....The Vedas, however, as expounded by those from within the tradition, can be seen as a clear mirror into mankinds psyche, a comprehensive vision of life in all its depth and intricacy. Those ancient texts chart remarkable insights into the workings of the universe that provide a basis for in depth instructions on how to align ourselves with those workings to participate in the oneness of all life. The great archetypal ideas that were to surface again and again in the worlds religions and philosophies are here envisioned in seed form: Heaven and Earth as parents, the sun and moon as fosterers of life and light, bull and cow as generators, water and fire as purifiers. The profound ideas of cosmic order, duty and truth --- which were to form not only that extraordinarily rich tapestry that is Indian religion and thought but also that of all subsequent world civilisations and religions -- are here spelled out at the very dawn of modern time.
....The difference in scale between the Vedic and Christian worldview is nowhere better demonstrated than in their respective concepts of time. Christianity (In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.) believes that the Divine uniquely favoured one ethnic group, the Jews, whose linear history incorporates the unique descent of the Divine in the form of one man -- Jesus -- who lived at one time in one place in order to be the sole saviour of the world for those who believe in Him. And too bad for all those who dont. In the Vedic view, such a concept of time and its connection with the claim for spiritual monopoly is extremely limited. Saviours, teachers and Enlightened beings come and go throughout all time and time itself is endless, a repetition of cycles of growth and decay that goes through all eternity. These cycles, known as Yugas, are named after the four of the sides of a die; they move from a high point -- Sat Yuga -- that is regarded and described as a Golden Age, through Silver and Copper ages to the Iron age -- Kali Yuga -- the time of universal darkness and ignorance when life is at it spiritual lowpoint. There are no prizes being offered for guessing where we are right now. But the compensation is that it can only get better. And the Yugas exist in a scale of time that is inconceivably different to the limited Christian concept. The time scale here is enormous and majestic. Calculated upon the length of a Sat Yuga, time shortens as purity decreases, until the Kali Yuga -- which is only one quarter of the Sat Yuga -- lasts a mere 432,000 years.Vedic time scales are, indeed, majestic bearing more of a kinship with those astronomy and geology than with tribal history.
....The hymns of the Vedas, in which the Rishis sung of their visions, were later called shruti -- that which is heard -- as the revelations granted to those original Enlightened Sages were passed down in an unbroken oral tradition up to modern times. The language of this transmission was Vedic Sanskrit, said to be the perfect language in which the vibrations comprising the name of an object exactly mirror the vibrations of its physical form. For this reason, the Sanskrit word for poet -- kavi -- means literally maker; indicating that the appropriate chant correctly intoned has the power to create, rather than merely mimic, the processes of the world. Such a chant, drawn from the very wellspring of life, deep Consciousness itself, and imbued with the sympathetic resonances of the entire Cosmos could and should have the greatest power behind it.
....Thus it is that the Vedic chanter/priest actually creates through his use of sound. As it says in the Rig Veda: Some singing, they conceived the great chant whereby they caused the sun to shine (Chapter 8, verse 29.) The Vedic pundits are thus the prototype of a universal tradition, their equivalents known in Europe as the bards, the singer-priest-poet-shaman who nourished and healed their communities by acting as the channel of the Gods. William Blake, the English visionary painter and poet, talked of the phenomenon when he wrote: Hail the Bard, who past, present and future sees! To see the three stages of time one must be stationed beyond them, rooted in the timeless Transcendent. And this was the platform of the Vedic Seers.
....From Vedic Sanskrit came classical Sanskrit, the language of the later Vedic texts and all of northern Indias high civilisation. Classical Sanskrit is the oldest of the Indo-European family of languages that is comprised of Latin, Greek and the Celtic, Germanic and Romance tongues. Classical Sanskrit gave a unity to the culture and layering of the ancient Asian world much as Latin once did to Europe. In 1786, William Jones, a remarkable Englishman who was a judge of the Calcutta High Court and a brilliant linguist, discovered that Latin and Greek derived from this ancient tongue, which, he said, was more elegant than either. Thus the science of comparative linguistics was born. Even today, with the extant literature in Sanskrit exceeding many times over that of Latin and Greek combined, only a fraction -- perhaps ten percent -- of it has been translated and few of the translators have had much of an idea of the concept of higher states of consciousness with which the Vedas deal.
....Of the later Vedic texts, the most important are the brahmanas, devoted to explaining the ritual procedures like yagya and homa (both dealt with in detail in the first part of this series,) and the Upanishads. These, the best known of the Vedic texts in the west, contain instruction on meditation and explanations of enlightenment among the varied explanations and celebration of the unchanging Consciousness that permeates all creation.
....Also well-known among the Vedic texts are the itihasas (the histories.) These are texts like the Ramayana and Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita. Although in the West these are considered myths (that is, imaginary stories that have little basis in reality,) to the Indian they are as real as anything else. In fact, because they deal with the cosmic realms and are mind-boggling tales of the Gods (not totally unlike the Greek myths,) in some sense they are more real that mere human history which is a pretty miserable affair that is greatly limited in possibility and achievement.
....The third group of later Vedic texts are those that celebrate the experience of Enlightenment as it is experienced by those who have realised their True Nature. These texts generally belong to the philosophy of Vedanta (literally the end of the Veda) and comprise hymns, prayers and chants in praise of Consciousness. Among the most powerful of these are the Ashtavakra Gita (The Song of the Sage, Ashtavahara,) the Adadhut Gita (The Song of the Solitary One) and the Vivekachudamani (The Crown Jewel of Discrimination) by the great Vedantic teacher and the father of modern Hinduism, Adi Shankara (9th Century AD.)
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