Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 18 Dec 2018

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Enemy or Friend of Hinduism?

Discourse Podcast

 

Shri Hrushikesh asked: Dear Swami, My Pranaam to your lotus feet. I was very happy to read the answer given by you for the question asked on Vedic accents. So far it has received 300 likes on different facebook groups. However, there was also an objection raised by Mr. Sid Pat. Please find his objections below. I have made it the in the form of dialogue for easy understanding of his arguments on certain points. Regards, Hrushikesh (A Dust particle in your creation).

Swami Replied: I am not saying that accents are useless because the accents serve the purpose of pleasant musical hearing. Except for this one purpose, the accents have no significance since the sound energy of these accents is inert and incapable of doing any miracle. Even the ultrasonic sound energy having a higher frequency than the audible sound energy cannot do any miracles. The priests have developed a false theory to defend their blind recitation that the sound itself does miracles and removes the problems of the doer of the ritual. The doer is also misled by this false theory and is not interested in knowing the meaning of the Veda. He does not demand that the priest explain the Vedic verses being recited. The doer is satisfied with the false explanation of the priests and believes that the sound energy of the blind recitation will do some miracle and remove his problems. These priests who themselves are spoiled, are also spoiling the innocent public by exploiting their weakness for solving their problems. In short, according to these priests, knowing the meaning of the Veda is not necessary. Using this argument, priests try to convince people to support their blind recitation of the Veda without knowing its meaning.

Sid Pat: Please show scriptural reference to the above-derived conclusion. It appears that the article intends to postulate that the specific accents in Vedic recitation are useless. Could you confirm that you agree to this stand?

Swami: The word ‘Veda’ itself means knowledge based on its root verb ‘Vidul—Jnaane.’ So, the blind recitation of the verses without knowing their meaning is not the Veda. Veda adhyayana is studying or learning the Veda; not merely reciting it. But the word adhyayana is also taken by these blind priests in the wrong sense to mean blind recitation. This is totally wrong. Adhyayana is derived from the words adhi and ayana, and it means knowing or learning the knowledge as per Sanskrit grammar. Hence, the scripture says that in order to understand the meaning of the Veda, one should study the Veda along with the supporting scriptures on grammar, logic etc., which are known as the Vedaangas, “Sango Vedo adhyetavyo jneyashchaa”. Here, the Veda means knowledge. Adhyayana (adhyetavyo) again means knowledge. Jneya also means knowledge. Knowledge is stressed thrice in this statement! My mind is shocked to see the tradition of these priests reciting the Veda blindly, without knowing its meaning, especially since the word Veda itself means spiritual knowledge. In the ancient times also, people used to recite the Veda blindly to preserve the text of the Veda. But it was necessary then since there was no printing technology. The technology of manually writing on palm leaves was very inconvenient and the palm leaf-scriptures were prone to damage. Memorization and recitation had important advantages for preserving the scripture. But apart from the preservation of the Veda by recitation, they used to study the Veda too, after first studying the supporting scriptures on grammar etc. But now the Vedas are mass printed and well-preserved. They are also safe from any adulteration now. So, in the present context, these priests are wasting time by blindly reciting the Veda when there is no need to take any further efforts to preserve it. Moreover, they are putting a full stop after this unnecessary blind recitation. They are not even studying the Sanskrit language and the supporting scriptures on grammar, logic and so on. So, there is no effort to understand the deep meaning of the holy Veda. The Veda is holy because its knowledge is holy as said in the Gita (Nahi jnaanena sadrusham pavitram...). The scripture also says that reciting the Veda, without knowing its meaning, is very bad (Anarthajnah... paathakaadhamah). I sincerely feel that the time used in blind recitation must be diverted to learning Sanskrit, its grammar and so on, so as to understand the deep meaning of the Veda. This is very essential today since the public does not know Sanskrit. In ancient times, God inspired the sages to compose the Veda. They composed it in Sanskrit since Sanskrit was the mother tongue of the sages. This coincidence is exploited by the priests to support their blind recitation of the Veda since they neither know the true meaning of the Veda nor do they want to explain it to the public.

Sid Pat: Does every mechanic specialized in car repairs understand the intricate complexity in the applied technology required to build an automobile in its entirety? In any case, are the priests insincere towards their duty of reciting the Vedas as per the parampara even if they do not know the meaning?

Swami: Your example is not a perfect simile for the concept. The owner of the car only needs the repair of his car. He does not require the knowledge of the background technology. The mechanic is serving the need of the customer fully. But in the actual concept, the customer of the priest is the performer of the Vedic ritual, who needs guidance on the spiritual knowledge contained in the Veda. Even the prayers of the Veda recited by the priests are not understood by the customer and hence, the customer’s devotion to God is also not improved. Thus, in this case, the need of the customer is not served even to the slightest extent, whereas the need of the car-owner is fully satisfied by the mechanic. Sage Yāska says that a priest reciting the Veda without knowing its meaning is like a laborer carrying a loaded bag of gold without knowing its value (Svarnabhaaraharah...).

You speak about parampara or tradition. There are two traditions. The first one is the oldest tradition of the sages who spoke Sanskrit as their mother tongue. They both recited and studied the Veda. The second tradition is that of the older-generation priests, who are more recent than the ancient sages. These priests only recited the Veda without studying its meaning, even though their audience was unaware of Sanskrit. I am criticizing this second tradition and not the first ancient tradition of the sages. The present-day priests are the descendents of the second tradition of priests. They are in line with the Purvamiimaamsaa philosophy of doing rituals with the blind recitation of the Veda, which is the karma maarga. They emphasize on the recitation of the Veda even when there is no need of it today due to the availability of the Veda in print. They believe and promote the false theory that the sound of the Veda with accents will lead the soul to heaven after death. Both the present-day priests and the older priests of the second tradition do Vedic rituals based on this false theory. The only difference between the two is that present-day priests do it for the sake of earning money while they are alive whereas the old priests did the same to reach heaven after death. The older ignorant priests like Maṇḍana Miśra felt that the Veda is simply a text of eternal words and that there was no need to bother about its meaning or knowledge. The Gita condemned this line of thinking (kaamaatmaanah svargaparaah …). This line of thought was also condemned by Shankara, who stressed on the knowledge of the Veda, which is the jnaana maarga. As we have seen earlier, the Veda means knowledge and not mere unknown sounds. The Gita also says that one should perform rituals after knowing the meaning of the Vedic verses recited in that context (Jnaatvaakurviita karmaani). Ultimately, God only sees your feeling in any ritual, worship or prayer (Bhaavagraahii Janaardanah). The feeling results from the meaning of the words recited. The feelings of gratefulness and praise for God generate devotion to God. Thus, words, meaning, feeling, and devotion are the gradual steps. If you stick only to the first step of words, how can you get to the meaning or knowledge that guides your actions and the devotion to God?

Sid Pat: I find a Brahmin-bashing voice in this article that is typical of a totally westernized lens of looking at Hindu Dharmik traditions. Do you see it too?

Swami Replied: You must know that I am also a Brahmin by the false theory of caste-by-birth. In that case, why would I criticize My own caste unnecessarily? Do you know the meaning of the word ‘Brahmaṇa’? A Brahmana is he who leads the public towards God nby preaching spiritual knowledge and by developing their devotion (Brahma nayati iti Brahmanah). Speaking the harsh truth is the inherent characteristic of a Brahmana. Sage Gautama decided that the boy Satyakaama Jaabaala was a Brahmana since he spoke the bitter truth. The boy said that he did not know who his biological father was because his mother was an unmarried maid-servant who had worked in several houses. This clearly shows that caste is decided by qualities and deeds and not by birth. Our Hindu religion once occupied the highest place in the world due to its spiritual knowledge which was developed by the ancient sages and scholars. I am deeply worried to see the present position of our religion and our caste. It is at the bottommost place, where there is total ignorance of the spiritual knowledge contained in the Veda! There is a saying in Sanskrit “Pandita putrah paramashunthah”, which means that the son of a great scholar is a great idiot! If you support these priests blindly just because they belong to our religion, it would be another blind bias, which will keep them in this spoiled state forever. We should realize and rectify our own mistakes before pointing out mistakes in others. Kabiir said that the friend praising you is your real enemy and the enemy scolding you for your faults is your real friend. I appreciate your loyalty to our religion. I am only bringing out the truth for the sake of helping out the priests and the innocent public. I might appear to be the bitter enemy of these priests, but in reality, I am their hidden friend, whereas you appear to be their sweet friend but unknowingly, you are their bitter enemy. How can you say that I view Hinduism through a western lens when I authored about a hundred books in Sanskrit on spiritual knowledge by the age of sixteen? Whether it is the East or West, the entire world is the creation of God alone. I shall call the true spiritual knowledge told by even a westerner in English as the Veda but not the false spiritual knowledge spoken by an eastern scholar in Sanskrit. Since the Veda only means knowledge, I do not go by the language. This is the basic spirituality needed in this world today. It alone can create a peaceful atmosphere in this world which is created by the one and only God.

 
   

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