The very title of this article tells you the unique problems of explaining Eternal Dharma. Most religions have a single text that is considered central to that religion’s philosophy or approach. If you read that one text, you understand the main concepts of that religion.
That is not true of Eternal Dharma. May be, because it is far more than just a religion. It is a true Dharma, It goes beyond the worship of one icon, one prophet, one text or one set of instructions. It was developed at the beginning of time and its texts are the earliest known to man.
This is why these texts are utterly fearless in their thinking of the Supreme Entity or the Creator of the Universe. This is why their invocations are totally universal in nature.
Even though there may not be one book, the reflections of Eternal Dharma are set in sacred texts. We describe these texts in brief below:
1. वेद = Ved
The word Ved is derived from the Samskrut root Vid, to know. The Ved are considered to be revealed texts or “Sruti” or “heard” texts. Therefore, they are described as अपौरुषेय = A-Pauru-sheya or not created by man. The Sages who transcribed the Ved are known as द्रष्टा = Drashtaa or Seers and not as कर्तारह = Kartarah or Creators. This description of the Ved as revealed and not composed shows the paramount reverence in which the Ved are held.
There are Rg-Ved, Yajur-Ved, Sam-Ved and Atharva-Ved. The Rg-Ved is the crown of the creative and cultural epoch that is Indian Philosophy. It is now accepted the oldest scripture in Indo-European culture and perhaps the oldest scripture known to mankind.
The Rg-Ved is compound word. Rc is a sacred verse and Ved means knowledge. So Rg-Ved could be interpreted to mean knowledge contained in sacred verses, It contains 1, 017 hymns grouped in 10 Mandal.
2. उपनिसद = Upanisad
The last section of each Ved is an Upanisad. There are 10 Upanisad that are considered to be major. The word Upanisad does not signify any work in prose or verse.
Instead, the word Upanisad literally means “sit very near”. It is derived from the root Sad = सद with the additions of prepositions Upa = उप and Ni = नि. The word therefore symbolizes the close relationship between the Guru and Sishya who sit close to each other in a discussion of Brahman.
In the Upanisad, we do not hear of any personified God but only of a deep abstract principle called Atman, Brahman and Param-Atman. A concentrated pursuit of truth is the special hallmark of the development of the philosophical concepts one finds in the Upanisad.
It may be said without exaggeration that in the literature of the Upanisad, Indian Philosophy reaches the highest pinnacle of glory. As the noted scholar Dr. R. Ranade has written:
- “In the History of Indian Thought, every revival of the study of the Upanisad has synchronized with a great religious movement.”
The Upanisad form the first part of प्रस्थान त्रयी = Prasthan-Trayi or the three points of departure from the Ved. The other two are:
- Brahma-Sutra or Vedanta-Sutra
At we depart from the topic of the Upanisad, let us quote the very well-known invocation from the Bruhad-Aranyaka Upanisad:
ॐ असतो मा सद गमय
Om, Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Om, From Falsehood Lead me to truth
तमसो मा ज्योतीर गमय
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
From Darkness, Lead me to Light
मृत्योर् अमृतम गमय
Mruutuor Maa Amrutam Gamaya
From Death Lead me to Immortality
– बृहद अरण्यक उपनिसद = Bruhad-Aranyak Upanisad, I.3.28
3. ब्रह्मसूत्र = Brahma-Sutra or वेदांत सूत्र = Vedaanta-Sutra
We do not discuss this text because of its complexity. Suffice it to say that it follows a systemic approach to Vedaanta.
4 . भगवत गीता = Bhagwat-Geeta
Who needs an introduction to the Bhagwat Geeta or the Words/Poem of God? Suffice it to say that it synthesizes the truths of the Upanisad in one text. We shall spend a great deal of time in discussing the various concepts embodied in the Geeta.
Among all the sacred texts of Eternal-Dharma, the Bhagwat Geeta is the easiest, simplest and most direct text. The Samskrut is exquisitely simple and easy to follow. Through out history, the words of the Bhagwat Geeta have been interpreted in many many ways. We intend to follow the most direct interpretation.
In our humble opinion, the Geeta began the practice of explaining the truth and philosophy of the Eternal Dharma to the common people. This was followed through the millennia by a series of great saints who made it easier for the common people of India to read and understand the Geeta in their own languages. It created a new direction in Indian religion called भागवत धर्म = Bhaagwat Dharma or भक्ती मार्ग = Bhaktee Marg or Devotional Path. This is the path that is practiced by the vast majority of followers of Eternal-Dharma.
5. पुराण = Puraan
The religious texts of other languages resemble the Puraan than any of the texts listed above. Most other religions are simple in their scope and philosophy; they tend to focus on belief in or worship of one icon, prophet or book. The religious texts of these religions combine narratives, genealogies with religious instructions and descriptions of philosophy.
This is exactly what the various Puraan do. These are written in various Indian and foreign languages. These can be read by common people and easily understood. These use narratives and stories to make religious points.
But unlike other religions that have one or at most a couple such narrative texts, Eternal Dharma has at least 20 major Puraan of various lengths. The smallest has 9,000 verses while the largest स्कंद पुराण = Skanda Puraan has over 81,000 verses. The most popular Puraan is the भागवत पुराण = Bhaagwat Puraan of 18,000 verses. This Puraan tells about the 10 Avataars of Vishnu and ends with the story of Shri Krishna from his childhood. This forms the basis of the Bhaktee Marg we spoke of in section 4 above.
This completes our roadmap of the Sacred Texts of Eternal Dharma.
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