---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Jun 10, 2008 11:58 AM
Subject: Dr Harish Chandra's article in Vedoday2050 June 2008 - R1
Volume I, Number 5-8, June 2008
Modern age is that of science. Nobody accepts anything that doesn't meet an intellectual scrutiny. As the scientific spirit has gained its currency, a number of religious books were re-interpreted. There was a time when Galileo was tortured because he said that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa while the Popes were of the opinion that the sun moves around the earth. Thereafter, the Popes punished Bruno who said that the earth is round and is not 'flat like a mat' as stated in the Bible. Bruno was tied to an end of wood log and the other end was ignited with fire. He was asked to change his views else, he would be burned alive. True to his scientific temper, he sided with the truth and embraced the death in one of the cruelest manner. Thank God, the humanity has come a long way that the science is accepted worldwide and the church is losing its ground. The churches in Europe are seeing falling attendance and a number of church buildings have been sold. There is a frantic effort by Christian community to compensate for the losing ground by converting people in India and elsewhere.
We must view it as natural – it's the human nature to seek and love truth. We have been given an intellectual faculty by the benevolent God and human inquisitiveness is our primary asset. This is where Vedoday has an edge against all kinds of so-called religious scriptures. Bible and Koran state so many things that are unacceptable to an intelligent human mind. We must ask Christians and Muslims, especially the educated ones, to study Bible and Koran, respectively in a critical manner. That will open their eyes and they will disown these books as it has happened with many educated and intelligent Christians in the western world. On the other hand, we must study the Vedas seriously and adopt their teachings in our life. This will empower us thoroughly. Also, we will be able to appreciate the rational, logical and scientific basis of the Vedas.
The Word – Its Meaning and Essence
The Indian tradition treats Vedas as God's revelation. We will return to this statement at another occasion that the Vedas indeed must be so. There must be 'the Word' at the very onset of human generation on the earth otherwise we would neither be able to speak and nor function with adequate intellectual and moral base. We know that if a child doesn't hear a word then she can never speak a word – a deaf child is dumb, too. The very fact that we are able to speak out by exciting the human vocal cord proves that the first humans heard the word, and that word is the Vedas. It has to appear in the very beginning and not in-between. On this token, all other books cannot be His Word because they appeared when humans were already on the earth. Thus, Vedas – universally acknowledged as the first book in the library of the humankind, can only be the revealed word.
Our forefathers took great care to transmit the word to later generations. They devised a number of methods to recite them so as to keep them intact and indeed they succeeded in it that the word has come to us even after millions of years. The Vedas have to be scientific because they and science originate from the same Cosmic Spirit. This is what has been beautifully narrated by Badarayana, the author of the treatise Brahma-Sutra, also called Vedanta and Uttara-Mimamsa. His first four aphorisms are,
i.e., Now we desire to know Brahma. The inquiry is about Brahma – the Cosmic Spirit. Due to Him, the universe exists. Also, due to Him, the Vedas exist. And, there is one-to-one correspondence between the two – the events seen in the universe and the words read in the Vedas. The laws of the nature that govern the universe are due to God as well as the Vedas. Maharşi Dayananda Sarasvati (1824-'83) beautifully paraphrased the above into the first principle of Arya Samaj – All true knowledge and the things that are known through them are due to God.
This being the case, where did we go wrong when we were armed with the true knowledge? We preserved the word but didn't care to know its meaning. We began to interpret the Vedas using Sanskrit grammar as if it's a Sanskrit (man-made) text. We didn't care to utilize the etymology of Nirukta and Nighanţu that form an important member of Vedanga – a limb of Vedas necessary for one to interpret them. Thus, we became intellectually weaker and weaker that all kinds of religions began to mushroom.
Vedoday (A New Dawn of the Vedic Teachings among the Entire Humanity) is directly dependent upon our ability and courage to get to the true meaning of the Vedas and then to be guided by them in our day-to-day life. We must live by the essence of the Vedic teachings. Then only there can be a new lasting peace in the world. Then only the human potentials will blossom in total and pure sense – physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually.
Patanjali, the author of Yoga-Sutra has stated the same:
Contemplation is truly based on the meaning (artha) and essence (bhava). We must transcend the hierarchy of word, meaning and essence (sabda, artha and bhava) by sincerely getting to the meaning and essence of the Vedic teachings. Thanks to Maharşi Dayananda, now we are able to do so. He revived the lost tradition of correct interpretation of the Vedas. Now it is in easy reach for anybody to study the Vedas. There are a number of simple books based on the correct interpretation of the verses appearing in the Vedas – for example, at www.vedicbooks.com. The depth of the Vedic teachings and their lofty nature will attract any human being. His sun, moon, earth, air, water, etc. are for everybody, and so are the Vedas. But, before others can get to the Vedas and appreciate them, we must truly follow the teachings of the Vedas. In the present age of science, the Vedas will gain easy acceptance because they are scientific in nature – there is nothing in the Vedas that go against the laws of the nature.
The Vedas Say:
Rco aksare parame vyoman yasmin deva adhi visve niseduh
Yastanna veda kimrca karisyati ya ittadvidusta ime samasate Rgveda 1.164.39
Its meaning: The Vedic Rcas (hymns) originate from the eternal God and are eternal in nature. Knowing their meaning gives rise to the tastiest bliss that is enjoyed by the noblest souls. If one doesn't care to know their meaning then who is to blame?
Purport: The word has a meaning. If one knows the word and recites the same without knowing its meaning then it is waste of time and energy. It is almost like a donkey carrying the weight of saffron without being able to get its taste. We humans must be true to our human potentials. We must seek to know the meaning of the Vedic hymns that are the most precious gift from God to us. Unlike His other gifts of air, water, food, sun, moon, earth, etc. that are for us and other conscious species, Vedas are for humans alone - for all human beings without any distinction whatsoever as long as we have the gift of the human vocal cord, we have the inalienable right to recite the Veda-mantras.
Where Do We Go Wrong?: We think that reciting the Vedic mantras alone will do good to us. That is a dream and will remain a dream. Things have come to such a pass that even wrong mantras are recited on a given occasion. For example, anybody would characterize it as a senseless act if one is reciting the mantras seeking well being of a departed soul at the birth of a child. But such things are happening because nobody knows the meaning of the mantras being recited, not even the priests who memorise some of them for their living. The Vedas are for every human being and everybody should seek to know their meaning, this is what the Vedas say. One common complaint is that how can we study the Vedas consisting of about 20,000 verses. Obviously, a common man doesn't have to study these many verses. Instead, we can study the books that enlighten us about the message contained in some selected verses of the Vedas. One verse a day is a practical approach. One could read books authored by Maharsi Dayananda that explains true meanings in some Vedic verses. One such prominent book could be Light of Truth (English translation of Satyratha-Prakasa) and then proceed to his book An Introduction to the Commentaries of the Vedas (English translation of Rgvedadi-Bhasya-Bhoomika) – both available at the above source.
- Dr Harish Chandra
B. Tech. (IIT Kanpur)
Ph. D. (Princeton, USA)