Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dayananda- A fearless son of a great Tradition

Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati's name evokes a great deal of awe and admiration in me. He is a hero of Modern spiritual Hinduism who achieved much more than Swami Vivekananda but acknowledged much much lesser.

He arose when his country and the people were in both spiritual and monetary poverty. My single point of admiration for him is that he revived the true spirit of the Vedas almost single handedly. No one living in the current pseudo secular India can ever imagine his contribution to the country and its people.

Dayananda was a BrAhmana of the highest order, a spotless brahmachAri, a great logician, a fearless thinker, a grand orator and above all, a magnificient  scholar of the Vedas. If you think I am generous in my use of adjectives, I will say I have only used the most conservative terms.

What I liked most about him was his understanding of the Vedas which he had learnt from the blind guru Vrajananda.  Dayananda differed from the classical understanding that the Samhitas along with Brahmanas and the Aranyakas form the total Vedic corpus . He declared that the Samhitas were the true Vedas and alone are  qualified for the title "Apaurusheya " (not man made) as called by the rishis.

I see merit in his argument. The BrAhmaNas and the AraNyakams of the Vedas are man made texts which are obvious as per their own content. That leaves us with the Samhitas alone. Dayananda also gave us a touchstone to verify the ' apaurusheyatvam' of the Vedas. The criterion was that if the Vedas were in fact an eternal knowledge , they should be timeless. In other words, they should contain an eternal content unlimited by time  and SHOULD NEVER CONTAIN HISTORY OF ANY PERIOD. Thus all names, places and incidents must not be found in the Vedas.

I understood the significance of his argument recently. I was learning the Sri Rudram, a praise of Rudra. Classically this is understood to be taken from the Yajur Veda. Normally all chants of Rudram accompany the Chamakam also. Sri Rudram is taken from the Taitreeya AraNyakam of Yajur Veda  and the Chamakam is from the Yajur Veda Samhita. While Sri Rudram was full of praise for Rudra calling his names, his attributes and praising his features like 'tryambakAya' (the three eyed), 'tripurAndhagAya' (one who burnt the three cities), 'neelakantthAya' (the one with blue scarred neck) etc. One can easily guess that these names are associated with mythological event and hence depict history.

On the other hand, the Chamakam part is completely devoid of any names or history. One can very easily understand that it is a praise of Paramatman and it can readily be suited to all deities we worship, not just Rudra. I was just beginning to understand his monumental statement that Samhitas are the real Vedas. My friend ,a temple priest told me that Chamakam is used in some Vaishnava Shrines during abhishekam.

Sometime back, I read Subrahmania Bharatiar's introduction to his commentary on Bhagavad Gita. In it he also was backing Dayananda's statement.He says that the Samhitas are in one type of Vedic Samskrutam but the Aranyakams and BrahmaNas are in a typically later day Samskrutam.See the Tamil text by him here

இந்த உபநிஷத்துக்கள் வேதாந்தம் என்ற பெயர் படைத்தன. அதாவது வேதத்தின் நிச்சயம்.  இவை வேத ரிஷிகளால்  சமைக்கப பட்டனவல்ல. பிற்காலத்தவரால் சமைக்கப்பட்டன. ஸம்ஹிதைகள் என்று மந்திரங்கள் சொல்லப்படுவனவே உண்மையான வேதங்கள். அவையே ஹிந்து மதத்தின் வேர். அவை வசிஷ்ட வாமதேவாதி தேவ ரிஷிகளின் கொள்கைகளைக் காட்டுவன. உபநிஷத்துகள் மந்திரங்களுக்கு விரோதமல்ல. அவற்றுக்குச் சாஸ்திர முடிவு. அவற்றின் சிரோபூஷணம். ஆனால், பச்சை வேதமென்பது  மந்திரம் அல்லது சம்ஹிதை  எனப்படும் பகுதியேயாம்.

இந்த மந்திரங்கள் அல்லது ஸம்ஹிதைகள் பழைய மிகப் பழைய ஸம்ஸ்கிருத பாஷையில் எழுதப்பட்டிருக்கின்றன. அதாவது, வேதங்களின் ஸம்ஸ்கிருதம் மதுரைச் சங்கத்துக்கு முந்திய தமிழைப் போலவும் உபநிஷத்துக்களின் பாஷை சங்கத்துக்குப் பிந்திய தமிழைப் போலவும் இருக்கின்றன.

ஆனால், இந்த உவமானம் முற்றிலும் பொருந்தியதாகக்  கூறலாகாது. இன்னும் அதை உள்ளபடி விளக்குமிடத்தே. ஸம்ஸ்கிருத பாஷையிலுள்ள மற்றெல்லா
நூல்களும் ஒரு பாஷை, வேதம் மாத்திரம் - அதாவது, ஸம்ஹிதை அல்லது மந்திரம் மாத்திரம் -தனியான பாஷையாக இருக்கிறது. இஃதொரு பெருவியப்பு அன்றோ? வேத ஸம்ஸ்கிருதம் வேறெந்த நூலிலும் கிடையாது. உபநிஷத்தில் சில, மிகச் சில பகுதிகளில், விசேஷமாக வேத மந்திரங்களை மீட்டுமுரைக்குமிடத்தே, வேத பாஷையைக் காணலாம். மற்றபடி உபநிஷத்துக்கு முழுவதும் பிற்காலத்துப் பாஷையிலேயே சமைந்திருக்கிறது.

இங்ஙனமிருக்கப் பிற்காலத்து ஆசார்யர்களிலே சிலர் வேதத்தைக் கர்மகாண்டம் என்றும் அதனால் தாழ்ந்தபடியைச் சேர்ந்ததென்றும் உபநிஷத்தே ஞானகாண்டம் என்றும் ஆதலால் அது வேதத்தைக் காட்டிலும் உயர்ந்ததென்றும் கருதுவாராயினர்.

இங்ஙனம் பிற்காலத்து ஆசாரியர்கள் நினைப்பதற்கு உண்டான காரணங்கள் பல. அவற்றுட் சிலவற்றை இங்கே தருகிறேன். முதலாவது காரணம்,வேத பாஷை மிகவும் பழைமைப்பட்டுப் போனபடியால் அதன் உண்மையான பொருளைக் கண்டுபிடித்தல் மிகவும் துர்லபமாய்விட்டது. நிருத்தம் என்ற வேத நிகண்டையும் பிராம்மணங்கள் என்று சொல்லப்படும் பகுதிகளிலே  காணப்படும் வேத மந்திர விளக்கங்களையும் சுற்ற பின்னரே, ஒருவாறு வேத மந்திரங்களின் பொருளையறிதல் சாத்தியமாயிற்று. வேதம் பிரம்மாண்டமான நூல். அதில் இத்தகைய ஆராய்ச்சி செய்வோர மிக மிகச் சிலரேயாவார்.
Swamy  Dayananda lived in the 19 th century CE. The Arya Samaj movement he created was such a force in his times that most of the first generation freedom fighters came out of it. The first real attempt at reconversion of people back into Hindu religion was begun by him in right earnest through the Shuddhi movement. Entire north India seemed to be under his spell.

Swamy's puritan spirit could never accept vigraha ArAdhana in any form. He saw great value  in yagya and was a proponent of the six schools of vedic philosophy (shat darsanas). He reportedly shunned the vigraha ArAdhana due to an incident in his boyhood,  on one Shivaratri night, when a rat climbed over the Shiva Linga and ate the prasadam kept there. He vowed then and there that he will not worship that God who was so powerless to protect his offering from that lowly creature.

Because of this incident and his Vedic education from the venerable Swamy Vrajananda made him an enemy of Puranas, Temple worship,and  the Tantric pooja  rites etc. In my personal opinion , Puranas are a valuable medium of telling great truths in the form of fables, stories and history. I would have greatly loved it if Dayananda tried to appreciate them. But such was his passion for pure Vedic way of life that he wanted nothing less than the most perfect education for his people.

Swamy's commentaries on the Vedas are his last great contribution to mankind. It was he who retrieved Vedas which were hijacked by all and sundry to satisfy their particular Gods and their own theories. If the three Acharyas (Sankara , Maddhwa and Ramanuja)  revived Vedanta, Dayananda revived the Vedas.

Swamy died abruptly in the middle of his great work after being poisoned to death by a King's concubine who saw in him a threat should the King be reformed due to the Swamy's teachings. He had not travelled to the South part of India yet. He had completed only 5 mandalas of commentary on the Rigveda.

Another very very important contribution of Swamy Dayananda was that he was able to interpret great keys to the secrets of science in the Vedas. In fact Dayananda argued that the Vedas contain the keys of all secrets of creation.

Aurobindo, wrote on Dayananda thus,."In the matter of Vedic interpretation I am convinced that whatever may be  the final complete interpretation, Dayananda will be honoured as the first  discoverer of the right clues. Amidst the chaos and obscurity of old ignorance and age-long misunderstanding his was the eye of direct vision that pierced to the truth and fastened on that which was essential. He has found the keys of the doors that time had closed and rent asunder the seals of the imprisoned fountains."

I prostrate before you Maharishi, may your light of truth shine always upon us.

Swamy's 'Satyartha Prakash'- His magnum Opus is available online <here>
Swamy's Vedic commentaries in Hindi can be accessed <here>