We have great pleasure in placing before our readers this minutely researched edition of Asya Vamiya Suktas of the Rg. Veda.
Suktas are hymns in praise of diverse deities in the Vedic pantheon. But they are not mere finely crafted literary pieces. They have a double import viz. pragmatic and transcendental. Each Mantra passionately invokes a particular deity of whom favours are sought. This, however, is only a fringe benefit. The profounder gain for the aspirant is the deep insight he gets into the path that leads to the Goal Supreme. Abhyudaya, the material prosperity that the Mantra promises, is but a stepping stone to Nihsreyasa, supreme fulfilment-' obtaining which one is not affected by any sorrow that the world considers grave', as the Gita puts it.
This double-edged play of the Mantras naturally attracts the plentiful use of symbolism. The Nirukta, which offers glossarial explanation of Vedic words, has to be pressed into service to understand the sublime imagery projected by the Mantras. For example, what is 'sun' in plain Sanskrit it has to be inferred as 'cow', 'cloud', 'earth', 'rain', etc. according to the context! In order that one may not miss the wood for the trees the guidance of a safe commentator has to be sought. And none fits the bill better than Sayana, the polymath. Swami Amritanandaji has done well in relying throughout in Sayana in extricating the meaning of the challenging passages.
He gives the text and the meaning in English of each Rk, (mantra), followed by word-by-word explanation of the terms used in the Rk. He cites chapter and verse from other scriptural texts like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita to pin point the fact that 'all the jackals how! Alike', as Sri Ramakrishna picturesquely puts it. All the texts of our Santana Dharma say the same thing in essence. It is noteworthy that it is in this Sukta that we meet that famous oft-quoted declaration 'Ekam Sat, viprah bahudha vadanti' - Truth is one, the sages speak of it variously. That this is not just a poetic hyperbole has been scientifically demonstrated by Sri Ramakrishna who scrupulously practised all the different paths to the infinite and could declare with unshakable certainty that all faiths sincerely pursued lead to the same Eternal Truth.
Asya Vamiya Sukta is a challenge and an inspiration. The enormous trouble taken by Swami Amritananda in presenting this reader-friendly exposition of the Sukta will be rewarded if the reader, on going through it, feels attuned to the higher values of life.
We are thankful to Shri P. Haridas, Secretary, M. O. P. Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai, whose subsidy has brought down the cost of the book so as to reach a large section of the society.
The Vedas are our ancient scriptures. The
word Veda means knowledge and the Vedas
convey to us the knowledge of many things. They
are particularly important for they convey
supersensual truths which are beyond the ken of
the five senses.
According to Sayana the Vedahood of the
Vedas consists in conveying to us the knowledge
of the supersensual which cannot be got from the
ordinary methods of perception and inference.
There arc four divisions in each of the Vedas viz.
Samhitas (collection of mantras), Br ahmauas
(application of mantras in rituals), Aranyakas
(philosophical questions raised by persons who
retired to forests to meditate) and Upanisads (the
conclusions reached after deliberation). The Vedas
do not present strictly an evolution of ideas, but a
gradation according to the different grades of men
to suit their power of understanding.
According to Swami Vivekananda, the Vedas
contain the history of the progress of religious
consciousness until religion has reached perfection
in unity. He further says, that the Vedas are the
only scriptures which teach the idea of the
Absolute god of which all other ideas of god are
but limited versions. The Veda, as the well-
wisher, takes its votary gently by the hand and
leads him through various stages to the Absolute.
All other religions represent one or other of these
stages in crystallized forms. In this sense we may
say all other religions are included in the
nameless, limitless, eternal Vedic religion. He
further says that the Vedas, being the first, the
most complete and the most undistorted collection
of spiritual truths, deserve to occupy the highest
place among all scriptures, command the respect
of all nations and furnish the rationale of all their
The Vedic testimony is the only means of
knowing supersensuous truths. It does not
contradict other means of knowledge. But the
reality is not exhausted by the other means. The
other means at best can convey the knowledge of
conditional reality. The Vedas are the only means
to the knowledge of non-dual Brahman. The
ultimate Reality is the non-dual Brahman taught by
the Upanisads. Even reason, independent of the
Sruti, cannot reveal it. Attaining to this reality
The Vedic testimony precedes intuitive
perception of supersensuous truths. According to
Sayanacarya, the great Vedic commentator, the
Vedas are authentic, only because they disclose
truths beyond one's experience. Sankaracarya says
that the scripture is the only source of knowledge
of the truths beyond the sensible world.
Facts of the super sensible world are :
God, soul, their relation, soul's journey after
death, heaven, hell, the origin of the universe,
merit and demerit accruing from righteous and
unrighteous deeds, their fructification, man's
highest destiny and its fulfillment. These are
beyond the narrow field of reason. But the
knowledge of the above facts is very important to
us. According to Swami Vivekananda human life
will be purposeless without a proper knowledge of
them. All our ethical theories, have been moulded
upon the knowledge of the above facts that have
been given to us by Vedic testimony.
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