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1-What is Ved

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1-What is Ved
see also     Sources of Ved,    Division of Ved,     Dharm Shaastra,   Braahman,    Upanishad;    Origin of Sangeet Saam Ved;   Vaidik Devtaa;   Devtaa in Ved

The basic scriptures of Sanaatan Dharm are the Ved. The Ved contain all ideas pertaining to Vedaant, Gyaan, Bhakti etc. These consist of a vast body of esoteric knowledge concerning spiritual values. The date of Rig-Ved (the earliest) is generally agreed to be around 10,000 BC. Ved are also called Shruti (what is heard), as they were heard first and thus were handed down to posterity by oral tradition.

Ved are derived from the root Vid - ie knowledge. Ved thus means, the "Store house of knowledge" and Vaidik Dharm is the spiritual science based on knowledge described in a large number of hymns or Rik (about 18,000) in four Ved. In Book 19 section 22 and 23 of Atharv Ved, Gyaan (knowledge) is described as study and complete understanding of Bhoot (elements), matter, society and social organizations physical and social sciences, primordial subtle matter (three Gun), divine Nature "Prakriti", Soul, Spirit, Time, Space and the formless and ineffable Supreme Reality (Nir-Gun Brahm).

The study of Ved would reveal that the Vaidik Dharm is a spiritual science and it contains all the major material, spiritual and divine thoughts and guidelines conveyed in all the other scriptures of major religions of the world. However, Ved contain some additional knowledge not available in other scriptures like, certain permanent truths and findings about physical sciences, mathematics, state and society, medicine, role of a ruler, bureaucrats, scientists, industrialists, economics, science of good governance and many others.

Being scriptures for the welfare of mankind, no specific religion is mentioned in Ved. At best Vaidik religion can be mentioned as Vaidik Sanaatan Dharm (eternal religion). Following the teachings and guidelines contained in Ved the mankind can expedite the journey towards universal love and peace.

Isht theory of Ved describes that the paths could be different so long as these paths aim at the welfare of mankind and other animate and inanimate life. Ved do not consider matter as inert and explain in a large number of hymns that matter has unsuspected vitality. All religions should aim at unity in diversity i.e. (should lead to universal brotherhood - Vishwa Bandhutwa), global family of the same One God (Vasudhaiv Kutumbam), global trade and global market for the material and spiritual welfare of mankind.

God being formless, ineffable and self-created, avoid explaining God through categories, substance, activity, quality and relationship. He is beyond cognition, perception of human senses, logic of mind and intellect. Words recoil to explain the Supreme Reality. Only true and harmonized material, spiritual and divine knowledge (Paraa Gyaan) can unite all religions to compete with each other for the welfare of mankind.

Ved as a whole are Karm Maarg i.e. path of selfless action - nothing for self and all for the society. The Vaidik metaphysics is Gyaan Maarg i.e. the path of knowledge. This knowledge brings out clearly the ultimate significance of all material and spiritual things. The Vaidik Rishi and Muni (meta-physicists and wandering sages) had found the substantial essence of all these things in the scheme of Reality, thereby unifying the absolute Truth. Ved have a concept of absolute and perfect truth based on a-priori knowledge against material and imperfect truth influenced by our outward looking mind and physical senses and sense organs. Material truths being imperfect are never permanent and vary considerably amongst individuals.

The Vaidik science of Axiology (Tri-Varg) covering idealistic, ideational and sensate values is entirely based on permanent truths in the form of Rit, which are the cosmic laws of social and moral order. Yajur Ved, 7-14 clearly brings out that the noble thoughts made the culture of the Ved the first and foremost foundations of the edifice of universal values. Through the Vaidik Mantra (poetical hymns which liberate the mind) homage is paid to the Rishi of the yore, path makers and pioneers (Rig Ved, 10.14.15 and Atharv Ved, 18.2.2). Mantra is Man (mind) and Tra (freedom, liberation). Mundak Upanishad 1-1-3 mentions that having known Vedaant, all other knowledge will stand revealed to us. Ved are thus the acme of human thought and the metaphysics reaches its summit in the Vedaantik philosophy contained in the fourth and last part of the Ved in the form of pure idealism and absolute monism. Ved are also known as Shruti - the heard. Most of the modern Hindu believe that the Ved were directly revealed by God and were not fabricated as later the ancient dreaded materialists Charvaak found and criticized these divine revelations. Aadi Granth says, "Omkaar Ved nirmaye." It literally means Omkaar (God) revealed the Ved.

Vaidik wisdom covers the cosmic working at all levels, from microcosm to macrocosm. It covers material, temporal, secular, spiritual, and divine knowledge by blending both the inner and outer worlds. In the concept of Brahman as the "only Reality", the highest metaphysical ethics is reached, as all else is Maayaa (appearance or phenomenon but not exactly mirage). Maayaa is His Creative Art (Rig Ved, 6.45.16 and 6.47.18). Eashaavaasya Upanishad explains this as the illusory but dazzlingly brilliant golden disc, which appears real to human senses.

Ved is the Shruti (heard) and Vedaang (there are six parts of Ved - Shikshaa, Vyaakaran, Chhand, Nirukt, Jyotish and Kalp) help to understand the Ved. The contents of Ved are divided in three groups - Karm Kaand - method of doing procedures, Upaasanaa Kaand - prayers, and Gyaan Kaand - knowledge. Ved has come out from the mouth of God, that is why it is Brahm Vaanee - so no addition or no subtraction or no manipulation.

If people treat Ved as some thing like physics or chemistry or biology etc, (even for these studies some pre-qualifications are specified, else a person is not admitted for the studies), they have not understood the purpose of Ved. Ordinary physics, chemistry, etc, change from time to time with new inventions disproving old theory these cannot be studied by anyone without prescribed qualification, but Ved have to be learnt studied and taught by anyone who have no qualification. Looks like the contradictory view is from those who neither practice nor have any inclination to Vaidik studies but want to universalize. What is the use of studying Ved? Is it simply to parrot Ved or to understand them to live? When Ved themselves lay a procedure they don't want to obey the rules of Ved but want to study them, and then to understand them.

'Anyo Anayasmai Valgu Vadantah' in Vaidik text informs us that "We should speak politely among ourselves". The adage looks like a modern saying for our community, an ideal given, showing the way of our conversation. Strange that Ved dating back thousands of centuries, are having ultra modern values. Ved are timeless and ever useful.

Source of Ved
From "Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence" / by Stephen Knapp. The World Relief Network. 2000. 337 p.

There are two ways to explain the source of Ved - one is by theories presented by modern scholars, and the second way is from the traditional account from Vaidik literature itself. Many historians hold the idea that Aaarya invaded India in the 2nd millennium BC and were the founders of the Indian culture and Vaidik traditions. This does not seem true, because (1) The Indus Valley culture, where Aarya are said to have invaded flourished between 3500 and 2500 BC. This civilization gives enough proof that many aspects of Aaryan culture were already a part of Indus Valley society, such as, images of Yogee sitting in meditation, figures of a god similar to Shiv, Fire worship (representation of Vishnu). (2) There is another point - Buddha appeared some 2,500 years ago, and we know that he preached against Ved; it shows that Ved already existed at that time. But another point is that Indus Valley civilization continued for long time; then why don't we have any trace of Pre-Aaryan language? Maybe there was not any Pre-Aaryan language; or it is more likely that the Vaidik Aaryans were already there.

Division of Ved
Although Ved used to be one only, when it existed in the beginning of the Time, but Ved Vyaas Jee divided it in four sections for ease of studying - Rig Ved, Yajur Ved, Saam Ved and Atharv Ved. This has been the practice in every Dwaapar Yug of every Mahaa-Yug (four Yug - Sat, Tretaa, Dwaapar and Kali Yug make up one Mahaa Yug). Since this is 28th Mahaa-Yug of the 7th Manvantar (Vaivaswat Manvantar), Ved Vyaas Jee was the 28th Ved Vyaas to divide Ved in four parts. You may see the list of all Ved Vyaas below - "Who Divided Ved". He taught these four parts of the Ved to his four disciples - Pail, Vaishampaayan, Jaimini and Sumantu respectively.

Hymns used to invite the deities to the sacrifices (Yagya) are in Rig Ved.
Liturgical parts form the Yajur Ved.
Musical chants are in Saam Ved.
The miscellaneous appendices and addenda are found in Atharv Ved.

Sanhitaa is the collection of Mantra and Braahman includes Aaranyak and Upanishad.
The Aaranyak deal with meditations and Upanishad are philosophical treatises.

Normally, Sanhitaa are the ones indicated by the term Ved. Sanhitaa have further branched off into Shaakhaa (see below "Four Ved from One Ved")
The Braahman, Aaranyak and the Upanishads are treated as appendices.

It is interesting to note that all Ved deal with different aspects of human life in their expressions known as "Mantra" in Sanskrit language. The First two Ved - Rig Ved and Yajur Ved, deal with appreciative adoration of the Sun, the river waters, the rain and finally the Holy fire known as Hom. Saam Ved is musical in its chanting. Atharv Ved is more practical in its approach and deals with community welfare, individual health, herbal cure and warfare to defeat the enemies. Of the four Ved, Atharv Ved is the latest in chronological order. This basic understanding of the four Ved is essential as a back drop for our comprehension of the Vaidik concepts.

The presiding deity for the Rig Ved is Agni, for Yajur Ved it is Vaayu, for the Saam Ved it is Ravi (Soorya).
Vyaas Jee gave the Rig Sanhitaa to his disciple Pail.
The Yajur Sanhitaa was given to Vaishampaayan Jee and the
The Saam Ved which was divided further into two, were distributed to two of his disciples - the one with Chhand (Chhand Sanhitaa) was given to Jaimini and the Atharv (Angeerasaa) Sanhitaa to Sumantu Muni. Jaimini divided his portion to two and taught them to his son Sumant and his grandson Suswaan one portion each. One of Jaimini's disciples, Sukarmaa created 1,000 subgroups from the original Saam Ved.

Four Ved from One Ved
Thus we have four Ved - Rig, Yajur, Saam and Atharv out of one Ved; and each of them has several branches (Shaakhaa). The first Ved is Rig Ved and the latest one is the Atharv Ved.

(1) Rig Ved - The Rig Ved has 1,028 Sookt containing 10,589 verses. They are listed under 10 Mandal or 8 Khand with 85 Anuvaak (sub-rescensions). Before there were 21 Shaakhaa but there is only one Shaakhaa available today - Saakal Shaakhaa. Aitareya Upanishad belongs to Rig Ved.

(2) Yajur Ved - Yajur Ved has two branches - Shukla Yajur Ved and Krishn Yajur Ved or white and black. Shukla Yajur Ved is also known as Vaajsaneyee or Madhyaandini Shukla Yajur Ved; while Krishn Yajur Ved Sanhitaa is known as Taittireeya Sanhitaa which is closer to Braahman than to Shruti. Both branches have rescensions - the two popular rescensions of Shukla Yajur Ved are Madhyaandini and Kaanv; the Krishn Yajur Ved has three rescensions - Kaatak, Kapishtal-Kat and Maitreyanee. Yajur Ved contains 1975 verses grouped under 40 chapters (Adhyaaya). The longest chapter contains 117 verses and the shortest one contains 13 verses.

(3) Saam Ved - Since Rig Ved stresses on Yagya, Saam Ved comes next to Rig Ved. Krishn puts this Ved on the top of all the Ved, He says in Geetaa that "Among all the Ved I am the Saam Ved." The hymns of this Ved are chanted by Udgaataa at the Saam Yagya. Many of its hymns are originated from Rig Ved and have been rearranged without reference to the original order in the Rig Ved and are set to music. Only 75 hymns of the 1,875 verses of Saam Ved are not found in the Rig Ved. The main distinction between them is that they are meant to be sung, not to be recited. Rig Ved deals with the knowledge, while Saam Ved deals with Upaasanaa, worship and Dhyaan. It originally had 1,001 branches, but now there remain very few.

According to one way, the Saam Ved is classified under two categories - Poorvaarchik and Uttaraarchik. Each Aarchik is subdivided into Prapaathakaa and Adhyaaya; according to another way it is divided under four categories --
(1) Poorvaachik - 585 verses (1-585)
(2) Aranya Khandam - 55 verses (586-640)
(3) Mahaanmnya Aarchik - 10 verses (641-650)
(4) Uttaraarchik - 1,225 verses (651-1875)

(4) Atharv Ved - Atharv Ved has nine branches or rescensions - (1) Pippalaad, (2) Tauda, (3) Mundaa (4) Shaunakeeya, (5) Jaajal, (6) Jalad, (7) Braahmved, (8) Dev Darsh, and (9) Chaaranaavaidya. Today we have only two branches, Pippalaad and Shaunakeeya, with us. Atharv Ved has 5,977 verses spread over 20 Khand (rescensions), Khand are subdivided into Hymns and the Hymns are subdivided into group of Mantra.

Who Divided Ved?
In Vishnu Puraan, 3/2, Maitreya Jee said - "I have known that this whole world is born from Vishnu, is established in Vishnu, and is nothing except Vishnu. Now I wish to hear about "how Bhagavaan has divided Ved in the form of Ved Vyaas in every Chatur-Yug." Paraashar Jee said - "Maitreya, Ved has thousands of branches. In every Dwaapar Yug, Bhagavaan Vishnu appears as Vyaas and divides one Ved into many. He does that because He knows that human mind is not strong enough to understand it wholly. By which physical body He does that, its name is Ved Vyaas.

In each Dwaapar Yug of Vaivaswat Manvantar, Vyaas Rishi has divided Ved - means that he has divided it 28 times. This means that in this present Manvantar, 28 Chatur-Yug have passed and this is Kali Yug of the 28th Chatur-Yug period. Every Manvantar consists of 71+ Chatur-Yug.

In 1st Dwaapar Yug Brahmaa Jee himself divided Ved.
In 2nd Dwaapar Yug Prajaapati divided Ved.
In 3rd Dwaapar Yug Shukraachaarya Jee divided Ved.
In 4th Dwaapar Yug Brihaspati divided Ved.
In 5th Dwaapar Yug Soorya divided Ved.
In 6th Dwaapar Yug Mrityu divided Ved.
In 7th Dwaapar Yug Indra divided Ved.
In 8th Dwaapar Yug Vashishth divided Ved.
In 9th Dwaapar Yug Saaraswat divided Ved.
In 10th Dwaapar Yug Tridhaamaa divided Ved.
In 11th Dwaapar Yug Trishikh divided Ved.
In 12th Dwaapar Yug Bharadwaaj divided Ved.
In 13th Dwaapar Yug Antariksh divided Ved.
In 14th Dwaapar Yug Varnee divided Ved.
In 15th Dwaapar Yug Trayyaarun divided Ved.
In 16th Dwaapar Yug Dhananjaya divided Ved.
In 17th Dwaapar Yug Kratunjaya divided Ved.
In 18th Dwaapar Yug Jaya divided Ved.
In 19th Dwaapar Yug Bharadwaaj divided Ved.
In 20th Dwaapar Yug Gautam divided Ved.
In 21st Dwaapar Yug Haryaatmaa divided Ved.
In 22nd Dwaapar Yug Vaajshravaa divided Ved.
In 23rd Dwaapar Yug Trinbindu of Somshushm divided Ved.
In 24th Dwaapar Yug Riksh from Bhrigu's family, called Vaalmeeki, divided Ved.
In 25th Dwaapar Yug Shakti (Paraashar's father, Vashishth's son) divided Ved.
In 26th Dwaapar Yug Paraashar (myself) divided Ved.
In 27th Dwaapar Yug Jaatukarn divided Ved.
In 28th Dwaapar Yug Krishn Dwaipaayan divided Ved.
In 29th Dwaapar Yug Ashwatthaamaa (son of Dronaachaarya) will divide the Ved

Thus these 28 Vyaas are the previous ones. After my son Krishn Dwaipaayan, in the next Dwaapar Yug, Drone's son Ashwatthaamaa will be Ved Vyaas. "Aum" - this eternal Akshar (letter) is Brahm who is the cause of Creation and Pralaya. This is much minute than Mahat-Tattwa. I greet him." Ved is the source of knowledge.

--The Vaayu Puraan clearly says that there was one Ved called Yajur Ved before Ved Vyaas Jee divided the Ved into the five portions. The Mahaabhaarat is also a part of the fifth Ved.
--The Raamaayan also claims that it is equal to Veda in the very first chapter of the Baal Kaand as well as in the last chapter of the Uttar Kaand.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/20/13