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A Little About ANCIENT HINDU LITERATURE

 A Little About


 ANCIENT HINDU LITERATURE

 Leaving aside the ritualistic and mythological part rest of the ancient Hindu knowledge or Veda is a remarkable and still relevant treatise be it medicine, astronomy or yoga. It is a matter of pride for the Punjabis that a part of this wonderful literature was created on the river banks of Punjab.


 The Vedic literature also known as Shruti is supposedly the creation of Brahma, the creator God. According to a belief the Rig Veda is the first and the earliest written account of human experiences. DR.PRADEEP MAHAJAN provides an introduction of the ancient holy scriptures.

  India, the name to the country was applied bythe Greeks, a derivation from the Sindhu (Indus), where the ancient civilizations developed. The people who had their principal home in higher up Indus valley called themselves Aryans. There is no evidence that Aryans resided in stately cities thus making their habitats closer to mother nature.
 ln their religion images played no part and the female element was subordinated to the male and the place of honour was given to dieties like lndra, Varttna, Mitra, the Nasatyas, Surya, Agni (Fire) and other supernal beings. These anionic Aryans created literature known as the Veda. Although the Vedas cannot be dated some historians have placed them near the third millennium B.C. This predicament of the historians is because for centuries the Vedas travelled through the time merely by the word of mouth from teacher to pupil and were not written down in any script.
 These books of knowledge were composed by scholars whose identity remains unknown except for the fact that they must have been of the Aryan rare. There are four Vedas viz. Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Vedic literature also includes the Brahamans, the Aranyakas and the Upnishads.
 The Rig Veda is the oldest, the most important and the best known Veda. It is thought to have been compiled some 3500 to 3000 years ago i.e. around 1500-1000 B.C. It is a  sizeable compilation of 1028 hymns also known as sooktas. The sooktas contain Mantras which are poetical and are set in different metres (chhandas). The Rig Veda is divided into 10 parts called the mandals, according to the subject matter. Most of the Rig Vedic mantras also called richaas are adulatory expressions, sung in praise of various gods i.e. Agni, lndra, Varuna, Savita and Saraswati, etc. Some mantras convey philosophical ideas like monism, (advaitvaad), karma etc. and some other mantras appear secular in which a wish for welfare of the mankind is reflected. It is remarkable that such a long time ago these people speculated about the nature of the creator and posited questions pertaining to whys and wherefores of birth, life and death, with an open mind.
 Other three Vedas are concerned with mainly the yagya karma - the sacrificial rituals performed to please and adore the gods. In Yajur Veda there are long and detailed descriptions as to how the Yagyas are to be performed correctly and in a flawless manner. We came to know from Yajur Veda and Sam Veda that there were Yagya which even continued for months together.
 Atharva Veda is some what different from other three Vedas.lt must have been compiled in a later period as there are descriptions of herbs used for their medicinal value and other things which are useful in day to day life. Some mention of certain surgical operations done by Ashwani Kumars - the physicians of the gods, is also there.
 Then in the later period Brahamanas were compiled which were nothing but commentary on ideas that helped the scholars in the complete understanding and comprehension of Vedas. Among these Aitreya Brahaman on Rig Veda and Shatpath Brahman on Yajur Veda are considered important.
 As the time progressed and the stream of thought flowed the ideas and concepts started becoming more precise and exact. Scholars established their schools known as ashrams and people started sending  their sons to these ashrams for education. These disciples were known as shishyas and they remained in the ashramas till the age of 25 years - which is called brahmcharya i.e. striving to attain knowledge.
 Aranyaka and Upnishads were compiled for these very pupils, to teach them in a systematic manner the concept of universe, god, birth and death.
 Till date there are as many as 200 Upnishads. But Deussen has recognised 108 Upnishads as authentic and original; Acharya Vinoba Bhave has published commentary on 18 Upanishads he considered important. However more commonly known Upnishads are lshopanishad, Kathopanishad, Kenopanishad, Mundakopnishad,  Chhandogyapanishad  and  Brihad-aaranyak-panishad.
 Studying of Vedas was not open to everyone and easy and in order to understand and comprehend the Vedas fully and gain command over the text, the disciples (the shishyas) were first made to learn the six Vedangas i.e. the various integral parts of the Vedas: Shiksha, Kalpa, Vayakarana, Nirukta, Jyotish and Chhanda.
 Shiksha: Under this, the disciples were taught and told about the right and correct pronunciation of the words.
 Kalpa: The right and appropriate way to perform various sacrifices (yagyas).
 Vayakarana;  It literally means study of grammatical rules. Without proper knowledge of grammar, it is impossible to understand and master the Sanskrit language.
 Nirukta: It deals with the etymology i.e. the origin of various words.
 Jyofish: The Aryans were very particular about the auspicious time, the right muhurta for performing the rituals, starting the yagna or prayers. According to the movement of the celestial bodies the elaborate study was developed which is in practice even today in the form of Astronomy and Astrology.
 Chhandatt is the knowledge of  the poetical metre - the rules of pqet4e Vedic mantrcswere set in a P*tielar set pattern. As the time Passed the Aryans (the ,Hindusl bdcame filor-e organised and systematic. There appeared different cunents of thoughts and more and more intellectuals devoted themselves to the pursuit of knowledge and the realisation of self.
 ln their quest for realisation of the true self various nshis and mums in ,their own respective times established six systems of philosophy today known as Indian Philosophy: These, systems of Philosophy were called Vedic Upangas namely: 1. Mimansa, 2. Nyaya,  3. Vaishashik, 4. Vedant,  5. Sankhya and 6. yoga.
 " Aryans had a practical and  pragmatic approach to life. They were always in search of answers to questions and problems they faced in their day to day life. Human life cycle as it is, passes through various situations. There are matters of birth, education, marriage, economic settlement, employment, building of houses, getting ill and so on. Faced with these situations the ancient Aryans created - Ayurveda, Dhanttrveda, Gandharva Veda, Artha Veda - which are known as Up-Vedas. Ayurveda deals with maintenance of health and the treatment of diseases with the help of various medicines which were herbal, mineral, metallic oxides; and surgical procedures. There are three main treatises of Ayurveda namely - Charaka Sanhita, Sushmta Sanhita and Asfrfang Sangraha. Charaka Samhita can be considered a book of medicine and Sushruta Santuta a book of surgery. Sushruta Samhita is highly scientific in its approach. Certain surgical procedures are used even today in the same manner as desired in this treatise. There is also an elaborate and detailed description of instruments used for surgical operations. Gandharva Veda deals with aesthetics and arts - drama, music, and sculptor etc. Architectural art, one of the important aspects of this Veda is separately known as Vastu shastra. Artha Veda deals with economic matters. Dhanur Veda is concerned with art and science of warfare technology. The princes and {he warrior communities were trained by their gurus in different martial arts archery and battle strategy, Guru Dronacharya teaching the Kauru as and Pandvas is an example with which we are all familiar.
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