Vedas

Study of Vedas by all

There was no caste system during the Vedic period. Everybody studied the Vedas, after initiation into Gayathri, for a certain period in the Gurukula fashion. After study of the Vedas, some people studied the application aspect of Vedas like performing rituals and Yagnas and they were classified as Brahmins. In the same way some people studied the art of warfare, use of weapons and allied subjects and were taught to protect the people and the country. They were classified as Kshatriyas. Likewise, people studied trade practices, commerce, accounting etc and were called Vaishyas. Some others developed expertise in farming, artisanship and a host of activities required for the society and they were called Shudras. Thus, classification of people during the Vedic period was mainly on the basis of everybody’s expertise and profession. Over a period of Time down the line, this grouping had degraded & blurred and gave rise to the system of “castes”. Universalisation of Education and specialisation in particular disciplines existed in the Vedic period also.

In ancient India, education was through the Gurukul system. Life at Gurukul was tough and demanding, but it is compulsory for everybody to follow the system. The students (sishyas) had to follow strict discipline, even sacrificing their personal comforts. They lived as equals regardless of their social status. There were regular physical services the pupils rendered to their Gurus. The gurukul system taught students simple living, loyalty to duty and inculcated in them a quest for learning.

Vedas were taught in the “Gurukulam” style and during this period, the pupil had to observe proper discipline, which includes the following:

  1. Sandhya worship in the morning, noon and evening
  2. Gayatri worship
  3. Samit homam both in the morning and evening
  4. Serve the guru with reverence
  5. Food is by way of alms
  6. Study vedas with all its limbs according to the laid down rules.

Students who have been initiated in Gayatri mantra through upanayana, should get up early in the morning, have ritual bath, perform Pranayaama, Gayatri and sandhya worship and also perform homa in agni using ‘samit’ both in the morning and evening. Food should be earned by way of alms, exception being the girls who can collect alms from their own house or from those of relatives. They should have clean habit, good conduct and firm faith and commitment. Cleanliness is purity of physical body, thought and speech. By good conduct, one is supposed to have kind disposition, consideration for others, truthfulness in everything undertaken, not being greedy or coveting others’ possessions and ahimsa. Without these prerequisites, veda mantras would never yield proper benefits.

People who are miserly in their attitude and suffer mental poverty do not qualify for study of vedas or vedic practices. Students who have taken up the study of vedas should develop absolute control over their senses and mastery over desires and remain celibates in accordance with the laid down injunctions during their studentship.

Taitriya Upanishad, in its first part “Seekshaavalli” clearly says how a pupil should learn the vedas during the Gurukula period and also gives detailed guidelines for the proper conduct and behaviour in the world he would be living after his studies. (i.e. Gaarhapatya life)

Study of Vedas has to be done with utmost care in respect of proper pronunciation of words, in respect of their “Varnam, swaram and Maathra” Every word has to be analysed with regard to their “Sthula and Sookshma” aspects and how the combination of these two aspects reveals how it is possible for the mind to acquire the intrinsic knowledge, inherent in every word. The world, itself, is like the word and its meaning (Vaak and Artha). “The first portion of the word is Mother: the latter portion is the Father: Its meaning is the Child.”

The Guru’s advice to the pupils after completion of veda-adyayanam in Gurukulam is given below.

  • Speak the Truth, always (Satyam vadha)
  • Tread the path of Dharma (Dharmam chara)
  • Do not deviate from Veda Adhyayanam (Swaadhdhyaayaan maa pramadha🙂
  • Do not break the thread of the family tree, beget children (Prajaathanthum maa vyavachetsi)
  • Do not deviate from Truth even by mistake (Sathyaanna pramadhitavyam)
  • Do not deviate from Dharmam (Dharmaanna pramadhitavyam)
  • Do not deviate from good efforts to acquire Aatma gnanam (Kushalaanna
  • pramadhitavyam)
  • Do not fail to teach Vedas, which you have learnt (Swaadhyaaya pravachanaabhbhyaan na pramadhitavyam)
  • Do not deviate from performing “Deva Pitru karmas” (Deva pitru kaaryaabhyaanna pramadhitavyam)
  • Treat your mother as God (Maathru Devo bhava)
  • Treat your Father as God (Pithru Devo bhava)
  • Treat your Guru (teacher) as God (Aacharya Devo bhava)
  • Treat the guest as God (Athithi Devo bhava)

On completion of “Gurukula vaasam”, the student is ready to enter the next stage in Life i.e. “Gaarhapatyam”, which gives him an opportunity to realize Brahmam, which is the form of the Supreme – “Parachit – Sakthi, which is the cause and effect of this entire creation.

At the end of the Training the students emerged as responsible individuals, who were learned and capable of facing the toughest challenges of Life. Due to the above process everyone was meticulously following the tenets enshrined in the Vedas and the entire society was prosperous and happy