Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Introduction to Veda Adhyayana - Guest post by R.Ramanathan

 

An introduction to the traditional method of veda "Adhyayana"


Intoduction


The objective of this write up is to give a simple overview of what is involved in traditional method of Adhyayana. Note the learning of the Veda is called "Adhyayana" and not "Patana" or any other equivalent. That means that it is much more than studying/memorizing and regurgitating it. There is no simple synonym for this word.  Simply it means the learning of the Veda from a competent qualified teacher who himself is a shrotriya and a Brahmanishta as per the rules laid down by the Dharma shastras. In other words it is by great penance that the veda is acquired. As for the Taittriyashaka is concerned there are strenuous vratas associated with the study of each kanda.  Also generally there are days when vedic study should not be done. There are many rules of achara to be followed like for example, brahmachari should not sleep in the afternoon, eat by biksha alone etc. The Ekagnikanda of the Taittriyashaka has a dialog between the Guru and shishya were the guru asks the shishya to promise not to sleep too much, to conduct himself with achara, and doadhyayana diligently and so on. For this the brahmachari replies "Baadam (Ok sir)" . The brahmachari also does Samidadhana, which is a small homa with either palasha or ashvatta sticks as long he is a brahmachari as part of his nitya(daily rites) and naimitikka(occasional rites) karmas. It also goes without saying that the student is required to perform physical service to his guru. In this way the disciple discharges his debt of "Rishi Rina (Debt to Rishis)".


The above paragraph in short describes what is adhyayana.  This article does not attempt to describe the niyamas and acharas needed. In fact "Aacharahaprathamo dharma" achara is the first among all dharmas. That would require a separate article. This article gives an overview of the syllabus, methodology used, time frames taken for the vedic study and so on. Note that above said aacharas and niyamas are very very important. The dharma shastra says that "Learning 100vedic shakas cannot help a person who does not follow the prescribed achara". The modern thought, "We do not need aachara, food restrictions, Varnashrama dharma etc. It is enough if we have pure heart and mind and do vedadhyayana." is sheer nonsense and such a Vedic study is next to useless. Now let us get back to the stated objective of the article.

 

The vedic semester.


      Vedic semester starts from Karkata(August) maasa after performance of upakarma.

      Vedhadhyayana is done till the next makara(January)maasa.

      After this adhyayanautsarjana(stopping of Vedic study) is done

      After this 6 months for Anga (Vedic ancillaries)adhyayana

      Non performance of Adhyayanautsarjana needs prayashchita in form of kamokaarshitjapa.

 

What are the Vedangas  


      They are 6 in number.

      They are Shiksha, Chandas, Vyaakarana, Kalpa, Jyothisha, Nirukta,

      Shiksha deals with Phonetics. Is Veda Purusha's nose

      Chandas deals with prosody. Is the Veda Purusha's legs

      Vyakarana deals with grammar. Is the mouth of the Veda Purusha

      Nirukta deals with word formations and lexicography. This is the Ear of the Veda Purusha

      Kalpa includes the Dharma shastra, Grihya and Shrauta sutra. Deals with methods of performance of daily and periodic Grihya and Shrauta rites. This  is the hands of the Veda Purusha.

      Jyothisha deals with calculation of time for performance of rituals. This is the eyes of the Veda Purusha

 

Before going into the Vedangas in detail I would like to talk about the nature and classification of the Vedic texts and some features of the Krishna yajurveda in particular.


 

Features of the Krishna yajurveda(KYV)


      Generally any vedic textis classified into Samhita, Bramhana, Aranyaka. The kAtakaandEkAgnikandam is specific to the Taittriyashaka.

      In total KYV shaka has 82 prashnas (chapters).


      Generally Samhita has the mantra portions used in a rite. However the 6th Kanda of KYV samhita has only one mantra and all others are brahmanavakyas

      Brahmanas have the explanation for Mantras and its application in Yajnas.However we find many mantras in Brahmana portions of KYV.

      Krishna Yajus has an admixture of brahmana and samhita portions

      Kataka andAranyakaportions of the KYV deal with esoteric concepts and were to be recited in the forests.It deals with esoteric yajnas like the "Arunaketaka" chayana etc. The Aranyaka also has the famous Arunaprashna used for suryanamaskara, Taittriya Upanishad and Mahanarayana Upanishad and the Svadhyayakanda that tells about the importance of svadhyaya of one's own Vedic shaka in "Brahma yajna" which is a nitya karma. No other Vedic shaka has this rule of Svadhyaya.

      EkAgni Kanda is the collection of all the mantras for the samskras like marriage, upanayana, grihapravesha etc.

      The Taittriyashaaka alone has all swaras (4 Swaras) in all  the portions

      Other Vedas do not have Swaras in their Brahmana, for example the Aiterayabrahamana or Aranyaka. They are recited in Ekashruti

      The ShatapathaBrahmana of the ShuklaYajur Veda has only 2 swaras

      The KYV has two kinds of paatas:-Arsheya and Saaraswatapaata.

      The Saaraswatapaata is the one currently being taught and in vogue. This was supposed to be taught by brahma himself.

      The Arsheyapaata was supposed to be more ancient and the Mantra Brahmana separation is maintained in it like in the Shuklayajurveda.

      There is a clear mapping between both the paatas.

      There are 5 sections in the Taittriyasamhita :- Prajapatyakaanda, Saumya Kanda, Agneya Kanda and Vaishwadevakaanda, Arunakanda.  The Rudraprashna and Chamakaprashna for example belong to the AgneyaKaanda.

      In the Rig veda each Rik has a Rishi, but in the KYV each kanda is supposed to have many rishis. Thus when Krishna yajurvedis do the rishi tarpana in brahma yajna, they chant "Prajapatim kaandarishim tarpayami (I satisfy the sages of the prajapati kaanda)" and offer water. This is the basis for the kanda rishi tarpanam that is done during avaniavittam or upakarma.

 

We will continue with the details of the angas in the subsequent article.

 

 

 

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