maintain that fostering the Vedic dharma is of the utmost importance because it will bring prosperity and inward tranquillity to people not only in our country but all over the world.
There should not be even a single Brahmin in the next generation who will not be able to chant the Vedas. We need the Brahmin not to exercise authority over others, but to carry out the duty of protecting the primordial dharma- and this not only for the unity of our land but for the oneness of the whole world.

How can we claim that a small group of people in this country (dedicated to maintaining the Vedic tradition) can create happiness throughout the world? Well, take the case of a powerhouse. Only four or five work in it but the entire town receives light. If these four or five people do not work, the whole town will be plunged in darkness. In the same way only a few people are required to keep the auspicious world lamp of the Vedas burning. My mission here is to protect somehow the seed capital necessary for it. For the sake of this, I agreed to all the festivities you conducted in my honour. The chant of "Jaya-Jaya Sankara, Hara-Hara Sankara" heard during these festivities brought so many people here to listen to my discourses. Those who conducted the festival in my honour must pay heed to what I wish to say. You exert yourself in many ways in the cause of so many things. Why not to exert yourself a little for my sake also? You do so much for yourself: you go to your office; you have your own pastime; and you conduct all kinds of businesses. For my sake do this job of protecting the Vedic dharma.

Why should I speak differentiating between you and me ["For your sake" and "my sake"]. My work is also your work. Maintaining the Vedic tradition is the one job that ensures the supreme good of all. Doing this duty means well being for you- and I shall be earning a name as a result!

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 04:43:20 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

The Cure for the Disease called Modern Civilisation

People are caught between two groups holding opposing views. On the one side they feel the pull of individuals like us who maintain that they must take to the path shown by the sastras; on the other they find themselves drawn in the opposite direction by the reformers who want these sastras to be changed. From a youthful age people nowadays are used to reading reports extolling the changes that go by the name of reforms. It is all due to the influence of modern education. All this notwithstanding, people have not altogether given up the old customs. A fraction of the dharmas laid down in the sastras and followed for ages is still to be seen in our domestic and social life. On the one hand, there is the habit formed by custom and, on the other, the habit now being learned through the new system of education.

It is universally recognised that contentment is lacking in the modern way of life. People don't dispute the fact that the peace that once existed in the previous generations no longer obtains today. They have more money now -or that at any rate is the belief. But are they yet free from poverty? The claim is made that everything is in abundance, that we grow more food than what is needed. Yet there is anxiety everywhere about the supply of essentials. In the place of the old thatched hut or modest titled house now stands a multistorey building. Then we had just four or five utensils to cook, a basket made of palm-fronds, containers made of gourd shells. Now the house is crammed with all sorts of articles and gadgets that are part of today's "civilized" life. People enjoy new comforts and make new acquisitions, yet they are not as happy and contented as were their forefathers.

Even now there are people who at heart long for a life of peace lived according to the old tradition. But they do not have the courage to give up either the trammels of modern life or the feeling of pride in the changes effected under the reformist movement. They are in an awkward predicament because they are not fully committed either to the traditional way of life or to the new. Let me tell you how people cannot decide for themselves-how they are neither here nor there. In most homes you will see Gandhiji's portrait and mine. Now Gandhiji advocated widow marriage-and I ask people to wear a sikha. Those who respect Gandhiji do not, however, have the courage to marry widows nor do they have the courage to wear a sikha. Poor people, they have no moorings and keep swinging between one set of beliefs and another. We must have the courage of our convictions and unflinching faith in the sastras.

continued....

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 04:51:56 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

If we start making small compromises in our adherence to the sastras, it will eventually mean following only such scriptural practices as we find convenient in our everyday life. Some people tell me with all good intentions: "The dharmasastras are the creation of rshis. You are like a rshi. You must make changes in the sastras in keeping with the times. ?Their view is that just as we remove weeds from the fields we must change our customs and duties according to our times. If I take out some rites and observances from sastras now, thinking them to be "weeds", later another man will turn up and remove more for the same reason. At this rate, a time will come when we will not be able to distinguish the weed from the crop and the entire field will become barren.

It is important to realise that if we are to remain true to the sastras it is not because they represent the views of the seers but because they contain the rules founded on the Vedas which are nothing but what Isvara has ordained. That is the reason why we must follow them. It is my duty to see that the sastras are preserved as they are. I have no authority to change them.

We must not give up the sastric way of life thinking it to be difficult to follow. If we are not carried away by the glitter of modern mundane life, if we reduce our wants and do not run after money, there will be no need to abandon the customs and rites laid down by our canonical texts. If we are not obsessed with making money there will be plenty of time to think of the Lord. And peace, contentment and happiness will reign.

Money is not essential to the performance of the rites enjoyed by the sastras, nor is pomp and circumstance essential to worship. Even dried tulasi and bilva leaves are enough to perform puja. The rice we cook for ourselves will do as the naivedya. "Marriage is also a sastric ceremony. We spend a lot of money on it. What about such expenses? " it is asked. All the lavish display we see at weddings today are unnecessary and do not have the sanction of the scriptures. Specifically, the dowry that forms such a substantial part of the marriage expenses has no scriptural sanction at all. If money were important to the performance of the rites enjoyed by our canonical texts it would mean that our religion is meant for rich people. In truth it is not so.

Of the four aims of life - dharma, material acquisitions, desire and liberation - we seek gratification of kama alone (in the form of pleasure, love, etc.). And to have our desires satisfied we keep struggling to acquire material things. Our efforts must be directed towards obtaining liberation through the practice of dharma. All that we need to do for this ideal is to resolve to live a simple life. There should then be no compulsion to run after money and other material goods and other. It would naturally become easier for us to practice dharma and reap the ultimate fruit that is eternal bliss.

concluded.
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 06:17:50 PM
Friends,
We have seen the importance of the Vedic mantras and what sort of discipline is needed to chant the mantras,and why 'specialists' in the form of dedicated Brahmins are called for to chant the vedas,how the whole world stands to benefit,etc.I intend to post further on what kAnchi mahAswAmi has said regarding the four vedAs.mahAswAmi was born to revive and preserve the vedic dharma and his utterances are  most stirring and inspiring.If only a few get to read this and even understand a little of this,and feel the urge to explore the vedas,it will be a homage to this great sage with whom it has been a privilege for us to have lived in this birth on terra firma.His words have the power that will bear fruit in its time.
Namaskar.
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 06:24:07 PM
The Four Vedas-kAnchi mahAswAmi

"Anantah vai Vedah", the Vedas are unending. The seers have, however, revealed to us only a small part of them but it is sufficient for our welfare in this world and next. We are not going to create many universes like Brahma that we should know all the Vedas. We need to know only as many as are necessary to ensure our good in this world.
In each of the four Vedas there are different "pAthas" and "pAthabhedas" or "pathantaras". The same musical composition or raga is sung in different "panis"(style of rendering-Ravi). For instance, the same musical composition or raga is expounded in different styles by, say, Maha-Vaidyanatha Ayyar, Konerirajaouram Vaidyanatha Ayyar and Sarabha sastri. Just as in some panis there are more sangatis to a composition than in some others, there are more suktas in some pathas than in others. There may also be differences in the order of the mantras.

Each pathantra or each version is called a sAkha or recension. The various sakhas are branches of the Vedic tree, indeed a great tree like the Adyar banyan [in Madras]. The branches big and small belong to one or another of the four Vedas, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana.

Modern indologists are of the view that the Rgveda came first, that the Yajurveda came later and so on. But, according to our sastras, all Vedas are eternal. To state that one Veda belongs to a period prior to, or later than, another is not correct since all the Vedas are associated with the sacrifice that came to mankind with creation itself. The same argument holds good in the matter of fixing the dates of the divisions of any of the sakhas - the Samhita, the Brahmana and Aranyaka. The Vedas belong to a realm in which there is no scope for any research. If we believe that they were discovered by seers who knew past, present and future -- themselves, though, remaining in a state beyond time -- we will realise that it is meaningless to attempt to fix their date.

In the Rgveda itself the Yajurveda and the Samaveda are mentioned in a number of passages. In Purusasuktha occuring in the Rgveda (tenth mandala, 90th suktha) there is a reference to the other Vedas. We learn from this, don't we, that one Veda does not belong to a period prior to, or later than another?

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 06:44:21 PM
The Four Vedas-kAnchi mahAswAmi continued...

I stated that each recension consisted of the Samhita, the Brahmana and the Aranyaka. When we speak of "Vedaadhyayana" (the study or chanting of the Vedas) we normally have in mind the Samhita part only. When we bring out a book consisting of the Samhita alone of the Rigveda we still call it the "Rigveda". The Samhita is indeed the very basis of asakha, its life-breath. The word means 'systematised and collected' together. The Rigveda Samhita as all in the form of poetry. What came to be called
"sloka" in later times is the"rik" of the Vedas. "Rik" means a "stotra", a hymn. The Rigveda Samhita is made up entirely of hymns in praise of various deities. Each rik is a mantra and a number of riks in praise of a deity constitute a sukta.

The Rgveda, that is its Samhita, has 10, 170 rks and 1, 028 suktas. It is divided into ten mandalas or eight astakas. It begins with a sukta to Agni and concludes with a sukta to the same deity. For this reason some believe that the Vedas must be described as the scripture of fire worship, a view with which we would be in agreement if Agni were believed to be the light of the Atman (the light of knowledge of the Reality)(We will later on see how sri Aurobindo approaches in a similiar fashion-Ravi). The concluding sukta of the Rgveda contains a hymn that should be regarded as having a higher significance than the national anthem of any country: it is a prayer for amity among all nations, a true international anthem. "May mankind be of one mind, " it goes. "May it have a common goal. May all hearts be united in love. And with the mind and the goal being one may all of us live in happiness. "

"Yajus" is derived from the word "yaj" meaning "to worship". "Yajna" (as we have already noted) is also from the same root. Just as "rik" means a hymn, "yajus" means the worship associated with sacrifices. The chief purpose of the Yajurveda is the practical application of the Rigvedic hymns in the religious work called yajna or sacrifice. The Yajur veda describes in prose the actual conduct of the rites. If the Rigveda serves the purpose of adoring deities verbally the Yajurveda serves the same purpose through rites.

continued
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 06:53:42 PM
The Four Vedas-kAnchi mahAswAmi continued...

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.

There is a long story about this, but let me tell it briefly. Before the time of Yajnavalkya, the Yajurveda was an undivided scripture. Yajnavalkya learned it from Vaisampayana. Later some misunderstanding arose between the two and the guru bade his student to throw up what he had taught him. Yajnavalkya did so and went to the sun god for refuge. The latter taught him a new Vedas, an addition to the scripture that is endless. That is how we came to have Vajasaneyi or Sukla-Yajurveda. The
other Yajurveda already taught by Vaisampayana acquired the apellation of "Krsna", so "Krsna-Yajurveda"

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.

The glory of the Rgveda is that it is replete with hymns to all deities. Scholars are of the opinion, besides, it contains teachings for our life. The wedding rites are based on this part of this Veda which pertains to the marriage of the daughter of the sun god. There are also passages of a dramatic character like the dialogue between Pururavas and Urvasi. In later times Kalidasa based one of his dramatic works on this [the Vikramorvasiyam]. The hymn to Usha, the goddess of dawn, and similiar mantras are considered to be of high poetic beauty by men of aesthetic discernment.

Since the Rgveda is placed first among the four Vedas it must naturally have an exalted position. It is the matrix of the works (karma) of the Yajurveda and the songs of the Samaveda.

The importance of the Yajurveda is that it systematises the karmayoga, the path of works. The Tattitiriya Samhita of the Krsna-Yajurveda deals with sacrifices like darsapurnamasa, somayaga, vajapeya, rajasuya, asvamedha. Besides it has a number of hymnic mantras of a high order not found in the Rigveda. For example, the popular Sri Rudra mantras are from the Yajurveda. The Rigveda does contain five suktas known as "Pancarudra", but when we mention Sri Rudra we at once think of the mantras to this deity in the Yajurveda. That is why a supreme Saiva like Appayya Diksita laments that he was not born a Yajurvedin - he was a Samavedin.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 07:08:04 PM
The Four Vedas-kAnchi mahAswAmi continued...

Among the followers of the four Vedas, Yajurvedins predominate. The majority in the North(Brahmins) belong to the Sukla-Yajurveda while most people in the South belong to Krsna-Yajurveda. The day on which Yajurvedins perform their upakarma is declared a holiday. There is no such holiday for upakarma of Rgvedins and Samavedins. This is because Yajurvedins are in a majority. The Purusasukta of the Rigveda occurs with some changes in the Yajurveda. Today it is generally understood to be a Yajurvedic hymn.
For non-dualists, the Yajurveda has a special importance. A doctrine and its exposition consist of three parts: the sutra, the bhasya and the vartika.
The sutra states the doctrine in an apophthegmatic(cryptic) form; the bhasya is a commentary on it; and the vartika is an elucidation of the commentary.
To non-dualists the term "vartika kAra" at once brings to mind SuresvarAchArya. What is the commentary or bhasya for which he wrote
his vartika
?
Sankara's bhasya on the Upanishads are to be regarded as sutras. He wrote, in addition, a bhasya for the Brahmasutra also. His disciple Suresvara wrote a vartika on his master's commentaries. In this work he chose only two of the ten Upanishads for which Sankara had written his commentary - the Taittiriya Upanishad and the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. These two are from the Krsna and Sukla- Yajurvedas respectively, which means both are from the Yajurveda.

Another distinction of the Yajurveda is that of the ten Upanishads ("Dasopanishad") the first and the last are from it - the IsAvasyOpanishad and the BrihAdaranyaka Upanishad.

'SAma' denotes that which brings equipoise or tranquillity to the mind. There are four well-known ways of dealing with an opponent or rival: sAma, dAna, bhEda and Dhanda. The first method is that of conciliation, making an enemy a friend through affection. THe Samaveda enables us to befriend the divine forces, even the Paramatman. How do we make a person happy? By praising him. If the panegyricis set to music and sung he would be doubly pleased. Many of the mantras of the Rigveda are intoned with a cadence in the Samaveda; thus we have SAmagAna. While the riks are chanted with the tonal differences of udatta, anudatta and svarita, the sAmans are intoned musically according to certain rules. Our music, based on the seven notes (saptasvara), has its origin in Samaveda.

All deities are pleased with SAmagana. We become recipients of their grace not only through the offerings made in the sacrificial fire but through the intoning of the sAmans by the udgata. SAmagAna is particularly important to soma sacrifices in which the essence of the soma plant is offered as oblation.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 07:20:55 PM
The Four Vedas-kAnchi mahAswAmi continued...

Though the samans are indeed Rigvedic mantras, they are specially capable of pleasing the deities and creating Atmic uplift because they are intoned musically. This is what gives distinction to the Samaveda. Sri Krsna Paramatman says in the Gita : "Vedanam Samavedosmi"(Of Vedas, I am samaveda). The Lord is everything, including good as well as bad. Even so, as he speaks to Arjuna about the things in which his divine quality specially shines forth, he mentions the SAma veda among them. In the Lalitha-Sahasranama (The One Thousand Names of the Goddess Lalitha), Amba has the name of "SAmagAna-priya (one who delights in SAmagana); she is not called "Rigveda-priya" or "Yajurveda-priya".

Syamasastri refers to the Goddess MinAkshi as "SAmagAna-vinodhini" in one of his compositions. In the Siva-astottaram ["Siva astottarasatam, the 108 names of Siva], Siva is worshipped thus:"SAmapriyAya namah"

The Tevaram extols Siva as one who keeps chanting the Chandoga-Saman (Chandoga-Saman odhum vAyan). Appayya Dikshita has sought to establish that Isvara or Siva, Amba and Visnu are "Ratna-trayi" (the Three Gems) occupying the highest plane. And all three have a special relationship with SAmaveda.

"Atharvan" means a purohita, a priest. There was a sage with this name. That which was revealed by the seer Atharvan is the Atharvaveda. It contains mantras with which one wards off misfortunes and disasters and brings about the destruction of one's enemies. The Atharvaveda is a mixture of prose and poetry. The mantras of other Vedas also serve the same purpose as those of the Atharvaveda. But what is special about the latter is that it has references to deities not mentioned in the others and has mantras addressed to fierce spirits. What has come to be known as "mantrikam" (magical rites) has its source in this Veda.
But it is to be noted that the Atharvaveda also contains mantras that speak of lofty truths. It has the Prithvi-sukta, the hymn to earth, which glorifies this planet with all its creatures. The Atharvaveda is noteworthy for the fact that the Brahma, the supervisor of sacrifices, is its representative. The Atharvaveda, that is its Samhita, is rarely chanted in the North and is not heard at all in the South. But we must remember that of the ten important Upanishads three belong to this Veda - Prasna, Mundaka and Mandukya. It is believed that those who seek liberation need nothing to realise their goal other than MAndukya Upanishad.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on May 31, 2014, 07:25:40 PM
The Four Vedas-kAnchi mahAswAmi continued...

We learn from stone inscriptions that the Atharvaveda had a following until some centuries ago. Information about Vedic schools is provided by such inscriptions found near Perani, not far from Tindivanam, at Ennayiram and a place near Walajabad, in the neighbourhood of Kancipuram. Even during the reign of the later Cholas the Atharvaveda was learned in the Tamil country.

There are eighteen divisions among the Brahmins of Orissa. One of them is made up of "Atharvanikas", that is Atharvavedins. Evev today Atharva vedins are to be met, though their number is small, in parts of Gujarat like Saurashtra and in Kosala( in U. P).

Gayatri is the mantra of mantras and it is believed to be the essence of the three Vedas - which means that the Atharvaveda is excluded here. According to one view, before he starts learning the Atharvaveda, a brahmacharin must go through a second upanayana ceremony. Generaly, the Gayatri imparted to a child at Brahmopadesa ceremony is called "Tripada- Gayatri" - it is so called because it has three padas or three feet. Each foot encompasses the essential spirit of one Veda, The Atharvaveda has a seperate Gayatri and if people belonging to other Vedas want to learn this Veda they have to go through a second upanayana to receive instruction in it. For the followers of the first three Vedas, however there is only one Gayatri and those belonging to any one of them can learn the other two Vedas without another upanayana.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: atmavichar100 on May 31, 2014, 08:53:32 PM
Quote
.If only a few get to read this and even understand a little of this,and feel the urge to explore the vedas,it will be a homage to this great sage with whom it has been a privilege for us to have lived in this birth on terra firma.His words have the power that will bear fruit in its time.

Dear Sri Ravi

Thanks for starting this thread on "Vedas" with the beautiful explanation of the same by Kanchi Maha Swamigal .   His explanations on Vedas and other things related to Indian Culture is always very refreshing and inspiring .

Jaya Jaya Shankara Hara Hara Shankara .
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Nagaraj on June 01, 2014, 06:05:08 PM
THE VEDAS

By SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA

SANSKRIT LITERATURE

Sanskrit literature can be classified under six orthodox heads and four secular heads. The six orthodox sections form the authoritative scriptures of the Hindus. The four secular sections embody the latter developments in classical Sanskrit literature.

The six scriptures are: (i) Srutis, (ii) Smritis, (iii) Itihasas, (iv) Puranas, (v) Agamas and (vi) Darsanas.

The four secular writings are: (i) Subhashitas, (ii) Kavyas, (iii) Natakas and (iv) Alankaras.

VEDA-THE REVEALED WISDOM

The Srutis are called the Vedas, or the Amnaya. The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. These are direct intuitional revelations and are held to be Apaurusheya or entirely superhuman, without any author in particular. The Veda is the glorious pride of the Hindus, nay, of the whole world!

The term Veda comes from the root 'Vid', to know. The word Veda means knowledge. When it is applied to scripture, it signifies a book of knowledge. The Vedas are the foundational scriptures of the Hindus. The Veda is the source of the other five sets of scriptures, why, even of the secular and the materialistic. The Veda is the storehouse of Indian wisdom and is a memorable glory which man can never forget till eternity.

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 UNIQUE GLORY OF THE VEDAS

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.

DIVISIONS OF THE VEDAS

The Veda is divided into four great books: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda. The Yajur-Veda is again divided into two parts, the Sukla and the Krishna. The Krishna or the Taittiriya is the older book and the Sukla or the Vajasaneya is a later revelation to sage Yajnavalkya from the resplendent Sun-God.

The Rig-Veda is divided into twenty-one sections, the Yajur-Veda into one hundred and nine sections, the Sama-Veda into one thousand sections and the Atharva-Veda into fifty sections. In all, the whole Veda is thus divided into one thousand one hundred and eighty recensions.

Each Veda consists of four parts: the Mantra-Samhitas or hymns, the Brahmanas or explanations of Mantras or rituals, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads. The division of the Vedas into four parts is to suit the four stages in a man's life.

The Mantra-Samhitas are hymns in praise of the Vedic God for attaining material prosperity here and happiness hereafter. They are metrical poems comprising prayers, hymns and incantations addressed to various deities, both subjective and objective. The Mantra portion of the Vedas is useful for the Brahmacharins.

The Rig-Veda Samhita is the grandest book of the Hindus, the oldest and the best. It is the Great Indian Bible, which no Hindu would forget to adore from the core of his heart. Its style, the language and the tone are most beautiful and mysterious. Its immortal Mantras embody the greatest truths of existence, and it is perhaps the greatest treasure in all the scriptural literature of the world. Its priest is called the Hotri.

The Yajur-Veda Samhita is mostly in prose and is meant to be used by the Adhvaryu, the Yajur-Vedic priest, for superfluous explanations of the rites in sacrifices, supplementing the Rig-Vedic Mantras.

The Sama-Veda Samhita is mostly borrowed from the Rig-Vedic Samhita, and is meant to be sung by the Udgatri, the Sama Vedic priest, in sacrifices.

The Atharva-Veda Samhita is meant to be used by the Brahma, the Atharva-Vedic priest, to correct the mispronunciations and wrong performances that may accidentally be committed by the other three priests of the sacrifice.

The Brahmana portions guide people to perform sacrificial rites. They are prose explanations of the method of using the Mantras in the Yajna or the sacrifice. The Brahmana portion is suitable for the householders.

There are two Brahmanas to the Rig-Veda-the Aitareya and the Sankhayana. "The Rig-Veda", says Max Muller, "is the most ancient book of the world. The sacred hymns of the Brahmanas stand unparalleled in the literature of the whole world; and their preservation might well be called miraculous."

The Satapatha Brahmana belongs to the Sukla-Yajur-Veda. The Krishna-Yajur-Veda has the Taittiriya and the Maitrayana Brahmanas. The Tandya or Panchavimsa, the Shadvimsa, the Chhandogya, the Adbhuta, the Arsheya and the Upanishad Brahmanas belong to the Sama-Veda. The Brahmana of the Atharva-Veda is called the Gopatha. Each of the Brahmanas has got an Aranyaka.

The Aranyakas are the forest books, the mystical sylvan texts which give philosophical interpretations of the rituals. The Aranyakas are intended for the Vanaprasthas or hermits who prepare themselves for taking Sannyasa.

The Upanishads are the most important portion of the Vedas. The Upanishads contain the essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas. The philosophy of the Upanishads is sublime, profound, lofty and soul-stirring. The Upanishads speak of the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. They reveal the most subtle and deep spiritual truths. The Upanishads are useful for the Sannyasins.

The subject matter of the whole Veda is divided into Karma- Kanda, Upasana-Kanda and Jnana-Kanda. The Karma-Kanda or Ritualistic Section deals with various sacrifices and rituals. The Upasana-Kanda or Worship-Section deals with various kinds of worship or meditation. The Jnana-Kanda or Knowledge-Section deals with the highest knowledge of Nirguna Brahman. The Mantras and the Brahmanas constitute Karma-Kanda; the Aranyakas Upasana-Kanda; and the Upanishads Jnana-Kanda.

THE ESSENCE OF THE VEDAS

Live in the spirit of the teachings of the Vedas. Learn to discriminate between the permanent and the impermanent. Behold the Self in all beings, in all objects. Names and forms are illusory. Therefore sublate them. Feel that there is nothing but the Self. Share what you have,-physical, mental, moral or spiritual,-with all. Serve the Self in all. Feel when you serve others, that you are serving your own Self. Love thy neighbour as thyself. Melt all illusory differences. Remove all barriers that separate man from man. Mix with all. Embrace all. Destroy the sex-idea and body-idea by constantly thinking of the Self or the sexless, bodiless Atman. Fix the mind on the Self when you work. This is the essence of the teachings of the Vedas and sages of yore. This is real, eternal life in Atman. Put these things in practice in the daily battle of life. You will shine as a dynamic Yogi or a Jivanmukta. There is no doubt of this.

--
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Hari on June 01, 2014, 10:18:42 PM
I have always wondered what is the need of the Vedas if you have Self-realized Guru?
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 01, 2014, 11:08:24 PM
Hari,
Good question and I will attempt to answer this after completing the posts in this thread.
Namaskar.
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 01, 2014, 11:13:37 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs continued....

To Discover The One Truth

All Vedas have one common goal though there are differences among their adherents. What is the goal? It is the well-being of the entire world and all creatures living in it, and the uplift of the Self of each one of us and its everlasting union with the Ultimate Reality.

We may take pride in the Vedas for another reason also. They do not point to a single way and proclaim, "This alone is the path" nor do they affirm, "This is the only God" with reference to their own view of the Supreme Being. Instead, they declare that, if one adheres to any path with faith or worships any deity with devotion, one will be led towards the Truth. The scripture of no other religion speaks thus of the many paths to liberation. On the contrary, each of them insists that the way shown by it alone will lead to liberation. The Vedas alone give expression to the high-minded view that different people may take different paths to discover the one and only Truth.(This is exactly what Sri Ramakrishna has also said and demonstrated in his wonderful life-Ravi)

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 01, 2014, 11:21:08 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs continued....

Brahmana and Aranyaka

So far, in speaking of the Vedas, I have dealt mainly with the Samhita part of each sakha or recension. We have already seen that the Samhitas are the main text of the Vedas. Apart from them, each sakha has a Brahmana and an Aranyaka.

The Brahmana lays down the various rites - karma - to be performed and explains the procedure for the same. It interprets the words of the mantras occuring in the Samhita, how they are to be understood in the conduct of sacrifices. The Brahmanas constitute a guide for the conduct of yajnas.

The word "Aranyaka" is derived from "aranya". You must have heard of places like "Dandakaranya" and "Vedaranya". "Aranya"means a "forest". Neither in the Samhita nor in the Brahmana is one urged to go and live in a forest. Vedic rites like sacrifices are to be preformed by the householder (grhastha) living in a village. But after his mind is rendered pure through such rites, he goes to a forest as a recluse to engage himself in meditation. It is to qualify for this stage of vanaprastha, to become inwardly pure and mellow, that Vedic practices like sacrifices are to be followed.

The Aranyakas prepare one for one's stage in life as an anchorite. They expound the concepts inherent in the mantras of the Samhitas and the rites detailed in the Brahmanas. In other words, they explain the hidden meaning of the Vedas, their metaphorical passages. Indeed, they throw light on the esoteric message of our scripture. For the Aranyakas, more important than the performance of sacrifices,is the awareness of their inner meaning and significance. According to present-day scholars, the Aranyakas incorporate the metaphorical passages representing the metaphysical inquires conducted by the inmates of forest hermitages.

The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, as its very name suggests, is both an Aranyaka and an Upanishad, and it begins with a philosophical explanation of the horse sacrifice.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 01, 2014, 11:31:56 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs continued....

The Upanisads

The Upanisads come at the close of the Aranyakas. If the Samhita is the tree, the Brahmana the flower and the Aranyaka the fruit (i. e. in its unripe stage), the Upanishads are the mellow fruit - the final fruit or "phala". The Upanisads are to the seeker the direct means of realising the non-difference between the jivatman (individual self) and the Paramatman. The purpose of the Samhita and the Aranyaka is to take us to this path of knowledge. Though a number of deities are mentioned here and there in the Upanisads, the chief objective of these texts is inquiry into the Ultimate Reality and the attainment of the stage in which one becomes wise enough and mature enough to sever oneself from all karma. It is on this basis that the Vedas are divided into the karmakanda and the jnanakanda, the part dealing with works and the part dealing with knowledge [enlightenment]. The two are also spoken of as the Purvamimamsa and the Uttaramimamsa respectively.(We will later on see how the mahaswami unifies everything in his wonderful and insightful way-Ravi)

The great sage Jaimini's sastra based on his inquiry into the karmakanda is called Purvamimamsa. His teaching is that the karmakanda, constituting the Vedic rites and duties, is itself the final fruit of the scripture. Similiarly, Vyasa has in his work, the Brahmasutra, inquired into the jnanakanda and come to the conclusion that it represents the ultimate purpose of the Vedas. The Upanisadic jnanakanda is small compared to the karmakanda. The Jaiminisutra has a thousand sections ("sahasradhikarani"), while Vyasa's Brahmasutra has only 192 sections.

Just as the leaves of a tree far outnumber its flowers and fruits, in the case of the Vedic tree the karmakanda is far bigger than the jnanakanda.

In other countries philosophers try to apprehend the Truth on an intellectual plane. The Upanisadic inquiry is differnt, its purpose being to realise inwardly the Truth perceived by the mind or the intellect. Is it enough to know that halva is sweet? You must experience its sweetness by eating it. How are the Upanisads different from other philosophical systems? They (the Upanisads) consist of mantras, sacred syllables, and their sound is instinct with power. This power transforms the truths
propounded by them into an inward reality
. The philosophical systems of other countries do not go beyond making an intellectual inquiry. Here, in the Vedas
-in the karmakanda - a way of life is prescribed for the seeker with actions and duties calculated to discipline and purify him. After leading such a life and eventually forsaking all action, all Vedic karma, he meditates on the truths of the Upanisads. Instead of being mere ideas of intellectual perception, these truths will then become a living reality. The highest of these truths is that there is no differnce between the individual self and the Brahman
.

It is to attain this highest of states in which the individual self dissolves inseperably in the Brahman that a man becomes a sannyasin after forsaking the very karma that gives him inward maturity. When he is initiated into sannyasa he is taught four mantras, the four [principal] mahakavyas. The four proclaim the identity of the individual self(jivatman) with the Brahman. When these mahavakyas are reflected upon through the method known as "nididhyasana", the seeker will arrive at the stage of realising the oneness of the individual self and the Brahman.

The four mahavakyas occur in four differnt Upanisads. Many are the rites that you have to perform, many are the prayers you have to recite and many are the ways of life you are enjoined to follow - all these according to the Samhitas and Brahmanas. But, when it comes to achieving the highest ideal, the supreme goal of man, you have no alternative to the Upanisads and their mahavakyas.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 01, 2014, 11:42:16 PM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs : The Upanisads continued...

"The Brahman means realising the jnana that is the highest" (Prajnanam Brahma): this mahavakya occurs in the Aitareya Upanisad of the Rgveda.

"I am the Brahman" (Aham Brahmasmi) is the mahavakya belonging to the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad of the Yajurveda.

"That thou art" or "the Paramatman and you are the one and the same" (Tat tvam asi) is from the Chandogya Upanisad of the samaveda.

The fourth mahavakya, "This Self is the Brahman" (Ayam Atma Brahma), is from the Mandukya Upanisad of the Atharvaveda.

In his Sopana Pancaka, which contains the sum and the substance of his teachings, the Acharya(Sri Sankara) urges us to chant the Samhitas (of the Vedas), perform the duties laid down in the Brahmanas and, finally, to meditate on the mahavakyas after recieving initiation into them, the purpose being recognizing our oneness with  Brahman.

The Vedas find their final expression in the Upanisads. Indeed, the Upanisads are called "Vedanta". They form the final part of the Vedas in two ways. In each recension we have first the Samhita, then the Brahmana which is followed by the Aranyaka, the Upanisad coming at the close of the last-mentioned. The Upanisads throw light on the meaning and the purpose of the Vedas and represent the end of the scripture in more than one sense: while their text forms the concluding part of the Vedas, their meaning represents the Ultimate Truth of the same. A village or town has a temple; the temple has its gopuram; and the gopuram has a sikhara over it. The Upanisads are the sikhara, the summit, of our philosophical [and metaphysical] system.

"Upa-ni-sad" means to "sit near by". The Upanisads are the teachings imparted by a guru to his student sitting by his side [sitting at his feet]. You could also take the term to mean "that which takes one to the Brahman". "Upanayana" may be interpreted in two ways: leading a child to his guru; or leading him to the Brahman. Similiarly, the term Upanisad could also be understood in the above two senses. If a student sits close to the teacher when he is recieving instruction it means that a "rahasya" (a secret or a mystery) is being conveyed to him.

Such teachings are not meant to be imparted to those who are not sufficiently mature and who are not capable of cherishing their value.
That is why in the Upanisads themselves these words occur where subtle and esoteric truths are expounded:"This is Upanisad. This is Upanisad" (ityupanishad,ityupanishad-Ravi) What is held to be a secret in the Vedas is called a "rahasya". In the Upanisads the term "Upanisad" is itself used to mean the same
.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 12:08:49 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs continued...

The Brahmasutra

I said that every doctrine or system has a sutra (text consisting of aphoristic statements), a bhasya (commentary) and a vartika (elucidation of the commentary). The systems founded by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Srikantha (acarya of Saiva-Sidhanta) belong to Vedanta. All these acaryas cite the authority of the Vedas in support of their respective doctrines and they have chosen the same ten Upanisads to comment upon according to their different philosophical perceptions.

The Upanisads are not in the form of sutras; yet for the Vedantic system they must be regarded as having the same "place" (or force) as the sutras.

How is a sutra to be understood? It must state truths in an extremely terse form. What is expressed in the least possible number of words to convey an idea or truth is a sutra, an aphorism. According to this definition the Upanisads cannot be said to be sutras. However, there does exist a basic text for all Vedantic schools in the form of sutras. This is the Brahmasutra.

In the Brahmasutra, on which there are commentaries according to the various philosophical schools, Vyasa presents in an extremely terse form the substance of the ten (principal) Upanisads. Since he dwelt under the badari tree (jujube) he came to be called "Badarayana" and his work became well-known as "Badarayana-sutra". Who or what is man (the individual self)? What is the nature of the world (jagat) in which he lives? And what is the truth underlying all this? The Brahmasutra, which is a
basic text of all Vedantic schools, seeks to answer these fundamental questions. Vyasa does not project his personal views in his work. All he does is to make a penetrating study of the science of Vedanta that is already constituted by the Upanisads
. Since it is an inquiry into the Upanisads which form the latter part of the Vedas, the Brahmasutra is called "Uttaramimamsa"

There are 555 sutras in the Brahmasutra which is divided into four chapters, each consisting of four padas (or "feet"). Altogether there are 192 sections or "adhikaranas" in it. The Brahmasutra is also called "Bhiksu-sutra" since it deals with sannyasa, the final goal of the seeker. And, because it is all about the Self in the body, it has another name, "Sariraka".

"Sutra" literally means a rope or string. The word occurs in the term "mangala-sutra", the thread worn by the bride at her wedding. Keeping the meaning of thread or string in mind, our Acarya has made a pun on the word in his commentary: "Vedanta-vakya-kusuma-grathanarthatvat sutranam". If the flowers that are Upanisads in the tree called the Vedas are strewn all over the earth, how can we gather them to make a garland? Our Acarya remarks that in the Brahmasutra the flowers of the
Upanisads are strung together to form a garland
.

All Hindu philosophical systems are based on the Brahmasutra, but the Brahmasutra itself is based on the Upanisads. That is why it has become customary to describe all Vedic schools of thought as "Upanisadic systems". When Westerners keep extolling our philosophy, chanting, "Vedanta! Vedanta!? they have in mind the Upanisads. If a person turns against the petty pleasures of this world and makes a remark suggestive of jnana, people tell him, "Arre, are you mouthing Vedanta? "

If the Vedas were personified as Purusa, the Upanisads would be his head or crown. That is why these texts are called "Sruti-siras".

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 12:20:58 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs continued...

Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another?

The rituals mentioned in the karmakanda of the Vedas are sought to be negated in the jnanakanda which is also part of the same scripture. While the karmakanda enjoins upon you the worship of various deities and lays down rules for the same, the jnanakanda constituted by the Upanisads ridicules the worshipper of deities as a dim-witted person no better than a beast.

This seems strange, the latter part of the Vedas contradicting the former part. The first part deals throughout with karma, while the second or concluding part is all about jnana. Owing to this difference, people have gone so far as to divide our scripture into two sections: the Vedas (that is the first part) to mean the karmakanda and the Upanisads (Vedanta) to mean the jnanakanda.

Vedanta it is that Lord teaches us in the Gita and in it he lashes out against the karmakanda. It is generally believed that the Buddha and Mahavira were the first to attack the Vedas. It is not so. Sri Krishna Paramatman himself spoke against them long before these two religious leaders. At one place in the Gita he says to Arjuna:"The Vedas are associated with the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. You must transcend these three qualities. Full of desire, they (the practitioners of Vedic rituals) long for paradise and keep thinking of pleasures and material prosperity. They are born again and again and their minds are never fixed in samadhi, these men clinging to Vedic rituals.

In another passage Sri Krishna declares: "Not by the Vedas am I to be realised, nor by sacrifices nor by much study . . . .?

Does not such talk contradict all that I have spoken so far about the Vedas, that they are the source of all our dharma?

With some thinking we will realise that there is in fact no contradiction. Would it be possible for us, in our present condition, to go beyond the three gunas even to the slightest extent and realise the true state of the Self spoken of in the Upanisads? The purpose of the Vedic rituals is to take us, by degrees, to this state. So long as we believe that the world is real we worship the deities so as to be vouchsafed happiness. And this world, which we think is real, is also benefited by such worship.
Thinking the deities to be real, we help them and in return we are helped by them. Living happily on this earth we long to go to the world of the celestials and enjoy the pleasures of paradise. So far so good. But if we stopped at this stage would it not mean losing sight of our supreme objective? Is not this objective, this goal, our becoming one with the Paramatman? Would it not be foolish to ignore this great ideal of ours and still cling to mundane happiness?

In our present state of immaturity it is not possible to think of the world being unreal. Recognising this, the Vedas provide us the rituals to be performed for happiness in this world. Because of our inadequacies we are unable to devote ourselves to a formless Paramatman from whom we are not different. So the Vedas have devised a system in which a number of deities are worshipped. But, in course of time, as we perform the rituals and worship the deities, we must make efforts to advance to the
state of wisdom and enlightenment in which the world will be seen to be unreal and the rites will become unnecessary. Instead of worshipping many deities, we must reach the state in which we will recognise that we have no existence other than that of our being dissolved in the Paramatman. We must perform Vedic sacraments with the knowledge that they prepare us to go to this state by making our mind pure and onepointed.

If we perform rituals with the sole idea of worldly happiness and carry on trade with the celestials by conducting sacrifices (offering them oblations and receiving benefits from them in return), we will never come face to face with the Truth. Even if we go to the world of the celestials, we will not be blessed with Self realisation. Our residence in paradise is commensurate with the merit we earn here and is not permanent. Sooner or later we will have to return to this world and be in the womb of a mother. The ritual worship and other sacraments of the Vedas are to some extent the result of making an adjustment to our present immature state of mind. But their real purpose is to take us forward gradually from this very immature state and illumine us within. It would be wrong to refuse to go beyond the stage of ritual worship.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 12:34:12 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs -Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another? continued....

If, to begin with, it is not right to refuse all at once to perform Vedic rites, it would be equally not right, subsequently, to refuse to give them up. Nowadays, people are averse to ritual to start with itself. "What? " they exclaim. "Who wants to perform sacrifices? Why should we chant the Vedas? Let us go directly to the Upanisads".
Some of them can speak eloquently about the Upanisads from a mere intellectual understanding of them. But none has the inward experience of the truths propounded in them and we do not see them emerging as men of detachment with a true awareness of the Self. The reason for this is that they have not prepared themselves for this higher state of perception through the performance of rituals.

If this is wrong in one sense, refusal to take the path of jnana from that of karma is equally not justifiable. If one has to qualify for the B. A. degree one has to begin at the beginning - one has to progress from the first standard all the way to the degree course. One cannot naturally join the B. A. class without qualifying for it.
At the same time, is it not absurd to remain all the time as a failure in the first standard itself?

In the old days there were many people belonging to the latter category (that is people who refused to take the path of knowledge and wished to remain wedded to the path of karma). Now people belonging to the former category predominate (that is those who want to take the path of jnana, without being prepared for it through karma). During the time of Sri Krsna also the majority clung to rituals. His criticism is directed against them, against those who perform Vedic sacraments without
understanding their purpose and who fail to go beyond them
. Unfortunately, this is mistaken for criticism of the Vedas themselves. The Lord could never have attacked the Vedas per se. After all, it was to save them that he descended to earth again and again.

In keeping with his times, Krsna Paramatman spoke against people who confined themselves to the narrow path of karma.

Graduating to the Upanisads without being prepared for them through the performance of Vedic rites is a greater offence than failure to go along the path of jnana from that of karma. After all, to repeat what I said before, on has to go through the primary and secondary stages of education before qualifying for admission to college. The man who insists on being admitted to the B. A. class without qualifying for it is not amenable to any suggestion. The one who wants to remain in the first standard learns at least something; the other type is incapable of learning anything.

The Vedas and Vedanta are not at variance with one another. The karmakanda prepares us for Vedanta or the jananakanda. The former has to do with this world and with many deities and its adherents are subject to the three gunas. But it is the first step to go beyond the three gunas and the sever oneself from worldly existence. If we perform the rites laid down in the karmakanda, keeping in mind their true purpose, we shall naturally be qualifying for the jnanakanda.

continued....

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 12:37:00 AM
kAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedAs -Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another? continued....

Some questions arise here. The sound of the Vedas and the sacrifices benefit not only the person who chants the Vedas and performs the sacrifices but all creatures. If such a man (that is like the one who learns the Vedas and conducts sacrifices) renounces the world thinking it to be unreal and becomes a jnanin, what will happen to the world, to its welfare? Even if you think that the world is unreal, it is real in the sense that it is the cause of so much suffering. The jnanin does not perform any rites like sacrifices so as to rid the world of its troubles. Who will then work for the welfare of the world?

The answer: the jnanin is an exalted state of awareness and while being in it he does not have to perform any sacrifices or other rites to ensure the good of the world. His life itself is a sacrifice, a yagna, and through him the world will receive the Lord's blessings even if he looks upon it as unreal or a "sport" of the Supreme Being. Whey do people flock to a jnanin? Why do they fall at his feet even if he keeps himself aloof from them? It is because they receive his grace. Whether or not he wants to
give any blessings, the Lord's grace flows into this world through him. In his very presence people feel tranquil and, sometimes, even their worldly desires are satisfied. A jnanin who realises within that there is no deity apart from himself can give his blessings in greater measure than the deities themselves. So it is wrong to think that, since he does not perform sacrifices, he does not do anything for the good of the world.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 12:45:58 AM
Kanchi mahAswAmi on the Vedas - Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another? continued....

All rituals, all worship, are meant to make a man aware of the Reality. Varnasrama with its one hundred thousand differences and with its countless stipulations as to who can do what is a preliminary arrangement to arrive at the stage in which there is a oneness of all, with all the differences banished. If we fail to go beyond the stage of karma, observing all the differences of varnasrama, we shall be committing a wrong. Krsna Paramatman directs his criticism against those who claim that the karmakanda of the Vedas alone matters, that the jnanakanda does not serve any purpose. In doing so he seems to attack the Vedas themselves. In reality he faults those who are, in his words, "Veda-vadaratah", those who are deceived by flowery accounts of the Vedas without realising their true meaning and those who do not exert themselves to
rise to the level of experiential jnana
.
To start with, we must perform the rites prescribed by the Vedas. But in this there must be the realisation that they are but steps leading us to the higher state in which we will ultimately find bliss in our Self, a state in which there will be neither rites nor duties to perform. Similarly, to start with, the deities must be worshipped but again with the conviction that such worship serves the ultimate purpose of arriving at the point where we will recognise that the worshipper and the worshipped are one. Thus, to begin with, all differences in functions must be recognised and life lived according to them. Different divisions of people have different duties, and the customs and rites assigned to each are such as to help them in the proper discharge of those duties. But in the very process of maintaining such differences there must be the conviction within that ultimately there are no differences, that all are one.

If the Vedas are to be learned and chanted and if the Vedic rituals are to be practiced - and the Vedas must be learned and chanted even as the Vedic rituals must be practiced - it is because in this way we shall be led to that supreme experience of the Reality in which there will be no need for these very Vedas. First the flowers, and from them the fruit. Though the flower looks beautiful, the fruit emerges only when it wilts or falls to earth. A tree does not fruit before it flowers. In the same way, to plunge into Vedanta without first going through a life of Vedic discipline is neither wise nor in keeping with reality. It is equally wrong to remain confined to the karmakanda and refuse to make an effort to acquire Vedantic knowledge: it is like wishing that we must have only flowers and no fruits. There must be a sense of balance, a sense of proportion, in everything we do.

There is a passage in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad similar to that in the Gita: "He who becomes aware of the nature of the Atman - for him the Vedas will no longer be Vedas, the gods will cease to be gods, Brahmins will no longer be, Brahmins. . . . . . . ".

continued...

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 12:55:28 AM
Kanchi mahAswAmi on the Vedas - Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another? continued....

However, in the karmakanda itself there is criticism of the view that rituals are all and they are the ultimate goal. Sri Krsna declares in the Gita that it is laudable to perform the many sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas realising their true purpose ("Evam bahuvidha yajna vitata Brahmano mukhe"). However, all these sacraments have their culmination in jnana ("Sarvam karm'akhilam Partha jnana parisamapyate").

The same idea is expressed forcefully through an illustration in the Vedic karmakanda itself: "He who performs only rituals, without wakening to Isvara feeds the fire to raise the smoke and nothing else" (Taittiriya Kathakam, first prasna, last anuvaka, fourth vakya). If you feed the fire with firewood you must keep the pot over it to cook rice. 'One who does not exert oneself to be "cooked" in jnana is like the man who lights the kitchen fire without keeping the cooking pot on it'. This is what the Vedas say. What purpose is served by building a big sacrificial fire if you do not offer the oblations in it? The result will be only smoke and more smoke. A sacrifice must be performed with the consciousness that you are offering the fruit of your karma itself as an oblation. Otherwise there will be nothing but smoke.

"The Self must be offered as an oblation in the fire of the Brahman. All sensual pleasures must be offered in the fire of self-control. The five vital breaths must be given over in sacrifice in one another ", says the Gita. Vedic sacrifices involving materials and works have this goal. A man may perform any number of sacrifices but he would be a fool to perform them without realising this truth. The Vedas too say that such a man in unintelligent. What do you expect his buddhi (intuitive intelligence) to become?It would also be like the smoke of the sacrificial fire that darkens everything in its course and ends up in nothing.

When Vedic rites are performed in a spirit of dedication to Isvara they will loosen your ties little by little, instead of keeping you bound to this world. If you perform rites to please the Lord, without expecting any reward, your mind will be cleansed and you will transcend the three gunas. This is the meaning and purpose of "yajna". Is not the word understood in English as "sacrifice"? "Yaga" also means sacrifice, "tyaga". When an offering is placed in the fire we say "na mama" ("not mine"): it is this attitude of self-denial that is the life and soul of a sacrificial rite. Is it possible to retrieve what has been offered in the fire? Even if it were, it would soon disintegrate. In this way you must reduce your ego-sense to ashes, also your possessiveness ("ahamkara-mamakara"). One who performs a sacrifice without being conscious of such high ideals but with the purpose of petty gains like ascending to paradise - is he not a fool?

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 01:02:35 AM
Kanchi mahAswAmi on the Vedas - Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another? continued....

There is no contradiction between the karmakanda and the jnanakanda. In the karmakanda itself jnana is given an elevated place and the limitations of karma mentioned. There are hymns incorporating high philosophical truths in the Samhita part itself of the Vedas like, for instance, the "Nasadiyasukta", the "Purusasukta" and the "Tryambaka mantra". Also to be noted is the fact that the Upanisads themselves mention rites (karma) like the "Naciketagni". How would you explain this if the karmakanda and the jnanakanda were opposed to one another? The underlying idea is that we must graduate from the one to the other ,from karma to jnana.

As we have already seen, the Gita (which is a Smrti) says that sacraments performed in a spirit of dedication to Isvara are a means of obtaining jnana. The same idea is found expressed in a Sruti text, the Isavasya Upanisad. The first of the ten major Upanisads, it commences with the statement : "Live a hundred years performing Vedic rites. But do so in a spirit of dedication to Isvara. Then it will not keep you bound. " So it would be wrong to believe that the Upanisads teach inaction.

Karma, however, is not the goal of the Vedas. You must go beyond the stage of performing Vedic rituals even if they be for such a noble purpose as that of creating welfare in the world, cleansing your consciousness and propitiating the deities. Your must rise higher to the plane where you will realise that nothing other than the Paramatman exists, that the phenomenal world is unreal, that there are no entities called deities (devatas) with an independent existence of their own and that there is no "I". When you come to this state there will be no need for the Vedas too for you: this is stated in the Vedas themselves.

The Vedas are the laws laid down by Paramesvara. All people, all his subjects, must obey them. But there is no need for the man who is always steeped inwardly as well as outwardly in the Reality that is the Paramatman to refer to this law with respect to all his actions. That is why it is said that for such men the Vedas cease to be Vedas.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 01:12:28 AM
Kanchi mahAswAmi on the Vedas - Veda and Vedanta: Are They Opposed to One Another? continued....

Though the Vedas are infinite, the seers have brought us only a few of them. But since, in this age of Kali, even these are difficult to master, they divided them into 1, 180 sakhas or recensions, each with Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanisad. Later, out of these many passed into oblivion. Now the remaining too are threatened with extinction because people belonging to this generation have brought Vedic studies to such a sad state and earned merit thereby!

We have some Upanisads belonging to recensions of which neither the Samhitas nor the Brahmanas are studied. Even their texts are not available. The Samhita of the Sankhayana Sakha of the Rgveda is no longer chanted now; the fact is we have lost it. But the Kausitaki Upanisad which is a part of this recension is still extant. The Baskala Mantropanisad, also from the Rigveda, is still available: I am told a palm leaf manuscipt of the same is in the Adyar Library, Madras. But neither the Samhita nor the Brahmana of the Baskala Sakha is known to us. The Katha Upanisad belongs to the Katha Sakha of the Krsna-Yajurveda. Did I not tell you that the Upanisad comes at the end of the Aranyaka? The Kathopanisad is very famous and is one of the major Upanisads; but its Aranyaka is not available. The Atharvaveda is totally forgotten in the South and is studied but in one or two parts of the country. But still extant are Prasna, Mundaka and Mandukya which belong to this Veda and which form part of the Dasopanisad.

All this points to the fact that, while parts of many Vedic recensions that pertain to karma or works have become extinct or have been forgotten, many of the Upanisads which are the means of jnana have been preserved. Great care has been taken to protect that part of our heritage which shows us the way to wisdom and light.
The Upanisads are believed to have been large in number. Two hundred years ago, an ascetic belonging to Kancipuram wrote a commentary on 108 Upanisads. He earned the name of "Upanisad Brahmendra". His monastic institution is still to be seen in Kanci.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 09:19:53 PM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads

Sankara Bhagavatpada selected ten out of the numerous Upanisads to comment upon from the non-dualistic point of view. Ramanuja, Madhva and others who came after him wrote commentaries on the same based on their own philosophical points of view. These ten Upanisads are listed in the following stanza for the names to be easily remembered.

Isa-Kena-Katha-Prasna-Munda-Mandukya-Tittari Aitareyan ca Chandogyam Brhadranyakam dasa

Sankara has followed the same order in his Bhasya (commentary). "Isa" is Isavasya Upanisad (Isavasyopanishad). It occurs towards the end of the Samhita of Sukla Yajurveda. The name of this Upanisad is derived from its very first word, "Isavasya". The next, "Kena", is Kenopanisad. The Isavasyopanisad proclaims that the entire world is pervaded by Isvara and that we must dedicate all our works to him and attain the Paramatman.

An elephant made of wood looks real to a child. Grown-ups realise that, though it resembles an elephant in shape, it is really wood. To the child the wood is concealed, revealing the elephant; to the grown-up the animal is hidden revealing the wood. Similarly, all this world and the five elements are made of the timber called the Paramatman. We must learn to look upon all this as the Supreme Godhead.

Marattai maraittadu mamada yanai
Marattil maraindadu mamada yanai
Parattai maraittadu parmudal bhutam
Parattil maraindadu parmudal bhutam


Tirumalar says in this stanza that, because of our being accustomed to seeing the five elements all the time, we must not forget that the Paramatman is hidden in them. We must recognise that it is indeed he who pervades them and learn to see that everything is instinct with Isvara. Sankara expresses exactly the same idea in his Bhasya when he speaks of "dantini daru vikare". I don't wish to enter into a debate as to who came first, Tirumular or Sankara. Great men think alike.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 02, 2014, 09:28:34 PM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

The Kenopanisad is also called the Talavakara Upanisad since it occurs in the Talavakara Brahmana of the Jaimini Sakha of the Samaveda. This Upanisad contains a story about the devas. The celestials in their arrogance failed to recognise the Supreme Being whose crown and feet are unknown. Ambika then appeared to give instruction in jnana to Indra, the king of the devas. She explained to him that all our power emanated from the one Great Power, from the one Mahasakti.

The Acarya has written two types of commentaries for this Upanisad, the first word by word as in the case of the other Upanisads and the second sentence by sentence. In his Saundaryalahari he has the Kenopanisad in mind when he prays to Amba: "Place your feet on my head, the feet that are held by Mother Veda.? The Upanisads (Vedanta) are also called "Veda-siras", "Sruti-siras", the "head" or "crown" of the Vedas - the Upanisads which are the "end" of the Vedas (Vedanta) are also their
crown. To say that Amba's feet are placed on the head of Mother Veda means that they are held by the Upanisads. It is in the Kenopanisad that we see Amba appearing as Jnanambika (the goddess of jnana).

"Samaganapriya" is one of her names in the Lalitasahasranama (The One Thousand Names of Lalita): this is in keeping with the fact that Amba's glory is specially revealed in an Upanisad belonging to the Samaveda. What we see is the object and who see it are the subject: the seen is the object, the seer is the subject. We can see our body as an object, we can know about it, know whether it is well or ill. It follows that there is an entity other than it that sees it, the subject called "we". That which sees is the Atman. The subject called the Atman cannot be known by anything else. If it can be known, it also becomes an object and it would further mean that there is another entity that sees: and that will be the true "we". The Atman that is the true "we" can only be the subject and never the object. We may keep aside objects like the body and experience ourselves, the subject called "we", but we cannot know the "we". "To know" means that there is something other than ourselves to be known. It would be absurd to regard the Atman as something other than ourselves. The true "we" is the Atman, the Self. "Knowing " it implies that that which knows it("we") is different from that which is known (the Self). What can be there that is different in us from our true Self? What is it that is other than the Self that can know the Self? Nothing. We say "Atmajnana" which literally means "knowing the Atman". But is the phrase, "knowing the Atman", used in the sense of a subject knowing an object? No. "Atmajnana" means the Self experiencing itself, and that is how "jnana" or "knowing" is to be understood. This is the reason why the Kenopanisad says that "he who says that he knows the Atman does not know it". It goes on:"He who says that he does not know knows. He who thinks that he knows does not know and he who thinks he does not know knows. "

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 05, 2014, 07:53:55 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

The Kathopanisad comes next. It occurs in the Katha Sakha of the Krsna Yajurveda. this Upanisad contains the teachings imparted by Yama to the brahmacarin Naciketas. It begins as a story and leads up to the exposition of profound philosophical truths. The Gita contains quotations from this Upanisad.

What I said just now about the subject-object relationship is explained in depth in the concluding part of the Kathopanisad. How do we remove the ear of grain from the stalk? And how do we draw the pith from the reed? Similarly, we must draw the subject that is the Self from the object that is the body, says the Kathopanishad. "Desire, anger, hatred, fear, all these appertain to the mind, not to the Self. Hunger, thirst and so on appertain to the body - they are not 'mine'. " By constant practice we must learn to reject all such things as do not belong to the Self by "objectifying them".

If we do so with concentration, in due course we will be able to overcome the idea that has taken root in us that the body and the mind constitute the "we". We can then exist as the immaculate Self without the impurities tainting the body and the mind.

The Kathopanisad compares the spiritual exercise of separating the Self from the body and the mind to that of drawing off the pith, bright, pure and soft, from the reed. Before you is the spadix of a plantain. When it wilts do you also droop? Think of the body as a lump of flesh closer to you than this spadix of the plantain. This spadix is not the subject that is "we", but the object. On the same lines you must become accustomed to think of the body as an object in relation to the subject that is the Self. During
our life in this world itself - during the time we seem to exist in our body - we must learn to treat the body as not "me", not "mine". Moksa or liberation does not necessarily mean ascending to another world like Kailasa or Vaikuntha. It can be attained here and now. What is moksa? It is everlasting bliss that comes of being freed from all burden. He who lives delighting in his Self in this world itself without any awareness of his body is called a "jivanmukta".

Krsna Paramatman speaks of the same idea in the Gita. He who, while yet in this world ("ihaiva"), controls his desire and anger before he is released from his body ("prak sariravimoksanat") - he will remain integrated (in yoga) and achieve everlasting bliss. "Ihaiva" = "iha eva", while yet in this world. If you realise the Self, as an inner experience, while yet in this world, at the time of your death you will not be aware that your body is severed from you. The reason is that even before your death, when you are yet in this world, the body does not exist for you. So is there any need for what is called death to destroy it? There is no death for the man who has absolute realisation of his body being not "he" (when you mention the body the mind is also included in it). Where is the question of his dying if he knows that the body is not "me" (that is "he")? The death is only for his body.

The man who has no death thus becomes "amrta" ("immortal"). Hymns like the Purusasukta which appear in the karmakanda of the Vedas also speak of such deathlessness. This idea recurs throughout the Upanisads. The body, and the mind that functions through it, are the cause of sorrow. All religions are agreed that liberation is a state in which sorrow gives place to everlasting happiness. However, according to religious traditions other than Advaita (non-dualism), a man has to go to some other world for such bliss after his death. Sankara Bhagavatpada establishes that true liberation can be won in this world itself if one ceases to identify oneself totally with the body and remains rooted in the Self. "Tadetat asariratvam moksakhyam", so he proclaims in his Sutrabhasya (1. 1. 4). The word "asariri" is popularly understood as a voice we hear without knowing its origin (disembodied voice). It means to be without a body. "Asariratvam", bodylessness (being incorporeal), is a state in which one is not conscious of the existence of one's body. This is liberation, says the Acaya. To remain bodyless, disincarnate, does not mean committing suicide. When we reduce our desires little by little a stage will be reached when they will be totally rooted out. When they are thus eradicated, consciousness of the body will naturally cease too. The Self alone will remain then, shining. To arrive at such a state is not necessary to voyage to another world. It is this idea that the Vedas and Vedanta refer to when they say "Ihaiva, ihaiva" (Here itself, here itself) - the ideal of liberation here and now.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 06, 2014, 07:11:26 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

We have two enemies who prevent us from reaching the state of amrta (deathlessness): according to the Gita they are desire and anger. The basis for this is the Chandogya Upanisad (8. 12. 1) which is a part of the Sruti - the passage in which "priya apriya" occurs: the words mean "what one likes and what one hates". The first is denoted by desire, of Kama, the second by anger. The Chandogya Upanisad says that one who has no body (that is one who is not conscious of his body) is not affected either by desire or by anger. That is (it says): "If you wish to be free from the evils of desire and anger you ought to make ourself without your body (free yourself of our body) right now when you are yet in this world".

A jivatman (individual self) is divided into three parts in association with the ego: "gaunatman", "mithyatman" and mukhyatman". These are mentioned in Sankara's commentary on the Brahmasutra.

Gauna-mithyatmano'sattve putradehadi badhanat Sadbrahmatmahamityevam bodhe karyam katham bhavaet -Sutrabhasya, 1. 1. 4

It is part of human nature to believe that one's children and friends are the same as oneself and that their joys and sorrows are one's own. That is what is meant by "gaunatman". "Gauna" denotes what is ceremonial or what is regarded as a formality. We know that our children and friends are different from us and yet we want to believe that they are our own.The "I-feeling" in relation to the body which is closer to us than our children and friends is "mithyatman".

There is a state in which the pure Self is seen separate from the body and identified inwardly with the Brahman: it is called "mukhyatman"
.
When the first two - gaunatman and mithyatman - are separated from us we will be freed from attachments to our children, friends and the body as well as its senses. The realisation will dawn then that "I am the Brahman". Now there will be nothing for us to "do". This is the meaning of the Sutrabhasya passage.

Swami Vivekananda who wanted to rouse the people of India chose a mantra from the Kathopanisad ("Arise, awake", etc) for the Ramakrsna Mission. This Upanisad is the source of many a popular quote. For instance, there is the mantra which states that the Self cannot be known either by learning or by the strength of one's intellect.
 "Know that the Self is the Lord of the chariot, that the body is the chariot and that the intellect is the charioteer", is another.

"In the cavern of the heart the Supreme Being is radiant like a thumb of light. . . . . .?

Then there is the mantra we recite at the time of the "diparadhana rite" ("Na tatra suryo bhati. . . "): "The sun does not shine there, nor the moon,
nor the stars. There is no flash of lightning. Agni too does not shine there. When he (the Paramatman) shines everything shines; all his shines by his light. ?


All our knowledge is derived from that Great Light. With our limited knowledge we cannot shed light on that Reality. Later, the Kathopanisad mentions what Sri Krishna Paramatman says in the Gita about the cosmic pipal tree, the symbol of samsara or worldly existence. If all the desires of the heart are banished a man can become
immortal and realise the Brahman here itself
.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 10, 2014, 07:38:55 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

After the Kathopanisad comes the Prasnopanisad, the Mundakopanisad and the Mandukyopanisad, all three being from the Atharvaveda. "Prasna" means "question". What is the origin of the various creatures?Who are the deities that sustain them? How does life imbue the body? What is the truth about wakefulness, sleep and the state of dream? What purpose is served by being devoted to Om? What is the relationship between the Supreme Godhead and the individual self? These questions
are answered in the Prasnopanisad
.

"Mundana" means "tonsure". Only sannyasins, ascetics with a high degree of maturity, are qualified to study the Mundakopanisad -that is how it came to be so called. This Upanisad speaks of the Aksharabrahman, akshara meaning "imperishable" and also "sound". We speak of "Pancaksara", "Astaksara"and so on. The source of all sound in "Pranava", or "Omkara". Pranava is a particularly efficacious means to attain the Aksarabrahman.

One mantra in the Mundakopanisad asks us to string the bow of Omkara with the arrow of the Atman and hit unperturbed the target called the Brahman. Like the arrow you must be one with the Brahman. It is also in this Upanisad that the individual self and the Paramatman are compared to two birds perched on the body that is the pippala tree. The jivatman (individual self) alone eats the fruit (of karma) and the Paramtman bird is merely a witness. This is the basis of the biblical story of Adam (Atman) and Eve (jiva). Adam does not eat the apple (pippala) but Eve does. The motto of the Union of India - "Satyameva Jayate" - is taken from this Upanisad.

There is also a mantra which speaks of sannyasins who, after being jivanmuktas in this world, become "videhamuktas" (liberated without their body). It is chanted when ascetics are received with honour with a "purna-kumba".

The Mundakopanisad speaks of the jnanin thus: "Different rivers with different names lose their names and forms in the ocean. Similarly the knower (jnanin) freed from name and form unites inseparably with the Brahman. "

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 11, 2014, 06:42:30 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads[/b] continued...

Next is the Mandukyopanisad. "Manduka" means "frog". Why the name "Frog Upanisad"? One reason occurs to me: the frog does not have to go step by step. It can leap from the first to the fourth step. In the Mandukyopanisad the way is shown to reach the turiya or fourth state from the state of wakefulness through the states of sleep and dream. By devoting oneself to (by intense meditation of) Om (that is by aksara upasana) one can in one bound go up to the fourth state. That perhaps is the reason why this Upanisad is called "Mandukya". According to modern research scholars, the Mandukya Upanisad belonged to a group of people who had the frog as their totem! (It is also said that the sage associated with the Upanisad is Varuna who took the form of a frog. )

The text of the Mandukyopanisad is very brief and contains only twelve mantras. But it has acquired a special place among seekers because it is packed with meaning. It demonstrates the oneness of the individual self and the Brahman through the four feet (padas) of Pranava. There is a famous passage occurring towards the end of this Upanisad which describes the experience of the turiya or fourth state in which all the cosmos is dissolved in "Siva-Advaita" (Sivo' dvaita). Sankara Bhagavatpada's guru's guru, Gaudapadacarya, has commented on this Upanisad (Mandukyopanisad-Karika) and Sankara has written a further commentary on this work.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 12, 2014, 07:19:57 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

Now the Taittriya Upanisad. I had referred earlier to the misunderstanding that developed between Vaisampayana and his disciple Yajnavalkya. In his anger the teacher asked his student to eject the Veda he has taught him. Yajnavalkya did as bidden. Later the sun god taught him the Sukla-Yajurveda which had until then not been revealed to the world.
It was with the power acquired through mantras that Yajnavalkya became a gander to throw up the Veda he had first learned from Vaisampayana. Now that master's other disciples, bidden by him assumed the form of tittri birds (partridges) and consumed what had been ejected by Yajnavalkya. Thus this recension of the Yajurveda came to be called "Taittiriya Sakha". The name "Taittiriya" is also applied to the Samhita, Brahmana and Aranyaka of this sakha. The Taittiriya Upanisad is part of the Taittiriya Aranyaka and it is perhaps studied more widely than any other Upanisad. Many mantras employed in rituals are taken from it.

There are three part to it - "Siksavalli", "Anandavalli" and "Bhruguvalli". Sikshavalli contains matters relating to education rules of the brahmacaryasrama (the celibate student's stage of life), its importance, order of Vedic chanting, meditation of Pranava. The "Avahanti homa" is in Siksavalli. It is performed by the acarya to ensure that disciples come to learn from him without any let or hindrance. We know from our own experience that, even today, as a result of performing this sacrifice, Vedic schools which were in decay have received a new lease of life with the admission of many new students.

Siksavalli mentions "Atma-swrajya" that is eternal, a state which transcends in meaning the "swarajya" we are familiar with in politics. "Satyam vada, dharmam cara" (Speak the truth, do your duty according to dharma): such exhortations to students are contained in this Upanisad. Students are urged not to neglect the study of the Vedas at any time.They are asked to marry and beget children so that Vedic learning will be kept up from generation to generation. "Matr-devo bhava, pirt-devo
bhava, acarya-devo bhava, athithi-devo bhava" (Be one to whom your mother is a god; be one to whom your father is a god; be one to whom your teacher is a god; be one to whom your guest is a god) - all such mantras are in this Upanisad. The importance of charity and dharma is specially stresed here
.

Earlier I spoke to you about a "multiplication table" of bliss in which each successive type of bliss is a hundredfold greater that the previous one. Anandavalli is the part of the Taittriya Upanisad in which you see this. The highest form of bliss of ananda in this "table" is Brahmananda (the blis of realising the Brahman).

Different sheaths (kosas) of man are mentioned in this Upanisad. The first is the "annamaya-kosa" (the sheath of food), the flesh that grows with the intake of food. Inside it is the "pranamaya-kosa" (the sheath of vital breath). Then comes the "manomaya-kosa" (the sheath of mind) that gives rise to thoughts and feelings. The fourth is "vijnanamaya-kosa" (the sheath of understanding). And, finally, the fifth, the "anandamaya-kosa" (the sheath of bliss). It is here that the Self dwells in blessedness. Each sheath is personified as a bird with head, wings, body, belly - there is a philosophical significance in this. This Upanisad contains the oft-quoted mantra ("Yato vaco nivartante. . . "). It says: "He who knows the bliss of the Brahman, from which speech and mind turn away unable to grasp it, such a man does not have to fear anything from anywhere. "

"Bhrguvalli" is the teaching (upadesa) imparted by Varuna to his son Bhrgu. "Upadesa" here is not to be understood as something dictated by the guru to his student. Varuna encourages his son to ascend step by step through his own experiments and experience. Bhrugu performs austerities and thinks that the sheath of food is the truth. From this stage he advances gradually through the sheaths of breath, mind and understanding and arrives at the truth that is the sheath of bliss. He realises as an experience that the Atman (the nature of bliss) is the ultimate truth.

This does not mean that the Taittriya Upanisad rejects the factual world represented by the sheath of food. While being yet in this world, taking part in its activities, we must become aware of the supreme truth. For this we must strive to make life more dharmic, as a means of Atmic advancement. That is why even those who have attained the sheath of bliss are admonished. : "Do not speak ill of food. Do not throw it away. Grow plenty of food". Even the government has used this mantra for its grow more food campaign. The Taittriya Upanisad concludes with the mantra which says: "I am food, I am food, the one who eats it. . . ".

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 13, 2014, 06:54:02 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

The Aitareya Upanisad forms part of the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rgveda,the name is derived from the fact that it was the sage Aitareya who made it widely known. A jiva (individual self) originating in the father, says the Upanisad, enters the womb of the mother. He is born in this world and goes through his life of meritorious and sinful actions. Then he is born again and again in diferent worlds. Only by knowing the Atman does he find release from the bondage of phenomenal existence.

The sage called Vamadeva knew about all his previous births when he was in his mother's womb. He passed through all fortresses and, like an eagle soaring high in the skies, voyaged seeking liberation. In this context prajnana, direct perception of the Atman, is spoken of in high terms. It is not merely that one attains the Brahman through such jnana (prajnana) - the fact is such prajnana itself is the Brahman. And this is the mahavakya of the Rgveda: "Prajnanam Brahma".

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 14, 2014, 06:49:21 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

The Chandyoga and Brhadaranyaka Upanisads are the last two of the ten major Upanisads and are also the biggest. They are bigger than all the other eight of the ten put together. The first is part of the Chandogya Brahmana of the Samaveda. "Chandogya" means relating to "chandoga", one who sings the Saman. The Tamil Tevaram refers to Paramesvara as "Candogan kan". The Zoroastrian scripture called the Zend-Avesta could be treaced back to "Chandoga-Avesta. "
Just as there are passages in the Gita form the Kathopanisad, so has the Brahmasutra passages from the Chandogya Upanisad. In these two Upanisads the teachings of a number of sages are put together.
The introductory mantras of the Chandogya Upanisad refer to Omkara as "udgita" and explains how one is to meditate on it. A number of vidyas are mentioned like "Aksi", "Akasa", "Madhu", "Sandilya", "Prana", and "Pancagni". These help in different ways in knowing the Ultimate Reality.
"Dahara vidya" is the culmination of all these: it means perceiving the Supreme Being manifested as the transcadent outward sky in the tiny space in our heart. A number of truths are expounded in this Upanisad in the form of stories.
From the story of Raikva we learn about the strange outward behaviour of one who has realised the Brahman. There is then the famous story of Satyakama who does not know his gotra, but is accepted as a pupil by Gautama. The guru thinks that Satyakama must be a true Brahmin since he does not hide the truth about him. Before the pupil is taught he is made to undergo many tests. The guru's wife, out of concern for the pupil, speaks to her husband for him. When we read such stories we have
before us a true picture of gurukulavasa in ancient times
.
In character Svetaketu was the opposite of Satyakama and was proud of his learning. His father Uddalaka Aruni teaches him to be humble and in the end imparts to him the mantra, "Tat tvam asi" (That thou art), the mantra which proclaims the non-difference between the individual self and the Brahman. "Tat tvam asi" is the mahavakya of the Samaveda.

Unlike Svetaketu, the sage Narada, who had mastered all branches of learning, was humble and full of regret that he had remained ignorant of the Atman. He finds enlightenment in the teachings of Sanatkumara which are included in the Chandogya Upanisad. In the Taittriya Upanisad Bhrgu is taught to go step by step to obtain higher knowledge [from the sheath of food to the sheath of bliss]. Here Sanatkumara teaches Narada to go from purity of form to purity of the inner organs ("antahkaranas"). That is the time when all ties will snap and bliss reached.

Another story illustrates how different students benefit differently from the same teaching according to the degree of maturity of each. Prajapati gives the same instruction to Indra, the king of the celestials, and to Virocana, the king of the asuras. This is what Prajapati teaches him: "He who sees with his eyes, he is the Self". He subtly hints at the object that is behind the eye, knowledge, etc, and that is the basis of all these. Without understanding this, the two se themselves in a mirror and take the reflection to be the Self. You see only the body in the mirror and Virocana comes to the conclusion that that is the Self. It is from this idea that atheism, materialism and the Lokayata system developed. Although Indra also took this kind of wrong view from his reflection, eventually [similar to the story in the Taittriya Upanisad of Bhrgu advancing from the sheath of food to the sheath of bliss] he goes in gradual stages from the gross body to the subtle body of sleep and later to the turiya or fourth state mentioned in the Mandukyopanisad -the turiya is the Self.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 16, 2014, 06:17:03 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad comes last. "Brhad" means "great". It is indeed a great Upanisad, Brhadaranyaka. Generally, an Upanishad comes towards the close of the Aranyaka of the sakha concerned. While the Isavasyopanishad occurs in the Samhita of the Sukla-Yajurveda, the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad is in the Aranyaka of the same Veda: as a matter of fact the entire Aranyaka constitutes this Upanisad. There are two recensions of it: the Madhyandina Sakha and the Kanva Sakha.
Sankara has chosen the latter for his commentary.
This Upanisad consists of six chapters. The first two are the "Madhukanda", the next two are the "Muni-kanda" in the name of Yajnavalkya, and the last two are the "Khilakanda".Madhu may be understood as that which is full of the flavour of bliss. If we have the realisation that all this world is a personification of the Parabrahman it
would be sweet like nectar to all creatures - and the creatures would be like honey to the world. The Atman then would be nectar for all. This idea is expressed in the Madhu-kanda.
It is in this Upanishad that the celebrated statement occurs that the Atman is "neither this, nor this" ("Neti, neti"). The Self cannot be described in any way. "Na-iti" - that is "Neti". It is through this process of "Neti, neti" that you give up everything - the cosmos, the body, the mind, everything - to realise the Self. After knowing the Atman in this manner you will develop the attitude that the phenomenal world and all its creatures are made up of the same essence of bliss.
The first kanda contains the teachings received by the Brahmin Gargya from the Ksatriya Ajatasatru. This shows that kings like Ajatasatru and Janaka were knowers of the Brahman. We also learn that women too took part on an equal footing with the sages in the debates in royal assemblies on the nature of the Brahman. There was, for instance, Gargi in Janaka's assembly of the learned. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad also tells us about Yajnavalkya's two wives: of the two Katyayani was like any
housewife and the second, Maitreyi, was a Brahmavadini (one who inquires into the Brahman and speaks about it). The instruction given by Yajnavalkya to Maitreyi occurs both in the Madhukanda and the Munikanda.

Here we have a beautiful combination of storytelling and philosophical disquisition.

When Yajnavalkya is on the point of renouncing the world, he divides his wealth between his two wives. Katyayani is contented and does not ask for anything more. Maitreyi, on the other hand, is not worried about about her share. she tells her husband: "You are leaving your home, aren't you, because you wil find greater happiness in sannyasa than from all this wealth? What is that happiness? Won't you speak about it? "
Yajnavalkya replies: "You have always ben dear to me, Maitreyi. Now, by asking this question, you have endeared yourself to me more. " He then proceeds to find out what is meant by the idea of someone being dear to someone else. His is indeed an inquiry into the concept of love and affection. He says: "A wife is dear to her husband not for the sake of his wife but for the sake of his Self(Atmasya,he says-Ravi). So is a husband dear to his wife for the sake of her Self. The children too are dear to us not for their sake but for the sake of the Self. So is the case with our love of wealth. We have affection of a person or an entity because it pleases our Self. It means that this Self itself is of the nature of affection, of love, of joy. It is to know this Self independently of everything else that we forsake all those who are dear to us and take to sannyasa. When we know It, the Self or the Atman, we will realise that there is nothing other than It. Everything will become dear to us. To begin with, when we had affection for certain people or certain things, we had dislike for certain other people and certain other things. If we cease to be attached to those people or to those things that we loved and realise the Atman, then we will become aware that there is nothing other that the Atman. Then, again, we will dislike none and will love all without any distinction. "

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 18, 2014, 07:24:24 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

Before renouncing the world, Yajnavalkya held disputations on the Ultimate Reality with Kahola, Uddalaka Aruni and Gargi in Janaka's royal assembly. These debates, together with the teachings he imparted to Janaka, are included in Muni-kanda. The concept of Antaryamin (Inner Controller) belongs to Visistadvaita (qualified non-dualism). The basis for this is to be found in Yajnavalkya's answer to a question put to him by Uddalaka Aruni.
According to non-dualism all this phenomenal world in Maya. The idea behind the concept of Antaryamin is that if the world is the body, the Paramatman dwells in it as its very life. Though Yajnavalkya accepts this concept on a certain level, at all other times his views are entirely in consonance with non-dualism. In his concluding words to Maitreyi, the supreme Advaitin that he is, Yajnavalkya remarks: "Even if you be little dualistic in your outlook, it means that you look at something other than yourself, smell, taste, touch and hear something other than yourself. But when you have realised the Self experientially, all these 'other things' cease to exist. That which is the source of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and so on - how can you see, hear, taste, smell That? "
Expounding non-dualism Yajnavalkya tells Janaka (4. 3. 32), "Like water mingled with water all become one in the Paramatman. " "He who is freed from all desire existes as the Brahman even when he is in the world (with his body) and when he dies is united with the Brahman.
The two concluding chapters that form the Khila-kanda of the Upanishad bring together scattered ideas. (If a thing is broken or divided it is called "khila". That which is whole and unbroken is "akhila". )
A story in the Khila-kanda illustrates how the same teaching is interpreted differently according to the degree of maturity of the aspirants. The devas (the celestial race), humans and the demons (asuras) seek instruction from Prajapati (the Creator). Prajapati utters just one syllable, "Da", as his teaching. The devas who do not possess enough control over their senses take it to mean "damyata" ("control your senses"). Humans who are possessive understand the syllable as "datta" ("give", "be charitable"). The asuras who are cruel by nature take the same as "dayadhvam" (be compassionate).
A mantra occurring in the concluding part of the Brhadranyaka Upanisad seems to me not only extremely interesting but also comforting. What does it say? "If a man suffers from fever it must be taken that he is practising austerities (tapas). If he recognises illnesses and afflictions to be tapas, he passes on to a very high world" (5. 11. 1). [Etadvai paramam tapo yadvyahitastapyate paramam haiva lokam jayati ya evam veda. . . ]
What is the meaning of this statement and what is interesting about it?
And how is it comforting?
By observing vows, by fasting, by living an austere life and by suffering physically, we will become less attached to the body, and the sins accumulated in our past lives will diminish. Tapas is a way of expiating the sins of past lives. The offences committed with our body are wiped away by the very body when it undergoes suffering (that is by bodily tapas).

That is why the Puranas speak of great men having performed austerities. Ambika herself - she is the mother of the universe - performs tapas. Not heeding the word of her husband Paramesvara, she [as Sati] attends the sacrifice conducted by her father Daksa. Because of the humiliation she suffers there she immolates herself in the sacrificial fire and is reborn as the daughter of Himavan. As atonement for disobeying her husband's command during her past life and for the purpose of being united with
him again, she performs severe austerities. Kalidasa gives a beautiful and moving account of this. How bitterly cold it will be during the winter in the Himalaya. But in that season Parvati (that is Ambika) performs austerities seated on icy rocks or standing on frozen lakes. In the summer, when the sun is beating down harshly, she does tapas with fires burning all round her. Performing austerities with the fires on four sides and with the sun burning above is called "pancagni-tapas".

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 18, 2014, 07:41:13 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The Ten Upanishads continued...

Many great men have performed such severe austerities.
How about ourselves? If they, the great men, were guilty of one or two lapses, we cannot even keep count of our sins. But we have neither the will nor the strength to perform a fraction of the austerities that they went through. How then are we going to wipe away our sins?
It is when we are troubled by such thoughts that we find the foregoing Upanisadic mantra comforting. Since ours is not a disciplined life we keep suffering from one ailment or another. The Upanisadic mantra seems to be directed to us: "You must learn to think that the affliction you are suffering from is tapas. If you do so you will be freed from your sins and liberated. " Though the message is not given in such plain terms, such is the meaning of the mantra.
We often speak of "jvara-tapa" or "tapa-jvara" (literally "hot fever"). "Tapa" means "boiling" or "cooking". The root is "tap" to burn. "Tapana" is one of the names of the sun. Even if we do not perform the austerities mentioned in the sastras, we must take it that the fever contracted by us is the tapas Isvara has awarded us to become free from our sins.
When we are down with malaria we keep shivering in spite of covering ourselves with blankets. Our attitude now must be to suffer the affliction in lieu of the tapas we ought to perform in the winter months remaining on snow. Do you feel that your body is being roasted when your are suffering from typhoid or pneumonia and a running temperature of 105? or 106?F? You must comfort yourself, believing that God has given you the fever as a substitute for the pancagni-tapas you are unable to
perform.
You will in due course learn to take such an attitude and develop the strength to suffere any illness. Instead of sending for the doctor or rushing to the medicine chest you may take it easy, telling yourself, "Let
the illness take its course". When we happen to fall ill as a means of
reducing our burden of sin, is it right to seek a cure for it? Also we save on doctor's fees, medicine, etc. The gain bigger that all the rest in that of learning to take the high attitude of treating suffering as not suffering. This is called "titiksa".

All this is briefly indicated in the Upanisadic mantra. When we keep lamenting that we are unable to expiate our sins - when we are unable to perform tapas - we may take comfort from the fact that when we suffer from a disease it is God's way of making us perform austerities.
In the last chapter of the Brhadranyaka Upanisad we have strong proof of the fact that Vedanta is not opposed to the karmakanda. Here are mentioned the pancagnividya and the rites to be performed to beget virtuous children (supraja).

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 19, 2014, 07:57:02 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

What do the Vedas Teach Us?

The Vedas speak of a variety of matters. So how are we to accept the view that their most important teaching is the concept of Self-realisation expounded in the Upanisads constituting the Vedanta? They mention a number of sacrifices like agnihotra, somayaga, sattra and ishti and other rituals in addition. Why should it not be maintained that it is these that form their chief purpose?What are the rites to be performed at a marriage? Or at a funeral? How best is a kingdom (or any country) governed? How must we conduct ourselves in an assembly? You will find answers to many such questions in the Vedas. Which of these then is the main objective of our scripture?
The Vedas tell you about the conduct of sacrifices, ways of worship, and methods of meditation. How is the body inspired by the Self? What happens to it (the body) in the end? And how does the self imbue the body again? We find an answer to such questions in these sacred texts. Also we learn from methods to keep the body healthy, the rites to protect ourselves from enemy attacks. What then is the goal of the Vedas? The Upanisads proclaim that all the Vedas together point to a single Truth (Kathopanishad, 2. 15) What is that Truth? "The Vedas speak in one voice of a Supreme Entity revealing itself as the meaning of Omkara. "
The Vedas deal with many matters, all of them together speak of one goal, the One reality. But the question arises why they concern themselves with different entities also when their purpose is only the One entity?
It is through the various entities, through knowledge of a multiplicity of subjects, that we may know of this One Object. Yoga, meditation, austerities, sacrifices and other rites, ceremonies like marriage, state affairs, social life, poetry: what is the goal of all these? It is the One Reality. And that is the goal of the Vedas also. All objects and all entities other than this true Object are subject to change. They are like stories remembered and later forgotten. (In our ignorance) we do not perceive the One object behind the manifoldness of the world. The Vedas take us to the One Reality through the multifarious objects that we do know.To attain this One reality we need to discipline our mind in various ways. Performing sacrifices, practising austerities, doing the duties of one's own dharma, building gopurams, digging ponds for the public, involving ourselves in social work, samskaras like marriage, all these go to purify our consciousness and, finally to still the mind that is always agitated(cittavrtti-nirodha). The purpose of different works is to help us in our efforts to attain the Brahman.
"Ved"[from"vid"] means to know. The Upanisads proclaim:" The Atman is that by knowing which all can be known. ?The goal of the Vedas is to shed light on this Atman. The rituals enjoined on us in their first part and the jnana expounded in the second have the same goal-knowing Iswara, the Brahman or the Atman. The beginning of the beginning and the end of the end of our scripture have the same ultimate aim. During the "mantrapuspa" ceremony at the time of welcoming a great man this mantra is chanted:"Yo Veda dau svarah prokto Vedante ca prathisthitah".
These words are proof of the words mentioned above. The mantra means:" What is established in the beginning of the Vedas as well as their end is the One Truth, the Reality of Isvara. ?The works associated with the beginning and the jnana associated with the end-there is no difference between the goals of the two.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 20, 2014, 06:38:14 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas continued...

For the rituals that are divided in a thousand different ways and for the knowledge (jnana) that is but one, the subject is common. That is the Vedas have a common subject. The senses are incapable of perceiving the Self. They are aware only of outward objects and keep chasing them. This is mentioned in the kathopanisad (4.1). When one's attention is diverted from the object in hand we say "parakku parppadu"[in Tami]. our object is the Self. To be diverted from it and to look around-or look away-is to be "paramukha"-it is the same as "parakku parppadu". It is this idea that is expressed by the kathopanisad. But the mind does not easily remain fixed
on our goal. So it is only by performing outward functions that we will gain the wisdom and maturity to turn our look inward. We will develop such inner vision only by refusing to be dragged down by the mind and the senses, and for this we must perform Vedic works.
After learning about, or knowing all other matters by inquiring into them and by making an assesment of them, we are enabled to grasp that by knowing which we will know everything. That is the reason why the Vedas deal with so many branches of learning, so many types of worship, so many different works and so many arts and so many social duties. By applying the body in various rites we lose consciousness of that very body. By directing our thoughts to various branches of learning, by examining various philosophical systems and by worshipping various deities the mind and the intellect will in due course be dissolved.
We are more conscious when we are engaged in evil actions than otherwise. By thinking about evil matters the mind becomes coarser. Instead, if we perform Vedic sacraments and worship and chant Vedic mantras for the well-being of the world, the desires of the body and the mind will wilt. Eventually, we will develop the maturity and the wisdom to gain inner vision. In this way we will obtain release here itself ("ihaiva") Release from what? From samsara, from the cycle of birth and death.
When we realise that the body and the mind are not"we" and when we become free from them-as mentioned in the Upanisads- we are liberated from worldly existence.
The purpose of the Vedas is achieving liberation in this world itself. And that is their glory. Other religions promise a man salvation after his departure for another world. But we cannot have any idea of that type of deliverance. Those who have attained will not return to this world to tell us about it. So we may have doubts about it or may not believe it at all. But the Vedas hold out the ideals of liberation here itself if we renounce all desire and keep meditating on the Self. Moksa then will be within our grasp at once. There is no room for doubt in this.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 23, 2014, 07:49:01 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Veda-bhasya

The sound of the Vedas must be kept alive. For this purpose, it would be enough if Brahmins memorized the mantras and chanted them every day. The power of the sound, the power of the mantras vocalised, is sufficient to bring good to mankind. I said, you will remember, that chanting the Vedas with faith, even though without knowing their meaning, is?viryavattaram". The statement, however, does not fully reflect my view.
A student will have to spend many years to memorise the Vedas and study their meaning. It is not easy to keep him confined to the Vedic school for such a long time. I must explain here why I said that " it is not necessary to know the meaning of the Vedas and their sound is all we need". To insist that a student should chant the Vedas only if he knows the meaning of the mantras is expecting too much of him. It might also mean that nobody would come forward even to memorize the hymns. In that case how will their sound be kept alive? That is why I said, half seriously and half sportingly, that ?the meaning is not necessary, the sound would be sufficient. . . . ".
There must indeed be a large number of people who can chant the Vedas and keep their sound alive. In addition, there must be a system by which some of them at least will be taught their meaning. That is how we have come to be seriously involved in teaching the Veda-bhasya (commentary on the Vedas). It is because the Vedas are profound in their import that a number of great men have commented upon them. Their efforts must not go in vain.
We perform a number of rites in our home: marriage, sraddha, upakarma, and so on, and during these functions we chant Vedic mantras as instructed by the priest. By the grace of Isvara we have not reached the unfortunate state of totally discarding such rites. However, there is a declining trend, a weakening of Vedic practices. One important reason for this is that we do not know the meaning of the mantras chanted.Educated people nowadays have no true involvement in rites in which
they have to repeat the mantras after the priest without knowing the meaning.
We cannot expect to convince people that the chanting of the mantras (even without knowing their meaning) is beneficial. The hymns for each function are different and also different in significance. If we appreciate this fact, we will realise that there is a scientific basis for them. Besides, they have an emotional appeal which willl be evident only when we know their meaning. So to know the meaning of the mantras is to have greater involvement in the functions in which they are chanted. That is the reason why the mouthing of syllables purposelessly has come to be [irreverently] likened to the chanting of ?sraddha mantras". The meaning of the mantras (including those chanted at sraddhas) must be understood by the priest as well as by the performer of the rites; we must evolve a scheme for this purpose.
First the priest himself must know the meaning of the mantras and the significance of the rituals at which he officiates. Today the majority of priests are ignorant of the meaning of what they chant. If a karta or a yajamana (the man on whose behalf a rite is conducted) asks his priest, ?What does this mean? ", the latter is unable to give an answer. How would you then expect the karta to have faith in the rites?
I believe that many middle-aged people today are keen to know the meaning of the mantras. I also think that if they tend to lose faith in rituals it is because they have to repeat parrot-like the hymns chanted by the priest. So we are making efforts to ensure that those who officiate at rituals (the upadhyayas) accquire proficiency in Veda-bhasya to enable them to explain the meaning of the mantras.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: ksksat27 on June 23, 2014, 11:12:44 AM
Maharishee Ramana gave lot of importance to morning and evening vedic chanting. As Sri Graham told, vedas means it is normally linked with karma kanda portion but it is inseparable and spread across covering jnana and kamya phala in very scattered manner.

For eg, even in Sri Rudram , Chamakam the same song contains both jnana and material prayers.

Vedic chants are powerful aid to self enquiry. I daily play vedas at morning 8 AM in CD to create a Sri Ramasramam environment.

During vedic chanting, Bhagavan's Photos carry lot amount of inexpressible bliss.

One request to Ravi sir --  sometime ago you were asking in a thread whether I am reading all contents of your post before replying.

My kind feedback is, please summarize the viewpoint in your own words as a preface and then include the exact book extracts of the great sages.

Your words wil be simpler, quicker to read and useful for further discussions.

But the moment you quote some great saint as an answer,  I am not able to say anything against and the topic becomes deserted.  And the doubts remain with me unclarified.

So please summarize your viewpoint and then include the golden quotes sir.

Krishna
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: atmavichar100 on June 23, 2014, 12:48:37 PM
Quote
Vedic chants are powerful aid to self enquiry. I daily play vedas at morning 8 AM in CD to create a Sri Ramasramam environment.

That is the best way to develop a stasangha at home and be in sync with the activities at SriRamanashramam even though you may be hundreds of miles away from Thiruvanamalai . Either one can follow the Morning / Evening Veda Parayana or the Evening Tamil Parayana . I try to follow to  my best the Monday , Sat Tamil Parayana at home at the same time as it is being chanted at Sri Ramana Ashramam .

This is the current daily activity schedule .If someone can follow one of these schedules daily at 8 a.m, 5 p.m /6.30 p.m then it would be great . More ideal is if someone can follow all the 3 schedules at the same time in heir homes .

Daily Schedule

6:45am: Milk Offering/breakfast         

8am:      Vedaparayana

10am:    Morning Puja

11:30:    Lunch

4pm:      Tea

4pm:      Group Reading (Tamil)

4:30:     Group Reading (English)

5pm:     Vedaparayana


6:15:      Evening Puja

6:30:     Tamil Parayana


7:30:     Evening Meal

9pm:    Samadhi Hall Closes
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: atmavichar100 on June 23, 2014, 01:10:42 PM
The following are the Morning / Evening Vedic and Sanskrit Chants as followed in Ramana Ashram and I believe Bhagwan did give an outline for the same and others added some later .  I once asked David Godman about this but he could not give me the proper answer to its background .
If there is any changes in the list , I will make it .

Ramana Ashram Morning Vedic and Sanskrit Chants at 8 a.m

1) Sri Ramna Chatvarimshat
2) Sri Arunachla Pancharatnam
3) Sri Taittriya Upanishad ( Sikisha /Anand /Bhrigu Valli )
4) Sri Suktam
5)Maha Narayana Upanishad ( some portions )

Ramana Ashram Evening Vedic & Sanskrit Chants at 5 p.m

1)Dakshinamurti Stotram
2) Sri Rudram
3) Chamakam
4) Purusha Suktam , Narayana Suktam,Durga Suktam
5) Mantra Pushpam .
 6)Upadesa Saram
7) Nakarmana

I have updated the list to make some changes after seeing the final version from the book "The Veda Parayana At Sri RamanaAshram - An English  Translation  .

According to this book :
1) In Sri Bhgawan's lifetime , Vedic Chanting/Veda Parayana  was held twice a day morning and evening , lasting about 40 mts on each occasion , and this is still continued .
2) This with the Puja which follows it is  the only ritual which was or is generally attended at the Ashram .
3) It was an hour of tremendous silence when he sat immobile as though carved in rock . He never allowed anything to interrupt it .
4) When asked whether people should learn the meaning ,so as to follow it , he said no : It was sufficient that the chanting served as a support for meditation .
5) Despite this , it is also true , however , that the portions used for chanting were carefully chosen and approved by Sri Bhgawan Himself .
6) Nothing has been deleted from them since Sri Bhagwan's  lifetime and only one item added .That is Sri Dakshinamurti Stotra which , mainly on the request of the late Major Chadwick ( Sadhu Arunachala ) is now used as the opening hymn before the evening chant .
7) Technically in the past even listening to the Chanting of Vedas is supposed to made available only to Brahmins , but this prohibition was abrogated by Sri Bhagwan .
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: ksksat27 on June 23, 2014, 02:04:27 PM
The following are the Morning / Evening Vedic and Sanskrit Chants as followed in Ramana Ashram and I believe Bhagwan did give an outline for the same and others added some later .  I once asked David Godman about this but he could not give me the proper answer to its background .
If there is any changes in the list , I will make it .

Ramana Ashram Morning Vedic and Sanskrit Chants at 8 a.m

1) Sri Ramna Chatvarimshat
2) Sri Arunachla Pancharatnam
3) Sri Taittriya Upanishad ( Sikisha /Anand /Bhrigu Valli )
4) Sri Suktam
5)Maha Narayana Upanishad ( some portions )

Ramana Ashram Evening Vedic & Sanskrit Chants at 5 p.m

1)Dakshinamurti Stotram
2) Sri Rudram
3) Chamakam
4) Purusha Suktam , Narayana Suktam,Durga Suktam
5) Mantra Pushpam .
 6)Upadesa Saram
7) Nakarmana

I have updated the list to make some changes after seeing the final version from the book "The Veda Parayana At Sri RamanaAshram - An English  Translation  .

According to this book :
1) In Sri Bhgawan's lifetime , Vedic Chanting/Veda Parayana  was held twice a day morning and evening , lasting about 40 mts on each occasion , and this is still continued .
2) This with the Puja which follows it is  the only ritual which was or is generally attended at the Ashram .
3) It was an hour of tremendous silence when he sat immobile as though carved in rock . He never allowed anything to interrupt it .
4) When asked whether people should learn the meaning ,so as to follow it , he said no : It was sufficient that the chanting served as a support for meditation .
5) Despite this , it is also true , however , that the portions used for chanting were carefully chosen and approved by Sri Bhgawan Himself .
6) Nothing has been deleted from them since Sri Bhagwan's  lifetime and only one item added .That is Sri Dakshinamurti Stotra which , mainly on the request of the late Major Chadwick ( Sadhu Arunachala ) is now used as the opening hymn before the evening chant .
7) Technically in the past even listening to the Chanting of Vedas is supposed to made available only to Brahmins , but this prohibition was abrogated by Sri Bhagwan .

Beautiful sir. My request is please copy your last two posts and make a separate thread.

It is easy to refer and follow. You can add in some relevant thread.

I envy Subramaniam sir and other full time devotees here. 

But proportionate to our desires only, samsara will be there. I have more desires and hence more work in material life I believe.

Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: atmavichar100 on June 23, 2014, 02:22:45 PM
Dear Kskat

I have made a separate thread for the same as per your request .Now it is more easy for others to know what exactly is being chanted in the Morning / Evening Veda Parayana at Sri Ramana Ashram .
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 24, 2014, 06:21:01 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Veda-bhasya[/b]continued....

According to the Nirukta (one of the six Angas of the Vedas) a Brahmin comes under a curse by chanting the Vedas without knowing their meaning.
A number of great men have written commentaries on the Vedas so as to inspire faith in the sacraments. Sri Madhvacarya has written a commentary for the first 40 suktas of the first kanda of the Rg Veda.
Skandasvamin has also written a bhasya on the Rg Veda. To BhattaBhaskara we owe a commentary on the Krishna-Yajur Veda, and to Mahidhara on that of the Sukla-Yajur Veda. In recent times, Dayananda Saraswati and Aravinda Ghose(Sri Aurobindo-Ravi) as well as his disciple Kapali Sastri have written expository treatises on the Vedas. Though there are so many commentaries, the one by Sri Sayanacarya is particularly famous: many scholars, including Western Indologists, treat it as authoritative.
There are five Vedas if you reckon the Yajur Veda to be two with its Sukla and Krsna divisions. Sayana has written commentaries on all the five.
Expository treatises on the Vedas had been written before him but he was the first to write a bhasya for all the Vedas. Though Sayanacarya's commentary had been studied for centuries, a stage came recently when we feared that it would cease to hold any interest for students. Those who learned to chant the Vedas, without
knowing their meaning, became priests while those who studied poetry and other subjects did not learn even to chant the mantras. So much so interest in the study of the Vedabhasya declined. It was at this time that the Sastyabdapurti Trust was formed with a view to maintain the study of the Veda-bhasya.
When the Trust started to conduct examinations, the Veda-bhasya meant no more than the printed text of the Vedic commentary kept in bookshops. The publishers were then worried that not many copies would be sold. After the creation of the Trust we gave students not only scholarships but also copies of the Veda-bhasya. Our worry now was whether there would be enough copies in stock for fresh students. It is with the grace of Parasakti, the Supreme Goddess that we have succeeded in reviving the study of the Veda-bhasya. And so long as we have her grace there will be students ready to learn the subject and there will also be enough copies of the text.
On the eve of a wedding, upanayana or simanta ceremony, we must consult a Vedic scholar who knows the Veda-bhasya to explain the meaning of the mantras employed in these rituals. On the day of the function itself the time at our disposal would be short. If we grasp the meaning and significance of the mantras beforehand we will have a more rewarding involvement in the function.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 25, 2014, 07:27:37 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Veda-bhasya continued....

If we know the meaning of the mantras chanted at a function, we stand to gain more benefits from it. We go through rites because we do not have the courage to give them up. Similarly, we must come to realise that it is wrong to perform a rite without knowing the meaning of the mantras chanted; we must therefore take the help of a pandita in this matter. As mentioned before, going through works with a knowledge of the significance and meaning of the mantras is more beneficial. We must have faith in the Upanishadic saying" Yadeva vidyaya karoti tadeva viryavattaram bhavati".

At an upanayana, it is the brahmacarin (as the karta) who chants the mantras; similarly it is the groom alone who intones them at a marriage. What do you expect of all invitees to do at such functions? Do they come only for the luncheon or dinner, or to keep chatting, to see the dance recital or to listens to the nagasvaram music? Is their part only to make themselves happy in this manner? No. The Vedic mantras deserve our highest respect. When they are being intoned we must honour them by
listening to them intently. The mantras create well- being for all. If the invitees and others at a function listen to them and are able to follow their meaning they will earn merit even though they do not have the role of the karta in it.
Take the case of the asvamedha (horse sacrifice). Only a king who has subdued all other rulers, that is a maharaja or a sarvabhauma, is qualified to perform it. So only a monarch during a particular period in history, a monarch whose sway extends all over the world, is entitled to conduct this sacrifice. The asvamedha brings more benefits than any other rite.Now the question arises: In any generation only one individual is perhaps capable of earning so much merit (by performing the horse sacrifice). Why are the Vedas so partial that they have made it impossible for the vast majority of people (who cannot perform the sacrifice themselves) to earn such merit? Is it true that only a ruler, who has immense strength and enormous resources at his command, is capable of benefiting from such a sacrifice? If people of good conduct and character are denied the same merit as a powerful emperor can earn, does it not amount to deceiving them? How can the Vedas be so partial to one man?
In truth no partiality can be ascribed to the Vedas. A Vedic rite is admittedly beneficial to the man who performs it. But, at the same time, it does good to all the world. If I light a lamp in the darkness here does it not bring light to all the people present and not to me alone? It may be that the performer of a Vedic work receives more special
benefits than others. But the sastras shows the way by which these others may also reap the same fruits as the karta- in fact the Vedas themselves mention it. If ordinary people cannot conduct a horse sacrifice they may get to know how it is performed. They may pay attention to the hymns chanted during the sacrifice and also try to follow
their meaning. In this way they derive the full benefits of the sacrifice performed by an imperial ruler. This fact is referred to in the section dealing with horse sacrifices in the Vedas.
In the same way, whether it is a marriage or a funeral, the merit will be earned in full if we closely follow the rite and listen to the mantras with due knowledge of their meaning.

continued....
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 25, 2014, 07:16:32 PM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas

The six Angas are Siksa (Phonetics); Vyakarana (grammar); Nirukta (lexicon, etymology); Kalpa (manual of rituals); Chandas (prosody); Jyotisa (astronomy-astrology). A Brahmin must be acquainted with all. That he must be well- versed in the Vedas goes without saying. He must first learn to chant them and proficiency in the six Angas will later help him to gain insights into their meaning.

Siksa is the nose of the vedapurusa, Vyakarana his mouth, Kalpa his hand, Nirukta his ear, Chandas his foot and Jyotisa his eye. The reason for each sastra being identified with a part of the body will become clear as we deal with the Angas individually.

Siksa comes first among the six limbs of the Vedas, the nose of the Vedapurusa. The function of the nose here is not to be taken only as that of perceiving smells. It has also the function of breathing; in fact it is one of the organs of breathing. Siksa serves as the life-breath of the Vedic mantras.

Where is the life of a Vedic mantra centred? Each syllable of a hymn is to be enunciated strictly according to its measure. Clarity of pronunciation is what is intended. Apart from this, each syllable is raised, lowered or pronounced evenly -- udatta, anudatta, savarita. If attention is paid to these points, there will be tonal purity. A mantra yields the desired fruit if each syllable is vocalised with clarity and tonal accuracy. The phonetic and tonal exactitude of a mantra is even more important that its meaning. In other words, even though the meaning is not understood, if the tonal form takes shape correctly, the mantra will bring the intended benefit. So the life-breath of the Vedas, which are a collection of mantras, is their sound.

There is a mantra to cure scorpion sting. Its meaning is not revealed. Its potency is in its sound. Certain sounds have certain powers associated with them. It is sometimes asked: Why should the sraddha mantras be in Sanskrit? May they not be in English or Tamil? Those who raise these questions do not realise that it is the sound that matters here, not the language as such. If the teeth of a sorcerer were knocked off, his witchcraft [magic] would have no effect. Why? Because the man would
not be able to recite this spell properly.

Enunciation of the mantras is most important to the Vedas. What do we do about it? Siksa is the science that deals with the character of Vedic syllables it determines their true nature. The science of the sounds of human speech is called phonetics and it is more important to the Vedic language than to any other tongue. The reason is that even if there is a slight change in how you vocalise a syllable the efficacy of the mantra will be affected.

It is because of the importance of Vedic phonetics that Siksa has been placed first among the six Angas. It is dealt with in the Taittiriya Upanishad. Its "Siksavalli" begins like this: "Let us now explain the Siksa sastra ". The name of the sastra occurs here as well as in many other Vedic texts with a long "e" ("Siksa"). Sankara observes in his commentary: "Dairghyam Chandasam": it means that the usually short "i" occurs as long [in the Vedas]. (Such examples are to be found in Tamil poetry also. ) I told you that the Vedic language is not called Sanskrit but Chandas. "Chandasam", from "chandas", denotes here a Vedic usage.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 26, 2014, 06:49:48 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

We may gauge the importance of articulate speech from the fact that the Lord has bestowed this faculty only on man. Such a wonderful gift of Isvara must not be squandered or abused in idle gossip or useless talk. We must use it to grasp the divine powers and endeavour to create the well-being of mankind thereby. And we must also try to raise our own self with it. All these lofty purposes can be served with the Vedic mantras that the sages have gathered from space for our benefit.
If you recognise this fact you will realise why there should be a sastra called Siksa specially for the purpose of guiding us in the enunciation of Vedic mantras. This science as developed by our forefathers arouses the wonder of linguistic scientists even today. It teaches us how the syllables are to be produced accurately and describes in the minutest detail how the passage of the breath coming from the pit of the stomach is to be controlled. Further, it tells us on which parts of the body the breath must
impinge and how it must be discharged from the mouth
.
In a sense, air going into our body in different ways is a manifestation of the yogic science: it is because of the vibrations caused in our nadis as a result of the passage of our breath that our emotions and powers take shape. There is a saying, "What is in the macrocosm is present in the microcosm. " As mentioned before, the vibrations within us produce vibrations outside also and these are the cause of worldly activities. That is why those who have mastered the mantras have the same powers as
those who have achieved yogic perfection controlling their breath. The one is mantrayoga, the other is Rajayoga
.

Siksa deals with "uccarna", "svara", "matra", "bala", "sama" and "santana". The sound of each mantra is determined with the utmost accuracy. How different sounds have their source in different parts of the body and how they are vocalised, all such details which are of scientific and practical importance are dealt with in this Anga. If it says, "Join your lips in this way and such and such a sound will be produced as you speak", you may verify it for yourself in practice and find it to be true.

The Vedic syllables must be pronounced with clarity. The character of their sound should not be distorted a bit. But no force must be used in vocalising the syllables. There should be no damage done - no erosion of the sound - and no violence should be suggested in the pronunciation.

How does a tigress carry its cubs? Tigresses and cats carry their young ones by holding them firmly with their teeth, yet in doing so they do not cause any hurt to the little ones. The Vedic hymns must be chanted in the same way, the syllables enunciated gently and yet distinctly. Panini, has written the most important work on grammar, a subject which comes next (after Siksa) among the Vedangas.
Apart from him many others written on Siksa. There are thirty works in this category. Panini's and Yajnavalkya's are particularly important. Each Veda has attached to it a "Pratisakhya" which examines Vedic sounds. There are also ancient commentaries on them and these too are included in Siksa.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on June 27, 2014, 07:48:14 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

Vyakarana or grammar is the "mukha" of the Vedapurusa, his mouth.There are a number of works on Sanskrit grammar. The most widely used and important is the one by the great sage Panini. There is a gloss - a vartika- on his "Vyakarna-sutra" by Vararuci. Patanjali has written a bhasya or commentary on Panini's sutras. These three are the chief works on Sanskrit grammar.
There is a difference between grammar and other sastras. In the case of other subjects the original sutras constituting them are esteemed more than their bhasyas. But, in the case of grammar, or Vyakarana, the Vartika is more valued than the sutras and still more valued is the bhasya.
According to one reckoning, there are six sastras. Vyakarana is one of them. Four of the sastras are particularly important: apart from Vyakarana, Tarka (logic), Mimamsa and Vedanta. Vyakarna is also one of the vedic sadanga (six limbs of the vedas). "Sucant sutram ", so it is said. (The sutra is just an indication of something, a truth or a principle.) Every sastra has a bhasya and each such bhasya is known by a particular name. The vyakarana bhasya (of Patanjali) alone is called "Mahabhasya", "the great commentary ".

Siksa, Vyakarna and the subjects I have yet to deal with -Chandas and Nirukta-are Vedangas-(limbs of the vedas) connected with language. After I said that I would deal with matters basic to our religion, I have been speaking about linguistic studies and grammar. Next I am going to deal with prosody. By works on religion we ordinarily mean those [directly] relating to God, worship, devotion, jnana, dharma and so on. Would not the right thing for me then be to speak about such works? When we dealt with the vedas a number of matters cropped up, matters regarded as germane to religion. Religion will find a prominent place in the subjects that I have yet to speak about, Kalpa, Mimamsa, the Puranas and Dharmasastra., But in between has arisen the science of language that has apparently no connection with religion.
In the Vedic view everything is connected with the Lord. There is no question of dividing subjects into "religious" and "non-religious". Even the science of medicine, Ayurveda, which pertains to physical well being, is ultimately meant for Atmic uplift- or for that matter, military science (Dhanurveda). That is why they were made part of traditional lore. So too political economy which is also an Atma-sastra. Why are works belonging to these fields held in great esteem? All subjects, all works, that teach a man to bring order, refinement and purity in every aspect of his life and help him thus to take the path to liberation are regarded as religious in character.
Sound is the highest of the perceived forms of the Paramatman and language is obviously connected with it. It is the concern of Siksa and Vyakarana to refine and clarify it and make it a means for the well-being of our Self.
Grammar is associated with Sabdabrahman. Worship of the Nadabrahman which is the goal of music is a branch of this. If sounds are well discerned and employed in speech they will serve not only the purpose of communication but also of cleansing us inwardly. The science of language is helpful here.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: ksksat27 on July 02, 2014, 12:23:05 PM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

Vyakarana or grammar is the "mukha" of the Vedapurusa, his mouth.There are a number of works on Sanskrit grammar. The most widely used and important is the one by the great sage Panini. There is a gloss - a vartika- on his "Vyakarna-sutra" by Vararuci. Patanjali has written a bhasya or commentary on Panini's sutras. These three are the chief works on Sanskrit grammar.
There is a difference between grammar and other sastras. In the case of other subjects the original sutras constituting them are esteemed more than their bhasyas. But, in the case of grammar, or Vyakarana, the Vartika is more valued than the sutras and still more valued is the bhasya.
According to one reckoning, there are six sastras. Vyakarana is one of them. Four of the sastras are particularly important: apart from Vyakarana, Tarka (logic), Mimamsa and Vedanta. Vyakarna is also one of the vedic sadanga (six limbs of the vedas). "Sucant sutram ", so it is said. (The sutra is just an indication of something, a truth or a principle.) Every sastra has a bhasya and each such bhasya is known by a particular name. The vyakarana bhasya (of Patanjali) alone is called "Mahabhasya", "the great commentary ".

Siksa, Vyakarna and the subjects I have yet to deal with -Chandas and Nirukta-are Vedangas-(limbs of the vedas) connected with language. After I said that I would deal with matters basic to our religion, I have been speaking about linguistic studies and grammar. Next I am going to deal with prosody. By works on religion we ordinarily mean those [directly] relating to God, worship, devotion, jnana, dharma and so on. Would not the right thing for me then be to speak about such works? When we dealt with the vedas a number of matters cropped up, matters regarded as germane to religion. Religion will find a prominent place in the subjects that I have yet to speak about, Kalpa, Mimamsa, the Puranas and Dharmasastra., But in between has arisen the science of language that has apparently no connection with religion.
In the Vedic view everything is connected with the Lord. There is no question of dividing subjects into "religious" and "non-religious". Even the science of medicine, Ayurveda, which pertains to physical well being, is ultimately meant for Atmic uplift- or for that matter, military science (Dhanurveda). That is why they were made part of traditional lore. So too political economy which is also an Atma-sastra. Why are works belonging to these fields held in great esteem? All subjects, all works, that teach a man to bring order, refinement and purity in every aspect of his life and help him thus to take the path to liberation are regarded as religious in character.
Sound is the highest of the perceived forms of the Paramatman and language is obviously connected with it. It is the concern of Siksa and Vyakarana to refine and clarify it and make it a means for the well-being of our Self.
Grammar is associated with Sabdabrahman. Worship of the Nadabrahman which is the goal of music is a branch of this. If sounds are well discerned and employed in speech they will serve not only the purpose of communication but also of cleansing us inwardly. The science of language is helpful here.

continued...

Dear Ravi sir

As I requested, kindly summarize your views on Vedas that will serve as a lucid summary of your viewpoints.  Nowadays (long time) I am only seeing your exact extracts from books on any topic.  Earlier you used to summarize your view points that definitely serve as a crisp easy to refer valuable perception.

Also i am still waiting rely for my PM , please reply in private message.

Krishna
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 02, 2014, 02:48:55 PM
ksksat(Krishna),
I responded to your personal mail twice,looks like you are not accessing your yahoo id.Please let me know if you have any other mail id that i can respond to.I will again mail it.

Coming to your request-that I must summarize my thoughts on Vedas,I am not sure what you need.One fundamental thing that I would point out with regard to the Vedas is the Nature of sound and the very language of the Vedas.In the Vedas,the sound comes first and then the meaning follows.In everyday language,the Meaning comes first and then the choice of the word to express it.We learn A for apple,B for Biscuit,C for Custard,etc.We are just taught that Apple is apple,Biscuit is Biscuit and Custard is custard and learn to use these words.We never question why Apple should be called Apple or Biscuit should be called Biscuit,etc.There is no connection between the sound 'Apple' and the Object that it brings to our mind ,i.e the Apple Fruit.It is simply called so through conventional usage and we accept it and employ it.We then form sentences to express ourselves,our thoughts.
Unlike this,the Vedic Language is deeply symbolic,in that the very sound naturally brought forth the image signified to the mind.Not just this,the very same word was used to signify different objects which shared that quality signified.This brought in the possibility wherein the same sentence may come to have a deep significance for someone initiated into its mysteries and at the same time carry something totally pedestrian and common place for the vast majority of laymen.
Anyone who tries to translate the Vedas will run the risk of interpreting it in the ordinary sense-and brand it as part of Karma Kanda.Unless one has the key to Vedic symbolism,the true inner sense will forever elude him.He will then brand that this part of Vedas only serve to prepare for what eventually the Upanishads are going to proclaim as eternal verities.He will then mistake that the upanishads are the part of Vedas that Deal with Eternal truths and that the rest of the Vedas are some sort of a hotch potch,and at best a preparatory prelude to the upanishads and can be dispensed with safely.
How to understand the symbolic sense of the Vedas?How to draw on the founts of inspiration inherent in the Vedas?How many are at all aware that such a deep and complete body of knowledge has survived over the ages?What is the nature of this Robustness?
Most Indians are totally ignorant of this Most Ancient Science and discipline.Atleast a rudimentray acquaintance with these aspects of the Vedas will help us suspect deeper treasures hidden herein and encourage us to foster what little remains in practice.
The talks of mahaswami on the Vedas cover all these aspects.Later,we will also see what Sri Aurobindo has to say on many of these aspects.It is in this spirit that this thread was launched.
Namaskar
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: atmavichar100 on July 02, 2014, 05:30:30 PM
Quote
Most Indians are totally ignorant of this Most Ancient Science and discipline.Atleast a rudimentray acquaintance with these aspects of the Vedas will help us suspect deeper treasures hidden herein and encourage us to foster what little remains in practice.
The talks of mahaswami on the Vedas cover all these aspects.Later,we will also see what Sri Aurobindo has to say on many of these aspects.It is in this spirit that this thread was launched.

Dear Sri Ravi

What you said is very true . Few years back there was a program on TV in which many people assembled there claimed how they were fooled by various Godmen /astrologers /sooth sayers etc .  One Swami from some Hindu spiritual institution who had come as the Chief Guest of that program asked the audience how many of you have studied the Bhagavad Gita Completely ( any one version / any author ) and no one raised the hands .Next he asked how many of you at least attempted to study the same thoroughly ( not just browsing it through here and there ) and again no one raised the hands . Then he asked how many of you have at least the Bhagavad Gita book  ( any version ) in your house then few hands rose up . He smiled and told that he is not surprised that these people got fooled by Godmen , astrologers , soothsayers etc etc . He told it is the duty of every Hindu to at least make an attempt to study one version of the Bhagavad Gita thoroughly so that they have answers to most of the problems they face in their day to day life and do not run to astrologers /Godmen / sooth sayers to find answers to the same .
I would modify the above reply to say that every Hindu must first thoroughly study the 7 Volumes of the Voice of God ( Deivathin Kural ) of Kanchi Mahaswamigal and at least 1 version of the Bhagavad Gita thoroughly so that most of the answers that they are seeking are already available there without the need to run to astrologers .Godmen /sooth sayers etc . Today with the advancement in technology both the above resources are available for free on the net and people can download the same and read it on their desktops / laptops/tablets /Iphones etc .
Sringeri Acharya Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati said that for acquiring worldly riches  we are willing to cross the seas and willing to endure various hardships in foreign lands but for spiritual wealth we want it to be delivered to our homes on a plate and enjoy  the same with least effort . Spiritual laziness is responsible for the mushrooming of many pseudo spiritual organizations and half baked spiritual teachers in India and abroad who exploit / misguide the people and after getting fooled by them people end up crying later as it happened in that TV Program where many wept as to how they were exploited by various teachers /Godmen /astrologers etc .
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: ksksat27 on July 03, 2014, 11:21:54 AM
ksksat(Krishna),
I responded to your personal mail twice,looks like you are not accessing your yahoo id.Please let me know if you have any other mail id that i can respond to.I will again mail it.

Coming to your request-that I must summarize my thoughts on Vedas,I am not sure what you need.One fundamental thing that I would point out with regard to the Vedas is the Nature of sound and the very language of the Vedas.In the Vedas,the sound comes first and then the meaning follows.In everyday language,the Meaning comes first and then the choice of the word to express it.We learn A for apple,B for Biscuit,C for Custard,etc.We are just taught that Apple is apple,Biscuit is Biscuit and Custard is custard and learn to use these words.We never question why Apple should be called Apple or Biscuit should be called Biscuit,etc.There is no connection between the sound 'Apple' and the Object that it brings to our mind ,i.e the Apple Fruit.It is simply called so through conventional usage and we accept it and employ it.We then form sentences to express ourselves,our thoughts.
Unlike this,the Vedic Language is deeply symbolic,in that the very sound naturally brought forth the image signified to the mind.Not just this,the very same word was used to signify different objects which shared that quality signified.This brought in the possibility wherein the same sentence may come to have a deep significance for someone initiated into its mysteries and at the same time carry something totally pedestrian and common place for the vast majority of laymen.
Anyone who tries to translate the Vedas will run the risk of interpreting it in the ordinary sense-and brand it as part of Karma Kanda.Unless one has the key to Vedic symbolism,the true inner sense will forever elude him.He will then brand that this part of Vedas only serve to prepare for what eventually the Upanishads are going to proclaim as eternal verities.He will then mistake that the upanishads are the part of Vedas that Deal with Eternal truths and that the rest of the Vedas are some sort of a hotch potch,and at best a preparatory prelude to the upanishads and can be dispensed with safely.
How to understand the symbolic sense of the Vedas?How to draw on the founts of inspiration inherent in the Vedas?How many are at all aware that such a deep and complete body of knowledge has survived over the ages?What is the nature of this Robustness?
Most Indians are totally ignorant of this Most Ancient Science and discipline.Atleast a rudimentray acquaintance with these aspects of the Vedas will help us suspect deeper treasures hidden herein and encourage us to foster what little remains in practice.
The talks of mahaswami on the Vedas cover all these aspects.Later,we will also see what Sri Aurobindo has to say on many of these aspects.It is in this spirit that this thread was launched.
Namaskar

wonderful sir.  this sets in the old dejavu of 2010s, 2011s where you had posted your valuable points on many of the topics in David Godman blog.

Thanks for mailing ,  pls forward to ksksat27@gmail.com   also.;  will check and hope to get light .
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 05, 2014, 08:54:07 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

The Rgveda and the Samaveda are entirely poetical in form. The Yajurveda consists of both prose and poetry. It is because poetry forms their major part that the Vedas are called Chandas.The tailor takes your measurement to make your suit. He will not otherwise be able to cut the cloth properly. Similarly, poetry gives form to
our thoughts and feelings. Your shirt has to be so many inches wide, so many inches long, isn't so? Similarly, poetry also has its measurement expressed in "feet" and number of syllables. The Sastra that deals with such measurement is "Chandas" and the text on which it is chiefly based is Chanda sutra by Pingala. People who have received initiation into a mantra touch their head with their hand, mentioning the name of the sage associated with the mantra, touch their nose mentioning the
chandas and touch their heart mentioning the deity invoked.

A Vedic mantra or the stanza of an ordinary poem is divided into four parts. In most metres there are four feet and each foot is divided into the same number of syllables or mantras.In most poems the padas are equal. Let me illustrate with a sloka with which, I suppose, all of you are familiar,The four feet of this stanza:

Suklambaradharam Visnum
Sasivarnam caturbhujam
Prasannavadanam dhyayet
Sarvavighnopasantaye

Each pada in this has eight syllables.Only vowels and consonants in conjunction with vowels are to be counted as syllables; other consonants are not to be counted. Then alone will you get the figure of eight. The eight syllables in the first pada are :1.su; 2. klam; 3. ba; 4. ra; 5. dha; 6. ram; 7. vi; 8. snum. The other padas will
have similarly eight syllables each.The stanza with four feet, each foot of eight syllables, is "Anustubh", which metre is used in the Vedas and in poetical works of a later period.

As mentioned earlier, the foot of a stanza with eight syllables Anustubh. With nine syllables it is "Brhati" and with ten "Pankti". "Tristubh" has eleven syllables and "Jagati" twelve. We have a 26 syllable metre ("Bhujangavijrambhita") which belongs to the category of "Utkrti". Beyond this is "Dandaka" of which there are several types. The metre in which Apparasvamigal's Tiru-t-tandagam is composed is related to this metre.

"Gayatri", "Usnik", "Anustubh", "Pankti", "Tristubh" and "Jagati" are Vedic metres.

continued...
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 05, 2014, 09:05:51 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

"Gayatri" is a maha-mantra, the king of mantras. A mantra is usually named after the deity it invokes. "Siva-Pancaksari", "Narayana-Astaksari", "Rama-Trayodasi": in each of these the name of the deity as well as the number of syllables in the mantra are combined. The deity for Gayatri is Savita. Gayatri is the name of the metre also. The metre too, one should infer from this, has divine power expressed through the sound and tone of a mantra.

Gayatri, unlike most other mantras and slokas, has only three feet. Each foot has eight syllables and altogether there are 24 syllables. Because it has only three padas or feet it is called "Tripada-Gayatri". There are other Gayatris also. The first Vedic mantra, "Agnimile", is in the Gayatri metre.

Siksa sastra may be said to be a "guard" to ensure the right enunciation of a (Vedic) mantra. But it is Chandas that determines whether the form of the mantra is right. Of course the form of a mantra can never be wrong. The mantras, as mentioned so often, were not created by the sages and are not the product of their thinking. It was Bhagavan who caused them to be revealed to them. Man, beast, tree and other sentient creatures and insentient objects of creation exist as they should be according to the law of nature. In the same way, the metre of a Vedic mantra must be naturally correct. However, Chandas helps us to find out whether a mantra or sukta that is being taught or chanted has come down to us in its true form. We may check the hymn according to its metre and if we find it faulty we may correct it in consultation with people who are wellversed in such matters.

Chandas is of help in giving shape to poetic thought and imagination. Like tala to music is chandas to poetry. It is because poetry is composed according to a certain measure and its rhythm determined in a certain order of syllables that it acquires a definite form. It is also easy to memorise. Modern society is discarding all those rules of discipline meant to give it a definite character and purpose. In keeping with this new trend, poetry too is being written without any metre and "poets" compose as they please. People don't realise that to be free means to be firmly attached to a system, that discipline is the road to a higher freedom.

Chandas is the means by which we ensure that the Vedic mantra is preserved in its original form, it being impossible to add one letter to it or take away another. The very purpose of the Vedas is the raising up of the Self. Must we then permit a single sound to be added to it or be taken away?

Each mantra has a deity (the deity it invokes), its own metre and its own seer (the seer who revealed it to the world). Mentioning the name of the rsi and touching our head with our hand have their own significance, that of holding his feet with our head. We first pay obeisance to the sages because it is from them that we received the mantras. We then mention the chandas or metre of the hymn and touch our nose with our hand. Chandas protects the sound of a mantra and is like its vital breath. So we place our hand on that part of our body with which we breathe. Without breath there is no life. While for all the Vedas taken as a whole Siksa is the nose and Chandas the foot, for the mantras proper Chandas is the nose.
When we commence to chant a mantra we must meditate on its adhi devata, or presiding deity, and feel his presence in our hearts. This is the reason why we touch our hearts as we mention the name of the deity.The Vedapurusa stands on Chandas. "Chandah pado Vedasya": the Vedic mantras are supported by Chandas.


We may only marvel at the intrinsic Error correction built into the Vedic Mantras that helps to check the integrity and purity of the Mantras!(Ravi)
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 11, 2014, 08:10:14 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas[/b] continued...

Nirukta serves the purpose of a Vedic dictionary, or "kosa". A dictionary is also called a "nighantu", which term is used in Tamil also. Nirukta, which deals with the origin of words, their roots, that is with etymology, is the ear of the Vedapurusa. It explains the meaning of rare words in the Vedas and how or why they are used in a particular context. Many have contributed to Nirukta, the work of Yaksa being the most important.
Take the word "hrdaya" (heart). The Vedas themselves trace its origin. "Hrdayam" is "hrdi ayam" : it means that the Lord dwells in the heart. "Hrd" itself denotes the physical heart. But with the suffixing of "ayam" - with the Lord residing in it - its Atmic importance is suggested. The purpose of any sastra is to take you to the Supreme Being. "Hrdaya" is so called because Paramesvara resides in "hrd". Thus each and every word has a reason behind it. Nirukta makes an inquiry into words and reveals
their significance
.
"Dhatu" means "root" in English. In that language one speaks of the root only of verbs, not of nouns. In Sanskrit all words have dhatus. Such words, transformed or modified, must have been adopted in other languages.That is why we do not know the root of many words in these tongues.After all, such an exercise would be possible only if the words in question belonged naturally to them. Take the English work "hour". Phonetically it should be pronounced "h o u r" ("h" being not silent) or "h o a r". At one time the word indeed must have been pronounced "hoar". "Horasastra" is the name of a science in Sanskrit, "hora" being from "ahoratram" (day and night). "Hora" is two and half nadikas or one hour. The English "hour" is clearly from this word. In the same way "heart" is from "hrd". There are so many words like this which could be traced to Sanskrit. It must have taken a long time for words in other languages to evolve into their present form. That is why those who speak them find it difficult to
discover their origin [or root].
How does it help to listen to someone speaking a language without understanding what he says? It is as good as not listening to him. In other words it is like being deaf. Nirukta finds the meaning of words by going to the root of each. That is why it is called the ear of the Vedapurusa: it is the ear of Sruti which itself is heard by the ear.

Western scholars learned Vyakarna and Nirukta from pandits in Kasi and acquainted themselves with the origin of words as described in the latter sastra. From this they developed the new science of philology. It is primarily from our Vyakarana and the Nirukta that the linguistic science has developed.
From their researches, Western scholars have arrived at the conclusion that all languages have one source. People all over the world are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the area where this primal language was spoken. There are differences of opinion with regard to this area, the home of this tongue. We need have no worry about it. After all, we believe that all places on earth are our home. "Yadum oorEy!" is a famous Tamil declaration. "Svadeso bhuvanatrayam" - the three worlds are our motherland.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 12, 2014, 09:01:32 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

I have so far dealt with siksa, Vyakarana, Chandas and Nirukta. These four form part of Sadanga (the six limbs of the Vedas). I will now speak about Jyotisa, it being the first of the remaining two of the Sadanga. Jyotisa, which is the science of the celestial bodies and the eye of the Vedapurusa, consists of three "skandhas" or sections. So it is called "Skandha-trayatmakam". Sages like Garga, Narada and Parasura have written samhitas (treatises) on this subject. The sun god, in disguise, taught the science to Maya, the carpenter of the Asuras. The work incorporating his teachings is called the Suryasiddhanta. There are treatises on astronomy written by celestials and sages and ordinary mortals. Of them some are by Varahamihira, Aryabhata and Bhaskaracarya. In recent times we had Sundaresvara Srautin who wrote a work called Siddhanta-Kausthubham.

Why is Jyotisa regarded as the eye of the Vedapurusa?What purpose is served by the eye? Near objects may be perceived by the sense of touch. With our eyes we learn about distant objects. Just as our eyes help us to know objects that are distant in space (that is just as we see distant object with our eyes), Jyotisa sastra help us to find out the position of the heavenly bodies that are distant in time (their configuration many years ago in the past or many years hence in future). We can find out directly the positions of the sun and the moon and other heavenly bodies. Just as we can know near objects, even if we are blind, by feeling them with our hands, we can learn about the positions of the heavenly bodies near in time even without the help of astronomy. What is 50 feet away is to be perceived by the eye. Similarly, if you want to know the position of planets 50 years ago or 50 years hence, you have to have recourse to Jyotisa.
We cannot, however, form a full picture of near objects only by feeling them. For instance, we cannot know whether they are green or red. For this, we must see them with our eyes. Again, even if we are able to see the planet with our naked eye, we will need the help of astrology to find out its effects on our life, how its positions in the heavens will influence our destiny.
This is the reason why Jyotisa is called the eye of the Vedapurusa. Vedic rituals are performed according to the position of the various planets [and the sun and the moon]. There are rules to determine this. The right day and hour [muhurta] for a function is fixed according to the position of the celestial bodies. Here again, Jyotisa performs the function of the eye. This Anga of the Vedas is indeed called "nayana" which word means "to lead". A blind man needs to be led by another. So it is the eye that leads. Astronomy / Astrology is the eye that enables us to fix the hours for Vedic rituals.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 15, 2014, 07:21:03 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...


Astronomy examines the position of the planets and other heavenly bodies. It does not concern itself with how they affect the life of the world or the individual. It is not its function to find out how far the celestial bodies are beneficial to us or how they may be made favourable to us. Such functions belong to astrology. Jyotisa includes both astronomy and astrology. Telling us about the results of performing a ritual at a given time, keeping in mind the position of the planets, the sun and the moon and the naksatras ( asterisms ), comes under the purview of astrology. The hours favourable to the performance of Vedic rites are determined according to calculations based on the movement of planets. All this entails mathematical work.
The measurements of the place where a sacrifice is to be conducted (yajnabhumi) are based on certain stipulations. These must be strictly adhered to if the sacrifices are to yield the desired benefits. Mathematics developed in this way as a handmaid to the Vedic dharma.
Jyotisa, as we have seen, consists of three sections. There was a scholarly man in the Matha who was particularly learned in this science. We wished to honour him with a title and decided upon "Triskandha- Bhaskara". "Skandha" literally means a big branch springing from the trunk of a tree. The three skandhas of Jyotisas are: siddhanta, hora and samhita.
The siddhanta-skandha deals with arithmetic, trigonometry, geometry and algebra. The higher mathematics developed by the west in later centuries is found in our ancient Jyotisa.
Arithmetic, called "vyakta-ganita" in Sanskrit, includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. "Avyakta-ganita" is algebra. "Jya" means the earth and "miti" is method of measurement. "Jyamiti" evolved with the need to measure the sacrificial place:"geometry" is derived from this word. The "geo" in geography is from "jya". There is a mathematical exercise called "samikarana" which is the same as "equation".
The sixth Anga of the Vedas, Kalpa (I will speak about it later ), has a great deal to do with the fifth, that is Jyotisa. Kalpa has a section on "sulbasutras". These sutras mention the precise measurements of the "yajnavedi" (sacrificial altar). The character of the yajnabhumi is called "cayana". The sulba- sutras deal with a number of cayanas like, for instance, the one shaped like Garuda. They tell us how to construct a brick-kiln ---the number of bricks required for the cayana of such and such shapes. The siddhantaskandha is used in all this.
There is an equation in the Apastamba sulba sutras which could not be proved until recently. Westerners had thought it to be faulty merely as they could not solve it. Now they accepted it as right. That Indians had taken such great strides in mathematics; thousand of years ago has caused amazement in the West. There are a number of old equations still to be solved.
Our sastras mention branches of mathematics like "rekhaganita, "kuttaka", "angapaka", etc. "Avyakta-ganita" is also called "bijaganita".

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 15, 2014, 07:30:02 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas [/b] continued...

Eight hundred years ago there lived a great mathematician called Bhaskaracarya. An incident in his life illustrates how relentless destiny is. Bhaskaracarya had a daughter called Lilavati. The great astrologer that he was, he found that she had "mangalyadosa" in her horoscope, but he felt confident that he could change his daughter's destiny, as foreshadowed by the stars, with his ingenuity and resourcefulness, as an astrologer. He decided to celebrate Lilavati's marriage during a lagna in which all the planets would be in positions favourable to the bride. This should, he thought, ensure that Lilavati would remain a "dirgha-sumangali". In those days there were no clocks as we have today. A water-pot was used to measure time. It consisted of an upper as well as a lower part. The water in the upper receptacle would trickle down through a hole into the lower container. The lower part was graduated according to the unit of time then followed - nazhikai (nadika), one sixtieth of a day or 24 minutes. So the time of day was calculated by observing the level of the water in the lower container. ("Water-clock" and "hour-glass" are English names for such an apparatus. Since water evaporates quickly sand was used instead. )
According to the custom then prevailing, Lilavati's marriage was to be celebrated when she was still a child. On the appointed day, she sat beside the water--clock and bent over it fascinated by the apparatus. As she fumbled around a pearl from her nose--stud got loosened and fell into the apparatus lodging itself in its hole. The flow of water into the lower receptacle was reduced. So what the clock indicated as the hour fixed for the marriage was not the right one---the auspicious hour had passed. Nobody including Lilavati, had noticed the pearl dropping into the water-clock. When they came to know about it, it was too late. They realised that destiny could not be overcome.

Later Bhaskaracarya wrote a mathematical treatise and named it "Lilavati" after his daughter. The father taught his widowed daughter mathematics and she became highly proficient in the subject. Lilavati deals with arithmetic, algebra, etc. It is a delightful book in which the problems are stated in verse as stories. Bhaskaracarya also wrote the Siddhanta-Siromani which deals with how the positions and movement of the heavenly bodies are determined.

Parts 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Euclid's Geometry are believed to be lost. All the 12 books on mathematics in Sanskrit are still available. "Making additions several times is multiplication; carrying out subtraction several times is division. " We remain ignorant of such easy methods of calculations dealt with in our mathematical texts.

Varahamihira lived several years before Bhaskaracarya, that is about 1,500 years ago. He wrote a number of treatises including the Brhat- Samhita and the Brhajjatika. The first is a digest of many sciences, its contents being a wonderful testimony to the variety of subjects in which our forefathers has taken strides. Brhajjatika is all about astrology.

Aryabhata, famous for his Aryabhatiya-Siddhanta, also lived 1, 500 years ago. The vakya--ganita now in use is said to be based on his Siddhanta. Varahamihira and Aryabhata are much acclaimed by mathematicians today.
All these books on mathematics also deal with the movements of the celestial bodies. There are seven "grahas" according to the ancient reckoning--the five planets and the sun and the moon. Rahu and Ketu are called "chaya-grahas" (shadow planets) and their orbits are opposite of the sun's and the moon's.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 17, 2014, 07:46:26 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...


The conditions of man correspond to the changes in the position of the nine grahas. A human being does not enjoy happiness all the time nor does he always suffer hardships-- that is he experiences a mixture of happiness and sorrow. While he may be pushed up to a high position today, he may be thrust down to the depths tomorrow. It is not man alone that is subject to changes of fortune. Establishments too have their ups and downs, so also nations.
The sages saw a relationship between the position and movements of the planets and the destiny of man, the sorrow and happiness experienced by him. There is a branch of astrology called "hora--skandha". If we knew the planetary position at the time of commencing a job or enterprise, with its help we should be able to find out how it would take shape, how we would fare in it. If our horoscope is cast on the basis of the configuration of the planets at the time of our birth, our fortunes over the entire period of our life can be predicted. Different reasons are given for the ups and downs in a man's life for his joys and sorrows. It is similar to finding out the different causes of the ailment he suffers from. The physician will explain that the disease is due to an imbalance in the "dhatus". The mantravadin will say that it is due to the gods being displeased with the patient, while the astrologer will observe that it is all in his (the patient's) stars. The pandit versed in Dharmasastra will explain that the illness is the fruit of the man's past
actions, his karma. And the psychologist will express the view that the bodily affliction is related to an emotional disturbance. What is the true cause?
All these different causes may be valid. All of them together go to create an experience. When it rains it becomes wet and the place is swarmed with winged white ants. Frogs croak. All these are indicators of the rain.Many outward signs manifest themselves as the fruits of our past karma. They are all related to one another. The course of the planets governing our life is in accordance with our karma. We come to know the consequences of our past actions in previous births in various ways.
Astrological calculations help us to find out such consequences as indicated by the heavenly bodies.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 17, 2014, 07:53:10 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

Omens, Signs

Where can you discover water? Where does ground water occur? Or where do streams flow inside the earth? By what signs on the surface do you make out the presence of water underground? How are perfumes manufactured? What are the right measurements for a house? These questions are discussed in the samhita-skandha of Jyotisa. Also omens and signs.
"Sakuna" is one thing, "nimitta" quite another. "Sakuna" literally means a bird: only signs connected with birds come under the category of "Sakuna". All things in this world are interrelated: all happenings are linked to one another. If we know the precise scale and manner in which events are woven together, we would be able to know everything.
Everything in this world occurs according to the will of the One Being and according to a precise system. So with reference to one we can know all others. Palmistry, "arudam" (a method of divination), astrology, all are interrelated.
What does a bird flying from right to left indicate? What is foretold by the chirping of such and such a bird? Question like these belong to the sakuna-sastra. "Nimitta" means omen. "Nimittani ca pasyami viparitani Kesava" says Arjuna to Krsna before the start of the battle of Kuruksetra. He uses the right word "nimitta" while we use the word "sakuna" carelessly. When a cat crosses our path it is an omen; when an eagle flies above us it is a sakuna. To go back to Arjuna, the Lord tells Arjuna: "Nimittamatram bhava Savyasacin". This is in answer to Arjuna telling Krsna, lamenting, that it is sinful to kill one's enemies [or one's kin]. Says Krishna: "I have already resolved to slay them in this battle. So they are already as good as dead. It is I who will kill them. You are a mere tool." (Nimittamatram bhava).
A nimitta does not produce any result on its own. It points to the result that has already been ordained by some other factor - or, in other words, it merely indicates the fruits of our past karma.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 19, 2014, 06:49:48 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

Not Blind Belief?.

"Hindu sastras are all nonsensical ",exclaim critics of our religion. "They say that north of the earth is the Meru Mountain, that our one year is one day for the celestials residing there, and that the sun revolves round it. They believe that, besides the ocean of salt, there are oceans of sugarcane juice and milk, in fact several kinds of oceans. They describe the earth with its five continents as consisting of seven islands. It is all prattle". Why should the ocean be salty? Who put the salt in it? Why should not there have been an ocean tasting sweet or of milk? Is the talk about the seven islands and the seven oceans absurd? What do the sastras say about the position of the earth, the same sastras that speak about the seven oceans, and so on? "Meru is situated on the northern tip of the earth", they state. "Directly opposite to it is the Pole star (Dhruva)".
The northern tip of the earth is the North Pole. Is the Pole star directly opposite to it? No. "aeons ago", scientists explain, "it was so. But later big changes took place and the earth tilted a bit." The sastras refer to a time when the Pole star was directly opposite the North Pole and at that time the seven islands and the seven oceans must have existed. When the rotating earth tilted a bit the oceans must have got mixed and become salty and in the process the seven islands must have become the five
continents
.
If there is a place above the North Pole it must be Meru where we have our svarga or paradise. Let us imagine that this earth is a lemon. A spot on its top is the Meru peak. In relation to that spot any other part of the fruit is south. Where can you go from there, east or west? You can go only south. You will learn this if you mark a point on the top of the lemon.
For all countries of the earth, for all "varsas", north is Meru. "Sarvesamapi varsanam Meruruttaratahsthitah".
On the North Pole it is six months day and six months night. We must have been taught this in our primary classes. It means our one year is one day on the North Pole. This is what is meant by saying that our one year is one day for the celestials.
When the earth rotates, the northernmost and southernmost points are not affected. In some places there will be sun for 18 hours and in other places only for six hours. There are many differences in the durations of day and night with regard to different places on earth. Only on some days does the sun rise directly in the east and is overhead without departing even by one degree. On other days it rises from other angles (from northeast to south-east). Such is not the case on the North Pole. There the sun shines six months and the other six months it is darkness. And, again, during the sunny months it would seem as if the sun were revolving round this place(the North pole).
The six-month period when there is sun in the North Pole is called uttarayana and the similar sunny period on the South Pole is daksinayana.
The North Pole is called 'Sumeru' and the South Pole 'Kumeru'.("Sumeria" is from Sumeru. In that land, it is said, the Vedic gods were worshipped. ) Just as the North Pole is the abode of the gods, the South pole is the abode of the fathers (pitrs) and hell. To see the gods and the pitrs who are in the form of spirits and the denizens of hell one must obtain divine sight through yoga. Merely because we do not possess such sight we cannot deny their existence. There was Blavatsky who was born in Russia, lived in America and later came to India. She speaks about the worlds of the gods and of the spirits. A great scientist of our times, Sir Oliver Lodge, affirmed
the existence of spirits and deities and stated that mankind could benefit from them. If you ask why Jyotisa, after dealing with the science of astronomy, should turn to spiritualism, the answer is that there is no contradiction between the two as supported by the example of a scientist like Sir Oliver who too turned to spiritualism.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 21, 2014, 07:09:44 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas -Sadanga: The Six Limbs of the Vedas continued...

Hand of the Vedapurusha

The sixth limb or Anga of the Vedapurusa is Kalpa, his hand. The hand is called "kara" since it does work (or since we work with it). In Telugu it is called "sey ". Kalpa is the sastra that involves you in "work". A man learns to chant the Vedas, studies Siksa, Vyakarana, Chandas, Nirukta and Jyotisa. What does he do next? He has to apply these sastras to the rites he is enjoined to perform. He has to wash away his sins, the sins earned by acting according to his whims. This he does by the performance of good works. For this he must know the appropriate mantras and how to enunciate them correctly, understanding their meaning. Also certain materials are needed and a house that is architecturally suited to the conduct of the rituals. The fruits yielded by these must be offered to the Isvara. Kalpa concerns itself with these matters.
Why does a man learn the vedas? Why does he make efforts to gain perfection with regard to the purity and tone of their sound by learning Siksa, grammar and prosody? And why does he learn Jyotisa to find out the right time to perform rituals? The answer is to carry out the injunctions of Kalpa.
How is a rite to be performed, what are the rituals imposed upon the four castes and on people belonging to the four asramas (celibate students, house-holders, forest recluses and ascetics)? What are the mantras to be chanted during these various rites and what are the materials to be gathered? What kind of vessels are to be used, and how many rtviks (priests) are needed for the different rituals? All these come under the province of Kalpa.
A number of sages have contributed to the Kalpa sastra. Six sages have composed Kalpasutras for the Krsna-Yajurveda which is predominantly followed in the South - Apastamba, Baudhayana, Vaikhanasa, Satyasadha, Bharadhvaja, Agnivesa, Asvalayana and Sankhayana have written Kalpasutras for the Rigveda but the former's is most widely followed. For Sukla-Yajurveda there is the Kalpasutra by Katyayana. For the Kauthuma, Ranayaniya and Talavakara Sakhas of the Samaveda, Latyayana,
Drahyayana and Jaimini respectively have composed Kalpasutras.
Kalpa contains Grhyasutras and Srautasutras for each recension. Both deal with the 40 samskaras to be performed from conception to death.
The cremation of the body is also a sacrifice, the final offering: it is called "antyesti" and it is also to be performed with the chanting of mantras. "Isti" means a sacrifice and in antyesti the body is offered in the sacred fire as a "dravya" or material.
A Brahmin has to perform 21 sacrifices: seven "haviryajnas" based on agnihotra; seven pakayajnas and seven somayajnas. Of them the seven haviryajnas and the seven somayajnas are not included in the Grhyasutras. They belong to the Srautasutras. Together with these there are forty rites for a Brahmin -- they are called samskaras. A samskara is that which refines and purifies the performer.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 23, 2014, 07:22:56 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas

Of the fourteen branches of learning (caturdasa-vidya), after the four Vedas and the Sadanga, we have the four Upangas of the vedas remaining. "Upa+anga"="Upanga. "The prefix "upa" is added to suggest what is auxiliary to a subject.?Sabhanayaka" means speaker; "upasabhanayaka" means deputy speaker. In the same way we have, after the six Angas (Sadanga), the four Upangas. These are Mimamsa, Nyaya, the Puranas and Dharmasastra.
"Mam" is the root of the word "Mimamsa"; "san" is the pratyaya. "Mimamsa" means "esteemed or sacred inquiry", an exposition. What is esteemed or worthy of worship? The Vedas. Mimamsa is an exegesis of the Vedas. Nirukta explains the meaning of the words of the Vedas, also their etymology in the fashion of the dictionary. Mimamsa goes further, to find out the significance of the mantras, their intent. It also gives its decisions on these points.
We have already discussed the karmakanda and the jnanakanda of the Vedas. Karmakanda is called the purva-bhaga,the first or early part of each Vedic recension, and the second or concluding part is the uttarabhaga.
Mimamsa too is divided in this way into Purvamimamsa and Uttaramimamsa. The first holds that sacrifices and other rites of the karmakanda form the most important part of the Vedas, while the second maintains that the realisation of the self taught in the jnanakanda is their true goal. I spoke about the Uttaramimamsa when I dealt with the Upanishads and the Brahmasutra.
Uttaramimamsa, that is the Brahmasutra as well as the Upanishads, constitutes"Brahmavidya" or Vedanta here. It is the foundation of the three important philosophic systems - Advaita (non-dualism or monism), Visistadvaita (qualified non-dualism or qualified monism) and Dvaita (dualism).
Our present subject is Purvamimamsa. As a matter of fact the term "Mimamsa" itself usually denotes "Purvamimamsa". But mention of it brings to mind Uttaramimamasa also.
Every system has, as we have seen its sutras, bhasya, and vartika. The Purvamimamsa-sutra is by Jamini Maharsi, its bhasya by Sabarasvamin and its vartika by Kumarilabhatta. Kumarilabhatta's Bhattadipika remains the most important Purvamimamsa work. Kumarila was an incarnation of Kumarasvamin or Subrahmanya. Prabhakara has written a commentary or Purvamimamsa in which he expresses views which, on some points, are divergent from Kumarlibhatta's. So, two different schools are identified in Mimamsa-"Bhatta-mata" and "Prabhakara-mata". Let us consider Mimamsa in general terms, ignoring the difference between the two schools. "Bhattamata", it is obvious, gets its name from the fact that it represents the views of Kumarilabhatta.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 29, 2014, 09:30:49 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas continued...

A variety of subjects are spoken in detail in the Vedas but all of them have the one purpose of leading us to the Vedantic enquiry into Truth and jnana. The concluding portion of a work, speech, article etc, is usually the most significant. If we want to find what so-and-so has said in a speech or in an article, we do not have to read all of it. We glance through the first para and, skipping through, come to the last. Here we get the message of the speech or article. We are able to decide on the content of either by going through the first and concluding passages. The first and last parts alike of the Vedas speak of the Paramatman; so that can be said to be the
"subject" of the Vedas.
The government enacts many laws. But, later in the course of their enforcement, doubts arise with regard to their intention. Then another law is enacted to settle its meaning:it is called the law of interpretation.In this way Mimamsa has come into being as the law of interpretation for the Vedas which constitute the eternal law of the Lord. I will speak to you in detail about Mimamsa which is one of the fourteen branches of the Vedic lore. But one aspect of it I should like to mention here itself.
According to Mimamsa sastra, there are six ways in which to determine the meaning of the Vedic pronouncement or "vakhya". They are listed in this verse:

Upakrama-upasamharau abhyasao purvata phalam
Arthavado pappati lingam tatparya-nirnaye


"Upakrama" and "upasamhara" together form the first method. The other five are "abhyasa", "apurvata", "phala", "arthavada" and "upapatti". These six are employed to determine the meaning or intent not only of Vedic passages but of, say, an article or discourse.
"Upakrama" means the initial part of work, treatise, and "upasamhara" the conclusion. If the first and concluding parts of a work speak of the same idea, it is to be taken as its subject. "Abhyasa" is repeating the same thing, the same idea, again and again. If the same view or the idea is repeated in a work, it must be understood as its theme. "Apurvata" denotes an idea not mentioned before or mentioned for the first time. So a view or idea expressed afresh in the course of work or discourse is to be taken as the purpose or message intended. "Phala" is fruit, benefit, reward or result. If, in the course of work or speech, it is said, ?If you act
in this manner you will gain such and such a fruit or benefit", it means that the purpose of the work or speech is to persuade you to act in the manner suggested so that you may reap the fruit or "phala" held out.
Suppose a number of points are dealt with in a work or discourse. Now, based on them, a story is told and, in the course of it, a particular matter receives special praise. This particular point must be regarded as the purpose of the work or speech in question. The method employed here is "arthavada ". If a viewpoint is sought to be established with reasoning it must be treated as the subject of the work concerned. Here you have "upapatti ".

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on July 30, 2014, 07:30:10 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas continued...

Jaimini's Purvamimamsa-sutra is a voluminous work and has twelve chapters, each having a number of "padas" and each pada having a number of "adhikaranas". In all, there are 1000 adhikaranas.If the Vedas are the law that determines how dharma is to be practised, it is jaimini who interprets the meaning of this law. His interpretation is Mimamsa.When there is legal dispute, a verdict is given, say, according to the decision of the Allahabad or Bombay high court based on similar cases.
The decision given by one court with regard to one case may be applied to a similar case that comes up before another court. In Jamini's Mimamsa a thousand issues (or points) are examined, taking into account the views opposed to those of the author of the sutras, and the meaning of the Vedic passage determined with cogent reasoning. To explain: first, a Vedic statement is taken up; second, questions are raised about its meaning ("samasya"); third, the opposing school's point of view is presented ("purvpaksa"); fourth, that point of view is refuted ("uttarpaksa"); and, fifth, a conclusion is arrived at ("nirnaya"). The process of arriving at the meaning of each issue or point constitutes an adhikarana.
The sutras of Jaimini are very terse. Sabara's commentary on them is called Sabaram. The word "sabari" usually means a hunter. "Sabari" of the Ramayana, they say, was originally a huntress. Sabara, the Mimamsa commentator, had an aspect of Isvara in him. It is believed that Isvara composed the commentary (Sabaram) when he appeared as a hunter to grant the Pasupata weapon to Arjuna. Since it has one thousand adhikaranas, Purvamimamsa is called "Sahasradhikarani". One must add here that in this work the meaning of the Vedic texts are determined by countering many a captious argument.
("kuyukti").
While Purvamimamsa concerns itself with the meaning of the karmakanda of the Vedas, Uttaramimamsa deals with the meaning of the jnanakanda that is the Upanisads. The Upanisads speak primarily of the Paramatman and our inseparable union with him. Vyasa, in his Brahmasutra, determines the meaning of the divine law constituted by the Upanisads. Ironically enough, the sage who composed the sutras for Uttaramimamsa, Vyasa, was the guru of Jaimini who composed the sutras of Purvamimamsa.
Suresvaracarya wrote a commentary on the Taittiriya and Brhadaranyaka Upanisads from the non-dualistic point of view. It is note worthy that he had earlier been and adherent of Purvamimamsa. He made the transition from the path of works to the path of jnana, on becoming a disciple of Sankara and wrote a commentary on his guru's bhasya. Before becoming a disciple of our Acarya and a sannyasin he was called Mandanamisra.
The story goes that Sankara approached Mandanamisra for a philosophical disputation during a sraddha performed by the latter. Vyasa and Jaimini were the two Brahmins to take part in the ceremony.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on August 02, 2014, 08:48:48 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas continued...

No Concept of God in Mimamsa

Why should the Acarya have sought a debate with Mandanamisra, the mimamsaka? (A mimamsaka is an adherent of Purvamimamsa. We Uttaramimamsakas are called "Vedantins". ) The Acarya it was who revivified the Vedic religion and reestablished it on a firm footing. Why, then, should such a preceptor have been critical of Mimamsa which is an Upanga of the very Vedas?
Before answering this question, we must consider the goal of any sastra or system, whether it be Mimamsa or anything else. Any discipline, to repeat what I said before, must have the ultimate purpose of leading us towards Isvara. I further observed that even subjects like grammar, lexicography, prosody had such an end in view and that was the reason why they were included among the fourteen branches of Vedic learning.
Now what is the concept of God like in Purvamimamsa?
We must here consider how Vedanta or Uttaramimamsa views God, for it is the system to which is the Acarya gave his wholehearted support and which he also commented upon. After all, it is the Acarya who chiefly matters to us. And to him it is that Vyasa's Brahmasutra matters most.What does this text have to say about Isvara?
The Brahmasutra declares: "Karta sastrarthavattvat. "" It means Isvara is the creator of the cosmos. Even adherents of other religions call God ?Karta ". But Isvara is more than a Karta and has one more function. We do good and bad - good actions and bad actions. It is Isvara who vouchsafes us the fruits of such actions: "Phalam ata upapatteh". Isvara is the "phaladata" (giver of the fruits of our actions) of our karma. We do good and evil with our mind, speech and body. The lord is witness to all
this and he dispenses the fruits of our actions. These are the two characteristics (laksanas) of Isvara according to Uttaramimamsa
.
What does Purvamimamsa say about Isvara?
Both Sankhyas and mimamsakas belong to the Vedic system. But the Sankhyas believe that Isvara is not the Karta or author of the jagat (universe). "Isvara is pure knowledge, jnana, " they say. "This cosmos is insentient, made of earth and stone. What constitutes jnana cannot be the cause of insentient matter. To believe that Isvara is the author of the universe is not right." Such is the Sankhya view. Supporters of Sankhya describe Isvara, who unattached to the universe and is pure jnana, as "Purusa". It is this Purusa that our Acarya calls the ultimate "Nirguna- Brahman" (the Brahman without attributes). However, he criticises the Sankhya concept maintaining that the Nirguna-Brahman itself becomes the Saguna-Brahman of Isvara to create the world and to engage itself in other activities.

To mimamsakas only such rites matter as are enjoined on us by the Vedas. They are silent on the question of Isvara and of who created the world. However they are emphatic on one point - that Isvara is not the one who dispenses the fruits of our actions. They don't quarrel on the point of whether or not Isvara is the Karta of the universe. They declare: "It is wrong to claim that Isvara gives us the fruits of our actions according to whether they are good or evil. He is not the one who metes out the
fruits of our actions. It is the Vedic works performed by us that decide the fruits to be earned by us.
"

So adherents of both Sankhya and Mimamsa, in their different ways, reject the view of the Vedas and the Brahmasutra that Isvara possesses the two laksanas mentioned earlier. The mimamsakas believe that Isvara doesn't dispense the fruits of our actions because, according to them, the Vedic works we perform give rewards on their own. We earn merit or demerit according to how the Vedas and sastras view our actions. So it is our karma that brings its rewards or retribution, as the case may be, not Isvara.

Among the religious systems that accept the Vedas, Sankhyas and Mimamsa alone hold the view that Isvara is not the creator of the world, that he does not award the fruits of our actions.

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on August 04, 2014, 07:19:46 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas continued...

Sankhya

According to Sankhya, the Atman is Purusa and is the basis of all, though, at the same time detached from everything. In its view Maya which keeps everything going is Prakriti. The cosmos is contained in 24 "tattvas" [ principles or categories] of which Prakrti is one- Prakrti is indeed the first of these and it has the name of"pradhana". From it arises the second tattva of "mahat" which is the intellect of Prakrti (like the intellect of man). From mahat (the great) is derived the third tattva of
"ahamkara", the ego, self-consciousness, the feeling that there is a separate entity called "I".

Ahamkara divides itself into two: first as the sentient and knowing life of a man, his mind, his five jnanendriyas and five karmendriyas. The second is constituted by the five "tanmatras" and the five "mahabhutas" of the insentient cosmos. The jnanendriyas are faculties with which a man gets to know outside objects: the eyes that see objects, the nose that smells, the mouth that tastes, the ear that hears and the skin that feels by touch.
With his karmendriyas he performs various actions. The mouth serves as a karmendriya also since it performs the function of speech. The hand, the leg, the anus and the genitals are all karmendriyas. The "asrayas" for jnanendriyas are sound (ear), feeling, sparsa (skin), form (eye), flavour or taste (mouth), smell (nose). These five are tanmatras. The tattvas in their expanded insentient forms are space (sound), air (feeling or touch), water (flavour), earth (smell), fire (form)- these are mahabhutas. Thus Prakrti, mahat, ahamkara, mind, the five jnanendriyas, the five karmendriyas, the five tanmatras, and the five mahabhutas- all these make up the 24 tattvas.
These tattvas are accepted by non-dualistic Vedanta also. According to it, it is Isvara (the Brahman with attributes) who unites Purusa (or the Atman without attributes) with Prakrti or Maya. Sankhya, however, is silent on Isvara.
The three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas, according to the Sankhya philosophy, are accepted by all Vedantic systems including non-dualism.
Sattva denotes a high state of goodness, clarity and serenity; rajas is all speed and action and passion; and tamas denotes sleep, inertia, sloth. The Gita has much to say on the subject in its "Gunatraya-vibhaga yoga". The Lord says: "Nistraigunyo Bhava" (Go beyond all three gunas and dwell in the Atman). Sankhya also believes that all undesirable developments are due to an imbalance of the gunas and that they must be maintained evenly. But, unlike the Gita, Sankhya does not tell us the means to achieve this- like worship of Isvara, surrender to him, Atmic inquiry and so on.
Purusa alone has life, Prakrti is inert. By itself Prakrti is incapable of performing any function. It manifests itself as the 24 tattvas only in the presence of Purusa. But Sankhya also speaks contradictorily that Purusa is "kevala-gnana-swarupin" unrelated to Prakrti. "Kevala" means what is by itself, isolated, without the admixture of anything else. "Kaivalya" is the name Sankhya gives to liberation. The state in which an individual, after discarding the 24 tattvas and being released from inertia, remains in the vital Purusha by himself is "kaivalya".

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Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on August 05, 2014, 07:12:17 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas continued...

Advaita also has the goal of one being absorbed in Purusa, that is the Atman, and discarding all else as Maya. To attain this state, the Acarya has cut out a path for us, the path that takes us to final release through works, devotion and philosophic inquiry. Sankhya does no such thing. Most of its teaching relates to forsaking the 24 tattvas.
Another unsatisfactory aspect of Sankhya is this. Purusa (the Atman) is jnana by itself and has no function. Prakrti has a function but is insentient and without jnana. How does this insentient Prakriti unfold itself as the 24 tattvas? According to Sankhya, this phenomenon occurs in the presence of Purusha. This is not a convincing explanation. How does Prakrti perform its function under Purusha that has no function? Supporters of Sankhya answer: "Are not iron filings brought into motion by the presence of a magnet? Does the magnet consciously want to keep them in motion? The magnet is by itself and the iron filings are in motion. Similarly, though Purusha is by himself, Prakrti is activated as a consequence of its vitality. "
Purusha and Prkrti work together like a cripple carried by a blind man. The cripple cannot walk and the blind man cannot see. So the cripple perched on the shoulders of the blind man shows the way and the latter follows his directions. Similarly, Prakrti which has no jnana carries Purusha who is full of jnana, but Prkrti without jnana is behind all affairs of the world.
This may sound good as a story or a metaphor but it does not make sense unlike the explanation provided by  Advaita - that the Nirguna- Brahman becomes Saguna-Brahman (Isvara) to conduct the world.
Another important difference between Advaita and Sankhya is this.Although Sankhya believes in a Purusa made up of jnana it does not state unequivocally like Advaita that all souls are the same as Purusa. All individual souls, according to Sankhya, exist by themselves. Though the ideas of Sankhya are confusing sometimes, it is regarded as one of our basic systems of philosophy. ("Sankhya? means enumerating, numbers: from it comes Sankhya.)
The author of Sankhya Sutra is Kapila Maharishi. Notable works of this system are Isvarakrsna's Sankhya karika and Vijnanabhiksu's commentary on the Sankhya-sutra.
The Gita too deals with Sankhya. When Bhagavan Krsna speaks of the two paths, Sankhya and Yoga, He means jnana by the former and karmayoga by the latter (not Rajayoga.)
Sankhya does not go beyond asking us to have an awareness of Purusha separate from Prakrti. Rajayoga, however, goes further from this point and tells us the practical means, the "sadhana", to be followed to become aware of Purusa dissociated from Prakrti. The concept of Isvara and devotion to him is part of yoga and it has lessons to bring the mind under control. What generally goes under the name of yoga is Patanjali's Rajayoga, according to which yoga is the stopping the mental process (or the oscillating vitality of consciousness). It is this yoga that has become
popular in Western countries.
Sankhya and yoga are not included in caturdasa-vidya but, all the same, they are important among our sastras.
Though devotion to Isvara is not part of Mimamsa, it accepts the authority of the Vedas. Likewise Sankhya too respects the authority of the Vedas and does not support belief in Isvara.
Title: Re: The Vedas
Post by: Ravi.N on August 08, 2014, 07:22:34 AM
KAnchi mahAswAmi on the vedas-The upangas continued...

Mimamsa and Adi Sankara

Buddhism on the one hand, Nyaya and Mimamsa on the other which were opposed to it, and Sankhya which does not accept Isvara but respects the pramanas of the Vedas: of these our Acarya accepts elements that are to be accepted and rejects elements that are to be rejected. He establishes the Vedantic system which harbours all these and which is their source. Sankara's view is not at variance with the ultimate message of Buddhism, that is the exalted state of jnana. He accepts some of the basic concepts of Sankhya like Purusa that is jnana by itself and equivalent to the Nirguna-Brahman and Prakrti which is the same as Maya. At the same time, he accepts the Vedic rituals of Mimamsa and the Isvara of Nyaya. But he sees each of them as an aspect of the one Truth, not as the final goal which it is to the various individual systems mentioned. He integrates these different aspects into a harmonious whole in his own system of thought.

As we have already seen, Udayana and other supporters of the Nyaya system criticized Buddhism on the score that it was silent on the question of God, while mimamsakas like Kumarilabhatta attacked the same because it did not favour Vedic rituals. The acarya was in sympathy with these views and believed that Vedic sacraments, considered all-important by the mimamsakas were essential to the cleansing of the mind and to the proper conduct of the affairs of the community. However, he was opposed to the mimamsakas not only because they did not accept an entity like Isvara as the dispenser of the fruits of our actions but also because they did not believe that, after being rendered pure by works, there is any need for one to go further and take the path of jnana. He also did not agree with their view that to become a sanyasin giving up all karma is not right.
Kumarilabhatta and Mandanamisra are particularly important among the mimamsakas. The Acarya had a debate with Kumarilabhatta during the last days of that mimamsaka and won him over to his viewpoint. Similarly, Mandanamisra also became a convert to Advaita Vedanta and came to be one of the Acarya's chief disciples assuming the title of Suresvaracarya.
If the Acarya opposed Mimamsa, which is one of the fourteen branches of Vedic lore, it was not because he thought it to be wholly unacceptable. He was in agreement with the sacraments dealt with in that system, but he differed from it on the question of devotion to the Lord. He further believed that the fruits yielded by the rites, rewards like paradise, must be dedicated to Isvara and that in this very act of renunciation the mind is purified. Sankara's teaching is this: it is only if we realise that Isvara is the Phala-data, the one who awards the fruits of our actions, that we will not be tempted by petty rewards like paradise. Only then will we be inspired to go beyond to attain the higher reward of inner purity. The Vedic works were wholly acceptable to our Acarya. But for the mimamsakas they were an end in themselves; they did not transcend them to become devoted to the Supreme Godhead and to acquire jnana, the final realisation that Isvara and we are one and the same. Sankara criticised mimamsakas for their failure to understand this truth. That he did not oppose Vedic karma is proved again by the fact that in his upadesa (teaching) -it is called Sopana-Panchaka- before giving up his body he made the admonishment that the Vedas must be chanted every day and that the rites mentioned in them must be performed.

Vedo nityam adhiyatam
Taduditam karma svanushtiyatham


The Acarya, however, taught us not to stop with karma (performed for the sake of karma), but to go beyond it. The rites that we conduct must be made an offering to Isvara. This is a means of obtaining inner purity and also that of receiving instruction in jnana. That is the time when we must give up all karma to meditate upon the teaching we have received, indeed meditate on it with intensity and make it our inner experiential reality. Sankara takes us, step by step, in this way to final release. He opposed the mimamsakas because they failed to understand the purpose of Vedic karma and refused to go beyond it.

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