What are the Vedas?
"The structure of the Vedic scriptures can be compared to a staircase with many steps, with specific scriptures corresponding to each step. The Vedic scriptures describe both the goal and the steps leading up to this goal. They are non-sectarian because they respect people of all"steps"; they simply encourage everyone to progress up to the next step. There is no question of converting or pushing, because everyone has to walk for himself or herself. Or, as the Vedic saying goes," Even in a flock of birds, each bird has to fly for itself.”
What are the Vedas?
By Atma-tattva dasa
"The Vedic scriptures of ancient India are written in Sanskrit. They comprise a huge collection of material and spiritual knowledge. The expression"Vedic"Is derived from the Sanskrit word VEDA, which means knowledge or revelation. According to the Vedic history, they were written down about 5000 years ago, although this date is not accepted by modern Indology. The date, however, is not very important because, without a doubt, the knowledge contained in these scriptures was existing a long time before it was written down.
The Veda may be understood by simply accepting what the Veda says about itself. Since the Vedic self-understanding may be amazing or even unbelievable to the modern reader, it seems important to dedicate a few sentences to the clarification of probable misunderstandings. The different opinions about the origin and history of the Vedic scriptures are due to the fundamental difference of world-views between the followers of the Veda and modern mundane scholars.
According to the indological world-view, such a thing as"Vedic scripture"doesn't even exist. The collection of books mentioned in the beginning of this article is not a consistent body of knowledge—modern Indology says—but a mere accumulation of texts from different sources, written over a long period of time, starting about 1000 or 1500 B.C., after the hypothetical Aryan invasion into the Indian Subcontinent. Only then, a"Vedic"culture was formed through the mixture of tribes. If we believe this scenario, then it is natural to think that the Indian scriptures are nothing but a mass of unsystematic mythological texts.
Needless to say that the Vedic scriptures themselves maintain a completely different version. They refer to very ancient cultures, timeless revelations and divine incarnations. They also say that the entire body of Vedic knowledge has a systematic structure and a clearly defined goal, being compiled by the great Vedic Rishis (seers and sages), headed by Vyasadeva, about five thousand years ago. This knowledge was then systematically put into a written form in order to prevent it from being lost during in the upcoming age, which was foreseen as the Kali-yuga, the Iron Age, the most fallen in the cycle of ages.
The structure of the Vedic scriptures can be compared to a staircase with many steps, with specific scriptures corresponding to each step. The Vedic scriptures describe both the goal and the steps leading up to this goal. They are non-sectarian because they respect people of all"steps"; they simply encourage everyone to progress up to the next step. There is no question of converting or pushing, because everyone has to walk for himself or herself. Or, as the Vedic saying goes," Even in a flock of birds, each bird has to fly for itself.”
The individual evolution is not limited to one single life. The Vedic understanding is based on the concept of reincarnation, which declares that the steps of this symbolical staircase can also be understood as lifetimes. In other words, the almost proverbial"Hindu"tolerance is originally based on a solid philosophical understanding and shouldn't be confused with the attitudes of merging, indifference, or"Everything is one.”
From a superficial point of view, the Vedic scriptures may appear to be unsystematic and even contradictory, but this impression can easily be reconciled by finding out how each step is connected with the goal.
The four Vedas: The scriptures of this category are generally labeled as the original Vedic scriptures. These four Vedas are known as Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Rig means ritual, and it contains mainly hymns and prayers (Mantras) in the worship of the universal forces called the demigods. Yajur means ceremony, and it mainly describes how to perform the rituals. Sama means singing; the scriptures of these categories contain many other mantras as well as strict rules how to chant these mantras according to mystic vibrations. Atharva means a priest who knows the secret lore; these scriptures describe many different kinds of worship and invocations. In a broader sense, many other scriptures of material knowledge are also counted in the Atharva, like the Ayurveda (pharmacological sciences and the means to maintain health.)
All of these teachings are supposed to encourage a human being to understand that he is not an independent entity, rather he is a part of a universal body, depending on many higher forces. The most important lesson of these four Vedas is to learn that everyone has to accept higher authorities. If you link up with these divine forces through the proper form and contents (ritual and understanding), then you will profit materially and experience some peace and harmony.
Tantric scriptures: Not everybody is inclined to follow the methods of the Vedas which demand strictness, purity, faith and patience. Impatient, ignorant people demand results on the spot, and these can be obtained by magic, ghost worship, etc. By providing such knowledge, the Vedic scriptures encourage the faith of such occult people so that one day, or lifetime, they may develop interest in the higher aspects of the Veda. These literatures are within the modes of passion and ignorance.
The Upanishads: Woven into the four Vedas are different kinds of philosophical discussions, like the Aranyakas and Brahmanas. Most significant are the Upanishads ("sitting beneath," i.e. knowledge obtained from a spiritual teacher). These texts indicate that all material forms are transient; they are temporary manifestations of an eternal energy, which in itself is beyond material duality. They indicate the oneness behind the variety and inspire people engaged in the rituals of the Vedas to go beyond their short-term goals.
Vedanta-sutra: 560 condensed aphorisms which define the Vedic truths in most general terms in order to provide a common ground of argument to all different kinds of philosophical schools. Therefore, the commentaries to the Vedanta-sutras are voluminous.
Itihasas: These are the historical works, mainly the Ramayana (the history of the incarnation Rama), the 18 Puranas and 18 Sub-Puranas (universal history of creation and annihilation, the incarnations and the great kings, saints and teachers), and the Mahabharata (the history of ancient India [called Bharata], leading up to the appearance of Krishna five thousand years ago). These scriptures are essential because they expand the understanding of the Absolute beyond the abstract, impersonal platform. The Absolute is supremely perfect and complete; that's why it is both impersonal AND personal. Actually, the personal aspect is the original source of the secondary impersonal existence of the Lord, since an impersonal energy cannot be the source of persons. The Itihasas reveal this personal feature, gradually introducing and identifying it, culminating in the purely monotheistic revelations of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam: These sacred texts are designated even by the Vedic scriptures themselves as the most important, essential revelations. They directly describe the nature, energy and person of God, who is both the immanent (as Vishnu) and transcendent (as Krishna) source of everything, the cause of all causes, of both the impersonal and personal manifestations. Bhagavad-gita ("God's Song") is the words spoken BY God, and Srimad-Bhagavatam ("Divine Revelation") is the words ABOUT God, spoken by the representatives of God.
This implicit structure of the Vedic scriptures sheds new light on the entire Vedic tradition and deserves closer examination. However, since these scriptures want to lead us to the supreme goal—God—it is not sufficient to merely study them theoretically. They imply practical consequences. Mere academic study of the Vedic scriptures can be compared to reading a cookbook or a musical composition. If we don't come to the point of actually cooking or playing, we've missed the point.”
The fulfillment of eschatological instruction promised by Jesus
An apocalypse (Greek: apokalypsis meaning “an uncovering”) is in religious contexts knowledge or revelation, a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities.” (Ehrman 2014, 59)
“An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: apokalypsis ... literally meaning "an uncovering") is a disclosure or revelation of great knowledge. In religious and occult concepts, an apocalypse usually discloses something very important that was hidden or provides what Bart Ehrman has termed, "A vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities". Historically, the term has a heavy religious connotation as commonly seen in the prophetic revelations of eschatology obtained through dreams or spiritual visions.” Wikipedia 2021-01-09
Total number of recorded talks 3058: Public Programs 1178, Pujas 651, and other (private conversations) 1249
“The Paraclete will come (15:26; 16:7, 8, 13) as Jesus has come into the world (5:43; 16:28; 18:37)... The Paraclete will take the things of Christ (the things that are mine, ek tou emou) and declare them (16:14-15). Bishop Fison describes the humility of the Spirit, 'The true Holy Spirit of God does not advertise Herself: She effaces Herself and advertises Jesus.' ...
It is by the outgoing activity of the Spirit that the divine life communicates itself in and to the creation. The Spirit is God-in-relations. The Paraclete is the divine self-expression which will be and abide with you, and be in you (14:16-17). The Spirit's work is described in terms of utterance: teach you, didasko (14:26), remind you, hypomimnesko (14:26), testify, martyro (15:26), prove wrong, elencho (16:8), guide into truth, hodego (16:13), speak, laleo (16:13, twice), declare, anangello (16:13, 14, 15). The johannine terms describe verbal actions which intend a response in others who will receive (lambano), see (theoreo), or know (ginosko) the Spirit. Such speech-terms link the Spirit with the divine Word. The Spirit's initiatives imply God's personal engagement with humanity. The Spirit comes to be with others; the teaching Spirit implies a community of learners; forgetful persons need a prompter to remind them; one testifies expecting heed to be paid; one speaks and declares in order to be heard. The articulate Spirit is the correlative of the listening, Spirit-informed community.
The final Paraclete passage closes with a threefold repetition of the verb she will declare (anangello), 16:13-15. The Spirit will declare the things that are to come (v.13), and she will declare what is Christ's (vv. 14, 15). The things of Christ are a message that must be heralded...
The intention of the Spirit of truth is the restoration of an alienated, deceived humanity... The teaching role of the Paraclete tends to be remembered as a major emphasis of the Farewell Discourses, yet only 14:26 says She will teach you all things. (Teaching is, however, implied when 16:13-15 says that the Spirit will guide you into all truth, and will speak and declare.) Franz Mussner remarks that the word used in 14:26, didaskein, "means literally 'teach, instruct,' but in John it nearly always means to reveal.” (Stevick 2011, 292-7)
The Holy Spirit as feminine: Early Christian testimonies and their interpretation,
Johannes van Oort, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Department of Church History and Church Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
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