Hinduism in not a one-prophet, one-book religion, but Hindus do have revealed scriptures called Ved or Veda as pronounced in the West. The word Ved is derived from the Sanskrit root word Vid meaning ‘to know’ or knowledge. This treasury of spiritual, divine knowledge is not a single book frozen in time, and composed by certain authors in the usual sense. There are four Vedas- Rig Veda; Sama Veda; Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda. Although names of various seers are connected with Vedas, none of them claimed the authorship. They believed that they did not create the Vedic knowledge; they were simply chosen as a medium to receive the particular aspects of the divine and eternal truths.
According to the most commonly held view among Western scholars of Hinduism, the four Vedas represent spiritual insights of a series of seers, called Rishis, when they were in deep meditation in communion with the Divine Spirit, and this process continued over a period of time; amongst the four Vedas, Rig Veda is the oldest one; the other three were revealed later on, at different times.
However, many Hindu scholars of the Sanskrit language who have studies Vedas disagree with this popular viewpoint. C.P.Gupta, President and a Volunteer-priest of Mississauge Arya Samaj, and well versed in Vedas, asserts.
“At the dawn of the human civilization, all four Vedas were revealed, concurrently, to four Rishis: Rig Veda to Agni; Yajur Veda to Vayu; Sama Veda to Aditya and Atharva Veda to Angira. Scores of mantras in the Rig Veda validate this viewpoint. For example, the Rig Veda mantra (X.90.13)- The Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Sam Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda were all produced [emanated] from that Adorable God- clearly shatters the popular myth in the West that all four Vedas were revealed to a series of Rishis over a period of time. Had the Rig Veda been the first and the earliest one, it would not have made any references to the other three that were supposedly revealed at later times”
Since there was no written language in the beginning, the original recipients of Vedic knowledge orally transmitted the Vedic knowledge to a few specially selected disciples. They were entrusted with the task of not only memorizing the divine revelations but also maintaining their originality and authenticity. In this manner, the knowledge of Vedas was preserved through oral traditions until it was put into written form of Sanskrit language, many centuries later. It is believed that the famous sage Vyasa did the stupendous task of collecting this vast body of knowledge from various sources, and collating it in a rational and logical sequence, around the first quarter of the 12th century B.C. Again, this date is a subject of much controversy amongst historians and theologians.
The four Vedas are a complete ‘manual’ for human life on earth; there is nothing pertaining to human life, spiritual or material, that has not been dealt with in the Vedas. Mrs. Wheeler Willax (an eminent American Scholar) acknowledging the existences of sciences in the Vedas remarks,
“We have all heard and read about the ancient religion of India [Hinduism]. It is the land of the great Vedas; the most remarkable works containing not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts which all sciences have since proved true. Electricity, Radium, Electron, Airships- all seem to be known to the seers who found the Vedas.”
Some Western scholars believing that the human civilization did not start flowering until after the advent of the Greek civilization dismissed the Vedas as products of mythic imagination of primitive people. However, many who studied the Vedas in depth had different opinions. For example, according to Prof. Max Muller (Science of Religion)
“If there is a God who has created heaven and earth, it will be unjust on His part if He deprived millions of souls born [in India] before Moses of His Divine knowledge. Reason and comparative study of religions declare that God gives his Divine knowledge to mankind from his first appearance on earth.”
The four Vedas, pre-dating the recorded history of human race, are considered the word of God, and are for the benefit of the entire humanity, regardless of race, religion and nationality. There is no sectarian connotation in any of the Vedas. Unlike the Semitic religions, the Vedas have impersonal and universal approach to spirituality. According to the Rig Veda, The whole universe is one family”. Again, “O human, be a human and preserve the divinity in you”, exhorts the Rig Veda. Since they were revealed for the benefit of the entire humanity, they can be considered as the first books of world literature, and the basic foundation of all divine knowledge. According to the Rig Veda, “ O’ sons of immortality, You all listen! Listen ye! Children of Immortal Divine, descendants of common heritage that ye are.
Article By: Ajit Adhopia
Book: Dharma Karma and Much more