India is one of the most ancient civilization. India is a land of many creeds, the cradle of mankind, the motherland of language, the mother of history, the grandmother of epics and the great grandmother of traditions.
Our cultural heritage is ancient, vast, rich and blissful and its sources are—four Vedas, 18 Puraanas, 108 Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata consisting of about one lakh verses, the Agamas of the Jains, the Tripitikas of the Buddhists, the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikh brothers and the holy words of the pious saints of different regions.
As the time has passed, lack of knowledge about the same has failed to create self pride and esteem for these. Also, unfortunately, during the last few centuries, due to external attacks on the country, particularly those by the British, India has lost its capacity of guiding the world. The newly educated generation of this country today is totally unaware of the culture, traditions, philosophy and life values of this country.
Sources of Our Cultural Heritage will open the eyes of the people, trying to distance themselves from Hinduism. This book will let them know the great commonalities. It gives valuable knowledge and information about our vast and enriched cultural heritage in a very simple and lucid language.
Born at the Chuda village of the Surndranagar district in Gujarat in 1950, Shri SureshSoni belongs to a very simple family. At the tender age of sixteen, he engaged himself in various social activities.At the time of the declaration of ‘Emergency’ in India, he had to bear the brunt of the admonition by the government due to his patriotism and devotion for his motherland. During this period, he was in Indore jail.
T consider it my proud privilege that the senior publicist and I the present executive member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Shri Sureshji Soni, has entrusted upon me the responsibility of writing the preface of this brief sized but ideologically great work. I have not the least doubt that I am completely incompetent for this task. There, are many volunteers in the. Sangh, who are competent and, possess a deep knowledge in the subject, but they have taken a vow of anonymity towards the loftier end of the evolution of their `self. It would have been better had any one amongst them written the 'preface' of this book. However, affection plays a crucial role in this regard. I have dared to undertake this responsibility out of extreme affection for Soniji, even as I am aware of my limited knowledge.
There are two verses (shlokas) in our unifying literary sources:
These two verses form the subject-matter of Soniji's wonderful book. These two verses form the under-currents of the roots of our very ancient cultural life forces. These verses address these sources as the treasure-trove of knowledge (Jnan nidhi) and it has been advised that everyone must always carry them in their hearts. But the question is—how can such a vast repository of knowledge be accommodated in one's limited intellect? Consider the sources: Four Vedas, 18 Puraanas, 108 Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata consisting of about one lakh verses, the Agamas of the Jains, the Tripittika of the Buddhists the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikh brothers and the holy words of the pious saints of different regions. Even the beginning syllables of each of these books were to be compiled, they would form several scriptures. However, Soniji's skill lies in summarising this huge repertoire of knowledge in about 160 pages, as if infinity has been contained in a point. This spectacular achievement could not have been possible without a deep knowledge of the subject-matter. Soniji is rigorously rich in this esoteric knowledge and has introduced the root sources of the scriptures in a very simple and familiar style. I maintain that this book is a boon to the young and inquisitive learners, who must be read by all so as to strengthen the ties with their best ancient traditions.
Besides introducing the original knowledge base, Soniji has also discussed the misunderstandings, especially rooted in the minds of English-educated people. It is true that the western scholars have scruitinised the Hindu scriptures scientifically and written commentaries on them. This tradition had been almost non-existent for almost a thousand year. I will not discuss the possible historical reasons for the same here. With the exception of Sayanacharya, no commentary was written in that millennium on the Vedic treatises. Older commentaries could possibly be there, but we have no information about them. The reason was a mighty storm of Islam originating from Arab which aimed at destroying the entire repository of knowledge in the East. It, indeed, wiped out a substantial ancient knowledge. The logic presented by Caliph Umar against the defenders of the Library
at Alexandria, while consigning Alexandria library to flames is well-known: He asserted, if the books in this library contain knowledge found in the Quran Sharif, then it has no use and if the books contain knowledge not found in the holy Quran, then it must be heresy. Therefore, it must be burnt down. Thus, he consigned the great library to flames. The destructive and unbridled storm made similar damages in India. Taxila, Kashi, Nalanda and the other similar reputed learning centres were razed down. Therefore, the present generation has no information about the ancient commentaries, even if they might have existed. We must thank the British and the German scholars for their efforts in bringing the ancient repository of knowledge to the forefront. But the efforts of the western scholars were not always guided by pure motives. Professor Max Muller, considered amongst the top ones in the list of western Sanskrit scholars, had written clearly to his wife, "My translation of the Vedas will have a long-term impact on the fate of India in future. It is the root of their religion and the way to wipe out the beliefs over the last three thousand years from its origin." In a • letter to Shri N.K. Mazumdar, a year before he died, he wrote, "I am trying to purify the Hindu religion and bring it closer to Christianity. Why don't you and people like Keshav Chandra formally adopt Christianity? You all only need to walk over. People on the other side of the bridge are waiting to welcome you." Colonel Bodan, who had established a learning institution with sufficient donation of funds and the same institution which had motivated many British scholars to study, translate and analyse the Sanskrit works, also desired that the Hindus be converted to Christianity. Professor Max Muller had received financial help from the Bodan Trust. In other words, these scholars had a special motive in translating the vedic literature, the Puraanas and the other ancient literature and they interpreted these texts under the same motive. Shri Soniji has discussed it well under the heading 'A Conspiracy', which can be studied in detail there.
It is a misconception amongst a large number of people even today that the entire ancient Sanskrit is full of rituals, modes of worship etc. The Upanishads contain the highest knowledge. While acceding to this fact, they are considered as having only spiritual subject-matters. Science has nothing in common with the ancient Sanskrit literature. This misconception will be over after reading 'India's Glorious Scientific Tradition' by Soniji, published earlier. But the seeds of modern science or the glimpses of latest inventions can be found in the religious and philosophical texts introduced in this book. The Nasadiya sukta of the Rigveda discusses the state of the universe before its origin, which appears relevant event today.
A number of questions baffling the scholars of the day have been analysed in the Upanishads.
After the explosion of atom bomb, the instruments to measure heat broke down; the light generated was blindingly magnificient; everyone was awe-struck; what was seen and experienced was indescribable. In such circumstances, Open Heimer, the scientist suddenly uttered a verse from the eleventh chapter in Srimad Bhagwat Gita, describing the virat rupa or the vishwa rupa (the colossal form). Shri Soniji has described it in quite an interesting manner.
Soniji has briefly but aptly introduced philosophical schools of thought — Vedic and non-vedic, Brahmanical traditions and the followers of the Shraman tradition. The definition of our Hinduism is quite an extensive one, but the sufficient understanding of the non-vedic or the Shraman tradition is often not available. This book by Soniji will introduce to us the Jain Agamas and the Buddhist Pitaks, as they actually are. The similarity between different faiths will also be known. This book will open the eyes of the people, trying to distance themselves from Hinduism. The book will let them know the great commonalities. What is true for the different faiths is equally
True for different schools of thought? The very topic of the 16th chapter is `Sarva Darshan Samanvaya' (the unity of the schools of thought). The author, while concluding the chapter writes, "Superficially, the world appears manifold, dvaita (duality), but deeper down, there is a pervasive unity. The Nyaya-vaishesika school calls this state, moksha (beyond pleasure and pain), Sankhya calls it liberation from threefold suffering, yoga calls it the merger of the soul (atman) in anadsvarupa (blissful) Paramatman (Super Soul), Vedanta calls it moksha, Jainism calls it kaivalya gyan, Buddhism calls it nirvana, and all of them have described that highest state as one where man is liberated from the cycle of birth and death. At that stage, one experiences the highest blissful state.
In this manner, the basics of our cultural roots as found in our fundamental epics have been introduced in this book. This book is by no means voluminous, but it will definitely not compromise with the quality of the work. The great poet Kalidas has said, "Eko hi Dosho Guna sannipate nimmajateendo.h kiraneshwiwankah." It means (in'a plethora of qualities, a fault or two is submerged just as a dark spot in the rays of the moon). I not only hope but also have a firm belief that this book too will be honoured by the readers just as Soniji's earlier work 'India's Glorious Scientific Tradition'.
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