Friday, September 12, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 36 of (Vol 2) of 17 Oct 2007.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 36 of (Vol 2) of 17 Oct 2007.

(Continued from DK # 35 of 16 Oct 2007.)

154. In Rik Veda Samhita there are 10,170 Rik / Mantras, grouped under 1028 suktas. It has been divided in to ten Mandalams or alternately into eight Ashtagams. It starts with the suktam about Agni and ends with the suktam about Agni again. Amongst all Vedas. Rik Vedam is the one maily concerned about the Devata Stotras. Its Upakramam (start) and Upasamharam (end), both are about Agni the Fire God! There are people who interpret this to be indication that, this is mainly concerned with 'Fire Worship'. Agni ie., Fire, in our understanding is not only the physical conflgration, but the 'Atma Chaitanyam and its illumination', the brightness of awareness of the truth. Actually this last Rik on Agni, goes beyond the confines of Nationalism and reads like an International Anthem; which could be adopted by all the countries of the world. It says, "Let all people all over the world, together think. Let them all have one Aim in life. Let all the Hearts join in Love. Let everyone be happy together". With that prayer ends the Rik Veda Samhita!

155. 'Yaj', is to pray. From that root word, both 'Yajur Veda' and 'Yagnam' have evolved. As Rik stands for Mantram / Stotram, Yajus is mainly connected to describing the procedural aspects of conduct of 'Yaaga karyam'. Many of the Mantras inRik Veda are there in Yajur Veda too. With it, it talks of the Karma Anushtanam of the Yagna karyas, in prose. Rik helps in chanting the Mantras, Yajur Veda helps in procedural aspects of the conduct.

156. In each Vedam there are many branches. In Yajur Vedam however, it has subdivided itself into two unique and dissimilar parts. One is the 'Sukhla Yajur Vedam' and the other, 'Krishna Yajur Vedam'. Sukhla is white and Krishna is black. Sukhla Yajur Vedam is also known as "Vajasaneyi Samhita". Vajasani is an additional name for the Sun. Yagnavalkya Rishi, got this portion of the Veda, directly from the Sun and hence the name. There is a big story about this. To tell you shortly, before Yagnyavalkya Rishi, there was only one version of Yajur Veda. He learnt the Veda from Vaisampayana. For some reason there was a parting of ways between the Guru and Sishya. On orders from the Guru to 'Vomit' all that he had learnt, Yagnavalkya had to regurgitate and throw out all that he had learnt. He did so. Then he adopted the Sun as his Guru and from him got a fresh version of Yajur Vedam, not known earlier. The second version came to be known as Sukhla Yajur Vedam and for identification, the earlier version, got the name of Krishna Yajur Vedam. There is another reason mentioned too. In the Krishna Yajur Vedam, the Samhitai and Brahmanam portions are not fully seperated. With each portion of the Samhta Mantras, there and then the procedural aspect of Brahmanam is also mentioned. This mix, led to the name of Krishna, whereas in the Sukhla Yajur Veda, there is no mixing up.

The Greatness of Rik Veda.

157. Rik Vedas greatness is its being a repository of Stotras for all Deities. It also depicts the Social ethos very nicely, say the knowledgeable. For example there is a description of the marriage of the daughter of Sun God, which is the basis for conduct of all marriages over the eons and centuries. There is for example, a discussion between Purooravas and Oorvasi, with an impact of high drama, which in later days has been elaborated upon by dramatists such as Kalidasa. There is a description of 'Ushas', the 'Athidevata' for the early morning period, in Rik Veda, which is praised for its literary merit. The fact that it is accepted as the fore most amongst the Vedas, there has to be some special value of it. After all, the source or spring for all the Karma in Yajus and all the music of Saama, are from Rik Veda only.

The Special Position of Yajur Veda.

158. Yajur Veda's value lies in meticulous coverage of all conduct of functions, starting from birth to death and beyond of the individual; the conduct of Darsa-poorna-masa, Soma Yaaga, Vajapeyam, Rajasooyam, Aswamedham and so many more Yagnas; many of the socialistic patterns of 'Sathra' yagnas; are all to be found in Taitreeya Samhita of Krishna Yajur Veda. In addition some Stotras cum Mantras of a very popular variety such as 'Sri Rudram' are from Yajur Veda. In Rik Veda there are five suktas known as Pancharudram. But when we say, 'Sri Rudram' it is the one occuring in Yajur Vedam only. That is why Appayya Deekshidar, an accomplished Siva Baktha who has authored many Slokas of very high literary merit, feels bad that He was not born as a Yajur Vedi. He was a Saama Vedi. Now-a-days, Yajur Vedis are a majority. In North there is a preponderance of Sukhla Yajur Vedis and in South India, there are more Krishna Yajur Vedis. Even the Government holidays for example, for 'Upakarma' (ie., yearly change of Yagnyopaveetham), are being given on Yajur Vedi's days rather than on the Saama / Rik Vedi's days, (if they happen to be different!).
There is Purusha Suktham in the Rik Vedam. The same Suktham with some changes occurs in Yajur Vedam too. It is the latter which is more in usage now-a-days.

159. There is a special connection of Adwaitins to Yajur Veda. What ever the great 'Siddhantam' ie., the principled stand, the knowledgeable experts would say that, it should have the Suktham, Bhashyam and Vaarthikam. Suktham tells of the principle in the briefest form. Bhashyam is a detailed explanation. A further elaboration of the Bhashyam is the Vaarthikam. In Adwaitha Siddhantha, the 'Vaarthika kara' is Sureshvara. Sankara, as it is gave Bhashyam to Prasthana Thraya of, Ten Upanishads, Bhagawat Gita and Brhma Sutra. Sureshvara has given this detailed explanation for only two of the Upanishads. Those two are, Thaithreeya Upanishad and Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. Amongst them, Thaithreeyam is of Krishna Yajur Veda and Brhadaranyaka Upanishad is of Sukhla Yajur Veda! Moreover, out of the Dasopanishads (selected Ten Upanishads amongst a hundred and odd), which have been considered as representative of all other Upanishads, the first, that is Easawasyam and the end, that is, Brhadaranyakam; both are from Yajur Vedam.

The Special Quality of Saama Veda.

160. Saamam means to please and pacify the mind. 'Saama - daana - bedha - dhanda' are the four pronged approaches to deal with an opponent, in which, Saama is to win over by love and kindness. Same way, to make friends with all the Gods and become intimate with Paramatma, is the aim of Saama Veda. How to please someone? You praise and flatter by word of mouth is 'Sthotram'. If you do that with Music, it is Saama Gaanam, giving double satisfaction. 'Udgaata' in Yagnas is such a person who knew the Saama Gaanam and had a commandingly beautiful voice. There are many Rik Veda Mantras, which become sonorous Saama Gaanas in this Veda. There in Rik Veda, it is, 'Dattam', 'Udaattam', 'Anudaattam' and 'Swaritam'. Here in Saama Vedam, the same thing becomes melodious concordant music. Actually the 'Saptha Swaras' or the Musical Octave is an off spring of Saama Veda. All Gods are pleased by the Saama Gaana! In Soma Yaagas too, Saama Gaanam is very important and essential.

161. Though the Mantras may be the same as in Rik Veda, in the musical form of Sama Veda, they gain in terms of their capacity to raise the singer and listeners to finer and nobler planes; while being more acceptable to the concerned Devata too. Hence the special qualitative value of Saama Veda. Sri Krishna Paramatma Himself in Gita; while elaborating on His greatness, He says, that He is the Jahnavi the Ganga, amongst rivers; Jasmine amongst flowers, the Spring amongst the Seasons; Irravada amongst Elephants and so on. In the same vein, He says that He is the Saama Veda, amongst the Vedas! "Vedaanam Saama Vedosmi!". He is good and bad and everything. Yes. But while describing those areas where, His Godliness can be easily recognised, He makes the statement that, He is Saama Veda amongst Vedas! Ambal is referred as 'Sama Gana Priya', in Lalitha Sahasranamam. It does not say, 'rik vedapriya or yajur vedapriya'! Like wise, Syama Saastrigal has sung of Meenakshi as, "Saam Gaana Vinodini". In Siva Ashtothram, there is, "Saama Priyaya Nama:". Thevaaram in Tamil praises Siva, "...sandogama saamam odhum vaayaan...". Appayya Deekshidar has concluded Easwara, Ambal and Vishnu as the three gems of 'ratna trayam', as three top most amongst all Devatas. A special name for all of them somehow is with reference to the Saama Veda.

Now About the Atharva Veda.

162. Atharvan means a practicing purohitar. Actually there was a Rishi by that name. Since this Vedam became known due to his efforts, it's name derived from that Rishi's name. It has Mantras for obviating the future problems and calamities and destructions of opponents. The Mantras are in prose and poetical format. Other Veda Mantras can also be used for such purposes. But Atharva Vedam has mention of many Devatas not mentioned in the other Vedas. It has Mantras addressed at many 'ephemerals' not known elsewhere. Now-a-days, what is referred as 'Mantreekam' are derived from this Vedam. There are some high profile concepts to be found in these Mantras. All the Earth's natural but, unique and peculiar qualities and characteristics are highlighted in 'Prithvi Suktam', which is to be found in this Atharva Vedam only.

163. One of the reasons that it holds a place of pride is that the person supervising the conduct of Yagnas as Brhma, is required to be well versed in this Veda. The Adhyayanam of this Veda is not being done by many in North India. In South India too it is rather less, almost next to nil. Despite that, out of the famous ten Upanishads, three are from this Veda, namely, 'Prasna, Mundaka and Maandookya' Upanishads. Actually there is a statement that, a person desirous of obtaining to Liberty from worldly involvement, ie., 'Mumukshu', has to do nothing more than reading the 'Mandookya Upanishad'. In the recent times this Veda seems to be not so very popular. But, from the inscriptions on stone obtained in a place known as 'Ennayiram' near Perani, very close to Dindivanam and in Valajabad near Kanchipuram; it is gathered that, Adhyayanam of Atharva Vedam was quite popular in South India, till as late as the 'Later Chola period'!

164. Out of the Brahmins in Orissa, there are some known by the name of 'Atharvanika'. In Gujrat and Sourashtra there are some rare families, who are followers of this Veda. (Periyaval in his life time initiated many movements for the revival of some of these traditions, long ignored. For example, 'Pidi Arisi Dhittam' required every lady of the household to save one handful of rice everyday, to be collected periodically to be donated to Veda Patasalas. He actively campaigned against dowry and related social evils. One of his initiative was to send students from the South to Gujrat, for learning 'Atharva Veda', which has borne some fruits in reviving this Veda.

165. The Gayathri mantram. Gayathri Mantram is considered the essence of the three Vedas, not including Atharva Veda. So, before starting to learn Atharva Veda, you have to get the Upanyanam ceremony conducted again, to be given the 'Gayathri' Mantra specific to Atharva Veda. Normally the Gayathri Mantra is known as 'thripada', because it has three 'padams'. Each of them are considered as the essence of one of the Vedas. So, this 'thripada Gayathri' is common to the three Vedas other than Atharva.

166. Thus, though there are four different Vedas, though there may be differences in some minor matters of procedure or methodology; all Vedas have the same 'Lakshya' or aim or mission. The welfare, wellbeing, of individual, society, region, nation and the whole world, with all its life forms; is the aim. Individual advancement, without harming others, while assisting and enabling everybody else, is the mission. To find, identify, understand, reach and irrevocably dissolve the seperateness in the permanent truth, is the 'Lakshya.'

167. There is one more common greatness of the Vedas. It is never insisted in the Vedas that theirs is the only way! They never force it down anyone's throat, that theirs is the only God. Their advice is to follow whatever path and be devoted to any God. What ever your method, your path, your God; as long as Dharma is not lost sight of; as long as you do not try to gain one unfair advantage over others; you will still attain to the destination. "aakashath pathi tham thoyam yadaa gathchathi sagaram, sarva deva namaskara: keshavam prathigachchathi om namah iti". As the waters falling from the heavens, passing through whatever channels, anyhow reaches the Ocean; all prostrations will reach the same God. There the guiding force is the gravitational pull. Here it is the pulling power of righteousness of Dharma! That is the clarity and sanguinity of the Vedas. In liberal outlook too, there is nothing to match the Vedas. There is no other religious book of authority, which can say with supreme confidence that, "Truth is one. Many people may see it individually, differently". Vaidik Dharma does not believe in conversion, but inversion. Do not have to look elsewhere. Look within and you will find!

(To be continued.)




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