Guiding Light of The Month

O LORD, Thou art my refuge and my blessing, my strength, my health, my hope, and my courage. Thou art supreme Peace, unalloyed Joy, perfect Serenity. My whole being prostrates before Thee in a gratitude beyond measure and a ceaseless worship; and that worship goes up from my heart and my mind towards Thee like the pure smoke of incense of the perfumes of India. - The Mother

Commentaries or Bhashyas on the vedas (contd)

Shaunaka - (900 BCE)
A great Sanskrit grammarian and teacher of the Atharva Veda, his famous works are Brhad Dēvata, Rigveda-Pratisākhya and Cārana-vyūha and has united Bāshkala and Shākala Shākās of Rig Veda.

Brhad Devata: Describes the deities to which each hymn and verse of the Rig-Veda is addressed. Contains an index of the 'many gods', and about 1200 shlōkās. Following the order of the Rig Veda, its main object is to state the deity for each verse. It contains a large number of illustrative myths and legends and is of great value as an early collection of stories.

Yāska & Brhad Devata:


According to Yāska, the meaning of the mantra is difficult to grasp. The mantra called 'brahman' revealed itself to the rishīs in tapas, strict self control, and not in any other way. He further states:
"Brahman the self-born, came to the rishis who were doing tapas, therefore they became the rishīs, - in that lies the rishi hood of the rishīs” - Nirukta (2.11).

"The shore (of knowledge) of the mantra has to be reached by tapas.'' Nirukta (13.13).

Bŗhad Devata (BD) supporting Yāska, says:
"The mantra is not perceptible to one who is not a rishi.'' BD (8.129).

"He knows the Gods who knows the riks. They are to be approached through yoga with self-control and skill, understanding, general knowledge and above all tapasyā.'' BD (7. 130).

"The Gods accept the offering of the sacrificer who knows the Deity of the mantra but not of him who knows not the deit.y'' BD(131).

"The Deity does not accept the libation offered in ignorance. Therefore the libation is to be offered to the Deity with self-control in the mind.'' BD(132).

"He is like a God worthy of praise in heaven even by the Gods, who is pure and studies the Veda with knowledge of the Gods and the mantra.'' BD(133).

Also with great effort, Shaunaka has classified the vast pantheon of Vedic Gods (often said to be innumerable at different levels), and reduced them to just three prime deities for the three worlds.

Agni or Fire on Earth (Prithivi),
Vāyu or Wind in the Atmosphere (Antariksha),
Sūrya or the Sun in Heaven (Dyaus)
These three deities are three aspects of the One God or the Purusha, the supreme consciousness principle and higher Self that is pure light.
The Rig Veda is organized in this way with the hymns to Agni generally coming first in most of its ten books, then the hymns to Vāyu and Indra, and finally the hymns to the Sun.

Jaimini (3rd Century BCE):
An ancient Rishi and a great philosopher, Jaimini is credited as the chief proponent of the Mīmāmsa system. He was the disciple of Veda Vyāsa and the son of Rishi Parashara. His important works are:

Pūrva Mīmāmsā Sūtrās: Divided into 12 chapters, it is a collection of nearly 2500 aphorisms which are extremely difficult to comprehend. A great treatise also called ‘Karma-mīmāmsa’, is a system that investigates the nature of Vedic injunctions. It forms the foundational text of the Mīmāmsa school. This aims at a critical interpretation of the Vedās with regard to ritual practice (karma) and religious duty (dharma), and also commenting on the early Upanishads. Jaimini's Mīmāmsa is a ritualist counter-movement to the mysticist Vedānta currents of his day.

Jaimini Bhārata: An epic work which presents a version of Mahābhārata, and most known for its Ashwamēdha Parva.

Jaimini Sūtrās: Or ‘Upadēsha Sūtrās’, is a classic work, rated as next only to the Brihat Parashara Hōra Shāstra, to which he gave an extended commentary, thus giving birth to "Jaimini system of astrology".

Other mentions: ‘Sāmaveda’ - Veda Vyāsa divided ancient Vedic hymns into four and transmitted the Sāmaveda part to Jaimini and ‘Mārkandēya Purāna’ – one of the major purānās, where a dialogue between sage Jaimini and Mārkandēya is presented.
The Mīmāmsakās paid lip service to the greatness, glory and antiquity of the Veda, but had completely ignored its import. They were more concerned with ‘Dharma’ than with ‘mantrārtha’ (meaning of mantrās), for they regarded ‘Dharma’ itself as the ‘Vedārtha’ (meaning of the Veda). The words were all that was important for them in a mantra from the Samhita collection, because the mantrās had to be recited as part of the rituals. The meaning of the mantra was of no interest or of importance to them. Indeed, Jaimini argued that the mantrās that were not prescribed or employed in the sacrifices were irrelevant and redundant.

Ādi Shankarāchārya (788 - 821 CE):
Ādi Shankarāchārya (meaning 'the first Shankara' in his lineage), reverentially called Bhagavatpāda Ācharya (the teacher at the feet of Lord) had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism through his non-dualistic philosophy (Advaita). He formulated this doctrine by validating his arguments on the basis of quotations from the Vedās and other Hindu scriptures. According to him, all attributes or manifestations are unreal or temporary. They are the result of our own ‘Avidya’ or ignorance.

He was the first among the three achāryās (the other two are Madhvāchārya and Rāmānujāchārya) who reformed Hindu religion by giving their own interpretation to the ancient sacred texts. This was at a time when the Vedic texts which had come down through the ages and only orally studied, were the monopoly of a certain class. He gave a new life to Hinduism at a time when Buddhism and Jainism were gaining popularity. He gives a high priority to svānubhava (personal experience) of the student.
He wrote many works in his short life span of only 32 years.

• 14 Bhāhyas (commentaries) that includes 10 important Upanishads, Brahma Sūtrās and Bhagavadgīta
• 17 Prakaraa granthās (philosophical treatise)
Many stotras (devotional hymn).

References
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 (chamathu2003@yahoo.co.uk)

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