Saturday, February 18, 2006

Vedas, Hinduism and Sanathana Dharma

Recently I had some interesting discussions with my friends about these topics. You can find the original post and the thread of comments here. I thought I could aggregate all of my views/opinions in a single place here. The discussion started with the last verse in the movie Matrix. Those of you who remember, the movie Matrix ends with a hindu/hindi/sanskrit prayer, right! It is actually the Hindu hymn of peace and it can be clearly stated as follows:

Roman Script:
Asatoma Sadgamaya,
Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya,
Mrutyorma Amruthangamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shaantihi

Telugu Script:
అసతోమా సద్గమయ
తమసోమా జ్యోతిర్గమయ
మృత్యోర్మా అమృతంగమయ
ఓం శాంతిః శాంతిః శాంతిః

Meaning:
From untruth, lead us to truth;
From darkness, lead us to light;
From death, lead us to immortality.
Om peace, peace, peace.

This is called Shanti Mantra (hymn of peace). Though the origin of this hymn is from Rig Veda, the musical version of it can also be found in Sama Veda. Rig Veda is a collection of hymns and Sama Veda revises them adding musical aspect to them.

The term Hinduism, or rather Hindu is actually very new (probably around 200 years old), but the concepts existed from a long long time ago. It was just called Sanathana Dharma, which by the way means righteous living. 'Ananto Vai Vedaha', says elders (vedas are infinite) and they are also called 'Anaadi', which means they have no beginning with respect to time, as they are the breath of God for which you cannot add a time attribute. And vedas are also referred as 'Apourishayas', which means they are not from human origin. The best source to learn about vedas are vedas themselves, but you can find a pretty comprehensive description of vedas in an interactive CD called 'Veda Manjari' created by Putaparthi Students of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, here is the link http://www.saibabalinks.org/news/others/2005/vedamanjari.htm.

So the concepts of vedas have been existing for a long time. But I guess from time to time, they needed to be told in such a way that a common man could grasp them. Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Nanak, Jourashtar and many others took several aspects of it and preached in their own way. And each and every one is perfectly true and correct.

The origin of Vedas is not human, but they they were told by God himself and it is intended to be followed by humans. The earlier rishis heard them in their wake of their enlightenment from God. The Vedas are just a way of living righteously.

Many westerners today are getting interested to know about Vedas. Its good. I wouldn't say that leave the Vedas to those able to learn them. The westerners may not be able to grasp them completely, in fact no one would be able to grasp them completely (one life time would not be sufficient to get to know them to the fullest extent). They would only learn a drop in an ocean and as long as that drop is pure, it serves its purpose...

One of the main principles of Vedas is 'Aham Brahmasmi', which means I am Brahman. Here Brahman means God, but more specifically Brahman refers to the qualities of God, which are Sat, Chit, and Ananda. Sat means eternity, Chit means knowledge and Ananda means bliss. So Vedas indeed say that we are all Brahman or God (in other words, all of us have these qualities). Upanishads are called vedantas, which means the end or essense of vedas. Upanishads contain the essense of Vedas in an easily understandable way.

There are several deities in hinduism. These deities are stepping stones in reaching the supreme one. It is usually difficult to meditate on formless God and these deities or idols help us overcome it and the ultimate goal is to move from the idol to formless God.

There is a subtle different between the almight creator (God) and His wonderful creation. We play the God (creator)'s role when we are giving birth to a child. God gave this immense responsibility to be creators, and some realize it and some don't. Those realized persons (who completely understand that they are indeed God) are blessed ones and we let them lead us to the path of spirituality which they have already realized. In hinduism, when somebody is raised to divine level, we are acknowledging the fact that they attained self-realization and we let them lead us to spirituality. And as long as we can benefit from their knowledge, they have served their purpose in life.

I'm not arguing that one religion is older or greater than the other, the point is that the essence is the same in everything and every one of them refers to the same one and only God, but in different ways/paths and we should appreciate it. We have to realize that the end goal of all the religions is the same: serve our fellow men and service to mankind is service to God.

10 comments:

ayyappa said...

Hi I am Bhavani Sankaram. Kothuri . I am pursuing masters Degree in Computer Science from GITAM college,Vizag,A.P.

Today I read the article about the the importance of VEDAS. i was very much inspired and as a bramhin i always trust our hinduism very much .and

i request you please sent the groupid to join and get the data in
this way always .

Srinivas Vadrevu said...

Hi Bhavani,

Thanks for your interest in my blog. I also am always intrigued by the enormous amount knowledge hidden in vedas. I try to blog the summaries of the books, articles and other sources that I access.

I am now sure what you mean by groupid, but if you are talking about receiving the data regularly, you can subscribe to the rss feeds of the blog (http://svadrevu.blogspot.com/atom.xml).

Anonymous said...

Really nicely written. I am wondering, could you recommend an edition of Rig Veda which includes devanagri, transliteration, (perhaps word-for-word translation) and goode english translation? Am hoping to find entire work - not just small snippets.

Namaste,
Seth Roberts

Yagneswara Yajulu Duvvuri said...

Valueble information.

Deana said...

hello anonyomous! lucky you, i just ran across a site that seems to have the total translation of these sacred texts, as well as any other that you may be interested in.
check out:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/index.htm

Anonymous said...

what about the this teaching of Upanishad which says the inability of man to imagine God in a particular form, as well as it says not to ask anyone for help other than God. If they ask such things they are in darkness

"Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam."

"His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye."
[Svetasvatara Upanisha 4:20]

"shudhama poapvidham"
"He is bodyless and pure."
[Yajurveda 40:8]

"Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste"
"They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements" (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). "They sink deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti."
[Yajurveda 40:9]

Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said... " in this blog sounds like Zakri Naik.

george said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first

comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep

visiting this blog very often.


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rk said...

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