Frequently asked questions on VEDAS
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Question: What is meant by the word VEDA? Answer:
The meaning of the word ‘VEDA’ is knowledge. It is derived from the root ‘vid’ which means ‘to know’. By VEDA we imply the eternal knowledge of the Omnipresent and Omniscient God which is provided to humans at beginning of human creation.
Question: Do you mean VEDAS are some books?
VEDAS represent the eternal knowledge. But if you convert them into auditory senses, they represents certain sounds. When you convert them into visual sense, they represent certain mantras that can be compiled in form of books.As an analogy, when a person has to be represented through hearing, his voice is his representation. And if he has to be represented in a 2D image, his photograph is an accurate representation. Same is the case of VEDAS. They are the eternal knowledge and if we have to represent them as per the senses that humans can perceive, they turn into 4 Ved Samhitas.
Question: What are these 4 VEDA Samhitas?
These are compilation of mantras divided into 4 parts namely Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.
Question: What are mantras? How are they different from Shlokas of Sanskrit?
The Hymns or stanzas of VEDAS are called Mantras. The hymns of other Sanskrit texts are Shlokas. The Mantras are unchangeable not only in content but even pronunciation.Thus while common persons may speak VEDIC Mantras without specific focus on pronunciation, each mantra has a specific method of pronunciation for each syllable in it. These are normally indicated by certain lines and symbols over and under Vedic Mantras.
Question: What is the purpose of so much emphasis on pronunciation?
1. This has helped preserve VEDAS in exactly the same form as they first came.2. The meaning of the Mantra changes as per change in pronunciation. This is like, what we do in real life also. The same words said in two different tones may mean completely opposite.3. All VEDIC Mantras have several meanings. Further, the depth of meaning for each Mantra is also virtually infinite. To a beginner, certain meaning of a Mantra would be more obvious. But if she focuses on pronunciation pattern as well, further depths and news insights are revealed.
Question: What was the need for VEDAS?
God has provided us all a capability to analyze and reach truth=bliss. However the same is blurred by ignorance. Please read the FAQ on Theory of Karmafor more on this.Thus, typically, it is impossible for humans to learn everything without being taught. We all are trained since birth for a significant period of time, and only then are we able to use our analytical faculties to learn more. And even then, most of the learning we do is through training. Analytical ability only acts as a tool to make it more efficient.Similarly, it would have been impossible for humans to make so much of progress without any training support. Even a simple faculty like language, which forms the foundation of human civilization is impossible to learn without training.The supporters of early-man theory are still at a loss to explain the emergence of language and the fact that language of earlier times were much more complex than those known today. Thus VEDAS were provided as an operating manual to live in this world. It contains the seed knowledge for all fields and sufficient material to start the process of civilization. Without this, human civilization would have been impossible.
Question: How were the VEDAS revealed?
Tradition says that the VEDAS were first revealed in heart of 4 Rishis or seers during inception of the civilization. These were having the best traits as per previous Karma or actions, and most eligible to understand the expain this knowledge. The knowledge of VEDAS revealed from them in a manner similar to way inspiration for doing noble things emerge in hearts of noble men.Traditions say that Agni received Rig Veda, Vayu – Yajur Veda, Aditya – Sama Veda and Angira – Atharva Veda. Then these 4 Rishis trained other people on basis of these Vedas.The scholars among these other people contemplated on specific mantras of Vedas and were called Rishis because they researched into meanings of these Mantras which were useful for entire humanity then. Civilization and knowledge flourished henceforth.
Question: How did the Rishis understand the language of VEDAS?
The VEDAS were first revealed to the Rishis as complete package – meaning as well as mantras and their pronunciation. These appear different to us because of our limited knowledge.But in state of perfection, language, knowledge and pronunciation no more remain different but become one and same.A simile would be when the child utters ‘Maa’ to call its mother. The language, meaning and pronunciation of ‘Ma’ all together mean the same ‘Mother’ along with all the emotions it implies.Similarly, when mind is complete devoid of all negative traits and fluctuations, and focused on God, the language, pronunciation and meaning of God’s knowledge all are felt as one integrated package. The 4 Rishis who were inspired with VEDAS had such exalted state. Now from the knowledge and pronunciation, they developed the first rules of the language through which they trained others. Thus language also has its origin in the VEDAS? From
Question: Why were these 4 Rishis chosen for accepting the VEDAS?
Refer to Concept of God and Theory of Karma. Creation and destruction continue in beginning-less and unending cycles. Thus whenever a new creation happens, the souls who are best equipped to accept and propagate this knowledge are chosen to be among the first humans in the civilization.
Question: But initially only Adam and Eve came. Now you talk of 4 Rishis?
Adam-Eve theory is a good story for entertainment of children. That has no rational basis except showing fear of Hell and lure of Heaven.As per Vedic belief, right from initiation of creation of the universe up to inception of humans, changes happened gradually as per definite laws of Ishwar. Scientists have discovered many of these aspects recently. And when creation was over, humans emerged not as a couple, but in multiple.The first humans are supposed to have emerged as youths and neither children nor old ones. No intermediate species between humans and next-intelligent species are found in any form. So evolution of humans from apes or ape-likes is ruled out. Even the current theories of ‘apes are our ancestors’ are too vague and inconclusive, and full of big unexplainable gaps.The alternative model is that multiple humans emerged from earth, with different genetic makeup, without sexual reproduction. Modern science also does ot rule out possibility of this happening. These young humans had basic knowledge of survival just as animals have. And then 4 among them got the knowledge and trained others. Because they had different genetic makeup, they could then devise rules of inter-marrying through something similar to Gotra system which is prevalent even till today. This ensures that marriage between close relatives do not happen and hence prevent genetic disorders. VEDAS have specific mantras to prohibit such marriages.
Question: Are the VEDAS available today? How do we know they are authentic? Even Bible and Quran are not proven to be completely authentic.
The 4 VEDAS are available to us exactly in same way, as it was presented first. The God, who devised the universe to help us reach ultimate bliss and support us in all ways possible, ensured that VEDAS are never lost from humanity.The mechanism was through memorizing 10 different ways of reciting VEDIC mantras in different permutations. They are called ‘Paatha Vidhi’. Thus different words of the mantra would be spoken in different orders. The different Paatha of VEDAS were memorized by different humans. They then taught these Paatha Vidhi to next generation. Whenever a doubt would come, that would be sorted out by checking out the different Paatha pronuciations. This way it was ensured that not even a syllable could be altered. Thus, if you even change a high pitch to low pitch, that would be caught.Later, these VEDAS were written down. But oral traditions continued and still remain existent in India. And while Northern India was under a lot of turmoil in history due to invasions, South India was relatively peaceful. And hence the tradition continued uninterrupted.No other book had such a rigorous way of protection. And hence no other book in world can claim such authenticity. Even the skeptic Western indologists who explored VEDAS to propagate Christianity, could not help admitting this to be a great wonder of human civilization. Max Muller was one such researcher who commented thus. Today, the 4 VEDAS are available as print format.
Question: How can a layman understand VEDAS? Should we read translation available?
To read VEDAS, one needs to master the language of VEDAS – Sanskrit. In its absence, one can study the translations. However study of translations without a framework would be of little help. Further the translations by western scholars are to be rejected outrightly.To understand VEDAS, not only language is necessary, one needs to also master certain other subjects. But even more important is an analytical bent of mind and a Yogic approach. What is meant by Yogic approach is mastery over senses and mind.Since the concepts of VEDAS are very subtle, a disturbed mind or a mind indulged in petty issues and enjoyments of the world can make neither head or tail out of it.This is same as we would say that it is useless for an uneducated drunkard to try to read Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Thus, simultaneous practice of mind discipline and an analytical attitude are necessary to start exploring the VEDAS. Beyond that, availability of an expert teacher is extremely useful. But in absence of that as well, one can start with study of Satyarth Prakash (LIght of Truth) and Introduction to Vedas by Swami Dayanand Saraswati to understand the basic framework. In today’s context, they would be very critical to start exploration of VEDAS. However, as said earlier, these too should be read with a Yogic and analytical bent of mind. This is not very difficult or esoteric. It simply means shutting oneself off from distractions and studying with open-minded focus – the way we study any serious subject.
Question: VEDAS were good for beginning of civlization. But why we need them today?
Definitely, VEDAS were indispensable during beginning of human civilization. All the great ideals that we all believe in today, and good aspects of all the cultures, all have source in Vedas. But unfortunately, we lost track of the source in this long journey. Thus we often get distracted and get ourselves in trouble.VEDAS serve as essential guide to do this course-correction. in absence of VEDAS, we have divided ourselves into so many cults, religions, groups, castes, races etc and keep fighting. In name of progress, we have ruined the environment. We try to adjust objectivity with irrationality and keep failing miserably.On one hand, we would agree that we should reject wrong and false. But we still agree to propagation of smoking which is proven injurious for smoker, others and environment. Modern Science is still fighting with Spiritualism because it assumes that God is what Bible or Quran tell us. And we try to squeeze a middle path which is impossible.A typical human is confused over what this life is and what is its direction. it fears death but has no solution. In confusion, it keeps wasting time and escaping from this fear through nonsense activities..and then dies. VEDAS have solutions to these problems and provide tips on making our individual, social and global life more blissful. Today we need VEDAS for same reason that a doctor refers back to medical text books throughout his life.
Question: What do the 4 Vedas contain?
Rig Vedas focuses on knowledge of all material and spiritual objects. Yajur Veda deals mainly with recommended actions for humans. Sama Veda deals with devotion and contemplation and Atharva Veda contains applications deriving essence from all three Vedas and their themes (knowledge, action and contemplation)
Question: Why do VEDAS contain worship of so many Gods?
This is a popular myth without any basis. VEDAS unequivocally declare that there is only one God – Ishwar and He is unparalleled.It calls this Omnipotent God through various adjectives. People without an unbiased Yogic disposition took these names as that of different Gods.But several mantras of VEDAS clarify this and state that He is One and Only one. For example Rig Veda 6.45.13, Atharva Veda 2.21, Rig Veda, 1.164.46, Rig Veda 10.114.5, Rig Veda 10.82.3 etc
Question: Then what about the 33 crore Gods of Hinduism?
The exact term is 33 Koti Devata which people translate into 33 crore Gods.Now let us understand that Koti also means ‘type’. And in VEDAS, 33 Devatas are indeed referred but comprehensively summarized in Shatpath Brahman, which is a commentary on VEDAS.Now Devata does not mean Ishwar or Omnipotent God. It originates from root ‘Divu’ and refers to anything that benefits us. It has same origin as that of word ‘Daan’ which means charity. There are several other meanings of ‘Divu’ like conquer, pursuit, brilliancy, praise, knowledge, motion etc.In the parlance of 33 Koti Devata, they refer to 33 non-living objects which benefit us namely: 8 Vasus – Fire, Earth, Air, Sky, Super-Terrestrial Space, Sun, Moon, Stars, Ten Life Forces, Soul, and 12 Months. Further VEDAS proclaim in 10.121 that Ishwar/God provides us with all Devatas
Question: If I am a good person, but do not study VEDAS, what is the loss?
If you are a good person, you will achieve higher levels of Bliss as per your Karma/Actions/Thoughts. But there would be a ceiling due to limited knowledge. Because higher bliss demands further knowledge.This is similar to study of medicines. One can explore a lot about health science through her own discovery and analysis. But to master further, she will need to study the medical text books and do the necessary laboratory work.Often we assume that spiritual knowledge is simple and can be obtained by self. We assume that only knowledge of various skills is what requires external training. This is a misconception. While seeds for all kinds of knowledge is there within us, we require more specialized training for those knowledge that have more serious implications and cover so many fields.The same knowledge becomes simpler with expert guidance.
Question: Why do VEDAS focus on Yajnas and animal sacrifice?
VEDAS believe in non-violence and prohibit all forms of animal killing for esoteric purpose. It all prohibits killing of animals for food and appeals for compassion for all living beings. You can review “No Beef in Vedas” article to know more about it. It is available in this site at http://agniveer.com/vedas/no-beef-in-vedas/Yajna has three meanings – Respect for God and good people, Good company and Charitable Acts that benefit all. Thus in VEDAS, Yajna has a very comprehensive meaning.The normal Yajna we associate with the word Yajna is called Agnihotra and is a routine to purify environment and minds of pollution. It has its own medical and spiritual benefits. But it has nothing to do with animal sacrifice. Nor Yajna in VEDAS has to be taken in this restrictive sense.
Question: How can you claim VEDAS to be revealed scriptures? Why not Bible and Quran etc?
VEDAS are not revealed in the sense we understand. There is nothing magical about its emergence. Its a permanent eternal knowledge that got manifested in same natural manner as creation happened. What makes VEDAS different from BIble and Quran are:
1. It appeared at origin of creation and not intermittently. Thus the knowledge is same for all humans since then. But knowledge of Bible and Quran came much later, and hence those who were born before they came were at major loss.
2. If God has to revise His own message, it means God is imperfect. Thus accepting any later day message as God’s is insult to God.
3. There is no science in Quran or Bible which Vedas do not cover.
4. Nothing in VEDAS is opposed to Science and Reason. It does not talk of miracles which only happen in stories but do not happen in real world.
5. VEDAS cover all branches of knowledge. It is 3 times the size of Quran and covers all possible fields in seed form.
6. It does not contain history, geography or stories.
7. The VEDAS are applicable to all human beings in all geographies. The message is quite generic in nature. It also does not differentiate between believers and non-believers and curse non-believers to eternal Hell.
Question: Why did God deny VEDAS to Shudras and Women?
This is another baseless allegation on VEDAS. On contrary, VEDAS emphasize women education more than even men because women are first teachers of next generation. VEDAS clearly proclaim that no one should be denied of knowledge of Ishwar/God. Thus women have full rights to study Vedas.Shudra does not refer to birth-based caste. It is a term to define uneducated person. Thus someone uneducated will automatically not have access to VEDAS. But one can attain education and learn VEDAS and he or she shall no more be a Shudra.And regardless of one’s parentage, anyone can study and teach VEDAS based on his or her merits.VEDAS refute birth-based discrimination of any kind.
Question: Do VEDAS also talk of practical science and technology?
Yes. Vedas provide details on building ships and airplanes. They talk of basics of mathematics and decimal system. They refer to gravity and electricity.However VEDAS do not get into those details which can be explored by humans themselves. Instead, VEDAS would proclaim humans to explore it further.Thus, VEDAS do not spoon-feed because ultimate bliss demands efforts. But they give sufficient directions to ensure one is not misled. And that applies for all fields – physical, social, mental sciences.
Question: What is Vedic concept of God and Soul?
Refer to FAQ on Concept of God.In brief, VEDAS consider God, Soul and Matter/Energy duo to be eternal.
Question: Do VEDAS permit alcohol or Soma Ras?
Soma Ras is not alcohol. It refers to exalted state of motivation. The kind of motivation that legendary people and freedom-fighters have.In later era, people started calling alcohol Soma because from perspective of normal people, these exalted people appear insane or intoxicated with their passions.On contrary, VEDAS completely discourage use of substance which numb senses or interferes with purity and clarity of thoughts. Refer Rig Veda 8.2.12 and Atharva veda 6.7.1
Question: Why do VEDAS contain hatred against Dasyus and Anarya – the natives of India?
This is another crazy theory prevalent. We shall devote a thorough article to explode this myth.When VEDAS are first texts of mankind, and no one has ever been able to trace its origin, there is no question of there being any natives when VEDAS first came!The word Arya in VEDAS mean a civilized person. Anarya is opposite of Arya and means a criminal. Dasyu means looters.Thus, if I ask, why does modern society have hatred against criminals and looters, what would you say? VEDAS clearly define that criminals and looters should be dealt with iron hand. In a VEDIC society, even someone not believing in VEDAS is allowed to live freely. Unlike Bible and Quran, there is no discrimination on this basis. But criminals and nuisance creators are to be punished like in modern times.
Question: Are Shudras not Anarya? Why are they called Daas or slaves then?
No, Shudra refers to one who did not complete education. Shudra can be in any family. Daas is another term for Anarya or criminals.It was much later that owing to breakdown of VEDIC education, the 4 professions which were based on qualifications turned into birth-based systems. And then the uneducated ones had to suffer. Then Daas and Shudra became equivalent.This is like current politics. Noe only children of politicians can become politicians. Others have a no-entry there. After few years, if this trend does not stop, we may have family background come up as an eligibility criteria. It is already so unofficially!
Question: What about idol worship?
VEDAS condemn practice of restricting God in idol. That is neither true nor respectful to God. It instead explains a method of mind-control and skills enhancement to worship God. This leads to improved physical, mental and spiritual health and hence the devotee is able to put better efforts.
Question: Why do VEDAS permit polygamy?
VEDAS, perhaps, are the only texts in world that clearly discourage Polygamy. It is so convinced of monogamy that all mantras relating to marriage are in dual voice. It further has several mantras that discourage polygamy.
Question: Why did Hindus practice polygamy then?
Hindus have done several things against recommendations of VEDAS. And that is why they suffered so many upsets. VEDAS do not ban anything with fear of Hell. Instead they spell out their recommendations. This is like books on Medicine. They will explain effect of smoking on lungs. A wise man would understand from that. But a fool would still smoke. VEDAS are not targeted towards fools.Society has on various times deviated from VEDIC teachings and has suffered loss in that aspect. For example Dashrath took 4 wives, or Pandavas played gambling. But neither is an example of VEDIC practice and both suffered setbacks for their stupidities.
Question: Will learning Vedic mantras lead me to ultimate bliss?
Simply mugging up mantras would be a waste of time. VEDAS are a workbook. You need to practice the meaning in Knowledge, Action and Contemplation. Further, each mantra has deeper and deeper layers of meanings. This exploration is a life long but extremely enjoyable process. You need to submerge completely to get benefits and fun! Like in learning any sports or skills. Shortcuts are waste of time.Often many people mug up mantras, standard speeches and dialogues and pose as experts. They may gain popularity, but are wasting their times. And making their future progress even more difficult due to layers of false ego that they have accumulated.
Question: Why do not everyone embrace VEDAS when everything is so logical?
For exactly the same reasons that people find difficult to quit smoking even when they know that it is damaging. Past tendencies, false egos and lack of Will make it difficult.Today, based on in which society we were born, or who influenced us first with charisma, who insulted us, we decide whether we are Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, Christian, Buddhist etc. Very few people are able to rise above these uncontrolled parameters and do an objective analysis and embrace truth. And this courage to embrace truth and reject false is first step to achieving Truth=Vedas=Bliss.As I said, there is no scope for blind faith in VEDAS. Even those who believe in VEDAS without any reason or thorough analysis, merely due to above mentioned reasons, are simply wasting their times.For true truth-warriors, nothing is more fun than embracing VEDAS.
Question: I have another question. What do I do?
1. You can read Introduction to Vedas and Light of Truth by Dayanand Saraswasti and answer many more doubts.2. You can visit http://satyavidya.org3. You can post it on Vistor FAQ section at http://agniveer.com/faq/4. You can share a comment here. 5. You can mail me at [email protected]
Question: I want to formally embrace VEDIC way of life? Is there a ritual like in Islam and Christianity?
Rituals serve the purpose of self-discipline and installing a reference point to focus the mind. For truly Yogic, there is no need for any ritual.But if you feel you would like to approach VEDAS more systematically, mail me at [email protected]