23) The Vedas

What is Vēda? How many Vēdas are there? What is the difference between these Vēdās? etc., need to be answered first. Here, we will explore in brief, the story encircling the Vēda.

The Root-Words:

The Vēdic texts that are available today, are written in the language of ancient form of Sanskrit. Sanskrit words have a definite structure that can be developed from what we call root-words. Root words act as seeds which sprout and develop into a family of words. The word “Vēda” comes from the root word “VID”. Vid means to experience or to realize. So, the expanded word Vēda means wisdom. Here, another word is to be studied in parallel to gain more light on the meaning of the word Vēda. That word is Jñāna/Knowledge. The word Jñāna comes from the root word “Jña” which means “to know”.  

Knowledge vs Wisdom:

What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom? A piece of information which we input to our mind is knowledge whereas the experience or realisation of the piece of information is wisdom. For example, consider chocolate. The information that “chocolate is sweet” is knowledge. When we taste the chocolate, the sweet taste of chocolate that we experience is the wisdom. Anyone who knows the information that chocolate is sweet, is knowledgeable, but they are not necessarily wise. For example, if they never had chocolate in their life, the statement “chocolate is sweet” has no meaning to them.  If you try to ask them which chocolate tastes better, they are not wise to suggest. That means, they lack wisdom or experience of the taste of chocolate. Without wisdom or experience of the taste of chocolate, what is the use of knowing that “chocolate is sweet” ?

The same relation holds between a person who “knows” Vēda and in whom the Vēda took the form of wisdom. In the past, many scholars (mostly western and few Indians) have tried to comment upon the Vēda, but they did so from being in the state of “knowledge”. For them, Vēdic text was Vēda and hence they thought that by knowing the dictionary meaning of each word of the Vēdic text, they understood the Vēda. They are similar to the knowledgeable person we were speaking about, who never had a chocolate in their life. That is why we see many discrepancies in their commentaries. They too saw such discrepancies and blamed the Vēda for being not coherent and meaningful. 

In my kindergarten, I remember reading a story titled “The grapes are sour”, where a fox tries to eat the grapes, but could not jump high enough to grab them. So, after many trials, it says to itself “ah! The grapes must be sour, why bother at all!”. The same goes with such commentators who discarded the Vēdic contents. If they really tried to grasp the wisdom, they would have seen a coherent picture in the Vēda. 

Great personalities like Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ekkirala Anantacharya, etc., have dedicated their lives to decode the Vēda in a harmonious way, following the guidelines that are hidden and scattered in the same Vēda. They dug deep and brought of LIGHT necessary to peep into the minds of Vēdic seers. They have also commented upon the Vēda, but from the state of “wisdom”. That is why we can see their works oozing the sweet nectar of harmony. I strongly suggest the readers to read: The Secret of the Vēda (by Sri Aurobindo) and Suparṇa – The integral unity of vedic outlook (by Sri Ekkirala Anantacharya) to gain deeper insights into the Vēda.

Now that you have understood the difference between wisdom and knowledge, from hereon, I urge the reader to read this book (or for that matter, any book related to ancient wisdom) from the point of experiencing the content rather than just analysing the content. 

A claim to be verified:

By now, you must have got a hunch as to what Vēda is. Of course, to know more, you must explore more, but for now this suffices. Let us go into the details of how Vēdic hymns came into existence. Before that, I want to make a claim and try to argue its validity. The claim is: “Wisdom is within us. Knowledge just unveils the wisdom in us but can not create any new state of wisdom in us.” Let us take an example to see what I am trying to claim. 

Consider the chocolate example again. Let us say we never had a chocolate in our life. Now, let us say, someone gave a chocolate to us and we started to experience its taste for the first time. Is the taste of chocolate inside the chocolate or inside us? If the taste of the chocolate was inside the chocolate, it would be sweeter to itself. Can it taste itself? No! I would say that, only because “we” have the capacity to taste the taste of chocolate, are we really able to taste it. But, then one may ask, “ if what you say is true i.e., the taste is inside us, then when chocolate is not in our mouth, can we taste it? If you cannot, does it not mean chocolate’s sweetness is not inside you?”. To answer this, I would counter ask you, when we are sick, we taste different tastes to what a substance actually should taste like, don’t we?. Why is that so? If the same sweet is given to a sick person and a healthy person, they might taste it differently. Does this not suggest that taste is in us and not in chocolate? 

If you are not convinced, let us take another approach. Chocolate only has atoms. We have something more than atoms – consciousness to experience. If we too are only atoms, then who is reading this book? Can the atoms of the book read and understand what I am trying to say?! So, chocolate is just material and its quality lies inside us!

Those who would argue against consciousness, can name the LIFE element with whatever name they want and still they should be convinced that taste can not reside in the chocolate. If they are still not convinced, they are welcome to write on the chocolate packets as to how sweet the chocolate is i.e., something like “This chocolate tastes so and so units of sweetness”. Can they do this? If they can, they need to measure the sweetness. But, how do we measure? Is there a standard for it? Is it not relative? Those who eat sweets daily may find a small grape sour but those who rarely eat sweets, can find the same grape super sweet! Right? This relativity of taste exists because it is part of our unique EXISTENCE and not of the matter concerned!!

Similarly, you can extend the same logic to numbers, maths, science, pain, pleasure, time, etc. All the elements of life are within us. The events and situations are interpreted by mind and the interpretations trigger “something” in us which we feel as different sensations. Are these sensations not part of wisdom or experience we were speaking of? What was the role of different external elements? The role was only to trigger the sensations. I called this triggering as unveiling, because it does not bring anything new to what we potentially have in us. 

So, I am convinced that my claim of “Wisdom is within us. Knowledge just unveils the wisdom that is already in us but can not create any new state of wisdom in us”. If you are not still convinced, I have one last example which should break that barrier for you.

Let us say, there is no wisdom of maths/numbers already inside us  and we want to learn from the start. We can approach a textbook but all the symbols are meaningless to us, given our ignorance and therefore we need a human to teach us. Let person A help us understand numbers. He would show one apple or a chocolate and tell us “This is ONE”. But because we have no wisdom of numbers in us, we would ask A as to what ONE is. For that matter, we can extend the logic and ask “What is a number”. Can anyone in this world answer? If I ask you who came first: Numbers or Humans, what would the answer be? If humans came first, then, are they not born with two hands, two eyes, 32 teeth, etc? Does this not suggest that Numbers are born prior to us and exist in us? Think deeply and you should get it. What a maths teacher can do is, open the potential of understanding numbers in us and awaken us into experiencing numbers by physically associating them with objects we sense (sight, touch, etc). If hot for the numbers already in us, no one in this world can impart it to us. 

Impersonal nature of wisdom:

Thus, we can safely conclude that WISDOM lies inside us. This is the fundamental principle of the VĒDA. They call the wisdom as “APAURUṢĒYA or IMPERSONAL WISDOM“. Why is it called impersonal if it is inside us? Because wisdom does not belong to any individual person. Can you say that the “sense of number” or “taste of a sweet” belongs to only one person? Does the result of you adding “1+2=3” is different from anyone else adding? Because wisdom is in and around us and no one can own it, it is called impersonal wisdom!

Origin of Vēdic hymns and chants:

Now, let us come back to our question as to how Vēdic contents came into existence. Vēdic seers lived in harmony with nature and trained their minds to levels unfathomable to modern humans. They realised that their bodies were hosts of conscious entities and they were just guests in a bodily machine run by millions of conscious agents (called dēvās or angels). So, they adhered to harmony of body too. In such a state of synchronous existence, they could easily experience some wonderful things. which they put in words and tones. When you want your friend to taste the chocolate, do you not offer it? Similarly, when they want the rest of humanity to experience what they experienced, they discovered (or guided by the dēvās) that uttered WORD (Vēdic text) and utterance of the WORD (chanting of the Vēda) acted as powerful agents of transferring the experience. This was possible because, according to them (and above logic) the sound potencies too lie hidden in us and we only need an external/internal triggering sound to kindle it. This is how the Vēdic hymns and Vēdic chants came into existence. 

Because the wisdom is inside us and we are but part of creation, the same wisdom must also be around us. That is why they say “Yat Piṇḍē Tat Brahmāṇḍē”, meaning, the humans and cosmos have a one to one link to each other. If you can discover an aspect of one entity, the same of the other is easily known. That is why their discoveries were related to both life of beings as well as life of the cosmos. That is why, the Vēdic contents are revered and thought to solve the mysteries of creation.

Four Vēdās:

The Vēda suggests that the wisdom spoken above manifests in three fundamental modes of expression. They are the Rig, Yajus and Sāma modes. To understand this, one needs to take help of Bṛhadaraṇyaka Upaniṣad (chapter1 – section 5 – stanza 5), one of the most important and enigmatic upaniṣads, which suggests the following in regard to these modes:

        Vāgēva Rig-Vēdaḥ – Uttered word is Rig Vēda

        Prāṇaḥ Sāma-Vēdaḥ – Breath is Sāma Vēda

         Manō Yajur-Vēdaḥ – Mind is Yajur Vēda

The statements are cryptic and need more digging. In the following, I will try to express what the above statements mean

  • Rig Vēda: The word Rig Vēda comes from root-word “RIK”. Rik means two things – a rumbling sound of vocal cords or a ray of light. When we utter a word, it happens only through the rumble of the vocal cords i.e., they have to rapidly vibrate and produce the sound. When this sound is heard, the sound causes a stir of thoughts and implants an idea which the sound is pregnant with. For example, let me say “I like chocolate” to you. The moment I utter this, if you already know what “chocolate” is, your thoughts are diverted to your experiences of chocolate. If not, you would be wondering what that chocolate is. In anycase, your thoughts have been kindled. This stir of thoughts caused in us can also be called “light” because it enlightens our intellect. That is why we use light bulbs as a symbol of “idea”. Thus, an uttered word produced by us is because of the RUMBLE and causes LIGHT in us to spark. Thus, Rig Vēda is that mode of wisdom which is associated with uttered sounds and kindling of light in us!
  • Sāma Vēda: To utter a word, we need breath. What do the vocals vibrate? The air in the vocal column. The breath we take is base material for sounds to be uttered. Not only that, the breath we take supports the life in us and hence the light-ray or the awareness of “I AM” in us. What is Prāṇa then? Is it the air we breathe? No. Prāṇa is the capacity to periodically breathe the air. The periodicity or regulated pulsation of things in us is called prāṇa. Beating heart, breathing lungs, waking & sleeping states, etc., form the pattern of Prāṇa. These periodical manifestations are called Sāmās. Sāma means a song or melody (that is why the text of Sāma Vēda is sung in a tune). The periodical occurrences form a melody of life, don’t they! So, that mode of wisdom which presides over the pulsating nature of Prāṇa is called Sāma Vēda.
  • Yajur Vēda: Yajus means a (selfless) act and an act is always steered and guided by Mind. Mind acts as a link between the physical body and non-physical self. If the mind were physical, we could have quantified it using units of electric currents in the brain. But the mind is beyond the brain. Mind is said to take the seat of the brain and carry out necessary functions. In Vēdic lore, all physical bodies are considered to be having a mind i.e., a stone, a plant, a dog, a planet, etc., all have a mind of their own. But, it is also stated that the state of mind is what is different between them. The esoteric teachings teach us that: “God sleeps in minerals, dreams in plants, awakens in animals and realises in humans”. That means, mineral kingdom or the physical matter has a mind that is in a sleep state. The plant kingdom has a mind that is in a hazy dreamy state (that is why their reaction to external stimulus is subtle). The mind of animals is in a state of awakening (that is why they can realise everything around them, except themselves i.e., they do not know the sense of “I AM”, except for elementary instincts like hunger, fear, etc.). The mind of the human kingdom exists in a state of awakening but has potential to realise the self and answer the question “Who AM I?”. This later realisation is what separates seers from us. So, wisdom or experience to each of these states of mind is different and the totality of it is what forms complete wisdom, which only an evolved human can comprehend. The mode of wisdom that manifests through all these different states of mind is called Yajur Vēda.

There exists one final mode of wisdom which brings a practical meaning to the above triad. That is:

  • Atharvaṇa Vēda: The three aforementioned Vēdās are put together called “TRAYĪ” or three-fold wisdom. The seers compare this Trayī to the upper jaw. Can you speak with just your upper jaw? No! Similarly, the seers suggest that to work with only these three modes of wisdom is not possible. There should be another mode of wisdom which can turn the potential of this trayī into dynamic activity. That mode of wisdom which practically puts everything into a structure and helps us use the trayī is called Atharvaṇa Vēda. It is compared to the lower jaw. See how articulated the lower jaw is which helps to utter a word? To utter a word is symbolic to utter the wisdom within. Atharvaṇa Vēda uttersforth the wisdom of all the three Vēdās!

All these four Vēdās are different from generally known Vēdic texts. Particular Vēdic text is like a text book on the wisdom of the associated Vēda. So, the Vēdic text may help or may not help an aspirant depending on the level of scholarly knowledge of the language. But when the same aspirant leads a life as prescribed by the Vēda (you may see some of the hints in this sūkta), the life itself manifests the four-fold wisdom in the form of sweet experience of bliss. So, Vēdic texts are only a means to bliss but not the bliss itself. For example, take Ramaṇa Maharṣi or Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. They did not read much of the vēdic texts, but their teachings are the essence of the Vēda and often can be correlated to the contents of the Vēdic texts. 

So, one should be careful in understanding the term Vēda in the Vēdic texts. It’s a slippery slope if one is not careful. For example, one often hears the statements like “Vēdās are created before the creation of the Universe, Vēdās are eternal, etc.” When we associate the word Vēdas with Vēdic texts, such statements have no logic. How can texts be eternal? But, when associated with the true Vēda, as explored earlier, the Vēda being eternal and Vēda being foremost in the creation does make a lot of sense, does it not? For a moment, consider Sāma Vēda. Humans are born with property to breathe and their hearts are born with property to beat periodically. So, periodicity is a principle which precedes them. Is not this the Sāma we discussed before? Vēdic theory suggests that the Universe also emerges and merges into a background (GOD) periodically. Does that not mean the Sāma of cosmos is first born and the Sāma in us mimics the cosmic Sāma? In that sense, Vēdas are eternal and Vēdās precede everything and everyone!



  1. Loved the way u described the four Vedas… mind blowing analogy of the science of maths… can u pls elaborate on ‘Yaj’… also are there different schools which interpret Ved in their own way? Cause if it wisdom gained from experience then different people may have different experiences for one same thing… or it does not happen so in case of Ved?…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amit :)…

      What aspects do you want me to elaborate of Yaj? Can you be more specific?

      Yes, there are different schools of interpretation. These schools were necessary for evolution of psychology of different times of the world. Here too, what is that you are exactly looking for? If you are more specific, then my answer can be more direct! Please help me to understand your query better.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There is triple use of all the vedic wisdom. 1) Physical – which i sthe outward rituals and associations, 2) Mental – for individual consciousness to contemplate on the secrets and 3) Spiritual. Depending on the necessity, different masters of the past generated different paths. For example, Krishna Yajurveda and Shukla Yajurveda – are two wings of the same bird.

      In this respect, you need to relate the aspects like Devpuja or Sangatikaran, etc. to one of the above. For example, take Devpuja — This is triple in its sense: 1) You can worship a deity who exist outside like environmental cleanliness, growing Plants, Feeding the needy, etc. (but worship should be true and hence will eventually lead you to oneness) or 2) You can worship the devas in side you – like maintaining your health and body, feeding right food to the stomach, breathing fresh air, etc. and 3) Worship the SELF having so many deities as the very limbs – This is existing in oneness! So, depending on the evolutionary stage of a being, they will choose one of these and finally evolve to ONENESS of the VEDA.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The explaining of Rik and the rumbling sound stupendofabulous… Now I understand by what you meant in one of your messages regard Rigved not being merely a collection of Mantras or Ved being nothing but rituals…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I must compliment you for this in-depth analysis of the roots and origins of the Vedas, and bringing out the compendium from each of them. I can agree with you that Vedas are in essence comprise wisdom which is flexible to interpretation according to time period. I really liked reading this well-researched article. My only suggestion is, if you please don’t mind, to break the essay into smaller paragraphs for easy reading.Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Sir 🙏

        Happy Ganesha Chaturthi, may the lord bless you and your family with whatever required and hope millions benefit from your work in future!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ritam is the spontaneous and unintentional (unintended by individualised mind) truth that exists in the cosmos. Satyam is the truth as perceived at human comprehension. For example, The birth of humans through eons of time is Ritam whereas the birth of your surroundings and your awareness to you as you consciously acknowledge is Satyam. When you are asleep, the world around is not existing to you because you are not existing to the world. But somewhere in our gut, we feel that even when we r asleep, the world should have existed as well as we to the world. The latter is RITAM. So, the TRUTH irrespective of your existence is Ritam and TRUTH relative to your existence is Satyam.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s