The Sanctity of Sastras

The ancient Hindu empires of this land were built on the foundation of Vedic religion and all great Hindu rulers took special interest in upholding Hindu Dharma and encouraging savants who dedicated themselves to the task of increasing human knowledge, both in the material and in the spiritual spheres. The result is that we have inherited a veritable treasure of knowledge in the shape of various Sastras.

Instances can be quoted to show that the empires which flourished in different parts of Bharata Varsha (India) rose on the firm foundation of Vedic tatavas (principles). Vikramaditya built up a mighty empire about 1,500 years ago. Scholars, well-versed in different branches of knowledge, flourished under his patronage. Among them were Kalidasa, Bhattabana, Varahamihira and six others, known to the outside world as the nine gems who adorned the court of Vikramaditya. Varahamihira is the author of several works, among which Brhat samhita is one. In it, he has condensed all the Sastras and devoted one chapter for each Sastra. He has also written a Naadi Sastra, dealing with the science of breathing or praanaayaama. He has proved therein how the character of a person is influenced by the manner of his breathing, and also dealt with the control of breathing, which is conducive to longevity and which also helps to awaken the power of the kundalini, and thereby enables a person to acquire spiritual powers step by step, ultimately leading to the realisation of Brahmam.

The kingdom of Bhoja was also founded on Vedic tatva. The modern Dhar was his capital. He was a poet himself and in the capital none but poets lived. There is a story about a weaver who was pursuing his hereditary avocation in this capital town. It is said that one day the servants of Bhoja took him to the court of the king. When he was asked whether he could compose poetry, he is stated to have given his reply in the following verse.

Kaavyam karomi nahi chaarutaram karomi
yatnaat karomi yadi chaarutaram karomi
Bhoopaala-mauli-mani-mandita paada peettha
He saahasaanga kavayami vayaami yaami

The import of this verse is that this weaver told the king that he can compose verses, but not well, though he can compose good verses with some effort. Punning upon the word yammi, he told the king that he composes, kavayaami, that he weaves, vayaami and then goes away saying, yammi. According to the story the king rewarded him generously. The idea sought to be conveyed by this story is that any one coming to the court of Bhoja became a poet. Archaeologists exploring the site of a former masjid in Dhar discovered a chakra (wheel) with the principles of Sanskrit gramme inscribed on it. In Bhoja's time also, great savants wrote invaluable works containing truths which human intelligence was able to unravel.

Bhoja has himself written a book on vimaana or aerial transport. This work has been printed in Baroda. It deals with all the secrets of aerial travel, but does not say how to construct a vimaana or aeroplane. It is not as if Bhoja did not know the technique of constructing a vimaana. But this knowledge was kept secret, to safeguard against any possible misuse of the technique by evil-minded persons with calamitous results. In this context it is noteworthy how the perfection of long range rockets in the present day is causing anxiety to nations and how public opinion is shaping towards the control of their production and use. The principle of vimaana construction in those days appears to be based on rasa vaada (alchemy). I am mentioning this to show that several scientific works have been written by ancient thinkers. But due to neglect by people and to historic reasons, many such works have been lost to us.

Coming to later times, we find that the jurisdiction of the Vijayanagar empire extended up to Kanyakumari. The one person who helped to found and build up this great Empire was Vidyaranya, a Sanyasi. He is the author of Veda Bhashya, commentaries on the Vedas, and several philosophic works. The Vijayanagar empire was also built on the foundation of our religious principles. Generals like Gopanna did yeoman service in the protection and construction of numerous temples. When danger threatened the temple of Sri Ranganatha at Srirangam, Gopanna gave protection to it. Sri Vedanta Desika has composed a verse expressing gratitude to Gopanna for this service. Kempanna, who led a expedition to the South and annexed territories for the Vijayanagar empire, was responsible for the renovation of several temples and tanks. His wife, who accompanied him during this expedition, has recorded all this in a Kaavya known as Madura Vijaya. In this way, Sri Vidyaranya helped to build up this empire on the sold strength of our Sastras.

The Maharashtra empire founded by Shivaji has also a similar religious foundation. Samartha Ramdoss, regarded as an incarnation of Sri Anjaneya, contributed spiritual strength to Shivaji, and also functioned as his counsellor. Between them they accomplished great things. There is none to equal Sri Anjaneya in intelligence, valour or devotion. Whenever Sri Rama's name is uttered in devotion, there is present Sri Anjaneya, shedding tears of joy and devotion, says the verse :

Yatra yaTRA Raghunatha keertanam
Tatra tantra Krtamastakanjalim;
Baashpa-vaari paripoorna lochanam
Marutim namata raakshasaantakam.

By worshipping Sri Anjaneya we will be endowed with intelligence, strength, yasas, courage, fearlessness, health, gift and speech, etc.

Buddir-balam yaso dhairyam nirbhayatvam arogata,
Ajaadyam vaak-patutvancha Hanoomad smaranaat bhavet.

Let us try to acquire these qualities by worshipping Sri Anjaneya.

During the reign of Chola kings alos, wonderful achievements have been made on the strength of religion; and people made enormous progress in Government, arts and education.

Some people are inclined to test the correctness of the teachings of a religion by the yardstick of science. But we have seen how later investigation and research have disproved earlier scientific theories. Therefore, how can the shifting theories of science establish the truth or otherwise or a religion ? On the other hand, our Sastras have stood the test of times. Therefore, we must try to understand the Sastras that are in vogue in our country. If we are unable to understand any Sastra, we must not reject it and allow it to disappear. It is our duty to at least preserve it so that posterity may profit by it. There are many truths in our Sastras which science has not yet succeeded in unraveling. We speak of the seven wonders of the world; but have we paused to study the wonderful achievements of our forefather ? There are in our temple architecture many features, which modern engineering knowledge has failed to explain. What about the Kutub Minar and the iron pillar at Delhi which have withstood exposure to the weather for over 1,000 years ? Do they not proclaim the skill of our ancestors in forging iron ?

Kingship has given place to democracy and therefore it has become the duty of the people themselves to preserve the treasures lying imbedded in our Sastras. Instead we are frittering away our energies in linguistic and other controversies. This is a feature of our present-day life, which is very sad to contemplate. Last year, we became apprehensive of the very future of this country, on account of the virulence of the controversy over re-organisation of States. It kings fought amongst themselves in the past, people are forming themselves into groups and fighting each other in the present. There is also the ideological conflict among the nations of the West. It is desirable that all these controversies should end and peaceful progress of humanity is assured. So far as we, in India, are concerned, we should devote some attention also, in the midst of our other pre-occupations, to the study and the preservation of our Sastras. We should approach these Sastras not in a spirit of scorn, thinking that in the modern scientific age they have nothing to teach us, but, in a spirit of devotion of a seeker of truth. May Sri Anjaneya dower us with the necessary strength, courage and wisdom to pursue the study of our Sastras, and may He bless us all with happiness.