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 the four Samhitas. Again, by the Rig verses we define objects, by the Saman verse we sing them.
The properties of objects have been explained in the Rig Veda. In the Yajur Veda is laid down the way of practical application of the objects of known properties to different arts and acts of utility. In the Sama Veda we are required to bestow deep thought on the mutual relations of knowledge and action in order to arrive at their final results. The Atharva Veda lays down the ways of preserving and improving the science of the final results of knowledge imparted in the three Vedas by giving it final and finishing touches. These are some of the reasons for the division of the Vedas into 4 parts.
Q. -What is the object of arranging the Vedas into four Samhitas?
A. ~ The object is to arrange the mantras dealing with the same class of subjects according to the context and their relation with the mantras that precede and follow them so that
the information contained in them may be grasped easily.
Q. -What for have the Vedas been divided into Ashtakas, Mandalas, Adhyayas, Suktas, Shatkas, Kandas, Vargas, Dashatis, Trikas, Prapathakas, Anuvakas?
A. ~ For this reason that the Vedas may be conveniently read and taught, that the mantras may be easily counted and that the context of each subject may be easily known.
Q. – Why is the Rig Veda counted as the first, the Yajur Veda as the 2nd, the Sama Veda as the third and the Atharva Veda as the fourth?
A. ~ Unless and until one acquires direct knowledge of the relation of a substance with its qualities it is not impressed on the mind, nor does one acquire a liking for it. Without these two no one can have a desire to possess a thing. Without desire there can be no happiness..
The Rig Veda ought to be counted as the first Veda as it deals with the above mentioned subject. The Yajur Veda ought to be counted as the first Veda as it deals with the above mentioned subject. The Yajur Veda ought to be counted as the second Veda inasmuch as it deals with the subject of doing good to the whole world
by bringing the objects into practical use and deriving benefits there from after knowing their qualities. The Sama Veda is counted as the third Veda because it deals with such questions as how far the knowledge, action and worship portions can be improved, and what is their ultimate result? The Atharva Veda is counted as the fourth Veda because it teaches to preserve and complete the knowledge contained in the other three Vedas.
The order of enumeration of the Vedas as the Rig, Yajus, Saman and Atharva is due to the fact that the knowledge of the qualities of things, their application to practical ends, spiritual knowledge, and their progress and preservation are related with one another in the same order, the one following depending on the one preceding it.
The reason why they are so called is also the same because Rik means to define and Yaj to respect the learned, to associate with them, and to combine objects and to make a gift, Sama comes from ‘sho” to do a final act’ and means to console. Atharva comes from ‘Atharva’ to doubt and means the absence of doubt because ‘a’ (not) is added to it. The
Vedas are counted in this order according to the meanings of the roots from which their names are derived. Nirukta. XI. 18.
Q. – Why are rishi, devata, chhanda and svara written over ever mantra?
A. ~The name of that rishi is written over a mantra, who subsequently to the revelation of the Vedas by God discovered its real meaning. It is but proper that the names of the rishis who through the meditation of God, His favor and with great labor and effort published the meaning of particular mantras. Should be written over them to perpetuate their memory. That this is so is supported by the authority of the Nirukta. ‘ A man who reads the Vedas or hears them read out without knowing their meaning reaps no fruits.’
The end of speech is knowledge and the performance of action in consonance with knowledge. Those who act according to their knowledge and realize theDharma (law or duty) are ranked as rishis. Those who acquired
the knowledge of all sciences became rishis. They, in order to propagate continuously the Vedic teachings, revealed through instruction, the meaning of the Vedic mantras to others who had not realized it. With a view to impart a knowledge of the meaning of the oral instruction in them, the rishis composed the Nighantu and the Nirukta so that all men might acquire a correct knowledge of them and their limbs.
The Nighantu is a glossary which explains the roots having the same meaning and denoting the same action, and collects together all the synonyms signifying the same object and all the words having different meanings.
There are many names for one and the same thing and one name for many objects. The devata of a mantra specially explains a thing or a meaning requiring explanation that thing or meaning is said to be its devata. To clear an allusion to another subject not directly dealt with in the mantra is the province of
the Nighantu. Nirukta I.20.
It should be understood that no human being is the author of the Vedic mantras. The rishis, whose names are written over them are only those who discovered and published their meanings. Similarly, the subject of which a mantra treats is called its devata so that its so that its purport may be known easily.
This is the reason why the devata of a mantra is written for the purpose of denoting the metres of the mantras in accompaniment of musical instruments.
Q. – Why do the words Agni, Vaya, Indra, Ashvi, Saraswati, etc. occur in the Vedas in certain order?
A. ~ They are arranged in a certain order with a view to show the inter-dependence and inter-relation of the sciences and also to describe the primary and essential and the secondary and incidental effects of each individual science. The word Agni is taken in two senses, viz., God and material fire. It signifies the attributes of knowledge and pervasion, etc. of God
Fire is created by God and is of primary importance and use in mechanics, etc. and hence it is given the first place in the order of enumeration.
The word Vayu denotes the divine attributes of all-sustainingness and infinite power. As in the physical and mechanical sciences we find air helping fire and as it affords support to all embodied objects and is connected with them we take the word Vayu in the sense of air, and as God is the sustainer even of air we take it to mean Him also.
The word Indra connotes the quality of gloriousness of God, and as men derive great power with the help of air we take in that sense
also. In mechanics water, fire, metals and light are necessary for the knowledge of the theory and practice of moving cars, they being direct and indirect causes thereof.
The word Ashvi has been used in the Vedas for these things after Agni and Vayu. by the word Saraswati the Vedas signify such attributes of God as His possession of infinite wisdom, the instruction of the relation between the words and their meaning by means of the Vedas.
It also means the manifestations and uses of speech. For these reasons the words Agni, Vayu, Indra, Ashvi and Saraswati have been used in the above order in the Vedas. In a similar manner, all men should understand the meaning and application of the Vedic words in all other places also.
Q. – In the Vedas we find words Agni, Vayu, Indra, etc. used in the beginning. This shows that these words are used for physical objects only; for, we do not find the word Ishvara (God) used in the beginning.
A. ~ The great Muni Patanjali commenting on the Sutra ‘lan’ of the Ashtadhyayi says
explanation brings to light particular meanings of words and, therefore, there remains no obscurity. According to this principle all doubts are removed. In the Vedas, the Vedangas and the Brahmanas the word Agni has been explained in the sense of both God and fire.
Moreover, if the word Ishvara also had been used all doubts would not have been removed because he word Ishvara signifies God, but it signifies a powerful king also and it is often the name of a man as well. Under these circumstances a doubt would arise as to what signification ought to be attached to it.
Explanation alone could remove it and make it clear that in such and such places it ought to be taken to mean God and in such and such places to mean a king or man.
There is, therefore, no harm in taking the word Agni in the dual sense of God and fire. Otherwise, it would be absolutely impossible to reduce all knowledge to writing even in billions of Shlokas and thousands of books. For this reason, God, considering that by employing the words Agni, etc. in the sense of both the spiritual and the physical objects it would
be possible to use a limited number of words and books of a small size, has used the words Agni, etc. Men will thus be able to know all the sciences by devoting a comparatively shorter time and a smaller effort to the acts of reading and teaching. You should understand that the most merciful God has explained knowledge and its objects in easy words.
Again, the meanings of the words Agni, etc. which are prevalent in the world also point to God’s glory, because all things are so many witnesses of the fact that God exists. We have referred to some of the sciences contained in the Vedas in this introduction.
We shall now proceed to write the commentary on the mantras. We shall explain the particular the particular science contained in an individual mantra in the course of commenting on it as occasion will demand.