Vedas

Why Vedas?

The following is extracted from Vedic Chants : Series of booklets on the Vedas

The Sanskrit word veda is derived from the root vid, which means to know. From vid comes vidyaa, which means a work that imparts knowledge. Therefore, veda means knowledge. Vedas are a storehouse of knowledge – both worldly and spiritual knowledge.


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Vedas are Universal

Is the gravitation of earth limited to the country to which Newton belonged? When intelligent people belonging to one country discover something relating to nature, that knowledge is for the whole world. So too, the knowledge of the Vedas is universal and should be made available to people all over the world.

Vedas do not give any scope for distinction based on religion or nationality. They have promised to protect all those who follow the Vedic injunctions. Whosoever moves closer to the Vedas, the Vedas (and the Vedic principles) will move closer to them. The Vedas have extolled the One Universal God with different names. Since our ancient Rishis had no opportunity to present the Vedas from a societal angle, the Vedas have been subject to misconceptions and criticisms. However, if one were to recognise the underlying broader interpretation of the Vedic mantras, then there is no scope at all for misconceptions.

~ Baba

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Who can chant the Vedas?

Vedas are universal. There is no reference in the Vedas that bar anybody from Vedic chanting. Vedas refer to the human beings as Children of Immortality and teach us to perfect ourselves and our vision such that we see the unity in diversity.

It is Swami’s wish that the Vedas be spread to every country, so that every human being, irrespective of religion, caste, nationality, etc., learns Vedas and chants them. Some people from Iran and Iraq have come to Puttaparthi, the day before yesterday. The devotees from Iran are still here. We are making efforts to teach Vedas to all people. There may be difference in the languages spoken in different countries. Nevertheless, there is no difference at all in the feelings (bhaava). …. Those who are fortunate learn and promote the knowledge of the Vedas. Those who know the Vedas but do not chant them, are indeed, unfortunate. Many people are making no efforts to teach the Vedas, though they have studied them. One who does something wrong and feigns ignorance is a thief. Likewise, one who has the ability to chant the Vedas but does not do so full-throated and wholeheartedly can also be called a thief.

~ Baba

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Women can chant the Vedas

The patron deities Sarasvati of education, Lakshmi of wealth and Parvati of wisdom are all women! Therefore, it is unbelievable that women have no right to spiritual discipline, leading to merger with Brahman and to the final emancipation from bondage.

~ Baba

When the students chant the Vedas, ladies sitting on the other side join them. They have every right to chant the Vedas. None can deny them their right. They are inspired to chant the Vedas when they hear our students chant.

~ Baba

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Impact of Vedic Chanting

The impact of Vedic Chanting can be understood at three different levels.

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1. Impact at the Level of Sound

Every mantra has its own sound vibration or resonance pattern. Correct pronunciation and proper intonation of the chant generates the resonance pattern, that benefits the body, mind, emotions and intellect of the chanter. Each cell of the person, at the body, mind, emotion and intellect levels, is refined, recharged and rejuvenated.

Thus, even if the meaning is not understood, chanting and listening to Vedic chants creates sound vibrations that influence us totally – our body, mind and emotions – head, heart and hands. The body’s inclination is to be in harmony with itself. When this natural rhythm and harmony is disrupted in the body, disease and disorders arise. However, when the vibrations of the chant sound within our bodies, the cells themselves respond; they resonate with the pure vibration of the mantras so that harmony can be restored. In addition to the person who chants, Vedic chanting has a beneficial impact on the listeners, the place and the entire environment.

This yagya is not merely for a few individuals, it is for the entire world. The mantras chanted here have mixed in the air and spread to the entire universe. These sacred sounds have entered our hearts and purified them. Hence, do not think that the mantras chanted in this yagya are confined to only this place. They have spread to the entire world.

~ Baba during the Athi Rudra Maha Yagya in Aug 2006

Vedas lift the individual to higher levels. The subtle effect of mantras mentioned in the Vedas cannot be seen or heard by the senses. They have to be experienced in and through the inner consciousness.

~ Baba

Even if you cannot chant the Vedas, if you only listen to the sounds with devotion, they will elevate you to a higher level. Though the child does not know the meaning of the lullaby sung by the mother, it is induced to sleep hearing the tune. Similarly, listening to the chanting of the Veda with undivided attention, will give you immense benefits. The hymns of the Vedas constitute the Cosmic Sound (naada brahman) which is highly potent.

~ Baba

Today, a great deal of wickedness, troubles and turmoil are prevalent in the world due to the decline of the influence of the Vedas. Water, air and food are all tainted by pollution. We are forced to lead a polluted life.

When the air we breathe is itself polluted, how can we lead a pollution-free life? The environment and the elements should be pure to ensure purity of heart. The cause of this pollution lies nowhere else except in our own actions. Whatever words we utter spread to the entire atmosphere. We can purify the atmosphere of the world by chanting the Vedas and singing the glory of God. The Rishis in ancient times used to move to the forests and chant the powerful Vedic mantras to purify the atmosphere of the whole world.

~ Baba

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2. Impact at the Level of Meaning

Once we learn the chants, it is important to go deeper and understand the meaning. Otherwise, after a while, chanting can become automatic and this gives scope for the mind to wander. By focusing on the meaning, our concentration is retained and it also helps us to develop the inner feelings of love and unity that are enshrined in all of the Vedas. By having access to the meanings, even those who find learning Sanskrit words difficult can enjoy the sweet essence of the Vedas. As we chant the mantras repeatedly, we begin to understand the different nuances of their meaning. This then becomes akin to meditation.

Those who utter the mantras today do not grasp their inner meaning. Even if the full meaning of a single mantra is understood, it will be sufficient.

~ Baba

Why is it that, in spite of the fact that over the years there were many who recited the Vedas and carried on Vedic practices, no commensurate results were achieved? It is because, though many were proficient in reciting the Vedic mantras, few of them understood their inner meaning, sacredness and potency.

~ Baba

Mere chanting of the mantras without knowing their meaning is like a horse carrying a load of sandalwood pieces on its back without experiencing their fragrance. Today, like that horse, we are carrying the load of the mantras without experiencing the fragrance of their meaning. If we are able to know the meaning, we will be able to visualize the form behind the particular mantra. One has to chant the Veda mantras at least by knowing a little of their meaning. … Chanting with focus on the meaning, thus, calms and clears the mind and actually rejuvenates it. You might notice that sometimes your mind is much clearer and your attention more focused, after chanting. Every word that we utter and every thought that we think leaves its subtle impression on the mind, and so do all the words and sounds that we listen to and absorb. Everything that we listen to also leaves its residue in the mind.

~ Baba

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3. Impact at the Level of Feelings

Every kind of emotion causes a different set of vibrations in our body – both the gross and the subtle body. These are evident from actual experience. Mental peace produces a certain composure in the face. Similarly, passion and anger get reflected in the face. As we comprehend the meaning and focus on the chanting, our heart joins in and lifts us to greater heights of joy and bliss. Swami says, “God is moved by feelings.” Thus, when we chant with feeling after understanding the meaning of the words in the chant, the chanting bathes us in its purifying sounds and opens our hearts.

Thus, Vedic chanting stimulates the body cells. When we focus on the meaning, the chanting nourishes the intellect and when we chant with feeling our emotions are revitalized. Thought, word and deed; head, heart and hand – when all the three combine, its impact can be felt on all aspects of our lives and on the people around us.

Vedas are not to be analyzed, commented upon and judged. This is the reason why Vedas are called Shruti – that which is heard. Through listening to its recital alone, the awareness of the Self and of the bliss it confers can be earned. This bliss, thus acquired, manifests in words and deeds that confer bliss on all around us. When Vedas are chanted as gramophone records, without any knowledge of meaning, then people gain as much as the records do. Those who recite the Vedas with the awareness of their meaning, experiencing, at the same time, the feelings embedded in the hymns, they alone can earn the Grace of God, the Highest Wisdom and the Supreme Treasure.

~ Baba

One must ruminate over the meaning of the mantra and feel the emotions of exaltation and supplication. Only then will you be able to derive delight. Recitation, without under-standing the meaning, might grant a little superficial satisfaction but the hymn will pour from the heart only when the meaning is sensed.

~ Baba

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Be fearless in propagating Vedas

The Veda lays down what has to be done and what should not be done. When these prescriptions and prohibitions are followed, one can earn the good and avoid the evil. Veda is concerned with both the material and the spiritual, both this world and the beyond. All life is Veda-filled.

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Embodiments of Divine Love!

Be fearless in propagating the Vedas. Every individual should take a pledge to nourish the Vedas on the right lines. The welfare of the nation and the prosperity of the world are dependent on the Vedas. Within the next ten or twenty years, even the few who possess the Vedic knowledge may not remain. Hence, there is an urgent need to take concerted measures to provide the resources and the encouragement for the propagation of Vedic studies. The Vedas are not to be used as a means of earning a livelihood. The Vedas are the means of establishing a link with the Divine. Those who have studied the Vedas must dedicate their lives to promote them.

~ Baba

Swami expects the people to foster Vedas and is showing the way by making thousands of students of the Sai educational institutions, right from the primary school, to learn Vedic chanting. There is actually no compulsion to learn the Vedas. All the students willingly come forward to learn. You should make the children learn the Vedas with enthusiasm, without compulsion. They should be made to realize the greatness of the Vedas by sweet persuasion.

~ Baba

The chanting of the mantras should always be synchronized with practicing the prescribed teaching (karma). By such practice, alone, can one realise the Divine. Merely listening to the mantras and failing to practice the teachings will never confer happiness or peace.

~ Baba

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