The existing Hindu society is rediscovering religious fervour, values, scriptures and culture as a panacea of all ills. Some learned Hindus are very keen to rewrite the history of India to prove that Aryans belonged to India and never migrated from the West or central Asia and that Vedas originated from the soil of India. In the process Hindu society and its most ancient and eternal religion Sanatan Dharma is getting wary of criticism, being not sure of itself. Lately religious fanaticism is taking roots as many priests, gurus, cults leaders and others explain morality, spirituality, divinity, religious ethics and metaphysics in their own way, leading to infinite interpretations and contradictions apart from spread of sensate values, superstitions, blind faith, inter caste violence and also inter religious conflicts. Since the roots of Hindu Dharma lie in the Vedas, considered as their supreme scriptures, many Vedantists and Hindu savants still consider that any interpretation and precepts which contradict the Vedic metaphysics as not valid. A large majority of Hindus worship and respect Vedas as "shruti" i.e. directly revealed from God to Vedic rsis and munnies. What the Vedas say about the society in the form of " We feeling ", can guide the present Hindu society towards this divine model and society's shock absorbers which are now getting weaker under the influence of materialism and organized religion can be strengthened.
Since Vedas were the sacred scriptures of the Aryans, some influence of the ideal society described there in on the then Aryan society, civilization and culture must have been there. The Indian history does refer to existence of two assemblies’ viz., Sabha -a political assembly and Dharma Sabha-a religious assembly akin to Vedic Vidhata, in the ancient Indian polities. These two assemblies are important institutions of the ideal society of the Vedas. The comprehensive way the ideal Society is described there in tends to prove the rsis and munnies of yore must have done intellectual, scientific and intuitive research for social engineering by discovering a-priori principles, which are all time truths.
The Vedic Rsi is a wise seer and lover of wisdom. He is both a philosopher and metaphysicists. The Vedic Munnie is a wandering sage. Rig Veda X-136-2- 4 to 6 describes Munnie as a daring sage who finds his home in the eastern and western ocean treading the path of apsras and gandharvas, wild beasts, men of long locks and most gladdening by his presence. The discoveries and findings of these sages were beyond time and space. These truths have been translated into Vedic Bhasha in the form of poetical hymns for easy memorization in the absence of any regular language, writing material and printing machines at that time. One of the possible explanations for resorting to this transcendental and intuitive research by the then wise sages and savants could be the then prevailing social conditions owing to widespread animism, anthropomorphism, unscientific outlook, blind faith, strange rituals and superstitions amongst the local people, tribal and others and the apprehension that, these social conditions might influence the Aryans. With the noble aim of arresting the spread of such conditions, the lovers of wisdom of that period made their sincere and dedicated efforts to find a-priori principles and permanent truths for the benefit of Aryans and others as well as the natives of the country. This selfless research by the Vedic metaphysicists was most likely to avoid bloodshed in society and create conditions of harmonious fusion of two opposing social values of the people, which could have been mostly sensate and idealistic and very rarely ideational. Perhaps for this reason many of the Vedic hymns end with the prayer “OM shanti shanti shanti” It is a prayer to the universal Lord – the formless supreme Reality, to help mankind in creating peace, peace, peace all rounds. Three times, reference to the word shanti relates to peace on the earth, over the earth in the firmament and below the earth in the deep oceans and waters. It is only possible when there is no pollution and environmental hazards on the earth, atmosphere and in all rivers, lakes, sea and oceans.
There are two types of hymns in the Vedas pertaining to Society. The first type of hymns indicates social organizations like, Sabha and Vidhata, which are political and religious assemblies as per Rig Veda.1-91-20. These hymns also cover class structure based on four Varnas or divine professions and the fifth class not ordained by God and the need to restrict this class with the help of Vedic metaphysics and a comprehensive system of education, covering material, intellectual, spiritual and divine knowledge. The second type of hymns guides the society towards perfection and relates to Dharma, Rta, nishkam Karma or selfless action based on enlightened liberalism "nothing for self all for society". The Vedas describe this type of selfless action with words “Idd Nan Mmam". The study of Vedas does not reveal whether the society and civilisation as described there in ever reached its zenith or not, but Vedic metaphysics did reach its peak during the period of philosopher king Janaka, about 8th century BC. Bhagavad Gita describes king Janaka as the best amongst the kings. After its decline for over one thousand years the Vedic metaphysics reached its zenith second time again during advait Vedantist and pure idealist Sankracharya period in 8th century AD.
Origin of Vedic Society
Brihad-aranyka Upanishad. (1-4-11 to 14) gives a brief philosophical description of the origin of social groups. In the beginning there was only one social group consisting of all workers. Being one, the society did not flourish. The same happened when there were two groups- workers and traders; the society still did not flourish. The same happened when there were three social groups by the addition of gallant soldiers to the other two social groups. However, with the addition of fourth group to guide the other three groups on the path of righteousness, the society started flourishing. Thus, all these social groups were based on specialized professions needed by the society. They called these social groups as Brahmin, Kashtriya, Vaish and Shudra. Then they found the splendid form ofDharma and Rta- righteousness and cosmic laws of social, moral and physical order. They found these laws in the Book of Nature, which could be read by human beings, animals, birds and all animate life. Thus, the foundation for an ideal society was laid in these four divine groups based on merit, ability, aptitude and social need. Rig-Veda refers to these four groups as “Chatvar Varna Ashram" in hymn.1-22-15.
Owing to turbulent and vehement effect of human senses, subtle primordial matter of purity, activity and passivity i.e. sattavic, rajasic and tamasic gunas and outward looking mind, the fifth non divine class emerges. Thus the perversion in the Vedic ethics starts, as the combined morality of all the members of society is the Vedic ethics. There is a mention of four Yugas (cosmic periods) viz., Krita, Treta, Dwapar and Kali corresponding to the Greek philosophers' golden, silver, bronze and iron Ages. Golden age is the one where the fifth non-divine class is almost non-existent and Kali Yuga or Iron Age has a very large number of non-divine avarnas, vritras and bribe takers. The Vedic seers based on transcendental research and a-priori principles prescribed various social institutions, systems, scheme of education and even Artha i.e. material economics well harmonized with spiritual concepts for achieving an ideal society. In the Vedas, material economics bereft of spiritualism is anartha. Many hymns advise human beings to bring out what is hidden in the soul, i.e. truth, virtue, transparency, goodness and justice. A great emphasis is laid in the Vedas on truth and enlightened liberalism in the philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam– nothing for self all for society. The individual's welfare and progress lie in the welfare of the entire society.
Unlike Aristotle who found man as a social animal and Dante in his spiritual testament said that man is a “divine animal”, the Vedas had already said that an individual is both a social and divine being. Human beings live both in their inner and outer worlds. They are not only social but also have certain characteristic of individualism due to their divine Self (manifested soul), which is immaterial and immortal. This individualism is necessary for their growth, survival, love for family and society, perfection and satisfaction of their inner urges and latent talents. The four divine groups cover both the social instincts and individualism amongst the human beings. In such a society man is both a "means and an end". As a social being he works for the welfare and progress of the society on the philosophy of "idd nan mmam." As a divine being, he works for perfection of his real extended Self. Each individual of chatvar varan ashram has been advised in the Vedas to attain perfection in social, economic, scientific and spiritual fields, not only for his/her higher satisfaction but also for the welfare of society. The Vedic society is thus the community of persons belonging to four divine varnas, which in it self is the kingdom of ends.
Vedic hymns tend to indicate when an ideal society is achieved; the kingdom of God is established on the earth. The obstacles for achieving such a society are the spread of materialism, blind faith and pursuit of vulgar opulence. The desire to combine blind pursuit of wealth along with honour, ego satisfaction and power is the major cause of corruption in all fields of human activities. To overcome this four divine Varna have been mentioned in the Vedas, in which no single individual following the allotted noble profession is entitled to honour, power and wealth. For illustration Brahmins are only entitled to honour and not power or wealth except for their need-based living. Kashtriya are only to aim at power and strength for the protection of other three divine Varna and not for wealth and honour. Similar injunctions are there for Vaish and Shudra Varna. However, to be a member of such an ideal Vedic society is a matter of spiritual and material pride.
The Vedas prescribe a mosaic society where every one of four Varna was needed for its development and progress as well as for each individual himself. There are many hymns, which make a clear distinction between those performing noble and divine duties and other marplots, deprecators, thieves, bribe givers and takers, close fisted people, sorcerers, licentious, hellish creatures. These non -divine people are eye sore for society as they spread their own laws against the Laws of God relating to social and moral order. Rig Veda 1-113-6, X-90-11 and 12, Y.V. 31-11 and A.V. 19-6-6 explain the origin of four Varna to formless and ineffable Brahma. HE is described as the entire universe visible to the eyes and all other worlds invisible to the eyes, where six communities of divine people, like angels, pitries, gandharvas, karma devas etc., live. Heaven is His head, Sun and Moon are His eyes, the entire universe is His body and the earth is His feet. Brahmin Varna is born from His mouth which symbolically represents the heaven. This divine Varna was created to spread Brahma jnan– divine knowledge along with Vedic metaphysics amongst all members of society. Bhagavad Gita in verse X-32 says, the science of soul or metaphysics is the supreme science. Rig- Veda 6-75-10 mentions that a Brahmin is the knower of God and Vedas. Since the origin of this varna is from heaven- the kingdom of God, which is the place of bliss and supreme knowledge, the followers of this divine profession are to spread Brahma’s knowledge amongst others and bring heavenly conditions i.e. city of God on this earth.
The human senses and sense organs like eyes, etc. can visualise and even see with the help of scientific instruments the entire gross universe, which is the manifestation of the subtle divine Nature and is extremely powerful, disciplined and benevolent. Prakriti and Brahmand i.e. Nature and the ever-expanding universe and cosmos are mentioned in the Vedas as part of His formless body. Symbolism to the various parts of His Body continues in the Vedic hymns. Kashtriya Varna is born from the most powerful shoulders of God. This Varna has men and women of great strength who are extremely powerful and benevolent. Their divine duty is to destroy all evil and corruption in society. The individuals belonging to this Varna are rulers; defence services officers, commander-in-chief, bureaucrats, scientists, technicians etc. (Rig Veda.5-69-2). Their main duty is to protect the people belonging to other Varna and ensure a corruption free society. All monarchs, kings, queens and elected Presidents are Kashtriya. However, if a ruler’s son is not virtuous or incompetent he is not entitled to rule the state or country (R.V. 4-19-9). The ashvinaus or scientists can be both men and women of absolute self-control with scientific outlook (R.V.1-3-4). Kashtriya are advised to take Soma drink for vigour and energy (R.V 4-45-3). Soma drink is some kind of red coloured herbal drink, which is slightly intoxicant.
The strength in thighs is essential for economic prosperity. The strong thighs of farmers and traders can help bringing economic prosperity in society. The firmament where clouds move freely and bring rain for food production and prosperity, this part of universe is symbolically described in the Vedas as “Thighs of Brahma” from where the divine profession of Vaish Varna is born. This divine profession includes farmers, traders, manufacturers, industrialists who help bringing economic prosperity in the society based on the philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam- nothing for self, all for society. Such people should go in ships and aircraft to other countries, states by resorting to global trade for the welfare of other members of society and even the entire mankind.
It is the mother earth, which renders selfless service to all animate and inanimate life. Vedic hymns describe the earth (Prithvi) as the feet of the God. ShudraVarna is born from the earth and the members of this Varna- based on ability, merit and aptitude render selfless service to other three divine varnas only. Since all parts of the body are equally important and they help each other for a healthy body, so all the members of these divine professions should assist, cooperate and sustain each other for achieving an ideal society. Mandla 10, suktam 90 of Rig-Veda describes the followers of Shudra Varna as good at unskilled work, of good physique, handsome and of high character. In the universe, all planets, stars and others perform their allotted task silently and gracefully and it is difficult to say which parts of the gross universe and subtle Prakrti are more important. It is also an in fructuous discussion that between the Sun, moon, earth, ether, atmosphere, air, etc.; which is more powerful and important.
The four Varna form an egalitarian society and serve each other. The unskilled labourers and soldiers should assist Kashtriya during the war for the protection of people of other Varna and establishment of Dharma (righteousness) in society. They should also individually acquire perfection in their various fields of activities. Thus, Vedic metaphysics is directly aimed at getting supermen in society in all spheres of social, religious, economic and political activities. .
The fact that chatvar Varna ashram is not based on birth in the Vedas, is mentioned in many other scriptures. There are cases where children of Shudras became maharsis (great metaphysicists) of the caliber of extremely learned Vasu persons like Adityas and Rudrais of the Vedas, particularly Kvaish Aylush and others. Valmiki- author of epic Ramayna performed the role of Brahmin as maharsi by virtue of his ability, merit and aptitude. A tribal Eklavya became a superman of Mahabharta and performed the role of a Kashtriya, even though he was punished by guru Dronacharya for virtually stealing of education being imparted to Pandavas and Kaurvas princes of Hastinapur. Dronacharya even refused to impart education to the great warrior maharathi Karna being not a prince at that time but still became the superman of Mahabharta. Viswamitra born to Kashtriya parents performed the role of a maharsi in his later life and became a Brahmin. There are a large number of such examples in Hindu scriptures, particularly before Puranas, confirming that Varna ashram was not based on birth, as the present Hindu society largely believes.
There are certain prerequisites for the individuals following these four divine professions The most important is to follow Rta or the laws of God, which are a-priori principles of permanent truths (R.V. 10-90-12 and Br Up.1-4-11 to 14). They should be truthful, transparent, disciplined like the Nature and lead a life of moderation in conduct, thought and action. If extreme poverty is bad, too much of opulence is evil. The river is useful so long as it is contained within its two banks. The overflow of river leads to inundation and even creates havoc all round. Either when it has negligible or no water, its utility is not there or stagnant water may even breed germs and other harmful insects and viruses. However, within certain maximum and minimum limits of water, the river remains useful to the human beings and all animate life. This concept of moderation in the Vedas is later found in the Middle path and Dhamma of Buddhist metaphysics in India and golden mean of the ancient Greek philosophers.
For the ideal state Republic, Plato prescribed a limit of income 1:16 in his Laws-714 f. Gandhi ji for his ideal state and society Rama Rajya used to prescribe the limit as 1:10. In a state and society where income disparities of the individuals are beyond these limits, the divine guidance of Lord Rama will not be there. Gandhi ji worshipped lord Rama as personal God with attributes. Plato also held more or less similar views. In a state where the income disparities exceed 1:16, the Divine guidance goes on decreasing, till the wide income disparities lead to a perverted form of governments, which he described as Oligarchy- the rule of the rich people or Democracy, which is disorderly rule of the mob, akin to mobocracy.
The study of various hymns Rig Veda, would indicate that the ancient wise seers had intuitive knowledge that performance of selfless action by all sections of society can only lead to material and spiritual prosperity i.e. growth in agriculture, scientific inventions, industrial out put, global trade etc. They had also visualized that material prosperity alone may turn a number of individuals into avarnas, vritras and other evil minded people, resulting in lack of transparency, corrupt practices and make an ideal open society into a number of closed societies (R.V.1-191-8, 1-28-4 and 24, 1-76-3, 2-14-3, 4-9-9).
Lord Acton had observed that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The pathfinders of the ancient India had anticipated such a situation in the society and the state. The Vedic hymns had prescribed certain important norms for the followers of divine four Varna to avoid concentration of power in an individual or even in one section of society, by not allowing honour, wealth and power to be concentrated in one hand or a few persons. There is a reference to benevolent rulers- kings, elected Presidents in many hymns, indicating clearly Vedic seers treated dictatorship, any kind of authoritarian rule and even oligarchy as perverted form of government for any open society. However, benevolent monarchy and democratic Republics with elected President have been recommended. Such benevolent governments should encourage the people to perform their selfless duties towards the society. Honour has been assigned toBrahmins for performing their duties and pursuing their noble profession. Even Kashtriya rulers, commander-in chief and other ministers have been told in various hymns to seek their advice on all social, religious and other matters concerning administration, military activities etc. For specialisation, Brahmins are advised to continue their studies till the age of 36 years and become Rudrai and for getting the degree of Aditya who is akin to devas of Prakrti, Brahimns should qualify the last examination normally to be held between the ages of 44 to 48 years. People belonging to other three Varna are advised to seek their blessings, guidance in the temporal, spiritual and other matters. Brahmins devoted to spread of Brahma jnan-Vedic metaphysics and all members of society should honour divine knowledge.
Kashtriya also described as Rajanyas in the Vedas, have been assigned the noble duty of protecting the individuals of other three varna, by eliminating evil minded people if they do not stop their nefarious non divine activities, like resorting to corruption, taking bribe, spreading blind faith, felling trees etc. They are to protect others from external aggression and internal social upheaval. Out of honour, power and wealth, only power should rest with Kashtriya. The individuals belonging to this varna who do not keep away from honour and wealth sink into fifth non-divine profession of avarna or vritra .
There are hundreds of hymns in Rig-Veda describing duties of kings, elected President, commander-in-chief, scientists, bureaucrats and other Kshatriyas. On the death of a king during war, the responsibility to protect the people of the state is assigned to the queen (R.V 6-75-13 to 15). The Kashtriya queen should have women ministers to guide, so that she could discuss with the king various matters concerning the society and the state
Vedas do recognise that society also needs material wealth for its prosperity. But this wealth should be earned based on Vedic Dharma and Rta. Those who are assigned the duty of creating wealth for society are mentioned as belonging to Vaish varna. They include traders, merchants, agriculturist, industrialists and manufacturers. For the last two categories, the Vedic word used is Ribhu. The individuals allotted the profession of Vaish varna have been advised not to aim at honour and power. They should perform their noble duties selflessly for the welfare and prosperity of all members of society. They should themselves live and conduct on the principle of moderation. The desire to combine pursuit of wealth along with honour and power is the cause of spread of evil and corruption in society.
The fourth noble and divine Varna is that of Shudra. They are fit to perform unskilled work in the various fields of social activities. Labourers, helpers, those looking after animals etc. are part of this Varna. They are advised to perform their noble duties in the spirit of selfless service to society. All the members of four Varna are to perform their duties on the philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam– enlightened liberalism. Even prayer to God should be to provide wealth, sons, and healthy body to others and not to you. Many hymns also advise the people of all Varna to pray to Indrad deva, representing power and strength of Prakrti as lord of might and conqueror unconquered, to arrest the growth of non-divine avarna and even destroy them like mote of dust.
Clearly, in the Vedas chatvar Varna ashram is not based on birth, but on social needs as well as on merit, ability, capacity and aptitude. Even change of Varna is accepted by the ancient Aryan society after an individual acquires higher knowledge described as para jnan. Maharsi Vyasa was born to a fisher woman and a Brahmin man without any recognized marriage. Saytakama Jabala was a son of a fallen woman and became the greatest disciple of maharsi Gautma. Other who were accepted, as Brahmins by virtue of their higher knowledge were Vishwamitra, Valmiki, Kvaish Aylush and many others. If we apply Vedic metaphysics to the present age, though not born in Brahmin families, Swami Dayanand, Gandhi ji, Dr. B.R.Ambedekar and many others became Brahmins by virtue of their higher knowledge. However, Vedic society being egalitarian, gives equal status to all the four divine professions.
Rights and Duties
In the materialistic political philosophy, the concept of rights and duties go together in theory only but in practice the masses want more rights than duties. This is a very normal phenomenon of human nature based on the influence of senses and three Prakrti gunas of purity, activity and passivity or what Vedas describesattavic, rajasic and tamasic gunas. The human tendency to claim more rights than duties leads to naked selfishness earning more profit, wages, and salary but doing minimum work by resorting to hypocritical arguments and even corrupt practices. The Vedic philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam-nothing for self all for society and Bhagavad Gita’s teachings of Nishkam Karma-selfless action becomes the main casualty.
The concept of rights and duties going together is not prescribed in the Vedas, particularly for the four divine Varna. It is only performance of selfless duty by them based on "Idd Nan Mmam" and rights automatically flow as every one performs duty for others. Vedic hymns even prescribe prayer to God for the welfare of others. Gandhi ji followed this social philosophy in his conduct, spiritual politics and social behavior and sacrificed most of his material possessions and even his life for the welfare of people. He never asked for his rights even after India became an independent country. Indian people called him Mahatma-the great soul.
Vedic hymns relating to education system tend to indicate that rsis, munnies and other path finders would have studied the then human nature based on sensual knowledge, wide spread materialism and the prevailing animism amongst the local inhabitants, which could adversely affect the Aryan society. The material men of that age bereft of spiritual, divine knowledge would not have been different from what Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes observed in their political philosophy. Due to the fear complex, they found human beings largely, ungrateful, fickle, deceitful, cowardly, avaricious, slanderous, vain who pretended to be polite and affable. For him the solution was an authoritarian rule and the state to be a Leviathan. Vedic metaphysicists were on the contrary keen for a welfare state, benevolent ruler and harmonious society. Their solution to spiritualize the human nature was a comprehensive education system for the society.
Human beings have five senses, five sense organs and “etani”- an outward looking mind. According to Sama Veda 179 and 913, nine kinds of corruption can attract each of these five senses, five sense organs and the mind through nine sources. Unless controlled by Vedic metaphysics and education these 11X9 i.e.99 entries of hydra headed corruption cannot be closed in the gross human body. Thus, an individual becomes his/her own enemy. . Unless a proper education is imparted, the basic human nature would soon resurrect and corrupt all the social, political and economic institutions. Only material and intellectual knowledge without jnan and vijnan i.e. divine and spiritual knowledge could lead to educating children who would grow up as moral infants and become menace to society. The Vedic seers and sages devised a comprehensive education system that would help in building character, creating social awareness and getting integrated with the Nature. The aim of their education system was that individuals could distinguish between right and wrong, virtue and sin and could have discerning mind. It should be able to bring out the worthiness of individuals that tend to make a perfect and harmonious society.
Through transcendental and intuitive research, the ancient savants could devise a comprehensive system of education. This system aimed at not only finding out the aptitude, capacity and ability of the student from a very young age, but also impart social and spiritual values, apart from knowledge of matter, divine Nature and the supreme Reality. The education system so devised by them is spread over until the age of 48 years, starting virtually from the birth of a child. A somewhat similar system is found in Plato's Republic and partly similar in Kautilya’s Artha shastra. The Vedic system culminated in the complete knowledge of Brahma, science of soul and spirit, political, social and economic philosophy, along with ten physical sciences, mathematics, social sciences and even military science.
Vedic hymns do not advise that education should be under state control or supervision of the government. Schools should be in the natural surroundings either in the outskirts of towns or away from there. The male and female students are described therein as Brahmachari and Brahmacharni, as they acquire the knowledge of Brahma- the formless and ineffable God (R.V 1-XL1-4). The boys and girls should stay separately in their respective hostels under the supervision of rsis and rsikas-male and female preceptors. Children of all four divine Varna should join these schools (Vidayalayas), which are mostly the asharams of thegurus. Children of the fifth non-divine class could also join these vidyalayas subject to their suitability for studies, even though in Rig-Veda, their parents who are bribe takers and licentious people are described as hellish creatures (naarkiya jiva).
The mother is the teacher until the age of 5 years of the child. Soon after the birth of the child the divine word, OM should be softly spoken in his/her ears. According to the Vedic hymns OM is “shabad Brahma” – the Cosmic Word that was first spoken by the God Himself, and it created a tremendous amount of cosmic energy. With the passage of time running in to millions of years, this energy got converted into mass and the divine subtle Nature was formed with the primordial subtle matter i.e. the three Gunas-of purity, activity and passivity in an appropriate proportion for stability and equilibrium. Later these gunas created gross atoms as the building blocks and the gross universe was created. Thus, with the cosmic Word OM the entire Universe came into existence. The elementary knowledge of Brahma, Nature, plants, trees, animals, harmony, cooperation, truthfulness etc., should be given by the mother to the child to lay strong foundation for future education. It is for this reason that later Manu in his Smriti has said that the mother is equal to one hundred teachers.
Between the age of 5 to 8 years, father is the teacher. He should teach further what mother has already taught with certain practical illustrations from animate and inanimate life/things. The child should be encouraged for sports, games etc.; till the age of 8 years. Manu Smriti says, the father is equal to ten teachers. On completion of 8 years of age, Vedas recommend a sacred thread ceremony, which is described as second birth of a child (R.V 5-47-1). Boy or the girl should be sent to a male or female preceptor. He or she should keep the student for three days and three nights under his/her watchful eyes as if the mother keeps a child in her womb (A.V.XI-5-31 and Y.V9-23, 40). Female teachers are mentioned in R.V.3-33-1 to3. Education is so important for the students that on completion of Vidya (Vedic education) even devas (beings of light) and learned people visit to bless them (A.V 11-53). Those students who obtain the degree ofBrahmacharya at the age of 24 years or Rudrai at the age of 36 years or Aditya at the age of 44 to 48 years are all known as Vasu -learned persons. Incidentally,Brahmachari is a student and Brahmacharya is a degree holder after studying up to the age of 24 years. Vidya– intellectual, spiritual and divine is described inShatpatha Brahamana and Rig Veda.5-47-1.
In the absence of any regular language, writing material, printing press some rituals were included in certain parts of the Vedas, popularly known as Brahamanas. The individuals of the Vedic society have been advised to perform Yajnas with holy fire representing Agni deva who is the lord of vows in the Vedic metaphysics. Over the holy fire recite Vedic hymns specifically described as Havan mantras, along with the use of certain fragrant material i.e. Havan samigri , to create atmosphere of purity around. The hymns relating to Havan mantras mostly end with the words, “Swaha" and “Idd Nan Mmam". The word swaha means that we have understood the meaning and correct significance of the Havan mantra and we shall follow in our day today conduct and behaviour. Idd Nan Mmammeant nothing for self all for the society. The students of Brahma's knowledge are advised to participate daily in such Yajnas performed by their preceptors. By this method, all the students’ daily learnt the spiritual and material significance of the Vedic hymns and performance of their noble duties for the welfare of society and not for their personal benefits. This method also helped in memorizing the Vedic hymns by the students until the printing material became available.
Since Prakrti has thousands of attributes, for easy understanding by the students, these attributes were divided into 33 parts, like selfless service, light, energy, power, strength, discipline, stability etc. For each set of attributes a formless deva like, Surya, Agni, Indra, Varun, Usha, Prithvi and others was made in-charge. The word deva is from the root divu, which means having ten attributes and meanings and so applied to forces of Nature. Niukta 7-16 also describes deva as a source of light and knowledge. The nearest English word for deva is god, except that Vedic gods and goddesses are without any human form and they are not mythological gods. Through the concept of Prakrti’s 33 deva/devi and her attributes, the students should be taught, non-violence of the strong, truthfulness, discipline, transparency, selfless service like what the mother earth renders to all animate and inanimate life. From the Book of Nature, the laws of necessity relating to social and moral order can be explained to the students. The natural surroundings of such schools in the open areas outside the towns can help the students to understand Prakrti and her cosmic laws. Vedic hymns are very clear that without proper understanding of Prakrti and considering her as the Supreme Mother, no one can understand the Supreme Reality Brahma.
There is no specific mention in the Vedas whether such schools are to be manned by one teacher or many preceptors or may be these are need based. After the complete study and understanding of the Vedic metaphysics, Shankracharya came to the conclusion that there could be many gurus/seers where para jnan or higher knowledge was imparted so that students could continue to learn till the age of 48 years, to become Adityas and 36 years of age to get qualified forRudrai. The elementary knowledge of Brahma jnan or higher knowledge the students could acquire through daily Yajna by reciting havan mantras over the holy fire and a number of times daily prayer to God through Gayatri mantra, considered as the mother hymn in the Vedas.
Since the Vedic education is not state controlled, the caliber of the preceptors could considerably vary and there is no indication of any central University holding the examination. There could not have been a uniform syllabus as well as scheme and periodicity of examination. The various preceptors, who are described asVasus i.e. leaned persons, are supposed to hold examinations at various stages. Those students, who fail to qualify at the first stage, based on their performance and general assessment during the entire duration of studentship and other oral tests are advised to learn unskilled jobs. When they become suitable to take up a job at young age, they should take up any of the unskilled jobs as a regular profession. Since the Book of Nature forms an important part in the Vedic education system, even those students who fail in the first stage examination are well integrated with Nature. Based on their aptitude and ability, they become labourers, tillers, tailors, gardeners and even soldiers in the army requiring unskilled work like, looking after horses and other animals used by the armed forces. They are thus assigned the noble duty of selfless service to the people belonging to other three Varna.
Rig Veda 10-90-1 t0 4 describes the individuals belonging to the Shudra Varna of good physique, handsome and of high character. Kautaliya in his Artha Shastraadvises the rulers to appoint soldiers from the individuals belonging to this Varna. Vedas make it obligatory for the people of other three varna to ensure that these unskilled workers get adequate income and material comforts so that they could lead a life of moderation and do not fall in a state of abject poverty. Vedic hymns do not prohibit them to study Vedas or perform yajnas. By serving selflessly the individuals of other three varna along with meditation and performance of their allotted duties and following the path of Rta, Satya and Dharma they can also attain moksha-a state of eternal bliss.
There is no mention of slaves amongst these four varnas in any of the hymns, except individuals belonging to non-divine class of avarnas and vritras had dasas(slaves). Since ancient history of India refers to existence of the institution of slavery, it might have existed amongst those natives and others who did not accept the Vedic philosophy as divine guidance or even vehemently objected to it. There is likelihood that later during various wars and battles, those local inhabitants who were defeated by the Aryans might have been taken as slaves. However, as far as Vedas are concerned, the institution of slavery is not advised in an ideal society. The Vedic metaphysics clearly tell us that each individual is provided by the divine Nature, with ten slaves in the form of five senses and five sense organs. Only when these ten servants get beyond your control with the predominance of tamasic guna of stupor, impurity and passivity and owing to the outward looking mind (etani), they tend to become your masters and your lower body self thinks of human slaves to meet the ever increasing demands of senses and sense organs. It is in this background that in the Vedas the institution of slavery is described as sinful. For such persons where the senses and sense organs have become masters, it is rather difficult to get out of the vehement effect of Maya-the cosmic illusion of comfort. According to Sama Veda 179 and 913, such persons are prone to hydra headed corruption of 9 kinds..
The second main examination is held a few years later. No specific ages of the students are mentioned but considering the spirit of Vedic education and the scheme of examination, this could be between 16 to 18 years of age. Before the examination for a few years, the students are to be taught along with mathematics physical sciences, the knowledge of three regions-earth, heaven and firmament (A.V XI-5-9). They are prepared to interpret Vedas properly by harmonizing both spiritual and material meanings (R.V. 3-43-5) and (Y.V VI-3, 20 and 25). Those who fail in the second main examination are advised to become traders, merchants, agriculturists etc. This noble profession forms part of Vaish Varna. Since they are given the knowledge of Kshetra (both spiritual and material knowledge along with the knowledge of formless and ineffable Brahma), the welfare and prosperity of the society is paramount for them.
Those who qualify the second stage examination are advised to continue with further studies. The third stage examination is prescribed at the age of 24 years for both male and female students. Those who fail are advised to become Ribhus– manufacturers, industrialists and they should even resort to global trade by going to various parts of the world in aircraft and ships (R.V 1-140-1 and 1-71-9). They should bring prosperity for the members of society as well as for the human beings in other parts of the world. For global trade they should know various languages and for bringing prosperity, they should be honoured and decorated with golden earrings, jewels and necklaces (R.V 1-122-14). Ribhus in the Vedas are described as the manufacturers of fast moving vehicles on, under and over the earth like, Rathas (cars), ships, aircraft, spaceships etc. They should work along with "ashvinaus"-scientists having complete knowledge of the properties of water, air, fire, electricity and other forms of energy.
Those who qualify the degree examination at the age of 24 years are awarded the degree of Brahmacharya. These degree holders if they opt for teaching profession to impart knowledge of Brahma to young students are quite suitable to become gurus or preceptors and are allotted Brahmin Varna. They can even opt for priestly functions for individuals belonging to other three Varna. In case they do not want to be preceptors, priests, they are allotted the duties of Kashtriya Varna. These duties include development and welfare administration, bureaucracy, service in defence forces as officers and they can become scientists (ashvinau) and technicians (R.V.5-69-2). In some of the hymns, individuals belonging to this Varna are also described as Rajanya i.e. rulers- King, President, Prime Minister, ministers, commander-in-chief etc. Their noble duties include protection of individuals following other three divine professions, providing justice to them and development of ten physical sciences for their material and spiritual prosperity. While awarding degrees to them even devas, Vasu persons, metaphysicists- rsis and wandering sages- munnies are to be invited to bless them who give advice to keep their individual body self subordinate to higher social and divine self. Kashtriya women are also those who have passed the same degree examination and are proficient in military science. Rig-Veda 6-75-13 to 15 advises in case of war, if the ruler- King or President is badly injured or killed, the task of protecting the subjects/citizens of the state is assigned to the queen, with the assistance of commander-in-chief and other defence officials.
After passing this examination at the age of 24 years, some young men and women may like to pursue further studies to obtain specialization and mastery over subjects relating to metaphysics, philosophy, divine knowledge apart from spiritual and material knowledge. These young persons and those who opt for teaching profession or priesthood after obtaining the degree are allotted the divine profession of Brahmin Varna. Individuals allotted this profession are required to spread in the society divine knowledge of Brahma who is manifested in Prakrti, the entire cosmos both visible and invisible to human senses. Those students, who qualify the next examination to be held after 12 years i.e. when they are about 36 years of age, are described as Rudrai– highly learned Vasus persons. Some of the Rudrais may still pursue to acquire higher knowledge and they are advised to continue their studies till the ages of 44 to 48 years and qualify as Adityas These highly learned persons described, as Adityas are akin to devas (beings of light). Out of 33 Prakrti devas, Savitar and Surya devas represent light, knowledge, heat energy, source of equilibrium and stability of the entire universe. While both these devas symbolically mean the Sun, Savitar deva represents knowledge. Vedas recognise Adityas as akin to Savitar deva.
Their main task is to create scientific outlook in the society. This should be done by bringing out the latent qualities of the soul i.e. virtue, goodness, beauty, love, harmony and many others, which help in suppressing the negative qualities caused by three gunas, particularly rajasic and tamasic leading to fickleness, jealousy, deceit, avariciousness, cowardliness, ungratefulness and others. These negative qualities do not allow the individuals to listen to the sane voice of their souls, spirit, intellect (buddhi), inward looking mind (manas) and all other divine instruments in the human body, as part of their inner extended world. Brahmins role is extremely important in society, so that by spread of Vedic knowledge, human senses, sense organs, outward looking mind, three subtle gunasof the gross body could be made subservient to the inner world of ethereal and spiritual body. This only enables the individuals of all four divine Varnas in any ideal society to achieve perfection in their allotted duties. Thus Brahmins are not only the path finders as seers, sages, metaphysicists but also preceptors, priests, guides, friends and philosophers who are always willing to assist all the members of society at all times. For this selfless service they are entitled to "honour" and not power, material wealth and service to society through unskilled work. They have not only to spread the message of Vedic moderation for good life but also live on this principle of golden mean and move towards need based living, by constantly reducing material needs and wants and living in the natural surroundings for complete integration with Prakrti.
The above Chatvar Varna Ashram social In the social ethics, students are advised to avoid all kinds of loans, debts and live within means (AV 6-117-2). This hymn further says that those who live on debts are born again and again to pay back loan to individuals and society. Even the purpose of birth is explained to the students. In the Rig-Veda 1-142-5, 1-102-5 and AV. 1-152-5 the purpose of birth is to work for social welfare for which Savitar deva has sent us. Usha devi (dawn) helps us in starting work and make time schedule for this work. Prakrti devas befriend those who work hard. Through selfless work you discharge all your debts of the present and previous births and you start moving towards Moksha– a divine state of bliss. The human beings are under an obligation to protect and preserve, to aid and comfort mankind everywhere (R.V 6-75-14). Thus, the Vedic education lays the first and foremost foundation of the edifice of universal values (Y.V 7- 14). The entire mankind should move together, work together and speak in one voice is the message of Rig-Veda X-191-2.
Rig Veda 5-57-8 refers to importance of knowledge and proper education through an absolutely truthful and enlightened guru for enjoying bliss and real happiness. Only guru provides peace to the seekers of knowledge (R.V 5-57-1). The combination of two words Gu and Ru makes guru. Gu is darkness and Ru is to dispel. Thus, Vedic guru is the dispeller of darkness- of both the inner and outer worlds of his/her disciples. He/she should deal with their students without deceit and with pure and honest motive (R.V 5- 65-4). Guru should also be able to distinguish between truth and untruth and should be devoid of anger, greed, evils and malice (R.V.5-65-1 and 5-82- 9). The guru who accepts the money from bribe takers who are thieves of the society is a fake guru (R.V 1-42-3). The parents of the students have to convince the genuine guru that they are only offering the honestly earned money for the educational institution/ashram run by one or many gurus. Y.V 6-8 says, "O, learned guru, we request you to accept our honestly earned money, we offer thee." In Katha upanishad, Yama deva explains to Nachiketa-a small child of about 8 years, "guru is one who has acquired the highest truth and not the one who has acquired second hand knowledge". The reference to second hand knowledge is through the system of information mostly through material knowledge (avidya). However, the supreme Guru in the Vedas is the formless and ineffable God (R.V 5-82-9).
The purpose of birth and aim of life for the members of Vedic society has been mentioned in R.V 4-33-11, 1-24-1, 1-48-1 and 1-79-1 and many other hymns. The purpose of birth as ordained by God is to work selflessly for the welfare of all members of society. The individuals should get up before the Sun rises when Usha devi (dawn) appears and bring freshness in the atmosphere. This selfless work should be on philosophy of enlightened liberalism. Later Bhagavad Gita also emphasized this aim of life in the social ethics of Nishkam Karma. The other purpose of life in the form of a number of rebirths is to discharge your debts to parents, children, society and other debtors. There is also mention of your debts to benign mother earth and supreme mother Prakrti. A few hymns also bring out that spread of Vedic metaphysics, scientific rituals like Yajna with a view to create scientific outlook in society and destroy blind faith, miracles, magic unexplained to the viewers is an other purpose of our birth. Sankracharya in his metaphysics of pure monism had found that we are here in this world to fulfill the mission of God by following cosmic laws of social and moral order and all other a-priori principles known to the soul.
Those human beings in society who are devoted to alms giving and rituals as the highest accomplishment are born again and again. Only those who spread Vedic knowledge as free gift on behalf of God which saves all mankind from all types of evils, corruption, aimless pursuit of money and matter escape rebirth (Prasana Upanishad). Vedas mention the highest charity “Daan” as free gift of Vidya i.e. Vedic education. Spread of Vedic metaphysics, giving love as donation and not a loan, refraining from violence towards human beings and other animate life, benign mother earth and supreme mother Prakrti and selfless service are also amongst the highest Daan. The lowest and tamasic kinds of charity include donating money, silver, gold or copper, giving food etc. Mahatma Gandhi had said that giving money and food as charity is shameful, for both the person who gives and one who takes, unless you are fully satisfied about his/her sickness and inability to do any physical work.
Sama Veda gives divine guide- lines in this regard. Keep money for your preservation and need based living based on the principle of moderation, the surplus money or any kind of wealth should be given to society as your moral obligation but not as charity. Holy bible has amplified it further, while giving money or other material objects by one hand even the second hand should not know.
In the Vedas great emphasis is given on the need to develop scientific temper in society and arresting spread of animism, blind faith and rituals, superstitions, aimless ceremonies, curses of the elders and self-starvation. There is no mention of auspicious or inauspicious day or time. In any ideal society one should avoid idol worship of formless God, all kinds of animism, spread of mythology, miracle, magic and all those activities that create confusion in society. Even more than worship of God or meditation and for avoiding hallucination and schizophrenia that God is talking to you, Vedas advise know and understand Him. Blind faith, unscientific rituals, superstitions, belief in miracles etc.; is mostly found amongst those who worship God in the stage of ignorance or what Sankracharya describes as avidya or Bhagavad Gita's ajnan. Avidya/nescience is a stage when matter, money, progeny, ego, attachment, selfish desires and other negative traits create inner vacuum and worship of God is resorted more for peace of mind, ostentation to get social recognition and certainly not for understanding God.
The mosaic Vedic society has not only four divine Varna, elaborate education system, philosophy of advait Vedantism, nishkam karma, idd nan mmam-enlightened liberalism but also four ashram (stages) of life for all individuals (R.V 5-49-1). Vedas do assume that non-divine vritras and avarnas may not follow these four ashrams, owing to lack of faith in the Vedic metaphysics and a-priori principles known to their extended real self. Rig-Veda 1-22-15 describes these four stages as "Chatvara Varna Ashramashch".
These four stages are (a) Brahmacharya ashram, (b). Grahasta ashram (c) Vanaprasatha ashram (d) Sanyas ashram. The first stage is that of studentship of acquiring Vedic education as a student of Brahma’s knowledge. This stage assumes that the individual should study till the age of 24 or 25 years and aim at obtaining the degree of Brahmacharya. By this stage most of the students would have passed their respective stage examinations, before being assigned the noble vocations and duties of the four Varna. During the period of studies marriage is not advised and celibacy to be observed. Rig-Veda mentions that a Brahmacharya should marry a Brahmacharni i.e. they are both degree holders to get healthy, bright and intelligent children. They should have observed complete celibacy during all these years before marriage.
The next stage of life after marriage is grahstha ashram that should normally start after the age of 24 or 25 years though in some cases where education has been completed it could start earlier. During this stage, a family of healthy children is created on behalf of God. Vedic metaphysics is clear that children do not belong to you and they only come through you. It is the effect of cosmic illusion Maya that you start feeling that children belong to you. They continue to remain the children of God under your trust on His behalf. Your noble duty is to look after their education; physical needs for their development and you guide them towards virtue, good conduct and Vedic knowledge. Their supreme Father is God and their supreme Mother is Prakrti and your duty is to integrate them with Nature and make them move towards God. A concept more or less similar has been mentioned in Khalil Gibran's philosophical treatise "The Prophet". Bhagavad Gita in the very first chapter makes it clear that your children and other relations have their independent souls. They never belonged to you in the past nor will they belong to you in future. Therefore, we should shed the feeling of attachment towards them and perform our selfless duties towards them based on the noble and divine principle of nishkama karma, as mentioned in the scriptures. The celestial song Bhagavad Gita also says that following the injunctions of scriptures is virtue and good.
From the spirit of many hymns, one finds that Vedas do not advise polygamy or polyandry and monogamy is Vedic injunction. Taittrya Upanishad strictly prohibits polyandry. Patriarchal social system has been advised. Atharva Veda 14-1-20 says "wife to go to her husband's place". Love marriage is advised. Woman to choose a man she likes most and is delighted.(R.V 6-64-6). Love marriage duly accepted by the parents of both bride and bride groom is Brahma Vivah which is the ideal form of marriage. Marry a woman as per the law of Svayamvara (mutual choice), beget virile children and dispel miseries (R.V 1-71-8). They should be of one heart and lead a life of perfect harmony (R.V 3-53-4). "Wife is verily a home" and they should obtain the blessings of God through Vedic hymns (R.V 1-183-1, 2) and (A.V 3-30-1 to 3 and 6, 7).
After the birth of the child, mother and father are the first and second preceptors respectively, for laying the foundation of the child about virtue, love, harmony and cooperation. Prakrti being the supreme Mother, the child should be integrated with the Nature from an early age. This second stage of grahstha ashram is thus a period of selfless duty towards children, other family members including parents, grand parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, friends and also other members of society. It is only at this stage that an important institution of Family is formed for which the role of husband and wife is described in a large number of hymns in the Vedas. This second stage should last till the age of 50 years. After that, both husband and wife should start withdrawing (not renouncing) from the material phenomenal world and move towards the inner world of soul, spirit and God. In the material world, you should start living through your children who should also perform "Chatvara varna asharamashch" duties as prescribed in the Vedas.
The third stage between the ages of 50 to 75 years is Vanprastha ashram, which literally means movement to forests. However, the spirit of various hymns does not indicate that one should leave the house and live in forest. The emphasis is more on creating conditions and environments akin to the forest, while living in the family and society. They should live more in secluded places while performing their normal duties towards children, grand children and society without any material gain. You are born again through your sons, daughters and grand children. Physical movement to forests is mentioned in later scriptures owing to materialistic interpretations with vested interest to get rid of unwanted old people.
During this third stage of life, a large number of individuals did transcendental research and found a large number of a-priori principles and Rta-the cosmic laws of necessity. In the Vedic metaphysics these are Arayankas popularly known as forest laws which provide not only guidance for virtuous and good living after the age of 50 years but also aim at simpler methods for performing Vedic scientific rituals like, yajana with the holy fire for old people. This is an important stage of an individual's life when the individuals spread divine knowledge in the society selflessly and the activities in this stage help in the spiritual progress of the society. Dr.S.N.Das Gupta in History of Political Philosophy mentions that by following arayankas, old men speculated, which led to philosophy of meditation and self-knowledge as the highest goal. It paved the way for Upanishads. Arayankas are thus to a large extent the pre runners of Upanishads.
The fourth ashram is another important stage of life, which commences at the age of 75 years and is described as Sanyas ashram. It is the stage when the individual should start renouncing all material desires and get involved in the social activities with a watchful eye so that all kinds of evils and hydra headed corruption do not infiltrate in society. Based on Vedic metaphysics Bhagavad Gita has explained the word “Sanyasi” in the sixth chapter. It says, "He is noSanyasi (renouncer) who has merely renounced the sacred fire or given up all allotted duties and activities. Sanaysi is one who has given up the thoughts of material world." Strangely enough, later Hindu scriptures described Sanyas ashram as renouncing the material world along with their activities and living in forests until the last journey on this earth. Obviously, it was a clever interpretation of Vedic Sanyas ashram to get rid of old people and their watch full eye for discerning and pointing out entry of evil and corruption in society. In the Vedas the last two stages of life are periods of great activity, wisdom and spread of Vedic metaphysics and not passivity or life negation as perceived by many Hindus now.
As earlier brought out in the context of grahstha ashram, marriage is another important social institution in the Vedas. It is a patriarchal society where bigamy, polygamy, polyandry are not advised for the individuals belonging to divine four varnas. Atharva Veda 14-1-20 enjoins the wife to go to husband's place and become the mistress of the house. However, for those who do not have faith in the permanent truths and commandments of the Vedas and prefer to follow non-divine vocations by resorting to bribery, magic, miracles, adulteration of food, the Vedic metaphysics is silent about the marriage institution for them. Being the lawless aggressors of Dharma, Rta and Satya, it is very likely that bigamy, polygamy and even polyandry might have been prevalent amongst those persons. A few hymns mention about the preference of sons to daughters. As Aryans were mostly dependent on agriculture and they had to fight a number of wars with local inhabitants before finally settling in India, this might have led to bigamy or even polygamy for getting a son or sons. However, this is only a presumption. Vedas certainly advise only monogamy in any ideal society.
Rig-Veda 6-64-6 says, at the time of marriage the woman should preferably choose a man who likes her most and is delighted to see her. Parents should give freedom to the young girl to choose her life partner through the institution of Svayamvara, which literally means self choosing of a husband (R.V 5-47-6 and 1-71-8). The path- finders found highly ethical and divine principles in regard to the institution of marriage. God is present when sex is resorted to for the purposes of procreation only in socially recognised marriages. A number of socially recognised marriages have been mentioned. Love marriage is considered superior to arranged marriage. Parents should encourage those young men and women who love each other and want to get married. There is no mention anywhere that marriages should be within the same Varna. More emphasis is on the same level of intelligence, ability and the proficiency in Vedic education. Both degree holders should preferably marry each other but their children could be assigned different Varna based on merit, aptitude and capacity.
Marriages arranged by parents are also contemplated. However, the institution of svayamvara where the bridegroom has to fulfill certain conditions of expertise, strength, power, knowledge etc., are to be fulfilled as prescribed by the parents of the bride, before finally getting married. This clearly shows the great importance Vedic rsis and munnies gave to women. No dowry system is mentioned anywhere as is now widely prevalent in Hindu society. Vedas leave no doubt that male female relationships are more on the principle of co-equal relationship of the cosmos i.e. between Purusha and Prakrti and thus provide divinity and sanctity to the institution of marriage.
Many Hindus are well aware of the institution of Swyamvara not as much through Vedas but through two mythological epics, Ramayana and Mahabharta. Lord Rama's marriage with goddess Sita was based on Swyamvara. Lord Rama proved his physical power and strength as far superior to those other kings, princes and young Kashtriya in the presence of many kings and princes including Sita’s father and mother. The gallant warrior Arjuna's marriage with Draupadi was celebrated after the conditions relating to strength and expertise were fulfilled. Both the noble and divine ladies happily and proudly accepted them as their respective life partners. .
Vedic metaphysics and some of the other scriptures prescribe various forms of marriages. A few of these forms are Brahma Vivah, Prajapatya, Arsha, Davia and these forms do not require self efforts and are mostly arranged by parents. Gandharva, Asura, Paischta, Rakshasa marriages require efforts to attract the girl desired. If both young man and woman of marriageable age and equal merit get attracted to each other and finally get married with the concurrence and blessings of their parents, it is Gandharva marriage duly blessed by Brahma and is also akin to Brahma Vivah. In those cases where Vedic rites are not even partially followed and parents of both bride and bridegroom have not given consent, such marriages are Asura, Rakshasa and Paischa form of marriages. These three forms are based on money strength, coercion and even use of force and are usually followed amongst the fifth non-divine vritras, avarna etc.
Whether the marriages are arranged or based on mutual love, if performed on the Vedic rites and guidelines, the family thus created should be patriarchal. After the marriage of the girl, the parents should not interfere in the family affairs of their daughters for peace, harmony of the patriarchal family of their sons-in-law. Children are to be known after their father. The girl should live after marriage only with her husband where also his parents, grand parents, brothers and sisters live as a part of joint family. Rig- Veda says, “wife is verily a home” (1-66-5, 1-77-3 and 3-54-4). After marriage the girl can attend and address Vidhata andSabha and should conduct as per Rta and Dharma (Rig Veda 10-85-26 to 42 and 47. AV. 14-1-20, 22. 14-2-64,71). She is the mistress and ruler of the house. Virtuous, noble, educated wife of an unimpeachable character and conducts devoted to her husband with body mind and soul enjoy the highest bliss (R.V 1-73-3).
Guru Nanak had a firm belief in the supremacy of Vedas had said, "asankh grantha, mukhi Ved path"- there are a large number of scriptures but the Vedas are the supreme. Based on this Vedic knowledge he had described the married woman as "ardha shariri" i.e. half the complete personality of a man. He even re-confirmed the Vedic injunction that women can also study these "Shruti" by preaching, "Ved lok gur gyan vic,ardha sharari mokh duari". According to knowledge contained in the Vedas wife is half of the complete personality of a man and she is fully entitled to spiritual and divine knowledge of the Vedas and also Moksha- the stage of eternal bliss. No hymn could be found which debars widow re-marriage which later scriptures put this restriction and made the life of many widows extremely miserable and pitiable. In addition, there is no concept of Sati pratha in the Vedas. This social evil in which a young wife is virtually forced to sit on the pile of wood, fully decorated, as bride along side the dead body of her husband for burning as the last funeral rites, seems to have started in the medieval periods in Rajasthan and certain parts of central India. During the British rule in India this inhuman institution of Sati was banned and even now the ban continues but to a very limited extent the practice continues owing to lukewarm implementation of this legal ban both by the federal and state governments.
The patriarchal families do not mean that women have a lower role to perform in society or in any way inferior to men. Society has a great responsibility to protect women from evil- minded people and debauches (R.V 1-1-17 and 18). Women's great importance in society can be visualized that out 33 Prakrti devas, the ancient seers named a large number of them as female formless devis like, Prithvi (earth), Usha(dawn) Saraswati (education, harmony and cooperation), Aditi, Devaki, Daivi for divine Nature Prakrti and others. Bhagavad Gita also says that female devis/deities preside over education, music, harmony, love etc. The scriptures that were mostly based on Vedic metaphysics gave equal importance to men and women, as the divinity in the form of jivatma– manifested soul is the same in both sexes. The divine instruments provided by supreme Mother Prakrti like, buddhi, manas, ahamkar– cause for all noble desires and actions and thejiva- spirit are also the same. Only gross and phenomenal body of male and female has differences owing to their different roles in society, universe and Nature. Therefore, any scripture that tends to give a lower or less important role to women is anti Vedic.
To avoid the vehement effect of Maya-the cosmic illusion, R.V 1-71-5 makes it binding on all learned people of four noble Varna to impart education to their daughters and make them happy. The women should study Vedas (Y.V 26-2. AV. 11-24-3,4 and 18) and even become metaphysicists and rsikas like Gargi and Lop Mudra. Kashtriya queen is allotted the duty of protecting the kingdom, polity and its citizens/subjects during the war if the king or ruler is killed or seriously injured. Prima-facie, the gallant queen Lakshmi Bai of the 19th century AD was imparted Vedic education by her preceptor who was also the Prime Minister of the princely state of Jhansi. If we leave the mythological queens, in the entire Indian history Lakshmi Bai stands alone as the gallant queen who fought bravely the British army during the first war of Indian independence.
While there are a number of hymns to give full respect and honour to women, still being patriarchal and agriculturist society during the ancient Aryans period, some hymns do indicate preference of sons over daughters. Hymns in Rig Veda V 2-33-1 and 5-4-10 say, "may we transplant ourselves in our sons." These hymns also say "in the son self is born from the self." Atharva Veda XIV-2-64 and 71, XIV-1-31 tell us that young couples should live full length of life, together with their sons, grand sons. While one can give intellectual arguments like Aryans being an agriculturists society or had to regularly fight wars with local inhabitants, but the same may not be satisfying "why this preference for male children? "Some more study is required to find metaphysical justification for the same. However, a large number of children (sons and daughters) have not been advised in Atharva Veda (1-164-32) as they are cause of sufferings for their parents. This Vedic injunction was included in the epic Mahabharta where the blind king Dhritrashtra had 100 sons and one daughter and suffered gloom through out his life.
In the Vedic society a virtuous, learned and mighty persons of all Varna should expand to grandfather, father, children and descendants and should be able to say that I am the 15th of it. (A.V.11-1-19). However, normal age of human beings is mentioned about 100 years divided into four ashrams (stages) of life provided he/she follows Dharma (righteousness) and Rta-the laws of God conveyed through divine Nature.Since the old people would be normally between the third and fourth stages of life i.e. Vanprastha and Sanayas ashrams, Vedas prescribe simpler ceremonies, rituals in the form of Arayankas (forest treatises) for such persons. Some old people may like to go to lonely places near the sacred towns like Haridwar, Rishikesh etc., and others may stay as part of the joint families, while spending a lot of their time in social work, study of metaphysics-Vedic and Upanishad philosophy, meditation and contemplation. They are advised to progressively renounce material desire but not activity. They should move towards self-realization and live like "lotus in water", inculcate pure thoughts for the benefit of all members of the society, without getting affected by the material world around. They should spread Vedic knowledge in society as part of their service to God. Vedas enjoin that all old persons should maintain peculiar beauty of this godly old age and let wrinkles be not written upon the heart and the spirit should not grow old. As earlier brought out that children do not belong to parents and they have their own thoughts, ideas, past and presentkarma’s (good and bad actions) and kind of life to live. The relationship between the parents and children is based on the divine concept of love with its latent energy. The love should flow from strong to the weak. In old age while the parents need not depend on their children but according to the laws of God the love should flow from young and middle age children towards their old parents. .
The Vedic metaphysics does not provide for an absolute egalitarian society and material equality. The society should have more of universal equality, where the individuals could have access to the professions and vocations based on their capacities, abilities and aptitudes. There is equality of opportunity for obtaining education, dignity and achieving perfection and uniqueness. All persons should have freedom to worship God in their own way and can aim at achieving salvation. However, all these equalities of opportunities are restricted by one's own ability, dedication, past and present karma of good or bad actions, thoughts and desires. According to the Vedic metaphysics all human actions, thoughts and desires leave behind certain subtle particles which go on accumulating on the human soul and create an individual's running ledger account of all his/her good or bad deeds. The sattavic subtle particles and atoms of purity, truthfulness are lighter than rajasic atoms of activity and tamasic atoms of stupor and dullness. Thus, tamasic and rajasic actions, thoughts and desires make the soul heavier. The light of knowledge contained in the soul gets covered with these darker and heavier tamasic atoms. This becomes the cause of re-birth again and again in this phenomenal world.in different kinds of families. If the actions, desires and thoughts have created more of sattavic subtle particles and the soul is not covered with darker tamasic particles (tanmatras), one gets rebirth in the family of learned persons, seers and metaphysicists. Such a birth is considered to be the highest kind of birth for the human beings. The lowest birth is in the families of rich persons who are hell bent to acquire tons of money beyond the maximum limits of moderation through their evil and non-transparent activities. However, birth in the families of those rich persons who follow the path of moderation and earn wealth for the society based on Dharma, Satya and Rta, is the higher form of birth.
In the Vedas, money is in the non-permanent category and hence not divine and less spiritual as tamas guna is predominant in it. Hence it is a kind of necessary evil and should be pursued on need based and not greed based. It is not only in the Vedic metaphysics and Bhagavad Gita's philosophy that concept of re-birth in different kinds of families is mentioned, a somewhat similar concept is also found in the philosophy of Greek philosophers. Plato had mentioned rebirth in one of the nine kinds of families. For him birth in the families of philosopher kings and metaphysicists is the highest one. Through this metaphysical concept of rebirth, the message of Vedas for members of an ideal society is very clear that create truthfulness, transparency and purity in your actions, thoughts and desires. Bhagavad Gita in the verses 17-3 and 28 advises three fold austerity of body, speech and mind (manas) along with scientific faith for leading a noble life of purity.
In Bhagavad Gita it is mentioned that all kinds of material excesses are sins. This concept is very much akin to Vedic philosophy of moderation. Amongst the noble vocations and professions, both domestic and global trade has been advised based on Rta, Dharma and Satya. Production of ships, aircraft etc., in heavy industries by Ribhus (manufacturers and industrialists) is also contemplated in the Vedas. It is very likely that some industrialists could become excessively rich. Sama Veda therefore, advises to all that keep money for your preservation only. While Bhagavad Gita refers to all excessively rich persons as sinful, Vedas make a distinction between noble rich and vulgar rich based on the concept of good. In the Vedas good is a social and divine concept as virtue, beauty, truth etc. However, for a materialist nothing is good or bad except thinking makes it so. Thus, good for him/her is relative to certain situations left to human mind and brain to decide and there is hardly any divinity involved in the materialist concept of good. For such persons good is linked with pleasant and bad with unpleasant.
However, in the Vedas “good” is well defined. It is based on certain a-priori principles and so, very often it may not be socially good though it may be pleasant to an individual. Based on silent and subtle communication with the inner world, a-priori principles, intuitive and transcendental research, a litmus test is prescribed in the Vedic metaphysics for the concept of good. Any action or activity both material and spiritual which an individual performs, if the same is performed in the same spirit and dedication by all members of society and the resultant effect is good for the entire society, it is a good action, thought or desire. If a person speaks truth and all the members of society speak the truth, it can lead to an ideal society. Same with love, virtue, harmony, cooperation etc., which are all part of “good” and hence divine. On the contrary if one member tells a lie, performs magic, miracles, takes bribe or resorts to other kinds of negativity and if all the members do the same, there will be an absolute chaos, confusion and disorder in the society. The individuals belonging to divine varna and following noble vocations should avoid such bad and negative actions. Vedic metaphysics is very clear that the evil-minded non-divine avarnas and vritrasmay not be able to distinguish between good and bad, social or unsocial and even anti-social activities.
In any society the bad actions, thoughts, desires exceed the good and noble actions which emanate from the human soul and other divine inner instruments of the body, the society starts moving towards perversion. Finally it gets split into a number of small closed societies where non divine and evil minded people infiltrate in large numbers and start flourishing by destroying the divine concepts of good, virtue, beauty, harmony etc. On the contrary if the individuals follow the Vedic injunctions, always speak truth, love and respect other members of society and consider them as their spiritual brothers and sisters, it can lead to an ideal, perfect and open society, where divine guidance is always available in plenty. Such an ideal society is transparent like the divine Nature, which is the subtle manifestation of God. Where the members of society are truthful, vibrant and virtuous and follow the divine concept of good the kingdom of heaven comes closer to such a society. Thus, the individuals alone can bring heaven on earth and if they so choose, they can create hellish conditions on this earth. Vedic metaphysical universal God is an unmoved Mover and is ever keen to provide divine guidance if the members of society so desire.
Sabha and Vidhata
For providing universal equality and equal material and spiritual opportunity to all men and women, two important social institutions be provided in society. These institutions help in arresting any drift towards perversion in social, political, economic and religious concepts and ideas, which otherwise, could ultimately lead to degeneration in society. The ancient rsis and munnies of the Vedic period named these institutions as Sabha and Vidhata. The members of all the four divine Varna and even the fifth non-divine class are allowed to attend the meetings of these institutions. Women should also attend and actively participate in their deliberations (R.V 10-85-26 to 42, 47) and (AV. 14-1-20, 22 and 14-2-64,71).
Sabha is more of a political and social assembly where all citizens irrespective of any caste, creed, sex, religion, varnas and avarnas could attend and deliberate on social and political problems of the polity and society. Being a major social institution, even non divine and evil minded persons could be convinced towards general good based on the Vedic philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam– nothing for self all for society, which is a kind of philosophical enlightened liberalism. Sabha is also a social barometer to judge whether the individuals of noble and divine four varna are not drifting towards the non-divine class of evil minded persons, bribe takers and exploiters of human beings and the mother earth. Yajur Veda even provides a social prayer to God " may we acquire mundane and celestial joy and felicity, it should help in performing our noble deeds and duties, creating concord and peace everywhere" (Y V. 3-43). After discussions and deliberations in the Sabha the decisions arrived at, are to be conveyed to the ruler- king or the President, commander-in-chief, the concerned bureaucrats, for bringing more transparency in administration. This also helps in better administration by the ruler and bureaucrats, leading to welfare of the entire society. Vedic metaphysics advises that the noble and benevolent ruler should encourage Sabha's regular discussions and deliberations (RV. 10- 88- 46). Who so ever, comes out with glory in this political assembly of the citizens, is a protector of the society from all kinds of evils. He should contest the elections and get elected for the highest post of the polity. It is within the jurisdiction of Sabha to advise the ruler and the judges to punish smugglers, bribe takers, adulterators, rapists and those who corner food for material gain (R.V X-86-4). Such an elected man/woman is also thus the provider of pure food.
With the passage of time and spread of materialism certain deviations were made in this social institution of Sabha, meant for each village and town. Manu in his Smriti has recommended another institution called Parishad. This is an assembly of 12 Brahmins to take decisions on political, economic and religious matters and made Sabha subservient to Parishad. It was obviously a deliberate attempt to create hierarchy in the four noble and divine Varna, which in the three Vedas are not based on any hierarchical structure. It was a clear attempt to establish that Brahmins were superior to other three Varna. This drift and deviation from the Vedic injunction continued. Later scriptures put Brahmins on the highest pedestal by recommending mount up to mouth for them, up to shoulders for the Kashtriya, up to thighs for Vaish and up to knees for the Shudra and thus brought Shudra at the bottom of the hierarchy. There were also two other tendencies.
(a) To stop upwards movement of the Varna and more so for Shudra
(b) Merging of vritras, avarnas and other evil minded and corrupt persons based on their riches, power and strength amongst the divine four varna but also assigned to them the role of king makers..
The Vedic religion is more of a spiritual science Dharma, which binds the society and not like the organized Hindu religion of today, which tends to divide society and even creates distortions in the social concepts. Vedic Dharma is a spiritual adhesive to which, many other religions and faiths of the ancient invaders from the North West like, some Greeks from Bactria, Parthians from Persia, Sythians and Kushans from central Asia, also got glued. Even today, hundreds of sects, cults, castes, creeds, panths and sub religions are glued to this adhesive i.e. Vedic Dharma. The Hindu religion and Hindu dharma are not the same. Being a geo-cultural concept, any effort to define Hinduism as a religion has always failed. However, to define Hindu Dharma with roots in Vedas is much easier. The moment Hindus lose their bearings, they become part of rudderless, confused and non-definable Hindu religion. .
Vedic Vidhata is a religious institution in which all matters relating to Dharma (righteousness), Rta-the cosmic laws of necessity and other metaphysical concepts like divinity, goodness, soul, spirit, Nature and other spiritual matters could be discussed and deliberated. Vedas do recognize that some individuals in society would worship God, who is formless and ineffable, for whom no idols or material image can do justice. Still there could be a large number of individuals in any society under the vehement effect of Maya, who can not visualize a formless God owing to both higher and lower knowledge i.e. para and apara jnan. The individuals with apara jnan of matter, sense perception, finding the phenomenal world as real world would invariably need some idols or material image for worship and other religious and social ceremonies. It is in this context that Rig-Veda 3-55-1 says," now the statues of devas (forces of Nature) shall be revered." Here again the epithet Brahma was not used as no idol could justify the divinity, the form or infinite attributes of supreme Reality Brahma. Thus to a limited extent Vedas do recognize minor deities as personal god with idols but only for spiritually ignorant persons or those who make spiritualism as subservient to materialism. However, with para jnan or attaining higher knowledge all minor or major deities and personal gods merge into formless God and the concept of Maya- the Vedic phantasmagoria starts becoming absolutely clear to them.
These subjects like God, Prakrti, soul, devas (forces of Nature) etc., could be discussed in Vidhata. For the benefit of individuals who are still at the stage of lower material knowledge, the human form of statues and idols for deva could be decided and thereafter as per Rig-Veda 3-55-1, their statues could be revered. These 33 deva are mentioned in details in AV. 10-5-12 to 27. Apart from these hymns, hundreds of hymns in all the four Vedas describe them. The individual who has moved further towards spiritual and divine knowledge, these deva become formless “beings of light” and no statue, idol or icons depicting any human form can satisfy them. In fact, defining their attributes was more important to Rsis of yore than their form or sex.
Some kind of Vidhata might have existed in the ancient India where certain symbols were evolved to represent various attributes of Nature, e.g. "lotus flower" to represent purity and truthfulness. Lotus flower even though grows in muck and marshy land but still maintains its purity. The colour less ether (akash) is extremely powerful but human eye sees its colour as light or dark blue, so the powerful deva Indra, Varun, Agni, Mitra were depicted as having the entire subtle body as slightly blue in colour. Later lord Rama, Krishna and many other deities were given this ethereal blue colour for their idols, icons and statues. Certain musical instruments like flute and beena- a kind of stringed instrument) to depict the cosmic word AUM as the voice of God was depicted in the idols of lord Krishna playing the celestial flute. With a view to depict harmony, peace, love and education, the stringed instrument Beena was chosen for female goddess Saraswati. Holy fire for heat and electric energy as yellow/saffron colour and “aura” for divine knowledge and inner light was depicted with a bright yellow Sun (Savitar) behind the human personality. Thus many other symbols were decided to represent selfless service, humility, four cosmic periods etc., The purpose behind these symbols for the idols of various gods and goddesses was the by just looking at the idol certain attributes of the Prakrti devas could be known immediately.
With a view to develop rationalism, scientific outlook and spread of higher knowledge of Supreme Reality, the ancient seers and savants devised an ingenious method of daily or periodical Yajna by chanting certain Vedic hymns popularly known as "havan mantras". All the four Vedas refer to regular performance of Yajna- a kind of scientific ritual, on occasions like birth, marriages, death, all social occasions including victory after a just war etc. The concept of just and unjust War has been made clear in Bhagavad Gita. Apart from such occasions, even daily performance of Yajna is advised. Vedas have different hymns for daily Yajna and those for various social and religious occasions. These hymns or Havan Mantrasare to be chanted over the holy fire kept burning with the help of clarified butter, fragrant mixture of dried herbs called Samigri, dried wood pieces of mango tree etc. Many hymns to be recited on such occasions convey social and moral ideas apart from maintaining equilibrium in the Nature by avoiding pollution, environmental hazards and for establishing peace on the earth, oceans and firmament. These hymn conveying divine, spiritual, social and moral ideas normally end with the word "Swaha", which signifies that I have understood the meaning, appreciated the spirit behind the mantra and I shall follow the same in my conduct and behaviour throughout my life. To this effect, I take the oath before Agni deva by offering fragrant Samigri and a small piece of wood with the word “swaha” to the holy fire. Many hymns describe Agni deva as lord of vows, particularly YV. 1-5 A V.11-5-5 and 6-130-4. Only those who have understood the meaning and spirit behind these hymns, known as havan mantras offer this fragrant herbal mixture to the holy fire. Thus, they take a vow before Agni deva to follow the Vedic metaphysics through out their lives. It is apparent that studying Vedic hymns and metaphysics without understanding and reflecting is like eating without digesting. Vedic mantras are certainly not ritualistic.
Apart from the word Swaha, the pathfinders included the phrase Idd Nan Mmam in a number of hymns. It was a kind of enlightened liberalism- nothing for self all for society. Normally Yajna would end with a prayer to God for maintaining peace all round with no pollution in the atmosphere, vegetation and human body and minds. O Merciful God," bestow us peace on earth, in all waters, rivers, oceans and also in the sky, ether and the entire firmament.” Through the scientific ritual of Yajna, an effort has been made to spread Vedic metaphysics and philosophy of enlightened liberalism. Through this concept of Idd Nan Mmam Vedas have conveyed all material and other benefits should come to individuals not directly but through the society and also when these have reached all members of the society within the divine limits of moderation. Thus, Yajna help in arresting the spread of naked selfishness in society.
Vedic Yajnas have also the added advantage that these help in removing all kinds of pollution in the atmosphere as the Havan samigri (the mixture of certain dried herbs) makes the air fragrant, clean and it becomes suitable for breathing by human beings, animals, birds, plants etc. Vedas therefore, advise such Yajnashould be performed in the open with no roof over the holy fire. If performed in the right spirit with all sincerity, the Yajna leads to Dev Yajna and even Brahma Yajna. Through Deva Yajna the individuals imbibe the attributes of Prakrti devas i.e. strength, power necessary for social welfare, harmony, justice, love for mankind, animals, birds and all other creation of the Nature. The continuous performance of Deva Yajna lead to Brahma Yajna and one starts getting divine knowledge, virtue, goodness and many other noble attributes and qualities. At this stage all kinds of worship based on animism, polytheism, dualism merge into pure monism for the metaphysicists and monotheism for the others. Finally, it leads to complete faith in One God for the entire mankind, universal brotherhood and one global family of all spiritual brothers and sisters on this divine globe. The term used for Global Family is Vishwa Kutumbkam. Vedas do not debar any individual based on sex, caste, creed, colour or any other consideration for participating in these scientific Yajna and even chanting the havan mantras.
To spread the Vedic knowledge the pathfinders did not leave any thing to chance. They could visualize that a large number of individuals may not be able to attend Yajna, study Vedas and even may not attend the deliberations of Sabha and Vidhata. For such individuals they devised a Mother hymn praying to God in the form of cosmic Word AUM to bestow us His divine knowledge at all times – during our awakening state, while sleeping and also in our dreams, so that we spread this knowledge like the sun and shine like him. The ancient metaphysicists named it Gayatri mantra. Because of its great importance as mother hymn Gayatri mantra is repeated at seven places in the four Vedas like R.V 3-62-10, Y.V 6-3, 30-2, S.V 1462 and other 3 places. At present in most of the havan mantras, it is repeated seven times. Meditating on this mantra with proper understanding of its meaning and the spirit behind it, has the divine effect of connecting gross body with our subtle and causal bodies.
All the social institutions, systems, comprehensive divine, spiritual and material education, Sabha, Vidhata, Yajna, four celestial periods etc., are to make the individuals moral and ethical human beings by bringing out their latent divinity and higher social instincts. The Vedic metaphysics recognize that in the absence of right conduct and knowledge, nine kinds of hydra headed corruption spreads in society through 99 sources (SV.179 and 913). To contain and control the evil, need based earning and living has been advised. Follow your noble vocations and professions selflessly by achieving perfection and even our thoughts, desires and actual living should be based on the principle of moderation. The ancient seers were aware that the human beings are both divine and social and are vastly different from other animate life. Only human beings have the immortal Atma– the immaterial divine soul, which contains all a-priori knowledge including the Vedic ethics. Only one has to peep in his/her inner world through the study of Vedas, meditation after renouncing the material desires and not deeds in this phenomenal world of matter and through metaphysical discussions and deliberations. While animals and birds can also create, their societies but only human beings can create ideal society and bring City of God on this earth. By looking always to the outer world of phenomenon, human senses and sense organs being extremely powerful and under the influence of primordial subtle matter, develop noble and ignoble, positive and negative powers. The human senses when controlled through the Vedic ethics produce wonderful positive results for the society, otherwise the same senses are capable of creating chaos, confusion, stress and disorder in the society. If these senses can create supermen in all areas of human noble activities, these can also create super demons and moral infants. Through Vedic ethics human beings should avoid the senses becoming extremely selfish, ungrateful, fickle, deceitful, avaricious and evil minded. The Vedic metaphysics and philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam greatly help in this regard.
Vedic ethics is comprehensive and covers all social activities. In regard to material ethics, no hymn praises materialism, affluence, excesses in thoughts and actions for self-interest, hoarding tons of money or blind pursuit of filthy lucre. It appears Vedic rsis found emptiness of materialism as an ethical philosophy. In the Brahamana's portion of the Vedas relating to rituals and ceremonies, the hymns relating to production of wealth are there for material and spiritual prosperity but more emphasis is on the pursuit of money on the path of Dharma and Rta by avoiding extremes of poverty and riches and following the life of moderation. Vedic material ethics is more like Buddha's middle path and Gandhi ji's need based living with steady decrease in the material needs. Even in the material ethics, Vedas strictly prohibit bribery and earning of money through all kinds of corrupt practices. The food purchased out of ill-gotten money spreads poison of evil in the family and society. It is just like eating sin and spreading sin around you. It is for this reason friendship of five kinds of persons is avoided (R.V 1- XLI- 9). This is in spite of the fact that Vedas aim at and inspire for an ambiance of unfailing and ubiquitous friendship (Y.V 36- 18). Only hard-earned money is given in charity to schools, gurus and priests. Rig-Veda has a hymn "O, learned guru (preceptor), please accept our honest money earned through hard labour for running your asharm cum school”. Great emphasis is laid in avoiding loans and getting heavily indebted. A.V 6-117-12 has a clear commandment that such persons are born again and again to pay back the material loans and other debts towards parents, children, individuals and society.
The material ethics also protects the dangers of market economy that tends to concentrate wealth in a few hands and widens the gulf between the rich and the poor. This gulf then becomes a cause of social tension, disorder and upheaval apart from the naked exploitation of the mother earth and even human beings. Rig Veda 1-27-7 refers to debauchery, adultery and rape amongst the heinous crimes. There is a prayer to Indra deva who represents the attribute of power and strength of Prakrti that such avarnas who commit these heinous crimes should be made to flee like a mote of dust. (R.V. 1-129-6). Indra deva is the unconquered conqueror, lord of might who smites down unresisted Vritras, law less aggressors and enemies of Rta (R.V 7-85-3). All kinds of gambling and particularly with a dice and those based on chance are prohibited (R.V X-34-13). Adulteration of food, cornering of food and resorting to all kinds of excesses is sins both morally and socially. The material ethics of Vedas is clearly based on spirituality.
The material ethics covers land ethics as well. It considers the earth as benign mother represented by Prithvi devi.. Since the land is a part of the earth, it should be protected from all kinds of pollution, environmental hazards and not exploited for any selfish interest. Even before the arrival of Aryans in India, it has remained mostly an agricultural society. The same is even true today, except that Vedic land ethics is not applied now. The supreme mother Prakrti and benign mother Prithvi devi are no longer important deities and so divinity and sanctity in the land ethics has been taken out. Land is now a commodity for non- transparent trade and large-scale corruption, speculation, generation of black unaccounted money and many heinous crimes are associated with this trade.
The Vedic social ethics covers “trinity” of values based on Dharma, Kama and Artha. If this trinity of values i.e. righteousness, spiritual and material pleasure and pursuit of wealth is based on the path of Vedic philosophy of idd nan mmam and education covering divine, spiritual and material knowledge, one can achieve Moksha- a stage of permanent bliss in which even re-births are avoided. Rig Veda 4-2-11 and Yajur Veda 8-53 enjoin that by performing the noble duties of the allotted Varna for all members of society, based on dharma and rta one can attain Moksha. Economic prosperity of the entire society is more important than the individual's prosperity. For bringing prosperity in the society, even global trade is recommended. Manufacturers, industrialists (ribhus), traders should go on ships and aircraft to other countries, states and bring economic prosperity for the society and also for their spiritual brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Those individuals who get wealth by righteous and unquestionable means get good and noble children and do not face gloom (R.V.2-2-12). Birth in the families of such learned and noble rich is amongst the highest rebirths, which even Bhagavad Gita also confirms. Such noble rich persons should lead a life of moderation and should not aim at their own economic prosperity but only for the society.
The study of Vedas would reveal that the ancient seers, who left behind noble path to be treaded by the entire mankind of all ages, were fully aware of the science of Axiology. They based their value system on the social philosophy of idd nan mmam and gave the trinity of values, described as Trivarga. While they kept the sensate values at low-key, but did not advise their total abolition. Materialism in the Vedas is a part of spiritualism and not vice versa.For the members of society they prescribed Trivarga of Dharma, Artha and Kama. These three values i.e. pursuit of money on the path of virtue (artha), enjoyment and pleasure (kama) and even righteous conduct and activities (dharma) should be on the path of Rta– the cosmic laws of social, moral and physical order. Vedas nowhere advise life negation or total renunciation of matter, enjoyment but advise life affirmation by harmonizing matter and spirit.
The various values emphasised are development of scientific outlook, avoidance of blind faith, encouragement of sciences, arts, philosophy, industry and technology. The individuals belonging to four divine varna are advised not to follow too much of sensate values but prefer to follow more of ideational and idealistic values of virtue, beauty in the Nature, harmony, love and justice. Pursuit of such values along with sensate values help in attaining Moksha. While these scriptures are not against the pursuit of matter on the path of Dharma and Rta, but also do not advise its blind pursuit of filthy lucre and all kinds of material wealth for ego living. Owing to its tamasic effect such a kind of matter and its blind pursuit blurs the vision of both inner and outer instruments of the body and hides many truths of even the phenomenal world. The Satan sitting inside of the human beings tends to become a leviathan and super demon. Vedas give equal emphasis to human senses, which should be kept under control of the inner divine instruments and made independent of the Satan sitting inside. With the uncontrolled senses a person becomes his/her own enemy.
The Vedic metaphysics is more for the welfare of all members of society and made simple for those who are on the path of Jnan Marga- the path of Vedic knowledge. For such persons on this path, there is no incarnation of God as a human being. He is Aja (unborn), being formless and self created. He is more a God for metaphysical understanding than for worship. Even His worship in the form of idols, icons and statues is not advised. Prasana Upanishad says blind meditation leads a person towards utter darkness. In the Vedic philosophy, both inner and outer darkness and ignorance are synonymous. With knowledge all kinds of darkness disappears. Meditation and prayer without the desire of higher divine, spiritual and material knowledge contained in the holy scriptures of all major religions is either temporary sleep or ostentation more for impressing others to gain social recognition than understanding God and Prakrti. Understanding metaphysical God and supreme Mother Prakrti through the Vedas is the greatest meditation. He is the One before whom the words recoil, so by just praising Him no one can know Brahma. He can be praised through words, thoughts and ideas and all these describe certain categories to explain quantity, quality, form, comparison etc. Being ineffable and formless, He does not come under any category and all praises through any kind of various categories by using even the superlative words would recoil. Thus, in the Vedic ideal society human beings tend to move towards higher knowledge by resorting to need based earnings and not ego or greed based earnings while giving their best to the society.
The human beings in such a society become not only material, social but also divine animals. The Vedic metaphysics also include simple but convincing philosophy of soul, spirit, salvation, selfless action, enlightened liberalism, need based living along with the knowledge of divine Nature and her attributes. It also covers the philosophical concepts of good, virtue, beauty, justice, matter and the phenomenal world of Maya-the cosmic illusion. Proper understanding of the Vedic metaphysics makes a person both social and divine and lack of this knowledge would make a person moral infant even though he/she may be intellectual, industrial or a spiritual giant. Vedas enjoin that the knowledge contained therein should be freely spread, openly discussed without any biases, prejudices or vested interests, not only to form an ideal society but also to discover all the a-priori principles, moral laws of necessity and all permanent truths. The belief in mythology, irrational rituals, aimless ceremonies and blind worship of God is not advised in the Vedic society.
From the study of Vedas a person on the first reading could come to a conclusion that Vedas also contain some kind of mythology. There is a mention of the origin of four divine Varna from the different parts of the body of formless God with a view to provide divinity to these four noble professions of Brahmin, Kashtriya, Vaish and Shudra. There is also a mention of 99 vritras stopping the free flow of river, stream, rain water with a view to harm and harass the people living at lower levels of the ground. Such vritras openly flout the laws of God and Nature for social and moral order and thus become lawless aggressors in the society. There is a prayer to Indra deva to destroy all these vritras. Many hymns on first reading give an idea that 33 deva are human beings and their statues and idols be worshipped and this gives the impression of some kind of mythology bordering religious fairy tales. However, on understanding their metaphysics and the spirit behind the hymns, such doubts disappear. At best, they contain symbolic mythology more for illustration than as a part of knowledge (jnan). But unfortunately due to certain vested interests this symbolic and innocent mythology has been used by the custodians of Hindu religion to give human form to the formless devas. To justify their interpretation these priests, swamis and other religious leaders very often give the example of ice and water. Water, which is formless, acquires a form when becomes ice and again on melting it becomes formless. Though this illustration can be used to explain stage of melting of ice as the stage of knowledge and the other stage as that of ignorance but the effort is more to explain that Vedas contain hymns about devas of the divine Nature with form and even metaphysical God has a form. Vedic seers had perhaps visualised likelihood of such intellectual discussions and advised all members of society to move from avidya to vidya, ajnan to jnan and shed only material knowledge by acquiring divine and spiritual knowledge of matter.
The ancient metaphysicists and pathfinders have also told through these hymns that divine guidance is not availed equally by all societies. It varies with the number of both divine and non-divine persons in any society at any particular time and in the four celestial periods (Yugas). In a society where the number of non divine vritras, avarnas and other evil minded persons are nil or negligible and every one performs his/her allotted duty selflessly with full devotion and for the welfare of others, it is the Golden Age. During this celestial period, divine guidance is availed to the maximum extent. Sattavic guna of purity, truthfulness, love and transparency is the predominant guna of this Yuga.
The Satan in the form of tamasic and rajasic subtle primordial matter, sitting inside the human body which is ever fond of temporary pleasures and enjoyment, idleness and false ego, takes the human senses and sense organs steadily away from the divine guidance. This leads to development of vested interests andsattavic guna starts diminishing amongst the members of society along with the rise of predominance of rajasic guna and steady decline in the number of fourvarna. Vedas refer to it as Treta Yuga akin to Silver Age of Greek philosophers. Symbolic and innocent mythology of the Vedas moves towards religious mythology. The mythological epic Ramayana describes this period in details. Certain divine miracles have been mentioned in this epic but much less in quantum and magnitude what the later scriptures of Dwapar (Copper Age) and Kali Yuga ( Dark Age) described. Vedas do not mention any miracles at all. Over all Treta Yuga was a celestial period of peace, prosperity and harmony in the Nature and society. Gandhi ji was perhaps aware that in this age of materialism, it might be difficult to achieve Golden Age in independent India, so he kept his Model for an ideal state and society as Rama Rajya of the Silver Age.
With the further decline in sattavic guna and ascendancy of rajasic and tamasic guna, Copper Age or Dwapar Yuga appears, which is explained through mythological fables in Mahabharta. Ninety-nine sources of evil, magic, miracles, superstitions and other negative activities start emerging in society. Distinction between good and bad, virtue and evil is made more on the intellectual arguments than based on knowledge contained in the Vedas. With the distortion in the concept of good and bad, virtue, evil and other pairs of opposites as mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, the great confusion starts in the society. People with predominance of tamasic guna take full advantage in all material fields and Dark Age or Kali Yuga starts. In this celestial period of Iron age of Kali Yuga, there is inter-mixture of Varna and Avarna. Individuals do not take pride in their noble professions and tend to move towards ignoble and non-divine, non-transparent and even evil professions, normally followed by avarnas, vritras, kimidin and other corrupt persons. During this period, a large majority of people does not see the light of the soul. Psychopathic and pathologically violent propagandists bask in the glory of fake spiritualism, dreaded materialism, and hypocritical social, economic and political ideologies. In this corpus of value inversions, virtue, selflessness, non-divine persons consider honesty and other divine concepts as vices. A large number of persons do not feel any necessity for divine guidance and become their own enemies.
Vedic hymns and truths might have been discovered about more than 5,000 years ago, but most likely compiled and written about 1500 to 1000 B C when some regular language Prakrit, Sanskrit, Pali and others became available along with some kind of writing material. At that time Kali Yuga was at its peak and is still continuing, so the Vedic metaphysics was meant to guide the individuals of Dark Age towards Krita Yuga. In this noble pursuit the pathfinders also created models not only for society and its members, but also for ideal human conduct, perfection, morals and ethics and even for politics, economics, religion etc.
The society should aim at developing scientific outlook amongst its members. The religion and dharma should be more of spiritual science and not like the present confederation of hundreds of sects; cults and sub religions described as Hindu religion. In the Vedic society such kinds of unscientific miracles like, the idols emerging from the earth, idols of various gods swigging the adulterated and infected milk etc; are not contemplated. The Vedic rituals, ceremonies and meditation are based on reasoning of the inward looking mind (manas) and aim at uniting people to one social group. It is incumbent on the priest performing the rituals and ceremonies by chanting Vedic hymns to ensure that all the individuals present have understood their meaning. The priest is duty bound to explain meanings without any distortion and in most truthful manner by harmonising divine, spiritual and material knowledge, apart from explaining the purpose and objectives of the rituals.
In this ideal society there is a clear distinction between the " Means and Ends". Means like the value system, education, divine vocations, four stages of life, rituals, ceremonies like Yajna, pursuit of wealth etc., should be on the path of Dharma and Rta. Those who do not understand the Vedic concept of good, righteousness and cosmic laws of social and moral order, may give more importance to material Ends than the Vedic Means. By following the right means individuals can achieve collectively an ideal Vedic society and individually Moksha– the state of permanent bliss and supreme knowledge for themselves. The Vedic “means and ends” forms an organic whole. The right means on the path of Dharma and Rta for right end and vice versa. The individual is both means and end in him. While being part of the ideal society, performing selfless activities for the welfare of other members on the noble philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam and for his own perfection and salvation can retain his individualism.
The Vedic society appears to be more capitalistic than feudalistic or socialistic. State interference in the pursuit of noble vocations is not contemplated. It encourages individualism along with social instincts for achieving perfection in all fields of human activities. The main difference from the modern capitalism is that it is to be pursued on the path of Dharma and Rta while leading a life of moderation. The Vedic economics is vastly different from the present day economics where any thing foul is good and useful and doing every thing right is the end of business. Like the modern capitalism, it does encourage free trade both domestic and global but only for the prosperity and welfare of society and the entire mankind on this earth. Vedas do not advise slogans like “shop till you drop”, “production for filling the almirahs and cup-boards in the houses” etc.
It may look rather strange that I have not used any Vedic word for society, as I could not specifically find in the Vedic bhasha or even in the later translations inPrakrit or Sanskrit. The word "society" has been deduced from various hymns depicting "We feeling" like Idd Nan Mmam, Viswa Bandhutva, Nishkam Karma andmany prayers for the welfare of mankind and others. Perhaps the aim in the Vedas was to create one ideal Society for the entire mankind through stages, even though there could be large number of states, polities, governments etc. Again, the purpose of birth is to work for others welfare (R.V 4-33-1, 1-124-1 and 1-48-6). There is an other hymn in Atharva Veda that we are all co-workers for prosperity and make riches flow amongst the people on the path of Dharma andRta (A.V 1-15-2, 4). There is also a common prayer in Rig-Veda for the welfare of all human beings. We should create concord amongst the human beings, love each other as the cow loves the calf born to her, we all speak gently and in a friendly manner, let our water store be common and common also our share of food. Morning and evening let there be loving heart in all of us (R.V 10-191-2 to 4), (A.V 3-30-1 to 7). Yajur Veda 36-18 has a prayer to God; "Let all beings look on me with friendly eyes. May I look on all beings with friendly eyes- may we look each other with friendly eyes”. Thus, a large number of hymns refer to "We feeling", without specifically mentioning the word society.
Vedic metaphysics creates a large number of models for achieving an ideal society. These models could vary in different parts of the countries of the world based on climate, physical conditions, food habits etc., The basic models provided in the Vedas as already mentioned above briefly can be improved through discussions and deliberations in Sabha and Vidhata. There are no efforts made by ancient seers and sages to create any kind of rigidity as any ideal society needs flexibility and elasticity without compromising dharma, satya and rta and all a-priori principles. Arnold.J Tonybee rightly says, "usually when people become materially satisfied as time goes on, elasticity of thought and effort which is essential for success is lost". As the divine spirit is the energy principle in all human beings, only material and spiritual satisfaction can ensure this elasticity of thought and effort. It is not only the harmony of body and soul, which is essential but also of the spirit and matter. Each kind of matter has its specific and peculiar characteristics provided by the spirit that lives in the subtle part or in the void “shuniya” of matter.
Vedic society thus not only aims at creating perfection in its institutions and organisations but also creates worthiness in the members of such a society. To achieve both the noble aims, the path finders have provided permanent truths to arrest decline in social organisations, systems, human conduct and also to make people know at all times the noble and divine concepts of good, virtue, justice, harmony, concord and social welfare.
Since the Vedic society is based on a-priori principles, permanent truths, flexibility to provide for local conditions, many other metaphysicists of all ages and also in different parts of the world gave more or less similar philosophy for achieving ideal and perfect societies. In the philosophy of Euripides, Socrates, Plato, Confucius, Mencius, Spinoza, Immanuel Kant and others as well as in the scriptures of Shintoism, Zoroastrians, Islam and other major religions of the world, the glimpses of Vedic metaphysics relating to divinity in the noble vocations, social classes, education system, the phenomenal world, three fold value system (trivarga), need based living etc., can be traced. The Vedic philosophy of moderation in thought and action is found later in the Buddhist metaphyics of "middle path" as a part of eight fold path "Ashta Marga", Greek philosophers "golden mean". Long before Plato, Eurpides had divided the society into three classes and mentioned the useless rich who has always greed for more and would always prefer the rule of rich people i.e. oligarchy. The poor who has nothing and are devoured by envy, the middle class, the sturdy yeomanry who "save states". The great diversity of wealth is always inconsistent with good government and cause of civic and social unrest. (A History of Political Theory by George. H.Sabine p.62).
The concept of good, virtue, beauty and love are diametrically opposite for the soul and senses. Senses find beauty in nakedness and semi nakedness, in jungles of concrete, marbles, materially precious stones by denuding the Nature's beauty of hills, mountains, forests and soul has no liking for such kind of beauty. It finds beauty in simplicity and cleanliness of the surroundings. Very often, whatever is vulgar to the soul is beauty to the uncontrolled senses. The same is true of good, virtue and love. Whatever is beneficial to the entire mankind is good and virtuous to the soul but senses may like whatever is beneficial to one's gross body. Thus, there is a need to harmonise the yearning of the soul and senses as explained in details in the Vedas to achieve an ideal society.
scheme is of divine origin, being born of the Body of God. Rig-Veda 10-90-12 has a prayer "O, God give luster to Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaish and Shudra and to me." The basis of Vedic social grouping or Varna is pursuit of divine professions with Dharma and Rta (R.V 10-90-12, AV. 19-6-6, Y.V 31-13 and 17 and Br.Up 1-4-11 to 14). The individuals pursuing these four divine professions while following Rta and Dharma can eat and drink together. They can marry amongst themselves. In the society, they are co-workers for prosperity and should make riches flow (AV 1-15-2, 4).
Through this elaborate system of education, the Vedic metaphysics aim at spreading many other social, moral, ethical and divine precepts. Some of these precepts are duties are more important than rights, strive all material activities and objectives on the path of virtue and righteousness while following the cosmic laws of social and moral order based on a-piori principles (R.V X-34-13). Keep wealth only for preservation and lead a life of moderation and the excess wealth is to be shared in an ideal society for the benefit of poor and those below poverty line (Sama Veda 267 and 310). The wealth should be earned by hard work on the path of Dharma and Rta, by avoiding all kinds of pollution in society as well as on the earth, in the firmament and in the oceans, rivers and all kinds of water and finally by shaking off all ignorance. Wealth obtained without virtue creates social upheaval and conflict in society. Material wealth is a “means” and not an “end”.
The students are told to avoid five kinds of people as their friends (R.V 1-41-9). These are described as one who kills or resorts to violence, one that reviles one who misappropriates others money or articles and a person of ill words and wicked actions. The parents become enemies of the child if they do not get him/her proper education. The girl student is sent to lady teacher/acharya (R.V 5-47-1) and only female teachers/rsikas should teach girls and women (R.V 3-33-1 to 3). Rig Veda 1-52-9 clearly brings out that only those persons enjoy happiness and bliss who utilize their material and spiritual wealth for the welfare of mankind and help creating unity and harmony amongst all members of society.
Swami Vivekananda observed that the Vedic education is not the amount of information that is put in the brain of the student and runs riot there undigested all his/her life in the pursuit of aimless money, power, status and false ego. The right education based on Vedas is life building, men making, character forming and assimilation of ideas. The education which does not build character and creates only moral infants though intellectual and material giants is no education.Garuda Purana 115 comes very closer to Vedic education system. It says knowledge through education unless makes a person honest, virtuous and endearing to society- being holiest of the holiest, is no knowledge. Shorn of it a man is but an animal.