Saturday, January 09, 2010

vEdasudhe – I

Note: This is not my composition (excepting noted paragraphs as indicated with the initials [RV]) or opinion. This is translated from a series of lectures in Kannada by a scholar named Sudhakara Sharma (probably in 2003, and presumably in a town named Belur). I'm breaking tradition on this blog to bring non-fiction, non-kannada material to non-kannada readers. For those who understand Kannada, I suggest heading over to Vismayanagari and searching for vEdasudhe to hear this material in its original.

While I have tried to keep the translation accurate, I don't make claims to absolute accuracy. I may have dropped redundancies. I may also have reordered material to present it better in written form. I have simply tried to bring material I believe to be very significant to a larger audience.

Truth or satya is primal. One has to tediously investigate and research a topic in order to arrive at the truth. As humans, until we get to the truth we will remain spiritually weak. This is what the Veda tells us:

यूयं तत् सत्यशवस आविश् कर्त महित्वना
विध्यता विद्युता रक्शः (Rig Veda 1.086.09)

yUyaM tat satyashavasa AviS karta mahitvanA
vidhyatA vidyutA rakSaH

Man derives his (spiritual) strength from the satya. Naturally gifted with the will to do so, he must search for and discover the truth. Any obstacles that arise in this search must be cut down with the power of knowledge.

Man must not be lazy, and must leave behind any prejudice or preconceived notions behind in this search for truth.

There are several questions to ponder on the subject of the Veda:

By our faith, those of us who ascribe to Hinduism believe in the Veda. But then, do we simply believe because our faith tells us to believe in a series of shlokas (hymns) or is it because we understand what is in the Veda and therefore we believe in them? We need to go on a soul-search in this subject.

There has been an opposition to the Veda right since the time of Gautama Buddha. Can we convince the opposition that the Veda is simply truth that can be verified, and thus, that there is nothing to oppose? Can we make everyone respect, if not believe in the Veda?

Most of what we know about the Veda is misinterpreted and mistranslated. This is a big problem; can we think about what the Veda really intends to say?

When we go on a journey of discovery to try and answer these questions the truth unravels itself.
We believe (vishvAsa) in the Veda - this alone, however, is irrelevant. Do we have faith (shraddha)?

How is vishvAsa different from shraddha? Don't they both mean the same? Let's get to the root of the words:

Etymologically, shraddha = shrat + dha
shrat iti satyam
dha = dhAraNe

What results from 'satyam dhAraNe' is shraddha. shraddha is the belief in Truth, exclusive of all others.

Everything one believes in is not shraddha. Only that which one believes to be the absolute truth is shraddha.

vishvAsa is not absolute; it can be questioned. shraddha, however, means that one knows it to be absolute unquestionable truth.

What then, is satya or truth?

Truth is knowledge. They are the two faces of the same coin. That which is applicable to everyone (sArvajanika), applicable at any time (sArvakAlika), applicable everywhere (sArvadESika), and independent (sArvabhauma) is satya.

satya is not a rule or law that can be bent to man's will. It has to be the same for every being of all ages. It must be applicable at all times in the past present or the future. It must also be applicable everywhere, globally - from the deepest ocean to the highest mountains. It must be applicable irrespective of one's acceptance or knowledge, i.e. it stands independent of any external factors.

Let's take an example:

Overeating leads to indigestion.

Is this applicable to everyone - sArvajanika?
Yes, it is. Whether a child or an old man, a man or a woman.

Is this applicable at any time in the past or in the future - sArvakAlika?
Yes, it is. 2000 years ago or 2000 years in the future, this will hold good.

Is this applicable everywhere - sArvadESika?
Of course, it is. Whether in the most modern cities or the oldest tribal lands this is applicable

Is this fact independent - sArvabhauma?
Yes, of course. Irrespective of whether one knows one's capacity or about indigestion or not, if one overeats s/he will suffer indigestion.

Therefore, 'Overeating leads to indigestion' is true. It is satya. There are an infinite number of such satya. The Veda tells us that one must search and discover satya and shape one's life according to them, becoming powerful along the way.

The Veda is sArvajanika, sArvakAlika, sArvadESika, and sArvabhauma. Everything in the Veda is satya and satya alone. One who knows satya and chooses to shape their life accordingly is powerful. One who does not is weak.

This is not physical strength usually associated with the word 'powerful': Let us think of the Elephant, the Mahuta, and the goad (aMkuSa)

ಕರಿ ಘನ ಅಂಕುಶ ಕಿರಿದೆನ್ನಬಹುದೇ?

Can one say the Elephant is big and the aMkuSa is small?

The Mahuta's knowledge of the Elephant's weak spot and his use of the little aMkuSa controls the huge Elephant.

This is not about physical power or mental strength. This is Spiritual Power, the power of satya.

[RV: dharma has often been fatally mistranslated as religion, sometimes, less drastically as 'a way of life', and at others, in a very limited scope, as charity. dharma is simply 'right action'.]

Today, the world recognizes several religions or dharmas. The Veda, though, states that there is only one dharma: mAnavadharma or humanity.

मनुर्भव जनया दैवम् जनम्॥(Rig Veda 10.53.6)

manurbhava janayaa daivam janam

Become a (noble) human being, and bear divine children.

What, then, of the worlds other religions? The religions of the world today are simply opinions. We say this because each of these religions has a prophet who started the religion be it Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Moses, Christ or any others. Their opinions have started new sects which are today called religion which did not exist prior to these prophets. That is not dharma, for if it were, it would mean that there was no dharma before any of these prophets, and right action never needed anyone's sanction.

The Veda deals exclusively in truth. What of the other religious books, then? They expound satya, too, except that truth isn't exclusive. They demand that the believer accept a certain set of dogma without question, before he becomes a believer.

The Veda on the other hand does no such thing, nor does it ask the reader to become a believer. On the contrary, it simply expounds satya that the reader may accept only if s/he can test and verify. In fact, the Veda invites - nay insists - that the reader question its conclusions and verify it's theories for her/himself.

Unlike other religious books, the Veda is not an all-or-nothing scripture. It allows the reader to review and accept only the parts s/he can verify and leave the others alone. The Veda thus instills the freedom of thought in its reader, which perhaps, as scriptures go, is unique to the Veda alone.

Veda is satya. One must, therefore, not just believe, but question, understand and grow into shraddha in the Veda.

[RV: satya is dharma. satya is brahma. Not the 4 headed Brahma known from the purana, but brahma - the all prevading force of the universe. Therefore, satya is the all-prevading force of the universe.]

1 comment:

ವೇದಸುಧೆ said...

Thanks for the article published in English. Visit to hear the Audio of the above lectures.