Introduction to Vedas


INTRODUCTION TO THE COMMENTARY OF THE RIG & OTHER VEDAS May God protect us both (the author and the reader), may he send us enjoyments, may we acquire strength together, may our learning be full of luster and glory, may we never hate each other. SAHANAA VAVATU SAHANOU BHUNAKTU SAHA VEERYYA KARAVAA VAHAI TE JASVINA VADHI TAMAS TU MAA VIDDHI SHAAVAHAI Taittiriyopanishat, II Valli. I. Anuvaka Having bowed to Brahma, who is without beginning or end, who is the universal creator unborn, eternal, the true and the highest reality, and whose ancient knowledge, called the Veda, is the upholder of law, the destroyer of unlawfulness, pure, beneficial to the world and bestower of prosperity on all men, I, with a … Continue reading Chapter 1,INTRODUCTORY STANZAS.


Lord’s Prayer O Lord! Thou art all-existence, all-consciousness, and all-bliss, most merciful, infinite, possessed of knowledge and of the whole universe – the sun, etc, bestower of all happiness and maker of the entire universe. Do thou chase far away from us all ills and evil qualities and surround us and provide us and provide us, through Thy grace, with that good in which there is no admixture of pain, and which, through the acquisition of true knowledge, leads to exaltation in this and to final beatitude in the next state. Do Thou remove all untoward obstacles from this work of writing the commentary on the Vedas even before they have time to occur. O Supreme Brahma! Be gracious unto … Continue reading Chapter 2,VEDIC PRAYERS

Chapter 3,The Origin Of The Vedas

The Rigveda, the YajurVeda, the Samaveda and the Atharveda were produced by the Supreme and perfect Being, Parabrahman, who possesses the attributes of self-existence, consciousness and bliss, who is Omnipotent and universally adored. The meaning is that the four Vedas were revealed by God alone. [The word ‘sarvahuta’ can also be taken as an adjective qualifying the Vedas because they also are worthy of acceptance to all]. “(Tasmat) from (sarvahutah) the universally adored Being the (Yajna) Vishnu – the all-pervading were produced the Riks and the Samans. (Tasmat) from Him (jajnire) were produced (Chhandansi) the Atharvaveda (tasmat) from Him (ajayata) was produced (Yajus) the Yajurveda (Tr) The Yajur Veda. In the mantra the verbs ‘Jagnire’ and ‘Ajayata’ both meaning ‘produced’ … Continue reading Chapter 3,The Origin Of The Vedas

Chapter 4,The Eternity of the Vedas

The Vedas having been produced by God and all powers of God being eternal, their eternity is self-evident. Here someone might say that the Vedas could not be eternal, because they consisted of words, and words, like a jar, were effects i.e., things made or fashioned. The words being non-eternal, the Vedas should necessarily be admitted to be so. No, they cannot be admitted to be non-eternal, because words are eternal as well as effects, (i.e., not-eternal). The relations of words and meanings which exist in the knowledge of God must be eternal, but, those, which exist in ours, are effects (i.e., non-eternal). All powers of Him must be eternal whose knowledge and acts are eternal, without a beginning and … Continue reading Chapter 4,The Eternity of the Vedas

Chapter 5,The Subject Matter of the Vedas

The Vedas treat of four classes of subjects viz. Vjanana (Philosophy or metaphysics), Karma (action in general), Upaasana (communion with God) and Jnaana (knowledge in general). Of these, the first, viz. Vijnana, takes the precedence of all. It means realization, in knowledge, of all things, from God down to a blade of grass. The first and foremost rank is occupied by the realization of God. He being the highest of all entities, the Vedas chiefly treat Him. That this is so, is clear from the following quotations:- Yama says to Nachiketas in Kath II.15, “Om, i.e., God is the highest seat to which men attain in what is called emancipation (Moksha). It is characterized by the realization of God. It … Continue reading Chapter 5,The Subject Matter of the Vedas

Chapter 6, The Name Of The Vedas

The name Veda is applicable to the Samhita or the mantra portion only. It cannot be admitted to apply to the Brahmanas even though kayayana says that Veda is the name of both the mantra and the Brahmana portions. The Brahmanas do not deserve to be called by the name Veda because they have been given names of Purana and Itihasa. They are Vedic glosses and are not the words of God but merely the works of rishis and the products of human intellect also, because other rishis than Katyayana have refuse to call them by name Veda. The Brahmanas contain narratives of the events of human history and mention men (who took part in them) by their names. The … Continue reading Chapter 6, The Name Of The Vedas

Chapter 7, Theosophy (Brahmavidya)

To the question, whether or not the Vedas contain all the sciences, our answer is that they do contain the root principles of all; the sciences. Of these, the first in importance is Theosophy (Brahamavidya) which we shall now briefly explain. We read in the Rigveda I.6, 15,5. “We invoke God for our protection. He is the Ruler and Maker of the Universe and of all that moves and does not move. In Him the intellect finds satisfaction. He imparts strength and vigor. O Supreme Lord! Protect through Thy grace our knowledge and riches which thou causest to grow. Do thou guard and sustain us always without remiss so that we may obtain all kinds of happiness. On this subject … Continue reading Chapter 7, Theosophy (Brahmavidya)

Chapter 8, Dharma as taught in the Vedas

God ordains: Acquire duly the Dharma preached by me which is justly devoid of bias and partiality and refulgent with truthful characteristics. Combine together giving up all dissensions so that your best happiness may increase and all suffering may be destroyed. Having combined together hold discussions, lovingly putting questions and answering them and avoiding perverse reasoning such as sophistry, captious and fallacious arguments, so that noble qualities and true knowledge may ever increase amongst you. Acquire wisdom and so exert · yourselves that your minds may be stocked with knowledge and be always filled with joy. Always follow Dharma and never practice Adharma. You should follow the same Dharma as was followed by the learned, wise and impartial men, whether … Continue reading Chapter 8, Dharma as taught in the Vedas

Chapter 9, Cosmogony

The purport of the following mantras is as given below:- All this world that we see was duly created by God. He it is who preserves it and having disintegrated it at the time of the dissolution makes it disappear. He goes on repeating this again and again for ever. Before the creation, i.e., when this effect – the world – had not been made, even the void (Akasha-space) was not; because, there were no actions which could take place in it, nor was at that time the causal matter of the world named sat, consisting of prakriti – unmanifested matter; nor were there the atoms; nor was there the second akasha – ether, which fills the universe (virat). There … Continue reading Chapter 9, Cosmogony

Chapter 10, The Revolution and Rotation of the Spheres, the Earth, etc.

We shall now take into consideration the question whether the spheres like the earth and others revolve or not. According to the teachings of the Shastras, the Veda, etc., all the heavenly bodies, the earth, etc., are in motion. Our authorities for the motion of the earth are as follows:- The following verses teach that all the globes, the earth, etc., are in motion. this globe, i.e., the earth as well as the sun, the moon, are revolving in space (Prishni=Antariksha). The same is true of the other globes also. Among them the earth along with the waters of the oceans, which are, as it were, her mother, resolves round the sun who is a mass of fire. Similarly, ether … Continue reading Chapter 10, The Revolution and Rotation of the Spheres, the Earth, etc.

Chapter 11,Gravitation and Attraction

The purport of the following verse is that all heavenly bodies are attracted by the sun, and the sun together with the other spheres is upheld by the attracting power of God. (The verse is capable of two interpretations according as the word Indra is taken to mean God or the sun. in the original the two interpretations are given together, but we have taken the liberty to give them separately dor the sake of greater clearness.. – Tr.) O Glorious and Mighty Lord! When thou puttest forth Thy great attributes of strength and prowess they uphold all the worlds according to the at all times. The glorious sun, by putting forth his powerful rays which possess the properties of attraction, illumination … Continue reading Chapter 11,Gravitation and Attraction

Chapter 12, The Illuminer and the Illumined

We now proceed to consider that the moon etc., shine with the light of the sun. The meaning of the next verse is that the sun illumines the earth and the moon. The meaning of the next verse is that the sun illumines and the earth and the moon. This earth is upheld in space by the eternal Brahma, the sun and the air. The sun is the upholder of all light. The twelve months owe their existence to time, the rays of light are generated and rendered strong by the sun, and the motes and particles are upheld by the air. In the firmament the moon depends on the sun for her light, e.e., such globes as the moon, etc., … Continue reading Chapter 12, The Illuminer and the Illumined

Chapter 13, The Science of Mathematics

The next two verses reveal sciences of Algebra and Geometry. When the numeral signifying unity is added to another such numeral it makes two, one and two make three, two and two make four, three and three make six. In the same way the numeral four, five, etc., occurring in this verses show that the science of mathematics is evolved by treating and figures in different ways, such as addition, etc. The frequent use of the conjunction ‘cha’, and shows that there are many branches of this science. It is known to all that this science has been fully dealt with in Jyotishshastra which is a limb of the Vedas (Vedanga). For this reason we do not dilate upon it here. But it … Continue reading Chapter 13, The Science of Mathematics

Chapter” 14, Praise, Prayer and Worship of God

The subject of divine praise was touched upon in the verses beginning with ‘Yobhutam eha’, We revert to it here also. Now we take up the subject of prayer. The following verses ‘Tejosi’, etc. treat of praise, prayer of God. “O Supreme Lord! Thou shines forth with Thy attributes of infinite knowledge, etc., fill me with the light of knowledge unlimited! Thou art of infinite prowess, O Lord! Endow me with firm vigor and activity of body and mind (intellect) through Thy grace; O Lord of Supreme might! Thy power is infinite, be pleased to grant unto me excellent power; O Lord! Thou art of moral force (ojas) do vouchsafe unto me the strength (born of) truth and knowledge; O Lord! In Thee … Continue reading Chapter” 14, Praise, Prayer and Worship of God

Chapter 15, Emancipation

The Jiva obtains emancipation by worshipping God in the manner mentioned above, removing nescience and sinful acts, and by developing pure knowledge and righteous conduct. Yoga aphorisms on emancipation. ‘Nescience, egoism, attachment, aversion and fear of death are the five afflictions. Nescience is the field (i.e., the birth-place0 of those that follow it (in the above enumeration) whether they be dormant, dwarfed, neutralized for the time being by another affliction, or active.’ ‘Nescience is to take the non-eternal as eternal, the impure as pure, pain as pleasure and not-self as self.’ ‘Egoism is the identification of the seer and the power of seeing.’ ‘Attachment is the attraction towards a pleasure which one has once experienced.’ ‘Aversion is the repulsion from a pain … Continue reading Chapter 15, Emancipation

Chapter 16, The Art of Building Ships and Aircrafts, etc.

The following mantras deal with mechanical arts and sciences. “A man desirous of possessing and enjoying wealth, riches, necessaries of life, comforts and victory should fulfill his desires with the help of physical sciences. By constructing ships of wood, iron, etc., and by using fire and water (for generating steam for propulsion) he may make voyages on the seas backwards and forwards and in this way he may amass wealth. Such a man never dies in want and without assets, for he has labored as a man. Men should, therefore, spend all their efforts in building ships and boats for   * I have, however, translated these texts without reference to the vernacular explanation, except in the case of the last two … Continue reading Chapter 16, The Art of Building Ships and Aircrafts, etc.

Chapter 17,The Science of Telegraphy

In the following verse the germs of the science of telegraphy have been revealed. “You should make the telegraph apparatus of a pure white metal which is a good conductor of electricity possessing the qualities of fire and it should be charged with electricity. It should possess the qualities of the Ashvins. It has many excellent properties and mostof the learned put it to their use. In military operations of the State it is a source of strength which it is most difficult to overcome. It should be employed most frequently in all things. It possesses this property that when it is struck it transmits the current and brings success in all great and good undertakings. It is most helpful in … Continue reading Chapter 17,The Science of Telegraphy

Chapter 18, The Medical Science

“The following verse contains the root of the medical science:- “O God, thou art the great Healer! My the medicines, soma, etc., be our friends, promote our welfare and destroy diseases through Thy favor and may we know t hem thoroughly. May the pranas be our good friends. May they be unfriendly to and inflict pain on the oppose those unrighteous men or evil passions such as anger, lust, etc., and diseases, who or which oppose us or whom or which we oppose. That is to say, medicines like friends destroy the afflictions of those who follow a proper regimen and like enemies inflict pain on those who violate it.” Yaju VI. 22. [In Sumitriya and durmitriya according to the supplementary rul ‘Iya diyach and i should ‘also be enumerated’ diyach has … Continue reading Chapter 18, The Medical Science

Chapter 19,Rebirth

The following verses refer to the doctrine of past and future births. “O God! Thou conductest our pranas. We pray Thee that we may be happy whenever we may assume another body after death. Grant us, O God! The eyes and all the other senses, the pranas and the inner senses in our future birth when we may assume another body after forsaking the present. Do Thou grant us that when we are born again we may enjoy uninterruptedly all enjoyable thins. May we be able to see the luminous sun and the ingoing and outgoingpranas in all our rebirths. O God! Thou art the dispenser of honor and happiness, make us happy in all our rebirths, through Thy grace.” [In this mantra, the eye … Continue reading Chapter 19,Rebirth

Chapter 20,Marriage

The following two verses ordain the sacrament of marriage. “O virgin! O young maiden! I take thy hand i.e., I marry thy and thou marriest me for accomplishing the purpose of begetting children. Lady! Mayes thou grow old in my (thy husband’s) company and may I grow old in thy (my wife’s) company and may we, in  this way, lovingly perform our duties and remain happy. God, full of glory and grandeur, the ordainer of justice, the creator and supporter of the whole universe has bestowed thee on me for household duties. All the learned men assembled here are our witnesses. If any of us should ever violate this our compact he or she would be punishable by God and … Continue reading Chapter 20,Marriage

Chapter 21,Niyoga (Appointment)

The following verses sanction Niyoga or marriage by appointment between a widow and a widower. “O married couple! Where do you pass the night, where do you pass the day, where do you earn your living, where is your private chamber and where is your sleeping room? (As to how the man and the woman who have contracted Niyoga should behave towards each other it is said that) as a married woman draws to her rooms a married man (her husband) for begetting children, even so should a widow and a widower after entering into Niyogabehave like married men and women for the purpose of procreation.” Rig V. 8. 18.2 These questions are put to the husband and the wife and the dual number is … Continue reading Chapter 21,Niyoga (Appointment)

Chapter 22, The Duties of the Ruler and the Ruled

The following verses lay down the duties of a king. “As the two kings, the sun and the moon, shed luster on all corporeal objects, so just and enlightened acts of sunlike and moonlike qualities adorn the three assemblies. By these assemblies men gain many joys such as those of victory, etc. By these State assemblies men adorn all things of world and render all living beings happy. One of them is executive and administrative assembly (Rajarya Sabha) for carrying on the government of the country; the second is the assembly of the learned (Arya Vidya Sabha) charged particularly to spread learning and advance it, and the third is the religious assembly (Arya-Dharma Sabha) concerned especially with the promotion of … Continue reading Chapter 22, The Duties of the Ruler and the Ruled

Chapter 23, The Varnas and Ashramas

The verse of Brahmano asya Mukham asit etc., Yaju XXXI. (vide Chapter on cosmogony) had been explained already. What follows is only by way of amplification. The Nirukta II. 3 says the word varna is derived from the root vri, ‘to choose, to appoint’. It , therefore, means ‘one to be chosen’, ‘worthy of choice’, or, ‘that to which one is appointed or elected with due regard to his attributes and works’. That man is entitled to the position of a  Brahmana who knows the Vedas, worships God and is endowed with such noble qualities as learning, etc. That man deserves to be a Kashatriya who is illustrious and devoted to the protection of the people in virtue of his ability to destroy the enemy and eagerness for … Continue reading Chapter 23, The Varnas and Ashramas

Chapter 24, On The Duties of a Householder

The following verses lay down the duties of a householder. May all he meritorious acts that we have done as householders living in (towns and) villages, such as the dissemination of knowledge, the procreation of children, the promulgation of good social laws, and other acts calculated to promote the general weal, or as dwellers in the forest such as the meditation of God, the acquisition of knowledge by self-study, the performance of austerities, acts conducive to the good of the society and good acts of the senses and the mind, may all these have the attainment of God and emancipation as their motive and whatever sins we may have committed knowingly or unknowingly those we may destroy by the observance … Continue reading Chapter 24, On The Duties of a Householder

Chapter 25,The Duties of a Dweller in the Forest

These three are the shoulders (supports) of Dharma in all the stages of life, i.e. study, yajna -‘the action portion’ and charitable gifts. In the first stage theBrahmacharya lives in the family of the preceptor doing austerities, acquiring good education and performing the dharma.  The second is the stage of the householder. In the third, the dweller in the forest, keeping down his body as much as possible, keeping his mind involved in thought and retiring in a solitary place, should determine what is true and what is false. All of these Ashramas are the seats of merit and abodes of happiness. They are called ashramas (resting places) because meritorious acts are performed in them. Acquiring learning and making oneself sure about God and thedharma in the Brahmacharya ashrama, putting to practice … Continue reading Chapter 25,The Duties of a Dweller in the Forest

Chapter 26,The Duties of a Sanyasi

The fourth, the Sanyasi (one who has renounced the world), being established in Brahma, attains immortality (emancipation). Members of all the stages but especially those of the fourth (Sanyasa) desire to know God, the Lord of all Creatures, by means of study, i.e. the teaching of and the listening of the Vedas and by means of acting according to their teachings. A man becomes a muni by knowing God by means of observing Brahmacharya, doing austerities, performing Dharma, faith, intense love, the yajna, imperishable knowledge and performance of virtuous deeds. The Sanyasis renounce the world on account of their desire to see (realize) God – the most beautiful (lit. worthy to be seen). The excellent Brahmanas, who know God, are free from all doubts, possessed of perfect wisdom, dispellers of the doubts … Continue reading Chapter 26,The Duties of a Sanyasi

Chapter 27, The Five Great Duties

We shall now describe briefly the method of performing the five great duties, the daily performance of which is incumbent on men. Of these the first is theBrahma yajna. It consists in the learning and the teaching of the Shastras, the Vedas, etc. together with their angas (limbs) and meditation and worship (of performed by all. The method of learning and teaching (the Shastras) is the same as described in the chapter on Reading and Teaching. The method of meditation and worship at the (two twilights is the same as given in my book named ‘The Pancha Mahayajna Vidhi.’ Similarly the agnihotra also is to be performed according to the directions contained in the same book. We shall now quote the authorities on the agnihotra to performed in … Continue reading Chapter 27, The Five Great Duties

Chapter 28, The Authoritativeness or Otherwise of the Books.

We shall now speak of the books which have been held to have an authority of their own from the beginning of creation to this day, and also those which have been held to depend for t heir authority on others by the learned Aryas-free from partiality, likes and dislikes, conducting themselves according to the dictates of truth and religion, of amiable character and devoted to the good of all. The books which are the word of God possess an inherent authority of their own, but those composed by men can have only an indirect authority. The four Vedas have an inherent authority in as much as being the word of God, who is omniscient, omnipotent and the possessor of universal … Continue reading Chapter 28, The Authoritativeness or Otherwise of the Books.

Chapter 29, Qualification and Disqualification.

Q. – Are all men entitled to study the Shastras, the Vedas, etc., or are they not? A. ~ All men entitles to study the Vedas, because they are the word of God, are meant for the benefit of all and bring to light true knowledge. We know it as a fact that whatever things have been created by God they are for our use of all. On this point we have the following authority in which God commands all to study and teach the Vedas. “As I have spoken this word – the beneficent Vedas, the Rig, etc., – for the good of all men creatures, so all learned men should preach it to all men. If here someone … Continue reading Chapter 29, Qualification and Disqualification.

Chapter 30, The Method of Teaching How to Read and of Reading.

When a child begins to reas he should be taught to pronounce the letters according to the methods of the science of orthepy so that he may have knowledge of the modulation of voice and of the organs used in and the method of pronouncing different letters, so that he may know correctly the way of pronouncing vowels and consonants. e.g. in pronouncing ‘p’ both the lips should be joined. Here the lips are the organs of pronunciation and bringing the lips together is the method of pronouncing it and so on. The great Muni Patanjali – the author of the Mahabhashya says on this subject:- ‘The letters are not clearly and distinctly audible and the expressions do not appear beautiful unless … Continue reading Chapter 30, The Method of Teaching How to Read and of Reading.

Chapter 31, Some Objections Answered and Doubts Removed on the Present Commentary.

Q. – Do you mean to write an absolutely new commentary or are you going to bring to light only what has been written by the old masters? In the latter case, it would be to grind what has been once through the mill and no one would accept it. A. ~ I shall bring to light what has been written by the old masters, e.g., the commentaries by the learned men of antiquity, viz., Aitareya and Shatapatha, etc. written by the rishis from Brahma to Yajnavalkya, Vatsyayana and iJaimine; the limbs of the Vedas written by the Maharishis Panini, Patanjali and Yaska, etc.; the six subsidiary limbs written by Jaimini, etc.; the books called the Upavedas and the works names the branches of the Vedas. I shall bring to light the true interpretation … Continue reading Chapter 31, Some Objections Answered and Doubts Removed on the Present Commentary.

Chapter 32, Pratijna (General Principles).

In the Vedic commentary we shall refer to the action portion only in so far as it will be deducible directly from the meaning of the words. We shall not, however, give a detailed description of the acts which ought to be performed in the various yajnas, from the Agnihotra to the Ashvamedha, according to the mantraswhich have been applied to the action portion. The reason is that the true application of the mantras to the action portion and the details of the observances are given in the Aitareya and Shatapatha Brahmanas, the Purvamimanxa, and the Shrouta Sutras, etc. Their repetition will disfigure this commentary with the faults of tautological repetition and the grinding of a ground meal which disfigure the books not written by Rishis. Only … Continue reading Chapter 32, Pratijna (General Principles).

Chapter – 33, Some Questions and Answers Relating to the Vedas.

Q. – Why are the Vedas divided into 4 parts? A. ~ In order to impart knowledge of different sciences. Q. – What are those sciences? A. ~ The sciences of music and pronunciation recognize three distinctions. In music we distinguish between a short note, and intermediate not and a long note and in pronunciation between a short vowel, a long vowel and an extra-long vowel. To pronounce a long vowel takes double the time of that which is spent in pronouncing a short vowel and thrice as much time is required to pronounce an extra-long vowel as is required for pronouncing a short vowel. It is for this reason that one and the same mantra is read in all … Continue reading Chapter – 33, Some Questions and Answers Relating to the Vedas.

Chapter – 34, The special rules of the Vedic words mentioned by the author of the Nirukta.

The rules laid down by the author of the Nirukta apply to every part of the Vedas. All the mantras treat of three classes of subjects. Some of them treat of Paroksha (not sense-cognized), some of Pratyaksha (sense-cognized) and others of Adhyatmika subjects (pertaining to the self). In mantras belonging to the first category the third person is used, in the second, the second and in the third, the first. But there are two rules for the use of the second person, viz. that the second person is used when inanimate objects are Pratyaksha. The purpose is to treat inanimate objects as Pratyaksha for the sake of emphasizing their utility. Not knowing this rule the Vedic commentators Sayana and others and their followers the European scholars who have translated the Vedas in their … Continue reading Chapter – 34, The special rules of the Vedic words mentioned by the author of the Nirukta.

Chapter – 35 Rules which are also of Use in the interpretation of the Vedic mantras

Rules and Svaras which are also of Use in the interpretation of the Vedic mantras. The svaras are of two kinds and each of them is again subdivided into seven classes as Udatta, Shadja, etc. We shall now give their definitions according to the grammarian Patanjali, the author of the Mahabhashya. The svaras are those which can be pronounced by themselves. In speaking loudly the bodily organs are strained, the throat is contracted and the voice becomes harsh. In speaking softly the bodily organs are relaxed, the throat is expanded and the voice becomes soft and smooth. In speaking we pronounce the svaras in three ways, viz., either as Udatta (high) or as Unudatta (low) or as Udatta-undatta (neither high nor low). As a thing having the white color is called white, and one … Continue reading Chapter – 35 Rules which are also of Use in the interpretation of the Vedic mantras