spiritual life material

Who wrote Vedic scriptures and when were they written?

Scriptures of the world are divided into two categories, those that are directly given by the Lord and those compiled by holy men. In order to be authoritative, the compositions of holy men need to comply with the original text directly given by the Lord. In case there are no references, such statements are rejected; because every human being is subject to four defects: (1) to commit mistakes, (2) to be illusioned, (3) the tendency to cheat others and (4) limited imperfect senses. Christianity, Islam and Vedic literatures all exhibit these two divisions of scriptures.

Vedic literatures are similarly divided into sruti and smrti. Scriptures that are directly given by God are called sruti. After hearing this knowledge, the sages wrote their realizations by giving reference to sruti. This is called smrti. The Vedas were originally spoken by the Supreme Lord Himself to Brahma, the first living being in the material universe, from within his heart.

As Vedic knowledge is called sruti it indicates that it is learned by aural reception. Therefore the Vedic knowledge has to be received from higher authorities by hearing (sravanam). In previous ages people were very intelligent. Their memories were extremely sharp. Just by hearing once from a spiritual master, disciples could remember everything. Therefore, there was no necessity for keeping the Vedas in written form during those ages However, Srila Vyasadeva could see beforehand that people in this present age of Kali, the age of quarrel and misunderstanding, situated amidst the disturbing noise of science and technology, would be much less intelligent, possessing extremely short memories. Therefore about 5,000 years ago he compiled the Vedas in written form for the benefit of all inquisitive souls of this present age. He left all the Vedic knowledge in the form of books, such as Puranas, Vedanta, Mahabharata and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Veda actually means knowledge, and Vedanta means the end of knowledge, which is to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa. Bhagavad-gita is the essence of all Vedic knowledge. It was spoken by the Supreme Lord, Sri Kṛṣṇa Himself, to His intimate friend and disciple Arjuna. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the ripened fruit of all the Vedic literatures. It is the summum bonum of life, Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa personified. It describes the unlimited transcendental qualities of the Lord.

Source : A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “The Scientific Basis of Krishna Consciousness”,Page 43
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2011 edition), “The Nector of Devotion”, Page 51
Rasamandala das (2014 edition), “Islam and the Vedas – Lost Harmony”, Page 111, 112 & 114

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Why should we believe in whats written in Vedas?

Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa says: “I am situated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas”. [Bhagavad-gita 15.15] Thus the words of the Vedas are the supreme authority.

One may ask, “How may one accept authority?” The answer is given by Srila Prabhupada: “The answer of the genuine mother to the question of who is one’s father is authoritative”. One cannot argue about or object to this point. Similarly, when a child learns that two times two is equal to four from his father and he tells the same thing to a professor of mathematics, the professor has to agree that the child is speaking perfectly. The child may not be perfect, but the knowledge that he is speaking is perfect because he has taken it from an authority. Similarly, all the Vedic knowledge is infallible. For example, it has been mentioned in the Vedas that cow dung is pure whereas other stool is impure, and modern science has found this to be true. It has been scientifically confirmed by chemical analysis that cow dung indeed contains various antiseptic properties.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “The Scientific Basis of Krishna Consciousness”, Page 44 

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Why personal interpretations of Vedic scriptures can obscure the real meaning?

According to Lord Chaitanya, those who try to give personal interpretation of the Vedic statements are not at all intelligent. They mislead their followers by inventing their own interpretation. Lord Chaitanya protested against misinterpretations of the Upanishads, and He rejected any explanation which did not give the direct meaning of the Upanishad. The direct interpretation is called Abhidha-vrtti, whereas the indirect interpretation is called Laksana-vrtti. The indirect interpretation serves no purpose. There are four kinds of understanding, called: (1) direct understanding, (2) hypothetical understanding, (3) historical understanding, and (4) understanding through sound (sabda). Of these four, understanding from the Vedic scriptures (which are the sound representations of the Absolute Truth), is the best method. The traditional Vedic students accept understanding through sound to be the best. For example, the stool and bone of any living entity is considered the impure according to Vedic literatures, yet, the Vedic literatures assert that cow dung and the conchshells are the pure. Apparently these statements are contradictory, but because cow dung and conchshells are considered pure by the Vedas, they are accepted as pure by the followers of the Vedas. If we want to understand the statements by indirect interpretation, then we have to challenge the Vedic statements. In other words, Vedic statements cannot be accepted by our imperfect interpretation; they must be accepted as they are. Otherwise there is no authority in the Vedic statement.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 298

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What is the difference between Veda’s and Puranas?

The word ‘Veda’ means knowledge that is directly revealed by the Lord. In the beginning there was only one Veda, the Yajur Veda, all the verses with explanatory and historical texts were together in one whole body. To easily locate a particular subject, the highly qualified Vyasadeva, divided the Vedas into four. “Srila Vyasadeva separated the mantras of the Rg, Atharva, Yajur and Sama Vedas into four divisions [SB 12.6.50]”. He did not create new composition; he condensed that abridged portion.

The Puranas were produced from the original Veda. They are faithful to Veda and are also known as supplementary Vedic literatures. Because sometimes in the original Vedas the subject matter is too difficult for the common man to understand, the Puranas explain matters simply by the use of stories and historical incidents. The Upanisads call them the fifth Vedas. Five thousand years ago, Srila Vyasadeva composed the Puranas. He did not create the Puranas and Itihasas, histories. Vyasadeva is known as a transmitter, not as an author.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 305
Rasamandala das (2014 edition), “Islam and the Vedas – Lost Harmony”, Page 111, 112 & 114

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When Srimad Bhagvatam & Mahabharata were compiled?

Amongst mundane scholars, there is some diversity of opinion as to the date of compilation of Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is, however, certain from the text of the Bhagavatam that it was compiled before the disappearance of King Pariksit and after the departure of Lord Krsna. When Maharaja Pariksit was ruling the world as the King of Bharata-varsa, he chastised the personality of Kali. According to revealed scriptures and astrological calculation, the age of Kali is in its five thousandth year. Therefore, Srimad-Bhagavatam was compiled not less than five thousand years ago. Mahabharata was compiled before Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the Puranas were compiled before Mahabharata. That is an estimation of the date of compilation of the different Vedic literatures. Badarayana (Vyasadeva) a powerful incarnation of Narayana, broadcasted the Vedic wisdom to the world. As such, Vyasadeva is offered respects before one chants the Vedic literature, especially the Puranas. Sukadeva Gosvami was his son, and rsis like Vaisampayana were his disciples for different branches of the Vedas. He is the author of the great epic Mahabharata and the great transcendental literature Bhagavatam. The Brahma-sutras–the Vedanta-sutras, or Badarayana-sutras–were compiled by him. Amongst sages he is the most respected author by dint of severe penances. When he wanted to record the great epic Mahabharata for the welfare of all people in the age of Kali, he was feeling the necessity of a powerful writer who could take up his dictation. By the order of Brahmaji, Sri Ganesaji took up the charge of noting down the dictation on the condition that Vyasadeva would not stop dictation for a moment. The Mahabharata was thus compiled by the joint endeavor of Vyasa and Ganesa. The Mahabharata was compiled by Vyasadeva after the Battle of Kuruksetra and after the death of all the heroes of Mahabharata. It was first spoken in the royal assembly of Maharaja Janamejaya, the son of Maharaja Pariksit.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 7 – Text 8
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 9 – Text 6 & 7

vedic scriptures

Lord Kṛṣṇa gave knowledge of Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god.

The Vedic literatures are taught in higher planets also, as there is reference in the Bhagavad-gita (4.1) about the teachings to the sun-god (Vivasvan) by the Lord, and such lessons are transferred by disciplic succession, as it was done by the sun-god to his son Manu, and from Manu to Maharaja Iksvaku. There are fourteen Manus in one day of Brahma, and the Manu referred to herein is the seventh Manu, who is one of the prajapatis (those who create progeny), and he is the son of the sun-god. He is known as the Vaivasvata Manu. He had ten sons, and Maharaja Iksvaku is one of them. Maharaja Iksvaku also learned bhakti-yoga as taught in the Bhagavad-gita from his father, Manu, who got it from his father, the sun-god. Later on the teaching of the Bhagavad-gita came down by disciplic succession from Maharaja Iksvaku, but in course of time the chain was broken by unscrupulous persons, and therefore it again had to be taught to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. So all the Vedic literatures are current from the very beginning of creation of the material world, and thus the Vedic literatures are known as apauruseya (not made by man). The Vedic knowledge was spoken by the Lord and first heard by Brahma, the first created living being within the universe.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 12 – Text 19

vedic life

Why drinking & flesh eating by sacrifices is permitted in scriptures?

The basic principles of irreligiosity, such as pride, prostitution, intoxication and falsehood, counteract the four principles of religion, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. The personality of Kali was given permission to live in four places particularly mentioned by the King, namely the place of gambling, the place of prostitution, the place of drinking and the place of animal slaughter. Srila Jiva Gosvami directs that drinking against the principles of scriptures, such as the sautramaniyajna, association with women outside marriage, and killing animals against the injunctions of scriptures are irreligious. In the Vedas two different types of injunctions are there for the pravrttas, or those who are engaged in material enjoyment, and for the nivrttas, or those who are liberated from material bondage. The Vedic injunction for the pravrttas is to gradually regulate their activities towards the path of liberation. Therefore, for those who are in the lowest stage of ignorance and who indulge in wine, women and flesh, drinking by performing sautramani-yajna, association of women by marriage and flesh-eating by sacrifices are sometimes recommended. Such recommendations in the Vedic literature are meant for a particular class of men, and not for all. But because they are injunctions of the Vedas for particular types of persons, such activities by the pravrttas are not considered adharma. One man’s food may be poison for others; similarly, what is recommended for those in the mode of ignorance may be poison for those in the mode of goodness. Srila Jiva Gosvami Prabhu, therefore, affirms that recommendations in the scriptures for a certain class of men are never to be considered adharma, or irreligious. But such activities are factually adharma, and they are never to be encouraged. The recommendations in the scriptures are not meant for the encouragement of such adharma, but for regulating the necessary adharma gradually toward the path of dharma.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 17 – Text 38

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What scriptures advice to promote religion?

The principles of religion, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness may be followed by the follower of any faith. There is no need to turn from Hindu to Mohammedan to Christian or some other faith and thus become a renegade and not follow the principles of religion. The Bhagavatam religion urges following the principles of religion. The principles of religion are not the dogmas or regulative principles of a certain faith. Such regulative principles may be different in terms of the time and place concerned. One has to see whether the aims of religion have been achieved. Sticking to the dogmas and formulas without attaining the real principles is not good. A secular state may be impartial to any particular type of faith, but the state cannot be indifferent to the principles of religion as above-mentioned. But in the age of Kali, the executive heads of state will be indifferent to such religious principles, and therefore under their patronage the opponents of religious principles, such as greed, falsehood, cheating and pilfery, will naturally follow, and so there will be no meaning to propaganda crying to stop corruption in the state.

Therefore the state should categorically stop all sorts of gambling, drinking, prostitution and falsity. The state which wants to eradicate corruption by majority may introduce the principles of religion in the following manner:

1. Two compulsory fasting days in a month, if not more (austerity). Even from the economic point of view, such two fasting days in a month in the state will save tons of food, and the system will also act very favorably on the general health of the citizens.

2. There must be compulsory marriage of young boys and girls attaining twenty-four years of age and sixteen years of age respectively. There is no harm in coeducation in the schools and colleges, provided the boys and girls are duly married, and in case there is any intimate connection between a male and female student, they should be married properly without illicit relation. The divorce act is encouraging prostitution, and this should be abolished.

3. The citizens of the state must give in charity up to fifty percent of their income for the purpose of creating a spiritual atmosphere in the state or in human society, both individually and collectively. They should preach the principles of Bhagavatam by (a) karma-yoga, or doing everything for the satisfaction of the Lord, (b) regular hearing of the Srimad-Bhagavatam from authorized persons or realized souls, (c) chanting of the glories of the Lord congregationally at home or at places of worship, (d) rendering all kinds of service to bhagavatas engaged in preaching Srimad-Bhagavatam and (e) residing in a place where the atmosphere is saturated with God consciousness. If the state is regulated by the above process, naturally there will be God consciousness everywhere.

Gambling of all description, even speculative business enterprise, is considered to be degrading, and when gambling is encouraged in the state, there is a complete disappearance of truthfulness. Allowing young boys and girls to remain unmarried more than the above-mentioned ages and licensing animal slaughterhouses of all description should be at once prohibited. The flesh-eaters may be allowed to take flesh as mentioned in the scriptures, and not otherwise. Intoxication of all description–even smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco or the drinking of tea–must be prohibited.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 17 – Text 32 & 38

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Arjuna was the medium for the Bhagvad Gita while his grandson Maharaja Pariksit became the medium for Srimad Bhagvatam.

The Supreme Lord is so kind to His pure devotees that in proper time He calls such devotees up to Him and thus creates an auspicious circumstance for the devotee. Maharaja Pariksit was a pure devotee of the Lord, and there was no reason for him to become extremely fatigued, hungry and thirsty because a devotee of the Lord never becomes perturbed by such bodily demands. But by the desire of the Lord, even such a devotee can become apparently fatigued and thirsty just to create a situation favorable for his renunciation of worldly activities. One has to give up all attachment for worldly relations before one is able to go back to Godhead, and thus when a devotee is too much absorbed in worldly affairs, the Lord creates a situation to cause indifference. The Supreme Lord never forgets His pure devotee, even though he may be engaged in so-called worldly affairs. Sometimes He creates an awkward situation, and the devotee becomes obliged to renounce all worldly affairs. The devotee can understand by the signal of the Lord, but others take it to be unfavorable and frustrating. Maharaja Pariksit was to become the medium for the revelation of Srimad-Bhagavatam by Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa, as his grandfather Arjuna was the medium for the Bhagavad-gita. Had Arjuna not been taken up with an illusion of family affection by the will of the Lord, the Bhagavad-gita would not have been spoken by the Lord Himself for the good of all concerned. Similarly, had Maharaja Pariksit not been fatigued, hungry and thirsty at this time, Srimad-Bhagavatam would not have been spoken by Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, the prime authority of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 18 – Text 24-25

scriptures karma

What are principles of religion according to scriptures?

Following in the footsteps of Maharaja Pariksit, it is the duty of all executive heads of states to see that the principles of religion, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, are established in the state, and that the principles of irreligion, namely pride, illicit female association or prostitution, intoxication and falsity, are checked by all means.

The principles of religion do not stand on some dogmas or man-made formulas, but they stand on four primary regulative observances, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. The mass of people must be taught to practice these principles from childhood. Austerity means to accept voluntarily things which may not be very comfortable for the body but are conducive for spiritual realization, for example, fasting. Fasting twice or four times a month is a sort of austerity which may be voluntarily accepted for spiritual realization only, and not for any other purposes, political or otherwise. Fastings which are meant not for self-realization but for some other purposes are condemned in the Bhagavad-gita (17.5-6).

Similarly, cleanliness is necessary both for the mind and for the body. Simply bodily cleanliness may help to some extent, but cleanliness of the mind is necessary, and it is effected by glorifying the Supreme Lord. No one can cleanse the accumulated mental dust without glorifying the Supreme Lord. A godless civilization cannot cleanse the mind because it has no idea of God, and for this simple reason people under such a civilization cannot have good qualifications, however they may be materially equipped. We have to see things by their resultant action. The resultant action of human civilization in the age of Kali is dissatisfaction, so everyone is anxious to get peace of mind. This peace of mind was complete in the Satya age because of the existence of the above-mentioned attributes of the human beings. Gradually these attributes have diminished in the Treta-yuga to three fourths, in the Dvapara to half, and in this age of Kali to one fourth, which is also gradually diminishing on account of prevailing untruthfulness. By pride, either artificial or real, the resultant action of austerity is spoiled; by too much affection for female association, cleanliness is spoiled; by too much addiction to intoxication, mercy is spoiled; and by too much lying propaganda, truthfulness is spoiled. The revival of bhagavata-dharma can save human civilization from falling prey to evils of all description.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, First Canto, Chapter 17 – Text 25 & 38