Thursday, June 18, 2009

Prameya Two - He is to be known by the Vedas

A manuscript page of the "Tattva-dipa" of Baladeva Vidyabhusana

The word ‘Veda’ comes from the verbal root ‘vid’, ‘to know’, thus Veda means knowledge in general, but particularly it refers to the four Samhitas called Rg, Atharva, Yajur and Sama. Knowledge is eternal and it is manifested again and again at the time of every universal creation, being transmitted by Lord Narayana and received by Lord Brahma:

purvasyadau parardhasya brahmo nama mahan abhut
kalpo yatrabhavad brahma sabda-brahmeti yam viduh

“In the beginning of the first half of Brahma's life, there was a millennium called Brahma-kalpa, wherein Lord Brahma appeared. The birth of the Vedas was simultaneous with Brahma's birth.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.11.35

Therefore, Lord Brahma is the greatest authority testify what is the ultimate goal of knowledge:

bhagavan brahma kartsnyena trir anviksya manisaya
tad adhyavasyat kuta-stho ratir atman yato bhavet

“The great personality Brahma, with great attention and concentration of the mind, studied the Vedas three times, and after scrutinizingly examining them, he ascertained that attraction for the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna is the highest perfection of religion.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.2.34

This is corroborated by Lord Krishna Himself:

sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham

“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 15.15

There is an intrinsic relation between the Vedas and dharma, for the Vedas propagate dharma and dharma is essential to comprehend the Vedas. Manu-samhita, 2.6, states that the Vedas are one of the fundaments of dharma:

vedo’ akhilo dharmamulam smrtisile ca tadvidam
acarascaiva sadhunamatmanastustireva ca

“The whole Veda is the first source of the sacred law, next the tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who know the Veda further, also the customs of holy men, and finally, self-satisfaction.”

Thus, it is natural to conclude that the goal of the Vedas and that of dharma is one and the same. This conclusion is thus substantiated:

dharmah svanusthitah pumsam visvaksena-kathasu yah
notpadayed yadi ratim srama eva hi kevalam

“The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.2.8

The Gopala-tapani Upanisad confirms :

yo 'sau sarvair vedair giyate

"All the Vedas proclaim the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

And the Katha Upanisad (1.2.15) also confirms it:

sarve veda yat-padam amananti tapamsi sarvani ca yad vadanti

"All the Vedas worship the Supreme Lord's lotus feet, and all austerities proclaim His glories."

And in the Hari-vamsa it is affirmed:

vede ramayane caiva purane bharate tatha
adav ante ca madhye ca harih sarvatra giyate

"In the Vedic literature, including the Ramayana, Puranas ad Mahabharata, from the very beginning (adau), to the end (ante ca), as well as within the middle (madhye ca), only Hari, the supreme Personality of Godhead, is explained."

There is an old discussion regarding the knowableness of God and the capacity to express it through words. In the sastras, the Supreme is sometimes referred to as ‘avacyam’, ‘indescribable’, but this should be understood in the sense that the Lord’s attributes are unlimited and cannot be fully conceived by the living entities, otherwise if we take it in the sense that the Supreme cannot be described at all, the whole sastra would be meaningless. Rather, both sruti and smrti largely describe the Supreme Lord’s transcendental qualities, names, forms, associates, paraphernalia, abodes, etc. The example given is that the Himalaya mountains can eventually also be referred to as invisible in the sense that it cannot be thoroughly seen, and not that they cannot be seen at all. Similarly, Lord Govinda’s transcendental qualities, etc. can be partially seen by those who are favoured by His mercy, but even Ananta Sesa Himself fails to fully appreciate them.
Some may argue that when the Vedas refer to Brahman, they are just expressing the nature of Brahman in a secondary, indirect way, for the direct meaning of words are used to describe only objects that possess an origin, qualities, activities, names, etc., while Brahman is devoid of all these. So, in this sense, Brahman is not really describable by the Vedas. However, the fact is that a secondary meaning is only possible when a direct meaning exits, thus if the direct meaning of the Vedic words are not valid knowledge, their indirect meaning would be futile and again the whole Veda would be useless for comprehending God and the soul and would contradict Vyasadeva’s conclusion in the Vedanta-sutra, 1.1.3 :


“Because He may only be known by the revelation of the Vedic scriptures.”

Therefore, the conclusion is that the Vedas are the via-media for acquiring knowledge about God, He being the end of all knowledge.

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