Encyclopedia of the times long gone.. The Vedic Scriptures

With eyes closed I focused on the mesmerizing Hymns from the Vedas, chanted by the students of the Veda Agama School run by the Art of Living at its International Center at Bangalore, India. It was a soothing experience. The chanting got over and a man in Dhoti and Angavastram took over the podium and welcomed us all to The Regional Traditional Scholars Meet. Scholars in the meet demonstrated a scientific bent of mind along with great craftsmanship and poetic nature. In this 2 day meet, organized by The Art of Living in coordination with IGNCA,they deliberated upon translating specific Sanskrit texts to English and regional languages. Conversations with the scholars present in the meeting brought out immense information and knowledge present in Vedic Texts. The usefulness of the Vedic Texts was also highlighted in the conversations. Here are a few of the points from the conversation.

Untapped Source of Information…

One of the scholars shared that in 1895, a Sanskrit scholar, Shivkar Bapuji Talpade designed an aircraft called Marut Sakthi (Power of Air) based on Vaimanika Shastra (a text on aeronautic technology)and had it take off unmanned before a large audience in the Chowpathy beach of Bombay. The machine flew to the height of 1500 ft using mercury vapors and solar energy. Scholars mention that many such inventions and discoveries have gone unnoticed. Vedas, for present generation, act as an untapped source of information and knowledge. Agencies like NASA and scholars from the west are making good use of the knowledge from the Vedic Texts.

Usefulness of the ancient knowledge today

Our ancient sages and seers transmitted their knowledge through the oral tradition of guru-shishya-parampara and hence it was called Sruti (being heard). Later, when writing materials were invented, such knowledge was documented in the form of manuscripts.

Manuscripts in India offer the best possible view into the word of our rich cultural heritage and civilization. Almost all the information we have today about our ancient history, literature, culture, economy, architecture and more comes directly from the information-rich manuscripts that our ancestors left for our perusal.

The Scholars shared that the knowledge present in the Shastra is very subtle. It has deep impact upon our thought process and life style. For this reason, it surpasses the level of mere information. It is Knowledge which is reflected in our life style. For this reason one needs to be disciplined while reading them. They said that one needs to be disciplined yet creative; sensitive yet sensible and above all needs to have an attitude to ‘explore’ so as to dive deep into the ocean of knowledge called TheVedas.



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Each of the Vedic Scriptures are more than encyclopedias…

It is said that we have a scripture available for any interest that we may ever have. We have Ayurveda and Charak Samhita for doctors and dietitians; Natya Shastra for performing artists; Shilpa Shastra for those who have an interest in sculptures and constructing buildings; Vastu Shastra for those curious about the effect of vibrations and Directions; Artha Shastra for economists and Neeti Shastra and Dharma Shastra for politicians. Later I realized that the list is endless...

To understand a country that is rich and ancient with a widespread civilization and diverse people, we need to pay particular attention to India's recorded history, which can be found only in the form of Manuscripts. To most of us, manuscripts are nothing more than palm-leaf engravings, but to a historian, to the grammarian or to a researcher, a manuscript might be the most prized possession. The reason is not just the antiquity of the manuscripts it is also the information contained within those few folios of the manuscript. Unfortunately, a lot of these manuscripts have been lost over time. A good deal of effort is being put in to revive and publish these scripts.

The Science v/s The Vedas

Einstein is quoted to have said, “Access to the Vedas is the greatest privilege this century may claim over all previous centuries.” It is a misconception that Vedas are not more than poetic verses in Sanskrit and that there is no knowledge or information contained in them. In fact, it is agreed by many scientists that the Sanskrit verses present in the Vedas contain the Knowledge of the highest order. The science of the present era is still to develop itself to that level. There is nothing that can match the Vedic Scriptures in the immensity of scientific knowledge they contain.

Merging the Contemporary with the Vedic Arts…

One of the Classical Dancers mentioned that no Art is compartmentalized. It is our short sightedness and small mind which makes us think that something is classical and the other is contemporary. ‘Creativity’ is the mother of all Art forms. It is the same creativity in her or Michael Jackson or anyone else but the extent up to which it is blossomed and the quality of mind decides the origin of an art form. She showed her respect for the Contemporary Artists from the west. She said that keeping an open mind and respecting creativity is the key to merge all boundaries.

The Veda Agama School

Veda Agama Samskrutha Mahapatashala is a Vedic Heritage Institution dedicated to Vedic and Agamic studies. Run by the Veda Vignyan Maha Vidya Peeth, the school offers a blend of ancient and modern sciences to the enrolled students. The heritage school was started on the day of Vijayadashami (tenth day of Dussehra), 15th of October 2002, in the presence of H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. One of the main aim of this school is to bring forth the lost importance to our traditional system of education, Veda Agama Shastra and their usage in daily life.

Written by Nikhil Gupta based on the inputs from various Sanskrit scholars.