This post is also available in Telugu at http://agniveer.com/what-is-vedic-religion-telugu/
Agniveer has very vocally asserted that its Mission is to make Vedic religion the religion of entire humanity. Yes, we are on a conversion spree. We want every human being on earth to proclaim allegiance to Vedic religion. We believe that salvation of the world would come only when everyone embraces the Vedic religion. We also proclaim that no other religion except Vedic religion is accepted by the Supreme. So the only way to have bliss now and hereafter is by surrendering to the Vedic religion.
Sounds so much like a proselytizer, right! Almost similar to what dogmatic Christian and Islamic missionaries speak and write. If you replace Vedic Religion with Quran, Bible, Islam or Christianity – this is exactly what Zakir Naiks and Popes of the world have been saying for centuries. So isn’t Agniveer yet another fanatic cult that believes its own religion to be best and trashes other belief systems? Just as a fanatic Christian would use hook or crook to promote Bible, and a fanatic Muslim would recommend even the sword to promote Quran, Agniveer is trying to promote Vedas – yet another claimant of divinity – to strengthen his own cult.
Of course, Agniveer can argue that why only Christian and Muslim fanatics should have exclusive rights to proclaim their texts as best. If they can go to any extent to promote Bible or Quran, why create a fuss when Agniveer tries to promote Vedas in same vein. And if Agniveer is dogmatic in declaring that Vedic religion is the ONLY religion for humanity, then all other cults in the world should also share the same blame.
This is a very strong argument. And in fact this argument has been the pretext on which so many cults and sub-cults exist in world today in all major religions and a new one keeps coming every other day.
The purpose of this article, however, is not to harp on this argument and defend Agniveer stance. Instead, the article would explain what exactly is Vedic religion and why Agniveer is not the first in a long generation of great souls that Mother Earth has produced who lived and died for Vedic religion. The article would explain why swearing by the name of Vedas is not the same as swearing by a Quran or Bible or any other ‘divine’ text for that matter.
And we challenge that after reading this article, you would also be compelled from within to adopt this Vedic religion if you have not done so far. In fact, almost everyone of us is already an adherent of Vedic religion, whether we admit in these many clear words or not. So all that this article would do is to urge you to come proactively in harmony with your true self rather than deny the undeniable.
What is religion?
To start, let us first define what we mean by religion. The common perception of religion is that of a cult or belief-system followed by a reasonably large population that has a specific set of beliefs in matters of life, death, afterlife, god and associated topics. If this be definition of ‘religion’, then ‘Vedic religion’ is anything BUT religion.
However, if we dwell into the etymology of ‘religion’, it is made of two words: ‘re’ meaning ‘again’ and ‘legion’ meaning ‘joining or connecting’. So the process of joining or connecting again to original source is ‘religion’. The word thus has a meaning very close to ‘Yoga’! We shall show that if this be the meaning of religion, why Vedic religion, for sure, is a true religion. I leave it to protagonists of other claimants of status of ‘religion’ to explain their point of view. I shall not comment on that. This article shall restrict only to understanding the Vedic religion and in the very process – convert you into a proactive proponent of Vedic Dharma.
(Note: Linguists may argue that ‘religion’ may have alternative etymologies and interpretations. But that does not concern us. Our allegiance is not to the word but the essence. If you feel like, you can use a different word to represent the same idea. We use the word ‘religion’ because it is most popular and hence easy to understand. To those who understand Indian culture, Dharma would be best word to represent this idea. Dharma means natural property. We shall discuss Dharma sometime later.)
What do you mean by Vedic religion?
Lets start with some
popular wrong answers.
Answer 1: Vedic religion means Hinduism
Answer 2: Vedic religion means considering 4 Vedas as divine just as Muslims consider Quran as divine and Christians consider Bible as divine
Answer 3: Vedic religion means following the 4 Vedas just as Muslims attempt to follow each letter of Quran and Christians follow each letter of Bible
Answer 4: Vedic religion means following Arya Samaj
Answer 5: Vedic religion means doing Sandhya, Havan (fire worship)
And here is the correct answer:
‘To accept truth through a continuous process of rejecting falsehood every moment to best of one’s abilities in the most sincere manner is Vedic religion’
This is beautifully described in Yajurveda 1.5:
“O Supreme Force governing the world! You function as per unchangeable laws which remain the same throughout without slightest of deviations. May I also seek inspiration from You to be unflinchingly principled in my life. Thus I resolve to seek truth constantly by eliminating the false from my life every moment to the best of my abilities, intentions and efforts. May I be successful in this noble decision of mine.”
This sums up the entire Vedic religion. This is the starting point. Everything else is secondary or a corollary. If this core spirit exists, one is a follower of Vedic religion. And if this does not exist, and yet everything else exists, it is still not Vedic religion.
Note that this spirit of falsehood rejection is a core trait for all human beings. We cannot survive without this ability. This inspires us to learn walking, talking, seeking education, making new discoveries and seeking growth and progress in life. Whether we consciously know it or not, whether we openly accept it or not, we all are actually surviving because we follow this Vedic religion or Vedic Dharma. Dharma means a natural property. Unlike a cult, Dharma is not and cannot be imposed. It is something natural and innate. Thus seeking truth is a natural trait of us all and the very fact that we live implies that we all follow the Vedic Dharma.
So what we mean by embracing Vedic Dharma or Vedic religion is to simply stop denying what you are already doing. To simply stop shouting that you are deep asleep when the very fact that you shout implies that you are not asleep. And to instead welcome the energizing morning sun-rays with energy, vigor and enthusiasm that is already there within you!
What is truth and falsehood?
Before we delve into this topic further, let us briefly explain what we mean by truth or falsehood. This is necessary because all cults claim to have exclusive copyrights of ‘truth’. Some are so possessive about it that they would recommend even death for those who intend to reject the ‘truth’ once they are part of the cult. Sounds like a psychopath ghost I saw in one horror movie who would give her victim the choice to either get murdered or be possessed by her!
Vedic truth is more ‘honest’. The word ‘Ved’ itself is derived from a root that means ‘knowledge’. So Vedic truth does not mean that you should believe in whatever I say simply because I claim to hold license of truth. You should not believe in something simply because a book or a prophet or an avatar or a crowd-puller or a celebrity or a TV Channel claims so.
Vedic truth simply means that you should accept anything the way it is actually and then act accordingly.
Vedic truth means that you should accept something only when it is logical, systematic, not self-contradictory and above all in line with your own inner voice. Without carrying these tests of truth, if you accept anything that would be falsehood.
So for example, if I claim that I am a Prophet and only by believing what I blindly write on Agniveer.com can one get rid of miseries and achieve Heaven, you have to scrutinize my claim in various ways. For example:
a. What if someone else also claims something similar? How am I the supposed to decide who is right and who is wrong?
b. Is whatever contained in Agniveer.com perfectly infallible? Is it unaffected by time and geography?
c. What about those who died before Agniveer.com was created? Why they had to miss the bus?
d. Does Agniveer.com contain anything that is wrong?
e. If following Agniveer.com alone is gateway to Heaven, then why was I given a separate brain that could think and analyze?
So you may conclude that while Agniveer.com does contain a lot of valuable and useful information, it is too premature for you to accept that Agniveer is a Prophet. So as a smart follower of Vedic religion, you would accept whatever is good in Agniveer.com and discount all other claims. And if you are smarter, you may altogether reject Agniveer.com and seek knowledge from other sources if you can logically conclude that the other sources are better for you.
But Vedic truth also does not mean that you should be over-skeptic of everything and accept anything ONLY when you can directly verify it. If one starts believing only in things that are directly identified by sense organs, then one cannot even survive for long. One has to use the faculties of logic, extrapolation, interpretations, counter-analysis and judgment that make us humans!
So for example, if you drive your car regularly, it would be grossly inefficient of you to spend 6 hours each time before you start the car to ensure that it does not breakdown. You would rather assess the track record, do regular maintenance and enjoy the ride. Or else, this over skepticism would be called paranoia.
Vedic religion would want us to be like smart managers of successful companies who are neither gullible nor paranoid. Someone who would proactively seek benefits from something that has given benefits or seems to give benefits as per best of one’s analyses, and yet be willing to reject it if the earlier judgment went wrong or get something better.
This is the truth of Vedic religion. To act on contrary would be falsehood.
To summarize, Vedic religion means being knowledge or wisdom driven.
Corollaries of Vedic religion
The above said criteria of Vedic religion was its fundamental axiom. Once this axiom is grasped, rest of the natural corollaries keep getting imbibed as we progress. This is like the fundamental axioms of Mathematics. Once they are in place, rest of the expertise in Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus get built up automatically.
Theoretically speaking, any person on earth can explore and imbibe all advancements in mathematics all by himself. But the process would be too tedious. So smart people send their children in schools so that they can quickly learn what would take perhaps 1000 births or even more. But unlike an expert in Filmy Quiz, one is not supposed to merely mug up all the mathematics formulas to be an expert in mathematics. Well, one may do so for efficiency, but that is definitely not a destination. A mathematician would be one who understands what led to (a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2 + 2ab. Further you have full liberty to refute a complex mathematical derivation in a maths book if you feel there was a printing or any other error.
And the way to do so is to follow the Vedic religion – test each step of the derivation for its truth and proceed. Soon you would not only master basic arithmetic but even advanced calculus!
Everything else that is normally perceived popularly about Vedas or Vedic religion is an extension. You are not FORCED to believe in them. They are like the Theory of Relativity and Laws of Motion. You can make best use of them anytime but you are not required to blindly believe in them. You can even reject them or counter them if you honestly consider that to be truth to best of your abilities and intent. You would still be following Vedic Dharma.
There are different levels of these extensions. Some are extremely obvious and intuitive, some need some more analyses and introspection, some may be research level subjects where experts have differences. This is similar to a school curriculum from Class 1 to PhD. Some examples of these extensions are:
- Truth leads to happiness. Falsehood leads to miseries
- Any attempt to seek happiness through falsehood would eventually lead to miseries with added penalties
- One should proactively seek happiness for world. Happiness multiplies by sharing.
- Law of Karma is unchangeable and working every moment. Your thoughts shape your reality.
- Soul is immortal and keeps facing fruits of its actions as per Law of Karma.
- There is a Supreme Force governing the world through unchangeable laws.
- The 4 Vedas contain the codes to subtler truths.
- One should seek holistic development and not lopsided growth. So faculties are multidimensional. Its like a school with hundreds of subjects.
(For a more elaborate description of some of the most obvious extensions of Vedic religion that are virtually as fundamental as the core axiom, refer http://agniveer.com/1634/religion-vedas/. For a more detailed analysis of less subtle extensions, read all the articles in http://agniveer.com/category/methods/vedas/ and charge yourself!)
Note that these are all extensions or corollaries. There are no penalties for refusing to believe in any extension simply because you don’t find it convincing given your current state of knowledge, experiences, habits and perceptions. The only penalties come in play when you deliberately attempt to ignore truths that have become intuitive and obvious to you and when you deny the urge for further knowledge, better actions and enhanced contemplation.
Thus the ONLY time you DO NOT follow Vedic Dharma is when you deliberately know you are doing something wrong or false but still do so ignoring your conscience. A corrupt politician, a fraud marketeer, a rapist, a murderer are obvious examples. Each of us when we surrender to lust, greed, selfishness, frustration, anger in actions, words or even in minds is a more honest example though many of these deeds may be hidden from others.
Each day, we follow Vedic religion in varying degree in different aspects of our lives. We do not score a 100 all the time in all aspects. Most of us may be scoring much lesser. But that DOES NOT make us less Vedic. We are Vedic so far we resolve to rise up each time we fall. To fall down is not a sin. We fall down because all our cumulative actions, thoughts and habits of past made us deserve the fall.
But we have a choice this moment – to continue with our fall or resolve to stand up.
You may not be able to do push-ups today. But you have a choice. Either you refuse attempting a push-up and fore-go the chance to have a powerful body tomorrow as well. Or attempt that first knee-down push-up at least and transform into a powerman sooner than you can imagine! The later would make you follower of Vedic religion.