Vedas – the Epitome of the Endless, or, abstract of the infinite. The word endless or infinity pushes our mind in the conquest of attempting to realise the unconquerable. It is very obvious that if Vedas are abstract of the endless, then its author must have some Divine Power of reaching to the zenith of knowledge and wisdom which enabled him or her to frame such a masterpiece.
But it is a very astonishing fact that Vedas are not a collection of words of any single Divine Laureate. Vedas are a collection of experience and knowledge through centuries and generation, which got passed on to the society by verbal means and got compiled to its written form within a time range of 3500 to 1300 BCE. If we go by historical timeline reference, this is the period of Bronze Age and the time when Harappan or Indus Valley Civilisation was spread throughout the northwest regions of South Asia, including India.
At the time of creation of Vedas, there were many Rishis (sages) living simple, contemplative lives in hermitages high in the Himalayas and along the banks of sacred rivers. The Rishis had names like Angiras, Bhrigu, Yajnavalkya, and Gargi (Gargi was a woman).
They sought to understand the fundamental truths of life –
What is the purpose of our birth?
How did the world come into existence?
What is there beyond the vicinity of the world?
What lies ahead of death?
What are the fundamental factors responsible for growing a civilized and cultured society?
All these questions were centred around two major entities, I and Us. “I” referred to Inner self (Atman) and “Us” was about Brahmand (Universe) or everything around a person. Because of their intense inquiry and deep meditation, they received God’s blessings and were able to discover the answers to their profound questions.
Most of us know that Vedic Literature is in form of hymns and rhythms. Out of the four Vedas, only Rig Veda comprises of 1028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns or 10589 verses in total.
There are three more Vedas, namely, Atharva-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Sama-Veda. If taken collectively, they form a compilation of 20416 verses. All the Vedas are related to different segments knowledge and are sources of ultimate knowledge of varied dimensions related to life, society, spirituality, and Universe.
The vastness of Vedas itself claims the involvement of many centuries, many generations and valuable experience of great personalities in its creation. These oldest scriptures of Hinduism took textual format after 2000 BCE. Traditional scholars and sources claim the written format of Vedas to have originated around 4000-3500 BCE, whereas Western Scholars claim it to be around 1200 BCE.
Until then they were circulated in the society and transferred to generations by means of “Shruti” and “Smriti”, which means, hearing and learning or remembering. In the epic Mahabharata, the root creation of the sacred books is credited to Lord Brahma. Henceforth, many sages and saints often said to be “apauruseya” or superhuman, made a significant contribution in giving the Vedas its complete form as we are having now.
As far as origination is concerned, Rig Veda is believed to be at least 7000 years old when its propagation in society was based on verbal demonstration. Study of the extensive body of Vedic texts has been organised into a number of different schools or branches (Sanskrit śākhā, literally “branch” or “limb”) each of which specialised in learning certain texts. Multiple recessions are known for each of the Vedas, and each Vedic text may have a number of schools associated with it. Elaborate methods for preserving the text were originally based on memorising by heart instead of writing. Specific techniques (patha) for parsing and chanting the texts were used to assist in the memorisation process.
From the chronological sequence of the Vedas, we can analyse that these epic literary works evolved gradually. The oldest of the Vedas, Rig Veda is believed to be created (not written) around 10000 years ago and the youngest one is the Atharva Veda. Rig Veda is basically related to knowledge, spirituality and wisdom. Atharva Veda is the knowledge storehouse of the procedures of daily life.
Atharva Veda has hymns associated with health and medicine, sorcery and most importantly, methods involved in manufacturing and utility of Iron along with other metals like Bronze. If we take a historical reference, the ancient phase of Iron Age ranges to 1200 BCE just at the end of the Bronze Age. From knowledge, the specialisation and cavity of the Vedas evolved to medicine and technology, which is very much similar to the theory of evolution as known to mankind.
Now the credit of creation and development of the Vedas is taken by numerous saints and elite personalities who kept on collecting and sharing their knowledge through ages by their devotion and dedication. As far as its compilation and written form are concerned, credit is given to Sage Vyasa or Ved Vyasa. He is known to be one of the most enlightened Rishis (sages) who did all he can to give the rich Vedic Literature a written form.
We must know that Ved Vyasa was the grandfather of the most famous quintet, Pandavas and 100 Kauravas, the two rival sides of the war Mahabharata. Due to this notable contribution of Ved Vyasa, the full moon day or Purnima of the month of July is celebrated as Guru (Teacher) Purnima or Vyas Purnima. It is believed that Vedas are the words of God and the Creator, Prajapati Brahma is credited with its inception. As Ved Vyas was able to bring the enlightened and divine words of God in written scripts, the day is dedicated in adoration to his outstanding contribution to mankind.
Be it knowledge, health, and medicine, technology, governance, spirituality or wisdom, Vedas have more than these inscribed within it. It is due to the invaluable and unique attributes of the information of Vedas that it was preserved in forms of verbal recitations for centuries and henceforth, a special effort was given to convert it into a textual pattern. If the Creator, Prajapati Brahma created the Vedas (verbal), then the Vedas are just like a manual of knowing the Universe and exploring it wisely. Whenever we buy any electronic accessory of a technical product, a user manual to guide us about all the features, specialities and troubleshooting techniques associated with the product accompanies it. Let us pay adoration and tribute to the everyone associated in the formation of this enlightened scripture by accepting them to be our Gurus or Teachers –