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The four Vedas
Vedas: Knowledge for Humanity
How did God reveal the Vedic knowledge?
Ideology of Vedic Teachings
Religion of Humanity
Difference between Humans and Animals
Importance of Religion
Science and Religion

Vedas: Revealed Knowledge

Vedas are not only the most valued, genuine and sacred books of the Hindus but are also the first and foremost books of world literature. They are the storehouse of knowledge. The Hindus regard them as the books of divine knowledge as well as the root of Vedic Sanatan religion. The word “Sanatan” means ‘right from the beginning.’ They are the source of all succeeding Vedic literature. Manu says “Vedo akhilo dharm mulam” i.e. Ved is the main root of all knowledge relating to righteousness.

Many mantras (verses) of the Vedas themselves describe Vedic mantras as having been revealed by God and as such not created by any human being. They sing the dignity and glory of the Vedas.

God has bestowed humans with knowledge for their progress and well-being. It is therefore natural to accept that this knowledge must have been given to humans at the time of creation so that they may follow the path of righteousness.

It is the unanimous view of all the sages and seers of India that the Vedas were revealed at the beginning of human creation.

As far as the subject matter of the Vedas are concerned, Indian scholars maintain that the Vedas teach in short or in detail a wide range of knowledge. This includes knowledge on:

Ø Action and devotion.

Ø Yog (union with God by means of thought and meditation).

Ø Righteousness.

Ø Wealth.

Ø Desires and salvation.

Ø Parigrah (what to accumulate) and tyag (what to give up).

Ø Preya (actions which are appealing to follow but are cause of suffering in the end).

Ø Shreye (path of righteousness which is difficult to follow but leads to eternal happiness).

Ø Bhautik, daivik and adhyatmik (material, relating to nature and spiritual respectively).

Ø Human life and means of its progress and development etc.

There is nothing related to human life, material or spiritual, which has not been referred to in the Vedas.

The four Vedas

Vedic Dharm is the way of life based on the four Vedas.

Discussing the subject matter of the Vedas, Swami Dayanand Saraswati has stated that Vedas deal with four classes of subjects namely:-

- Jyan (knowledge in general).

- Karm (action in general).

- Upasana (communion with God).

- Vijyan (philosophy or metaphysics).

Jyan (knowledge) is the first subject of the Vedas. The Vedas are the store-house of knowledge of two kinds namely, material and spiritual. The origin of Astronomy, Mathematics, Medical Science (Ayurveda), Physics, Botany, Zoology and other subjects, is found in the Vedas.

Karm means all types of actions (activities) physical or mental, with or without a desire for any reward. The Vedas teach all these and explain in short or in detail all aspects and needs of human conduct which may be helpful in making the human life cultured and uplifting. Celibacy, education, relation between the teacher and the student, married life, social order, politics, administration and discipline, governance, charity, goodwill and co-operation, all have been explained in the Vedas. Besides, emphasis has been laid on unity between physical and mental actions as well as knowledge and action. The Vedas instruct humans to attain all the four objects of life viz., righteousness (dharm), wealth (arth), fulfillment of desires (kaam) and salvation (moksh).

Upasana means meditation and communion with the Almighty God. The Vedas have laid emphasis on the worship of God.

Vijyan or metaphysics means realisation or acquiring correct knowledge of all things ranging from the Almighty God to the ordinary blade of grass and tiny insects. Vedic philosophy deals with the nature of existence, truth and knowledge.

The Vedas contain all the knowledge for righteous living. The knowledge is given in the form of formulas. The Rishis developed their knowledge on the basis of these formulas. Similarly, various weapons, transmissions and other technical things have been developed on the basis of these formulas. There are a few formulas working in the universe. They are called RITAM i.e. formulas which remain constant, such as sunrise, sunset, day and night and so on. All these formulas are contained in the Vedas. It depends upon man as to how much he develops them.

The Vedas are written in Sanskrit which was the first language of mankind. But later as groups of people moved all over the world and lost the links, they could not maintain one form of the language and eventually many incorrect words came into existence which constituted a number of languages different from one another. We have examples of such variance even, today. The English language, which is spoken differently in England, India and USA is the best example to explain the theory.

Vedas: Knowledge for Humanity

The Vedas are divine knowledge, given by God for the benefit of all souls. This knowledge has been in existence since the beginning of the human creation. The Vedas are not meant for any particular religion, sect or faith. Their teachings are universal and are for all mankind. Vedic mantras, therefore, should not be interpreted as having their relation with any particular sect or faith. In fact these books contain morals, principles and teachings for the welfare of the entire humanity.

How did God reveal the Vedic knowledge?

The Atharvaved says, “Who is that Great Being who revealed the Rigved, the Yajurved, the Samved and Atharvaved? He is the Supreme Spirit Who created the universe and sustains it.” Again, says the Yajurved “The Great Ruler of the Universe, Who is Self- existent, All-pervading, Holy, Eternal and Formless, has been eternally instructing His subjects - the immortal souls-in all kinds of knowledge for their good through the Vedas.”

One might ask, being formless how could God reveal the knowledge (Ved) without the use of the organs of speech, as in the pronunciation of words the use of such organs as the palate and of a certain amount of effort with the tongue are very important?

God being Omnipresent and Omnipotent does not need the organs of speech in order to reveal the Vedas to the human souls. This is so because the organs of speech, such as the mouth, the tongue and other organs are needed in pronouncing words, only when you want to speak to another person and not when you are speaking to yourself. It is our daily experience that various kinds of mental processes and the formation of words are continually going on in our minds without the use of the organs of speech. Even on shutting your ears with the fingers, you can notice that many different varieties of sound are capable of being heard that are not produced by the use of the organs of speech. In the same way, God instructed human souls and revealed the knowledge by virtue of His Omniscience and Omnipresence, without the use of the organs of speech. After the formless God has revealed the perfect knowledge of the Vedas in the soul of a human being by virtue of His presence within it, human being then teaches it to others through speech.

Thus in the beginning, God revealed the four Vedas to four Rishis (seers). He revealed Rigved to Agni Rishi, Yajurved to Vayu Rishi, Samved to Aditya Rishi and Atharvaved to Angira Rishi while they were in deep meditation. Among all Rishis these four were the purest, therefore God revealed the true knowledge to them only. Then these Rishis passed on this knowledge to others through speech.

Ideology of Vedic Teachings

Vedic Dharm teaches human beings never to hate a person just because the person has a different line of thought. The followers of Vedic Dharm are very tolerant. They see one and same God existing in every person. They feel the very soul they have, in each creature, even in animals and insects. They give importance to the soul and not to the physical things like sex and colour. They believe that human beings can be united only on spiritual level. They want the peace which prevailed in the Vedic period, when there was only one religion - the Religion of Humanity and all lived in harmony assisting each other in good and bad times.

A Vedic Dharm follower prefers spiritual progress to the material one in all his/her actions. He/she knows that it is the soul which is more important in the world and not the body, because the body is destroyed after death and the immortal soul enters a new body in the next birth, according to its deeds. He/she also knows that it is wrong to think that there is no other birth or that the soul is also destroyed with the body.

A Vedic Dharm follower fears committing sins because he/she knows that once the sin is committed he/she has to suffer the consequences either in this life or next births. He/she uses his/her body, family, society and the world as the means for spiritual upliftment. He/she knows that God has created this world for the elevation of his/her soul and not for enjoyment alone. For a Vedic Dharm follower, “freedom from bondage of life and death” is the main objective of life and he/she tries to attain purity and perfection in the present birth which would bring him/her that freedom and salvation. He/she knows that it is foolish to seek pleasure in the worldly things like drugs, drinks or sex because pleasures are just temporary and nothing but temptations. They all result in various diseases and miseries. Therefore, a Vedic Dharm follower prefers spiritual bliss to these momentary pleasures which, in fact are obsessions, and tries to avoid them as much as possible. He/she knows that these obsessions look very attractive but they lead us to disaster. He/she knows that God has given him/her intellect to use his/her discretion in the right way. He/she knows that the right thing is that which brings him/her spiritual progress and eternal bliss and the one which tempts him/her towards physical pleasures is wrong.

Religion of Humanity

According to Vedic philosophy there is only one religion - the Religion of Humanity. This religion was given by God to human beings, after the world was created. The Religion of Humanity has been explained in the Vedas which were revealed by God.

A true religion is one which applies to all men and women without any discrimination. For example, ‘do not steal’ is one of the principles of religion. This saying applies to everyone in the world. The teachings of a religion are there to make all human beings righteous people. There is only one religion and that is the Religion of Humanity. All the people should follow this religion if they want happiness and peace.

Religion of Humanity comprises of a number of qualities and characters which a person must possess to be righteous. The main ones according to Manusmriti are as follows:

1. DHRITI - patience, firmness and stability.

2. KSHAMA - tolerance and forgiveness.

3. DAM - self-control and contentment.

4. ASTEY - not to steal or conceal, unselfishness.

5. SHAUCH - cleanliness, purity and honesty.

6. INDRIYA NIGRAH - control of senses, control of desires, celibacy.

7. DHEE - experience gained from the actions based on true knowledge.

8. VIDYA - knowledge (material and spiritual).

9. SATYAM - truth.

10. AKRODH - not to get angry, avoiding tension.

Righteous person is one who follows the above qualities in thoughts, words and actions.

Difference between Humans and Animals

The Vedic philosophy states that it is only the practise of righteousness that differentiates humans from animals. The shlok “Ahar nidra bhay maithunam cha samanyam etad pashubhih naranam. Dharmo hi tesham adhiko vishesho dharm hina pashubhih samana” says that instincts of eating, sleeping, being fearful and reproducing are same in both humans and animals. Those who follow the path of righteousness are regarded as humans and those who do not are regarded as animals.

In other words humans eat, so do animals, humans sleep so do animals, humans are fearful of certain things so are animals and humans reproduce and so do animals. These instincts and actions are same in humans and animals. If our instincts and actions are limited as to those of animals then we cannot be classified as humans. Animals cannot differentiate right from wrong. They function by God given natural instincts. They cannot develop their natural instincts like humans. A human being tries to learn a variety of true knowledge and skills and puts them to right use so that he/she can attain happiness, peace and finally salvation. God has provided human beings with all the necessary things to uplift their physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual life. Animals cannot rise above their natural instincts.

Importance of Religion

The purpose of following the path of religion is to attain salvation. The road to emancipation goes through this world only. The Gita says that a person “who could not learn how to free himself from vices in this very world can never attain salvation.” Salvation means freedom from bondage which means freedom from the cycle of life and death for a long period of time. How can a person, who could not free himself/ herself from very petty things of the world like passions, unnecessary desires, bad habits, worries, tensions and sufferings, think of breaking the strong invisible chains of bondage? It means that we must, first of all, relieve ourselves from these worldly vices which so easily overpower us in our day-to-day life. This can be done only when we put the religious principles into our daily practice, because it will then refine our brain and mind and consequently our conduct and behaviour. This will as a result free us from worldly miseries.

Nobody can expect to get out of this worldly trap without taking the help of religion. The elements of religion like speaking the truth, practising non-violence, doing away with bad habits, behaving with affection and love are all meant to be practised daily and at all times. Then only can we have spiritual refinement. Thus there is no doubt that religion is not a thing of fashion or show; it is a part and parcel of our daily lives.

Science and Religion

The concepts of Vedic religion are very scientific. Vedic religion is based not only on faith, but on reason too. It explains the fundamental laws of the universe which are nothing but science. This religion, just like science, follows the procedure of observation, analysis and conclusion. All the Rishis followed these three scientific steps to finalize the religious principles.

These Rishis like scientists, saw the Eternal Law in the universe, which is called Truth and preached it to the human-beings. The Vedic religion says, “if you want to realise God, follow His Eternal Law which is explored by the scientists and explained by the Rishis on the basis of the information given by God in the Vedas”. God created this world, which runs according to the Eternal Law made by Him. He Himself explained these laws in His revelation - the Vedas - which the Rishis realised and explained in simple terms for the benefit of the common person. The scientists explored these very principles through their wisdom, which were ca1led scientific principles. Therefore, the Vedas and the Vedic religion is nothing but science.

However, some people preached things on their own. They did not know the Vedas; nor were they scientists. Hence, their preaching went against science and the Eternal Law. They are based on ignorance and blind faith. The Vedic religion, which is called Vedic Dharm, comprises .of two kinds of teachings - one meant for material progress (abhyuday) and another for spiritual progress (nishreyas,). We may say that religion is made up of two sciences - spiritual science and material science. Both are necessary for human beings.

Material science affects communion with the matter and the Eternal Law which is maintaining the universal system while spiritual science makes a person mentally, intellectually and spiritually progressive and affects communion with God. The aim of material science is to acquire knowledge of the universe and its law and its application in the material world, while the aim of the spiritual science is to acquire realisation of the spiritual world running according to that very Eternal Law and application of these laws in life. As a result a person never deviates from the divine path.

It is shocking that material science today has moved away from its real objective. This may be so because it has discarded the spiritual science. In other words, it has isolated itself from religion. It must be borne in mind that material science without religion is fatal for mankind. Similarly, the spiritual science based on blind faith only, leads a person to the path of destruction. This kind of faith never leads a person towards God.

Adapted from ‘Dharmic Shiksha (Vedic Religious Knowledge) – Form Six & Seven’, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, 2005.
Copyright: Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji

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