Vēdas contain all factual education (Vidya) of past, present and future. Vēdas contain basically two types of education1, (1) Apara Vidya and (2) Para Vidya. From elementary particle to Prakrithi (Nature) all materials and their properties, functions and what can be achieved from them are described in Apara Vidya. The true knowledge of God is given by Para Vidya. Vēdas contain Vidyas that can be further classified as (a) Vignana (All materials True Knowledge) (b) Karma (Duties) (c) Upaasana (Being near to God) (d) Gnana (Knowledge). Utilizing Karma, Upaasana and Gyana properly and knowing all the materials from the elementary particles to God and getting benefit from them is called Vignana1.
The above mantra is from Yajur Vēda, 31 Adhyaya, and Mantra 7. This mantra says about the origin of Vēdas. It says the Four Vēdas viz., Rig, Sāma, Atharva and Yajur are given by God.
Vēdas are given by God in the form of Rig-Vēda, Yajur-Vēda, Sama-Vēda and Atharva-Vēda. Rig-Vēda contains 10,522 Mantras, Yajur-Vēda contains 1975 Mantras, Sama-Vēda contains 1875 Mantras and Atharva-Vēda contains 5977 Mantras. The total Vēda Mantras are 20349.
- Vēdas are the knowledge of God.
- At the beginning of creation God gave the knowledge of four Vēdas to four Rishis. Rig Vēd to Agni, Yajur Vēd to Vāyu, Sāma Vēd to Surya and Atharva Vēd to Angirasa. Here the names Agni, Vāyu, Surya and Angirasa belong to Rishis who are humans and are not of any Devatha (divine material) found in Vēdas.
- The language of Vēdas is Samskrutham.
- According to Rishis Vēdas are described as follows. Those in which the properties, activities and nature of God are described and in which there is no dispute in the order of creation of the world and in which proofs of science can be found and in which there is no illusion or confusion and in which cause and reason about the universe and its constituents are described and in which truth and only truth is given and which are self vouching are called Vēdas, Sruthis, Nigamas, Chanddass or Mantras.
What different Maharishis got to say on the Authorship and importance of Vēdas
- According to Manu2 “Every Arya must read or listen to Vēda at least once in a day”.
- According to Rishi Kanva “The descriptions in Vēdas is filled with knowledge and are given by God. The education in it is completely impartial and only truth is given. I agree to take Vēdas as proof for describing science”.
- According to Rishi Goutham “Vēdas are eternal and must be taken as proof for Science”.
- According to Maharishi Patanjali “Our Ancients Agni, Vāyu, Surya, Angirasa, Brahma were born at the beginning of the world (Off course along with many others). From them to us God is the teacher and with the Vēdas He gave us knowledge”.
- According to Maharishi Kapila “From the knowledge of God, Vēdas were evolved. So Vēdas are self vouching. No other proof is required”.
- According to Maharishi Sri Krishna Dvipayana (Vyasa Maharishi) “The four Vēdas are filled with all types of education. They are self radiant and contain only truth and nothing but truth. Other than God no one could give them to us”.
- According to Maharishi Dayanada Saraswathi “Vēdas are given by God. God is omnipotent, ubiquitous and has eternal knowledge. Therefore His Vēdas are without illusion and are self vouching”.
Who can study Vēdas?
- According to Yajur Vēda mantra (26.2) (The above mantra) everyone in the universe is eligible to read Vēdas.
- According to Manu “educating people by teaching Vēdas is the best act that any individual or society can do”.
This mantra is from Atharva Vēd 10th Mandalam, 23rd Prapātak, 4th Anuvāk, 7th Suktham and 20th mantra. From the almighty God Rig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva Vēd were born. Atharva is equal to His Face, Sāma is equal to His hair, Yajur is equal to His heart and Rig Vēda is equal to His Prānna. He is the Vēda Kartha (creator). Here God has described the production of Vēdas with Rōpaka Alankāra. It does not mean God has a form like a human. This description gives the importance of these Vēdas and their function. For example let us discuss about the description “Yajur is like His heart”. Since God is everything of the Universe and if Universe be compared to the human body then Yajur is like heart. We know what the function of heart is. Heart pumps the blood to every part of the body and keeps them working. That means if humans do not do proper work the Universe will not exist (What?). Yes if the heart does not work the human body does not work. In Yajur Vēda all Karmas are described for humans to perform. Therefore the humans have to perform Karmas as given in Vēdas. As heart takes in bad blood and sends it to lungs for purification similarly Yajur Vēda tells us about the Yagna Prakriya in which we will learn how to perform Yagna and purify the Universe. Also Yajur Vēda contains the information about the other works (Karmas) that humans should do. Rig is like Prānna of the body. Without Prānna no human can be alive. Similarly without the knowledge and uses of the materials of this world, one cannot use the Universe and get benefitted and the human who could not use this fact is equal to dead. Atharva is equal to face of the Universe. We recognize people with their face and also face contains the main senses of the body. That means with the help of Atharva Vēd one should access the Universe. Sāma is like hair of the human. I leave it to the readers to think the importance of Sāma Vēd.
What does Rig Vēda contain?
- Rig Vēda contains a total of 10,522 Mantras.
- Rig Vēda is called Gnana Kanda.
- Rig Vēda contains knowledge about every matter that is present in the world including God and their properties.
- Rig Vēda is divided into 10 Mandalas, 85 Anuvakas, 1028 Sukthas and contains 10,522 Mantras.
- These Mantras have a Rishi name or several Rishis names (Those who first realized the mantra meaning)1, Devatha (The prominent meaning on which the mantra was given)1, Chanddass (Type of Poem)1 and Swara (Type of musical note which appoints the meaning to the mantra)1.
What does Yajur Vēda contain?
- Yajur Vēda contains 40 Adyayas and 1975 Mantras.
- Yajur Vēda contains Karma Kanda.
- Yajur Vēda Mantras have Rishi, Devatha, Chanddass and Swara.
- Yajur Vēda describes every act that humans must follow. Also it describes government, dharma, yagna, getting education from Vēdas, how to win over enemies in the war, how to use agni and such materials in vehicles, how to live more than 300 years, medicine, mathematics, construction of buildings, what food should be taken, description of God, final rituals etcetera.
What does Sāma-Vēda contain?
- Sāma Vēda contains 1875 Mantras.
- SāmaVēda is divided into Two Main Parts. (1) Purvarchika (2) Uttarachika
- In the first part there are 3 kandas, 6 prapatakas, 6 adhyayas and mantras.
- In the second part there are 9 prapatakas, 21 adhyayas and mantras.
- These Mantras have Rishi, Devatha, Chanddass and Swara.
- This Vēda is sung as a song.
- In Sāma Vēda mainly Upāsana of God is described.
What does Atharva-Vēda contain?
- Atharva Vēdacontains 5977 Mantras.
- There are 20 Kandas in this Vēda and each mantra has a Rishi, Devatha and Chanddass and Swara.
- There are 9 branches in this Vēda. (1) Charana Vidya which contains medicine and surgery. (2) Deva Darsana which contains Physical world knowledge. (3) Brahma Vēda contains Brahma Gynana. (4) Jalad contains knowledge about water (5) Jajvali contains knowledge about Agni (6) Shounaka contains about Brahma (7) Modha contains knowledge about how to increase mind and life of a person. (8) Pipalad contains the duties of jeeva and Brahma (9) Tantra contains knowledge about electricity, scientific activities, chemical, air, water, poison, artillery etcetera.
How many Branches of Vēdas do we have?
- We have 1127 branches which are explanations or commentaries of Vēdas that are given by Rishis. Each Vēda (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) is divided into branches which when added gives 1127.
- The following are NOT Vēdas but are Sastras (Written by Rishis) which are used for educating a student1. These are not Vēdas because these sastras depend on Vēdas for proof. Whereas Vēdas are self vouching. Every Sastra refers to Vēdas in providing evidences and Vēdas provide themselves for proofs and do not depend on any other sastra.
(a) 6 Vēdangas viz., Siksha (Written by Rishi Pānini and gives basic letters and lessons of Samskrutham), Astadyayi (Gives Grammar), Mahabhashyam (Grammar), Negantu/ Neruktam (Written by Rishi Yaska and is a Vedic Dictionary and its explanation), Chanddassu (Written by Pingallacharya and is connected with Prose and Poetry), and Jyothishyam (Surya Sidantha which includes Mathematics and Astrophysics).
(b) Manusmruthi (Manu’s writings), Rāmāyana (History), and Maha Bharatha (History).
(c) Six Darshanas viz., Pūrva Memāmsa, Visheshikam, Nyayam, Yogam, Shankya and Vēdantha.
(d) Ten Upanishads viz., Ēsa, Kēna, Kata, Prasna, Mundaka, Māndūkya, Itharēya, Thitariya, Chāndogya and Brihadaranyaka. Also the eleventh Upanishad is Swethaswatharōpanishad.
(e) Four Brāhmanās viz., Ithareya, Shathapatha, Sāma and Gōpatha.
(f) Upavedas viz., Ayurveda (Medicine), Dhanurveda (Martial arts and Government), Ghandarva Vidya (Vocal Music, Musical Instruments and Dance), Artha Vēda or Shilpa Vidya (Material science, Engineering and Scientific Technical skills and construction)
(g) Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads and Darsanas are not Vēdas. These are human literatures giving the explanations on Vēda Mantras or related descriptions1.
About Creation in Vēdas
- According to Vēdas only God, Jeevatma and God’s ability (Which is called as Prakrithi after creation) were present before creation.
- At that time not even Paramanus (smallest entities or elementary particles) were present.
- At that time not even darkness was present.
- Even before Sun and moon were created, the creation of the universe has begun.
- It is not possible to know directly (So indirect methods should be applied) how the creation started.
- In Rig Vēda, 10th Mandalam, 190 suktham has three mantras only. These give how the creation was started.
- Rig Vēd 10th Mandalam gives about Creation of the Universe.
- There are many mantras in Vēdas which give a detailed description of creation.
- For convenience some of these mantras are collected from different Vēdas and put together as Purusha Suktham.
What is the essence of Vēdas?
- To know God.
- To know what to do according to science and to know what is science.
- To know every dharma and act accordingly.
- To perform the duties righteously.
- To get salvation (Mōksham).
1. RigVeda Bhasyam by Maharshi Dayananda Saraswathi
2. Manu Smruthi