Author Topic: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -  (Read 1887 times)

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« on: February 09, 2016, 03:03:31 PM »

(The above article appeared in Aradhana 2005 issue of Mountain Path.)

The Vedas are considered the highest revelation and authority in Hinduism. Orthodox philosophical
systems and religious authorities in India acknowledge their absolute truth and validity for all time,
and revere them as ultimate authority in any controversy.  No human source can be attributed to them
and they are considered to be of divine origin, revealed to the Rishis of ancient times.  The Vedas
were a strictly oral tradition and among pundits today it is Brahma Rishi Vyasa who is considered to be
the 'compiler' of the four extant texts, Rk, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana.  For thousands of years the
four were chanted solely without being written down. The term Sruti (meaning what is heard) is used to
refer to these holy texts which ultimately communicate the nature of Absolute Truth in the metaphysical
sphere.  Sound emanates as 'the Word' (nama) and can be said to precede Rupa (form). The beginning
of the Gospel of St.John states this truth in a similar manner.   
       

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2016, 10:08:48 AM »
The vibration which is generated by the holy sounds is spiritual in nature and counters the dark forces
of inert matter in an effort to uplift creation.  The universal mantra AUM, now known throughout
the world, is the essential spiritual vibration of the universe.  Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas,
is said to have been revealed and it is claimed that the sounds of that form in 50 letters and perfect
grammar are unique. Even Western philologists study it as a great revelation in the course of human
history.

There is a school of research today which refutes the notion that Sanskrit originated in Central Asia
or the Caucasus and was transported to India during the 'Aryan Invasion'.  The idea was propounded
in the late nineteenth century by Western philologists, some of whom had never visited India. It is
currently argued that Sanskrit was indigenous and that its texts go  back several thousand years.
European languages quite possibly developed from Sanskrit and not the reverse.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2016, 10:05:56 AM »
A great many hymns, ceremonies and philosophical matters are contained in the Vedas, the principal
section of each Veda being Samhita (hymns), Brahmanas (ceremonies), and Aranyaka (philosophical
treatises). The Upanishads are usually contained in the last section, known as 'forest dialogues', since
they were imparted by Rishis mostly living in forest ashrams.

The highest philosophical thought in India is revealed in the Upanishads of which 108 are extant today.
Of these 10 major Upanishads are widely studied and known.  Sri Sankara's commentaries on these
texts from the eighth century A.D.are available to scholars and are considered one of the pillars of the
last school of philosophy to emerge, i.e. Advaita Vedanta. The portion of the Vedas referring to 'knowledge'
is called Jnana Kanda, while the portion that deals with the rituals and sacrifices is termed Karma Kanda.
It is generally agreed that a spiritual seeker must first purify himself through a self less process of karma,
according to his dharma and that he can then pass on to Jnana Kanda.

Today the Rig and Yajur Vedas are the most commonly known and chanted, followed by the Sama Veda.
The Atharvana Veda is slowly disappearing. The Rig Veda is the 'root'  Veda and contains many hymns
to various gods of Hindu pantheon including, Indra, Rudra, Saraswati, Vishnu, etc., The other Vedas
contain many mantras from the Rig Veda.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2016, 10:29:03 AM »
The Yajur Veda has two well known derivatives that are chanted today, the Sukla and the Krishna
(White and Black), dealing mostly with rituals.  At all Siva temples where Vedic ritual is performed,
parts of the Veda known as Chamakam, Namakam, Rudram, etc., are used in pujas.  Participants
often know these sections by heart.  The Krishna Yajur Veda consists of 44 prashna (chapters) which
in turn are divided into 7 kandas (major divisions) in the Samhita, 28 in the Brahmana, divided into
3 ashtakas (including 3 prashnas called katakams) and 10 in the Aranyaka.  In this last section the
final 4 chapters are Upanishads.

The chanting style of the Sama Veda is very melodious and is reminiscent of the Gregorian chant
in the Christian monastic tradition.

To this day, the Vedas are passed down from the generation to generation, from a Brahmin teacher
to a male Brahmin student in a continuous lineage from its originators, the great Brahma Rishis.
In fact a young boy when initiated during the Upanayanam or 'thread' ceremony is given his Gotra,
or lineage, which links him to the great ancient sages like Vasishata and Viswamitra. The Gayatri
mantra is imparted at this time  and should be repeated 108 times daily during the sandya
(junctures of the day) - sunrise, noon and sunset. This mantra appears in all four Vedas and was
considered to be very secret. In fact, traditionally the Vedas were not to be heard by non Brahmins.
Formerly this was strictly observed and the purity of the tradition was maintained but during the
20th century, especially after independence from Britain,. when Hindu social laws and customs
changed considerably, secrecy was no longer maintained to such an extent.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 01:36:11 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 11:14:37 AM »
The school where a young boy is sent, the Veda Patasala is run even today on the ancient system
of Gurukula, where the boy is given over to the guru by his parents for all further study.  It is a rigorous
course of training, where 7 year old boys (some start younger) start their lessons at 5.00 am. with chanting
lasting for at least 8 hours a day.  No doubt a prodigious memory is required.  Some outstanding students
can memorize an entire page within two or three readings.  The course takes around 7 to 8 years for a\
normal student, but some take much longer and some drop out mid way and take up other work, or
practice as priests in small temples.

On completion of his studies a student is qualified to be called Veda-Vit, or Yajur Vedi. No other subjects
are usually taught at this stage, since a great deal of attention is required for accurately memorizing
and correctly chanting the Vedas. The prescribed religious observances  are carried on by all students
together with their course work in the school day.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2016, 01:19:53 PM »
Teaching techniques differ according to the tradition of the teacher.  The following remarks will shed some
light on the process.  First, of course, the alphabet must be learned and here there is a difference between
South India and North India.  In the South grantha script is used, while in the North, it is the devanagari,
the usual Sanskrit alphabet.  The Brahmanas are usually learned first since these mantras are simpler and
easier for grasp.  The teacher recites one Vakya, (line) and the student repeats it twice.  For a normal student
10 to 30 lines may be given, but for an outstanding student up to 500 lines.  This will continue for 9 days,'
during which a student is expected to repeat the lesson at least 100 times per day.  Once the Samhitas
are taken up, they are taught 50 padas (words) at a time. This is called a panchashati.  There are 2195
panchshatis in the 7 kandas of the Samhita of the Krishna Yajur Veda.  There is no doubt that very strong
samskaras play an important part concerning the innate ability of the student.  At the level of ghanam
(the most advanced chant form), one can almost be assured that samskaras from a previous life are at
work, since this very exacting mode of chanting cannot be taken up by most students.

At Sri Ramanasramam the Krishna Yajur Veda was chanted twice a day when Bhagavan was in the body.
This tradition is carried on at His Samadhi to this day. Before the Veda Patasala was founded at Sri
Ramanasramam, pundits from town would come to chant in front of Bhagavan and all accounts of His life
mention that at the 5 p.m. session of the Veda Parayanam, Bhagavan would sit rock-like and the silence
and grace that were present would be apparent to even casual visitors.  He commented that listening to the
Vedas had a calming effect on His mind, which is a precondition for any meditation practice, as well as
Atma vichara,  His most well known method.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2016, 10:15:41 AM »
Today, at Sri Ramanasramam, the Veda Patasala has around 20 students and slowly the 'career' of being a
pundit is regaining its former respect and status. About a hundred years ago, due to economic conditions
of times, Brahmins had to abandon their dharma as pundits and priests and engage in worldly pursuits,
usually in posts as civil servants with the British administration.  They could not make a living from the
traditional way of life and slowly the tradition degenerated and fewer boys were brought into a formal study
of the Vedas.  The situation has currently reversed and today pundits can earn a very reasonable income,
as they are invited to all types of ceremonies throughout the country, including household rituals and marriage
functions. Of course, many Brahmins have now totally abandoned their links with the Vedas as a modern education in English is the standard of success in modern Indian society. Many boys are not taught the basic
texts and have no knowledge of Sanskrit or religious duties,  but one still sees a few modern young men in
Western dress chanting happily in front of Bhagavan's Samadhi, no doubt due to the influence of their parents
fostering a more 'religious' and traditional way of life.

When qualified, a student will either continue studying rituals and become a priest, or follow further study
and eventually become a pundit. This latter tradition involves chanting in more complicated modes and
each additional level may take two or three years longer, depending on the ability of the student. Pundits
are usually invited to special religious events at large temples or to important feasts and festivals.  In
Tiruvannamalai at Arunachaleswarar Temple, the main Siva temple. Veda Parayanam in the 'kramam'
mode of the Krishna Yajur Veda is chanted for 9 days by 25 pundits during the 10 day Kartogao Deepam
festival. Sama Veda and Rig Veda are also chanted by smaller groups.  In 1995, the entire Samhita in the
ghanam mode was chanted in Sri Ramanasramam (New Hall) by an eminent Vedic scholar, lasting 32
days, eight hours per day. In recent years, groups of 4 to 6 pundits are occasionally invited for special
parayanam, usually lasting 4 to 6 days, with some sessions lasting 2 to 3 hours, for a total of 6 hours per day.
       
contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 01:49:33 PM by Subramanian.R »

Sadhak

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2016, 11:53:39 PM »
You are right. Quality priests are in demand today and income is not an issue at all. However there is still one problem for these boys that I have noticed. Most educated/middle class women/girls still refuse to marry them. Being college educated they do not wish to marry priests. We can only hope this mindset also changes in the future.

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2016, 11:09:15 AM »
After the normal chanting called Padam and Moolam, the next level is termed Kramam, which is still
not too complicated and most good students master it.  The last two modes called Jattai and Ghanam
are particularly difficult. The last mode is achieved by very few pundits. They are called Ghanapatins.
The rules for the more complex types of chanting are given in two texts not within the Vedas, called
Pratasakra and Uyasa Siksha. A more detailed explanation of a mantra in different modes will be given
later.

A fully qualified Ghanapatin may continue to study Vedanga, i.e.the limbs of the Veda.  This includes
the following six disciplines:  Siksha (phonetics); Nirukta (lexicon and etymology); Kalpa (Rituals);
Lakshanam (Grammar); Jyotisha (Astrology and Astronomy); and Chandas (Prosody or versification).

There are  different levels and specializations in all these disciplines, and major Mutts, such as
Sringeri and Kanchipuram, carry out tests and give certification that a certain level of knowledge and
proficiency has been achieved. Eventually a highly trained and qualified pundit becomes a well known
teacher in his own right and is recognized throughout India for his erudition.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2016, 10:24:40 AM »
To give an idea of the level that may be reached, one can point to Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni,
Bhagavan's foremost disciple in the Vedic tradition.  At the age of about 8, Ganapati Muni started
uttering Sanskrit poetry spontaneously and eventually was given the title of Kavyakanta, which
means 'one who has poetry flowing from his throat' i.e. an extempore poet. He was also a chaturvedi
meaning he knew all four Vedas and it was later remarked by Bhagavan that Ganapati Muni's memory
was such that he had almost 'total recall' of all events that had occurred in the Asramam.  Even at this
level of erudition, Ganapati Muni recognized that Bhagavan was not only a Rishi, but a 'great Rishi',
i.e.a Maharshi and changed His name to 'Ramana Maharshi' (he was previously known as Brahmana
Swami). Bhagavan had never studied Sanskrit, yet He could utter perfect poetic compositions, with
such deep and terse meaning that they were considered by Kavyakanta to be comparable to the
Upanishads.  Throughout the rest of his life, Bhagavan was consulted by great pundits from all over
India, who went away convinced that Bhagavan was indeed a Maha Rishi.

Pundits who pass their entire lives chanting the Vedas are going through a process of purification and
some of them report that even in their sleep the holy utterances carry on.  The audiences and sponsors
of the Yagnas and other parayanams are also being purified and accumulate merit, but one can also
say that the chanting benefits the entire world.  One interesting fact worth mentioning is that in the
poornaahuti at the end of homa, the pundit symbolically surrenders his ego into the sacred fire.

 
Arunachala Siva.   
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 02:29:06 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2016, 10:52:25 AM »
In Sri Adi Shankara's Viveka Choodamani, it is stated that it is difficult to obtain a human birth, more
difficult to be born a Brahmin, more difficult still to walk the path of Vaidika Dharma in which the Vedas
are chanted, but still more difficult to become a perfect scholar.  Yet it is pointed out that all of this is
still not enough 'to attain wisdom born of experience of the Self', which is what Bhagavan intimately knew
for which it is not necessary to follow the path described above.

One comment worth quoting with respect to the reason for the more complex types of chanting was
made by the late Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram Mutt, Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswati, who was
recognized throughout India as a saint and sage.

'Our forefathers devised a number of methods to preserve the unwritten Vedas in their original form,
to safeguard their tonal and verbal purity.  They laid down rules to make sure that not a syllable was
changed in chanting...  and they insured that the full benefits were derived from intoning the mantras.

'When we listen to the Ghanapatin chant the Ghanam we notice he intones a few words of the mantra
in different ways, back and forth.  It is most delightful to the ear.  Similarly, in other methods of chanting
like  Krama, Jata, Moola, and so on the intonation is nothing less than stately, indeed divine.'  (Hindu
Dharma - Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.)

As a small example of the various modes of chanting, a simple mantra is transliterated below, giving the
principal forms that are taught and chanted:

Namo Somaya cha (moolam)
Namo Somaya somaya cha (kramam)
Namo somaya somaya namo, nama somaya (jattai)
Nama somaya somaya, namo, nama somaya cha-cha somaya namo, nama somaya cha (ghanam)

In Jattai two words are joined in the chanting and each word is repeated six times, while in Ghanam there
words are joined together and each word is repeated thirteen times.  A rough guide to the sequence
in which Ghanam, is chanted is given below:

1-2-2-1-1-2-3-3-2-1-1-2-3-2-3-3-2-2-3-4-4-3-2-2-3-4-3-4-4-3-3-4-5-5-4-3-3-4-5.

contd.,
     
Arunachala Siva.       
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 03:26:11 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43615
    • View Profile
Re: Veda Parayanam - Eduardo Linder -
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2016, 03:37:42 PM »
There are, of course, different tones, lengths of syllable chanted, emphasis of particular sounds and volumes
uttered, ranging from faint, whispers to great bellowing sounds which literally 'shake the walls'.
While the chanting alternates between two groups, it is termed as Charchai. Ghanam can only be chanted
for the Samhita portion of the Vedas.  A very interesting and advanced technique of chanting is called
Varna Kramam known only to highly qualified Ghanapatins. Even though it sounds rather simple, it is
very difficult as each word in the Vedas is slowly analyzed for its deeper significance, starting from where
in the body the sound originates, how it travels up through the throat and finally how the tongue is positioned
to utter the holy sound.  The purpose is to maintain the purity of the chanting and it is possible to ascertain
very precisely whether a pundit is chanting a specific pada correctly or not.  Some eminent pundits know
Varna Kramam for every single word in the Vedas.

This description does not of course communicate the experience of listening intently to the Vedas chanted
directly, where often a state of immense peace is felt by the listener, highlighting the divine origin of these
great ancient texts.  Bhagavan stated that merely listening to the Vedas, even without understanding them,
was sufficient to purify the listeners and to alter their state of consciousness to a deeper level within themselves.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.