The four Vedas
God and the Vedas
God and the Souls
Creation and Matter
Ethics and Moral Values
Prayer to God and His Worship
Dedication to Society
In TIBET near the Great Himalayas, a small community of the human race lived, later came to be known as the Aryan race, with the favourable surroundings consisting of vegetation and animals. Animals were rather in a free position, compared to these persons, since for their method of behavior and for the purpose of communication, they relied on their God given knowledge. Person in this respect was different from his fellow creatures. One had to be taught to do what is right and not to do what is wrong. One possessed intellect, choice and common sense. And therefore one was responsible for whatever one did. One could be good or bad. To all, the Lord gave what came to be known as Word (the Shabda), also known as the Vedas.
At the beginning of the creation there was just a small community of men and women. It spoke a common language of the WORD, which it understood. This was the first language of the human race. The life was simple, there was no caste, no beliefs, no communities, no arguments and discrimination. Inspired by WORD, they made friendship with their surroundings, they worked together. They followed simple law of right and wrong. They discovered fire, they reared their cattle and they had their agriculture. The religion of this peace loving and the earliest race came to be known as the Vedic Religion.
The four Vedas
The Word of God when compiled came to be known as the four Vedas. The word ‘Veda’ means knowledge. The Four Vedas were passed on to the Four most learned Rishis. The Rigveda was passed on to Agni Rishi, Yajurveda to Vayu Rishi, Samaveda to Aditya Rishi and Atharvaveda to Angira Rishi . The subject matter of Vedas are (i) Philosophy, (ii) Deeds, (iii) Communion with God and (iv) Knowledge in general.
In the world’s library today, we have no book older than these Vedas which are 1,972,949,107 years old.
Thousands of years of peace have passed since then. The human race from its earliest place emigrated in all directions, carrying its language, its moral principles and the systematic view of the Vedas.
The Vedas thus are not the ancient birthright of Indians only, whose language and thoughts are quite closer even today to those of the earliest of the Vedic period ; it is also the birthright of the entire mankind . During the course of history, over five thousand years ago the whole world took part in a war known as MAHABHARAT, which took place in India. This war destroyed most of the Vedic teachings because the monarchs, the rulers and the learned people were killed in this war. There was disorder everywhere and some selfish people started to mislead the weak and the uneducated people. The pure, natural and simple religion changed into meaningless fearful beliefs and certain people began to give guarantees to people in need, for a good future in return for money etc. These selfish people even pretended to be God themselves and looted the uneducated, the poor, the sick and the people who had some form of problems. The Vedic religion needed to be reorganized.
In the nineteenth century a great teacher was born in India, one of the greatest of the modern times, Swami Dayanand Sarasvati (in short known as Dayanand, born 12th Feb.1824, died 30th Oct.1883) who founded an institution, named as the Arya Samaj.
On the Tenth of April 1875 in Bombay, the Arya Samaj was established to work for the reestablishment of the simplicity and the natural way of life of the original religion based on the Vedas. Swami Dayanand stood for a common religion based on truth for the entire humanity and attempted to bring all the religions to a common base. The Vedas and their teachings are meant for all the people of all nations.
God and the Vedas
The Vedas state that God is one and not many. He exists all the time. He is the source of all true knowledge. He is the source of all joy and happiness. He is formless (has no shape or body). He has created this world in which we live. He is kind to us all. He is just and merciful.
God is always present every where, He is omniscient (has infinite knowledge) and is omnipotent (has infinite power). Everything exists in Him and He exists in everything. He is changeless and is above space and time. He is not born, nor would He ever die. He does not take bodily forms. He is truth and always remains the same.
The Souls(The Infinitely small Individuals)
God is one but the souls are infinite. Souls have been co-existing with God; they were never created into existence, nor shall they ever die. Souls are living individuals. They are likely to be affected by weaknesses such as wrong doings and therefore, they take body forms of human or other living creatures according to their deeds, through which they function.
In this body each individual is responsible for his or her actions. Not only do human beings possess souls, but animals also have souls. Animals commonly work with their instincts. Men and women commonly work with their intellect. Humans have the freedom of choice - they can become good or bad.
One who is born must die. One who dies is born again in these physical bodies. The cycle of life and death has been in existence since the creation. Our present life is built up of our entire past. Our future would depend on what is our present and what has been our past.
This cycle of life and death goes on for an individual, till one attains a state where one would be able to function without the body. In the physical body, an individual enjoys in terms of what one sees through one’s eyes, what one hears through one’s ears and what one tastes through one’s tongue and so on. This enjoyment comes from the external earthly objects. This is different from the enjoyment that the soul would be enjoying by its direct awareness. This joy comes from our Lord. The object of life is to attain such a condition. This is known as Liberation (moksha- freedom).
God and the Souls
- God is one, the souls are many.
- God is limitless, souls have a limit.
- God is the source of all true knowledge and joy. The souls depend on God for their knowledge and joy.
- God creates this universe for the sake of the souls and the souls use the necessary things for their life.
- God does not take physical bodies. He does not need the aid of the physical organs, like eyes, hands, etc. for seeing and doing. The souls function with the aid of these organs through the cycle of birth and death. The life after death is for the souls and not for God.
- God supervises over the actions of the souls during their life cycles. Whatever good or bad actions the souls do, they are themselves responsible for it. Their present is decided by their entire past and their future would depend on their present actions. God awards the fruits of the good or the bad deeds while the souls suffer or enjoy them.
- God is just and merciful and therefore, Generous. He decides what would be most useful for the souls and while doing so He is never influenced by anyone.
- God is never liberated while the souls seek their liberation through their efforts.
- God is above sins and mistakes. It is the soul that has wickedness and goodness. In order to raise the goodness to the maximum, and bring down the wickedness, the souls are awarded favorably for their good deeds and punished for their bad deeds.
Creation and Matter
According to the Vedic philosophy, matter (water, air, heat, soil and ether) exists at the time, in atom form, with God and the souls. All the three (God, Soul and Matter) are eternal, that is, they have been existing for all times, and they would continue to do so. Matter in the Vedic language is known as “prakriti”. The matter when put into action by God leads to the entire creation with which we are familiar. God brings forth this creation out of and from matter. He does not create from nothing.
God makes Himself known through His creation. Creation has no beginning, nor shall it have an end. Creation is real in the sense that it is based on the universal laws, on God’s design and for a purpose. These things in this creation speak the honor of God.
The Creation includes destruction of one stage and the construction of the other. The cycle of destruction and construction is endless. In this sense, God is always at work.
The souls enter the human body as much as they do the bodies of the lower animals and creatures. These bodies are awarded in regard to good or bad deeds. The souls function in these bodies within requirements and with the limited freedom.
The human body consists of five sections, of which the external three are born of matter (the prakriti). The internal two are not of matter. These sections are: (1) physical section, consisting of flesh, bone, muscle, etc. and also includes the five organs of the senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin ) and five organs of action (mouth, hands, legs, urinary and excreting organs). (2) The nervous section, which transmits understanding and feelings. (3) Psychic sections consisting of the mental and excitable activities, during the state of awakening, sleep and a dream. (4) enlightenment section (knowledge.) and (5) bliss (joy ) section.
When the soul leaves the body, it leaves the first three material sections: the physical, the nervous and the psychic, and takes with it the other two sections : the knowledge section and the bliss section to the next body after death.
Thus when we are born, we are all not born alike. The differences exist as the result of our past. The complete record of the past is ingrained (printed) in the soul that is continued on to the next life after death.
Ethics and Moral Values
The object of life is to increase the knowledge and through knowledge, achievement of bliss (joy). This can be done by having certain values, which are known as the moral or good values. The highest ethical ideal is God Himself. In other words God is perfect and has all the good qualities in Him only.
The moral values have been variously grouped:
(1) truth, courage, purity of life, and love and affection towards God and His creation; (2) the five rules of behavior according to the Yoga are : (a) non-violence (love for all humans, animals, creatures etc. in our hearts). (b) Truth, including the truthfulness of thought, word and deed (c) non-stealing, by thought, word or deed; (d) self control or control over sex desires; and (e) not gathering excessive belongings.
The moral principles are transformed into life by man’s attempt and practice through life. The translation of the moral values and scientific principles of truth through life is known as religion (Dharma).
The moral principles are translated into life by the following processes:
- self-reliance (having faith in yourself).
- study of moral and spiritual literature of scriptures.
- by the company of good people.
- by praying to God for help and
- by devoting our efforts to the service of society unselfishly.
Prayer to God and His Worship
God is the highest moral ideal, and therefore, we pray to Him. We express our thankfulness to Him, not because He needs favour from us, but because He gives to one who prays in an attitude of humbleness. Humbleness is the foundation of moral values of life.
Prayer and worship include three stages:
(i). Repeating the names of God which speak of Him as the High Moral Being: e.g. God is kind, God is Fair, God is Great, God is Merciful, God is Knowledge, and so on and so forth. By repeating these names, we agree and appreciate the importance of moral values.
(ii). We ask God for the removal of our weaknesses and for an improvement of our life. When we speak of God in these terms, we want His assistance, we also promise to work hard to attain these good qualities of God.
(iii). Togetherness with God, which is worship. This discipline is obtained by regular practice, such as sitting in silence and trying to feel that the Almighty, all-full of joy, all-kind God, the beloved Lord, is always with us.
For closeness with God, and for becoming good, a control on the unstable mind is necessary. The sensual organs (e.g. eyes, ears, nose etc.) divert the attention of the soul to the external world. The soul is involved in the worldly things and this leads to attachment, the attachment leads to the self interests, jealousy, hatred, anger, pain and other evil things.
The mind can be controlled by leading a good conduct of life, by keeping it busy in good action, by the practice of breath exercises (pranayam), by repeating the syllable AUM (name of God) while doing the breath exercise and by devotion to the service of fellow beings who are needy, poor and meek ( humble).
The syllable AUM is the most natural symbolic name of God, consisting of the three letters of the alphabet: A represents God as the creator of the universe, U represents God as the operator of the universe and M represents God as the terminator (destroyer) of the universe.
God is known under different names according to His actions but He is One and only.
The Vedic philosophy does not believe in the existence of many Gods neither does it practice idol worship.
Dedication to Society
The Vedic religion stands for the social and moral dedication to society. One of the best ways of loving God, Who is our Father and Mother, is to love our fellow humans and the other creatures. Let us be friendly with everybody, down to the smallest creature in our surroundings. The message of the Vedas is the message of peace, love and friendliness. Our Father God would bless us when we are thoughtful towards all living beings.
The Vedic society is divided into four natural groups, and all of us have some place in this classification. This indicates the field of activity in which each individual could give his or her service to the human society. The four groups are: (i) Those who increase or contribute to the advancement of knowledge are known as the Brahmans; (ii) those who help society in the management and defense, the ruling class ( e.g. kings, prime ministers, presidents, soldiers etc.) are known as the Kshatriyas; (iii) those who create and distribute wealth or in other words, the agriculturists (farmers), the traders and the businessmen are known as the Vaishyas, and those who serve society with manual labour and are unskilled, are known as the Shudras. These four are important parts of the society.
The Brahmans represent the Head, the Kshatriyas represent the arms, the Vaishyas represent the trunk (from shoulder to the hip) and the Shudras represent the legs. All of the four groups are equally important.
Every individual is expected to follow the rules of the society. Discipline is a moral quality. Faithfulness to the service of others who are weak and humble is very good, even at the cost of one’s life. The protection of the weak and righteous from the cruelty of the strong and evil at the risk of personal interests is known as sacrifice.
One should therefore share with the others his enjoyments and wealth. Those who are learned should serve others by giving knowledge; those who are physically strong should defend the weak by their strength; those who have plenty and are wealthy should happily share their earnings with those who need it.
Everybody should work hard to bring harmony and peace in society. This has to be completed by congenial (friendly), loving and religious attitude.
Adapted from ‘Dharmic Shiksha (Vedic Religious Knowledge) – Form Three’, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, 1997.
Copyright: Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji