INTRODUCTION TO VEDAS
(Based on Chapters 4 and 5 of the Book –Introduction to the Vedas-RigVedadi BhashyaBhumika- by Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati)
Rig Ved 31.7 states-
The Rig Ved, the Yajur Ved, the Saam Ved and the Atharva Ved were produced by the Supreme and perfect Being, Parabrahman, who possesses the attributes of self-existence, consciousness and bliss, who is Omnipotent and universally adored.
One could ask how could the Vedas, consisting as they do of words, be produced by God who has no bodily organs? The answer is that such an objection cannot be raised in connection with the Almighty. He has always the power of acting without the help of such instruments as the mouth, the breath and so on.
God is most merciful like a father. As a father always shows kindness to his children so did God in His great mercy revealed the Vedas for the benefit of all mankind. If He had not done so gross ignorance would have been perpetuated and men could not have achieved righteousness, worldly prosperity, enjoyment and emancipation and would have been deprived of the highest bliss. When the most merciful God created bulbous roots, fruits and herbs etc for His creatures, why should He not have revealed the Vedic knowledge which brings to light all kinds of happiness and contains all sciences. The pleasure one experiences in enjoying the best things of the world does not equal the one thousandth part of the pleasure one feels after acquiring knowledge. It is, therefore, certain that the Vedas were revealed by God.
In what form did God produce the Vedas? The answer is- He revealed them to the consciousness of Agni, Vaya, Aditya and Angirasa. They were human beings in human bodies in the beginning of creation.
Why did God reveal the Vedas to the minds of four men only and why not to the minds of all? The answer is – the four rishis Agni, Vayu, Aditya and Angira possessed previous merit and it was but proper that the Vedas should have been revealed to their minds.
But they were born in the beginning of creation, whence did they get previous merit? The answer is – All Jivas(souls) are without a beginning in their nature; and their actions and this great effect – the universe also, are without a beginning. They are like members of a series which has no beginning and which flows on continually.
How many years have elapsed since the revelation of the Vedas? The answer is- 1,955,884,976 until 1960. The same number of years has elapsed since the creation of the present Kalpa.
Subjects covered in Vedas
The Vedas treat of four classes of subjects, namely, Vijyan(philosophy or metaphysics in Rig Ved), Karma (action in general in Yajur Ved), Upasna (communion with God in Saam Ved), and Jyan (knowledge in general in Atharva Ved). Hence the Vedas contain all the knowledge for the needs of humanbeings.
As an example-On the art of building ships and aircraft, Rig Ved 188.8.131.52 says- “A man desirous of possessing and enjoying wealth, riches, necessities of life, comfort and victory should fulfill his desires with the help of physical sciences. By constructing ships of wood and iron, and by using fire and water he may make voyages on the seas backwards and forwards and in this way he may amass wealth. ….”
Of all living beings man alone is able to know good and evil. Manhood of man consists in the possession of the thinking faculty. Of all living beings man alone has been created with a mind ie, with a capacity of acquiring knowledge. By a peculiar arrangement of the molecules of the organs of the human body God has made them fit for being used as instruments for acquiring knowledge. Man alone and no other animal, therefore, is capable of knowing right and wrong and doing righteousness and keeping aloof from unrighteous acts. This is the reason why all men should perform the Yajna for the good of all.
To prove, as it were, His own existence and the truth of the Vedas revealed by Him, God has revealed a mantra in Yajur Ved 40.8 the purport of which is as follows:- God is omnipresent etc, and pervades all things on all sides. There is not a single atom in which He is not present. He is the maker of the whole universe. He is mighty and possessed of power without an end. He is free from the ties of the threefold body, the gross, the subtle and the causal. Even an atom cannot penetrate Him. Being impenetrable, He is incapable of receiving a wound. He is not bound by the bond of arteries, etc, and hence nothing can bind or throw a veil over Him. He always remains away and aloof from such defects as ignorance etc. He is never touched by sin nor does He ever commit a sinful act. He is omniscient, He bears witness to and is the knower of the minds of all. He is without the three causes – the efficient, the material and the general. He is the universal father , but of Him the generator there is none. He always exists by His own might. God, the supreme self, is all existence, all consciousness and all bliss. He imparted the true knowledge of things to His eternal subjects in the beginning of creation by revealing the Vedas. Whenever He creates the world, He vouchsafes the Vedas, the repository of all knowledge, to His creatures for their benefit.
Everyone should, therefore, believe that the Vedas are eternal. They are God’s knowledge and God’s knowledge remains uniform and unchanged.
There are two kinds of knowledge contained in the Vedas- Apara and the Para. That knowledge by means of which we know all things, from the earth and a blade of grass to Prakriti and learn their proper use, is called Apara and that by which one knows God- the invisible, the omnipotent etc, is called Para. The Para is much superior to the Apara.
The learned at all times see that highest seat of all pervading God, called Moksha (emancipation) which is attained by men through the adoption of the best possible means and is the highest beatitude. It extends everywhere and is not limited by time, space and matter. God’s essence being all-pervading, that seat is attainable by all humans at all times and places. As the eye is able to exercise its function in the space filled by sun’s light, so man is capable of attaining that seat everywhere and always, for, God exists in everything and all times, Moksha being the best possible object of desire, the learned seek to obtain it.