Introduction: Vedā and its Poetic significance
Much of the knowledge of Vedas is based on several misconceptions caused due to the carelessness of religions, several Indian scholars, and several other foreign scholars… All of them lacked one perspective: the poetic perspective. So you may ask me, how can I tell that Vedas are poetic? The answer lies in its extremely beautiful symbolism and metaphors, when decoded and applied uniformly across the Vedic text, you get a constant philosophy with absolutely no change. If you move to literal interpretations, you may notice several contradictions, several puzzles, several places where you can’t get the inference.
In this discussion lets cover the following topics:
Poetic significance of Vedas
- The beauty of Vedic philosophy: Seeing the Infinite through the finite
- Is there a gurukul/guru in India where I can learn vedas?
- Does Veda contains any error or contradiction among its verses?
- How did the first seers cognize the Vedas?
- Which scriptures are really “the” Vedas?
- Are Vedas adulterated?
Again, it would be a valid question to ask: how do you reckon your metaphors as correct? for example, many of such examples are explainable with the poetic nature of Sanskrit words having different meanings. For example, dhI is a word in Sanskrit that can stand for mind and ocean equally. What is the connection between mind and waters? The answer is in Rig Veda 1.3 itself. The Sarasvatī (“The waters”) stands for both waters and knowledge. Elsewhere, the waters are said to be the origin and sustainer of life. This is often contrasted with the mind, that sustains spiritual life. Thus Sarasvati often becomes the “waters” that sustains and promotes physical life, and the “mind” that sustains and promotes the spiritual (or mental) life. Such metaphors, having spiritual and physical significance are common.
Then there are certain metaphors that are not easily explained in Sanskrit. Here we have to consider other Indo European languages too. The best example is the “cow” metaphor. Physically, it stands for cows of the herdsman, the rays of the Sun (calling Sun “gopa” and cows as red (for dawn and dusk), yellow/white (for noon sun)) Again another metaphor of the cow is “cloud”. This is more widespread in Vedas, in certain contexts cows stand for clouds, and milk stands for rain. Thus Indra, the Lord God is called the man who rains, and finds cows “from the darkness of Vala”. Vala means blocker. Again, here, the cows refer to river streams. Such contexts are often seen in hymns praising the might of rivers. Alternatively, Vala is also the name of the mountain that blocks the path, and these features in the description of dawns. (Examples are there among translations here itself) Or sometimes, the Vala contrastingly also means rain cloud who blocks the sun in summer, and the cows are again solar rays.
Don’t be puzzled; Veda clearly provides the clue for decoding. If you check my interpretations and contrast with the literal translation, you shall understand the way to interpret it.
And Vedas stand for theism, though do not make us preach any religion. Vedic concept is highly different from other religions that since it is nonreligious, it does not prescribe any “customs” to attain God, nor has a stern belief rooted in blind faith. Vedas, moreover, believe in replacing of concepts.
I have discussed more of Rig Veda because it is the oldest, the largest, and the most poetic (completely composed with actual poetic characteristics like meter, figures of speech,….) and functions as a key to understanding the other Vedas too.
The beauty of Vedic philosophy: Seeing the Infinite through the finite
Aug 11th, 2018
The beauty of Vedic philosophy lies in the fact that it never conclusively provides finite answers to any of the questions about infinity. That is something which makes it distinct from all other thought lines in the world, which believe that they have found a partial, if not a complete finite answer to many of the “infinite” puzzles. The very Divinity is represented with the word kaḥ (who) which is a question. When you worship the kaḥ in your inner Agni with all attributes, Indra is born. And thus devas are born of you, and this is visṛṣṭi – where you “re-create” the Divine concepts, your answers to who is worthy of your worship.
Here is the role of the inner Agni. That Agni is the seat of devas, through that Agni you worship and experience the devas in mind. And they cause the Sun to shine, making your mind the enlightened “sky”. (dyaus) Thus whatever you perceive, is what makes the infinity finite to you. For infinity can be visualized as finite units of infinity, the devas are infinite in themselves, and that infinity is visible in Vedic Indra or the concept of skambha. That incomprehensible Reality is also conceptualized as Hiraṇyagarbha.
That is the significance of the word māyā in Vedic Sanskrit. It is the tool to view the infinite through finite eyes. Māyā refers to the capability to “measure” (mā māne) against a “pratimāna”. It is that light which helps to distinguish. Those rays of light which act as measuring ropes (no wonder why Vedic Sanskrit, a philosophical language, has the word raśmi) help us to segregate the infinity into convenient units in our mind. In your spiritual journey, you harness the solar horse (remember Rigveda 1.163 : the horse which tvaṣṭā fashions out from Sun) through the enlightened Sky through the raśmi. The rays and light become devas, the sky is Dyaus and the Sun is the ātmā, and the Inner Eye, of what is the lively motion. The Divinity and Existence are like sun and rays – you discern one through the other. And through the pratimāna, you measure out the Infinity for your convenience. And the pratimāna of everything is made into the concept of Indra. (yo viśvasya pratimānam babhūva…)
It would be interesting to compare with the position of the light in modern physics as well – something that defines our perceivable limits. Even causality is defined by light. A person reading nāsadīya sūkta would make sense if he just gets rid of his māyā aspect while reading the beginning lines: “It was not nonexistence, neither did existence exist then …”. Of course, this is not to say that Vedas are physics books or philosophical texts, as apologetics who have nothing else to do want to construe – but the language and expressions would promote such interpretations based on such grand poetry which could encompass the Ṛta in itself.
It is the perception that gifts us our vision. And the light which gifts our perception. That is what the word cetas or darśana (√dṛś) means in Vedic language. There is this equation of light, knowledge, and vision in the language. They are all modeled in the “Sun”, which makes our “Self”. The world we perceive exists inside us and also outside us. The negation of any of these is the product of an immature mind. The thought is a measurement using your perception, (compare māna) Motion is the distinguishing property – the rule. (Ṛta) Lawlessness is inertia, which is destruction and thoughtlessness, death. Darkness is ignorance.
In a way, Vedic language (and also contemporary old Indo European languages with literary traditions) had evolved to establish grand equations based on Ṛta. I could write a series of articles just speaking of the philosophical depth of the Vedic language. The language which traces still back, to the roots of identification, to the roots of enlightenment in man. It is still interesting to see how that language holds key to seeing the basic principles in the cosmos, which would prompt one to think and realize what is not.
Is there a gurukul/guru in India where I can learn vedas?
April 5th, 2020
You can learn Vedas by-heart from Gurus throughout India, but it is important that you will not find, and are not supposed to find a Guru to teach you the meaning of the verses.
Vedic sages themselves don’t “teach” us, they never “taught” anyone, they only supposedly imparted the vision in which successive sages crafted their verses. The teaching of something as deep as “meanings of Vedic verses” creates an almost perpetual debt, much like what the namesake gurutva makes for an object. This makes the object cling to the one with “more substance” and since the person of more substance teaches only what “he sees” and not “how to see”, there is a debt that is never paid back. It becomes an issue, such a “Guru” tradition will stop making sense within generations. There has been absolutely no tradition in India to teach the meanings of Vedas, let alone write commentary on them. Only very few people have attempted at least some verses of Vedas to comment on them, Sāyaṇa and his team being successful and unparalleled in this respect.
Sages never teach us anything. And they didn’t recommend any Guru system to teach what they know. It is supposed to happen automatically when you perceive, you observe and you listen to this universe. Question, seek, use your brain and mind, feel one with the nature and you will make sense of Vedic verses.
Yāska, who is so far the only ancient person who actually made an effort to demystify sūktas through his Nirukta, (to whom we all are indebted) narrates – through what is there in śruti itself, and through tarka, one reaches meaning of verses. Not by stretching verses out of context, but depending on what is evident in its context. This is not completely evident to someone who either not a sage, or who doesn’t have tapas. Men, on the passing over of (age) of Ṛṣis, told Devas, “But who will be there as sage for us!”. Devas gave them “Tarka” as the sage, of discussions and conclusions of the meaning of mantras. What one concludes thence, becomes ārṣam (the sage vision) indeed. (Nir. 13.12 “api śrutitaḥ, api tarkataḥ …”, “manuṣyā vā ṛṣisu utkrāmatsu …”)
He says this explaining Rigveda 10.71 verses, which are relevant in this situation.
Learning Vedas require tapas. It requires you to stop for some time and listen to this universe. Meditation on verses (not on sound, but on meaning) is necessary. You have to put effort of your own. Even if someone guides you with insights, you would need a poetic heart to even discern or hold it in your mind. Listen to people who are well knowing of the language, who are able to clearly demonstrate the poetic coherence and connections (bandhus) in getting ideas of nirvacana. Vedic verses are inherently coded, they are “well-said”. It is for us to peel them off, layer by layer, for nir-vacana, to eat the fruit. Even if someone feeds you literally with insights, you will still need your heart and thought to ponder and grasp the raśmi of Vedic perception. You have this whole universe to “teach” you what you learn. You have devas to help you with it – having Tarka for your ṛṣi, conduct discussions from different perspectives, and if possible, with different knowledgeable people. This will also make you realize where you shouldn’t go when you are ready to break the code.
It is through greatness of tapas that the one that became all this was manifest from what was neither non-existent or existent. That is from where we need to start. Start with questions. How sages achieved their vision is clearly there in Nāsadīya. Follow the ways, discern how to make “sense” out of the “chaos” of what you see initially in Vedas.
Does Veda contains any error or contradiction among its verses?
April 7th, 2020
They don’t make any statements or facts for “contradictions”.
All that they have is poetry – and that is universe. Here, there is no “right” or “wrong”, hence no “contradictions”. Vedic verses are unified by a very finely tuned perceptional system that unifies divinity, society, earth, sky, and everything through the power of poetry. Which cause you to think, to think controlled, and inculcate a sense of being one with nature.
For example, a Vedic verse is, sūrya ātmā jagatas tasthuṣaśca. “Sun is the self of that which moves and which stands”. Does this sound like a “statement”? No, it is about establishing a bandhu, a connection that is therefore explained by Vedic poetry when we say Soma is svarvid (“finds the sun”, and thus “finds the self”) or Indra kills Vṛtra to generate the “sun”. Now you look at the sky, you see sun rising and setting. Moon is Soma, and it waxes and wanes. And self rises and sets. So many to learn from nature, if you apply this “homology”. The discovery of these bandhus is what sages are for. There is nothing right or wrong in them – but different aspects of essentially universal reality.
We say Mitrāvaruṇā together. Why? If you see the mythology, Mitra would be a “personification of contract” in IE mythology, and Varuṇa the “overseeing lord”. But fortunately, we have sages for Vedas. Their job is to find patterns that enable us to make world and Devas more sensible (and therefore, nothing in this world is wasteful, but having the potential to teach us). So they invoke them together always, and treat them right from their roots – Mitra is the holistic king, one among the people who as a companion, binds together people, delivers people from frustration. Imbibing his qualities – kindness, holistic vision would thus answer aṃhas, which he is supposed to deliver from. Varuṇa on the other hand is overlord, who with his spies, checks on you always, reminds you each time of your deeds, and the one who catches you when you are guilty. (enas) If you think of brain lateralization, you might see Right brain in Mitra, Left brain in Varuṇa. So the principles Vedic Devas stand for are always supposed to be real and perceivable, around you. That is the power of “Ṛta”, the flow of cosmic “harmony”. We don’t even care about following “dharma” (principles) in Vedas – it is all about following “Ṛta” and just moving with the best of what we can, aiming for all the beings.
This was just an example. Almost anything and everything in Vedic verses come with entangled metaphors of connections which the poets deliberately hint in certain places so that we stop for a moment, exclaim “what!!” and “re-read” the whole thing again to make sense.
That is also why Vedic verses are not religious scriptures, (the ritualistic collection of verses assigned to Brahmanic prose has also been called “Vedas” in some ages, and texts like Upaniṣads have also been called, so you should be careful of what you mean by Vedas) and they weren’t meant to be. No sage in Rigveda tells, “This is the word of God for mankind through me, obey me and get liberated”. With their kind of vision, it would still be possible for us to perceive universe in a better way to learn from it, to reduce our ego and to care for all. Vedas don’t even want to “teach you anything”. Just feel them, take their way of perception, and look on the world with the eye of Sūrya.
How did the first seers cognize the Vedas?
May 22nd, 2020
Through inspiration (by which they become vipras and vipaś-cits), which they think and experience/see using thought (manasā) and heart. (hṛdā) This is made by tuning yourself with the nature, with the reality. At that point, we understand how we form connections between different aspects of this reality, how are they connected in a sense that is meaningful to us, what is the meaning of everything and why everything is so.
For that, they sought the cow who is the inspired Vāk, who is the insight. The treasured cows are hidden in the cave of Vala, the ignorance, which has to be broken by the might of willpower brought by Indra. One has to meditate, with his full will, open one’s senses to this reality, devote one’s senses to that alone, and perceive it.
At the point, the sage experiences a state where he roams by his limitless thoughts, while trapped in his limited body.
“na vijānāmi yad ivedam asmi
niṇyaḥ saṃnaddho manasā carāmi
yadā māgan prathamajā ṛtasya
ād id vāco aśnuve bhāgam asyāḥ”
“I do not identify like what am I here,
Bound by limits, I roam by thought;
Only when the first-born of Ṛta has come to me,
Just then do I partake of the share in Vāk”
And the sage finally wraps his senses around it.
“vatse baṣkaye adhi saptatantūn vi tatnire kavayaḥ otavā u”
“Over the fully born calf, the poet-sages stretched the seven threads to weave”
Now that they realize the reality, they should be competent enough to express it. They have to know how the language works by connecting things. This consciousness of language is a very beautiful thing which Vedas offer, and which greatly shaped the study of language in India, which was also the first in the world. There are no meaningless sounds or meaningless words in the natural language. There shouldn’t be. Language is the basis of cognition and expression, and the one who realizes the language learns how we evolved to perceive nature. The Vedic sages use this powerful nature of language through their well-preserved Vedic language in which the words are very regularly formed from roots, and very much connected to nature.
Bṛhaspate prathamaṃ vāco agraṃ
Yad prairata nāmadheyaṃ dadhānaḥ
Yad eṣāṃ śreṣṭhaṃ yad aripram āsīt
Preṇā tad eṣāṃ nihitaṃ guhāviḥ
“O Bṛhaspati, this was the first point of language,
When they came forth, establishing the namesake entities,
What was their best, what was unparalleled,
By their longing, that set hidden, was revealed.
Language is a living fossil of our cognition. For example, consider the word “direction”. (Equivalent Vedic word is “pradiś-” that has the same meanings) In English, it means to “command” and also in a positional sense. (North, South etc.) Just from the word, we understand how in our thought process, commanding might have been symbolized by a gesture leading towards a place. We understand that guiding is related to position in the cognition and worldview. How the psychology of the word is to “show” something, to “point” at something. (Meditate on the word point here as well) While English has a limitation due to its evolved nature, the old natural languages are much tuned to nature. In Vedas, we see the sages perfecting their language to connect many things – the connections which they realize by meditating and incurring insights from everything.
saktum iva tita-unā punanto
yatra dhīrā manasā vācam akrata
atra sakhāyaḥ sakhyāni jānate
bhadraiṣāṃ lakṣmīr nihitādhi vāci
When the wise have created language by thought,
Filtering her as if grain through the sieve,
In this the friends know the friendship.
Their goodness, beautiful, is settled upon the language.
Devas in Vedas are forces of reality who show attributes used to model the Vedic language and describe the connections thereof. The Vedic expression works through words in the Vedic language of poetry (chāndasa) by poet sages (kavis) which recreate the atmosphere for us to meditate upon.
Why poetry? Poetry is the only form of speech where you can speak a phrase and intend many valid and connected meanings. To add to it, the metres in Vedas had a particular feel to them that would associate with a particular concept of deva. For example, Gāyatrī with Agni and Vasus, Triṣṭubh with Indra and Rudras, Jagatī with Ādityas and Viśvedevas and so on. From the ages when sounds and actions produced rituals, the sages envisioned a religion where language and insight made the person aware of what he intends to “express” through the ritual he performs. In that way, the verses could replace the ritual. Thus, the versifying sage, the brahmā, ruled the yajña as only he could comprehend and versify it. This is clearly seen at least in the Brahmanic myths like those of Śunaḥśepa (who redeems the whole chain of sacrifices through his inspired speech) or the Brāhmanic injunctions regarding how svādhyāya replaces rituals as actions (Śat. Br.) because you have gone beyond the ritual to express what you cognize to words.
So, it is very clear that one who is a sage should know how to fashion the Vedic poetry :-
“yad gāyatre adhi gāyatram āhitam
traiṣṭubhād vā traiṣṭubhaṃ nir-atakṣata
yad vā jagad jagaty āhitaṃ padaṃ
ye it tat vidus te amṛtatvam ānaśuḥ”
“How by Gāyatri verse, one piles upon the Gāyatrī verse,
Or engineered the Triṣṭubh verse out of Triṣṭubh track,
Or say, how is Jagatī piled on Jagatī track,
Those who know this – only they have reached immortality”
But one who knows to comprehend aesthetics of poetry, but doesn’t know of the reality on which it is based upon – can he pretend to be a sage? Or be a brāhmaṇa in a yajña?
“ṛco akṣare parame vyoman
yasmin devā adhi viśve niṣeduḥ
yas tan na veda kim ṛcā kariṣyati
ye it tat vidus te ime sam āsate”
“The verses are on the eternal reality in highest space,
Thereupon where all devas take their seat;
He who doesn’t know that, what would he do with the verse!
Only they who know that have assembled together here (in yajña)”.
Now that one meditates, formulates, and knows well what he recites, he becomes a ṛṣi, whereby his speech turns to be inspiring to another – his speech also becomes a cow. So, from the Ṛta’s firstborn speech bhāga, the Kavi generates and reproduces the inspired speech through him, and the cow becomes bhagavatī when she has hit the right purpose, and she receives her share by describing devas and inspiring devas. Through her share, the sage derives his share by performing the yajña.
“Sūyavasād bhagavatī hi bhūyāḥ
atho vayaṃ bhagavantaḥ syāma”
“Feeding on vast pastures, you become possessed of share,
Then would we be possessed of share”.
Indeed, the inspiration rises, as a water-buffalo with her bellow creating rich langauge, she creates streams of perceptions. She having numerous tracks, ascends into the highest space again, manifesting as a thousand akṣaras, each of which will inspire a sage to come. Her waters flow (kṣarati) from the akṣara, (that which never wastes off).
“gaurīr mimāya salilāni takṣati
ekapadī dvipadī sā catuṣpadī
aṣṭāpadī navapadī babhūvuṣī
sahasrākṣarā parame vyyoman”
“The Water Buffalo, bellowing, has fashioned waters,
She of one track, of two tracks, of four tracks,
Becoming Eight-tracked, Nine-tracked,
She is of thousand akṣaras in the highest space”
“tasyā samudrā adhi vikṣaranti
tena jīvanti pradiśaś catasraḥ
tataḥ kṣarati akṣaram
tad viśvam upajīvati”
“Seas flow out of her,
With those, four quarters live,
Thus is akṣara caused to kṣara
All are animated on that”.
This is one of the simple narrations of the making of a Vedic sage. Complex narrations involving deva concepts or abstract realities are visible in Rigvedic verses itself. For example, from a simpler Nāsadīya sūkta narration of the making of sage, to the complex experiential sūktas by family sages.
Soma is associated with the essence of poetic inspiration and therefore immortality and wisdom, Agni is associated with the medium of enlightenment and Indra the ultimatum of Will and meaning of the reality, the dynamicity of reality. So sages mostly invoke these three devas the most when inspired, and subsequently Nāsatyas and Ādityas, and all the devas. All of these devas are connected with various aspects of reality and each of them deserve a book to discuss – at least Indra, Agni, Soma do.
Now, these are also linked to specific universal actions, the yajñas which the verses supposedly make a meaning of. That also deserves books to discuss.
Which scriptures are really “the” Vedas?
June 2nd, 2020
The term “Veda” did, and still comes with, added tones of religiosity and religious authority, or of traditional knowledge and sciences. But what do we call “Vedas” here? Which of them are really “the Vedas”?
Historically, every person in India has tried to be agreeable to Vedas or the Vedic sages although they have been for or against Brahmanism. Even Buddha and Mahāvīra have tried to see the Vedic sages as following the practices acceptable for them even when they have been against the mīmāṃsā ritual fundamentalism. Jains even used to disown the title of nāstika awarded by the later Vedāntin-mīmāṃsakas, because in their view, they were not nāstikas since they believe in ātman and they believe in meaning of their texts. Passionate Jains also have validated Jainism quoting the “Ārṣa Veda”. Even Buddha who calls out the mīmāṃsaka religious practices is in praise of Vedic sages.
Various schools in Brahmanism and other Hindu religions, in various times, have come up with their own categorization of what are to be considered Vedas and what not; because for them the Vedas are a source of “authority” – to stand in the place of “verbal testimony”, (śabda pramāṇa) to be used to guide the spiritual efforts which otherwise may not be perceived easily. The general understanding of the term Vedas has been that they are the inspired words of sages. If so, then we should be considering only the verses which have a devatā, have a definite composer sage (known name or anonymous yet clearly sage), in the chandas language, in poetry. (Sages are kavis) This is also what all people generally meant “Vedas” before mīmāṃsakas crept in.
In the later times, as the Vedic verses became more and more inaccessible to people due to their mystic nature, archaic language and very uncommon ideas, and the eagerness of certain people to make call their final authority in religion as “Vedas”, the term Veda came to be applied to the following works :-
> (Pūrva mīmāṃsakas) “mantras and brāhmaṇas” – which includes ārṣa mantras that make up Rigveda, Sāmaveda and a good chunk of Yajurveda and Atharvaveda saṃhitās along with Brahmanic prose which is present in Yajurveda/Atharvaveda saṃhitās.
Of which one branch found that Atharvaveda cannot be used for śrauta ritualist fundamentalism, so they discarded the title “Veda” for it.
> Early Vedāntins : “saṃhitas, brāhmaṇas, āraṇyakas and upaniṣads”, with first two being “karmakāṇḍa” and the last two “jñānakāṇḍa”.
> Classical Hindus : “All the śruti and then the fifth Veda is Itihāsa/Mahābhārata/Purāṇas included”
> Arya Samajis : Saṃhitās only
> ISKCON : “Bhagavad Gītā As It Is” translated and commented by Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam by Śrīla Prabhupāda, Rādhārahasyopaniṣad which is dubbed as Rigveda and the only worthy “other” text.
> Modern Sanātanis : Veds full of Ayurvedic knowledge, rocket sciences and hidden miracles which Germans stole, Americans take credit for and which Hindus have lost today
> Christians: Bible
And the list goes.
In this space, we speak only of those verses of the sages, which are in chandas language and explicitly not dependent on any other thing other than the poet sage’s inspiration. So, when we say “Vedas” we mean these verses. If the word Veda has gone too out of control to be used for the verses of sages themselves, then perhaps we need to find a new word for them.
Are Vedas adulterated?
“One opinion is that there are three deiies, and from them originate the three Vedas or three types of mantras.”
The same view is expressed in Shatpath Brahman 11:5:8:1,2. Note only three Vedas are spoken here. Further Manu 1:23 says,
“But from fire, wind, and the sun he drew forth the threefold eternal Veda, called Rik, Yagus, and Saman, for the due performance of the sacrifice.”
Also see Manu 2:118, 2:118, 2:230, 9:188, where only three Vedas have been mentioned.
First of all, the idea of Vedas mentioned in the Brāhmaṇa/Manu are threefold – containing chanted verses (Ṛk), muttered litany (Yajus) and sung melodies (Sāman). Not about the number of recensions or any other idea of the term “veda” that can stand for any knowledge.
Therefore, according to Swamiji and Manu Smriti, Vedas are only 3. Is Atharvaved really a genuine Veda?
The popular opinion is that Vedas are four in number viz. Rigved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharvaved. Another opinion is that Vedas are five in number because Atharvaved is actually two Vedas; one is Atharvaved and the other Angirasved.
We have dealt this question here, on why some people got confused between the classification of the content of what they call Vedas with the number of Veda saṃhitās.
Kiron Krishnan (भगवतीश्वर शर्मन्)’s answer to How and when did the 4th Veda, the Atharva Veda come about, when Krishna says, “I am the 3 Vedas” and the Brahmananda Valli of Taittiriya Upanishad talks of only the first 3 Vedas?
Kiron Krishnan (भगवतीश्वर शर्मन्)’s answer to Why is Atharva Veda not taught widely compared to the other Vedas? Where do the followers of Atharva Veda exist?
Hence, 1121 versions of Vedas have been lost. If someone will say that the Shakhas are not Vedas but only the explanations/commentaries that would be erroneous. The presently known Vedas are also Shakhas. So are these commentaries or actual Vedas? To say that Shakhas are not the Vedas will be to undermine the present Vedas (read Shakhas) also. Considering the two opposing Shakhas of Yajurveda we may ask, “Is Madhyandina Shakha (Shukla Yajurveda) the original or Taittirīya Shakha (Krishna Yajurveda)?”.
The above analysis makes it clear that a large portion of the Vedas has been lost.
Śākhās were created at the time of compilation by the different schools. Textual “corruption” can be insinuated in the adherents of a śākhā only if they corrupt their inherited śākhā. Let the author show discrepancies within a śākhā.
Second, regarding Yajurveda, there are a lot of yajus components which were actually spontaneously recited by brahmās in the yajña. Some of these are based on older Ṛks which were recited by sages. The difference between Śukla Yajurveda śākhās and Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda śākhās is just this – the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda saṃhitās contain brāhmaṇa prose along with all yajus verses. Again, if there is a “textual corruption”, you have to show that oral tradition of Taittirīya saṃhitā followed in one place is different from oral tradition of Taittirīya saṃhitā followed in another. (This can happen in the future because most of the traditions are now switching to being semiliterate and not oral) As Vedas are not books sent by Don-on-throne in the sky or random stories that can be written by any person.
Nirukt 7:8 mentions the following,
“There is a joint oblation offered to Agni and Vishnu in the ten books of the Rigveda.”
However, in the entire Rigveda, there is not a single mantra jointly praising Agni and Vishnu. What is meant by joint oblation here? An oblation is an offering (Late Latin oblatio, from offerre, oblatum, to offer), a term, particularly in ecclesiastical usage, for a solemn offering or presentation to God. Where is an offering jointly made to Agni and Vishnu, we would like to see? This is a clear evidence that the Rigveda at the time of Yaska Muni had the joint oblation offered to Agni and Vishnu, but it is not found in today’s Rigveda, demonstrating corruption of the text.
Sorry, what? Actually, this is Yāska 7.8 relevant portion :-
“Agni and Vishnu (are invoked together) for oblation. However, there is no Ṛk that addresses both in the ten maṇḍalas.”
In other words, Yāska himself tells that there is no ṛk that addresses both in ten maṇḍalas himself in the same place where you quote the first half of the text. Were you drunk that you didn’t read the very next statement? And where did you take the statement you quoted to mean that Yāska says there is such a verse in Rigveda? And the first half of the text is intended to be on a context of which devas are to be invoked with which devas in the yajñas. Nothing about śākhās or Vedas here.
“According to one Mantra of Rigveda (Page 1403, Mantra 8), we come to know that it has 15,000 Mantras. However, when we count the total Mantras, we get 10,469 Mantras. It is possible that like a large portion of the books of Vedic literature and Vedas were destroyed by the anti-religious, similarly, Mantras too suffered destruction for many reasons.”
There is no such mantra in Rigveda. The Gayatri Parivar’s claim is simply wrong. Actual mantra phrase translates to “thousandfold are the fifteen ukthas”. It has nothing to say about number of ukthas, number of ṛks, and the person says it is speaking of the number of mantras in Rigveda?
The arrangement and wording of White Yajurveda upto Adhyay 15 is radically different from the Black Yajurveda.
Unlike Rigveda, Yajurveda is not about “verses” but “chants”. Chants in the context of yajñas. These are usually built on improvisations of ṛks, and also keeping yajñas in mind. In Kṛṣṇa yajurveda, there is more clarity in the role of the yajus mantras in the litany, so each word or idea is maximum elaborated. If you can show a contradictory mantra in Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda that contextually nullifies a mantra in Śukla yajurveda, that would mean a real problem. Can you?
The Ish Upanishad is not the only addition to this Yajurveda. A lot of Brahamanas have been inserted into the text of the Yajurveda. For example, Adhyay 24 is entirely a Brahman; Adhyay 30: verses 7 through 15 are all Brahmanas and not Mantras
All these are at the time of compilation. Mantras are compiled by individual schools based on what they learned by tradition, and they were aggregated in the context of śrautayajñas, in the case of Yajurveda. And none of these point out to individual editing of anything after the compilation of the mantras. How is your title or accusation justified?
We can easily see that the Samaganas of Jaiminiya Version are 1000 more than those of Kauthamiya Version.
Ok, but where is the corruption in an already compiled śākhā? Jaiminīya śākhā sung by Nambudiris and Tamil Brahmins although in different recensions, is the same.
Regarding changes in Gayatri Parivar and Arya Samaji texts, they are to prove from where they got the text, how authentic they are.
Yask Muni, the author of Nirukt and Nighantu, writes that Vaayah is one word [See Nirukt 6:28]. But in the Shaakal Shakha’s (Rigveda’s) padapatha, it has been divided and hence became meaningless. Rigveda 10:29:1 is the place which has made the mistake.
Yaska himself criticizes Shakalya and says,
“Sakalya has analyzed Vaayah into Vaa and yah, then the finite verb would have had the accute accent and the sense have been incomplete.”
Śākalya padapāṭha is Śākala śākhā’s compilation logic of analyzing the verses, which we follow in memorizing and making sense of Vedas. If any of the linguistic tenets make it impossible to agree on the padapāṭha of a text, then we could propose a new one, as Yāska says. How does this have anything to do with “corruption in recitation”? People have commented on/translated the verses with no amendments to the padapāṭha structure, and found it sensible. There is no considerable number of such amendments possible, as accents strictly regulate how you may split the word. Since Vedic verses are meaningful, there is little to no variation possible in splitting the words otherwise. Still, in some cases, there could be other meaningful ways to split the verses – in such cases, we would be inclined to think of that as a poetic device attempted by sages themselves. A good example is the Sāmaveda quoting of “mehanāsti” as “me-iha-nāsti” which you have quoted. Contextually, this becomes meaningful in Sāmaveda.
Either way, this is about how to split the words of saṃhitāpāṭha. This is something which has existed since compilation of each śākhā. And this is falsifiable using linguistic, literary analytic methods and hence very much accurate. How can this mean that “recitation is corrupted”?
Also, you might remember that the ancient forms of the verses, (as sages composed) despite the linguistic changes by the time of compilation, can be safely reconstructed from the saṃhitāpāṭha, and this continues to aid the Indo European scholarship. Thus, everyone who works with the Rigveda speaks of the incredibly accurate and precise way in which it has been transmitted for at least three thousand years.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Original Article date: May 1st, 2016