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It is stated that the Vedas are the light of India. Or as per some other scholars, they are the light of the world. The reason being that they are the most popularly reckoned most ancient religious-spiritual scriptures and the first source of wisdom & literary excellence. It is said that the first of the four Vedas (the Rig Veda) emerged in present-day Afghanistan around the 2nd millennium BC. It is also stated that the birth of Vedas heralded the first form of human civility and civilization.
There are lots and lots in Vedas which is quite relevant even today. Besides the universal truths, Vedas contain information about Yajnas, Warfare, Worship Rituals, and various other related subjects. The primacy of Vedas is inseparable from the Hindu identity and even the latter devotional scriptures like the Vishnu Purana find a mention about the Vedas. And the strength of the Vedas also lies in their poetic presentation. Vedas have considered the bedrock of Indian spiritual and religious tradition and the Indian tradition, in turn, rules the roost in human civility and pan-global human wisdom.
The significance of the Vedas lies in the fact that Vedas are so very full of profound wisdom and they have become so inseparable from the Hindu identity. In fact, it is stated in the Indian tradition, “One who criticizes the Vedas is an atheist”. So you may deny the existence of God and still flourish in the Hindu religion. But if you criticize the Vedas, you may no longer be a part of the Hindu fold.
As per the Hindu tradition, Vedas are the words of God. They were spoken by the impersonal God at the start of the time and heard by the ancient sages and the seers. Anything that happens here, there or anywhere is in synchronization with the rules, laws, and wisdom coming out from the Vedas.
So, let us know more about this ancient reservoir of wisdom.
In Brief, About Vedas
It is a well-known fact that the Vedas are the oldest existing written documents in human history. It is also believed that various other religions developed and evolved in different parts of the world on the basis of Vedic wisdom. The word Veda has come out from the Sanskrit word ‘Vid’, which means knowledge. Meaning, on the whole, Veda means the storehouse of knowledge or wisdom.
Well, it is said that knowledge is the light that destroys the darkness of ignorance. The Vedas are considered the storehouse of ancient scientific and spiritual wisdom. Vedas contain the answer to every human problem. Besides, Vedas contain so much about God, Universe, Astrology, Mathematics, Medical Science, Nature, Geography, Religious Rules, Traditions, and various other subjects. Vedas differentiate about the right and wrong.
Who Wrote The Vedas
Who wrote the Vedas, this question has come up time and again. There are various views on the origin and development of the Vedas. While the traditionalists & religionists opine that Vedas are the word of the Supreme God, there are various historians and rationalist thinkers, who feel that Vedas have come out of the enlightened minds of the sages & seers of the Vedic age. As per the Hindu tradition, Vedas have come out of the mouth of Lord Brahma. It is also believed that the Supreme God first imparted the knowledge of the Vedas to the four super sages namely Agni, Vayu, Aditya, and Angira. Thereafter, it was passed on to Lord Brahma.
There is no conclusive opinion about the origin and development of the Vedas. It is also believed that Vedas were compiled and scripted by the super-sage Ved Vyas.
It is also believed that the Supreme God first imparted the knowledge of the Vedas to the four super sages namely Agni, Vayu, Aditya, and Angira. Thereafter, it was passed on to Lord Brahma.
Veda mantras are ancient and their explanation is not simple. That is why other (supplementary) scriptures like Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads were also put forward.
The ancient seers who are considered the scholars of Vedas are – Vashisht, Shakti, Parashar, Vedvvyas, Gemini, Yajnavalk, Katyayan among others.
The Various Vedas
It is believed that in the early times, there was only one Veda. Later, it was divided into four parts. The four Vedas are – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Atharva Veda. We can understand these Vedas like this – Rig stands for situation, Yaju implies change or transformation, Sam means speedy and Atharva signifies static. Various aspects of dharmashastra, kaamshastra and mokshshastra were created based on Vedic wisdom.
The History Of The Vedas
It is now well established that Vedas are the oldest existing written documents of human history. It should be noted that 28,000 manuscripts of Vedas are kept in Pune’s Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Amongst them, 30 manuscripts of Rig Veda are quite important and UNESCO has included them in the Heritage list. It should be noted that in UNESCO’s list of 158 manuscripts , 38 of India are included.
What Is There In The Four Vedas?
Rigveda is the first and most ancient Veda. Other Vedas were written only after this Veda. Rig Veda includes knowledge & wisdom of various aspects of reality. It is also called the Veda of invocations. In Rig Veda, there are 10 chapters, and 1,028 sukt, with 11,000 mantras. It is also believed that the total number of alphabets in this Veda is 432000. It is a collection of various richas (invocations). Its five branches are: Shakalp, Vaskal, Ashvalayan, Shankhayan and Mandukayan. Besides, other things, this Veda also contains mantras invoking various gods and goddesses. Not just that, medical science is also mentioned in this scripture. The Rig Veda also contains information about water medical treatment and also health treatment through the air, solar methods. In the 10th chapter of this scripture, 125 (herbal) medicines have been described.
If we talk about the second Veda (Yajurveda), it chiefly explains the Karma kand (the religious rituals and procedures) and about methods & procedures of Yajnas. There are 1,975 mantras herein. Besides, Yajurveda also contains the knowledge of the (impersonal) God. This Veda is divided into two parts: Krishna and Shukla. If we talk about Krishna, it is associated with Vaishampayan Rishi. Krishna has four branches. Also, Shukla is associated with Yajnavalk. There are two branches of Shukla. There are 40 chapters in Yajurved. Besides the procedure of yajnas, the scripture also contains the mention of agriculture science.
Samveda is considered the scripture of devotion and mantras. There are 1,549 shloka mantras herein. Some other sources state there are 1824 mantras in this Veda. This is in a poetic form. Thus, it is also considered the basis of Music Science. It is said that out of 1,824 mantras, other than 75 all are taken from the Rig Veda.
Atharvaveda is called the Veda of war and peace. Herein, there is the mention of Ayurveda. The scripture also contains mantras to treat diseases and illnesses. There are 5,687 mantras in the 20 chapters of Atharvaveda. This Veda is divided into 8 parts. As per its language and contentment, it is believed that this Veda was the last to be composed.
Veda And God
It is sometimes said that in the Vedas, there is no mention of God. But if we go through the Vedas, we find the mention of various gods and goddesses. Vedas have existed from the beginning of time. So, they mention significant gods like the Sun god or Lord Vishnu. Vedas contain mantras invoking various gods and goddesses. We also get to know about Yajnas, religious rituals, and also medical science. There are also mantras to treat and cure illness. Vedas may not contain any mention of Lord Shiva. However, Rudra and Adi Yogi are described here. Lord Shiva is considered Adi Yogi and he has these qualities & characteristics (of Adi Yogi and Rudra). Besides, there is the mention of Ganesha, Rudra, Brahma, and Vishnu.
Veda And The Vedang
So, now we know about Vedas. Now, let us talk about Vedang. As the name suggests, Vedang means the ang (a part) of the Vedas. There are six Vedangas. These include Shiksha (Education), Kalp (Skill), Vyakaran (Grammar), Nirukt, Chhand, and Astrology. Let us know about them:
The Educational Import Of The Vedas
Education stands for knowledge or information. If you have the full information, then any religious recitation can be done in a proper manner. For any religious recitation, the proper pronunciation is very important. It is said that reciting Vedas properly is merely about making proper pronunciation. In fact, when Vedas were brought forward, a lot of emphasis was put on the proper pronunciation of the mantras. Vedas also have some allied or related scriptures. If we talk about the main learning aspects of the Vedas, the prominent ones are Vyas Shiksha, Panini Shiksha, Narada Shiskha, Yagyavalk Shiskha, Bharadwaj Shiskha, Manduki Shiskha, Vashishta Shiksha, among others. There are a total of 34 scriptures herein.
The Kalpas In The Vedas
We perform various forms of worship & rituals. However, which mantra we should use, this information is known as Kalpa. In the Vedic literature, all the prominent rules, regulations, and other details of rituals and yajnas are provided. If we talk about the prominent Yajnas then the names of Som Yagya, Vajpey Rajsuy, Ashwamedh, Dardh and Paurnamas stand tall & significant. Kalpa has four Vedangas, those which are in the Sutra method, those in Shrota Sutra (the rules and regulations of more significant Yagyas, Dharma Sutra (the rules and regulations of behavior), and Sulab Sutra (the method of making Yagya Vedi).
The Grammar In Vedas
Grammar is considered the face of the Ved Purush (The Supreme God) in Panini’s educational import. Ashtadhyayi of Panini is the major grammatical treatise. It is spread across six Vedangas. Grammar is also about how to write a language correctly. Only then can the language become strong and effective. The language of the Vedas is grammatically superb.
The Chhands In The Vedas
In order to pronounce and recite the Vedic mantras properly, we should know about Chhandaas and how to use them properly. The scripture related to this is the Chhand Sutra of Pingalmuni.
The Origin Of Words In The Vedas
The mantras of Vedic literature provide us with the meanings of tough words. The description of the origin of words can be done accordingly. On this basis only, the words of the Vedas are analyzed.
Astrology In The Vedas
Planets are studied in the Vedic literature and their positive and negative impact on human lives are analyzed. Vedang Jyotish (Astrology) is an ancient astrological scripture. It was written in 1,350 BC. It is the basic scripture of Astrology.
The Demigods As Per Vedas
The gods who are considered important in the Vedas include Indra, Varuna, Agni, Rudra, Mitra, Vayu, Surya, Vishnu, Savitra, Pusan, Usha, Soma, Ashwin, Marut, Vishwaveda, Vasu , Aditya, Vashishtha, Jupiter, Bhaga, heaven, earth, Kapinjala, Rati, Yama, Manyu, Purusha Prajanya Saraswati and Aditi. Aditi is the mother of the gods and goddesses.
Lord Vishnu Is The Formless Supreme God
While it is true that Lord Vishnu has been considered the most potent God from Vedic times, as per Vishnu Purana, Lord Vishnu is the supreme God, who is stated to be equal to God.
The Gods Who Are Worshipped In Vedas
As per Vedas, the main gods who are worshipped are the Sun god, Lord Indra, and Lord Vishnu. Sun God is considered the life-giver and the provider of good health & prestige. Accordingly, Lord Vishnu is considered the propagator. Indra is the god of rain.
Other Upvedas Of The Vedas
There are four Vedas and there are also Upvedas. The Upveda of Rig Veda is Ayurveda, Yajurveda is Dhanurveda, Sama Veda is Gandharvaved and Atharvaveda is Sthaptyaved.
The Details About Vedas
Adhyay – 10
Sukta – 1,028
Ashtak – 8
Mantra – 10,552
Devtas (Demigods) – 310
Chhands – 217
Devtas (Demigods) – 346
Chhands – 427
Swar – 42
Devtas (Demigods) – 60
Chhands – 52
Swar – 42
Devtas (Demigods) – 1
Chhands – 1
Swar – 1
What The Vedas Have Given To The World
For many people, the importance of the Vedas can never be undermined. As per tradition, they have been there from the beginning of the universe. And they deal with subjects that are beyond any human control. The Vedas are considered to be a divine gift. Now, let us see what the Vedas have given to the world.
The Vedas gave insights to the world about the areas like Mathematics, Philosophy, Technology, Astronomy, Medical Science, Surgical Science, Logic, Language, Culture, and Fine Arts. Thus Vedas form a significant part of the ancient knowledge in these areas. Of particular mention is Charaka Samhita, which put forward the traditional Indian medicinal system namely the Ayurveda. Charaka, the author of Charaka Samhita, is the father of Ayurveda.
Well, the Vedas are written in Sanskrit, which is the oldest language and is also known as Devbhasha (the divine language). Besides, Yoga has also become very popular in the world. Yoga is a product of Vedas and ancient India.
Vedas are the bedrock of Indian spiritual wisdom. They are the foremost source of profound human wisdom. Indeed, the importance of Vedas can never be undermined.