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 "authorless".
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
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 ritual sacrifice).
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
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
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
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 1200 BC.
- 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
- 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.
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
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
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
and being impressed by his Vedantic philosophy, he went on
to write several essays and books about him.
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 time.
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 whole.
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
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 school.
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 AD.
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 branches.
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, called padas.
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,
, Atri, Bhrigu, Kashyapa, Grtsamada, Agastya and
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
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 Atharvaveda.
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
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 Jainminiya
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
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
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
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 the Saunakiya.
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 BC.
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
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 Dharma-shastras.
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 Atharvaveda).
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 of mathematics.
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 planets.
Vedic mathematics is now being introduced in many schools – this has
helped make students brighter, faster, more accurate and more productive in
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
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 Vajikarana (Sexology).
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
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 existence.
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 been created.
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
semi-classical and folk
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
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
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, Bihar
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.