Edited and Prepared By Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar
भूर्भुवः स्वः। तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं। भर्गो॑ देवस्य धीमहि।
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्॥
O Supreme Lord! Thou art ever existent, Ever conscious, ever blissful. We meditate on Thy most adorable glory. Mayest Thou guide and inspire our intellect On the path of highest divinity! May we be able to discriminate between truth and falsehood?
(Rig.3. 62. 10)
The Holy VEDAS
A Golden Treasury
Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar
Blessings Svami Satya Prakash Sarasvati
Associated with HIND POCKET BOOKS
THE HOLY VEDAS
Edited & prepared by Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar
© Clarion Books First hardcover edition, 1983 Seventh Reprint, February, 2005 ISBN 81-85120-54-4
All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, and photocopying. Recording otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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Hymns on Creation 30
Hymns on Devotion 66
Hymns on Revelation 150
Hymns on Action 214
Hymns on Splendour 274
Hymns on Positive Sciences 352
Original Text 449
महो अर्णः सरस्वती प्र चेतयति केतुना
धियो विश्वा वि राजति।। 12।।
Vast is the ocean of sacred words which enlightens the universe With Divine vision.
FOR the last several years, Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar and myself have been busy on the English translation of the Rig-Veda. This is only a part of our big project in which we propose to bring out the translations of various other Vedic texts, particularly the Vedk Samhitas. The Rig Samhita has 10,589 verses, the Yajur 1,975, the Samaveda 1,875, and the Atharva 5,977 verses, and thus the total comes to 20,416 verses. Pandit Satyakam, with his great qualities of head and heart and with his love for music and poetry, is the right person to have been assigned the task of selecting something like one thousand verses out of this entire stock for the benefit of entire humanity. We are very much obliged to the publishers for the excellent production of this Vedic Anthology. Humanity is proud of this most ancient heritage and it has been the most amazing accomplishment of man-kind to have preserved this divine literature to this day under all hazards and vicissitudes of history. The Vedas constitute the back-bone of our entire culture and development through the millennia not only in India but also abroad. For most of us, they constitute the first literature that dawned on us at the earliest time of man's appearance on this globe. In India, we regard them as the revealed knowledge. What the effulgent sun is to animate and inanimate activity on the terrestrial earth, the Vedic enlightenment is to the prestigious life of man on this planet for the majority of humanity. Man with his most highly evolved physico-psychic complex is a gem in our divine creation, much above animal level. For his fulfilment, the necessary code of conduct is incorporated in the Vedic texts. It is the most precious gift to humanity from our benign Creator and Lord.
Origin of Language
WE are told that the divine revelation came to man at a time when the world was in its infancy. I shall not take you to primitive man and his group as conceived by an evolutionist of the modern age—a society which was least conducive for the type of revelation we received from the divine source. Undoubtedly, the primitive and mentally un-evolved man could have been least receptive to the highest type of enlightenment. I shall not refer you to the history or the geography of the event of revelation, for the time-space reckoning must have started very long ago in our history. I am talking of days when man had no language, though he had a complete set of vocal and hearing organs. Think of the days when man had existed without a vocabulary; he had not yet called the sun the sun, the moon the moon, and the earth the earth. How surprising it was that he was flourishing in surroundings to which he had not yet given names. He was moving, sitting, sleeping, eating and drinking but he had no terminology for these functions. His gesture had no words. He was enjoying colourful Nature; he had no terms for white, red, pink, blue, green or black. In the midst of such a state of affairs now inconceivable, the divine knowledge was revealed to him through exceptional personalities with high receptivity, stupendous memory and superb under-standing. The earliest contribution of men of this group was to assign names to the objects of surroundings in the most general terms. The language of the divine Rig-Veda itself has an astonishing stock of about 35,000 words in 10,000 verses with immense intrinsic potentiality for coining new terms. With the revealed Vedas starts the concept of human language in terms of which man not only talked with contemporary man, but also continued his link with posterity. Without having an instinct to communicate to posterity, man could not have made any history, culture, philosophy, science and technology. This communication could have been possible only through a language, as divine as Creation. Philosophy or science assumes the pre-existence of orderliness in Creation, the Rita, another name for eternal consistency. According to a theistic concept, there is a concomitant relationship between the Veda, Creation and science. A theist is one who submits or surrenders himself to the Divine Creator, the Divine Language (WORD) and the Divine Creation—the three realities. Thousands of years have passed since the divine knowledge was first revealed to a small group of seers (the four Samhitas to the first four—Agni, Vayu, Aditya and Angiras, so named traditionally). There was another group of seers with stupendous memory, who passed on this knowledge to the successive generations. The art of script and writing was invented and developed at a much later stage.
Phenomenon of Oral Communication
IN the British Museum, one may see a written Bible of the third and fourth centuries A.D.; the Holy Quran of thirteen hundred years ago beautifully scribed, but one would rarely find a script of the Veda of such an ancient date. Such an amazing phenomenon of pre serving the most ancient texts of 20,000 verses through all the years of history could not have occurred in any other land. The credit goes to the traditional Brahmanas of India who against all hazards of human history could keep the texts so well preserved with the right phonetic accents and accuracy to this
Dyhamism in the Vedic Period
MAN was very dynamic in the Vedic Age when he for the first time domesticated cattle and developed barley, rice and lentils. He with regularity introduced innovations in agriculture. The Rishis of the days of the Yajnas laid the foundations of the earliest physical and life sciences including mathematics and astronomy. The places where these Yajnas were performed were known as Yajnashalas; they were man's earliest temples of learning, .his academies and his open-air laboratories and observatories. There could not have been any limit to man's achievement and his collaborative accomplishments. The Veda stands for the philosophy of dynamic realism, against that of static mysticism.
Knowledge and Theism
IT was the Veda that inspired earliest man. In other words, the ancients drew inspiration from God, God's Words and God's Creation. You cannot think of knowledge by eliminating God from His Creation. After all, what is knowledge? What is physics? or meta-physics? Is it not with reference to our Great Creation? It is just the study of a little activity in the dynamic world in a particular parameter. The world is the source-book of all such studies. In our own body complex, there is something, the study of which is beyond the dimensions of our physics—how does a sense organ function? How do the vital forces operate and how does the mind work? These questions pertain to that realm of creation which is also as real as the physical realm. Raising questions in their context, exploring mysteries and finding out the generalities take us to the disciplines of psychology and meta-physics and so, ultimately, it is our creation (ultra micro, micro and macro) which has to be studied and explored. The Veda takes you even a little beyond this creation. While the Vedic texts present to you a little picture of the mysteries of this creation, they by and by lift you up a little beyond the physical or meta-physical reality. They raise you from creation to the Creator. They take you from the Sun to the Sun that shines behind the Sun, to the Fire that glows behind the mundane fire, they take you to Light that enlightens all the lights familiar to us. They take you to Beauty and Pleasure behind the so called beauty and pleasure that exist in our everyday life. And thus the Veda becomes the source-book of the Para Vidya (mundane knowledge) and Apara Vidya both (science of Ultimate Reality). In the lower stages, all the disciplines of knowledge are distinct and separate. What botany is is not physics; what hearing is is not seeing, what knowing is is not feeling but in the Apara Vidya (the knowledge of the Supreme), all these distinctive disciplines merge into one. The highest knowledge is merely one, the integrated knowledge, and this is the knowledge, not gained through our sense-organs, vital organs or through our mental behaviours. This is the final knowledge that we aspire for. This is then the establishment of a personal link between an aspirant and the Supreme One.
Beauty in Nature
THE Vedic verses enable you to enjoy the glory of God in His creation. May you enjoy to the full the charm of the damsel of Dawn a little before sunrise; some of the verses draw your attention to the glory of the rising sun, the vast luminary that enlightens our globe throughout the day. The verses take you to the thrilling evenings and to the calmness of night, cool and refreshing. The sky and the firmament have their own beauty with stars set like pearls and diamonds on a blue background.
THIS is, however, one aspect of Nature's glory. The rays of the sun take away moisture from the surface of oceans; the moisture takes the form of dark clouds which during particular months of the year proceed with high speed thousands of miles at a height of 4,000 to 20,000 feet high in the firmament. Whilst the clouds move, the midspace wind also attains a stupendous velocity. The water particles of the clouds are surcharged with electricity. The result is thunder and lightning. The thunder, lightning and high speed wind, all the three integrate themselves to provide dread to the living beings on the terrestrial globe. For days together, the sun is rendered invisible and is shrouded as if with layers of clouds. And finally the rain falls in torrents, and the sky again becomes clear. Man gets light and warmth both from the mighty sun. The clouds are known as Vrittra in Vedic terminology. More than a dozen names are given to these clouds; they are the demons, they are serpents (Ahih); they are the Varahas (meaning boars also). The sun is also given dozens of names. The Vedic verses take delight in referring to the eternal conflict between Indra or the sun and the shrouder, the clouds, which obstruct light and warmth of the sun. Ultimately, it is the sun that becomes victorious. But again the story is repeated everywhere. The Divine Poet of the Veda is never tired of narrating this parable; and He takes us to another conflict of the same nature which exists within the interior of all of us—a constant struggle between our divine tendencies and our devilish ones. The incessant conflict between Truth and Non-truth, between Good and Evil, or Enlightenment and Nescience, Knowledge and Ignorance. While the Vedas narrate this parable, their reference to the sun and clouds is merely symbolic. The real conflict which they intend to stress is between the self and the dark forces within our own personal make-up. On one side we have truth, light c and immortality and on the other evil, darkness and -- death.
Theism of the Veda
IN the verses of the Vedas, we invoke the Supreme Lord, the Sole Master of Creation and the living beings. Man is also an architect or potter in certain respects, but his creation, his art, his pot exists at a place where he does not stay. But the Supreme Divine as an architect produces everything within Him, for there is nothing that exists outside Him and He is within all. For we have in a passage of the. Yajur, where there is a reference to the Supreme Reality:
It moves, it moves not.
It is far, and it is near,
It is within all this,
And it is outside all this (Yaiur.22.5).
In Vedic terminology, by creation we mean a purposeful well-ordained transformation of the un-manifest to the manifest form, from asat to sat. In that sense, all the rich and wonderful creation is within the existence of our Lord (in Time-Space parameters). He is also known as the Hiranyagarbha or the-Golden Embryo. We have in a Vedic verse:
The Golden Embryo existed prior to all. It was the source of everything that was born. It was the sole Lord of Existence. It maintains or upholds everything that exists between earth and heaven. Only to that Lord, and to none else, shall we offer our affection and homage (Rig.10.121.1. Atharya.4.2. 71)
THIS Supreme Reality is not merely a philosophical abstract concept, it is a reality which we have to invoke and evoke for our personal becoming or for the fulfilment of our life. In this sense, Vedic Theism is a concept of dynamic reality. The Supreme Reality is our concern every moment. We might ignore Him, and so we usually do, but He does not neglect us.
While He is near, He leaves it not; though it is near, it sees Him not. Behold the Art of God, His Poetry that shall not die and shall never grow old (Atharva.10.8.32).
God Himself is un-manifest, but He is manifested behind his Divine Art. The effulgence behind His creation is His effulgence; the mighty force behind Nature's force is His force. He is light behind the light; terror behind the terror, the sweetness behind every-thing that is sweet, and the Supreme Activity behind all activities. We admire His forces, invoke all bounties of Nature, and through Nature, we proceed to the un-manifest Reality, the Supreme Source of Enlightenment and Bliss.
We invoke our Lord in terms of attributes and functions, and we try to establish a personal relationship with Him. In Vedic poetry, the tiny little soul and the Supreme Self are both taken to be two birds (Suparna), mutual friends and companions.
Two birds, which are closely associated and intimate friends, perch on the same tree. Of them One (the lower soul) tastes of its fruits; the other (the Supreme Lord) shines resplendently without tasting (Rig. 1.164.20).
Coupled with a few more verses of the Great Hymn (1.164, 21, 22), one can enter into the depths of the mystic meaning of the intimate relationship of the two birds perching on one and the same fig tree.
The Supreme Reality is known by different names in regard to its functions, attributes and nature. Taken out of the context of its creation and suzerainty over souls, the Reality would have no name other than OM (=A—U—M), the all-comprehensive syllable, embracing the limits of the entire phonetic alphabet with potential creativity, sustenance and dissolution in it . (Om Kham Brahma—Yajur.60.17)
The functional and attributive names of the Supreme Reality are numberless. Primarily, they are the names of our Lord; in their narrow connotations, they are the names of Nature's Bounties also—primarily the sun, and secondarily the bounties of midspace and the earth. Society is also a living organism, with its head, its shoulders, its eyes, and its limbs. The same functional terms as are used for the Supreme Reality may be used for offices in an organised society. Again, man, his entire body-complex, is a huge sovereignty by itself with the soul as the supreme ruler, and the sense-organs (and the functional organs) as his subordinates.
THE seers of the Vedic age not only discovered this fire, they devised the means of controlling and harnessing it. They finally introduced certain elaborate fire-rituals called the Yajnas. Apart from small and big fire-rituals, the Vedic Samhitas refer to the cosmic Yajna which goes on incessantly in Nature, producing sunshine, clouds, rainfall, vegetation, and completion of Nature's cycles of various types. In analogy to the benevolent and purposeful cosmic Yajna, any activity of man intend to contribute something to society with selfless intentions, came to be known as Yajna. The entire 18th Chapter of the Yajurveda deals with this type of Yajna, contributing to the general human good. Many of the verses end with a refrain Yajnena Kalpatam. This Yajna is not a fire-ritual; it refers to man's dynamic activity to explore and utilise Nature's resources for our common good. Motivated by the spirit of these Yajnas, our seers of yore explored the flora and fauna, surveyed organic and inorganic resources, and laid the foundations of a welfare state. The domestication of animals, the science and craft of agriculture, and the utilization of all types of resources for food, clothing and housing were some of the earliest undertakings of the Vedic age. These Yajnashalas were, in a way, the open-air academies, laboratories and observatories for the advancement of culture and enlightenment.
A concerted, coordinated well-planned effort for human good is Yajna. This is a sacred act and hence is technically known as sacrifice, a selfless act.
Life and Living in the Atharvaveda
THE verses of the Atharvaveda stand unique for their own charm and spell on human life and day-to-day living. The learned author of this anthology has with care given to us the outstanding, hymns and verses from this Veda, a collection of 5,977 verses. The Veda takes you to the topics of highest spirituality and theism on the one hand; on the other hand, it glorifies Mother Earth on which we are born—see the Bhumi-Sukta of Book 12. The hymn passionately ends with the lines:
O Earth, my mother, set thou me happily in a place secure. Of one accord with heaven, O sage, set me in glory and in wealth (63).
Same more verses paying tributes to one's own existence on the wonderful planet of the Earth:
Resplendent Sun, the performer of the cosmic sacrifice, may you, being invoked, come on a chariot driven by two, by four, by six, by eight or by ten horses. May you come to accept precious offerings, but do not scorch us to the extreme (Rig 2.18.4)
I am victorious, I am called the Lord Superior on Earth, triumphant, all o'er-powering, the conqueror on every side (54).
May Earth, the Goddess, she who bears her treasure stored up in many a place, gold, gems, and riches, giver of opulence, grant great passions to us, bestowing them with love and favour (14).
Rightly, I am the son of Earth, Earth is my mother (12.12).
In Book 10, we have an excellent hymn in support of all (7), and another of the 'Loftiest Brahma (8). Every verse of these hymns is meaningful and elevating.
IN the Atharvaveda, we have hymns for every stage of human life. A full hymn (11.5) is devoted to Brahmacharya, and the Brahmacharin, the young avowed to study divine scriptures with penance, austerity, dedication and full discipline. There is no limit to the potentiality of this dedicated young man:
Lighted by fuel goes the Brahmacharin, clad in black-buck skin, consecrate, long-bearded, swiftly, he goes from east to northern ocean, grasping the worlds, of bringing them near him (11.5.6).
Self-restraint is Brahmacharya:
By fervour and by self-restraint the gods drove death away from them. And Indra brought by self-restraint heaven's lustre to the deities (11.5.19).
The hymns and verses selected for this Anthology from the Atharvaveda would speak of the richness of the variety of themes included in the Veda.
IN Vedic terminology, every little thing concerning the human body, the outer and innermost complex, is the concern of the subject of Adhyatma. Book 11 of the Atharvaveda has a full hymn of 34 verses devoted to it (Hymn 11.8). Another Adhyatma hymn is the entire Book 13 of nine hymns. This hymn is devoted to Rohita, meaning red, the colour associated with fire or the rising and the setting sun. The entire hymn needs a careful and detailed study. Two verses are quoted here:
The Earth became an altar; heat was Agni; and the butter rain. There Agni, made by song and hymn, these mountains rise and stand erect. (53) Then having made the hills stand up, Rohita spoke to Earth and said: In thee, let everything be born, what is, and what is yet to be (54). (1.53, 54). The entire Book 14 is devoted to marriage and married life—the life of a householder and his wife. In the Rig-Veda 10.85, we have the details of the marriage of Soma, the youth, with Surya, the maiden, the daughter of the Sun, i.e., Dawn. Verses 6 to 16 are devoted to the marriage ceremony. Many of the verses of this hymn are still quoted in our marriage cere-monies, and they form the basis of the sanctity of married life. In the Atharvaveda, Book 14, we have numerous other passages of importance in household life and marriage ceremony. In Book 19 of the Atharvaveda, we have several hymns devoted to Shanti, or Peace (Hymns 9-11), quite in common with the verses of the Rig-Veda and Yajurveda. The learned author of this Anthology could select roughly five per cent of the divine verses available in the Samhitas. Such selections have always personal touch. The editor has picked out a small number of representative verses at random without under-rating those which he has left out. There are thousands of verses still in the Samhitas, which you yourself would like to include in an anthology of your choice. May this Anthology draw you nearer to a literature which has been the proud possession of mankind since the earliest days of our history.
WHY we would like you to keep this Anthology with you in your home and on your shelves, in your drawing-rooms, and even by your side as a constant companion is for the following reasons:
O The Vedic verses are the earliest source of knowledge.
O They are in a language, prior to which there was no language of such a rich stock of literature. The Vedic language is the mother of Sanskrit, a language of great importance for comparative research. Sanskrit is regarded as "the first daughter of the earliest mother tongue."
O Vedic theism is pure and simple and most natural monotheism, invoking ONE GOD, the Supreme Lord, the mighty force behind all forces and the Divine Light behind all effulgences. Just as the presence of the soul within a human body is recognized by the activity of the body or the life in it, similarly, the existence of the Supreme Reality in the cosmos is realized by looking at the purposeful dynamism in the Lord's creation. Hence the Vedic verses invoke the Lord by evoking Nature's Bounties, known as deities, the Devah or Vishvedevah.
O The Vedic verses refer to Nature's eternal history, but not the history of a human achieve-. ment. They do not bring any human personality between MAN and his GOD. The verses refer you to the glory of GOD in His Creation and ask you to establish a personal link with Him in the innermost core of your heart, where you can feel His throb, hear His voice and see His enlightenment. Man-based religions are of a later date, whereas man's natural religion is eternally with him.
O The Vedic concept of God is perfectly ethical, and hence the Vedic verses uphold high moral values of life. God is Truth personified, Activity personified, Purity personified, Love personified and Bliss personified. We crave to imbibe within us a bit of His qualities. The Vedic Dharma is thus the morality-based Dharma based on truth and its acceptance for life, i.e., faith (Shraddha), austerity (Tapas), piety (Daya) and selfless service and dedication (Yajna), generosity (Dana), peace (Shanti), friendship (Mitrata), fearlessness (Abhaya) and mutual understanding (Saumanasam). Above all, is the essential quality of complete reliance on God (the lone Alambana or Skambha, the pillar of strength).
O The Vedic verses refer to a type of coordinated life. Man is not an individual. He is a social organism. God loves him only who serves other beings: men, cattle and other creatures. His glory lies in being a member of a big family. On the one hand, man is bound by blood-kinship—his parents, his wife, his sons and grandsons, and on the other, he is linked with every individual of society, whether near or far from him. It is given to man to link himself with those who constitute his ancestry, and also think of those who would be his posterity. Man thus lives, works and dies for society. The Vedic verses refer to this dynamism. Man is expected to develop his craft, sciences and technology, and lead society from poverty to prosperity, with a happy today and a happier tomorrow.
O The immortal soul assuming a human form may be regarded as a purposeful benevolent bondage. It is through such a series of bondages that man is expected to attain his fullness. This is his liberation or emancipation. In that state, we are told, we shall be free from the shackles of body and sense-organs; we shall revert to our self-effulgent form and enjoy Divine Bliss. The mortal would thus become amrita or immortal. We must express our gratitude to Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar for his excellent Anthology of Vedic Verses, which would be read with all the reverence that it deserves, and would be enjoyed in our dark moments of desperation and difficulties when we need inspiration and enlightenment the most. We are also indebted to the printers and publishers for their excellent production of this volume. The Veda is a symbol of Divine Light and Divine Happiness. May we all have divine blessings!
New Delhi, SVAMI SATYA PRAKASH SARASVATI
October 15, 1983
The four Vedas contain the divine, infallible knowledge revealed to those primal men whose soul was specially illumined by the grace of God to receive and impart to humanity the words of Almighty God. The purpose of this revelation was to enlighten and spread Godly knowledge to man so that he may live a happy life in this world, be aware of his innate divinity and by to realise eternal bliss.
The Vedas are the sacred heritage not only of India but of all mankind. But however till now the translations and interpretations of these sacred books have been made use of mostly by historians and scholars. Modern man has not been able to draw inspiration and guidance from them to rise above the mundane, the physical and the metaphysical to achieve harmony with his Creator.
These simple and Lucid verses continue to inspire all, including contemporary lovers of philosophy. In matter, in form and in variety, Vedic hymns can claim a place among the most ancient and deep philosophies of any civilization and yet continue to have relevance to the world of today and tomorrow. In this book an attempt has been made to bring together such representative hymns which encompass all the aspects enshrined in the Vedas. I have also tried to retain the spirit of the original Sanskrit mantras in my English renderings and to impart some of the holy ambience of these sacred texts which are the fountain-head of Hindu philosophy and culture. In order to place the Vedic hymns in their proper, perspective, they have been classified into six sections as under:
O Hymns on Creation
O Hymns on Devotion
O Hymns on Revelation
O Hymns on Action
O Hymns on Splendour
O Hymns on Positive Sciences _
The hymns of the Vedas are grouped under such headings as Agni, Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra etc. The different names represent God's various powers and attributes. The Vedas have definitely stated that the manifested Devahs are only an aspect of the one Supreme Lord.
Therefore in most of the places I have referred to them as the Supreme Lord only. The splendour attached to these Devahs attains special significance when one sees the divinity behind the splendour of all manifestations of Nature, the Creator behind the creation.
I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have helped and inspired me in doing this sacred work. I would like to mention first and foremost the name of Shri Shanand Satyadevaji of Durban, South Africa, who by his intense devotion to the Vedas initiated thz., project and made available the resources to accomplish this great work. Also I must thank Shri Dina Nath Malhotra of Hind Pocket Books, his editorial staff and printing press and all those who worked day and night in a spirit of dedication to enable this holy book to appear in an exquisite form. I also thank Shri D.D. Mehta for the excerpts taken from his book, Positive Sciences in the Vedas in our science section.
Pandit Satyakam Vidyalankar
4th November 1983
Hymns of Creation
In the beginning was Hiranyagarbha (Golden Womb).
The seed of elemental existence,
The only Lord of all that was born.
He upheld the heaven and earth together
To what God other than Him, could we dedicate our life?