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Region 3 - Introduction to Vedas: Part 1

Part 1: Introduction

My task is to open your eyes to the glory of the Vedas and to convince you that Vedic injunctions, when put into practice will yield the promised results. My Love towards the Vedas is matched only by My Love towards humanity. - Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Source: Sathyam Shivam Sundaram, Part 2 - Chapter 3).

Introduction: Vedas are the words of God. The word “Veda” means knowledge. They were revealed by God to the sages ("Rishis") of past. The sages taught their disciples who in turn taught them to their disciples. Thus through an unbroken chain of succession of teachers and disciples, this body of knowledge is available to mankind today in the very same form that it was received ages ago. Since this body of knowledge was “heard” from God and passed on from generation to generation through an oral tradition, Vedas are also called "Shruti" or that which is heard. Vedas do not have a human author. God is its only source.

Content: The essential content of the Vedas is twofold. One is right action (“karma” section) where the Vedas teach man the duties that one has to perform and values that one has to practice from birth to death depending on one’s station in life. Hence, the Vedas are considered to be the root of all dharma. This section also teaches the means to various goals desired by a human being for a happy life here and hereafter. Second is right knowledge ("jnaana" section) where the Vedas reveal the fundamental truth that is the basis of all life and matter. It teaches the highest truth knowing which one attains ever-lasting and complete freedom from fear and grief. The contents of the Vedas are limitless, even though only a finite portion of it is currently available to mankind. This body of knowledge was revealed by God to mankind through the medium of the Sanskrit language.

Importance of sound: The Vedas are euphonic and hence the sounds are very important. The sounds and sometimes the meaning of the Vedas depend upon the correct pronunciation of the syllables along with the right intonation, duration, effort, pace and continuity. The sounds produced by the recitation of the Vedas have beneficial consequences for the person who chants it, the people who listen to it and to the environment in which it is chanted. The sounds of Vedas can purify one’s mind and also cleanse the environment of negative influences. It is also believed that adverse consequences can result from an incorrect recitation of the Vedas. Therefore it is mandatory that the sounds of the Vedas are correctly learnt and adhered to while reciting.

Universality: The benefits of Vedas are equally available to all mankind. All can partake of this knowledge and benefit from it. Just as gravitation is a universal law that is applicable irrespective of geography or time or people, so also the Vedas are universal in their scope and reach. Though it is available to the entire mankind, India has had the unique privilege of safeguarding it in its original form and spreading it to other parts of the world. All people can benefit from the teachings of the Vedas, if studied with humility, recited with precision, practiced with faith and understood with clarity. Thus, the contents of the Vedas are universal in nature. (To be continued...)

Bro.Krishna Subrahmanian Chair Person
Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Mill Hill.