“The Veda is the Mother of all the Sastras. The Veda emanated from God Himself as inhalation and exhalation. The great sages, who were the embodiments of the treasure gained by long ascetic practices, received Veda as a series of sounds and spread it over the world by word of mouth from preceptor to pupil.”
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Vahini. Eternal Truths
“VetthiithiVedah”; Knowing, knowledge is Veda. That is to say, man can know from the Vedas, the Code of Right Activity and the Body of Right Knowledge. The Vedas teach man his duties from birth to death. They describe his rights and duties, obligations and responsibilities in all stages of life – as a student, householder, recluse and monk. In order to make plain the Vedic dicta and axioms and enable all to understand the meaning and purpose of the do’s and don’ts, the Vedangas, Puranas and Epic texts appeared, in course of time. Therefore, if man is eager to grasp his own significance and true reality, he has to understand the importance of these later explanatory compositions also.
The stream of Indian culture always emphasized the authority of the Vedas as the supreme authority for deciding the values of human living. Of the Vedas, the first is the RIg-veda -hymns in praise of God under the names of Agni, Indra, Marut, Ushas, etc., are found.
The second of the Vedas is the Yajurveda. This Veda refers to the Ganga River and its region. The Yajurveda has seven sections called Aranyakas or Forest Texts, indicating by that very name, that it refers more to disciplines and spiritual exercises which can be practiced only in the seclusion and silence of the forest.
The third Veda is the Sama-Veda. In this collection, many of the hymns (riks) of the Rg-Veda are repeated, but, with additional musical notes so that they may be sung during Vedic rituals and ceremonies. So, the Sama-Veda is mainly Swara or musical notation.
The fourth is the Atharvan or Atharva Veda. In this Veda, the possibility of man acquiring certain powers and mysteries by his own effort and exercises are mentioned. Hatayoga, thiraskaranividya, ashtayoga – these are made available for man only in this Veda. Of course, by winning the Grace of God, man can acquire even skills that are otherwise impossible of attainment.
In short, it must be realized that the Vedas are very important for man and that they cover the entire range of knowledge. They are the source and spring of Bharathiya culture. They are the recordings of visions and divine experiences; their source cannot be attributed to one single person. They were revealed by God Himself, of His own innate Mercy. The Vedic inheritance has been preserved pure and unsullied even to this day, because, it was handed down from the master to the disciple, in regular succession. Since it is timeless and authorless, it is worthy of acceptance by all.
Whatever may be the diversities in contents, the commentators agree that the essential teaching of all the four Vedas is the same. The sections dealing with rites, modes of worship and the conclusions of inquiry help man to achieve the four goals of life – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Since it is very hard to master the Vedas, we have developed a vast Smrithi literature to expound the Sruthi texts – the Puranas and the Ithihasas. Farsighted seers composed these out of historical and legendary incidents and events.
Karma and Jnana are related as cause and effect, and so, the Karma sections of the Sruthi and Smrithi, which emphasized activity, led to the discovery of new facets of Truth and rendered the ideas of a transcendent God clearer and nearer. So too, the discovery of clearer concepts of God through spiritual inquiry along the Jnana marga fed “activity” with better meaning and higher purpose. The benefit of Karma was proportionate to the faith and the faith in Karma was in proportion to the awareness of God, won through Jnana. For involving oneself in good activities, Jnana is an essential pre requisite. That Jnana has ultimately to be derived from the Vedas; it is based on the teachings of the Vedas.
Karma is nothing but the practice of Dharma. The Upanishads give us guidance on what has to be done and what has to be avoided, in the spiritual journey. They direct us to revere the mother as God, revere the father as God, revere the preceptor as God, revere the guest as God and also, warn us that truth shall not be neglected, Dharma shall not be neglected. So, there are both positive and negative instructions – follow these counsels not others. Whatever is conducive to your progress in goodness, accept; avoid other counsels – thus do the Upanishads instruct.
Dharmorakshati rakshitah; Dharma protects those who protect it, says the Sruthi. If people come forward to foster the sources of Dharma, that good act, by itself will help foster those who do it.
Swami established the Veda Paatashala not for training priests, but to expose Swami’s students to the importance of the Vedas and understanding the need to preserve them. Incidentally, there were no restrictions, and anyone who had a serious interest in the Vedas and a keenness to learn it, was admitted to Swami’s Veda Paatashala. Immensely thankful to the pioneering effort of late Kamavadhani, Vedic scholar, that we see so many students effortlessly chanting various portions of the Vedas almost every day during Darshan, both in the morning and in the evening.
Baba, who is the Veda Purusha, has educated all time and again on the supreme benefits of chanting Vedas. Veda classes are conducted by Vedic scholars, at various centers which enable many people to attend. Every occasion gets started with Vedic chants which leaves the whole place charged with divine vibrations. The Sri Sathya Sai Veda Poshana Programs are conducted at various places. The Sri Sathya Sai Veda Poshana Program aims at adopting a formal and structured approach to learn, chant and teach Veda in the Sri Sathya Sai Organization.