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Oral tradition of the Vedas

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Oral tradition


That is the precise reason for continuing this thread. As you are aware,
Vedas are passed on from one to another by chanting only. Sri
MahaPeriyaval was not in favour of printing the vedic texts since
intonation - swaras - is the sine qua non of these mantras. When I saw
some elderly people learning it from the Purohithars, I thought it augurs
well. It must be our endeavour to continue the tradition of oral

During his time Kanchi Maha Periavar had initiated Veda Samrakshana Sabha to teach and propagate Vedic Knowledge in traditional lines. I have known that some rich families were entrusted the job of funding Veda Patasalas. VHP had also opened a Veda Patasala at Kanyakumari, I am not sure whether it is functioning now. While talking about Veda Padasalas we cannot forget the yeomen service done by the Nagarathar community for keeping the Patasalas running. I have also known some Mudaliars, Reddies and Rajas helping the Veda Patasalas. Swargeeya Sri Tiruchi Swamigal in Kenchanahalli near Bangalore was very much interested in Vedas and Agamas. The Agama Patasala in his Ashram is one of the few in the Country to teach Agamas in traditional way. The young Brahmacharis in this Patasala are looked after well. When I spent some time in Rishikesh I saw the Veda Padasala run by Swami Chidanadji Maharaj in Paramartha Niketan, which has Hundreds students (both boys and girls) from all over the country. You can visit their website: http://www.paramarth.com/gurukul.html
There are many like that in Uttarkhand. I am told similar Veda Padasalas are functioning in Haryana and UP too. Even though Vedic knowledge is parted orally, books are available in Old Grandha skript for the students to refer. This I have seen in Srungeri and other places.
I wish this subject is discussed in all seriousness and find ways to help these Veda Padasalas all possible ways.

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Oral tradition......

Do you mean the swamiji who has built the RajaRajeswari Temple ?
I think he is known as Trichi swamigal. I have known him.

I agree that the Nagarathar community has funded quite a lot of

But, today I find a peculiar phenomenon. In some schools, there are
vidyarthis but no adhyapaks ; and in some schools the other way.

We have vidyarthis and adhyapaks for Saivaagama and yajur vedam.
This Thread was started by Sri Nachinarkiniyan to discuss a serious subject the traditions of Vedic learning. But slowly this discussion turned into an arguement and ultimately, I find this entering into entirely different subject "the dignity of Labour"!

Dear Brahmanyan:

The 'dignity of labor' thing started with Sri Nachi making some observations about a Tamil Brahmin A/C mechanic...... Perhaps you could steer this back to its original intent.
Oral Traditions in Vedas

Dear Mr.Ranganathan,

Yes. It was the same Thiruchi Swamy who had built the beautiful Temple for Goddess Sri Rajarajeswari at his Kailasa Ashrama at Kenchenahalli near Bangalore. Permit me to digress a little and give a brief account of this holy soul. Sri Sivarathnapuri Swamy, popularly known as Thiruchy Swamy was the disciple of Swamy Shri Sivapuri Baba of Nepal. His Ashram has produced a number of dedicated Sanyasis who had taken over as heads of many important Mutts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.Prominent among them are Sri Sri Sri Balagangatharanatha Swamy of Adi Chunchanagiri Mutt in Belur, Swamy Sivananda Bharati of Siddharuthanatha Mutt and Jeyendra Puri Swamy. All these places Patasalas are imparting Vedic or Agama Studies. Sri Swamiji was a believer in Sanatana Dharma and had silently worked for renovating many Temples in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Sri Lanka. He had been consulted by many for building new Temples according to Agamas. The famous Meenakshi Temple at Hulimavu on Bannargatta Road in Bangalore was built under his guidance. He was a Simple person and had widely travelled. He was the special guest of the Pope, when he visited Vatican, Rome.
I had visited his Ashram and Temple many times. He used to ask all Brahmin devotees to perform Sandhya Vandanam regularly.
Nagarathar Community otherwise known as Nattukotai Chettiars were instrumental in running many Veda Patasalas in Tamil Nadu. Many of the famous Temples were renovated by them without any outside help.

Dear 'Silverfox',

I have answered your query about Nagarathar in my reply to Mr.Ranganathan. Nagarathar other wise known as Nattukottai Chettiars in Tamil Nadu were largly instrumental in preserving Vedic Patasalas during the past era. Most of the Veda Patasalas were funded by this community only. They are religious community. Many Temples were renovated by Nagarathar families without outside help. They are basically business community. Though mainly Bankers or money lenders by tradition, they branched of to almost all lines of Industries and were and are successful. They were Saivaits by tradition. They had done a lot for our Temples.

Oral tradition....

May I add something more sir ?

The Nagarathars have, besides spending on Temple renovation and
maintenance, built many choultries in almost all the Temple towns
like Chidambaram, Tiruvannamalai and other towns for the pilgrims
to stay. In and around Karaikkudi , Pudukkottai, Pillaiyarpatti, they
have built/renovated many Temples.

You are correct. To add further they were in education too and the first residential University in South, " Annamalai University" was built by Nagarathar only. Even though they were known for strict spending, they were in the forefront of charity. Nagarathar Choultries are known for their hospitality.

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Oral tradition of the Vedas.


Steering back to the original intent of this thread, I have one thing to mention, which is of relevence to the topic. Gayathri Manthra is from "Rig Veda", and it forms part of Sruti, any recitation from Vedas should be initiated properly by Acharya or Guru. One of the important functions in conducting Upanayanam is initiation of Gayathri mantra. This Vedic Mantra is an invocation to "Savitr" the Sun God, set to Anushtup Chandas which is otherwise known as Gayathri. And it is sacrosanct that it should be recited according to the traditional way set for this Chandas. But nowadays recordings have come that Gayathri Manthra is set for various tunes and even ragas. This is nothing but sacrilege of our religious tradition followed by us thousands of years. Surprisingly no one seems to be bothered or taken any objection to this. It is my request to Tamil Brahmin community that they should atleast voice their concern to our religious heads.

Oral tradition.........


Yogi Ram Suratkumar of Tiruvannamalai used to say quite often that ours
is a land of Vedas, sages and saints. A time will come when our Country
will show the right path to the rest of the world. He wanted everyone of
us to study Vedas.

Amidst our busy schedule, we have to think of spending at least a hour or
two in learning Vedas. The vibrant sound-waves of Vedas will bring a
total change, I believe. Let us try.
May be the daily practice of "YOGA" - Pranayama + Simple Exercises
can mark the start off for this venture into the Vedas !
Keeping ur mind and body under control should be the first step in the ladder to
reaching the heights of learning VEDA!
and then the second step ??
Does one needs to go thru RIG - YAJUR- SAMA- ADHARVANA and then the UPANISHADS ( 108 - too many !)
or is there an easier way to learn things which can be of practical use to amend our lifestyles to the TRUE PATH !
A lot of old knowledge was shrouded in mystery. There has been a lot of demystification in the last two decades. To appreciate the oral tradition, we should know more about it.

When I posted the link to the sound recording, someone made a smart alec comment about learning from the Guru. Tantrik mantras require initiation by a Guru. There we talk about Deeksha, krama Deeksha etc. Vedic mantras do not require any such initiation except the Gayatri mantra which requires Upadesam. The people who teach Vedas are Acharyas who teach how to recite. That is how I was/am being taught.

Over the ages it has been believed that even listening to the recitation of the Vedas purifies the house and creates a good atmosphere.

By listening to the recordings of the Vedas, the same effect is created. Again we also come to understand some of the intricacies involved. And last but not the least, by buying such Cds and cassettes, we are indirectly encouraging the pundits who recite them.

Now in the words of Will Durant let us "humanise the Vedas."

Most of us recite some Mantras from the Vedas. Starting from "Gananam thva Ganapathi ..." All sookthas are Vedic. Even these should be recites as per the Vedic rules to get the best effect.

All that is required to get a good recording of the Sookthas, mantras. Listen to it many times. Get the book Taitriya mantra Kosa with the correct pronunciation marks. Ask your local priest to teach you. He will be more than happy to do it. One hour per week.

Now a days Shringeri Sankara matam and Kanchi matam are conducting classes in Vedic recitation. We can join the classes.

We do not have to join Veda Pathasala to practice the the oral tradition and appreciate it. We may not master the Vedas, but we will be playing a small role like the squirrel in the Ramayana in keeping the tradition alive.
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Dear Sri Nacchinarkiniyan Ji,

Welcome back! Nice posting - I have several questions.

1. Sri Jagadguru MahaPeriaval has written that the recitation of Vedas should be undertaken with greatest care, because the proper pronunciation and metrics is required. If one recites these with wrong intonations, sometimes bad things may happen. I have also heard that the intonations and the metric can vary by 'sambradhayam'. So, is there one intonation that is correct?

2. Is there a way to start a group of classes organized for people like me who live abroad? I am thinking along the lines of Carnatic Music lessons, which are now taught from India to students living abroad, over the two way audio/video capabilities of the internet.

3. Is there a step by step curriculum?

Excellent idea. I will check up and let you know. With modern technology it should be possible. Some of the Gurus in India are delivering lectures by live webcasting.
Oral tradition...

Dear Sri Nacchinarkiniyan,

Yes, I did make the comment you referred to. If anyone wants to learn
recital, he must seek a Guru. The purpose of my statement is that the
Guru corrects you immediately. By practice, one learns to recite the Vedas
without swarabedam. I stand by my statement.

If one wants to hear only, he can buy recorded CDs, and, as you rightly
say, the pundits can be encouraged financially.
Oral Tradition of Vedas.


I agree with you that "Vedic knowledge" should be learnt from a qualified Acharya. I wish the members who participate in this forum should visit personally to some of the Veda Patasalas, which impart Vedic Studies and understand how it functions and the enormity of task. Vedic studies are full time studies. Only those who could afford to spend their whole life can join these Patasalas. Let us question our selves as to how many of us will be ready to send our children to Veda Patasalas at their tender age of Seven. Very few or none.To start with those who are interested in spreading Vedic Knowledge can contribute liberally to the existing Veda Padasalas run by Mutts and organisations of repute. Also see that the existing Vedic Scholers and Upadhyayas are paid well when there is a chance to invite them for any function or ceremonies.

For information Tirumala Tirupathi Devastanams have brought our some Vedic Recitations in CD and Cassettes. I have a set with me. Veda Prasar Samiti, New Delhi have brought out All the Four Vedas in MP3 CD formats. You can get the details in their Website: http://www.vedchant.com/

Absolutely Right !

Something is better than Nothing !!
and for the less privileged , who do not have access to veda patashalas
listening to the mp3's and making a start will be worthwhile, wouldn't it ?

And has it been mentioned any where that only if i knew the precise pronunciation
of the aksharas , will I be able to understand the doctrines of the Vedas ??

Enlighten me Please !
Shringeri Sankara matam and Kanchi matam have been conducting classes in Vedic recitation for some time now. I remember the Rudram/Chamakam classes in our colony in Bombay in the early sixties.

These classes have become quite popular in Chennai. There are a number of them in various localities. You can find out from your Sasthirigal about these. Normally one hour for 3 to 4 days a week. You are taught some of the Sookthams like Devi Sooktham, Medha Sooktham, Purusha Sooktham and later may be Rudram/Chamakam.

These classes deal with only the Mantra portion of the Vedas. The ritual portion which is contained in the Brahmanas are not taught. What it gives you is over a period of time, is that you are able to recite some of the Sookthas at home. You may be able to join the other Brahmins when the Sookthas or Rudram/Chamakam is recited in a ritual.

These classes are conducted with the blessings of the Sankaracharyas of both the Matams.

These classes do not aim to teach you the meaning of the Mantras.

About the efficacy of the Mantras, it is said that if you are chanting a Mantra for a specific purpose, it is absolutely essential to be perfect. Otherwise you may not get the intended benefit. But no harm can come if the Mantras are recited for spiritual purposes. This is true of both Vedic and Tantrik Mantras.

mantraheenam kriyaaheenam Baktiheenam suresvari
yat poojitam mayaa devi paripoorNam tadastu me

मन्त्रहीनम् क्रियाहीनम् भक्तिहीनम् सुरेस्वरि
यत् पूजितम् मया देवि परिपूर्णम् तदस्तु मे |

About books Ramakridhna Math, Madras had published the Thaitriya Mantra Kosam in Tamil and Sanskrit By the Legendary Anna. you will find this book being carried by many of our Sasthirigals.

Shringeri Sharada Math has published a book Upayuktamsa Sangrahaha in Sanskrit.

These books are of great help in learning. They supplement the oral instructions. We have got so much used to reading from a book.
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Oral tradition....

Dear Sri Nacchinarkiniyan,

There are some more veda patasalas in chennai like , for instance,
in west mambalam.

Yes, I agree. Veda adhyayanam first. Then we will move on to Veda
Dear Mr.Nacchi,
Pl enlighten us about the " Tantrik Mantras " and
" Is it still believed to Cure illness , restore normalcy to the mentally handicapped etc etc by the veterans who have mastered such mantras ?"
or is it for some other purpose - to attain salvation ???????
Veda Sabhas are being organized in all the major cities of India by Shringeri Sharada Peetam. This is part of the programme to encourage Vedic scholars. This is for one day.

Here Vedic chanting is done by different groups belonging to the various schools of the region. The Vedic pundits are also honoured. This is an annual affair.

Please enquire and attend if you can. It is great to hear so many schools of Vedic chanting.
Oral tradition.....


In west mambalam, chennai, I know there are two - one run by Sri
Ahobila Mutt, near Sankara Mutt and the other run by Sri Swami
Sankarananada, Om Murugashram. In addition, there are some learned
pundits, Ganapatigals, who give private tuitions.
Dear sirs:

I have come across some portions in our Vedas which throw quite
a lot of information on Ethnopharmacology. Many of the plants used
for various rites invariably possess medicinal properties .

For instance, Asvattah tree ( botanical name is Ficus religiosa ) is mentioned
in Taittiriya Brahmana 1-1-3 in the following terms : " Agni wished to hide
from Devas. He took the form of horse and resided in a Peepal tree for one
year. Thus came the name Asvattha for this tree ." Recently Rabideau has
pointed out in an article which appeared in American Journal of Botany
that in the leaves of Ficus species the absorption of incident light is 80-90%
and reflection is 10-20 %, whereas in other species which they examined,
the absorption of light varied between 20-60 %. Thus the Peepal tree
performs the photosynthesis to a degree which surpasses many other trees
and in this way, the environs of Peepal tree are enriched with oxygen
and the content of CO2 is reduced. Therefore people who live under this
tree live longer with good health. The Rishis praised the tree as the ojas
of the wind god.

It has potential to cure many diseases including diabetes and cancer.
It can reduce the poisonous effects of various toxic substances. The
tree contains alkaloids which are biologically active. The extract of bark
relaxes the intestines and aids digestion.

I have come across some interesting references with regard to Arkah plant
and its botanical name is Calotropis gigantea. By its very name it is
related to Sun god. On Ratha Saptami day, we use it. We use it for
Ganesa puja. Arkah is used in Satarudriya homa.

The milky juice obtained from Arkah is poisonous and the latex contains
cardiac poisons. Compositions made out of the leaves are used as herbicides
for control of parthenium grass. A tincture of the leaves is used in the
treatment of intermittent fevers. Colds, coughs, asthma , dysentry are
treated with this plant and its various parts.

It is said that " in addition to its medicinal uses, It has some unexpected
use. The plant yields petroleum ether extract rich in hydrocarbons. These
hydrocarbons are most promising as liquid fuels. These high-molecular
weight compounds can be hydrocracked to yield gasoline,diesel oil and
lubricants. The residual biomass can be utilized to get briquetted fuel,
biogas and fertilizer. " ( D.K.Sharma and C.R.Babu- Fuel science and
technology )

There are many more.

This topic can be shifted to some other thread, if necessary.
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