Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

The secret of the vedas - a first attempt - Auxillary texts

In the previous issue, we looked at the various books of the Vedas. Apart from the books outlined therein, there are many others known as Vedāngās, Veda-Upāngās, Upa-Vedās, Smrtīs, Itihāsās, Puranās etc. We shall look at these auxiliary texts below.

I. Vedangas- They are six in number.

Ṣiksha Science: of phonetics or pronunciation and intonation
Vyākarana: Science of the grammar of language
Nirukta: Etymology or the science of origin, meaning and explanation of the Vedic words
Chandas: Science of the composition of the hymns like meter, rhyme, pāda etc., of the mantrās
Jyotisha: Karma Kānda Astronomy and astrology mainly directed towards fixing up auspicious moments for the performance of Vedic sacrifices
Kalpa: Science or manual of sacrificial rituals, both Vedic and domestic

II. Veda-Upāngās –These are the six systems known as ‘Shad Darshanās’.
They are: Nyāya, Vaiseshika, Sānkhya, Yōga, Pūrva Mīmāmsa & Uttara Mīmāmsa

It is necessary to know details regarding the Mīmāmsās (especially Pūrva Mīmāmsa) since their conclusions are diametrically opposed to the basic principles that govern Sri Aurobindo’s approach to the symbolic and secret meaning of the Veda. According to most traditionalists, all the mantrās of Veda deal with yajna, the sacrifice. These theoreticians who follow Pūrva Mimāmsa and are called ‘Mīmāmsakās’ declare that yajna deals only with the outward rituals. Hence it is to be assumed that all mantrās regardless of which Veda they are coming from, deal only with rituals and have no connection with knowledge. Views of the Mīmāmsakās were codified by the great scholar Jaimini in his aphorisms or sūtrās. They made one package out of the mantra Samhitās and the Brāhmana books, even though their sources and contents were quite different. They hold the view that, “the Veda consisting of Samhitās and the Brāhmana books provides human kind with the one sure means for achieving the goal of life namely, to attain all that is desirable and ward off all that is unwelcome and harmful. The Veda is the source of dharma. Knowledge of the dharma can be got from the Vedās alone and it is in the form of injunctions. The observance of such dharma achieves the end of life and works out the good of man here on earth in this life and elsewhere beyond, after death. To adhere to this dharma one must faithfully perform all the rituals sanctioned by the Vedic authority. Thus the Vedic dharma is sustained by its observance. Therefore, ritual denoted by the word karma is the meaning and purpose of the Veda. The Brāhmaṇa books naturally come to occupy the main part in the Vedās in as much as they lay down the forms and procedure of the ritual. Of course the mantrās are there and they have their use too. They are meant to be recited and used as directed during the rituals; they subserve the rituals. As for the Upanishads, they are after all particular portions of the Āranyakās or are themselves part of the Brāhmaṇās. They are in the nature of appendices to the Brāhmanās and do not have an independent existence as such.

Two sections of Veda: ‘Karma Kānda’ & ‘Jnāna Kanda’

‘Karma Kanda’, the section dealing with karma (works) is based on the Brahmana books and is formulated as ‘Pūrva Mīmāmsa’ by Jaimini. ‘Jnāna Kanda the section dealing with jnāna (higher knowledge) is based on the Upanishad books and is formulated as ‘Uttara Mīmāmsa’ or Vedārtha by Sri Bādarāyana. All the mantrās – riks or yajus – are meant only for their use in ritual; for purposes of sacrifice; this has been the verdict. Even though for the praise of the Gods, for the purification of the inner being, for the attainment of the desired ends and the accomplishment of averting the undesirable, the mantras are used, sacred as they are, in japa and the like, yet ritual is the main thing and mantrās are only its subsidiaries. While ‘Pūrva Mīmāmsa’ (Prior enquiry) deals with dharma, ‘Uttara Mīmāmsa’ (posterior or higher enquiry) deals with Brahma, and is dealt with in ‘Brahma Sūtrās’.
Brahma Sutrās help in clarifying and explaining difficult passages of the Upanishads. Many philosophers such as Shankara, Ramānuja, Mādhva have written detailed commentaries on this. There are four chapters or Adhyāyās in the Brahma Sūtrās containing 545 aphorisms. The first chapter shows that ‘Brahman’ is the sole cause of ‘creation of this world’, ‘sustenance of this world’ and also ‘destruction of this world’. The second chapter discusses some of the objections in this regard put forth by other schools and proves that ‘Brahman’ is both the ‘material cause’ and the ‘instrumental cause’ of this world. The third chapter talks of salvation- what it is and its glory.

III. Upa Vedās - They are four in number one attached to each Veda

Ayurveda: Science of life, of sound health including the art of preventing and curing diseases in the Rig Veda
Gandharva Veda: Science of fine arts like music and dance attached to the Sāma Veda.
Artha Veda: Known as Artha-shāstra science of economics, politics and statecraft attached to the Atharva Veda

IV.Smṛiti: Helps us in understanding the various injunctions and truths propounded in the Vedās. More important Smritīs are: Manu, Parasarra, Yāgnavalkya, Harita and Sandilya. The Smritīs describe the codes of conduct for mankind in day-to-day life. Their content is mostly for attaining good results in the next life or for attaining heaven or celestial opulence. These generally do not provide the means for attaining complete liberation or God-realization.

V. Itihāsās: They explain the rituals of the Vedās and the highly compressed philosophy of the Vedānta sūtrās by using historical events and factual stories of many great sages, demigods and so forth. Typical examples are ‘Rāmāyana’ and ‘Mahābhāratha’.

VI. Purānās: Being an important part of the Itihāsās, they explain more clearly and completely the spiritual philosophy found in the four original Veda Samhitās. Since all are not on the same level of consciousness and are spread over different types of thinking, feeling and desiring, the Purānās are divided so that any class of people can take advantage of them and utilize them to get out of the material entanglement either gradually or rapidly. So depending on their position in life, persons can use particular Purānās that benefit them most. Of the 18 Purānās, six are considered sacred and authoritative. They are Vishnu Purāna, Bhāgavatam, Nārada Purāna, Padma Purāna, Varāha Purāna and Garuda Purāna.

1. ‘ The Light of Veda – A Practical Approach ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
2. ‘ A New Light on the Veda ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
(Originally written in Sanskrit under the name ‘Siddhānjana – Bhūmika’, translated into English by Sri M.P.Pandit and thoroughly revised by the author himself, in 1952. Published by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore. (SAKSI) )
3. ‘ Agni in the Rig Veda ’ - by Dr R.L.Kashyap
4. ‘ Why read the Rig Veda ’ – by Dr R.L.Kashyap
to be continued……
Krishnamurthy (

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