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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An overview of shruthis.

The foundation of our religion is provided by the Shrutis and the main walls of the citadel of the vedic religion are the the Smrithis (to be discussed separately). The great sages learned the Shruthis from Brahmadeva through oral traditions and they in turn imparted the same to the succeeding generations of disciples again through the word of the mouth. Shruthi is essent...ially consisting of the four Vedas, Rik, Yajus, Sama and Athrava. Originally these four Vedas formed a single unit and it would take about forty-eight years to learn the huge bulk of Veda. This was possible in the earlier yugas where the longevity of human beings was substantial but with the advent of Kaliyuga, where human beings had diverse mental predilections and where the life-span was not more than hundred years, the long tenure of forty eight years in a lifetime for study of Vedas became an impossibility for any individual student. Therefore Vyasa Bhagavan in his extreme compassion divided the Vedas into four parts and we find them in that shape today. The functions of the Hotha, or the persons who performs the oblations to the fire during a yaaga, are narrated in detail in Rig Veda. The functions of Adhwaryu, that is preparation of materials necessary for a yaga , are given in detail in Yajurveda. The functions of utgaataa or the person who chants or sings the praise of Gods according to metres as manthras in a yaaga are set out in detail in the Samaveda. Finally the functions of Brahma, the co-ordinator and overseer of the effective conduct of a yajna, are specified in the Atharvana Veda. Each veda consists of (1) Manthram ( samhita) (2) Braahmanam and (3) Upanishat . Manthraas are compositions in praise of Gods and their activities. In the rendering of manthraas the importance of proper pronunciation and accent was considered vital. A wrong meter or an erratic pronunciation can prove fatal to the person who chants the manthra and also can affect the performance of yaaga adversely. Therefore the manthraas cannot be learned properly through printed words. The authority to recite a manthra can be obtained by a student only through the upadesha of that manthra orally in proper accent from a learned guru. Braahmanaas consist of Kaarikaas or instructions given for the practice of each manthra and the procedure for conducting the yaagaas. Invariably these braahmanaas also contain narration of incidents or stories attached to the practice of each manthra. The Upanishads take us to the higher plane where the concepts of the Supreme soul, the individual soul, the travails of worldly life and emancipation from that and other secrets of the elevated spiritual life are discussed. Smrithis will be discussed later.

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