Friday August 17, 2018

Guru Poornima Special- Part 1- Veda Vyasa- The man who saved the Vedas

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By Nithin Sridhar

One of the most important festivals celebrated by the Hindus is the festival of Guru Poornima in the honor of innumerable Gurus who have guided the mankind throughout the history. It is celebrated on the full moon night of  Ashada month, which falls on 31 July this year.

This day is also called “Vyasa Poornima” and is started with the worship of Veda Vyasa. This is because Vyasa, who is considered the teacher who guides mankind in Kali-yuga, was born on this day.

The first part of this Guru Poornima series will cover Veda Vyasa.

The Life details of Veda Vyasa

The term “Veda Vyasa” means “arranger/distributer of Vedas” i.e. a person who divides the Vedas. According to Vishnu Purana (3.3), in every Dwapara-yuga, Lord Vishnu himself will appear as Veda-Vyasa and will divide the Vedas into various portions. It further says that, in the current Manvantara, there have been 28 Veda-Vyasas. Therefore, the 28th Vyasa is the Vyasa of our Mahayuga, and his name is Krishna Dwaipayana.

Krishna Dwaipayana was called so because he was of black complexion (Krishna), and he was born on an island (Dwipa). His father was Parashara Maharishi, who was famous for his books on Jyotishya (Brihad Parashara Hora) and dharma (Parashara Smriti). His mother was Satyavati, a fisher-woman. Krishna Dwaipayana was the grandson of Shakti Maharishi and great grandson of Vashishta Maharishi. According to Bhagavata Puranam (1.3.21), Krishna Dwaipayana was the 17th incarnation of Lord Vishnu in this Mahayuga.

Vyasa was supposed to have been born in Treta-yuga and lived through Dwapara Yuga and at least till the early part of Kaliyuga as written in the accounts of his meeting with Adi Shankaracharya in Shankara Digvigya. Therefore, he is considered an Immortal or at least as a Chiranjeevi (long living) in Hindu tradition.

Legacy of Veda Vyasa

As recorded in Vishnu Purana, the main purpose for which Vyasa took birth was to arrange and transmit the Vedas. According to Bhagavata Purana (1.4.17-22), Vyasa realized that most people in Kaliyuga will be incapable of learning Vedas in its vast wholeness, and hence he arranged the Vedas into four portions.

He imparted Rigveda to Paila Rishi, Yajurveda to Vaishampayana, Samaveda to Jaimini, and Atharvaveda to Angirasa. Vyasa further taught Puranas and Itihasas (historical records) to Romaharshana. Therefore, whatever portions of Vedas we have with us today, whatever that has survived the onslaught of Kali-yuga, it is only due to the efforts of Veda Vyasa.

But, Vyasa did not stop with arranging Vedas. He realized that in Kaliyuga, most people won’t be able to even understand the divided Vedas because of the corruption and deterioration of this age. He realized that the only way that he can help mankind is by writing History and Puranas wherein the truths of Vedas would also be embedded in a simple language. Therefore, he composed Mahabharata and eighteen major Puranas including the famous Bhagavata Purana.

Through Mahabharata and Puranas, Vyasa has made the historical truths as well as the teachings of Vedas available to common people, even the illiterate ones. There are innumerable stories, histories and anecdotes that serve as life-teachings. It further provide details about various solutions to problems, various procedures for worship that will help one and all. Puranas also serve as documents of Bhakti and help those who wish to practice Bhakti. Vyasa further composed Brahma-sutras, where-in he explained the gist of the Upanishads for the sake of those people who desire Moksha.

Hence, Veda Vyasa has single-handedly managed to save, revive and propagate Sanatana Dharma. Therefore on the occasion of Guru-poornima, every person must remember and express his gratitude owards this great Rishi.

 

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  • Mukundan PR

    The puranas have been heavily interpolated by the disciples of Veda Vyasa in order to promote Brahmanism or Caste system and also to promote various sects in Hinduism. They need to be edited for such adulteration and made acceptable to the present generation.

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10 Facts about Vedic India map that you probably didn’t know

The Iron Age of India

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Map of Vedic India. Wikimedia commons
Map of Vedic India. Wikimedia commons

Also known as the ‘heroic age’, Vedic Age was the one which laid down the basic foundations of Indian civilization.

A period between 1500 BCE to 500 BCE, this is when early Hinduism emerged and so did the caste system. Here are 10 facts you probably didn’t know about the Vedic India map.

1. The kingdoms in the Vedic India map are same as those of the epic Mahabharata.

The Pandavas were from Kuru kingdom, whereas Draupadi was from Panchala. The antagonist of the Epic, Shakuni, was from the kingdom of Gandhar.

2. This was the time when the Vedas were composed.

The Rigveda, Mantra texts, Samhita texts, and important Brahmana literature were composed around this time.

3. A Vedic map is a transformed version of India after the Indus Valley Civilization.

Most of Indus Valley Civilization was situated in present-day Pakistan. However, the next civilization which came i.e. Vedic civilization was situated around the Gangetic plains.

Mahaveer Swami was part of post-vedic movements against orthodoxy. Pexels
Mahaveer Swami was part of post-Vedic movements against orthodoxy. Pexels

4. The Himalayas, then, were known as Himavani.

The Himalayas have played a major role in India since forever, same was with Vedic India. However, they were known as Himavani then.

5. Vedic India wasn’t a country with ‘specific boundaries’.

Not until 1947 did India had it’s clearly defined borders. It all was based on which ruler is in power.

6. The later Vedic period was the ‘Iron Age’ of India.

Under the rule of King Parikshit, the realm turned towards the Iron Age. Parikshit was the grandson of Arjuna, the protagonist of Mahabharata.

7. Caste system was not based on birth, but capability.

Unlike, the medieval caste system, ancient India caste system at the time when it was originated wasn’t based on birth. It was based on the capability of a person.

The Vedas were composed in Vedic period. Wikimedia commons
The Vedas were composed in the Vedic period. Wikimedia Commons

8. The Kingdoms on the western side of the map are Harappan archaeological sites.

Gandhar, Madra, Sindhu etc, in present-day Pakistan, are archaeological sites where Harappan artifacts have been excavated.

9.  The end of the Vedic period saw the rise of the Mahajanapada’s.

Mahajanapada and Shramana were movements which challenged Vedic orthodoxy.

10. Some say Vedic India was the result of migration of Indo-Aryans.

Since Indo-Aryans were the ones who composed the Vedas.