Author Topic: The Vedas  (Read 17897 times)

Nagaraj

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #30 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.

--
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Hari

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #31 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?
Web Page dedicated to the Great Sages:
https://someoneelsebg.000webhostapp.com/Sages/HTML.html

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #32 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.

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #33 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....

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #34 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.

continued...

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #35 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.

continued...

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #36 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
.

continued....

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #37 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....

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #38 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....

Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #39 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.

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Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #40 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.

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Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #41 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. . . . . . . ".

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Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #42 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?

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Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #43 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.

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Ravi.N

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Re: The Vedas
« Reply #44 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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