Beyond Bygone

Eternal in essence

The Vedas and Upanishads are the oldest storehouses of knowledge that answer complex realities of human life

Eternal in essence

The Upanishads are the last layer of texts in the Vedas. The early part, called Samhitas and the commentary, called the Brahmanas are together identified as karma-kanda, while Aranyakas and Upanishads are referred to as the jnana-kanda. Upanishads and Vedas, though widely confused for each other, are two different terms. In fact, Upanishads are parts of Vedas.

Saint Ved Vyas divided the eternal Veda into four parts — the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda — that suit the four stages in a man's life. The Yajur-Veda is further divided into the Shukla and the Krishna.

Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedas, written in India between about 1500 and 1000 BCE. It contains 1028 hymns and 10,600 verses divided into 10 mandalas (books). The hymns are dedicated to Rigvedic deities and discuss cosmology too. The verses are recited to date in various ceremonies. The Rig Veda says that the gods created the varna system by sacrificing the primal Purusha. His mouth became the Brahmin, his arms Kshatriyas, his thighs Vaishyas, and his feet became Shudras.

It is hard to believe, that the earliest known surviving copies of the Rig Veda and Atharva Veda are currently kept at the Bhandarkar Oriental Institute in Pune, Maharashtra, India. This is unmatched in the world.

The purpose of the Vedas can be learnt by reading from the Puranas like Srimad Bhagavatam, the Gitopanishad or Bhagavad Gita which is the essence of all Vedic literature.

The Vedas speak about the existence of only one Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient God who is absolutely formless, ever unmanifest and who never assumes human form.

The fourth Veda or Atharva Veda — believed to be a late addition — is the "knowledge storehouse of atharvāṇas, the procedures for everyday life. The Atharva Veda is deemed to be an encyclopaedia for medicine, and Ayurveda (the science of life) is considered as its Upveda (supplementary subject).

According to Vedic scriptures, all the Vedas are eternal and appeared from a supreme entity. For most authentic Vedic interpretation, one must rely only on a person who is a learned scholar of Vedic Sanskrit, has a devotion to Vedas, has read it from a highly learned Sanskrit scholar, and devoted his whole life to learning and preaching Vedas. Swami Dayananda Saraswati perhaps tops among such holy persons.

Knowledge of a meaningful and purposeful existence is essential for all civilizations in all periods of time. The Vedas are the greatest storehouse of knowledge ever known to mankind with undying relevance.

Owing to the peculiar historical past of India, the relevance and teaching of the Vedas has become almost extinct. With the coming of invaders over centuries, we were fed with everything that did not belong to us earlier. Western civilization has become the epitome of all human learning, knowledge, progress and understanding.

We are made to believe that science means modern science, history means modern history, medicine means modern medicine; as they were evolved in the west. The emphasis to date is on the empirical data and knowledge but not the complete knowledge in its purest form.

The Vedas encompass spiritual, scientific and intellectual knowledge. From life and death to nature's secrets. Reading the Vedas with an open mind and understanding gives one the answers to questions that are unanswered by modern knowledge. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are the essence of Vedas. Moksha is considered the highest goal of human life and is impossible without acquiring the knowledge of absolute reality. Vedas form the basis of our philosophical knowledge.

The writer is the Chief Public Relations Officer to the CM of Telangana. Views expressed are personal

Next Story
Share it