What do you think about a culture which says to its gifted scientists, scholars and architects, . Nothing for self aU for society"; which calculated the distance between the sun and the earth and declared that gross atoms are not inert; all this 4000 years ago through transcendental research? And how much developed and structured will the social ethos of such a culture be? As most of the modem psychologists and scientists are discovering, it will definitely be better than the present society we are living in. Should we then not consider the call of, • Back to Vedas' more seriously?
Vedas hold the solution to the problems plaguing the world today, not only about science but about a good living, about balance, mental health and stress-free life, about total contentment. If only we peruse through the vast world of knowledge contained in the Vedas, we will surely bless our lives with much abundance, satisfaction and peace.
Every shloka in the Vedas is a pearl of wisdom, which we always had and yet cared not to preserve its preciousness. This book is an attempt to bring about in the human thinking today all that is good and promised by the Vedas, the eternal source of wisdom. What is needed in today's knowledge- based world is a change towards wisdom-based world.
Dr. Raj Kwnar Pruthi, a PhD from Kurukshetra University, acquired his Law degree from Delhi University. Later he did certificate courses from Jawaharlal Nehru University on International Politics and from Swami Vivekanand Yoga Research Centre, Bangalore, on yoga research methods. A seasoned teacher and researcher, he served in the Haryana Education Service from 1970 to 1973, and was Deputy Director (Research) in the Indian Council of Historical Research from 1973 to 1999. At present, he is a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
He is a well-read and widely travelled scholar who has presented papers in national and international seminars and conferences. Dr. Pruthi delivered the 1993 Annual Lecture at Banaras Hindu University and Sir William Mayer's Lecture at Madras University in 1994. A celebrated author and member of national and international academic organizations, he has many outstanding books to his credit.
Why another book on the Vedas and what is our aim? Our aim, dear reader, is to examine the relevance of the Vedas in our daily life and to understand how its teachings can help us to lead a stress free and happy life.
The credit for this new venture goes to the former Director Production of UBS, Vivek Ahuja who assigned this task to me. Hardwork put in by Miss Rima Kar is highly appreciated.
I cannot adequately thank the authorities on the subject who have directly and indirectly influenced in the preparation of this work.
All my family members have shown keen interest in this project and have helped me in different ways. I am grateful to them.
Finally, my publisher and his staff members at various levels have rendered their contribution. They deserve my readers love and patronage.
Never before in the history of human existence was there a greater need to examine and understand the relevance of the teachings of the Vedas as today. Mankind is today in the midst of one of the greatest crises ever, mainly due to the lack of adjustment of the human spirit to the enormous developments in science and technology.
While scientific inventions seem to have liberated us from servitude to nature, we now suffer from a type of neurosis from cultural disintegration and an inner loneliness. The study of the Vedas can bring about a transformation if we are to survive the holocaust of a moral and spiritual revolution inherent in human philosophy. Today, the hunger for political self-assertion is the most powerful. Our dreams have taken a political turn, and the Vedic teachings of higher realities have been rejected as irrelevant.
Our political systems and economic policies are imbued with alien concepts and practices. GDP* and GNP** have become the yardsticks of development. These are not the natural outgrowths of Indian ideas and systems, but fantasies born of our recent misfortune. When we thus stumple on unknown roads, after unrealities, we lose our identity in sentimental distractions. But success can only be achieved through the identification of our own personality. Perhaps that is why Dayanand Saraswati gave a call to go back to the Vedas. If we ever realize that above the sphere of politics there is a world of glory, then we can reconstruct .a real future based once again on the teachings of the Vedas.
The real wealth of India was never hidden like an old legal document in an iron safe. Her cultural life, spread far and wide, was the core of her personality. We may glimpse that eternal grace in the Vedic teachings, which we often fail to grasp, enveloped as we are by the dust storm of modernity.
In the Middle Ages, there was a religious conflict between the Hindus and the conquering Muslims. But we find a succession of saints and devotees-many Muslims among that galaxy, who bridged that gulf of religious differences with their devotional songs. They accepted as their motto the great thrust, which teaches us to see everyone as part of ourselves in the true spirit of the Vedic teachings. If we could draw our inspiration from that source, we would surely see an improvement in our political, economic and social behaviour which is certain to make our lives healthy, happy and prosperous.
The discovery of nuclear energy presents simultaneously the possibilities of human progress as well as risk of immediate and complete destruction. Modern science enhances the power of man to do evil as well as to resist it. The logical outcome of power politics in the nuclear age will not be world supremacy but universal genocide.
The enemy we have to fight is not capitalism or communism. It is our folly, our spiritual blindness, our love of power and our lust for domination. It is the road to faith, which inspires us with the strong hope of things to come. Only a moral and spiritual revolution in the name of human dignity can place man above the idols of economic production, technological organization, racial discrimination and national egotism.
Religion is not irrelevant to life. It offers guidance to a generation which is perplexed at its failure to find satisfaction and is now groping for light. Living faith in the Vedas will enable man to overcome this paralyzing sense of despair. The Vedas (sacred teachings) represent the oldest and most important texts of Hinduism. The Aryans compiled them around 1500 BC This collection of sacred literature is a combination of the Aryan nature--fire-- soma religion and the native religion of the Indian people whom they conquered. This large body of sacred works, which evolved over five hundred years between 1000 and 500 Be, is divided into five samhitas (collections) separately designated, viz Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda, and the Upanishads. While the Rig veda is the oldest and most important of these texts with some 1,028 hymns praising the soma-fire- nature gods, the four companion books have also greatly impacted beliefs and philosophy of the Hindus.
Each of the vedas is accompanied by a sacred prose work called the Brahmanas to which are added commentaries known as Aranyaka and Upanishad. The veneration in which the Veda is held is reflected in their description as Sruti (that which is revealed orally by the Brahmana) to the Rishis or inspired seers. The Yajurveda is the Veda of prayers and sacrificial formulas, the Sarna veda is the Veda of songs; the Atharvaveda is the Veda of priests containng a highly developed system of magic, spells and divination. Althrough for a long period of time this Samhita was not accepted into the holy canon. Omitting the Upanishads temporarily, the Brahmanas contain the rules and explanations for ritual sacrifices; these rules were used by the priests in the worship of the fire god, Agni and the sun god, Surya; the fire that burned during these religious rituals served as communication between man and the gods. The Aranyakas are known as the forest texts because they were recited in the forests in deference to their esoteric and magical nature. However, the major purpose of the Aranyakas was to give the devotees instructions in the techniques of substituting symbols for the ritual sacrifices and by the use of meditation to perform them mentally. This tradition and its training formed a transition to the later development of the mystical, spiritual, and boldly speculative teachings of the Upanishads; further, it stimulated the eventual creation of the various systems of yoga.
As regards to the Upanishads, it is apparent that they are unlike the Brahmanas and Aranyakas, because the commentaries that comprise what was to be known as the Upanishad were elevated into the Vedas and made a part of the five sacred Srutis. The Upanishad most fully elaborates one of the most fundamental principles of Hinduism-the view that all gods are but an outgrowth of Brahman, the universal soul; and then, in an epochal cosmic leap from heaven to earth declares that the same process applies to man; that each human soul, the atman, merges with and is one with this Brahmanic universal soul. One of the early major deities of the Rigveda was Varuna-the all-seeing god of justice and the guardian of cosmic order, or rita: From this attribution of Varuna evolves another fundamental concept of Hinduism-that order controls not only the macrocosm but also the microcosm-and therefore for man there were controlling laws of samhara, karma- and moksha. While some sectdeveloped from the Vedic tradition that have separated themselves from the Hindu religion, such as [ainism, Saivism, Tantrikism-and- even in an important sense, Buddhism. All, nonetheless, adhere to certain common beliefs and most worship the same gods embodied within the Vedic tradition.
Finally, the immense richness and the continuing profundity in much of the Vedic literature have contributed to its being one of the major religions of humankind. During the past several hundred years it has gained numerous adherents in the Western world, of including philosophers, artists, religionists, spiritualists-and the lay public. This interest has currently accelerated to the point where scientists, particularly in the field of psychology, have begun to study the entire Vedas to discover what it can contribute to our culture.
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