BACK TO VEDAS
All true seekers of God will desire for truth and welcome truth that leads them to the Living, Loving, Almighty and the All-powerful Creator. It is not just about religions, or sects, or faiths, nor is it a mere collection of some facts, but it is the driving force behind all sincere seekers to the ultimate hope of experiencing God.
It is in this pursuit that men for ages have been looking towards nature, ancestors, heroes and even to unknown spirits for help. In the course of time, they had started worshiping them as well. It is this longing that resulted in the birth of Vedas.
Veda means, sacred scriptural knowledge. This knowledge was obtained through dedication, devotion and meditation, by several hundred Sages for years.
These scriptures are divided into two parts. One in Shruti (which is revealed) and the other one is Smruti (which is believed). Shruti contains Vedas (which gives light or knowledge); Smruti contains Ithihasas (parables like Maha Bharat, Ramayana and Bhagavat Gita) and Puranas. These Ithihasas and Puranas were written at latter date to explain the morals of these Vedas.
There are few classes of Vedas. The first one is called the Samhitaas or Mantras, the second one is Aagamas (Commandments), the third one is Bhramanas (this contains the meanings for Samhitaas) and the fourth one is the Aranyakas and Upanishads (which contains philosophies and meditations).
Again the Samhitaas are of four different types. The first one is the Rig Veda Samhitaa (which is a collection of Hymns). The second one is the Yazur Veda Samhitaa (a collection of sacrificial formulas). The third one is Sama Veda Samhitaa (again a collection of songs). The fourth one is the Atharva Veda Samhitaa (a collection of spells and charms).
GODS IN VEDA:
Vedas begin with the worship of gods of nature, namely;
The terrestrial gods- Prithvi (earth), Agni (fire), Bruhaspati and Soma (plants).
The atmospheric gods- Indra, Rudra, Maruts, Vayu and Parjanya (storm, thunder and rain).
The celestial gods- Dyaus (heaven), Varuna, Ushas & Asvins (twilight morning stars) and Surya, Mitra, Savitri, Ka, Vishnu (all associated with the sun).
As we have already seen, these gods were the result of man’s search for the truth, which finally culminated in Prajapati the Creator. The 10th mandala of Rig Veda chapter 121 verse 10 says, Prajapati Lord of life, Lord of Creatures and Lord of Creations. This understanding of the Creator, made man to cry to Him, as it is written in Bhruhat Aranyaka Upanishad (1.3.28) saying, Asatoma sat gamaya, Tamasoma Jyotir gamaya, Mruthyoma amrutham gamaya, which means, from untruth lead me to truth, from darkness lead me to light, from death lead me to eternal life.
After having reached this stage of knowing the truth, the next step is obviously to follow the truth, which will ultimately help mankind to attain mukti. It is at this stage, that man comes across the major hurdle, which is very well described in Prartha Snana Mantra,
Papokam, papa kanmokam, papathma papa samphava; thrahimam Pundarikaksha sarva papa hari hare…
Which means, I am born in sin, doer of sin, and a sinful self; I am the worst of all sinners, Lord save me from all my sins. Why sin is a hurdle? Because, it is an offense against God (Rig Veda 7.86.3). Sin has many names in Sanskrit Scriptures namely pap (sin), aagg (fire), dushkrit (evil deeds), thamas (darkness), prakrit (inborn nature), asathya (untruth) etc.
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan says, we have sin with us from the beginning of history. The Bruhad Aranyaka Upanishad says, that the Jeeva (soul) acquires evil, right at birth (4.3.8). Rog Sog Dhuk Paritab Bhandan Vyasnanicha, Aatma aparatha Vrukshanam phalarh edhani dehinam, is a common saying which means, “what are the fruits of this sinful tree which is our body? Sickness, sorrow, pain, bondage and many other kinds of sins”. No man is free from this bondage of sin.
HOW TO GET RID OF THIS BONDAGE:
Man out of his own wisdom and knowledge, invented many ways such as Karma marga (way of works), Gnana marga (way of knowledge), Yoga marga (way of concentrating mind) and Bhakti marga (way of devotion), to get rid of this bondage of sin.
The word Karma means several things. (a) It may mean the deed or deeds of the individual human being. These deeds are (i) Satvik- virtuous, (ii) Rajasik- pride, (iii) Tamasik- evil. These three are known Triguna or triple nature. (b) It may mean the Cycle of karma, karma samsara or karma chakra. (c) It may also mean karma yoga or nishkarma, or a deed or deeds done without any desire for reward.
An individual’s karma can be classified as follows:
Sanchit karma- the accumulated deeds of all previous births, which gets attached to the soul automatically at the time of each birth, in the rebirth cycle.
Kriymana karma- good or bad deeds that the soul may further accumulate.
Prarabdha karma- deeds which decides the destiny of the soul.
The main purpose of this rebirth cycle is, that the soul in each birth may reap the good or bad of all its karma of the past and present.
As per this doctrine, no one can ever know about his or her accumulated deeds, thereby not having any opportunity to correct his or her past, resulting in a hopeless uncertainty. In other words, karma is being stamped on the forehead of every human being, and the destiny of the soul is ceaselessly determined without the control of the individual. This has made Shri Shankaracharya to say in Bajagovindam,
Punarapi janana punarapi marana; Punarapi janani jadarey sayana;
Ih sansarey wah dustarey; Krupya parey pahi muararey,
which means, repeated birth, repeated death, and repeated lying in mother’s womb, is a difficult process to go through. Oh destroyer of death, save me by your grace.
MUKTI (Deliverance from sin) IS NOT BY KARMA OR DHARMA:
According to Bhagavat Gita, God does not accept karma either good or bad, as far as redemption of the soul is concerned (B.G 2.50). Viveka Chudamani verse 147 says that, “neither weapons, nor wind, nor fire, nor millions of deeds can remove this bondage. Only the wonderful sword of knowledge that comes out of discrimination sharpened by the grace of God can destroy it”. Again verse 6 says;
Vadhanthu shastrani yadhanthu devane, Kurvanthu karmanibajanthu devata,
Aatmaikayodena vinabpi mukitha, na chityathi bhramma shathanthrashpi.
Let them quote scriptures and sacrifice to gods; let them observe rituals and worship devatas (gods); but there is no liberation at all; no, not even in a hundred lifespans of Brahma put together, until the identity of one’s self with the Divine Self is realized.
Naham vedair na danena na ejyaya
sakya evamvidho drstavan asi mam yatha (Gita 11:53),
which means, neither by Vedic study, nor by austerities, nor by charities, nor by sacrifices can one behold Me. Nor by any works that you have done.
Regarding the rebirth cycle the Poet Shiva Vakkiar says; Once milked, the same milk cannot enter into the breast. Once the butter is taken out of the milk, the same butter cannot mix with the same milk. Neither the flower that falls, can become a flower again. Then how can a man or woman be born in this world several times?
Regarding Gnana marga, the Vedas and Upanishads say, that we have to know the Purusha (for He is the knowledge) who has sacrificed His life for mankind. Gurureva paraa vidya (God himself is the knowledge) is a good verse to know.
Regarding the Yoga marga or concentration of the mind, there is only one answer in the Vedas and Upanishads as to whom we should concentrate on. It is Purusha the Almighty again. Mind concentration contains three important steps.
Shravana (Hearing about God from the Guru),
Manana (Keep on thinking about what we have heard),
Nididhyaasana (profound and repeated meditation on the word of God and dwelling in Him).
Yoga simply means, “to unite with”. Whom to unite with should be obvious. It is the Supreme Lord or Purusha. Shankara the ancient sage admitted that union with God is attained by the grace of God (Viveka Chudamani 3). Also verse 56 says,
Na yogena na sankhyena karmanano na vidhya
Bhrahmathmaikkathva bodhena moksha; sidhyathey nanyatha,
which means, neither by yoga, nor by knowing self, nor by karma, nor by learning, but by the realization of one’s own identity with God, is liberation possible.
Bhakti marga (way of devotion) according to scholars means spiritual love. The only God whom we can love is Purusha. If we can concentrate on this Purusha, then we will find Him and love Him as well. The Rig Veda says, “whom shall we worship other than Prajapati (Purusha)”. Svetasvataara Upanishad (3.8) says, “By knowing Purusha, death is transcended. There is no other way”.
ATONEMENT FOR SINS:
Thertiriya Aranyaka verse 3 says, “Sarvapapa pariharo raktha prokshna mavasyam” which means, that the redemption is through shedding of blood only. For this purpose God allowed mankind to sacrifice animals, in order to make them realize that there is a penalty for everyone’s sins. Though the animal’s blood is not a substitute, it was expected that man would repent and turn away from his sinful ways, by seeing the blood of the animal which is being shed on his behalf. But mankind started practicing it just as a ritual, and thus came into condemnation.
If mankind were to be saved from this predicament, as Thertiriya Aranyaka 3rd verse says again, “…thad raktham Paranatmena punyadena baliyagam” which means, that blood has to be through the sacrifice of God himself. The Purusha Sukta says, there is no other way other than the sacrifice of Purusha Prajapati. Purushao vava yagna (Chandokya Upanishad 3.16.1), God, the Purusha is the sacrifice. Sama Veda Dandiya Mahabhramanam says, “Prajapathi devapyam aathmanam yagnam kruthva prayachita” which means, God will offer himself as a sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. Sathpatha Bhramanam says, “Prajapathi yagnayaga”.
VEDIC REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SACRIFICIAL PURUSHA:
The Rig Veda specifies ten important requirements for the sacrificial Purusha.
SHOULD BE WITHOUT A BLEMISH (NISHKALANGA PURUSHA):
Kaatyaayana Srautasootram describes in chapter six, that water and fire were to be used for the purification of the animals, since blameless (defectless) animals are not available in this world.
THE PURUSHA HAS TO BE SEPARATED FROM OTHERS:
While sacrificing the horse, the sacrificial horse is always separated from other horses. A bush of thorns is usually placed on the head of the horse to inform the people that this horse is separated for the sacrifice. Also the head of the horse is considered to represent the Purusha (Sathapatha Brahmana 13th kanda, 6.2.2).
THE PURUSHA HAS TO BE REJECTED BY HIS OWN PEOPLE:
In Itareya Brahmana it is written that the sacrificial animal should be rejected by its father, mother, brother, sister and friends (2.16).
THE YAGNA PURUSHA HAS TO SUFFER SILENTLY:
Rig Veda 5.46.1 says, “Like a horse I have yoked myself, well knowing to the pole. I seek neither release nor turning back”.
THE PURUSHA HAS TO BE TIED TO A POST:
In Satapata Brahmana it is written, never do they immolate an animal without tying it to a pole. “Na varute yapaat pasum alabhate kadachana (III-7.3.1)”. It is important to tie the animal to a sacrificial pillar before it is sacrificed. This pillar is called “Yupastampa (sacrificial pillar)”, which has now become a flag mast.
THE BLOOD OF THE SACRIFICIAL MAN SHOULD BE SHED:
Bruhat Aranyaka Upanishad (184.108.40.206) says, “Tvacha evasya rudhiram, prasyandi tvacha utpatah, Tasmaattadarunnaat praiti, raso vrukshadi vahataat”. As the sap comes of the cut tree, blood comes out of the Purusha who is cut.
THE SACRIFICED ANIMAL’S BONES SHOULD NOT BE BROKEN:
In Itareya Brahmana 2.6 it is stated that the sacrifice separates the twenty-six ribs of the animal without breaking them.
THE SACRIFICED PURUSHA SHOULD RETURN TO LIFE:
The Bruhat Aranyaka Upanishad says, “Yad Vruksho vrukshano rohati, mulannavatharah punah, martyah svinmrutyuna vruknah, kasmaanmulaat prarohati, Retasa iti maavocata, jivatastat praja yate, dhanaruh a iva val crau vruksho, anjasaa pretya sammbhava”, which means, if the tree is cut, it will grow again from its root. But after the man (martyah) was cut off by death, from which root does he come forth? Do not say that he is from the ratas (seed or semen) because ratas comes from the one who lives. Remember this man is dead. But this man (Purusha) comes alive on his own.
THE FLESH OF THE PURUSHA SHOULD BE EATEN BY HIS SAINTS:
In Satapata Brahmana (220.127.116.11,2) we find that Prajapati gave Himself up to them, thus the sacrifice became theirs, and indeed the sacrifice is the food of the gods (saints).
THE SACRIFICE IS FOR ALL:
Verse 8 in Purusha Sukta explains, Tasmaad yagnatsarvahutah, pasuntamscakre voayaryaa, naananyaan gramyaasca ye. By that sacrifice, all these originated: sprinkled ghee and all kinds of animals of the sky, forest and country. The significance of sprinkled ghee represents the original sacrifice.
Verse 9 of Purusha Sukta says: Tasmaad yagnat sarvahuta, nucha samaari jagnire, Chandaamsi jagnine, tasmaad yajustas naada jaayatah. From that sacrifice, Purusha offered everything that he had, including the Rig, Sama, Yazur Vedas and the Chandas (sacred writings).
HOW METICULOUSLY THESE VEDIC REQUIREMENTS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED IN JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH:
JESUS CHRIST WAS WITHOUT ANY BLEMISH:
In the Bible it is written, “Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf” (Leviticus 22:20). “Whether male or female, present before the Lord an animal without defect” (Leviticus 3:1). “In Him (Jesus Christ) there was no sin” (1 John 3:5).
JESUS CHRIST WAS SEPARATED FROM OTHERS:
The Bible says, “the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe” John 19:2, thus separating Him from others.
JESUS CHRIST WAS REJECTED BY HIS OWN PEOPLE:
The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “He (Jesus Christ) was despised and rejected and they shouted to crucify him”. Jesus said on the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”, which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
JESUS CHRIST SUFFERED SILENTLY:
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before the shearers is silent” (Isaiah 53:7).
JESUS CHRIST WAS TIED:
Psalms 118:27 says, “bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar”.
JESUS CHRIST’S BLOOD WAS SHED:
This was fulfilled in Jesus Christ when he was nailed to the cross. “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but entered the most holy place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Without shedding of blood there is no redemption” (Hebrews 9:12,22).
JESUS CHRIST’S BONES WERE NOT BROKEN:
In the Bible, Exodus 12:46 says that the bones of the animal should not be broken. Nine hours after crucifixion, “when they (soldiers) came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs” (John 19:33).
JESUS CHRIST ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD:
“Him (Jesus Christ) God raised up the third day, and showed him openly” (Acts 10:40). “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
JESUS CHRIST GAVE HIS BODY TO BE EATEN:
At the last supper Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take and eat; this is my body. Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and offered it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26,27).
JESUS CHRIST WAS GIVEN TO ALL:
“He who did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
GOD’S PLAN FOR MOKSHA (ETERNAL LIFE):
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23.
And according to the law almost all things are purged with the blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22.
But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.
For He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10.
That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9.
Or do you underestimate His wealth of kindness and tolerance and enduring patience, unmindful that God’s kindness is meant to lead you toward repentance?. But in line with your obstinacy and impenitence of heart you are treasuring up for yourself anger for the day of anger and the revealing of the righteous judgment of God, who will reward each person according to his deeds. Romans 2:4-6.
For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:11.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12.
So today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart, but come boldly unto the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, pardon and ETERNAL LIFE (MOKSHA).
Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20.
I am the way, the truth and life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears My word, and believes in Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36.
SAHASRANAMAVALI ACKNOWLEDGES JESUS CHRIST:
Ohm Shri Brahmaputraya namaha: Oh Lord, The Son of God, we praise you.
Ohm Shri Umathyaya namaha: Oh Lord who is born of the Spirit, we praise you.
Ohm Shri kanni sudhaya namaha: Oh Lord who is born of a virgin, we praise you.
Ohm Shri tharithra narayanaya namaha: Oh Lord who became poor for our sake, we praise you.
Ohm Shri vidhiristaya namaha: Oh Lord who is circumcised, we praise you.
Ohm Shri panchagayaya namaha: Oh Lord who bore five wounds on your body, we praise you.
Ohm Shri vruksha shul aruthaya namaha: Oh Lord who offered yourself as a sacrifice on a trishool like tree (three headed spear), we praise you.
Ohm Shri mruthyam jaya namaha: Oh Lord who got victory over death, we praise you.
Ohm Shri shibilistaya namaha: Oh Lord who willingly offered your flesh to be eaten by your saints, we praise you.
Ohm Shri thatchina moorthyaya namaha: Oh Lord who is seated by the side of the Father, we praise you.
Ohm Shri maha devayaya namaha: Oh Lord who is Lord of lords, we praise you.
JESUS CHRIST IN BHAVISHYA MAHAPURANA:
Bhavishya Mahapurana, book three, chapter two, verse 34 says, “Ko bhavaanithi tham praaha Sobhovaachamudaanwitha: Eshaputhram cha maam vidhi Kumaaree garbha sambahavam Aham Eesa Maseeha nama:” which means, (king Saka asks) “May I know who you are? That man replied happily, I am the Son of God, born to a virgin. My name is Eesa Maseeha.”.
CULTURAL AND THEOLOGICAL IDENTITY:
The festival of Shivarathri is celebrated by keeping a vigil throughout that night to thank god who had saved a hunter, who lost his way in the jungle.
The Bible says that the Lord kept a vigil on the day of Passover and delivered the people of Israel from Egypt. In remembrance of this day and to honor the Lord, the Israelites in turn keep a vigil on this night every year.
On this day, God instructed Moses to mark the main doors of their houses and the top and two side posts with the blood of the lamb, which was to be sacrificed by each family, as a mark of identification for the purpose of protection. These same markings with the red powder can be seen in every Indian house, even today.
While on a journey, Jacob slept for the night by keeping a stone as a pillow and dreamt, seeing angels of God ascending and descending on a ladder set between earth and heaven, and the Lord stood above it. Next morning he took the stone, and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil over it, and he named that place as Bethel (house of God). In India also one can see the stone with oil, which has become “Shivalinga”.
In the Bible, God told Moses to bring a red heifer without spot and kill it as a sacrifice for the Lord. Her skin, her flesh, blood and dung shall be burnt. A clean man shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and keep it in the holy place. This ash will be mixed with water and will be sprinkled on the body of the people, for the purpose of purification from their sins (Numbers 19:1-9).
During the Vedic period, three different kinds of sacrifices were in practice. 1. Nara (human) medhya (body) yagna (sacrifice), 2. Ko (cow) medhya yagna, 3. Aswa medhya yagna. For Ko medhya yagna, the cow should be a red one. Even today, if a Brahmin wants to do some ceremonial duty in his house, he will look for a red cow and do pooja before it. The sacrificial cow has now become a sacred cow, because cow is no longer sacrificed by law. Therefore, people burn only the cow’s dung and they collect these ashes and mix it with water and apply it on their body or generally on their forehead as “Vibhooti”.
Since the sacrificed cow was to be positioned upside down on the altar before burning, a long three headed fork like tool was used. In addition, to collect and store these ashes, several types of vessels were used. In the Bible the Lord told, “you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its fire pans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze” (Exodus 27:3).
Similarly in the Indian temples also, all these vessels are made out of bronze. Ever since the sacrifices have been stopped, the meat fork with three-headed spear is kept near the altar in front of the temple. This has now become “Trishool”.
In the Bible, the priest, while he is inside the holy of the holiest part of the temple, should make a sound with the bells, as well as while coming out of it. He should have his undergarments from the waist to the knee. The sacrificial animal should have a small string, bearing the name of the family. The priest should mention the name of the family and then sacrifice. He should wear an engraved plate on his turban saying, “Holy to the Lord” (Exodus 28:34-37,42).
In the Indian temples also, when the priest goes inside the holy of the holiest place for prayer, he makes the noise of the bell and comes out with the noise of the bell. He wears a piece of cloth from his hip to the knee over his clothing. When the people bring their offerings to God, he always asks them on whose name should it be offered?
As the Bible says, that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)”, the Yazur Veda also says, “Nathasya prathima asityasya nammahastha (32:3)”, God has no image and His name is Holy.
The Bruhat Aranyaka Upanishad says, “Vagya vai Brahmma”, the word is Brahmma (creator). Brahmmavindu Upanishad says, “Shabdo vai Brahmma”, the voice is Brahmma and “Shabdaksharam Param Brahmma”, the voice and word became absolute God.
The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word was made flesh (Jesus)” (John 1:1,14).