What is Vedic culture? Vedic culture is a way of life shown to the world by the saints and sages of India. It embraces both the materialistic and the spiritualistic aspects of human existence. Id philosphical and psychological concepts coupled with its prevalent institutions, customs, and manners enable the individual to view life in the right perspective; to differentiate between appearance and reality, and to determine the relative importance that should be paid to the various aspects of existence in the different chapters of life. Its pragmatic philosophy of Enjoyment-Renunciation guarantees to the individual mental equipoise, serenity, and calm, and helps the individual to lead a life free from passions.
Vedic culture has its mine of information and knowledge in Vedic literature. The principal components of this literature are the four Vedas, nine Brahmans Granth., eleven Upanishads, six Vedangas, four Upa-Vedas, six Darshanas or systems of philosophy, and the Bhagawad Gita. The present book is therefore an exposition of the cultural heritage which we have derived from these treatises.
There are, no doubt, a number of books already in existence on this subject. But the approach of this book is new, very original, and pragmatic for several reasons. Man and the world are viewed as a whole; due emphasis being attached to the physical and non-physical aspects of existence. The discussions do not end merely with a theoretical exposition of the various philosophical and psychological concepts. It is also shown how these principles were translated into practice by means of the existing social, religious, and economic institutions, customs, manners, etc., and the corresponding benefits which both the individual and the society as a whole derived from them. Vedic culture has not been treated in isolation from the other creeds that have attracted man. Appropriate and exhaustive references have been made to the other scriptures of the world. Thus the teachings of Buddha, Christ, Mos., Mohammed, Confucius, etc., also find their footing in the book. Several important philosophical and psychological concepts of the West have been synthesized with the Vedic ideals. It is due to this blending of Eastern and Western thought that the reader will say to himself at the end of the book: 'Yes, the East and the West have been made to meet.'
Written in a simple, lucid, and comprehensive style this book is meant for: all who are interested in a new and happy way of living; those foreigners and Indians who desire to know something concrete about India's approach to life, her institutions, and her philosophy; and the university students of Indian and Western philosophy, psychology, and religion. It is truly a book intended for everybody and one which if opened with expectations will certainly be closed with profit.
Professor Satyavrata Siddhantalankar, who was nominated to the Parliament of India by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, holds the doctorate (Vidya Martand) degree of the Gurukula Kangri University Hardwar. He has been its Vice-Chancellor for two terms of office extending over a period of ten years. Gurukula Kangri University was founded seventy years ago for the cultural revival of ancient Indian ideas with an emphasis both on the Eastern and the Western lore. Besides being an orator of outstanding ability Professor Satyavrata Siddhantalankar is a volumincus writer in Hindi, Sanskrit, and English. He is the author of more than twenty books on culture, education, sociology, and psychology. Most of his works are used either as reference books or as text-books by the different universities at the graduate and post-graduate levels.
He was awarded the All-India Mangalaprasad Prize for his outstanding literary work in Sociology by the All-India Hindi Sahitya Sammelan of Allahabad. The Language Department of the Punjab Government honoured him as a litterateur by holding a special darbar at Chandigarh.
According to the Indian tradition the writing of commentaries on the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Vedanta is known as Prasthana Trayee , and the one who writes on these subjects is universally acclaimed an Acharya. Verily this is the highest honour in the field of learning. Professor Sass Siddhantalankar has written exhaustive commentaries and made original contributions on all these three treatises which are deemed to be the embodiments of India's culture and Indian way °fide. His commentary on the Upanishads is prefaced by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, on the Gita by the late Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri. And the present book Heritage of Vedic Culture is a very original exposition of the Vedanta coupled with the different aspects of Indian philosophy. Thus Professor Satyavrata Siddhantalankar may rightly be styled as an exponent of Prasthana Payee.
IN recent times there is an upsurge of persons in Europe who are anxious to overhaul and completely reconstruct the social structure of the modern world. These people endorse the widely prevalent view that whatever has been achieved so far in the course of evolution has been based only on selfishness, jealousy, distrust, hatred, greed, avarice, and aggrandisement. And since these elements have ultimately led to restlessness and war, this thinking intelligentia proposes to substitute them with the other and the exactly opposite qualities of truth, love, sympathy, self-abnegation, and sacrifice in order to create a new world. The emergence of this type of spiritual awakening in Europe which is the stronghold of materialism is not surprising in the context of the degenerated present conditions.
But centuries ago, Indian saints and sages had come to the conclusion that the elements on which materialism was based were without content. They upheld that humanity could not move even one step forward by making them the basic principles of life. This factual statement is corroborated by experience. For how far has the world advanced by making jealousy, distrust, hatred, anger, lust, greed, and attachment the basis of social reconstruction? The spiritual thinkers of India went to the extent of propounding that materialism could not even survive without the constituents of spiritualism. Is there any materialist who considers himself to be following the right code of conduct when he indulges in murder, falsehood, theft, dishonesty, and licentiousness? No, not even one, but why not ?
If it is upheld that only that which is visible is true, and that the invisible is not true, then selfishness can and must be the summum bonum of life. In this context selflessness, service, love, friendliness, brotherhood, and benevolence can be considered right only when they help to achieve some personal, selfish end and wrong when they obstruct it. Yes, this should necessarily always be the materialistic point of view. It is, however, amazing to note that even the materialists speak highly of those very elements which are valued as essentials by the spiritualists. Is it not surprising that even the materialists hesitate to give up totally their allegiance to truth, love, honesty, and other similar elements? The reason is not far to seek.
The materialists also realize that ultimately it is truth and not untruth which both works and survives in the world. They readily admit that it is love not jealousy, sympathy not hatred, cooperation not antagonism, and non-violence not violence which mitigate the harshness of the machine of life.
However, it cannot be denied that truth, love, sympathy, non-violence, etc., which are the universally recognised essentials of spiritualism, are not accepted as basic tenets by materialism. In the ultimate analysis it will be found that in practice materialists adhere to them only so long as they fulfil their personal ambitions and do not hesitate to abandon them the moment they seem not to subserve their interests. Their conception of truth and falsehood, of honesty and dishonesty, also undergoes a change in accordance with this criterion. For example, to the materialists, truth turns into falsehood if it comes into conflict with their aims and objectives, and falsehood occupies the lighted niche of truth if it helps them to further themselves. For them, honesty is the right code of conduct if by practising it something is gained. Dishonesty will be equally welcome if it pays mom. Their ideal, in the words of Shakespeare, is: 'Let me if not by birth, have lands by wit: All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.'
In the bridge game of materialism, the trump card which every materialist holds in his hands is 'no criterion for myself, all criteria am for others.' And the tricks he plays to complete his rubber am: `truth is not for myself, but my temper is for the liar,' 'corruption is for me, but honesty is for my neighbour.' But even the materialist finds this outlook in the long run to be self contradictory. How is it possible to live a life of falsehood and dishonesty but at the same time to expect truth and honesty from others? This .1f-contradictory outlook cannot sustain itself and therefore it cannot be upheld. The belief which is indispensable in our dealings with others is: `what is good for others must be good for me too,' and `I must do unto others as I would others do unto me.' If it be necessary for the smooth' sailing of our own boat that others should manifest truth, honesty, and love, is it not equally incumbent upon us to manifest the same qualities for the proper maintenance of harmonious relations with others?
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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