With elaborate notes on legends of the Vedas, the book attempts to study various aspects of the Vedas. It presents a detailed study of Indian traditionalists on the Vedic literature, beginning from Veda Vyasa to Sayaiia and other actryas including modem saint-scholars. It also views researches of the Western scholars and historians who have critically studied various aspects of the Vedic corpus. It conducts an in-depth exploration of the commentaries on the Vedas, focusing on noted traditional Vedic commentators like Yaska, Jaimini, Kumärila Bhata, Sayaia and Mahtdhara as also the modern Indian commentators including Swami Dayananda, S.D. Satavalekar, Sri Aurobindo, Dcvi Chand, Sriram Sharma and the Western commentators like H.H. Wilson, F. Max Muller, R. Roth, A. Weber, W.D. Whitney, A.B. Keith, and R.T.H. Griffith.
The volume deliberates on definition of the Vedas, division of the Vedas and various sakhtis of the five Sathhitäs as well as a list of Sarhhitãs, Brahmanas, Araiiyaka and Upaniad that are extant. It delves into details of the 1gvedic Mandalas and the Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda with reference to their subject matter, divisions and even their cultural value. It also examines the phenomenon of oral tradition, especially in conveying the Vedas and secret of preserving the Vedas — Vedic chanting. It has numerous illustrations that include maps, charts and pictures.
Swamini Atmapraj nananda Saraswati, a first class science graduate, joined as a Probationary Officer in a Public Sector Bank in 1978, and worked in various managerial capacities in India until 1992. After completing MBA (1991) in Finance and Marketing from XIMB, she joined a multinational Bank in Muscat. A chance meeting with Swami Dayananda Saraswati in Muscat in 1996, brought about a life transformation. She resigned and studied Vedanta and Pänini under Swamiji, in his gurukulas at Rishikesh, Coimbatore and Saylorsburg, before taking Sarinyasa in 2008. In the meantime she completed Masters (2005) and PhD (2012) in Sanskrit. Her other areas of interest are — Vedic chanting, Temple Architecture, and Buddhism.
A Vedäntin, a committed scholar and an enthusiast of Indian culture the Swarnirii set up her Arsha Vidya Vikas Kendra in 2004. Besides organizing national conferences on Vedas, Vedänta and Indian culture she is actively involved in various community services in the field of health and education.
I am an Advaitin. After studying Advaita Vedanta for eight years in the traditional guru-siya parampara and gurukula-vasa, I was exposed to the Vedas at university level in 2003, while doing my Masters in Sanskrit. This book has evolved out of my own needs. With no access to consummate Vedic scholars, I wanted to gain some insight into the Vedic corpus, its language and literature, the rsis and the chandas, the Vedic deities and religion. I explored a number of books, but did not come across a cogent and easily comprehensible text that would explain the nomenclature of the Vedic corpus required for a basic understanding, without being overtly scholarly. I came to feel that there might be many others, like myself, i.e. university students and general non-Vedic scholars who would appreciate such an attempt. Therefore, I decided to arrange my notes into chapters, so that the basic understanding that I had gained in this endeavour, could be transformed into a book. The interest and effort kept increasing, and the book became more voluminous. The whole book was complete to be published in 2009, when my last laptop crashed. About seventy pages in A4, I had to redo from memory.
There is nothing original in what is contained in the pages that follow this book is an arrangement of what I have studied during the last few years. It is not possible to acknowledge the debt I owe to several Vedic scholars on the subject, from each of whom I have borrowed something quintessential.
As my research slowly progressed over years, I was faced with two different presentations of the Vedas. One was the traditionalists starting from Veda Vyasa, followed by Kumarila, añkara, the latest being Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati. They present the Vedas as coeval with the universe and being eternal.
The other group was the Western scholar and historians whose research included other oriental scriptures. There are both advantages and disadvantages in referring to the Western scholars. The Western Vedic scholars have studied various aspects of the Vedic corpus out of their interest in comparative literature, language, religion and culture. The advantage is that their scholarship allows them to relate to the Vedic concepts and terms, and compare them with Avesta, and to provide conceptual clarity and placement with reference to the language, literature, terms, religious practice within a wider context. The disadvantage is that, most of these studies are academic in their presentation, and do not deal with the subject with a sensitivity that is natural to us. Most of the Western scholars place the date of the Vedas between 4000-2500 BCE. These scholars also consider religious texts as mythology, and their followings as sectarian.
Thus, I had to choose between the traditionalists and the Western scholars and arrive at my own understanding. Traditionalists claimed that the Western scholars translate the Vedas for their ulterior motives, while the Western scholars and historians derided the traditionalists as sentimental and sectarian. I have chosen both sometimes.
From the Western scholars I learnt that there are 1,875 samans in the Samaveda, out of which 1,504 are from Igveda, 272 are repetitions, and only 99 of them are independent of Rgveda; and that 20 per cent of the content in Atharvaveda is from 1gveda with variations in reading, and that three race in the Aprisuktam of Vasistha and Vivamitra are identical, and that many süktam of the lgveda are available in other Vedas with some changes.
I have attempted to tread carefully, the tight rope between the Western and the Indian scholars. While covering some of the areas, I have reserved the details for the endnotes.
There are 29 tables in all (five of which are at the end of relevant chapters depicting the nomenclature of the five Vedas) within the text listing out details, 25 images, and there is a list of Sayana’s total work in Chapter 7. These are besides (19+27=) 46 pages devoted to the listing of 10 maiIalas of Igveda1 and 20 Kalidas of Atharvaveda. In the chapter, ‘Commentaries on the Vedas’, the traditional commentators, the Western translators and the modern commentators are presented chronologically for better understanding. This is again supplemented by a table. I have tried to maintain objectivity in the presentation, while equally respecting the tradition of straddle I have presented the objectivity of the Western researchers to present to the readers how they perceive us, our tradition.
I have also furnished elaborate notes on the legend of unalepa, birth of Vasistha, list of saptaris, Yama-YamISarhväda, story of yavava becoming a Seer, contribution of Dara Shikoh, the Vratyas, since I had my own doubts about these legends and when I cleared them, I wanted to share my views with my readers. The 25-pages of glossary are almost a chapter, which again I did not feel like editing, and hope it will be useful to the readers.
I am still on the learning curve with reference to the Nomenclature of the Vedas. Anyone attempting to have a glimpse of the Vedas will sympathise with Mahari Veda Vyasa as to why he gave the responsibility of maintaining and propagating the four Vedas to four of his select disciples, after appreciating the limitations of the human mind.
I see a lot of criticism on the internet against the Western Vedic scholars. However, very liftie has so far been done by our Indian Vedic scholars regarding translation of the Vedas in any of the Indian languages including English, much less the commentaries on them. We stiff refer to the Sacred Books of the East, Whitney and Griffith, notwithstanding the fact that we have a treasure-trove of Vedic literature easily available to us, penned by the great scholars, such as Swami Dayananda, S.D. Satavalekar, Sri Aurobindo, Kapali Sastry, Jayadev Sharma, Ramgopal Trivedi, Bhagadevacharya, Durgamohan Bhattacharya, Devi Chand, Satyabrata Samarami, Romesh Chandra Dutt, Siddheswar Shastri Chitrav, Shriram Sharma, Braj Behari Chaubey and Kunja Bihari Upadhyaya.
I have deliberately refrained from giving too many footnotes to prevent the text from appearing like a research work, although it is one (there are 174 footnotes). I sincerely want the university students of the Vedic Literature, the non Cool Vedic scholars, and the general readers to use this work and appreciate it. I am also very hopeful that this work would be useful in creating interest among the people at large in the Vedas, the original source of our invaluable literary, philosophical and social culture.
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