Saint Ved Vyas relating the Bhagwatam to Shukdeo (3100 B.C.)

The Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism by H.D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (the most important site on Hinduism, the Upanishads, modern Physics, Bhartiya, Sanatan Dharm and more)

(59) The Vedas, Upvedas and Vedangas.

       There are four Vedas: Rigved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharvaved. According to the Muktikopnishad they had 21, 109, 1,000 and 50 branches, respectively, having a total of approximately 100,000 verses in their 1,180 branches. Nowadays only 20,379 verses in total are available. 10,552 verses of Rigved (arranged in 10 sections called mandal), 1,975 verses of Yajurved (in 40 chapters), 1,875 verses of Samved (in 21 chapters) and 5,977 verses of Atharvaved (in 20 chapters).

These verses are in the praise of celestial gods and goddesses and some of them are also for the Divine form of God. They are called mantra bhag or sanhita. Then there are the same number of branches (1,180) called the brahman, and the same number of branches (1,180) called the aranyak which have the same number of (1,180) Upnishads. This whole collection is called the Vedas.

The Upnishads have their own Divine character and they are directly related to God and show the path to God realization, whereas the sanhita and the brahman section of the Vedas are related to the attainment of the celestial luxuries. So, generally speaking the term Ved mainly refers to its mantra and brahman section and the Upnishads have their own Divine status.

Brahman and aranyak.

Brahman. The brahman section of the four Vedas are the explanatory part of the yagyas explaining in great detail as to which yagya should be performed in what manner. It gives every minute detail, whatever is needed by the priests. Every branch of the Ved had its own brahman which was 1,180. But, nowadays only a few are available, out of them, Aitareya, Shankhayan or Kaushitaki, Shatpath and Taittariya brahman are important .

Aranyak. Out of 1,180 aranyakas only a few full branches are available nowadays. But the Upnishads, which are the main section of the aranyakas, are available in quite a good number, about 200. The sanhita and the brahman part of the Vedas relate to the yagyas and Vedic rituals only along with the performance of general good karmas. Although they tell about the supreme God (like in Purush Sookt and Ishavasyopnishad, etc.), they never really emphasize on the worship to the supreme God.

Aranyakas start telling more about God and they prescribe some forms of worship to God. Their mode of worship relates to various forms and aspects of God and it is designed to be performed in a technical manner with some rituals. It is called the vaidhi bhakti, which means devotion to God in a strict formulative manner such as: how to sit, facing to which side, which part of the early morning is good for devotion, what mantra to repeat, what ritual to perform before and after the devotion, and so on. But the Upnishads which are the prime part of the aranyakas directly teach to renounce the worldly attachment and surrender to God to receive His Grace. So, Upnishads are called the gyan kand (the true knowledge) of the Vedas. If we consider in a voluminous manner, about 75% of the entire Vedas (sanhita, brahman and aranyak) relate to yagyas and rituals, 19% of it relates to the vaidhi bhakti, and only 6% of it relates to the gyan kand (the Upnishads).

The Upvedas.

There are four Upvedas (up means subsidiary). Arthved (science of sociology and economics) is related to Rigved; Dhanurved (science of defense and war and the making of its related appliances) is related to Yajurved; Gandharvaved (science of music, both singing and instrumental) is related to Samved; and Ayurved (the medical science) is related to Atharvaved. The first three are almost extinct, the fourth one, Ayurved, is still in existence but all of its books are not available. Our Sages wrote a number of books on the science of the preparation and the uses of herbs, roots, gems, metals and pearls etc., for all kinds of diseases but only some of them are available nowadays, although the basic theory of Ayurved is available in full.

The Vedangas.

There are six Vedangas (parts of the body of the Vedas): Vyakaran, Jyotish, Nirukt, Shikcha, Chand and Kalp Sutras.

Vyakaran (Sanskrit grammar).

The very ancient Sanskrit grammar books are all extinct. It is believed that there was a Mahesh grammar produced by God Shiv, and there was also an Ayndra grammar. Both are extinct. The grammar that we have now is Panini grammar. It has eight chapters so it is called Ashtadhyayi. It was directly Graced by God Shiv. There is a famous verse in this respect:

Once God Shiv, at the end of His Divine ecstatic dance induced by the enthrilling effects of Krishn love, played on His damru (the mini hand-drum which Shiv holds in His hand). Fourteen very distinct sounds came out of it. Sage Panini conceived them in his Divine mind. Thus, Graced by God Shiv, Panini, on the basis of those Divine sounds, re-established the science of Sanskrit grammar which already eternally existed. Those Divine sounds are:

There are total 52 letters (16 vowels and 36 consonants including nasals).

The last two vowels are called anusswar and visarg respectively; and the last three consonants are called sanyuktakchar which means two consonants joined together .

According to our needs we had two sets of grammar, one for the Vedas (sanhita part) and the other for the Puranas and for common use, because the formation of certain words and their phrasing is different in the Vedas as compared to the language of the Puranas. It is just the character of the Vedas, not any seniority or juniority in their reproduction because all the Vedas, the Upnishads and the Puranas were produced at the same time and are all eternally in the same form. Nowadays only very few sections of ancient Vedic grammar are available; the rest are extinct.

Paniniís grammar has 4,000 sutras (short sentences) and they are arranged and categorized in such an easy-to-understand way that it reflects the marvel of his presentation of the Sanskrit grammar. For the convenience of the scholars, he added dhatu path at the end of Ashtadhyayi which is the dictionary of the root words of the Sanskrit language. There are also unadi sutras at the end of Ashtadhyayi. These sutras describe the formation of the words of the Vedic sanhita which could be used along with the Nighantu and the Nirukt. Nighantu is the special dictionary of the words of the Vedic sanhita, and Nirukt is the main book that gives further detail of the words of the Vedas which is like a detailed dictionary of the Vedic words. Thus, even though the ancient Vedic grammars are not available, still, with the help of the unadi sutras of Ashtadhyayi and the Nirukt, the true meaning of the Vedic words could be understood. But if someone tries to draw the meaning of the Vedic mantras only on the basis of the Ashtadhyayi without using the unadi sutras and the Nirukt, he will get the incorrect meaning of the mantras and thatís what the European translators have done.


Copyright © 1999 - 2001 H.D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati

Previous Article | Next Article

Home | Introduction | Author | Articles
Glossary | Abbreviations | Search
Transliteration | Site Map | Links

This site is based on the book
The True History and the Religion of India

The True History and the Religions of India by H.D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati