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.

Dasarajna War (Battle of Ten Kings)

Published on: Scribd

Dasarajna War” also known as “Battle of Ten Kings” is one of the oldest epic battles of the ancient period. This battle was fought in the Vedic era, the early Bronze age period in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. This historical battle was an epic war. It was fought between the emperors of Bharatas (Aryans Tribe) on one side and the consortium of ten Kings on the other side. After this war, the political and geographical structure of Bharatavarsha  (Indian subcontinent) was substantially changed.

Till many centuries, it was believed as no such war ever happened. It was mentioned in scriptures as a mythological story of the battles between humans, together with Gods and ancient legends. It was always considered as fictitious, with no link to any real event. Only In the last few decades with the help of some historians, scholars enough facts were provided.  And now it is considered an important event in the ancient Indian subcontinent by many historians.

We can find the reference of this war in Rigveda, the first and the oldest of Vedas. Vedas are one of the oldest sacred scriptures available in Hinduism. Vedas are the most authoritative of all the scriptures in Hinduism. Many of the Rigveda manuscripts are also included in UNESCO Memory of the World Register. It is added as being among the first literary documents in the history of humankind, they transcend far beyond their identity as scriptures. In Rigveda Samhitas 7th Mandal, we find references about this Battle of Ten Kings. This battle took place between King Sudas who were descendants of Bharatas and a group of ten or more kings. This is why the battle is called Dasarajana (Dasha meaning ten and Rajanya meaning kingdoms in Sanskrit).

This Battle is expected by historians to have been fought around c. 3000 BCE. These kingdoms were mostly around seven rivers including river Sarasvati, In the present day, it would be in eastern Pakistan and northern India. Sudas was a Bharata king of the Tristus family who was settled in the region for a long period. They later came to be known as Bharatvarta. Sudas was also considered as the ancestor of the Ikshvaku dynasty, the ancestor of Lord Rama of Ayodhya. It is mentioned that the war of ten kings happened on the bank of river Parushni (a present-day known as river Ravi).

(Image: Public Domain)

The ten kings who fought against Sudas were: Purus, Bhalanas, Alinas, Turvasha, Bhruigus, Druhyu, Anus, Parshus, Simyu.  The main leaders from the ten kings’ side were Pururs. This war is mentioned as it was fought for a long time. In this war, Sudas defeated all ten kings and their army. It is mentioned in Rigveda that rivers played an important role in Sudas in winning the war. Sage Vasistha helped Sudas in defeating the ten kings with the help of God Indra who drowned the enemy army. 

As to their goal they sped to their destruction: they sought Paruṣṇī; e’en the swift returned not.

Indra abandoned, to Sudās the manly, the swiftly flying foes, unmanly babblers.

                                                                                                              Rigveda, Mandala 7.18..9

There are references in Mandala 7 of Rigveda that more than 6666 people were killed in this war. It is also mentioned that soon after this war Sudas fought another war on the bank of the Yamuna river and defeated the other three kings as well.

Sudas were mentioned in Rigveda as the firm believers of Aryan values. After this war, Sudas expanded its region, collected heavy war prices in the form of tax from enemies. Sudas also gave a handsome gift to Sage Vashishtha which is again mentioned in Rigveda :

Priest-like, with praise, I move around the altar, earning Paijavana's reward,

O Agni, Two hundred cows from Devavan's descendant, two chariots from Sudās with mares to draw them.

Gift of Paijavana, four horses bear me in foremost place, trained steeds with pearl to deck them.

Sudās's brown steeds, firmly-stepping, carry me and my son for progeny and glory.

Rigveda, Mandala 7.18.22

Despite being one of the oldest wars even before great Indian epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, it is almost forgotten.  Not a lot of people know about this great battle!!

Published Date: 10-April

Images : Public Domain