Sri Devi Kamakshi Sri Sri Sri Adi Sankara Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji Sri Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamiji Sri Sri Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamiji
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News & Upcoming Events

Pujyashri Acharyas to bless programmes in Chennai tomorrow - 22 April 2017 (Saturday)

HH Pujyashri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal will bless the Akhanda Tirupugazh programme by Tirupugazh Anbargal at Hemamalini Kalyana Mandapam at 4 pm .

HH Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal and HH Pujyashri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal will bless the Sangeeta Mummoortigal Tiruvizha at Vani Mahal, TNagar, at 6 pm.

information itemLaunched - www.kanchimuttseva.org - to facilitate online contributions for sevas
information item Shrimatam camp at Chennai Thoraipakkam - 24 April onwards
information item Anugraha Bashanam at Chennai - 19 April - Audio Added
information item Ratha Parayana Poorthi- 19 April 2017
information item Veda Parayanam held at Swamimalai - 4 Mar - 1 Apr 2017
information item  Shankara Jayanti Mahotsavam at Shrinagar, Jammu & Kashmir - 23 April - 30 April 2017
information item Sri Shankara Jayanti at Tiruvannamalai Sankara Matam - 24 - 30 April 2017
information item Sri Kamakshi Ambal on Swarna Simha Vahanam- 30 March 2017
information item Pujyashri Acharyas return to Kanchipuram - 23 March 2017
information item  श्री काँची कामकोटि पीठम - हिन्दी में समाचार
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Hindu Dharma: The Vedas

The chapters that exist in "The Vedas" are listed in this page. To go to another part in "Hindu Dharma", please either go back or see the bottom of this page.

The Basic Texts of Hinduism : Our Ignorance of Them There are books aplenty in the world dealing with a vast variety of subjects. The adherents of each religion single out one book for special veneration, believing that it shows them the way to salvation. The followers of some faiths even build temples in honour of their holy scriptures. The Sikhs, for instance, do so; they venerate their sacred book, calling it the 'Granth Sahib' [and enshrine it in temples]. ...
 
Why Religion ? Why do we need religion? Why do we listen to a religious teacher? We do so hoping to have our problems solved and our faults corrected. We do not seek a preceptor when we are not in trouble or when we feel that there is nothing lacking in us. The more we are besieged by troubles the more often we go to worship in temples or seek the darshan and advice of great men. We approach great men, saintly persons, ...
 
The Fourteen Abodes of Knowledge The fourteen 'abodes' of knowledge are: the four vedas; the six Angas or limbs of the Vedas; Mimamsa, Nyaya, the Puranas and Dharmasastra. You must have seen at least references to the Vedas and the six Angas. The Tamil work Tevaram says: 'Vedamodarangamayinanai'. According to this devotional work Isvara is the ...
 
Past Glory and Present Shame The fourteen branches of learning were taught in our country from the remote past until the inception of British rule. Let me tell you something interesting about them. You must have read about the Chinese pilgrim Fahsien and Hsuan Tsang. The former visited India early in the fifth century A. D. and the latter in the seventh century A. D. They have both recorded impressions of their travels here and given particularly glowing accounts of the ...
 
The Root of our Religion The Vedas -- Rgveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvanaveda -- are the first four of the pramanas (authoritative texts) of our religion and also the most important. Of the remaining ten, six are Angas of the Vedas and four are ...
 
Eternal It is not possible to tell the age of the Vedas. If we say that an object is 'anadi' it means that nothing existed before it. Any book, it is reasonable to presume, must be the work of one or more people. The Old Testament contains the sayings of several Prophets. The New Testament contains the story of Jesus Christ as well as his ...
 
Sound and Creation This Chapter must be read in conjunction with Chapter 8, Part 3 and Chapter 13 of this part. What is sound? According to modern science, it is vibration. 'If you examine the core of an atom you will realise that all matter is one. ' This Advaitic conclusion is arrived at according to nuclear science and the concepts of Einstein. All this world is one flood of energy (sakti); everything is an electromagnetic flow. ...
 
Western Vedic Research In the present sorry state in which the nation finds itself it has to learn about its own heritage like the Vedas from the findings of Western soholars called 'orientalists' and from Indians conducting research on the same lines as they. I concede that European scholars have made a very valuable study of the Vedas. We must be thankful to them for their work. Some of them like ...
 
Date of the Vedas : Inquiry not Proper The idea that the Vedas are eternal does not fit into the mental outlook of Western indologists. Their claims to impartiality and to conducting research in a scientific manner notwithstanding, they are not prepared to accord an elevated status to the Hindu texts. Many Hindu research scholars have also found themselves unable to accept the view that the Vedas are eternal. Modern historians have adopted ...
 
Methods of Chanting Our forefathers devised a number of methods to preserve the unwritten Vedas in their original form, to safeguard their tonal and verbal purity. They laid down rules to make sure that not a syllable was changed in chanting, not a svara was altered. In this way they ensured that the full benefits were derived from intoning the mantras. They fixed the time taken to enunciate each syllable of a word and called this unit of time or time ...
 
Word of God We must not distrust the belief that the Vedas are not the work of mere mortals. Followers of other religions too ascribe divine origin to their scriptures. Jesus says that he merely repeats the words of God and, according to Muslims, the prophet speaks the words of Allah. What we call 'apauruseya' is revealed text in their case. The word of the Lord has come through the agency of great men to constitute religious texts. ...
 
The Vedas are Infinite If the cosmos of sound (sabda-prapanca) enfolds all creation and what is beyond it, it must naturally be immensely vast. However voluminous the Vedas are, one might wonder whether it would be right to claim that they embrace all activities of the universe. 'Anantah vai Vedah', the Vedas themselves proclaim so (the Vedas are endless). We cannot claim that all the Vedas have been revealed to the seers. Only about a thousand sakhas or ...
 
Mantrayoga The fourteen worlds constitute an immensely vast kingdom. It has an emperor and all living beings are his subjects. This kingdom as well as its ruler is eternal and it has its own laws. If the kingdom and the king-emperor are eternal, the law also must be so. This law is constituted by the Vedas. Though the kingdom, the ...
 
Sound and Meaning An interesting thought occurs to me here. In Sanskrit the suffix 'taram' is used for the comparative degree. 'Viryavat' means 'strong', 'viryavat taram' means 'stronger'. It is said in the Chandogya Upanisad (1. 1. 10) that he who meditates on the truth of Omkara (Aumkara) ...
 
The Glory of the Vedas The Vedas are eternal and the source of all creations and their greatness is to be known in many different ways. As I have already stated, their sound produces in our nadis as well as in the atmosphere vibrations that are salutary not only to our own Self but to the entire world. Here we must understand 'lokakshema' or our welfare of the world to mean the good of mankind as well as of all other creatures. This concern for all creation ...
 
Yajna or Sacrifice I spoke about the glory of the Vedas, about the features that contribute to their greatness as a scripture. One such feature yet to be dealt with is yajna or sacrifice. What is a yajna? It is the performance of a religious duty involving Agni, the sacrificial fire, with the chanting of the mantras. The word itself is derived from the root 'yaj' meaning 'to worship', to evince devotion. ...
 
Not in Other Religions The concept of yajna or sacrifice is not present in other systems of worship. There is a big difference between our religion, the 'Vedic mata', and other faiths. Religions like Christianity and Islam speak of one God. The Vedas too proclaim that there is but one God and that even an ordinary mortal is to be identified with him. This Paramatman, this Godhead, is to be realised as an experience by constant inquiry conducted with our ...
 
The Threefold Purpose of Yajna The Vedic sacrifices have threefold purposes. The first is to earn the blessings of the deities so that we as well as all other creatures may be happy in this world. The second is to ensure that, after our death, we will live happily in the world of the celestials. But our stay in devaloka, the celestial world, is not for all time. It will last only until such time as we exhaust the merit earned by us in this world. The joy known in the ...
 
The Celestials and Mortals Help Each Other The sacrifices, you will have seen, are of the utmost importance to our Vedic religion. The Lord himself has spoken about them in the Gita. When Brahma created the human species he also brought the yajnas or sacrifices into existence, bidding mortals thus: 'Keep performing sacrifices. You will obtain all good fortune. May these sacrifices of yours be the cow (Kamadhenu) that grants you ...
 
The Capacity to Work and the Capacity to Protect The Lord has endowed us with the capacity to work and the celestials with the capacity to protect. There is a similiar division of functions in this world also. The field and the factory are associated with labour. The police station, the lawcourt and other offices have the function of protection. The administrative offices are meant to ensure that what is produced in the field and in the factory is made ...
 
Rites for Celestials and Rites for Fathers The rites meant for the deities must be performed with devotion and those meant for the pitrs or fathers must be performed with faith. What is done with devotion is yajna and what is done with faith is sraddha. While performing the former, the sikha must be gathered into a knot and the sacred thread must rest on the left shoulder, and while performing the latter the sikha must be worn loose and the sacred thread must rest on the right shoulder. ...
 
The Purpose of Sacrifices Why is it that religion alone has the rites called yajnas or sacrifices? If a crop grows in surplus in our place we trade it with what is available in plenty in another and is not produced in our own. The carpenter, the blacksmith and other artisans make useful articles and serve us in many ways. In return we give them what they need for their upkeep. We feed the cow grass and it yields us ...
 
Is Sacrificial Killing Justified? A yaga or sacrifice takes shape with the chanting of the mantras, the invoking of the deity and the offering of havis (oblation). The mantras are chanted (orally) and the deity is meditated upon (mentally). The most important material required for homa is the havis offered in the sacrificial fire-- in this 'work' the body is involved. So, altogether, in a ...
 
Animal Sacrifice in the Age of Kali An argument runs thus: In the eons gone by mankind possessed high ideals and noble character. Men could sacrifice animals for the well-being of the world because they had great affection in their hearts and were selfless. They offered even cows and horses in sacrifice and had meat for sraddha. As householders, in their middle years, they followed the karmamarga (the path of works) and performed rites to please the deities for the good of the ...
 
The One Goal Briefly told, a yajna is making an oblation to a deity in the fire with the chanting of mantras. In a sense the mantras themselves constitute the form of the deities invoked. In another sense, the mantras, like the materials placed in the fire, are the sustanence of the celestials invoked. They enhance their powers and serve more than one purpose. We pay taxes to the government. However, the various imposts - professional tax, land tax, motor ...
 
Those who conduct Sacrifces One who performs a yajna or sacrifice spending on the material and dakshina is called a 'yajamana'. 'Yaj' (as we seen already) means to worship. The root meaning of 'yajamana' is one who performs a sacrifice. In Tamil Nadu nowadays we refer to a 'mudalali' as yajaman. It is the mudalali who pays the ...
 
The Four Vedas 'Anantah vai Vedah', the Vedas are unending. The seers have, however, revealed to us only a small part of them but it is sufficient for our welfare in this world and next. We are not going to create many universes like Brahma that we should know all the Vedas. We need to know only as many as are necessary to ensure our good in this world. In each of the four Vedas there are ...
 
To Discover The One Truth All Vedas have one common goal though there are differences among their adherents. What is the goal? It is the well-being of the entire world and all creatures living in it, and the uplift of the Self of each one of us and its everlasting union with the Ultimate Reality. We may take pride in the Vedas for another reason also. They do not point to a single way and proclaim, 'This alone is the path' ...
 
Brahmana and Aranyaka So far, in speaking of the Vedas, I have dealt mainly with the Samhita part of each sakha or recension. We have already seen that the Samhitas are the main text of the Vedas. Apart from them, each sakha has a Brahmana and an Aranyaka. The Brahmana lays down the various rites - karma - to be performed and explains the procedure for the same. It interprets the words of the mantras occuring in the Samhita, how ...
 
The Upanisads The Upanisads come at the close of the Aranyakas. If the Samhita is the tree, the Brahmana the flower and the Aranyaka the fruit (i. e. in its unripe stage), the Upanishads are the mellow fruit - the final fruit or 'phala'. The Upanisads are to the seeker the direct means of realising the non-difference between the jivatman ...
 
The Brahmasutra I said that every doctrine or system has a sutra (text consisting of aphoristic statements), a bhasya (commentary) and a vartika (elucidation of the commentary). The systems founded by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Srikantha (acarya of Saiva-Sidhanta) belong to Vedanta. All these acaryas cite the authority of the Vedas in support of their respective doctrines and they have chosen the same ten Upanisads to comment upon according to their different ...
 
Veda and Vedanta : Are They Opposed to One Another? The rituals mentioned in the karmakanda of the Vedas are sought to be negated in the jnanakanda which is also part of the same scripture. While the karmakanda enjoins upon you the worship of various deities and lays down rules for the same, the jnanakanda constituted by the Upanisads ridicules the worshipper of deities as a dim-witted person no better than a beast. This seems strange, the latter part of the ...
 
The Ten Upanasids Sankara Bhagavatpada selected ten out of the numerous Upanisads to comment upon from the non-dualistic point of view. Ramanuja, Madhva and others who came after him wrote commentaries on the same based on their own philosophical points of view. These ten Upanisads are listed in the following stanza for the names to be easily remembered. Isa-Kena-Katha-Prasna-Munda-Mandukya-Tittari ...
 
What do the Vedas Teach Us ? The Vedas speak of a variety of matters. So how are we to accept the view that their most important teaching is the concept of Self-realisation expounded in the Upanisads constituting the Vedanta? They mention a number of sacrifices like agnihotra, somayaga, sattra and isti and other rituals in addition. Why should it not be maintained that it is these that form their chief purpose? What are the rites to be ...
 
Essence of the Upanisadic Teaching What is the essence of the Upanisadic teaching? How do we realise the ideal state mentioned in the Upanisads [the oneing of the individual self and the Overself]? The phenomenal universe, in the view of modern science, is embraced by the concepts of time and space [It exists in the time-space frame]. The Upanisads declare that only by being freed from time and space factors can we grasp the ultimate truth ...
 
Vedic Sakhas When the Vedas are said to have no end, how can one talk of there being an 'end to the Vedas (Vedanta)'? The mesage of the Vedas, the truths proclaimed by them, the teachings with respect to self-realisation occur in the concluding part (Upanisads) of each of the Vedas, that is Vedanta. Why should the Vedas, which are infinite have been divided into so many sakhas or ...
 
Brahmins and Non-Brahmins What about non- Brahmins? Is it not necessary for them too to become pure within? Even if they do not have to perform Vedic rituals or chant mantras, they too have to become cleansed inwardly by doing their alloted work. Whatever his caste or jati, if a man performs his hereditary work in a spirit of dedication to Isvara he will become liberated. This is ...
 
Sakhas now Studied People in the distant past had remarkable abilities and possessed great yogic and intellectual power. So theym could gain mastery of many Vedic recensions. As for the great sages it wsas a matter of the Vedas revealing themselves to them in a flash. Others with their unusual abilities were able to master not only the Vedas but other branches of learning. The Vedas in their infinitude being like the expanse of an endless ocean, no one has been ...
 
Duty of Brahmins If any purpose has been served by listening to me all the while, it is up to you [Brahmins] to take whatever steps you think fit to promote Vedic learning. Every day you must perform ' Brahmayajna' which is one of the five great sacrifices( mahayajnas). The term 'Brahma' in ' Brahmayajna' means the Vedas. The power of the mantras must be preserved in us as an eternal reality. It must burn bright like a lamp that ...
 
Veda-bhasya The sound of the Vedas must be kept alive. For this purpose, it would be enough if Brahmins memorised the mantras and chanted them every day. The power of the sound, the power of the mantras vocalised, is sufficient to bring good to mankind. I said, you will remember, that chanting the Vedas with faith, even though without knowing their meaning, is ' ...
 
My Duty My duty is to impress upon you again and again that it is your responsiblity to keep the Vedic tradition alive. Whether or not you listen to me, whether or not I am capable of making you do what I want you to do, so long as there is strength in me, I will keep telling you tirelessly: 'This is your work. This is your dharma. ' It is for the sake of the Vedas that the Acarya established this Matha. So, no ...
 
Greatness of the Vedas The glory of the Vedas knows no bounds and it is manifested in the affairs of the world in a manner that defies comparison. Of all the sacred places on earth Kasi comes foremost. When we speak in praise of other hallowed centres, we say that they are equal to Kasi in holiness. From this we know the importance of that city. In the south there is a pilgrim centre which has come to be called 'Daksina Kasi ...
 
Sadanga : Introductory Discourse. The Six Limbs of the Vedas Among the basic texts of Hinduism, the six Angas or limbs of the Vedas are next in importance to the Vedas themselves. The Vedapurusa has six limbs or parts- mouth, nose, eye, ear, hand, foot. These are called 'Sadanga'. The Tamil term 'cadangu' denoting any ceremony is derived from this word. The Tamil Tevaram refers to Sadanga in this line, 'Vedamo(du) aru angam ayinan. ' ...