The Vedas are ancient Hindu texts, constituting the oldest written
material of Sanskrit literature and scriptures ever available to
Hinduism. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, these texts are considered to be
apauruseva; meaning, "not of a man, but of a superhuman" or
The Vedas are also referred to as Sruti (that which is heard) and
Smriti (that which is remembered). Hindus consider these texts as
sacrosanct, as they are believed to be revelations made by ancient
sages, after years of intense meditation. According to the Epic
Mahabharata, Brahma is credited with the creation of the Vedas, while
the Vedic hymns are believed to be given to us by great Rishis. They
have therefore been carefully preserved since the ancient times.
There are four Vedas, namely, the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda
and the Atharvaveda. Each one of these Vedas is subclassified into
four major text types, namely, the Samhitas (mantras), the Aranyakas
(information on rituals, ceremonies and so on), the Brahmanas
(commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and so on) and the Upanishads
(discussion on meditation, philosophy and spirituality). Some scholars
include an additional fifth category, the Upasanas (worship).
There are various schools of thought regarding the Vedas and their
significance to Hindu philosophy, culture and tradition. Those which
cite the Vedas as the ultimate scriptural authority are classified as
Astika (orthodox). Other Sramana (parallel schools of thought)
traditions, which do not regard these texts as the greatest authority,
are classified as Nastika (heterodox or non-orthodox). This category
includes Buddhism, Jainism, Lokayata, Carvaka and Ajivika traditions.
The Sanskrit word "Veda" stands for "knowledge" or "wisdom" and is
derived from the root "vid", meaning, "to know". In some other
contexts, it implies "finding or begetting wealth and property".
Interestingly, a related word "Vedena" features in one of the hymns of
the Rigveda. This could be roughly translated both as "along with the
Veda" and as "a bundle of grass bound together" (as is used in a
Down South, Vedas are also referred to as Marai or Vaaymozhi. Marai
literally means "hidden" or a "mystery". In Iyengar and some other
communities, the term includes writings by Tamil Alvar saints, such as
the Divya Prabandham. One such example is the Tiruvaaymozhi.
As mentioned earlier, the Vedas are among the most ancient texts of
Hinduism. The Samhitas roughly date back as early as 1700-1100 BC and
the Shakhas (branches or schools) of the Samhitas date back to around
1000-500 BC. This indicates that there was a Vedic period, which
ranged from the mid 2nd to the mid 1st millennium BC; or what is more
popularly referred to as the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
This Vedic era reached its peak only after the composition of the
mantras or hymns, along with the establishment of the various Shakhas
all over India. It ended around the age of the Buddha, Panini and the
rise of the Mahajanapadas (from the 6th century to the 4th century
Passing on the Vedic Teachings across Generations
During the Vedic period, the texts were transmitted from generation to
generation via the oral tradition prevalent then. It was carefully
preserved with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. A literary
tradition too is found in the post-Vedic times, after the emergence of
Buddhism, round about the Maurya period. However, even during that
time, the oral tradition was the most popular method of passing on the
teachings to the next generation of students.
Thus Spake The Vedas - Book
The Vedic manuscripts were penned on natural materials including palm
leaves and birch bark. This made it challenging for scholars to
preserve the writings after a few hundred years. However, efforts are
constantly on to conserve what little we have of them. The
Sampurnanand Sanskrit University still maintains a Rigveda manuscript
from the 14th century. Older Vedic manuscripts can be found in Nepal –
they date back around the 11th century or so.
Ancient Vedic Universities
The Vedas and the Vedangas (ancillary sciences) formed a vital part of
the curriculum at ancient Vedic universities, such as Nalanda,
Takshashila (or Taxila) and Vikramashila. The syllabus, at these
institutions, included both texts in Vedic Sanskrit, as well as texts
that were considered to be "connected to the Vedas".
The major volume of Vedic Sanskrit texts includes the following:
- Samhitas: The Samhitas are a collection of
four metric texts (of mantras), including the Rig-veda,
Yajur-veda, Sama-veda and Atharva-veda. The Samhitas differ
slightly in content, in accordance with the Shakhas (recensions)
where they are maintained. The complete corpus of Vedic mantras
consists of close to 90,000 padas (metrical units), of which about
72,000 feature in the four Samhitas. This is the oldest layer of
the Vedic texts – they are believed to have been completed around
- Brahmanas: The Brahmanas are in prose format.
They explain and comment on the rituals, while also talking in
detail about their meaning and connected rites as well. Each of
the Brahmanas deals in detail with one of the Samhitas or its
recensions. They either form a separate text or can be seamlessly
integrated with the Samhita they are dealing with. The Brahmanas
also sometimes include the Aranyakas and Upanishads.
- Aranyakas: The Aranyakas, literally meaning
"forest texts", were essentially composed by sages who undertook
severe penance, deep in the woods. These texts contain elaborate
discussions and interpretations of the various rites, rituals and
ceremonies mentioned in the Vedic texts. The interpretations
featuring herein range from religious, to ritualistic, to symbolic
and meta-ritualistic points of view. The Aranyakas often form a
part of secondary Vedic literature.
- Upanishads: The older principal Mukhya
Upanishads are considered as yet another vital part of Vedic
study. These Upanishads, such as the Brihadaranyaka, Katha, Kena,
Aitareya, Chandogya, Prasna, Mundaka and so on, discuss different
aspects of meditation, spirituality and philosophy.
It is important to note here, that the Vedas (Sruti) are different
from the texts of the Vedic era, such as Shrauta Sutras and Gryha
Sutras. These are part of the Smriti texts. Taken together, the Vedas
and the Sutras form the entire corpus of Vedic Sanskrit. More
Upanishads were composed and added on during the post-Vedic period.
The Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads together interpret and deal in
detail with the Samhitas from the philosophical and metaphorical
angles. They go on to explore abstract concepts such as the Brahman
(Absolute) and the Atman (Self), thus ushering in an era of Vedanta
philosophy, which went on to become a major trend in Hinduism. This
inspired scholars and seers such as Adi Shankara to delve deeper and
further classify each of the Vedas into karma-kanda (action-related
sections) and jnana-kanda (knowledge and spirituality-related
The numerous texts constituting Shruti are too vast to be formally
compartmentalized and compiled. Hence, there is no single collection –
several hundreds of texts were handed down by the different Vedic
schools. These works feature various dialects and adopt the local
traditions of each Vedic school.
Max Müller and the Vedas
Interestingly, the German-born author, philologist and Orientalist,
Max Müller, who was one of the founders of the western academic field
of Indian studies, developed a fascination for the Indian perspective
of religion and philosophy. He believed that the earliest documents of
Vedic culture would be the key to the development of Pagan European
religions, highly prevalent then. He then devoted himself to the study
of Sanskrit, then emerging as one of the major Sanskrit scholars of
his time. Meeting Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and being impressed by his
Vedantic philosophy, he went on to write several essays and books
Max Müller strongly believed that the study of a language should
relate to the study of the culture of the place where it was used. At
the time, the West did not have much of knowledge about the Vedas or
the Vedic scriptures. However, there was a rising interest in the
philosophy of the Upanishads. Müller realized that he could use the
sophisticated Upanishadic philosophy to further understand the key
fundamentals of the Vedic teachings.
At present, Müller's edition is rated among the most consistent, as it
reflects the Indian tradition, follows the historical sequence fairly
closely and sticks with the current editions and translations on Vedic
The four Vedas were propagated and transmitted in various Shakhas or
recensions; each one representing an ancient community; as part of a
particular kingdom or province; and following its own local tradition
and canons. There were multiple recensions for each of the Vedas and
hence, there was no one single canon or one set of scriptures. Some of
these texts have been preserved to date, but most have been lost to
time. Some other texts were revised to suit the modern era. This has
given rise to much debate on having corrupted the texts in the present
The Rigveda texts are the most well-preserved in modern times. These
come from the school of Sakalya, from a region called Videha, situated
in present-day North Bihar, south of Nepal. This Vedic canon consists
of texts from several Vedic schools, assembled together to form one
Each of the Vedas has an Index or Anukramani. The principal work of
this kind is the general Index or the Sarvanukramani. Much effort and
energy was spent by our predecessors in ensuring that these texts were
transmitted from generation to generation, retaining their fidelity to
the maximum possible level.
Memorization of the Vedas included up to eleven forms of recitation of
the selfsame text. These texts were then proof-read many times over,
to ensure that the material therein was preserved in its original
form. Thanks to the efforts of the great scholars of yore, the
Rigveda, which was redacted into a single text during the Brahmana
period, is the most consistent and contains no variants within that
The Vedas were most probably penned for the first ever time around 500
BC. However, all the printed editions that survive in the present day
are most likely the version which came about around the 16th century
The Four Vedas
There are four Vedas or canonical divisions, according to Hinduism.
Among these, the first three form the main original division, commonly
referred to as "trayi vidya" or the "triple science" of reciting hymns
(Rigveda), performing austerities and rituals (Yajurveda) and singing
songs (Samaveda). The Rigveda is considered to be the most ancient
text, probably from about 1900 to 1100 BC. Incidentally, this period
marked the Vedic era itself, when they were divided into the four
As mentioned earlier, each of the Vedas are subclassified into four
major text categories; the Samhitas, the Aranyakas, the Brahmanas and
the Upanishads. Some scholars consider Upasanas as the fifth part.
Only one version of the Rigveda is available to us in this modern era.
Several different versions of the Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda
can be found in different parts of India and South Asia.
Set of Four Vedas in English -
Let us now look at each one of the Vedas in detail:
The Rigveda Samhita, which is the most ancient Indic text, is a
collection of 1,028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns and comprises 10,600 verses
in total. The hymns are all in praise of Rigvedic deities and they are
organized into ten books or mandalas.
The mandalas were composed by poets and scholars belonging to
different groups, over a period of several centuries. The process is
believed to have started from approximately the second half of the 2nd
millennium BC (which marked the start of the Vedic period), starting
with Sapta Sindhu (Punjab) region in Northwest India.
Each mandala consists of suktas or hymns, which are chanted during
various rituals. The suktas in turn are divided into individual
stanzas or rcas, which are further classified into units of verse,
One Rishi or sage-composer is associated with each of the rcas of the
Rigveda. Interestingly, 10 families of Rishis account for over 95% of
the rcas. These Rishis include Angirasa, Kanva, Vasishtha,
Vishwamitra, Atri, Bhrigu, Kashyapa, Grtsamada, Agastya and Bharata.
The Rigveda is systematically structured and is based on clear
principles. This Veda begins with a small book dedicated to Agni (God
of Fire) and Indra (King of the Gods). Also invoked in the Rigveda are
Savitr, Vishnu, Pushan, Brihaspati, Brahmanaspati and Rudra. Some
natural phenomena too are invoked in the hymns, including Dyaus Pita
(Father Heaven), Prithvi (Mother Earth), Surya (Sun God), Apas (the
waters), Vayu (the wind), Parjanya (thunder and rain) and the Sapta
Sindhu and the Saraswati River. Additionally, the Adityas, Ashvins,
Vasus, Rudras, Sadhyas, Maruts, Rohus and the Vishvadevas (all the
Gods of the Universe) receive due mention in the hymns as well.
Structure-wise, the hymns are arranged in decreasing order for each
collection of deities. For each deity, the hymns gradually progress
from longer to shorter. The number of hymns per book, though,
increases. The poetic meter, too, is systematically arranged from
jagati, to tristubh, to anustubh and Gayathri.
The nature of the hymns change from praising the deities to Nasadiya
Sukta, with questions about the creation and the emergence of the
Universe, such as, "How was the Universe created? What is its origin?
Can even Gods answer this question?" and so on. Metaphysical issues,
the value of Dana (charity) are yet other subjects featuring herein.
It would be worthwhile to note here that one can find many
similarities between the mythology, legends, ritual practices and
linguistics in the Rigveda, and those found in ancient central Asia,
Iranian and Hindukush (Afghanistan) regions.
The term "Yajurveda" is the combination of two Sanskrit words, "Yajus"
and "Veda". The former can be roughly translated as religious worship,
reverence, sacrifice, sacrificial prayer or the mantras to be uttered
during a sacrificial ritual. The latter part of the word, of course,
means "knowledge". Hence, the term would mean "knowledge of the
mantras used during ritual worship". The Yajurveda Samhita, which is
in prose format, is a compilation of ritual offering formulae and
methods that a priest should follow while guiding an individual to
perform a yagna (fire ritual/sacrifice).
Though the Vedas cannot be dated accurately, it is believed that the
main text of the Yajurveda was composed around the end of the 2nd
millennium BC, which falls within the classic Mantra era of Vedic
Sanskrit. Hence, this Veda is not as ancient as the Rigveda and falls
somewhere during the same time period as of the Samaveda and the
The oldest layer of the Yajurveda samhita features about 1,875 verses,
which, though distinct, build upon the foundation laid by the Rigveda.
It is important to note here that the Yajurveda samhitas are entirely
in prose format and linguistically, are completely set apart from
earlier Vedic texts. This samhita is also a primary source of
information regarding Vedic rites and rituals, plus all associated
rituals as well.
This samhita could be split into two groups, namely, the Krishna
(Black) and the Shukla (White) divisions. The Krishna group refers to
the "un-arranged", mostly random collection of verses in the
Yajurveda. In contrast, the Shukla group features well-arranged
verses, clearly separating the Samhita from its Brahmana (Satapatha
Brahmana or the Brahmana of the Hundred Paths). Incidentally, this is
one of the largest Brahmana texts to survive to the present day.
Of the Krishna Yajurveda, texts from four major schools have survived
– these are Maitrayani, Katha, Kapisthala-Katha and Taittiriya. Of the
Shukla Yajurveda, only two major schools of Kanva and Madhyandina have
survived the ravages of time. Interestingly, the most recent layer of
text is not related to rituals or sacrifice. It features the largest
possible collection of primary Upanishads, which influenced major
schools of Hindu philosophy and thought.
The Samaveda is the Veda of chants and music. The entire musical text
is systematically notated, keeping with the traditions of the Shakha
where it was maintained. Since it has to be sung, it could be
considered as the Rigveda set to music. Though it has fewer verses as
compared to the Rigveda, it is textually lengthier, due to its
elaborate lists, chants and elongated modes of singing.
The Samaveda Samhita comprises 1,549 stanzas, with some verses
repeating more than once. Except for a set of 75 mantras, has taken
almost entirely from the Rigveda. The Samaveda, which is believed to
have given rise to music itself, is divided into two major sections.
The first section includes four Gaanas or melodic collections. The
second section consists of three verse "books", called Archikas. A
melody in the song book corresponds to a verse in the Archika book.
As with the Rigveda, this samhita too starts with the worship of Agni,
Indra and other Gods, soon shifting to the abstract. The poetic meter
here too, follows the Rigveda scheme. The songs in the later section
too are much like the hymns featuring in the Rigveda.
The two major Shakhas or recensions of the Samaveda that are surviving
in the present time, include the Kauthuma/Ranayaniya and the
Samaveda and Indian Classical Music: Legend and Fact
Indian classical music and dance have their roots in the musical
curves and dimensions of the Samaveda. Apart from vocal music, this
Veda mentions the existence of musical instruments; even clearly
specifying how each instrument must be played. The Veda has a
dedicated section for this, called the Gandharva-Veda. This Upaveda is
closely attached to the main Samaveda. The fact that Indian music has
risen from the Samaveda is widely acknowledged by musicians and
musicologists all over India and the world in general.
According to popular legend, Lord Shiva gave us the Saptaswaras (seven
notes) of music, via the Samaveda. The story goes that the Panchamukha
(five-faced) Shiva was once addressing a celestial congregation of the
Devas and other divine beings. Each of his five faces, namely,
Satyojaata, Vaamaka, Eeshaana, Tathpurusha and Aghora, was addressing
a different section of the audience (extreme left, left, center, right
and extreme right). While the content of his speech became the Vedas,
the tone in which he delivered his speech became the seven swaras of
Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni.
Panchamukhi Shiva - Resin Statue
Some experts suggest that melodies most likely existed in ancient
India, much before the emergence of the Samaveda. The words of the
Rigveda verses were probably mapped into those pre-existing melodies,
so as to create a flow and a rhythm for the structure. The text
sometimes uses Stobha or creative structures to make the words fit in
better with the tune. Sometimes, meaningless sounds are added on so as
to make it more pleasant-sounding and soothing to the ear. Thus, the
Samaveda represented the start of fusing creative music with meaning
and deep spiritual intent.
The Atharvaveda Samhita belongs to the poets, Atharvan and Angirasa.
It comprises about 760 hymns. Around 160 of these hymns are the same
as the Rigveda. Most of these verses follow the typical metric system
of the Rigveda, but some sections are also in prose format. Today, we
have two different sections of the text, namely, the Paippalada and
Interestingly, the Atharvaveda was not considered as a Veda during the
Vedic period. It achieved that status towards the end of the 1st
millennium BC. This text is believed to have been compiled around 900
The Atharvaveda is sometimes referred to as the "Veda of magic
formulas". The Samhita layer of this text represents an evolving 2nd
millennium BC tradition of conducting religious rites, with a view to
address superstition anxiety. It supposedly tried to cure ailments
caused by spells, demons and other dark and paranormal forces.
This text deals with developing and administering herbs and
nature-derived potions to cure a variety of ailments, both
physiological and psychosomatic in nature. Hence, this was probably
one of earliest texts to record the evolution of Medicine, medical
treatment and healing. Hence, Ayurveda is sometimes considered to be
an Upaveda of the Atharvaveda. Other experts, however, consider
Ayurveda to be a different, Panchama (fifth) Veda.
That apart, several books of the Atharvaveda Samhita also talk about
"magic-less" rituals, philosophy and theosophy. It speaks about Vedic
culture, general customs and beliefs, and, most importantly, two major
rituals of passage, namely, marriage and cremation. It not only
explains how to conduct these rituals, but also elucidates the reasons
why Hindus should correctly follow prescribed procedures for the same.
The post-Vedic era gave rise to a number of ancillary subjects, which
were closely associated with the original Vedas. They are as follows:
The Vedangas evolved towards the end of the Vedic era. These
subsidiary studies emerged, because the original language used by the
Vedas had become too archaic for people of that time. The Vedangas
were sciences that aimed to help people understand and appreciate the
teachings of the Vedas, which had been composed centuries ago. The six
main subjects of Vedanga are Siksha (phonetics), Chandas (poetic
meter), Vyakarana (grammar), Nirukta (linguistics), Kalpa (rituals and
rites) and Jyotisha (astronomy and time-keeping).
The Vedangas went on to have a great influence on post-Vedic studies,
schools, art and philosophical though. For example, the Kalpa Vedanga
gave birth to the Dharma-sutras, which later expanded into
Parisishta mainly aimed to explore the rituals and commentaries
mentioned in the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Sutras in more
detail. Each of the Vedas has a Parisishta dedicated to its study. The
literature associated with the Atharvaveda, though, is the most
elaborate and extensive one.
Upaveda or "applied knowledge" is literature dealing with different
technical subjects. The Charanavyuha makes mention of four Upavedas,
namely, Dhanurveda (Archery), Sthapatyaveda (Architecture),
Gandharvaveda (Classical Music and Dance; naturally associated with
the Samaveda) and Ayurveda (Medicine; associated with the
Fifth and Other Vedas
Some post-Vedic works, including the Mahabharata, the Natyashastra (an
elaborate treatise on Dance) and certain Puranas, consider themselves
to be the "fifth Veda". References to the same can be found in the
Chandogya Upanishad. South Indians consider the Divya Prabandham to be
a parallel vernacular Veda.
Some Hindu schools of thought consider the Bhagavad Gita and the
Vedanta Sutras as Shruti. Later, the Bhakti Movement, especially the
Gaudiya Vaishnavite sect, extended the scope of the term "Veda" to
include the Sanskrit Epics and works such as the Pancharatra
(Vaishnava Sanskrit Agamic texts). However, these are not universally
accepted as Vedas by all Hindus.
The Puranas constitute a vast body of Indian literature, dealing with
a wide range of topics, myths and legends. Many of these texts are
named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Devi and so on.
There are 18 Maha Puranas (Great Puranas) and 18 Upa Puranas (Minor
Puranas). Together, they feature over 400,000 verses.
The Puranas A View and Review
The Puranas have greatly influenced Hindu art and culture and are
considered as being Vaidika (similar to Vedic literature).
The Vedas: Relevant Then and Now
The Vedas are the most ancient texts in Hindus. Nevertheless, these
vast repositories of knowledge are relevant for all time. The wisdom
contained in these texts is applicable for the entire humanity and
surpasses all geographical, ideological, historical and sociological
barriers. By studying the viewpoints in different topics found in
Vedic culture, we would definitely be able to put several of them to
practical use in this time and day. We are trapped in today's busy and
complicated world and sometimes lose track of the right path. The
knowledge offered by those treatises can indeed help us in fields we
cannot even begin to imagine.
India's Vedic culture has made immense contribution to several fields
of activity and has verily influenced the thinking process of the
entire world. It has given the world advanced knowledge in music, art,
astronomy, martial arts, yoga, philosophy, mathematics, science,
holistic medicine in the form of Ayurveda, and much more.
The following are some fields where Vedic culture has made great
strides, thereby influencing the entire world:
Vedic Mathematics and Jyotisha
Vedic mathematics is an ancient subject, that dates back as far as
2500 BC. It continues to play an important role in modern society, not
only in India, but all over world. It made calculation and computing
much simpler than the traditional Egyptian, Greek and Roman methods
prevalent then. The Vedic system also invented the numeral zero, which
is considered to be among the greatest ever inventions in the history
The subject then evolved further to include the Jyotisha or Vedic
astronomy, which used mathematics in different forms. In the 5th
century, Aryabhatta introduced the concept of sines and versed sines
and also brought in Algebra to solve many problems in astronomy. He is
considered to be the first person to state that the Earth moved around
the sun. However, ancient Vedic texts have described the phenomenon
several centuries earlier. This shows the immense wisdom of those
seers and sages.
The 9th century saw the advent of Mahavira, who used fractions to
solve problems in a more efficient manner. Bhaskara II (12th century)
extended the scope of the subject by working on spherical trigonometry
and calculus. He then used that to determine the daily movement of the
Vedic mathematics is now being introduced in many schools – this has
helped make students brighter, faster, more accurate and more
productive in class.
Medicine and Ayurveda
Way back in 600 BC, Sushruta held a record of performing complicated
surgeries including cesareans, fractures, urinary stones, cataracts,
brain surgery and even plastic surgery. India was quite advanced in
Medicine even back then and used anesthesia as well. Recording the use
of over 125 surgical instruments, the doctors of yore had great
knowledge of anatomy, metabolism, digestion, genetics, immunity and
all other subjects related to human physiology. A well-developed
system of Medicine was set in place by the 1st century AD.
Over time, the existing medical system evolved further, giving rise to
the holistic system of Ayurveda. Starting with extensive use in India,
it is now popular the world over. The term "Ayurveda" is derived from
two Sanskrit words, "Ayus" (life) and "Veda" (knowledge). Hence, it
can be defined as the knowledge of healthy living overall; not just
limited to the treatment of diseases. Ayurveda is all about living a
holistic and healthy life; about improving and enhancing the general
quality of life. This is why, Ayurveda, unlike English Medicine, tries
to get to the root of the problem and aims to heal the mind, rather
than just treat the ailment as such.
Ayurveda the Ultimate Medicine
On the one hand, Ayurveda offers types of treatment such as
Panchakarma; sometimes even recommending surgery; to cure certain
ailments. On the other hand, it also offers preventive measures for
those who are in good health. These measures include elaborate daily
and seasonal routines; diet patterns to boost immunity; Rasayana
Chikitsa to promote health; Vajikarana Chikitsa to enhance libido;
Swasthavritta, which are details to sustain health with exercise and
other routines; Sadachar, which focuses on social hygiene and so on.
As a whole, Ayurveda advocates eight major clinical branches of
medicine, namely, Kayachikitsa (Medicine), Salya Tantra (Surgery),
Salakya Tantra (ENT), Kaumatabhritya (Pediatrics), Bhutvidya
(Psychiatry), Agad Tantra (Toxicology), Rasayan Tantra (Nutrition) and
Interestingly, both the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda make mention of
Ayurveda and state that there were thousands of medicines and medical
practitioners even back then. Furthermore, the three Rigvedic Gods,
Indra, Agni and Soma, are associated with the three biological humors
of Vata, Pitta and Kapha respectively.
Vedic gemology aims to determine which precious or semi-precious gem
one should wear in order to attract the best possibilities and
circumstances in one's life. This branch works in conjunction with
Ayurveda and Jyotisha to help a person enjoy better health and
positive mindset. This field, which uses gems and precious stones to
control conditions; both mental and physical; has now begun to gain
popularity the world over.
Gemology tries to tap into the prana or the cosmic energy force that
resides in all living beings. Each gemstone has a particular vibration
and the correct combination of Ayurveda and astrology reveals the
exact gemstone a person should wear in order for it to amplify his
physical and mental energy to the maximum possible extent.
Vedic art is yet another ancient branch, which holds much value even
today. The Vedic arts are never merely a creative representation of an
artist – they always contain a much deeper spiritual and philosophical
meaning. The arts are considered sacred and many times, enable both
the artist and his or her audience to transcend to higher realms of
Vedic paintings are capable of delivering this type of spiritual
vibration and energy. Hence, the painting itself becomes a sort of
doorway for contemplation; finally leading to spiritual realization.
In order to convey a higher purpose, the painter or sculptor uses
colors, designs and instruments, which sometimes need to be explained
to onlookers to help them gain better understanding of the fundamental
thought behind it; then contemplate upon it.
Indian dance and music too are spiritual in nature. A method for the
jeevatma (individual soul) to reach the paramatma (the Universal One),
these arts too are designed to be a pathway for both artists and their
audience to reach the state of bliss. Vedic dance and music date back
to prehistoric times. In his treatise, the Natya Shastra (penned over
2000 years ago), Bharata Muni explains how Brahma presented dance and
drama to earthlings, millions of years ago, just after the Earth had
In fact, the image of the Lord of Dance, Lord Shiva, as Nataraja,
itself proves that point. His dance is based on the energy and the
rhythm of the cosmos. His tandava taps into that unseen energy that
pervades the entire Universe, also destroying all the negative forces,
thus helping the practitioner to attain moksha or liberation.
This is the reason why Indian classical music and dance follow a
strict discipline. These arts require students to painstakingly learn
it the proper way, spending years on delving deeper into the art.
There are precise instructions and exercises to follow in both music
and dance, which students must strictly adhere to. Also, the students
are required to realize that the learning process is an endless one
and that he or she will continue to study the discipline for an entire
lifetime. This helps them understand the underlying sanctity of the
art, revering it as God itself. This, in turn, helps them practice
their art as yoga or a form of meditation, ultimately leading them
towards spiritual fulfillment.
Today, Indian music and dance are extensively studied, practiced and
performed all over the world. We can find countless schools imparting
knowledge on Hindustani and Carnatic music (both vocal and
instrumental) and classical, semi-classical and folk dance forms
including Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Odissi, Mohini Attam,
Manipuri, Krishna Attam and many more.
Vaastu Shastra is the ancient Vedic science of architecture and home
arrangement. Popular in the Orient as Feng Shui, this concept has
gained immense popularity all over the world. Vaastu basically deals
with the flow of energy within residential and office spaces. In order
to achieve optimum results, this science advises people to design
spaces, facing the right direction.
Vaastu For You and Your Family
Vaastu is all about creating an Inner Space or a chidaakaasha, where
the Divine Energy can work to create the maximum possible peace and
harmony within that particular environment. Once that energy and
vibration has been stabilized and remains positive, the people
dwelling or working in that space can achieve the highest levels of
peace, joy, health and productivity.
Introducing Vedic Culture in Schools
Schools in India and abroad have now begun to realize the great
benefits of introducing Vedic culture and teachings within their
syllabus. Given the present pressures faced by school students, many
schools have started hiring experts and scholars to conduct Veda,
Sloka (hymn) and Gita classes. This not only helps the students get
back to their traditional roots, but also calms these young minds and
reduces instances of aggressive behavior among them.
Several families, especially those hailing from South India, enroll
their children in Veda, Gita, dance and music classes at a very young
age. This helps them channel their energies and inculcates the value
of discipline within them, right from a tender age; thus shaping their
personality for the better.
Several schools conduct Indian classical dance and music classes as
well. The inclusion of Vedic mathematics has further helped children
with their level of concentration and focus during class hours. While
this teaches children discipline and focus, it also helps bring them
together as a family, chanting and praying together, thus encouraging
a spirit of camaraderie among them.
Recently, the Nalanda University at Patna officially stated that it
plans to introduce Vedic studies within its curriculum. The famed
educational establishment may also include special courses on
Mindfulness and Yoga in the near future.
Nalanda University Ruins,
The above clearly proves that the ancient wisdom of the Vedas is as
much relevant now as it was in the bygone times. Studying the ancient
texts and understanding their essence; practicing Yoga, meditation,
dance, music and art; adhering to our culture, religious rites and
austerities; also educating the younger generation on appreciating the
value of our culture; will all help create a better tomorrow for our
country and its future citizens.