Hindu Religion and Culture has produced world renowned Vedas. “Go back to the Vedas, especially the Rig Veda. Vedas contain everything. Vedas are infallible. ” Swamy DayanandaSaraswathi christened thus AryaSamaj’ in 1875. This has led a section of Hindu intellectuals into the darkness of ethno- centrism. But what does Rig veda contain? In what type of culture Rig vedic people they lived and what were their religious practices? Where lie the roots of our cultural heritage and where from the current doctrines of bhakthi, ahimsa, karma and dharma come?
We have so much to our pride in terms of material as well as spiritual culture, not simply the Vedas.
Indus Valley Civilization, Harappan culture
Our Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan Culture or Sindhu valley civilization and culture equals and in some aspects excels, those of contemporaneous Egypt or Mesaputomia civilizations.
Knowledge of this culture had started coming since its first discovery at Harappa in 1921 AD.
This proved to be an Urban culture supported by a vast rural hinterland. Main cities were Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Rupar and Lothal and Kalibangam (Present names).
The script of Harappans is not yet deciphered. But based upon the material findings supported by scientific studies by archeologists, we find them to be the first to cultivate cotton in the world. They had trade with middle east, probably in grain and garments. Their urban roads crossed each other at right angles(grid pattern). Their living was aesthetic. Every house had a well, toilets, courtyard and covered drains. Their houses, even three storied, were made of burnt brick. They used a system of weights in multiples of number 6 and 16 ( interestingly, till recently 16 annas made a rupee).
Harappans cultivated cereals- wheat and barley, ate meat, pork, beaf and fish. They built huge granaries for storage of grain.
The structure of a great bath at Mohenjodaro reveals the origin of our present ritual bathing or holy dip in rivers and ponds during auspicious occasions.
They worshipped male and female deities as well as trees and animals. A three headed God in a ‘Yogic’ posture surrounded by an elephant, tiger, rhino, buffalo and two deers reflects the present-day Pasupathi-Siva concept. A figure shows a plant growing out of an embryo. Another God is shown in the midst of branches of a ‘peepul’ tree. Numerous seals and symbols show a humped bull(Nandil), Phallus(Linga), and female genitals.
Rig Vedic Age:
First settled life by the so called Aryans or the Rig Vedic people on the Indians soil is represented by pre-Iran phase of Painted Grey Ware. They lived in mud or wattle and daub enclosure. Mainly pastoral, they cultivated barely and probably rice also. They ate pork, meat, beaf, fish, birds, and milk products. Garments were usually made of wool or skin. Tiger was not known.
Their chief deities grew out of personification of natural phenomena such as the sky(Dyuh), Earth(Prithvi), Sky God (Varuna), God of Thunderstorm (Indra), Morning and evening stars (Aswins) and the goddess of Dawn (Ushas). Their pantheon includes, Agni, Dhatri, Vidhartri, Prajapatji, Sraddha, Manyu and Yama. Worshipping gods was through prayers and offering sacrifices. A priest called hotri conducted sacrifices.
- Fundamental rights
- Basic features of the Constitution
- Freedom Movement
- Nasadiya Sukta
- Atharva veda
- Jawaharlal Nehru 1889-1940
- Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1915
Rigveda period was followed by Saama Veda period. Saama veda is well tuned musical version of Rig veda. Next in Yazurveda various scientific theories were described for plan and construction of Yagna kundalis and procedures for conducting Yagnas. A priest called Yotri conducted yagnas. Then developed Atharvana veda which contains various methods for invoking spirits in occult manner and medicines for various diseases, etc.,
Indra was invoked for victory over rivals- Dasas and Dasyus- and for Praja(Children), Pasu (cattle) and rain. Indra was called Purandhara- breaker of forts(owned by Indians proper). They waged wars for control over Vis – Tribe . And for cattle. Their wars were called “Sangrama”- intertibal conflict and “gavishti”- search for cows (which were possessed In plenty by the Indian proper).
Battle of Ten Kings:
The most important and much remembered war in the Rig Veda time was’Battle of Ten Kings’ ontested by King Sudas (an Aryan) on one side and the Ten Kings – five from Aryan tribes and five from indigenous peoples – on the other, obviously on non- religious grounds.
Bhakti Cult and Lord Sri Krishna
Bhakti cult was popularized first by sages Narada and Ghora Angirasa and then by Sri Krishna. When the Aryans were settling, adapting themselves to the Indian geo-social environs there appeared Bhagavatas. Bhagavatas asked the people to detest sacrifices and follow the path of bhakthi and ahimsa
Folk elements also contribute a lot to the present-day culture of Indian Society. Yaksha and Naga cults found their place in Hindu pantheon as Ganesha. Shakthi worship was omnipresent. Lord Krishna was alluded to as Siva Himself.
Bhakti and Ahimsa / Non voilenceLord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita questions the efficacy of the Vedas- obviously against ‘Himsa’.
“O, Arjuna the Vedas deals with material ends.
What use a pond has when a whole country is flooded ,
that much use only the Vedas have to a Brahmana ,
who is full of wisdom.” –
And in Bhagavatham He says –
“ It is not true that Indra is the cause of rain. Do the trees in vast forests give any offerings to Indra?”
Lord Krishna preached Karma Yoga instead of sacrifices and asceticism:
“Perform your prescribed duties, for action is superior to inaction.”- said Lord Krishna.
Sage Narada who is completely non-secratarian, avoids naming any particular God for bhakthi and asks one for “complete self surrender to Him (Bhagawan)” and advocates ahimsa:
“One should cultivate and preserve virtues such as ahimsa, truth, purity, compassion, faith in higher spiritual realities and the like.” Bhakhthi advocates de-nounced hatred.
“Devotion is of the nature of love only because it is opposite of hatred”. – Sandilya.
So Rig Veda does not preach religious intolerance as such. We have not only Vedas to be proud of but also the Indus Valley civilization, Naga and Yaksha folk cults and in addition, a unique philosophy and way of life built on the principles of non-violence, tolerance, co-existence enviable to other societies.
Violence begets violence leading to loss of life. Having born in the land where human life is equated with the Supreme Brahman, the leaders who have unleashed a spate of violence should have courage and will to stop it.
“Man is nothing but his will”, said thus saint August