“Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.” R.V. 1-89-1
Being a former student of Political Science and Philosophy, on retirement from Indian Defence Accounts Service, I tried to revive my earlier interest in the political philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Kautilya and many other lovers of wisdom and steadily drifted towards metaphysics that Bhagavad-Gita says is the supreme science. During the drift I came across a few very unusual but interesting statements. It was even more significant to know their political and metaphysical views relating to God, Nature, soul, spirit, phantasmagoria- the illusory world of senses and many other subjects.
Plato mentions in his Laws (174-f) and also in Utopia that in an ideal state the range of economic disparities should be within 1:16. If the range of disparity increases marginally, the state is less ideal. However, if it increases considerably, the state is either a Democracy or an Oligarchy. The rulers in both tend to be tyrannical, corrupt, and hypocritical. In his metaphysics, Plato says that the soul of virtuous people becomes lighter and goes toward heaven by moving upward after death and that of the non-virtuous, being heavier, stays near the earth and is the cause of rebirth. On rebirth, people may be born in families professing different faiths, religions, as well as in the different regions of the earth. Plato thus becomes one of the few ancient philosophers who gave a perfect philosophical theory on secularism and universal brotherhood.
In an ideal state, which he described as Republic, divine guidance is the maximum and in Tyranny it reaches its minimum and world dissolution comes when that divine guidance is totally withdrawn. Plato’s observation of 1:16 immediately connected my thought process with the philosophical views of Mahatma Gandhi who used to say that in an ideal state i.e. Ramrajya, the income disparities between the rich and the poor should be between 1:10. The actual disparities in India are now much beyond 1:1000 and still going up. If this trend continues in India, his Ramrajya will remain a utopia. Aristotle did not suggest any such ratios but like many other Greek philosophers recommended the concept of “ golden mean ”. Buddha had already advised the “ middle path “. The Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita strongly advise moderation for an ideal way of life to achieve perfection.
This drift from political philosophy to metaphysics continued till I came across vastly different six Schools of Indian philosophy popularly known as the Sad Darshana and found that all these Schools are based on Vedic metaphysics and Upanishads thus creating unity in diversity. During this search from political philosophy to the Vedic metaphysics one wonders whether these lovers of wisdom like Socrates, Plato, Immanuel Kant, Yajnavalkya, king Janaka of Videha, Sankracharya, Ramanujam and many others were ordinary human beings or devas (shining ones) as mentioned in the Vedas. Throughout my life I avoided reading the scriptures, fearing that I might become a fanatic or fundamentalist or live in a world of hallucination. However, I would read the celestial song Bhagavad-Gita occasionally, as I did not find any organized religion there. It is a didactic book mainly on spiritual science containing an ethical social philosophy relating to nishkam karma- action without any self- interest and sankhya yoga– path of knowledge.
After retirement, I made an attempt to study certain other scriptures particularly the holy Koran in Urdu script (Roshan Chiragh) and its English translation by N.J. Dawood one of the Penguin classics. Other scriptures studied were Old and New Testaments, a few Upanishads, Patanjali’s Yoga Shastra and four Vedas (English translation by Arya Pratinidhi Sabha and also a few volumes translated by Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati). A large number of other books on philosophy and metaphysics were obtained from various libraries in India and U.S.A. Most of the didactic books of Hindu dharma and Sikh religion mentioned that the highest scriptures are the Vedas. Adi Grantha- the sacred book of Sikh religion says, “asankh garantha mukhi Ved path”. It literally means there are countless scriptures but the most sacred is the study of Vedas.
Vedas are derived from the root Vid– i.e. knowledge. Vedas thus means, “store house of knowledge” and Vedic dharma is the spiritual science based on knowledge described in a large number of hymns in four Vedas. In book X1X section 22 and 23 of Atharva Veda, knowledge is described as study and complete understanding of bhutas (elements), matter, society and social organisations physical and social sciences, primordial subtle matter, divine Nature Prakrti, Soul, spirit and God. Surprisingly none of the scriptures and the books on philosophy and metaphysics refers to various types of religions now being practiced in India and abroad. Probably the soul of the scriptures is now missing in these ritualistic and organized religions prevalent throughout the world. The study of Vedas would reveal that the Vedic religion is a spiritual science and it contains all the major material, spiritual and divine thoughts/guidelines conveyed in all the other scriptures of major religions of the world. However, Vedas contain some additional knowledge not available in other scriptures like, certain permanent truths/findings of physical sciences, mathematics, state and society, medicine, role of a ruler, bureaucrats, scientists, industrialists, economics and many others. Being scriptures for the welfare of mankind, no specific religion is mentioned in Vedas.
Although the roots of Hinduism lie in the Vedic dharma and metaphysics, a close scrutiny would reveal a wide deviation. Vedic concepts like Rta – cosmic laws of social and moral order, “Idd Nan Mmam” – nothing for self, all for the society, the role of supreme Mother Prakriti- the divine Nature in the creation of animate and inanimate life under the supervision of God and many others, are hardly seen in the organized Hindu religion today. In the Vedas, the God is Ajo (unborn) i.e. there is no incarnation of God as a human being, no worship of God through idols, being formless, omnipresent and ineffable. The Vedic metaphysics has a striking resemblance with the holy Koran and Grantha Sahib. The most sacred scripture of the Sikh religion Grantha Sahib says,”Ved, Kitab kaho mat jhoote, jhoota woh jo na vichare.” Do not say that the Vedas and the holy Koran are not true scriptures; the individual who does not study them is an untruthful person.
Ishta theory of Vedas describes paths could be different so long as End is the welfare of mankind and other animate and inanimate life. Vedas do not consider matter as inert and explain in a large number of hymns that matter has unsuspected vitality. All paths, religions should aim at unity in diversity i.e. should lead to universal brotherhood (viswa bandhutva), global family of the same One God (vasudhaivan kutumbkam), global trade and global market for the material and spiritual welfare of mankind. God being formless, ineffable and self created avoid explaining God through categories, substance, activity, quality and relationship. HE is beyond cognition, perception of human senses, logic of mind and intellect. Words recoil to explain the Supreme Reality. Only true and harmonised material, spiritual and divine knowledge (para jnan) can unite all religions to compete with each other for the welfare of mankind.
The study of various scriptures of Hindus revealed that the most sacred scriptures are the Vedas. Next in importance are the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras,Smritis, Puranas, Ithasa or epics i.e. Ramayana and Mahabharata and the lastly the Tantras and a large number of minor later scriptures like, Hanuman Chalisa,etc. This precedence of importance is not uniform for all the Hindus as for some Ramayana or Mahabharta could be more important than Smritis and Braham Sutras. Bhagavad-Gita is partly based on the Vedic metaphysics; hence some learned Hindus consider it as one of the Upanishads.
However, by and large the authority of all the Hindu scriptures is thus subordinated to the Vedas which as a whole are Karma Marga i.e. path of selfless action – nothing for self all for society. The Vedic metaphysics is Jnan Marga i.e. the path of knowledge. This knowledge brings out clearly the ultimate significance of all material and spiritual things. The Vedic Rsis and Munnies (metaphysicists and wandering sages) had found the substantial essence of all these things in the scheme of Reality, thereby unifying the absolute Truth. Vedas have a concept of absolute and perfect truth based on a-priori knowledge against material and imperfect truth influenced by our outward looking mind and physical senses. Material truths being imperfect are never permanent and vary considerably amongst individuals.
The Vedic science of Axiology covering idealistic, ideational and sensate values is entirely based on permanent truths in the form of Rta, which are the cosmic laws of social and moral order. Yajur-Veda 7-14 clearly brings out that the noble thoughts made the culture of the Vedas the first and foremost foundations of the edifice of universal values. Through the Vedic mantras (poetical hymns) homage is paid to the Rsis of the yore, path makers and pioneers (R.V 10-14-15 and A.V 18-2-2). Mundaka Upanishads 1-1-3 mentions that having known Vedanta, all other knowledge will stand revealed to us. Vedas are thus the acme of human thought and the metaphysics reaches its summit in the Vedantic philosophy contained in the fourth and last part of the Vedas in the form of pure idealism and absolute monism. Vedas are also known as Shruti – the heard. Most of the modern Hindus believe that the Vedas were directly revealed by God and were not fabricated as later the ancient dreaded materialists Charvakas found and criticised these divine revelations.
Adi Grantha says, “ Omkar Ved nirmaye.” It literally means Omkar (God) revealed Vedas.
Vedic wisdom covers the Cosmic working at all levels, from micro-cosm to macro-cosm. It covers material, temporal, secular, spiritual, and divine knowledge by blending both the inner and outer worlds. In the concept of Brahma as the only Reality, the highest metaphysical ethics is reached, as all else is Maya(appearance or phenomenon but not exactly mirage). Maya is His Creative Art (R.V 6-45-16 and 6-47-18). Isvaraya Upanishad explains this as the illusory but blindingly brilliant disc, which appears real to human senses. Holy Koran also confirms that life in this vast ocean of matter- the material world is an illusion of comfort. Plato held largely similar views in his theory of Forms and Ideas. Immanuel Kant described the phenomenal material world as phantasmagoria.
However, the great Indian saint and philosopher Sankracharya explained this concept of subtle Prakrti (Nature) and gross universe as Maya in great details in hisBrahma Sutras. First he made a clear distinction between para jnan (higher knowledge) and apara jnan (lower knowledge). He called the knowledge of senses, matter, physical body and the outer world as lower knowledge or Avidya. With this knowledge the entire universe looks “real.” Individuals with lower knowledge will find a lot of arguments in favour or against the existence of God. He called it a peculiar phenomenon of human senses. Many atheists like ancient Charvakas, though not believing in the existence of God, describe the unforeseen cosmic power as Adrsta- not seen. For the theists with intellectual knowledge, multiplicity of gods is seen in the form of idols, icons and incarnation of God as a human being. Some such individuals even find God/god as partly a man and partly a woman (Ardhanari Iswaran). Any individual who starts moving towards higher knowledge, all arguments start and end at One formless and ineffable God who isSat, Chit, Anand – the only reality, supreme consciousness, and bliss.
The material and intellectual knowledge of the outer world through our sense perception throws us in perpetual Flux. In the present age the concept of para jnan has virtually disappeared. Priests, fake gurus and even various cults to amass enormous wealth now freely utilize the sensual and intellectual knowledge and camouflage it as higher knowledge. In some cases their coffers are already bulging out with lucre, gold and real estate. With the spread of this sensual knowledge in many areas including science and industry, man is finding himself in wilderness and is running hither and thither to seek peace of mind. Taking full advantage of this wilderness, there is a mushroom growth of gurus, saints, swamis and even cults through out the world. As most of them try to combine both para and apar jnan, so a strange kind of spiritualism not contemplated in the Vedas is now spreading fast. Ignorance/ne-science (ajnan) is now freely parading as divine knowledge in sacred places of pilgrimage and the various headquarters of gurus and cults.
In the social science of Axiology, Vedas contain trinity of values Trivarga. To help forging chaos into unity, there is a need to follow the Vedic metaphysics with its total perspective. The Vedas survey life in its entirety and are most suited to the present age of materialism. The hierarchical and organised religions of today is not able to define the ideal life, highest virtue, goodness, gentleness and many other noble concepts. The treasure of such a noble knowledge is freely available in the Vedas. The philosophy contained in the Vedas can certainly help in taking out the cobwebs created by various religions through mythology, unscientific rituals, ostentatious and proxy worship, blind faith and hallucination apart from certain weeds of the mind, like destructive, revengeful, selfish and other wild thoughts.
The eternal philosophy of the Vedas, with its social and spiritual messages remains always as fresh and blooming as flowers. The Vedic metaphysics not only help us to find our roots, but also answers hundreds of our doubts which most of us have. Why and how this world was created? Who am I? Where did I come from and were shall I go? Why I am here? Do I come back or just become manure for the earth? What is an ideal way of life? Think of any material, spiritual or philosophical question, the Vedas have answers to all such questions. The ancient wise sages, who did speculative transcendental research to find permanent truths, came to the conclusion that any effort to change or modify them will rebound. Such truths are a-priori, being directly from the immortal human soul. Only empirical knowledge based on sense experience like physical and social sciences gets modified with the passage of time. The root of greatest error in metaphysics lies in projecting our sense experience and perception, criteria and even preferences into objective universe, which leads to the concept of good and evil relative to each individual. This results into various human beings ascribing different attributes to God. For some, God is saguna Brahma with a form and finite number of attributes and for others an impersonal God who is ineffable and formless i.e. nirguna Brahma. For them God is “That” and not He or She and is described in Vedas as Tat Tvam Asi i.e.” Thou Art That”.
The study of the Vedas would reveal that the discoverers of permanent moral and spiritual truths were from both sexes. They were Rsis and Rsikas (male and female seers), Munnies (wandering sages), Rudrais and Adityas, who had studied till the ages of 36 and 48 years respectively. In the Vedic education system, a student at the age of 8 years would start learning elementary knowledge of matter, spirit, soul and Brahma-the ineffable and formless God. Rudrais achieved the specialization of Brahma Jnan (the supreme knowledge) latest by the age of 36 years. Adityas achieved the highest specialization between the ages of 44 to 48 years. Some of the learned wise men and savants mentioned in the Vedas are Vashishta, Aiterya, Viswamitra and others. The female Rsikas (sages) were Vishvara, Gauri Veeti, Archana, Aiterya, Lop mudra, Godha and others. There is no mention that the Vedic truths contained in various hymns/mantras were discovered by them. The very fact that various hymns are attributed to them probably indicates that these hymns were first interpreted by them and translated from the Vedic bhasha (language) to Prakrit bhasha, a precursor of the present Sanskrit language.
The Vedic hymns as parts of social engineering describe nature, properties and action of all material and non-material things. The names of those male and female seers, metaphysicists and wise men, who did research to discover various Vedic truths and emptied out all their knowledge in the Vedas in various hymns, are not mentioned. Their aim was perhaps Moksha (salvation)- a stage of permanent bliss not for themselves but for the entire humanity. Thus they became the silent, unknown pathfinders and pioneers for the entire mankind of all ages. The Vedic scriptures are meant for the mankind of all ages and not for any particular time. Period, religion, sect or cult It is a separate matter that some learned Indians, Germans, Greeks and others have taken inspiration from Vedic metaphysics.
I am too small to comment whether the Vedas are directly from the God as Shruti or revealed to the Rishis and Munnies during their transcendental research or these are apriori principles and truths. However, the fact remains that the Vedic hymns have come to us in their original form after passing through various civilizations, benevolent to highly authoritarian governments, with all possible diverse interpretations in the six major schools of Indian Philosophy known asSad darshna. The dreaded materialists like Charvakas even used vulgar and abusive language against Vedic seers and went to the extent of saying that the future promises of good life are the promises of cunning priests and bearded sages. During the long journey of over 5,000 years, the Vedas were respected, worshipped and even criticized by people of various temperaments, nature and ideas. While the materialists like, Charvakas challenged the Vedic truths, Advaita Vedantists like, Sankracharya found the highest ethics in the Vedic metaphysics. The Vedic truths have been challenged, criticized but never proved wrong. The long history of over 5,000 years is a clear indicator that the Vedas, which are the acme of human thought, should be studied with an open mind and without any bias. Bhagavad Gita describes the study of the Vedas as the highest virtue (16-1 to 3).
For the study and understanding of any philosophy and metaphysics one can utilise either inductive or deductive approach. Any other approach can lead to hallucination, biased imagination and even highly unscientific outlook. This third approach has already crept in certain sub-religions having roots in Vedas and taken away the spirit of Vedic metaphysics particularly philosophy of idd nan mmam– nothing for self all for society. Due to this unscientific and biased approach and lip sympathy to the study of Vedas the social evils are increasing rapidly.
The scientific method to study scriptures could be either inductive or deductive. Inductive approach may appeal to many intellectuals, as it needs some kind of material proof of metaphysical concepts. However, we have seen that material discoveries based on scientific principles, laws and concepts do undergo change with the passage of time. Twentieth century particle physics has greatly modified Newtonian classical mechanics. In the inert atom of scientists of the earlier centuries, some vitality has been observed in this century and some metals e.g. steel feels “fatigue” like human beings. The deductive method of finding common and permanent truths contained in various scriptures, philosophies, metaphysics and other didactic books will never undergo any change. These truths are for the guidance of all human beings in all ages. The deductive approach would certainly help to know Vedic metaphysics without any religious or personal biases and all kinds of hallucinations like seeing the inner light of the soul during mediation etc; would disappear.
The study of Sama Veda would reveal that the focal point is Brahma – the impersonal God. However, in the other three Vedas, particularly Rig-Veda, the focal point is the individual, or rather – the “Self”, which is the divine principle of the body. When the immaterial “real self” and the gross body are in harmony, you are at peace with yourself; otherwise you become your own enemy. Senses in the human body when get independent of “self” become like wild horses not knowing where to go, what path to tread and when and where to stop. Thus these senses independent of “self” (manifested soul) take a person on the path of ruin. For the harmony of body and soul Vedas advise the pursuit of matter on the path of Rta and Dharma i.e. by observing the cosmic laws of social and moral order and righteous conduct. Such a pursuit does not create any ill effect in society. The only paradigm of achieving a perfect society as well as ecological sustainable development is to grow around the pivot of need-based living with simpler life styles based on the principle of moderation.
What is admirable in the Vedas is that their powerful and comprehensive philosophy was created for all ages and for the entire mankind. This philosophy was made available at a time when most parts of the world had hallucinations of ghosts getting out of dead bodies, when shadow was interpreted as the soul, spirit, ghosts, and the soul was considered to be getting out of the body at night during dreams. It was the period when the concept of inner and outer world was highly confused. Out of fear complex the ancient man worshipped snakes, animals, plants, and clouds by creating millions of gods with form. When in most parts of the world the religion of animism was wide spread, the Vedic metaphysics was getting developed in the areas which now lie in the states of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Pakistan and some Northern parts of India. Arya Vrata was the land spreading up to Parshavas (Persia), Ariana (later Iran) and this land was not a fairy tale country, since the Vedas nowhere describe mythology as part of metaphysics.
Vedic hymns accord different importance to 33 devas (beings of light) of divine Nature (Prakrti). These devas have no form and represent various attributes of Prakriti.. Indra deva represents power and strength of Nature, Agni deva signifies energy, Usha devi represents time, discipline and dawn, Prithvi (benign mother earth) as self less service, Surya as light, Savitar as supreme knowledge, Ashvinau deva represents both physical and spiritual characteristics of the entire matter in the gross universe. Because of this, scientists in the Vedas are described as Ashvinaus. Rsis and Munnies discovered the treasures of Vedic metaphysics and cosmic laws probably at different periods of time and also at different locations widely apart. Perhaps this is the reason that in the Vedic hymns importance accorded to 33 formless devas varies considerably. In Rig Veda Indra, Varun, Mitra devas are more important and in Atharva Veda Agni deva is given more importance and is even described as “lord of vows”. However, all the four Vedas confirm that the sum total of the attributes of these 33 beings of light are the attributes of Prakrti described as supreme Mother of all animate and inanimate things/life. These devas are the physical forces of the divine Nature which has epithets like Aditi, Devaki and also Daivi. These epithets have certain meanings. Owing to vastness she is Aditi (infinity), she is also the mother of all 33 formless devas and supreme mother of all of us, hence Devaki. Being divine She is given the epithet Daivi.
In the absence of regular script and printing material the Vedic metaphysicists and wandering sages kept the Vedic hymns alive for a few thousand years by highly scientific techniques. First, they converted these truths into hymns and poetical mantras for easy chanting and memory. Thereafter they devised a system of Yajna. All the students were to participate in this Yajna and recite Vedic mantras over the holy fire (Agni). Agni deva in the Vedas is mentioned as “ lord of vows” and symbol of purity and energy. Gayatri mantra is the mother hymn through which we pray to God to provide us perfect knowledge during our three states, i.e., awakening, sleeping, and even during our dreams. The spirit behind this prayer is that we spread this knowledge, so that we could also shine like Savitar- deva, representing the Sun. Various hymns/mantras for Yajna describe Brahma- the impersonal God, Prakrti and Rta-cosmic laws of social and moral order.
Many of these hymns end with the words Swaha and also Idd Nan Mmam i.e. nothing for self, all for the society. The word “swaha” has a great significance as it means that we have understood and appreciated the meaning of the mantra and we shall follow it in true spirit in our day-to-day life. With the word swaha those attending the Yajna offer some samagri (fragrant material) and splinter of wood each time to Agni (holy fire), confirming to the lord of vows that we shall follow what we have spoken and appreciated (R.V 1-97-1, Y.V 8-13). Atharva Veda 4-39-10 enjoins that offer the splinter of wood only when you feel cleansed by heart and spirit i.e. when you sincerely want to pursue the path of knowledge. In this way the Vedic hymns and philosophy contained there in, continued to be followed with all sincerity and devotion for a long period till a regular script and language along with some writing material became available. Most of the hymns containing metaphysics were compiled as Rig-Veda – the oldest of all the four Vedas. Those hymns relating to meditation, prayer and stuti (praise) of Brahma (the only Reality) were compiled in Sama Veda. Vedic Rsis continued finding more permanent truths, which were compiled in the Yajur Veda. Some metaphysical concepts and also certain hymns are repeated in the four Vedas probably due to the fact that these were compiled at different periods of time and also at different locations. Gayatri mantra- the mother hymn is repeated seven times in the different chapters of Vedas.
The main pillars of the Vedic philosophy are (a) Idd Nan Mmam, nothing for self, all for society, (b) Rta which literally means divine Laws, are the cosmic laws of social, moral and physical order, (c) trinity of values – dharma, artha and kama . (d) four purushartha which comprehensively cover trinity of values (trivarga) and moksha– perfect bliss. So, the Vedic dharma is just not a theology, but covers morals of the individuals, ethics for society and creation of material wealth for the mankind.. The Vedas do not advise any creed or cult but good and virtuous conduct for a happier and better society. Thus the Shrutis (divine revelation) aim at a social, spiritual, and moral ethics apart from the natural ethics of materialism. Whatever does not lead to social good is not intelligence butavidya or ignorance and if virtue is not achieved, it is not wisdom. Vedas are against fetishistic religion of spirits, images, idols, and toteism of sacred animals. It is more like the religion of Lao-Tse i.e. the Tao or the WAY. It aims at binding yourself to the laws of God.
A large number of hymns are relating to artha– Vedic economics as part of four pursharthas i.e. dharma, artha, kama and moksha. These four noble pursuits should be followed in harmony and under the guidance of Vedic dharma (scientific faith in righteousness based on true knowledge). Vedic economics is for the creation of material wealth for the mankind and not for any individual or section of individuals. The entire mankind belongs to the same One Life- the spirit of God. The Vedic artha refers to production, distribution and consumption on the firm belief that matter is not inert and has unsuspected vitality and so it its utilization should be need based on the principle of moderation.
One hardly finds any life negation, asceticism or paganism in the Vedas as commonly believed. Vedic hymns tend to show that they recognize matter more like a knife-both useful and destructive. Its destructive power due to anartha (material economics bereft of spiritual science) lies in creating greed, lust and desire to hoard tons of money, exploitation of human beings, animals, and even the mother earth. Extreme lust and greed lead to doubting the existence of one universal God, soul and even manas– inward looking mind. Then gross body and sense pleasures become everything. Such an outlook and attitude become the cause of lack of compassion for other human beings. Vedas also recognise the usefulness of matter. There are a large number of hymns with prayers to God to provide all types of material welfare (corn, children and prosperity) to all members of society. All the individuals are trustees of the material wealth/things and not their owners. Thus the emphasis is not on life negation but need-based living, non-craving, non-attachment to material things, right livelihood on the principle of “golden mean”. Vedas are not otherworldly; rather their concern is the individual, society and the entire world, animate and inanimate life. The Vedic metaphysics thus creates a lordly realm and open to us all the secrets and puzzles of the Cosmos. These are omniform (Vishwa rupa) R.V. 1-72-2 and universal in their reach.
These Shruti deal with a large number of subjects including education, physical, social and military sciences, various duties of elected ruler/king, queen, commander in chief, bureaucrats etc, apart from many metaphysical concepts, a few subjects along with their spiritual discoveries can be briefly mentioned. Vedas refer to five classes (Panch Kshtinam) based on professions in any society. Four classes or varnas are based on divine professions and the fifth class (kshtinam) is that of avarnas, vritras, kimidin etc., who follows non- divine professions and spread social evils in the form of hydra headed corruption in society. The corruption in the Vedas is described as having nine heads and as such is hydra headed and enters through 99 sources in the gross body (Sama Veda 913). Those individuals, who do not follow the Laws and Commandments of God described in Vedas as Rta, constitute the fifth non-divine class. These laws are also explained as laws of necessity, laws of Nature, cosmic laws of social and moral order. The members of this 5th kshatinam tend to exploit all animate and inanimate life on this earth and are always in pursuit of tons of money, power, status and are insensitive to the creation of social disorder in society. In their anti-social activities, the four well harmonized noble pursharthas (pursuits) disintegrate and artha tends to move towards anartha (material economics).The ideal societies have less of the fifth non-divine class and more of those individuals who follow divine professions for the welfare of all the members of society as well as the mankind.
No society can become an open and transparent and flourish without the predominance of four divine varnas/professions which are allotted to the individuals through a comprehensive Vedic education system extending till the age of 48 years based on merit, capacity and aptitude but not on birth. The allocation of various divine professions (varna) is based on the success or failure in the examinations held at different ages under this education system. Those who do not perform the duties assigned to them after the result of their performance in various examinations constitute non-divine class of vritras and avarnasas they spread evil in society. The ruler’s (elected President or hereditary king); duty is to keep this class of avarnas away from the individuals following divinevarnas. The celestial Golden Age or Vedic Krita yuga is the one where the 5th non-divine class does not exist at all.
The Dark Age or Kali yuga has the predominance of avarnas and vritras. In this Age owing to spread of only material and intellectual knowledge bereft of divine and spiritual knowledge, the predominant features are superstitions, unscientific outlook, blind faith, hypocrisy, naked selfishness and wide spread corruption. Fake gurus and god-men who get hallucination that they are the incarnation of various gods/God on this earth multiplies. Thus Vedic metaphysics meant for the guidance of human beings of this Dark Age is largely ignored. However, the study of Vedas would reveal that Vedic gurus (Gu– darkness and Ru– to dispel) are the dispellers of both inner and outer darkness. They are more like Socrates, Mencius, St Augustine, Immanuel Kant, Sankrachrya, swami Daya Nanda and Gandhi ji and do not bear any resemblance to the modern god men, gurus, babas, tantriks and swamis.
The real “self “ of the individual described in Vedas as Jivatma (manifested soul) has no sex. It is only the gross body, which is described, as “body self” is either male or female. While the subtler than the subtle human manifested soul is imperishable, the gross body is perishable. All our good or bad actions, desires and thoughts create subtle atoms (kanu) and particles (tanmatras) which go on accumulating like, iron files on the magnet on the human soul and become cause of rebirth till one achieves Moksha -the stage of eternal bliss. This stage can be achieved by proper understanding of the Vedic metaphysics. While the soul (atma) is consciousness and a subtle particle of God, the spirit (jiva) in all animate and inanimate life/things is part of the cosmic energy. No hymn could be located in the Vedas which tend to indicate that soul is found in all the billions of living cells of human beings, animals, birds or fishes etc., while the spirit is found in all kind of animate and inanimate life. It is due to the presence of spirit in the subtlest part shuniya (void) that even inanimate things are also not inert.
The Vedas accord a very high status to women in an ideal Vedic society. She is the first preceptor (guru) of her child till the age of five years. Both male and female children are entitled to similar kind of education. As women are also to get complete knowledge of military science, Vedas enjoin that during the war if the king is injured or dies the queen should become the chief and guide the commander in chief of the defense forces. As regards marriage she has a noble right to choose her life partner. A few Vedic hymns strongly recommend the institution of Svayam vara (self-choice) for the bride to select the bridegroom. Love marriage is advised which is Gandharva marriage and if both parents also agree to their son and daughter’s love marriage, then it is the highest form of marriage i.e. Brahma vivah (marriage blessed by God). Marriage of bride and bridegroom of almost equal intelligence, education and merit is advised.
During the later periods of ancient Indian history, there had been a large number of women who became Rsikas (female metaphysicists and lovers of wisdom). In the 8th century B.C rsika Gargi was one of the most prominent female metaphysicists during the benevolent rule of philosopher king Janaka. Incidentally Bhagavad Gita refers to king Janaka as the most perfect and ideal king. Amongst 33 Prakrti devas, who are formless “beings of light”, a number of them are mentioned in the Vedas as female devis (shining ones) like, Usha (dawn), Prithvi (mother earth), Saraswati (in-charge of education and music), Agni (holy fire) and others. A number of hymns in Rig- Veda 1-73–3, 3-53-4, 1-66-5 refer to Agni as female by describing deity Agni as spotless like the spotless wife, loved by her husband. Most of the other hymns in the Vedas describe as Agni deva. Based on different attributes Agni is mentioned either deva or devi. Since they are only “beings of light”, sex is not important in describing them.
For describing hydra headed corruption and other social evils, there are a large number of hymns describing the harm these evils do in society. Rig- Veda 1-104-3 refers to corruption in the form of bribery and other evils as misappropriation of public funds or what results in the reduction of state revenues. Rig- Veda 1-43-3 says, bribe takers are thieves and they are therefore, avarnas– the followers of non-divine activities and professions. Sama Veda describes corruption as a social disease, which goes on increasing with all material treatment and makes the power of the soul weaker. Yajur Veda 30-22 advises the ruler that such people of low character, evil minded and corrupt in their actions, should not be allowed to mix with others to avoid spread of their vices in society. Rig-Veda and also Bhagavad Gita mention that all those individuals who lead life of material excesses are sinful and have corrupt minds. The ruler is advised to limit their material possessions. Rig-Veda (2-2-12) even mentions that all such corrupt persons face gloom through their children. Some later scriptures of Hindus also mention about corruption and the gestation period of this evil is about ten years, when the poison spreads in the gross body, mind and later also in the family.
There are a large number of hymns regarding the duties of Ashvinau (scientists) and Ribhus (manufacturers and industrialists). The joint efforts of both should be welfare of mankind, which constitutes one Global Family (Vasudhaiva kutumbkam or Vishwa kutumbkam). There are hymns, which mention about the maximum speed possible for ships moving on the waters of vast oceans and aircraft flying in the air. The ships if designed after proper knowledge of the properties of various elements, water and air, can traverse the entire earth in eleven days and from one main ocean to another in three days. The aircraft can go round the world three times a day. Probably this speed has not been achieved so far both by ships and aircraft. There is also some mention of distance between the Sun and the earth, moon and the earth, the movement of the earth around the stationary Sun, force of gravity, magnetism, electricity hidden in water, telegraphy and particle physics. There is life in the gross atoms and particles, as the spirit of God is present in all animate and inanimate life. There are a large number of hymns in the Vedas particularly in Rig-Veda relating to medicines, toxicology, physical sciences, agriculture science etc. It is necessary to provide a separate chapter in this book on Vedic science and scientific outlook.
Another very important subject covered comprehensively in the Vedic metaphysics relates to MAYA, which is the cosmic illusion of this material and phenomenal world. Most of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and metaphysics of seers like Sankracharya, Ramanajum and a few schools of Indian Philosophy (sad darshana)deal in great details about Vedic Maya. The ancient Greek objective idealist Plato also found the material world as a phenomenon and not absolutely real. The pure idealist of Germany Immanuel Kant described the world as phantasmagoria. There is only One ineffable and formless Supreme Reality, all else is Maya. The personal God Isvara with a large number of attributes is the God of the phenomenal world of Maya, which leads to many gods (Isvaras) all compatible with the Supreme Reality but lesser deities. Iswara is the god who rewards, punishes and arbiters on your past and present karma for your successive births, which take place in the realm of Maya. The Vedic metaphysics advises to get your “self” released from Ishvaras and get absorbed in Brahma– the formless Supreme Reality. These Ishvaras help the individuals on the path of knowledge (jnan Marga), in their movement towards One God, who is merciful and benevolent. This One God is Vedic Brahma, Guru Nanak’s “Ek Om Kar”, holy Koran’s Allah and Bible’s Father in Heaven.
Based on the degree of material, spiritual and divine knowledge one has acquired, the Vedic metaphysics is understood differently by different people. It is perhaps for this reason that six schools of ndian Philosophy explain the Vedic metaphysics differently. There is absolute monism and pure idealism in the metaphysics of advaita Vedantists. There is subjective idealism in the philosophy of qualified monists popularly known as vashisht advaita Vedantists and complete dualism in the paramarth of dvaita Vedantists. Some learned persons even find traces of atheism in the Sankhya and Mimansa darshana as these two schools of Indian philosophy tend to give more emphasis to Nature- the supreme Mother as in Sankhya Darshana and scientific rituals, ceremonies along with complete knowledge of Nature in the Mimansa philosophy. These two schools find God as “Adrsta”- the unseen Cosmic Force. Yog Shastra of Patanjali tells us that Vedic God is only a supreme and first preceptor (Guru) who helps us in learning faster the yogic concept of Kaivalya – knowing your self. On self- realisation at the stage of Kaivalya, a person can even communicate with his / her soul. Even without reaching this stage of kaivalya, many modern gurus, their disciples and followers claim that they see the inner light and can communicate with their souls while under the vehement effect of Maya. It is nothing but hallucination- a stage when a person gets into utter darkness.
The Vedic metaphysics give great emphasis to Prakrti- the divine Nature, which is the supreme mother of all the animate and inanimate life. The inanimate life is not inert except that it has not even one indriya (sense) like plants and trees, which are animate having one sense of touch. Most of the germs, protozoon, amoebas etc., have two senses. Animals have five senses. While human beings have also five senses but they have in addition divine soul that makes the man as “divine animal”. However, the supreme mother Prakrti provides all the five- mahatatva (main elements) of water, air, fire, ether and earth to all animate and inanimate life along with the spirit of God, which is the energy principle of all kinds of life. It is this energy, which is subtle in form and stays in “Shuniya”- void of all particles (tanmatra) and atoms both subtle and gross (kanu and anu) and provides the properties and characteristics to all elements (bhuta). Incidentally Vedas mention 720 elements (bhutas) in the universe. So far physical scientists have found less than 150 elements on this earth.
Prakrti being effable has a large number of attributes unlike God who is ineffable. For easy understanding of the attributes of Prakrti, Vedic metaphysics has provided 33 sets of Nature’s attributes and made one deva / devi as in-charge of one set of attributes. Vedas have 33 formless devas like, Agni in-charge of heat and electricity energy as holy fire and “lord of vows”. Savitar deva is in-charge of knowledge, brilliance, Surya deva as Sun in-charge of light energy and provider of all kinds of food, happiness etc. Prithvi devi the mother earth is having attribute of selfless service and others include Indra, Varun, Mitra, Yama, Ashvinau etc. These devas are thus 33 forces of Nature.
When a person starts moving towards Jnan Marga -path of knowledge, he/she passes through various stages of theism, atheism, agnosticism, pluralism, dualism and some time even animism etc; but God helps him/her movement towards One Supreme Reality. Thus there are personal gods/isvarsa in this world of phenomenon and their number goes on multiplying during the various stages of ignorance. Material and intellectual knowledge bereft of spiritual and divine knowledge is ignorance (avidya) in the Vedic metaphysics. It is only when one finds One Supreme Reality, which is Absolute Truth and Perfect Love; he/she comes to know that wise men of entire world have given to the nameless God, a large number of different names. Vedic metaphysicists named Him Brahma as He is manifested behind Brahamand– the ever-expanding universe and cosmos. They also named Him Visnu -One who pervades everywhere in the Vishwa(Universe) and also Shiva -the most pure and auspicious.
Since He is Formless, the sages and seers of yore discovered Him through their transcendental research in the cosmic Word- O.M and described this Word asShabad Brahma. There after the Vedic rsis and munnies gave one of the most important hymns in the Vedas “Om Khamma Brahma” (Y.V.40-17). OM Thy name is God. While the epithets of God as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva appear in some of the hymns, the cosmic Word O M appears a few hundred times. Vedic metaphysicists have thus conveyed their permanent findings to the human beings that God is available to us only through Shabad Brahma O M and not through idols, icons, statues and stone carvings. Since He pervades everywhere as Vishnu and also lives in the subtlest part of the human heart, the gross human body provided by supreme Mother Prakrti (divine Nature) is the temple of God. The Vedas enjoin that keep gross body always neat and clean with noble thoughts, selfless desires, and activities for the welfare of mankind and other animate and inanimate life. The metaphysical logic takes us further to need based living, get rid of all non essential rituals and ceremonies, avoidance of all kinds of pollution, environmental hazards and not treating the mother earth as quarry for exploitation.
All the 108 Upanishads have been derived from the later parts of Vedas. Bhagavad Gita, six schools of Indian philosophy, later Brahma Sutras of Badarayna, Sankracharya and others also contain mostly Vedic metaphysics. I have taken certain ideas and thoughts from these scriptures as well. These scriptures are not theoretical constructs, but born out of spiritual experience and transcendental research of the ancient seers, sages, pathfinders and metaphysicists. Their aim was more to guide the mankind towards noble and virtuous path than their own welfare. Through Vedas and other Vedic didactic Books and Brahma sutras these lovers of wisdom gave us perfect models of open and transparent society, religion as a spiritual science and many other models. Later Vedic Dharma became a spiritual adhesive to which a large number of sects, cults, religions, panths, minor groups and societies, philosophies, thoughts, ideas steadily got glued and formed a vast Hindu religion. Hindu religion and Hindu dharma are vastly different. While Hindu dharma has its roots in Vedic/Upanishad metaphysics, Hindu religion hardly bears any resemblance to this.
A few other Vedic concepts can be described briefly. Purpose of life is to fulfill the mission of God based on His commandments/laws (rta). We are all co-workers for the prosperity of mankind. Life is a gift of supreme Mother Prakrti (divine Nature), beautiful life is the gift of harmonized divine, spiritual and material knowledge. When the trinity of this knowledge is broken, even divine or spiritual knowledge becomes ignorance/ne-science. The highest charity (daan) is charity of knowledge as it saves human beings from degeneration and helps in opening the eyes of individuals towards spiritual brotherhood of the entire mankind belonging to same One Life. Man is both social and divine animal. Following a-priori knowledge known to the partly omniscient manifested soul in human beings makes him/her as divine animal. This manifested soul (jivatma) is the cause of individualism. The spirit (jiva) in the human beings enables a person to become social animal and assists a person to develop universal friendship (viswa bandhutva) and universal family of one God (vasudhaivankutumbakam).
There is also a prayer in Vedas “O, God give me wrath against social criminals and non divine people (avarnas) who obstruct in the development of universal brotherhood. Many hymns refer to transparency during elections, develop subtle thoughts with inner linkage and do not depend solely on the logical thoughts with outer linkage i.e. cognition based on sense perception. Such logical reasoning leads to multiplicity of thoughts, ideas and materialist philosophy in any society. The power of vivek (discernment) starts diminishing as confusion about the concept of right and wrong spreads everywhere. Avoid searching of God through images. Many other concepts like duties of parents, children, husband, wife, members of society etc are mentioned in sufficient details. In regard to food it is advised in Vedas that develop taste in mind and eat to ensure nourishing of body and spirit. Eating for nourishing your body only is sinful. Strictly avoid eating food purchased out of filth lucre/tainted money obtained through nine kind of hydra-headed corruption like bribery, exploitative profit, hypocrisy, speculation, gambling etc. Develop firm belief in the non-violence of the strong and help those who are physically, spiritually and morally weak. Many other concepts, which human beings should know for their own and others welfare are mentioned in these scriptures.
Vedas also describe in great details the models of ideal education system, human conduct, science of Axiology with idealistic, ideational and sensate values, welfare economics, global trade, ideal polity etc. In view of the perfect knowledge contained in these Shrutis, Shatapatha Brahmana rightly says that the highest sacrifice, worship and prayer to God, is the sacred study of Vedas. Rig Veda 1-72-2 and 8 mentions that the greatest service to God is to spread the spirit of Vedas with honesty, straight forwardness, without deceit of any kind, for all to enjoy true and spiritual happiness. Utilising the philosophy, metaphysics, knowledge and various models contained in the Vedas, we can perhaps find viable solutions to our present social, economic, political and religious problems.
Certain comparable thoughts, expressions and concepts, I have also taken from the eminent philosophers, learned individuals, writers and others, some times without mentioning the original source as these were mentioned in ”Sat Sang”- spiritual gatherings, discourses on divine knowledge and even in certain news papers and magazines. My lapse apart from my ignorance, is due to having got these ideas, thoughts and precepts during spiritual assemblies, religious discourses at many places in India and abroad and particularly the “Sacred Space” of the Times of India- a popular English Daily published from New Delhi. A few sacred thoughts were finalised after my talk on Vedic metaphysics on 28th April 1997 in the California State University at Fullerton (Orange County) Los Angeles (U.S.A.). This talk was followed by about one hour session of questions from the audience consisted of students from U.S.A. Japan, Korea, Mexico and other countries and Dr. Saddiqi a learned Doctor of Philosophy. The questions mostly related to Hindu religion as perceived by the West i.e. highly ritualistic, unscientific in outlook, belief in 330 millions gods, human sacrifices, tantrik philosophy, idol worship etc.
Thus this book has in reality most of the contribution from others both in India and abroad. In fact, it is the other individuals’ contribution, particularly my wife (seeker of spiritual knowledge through Raj Yoga, mediation and studies of scriptures) and a few close friends who helped me in making my thoughts on Vedic metaphysics more clear and precise within my limited capacity and ability. However, I have also tried to give references and quoted relevant sources to the extent possible within my knowledge and capacity. For my limitations, ignorance and lapses the great metaphysicists, philosophers, savants, learned writers of the ancient, medieval and modern times in India and abroad wherever they are, should pardon me.
Since in the Vedas the focal point is the individual and material prosperity is also important to him, I have taken the chapters relating to Vedic society, Rta -the cosmic laws of social and moral order, Vedic science and scientific out look, Hydra headed corruption in the beginning. The chapters relating to spiritual knowledge i.e. Prakrti- the supreme Mother and Maya- the Vedic phantasmagoria have been taken after wards. The chapter relating to divine and spiritual knowledge Atma, Jivatma and Jiva (soul, manifested soul and spirit) has been taken before the last chapter i.e. “The Supreme Reality”. While I consider that all the chapters contain to a certain extent material, spiritual and divine knowledge, the scheme of distribution of chapters to that extent is arbitrary.
As earlier brought out that Vedas were compiled later and for over thousand years for want of regular language and printing material, over 17000 mantras, riksand hymns remained known to seers, sages, students and even certain members of society. When compiled certain hymns got repeated completely or partially like, Gayatari mantra- the mother hymn is repeated seven times in the four Vedas. A close study of such hymns would reveal that the repetition had certain purpose to harmonise divine, spiritual and material knowledge of the various subjects relating to society, physical sciences, body and soul, Nature, matter and spirit. It is for this reason some repetition might be perceived by the readers in a few chapters of this book. This has been deliberately done to harmonise daivic,adhyatamic and bhautic jnan of Vedas mentioned in Book X1X of Atharva Veda. It is considered necessary to ensure that the spirit of Vedic knowledge remains in all the chapters.
The study of Vedas also reveals certain other salient aspects like, man is both social and divine animal, philosophy of life confirmation and not negation, no fetishistic religion, analytical and synthetic approach and need for developing scientific temper. The importance of “We feelings” in society has been mentioned in a large number of hymns in the four Vedas along with the need for universal out-look in social ethics. The food and land ethics described in these scriptures is as certain as mathematics. Since the matter bereft of spirit is the cause of human misery, sufferings and transitory pleasure, the Vedic metaphysics tend to combine spirit with matter in many of the hymns, while retaining the focal point as the individual. Thus their metaphysics is not otherworldly and also it is meant for the present Kali Yuga – the Dark Period of the celestial Age.
The analytical details of various concepts while inquiring into their values, ideal possibilities of matter, spirit, ontology, philosophical and material psychology, role of divine Nature, inward looking mind “manas” and outward looking turbulent mind “etani”, both divine and false ego i.e. “I” becoming part of the whole or when whole becomes part of the real self “I” and many other, give us complete epistemology along with comprehensive divine, spiritual and material knowledge. Even the abstract metaphysical concepts relating to Time and Space (Kala and Dis), human life is too short and insignificant in time and space and need to get detached to matter by avoiding material excesses has also been brought out.
In the present age of naked materialism based on the belief that matter is inert, extreme selfishness and highly unscientific outlook, Vedic knowledge is not the requirement of a certain section of people in blind pursuit of money. However, there are a number of fence sitters having doubts, queries and keenness to know the right path and conduct. They could to some extent benefit from this Vedic knowledge, which has survived a few thousand years of criticism, doubts, controversies and even religious fanaticism and still remains unaffected being an absolutely true and perfect knowledge for the mankind of all ages. After the study of Vedic metaphysics, it may be observed that what other scriptures of all the major religions in the world describe divine, spiritual and material knowledge, Vedas had already told the then mankind. However, Vedic economics, science, state and society, education system, universal brotherhood, global trade and many other concepts for the welfare of mankind are rarely found in other scriptures. There is a need to study Vedas as a humble pupil of rsis of yore than as a judge over their transcendental discoveries. This approach is necessary with a view to avoid any distortion coming in the understanding of their ethical metaphysics. Most surprisingly Vedas allow further improvement after discussion in Vidhata- spiritual assembly of human beings of all faiths and religion. It is a separate matter that after Atharva Veda no further improvement/modification has been made to Vedic metaphysics.