Hindu Wisdom – Hindu_Scriptures

No other living tradition can claim scriptures as numerous or as ancient as
Hinduism; none of them can boast of an unbroken tradition as faithfully
preserved as the Hindu tradition. Hindu literature is the most ancient and
extensive religious writings in the world. Hindu religion is not derived
from a single book. It has many sacred writings which serve as a source of
doctrine. The most important texts include the Vedas, Upanishads, the Puranas,
the Epics – Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita.

Hinduism is very much a religion of revelation. Hindus are the most thoughtful people, and their literature is characterized by
constant concern with humanity’s spiritual destiny. In response to this concern
they have created elaborate philosophical concepts and wrote great epic poems,
narrative literature and fiction. These vast epics, and the four ‘books’ of the
Vedas, were originally transmitted by a phenomenal human chain of memory, and
only written down centuries after their actual compilation. This oral tradition
still exists in India today. The early phase of the Vedic tradition in
India is dated between 10,000 – 7,000 BCE.

According to Professor Klaus K. Klostermaier: “Since
ancient times India has been famous for its wisdom and its thought. The ancient
Persians, Greek and Romans were eager to learn from its sages and philosophers.
When, in the eighteenth century, the first translations of some Upanishads and
the Bhagavad Gita became available to the West, European philosophers
rhapsodized about the profundity and beauty of these writings. Here they
encountered a fusion of philosophy and religion, a deep wisdom and a concern
with the ultimate, that had no parallel in either contemporary Western
philosophy or Western religion. Indian philosophy is highly sophisticated and
very technical and surpasses in both in volume and subtlety.”

Sir William Jones was always impressed by the
vastness of Indian literature. He wrote: “Wherever we direct our attention
to Hindu literature, the notion of infinity presents itself.” Hinduism
has always laid great stress on Pramanas (the means and instruments of correct
knowledge). Hindu philosophers have discussed at great lengths the science of
Noetics. Max Muller says: “In thus giving the Noetics the first place, the
thinkers of India seem to have again superior to most of the philosophers of the
West.”

Introduction


Vedas

Upanishads

Bhagavad Gita



All Matter is Nothing but
energy


Brahman: The All- Pervading
Reality


Itihasa: The Great Epics

1. Ramayana
2. Mahabharata


Conclusion

Introduction

The Vedas are not puerile babblings of rustic
troubadours, but sedate out-pourings of exceptional minds in quest of God. Early
Rig Vedic hymns were composed between 6,000-1500 BCE. Like
indestructible gems they have come down during many thousands of years in
spotless perfection. From the Vedas they evolved the Upanishads, whose copious
enquiries into the nature of man, the Universe, and God, strike us with
speechless wonder. They evolved the most perfect
language in the world, Sanskrit, with a scientific alphabet and perfected
vocabulary, and a grammar which is itself a great work of art.
Their
intellectuals vying with each other, propounded six systems of philosophy
explaining man, universe, and God, before which Aristotle’s and Plato’s theories
look like juvenile endeavors, which fell flat on their own country-men. They
discovered the Earth’s dual motions, and studied the courses of constellations
and stars, and founded the twin sciences of astronomy and astrology. They probed
the human frame, and perfected a system of medicine for the welfare of the body,
evolved the science of Yoga for the health of the mind, and the Tantra Shastra
to develop the psychic and esoteric forces latent in man’s being. They brought
out Dharma Sastras to guide man’s conduct in society, Grihya Sutras to guide the
conduct of house-holders, and a unique science, Meemamsa, prescribing
sacrificial lore for the attainment of individual and national prosperity. They
codified the laws of sanitation, town-planning, architecture, sculpture and
enunciated the principles of music, dancing, and the art of love. They laid down
principles of state-craft, and of the art of war, with human and animal
strategy, with physical weapons, or shastras, and enchanted weapons or astras.

The English knowing world began to read of the
greatness of Indian civilization in the 18th century. Scholars,
one after another, caught glimpses of its luster, and becoming curious, slowly
unveiled the enveloping shroud and gaze with ever growing wonder at is
astonishing extent.
Russian, German, Italian, Swedish, French, and
American intellectuals also turned their telescopes on the Indian sky during the
period, and expressed their appraisal in no uncertain terms.

But the bulk of the
English educated public of India are still unaware of its rich past.

(source: Sanskrit
Civilization – G. R. Josyer
International Academy of Sanskrit
Research. p. 3-4)

The Sanskrit word for philosophy is darsan or
‘seeing’, which implies that Hinduism is not based merely on intellectual
speculation but is grounded upon direct and immediate perception. This, in fact,
distinguishes Indian philosophy from much of Western philosophical thought. The
oldest and most important scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas, which contain
inspired utterances of seers and sages, who had achieved a direct perception of
the divine being. The Vedas are considered to be eternal, because they are not
merely superb poetic composition but represent the divine truth itself as
perceived through the elevated consciousness of great seers.

In general, Hindu scriptures may
be classified into two divisions: Sruti
scriptures and Smriti scriptures.

Sruti
in Sanskrit means “that which is heard.” Thus the Vedas are the
eternal truths that the Vedic seers, called rishis, are said to have heard
during their deep meditations. The Vedas are not considered the works of the
human mind, but an expression of what has been realized through intuitive
perception by Vedic rishis, who had powers to see beyond the physical phenomena.
As such, Vedas are considered of divine origin. The Vedic truths were originally
transmitted by the rishis to their disciples over thousands of years. At a later
date, these were compiled by Sage Vyasa for the benefit of future
generations. India’s teachings are not
speculative. They are based on divine revelations. Indeed, the revelations are
so cosmic that they approach more closely the findings of physics and astronomy
than the pious pronouncements of preachers. The rishis made claims so cosmic
that even modern physics seems only to be catching up with them and realizing,
after every scientific breakthrough, that the ancients were there long before
them. Sruti include the Vedas (Rig,
Yajur, Sama and Atharva) and the Bhagavad Gita.
The Vedas are the primary scriptures of Hinduism. Each of the four Vedas
consists of four parts: Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas,
and Upanishads.

Smriti means “that which is
remembered.” Smriti scriptures are derived from the Vedas and are
considered to be of human origin and not of divine origin. They were written to
explain and elaborate the Vedas, making them understandable and more meaningful
to the general population. All authoritative writings outside the Vedas are
collectively referred to as Smriti. Smriti inlcude the Dharma
Shastras, Nibhandas, Puranas, The Epics, Agamas or Tantras, Darshanas and
Vedangas (Upa Vedas). According to Alain Danielou distingused Orientalist,
” The Puranas provide genealogies, which go back to the sixth millennium
B.C. E. and are probably largely authentic. The stories and descriptions
of the various regions of the earth and the various civilizations living on the
“seven continents” provide priceless documentation on the world’s
oldest civilization.”

The Smriti are considered the secondary scriptures of Hinduism. These scriptures are classified in the
following diagram:

Classification
of Major Scriptures

Note: Each of the four Vedas
consists of four parts: Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranykas, and Upanishads.

The Bhagavad Gita is a part
of the Epics (The Mahabharata).

(image source: The Hindu Mind – By
Bansi Pandit
).

***

Arthur Anthony Macdonell
(1854-1930) in his History of Sanskrit
Literature
tells us that ‘the importance of Indian literature as a whole
consists of its originality. When the Greeks towards the end of the fourth
century B.C. came to the north-west, the Indians had already worked out a
national culture of their own, unaffected by foreign influence.

Sir William
Jones
was always impressed by the vastness of Indian literature. He wrote:


“Wherever we direct our attention to Hindu literature, the notion of
infinity presents itself.”

(source: Eminent
Orientalists
: Indian European American
– Asian Educational
Services. p. 21).

To the Hindu, Shruti is what cannot be thought up
by the limited human intellect, but is of God. It is what is forever
valid
, never changes, is not dependent on the limited capacity for
understanding of any one historical person. The Hindu
for this reason is proud not to need a historical founder.
The
founder and foundation of the Vedas and the Upanishads is the Brahman itself, is
what is indestructible and timeless.

(source: Vedanta:
Heart of Hinduism
– By Hans Torwesten p. 23).

The Vedas and the Upanishads are to India what
the Crown and Scepter are to an anointed king. They are India’s proudest and
most ancient possessions. They are the world’s oldest intellectual legacies.
They are the only composition in the universe invested with Divine origin, and
almost Divine sanctity. They are said to emanate from God, and are held to be
the means for attaining God. Their beginnings are not known. They have been
heirlooms of the Hindus from generation to generation from time
immemorial.

When Europeans first came to know of them, they
roused amazement. Guigault of France
exclaimed: “The Rig Veda is the most sublime conception of the great
highway of humanity.”

(source: Sanskrit Vistas
– By J. R. Josyner
p. 1).

Professor F. Max Muller
says: “The Vedic literature opens to us a chapter in what has been called
the education of the human race, to which we can find no parallel anywhere
else.”

(source: India: What can
it teach us
– By F. Max Muller
p. 89). Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism
and Stotra
Rathnas
.

Top of Page

Vedas

The Vedas (Book of Knowledge) are the greatest
legacy of India, a prodigious body of verse, philosophy and hymns that is among
the world’s oldest written sacred scriptures.

The Vedas are the discoveries of the laws of
nature, the world and the being living in it and the Ultimate Truth. They are
called apauruseya grantha (authorless works)
as they are not books composed by men at a particular period of time. Ancient
sages received these eternal Truths as revelations in meditation.

The Four Vedas are the primary
texts of the spiritual and religious records of the ancient culture and
teachings of India. The four Vedas are the Rig, Yajur,
Sama and Atharva
Vedas. The religion of the Rig Veda is well known.
It is pre-eminently the worship of Nature in its most imposing and sublime
aspect. The sky which bends over all, the beautiful and blushing dawn which like
a busy housewife wakes men from slumber and sends them to their work, the
gorgeous tropical sun which vivifies the earth, the air which pervades the
world, the fire that cheers and enlightens us, and the violent storms which in
India usher in those copious rains which fill the land with plenty, these were
the gods whom the early HIndus loved to extol and to worship. Such is the
nature-worship of the Rig Veda, such were the gods and goddesses whom our
forefathers worshipped more than four thousand years ago on the banks of the
Saraswati. The conception of the nature-gods and the single-hearted fervency
with which they were adored, argue the simplicity and vigor of a manly race, as
well as the culture and thoughtfulness of a people who had already made a
considerable progress in civilization.

In the first years of his stay at Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo
(1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. He
made a deep study of the Vedas and, struck by the light it threw on his own
experiences, rediscovered its lost meaning. In his book India’s Rebirth
ISBN: 81-85137-27-7 – p. 94:

He wrote: “I seek a light that
shall be new, yet old, the oldest indeed of all lights…I seek not science, not
religion, not Theosophy but Veda – the truth about Brahman, not only about His
essentiality, but about His manifestation, not a lamp on the way to the forest,
but a light and a guide to joy and action in the world, the truth which is
beyond opinion, the knowledge which all thought strives after – yasmin vijnate
sarvam vigna – tam (which being known, all is known); I believe it to be the
concealed divinity within Hinduism…” “I believe the Veda
to be the foundation head of the Sanatan Dharma; I believe it to be the
concealed divinity within Hinduism
, – but a veil has to be drawn
aside, a curtain has to be lifted. I believe it to be knowable and discoverable.
I believe the future of India and the world to depend on its discovery and on
its application, not, to the renunciation of life, but to life in the world and
among men. I believe the Vedas to hold a sense which neither mediaeval Indian or
modern Europe has grasped, but which was perfectly plain to the early Vedantic
thinkers.”

“The mind of ancient India did not err when
it traced back all its philosophy, religion and essential things of its culture
to the seer-poets of the Vedas, for all the future spirituality of her people is
contained there in seed or in first expression.”

(source: The
Vision of India
– By Sisirkumar Mitra

p. 59).

Vedic Rishis – the Ancient
Pathmakers

Watch
Scientific
verification of Vedic knowledge

Watch
video – Brahmins
in

India

have become a minority

***

The Rishis were the revered pioneers
of the Hindu religion, and pre-eminent among them are Vishvamitra and Vasistha.
The great Rishis of the Vedic age composed the hymns, fought their wars, and
ploughed their fields; but they were neither Brahmins, nor Kshatriyas nor
Vaisyas. The hymns of the Rig Veda speak of the Punjab alone – India beyond the
Punjab is unknown to the Rig Veda. The banks of the distant Ganga and Jumna are
rarely alluded to; the scenes of war and social ceremonies are the banks of the
Saraswati and her tributaries. This was the Hindu world when the hymns were
composed.

***

Swami Vivekanada
(1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of
Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta.
India’s first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the
religions of India at the World Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago has said:

“The Hindus have received their religion
through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning
and without end. It may sound ludicrous, that a book can be without beginning or
end. But by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of
spiritual laws discovered by different persons at different times. Just as the
law of gravitation acted before its discovery by humanity, and would continue to
act if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual
world. The discoverers of these laws are called Rishis, and we honor them as
perfected beings. Now the Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning or
end. Science has proved to us that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the
same.

They were written, nobody knows at what date, it
may be 8,000 years ago, in spite of all modern scholars may say; it may be 9,000
years ago. Not one of these religious speculations is of modern date, but they
are as fresh today as they were when they were written…”

..this ancient monotheistic idea did not satisfy
the Hindu mind; it did no do far enough….the first question that we find now
arising, assuming proportions, is the question about the universe. “Whence
did it come?” “How did it come?” “How does it exist?”
Various hymns are to be found on this question, struggling forward to assume
form, and nowhere do we find it so poetically, so wonderfully expressed as in
the following hymn:

“Then there was neither aught nor naught,
nor air, nor sky, nor anything. What covered all?
Where rested all? Then death was not nor deathlessness,
nor change to night and day.”

Now first arose desire, the primal seed of mind.
Sages, searching in their heart by wisdom, found the bond
Between existence and non-existence.”

It is a very peculiar expression; the poet ends by saying that “perhaps He
even does not know.”

(source: Hinduism
– By
Swami Vivekananda
p. 2 -35).

The metaphysical agony, which alone makes man
great, bursts forth in the famous words of the Rig Veda. These words of
spiritual yearning, metaphysical unease and intellectual skepticism set the tone
of India’s cultural growth. The seers of the Rg Veda believe, in a truth, a law
which governs our existence, which sustains the different levels of our being,
an infinite reality, ekam sat, or which all the different deities are but
forms.

(source: East and West
in Religion
– By S. Radhakrishnan

p. 21-22).

Agni, god of fire, shown riding
a goat, in a miniature painting from an 18th century watercolor

***

The Vedas are the most ancient scriptures in the
library of consciously evolving humanity. The Vedas are the direct experience
and revelations of the rishis of the hoary past. The Vedas are meant for the
lovers of eternal Time. The oldest Indian literary documents are the four
Vedas; the word means sacred knowledge or lore. These texts include hymns,
liturgical instructions, and explanatory theological and philosophical courses.
These vast and complex works reflect a long development in philosophical and
religious thought. The Vedas are regarded as the foundation of the Indian
Culture and the Rishis of Vedas have been revered throughout the ages in India
as having heard the truth and revealed it and thus given perennial wisdom to
guide the development of the future.

The Vedas stand in all their might and majesty as
the very source and bedrock of Hindu civilization. The Vedas are the inspired
utterances of a whole galaxy of realized souls, of spiritual geniuses, of people
not merely

One of the most dominant ideas of Indian culture
has been that of Dharma, and this has been a consequence of the Vedic discovery
of the r’ta or the Right. The right of law of this automatic harmony is the r’ta.

The Vedas are the brilliant product of intuitive
insight. The original seers who “saw” them were and will ever remain
anonymous, for this was not the age of unbridled individualism. Here you have
the quintessence of classical Indian philosophy. Thinking with your heart and
loving with your mind
. The
Vedas were the brilliant product of intuitive insight, not of the logical
intellect. Known only orally at first, transmitted by word of mouth from master
to discipline, later written down. The original seers – ‘rishis’ who ‘saw’ them
were and will ever remain anonymous, for this was not an age of unbridled
individualism.

The chief sacred scriptures of
the Hindus, the Vedas, register the intuitions of the perfected souls.

They are not so much
dogmatic dicta as transcripts from life. They record the spiritual experiences
of souls strongly endowed with the sense for reality.
They
are held to be authoritative on the ground that they express the experiences of
the experts in the field of religion. The Vedas bring together different ways in
which the religious-minded of that age experienced reality and describe the
general principles of religious knowledge and growth. The experiences themselves
are of a varied character, so their records are many-sided (visvatomukham) or
‘suggestive of many interpretations’ (anekarthatam).

(source: The
Hindu View of Life
– By S. Radhakrishnan

p. 5-6).

Sir William Jones called
the Vedas as the fountain of Indian literature: “From the Vedas are
immediately deduced the practical arts of Surgery and Medicine, Music and
Dancing, Archery, which comprises the whole art of war, and Architecture, under
which the system of mechanical arts is included.”

(source: Eminent
Orientalists
: Indian European American
– Asian Educational
Services. p. 21).

Dr. Nicol Macnicol says, the
beginning of ‘the brave adventures made so long ago and recorded here, of those
who seek to discover the significance of our world and man’s life within
it…India here set out on a quest which she has never ceased to follow.”

(source: The
Discovery of India
– By Jawaharlal Nehru

p. 79).
Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism
and Stotra
Rathnas
.

When the Yajur Veda was presented to
Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire
(1694-1774)
France’s greatest writers and
philosophers, he expressed his belief that:


“the Veda was the most precious gift for which the West had ever been
indebted to the East.”

The Vedas are said to be anadi
(beginningless) and apaurasheya (not thought
and taught by men). The Rig Veda says: The Hindu doctrine is that the mentioning
of the sage and the metre and the deity in respect to a Vedic hymn (mantra) does
not mean that the sage composed the mantra as a piece of literary composition.
The sage merely had it revealed to him in his vision as the result of his purity
and meditation.

Professor Max Muller in
his book, India:
What It can Teach Us
says:
“In the history of the world, the Vedas fill a gap which no literary work
in any other language could fill. I maintain that to everybody who cares for
himself, for his ancestors, for his intellectual development, a study of the
Vedic literature is indeed indispensable.”



Some Vedic hymns paint
the exquisite glories of the natural world
: the preternatural beauty
of predawn light, its rosy fingers holding the iridescent steel-blue sky; some
celebrate the welcome cool of evening, the scented breezes of a calm and
refreshing night, its basalt dome studded with shimmering pearls and diamonds.
Beauty permeates them, a reflection of Truth. The Vedas
go much further in outlining the nature of reality than any other religious
texts still in use.
Other hymns concentrate on different aspects of
nature’s wonder, very specific in their knowledge of the great cycles that
sustain life. Vedic writings detail a scientific knowledge of the rain cycle
that startles with its accuracy.

(source: Empire of the Soul:
Some Journeys into India
By Paul Williams Robert
– p. 312).

‘ We meditate upon the supreme
effulgence of the Divine creative Sun,
that he may give impulse to our intelligence.’

Rig
Veda
III. 62.10

The Vedic songs
represent the most amazing celebration of life that has ever been created. The
joy and wonder in life which was felt by those early and vigorous peoples who
sang the Vedas.

The Vedas testify to a strong urge
in Man towards unity, a longing to arrive at a conception that is both totally
Divine and human. This dynamic process has not yet ceased. No merely
naturalistic explanation of the worship of the God as natural powers will do
justice to texts or to the sophistication of Vedic culture.

The Lord of the paths shows the way
to growth to all creatures, each according to its nature.
A Vedic man prays
to:

‘The One who is the life spark of
the water,
of wood, of things both moving and inert,
who has his dwelling even within the stone,
Immortal God, he cares for all mankind,
‘He who sees all beings at a glance,
both separate and united,
may he be our protector.’

(source: The
Vedic Experience: Mantramanjari
(An Anthology of the Vedas for
Modern Man) – By Raimundo Panikkar p.
53-123).

The Vedas emphasize that the internal
suksmasarira, the finer or subtle body of man, the equivalent of
“soul” in modern thought, is of transcendental importance; and that
suksma-sarira is of the nature of infinite existence and infinite consciousness.
In this luminous philosophy, material substance is wholly insignificant. Compare
the observations of Einstein: “We may therefore regard matter as being
constituted by the regions of space in which the field is extremely
intense…There is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and
matter, for the field is the only reality.”

(source: India’s priceless Heritage – By Nani Palkiwala
p. 6-7).

An 18th century manuscript of
the Rigveda (“Wisdom of the Verses”), the earliest and most auspicious
of the four Vedas.

Watch
Scientific
verification of Vedic knowledge

***

1. Rig Veda

“This homage is to the ancient-born Seers,
to the ancient makers of the Path.” – Rig Veda X. 14-15.

“Let us bring our minds to rest in
The Glory of the Divine Sun!
May He inspire our reflections!”

Rig Veda
II. 62. 10).

“You
shine, all living things emerge. You disappear, they go to rest. Recognizing our
innocence, O golden-haired Sun, arise; let each day be better than the
last.” Rig Veda (X, 37, 9).

The Rig Veda is the Veda par excellence, the real
Veda that traces the earliest growth of religious ideas in India. These hymns
were composed between 6,000-1500 BCE. It is in
poetical form, has one thousand twenty eight poems or hymns called Samhita. It
is so much full of thought that at this early period in history no poet in any
other nation could have conceived them. The
sublimity, the nobility, the natural justice, the equality, the love and welfare
of all humanity as a whole is the theme of the Rig Veda. The Vedic God has no
partisan attitude of the jealous vindictive God, who is ever ready to please and
help his own people by hurling disease, death and destruction on their enemies
in return for sacrifices.


Jawaharlal Nehru
wrote: “Rig Veda is the earliest book that humanity
possesses. Yet behind the Rig Veda itself lay ages of civilized existence and
thought during which had grown all other civilizations…”

(source: The
Discovery of India
– By Jawaharlal Nehru
Oxford University Press. 1995.
p. 43).

The Vedas are the
quintessence of classical Hindu philosophy. Thinking with your heart; loving with your mind. All
yoga and meditation aim to attain this goal. Anything else is delusion, or
worse. And when the heart sees, it sees the unknowable, nameless, formless,
limitless, supreme God. He is called the nonexistent because he is eternal,
beyond existence. God manifest is the fabric of creation itself. They are one.
The heart that learns to think realizes this truth and merges into the eternal
oneness. As William Blake put it, “ If the doors of perception were cleansed,
everything would appear as it is, infinite.”


This merging with the Eternal, this inner transformation, this direct experience
of Truth – these are the goals of which the Vedic sages speak. They explain
the nature of the universe, of life, while admitting that Creation itself is the
one unknowable mystery. To the Vedic sages, creation indicated that point
before which there was no Creator, the line between indefinable nothingness and
something delineated by attributes and function, at least. Like the moment
before the Big Bang Theory. These concepts preoccupy high wisdom, the Truth far
removed from mere religion. Recent
research and scholarship make it increasingly possible to believe that the Vedic
era was the lost civilization whose legacy the Egyptians and the Indians
inherited. There must have been one. There are too many similarities between
hieroglyphic texts and Vedic ones, these in turn echoed in a somewhat diluted
form and a confused fashion by the authors of Babylonian texts and the Old
Testament.

(source:
Empire of the Soul:
Some Journeys into India
By Paul Williams Robert
– p. 312).

Indian
poetic thought at this stage appears as free, candid and honest about the nature
of God as that of any modern thinker who would express the doubts and sorrows of
his heart without any inhibition. Even in the very early hymns of the Rig Veda,
we encounter passages of a rather philosophical nature. These are no longer
concerned with singing the praises of the numerous nature deities and reaching
some kind of heaven, but with knowledge of a higer reality. There is also a refusal to be bound into any
dogma about the supernatural though their ecstatic expressions do acknowledge
Him as the Highest Being, the Most High Seer, as can be seen from this beautiful
Hymn of creation in the
Vedas called the Nasidiya Sukta. The most
remarkable and sublime hymn in which the first germ of philosophic speculation
with regard to the wonderful mystery of the origin of the world are found:

“Nor aught nor naught existed; you bright
sky
Was not, nor heaven’s broad roof outstretched above;
What covered all? What sheltered? What concealed?
Was it the waters’ fathomless abyss?
There was no light of night, no light of day,
The only One breathed breathless in itself,
Other than it there nothing since has been.
Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled
In gloom profound, an ocean without light;….

Yet the Vedas go further, being philosophy, or
really spiritual sciences, rather than myth. One can almost detect a touch
of irony in the last question of this hymn which ends this verse.

Who
truly knows, who can honestly say where.
This universe cam from
And where it will vanish to at the End?
Those godlike wise men who claim they know were born long
After the birth of Creation.
Who then could know where our universe really came from?
And whoever knows or does not know where Creation came from,
Only one gazing at its vastness from the very roof of the final Heaven
“Only such a one could possibly know,
But does even He know? ”

Rig Veda – 129.6. 7

The
philosophical and mystical depth of this hymn is unsurpassed.

Paul
William Robert
has written: “The Bible begins with the
Creation. Before the Creation, however, there was the Creator, but does even He know
what was there before He existed ? Long before such philosophical questions
occurred to other historical peoples, Vedism posited the existence of
something more ultimate than the one God. Whatever must have created Him. That
is presuming the absolute and basic reality. Or is it?

This is mysticism that is simultaneously
metalogic and the kind of thing those bardic sages living some twenty-five
thousand years ago thought about a great deal, according to Hindu tradition. The
Vedas are the very first compositions mankind produced dating back at least
twenty thousand years. Most orthodox historians and anthropologists strongly
dispute such a view. They confuse writing with civilization and deny meaningful
history to any people who did not leave a written record. A rich culture does
not necessarily depend on writing, as the Celtic civilization proves. The
hymns are the most sophisticated, most profoundly beautiful, and most complete
presentations of what Aldous Huxley termed the
“perennial philosophy” that
is at the core of all religions.
In modern academia, of course, there is not
supposed to be any “ancient wisdom”.

The Vedas go much further in outlining the nature
of reality than any other religious texts still in use. Some
Vedic hymns paint the exquisite glories of the natural world: the preternatural
beauty of predawn light, its rosy fingers holding the iridescent steel-blue sky;
some celebrate the welcome cool of evening the scented breeze of a calm and
refreshing night, its basalt dome studded with shimmering pearls and diamonds.Beauty
permeates them, a reflection of Truth. The
Vedas hold within them enough information to rebuild human civilization from
scratch, if necessary. I think someone did believe that might be necessary one
day.

(source:
Empire of the Soul:
Some Journeys into India
By Paul Williams Robert
p.299 -325).

The
Gayatri
Mantra
(chant),
which forms the core of Hindu faith, is actually addressed to Surya, Sun God:


Om
bhūr bhuvah svah tat savitur varēnyam bhargō dēvasya dhīmahi
dhiyō yō nah pracōdayāt”

O splendid and Effulgent Sun,
we offer this prayer to thee.
Enlighten this craving mind.
Be our protector.
May the radiance of the divine ruler guide our destiny.
Wise men salute your magnificence with oblations and words of praise.”

Lord
Rama was also taught, by sage Agastaya, the Adityahridayam, a prayer addressed
to the sun god.

“The Sun is the foremost physical manifestation of divine
creative power. In the glorious morning the faithful bend towards the giver of
life in one single gesture of adoration. ”

His chariot
drawn by prancing horse, Surya, the Sun god rides the sky to a chorus of
worshippers.

O
splendid and Effulgent sun, May your radiance enlighten
this craving mind.

(image
source: Splendors
of the Past: Lost Cities of the Ancient World
National
Geographic Society
. p.186-190).

***

Battlestar Galactica
– The Sky One version of the title sequence for season one featured a
Hindu mantra, the Gayatri Mantra, taken from the Rig Veda. In the

U.S.

, the music was an original instrumental piece by composer Bear McCreary called
“Two Funerals” originally written for the episode “Act of
Contrition”. As of season two, the main title sequences in all territories
where the show airs now use the Sky One title sequence, the Gayatri Mantra
version written by miniseries composer Richard Gibbs.

Usha, the
dawn, is often invoked, and is the subject of some of the most beautiful hymns
that are to be found in the lyrical poetry of any ancient nation.

Beautous daughter of the sky!
Hold they ruddy light on high,
Grant us wealth and grant us day,
Bring us food and morning’s ray.
White-robed goddess of the morning sky,
Bring us light, let night’s deep shadows fly.

“We gaze upon her as she
comes
The shining daughter of the sky
The mighty darkness she uncovers,
And light she makes, the pleasant one that we see.”

This light, most radiant of lights,
has come; this gracious one who illumines all things is born. As night is
removed by the rising sun, so is this the birthplace of the dawn….We behold
her, daughter of the sky, youthful, robed in white, driving forth the darkness.
Princess of limitless treasure, shine down upon us throughout the day.” –
Rig Veda I. 113.

Usha! (Dawn) Hail,
Beautous daughter of the sky!


(image source: The Splendour That Was
‘India’ – By K T Shah
).

Refer to The
Vedanta Kesari

***

Of
the hymns to other deities, the hymns to those to Usha, the Dawn, are especially
beautiful. Some of the loveliest nature poetry of this period is dedicated to
her, depicted as a young maiden who comes to mankind in the special
characteristics of the dawn. Dawn bring a feeling of hope and refreshment, of
entering into the activity of the universe.

The Aryas worshipped Nature. They were fascinated by
their natural surroundings. Gods representing the forces of nature are mentioned
in the hymns of Rig Veda. Rta was the term used to mean the natural law of the
cosmic order and morality. It was the regulator of the whole Universe. Dyaus,
sky, Prithvi, earth, Varuna, the sky god and protector of Rta and Indra,
Savitri, Mitra and Pushan represented different powers of the Sun such as heat,
light and nourishment. Vishnu was the symbol of swift movement while Rudra amd
Maruts were the gods of storm and winds. Shiva was the later name given to Rudra.
Vayu and Vata were other gods of winds while Parjanya was the god of rain. There
were gods on earth also. Agni was an important deity. Soma was regarded as
essential for sacrifice. Saraswati as river goddess on earth. But the most loved
goddess was Usha (Dawn) belonging to both earth and heaven. Some of the most
beautiful hymns are addressed to Ushas.

(source:
Ancient Indian History and Culture – By Chidambara
Kulkarni
Orient Longman Ltd. 1974. p.43-44).

2. Yajur Veda

The Yajur Veda, containing 3,988
verses, is a compilation of mantras and methods for use by priests in performing
Vedic rituals and sacrifice.

3. Sama Veda

The Sama Veda, a collection of 1,540 verses, was wet to music by the Vedic
period for chanting during rituals. The use of music in the r

4. Atharva
Veda

The Atharva Veda, a unique
collection of 5,977 verses was used to satisfy the daily needs of the people.
This included verses deemed necessary for success in agriculture, trade,
progeny, health, and general welfare. Other verses are designed to assist in
procuring medicine and fighting one’s enemy. The Sanskrit word Ayurved means
medicine. The Ayurvedic system of medicine, based upon the use of herbs for the
treatment of disease, has its roots in the Atharva Veda.

Format of the
Vedas
– Each Vedas is divided into four
main sections: (a) Samhitas or mantras (b) Brahmanas, (c) Aranyakas or
“forest books” (d) Upanishads.

***

Guigualt
says:
“The Rig Veda is the most sublime conception of the great highways of
humanity.”

On July 14, 1882 Mons Leon Delbios said in a
paper read on the Vedas when Victor Hugo was in the chair, says: “There is a no monument of Greece or Rome more previous than the Rig
Veda.” When Voltaire was presented with a copy of the Yajurveda he said,
“It was the most precious gift for which the West has been for ever
indebted to the East.”

(source: The
Soul of India – By Satyavrata R. Patel
p. 76-77).

F. Max Muller
wrote: “In the history of the world, the Veda fills a gap which no literary
work in any other language can fill.”

(source:
India: What can it teach us? – By Max Muller
p. 121).

Dr. Jean LeMee
born in France in 1931, and studied Sanskrit at Columbia University has
written:

“Precious stones or durable materials – gold,
silver, bronze, marble, onyx or granite – have been used by ancient people in an
attempt to immortalize themselves. Not so however the ancient Vedic Aryans. They
turned to what may seem the most volatile and insubstantial material of all –
the spoken word …The pyramids have been eroded by the desert wind, the marble
broken by earthquakes, and the gold stolen by robbers, while the Veda is recited
daily by an unbroken chain of generations, traveling like a great wave through
the living substance of mind. ..”

“The Rig Veda is a
glorious song of praise to the Gods, the cosmic powers at work in Nature and in
Man. Its hymns record the struggles, the battles, and victories, the wonder, the
fears, the hopes, and the wisdom of the Ancient Path Makers.

Glory be to Them!”

(source: Hymns
from the Rig Veda
– By Jean LeMee

Illustrator
Ingbert Gruttner ISBN: 0394493540 and ASIN 0224011812).

Henry
David Thoreau
(1817-1862), American Philosopher, Unitarian,
social critic, transcendentalist and writer:

What extracts from the Vedas
I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary, which
describes a loftier course through purer stratum. It rises on me like the full
moon after the stars have come out, wading through some far stratum in the
sky.”

“Whenever I have read any part of
the Vedas, I have felt that some unearthly and unknown light illuminated me. In
the great teaching of the Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all
ages, climes and nationalities and is the royal road for the attainment of the
Great Knowledge. When I am at it, I feel that I am under the spangled heavens of
a summer night.” He also admitted that,
“The religion and philosophy of the Hebrews are those of a wilder and ruder
tribe, wanting the civility and intellectual refinements and subtlety of Vedic
culture.” Thoreau’s reading of literature on India and the Vedas was
extensive: he took them seriously.

(source: The
Secret Teachings of the Vedas. The Eastern Answers to the Mysteries of Life

By Stephen Knapp volume one. pg- 22)

Alfred
North Whitehead
(1861-1947), British mathematician, logician and philosopher
best known for his work in mathematical logic and who, in collaboration with
Bertrand Russell, authored the landmark three-volume Principia Mathematica, (1910, 1912, 1913). He reported to have remarked:

“Vedanta is the most impressive metaphysics the human mind has
conceived.”

(source:
Huston
Smith: Essays on World Religion
. edited by M. Darrrol Bryant. Paragon
House 1992 p. 135).

J.
Robert Oppenheimer

(1904-1967) Scientist, philosopher, bohemian, and radical. A theoretical
physicist and the Supervising Scientist Manhattan Project, the developer of the
atomic bomb said:

“Access to the Vedas is the
greatest privilege this century may claim over all previous centuries.

Modern man is a diminished
man. Despite the superficial excitements of our high-tech world, life for most
has become a flat, stale, and joyless thing. It is joyless because we have
forgotten what life is supposed to be.

Dr. Karan Singh
observes:

“The Vedas stand in all
their might and majesty as the very source and bedrock of Hindu civilization.
The Vedas are the inspired utterances of a whole galaxy of realized souls, of
spiritual geniuses, of people not merely well versed intellectually but with
spiritual enlightenment. “

(source: Essays on
Hinduism
– By Karan Singh
p. 50. For more on nature refer to
chapter on Nature Worship).

Prof. Bloomfield
Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology has remarked:

“The Vedas represent the pinnacle of the
oldest literature of India. It is the ancient most written document of
Indo-European language. This may be termed the principle source of religious
thought.”

Pandit
Madan Mohan Malviya
(1861 – 1946) was a great Indian
nationalist and a true propounder of Hindu culture and often called as the
Teacher of the Nation, has said:

“The Vedas are the oldest scriptures in the
world. The Vedas accept the existence of God. They say that the creator of this
animate and inanimate world is God. The sun, moon, heavens and earth have been
created by God only.”

(source: The Essence of the Vedas – By Dr. Mahendra
Mittal
p. 12).

A
P J (Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul) Kalam
( 1931 – )
Noted Scientist and President of India. India who reads the Bhagavad Gita and
the Koran. He said, India should seek to become like the perfect nation defined
in Thirukkural,
the ancient Tamil discourse. He described the Veda as,

“They are the oldest classics and the most
precious treasures of India. The soul of Bharatiya sanskriti dwells in the
Vedas. The entire world admits the importance of the Vedas.”

(source: Vedas,
soul of India
– By Dina Nath Mishra
– dailypioneer.com). Refer to
Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism
and Stotra
Rathnas
. Refer to Battlestar
Galactica
– wikipedia.org
.

Refer
to Rig
Veda among 38 new heritage items in UNESCO culture list
Thirty
manuscripts of the ancient Hindu text Rig Veda dating from 1800 to 1500 BC are
among 38 new items that have been added to the United Nations heritage list to
help preserve them for posterity.

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.

Refer to
The
Vedanta Kesari

Top of Page

Upanishads

Arthur
Schopenhauer
(1788-1860), German philosopher and writer, wrote
about the Upanishads:

“From
every sentence (of the Upanishads) deep, original and sublime thoughts arise,
and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit….”In the
whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the
Upanishads. They are destined sooner or later to become the faith of the
people.”

He regarded them:


It has been the solace of my life — it will be the solace of my death.”

Ralph
Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882) an author, essayist, lecturer, philosopher,
Unitarian minister who lectured on theology at Harvard University wrote:

“They
haunt me. In them I have found eternal compensation, unfathomable power,
unbroken peace.”

A.
E. George Russell
(1867 -1935) the
Irish poet, essayist, painter, Nationalist leader, mystic wrote:

“The
Upanishads contain such godlike fullness of wisdom on all things that I feel the
authors must have looked with calm remembrance back through a thousand
passionate lives, full of feverish strife for and with shadows, ere they could
have written with such certainty of things which the soul feels to be
sure.”

Paul
Deussen
(1845-1919)
a direct disciple of Arthur Schopenhauer, preferred to be called in Sanskrit, Deva-Sena
was a scholar of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, has observed:

“Whatever may be the discoveries of the
scientific mind, none can dispute the eternal truths propounded by the
Upanishads.”

” the Upanishads
have tackled every fundamental problem of life. They have given us an intimate
account of reality.”
“On
the tree of wisdom there is no fairer flower than the Upanishads,
and no finer fruit than the Vedanta philosophy,

Huston
Smith
(1919 – ) born in
China to Methodist missionaries, a philosopher, most eloquent writer,
world-famous religion scholar who practices Hatha Yoga.

“When
I read the Upanishads, I found a profundity of world view that made my
Christianity seem like third grade.”

Mahatma
Gandhi
(1869-1948) was among India’s most fervent nationalists
and he paid tribute to the remarkable Isha Upanishad.

“If all the Upanishads and all
the other scriptures happened all of a sudden to be reduced to ashes, and if
only the first verse in the Ishopanishad were left in the memory of the Hindus,
Hinduism would live forever.”

“The
Lord is enshrined in the hearts of all
The Lord is the supreme Reality
Rejoice in him through renunication.
Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord.” – Isha
Upanishad
1 -1 .

(For more refer to chapter on
and Quotes).

***

India’s soul-offering is the perennial light of
the Upanishads. Upanishads are the divine revelations received by ancient seers.
They represent the essence of the Vedas, the greatest
truths ever known to mankind. The Upanishads are humanity’s most profound
philosophical inquiry and the first perceptions of the unity of all, the
oneness of man and God.
The Upanishads are also called the
Vedanta. The literal meaning of Vedanta is ‘the end of the Vedas.’ They were
composed around 700 BCE. The basic teaching of the Upanishads is
that the essence of all beings – from a blade of grass to the perfect human
being – and all things is the Divine Spirit, called Brahman.

Free from theology and dogma, the Upanishads
remain the primary source of inspiration and guidance for millions of Hindus and
non-Hindus alike. They have influenced many Western
thinkers, including von Gothe, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ralph Waldo Emerson. The
Upanishads are the concluding portions of the Vedas and the teachings based on
them is called Vedanta.
The Upanishads focus on philosophical
questions such as the purpose of life, origin of the universe, concepts of time,
space and matter, as well as concepts of atman, Brahman, maya, immortality,
rebirth, karma, and the world.

The Upanishads offer to the world at large the supreme
achievement of the awakened and illumined Hindu life. The Vedas represent the
cow. The Upanishads represent milk. We need the cow to give us milk, and we need
milk to nourish us.

According to our Indian
tradition, there were once 1,180 Upanishads. Of the 108 Upanishads that have
been preserved, the following thirteen are generally considered to be the
principal Upanishads: The Isa, Katha, Kena, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandhukya,
Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Svetasvatara, Kaivalya and Maitri.

The
Upanishads are known as the Vedanta, both because chronologically they come at
the end of the Vedas and also because philosophically they represent the noblest
upshot, the highest watermark of the Vedic civilization and genius. One meaning
of the word Upanishad is to sit nearby. In the Indian tradition, the guru would
be seated under a tree, near a river or lake, and one or more disciples would
cluster around him to learnt he wisdom. They are the dialogues between guru and
sisya.

The Upanishads are the remarkable compositions,
which contain sublime and philosophical speculations concerning the Universal
Soul, the All-pervading Breath. The Upanishads contain the quintessence of
Brahmavidya and declare that Brahman is in its nature Satchitananda and is also
the material cause (Upadana Karana) and the efficient cause (Nimitta Karana) of
the universe. The Upanishads declare that Karmas give us only perishable fruits
and that jnana (knowledge) alone can lead to immortality.

We begin with the Doctrine
of a Universal Soul, an all-pervading Breath which is the keystone of the
philosophy and thought of the Upanishads.
This idea is somewhat
different from monotheism as it has been generally understood in later days. For
monotheism generally recognizes a God and Creator as distinct from the created
beings; but the monotheism of the Upanishads, which has been the monotheism of
the Hindu religion ever since, recognizes God as the Universal Being: – all
things else have emanated from him, are a part of Him, and will mingle in him,
and have no separate existence. This is the lesson which Yajnavalkya imparted to
his esteemed wife Maitreyi. This too is the great idea which is taught in the
Upanishads in a hundred similies and stories and beautiful legends, which impart
to the Upanishads their value in the literature of the world.

“All this is Brahman (the
Universal Being). Let a man meditate on the visible world as beginning, ending,
and breathing in the Brahman.”

“He is my self within the
heart, smaller than a corn of rice, smaller than a corn of barley, smaller than
a mustard seed, smaller than a canary seed or the kernel of a canary seed. He
also is my self within the heart, greater than the earth, greater than the sky,
greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds.”

Such is the sublime language in
which the ancient Hindus expressed their sublime conception of the minute but
all-pervading and Universal Being whom they called Brahman or God.

Who is not struck by this manly and
fervent effort made by the Hindu nation, three thousand years ago, to know the
unknown Maker, to comprehend the incomprehensible God. And the joy of him who
has comprehended, however, feebly, the incomprehensible God, has been well
described:

“He who beholds all beings in
the Self, and Self in all beings, he never turns away from it.”

(source: The
Early Hindu Civilization – By Romesh Chunder Dutt
p. 17-177).

Etymologically the word Upanishad suggests “sitting down near”:
that is, at the feet of an illumined teacher in an intimate session of spiritual
instruction, as aspirants still do in India today. The
sages who gave them to us did not care to leave their names; the truths they set
down were eternal, and the identity of those who arranged the words irrelevant
.
While the Vedas look outward in reverence and awe of the phenomenal world, the Upanishads
look inward, finding the powers of nature only an expression of the more
awe-inspiring powers of human consciousness.

The Upanishads tell us that there is a Reality underlying
life which rituals cannot reach, next to which the things we see and touch in
everyday life are shadows. They teach that this Reality is the essence of every
created thing, and the same Reality is our real Self so that each of us is one
with the power that created and sustains the universe. The Upanishads are not
philosophy but are darshanas, “something seen” and therefore to be realized.

This fervent desire to know is the motivation behind all
science, so we should not be surprised to find in Vedic India the beginnings of
a potent scientific tradition. By the common era, it would be in full
flower…But the roots of this scientific spirit are in the Vedas. The Vedic
hymns are steeped in the conviction of rita, an order that pervades creation and
is reflected in each part – a oneness to which all diversity can be referred. From this conviction follows a highly sophisticated notion: a
law of nature must apply uniformly and universally. The
forest civilization of the Upanishads took a turn unparalleled in the history of
science. It focused on the medium of knowing: the mind.
The
Self is the Brahman – is the central discovery of the Upanishads.

Its most famous formulation is one of the mahavakyas or “great formulae”:
Tat tvam asi, “You are That”.

(source: The
Upanishads: Translated for the Modern Reader
– By Eknath Easwaran
p.
1 – 25).

The Chandogya Upanishad makes a bold statement,
to some extent more daring and at the same time convincing:

Tat twam asi –
That Thou art.

What does it mean? It means that you are none
other than God. Who else is God, if not you?

***

In the words of the great German philosopher
and writer, Arthur
Schopenhauer


(1788-1860):

“In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so
elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life; and it
will be the solace of my death. They are the product of the highest
wisdom.”

“As flowing rivers disappear
into the sea, losing their name and form, thus a wise man, freed from name and
form, goes to the divine person who is beyond all.” – Mundaka
Upanishad
iii 2.

Upanishads are the zenith of Hinduism cultural
development.
The Upanishads are crammed with thoughts that wander through
eternity.
Their message is that there is far more to life than success, and far
more to success than money; and there can be no higher destiny for man than to
be engaged in endless seeking after endless truth. They give the most memorable
answers to the three immemorial questions posed by T. S. Eliot:

“Where is the life we have lost in
living”
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

***

The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (I.3.28) offers to
humanity an unparalleled prayer:

“From the unreal lead me to the Real;
From darkness lead to Light,
From death lead me to Immortality.”

One of the lessons of the Upanishads is that you
must regard “the universe as a thought in the mind of the Creator, thereby
reducing all discussions of material creation to futility.” The Upanishads
teach that both space and time are endless or infinite. Modern science
completely agrees.

(source: India’s
Priceless Heritage – By Nani Palkhivala
published by Bharati Vidya
Bhavan 1980 p. 6-27).

The reality of the atomic physicist, like the
reality of the Eastern mystic, transcends the narrow framework of opposite and
contradictory concepts. The Upanishads say:

“It moves, it moves not,
It is far, and it is near,
It is within all this,
And it is outside of all this.

The words below of Oppenheimer seem to echo the words of
the Upanishads regarding physical matter:

J. R.
Oppenheimer
(1904-1967) Chairman of the Los Alamos
Project, sadly confessed:

“If we ask, for instance, whether the
position of the electron remains the same, we must say ‘no’;
if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say
‘no’;
if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say ‘no’;
if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say ‘no.’

In his autobiography, Einstein expressed his
sense of shock when he first came in contact with the reality of atomic physics:

“All my attempts to adopt the theoretical
foundation of physics to this (new type of) knowledge failed completely. It was
as if the ground had been pulled out from under one with no firm foundation to
be seen anywhere, upon which one could have built.”

The Rishis had repeatedly emphasized that the
ultimate reality lies beyond the realms of the senses and the grey matter
beneath our skulls. Hark again to the Upanishads:

“There the eye goes not
Speech goes not, nor the mind.
We know not, we understand not,
How would one teach it?”

(source: India’s
Priceless Heritage – By Nani Palkhivala
published by Bharati Vidya
Bhavan 1980. p.14-15).

Of all the productions
of the Epic age, however, the Upanishads are the most striking.
They
represent the belief of the learned and the wise, and they embody the philosophy
and spiritual knowledge of the age. The Upanishads elucidate the doctrine of the
Universal Soul. In India the Upanishads are classed as works which impart True
knowledge, while the Brahmanas regulate Observances. This distinction has
endured in India in all times.

The cardinal doctrine of the Upanishads are the
doctrine of Transmigration of the Souls and of the Universal Soul. We have seen
both these ideas in a hazy form in the hymns of the Rig Veda, in the Upanishads
we find them more fully developed. All things change, all things cast off their
old form and assume new shapes. The Soul within living beings thus changes its
outward form, enters into new shapes, until it is merged with the Universal Soul
called by the Vedic name of Brahma.
This cardinal principle of the Upanishads is
best explained in the language of the Upanishads:

“As a goldsmith, taking a piece of gold,
turns it into another newer and more beautiful shape, so does the Soul, after
having thrown off this body, and dispelled all ignorance, make unto himself
another newer and more beautiful shape….

“So much for the man who desires, But for
the man who does not desire, who not desiring, free from desires, satisfied in
his desires, desires the Soul only, his spirit does not depart elsewhere; being
Brahma, he goes to Brahma.” (Brihadaranyaka, iv. 4).

This is true philosophical Hinduism as it was
more than three thousand years ago, and as it is now. The doctrine is that all
universe and all being proceed from Brahman, live in Him, are a part of Him, and
end in Him. Each individual Soul has its beginning in the Universal Soul, and
passes through a number of outward shapes or incarnations according to its
doings in the world, and in the end merge in Him. The great idea of a true Unity
comprehending all changing phenomena, is conceived and explained in the Hindu
doctrine of Transmigration of Soul and of a Universal Soul.

(source: The
Civilization of India
– By Romesh C. Dutt
p. 23 – 24). Refer to and Stotra
Rathnas
. Refer to The
Vedanta Kesari

Handwritten page of Sanskrit
text from the Chandogya Upanishad. Chandogya is one of the oldest and best known
for its equation of the atman (soul) within, with the Brahman (absolute spirit)
without.

Watch
Scientific
verification of Vedic knowledge

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.

Refer to The
Vedanta Kesari

***

Dama, Dana and Daya (i.e DA,
DA, DA).

In our daily life Indian culture has emphasized
three cardinal virtues. There is a parable in the Brihadaranyka Upanishad 5.2
Prajapati, the ancestor of man, blessed his creation with a code of conduct
consisting of three basic principles. viz. Dama, Dana
and Daya i.e. restraint, charity and compassion
. These are the basic
qualities for which man is revered and respected in India.

(source:
Cultural
Heritage of Ancient India
– By Sachindra Kumar Maity
p. 14).

“Like
corn decays the mortal,”
said the Katha
Upanishad
, “like corn is he born
again.”
It is one of the fundamental tenets of Hinduism that the
soul, upon the death of one body, moves to another body or form carrying with it
all the impressions or deeds that it has accumulated in its previous body. It is
a simple cause and effect process between the matter and the spirit, the soul.
All living beings are subject to this process of transmigration
since they began life.

Professor F. W. Thomas in
The Legacy of India
says: “What gives to the Upanishads their unique quality and unfailing
human appeal is an earnest sincerity of tone, as of friends conferring upon
matters of deep concern.”

And C. Rajagopalachari
(1878-1972) was
a scholar, a statesman, and a linguist. A
contemporary of Mohandas Gandhi, he was also free India’s first Governor
General,
thus eloquently speaks of them:

“The spacious imagination, the majestic
sweep of thought, and the almost reckless spirit of exploration with which,
urged by the compelling thirst for truth, the Upanishad teachers and pupils dig
into the “open secret” of the universe, make this most ancient of the
world’s holy books still the most modern and most satisfying.”

(source: The
Discovery of India
– By Jawaharlal Nehru
Oxford University Press.
1995 p. 90).

The main teachings of the Upanishads are of a
sublime character. Max Muller wrote: “How entirely does the Upanishads
breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one who has become
familiar with that incomparable book stirred by that spirit to the very depth of
his soul! Vedanta is the most sublime of all philosophies and the most
comforting of all religions.”

Paul Deussen
(1845-1919) preferred to be called in Sanskrit, Deva-Sena
was a scholar of the Asiatic Society of Bengal says:

“On the tree of Indian wisdom there is no
fairer flower than the Upanishads and no finer fruit than the Vedanta
philosophy.”

In his Philosophy of the Upanishads, Deussen
claims for its fundamental thought “an inestimable
value for the whole race of mankind.”
It is in “marvelous
agreement with the philosophy founded by Kant, and adopted and perfected by his
great successor, Schopenhauer,” differing from it, where it does differ,
only to excel.

(source: Hindu
Superiority
– By Har Bilas Sarda
p. 298-299).

Victor Cousin
(1792-1867) French Philosopher, says: “The history of Indian philosophy is the abridged history of the
philosophy of the world.”

(source: Hindu Culture
and The Modern Age – By Dewan Bahadur K.S. Ramaswami Shastri

Annamalai University 1956 p.214-215).

Lord
Mountstuart
Elphinstone
(1779-1859) in comparing the ancient Greeks with
the ancient Hindus, says: “Their (Hindus) general learning was more
considerable; and in the knowledge of the being and nature of God, they were
already in possession of a light which was but faintly perceived even by the
loftiest intellects in the best days of Athens.”

(source: Hindu
Superiority
– By Har Bilas Sarda
p. 299).

Top of Page

The Bhagavad Gita

“I
am the Self seated in the heart of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle
and the very end of all beings”.


Lord
Krishna
(Bhagawad
Gita
, sloka 20, Chapter 10).

***

Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862) American Philosopher, Unitarian, social critic,
transcendentalist and writer. He wrote:

“In
the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of
the Bhagavat Geeta,
since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with
which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.” “One
sentence of the Gita, is worth the State of Massachusetts many times over”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882) an author, essayist, lecturer, philosopher, Unitarian minister who
lectured on theology at Harvard University. He
wrote: “I

owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us,
nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old
intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of
the same questions which exercise us.”

Julius
Robert Oppenheimer
(1904-1967) A
theoretical physicist and the Supervising Scientist for the Manhattan Project,
the developer of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer acquired a deeper knowledge
of the Bhagavad Gita in 1933 when, as a
young professor of physics, he studied Sanskrit with Professor
Arthur W Ryder
(1877-1938) at Berkeley.

The Gita, he wrote was “very
easy and quite marvelous”
. He
called the Gita “the most beautiful philosophical song existing in any known
tongue.”

Oppenheimer
who finally brought the Gita into the popular vocabulary of the
scientists in the West by citing this quote from the Bhagavad Gita.

“If the radiance of a
thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the
splendor of the mighty one ” and “Now
I am become. Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

(July 16, 1945, inscription at first nuclear test site Trinity, New Mexico).

Carl
Sagan famous astro-physicist was awed by the
revelation in the Gita that the creation and destruction, an essential part of
the cosmic evolution, was actually postulated in a more realistic vast time
scale.

(source: Science
and the Gita
– By Dr. Alok K. Bohara
).

Lord Krishna playing the
flute adorns a mural at Mattancherry Palace, Cochin, Kerala.

The notes of Krishna’s flute
drifting through the woods are the call of the Divine.

(image source: National
Geographic – January 2008
).

***

Sri Aurobindo
(1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India
observed: “The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race a living
creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning
for every civilization.” He wrote in Essays
on the Gita
, “The Gita is the greatest gospel of spiritual works ever yet
given to the race.” “Such then is the divine Teacher of the Gita, the
eternal Avatar, the Divine who has descended into human consciousness, the Lord
seated within the heart of all beings, He who guides from behind the veil all
our thoughts and action.”

Lokmanya Tilak (1856-1920)
freedom fighter, great Sanskrit scholar and astronomer and author of Geeta
Rahasya
says:
“It gives peace to afflicted souls, it makes us masters of spiritual
wisdom.”

Warren Hastings
(1754-1826), was the first governor general of British India wrote: “The Bhagavad Gita is the gain of humanity – a performance of great
originality, of a sublimity of conception, reasoning and diction almost
unequalled.”

Rudolph Steiner
(1861-1925) Austrian-born scientist, editor, and founder of anthroposophy, wrote:
“In order to approach a creation
as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to
attune our soul to it.”

Arthur Anthony Macdonell
(1854-1930) in his History of Sanskrit
Literature
remarks: “The beauty and the power of the language in which this
doctrine – that the zealous performance of duty is a man’s most important task,
to whatever caste he may belong – is inculcated, is unsurpassed in any other
work of Indian literature.”

Lord
Mountstuart
Elphinstone
(1779-1859) says: “The Bhagawat Gita deserves
high praise for the skill with which it is adapted to the general Epic, and the
tenderness and elegance of the narrative by means of which it is
introduced.”

Mrs. Manning
wrote: “Bhagwat Gita is one of the most remarkable compositions in the
Sanskrit language.”

Count Maurice
Maeterlinck
(1862-1949) was a Belgian writer of poetry and a
wide variety of essays. He won the 1911 Nobel Prize for literature. In his book The
Great Secret
calls The Bhagavad Gita
a magnificent flower
of Hindu mysticism.”

Amos Bronson Alcott
(1799-1888)
writer, philosopher, schoolteacher, visionary. On
May 10, 17, and 19′ 1846, he wrote in his journal: “I
read more of the Bhagavad Gita and felt how surpassingly fine were the
sentiments.”

“Best of books – containing a wisdom blander
and far more sane than that of the Hebrews, whether in the mind of Moses or of
Him of Nazareth. Were I a preacher, I would venture sometimes to take from its
texts the motto and moral of my discourse. It would be
healthful and invigorating to breathe some of this mountain air into the lungs
of Christendom.”

Wilhelm von
Humboldt
(1767-
1835) Prussian minister of education, a brilliant linguist and the founder of
the science of general linguistics. He said:

“The most beautiful,
perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue
….perhaps the deepest and loftiest thing the world has to show.”

Aldous Huxley
(1894-1963)
the English novelist and essayist wrote: “The
Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of
endowing value to mankind. The Gita is one of the clearest and most
comprehensive summaries of the spiritual thoughts ever to have been made.”

Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)
writer, philosopher, schoolteacher, visionary. He wrote:

“I read more of the
Bhagavad Gita and felt how surpassingly fine were the sentiments.

These, or selections from this book should be included in a Bible for Mankind. I
think them superior to any of the other Oriental scriptures, the best of all
reading for wise men.”

“Best of books –
containing a wisdom blander and far more sane than that of the Hebrews, whether
in the mind of Moses or of Him of Nazareth. Were I a preacher, I would venture
sometimes to take from its texts the motto and moral of my discourse. It would
be healthful and invigorating to breathe some of this mountain air into the
lungs of Christendom.”

(For more refer to chapter on
and Quotes and GlimpsesX).

Dr.
Alok K. Bohara,
professor
of economics at University of New Mexico has remarked:

“Inspired
by the Bhagavad Gita and encouraged by the scientific evidence behind the power
of meditation within the controlled environment, Dr.
David J. Haglin
has initiated a project in

India

involving mass meditation. He hopes to change group behavior to promote peace
through such concentrated meditative contemplation. The power of intention
through contemplation to alter personal disposition is amply articulated in the
Gita as well, and scientists have just begun to scratch its surface.
Interestingly, many Hindu scriptures speak of highly accomplished Rishis as
having power to calm the other beings
around them. But, there is much to learn about the relationship between the mind
and matter. Nevertheless, efforts are underway to make good use of such
potentiality.”

(source: Science
and the Gita
– By Dr. Alok K. Bohara
).
Listen to The
Bhagavad Gita podcast
– By Michael Scherer – americanphonic.com
. Refer to
Vrindanet
– Poland

***

The Gita opens magnificently:
the two armies arrayed, ready to do battle, on the ancestral field of Kuru;
pennons flapping in the breeze and horses pawing the ground impatiently.
As
the conch shell signal the beginning of the battle, and as the armies are about
to hurl themselves upon each other, Arjuna has doubts about the bloody deeds he
is on the verge of perpetrating – the slaying of his kinsman, teachers, friends
– and he voices his doubts to his charioteer, none other than the Lord Krsna
himself. Krsna (Vishnu) then tells Arjuna why he must take part in the upcoming
battle, why he has in reality, no alternative but to do so (his dharma, his duty
as a Kshatriya), Krsna then preceeds to expound the unique philosophy of the
Bhagavad Gita, including the essence of practical morality.

(source: Traditional
India
edited by O. L. Chavarria-Aguilar
Prentice Hall Place of Publication 1964. chapter on Practical Morality – By Franklin Edgerton p.
69).


Lord Krsna expounds the unique philosophy of the
Bhagavad Gita.

The
Gita is a diamond among scriptures.

The
Bhagavad Gita has influenced great Americans from Thoreau to Oppenheimer. Its
message of letting go of the fruits of one’s actions is just as relevant today
as it was when it was first written more than two millennia ago.

Watch
Lost
/ Submerged city of

Dwaraka

The Learning
Channel video

Watch Maha
Vishnu Das of ISKCON – lecture on The Bhagavad Gita.

Watch

Scientific
verification of Vedic knowledge
.
Refer to jalebimusic.com.
To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.
Listen to The
Bhagavad Gita podcast
– By Michael S
cherer
– americanphonic.com
and The
Bhagavad Gita – The essence of all Scriptures

.

Refer to Science
and the Gita
– By Dr. Alok K. Bohara
and
Vrindanet
– Poland

***

The Bhagavad Gita embodies a universal ideal of
spiritual warriorship, teaching that freedom lies not in renunciation or
retreat, but in disciplined action performed with self-knowledge and detachment.

Before the final battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna had doubts whether it is right to
fight and kill men who are his relations and his old friends; above all is war
justifiable? Lord Krishna, after failing to convince him that it is the duty of
a warrior to fight in a righteous war, reveals himself to Arjuna and answers his
questions on the nature of the universe, the way to God and the meaning of duty.
This magnificent dialogue between man (Arjuna) and creator (Krishna) forms the
Bhagvad Gita, in which the Hindu doctrine is fully explained.

(Note: Lord
Krishna was born at midnight on Friday July 27, 3112 BCE. This date and time has
been calculated by astronomers on the basis of the planetary positions on that
day recorded by Sage Vyasa. Lord Krishna passed away on 3102 BC, start of Kail
Yuga. The Bhagavad Gita was compiled around 500 BCE.

(source: Hinduism
TimeLine
– By Madan M. Mathrani
and The Hindu Mind – By
Bansi Pandit
). Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism

A God of War?

The Gita does not solve the problem of war:
rather it thrusts us right into the heart of the problem of war, any struggle,
and shows us by means of one example how easily in actual life we can be drawn
into tricky situations and conflicts of conscience the likes of which hardly
arise for the ascetics in forests and caves. Lord
Krishna, in the Gita is not addressing a sannyasin (a monk; one who has
completely renounced worldly life), but a member of the warrior caste who still
finds himself right in the midst of life.

There are no cheap attempts at painting black and
white in the Gita; no heroes in the service of the good cause and bad guys in
the service of the devil and the ending a triumphant victory of good over evil.
A certain dualistic pattern is evident in Krishna’s pronouncements, the kind we
find in almost all religions; the struggle of light against darkness, against
asuric (demonic) forces. He says himself that he manifests himself a new in
every age “whenever there is a decline of dharma….for the protection of
the good…for the destruction of the wicked..” (IV. 6 -8). Good and bad
are both aspects of the one divine reality. Good and evil are relative. The
world is not neatly divided here in two halves. It is shown in all its ambiguity
in its condition as maya, where all good contain a little evil and all darkness
a little light.

(source: Vedanta:
Heart of Hinduism

– By Hans Torwesten
p.78 – 82). Refer to


Burning of Bhagavad Gita –


by Christians in India
– By Prof. C I Isaac

In his famous Essays
on the Gita
, Sri Aurobindo summed up the whole problem in these
words:

We will use only soul-force and
never destroy by war or any even defensive employment of physical violence ?
Good, though until soul-force is effective, the Asuric force in men and nations
tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes, as we see it doing today,
but then at its ease and unhindered, and you have perhaps caused as much
destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence. Strength founded on the Truth and
the dharmic use of force are thus the Gita’s answer to pacifism and
non-violence. Rooted in the ancient Indian genius, this third way can only be
practised by those who have risen above egoism, above asuric ambition or greed. The
Gita certainly does not advocate war ; what it advocates is the active and
selfless defence of dharma. If sincerely followed, its teaching could have
altered the course of human history. It can yet alter the course of Indian
history.”

The Gita is, in Sri Aurobindo’s words, “our
chief national heritage, our hope for the future.”

(source:
The
Gita in Today’s World

– by Michel Danino
– bharatvani.org).
Also refer to Gita
Supersite
and Stotra
Rathnas
.

Dr. Fritjof Capra
(1939- ) the famous theoretical
high-energy physicist and author of
The
Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and
Eastern Mysticism

writes:

“One of those epics, the Maha Bharatha,
contains India’s favorite religious text, the beautiful spiritual poem of the
Bhagavadh Geetha. The Geetha, as it is commonly called, is a dialogue between
the god Krishna and the warrior Arjuna who is in great despair, being forced to
combat his own kinsmen in the great family war which forms the main story of the
Mahabharata. Krishna, as Arjuna’s charioteer, drives the chariot right between
the two armies and in this dramatic settling of the battlefield, he starts to
reveal to Arjuna the most profound truths of Hinduism. As the god speaks the
realistic background of the war between the two families soon fades away and it
becomes clear that the battle of Arjuna is the spiritual battle of man, and the
battle of the warrior in search of enlightenment. Krishna himself advises Arjuna:

Arjuna
was confused by noble thoughts before the war. But fortunately Lord Krishna
labored through 18 long chapters of discourse in Bhagvad Gita to clear Arjuna’s
confusion and to help him take a decision. Arjuna finally decided to wage the
war. But what today’s intellectuals have failed to fathom is that only wars
waged out of ambition, like Emperor Ashoka did, are wrong. Men of wisdom have
regarded war as sometimes essential to bring peace. What is wrong is war of
hate. Kill therefore with the sword of wisdom the
doubts born of the ignorance that lies in thy heart. Be one in self-harmony, in
Yoga and arise, great warrior, arise.

The basis of Krishna’s spiritual instruction, as
of all Hinduism is the idea that the multitude of things and events around us
are but different manifestations of the same ultimate reality. This reality,
called Brahman, is the unifying concept that gives Hinduism its essentially
monistic character in spite of the worship of numerous gods and goddesses.

(source: Hindu Destiny
in Nostradamus – By G.S. Hiranyappa.
cited in Chapter on
Hinduism – By Fritjof Capra
p. 171). For more on Fritjof Capra refer
to Quotes251-270)

Non-violence is the
ideal for the individual, but society needs protection and cannot remain
non-violent in the face of aggression. The Gita mentions repeatedly that ahimsa,
or non-violence, is the highest virtue
.

The Bhagavad Gita forms a part of the great epic,
the Mahabharata. It is the song of the
Supreme God and is considered a sacred text of religion. Gita
is said to be the most beautiful philosophical song in any language.
The contents of the text are brought out in the form of a
dialogue between Krsna, and Arjuna, a warrior prince of the Kuru dynasty. The
situation in which both are placed in a battlefield where in Arjuna has come to
fight, by force of circumstances, his own cousins, nephews, elders of the
family, teachers and friends. Metaphorically, the
battle and battlefield is life itself. For in life we are constantly
engaged in a struggle both within and without between the forces of good and
evil.

The Bhagavad Gita is both supremely realistic and
extremely idealistic, certainly the most acute, penetrating depiction of human
nature and true morality, however remote it may seem from our own. Lord Krishna
symbolizes the principle of Divine Incarnation (avatar), the supreme spirit
become flesh, pouring into the world during the evil phases of the cosmic cycle
in order to check evil – but in a spirit of complete detachment and
indifference. The supreme thought of the Gita is concerned with a tolerance:
“Whatsoever devotee seeks to worship whatsoever divine form (rupa) with
fervent faith, I, verily, make that faith of his unwavering.”

Dharma
and Non-Attachment: The first answer given to Arjuna is that he must full fill
his Dharma, that is the basic obligation of
his state in life. Only in this way can his salvation be achieved. He
is a warrior.
To abandon the field is to betray his fundamental duty.
Yet if Dharma is to be fulfilled, it must be done with
total self-detachment.
There must be no seeking after success in
life, for the fruit of action (karma phala). Action are to be done, because they
are correct, because they are required by Dharma, not for personal
gain.

Lord
Krishna’s
views on the immortality of the soul were compiled in one of India’s holiest
books of scriptures, the Bhagwad Gita.

One
reason that the Gita is a source of inspiration is because it presents to its readers
the concept of God as personal (Isvara), and this is the most meaningful concept
of God. A personal God is a being who knows every sorrow and is a witness of all
our grief: “I am time never ending. I am the
creator who sees all.”
Ishavara,
the personal God, accepts us as we are and purifies us: ” Though a man be
soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me, rightly resolved, in
utter devotion. I see no sinner. That man is holy. He shall not perish.”

The
Awesome Majesty of God

In
Chapter 11, perhaps the most famous in the Gita, Lord
Krishna appears again before Arjuna in his full and this time awe-inspiring
majesty
. To enable him to see his far-flung powers he lends Arjuna
the Celestial Eye. What follows is the sheer endless profusion of images of the
mysterium tremendum et fascinosum, causing the amazed and frightened Arjuna’s
hair to stand on end.

“If
the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky,
that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One.”

“I
am mighty world-destroying Time, now engaged here in slaying these men. even
without you, all these warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall
not live.”

Bhagavad Gita
chapter XI. 12- 32).

Lord
Krishna appears again before Arjuna in his full and this time awe-inspiring
majesty.

The
Bhagavad Gita, a world beloved, timeless classic was treasured by American
writers from Emerson to T S Eliot.

Watch
Lost
/ Submerged city of
Dwaraka

The Learning
Channel video
.
Refer to Bhaja
Govindam
– kamakoti.org
and
The
Bhagavad Gita – The essence of all Scriptures
. Listen to The
Bhagavad Gita podcast
– By Michael S
cherer
– americanphonic.com
.
Refer to Science
and the Gita
– By Dr. Alok K. Bohara
and
Vrindanet
– Poland

***

The
Bhagavad Gita is the greatest testament of the Eternal Religion (Sanatana
Dharma), the name by which the Hindus call their spiritual tradition. In it,
spiritual wisdom finds its most profound, catholic, clear and modern expression.
Gita means a song, and Bhagavad Gita means the divine song. The truth of
scripture or of science does not depend on historical facts. The Gita is a
sermon on the battlefield. It was delivered by Lord Krishna, the Divine Teacher,
to Arjuna, his disciple, on the eve of a great battle between two sets of
opposing cousins in which were engaged most of the princes and noblemen of India
of the time. Krishna’s sermon epitomizes the wisdom of Sanatana Dharma. It
is a marvel because such an excellent work on religion and ethics has not been
written since, nor is it likely to be written again.

The
Bhagavad Gita has been read daily and recited by millions in India over
centuries and across its vast expanse. It has been the source of inspiration to
individuals, to seekers of enlightenment and peace and also to leaders of great
social and political movements. Gandhi had turned to the Gita for light and
guidance in times of crisis just as a child in trouble turns to its mother for
comfort and reassurance. Gita has inspired many thoughtful men of letters and
theologians of the West; several influential and liberal movements like
Christian Science and New England Transcendentalism owe their origin to it. The
source of Emerson’s inspiration was the Gita. Carlyle presented him with a
copy of the Gita, and this little book was responsible for the Concord Movement.
“All the broad movements in America,” said Swami Vivekanada, “in
one way or the other are indebted to the Concord Party.”

The
Gita is a diamond among scriptures. Invocatory poems praise it as the essence of
all scriptures. Krishna declares that God dwelling in the heart of all beings
moves them to action. The Gita proclaims that there are many ways (yogas) of
reaching the spiritual goal of life and that one should never disturb the faith
of others whose understanding is poor. All the different ways of knowing God
have been classified into four broad paths; namely 1. Jnana yoga – the way of
wisdom, 2. bhakti yoga, the way of love of God 3. karma yoga, the way of
selfless action 4. dhyana yoga, the way of meditation.

(source:
The
Bhagavad Gita: A Scripture for the Future

– By Sachindra K. Majumdar
p. 1-55).

The
Bhagavad Gita is the jewel of all Hindu religious writing. This sacred poem,
which appears in the great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, is the quintessence of
the Upanishadic teachings. The chief doctrines of the Bhagavad Gita are in
theism, its devotionalism, its doctrine of the divine appearance in human form
as savior of man, and its teaching of divine grace. In the Bhagavad Gita is
found the first clear statement of beatitude as a mutual indwelling of God in
man and man in God: “They who with devotion
worship me, they are in me and I in them.”
(IX 29).

(source:
Religions of India
: Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism – Thomas Berry

p. 31-32).

The Bhagavad Gita is
a spiritual, much revered work that has served as an inspiration to all Hindus
for thousands of years.
Sri AdiSankara
composed his commentary on the Gita in the 8th century, while Sant
Dnyaneswar
, one of the foremost religious figures of Maharashtra
wrote his commentary on the Geeta; The Dnyaneswari
in 13th century. The Dnyaneshwari has been an integral part of Maharashtra’s
cultural and religious tradition ever since.

Sir
Edwin Arnold
(1832-1904) poet and scholar. Author of The
Song Celestial
, which is a translation of the Bhagavad
Gita
. It has great elevation of tone and majesty and dignity of
style. There are many translations of the Gita but Arnold’s translation has a
place apart among them by its accuracy and the grave harmony of the verse. The
translation is dedicated by the poet to India. Arnold was inspired by the Gita
in his “Lays of Ind”. The dedicatory verses are in
Arnold’s own translation:

“So have I read this wonderful and
spirit-thrilling speech,
By Krishna and Prince Arjuna held, discoursing each with each;
So have I writ its wisdom here, its hidden mystery,
For England; O our India! as dear to me as she!

He wrote in his preface: “This famous and marvelous
Sanskrit poem occurs as an episode of the Mahabharata, in the sixth – or “Bhishma”
– Parva of the great Hindu epic. It enjoys immense popularity and authority in
India, where it is reckoned as one of the “Five Jewels” –
pancharatnani – of Devanagari literature. In plain but
noble language it unfolds a philosophical system which remains to this day the
prevailing Brahmanic belief blending as it does the doctrine of Kapila,
Patanjali, and the Vedas.”

(source: Eminent
Orientalists
: Indian European American
– Asian Educational
Services. p. 234-235).

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.

Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism
and Stotra
Rathnas
.

***

The
Message of the Bhagavad Gita to Modern Man

1.
Gita not only a Philosophy but a Code of Conduct

Gita
consists of the teaching given to the pupil Arjuna by Lord Shri Krishna on the
battlefield of Kurukshetra when the pupil, at the critical moment when the war
was about to commence, was in doubt as to whether he was to follow the
promptings of his personal affection and reverence for those on the opposite
side or follow the dictates of duty.

In
unequivocal terms the Lord asks Arjuna to fight the battle irrespective of his
personal ties with persons on the other side.

The
occasion is utilized by the Lord to explain the whole purpose of Life, the
meaning of all the world process and the place of man in the scheme of things.
As the colophon at the end of every chapter puts it, the Gita is an Upanishad,
it is a philosophical treatise. But it is something more than that. It is a code
of conduct for man applicable to varying temperaments, various avocations and
various levels of development. It is this aspect that makes for the unique
place which the Gita has among the scriptures of the world.

2.
Unity of Life and Consequent interdependence of everything in the world

The
Lord stresses throughout the central idea of all Indian philosophies, the
Imminence of God and the interdependence of man – not only man, but of all
beings. “The Lord dwelleth in the heart of all beings.” ‘Having
pervaded this whole universe with one fragment of Myself, I remain.”
Everything in the universe partakes of one life; the wise man realizes that the
outer differences are deceptive and illusionary, he looks beyond the veil and
sees the common basis of all beings.

3.
Dedicated Action does not bind, it frees the Man

The
most important contribution of the Gita to the religious thought of India is the
emphasis the Lord lays on action (karma) in Sanskrit. The attitude of escapism
is severely condemned by the Lord. He says, “Nor can anyone, even for an
instant, remain really action-less.” What binds a man is not action but his
attachment to the fruit of the action. And so the lord repeatedly enjoins
activity without attachment to the fruit.

Lord Krishna playing his flute awakens devotion in the hearts of Hindu
devotees, because it reminds them of God calling the soul to eternal wakefulness
in Him.

***

4.
Gita’s message of Hope

Above
all, Gita is a gospel of hope and optimism. Let no one despair. Weak as we are,
full of faults as we are, we can all reach the goal. We
are Divine in essence, our Divinity is only veiled; rend the veil and let the
inner Divinity reveal itself.
“Even if the most sinful
worship Me, with undivided heart, he too must be accounted righteous, for he
hath rightly resolved.” The Lord further guarantees, “Speedily he
becometh dutiful and goeth to eternal peace.”

5.
The Theory of Avatar – Divine Manifestations

In
the words of the Gita, the divine manifestations come to restore Righteousness
when it has been trampled under the foot by human selfishness and
perversity.

(source:
Facets
of Indian Culture
– By R. Srinivasan
p. 240-244).

The
theology of the Bhagavad Gita is attractive because it does not favor of any of the
path. Whatever works for you is
the truth, a pragmatic attitude which is Hinduism’s great and old strength. The Gita is thus a product of mature
Hinduism. The Gita boldly asserts that dharma is possible
without renunciation, and many reformers have seized upon that to try and awaken
Indians from a too comfortable ‘spiritual’ torpor. The atman is regarded as
deathless in a famous verse and it also undergoes – rebirth. If you find the Lord who is
Transcendant then you are saved from this futility of rebirth. This can be done
by your own striving or by your devotion to the Lord , both of which will call
forth His grace. Krishna’s
exhortation to fight may be likened to the motivation of many a soldier or
Resistance fighter who took up arms because his country needed his participation
in the fight for freedom. As a crowning touch – Krishna reveals his Cosmic Form to Arjuna in some of the most impressive poetry
ever written by the hand of man. This poem has become the most important
spiritual rite of passage of most Hindus, and is the most beloved of Hindu
scriptures of
educated India.

The central gem in the
Mahabharata is the Bhagavad Gita. The first call in it is the call to manly
action. Sri Krishna then teaches Nishkama Karmayoga and Dhyanayoga and
Bhaktiyoga and Jananayoga. Devotion to God is the vital element in all of them.
The easiest and surest of all the paths is Bhakti for in it God comes to our aid
and crowns our effort with success. In short, the Gita reconciles and
synthesizes all the apparently irreconcilable schools of philosophic thought
in India. The Gita is thus a world book, a book for all humanity in all times
and climes.

George Feuerstein
says:
“According to Hindu tradition the epic depicts the drama of the human soul
and its eternal struggle between the divine and the demonic forces, between Good
and Evil, Right and Wrong – Dharma and Adharma.
The great figures of the epic are believed to represent particular aspects of
the human being. So Bhima is identified with ‘strength’ Yuyudhana with ‘success’
Dhrtaketu with ‘prosperity’ Kasiraja with ‘purity’ and so on. With the exception
of a few scholars, the dry, academically stilted approach of contemporary
Indology, with little interest in the inner meaning of its subject matter,
becomes significantly apparent in the Gita which brimming with
significance.”

(source: Introduction
to the Bhagavad Gita
– By George Feuerstein
p. 61-62).

Throughout
the past thousand years of the history of Hinduism, the popularity and authority
of the Bhagavad Gita, the Song of the Lord, has been, and still is, unrivaled.
Whoever reads it for the first time will be struck by the beauty and depth;
countless
Hindus know it by heart and quote it at many occasions as an expression of their
faith and their own insights.

Hans
Torwesten
(1944 – ) a native of Germany, studied art in Vienna
and Indian philosophy, meditation, and yoga in England. A writer, lecturer, yoga
teacher, and painter, he now lives in Austria. He writes: “For all its maturity and roundedness the Gita
is no tired work of old age. It also goes far beyond mere artificial syncretism.
If besides its well-roundedness it did not also possess freshness and youthful
vigor, it would hardly still inspire us so much today….but indeed an organic
whole the totally universal perspective of which have saved many a reader who
chanced upon this little book from the narrow-mindedness and despair of an
apparently meaningless life, luring him on toward the immeasurable expanse of
the realm of the divine.”

(source:
Vedanta:
Heart of Hinduism

– By Hans Torwesten
p.77).

Charles
Wilkins made the Gita known to Europe through his English translation which
appeared in 1785. Notwithstanding the critical approach of many Western
Indologists, the Bhagavad Gita has become a favorite book of many Westerners.

Wilhelm von
Humboldt

1767-
1835) Prussian minister of education, a brilliant linguist and
the founder of the science of general linguistics. He read this Latin version was so enthusiastic that he
declared “this episode of the Mahabharata is the most beautiful, nay
perhaps even the only true philosophical poem which we can find in all the
literature known to us.”

The
Gita is a book of crisis. A direct modern Western reference to the Bhagavad Gita
occurred in a context that to call historical is almost an understatement – it
may better be called apocalyptic.


Julius
Robert Oppenheimer

(1904-1967) Scientist,
philosopher, bohemian, and radical. A theoretical physicist and the Supervising
Scientist for the Manhattan Project, the developer of the atomic bomb, described the thoughts that passed through his mind when he witnessed the first
atomic test explosion in the desert of New Mexico: “On the sight of the
fire-ball two ancient verses came to my mind. The one: “Of a thousand suns
in the sky if suddenly should burst forth the light, it would be like unto the
light of that Exalted One.” (BG XI, 12). The other: “Death, am I,
cause of destruction of the world, matured and set out to gather in the worlds
there.” (BG XI, 32).

Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862), American Philosopher,
Unitarian,
social critic, transcendentalist and writer: “In the morning I bathe my intellect
in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad
Gita in comparison with which our modern world and
its literature seems puny.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
author, essayist, lecturer, philosopher, Unitarian minister said this about the
Gita: “I owed a magnificent day to the
Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large,
serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had
pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.” (for more quotes refer to chapter on Quotes).

Rabindranath
Tagore


(1861-1941) poet, author, philosopher, Nobel
prize laureate, proclaimed: “It feels me with great joy and a high hope for the future of
humanity when I realize that there was a time in the remote past when our poet,
sages stood under the lavish sunshine of an Indian sky and greeted the world
with the glad recognition of kindred. …This is a noble heritage….it is not
merely intellectual or emotional, it has an ethical basis, and it must be
translated into action. Upanishads say, ‘The supreme being is all pervading,
therefore he is the innate good in all.”

(source: Indianization – By Paramesh Chowdhury
Calcutta: Globe Library, 1981 p. 109).

Herman Hesse
(1877-1962) German
poet and novelist, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946 says:
“The
marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life’s
wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.”

Carl Jung

(1875-1961), student of Sigmund Freud, psychiatrist think: “The idea that man is like unto an inverted tree seems to have been current
in by gone ages. The link with Vedic conceptions is provided by Plato in his
Timaeus in which it states…” behold we are not an earthly but a heavenly
plant.”

W. L. Wilmhurst
says that the Gita is: “the climax at once for the religion, the philosophy and
the poetry of an eastern people.”

(source: Hindu Culture
and The Modern Age – By Dewan Bahadur K. S. Ramaswami Sastri.
p.
218-219).

“For the protection of the good and the
destruction of the wicked…I am born in every age.”

Bhagavad Gita IV. 8

Listen to The
Bhagavad Gita podcast
– By Michael S
cherer
– americanphonic.com
.

Top of Page

All Matter is Nothing but
energy

Dynamism is the great law of the universe. Change
and movement occur eternally, symbolized by Shiva’s Dance. The recurring theme
in Hindu mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of God –
“sacrifice” in the original sense of “making sacred” –
whereby God becomes the world. Lila, the play of God, is the creative activity
of the Divine; and the world is the stage of the Divine play. Brahman is the
great magician Who transforms Himself into the world and He performs this feat
with His “magic creative power”, which is the original meaning of maya
in the Rig Veda.

Dr. Fritjof Capra
has said:

“As long as we confuse the myraid
forms of the Divine lila with reality, without preceiving the unity of Brahman
underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya…Maya is the
illusion of taking these concepts for reality, of confusing the map with the
territory.”

To the Rishis the divine play
was the evolution of the cosmos through countless aeons. There is an infinite
number of creations in an infinite universe. The Rishis gave the name kalpa to
the unimaginable span of time between the beginning and the end of
creation.

They understood the staggering scale of the
divine play. Many centuries later the scientific mind still boggles at the scale
of creation which makes infinity intelligible. The Rishis clearly perceived that
the most fundamental characteristic of this incomprehensible creation was that
it was in a perpetual state of movement, flow and change. Lila is a rhythmic
play which goes on in endless cycles, the One becoming the many and the many
returning to the One.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord
Krishna
describes this rhythmic play of creation in the following
words:

“At the end of the night of time all things
return to my nature, and when the new day of time begins I bring them again into
light.
Thus through my nature I bring forth all creation and this rolls around in the
circles of time.”

“But I am not bound by this vast work of creation. I am and I watch the drama of
works.
I watch and in its work of creation nature brings forth all that moves and moves
not; and thus the revolutions of the world go round.”


How uncanny is the identity of the ancient
insights with the latest conclusions of modern science
which are well summed up
in the fascinating book, The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra: “When we
study the universe as a whole, with its millions of galaxies, we have reached
the largest scale of space and time; and again, at that cosmic level, we
discover that the universe is not static – it is expanding!

Modern physics has come to the conclusion that
mass is nothing but a form of energy. It would not be an exaggeration to say
that the basis of the theory of relativity, and the space-time character of the
universe, were perceived by the old Indian Rishis in their advanced stage of
spiritual consciousness. In their state of higher consciousness they realized
that the ultimate constituents of the universe – energy and mass, particle and
wave, – were but different aspects of the same basic process, but the same
Oneness which pervaded the entire universe. Today science has relearned that
lesson. In the words of A. N. Whitehead: “Matter has been identified with
energy, and energy is sheer activity.”

Thus, the vastest knowledge of today cannot
transcend the buddhi of the Rishis; and science, in its most advanced stage, is
closer to Vedanta than ever before.

(source: India’s
Priceless Heritage – By Nani Palkhivala
published by Bharati Vidya
Bhavan 1980 p. 17-21). Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism
.
Refer to Science
and the Gita
– By Dr. Alok K. Bohara

Top of Page

Brahman: The All- Pervading
Reality

In the entire history of human knowledge there
has been no concept greater or deeper than the concept of Brahman evolved by
ancient India. There is a unity underlying the entire creation. All parts are
related to and interdependent on one another. Brahman is the ultimate and
all-pervading reality: the inner essence of all things. Einstein worked for
decades on the Unified Theory, an aspect of Brahman.

Sir
Jagdish Chandra Bose

(1858-1937)A great biologist and the first Indian scientist to have been
knighted by the British king for his contributions in Botany. He said at the opening of the Institute which bears his name, observed:

“I dedicate today this institute as not
merely a laboratory but a temple…In time the leading scientific societies of
the world accepted my theories and results, and recognized the importance of the
Indian contribution to science. Can anything small or circumscribed ever satisfy
the mind of India? By a continuous living tradition and a vital power of rejuvenescence, this land has readjusted itself through unnumbered
transformations.
Indians have always arisen who, discarding the immediate and
absorbing prize of the honor, have sought for the realization of the highest
ideals in life – not through passive renunciation but through active
struggle.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1817-1862) American Philosopher,
Unitarian,
social critic, transcendentalist and writer was fascinate by the concept of Brahman:

“All science is transcendental or else passes
away. Botany is now acquiring the right theory – the avatars of Brahman will
presently be the text-books of natural history.”

The basic oneness of the universe which was a
part of the mystical experience of the Indian sages is one of the most important
revelations of modern physics. Eminent scientists like John Wheeler point out
that in modern science the distinction between observer and observed breaks down
completely and instead of the “observer” we have to “put in its
place the new word “participator”. In some strange sense the universe
is a participatory universe.”

The Upanishads
had taught the same lesson of the subject and the object fusing into a unified
un-differentiated whole:

“Where there is duality, as it were, there
one sees another; there one smells another; there one taste another…But where
everything has become just one’s own self, then whereby and whom would one see?
then whereby and whom would one smell? then whereby and whom would one taste
?”

The intuition of Indian
mystics led them to understand the multidimensional reality and of space-time
continuum which is the basis of the modern theory of relativity.

Vedanta taught the technique of self-development.
The ultimate destiny of man is to discover within himself the true Self as the
changless behind the changing, the eternal behind the ephemeral, and the
infinite behind the finite. Greater wisdom was never compressed into three words
than by the Chandogya Upanishad which proclaimed the true Self of man as part of
the Infinite Spirit – tat twam asi: “That Thou
Art”.

Sanskrit, the language of Hindu
scriptures,
is the oldest and
the most systematic language in the world.

It originated several thousand years ago, yet is still used in India.

(image source:



Eastern Wisdom: The Philosophies and Rituals of the East
– By Michael Jordan

p. 29).

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.

***

In the beautiful words of Vedanta:

“Samvit or pure consciousness is one and
non-dual, ever self-luminous, and does not rise or set in months and years and
aeons, past or future.”

(source: India’s
Priceless Heritage – By Nani Palkhivala
published by Bharati Vidya
Bhavan 1980 p 8-11).

According
to Mani
Bhuamik

an elected fellow of the American Physical Society as well as the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers writes:

“The
ancient Vedantic concepts that we all cut our spiritual teeth on are a part of
the grand reconciliation now going on between science and religion.
We find these concepts embodied in the extensive literature starting with the
four Vedas and their subsequent elaborations in the Upanishads. The
recurring theme of these perceptions is that, underlying all physical reality,
there is one abstract entity, Brahman, with the quality of consciousness. Having
created the universe, Brahman remains present everywhere today, administering
basic aspects of everything in our cosmos.

Recent scientific discoveries seem to validate the concept of Brahman.
Physicists and cosmologists are close to proving that there is one source behind
the physical universe, and they call this source the unified field. In a
profound sense, Brahman, the Vedantic concept and the unified field of physics
appear to be synonymous.”

(source: Physics
& Vedanta: So much in common
– Mani Bhaumik
Times of India
2/26/02). Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism
and Stotra
Rathnas
.

Top of Page

Itihasa: The
Great Epics

An Epic is a long narrative poem. Its theme is
grand and its style is in keeping with the grandeur of the theme. Kings, queens,
nobles, courts, forests, seas and wars are all elaborately described. The two
Indian epics – The Ramayana and Mahabharata have all these characteristics and
present a picture of society of the period. Mahabharata is the longest poem
written in any language of the world. The epics are literary compositions,
describing in glorious terms the heroic deeds and virtues of the Kshatriya
princes of ancient India. They are respected as sacred works and at the same
time they tell us a lot about the society and the people.

The Ramayana and Mahabharata have been a constant
source of comfort, guidance, and entertainment to millions down the ages.
Whereas the Homeric Epics have never been sacred books and have long since
ceased to occupy a central position in Greek culture, the Indian Epics are the
most widely read and respected religious books of the Hindus today.

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950)
most original philosopher of modern India.
In his analysis of
Mahabharata and Ramayana observes,

“It is notable
that the two vast Indian epics have been considered as much as Dharma-shastras
as great historico-myth epic narratives, itihasas. They are, that is to say, noble,
vivid and puissant picture of life
, but they utter and breathe
throughout their course, the law and ideal of a great and high ethical and
religious spirit of life and aim in their highest intention at the idea of the
Divine and the say of the mounting soul in the action of the world.”

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)
was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta.
India’s first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, has said:
“In fact, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the
two encyclopedias of ancient Aryan life and wisdom, portraying the ideal
civilization, which humanity has yet to aspire after.”

Sir Monier-Williams
(1860-1888) Indologist
and head of the Oxford’s Boden Chair says,

“Although the Hindus, like the Greeks, have
only two great epic poems, namely, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, yet to
compare these with the Illiad or the Odyssey is to compare the Indus and the
Ganga rising in the snows of the world’s most colossal ranges, swollen by
numerous tributaries, spreading into vast shallows or branching into deep
divergent channels, with the streams of Attica or the mountainous torrents of
Thessaly.” He continues, “There are many
graphical passages in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which for beauty of
description cannot be surpassed by anything in Homer.
The diction in
the Indian epics is more polished, regular and cultivated and the language is in
an altogether advanced stage than that of Homer.”

(source: The
Soul of India
– By Satyavrata R Patel
p. 82-83).

Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren
(1760-1842) in Historical Researches, says: “The literature of the Hindus
is rich in epic poetry.”

Saint Hilaire Bartholemy
thus speaks of the Mahabharata in the Journal Des
Savantes
of September 1886: “When a century ago (1785) Mr.
Charles Wilkins published in Calcutta an extract from the grand poem (Mahabharata)
and made it known through the episode of the Bhagavad gita, the world was
dazzled with its magnificence. Vyasa, the reputed author of Mahabharata,
appeared greater than Homer…It has not the less been admitted that this
prodigious Hindu epic is one of the grandest monuments of its kind of human
intelligence and genius.”

(source: Hindu
Superiority
– By Har Bilas Sarda
p. 237).


Francois Gautier
(1950 – )
Paris-born, he has
lived in India for 30 years, is a political analyst for
Le
Figaro
, one of France’s largest circulation newspaper
has written that: “The Mahabharata and
Ramayana are epical, in the spirit as well as the purpose. The Mahabharata is on
a vast scale, maybe unsurpassed even today, the epic of the soul and tells a
story of the ethics of India of that time, its social, political and cultural
life.”

(source:


A New History of India
– By Francois Gautier

p. 40 – 42).

Itihasa, (history) is the collective term for the
Ramayana and the Mahabharata, in the western publications usually called the
Great Epics. The two great epics of India, Ramayana and Mahabharata, have
inspired millions of devotees, down the more than thirty-odd centuries that they
have been in existence. The two epics are truly the soul of ancient India and of
Hindu society, even today. The Ramayana took place in
the period (4750 BCE) and the Mahabharata War took place on November 22, 3067
BCE.
This date has been calculated by astronomers on the basis of the
planetary positions on that day as recorded by Vyasa. (For more information
please refer to Dating
Mahabharata War Two Eclipses in Thirteen Days
)
The immortal Bhagavad Gita is also enshrined in the
Mahabharata. It is a discourse on Duty and Right Action given by Lord Krishna to
Arjuna on the field of battle at Kurukshetra. An inspiration and guide to
humanity in its conduct through life, the Bhagavad Gita has few parallels in the
world.

The greatest characters portrayed in these epics
have become for all times the sources of inspiration and emulation for the
members of the Hindu society and, indeed for all societies since their approach
is human with no consideration of race or place. The authors of these epics –
Rishi Valmiki
and Rishi Vyasa were the greatest teachers of our thought in two
different ages, who, through their creations, created ideal and practical human
beings struggling to solve problems of their times, and for all times indeed,
since those problems are universal. The Mahabharata contains the famous lecture
known as Shrimad Bhagvadgita which infact, is the essence of the Hindu thought
spoken through the mouth of Lord Krishna himself.

Valmiki: Aadikavi (foremost
poet) composer of Ramayana


Rishi Vyasa dictating the Mahabharata to
Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is also
known as Shoden
in Japan.

For
more refer to chapter on Greater
India: Suvarnabhumi
and Sacred
Angkor
and
Glimpses XVII

***

Tradition has it that Maharshi Vyasa,
gave to the world the epic of Mahabharata. Vyasa is said to be an ancestor of
the Kauravas and Pandavas. The story goes that, having resolved to write the
Mahabharata, Vyasa meditated on Lord Brahma the Creator, who manifested himself
before him. Vyasa with folded hands said: “Lord, I have decided to write
the sacred story, but cannot think of anyone who can take it down to my
dictation.” Lord Brahma approved and said,”O sage, pray to Lord
Ganapati and beg him to take it down for you.” Saying which Brahma
disappeared. The sage Vyasa prayed to god Ganapati who appeared before him.
Vyasa received him with due respect and sought his aid: “Lord
Ganapati, I shall dictate the story of Mahabharata and I pray you to be so
gracious as to write it down.”

Ganapati replied, “Very well, I
shall do as you wish. But my pen must not stop while I am writing, so you must
dictate without pause or hesitation.”

Vyasa agreed, safeguarding himself,
however, with a counter-condition: “Be it so, but you must first grasp the
meaning of what I say before writing it down.” Ganapati smiled and agreed
to the condition. Then the sage began to sing the story of Mahabharata. He would
occasionally compose some complex stanzas which would make Ganapati pause a
while to get at their meaning, and Vyasa would avail of the interval to compose
many more stanzas in his mind. Thus the Mahabharata came to be written to the
dictation of Vyasa.

Lord Rama – 8th century, Kerala,
India.

***

The Ramayana and Mahabharata are based on
historical tradition (itihasa), considerably embellished, to be sure, but still
with a kernel of historicity: we find depicted in these epics a highly developed
civilization spanning millennia, and a Great War waged around 3100 B.C. both of
which are incompatible with semi primitive cattle-worshipping Aryans coming into
India.

***

Ramayana
– ‘Adikvaya’ or Primeval Poem

Jules
Michelet, (1789-1874), French writer, the greatest
historian of the romantic school said about the Ramayana:

“There lies my great poem, as vast as the Indian ocean,
blessed, gilded with the sun, the book of divine harmony wherein is no dissonance. A
serene peace reigns there, and in the midst of conflict an infinite sweetness, a boundless
fraternity, which spreads over all living things, an ocean (without bottom or bound) of
love, of pity, of clemency.”

(source: Philosophy of Hinduism
– An Introduction
– By T. C. Galav

ISBN: 0964237709 Universal Science-Religion. Pg 149).

The following passages about the Epics are
noteworthy for their beauty and for their insight:

Sir Monier Williams
(1860-1888) Indologist
and head of the Oxford’s Boden Chaira and Sanskritist wrote:

“There is not in the whole range of Sanskrit
literature a more charming poem than the Ramayana. The classical purity,
clearness and simplicity of its style, the exquisite touches of true poetic
feeling with which it abounds, its graphic description of heroic incidents,
nature’s grandest scenes, the deep acquaintance it displays with the conflicting
workings of the mind and most refined emotions of human heart, all entitle it to
rank among the most beautiful compositions, that have appeared at any period or
in any country.”

(source: The
Soul of India
– By Satyavrata R Patel
p. 83).

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950)
most original philosopher of modern India.
He has written in his book The Foundations of Indian Culture,

” The Ramayana is a work of the same essential
kind as the Mahabharata; it differs only by a greater simplicity of plan, a more
delicate ideal temperament and a finer glow of poetic warmth and color. At the
same time there is a like vastness of vision, an even more wide-winged flight of
epic sublimity in the conception and sustained richness of minute execution in
the detail. The poet makes us conscious of the immense forces that are behind
our life and sets his action in a magnificent epic scenery, the great imperial
city, the mountains and the ocean, the forest and wilderness, described with
such a largeness as to make us feel as if the whole world were the scenes of his
poem and its subject the whole divine and titanic possibility of man imaged in a
few great or monstrous figure.”

(source:

The Foundations of Indian Culture
– By Sri Aurobindo
p. 289 –
290).

Sir Monier Williams says: “Ramayana is
undoubtedly one of the greatest treasure in Sanskrit literature.”

Sir William Jones

(1746-1794) wrote: “The Ramayana is an
epic poem on the story of Rama, which, in unity of action, magnificence of
imagery and elegance of style far surpasses the learned and elaborate work of
Nonnus.”

Ralph T H Griffith
(1826 -1906) author of The Hymns of Rig Veda, says: “Well may the Ramayana
challenge the literature of every age and country to produce a poem that can
boast of such perfect characters as a Rama and Sita.” He adds,
“Nowhere else are poetry and morality so charmingly united, each elevating
the other as in this really holy poem.”

(source: Hindu
Superiority
– By Har Bilas Sarda
p. 232 – 235).

“It must be admitted, however, that, in
exhibiting pictures of domestic life and manners, the Sanskrit epics are even
more true and real than the Greek and Roman. In the delineation of women the
Hindu poet thrown aside all exaggerated coloring and drawn from nature – Kaikeyi,
Kausalya, Mandodari (favorite wife of Ravana), and even the humble-backed
Manthara are all drawn to the very life. Sita, Draupadi, and Damayanti engage
our affections and our interest for more than Helen or even Penelope. Indeed
Hindu wives are generally perfect patterns of conjugal fidelity; can it be
doubted that, in these delightful portraits of the Pativrata or purity and
simplicity of Hindu domestic manners in early times.”

Hanuman’, son of Vayu (God of
Wind), a symbol of selfless service to God. It is no accident that a monkey
should be accorded this honor: love transcends social standing or even race or
species.

***

The Ramayana is India’s national epic. The future
of her nationhood depend on how this epic lives in and through us. The Ramayana is composed by Valmiki in beautiful
Sanskrit by assembling
the elements of a long oral tradition. It tells of the infancy and youth of Rama,
son of King Dasaratha, and of his marriage to Princess Sita, ‘born from a furrow
in the ground.’ He won her, by bending a prodigious bow which his rivals could
not even lift. Here is the struggle between Good and Evil. The jealously of his
father’s favorite wife brings about Rama’s exile to the forest. Lakshmana and
Sita are permitted to go with him. In the forest, Ravana kidnaps Sita by
trickery and carries her off to his residence to Lanka. To deliver Sita, Rama
becomes the ally of the ‘army of monkeys’ led by Hanuman. He kills Ravana and
his exile ends, he returns triumphantly with Sita and Lakshman to Ayodhya.

(source:
Cultural
Heritage of Ancient India
– By Sachindra Kumar Maity
p 8-10). Refer
to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism

Ramayana,
meaning ‘Rama’s travels’ is one of the greatest epics of all time. Packed with
action and romance, this more than 4,000 years old story of Rama’s journey
through India and his spiritual voyage as man and god is also a holy text by
which millions of Hindus live their lives.

“Indeed, in depicting scenes of domestic
affection, and expressing those universal feelings and emotions which belong to
human nature in all time and in all places, Sanskrit epic poetry is unrivalled
even by Greek Epics…..In the Indian epics, such passages abound, and besides
giving a very high idea of the purity and happiness of domestic life in ancient
India, indicate a capacity in Hindu woman for the discharge of the most sacred
and important social duties.”

“Yet there are not wanting indications in
the Indian Epics of a higher degree of civilization than that represented in the
Homeric poems. The battlefields of the Ramayana and Mahabharata,……are not
made barbarously wanton cruelties; and the description of Ayodhya and Lanka
imply far greater luxury and refinement than those of Sparta and Troy.”

“He (Rama) is the type of a perfect husband,
son, and brother. Sita also rises in character far above Helen and even above
Penelope, both in her sublime devotion and loyalty to her husband, and her
indomitable patience and endurance under suffering and temptation…..it may be
affirmed generally that the whole tone of the Ramayana is certainly above that
of the Illiad.”

Lord Rama – the dark one with the
bow.

***

The Ramayana has enjoyed the most
extraordinary circulation throughout India itself and the countries under Indian
influence. The beautiful language and the poetry of the Ramayana would
suffice to make it a favorite of the Indians; as well as this, they also admire
Rama’s obedience towards his father, his generosity towards Kaikeyi, Sita’s
fidelity in following Rama into the jungle and during her captivity. Bharata’s
and Laksmana’s brotherly loyalty and the greatness and strength of Rama. If ever
there was an ancient literary work that is alive in our time, it is the
Ramayana.! It is read and sung every day by numberless Hindus, humble and high;
it is worshipped and held sacred and performed in Rama-Lilas every year in small
and big towns.

Jonah Blank,
former editor of Asahi Evening News in Tokyo, and author of Arrow of the
Blue-Skinned God observes:

” Imagine a story that is the
Odyssey, Aesop’s fables, Romeo and Juliet, the Bible and Star Wars all at the
same time. Imagine a story that combines adventure and aphorism, romance and
religion, fantasy and philosophy. Imagine a story that makes young children
marvel, burly men weep, and old women dream. Such a story exists in India, and
it is called the Ramayana. This best beloved of Indian epics was sung by
nameless bards for ages before being written down by Valmiki in the third
century B.C. It chronicles Rama’s physical voyage from one end of the Indian
subcontinent to the other, and his spiritual voyage from Man to God. “

(source: Arrow
of the Blue-Skinned God
:
Retracing
the Ramayana Through India – By Jonah Blank

p. ix).

The
whole epic is a lesson in duty. This is as it should be: every man and every
woman must follow dharma, too many people today forget this basic truth.

Ramayana means Rama’s travels. Since
the time of Valmiki, other poets have made their translations and adaptations of
this epic, and Ramayana long ago migrated across South East Asia (Suvarnabhumi)
to countries as Thailand and Indonesia, each of whom have their own Ramayana
literary traditions and have made it a part of their culture. In Thailand,
Ramayana dance-drama is the national dance, an inheritance of the country
ancient Hindu past, and the Thai king traditionally models himself on Rama.
Indonesia is famous for its shadow puppet theatre depicting Ramayana.

The Ramayana is shorter, more
unified, more appealing and even more popular than the Mahabharata. In its
present form it constitutes about one-quarter of the volume of the Mahabharata,
about 24,000 shokas. As usual, good deal of textual criticism has been applied
by Western scholars to this work. The traditional Indian view seems to emerge as
historically substantially correct: before being reduced to writing, the story
of Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya, was sung as a ballad by wandering bards in the
assemblies of kings. The Ramayana itself says that the first recitation took
place in the forest before a gathering of sages, the second in the streets of
Ayodhya, and the third and final one in the palace of Rama, after his
enthronement.

In its numerous reworkings in the
vernaculars the Ramayana has become an inspiration for millions of Hindus.
Mahatma Gandhi praised the Ramacaritamanasa of the 16th century poet Tulsidasa
as the greatest work in the entire religious literature of the world; countless
Indian villagers know a large number of its dohas, summarizing not only the
story of Rama but also epigrammatically expressing the accumulated wisdom of
India. Scholars have hailed it as the “perfect example of the perfect
book.”

The Valmiki Ramayana, also called Adikavya
or first epic poem. The Ramayana is believed to have been divinely revealed: The
story is supposed to have come to its composer: Valmiki, while meditating upon
the mantra “Ram” Legend has it that he retired to the forest where
during 1,000 years of meditation, he kept so motionless that his body became
covered by a valmiak (anthill) – hence his name, meaning “son of the
anthill.”

Ram, Sita and Lakshman at Rishi
Agastya’s ashram

***

“The
Ramayana will be read in this country of Bharata as long as its rivers continue
to flow and its mountains remain in their place”
reads one
verse, from the Ramayana. Today, Ramayana remains an essential part of
Mother India and the name of Rama echoes on a million lips every day. In Indian
villages it is customary to hear stories of Ramayana in the evening. After
sunset villagers gather to hear the storyteller bring the characters to life;
they cheer or cry as the story unfolds, then go home to sleep and dream of
Ramayana.


Scene from Thai Ramayana, Grand Palace, Bangkok.
Thailand.

Sita Devi, a Malay shadow puppet.

For
more refer to chapter on Greater
India: Suvarnabhumi
and Sacred
Angkor
and Glimpses
XVI

***

In India, the roots of this story go
back, thousands of years. It has been told countless times, by Hindus, Jains and
Buddhists, and early spread beyond India itself to the countries of South east
Asia. Today, if you visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok,
Thailand, you can see beautiful carvings around the walls, telling a Thai
Buddhist version of the story. In villages in Indonesia
and Malaysia, professional puppeteers
and musicians still present the story thorough puppets or ordinary puppets,
accompanied by the haunting music of the gamelan.

(source: Sita’s
Story
– By Jacqueline Suthren Hirst
p. 6-9).

Moral of Ramayana

The Web of Karma: One great theme of
Ramayana is the working out of Karma, the consequence of past deeds. The basic
plot of Ramayana is a simple struggle between good and evil. But it is not
allowed to remain simple. We discover that there are many layers of karma
involved and dilemmas to be faced, and the gap between good and evil is not as
clear as we might have thought, and that behind this simple story lies a
cosmic purpose to be fulfilled. At every step along the way, we are tested
emotionally and intellectually.

Freedom and Duty: A central theme of
Ramayana is the sacrifice of freedom for the sake of duty or honor. The Sanskrit
word approximating “duty” is dharma
which has no equivalent in English. Roughly translated it means, ‘ the essential
purpose of life.’ In Hindu society this manifests as a set of principles
governing behavior, such as the duty to obey one’s father or to protect one’s
dependents.

In India, Ramayana passed into each
of the regional languages, such as Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Kashmiri, Oriya,
Kannada, Telugu, Malalylam, where it generated separate literary and
religious traditions. Each region of the country has its own style of Ramayana
drama, such as the famous Kathakali dancer of Kerala, and elaborate dramatic
productions are staged in the major cities. At festivals effigies of the demon
character Ravana and Kumbhkarna are burnt. Ramayana is a staple of Indian cinema
and the serialized Ramayana on television, broadcast for 78 weeks during
1987-88, brought the nation to a standstill for an hour each Sunday.

In all these ways
Rama has entered the subconscious of India. This is why, so long after its
creation, Ramayana remains an essential part of Mother India and the name echoes
on a million lips every day.

(source: Ramayana
– A Journey
– By Ranchor Prime
p. 6-14).

Warrior Prince, The Legend of
Ramayana – animated movie.

***

The Ramayana describes the ideal man
and the ideal woman and may be called the Epic of the Household. The sacrifice
of one’s personal welfare in the interests of the general welfare and the
supremacy of Dharma are its primary lessons. Warrior
Prince, The Legend of Ramayana
was awarded the “Best Animation
film of the year” out of 60 competing entries at the Santa Clarita
International festival, in Santa Clarita, California. While accepting the award,
Shah said, “This is not just an epic story set in India. It presents a code
by which millions upon millions live their lives.
No wonder George Lucas
borrowed heavily from the epic and made a very universal film out it
called Star Wars!” (For
more information, please refer to Jedi
in the Lotus
– By Steven Rosen
– Infinity Foundation).

Warrior Prince is a 12 million-dollar film based upon
on
Ramayana. It is a 95-minute action packed, feature film that explores the
animation style called “FUSION.” which consists of 3 different schools
of animation.
The picture is a true blend of art, romance, music and stunning visual power of
East and West melding–lifting the story out of it’s historic setting and
delivering it slap-bang it into 21th Century. The film was directed and
conceived by Yugo Sako, a versatile documentary filmmaker from Japan. James Earl Jones is the narrator.

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.

Top of Page

Mahabharata

Dr. Ramakrishna
Gopal Bhandarkar

(1837-1919) Eminent Orientalist, has rated the Mahabharata as “the greatest work of imagination that Asia
has produced.”

Sir Charles Elliot
(1862-1931) British diplomat and colonial administrator, has called it “a greater poem than the Iliad.”

(source: Story
of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage
– By Will Durant

MJF Books.1935 p. 561).

Barend Van Nooten author of
the book – Rig Veda, a metrically restored text with an
introduction and notes, and The Mahabharata; Attributed to Krsna Dvaipayana
Vyasa,
writes:


“Borrowings by western scholars in the sphere of literature and philosophy are
obvious and well-known. There are near virtual; copies of plots, characters, episodes,
situations and time duration from the
Mahabharata

in Homer and Virgil.”

(source: Philosophy
of Hinduism

An Introduction
By
T. C. Galav
p. 18).

Arnold Hermann Ludwig
Heeran

(1760-1842) says: “It will scarcely be possible to deny the Mahabharata
to be one of the richest compositions in Epic poetry that was ever
produced.”

Alain Danielou (1907-1994),
son of French aristocracy, author of numerous books on philosophy, religion,
history and arts of India has said:
“The Mahabharata is a mine of information about the science, customs,
religion, and arts of India at various stages of its history. Additions from
very different sources have been made to the original, turning it into a vast
anthology of human knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo
(1872-1950)
says: “The Mahabharata is not only the story of the Bharatas,
the epic of an early event which had become a national tradition
but on a vast scale the epic of the soul and religious and ethical
mind and social and political ideas and culture and life of India.
The Mahabharata is the creation and expression not of a single
individual mind but on the mind of a nation; it is the poem of
itself written by a whole people….A vast temple unfolding slowly
its immense and complex ideas from chamber to chamber.”

(source:
The
Vision of India
– By Sisirkumar Mitra

p. 58 and


The Foundations of Indian Culture
– By Sri Aurobindo

p. 42).

Sylvain Levi
(1863-1935)
French scholar, Orientalist who wrote on Eastern religion,
literature, and history.

“The
Mahabharata is not only the largest, but also the grandest of all
epics, as it contains throughout a lively teaching of morals under
a glorious garment of poetry.”

(source: Hindu
Superiority
– By Har Bilas
Sarda
p. 236).

A manuscript illustration of
the Battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas,
recorded in the Mahabharata Epic.

(image source:



Eastern Wisdom: The Philosophies and Rituals of the East
– By Michael Jordan

p. 35).

***

The Mahabharata is one of the
greatest works of Sanskrit literature, the longest poem in world
literature. The Mahabharata is a perceptive record of a great period of
India’s history. The Mahabharata has been
described as “the longest exposition on Dharma to ever be written.”
The Mahabharata is not merely a historic work but
it reflects the dynamic culture of India. The first verse is:

“narayanam namaskrtya narain caiva
narottamam
devim sarasvatim caiva tato jayam udiryer

Narayana and Nara, the divine and the human their
personal encounters and discussions of dharma, artha, kama and moksa, are to be
found here. It is a
veritable encyclopedia and it carries this verse about its own scope.
It is said that what is found here may be
found elsewhere but what is not found here cannot be found elsewhere.
The
poetic, imaginative and questing spirit, the deeper thoughts and emotions, not
easy sentiments, find expression in this great epic. We come across characters,
varied and many, who have entered into the bloodstream of our history. They are
known also in Indo-China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and other places.

(source: Our Heritage –
S. Radhakrishnan
p. 39-41). Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism

The Mahabharat is a Tangled
Tale of Life:

The tangle nature of issues is clear from the
fact that in the Mahabharat nobody wants a war and yet nobody could avoid it. It
came with all the killings and disaster. But the Mahabharat is much more than a
mere description of the blood-bath which was the battle of Kurukshetra. The
finest flower of the world chivalry and heroism perished in the flames of war in
a matter of eighteen days. The Mahabharat answers these vital questions of life,
which grows in complexity as it evolves as if driven by an inner, inevitable
logic of its own. The Mahabharat is a great and glorious epic poetry, but even
more than its liquid and lyrical quality is the force of its logic, and this is
why it overpowers the heart as well as the mind.

(source: Indian Culture:
Its Triumphs and Tragedies – By H. L. Sharma
Mansi Prakashan Meerut.
p. 122-123).

The Mahabharata
is the longest epic in the world and has been retold for hundreds
of years in various media. The archers above come from a 1990
movie of a dramatic production by British director Peter
Brooks.

***

The Mahabharata is undoubtedly one of the
greatest works of the world, unique in many ways – unique for the deepest
philosophic truths, for the wide range of human life covered by the ethics and
for the high spiritual stimulus provided in this epic. It is sometimes called
the fifth Veda. The Mahabharata though not technically a revelation, is more
than a revelation in the nature of its contents. For one thing it contains the
greatest spiritual treasure ever known to the world, the Bhagavad
Gita
, which
may be rightly called the scripture of the world. This alone will suffice to
make the epic the greatest work of the world.

Apparently it is the story of a war between two
rival sections of a dynasty, but its very much more. It is the story of
evolution of all life, it is a treatise on cosmogony, a code of universal
ethics; it is also a history of the human race in its most general sense. All
life is rooted in the One Life; the Devas, Rishis, men, beasts, flowers, rocks,
why, everything in this manifested universe are all evolved in that One Life.
There is a Great Plan in the mind of God (Ishwara Sankalpa) and everything that
was, that is and that shall be, happens in accordance with that plan. Human free
will is part of that Plan.

(source: Facets
of Indian Culture
– R. Srinivasan
Publisher: Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan p. 214-215).

The Mahabharata is the story of the war for the
throne between the virtuous Pandavas and their wicked cousins, the Kauravas. It
is probably the longest of all the world’s epics.

The Mahabharata contains about 100,000 couplets,
the subject is borrowed from the heroic legend “The Great Bharata Story of
War’. Symbolic of the struggle between the Good and the Evil, it recounts the
inexorable rivalry between the two branches of the descendants of Bharata. A
terrible war took place, in which kings from all over India and neighboring
countries participated, opposing the one hundred Kauravas and their cruel chiefs
to the five Pandava brothers, allies of Lord Krishna. For 18 days the battle
raged with such violence that the heavens seemed to have disappeared behind a
veil of flying arrows. The dead accumulated, the Kaurava leaders perished one
after another. Thus the five brothers completed their earthly mission; only
Yuddhisthira ascended the heaven alive but all others went there after death. An
epic with a sad ending but softened by the Hindu notion of destiny.

The Mahabharata, one of the great sources of
Hinduism, is an account of its beliefs. It is, above all, a verse-chronicle of
Krishna, the real hero of the epic, an incarnation of god Vishnu, whose divine
nature reveals itself in magisterial interventions. There are hundreds of
episodes which fruitfully soften the horror of the Kurukshetra war, full of
charm, interposed as a form of digression; and they are based on high social
ethics. For example, Damayanti’s devotion, tinged with unfailing fidelity,
succeeds in saving her husband, king Nala, from the demon of gambling. The deep
love of Savitri and Satyavan, Behula and Lakshindar persuades the god of death (Yama)
to give back their husbands.

But the most admirable and notable is the
Bhagavad Gita (the Song of the Lord). In it Krishna, revealing Himself as
Bhagavan (Supreme Lord), destroys Arjuna’s fear at the moment of going to the
battle-field. He teaches him the philosophy of action without attachment,
leading to deliverance, by the way of Bhakti, the way of ardent love, of union
with the Blessed One, “participation with Him even in life”!

(source:
Cultural
Heritage of Ancient India
– By Sachindra Kumar Maity
p 6-8).

Star
Wars the movie has similar themes like the Mahabharata. According
to Cie Sharp, Yoda
(exact word “yoda” is found in Punjabi (sometimes
presumed to be from Sanskrit meaning “warrior”)
concealed himself in the forest, like a Rishi
(the venerable sages of Vedic society), or similar to how the
Pandavas spent part of their time when they were in exile from the
Kauravas from the “Mahabharat”, India’s foremost epic
which features the “Bhagavad Gita”.

(source: More
Hindu Themes in the “Star Wars” Saga
– By Cie Sharp
).

Horace Hayman
Wilson
(1786-1860) Eminent
Orientalist, in his introduction to Mahabharata, he observed: “By these
means, the merit, both poetical and historical, of the Mahabharata are becoming
more extensively known; but in the amplitude of it, extant in the numerous
traditions, legends and tales which it contains, and in its many didactic and
philosophical paragraphs, it offers an accumulation of materials adopted to
different tastes, and auxiliary to diverging researches, which must long
advantageously engage the attention, and reward the industry, of Sanskrit
scholars.”

(source: Eminent
Orientalists
: Indian European American
– Asian
Educational Services. p. 77).


Bhima in the battle A painting of Mahabharata war

***

The Mahabharata is a treasure house
of information on ancient India – it has history, statecraft, religion and
mythology all woven into a rich and glorious fabric.

Peter Brooks and his
Paris-based theater company produced the Mahabharata, three parts over nine
hours in French in 1985. Peter Brooks’ Mahabharata at bringing Hinduism to
a western society increasingly searching for faddish oriental solutions to
life’s eternal problems. warm reception to the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics,
are the European film and theater audiences. Between 1985 and 1990, these epics
have found their way to the public in Europe. They have been top of the bill at
the Avignon theater festival. Peter Brooke’s Mahabharata, though perhaps not
sufficiently true to the original for Indian purists, has been applauded by the
viewers, and has been shown on many TV stations also. The BBC has even broadcast
the Hindi TV serials.

The
Mahabharata copies in China sold out, goes into second edition – “There
is a growing desire in China to learn about India’s culture and traditions.”
For a long time, Chinese scholars paid too much attention to the West.
Now, there is a growing desire to know Indian civilisation and imbibe its
wisdom,”
Huang Baosheng, who headed the five-member team of
translators at Beijing University.

(source:
Mahabharata
in Chinese sold out, goes into second edition
– By Saibal Dasgupta – timesofindia.com
November 22, 2006).

Actors: Robert Langdon Lloyd
(as Vyasa) Velu Viswanathan as a hermit and Bruce Myers (as Ganesha) in mini
series of Mahabharata
(1989).

(image source: Philadelphia Inquirer
– March 23, 1991).

***

The Mahabharata describes the ideal
polity and culture and religion and may be called the Epic of Society and State.
It is called Jaya as it describes the victory of righteousness. There is scarcely a single human
situation that it leaves untouched, and it covered most contingencies that
mankind could experience till about a few hundred years ago. The Mahabharata is
so intensely human, unlike the Ramayana, which deals with ideal types, that it
still has a special resonance in the Indian heart. It is a text that one grows
with, revealing deeper meanings as one’s life unfolds, and a superlative guide
to humans trying to work out their entelechy. Its hold on the imagination will
never diminish.

In 1987, theatre artist Peter
Brook and Jean-Claude Carriere staged a spectacular 9 hour version of the
Mahabharata. It played throughout the world. Shown here a scene between Krishna
and Arjuna.

Watch
Lost
/ Submerged city of

Dwaraka

The Learning
Channel video

***

The finale of Mahabharat are
impressive. Rishi Vyasa concludes: “Dharma is eternal; life, its joys and
sorrow are not. Do not give away the eternal for the temporal values of
life.”

Do not to others what ye do not wish
Done to yourself; and wish for others too
What ye desire and long for, for yourself — This is the whole of dharma —
heed —it well.

— Veda Vyasa, The Mahabharata.

Top of Page

Conclusion

According to Thomas Berry,
“In quality, in
quantity, in significance for man’s intellectual, cultural, and spiritual life,
this literature in its totality is unsurpassed among all other literary
traditions of the world.”

(source:
Religions of India
: Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism – Thomas Berry
p.
3-16).

Sir
Monier Williams

wrote: “There are many graphical passages in the Ramayana and
Mahabharata, which for
beauty of description, cannot be surpassed by anything in Homer.
…that
the diction of Indian epics is more polished, regular and
cultivated, and the language altogther in a more advanced stage of
development than that of Homer.” “Yet there are
not wanting indications in the Indian epics of a higher degree of
cultivation than that represented in the Homeric poems. The
battlefields of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are not made
barbarous by wanton cruelties, and the description of Ayodhya and
Lanka imply far greater luxury and refinement than those of Sparta
and troy.” Ramayana and Mahabharata rise about the Homeric
poems also in the fact “that a deep religious meaning appears
to underlie all the narrative, and that the wildest allegory may
be intended to conceal a sublime moral, symbolizing the conflict
between good and evil, teaching the hopelessness of victory in so
terrible a contest with purity of soul, self-abnegation and the
subjugation of the passions.”

(source:
Hindu
Superiority

– By Har Bilas Sarda
.
p. 240 -242).

Chidambara Kulkarni
has written about Vedic literature: “The size and quality of literary works
proclaim the greatness of ancient Hindus. Tenacity, hard-work, love of nature,
thirst for knowledge, clarity of thought are several features of the Aryas
reflected in the literature. The fact that the literary works were learnt and
taught by oral method speaks about their devotion to literature, learning and
teaching. The Vedic literature is very wide in scope and quite deep in insight
and analysis.”

(source: Ancient
Indian History and Culture – By Chidambara Kulkarni
Orient Longman
Ltd. 1974. p.56).

The beautiful literature of the
Hindus took thousands of years to develop. It raised the the status of Indian
civilization and culture. Without knowing this one cannot know the inner soul
and glory of India.

Speaking only of the vast Vedic literature, the wonderful
manifestation of human genius through hearing alone, Maurice
Winternitz
says: “As
the Veda, because of its antiquity, stands at the head of Indian literature no
one who has gained an insight into the Vedic literature can understand the
spiritual life and culture of the Indians.” Rig Vedic literature reveals an
advanced civilization pointing to a description of settled people, an organized
society and a full grown civilization without reference to a single allusion to
migration.

(source: Ancient
Indian Culture at a Glance – By Swami Tattwananda

p. 94). Refer to Internet
Sacred Texts
on Hinduism

Hindu Scriptures tell us how
ancient rishis (sages) experienced the divine reality and how they responded
with exuberant joy, confidence and a feeling of intimacy. This literature is not
primitive but highly developed in its literary form, in its intellectual
insight, and in its questioning attitude. The glory of this literature is its
imaginative and emotional qualities. There is a religious mood in the longer
hymns to Varuna, an awareness of divine might in the hymn to Indra, a special
radiance and loveliness in the hymns to Usha, the goddess of Dawn.

When these texts were translated they won
admirers amongst some of the best minds of Europe. In some cases, they even
turned the Christian apple-cart. After reading them, Schopenhauer found the
Upanishads the “solace” of his life and death, and Kant found the
Hindus were “gentle”, that “all nations are tolerated amongst
them.” These texts won the admiration of Emerson, Thoreau, Walt Whitman,
Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, Romain Rolland, Hermann Hesse, Henrich Zimmer, Sir Edwin
Arnold, Yeats, Carl Jung, Toynbee and many others. The first harbinger of
American religious freedom in Masssachusetts, Henry David Thoreau is said to
have come across a fresh translation of the Gita by Burnouf but certainly the
one by Charles Jones which had just been published those days. In
disillusionment of Christianity, he wanted to carry his new religion to the end
of the earth. His new religion was the Gita.

H. G. Wells
has remarked: “The history of India for many centuries had been happier,
less fierce, and more dreamlike than any other history. In these favorable
conditions, they built a character – meditative and peaceful and a “nation of philosophers such as could nowhere have existed except in India.”

(source: The Outline of
History
– By H. G. Wells
p. 855).

Alain Danielou
observes that: “The sheer volume of Sanskrit
literature is immense, and it remains largely unexplored.
Probably we
shall never know well our own history over the past five millennia until this
immense reservoir of Sanskrit documents have been tapped. Many text disappear
every year, since the manuscripts are highly perishable in India’s extreme
climate, and the teams of scholars who once used to recopy damaged manuscripts
for the libraries have almost entirely disappeared.”

(source:
Virtue, Success, Pleasure, Liberation
By Alain
Danielou
p. 16-17).

The Veda, taken as a whole, is
the main source or the fountain-head of all Indian culture. Its philosophical
speculations lead to the Vedanta. Its forms of meditation and prayer leas to the
Bhakti doctrine, its rituals and sacrifices lead to to the Purava Mimamsa
school, its accounts of creation lead to the cosmology and pyschology of samkhya,
its descriptions of religious ecstasy lead to the Sadhanas of Yoga and its
metaphysical disquisitions lead to the reasoning of Nyaya and Vaiseshika.

Moreover, the Rishis and kings
are the starting points of Itihasas and Puranas, and the social customs that it
mentions give rise to the Dharma Sastras. Thus all our secondary scriptures –
the Smritis, the Itihasas, the Puranas, the Agamas, the Darsanas – are only
developments of the ‘Veda.’

And, just as all our scriptures
have a common source, they have a common aim – to make man a perfect being,
god-like and one with him.

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.
Refer
toStotra
Rathnas
.

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Did you Know?

Powerful Memory and Smart
Drugs

The ancient bards and rishis of India didn’t need Smart Drugs. These vast epics, and the four ‘books’ of the
Vedas, were originally transmitted by a phenomenal human chain of memory, and
only written down centuries after their actual compilation. The early phase of
the Vedic tradition in India is dated between 10,000 – 7,000 BCE. This oral tradition
still exists in India today.

The
Rishis who recited the great and long epics (The Ramayana and The Mahabharata)
did not need any “smart” drugs to keep their memories powerful. Their
well-toned memories bespoke tomes: The Rig Veda and the Mahabharata, among
thousands of hours of other recited epics.

(source: Seeking
“Smart” Drugs – Exploring
Intelligence – By Scientific American
– November 1999 issue p.
39-43).

To
download Hindu Scriptures –
refer to Hindu
Temple of Greater Cincinnati
.

Watch
video – Brahmins
in

India

have become a minority

The collection of hymns and the immense mass of
literature were preserved by means of oral tradition only. Vedic hymns are used today at Hindu wedding
ceremonies, in an astonishing example of continuous tradition. The feat of
memorizing and handing down a vast amount of oral literature is a hallmark of
Hinduism.

The Vedas were handed down from mouth to mouth
from a period of unknown antiquity. When the Vedas were composed, there was
probably no system of writing prevalent in India. But such was the zeal of the
Brahmins, who got the whole Vedic literature by heart by hearing it from their
preceptors, that it has been transmitted most faithfully to us through the
course of more than 4,000 years with little or no interpolations. This is unique
monument to their tremendous memory. One of the conspicuous feature in
ancient Indian education as it used to be, was the training of memory.
Education, was by means of oral instruction and the learning by heart of classic
literature. The learned men did not rely upon his library, but upon his memory
alone. The memory thus trained and relied upon was capable of marvelous feats;
even now there are men who know by heart hundreds and thousands of verses of
Sanskrit literature which they have learnt once and never forget.

(source: Essays on
National Idealism – By Ananda K. Coomraswamy
Munshiram Manoharlal
Publishers.1981 p.109).

Refer
to Rig
Veda among 38 new heritage items in UNESCO culture list

Thirty manuscripts
of the ancient Hindu text Rig Veda dating from 1800 to 1500 BC are
among 38 new items that have been added to the United Nations
heritage list to help preserve them for posterity.

For
more refer to chapter on Greater
India: Suvarnabhumi
and
Sacred Angkor

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