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Vedas and Gayatri for Children : Part I Vedas

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The Vedas are ancient texts, whose age and place of origin are yet uncertain. The
word VEDA literally means Knowledge—To Know. The Veda text was perhaps very large
and, as people became more busy with material things, it became impossible for them to
follow the entire Veda and its spiritual significance. Therefore, Sage VYASA, who wanted to
preserve the Veda in its pristine purity of words, pronunciation, meaning and deeds for future
generations, divided the Veda into four parts and made one sage responsible for mastering
and propogating each part. The oldest of these is known as RIG VEDA ( with Rishi Samantu
), followed by YAJUR VEDA( Rishi Vaisampayana ), SAMA VEDA ( Rishi Jaimini ) and
ATHARVA VEDA ( Rishi Pailar ). There is also a view that Atharva Veda came into existence
much later. VEDA is supposed to have been revealed to the Rishies in the course of their
penance and not taught—hence called SRUTHI .
In the olden days, there was no written script and the communication was by word of mouth
and hearing. The alphabets are supposed to have had their origin from the sound of the
Damaru or the Drum of Lord SIVA, when he was performing the cosmic dance. There were
fourteen Sutras ( Grammar ) like AIYUN, RILUK etc, which were written as fourteen slokas
and Sage CHANDILYA wrote the annotation and explanation for the same. This was the
origin of the primordial sounds converted to words and their pronounciation. Pronounciation
is even more important than the words themselves, for the meaning they carry. For example,
if you say “ You can’t do that “, the meaning of the sentence completely changes , depending
upon the emphasis that you give to a particular word as shown below:
YOU can’t do that.
You CAN’T do that.
You can’t DO that.
You can’t do THAT.
It is easier to memorise a passage and give due emphasis to the words, conveying the real
meaning intended, if there is a musical element in it and composed in some metric stanzas,
like poems. Thus, the Vedas were composed in four SWARAS ( which later became seven ,
Saptaswara in music ) and they were set in fixed metres, known as CHANDAS, Thus the Rig
Veda, which is mostly prose, became more oriented towards Swara and metres in Yajur
Veda and much more so in Sama Veda. There is also a view that the different Vedas evolved
over a period of time and space and not all simultaneously. However, there is no difference of
view that Sage VYASA, who was born to a Rishi by name PARASARA and a FISHER
WOMAN, recomposed and classified the Veda into four parts, perhaps improving upon each
part as he proceeded.
There are elaborate steps laid down in memorising and chanting the Vedas, so as to preserve
their originality. They are the repository of Culture and Civilisation, details of the Natural
Wealth and their preservation, environmental protection, various Dos and Don’ts, Rules and
Regulations for the Society, steps for Spiritual and Moral improvement, discussions on which
is more durable---Material or Spiritual, etc etc. The Veda Adhyayana ( learning of Veda ) is
done by splitting them word by word ( known as KRAMAM ), then joining of two words at a
time and then dropping one word and adding another ( known as JADAI, and these Gurus
were known as JADAVALLABHARS), three words at a time adding one by one and dropping
one by one ( known as GANAM and the Gurus GANAPADIGAL ) etc, preserving all the time
the Swaras amd the metres. You would observe this even today to some extent when you are
taught Vishnusahasranama or Lalitha sahasranama. There is also time interval, counted as
the time taken for batting the eyelids for pronouncing each letter or word as the case may be,
similar to the THALAM control in music.
Over a long period of time, their real meaning or significance or benefits may have been lost
or less understood. But, they have been preserved in a remarkably good fashion , in their
originality till date, because of the procedure of SRUTHI—by hearing from generation to
generation. Rishis like PARASARA and MANU have written Memory pads, known as
SMRUTHIS ( Memory ) regarding the rules and regulations, strictly following the foot steps of
the Vedas. They are verily our law book of religion and the latest such book is the Constitution
of India.
Each of the Vedas has two parts, a SAMHITA and the BRAHMANA. The Samhitas consist of
MANTRAS, which are difficult to interpret with out commentaries or explanations. Therefore,
the Brahmanas came into existence, explaining in detail the various sacrifices mentioned in
the Samhitas and how they are to be performed. These two parts, dealing with the rituals in
the Vedas are known as KARMAKANDA.
In addition, Vedic literature also includes GNANAKANDA,dealing with supreme Spiritual
Knowledge. They are known as ARANYAKAS and UPANISHADS, leading toward self
realisation. The broad definition of Veda will include all these four parts, while a narrow
definition will include only the narrow Ritual part or SAMHITA. Thus, when we talk about Yajur
Veda for instance, we talk only about Yajur Veda Samhita.
Every Veda was taught in different schools and the teaching of one school often varied from
that of another. For instance, Vaisampayana, to whom Vyasa taught Yajur Veda, taught the
Yajur Veda in turn to 27 different pupils. Over a period of time, the Yajur Veda branched off
into two different schools. The first one was TAITRIYA ( black ) known as KRISHNA YAJUR
VEDA and the second one was called VAJASANEYI(white) or SHUKLA YAJUR VEDA.
Taitriya is called black because the rituals as well as explanations ( Samhita and Brahmana )
are often mixed in different parts. Most of us, belonging to Yajur Veda in South India, follow
the Krishna Yajur Veda. Similar splits have happened in the other Vedas as well.
Vysya also elucidated the meaning of the Vedas in the form of stories, easily comprehensible
to the common man, as 18 PURANAS ( Stories of God ) and also wrote the great epic
MAHABHARATA. He handed them all over to a Rishi, by name SOOTHAR. After writing all
these elaborate texts and Puranas, Sage Vyasa thought that an Abstract was now necessary
and hence wrote a compendium of “ Universal Basic Truths “, extracted from the Vedas,
Upanishads and Puranas, known as BRAHMASUTRAM.
The people were generally divided into four groups, by virtue of the work they were assigned,
as Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra., known as VARNAS. Intervarna marriages and
relationships were apparently common. If a man from a higher ranking Varna marries a
woman from a lower ranking Varna, she gets upgraded to the higher Varna and this is called
ANULOMAM. If a woman of the higher Varna marries a man of the lower Varna, she gets
downgraded to the Varna of the man and this is called PRATILOMAM., which was generally
discouraged. Sage Vyasa was himself born out of Anulomam and Sage Soothar was born
out of Pratilomam types of relationship.
People have generally a tendency to see the part for the whole and not the whole of it. The
different Puranas were written to bring out a particular philosophy and the greatness of a
particular God. Thus, different Gods were depicted as great in different Puranas. People
started forgetting the basic philosophy and the moral each one of these Puranas conveyed,
but started considering that particular God as Supreme of all and started condemning others.
Thus subgroups came into existence like SAIVAM(Worshippers of Siva ), VAISHNAVAM
(worshippers of Vishnu ), SAKTHAM ( of Goddess Sakthi ), SAURAM ( of Sun God ),
GANAPATYAM ( of God Ganapathi ) and KAUMARAM ( of Karthikeya ), besides a few other
tribal branches.
The basic philosophy and spiritual enlightenment taught by the Vedas and Upanishads were
forgotten or side lined and the above subdivisions got themselves to be treated as separate
religions and as an end in itself. BUDDHISM ,JAINISM , and even the ARYA SAMAJ of
Swami DAYANANDA or the BRAHMOSAMAJ of RAM MOHAN ROY during the last century,
evolved and deteriorated, mainly based on their own concept and interpretation of the
practices of the rituals. They all flourished when there was a great, noble, selfless,enlightened
soul, preferably with power of authority and control over people, and they deteriorated when
that authority diminished.
Besides the six branches mentioned above, there were also occasions when the basic
spiritual concepts of the Vedas and Upanishads were questioned by other religious groups
like SANKHYA or MEEMAMSA. The Sankhya philosophy, though accepting the Vedas,
believed that God is the incarnation of Gnana and he has not created this world, which is
merely made up of stones , earth, and water. Th Meemamsa philosophy believed that God is
not the benefactor of Good or Bad, which is dependent on one’s own Good or Bad Deeds and
in proportion to it. What was the state of affairs in India at that time? There were different
creeds like the BHAIRAVAS, KAPALIKAS and the CHARUVAKAS , who considered
enjoyment of worldly pleasures as the sole aim in life. There was discord on Metaphysical
and Dharmic matters; each deemed his own view as the most correct and there was no great
enlightened person to guide them to the Truth. It was at this stage that the greatest
philosopher of recent times was born in KALADI, in Kerala, known as ADI SANKARA. He
emphasised the oneness or the sameness in all. He won over the protoganists of other
philosophies by discussion and logical arguments and reestablished the supremacy of the
Vedas and Upanishads, Valuable contributions of other philosophies like the PATANJALI
SUTRA, for instance, the Mother of yoga sastra was retained and practiced till this date as a
part of other Sastras, to the great benefit of all.
Adisankara reunited the various sects like Saivam, Vaishnavam, Saktham, Sauram,
Ganapatyam and Kaumaram into what is known as Shanmada Sthabanam ( Establishment of
united six religions ),and established the Advaita Philosophy. ADVAITAM literally means Non
Dualism. Reality is one without a second. Whatever we see as different parts, are parts of a
whole and not parts per se themselves.He established, whatgenerally came to be called as
SANATANA DHARMA. With the dawn of knowledge, the feeling of difference vanishes and
we can see Unity in Diversity, which is the core of Indian Culture. The great beauty is that
whatever has been the aberrations in thinking, the greatness of GAYATRI has remained
undisturbed and unquestioned and is taught through all the three Vedas. The full text of​
GAYATRI is present in the 36 th chapter of Yajur Veda.
Dear Sir,

A very useful post.

I was fortunate to learn carnatic music from Sangeetha Kalaanidhi Prof. S. Ramanathan.

He gave us a hint for getting correct stress wherever we want, while singing swaras.

It is similar to the stress you have mentioned in the words in a sentence.

He trained us to sing / play on veena 1. S r g m; 2. s R g m; 3. s r G m; 4. s r g M

Then, it extends to p d n s. also, with different combinations.

Many artists play the vEdic notes, when they elaborate REvathi rAgam.

Raji Ram
Vedas and Gayatri for children, Part 1, Vedas.

Dear Mrs. Visalakshi Ramani and Mrs.Raji Ram,
Thank you both for your appreciation.
I prepared this write up a few years back at the time of Upanayanam of one of my relatives. My objective is that the younger children, who are very inquisitive and at the same time, not willing to take anything for granted, as we in our generation used to do, should be explained, to the extent possible, the significance of these Mantras. I have added this as an appendix to my post " The Glory of Vishnu Sahasranamam" under this group "Literature".
I thought I would post it separately also here, in smaller threads, so that more people could read. My earnest appeal is to carry the message to as many of the younger generation as possible, so that they develop some respect for our religion.
thanks for the information.my name is ravi and my mail id is [email protected] is a bhasyam for the four vedas written
by the sage saina charya and his brother is also a great saint named vidyaranya swamy.do u know where there(bhasya) are available please let me know
Dear Sri. Ravi,
I had also been looking for Vidyaranya's Bashyam, but not successful so far. I had searched for it in Sringeri mutt library also.
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