Significance of the Vedas and Upanishads

vedas upanishads

Many of us know that the basic scriptures of the Hindus are the Vedas, just as the Bible is for the Christians and the Koran for the Muslims. But not many of us are aware us to what their value is, and their relevance is in modern times.
Veda means to know. The Vedas are the greatest scriptures humanity can think of. They don’t belong to any religion in particular but are eternal, everlasting truths. It’s very important to know that “by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times.” Swami Vivekananda, who said this, added that just as the gravitational law was there before Newton discovered it and will be there if all of us forgot it, so are some eternal truths in the universe. These laws are discovered from time to time according to the need of the age. The discoverers of these laws are called Rishis and we honour them as perfected beings. Of the Rishis who discovered the truths, many were women and many more were children. Everyone can be a Rishi. You, I, the streetwalker, anyone can become a Rishi: this is the glorious positive note of our ancient religion.

If the cosmic mind is one, why can’t all of us discover truths? It’s only because we simply don’t want to. This leads us to the question: How to discover truths? That’s precisely what the Vedas contain.

If you ask a modern person about the Vedas, he or she will say : ‘Oh, come on ! What else is there in the Vedas?’ Sacrifice, sacrifice, and sacrifice. Pour ghee into fire. ‘This is called ‘knowledge‘ and scientific ‘spirit‘! The Vedas contain methods of discovering truths as well as discovered truths. That there’s a jar of gold hidden in your garden and you’ll have to dig it out is a truth. That there’s gravitational force is a truth. That there’s a heaven and we can go there is a truth. That there’s a God and you can see him is a truth. That there’s the Atman or self within us and we can see it is a truth. So, there are gradations of truths. And the Vedas contain all these and many, many more truths. What do you want to attain? – they speak.

Suppose, you buy a lottery ticket from a Pooja pandal during the GANESH Chatuthi festival near your house. The organizers have a house, a car, a computer, a TV, and a cycle and a hundred other prizes. You don’t buy a ticket because you will get the last prize, a five-rupee note. You buy the ticket only because you imagine sitting in a beautiful new house. So also, the Vedas contain a hundred truths. It’s for us to choose the one we want, and we naturally go for the greatest truth.

What’s the greatest truth? The greatest truth is the discovery of God or the self or the Atman within. You’ll ask: is going to heaven something less? Is getting money less? Of course! Heaven is relative, money is relative, everything will end one day or other. And when could that day be? That wonderful 110-story World Trade Centre in the USA is only in the pictures now. Some devilish people impermanent universe then? Even in heaven, we shall be thinking:’ Oh! What next? It?s going to end soon.’ all enjoyment brings misery. What could be permanent in this impermanent world then? It?s the lord alone! Why, he is the creator of everything. Instead of seeking product we must seek the producer himself. That’s the safest and the best bid. So, the sages discovered him. They have described him in an infinite number of ways. But all of them say that god is everlasting bliss! He is everlasting Ananda! The moment you enter the ocean, your cloths become wet. So also, the moment you begin to seek god earnestly, you will become full of bliss. We would therefore seek god, say the Vedas. They show us the way: he can be realized or made manifest by prayers, selfless work, meditation, chanting of his names and a few other methods.

You will ask: But is all this valid in modern times? Down the centuries, all have imagined that their forefathers were ancient, and they alone are modern; they are enjoying life more than people before. But the fact remains suffering will not go by adjusting our external needs. Our inner needs should be fulfilled. We too think we are modern but our modernity is evident from the endless pain and misery we are put to. God can’t be old or modern: he is like the ocean, eternal, calm. He can’t keep changing. He is eternal. So what’s the way? We should seek god within. That’s the best choice for us. ‘ The only goals of human birth goals are just mirages-like the World Trade Center today. God alone is eternal, and by seeking him, we shall enjoy everlasting bliss, everlasting Ananda.

Let’s meditate on Vivekananda’s words: you must remember the one theme that runs through all the Vedas: ” just as by the knowledge of one lump of clay we know all the clay that is in the universe: so what is that, knowing which we know everything else? ” This, expressed more or less clearly, is the theme of all human knowledge.