In my previous column, I had pointed out that the two main sections of the Veda are Karma Kanda and Jnana Kanda. This is about the first part of the Veda, which deals with different means to help us achieve prosperity and fulfilment of desires. Many people these days think that they can read the Veda or a poor translation of it and understand it. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Understanding the Veda is a very complex process. One needs to study under a teacher for several years because there are a lot of subdisciplines that you need to know before you can understand what the Veda says. For a start, of course, there is the Sanskrit language with special attention to grammar. More attention is given to the grammar that was used in the Vedic times, Nirukta or etymology. Understanding the roots of Vedic words helps to note the nuances of the meanings. Additionally, Chandas, the discipline of metres and inflection of words, is important because often the meaning of the words changes.
Another discipline we need to study to understand the Veda is astrology, which has two parts, one is pure astronomy, which is scientific in its outlook. And the predictive part which is non-scientific, but it’s a valid discipline. For the rituals, one should be able to identify the different plants to determine which of them can be used in a ‘homa’. Which plants to use, which tree is to be cut, what compensation is to be made? Do I need to plant 10 trees or more? Reading half-baked translations cannot help. Learning the Veda calls for a huge amount of discipline and learning. It is not to be looked upon as something very simple or orthodox. Most of the people who benefit from the rituals of the Vedas don’t do this study. They go to an expert and follow his advice. Exactly like how we go to a doctor and take his advice in medicine that he gives irrespective of how much we understand medicine and pharmacology.
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