Why do we appreciate the teachings of the Vedas? We appreciate the teachings of the Vedas because they inspire us to rise and go beyond the body-consciousness. The Rig Veda inspires us to make the world great and perfect. The Sama Veda inspires us to become one with the divine Melody and cosmic Rhythm. The Yajur Veda tells us, ?May our lives be successful through self-sacrifice. May our life-breath thrive through self-sacrifice.? The Atharva Veda inspires us to go forward along the path of continuous progress. It tells us that Brihaspati, Guru of the cosmic gods, is leading and guiding us.
The Vedic seers saw fear in the outer world. They felt freedom in the inner world. They wanted to bring to the fore the freedom of the inner world through aspiration. In the Atharva Veda, the seers have offered us a significant prayer: ?May we be fearless of those we know not, and of those we know.?
Fear of darkness is fear of the unknown.
Fear of Light is fear of the known.
Fear of the unknown is stupidity.
Fear of the known is absurdity.
What we need is the soul-will. Soul-will is God-Freedom.
Uru nastanve tan
Uru ksayaya naskridhi
Uru no yandhi jivase
The Rig Veda?s fiery utterance means: ?Freedom for our body. Freedom for our home. Freedom for our life.?
The Vedic way of life cannot be separated from ritual. In Vedic times, rituals were an integral part of life. In performing rituals seekers in the Vedic era made remarkable progress. In the Rig Veda, however, we see more emphasis on mental and inner philosophy than on ritual. This combination of ritual and philosophical wisdom is the wealth of the Vedic culture. Devotion and dedication loom large in ritual. Aspiration and meditation loom large in philosophical wisdom. In those days ritual disciplined and regulated life. Inner philosophy illumined and liberated life. In the heart of philosophy the Light was discovered. In the body of ritual the Light was manifested.
The Vedas specifically speak of three worlds: Prithivi, the earth; Antariksha, the sky; Dyaus, the celestial region. On earth, matter is all. In the sky, divine activity is lil. In Heaven, sentience is all.
Poetry and philosophy run abreast in the Vedas. Philosophy illumined the minds of the Vedic seers. Poetry immortalised their hearts. The philosopher is a poet in the mind. The poet is a philosopher in the heart. The philosopher likes outer religion and inner science. The poet likes outer art and inner literature. The philosopher says to the poet, ?I give to you my precious wealth: wisdom, which is the constant and conscious instrument of intuition.? The poet says to the philosopher, ?I give to you my precious wealth: my devoted oneness with the life of Light.?
Many seers have seen the Truth, but when they reveal the Truth, quite often their revelations are not identical. What is really deplorable is that on different occasions, under different circumstances, their own revelations of the same Truth are found to be anything but identical. Here we must know that the differences exist only in the realisation and revelation of the Truth. There can be no difference in the Truth itself. Why do the differences occur? The differences occur because human individuality and personality do not see the Truth the way it has to be seen. When the human personality and individuality are dissolved, the Truth remains one in realisation and one in revelation. Needless to say, the Vedas are the direct revelation of the seers? illumination, and not gifts from the unknown skies above.
There are people who think that the Vedas deal only with spirituality, and not with science. They are mistaken. Advanced seekers and spiritual Masters are of the opinion that in the Yajur Veda there are many scientific truths which modern science has not yet discovered or acknowledged. The scientific knowledge of the Atharva Veda cannot be looked down upon either. The Vedic seers were aware of the process of cloud formation. They were fully aware of the different seasons. They knew the science of arithmetic, and worked with figures in the millions, billions and trillions. In the Yajur Veda there is something even more striking. There we see evidence of the existence of airplanes. The Vedic seers used to make actual non-stop flights for hundreds of miles. They also knew the secrets of geology, medicine and other sciences. All this, four thousand years ago!
The Vedas have been translated into many languages and admired and appreciated by many foreigners. The great German philosopher Schopenhauer considered the Upanishads to be the consolation and illumination of his life. We know that the Upanishads are the most powerful and most illumining children of the Vedas. But there is much truth in the saying that a translation cannot do full justice to the original. In the case of the Vedas this is certainly true. Many people have translated the Vedas, but no matter how sincerely or devotedly they worked, a considerable amount of the Vedic beauty was lost.
There are four Vedas: the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda deals mainly with the forms of prayer. The Yajur Veda deals with sacrificial formulas. The Sama Veda deals with music. The Atharva Veda deals with medicine, science and magic formulas. In the Rig Veda the message of human evolution begins. The Rig Veda tells us the meaning of existence, and of man?s contribution to the world. The Yajur Veda teaches us how to perform the sacrifices correctly, and how to control the universe. This Veda gives more importance to the mechanical side of sacrifices than to their spiritual aspect. The Sama Veda teaches us how divine music can elevate our aspiring consciousness into the highest realm of Bliss and make us conscious channels of God the Supreme Musician for the transformation of human darkness into divine Light, human imperfection into divine Perfection, human impossibilities into divine Inevitabilities and human dreams into divine Realities. The Atharva Veda teaches us how to control the spirits and lesser deities, and how to protect ourselves from evil spirits and destructive beings.
Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
November 15, 1972