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2-What is Ved

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2-What is Ved
see also     Sources of Ved,   Division of Ved,   Dharm Shaastra,   Braahman,    Upanishad;   Origin of Sangeet Saam Ved;    Vaidik Devtaa;

Structure of Ved

Most Hindu religious literature is written and found in Sanskrit language as it was the first all-India language. Its early literature was memorized and recited, that is why it is just impossible to date it with any accuracy. Ved are the earliest iterature of Hindu Dharm. In the beginning there was only one Ved, but considering it difficult to grasp by a single person, Ved Vyaas Jee divided it into four parts - Rig Ved, Yajur Ved, Atharv Ved and Saam Ved. In each of the four Ved a distinction has been made according to content and form. Each Ved has a main book called (1) Sanhitaa; and three ancillary books - (2) Braahman; (3) Aaranyak; and (4) Upanishad. Each Ved Sanhitaa can have more than one Braahman, more than one Aaranyak and more than one Upanishad attached to it. Most of the Braahman and Aaranyak have lost their religious usefulness over time. Upanishad, however, have retained their value till now.

(1) The Sanhitaa
The Sanhitaa is a collection of hymns or prayers, to God in various manifestations, containing also formulae necessary in the sacrificial use of these hymns, known as Mantra. The word Sanhitaa means a collection of the Mantra belonging to a particular section of the Ved, which are either in metrical verses (Rik) or sentences in prose (Yajus) or chants (Saam).

(2) The Braahman
The Braahman teach the practical use of the verses and the chants presented in the Sanhitaa. However, the Braahman, though they are supposed to be only sacrificial injunctions for purpose of ritualistic utilization of the Mantra of the Sanhitaa, go beyond this restricted definition and contain much more material, such as Vidhi (a directive precept), Arthavaad (laudatory or eulogizing explanation), and Upanishad, (the philosophical or mystical import of the chant or the performance).

(3) The Aaranyak
The Aaranyak are esoteric considerations of the practical ritual, which is otherwise the main subject of the Braahman. The opening passage of the Brihadaaranyak Upanishad, in which the horse-sacrifice is treated as a symbol, would serve as an example of how a ritualistic symbol and material is used as a cosmological concept for purpose of religious contemplation and philosophic meditation.

(4) The Upanishad
The Upanishad, except the Eeshaavaasya Upanishad which occurs in the Sanhitaa portion of the Yajur Veda, occur as the concluding mystical import and philosophical suggestiveness of some Braahman or the other. The philosophical sections of the Braahman and Aaranyak are usually detached for the purpose of study, and go by the name of Upanishad, brought together from the different Ved to form a single whole.

There has been a practice of calling "Sanhitaa" for the Ved. For example, Rig Ved Sanhitaa means Rig Ved, Yajur Ved Sanhitaa means Yagur Ved. Since these Sanhitaa are the oral preservations, their texts slightly differ from region to region. While the most important Sanhitaa, Rig Ved, is remarkably identical throughout the Hindu world, while Yajur Ved Sanhitaa is not. There are two main texts of Yajur Ved - (1) Shukla Yajur Ved, which is called Vaajsaneyee Sanhitaa also. This also has two texts differing slightly with each other. One is called Maadhyaandini Rescension and the other one is called Kaanv Rescension. Maadhyaandini is almost universally accepted now. (2) Krishn Yajur Ved - in this Ved there are four slightly varying texts available. Yet the text called "Taittireeya Sanhitaa" is practically universally accepted out of the four. For Saam Ved and Atharv Ved only one Sanhitaa each is universally accepted.

But all the Ved provide the same knowledge to experience the Supreme through different paths. The Rig Ved would approach this goal through prayer and intellectual pursuits; the Saam Ved through musical renderings of the hymns; the Yajur Ved through Yagya and invocation of Agni to carry the message of the hymns to the Supreme; and the Atharv Ved through Tantra or other rituals. The Ved propound and accept all forms of religious practice in the pursuit of understanding and merging with the Supreme. Hence it is highly secular and tolerant in its teachings by ultimately preaching.

Four Parts Related to Four Aashram
Tradition considers that the Brahmchaaree, or the celibate student (which is the first part of the dedication of human life) occupies himself with a study of the Sanhitaa; the Grihasth, or the householder (which is the second part of the dedication of life) is expected to diligently perform the rituals detailed in the Braahman in relation to their corresponding Mantra from the Sanhitaa; the Vaanaprasth, or the recluse, the hermit (the third part of the dedication of life) rises above prayer as a chant and performance as a ritual, and busies himself with pure inward contemplation of the more philosophical and abstract realities hidden behind the outward concepts of divinity and the external performances of ritual; and the Sanyaasee, or the spiritually illumined renunciate (the fourth and concluding part of the dedicated life) occupies himself with direct meditations as prescribed in the Upanishad, whose outlook of life transcends all-empirical forms, outward relations as also space and time itself.

Subject Matter of the Sanhitaa
The verses of the Sanhitaa contain prayers, which seek contentment, courage, energy, fearlessness, forgiveness, mercy, good life, happiness, health, long life, mental growth, peace, progeny, success in general, victory, virtue, health and zeal etc. Besides these there are prayers singing the glory of God, including prayers for special people and special occasions. many verses deal with the beginnings of the Universe, value of charity, death and after, Divinity in man, idle talk, laziness, love, man to woman
[Aangiras, p 347-349]

Why Ved Are So Important?
Shankaraachaarya said this in his arguments with Mandan Mishra : "If something is known and knowable by other means, then Ved are superfluous. Ved clarify things which otherwise not knowable by any other means." By the way, Ved word is derived from the root Vid - to know. So Ved helps to understand which by other means is not possible. The sacred scripture of the Hindu communicated by the Supreme to and revealed by Brahmaa.

Shiv says in Brihannal Tantra, Ch iv - "The Ved is Brahm, Brahmaa was not its author, but was its publisher. It came out from Brahmaa Jee as his breathing."

Swaamee Vivekaanand says the following about thoughts, words and objects - "The Ved are simply words that have the mystical power to produce effects if the sound intonation is right. If one sound is wrong it will not do. Each one must be perfect. [Thus] what in other religions is called prayer disappeared and the Ved became the gods. So the tremendous importance that was attached to the words of the Ved. These are the eternal words out of which the whole universe has been produced. There cannot be any thought without the word. Thus whatever there is in this world is the manifestation of thought, and thought can only manifest itself through words. This mass of words by which the unmanifested thought becomes manifest, that is what is meant by the Ved. It follows that the external existence of everything [depends on the Vedas, for thought] does not exist without the word. If the word "horse" did not exist, none could think of a horse. [So] there must be [an intimate relation between] thought, word, and the external object. What are these words [in reality]? The Ved. They do not call it Sanskrit language at all. It is Vaidik language, a divine language. Sanskrit is a degenerate form. So are all other languages. There is no language older than Vaidik.

You may ask, "Who wrote the Ved?" They were not written. The words are the Ved. A word is Ved, if I can pronounce it rightly. Then it will immediately produce the [desired] effect." (The origin of ancient Sanskrit is 5,000 BC; the Upanishad [are at least] 2,000 years before that. Nobody knows [exactly] how old they are.)

Rig Ved 1.72.2 and 8 mention that the greatest service to God is to spread the spirit of Ved with honesty, straight-forwardness, without deceit of any kind, for all to enjoy true and spiritual happiness. By understanding the philosophy, metaphysics, knowledge and various models contained in the Ved, we can perhaps find viable solutions to our present social, economic, political and religious problems.

Based on Ved several Smriti have come into existence to make the contents simpler and easy to understand and follow. These Smriti are the basis for Dharm Shaastra, Mahaa-kaavya, Puraan, Aagam or methods of worship etc. They consolidate the rules and regulations necessary to regulate the society from time to time. As society grows and changes, Smriti should also change. Otherwise, it will be like forcing a dress stitched for a baby on a grown up man. That is how the Smriti written by Manu, Yaagyavalkya or Paraashar have become outdated. (The Indian Constitution is the Smriti now being followed in our country).

(1) What do Ved teach us?
Upanishad have originated from Ved. Then what do Ved teach us? They teach us four things - (1) Injunctions and Prohibitions, (2) Valedictory (praise) and deprecatory passages, (3) Mantra, and (4) Names. All these four are necessary to understand true Dharm or religious duties from different angles, that is why to study them is the pre-requisite to know Brahm. They are the supreme authorities that is why one should study them with the help of a good Aachaarya. In another way, Ved contain three eternal education - Gyaan Kaand ie, science; Karm Kaand ie, form of deeds; and Upaasanaa Kaand ie, worship.

(2) What is the Purpose of Ved?
Study of Mathematics, computer science, etc., helps one to understand changing Nature (!) and earn money. The purpose of Ved is to understand "who am I".

(3) Why should one Understand Oneself?
If one cannot have an understanding of "who am I", how one can understand other subjects which are other than "I" or the SELF.

(4) Why should Vaidik Study be Open to all?
In our times of a watchman job or an errant job requires a qualification at least the least of all, the mental stability as qualification it is strange to expect a subject like Ved when studied and followed in life qualifies one to find an answer to the question "who am I".

(5) Why are Ved contradictory - once says God is one, at other times says Varun is the best God, yet another time Sun... etc...?
Ved are inherent in creation and brought out by the "seers" - Rishi at various points of time - i.e. known to man kind at various points of time -
NOTE: Neither it is created by a Rishi or by any God but still it is eternal - the Rishi has said them what they saw (Divya Drishti - Divine Sight). Besides Ved are not for one person or for one level of people. Ved teach different class of people in different stages in life with different mental maturity levels or nature (called Vaasanaa), that is why it has to necessarily satisfy all. Hence one finds many contradictory statements. This is to be expected because it deals with a subject matter which cannot be an object of study but itself is the Subject. The suggestion by Ramana Maharshi is to take what is suitable for one and leave the rest.

(6) How can Vaidik study lead one to the Reality - there is nothing but SELF called Aatmaa, God, Shakti, etc.,?
Anything other than SELF is not real, including Ved, but amazingly they lead to the Reality - like a stair case leads to a top floor. Stair case as such is not a floor for our living but without the staircase one cannot reach the next floor.

(7) Is there any connection between Ved learning and Sanyaasee?
No, There is no connection. In fact Sanyaasee are prohibited from chanting Ved. Forget about Ved, Sanyaasee are not authorized to chant even Gayatri. Sanyaasee's only Mantra is OM. Sanyaasee forsake all pleasures, comforts, relations, everything with focus only on Self or Aatmaa or understanding "who am I".

(8) Why do Ved have Karm Kaand, if the ultimate aim is to forsake even Ved in the quest of knowing the Self or I?
A child of say 7 years cannot get admission into PhD courses; in order to get eligibility for PhD , the 7 yr old has to study in a "Kram" or an order going thru' primary, middle, secondary, graduate, post graduate in this ORDER ONLY. Not in any other order, say- start from middle school, then primary etc. In the same way those of us who have no mental maturity or can dissociate SELF with the ego-I or I identifying with this physical body, have to go in an Order "Kram", starting from Sandhyaa Vandan, etc, For the sake of Kram, Karm Kaand forms the majority or - 75% of Ved. Also the most majority can go only in a step by step way. Like, most students have to go in step by step. Like child prodigy there occurs straight after birth Gyaanee like Ramana Maharshi or Raamkrishn Paramahans. In essence, observing Karm Kaand's Karm in course of time will provide with adequate maturity to understand the Reality.

(9) Why a major portion of Karm Kaand is dedicated to ancestors?
This is so, not for the emancipation of deceased but those observing these Karm, showing the gratitude towards those who are responsible for this human birth. Observing Shraaddh etc, is for the benefit of the one who is performing. But one is pushed to do these Karm telling that his ancestors will reach heaven etc by doing those Karm, so that for the love of departed ones one is prompted to do these Karm.

(10) Are Ved not to be read or heard by women and Shoodra?
Ved do not say so. Rather Yajur Ved, 26.2 says,
Yathemaam Vaacham Kalyaanee maa vadaani Jarnebhyah
Brahm raajanyaabhyaam Shoodraaya chaaryaaya cha Swaaya chaaranaaya
"As I preach this Ved to everybody for the welfare of the mankind - Braahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shoodra, you also do in the same way."


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/20/13