Once upon a time, cyberspace used to be dominated by fanatics. They included not only hackers and terrorists associations but also witchdoctors and scientists specializing in superstitions. They all had only one mission – to subdue all voices that don’t sing chorus with their own call of divine. Mortal remains of their deeds can still be witnessed in internet archives. In those times, they would proudly assert that only they have passport of heaven, and whosoever disagrees even slightly shall not be forgiven – here and hereafter.
Their impact was spread across the world. But Indians – being the potentially most attractive population segment for their mission – were a special focus for them. Their witchdoctors thus created a lot of ready-made material which would be copy-pasted by the junior level missionaries across various discussion boards, social networking sites, blog sites, comments section of blog sites to dissuade Indians from their culture and its foundation towards the only way to achieve a virgins-ful heaven. The proof of their claim was visible to entire humanity through the marks on the moon that proved its splitting 14 centuries ago!
They were being very successful in their mission and this success made them proclaim that their dominance would increase with increasing penetration of internet among masses. By 2013, India was estimated to be fully dominated as per claims of their TV Channels. But then Agniveer came. And scenario changed. Now suddenly their copy-paste would get countered by similar copy-pastes from Agniveer site. Google would show up Agniveer site in Top 10 searches on most of the controversial topics that they would like Indians to be confused about.
Agniveer was a very humble small scale attempt without recourse to petro-dollars or millions of bucks. But it struck where it hurt the most. Agniveer did nothing great – it simply showed them the mirror. It proved to them that they have no logical basis to claim that only their belief system is perfect and everything else is a passport for hell. It showed them there is no evidence to prove that the holy scripture of theirs is indeed the same as provided by whom they claim to be their founder. And that blind belief devoid of reason is only a recipe to nurture terrorists. Agniveer also countered silly allegations on Indian culture through authoritative analysis and evidences.
Now suddenly their plans went awry. One celebrated witchdoctor in their team announced recently that he would not argue or debate with certain ‘sects’ ever. Many others attempted to redefine their interpretations of their scriptures. But there are many who followed the deeds of the monkey of Panchatantra. In Panchatantra, there is a story of a monkey who was shivering in rain because he had no home. A sell-intentioned pigeon advised him to build a home so that he does not have to face such troubles again. The monkey got angry on this and destroyed the nest of the pigeon to ensure that even she does not have a home. This is what terrorist mind is all about – foolishness, anger, vindictiveness.
Similar minds have started countering Agniveer by denigrating the Vedas on most frivolous pretexts because they could not explain how they could demand the entire world to follow ONLY their book which was compiled only after 20 years of the murder of the peace-loving saintly founder by a gang which was itself murdered by yet another group. Even that book is not available fully today. But ‘Buffalo belongs only to one who has the stick’ seems to be their mantra.
A recent attempt has been by writing articles based on extremely outdated claims to prove that Vedas are also textually corrupted. We initially chose to ignore this long-rejected frivolous claim. We thought that someone else would counter it along with flat-earth theory while we focus on other prominent tasks. But considering the widespread promotion that is being provided to this viewpoint by petro-dollar power holders, we thought to have at least a short analysis debunking the myth. Because in an era of misinformation, truth is often nothing but a lie shouted thousand times!
We shall only provide brief concepts here that can be used by anyone to deduce the truth. We simply want to ensure that we do not act like pigeons to counter the terrorist monkey. Lets be gorillas instead!
To read the original allegation, you can simply type ‘Textual Corruption in Vedas’ in google and check the variants. We don’t want to provide a link and help popularize new names to replace old fanatics whose demise the world is celebrating today!
We shall provide brief summary of allegation and our analysis.
Here we start:
Even if someone conclusively proves that Vedas available today are textually corrupted/ incomplete or that an alien came in space-ship to replace original Vedas with a duplicate inferior variety it does not matter much. This is because:
– Vedas are not supposed to be merely mugged up and followed blindly or narrated like a parrot to invoke its divine powers or split the moon. The very word ‘Veda’ means knowledge. And hence Vedas have to be followed or adopted only to the extent that it is intuitive or reasonable to your own mind. So if you bring even the greatest scholar in the world to prove to me that Rigveda 1.1.5 means that “The one who claim to be a doctor, possesses a goat-beard but wear a suit-tie and tie, and asserts that all non-believers would go to Hell and apostates deserve being killed – should be greeted with footwear”, then I am not going to believe it. Because my own intellect and whatever I understood from Vedas so far tell me that fake should be countered with arguments and intellect, and not with symbolic gestures of frustrations that are insulting.
And by following my conscience in this manner to best of my abilities without bringing ego in picture, I would be following the Vedas.
– Vedas are supposed to be already encoded within our minds. What we read in books is merely a way to decode this knowledge. This is like the Laws of Motion. You don’t have to mug up what Newton wrote in Latin in Principia to understand the laws of motion. You approach the knowledge intuitively. And then to fulfill needs of further understanding, you may also learn Latin or whatever as situation demands. But you do so driven by logic and not guided by blind belief that mugging up will give to Heaven. We still refer to the texts because though technically it is possible for all of us to deduce the Laws of Motion and Theory of Relativity all by ourselves but it would become a very time-consuming process. We don’t take works of Newton or Einstein for mugging up blindly, we use them as check-posts to help us guide to right path in a manner that is intuitive/ logical to us.
So even if few pages of Principia are torn, or there are some misprints, or a few pages mixed up, it does not matter much because all that means is that for some parts, we will have to put a bit more extra effort to understand what exactly they meant. And especially if you are only a Class 1 student, these apparent mistakes would actually mean nothing at all for you.
In same vein, if an advanced scholar of Vedas complains of being stalled due to inaccessibility to certain portions of Vedas, it could still be understood. We are still puzzled on how Fermat’s Theorem could be elegantly solved because some pages of his diary are found missing! But if you asked after reading the last sentence – Who is Fermat? – then you don’t even need to bother about the missing pages!
Those attempting to belittle the Vedas come with malevolent intent and not genuine intention to seek truth. While a Vedic follower would very clearly proclaim that we would reject any translation of Vedas that do not appeal to our conscience or is logically unsound, these fanatics would never ever say that they would follow the same standard for their text. They would never assert that there remains a scope that their text has been tampered with because it was written only 20 years after suspicious death of original founder by a murdering group of fighters.
They cannot do so because their cult has a rule – if someone turns apostate – kill him. So its a one way traffic – they shall never accept the truth and would continue to ridicule and decimate the non-believers. But the rest of us are supposed to accept their way merely because we are not taught to be fanatic!
Proving textual corruption in Vedas will not result in the conclusion that any other text is divine. And even if corruption is proved in Vedas, that does not have much significance for reasons discussed above. So such attempts only showcase that the monkey of Panchatantra lives even today. I say this because the same sites and people that attempt to prove corruption in the Vedas are also the ones who openly promise permanent Hell for non-believers and defend those who justify death for apostates.
The goal of this article is merely to reassure that while we should keep caution of these dangerous monkeys, we should not take their monkey arguments seriously.
There is another story in Panchatantra about monkeys where a king and the minister went for a trip. They saw a lot of monkeys in a place. Every monkey was doing some monkey act – throwing stones, jumping, fighting each other, making noises etc. But there sat a monkey in one remote corner who was sitting in lotus position with eyes closed. The king said to the minister, “Look! This monkey looks like a saint. How peacefully is he sitting in meditation. Let us go and seek his blessings.” The minister replied, “O King! Don’t be duped by these acts of monkeys. Even this pretense of meditation by a monkey is a monkey-act. Lets move ahead.” The king refused, went to the monkey and bowed in front of him. Suddenly the monkey jumped, snatched the crown of the king, and ran away!
We hope the kings of this world would pay heed to this humble minister and protect their crowns.
Let me assure you that all these allegations on Vedas are baseless. There is always a remote possibility that Vedas are corrupted, or that there are 7 skies, or that moon was split into two when someone pointed finger, or that the hobbits of Lord of the Rings actually live in our cities, or that sun is smaller to earth and sets in a mud-pond, or that certain stones can snatch your clothes and run away, or that certain donkeys have face of a woman and can fly you to moon and 7 skies. And when we find reasonable evidences for these, we would be glad to not only accept these but promote them as well.
But for that to happen, more rational and plausible evidences have to be brought in light than these outdated frivolous ones.
Allegation 1: Different texts talk of different number of Vedas. No one is sure whether there is 1 Veda, or 3 or 4 or 5.
1. Those who allege this should first read our article – http://agniveer.com/5090/fountainhead-philosophies-vedas/ that explains that its all about definitions. Just as I can define you as 1 person, or a group of 1 brain, 2 eyes, 2 nosetrils, 2 ears etc or as 2 different persons due to split personality causing confusion or whatever. But they all point to same thing.
Similarly, scholars have defined Vedas variously. If you consider only knowledge, Vedas is only 1. If you consider Para and Apara knowledge (liberating and mundane knowledge), then Vedas are 2. If you focus on Knowledge, Action and Contemplation, Vedas are 3. If you consider Rik, Yajuh, Sama, Atharva, Vedas are 4. If you consider each mandala of Rigveda as separate, then there are 10 Rigvedas. Similarly we have 40 Yajurvedas. If you take each mantra as a different Veda, you have more than 20,000 Vedas.
So number does not matter. They all point to same set of mantras.
2. Many Upanishads and Manu Smriti talk of Vedas coming from Agni, Vayu, Aditya, Angira. Some view these as Rishis in inception of human civilization. Others term them as innate sources of nature that inspired the Rishis. Whatever be the case, there is no denial that a select few Rishis got the knowledge of Vedas first and then they propagated in a manner that there remains perfect standardization since then.
Now these names Agni, Vayu, Aditya, Angira are nothing more than Unique IDs. These names depict their areas of specialization in same manner as Subhash Chandra Bose is called Netaji and Krishna is called Madhusudan. It is not that they were born with birth-certificates of these names on basis of which they were admitted in some schools or their Voter Cards were made. So just because Aditya is called Surya somewhere does not affect the Vedas in any manner. Atharvaveda is also called Angirasa because they depict characteristics of a particular Veda. Vedas are themselves called by different names depending upon what aspect of their property we want to focus upon.
The beauty of Vedic literature lies in the fact that words are not used with pre-decided arbitrary meanings to force the mind to think in specific directions. Instead words are derived from roots (which again are based on how each pronunciation impacts our minds) and hence verses allow the mind to think originally and discover new essence in a state of deep contemplation. So focus is on liberation and not imprisonment of intellect. And since it is already within you, you don’t simply mug up the meaning or even translate a meaning. You FEEL the meaning within. The very test of whether you understand a mantra or not is that whether you could intuitively FEEL the meaning from within. If not, don’t worry! Keep practicing, keep using your faculty of thinking and keep following your inner voice!
3. Vedas are very commonly classified into 3 because they represent 3 kinds of knowledge – Theory, Actions, Contemplation. Rigveda focuses more on theory, Yajurveda on actions and Samaveda on Contemplation. Note that they are not independent silos. They are merely overall themes. You cannot be expert in one unless you are also master of the other two. And that is why you would find a lot of repetition of verses in the different Vedas. It is just that the FEELING changes with change in context.
Now Atharvaveda is all about Practical Applications – integration of the wisdom of rest of the 3 Vedas. So often it is not referred separately. It is automatically included in the themes of rest of the 3 Vedas in same manner as Practical classes are assumed to be part of the subject of Physics along with Theory. So primarily Rik, Yajuh and Sama are mentioned in literature. Atharvaveda is also called Chhanda and mentioned wherever necessary.
Q: Why Manu Smriti and Swami Dayanand talk of completing study of Vedas in 36 years by devoting 12 years on each Vedas? This means Vedas are only 3.
A: As explained earlier, Atharveveda is already included in the course curriculum. It is impossible to understand any Veda without referring to Atharvaveda for all of us except those who might have mastered all this in their previous birth and are born as Rishis since birth. For lesser mortals, when Rigveda or Yajurveda or Samaveda is to be mastered, the relevant portions of Atharvaveda have to be practiced to understand the applications. After all theory is incomplete without practicals.
This confusion comes in minds of those for whom study of a scripture only means becoming a Haafiz who could mug up and narrate the verses like a parrot. While mugging up is often useful and at times very necessary to preserve the Vedas, it is a very special course for very specific minds. For most of us, spending 12 years reading Physics will not mean spending time mugging the books. Further you don’t need to spend 12 years to mug up each Veda! Something like Yajurveda has less than 2000 mantras that can be completed in less than a year if mugging is all that has to be done.
In reality, even when you are mastering one particular Veda, you must study other Vedas as well and gain a reasonable proficiency in them. This is like Engineering Colleges having courses on Physics, Maths, English, Psychology, Economics etc as well.
So if you put 36 years on Vedas, don’t worry. Atharvaveda would automatically be taken care of.
Q: What about 1131 branches/ shakhas of Vedas? Everyone knows that only a few of them remain today. All the other branches are lost.
A: Oh No. Not again. Branch refers to a particular recension style of Vedas to emphasize certain aspects and making it relevant to existing time and society. Branches or Shakhas are not eternal. But original Vedas have been preserved as they were even till today. Most Shakhas went extinct during a long period of misrule. But nonetheless our forefathers ensured that they did not allow the tradition of memorizing and preserving the original Vedas from generation to generation.
Now some fools argue that why are original Vedas are also called by name of Shakhas. The answer is that the name of Shakha is derived from the Rishi who ensured its preservation from generation to generation. Some Rishis chose to promote the variations so as to propagate their meaning among masses and specialized students. Some volunteered to continue preserving the original Vedas so that more Shakhas could be created in future. Why should we not acknowledge these Rishis? Hence Shaakal chose to preserve the Rigveda, Madhyandin chose to preserve Yajurveda, Shaunak chose to preserve Atharveveda and Kauthum chose to protect Samaveda. These refer not only to individuals but entire traditions.
None apart from misled fanatics ever had any disputes over these Shakhas and the originals. Even western indologists and detractors who were otherwise skeptic of Vedas and their meanings had to admit that original Vedas are available to us in same form as the oldest evidence available without any doubt.
Maxmuller announces in Origin of Religion (p 131): The texts of the Veda have been handed down to us with such accuracy that there is hardly a various reading in the proper sense of the word or even an uncertain accent in the whole of the Rig-Veda.
Maxmuller in Rigveda Vol 1, p XXX: As far we are able to judge at present, we can hardly speak of various readings in the Vedic hymns in the usual sense of that word. Various readings to be gathered from a collection of different manuscripts now accessible to us there are NONE.
Macdonell in A History of Sanskrit Literature (p 50): Extraordinary precautions soon began to be taken to guard the canonical text. Thus fixed against the possibility of any change or loss the result has been its preservation with a faithfulness unique in literary history.
Keigi in Rigveda (p 22): Since that time, nearly 3000 years ago, it (the text of the Vedas) has suffered no changes whatsoever, with a care such that the history of other literatures has nothing similar to compare with it.
Abinash Chandra Dass in Rigvedic India (p 5): These hymns, however, were not committed to writing on payrus, palm-leaves or baked clay-bricks, but to human memory carefully cultivated for the purpose and were handed down from generation to generation without the loss of even a single word or syllable.
Should we say more? Except that we don’t know the cure for paranoia.
Allegation 2: Some verses of Rigveda are missing. Nirukta 7.8 talks of a verse offering oblation to Vishnu and Agni in Rigveda but there is no such verse in current Rigveda. So the verse was lost.
1. Nirukta wasn’t …….
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