How our ancient rishis preserved the Vedas flawlessly

Published on: Pragyata   

The ancient sacred scriptures of Hinduism were not found engraved on a native rock, embossed on cast metal, papyrus material, or any birch bark manuscripts. In Hinduism, we do not have any founder or any emergence dates like with the Semitic religions or even Indic offshoots like Buddhism or Jainism. We also do not know the any events. So questions comes, how far we need to go to find traces of Hinduism.

What we find in Hinduism is a huge volume of ancient sacred texts preserved by great seers for several millenniums. These rishis passed down their vast knowledge and our heritage from century to century from their deep memories. This knowledge was transferred through many ages by the teachers to their disciples, without ever writing them down and was later organised by Veda Vyasa rishi.

The word Veda (वेद) is made from the word ‘Vid’ which means “knowledge” in Sanskrit are the oldest sacred text available. This is the reason why Vedas as termed as ‘Anantha vai Vedaah’ (अनंता वै वेदा:), i.e. Vedas are infinite. All other scriptures in Hinduism are derived or inherited from the Vedas. Vedas are also called as Anaadi (अनादि), one which has no beggining or end and hence eternal. Vedas are the primary and authoritative source of knowledge and are also known as Shruti literature, one “which is heard and should be remembered” by the rishis from god.

As the bedrock of Hinduism, we all know the authoritative division of the Vedas is fourfold: Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda. This sacred knowledge is passed through generations, ages, millenniums without any slightest alteration and adjustment in it. But questions come how it is possible even?

These scriptures and sacred texts are so enormous that if we take the Rigveda alone, it is mentioned it had from 5 to 21 Shakhas (शाखा) in the Vedic period. Shakhas can be said as branches or schools. Out of all the Rigveda’s branch names mentioned in the scriptures; only one is to be said is available today, known as Shakala (शाकल). Combined mantras found in the Rigveda is more than 10500 (the present-day partitioning of Rigveda is done in ten different mandalas marked from 1 to 10). Ponder the number of sacred scriptures and texts which would have been available during the ancient period if alone the Rigveda was so enormous.

How would it have been possible to memorise the enormous number of mantras, suktas with the correct sound, melody, and tone in Vedic scriptures? How did our ancient seers/rishis pass down the sacred scriptures, vast knowledge for many centuries without even the slightest alteration and modification in them? This almost seems impossible, if we consider how in the present day we fumble after practising the mantras for decades.

Even UNESCO has declared the Oral Tradition of Vedas in India as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in the year 2003.

Taking one part of mantra which we all know “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं) which appeared in the Maha Upanishad (Chapter 6, Verse 72) and “means the world is one family”. The  complete mantra of this is:

”अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसां उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं ”

A slight change in the one accented syllable/tone will entirely change the meaning of the sentence. So the question is, how did ancient seers preserve these scriptures orally for so many centuries.

To find the solution to this, ancient seers developed unique ways to preserve these eternal mantras. They used different styles of recitation methods. Some of these techniques which are still known to us are called as padapathas (पदपाठ). These recitation methods were designed in such a way that the scriptures and sacred texts, their pronunciation including the Vedic pitch and accent were memorised perfectly while maintaining the purity of the text. Some of the most common methods of reciting are Samhita, Jata, Pada, Krama, Sikha, Rekha, Danda, Ratha, Dhwaja and Ghana.

They were designed in such a way that accuracy in recitation and transmission of Vedas from one generation to the next generation was accurately preserved. Some of these techniques are mentioned below:

Samhita (patha): In this method, syllable and complete mantras were chanted in the original form with no special pattern or changes adopted. Recitation of words leaping with its original phonetic sound, tone rules of chorus and intonation.

Jata (patha): In this, every two adjoining words/Shabd (शब्द) in the mantras were first recited in their original sequence, then repeated in reverse, and finally repeated again in the original sequence. The recitation proceeds throughout the mantra as next words are introduced. Example => word1, word2; word2, word1; word1, word2; word2, word3, word3, word2, word2, word3 and so on.

Prakrti (patha): This recitation was marked by a conscious pause after every word, and after any special grammatical codes embedded inside the text; this method suppresses and restores each word in its original intended form.

Krama (patha): In this step by step recitation was followed, where syllable combined are paired successively and sequentially. Then the mantras were recited. the first word of the mantra is added to the second, the second to the third, the third to the fourth and so on, until the whole sentence of the mantras is completed. If we try it would be as word1, word2; word2, word3; word3, word4; and so on.

Ghana (paṭha): In this method, each syllable is repeated up-to 13 times in a format such as:

word1; word2; word2; word1; word1, word2, word3; word3, word2, word1; word1, word2, word3;

word2, word3; word3, word2; word2, word3, word4; word4, word3, word2; word2, word3, word4;

word3, word4; word4, word3; word3, word4, word5; word5, word4, word3; word3, word4, word5;

word4, word5; word5, word4; word4, word5, word6; word6, word5, word4; word4, word5, word6;

What is really depressing now is that despite so much effort put in by the ancient seers to preserve these Vedas, for many millennia for the benefit of mankind, presently even with all our modern technology and preservation technique only a very limited number of people know or have the inclination to greasp these great scriptures.

Published Date : 29 Apr 2020                                                       

 

Forgotten scriptures – The Vedas

Published on:  Opindia

There is no culture or civilization in the world history which has not practiced any religion. When we study the ancient history of the oldest and the earliest civilizations or culture of the world, we do not find exact dates or the traces of the events with accuracy. But with the help of preserved manuscripts, stone inscriptions, artifacts, objects, and archaeological findings, we can find high-level traces of the civilization and its religion. Few of such examples of the very oldest religions of the world are like Taoism in Chinese, Sumerian religion, Zoroastrianism of Iran, etc. Similarly for most of the religions, we find a lot of information about the founders of religion, beginning period, whereabouts, background, etc. And all this has a major role in the religious beliefs, prophecies, transcendental or spiritual elements,  practice, its core values, etc.

Taking all this into consideration, if we check the oldest records of Hinduism, it is very different to equate it with all other religions.  

In the Indian subcontinent the oldest scriptures, sacred texts of Hinduism were not found in any written form or carved on stones. The scriptures of Hinduism was not recorded in any papyrus material. In Hinduism, we do not find any founder or any beginning dates unlike Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. We do not find any whereabouts of beginning of Hinduism.

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What we find about Hinduism is a vast amount of scriptures and texts that were preserved by great seers for many-many centuries and millenniums. These seers/Rishis safeguarded the sacred heritage and vast amount of knowledge from century to century in their memory and heart. It was passed through many generations by the Gurus (teachers) to their pupils without even writing them. Which is almost impossible if we think in the present day, keeping in a notice about the amount of text and the complexity of the language. And it was passed from generation to generation without any slightest alteration and modification in it. This knowledge was later organized by the great seers and scholars and known as Vedas (वेद).

The Vedas are the oldest sacred text available not only in Hinduism but to mankind, as far as known till date. That can be a reason, it is said

‘Anantha vai Vedaah’ (अनंता वै वेदा:)

Means, Vedas are infinite. Vedas are endless and Infinite. The knowledge in Vedas has neither the beginning nor the ending. As this sacred knowledge was deep-rooted thousands of years back. There are no great scriptures than Vedas. There could more interpretations varying on the degree of the scholarly person who must be translating or interpreting it but it is the text of divine knowledge. All other scriptures are derived from the Vedas. Vedas are also called as Anādi (अनादि). Anadi means the thing which always existed even before the time started and will remain forever. Which means it is having no beginning or end. It is eternal.

‘Veda apaurusheya’  (वेद अपौरुषेय)

The Vedas are ultimate truths and not created or composed by a person. They are created by Brahman (Supreme Being). So the origin of Vedas cannot be traced. Since there are some Mantras that are associated with the names of sages, we may inference that they may have been composed of them. But it is not so as a matter of fact. “apaurusheya” means not the work of any man.

 

Vedas are the most authoritative of all the text in Hinduism. In all other Hinduism texts like Puranas, Bhagwat Gita and epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana also talks about the greatness and essence of Vedas. Bhagwat Gita is one of the most popular texts in Hinduism and also most translated, published scripture in Hinduism. Bhagwat Gita is composed in Sanskrit and it means Song of God. In Bhagwat Geta, Lord Krishna himself says

that:

वेदानां सामवेदोऽस्मि देवानामस्मि वासव: |

इन्द्रियाणां मनश्चास्मि भूतानामस्मि चेतना ||

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 10, Verse 22                                  

I am the Sāma Veda amongst all the Vedas available, I am Indra amongst all the celestial gods.

What really sad is, we are not much aware of our Vedas. How many among us know Vedas? Most of us do not know anything more than- names of the four Vedas; what else…. it is the oldest scriptures known to mankind; it is written around 1500 BC by Aryans; it is written in Vedic Sanskrit. We know about Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata thanks to all the available sources like- our daily soap televisions, mythology books, stories from our grandparents.

There are some Myths around why people not studying Vedas, few common answers are:

1.) Vedas and Upanishads are difficult to understand and the only great guru, teacher, Sanskrit scholars can only understand it.

2.) Vedas and Upanishads are boring. Mostly it talks about how to praise God, nature or answer of questions like who am I, what is the purpose of my life, etc.

But the question comes, have we ever tried to understand the essence of Vedas/Upanishads, the most important fundamental and the authoritative scriptures/element of Hinduism?

Published Date : 9 April 2020                                                         

     

What does the Vedas teach us, in this Pandemic

Published On: Opindia 

Our newly emerged worst enemy from China has brought the whole world to its knees. More than 2.5 million people have been infected worldwide, in this pandemic so far. Almost one-third of the human population is living under lockdown currently. A new type of psychosomatic experimentation is being conducted on humankind in this pandemic. No one knows the aftermath of this pandemic and when it is going to end. But one question is arising certainly,

Where is God in this Pandemic?

In some religions, they are saying, the coronavirus itself is an act of God, some are saying it is a deed of human punishment. Honestly, we do not know, but undoubtedly many customs followed in Hinduism, is beneficial to fight with this novel Coronavirus and the western world is supporting it wholeheartedly. The practices which were mentioned in the oldest scriptures of Hinduism in Vedas are scientifically proven in reducing the spreading of the deadly virus. The whole world is following Hinduism practices more than ever before this pandemic.

One such precaution to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 is ‘Namaste’ (Namaskaram), and it is becoming a global salutation trend now. More and more people, especially global leaders are doing namaste rather than a handshake, kissing, or bowing. Recently some of the top world leaders like Prince Charles, Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron, and others were spotted doing namaste. Namaste is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of the word ‘namas’ and ‘te’ which means “I bow to the divine in you”. Namaskritya and other such related terms appeared in Rigveda especially in ‘Vivaha Sukta’. It is a traditional way of greeting in India for thousands of years. Recently U.S. President Donald Trump said ‘India ahead of the curve’, after greeting Irish PM with namaste..

Hygiene and quarantine were always important in Hinduism for health, mental, and social reasons. Even during the Vedic age, many of the hygiene practices were followed and are mentioned in Vedas. These hygiene practices are part of Hinduism and followed from many centuries in India. These practices are very much required in the present day during this Pandemic. Some of these practices are like washing hands with antiseptics/germicides after urination or defecation. Though these antiseptics were made from turmeric, neem, and replaced now by sanitizers, handwash in the present day. Washing our hands before and after having food. Putting down sleepers outsides of house and many more such small traditions where followed. Similarly, if someone dies, the entire family is like quarantine for the rest of the village was another way hygiene which is followed. Also during the menstruation cycle, women were something like social distancing. similarly in many such scenarios families or person was in quarantine or at least social distancing was followed. These practices were followed to keep our self-safe and hygienic. Albeit our enemies slightly change, but still in the world of technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT we are following similar practices which were laid down thousands of years earlier.

Well, we all are trying their best to stay calm and relax, but still, stress levels are reaching an all-time high in lockdown. Even now, we have a long way to go. The whole world is worried, how this all will impact our lives, business, jobs, health, and finances. People are trying more and more ways to place stress under control. One of the easiest and effective ways that the world is doing –Meditation. Harvard Medical School recently published that the easiest way to reduce stress, anxiety is meditation. More and more apps, smartwatches are offering modern technology these days that can guide you to meditate, reduce stress and stay focused. New Articles, blogs are published and shared every day on Mediation and yoga all across the Internet. The word meditation itself means dhyanam, which factors self-learning, conciliation with self. The word dhyanam has appeared many times in Vedas starting Rigveda like appearance is in Verse 10.11.1 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka. Similarly appeared in Kauhitaki Upanishads 3.2 where it talks about mind and meditation in prayer.

Corona virus Is also changing the rituals followed after the demise. The majority of governments are choosing cremation over burial, irrespective of their religion. Sri Lanka, Philippines, and other countries or states have made cremations compulsory in coronavirus deaths. Even western countries like in the USA, cremations have surpassed burials as the most popular end of life option. WHO says to conduct a safe and dignified burial of a patient who has died from a suspected virus like ebola. Cremation is a major practice that is followed in Hinduism from the early period. And a standard practice in cremation is that dead bodies are not ethical to touch. People need to take a bath after coming from cremations. Antyeṣṭi or Antima Sanskara is a Sanskrit word for cremations in Hinduism. Word antya and iṣṭi respectively mean “last” and “sacrifice”. And “Antima Sanskara” means “last sacred ceremony”. In Hinduism, it is considered that the human body and the whole universe consists of five elements – air, water, fire, earth, and space. The last rite of ritual is to return the body to its five elements of the origin. The roots of these beliefs are very old and can be found in the Vedas, in the hymns of Rigveda section 10.16.

Now more and more health organizations are warning about the health-related risks associated with eating meat after these pandemics. Raising animals for food was always a breeding ground for diseases that can be easily transmitted to humans. Health experts believe COVID-19 originated at a “wet market” in China, where shops sell both live and dead animals for human consumption. It is still not proved that the meat industry is entirely responsible for the corona virus, but yes corona virus and similarly many other Pandemics in the past have always been linked with animals. It is found that 6 out of 10 most Infectious diseases come from Animals like H1N1 swine flu, H5N1 bird flu, Ebola, SARS, and many more.

The WHO says 70% of global disease-causing pathogens discovered in the past 50 years came from animals. More and more news is emerging these days from all parts of the world after this deadly virus is to stop eating meat and to go vegan strictly which is a known practice in Hinduism from centuries. As we all know that prevention is always better than cure. Although there are no vaccines for this pandemic until now, the best step is to take measures to elevate the immunity, so there will be fewer chances of getting infected by this disease. Despite there is no such unique food, fruits, or medicine that can be a guarantee to boost the immune system and protect us against coronavirus immediately.

Still, vegetables and fruits are the best examples of immune-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the key nutrients that are important in immunity are mentioned in Ayurveda. Some examples of such immunity-boosting herbs are turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garlic which are commonly used in an Indian family.

Published Date: 23 April 2020                     

Some quotes from great person for Vedas

Published in Book: “Beyond the Credence”

“After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense.” W. Heisenberg, German Physicist

“India—The land of Vedas, the remarkable works contain not only religious ideas for a perfect life but also facts which science has proved true. Electricity, radium, electronics, airship, all were known to the seers who founded the Vedas.”– Wheeler Wilcox

“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.”– Albert Einstein, scientist

“They were very advanced Hindu astronomers in 6000 BC. Vedas contain an account of the dimension of Earth, Sun, Moon, Planets, and Galaxies.”-Emmelin Plunret in ‘Calendars and Constellations’

“An examination of Indian Vedic doctrines shows that it is in tune with the most advanced scientific and philosophical thought of the West.”-Sir John Woodroffe

“One Billion-Year-Old fossil prove life began in India: AFP Washington reports in Science Magazine that German Scientist Adolf Seilachar and Indian Scientist P.K. Bose have unearthed fossil in Churhat a town in Madhya Pradesh, India which is 1.1 billion years old and has rolled back the evolutionary clock by more than 500 million years.”-Adolf Seilachar & P.K. Bose, scientists

“Our present knowledge of the nervous system fits in so accurately with the internal description of the human body given in the Vedas (5000 years ago). Then the question arises whether the Vedas are really religious books or books on anatomy of the nervous system and medicine.”– B.G. Rele in ‘The Vedic Gods

“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either.”-Sir William Jones, British Orientalist

“Vedas are the most rewarding and the most elevating book which can be possible in the world.”-Schopenhauer

“From the Vedas, we learn a practical art of surgery, medicine, music, house building, under which mechanized art is included. They are encyclopedia of every aspect of life, culture, religion, science, ethics, law, cosmology and meteorology”.-William James, American Philosopher and Physician.

“I go to the Upanishads to ask questions.”-Niels Bohr.