Bhagavad-gita’s Ultimate Purpose, Compiled by Stephen Knapp

        In the Bhagavad-gita we find a recurring theme within it which puts emphasis on what Lord Krishna taught and expected of Arjuna, and all readers of it, for what we really need to accomplish, and the real purpose of it. Out of all of the teachings we find within, Lord Sri Krishna continues to emphasize the need to end our karma, to stop the cycle of birth and death in this material existence, and to ultimately return to the spiritual world, to His abode. And here are a number of the verses that explain that.

Chapter 2, Content of the Gita Summarized, verse 72

That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. Being so situated, even at the hour of death, one can enter into the kingdom of God.

 

Chapter 4, Transcendental Knowledge, verse 9

One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

 

Chapter 4, verse 24

A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.

 

Chapter 4, verse 30

All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reaction, and, having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice, they go to the supreme eternal abode.

 

Chapter 4, verse 32

All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated.

 

Chapter 5, Karma-yoga–Action in Krishna Consciousness, verses 24-26

One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.

One who is beyond duality and doubt, whose mind is engaged within, who is always busy working for the welfare of all sentient beings, and who is free from all sins, achieves liberation in the Supreme.

Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.

 

Chapter 7, Knowledge of the Absolute, verse 18

All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider verily to dwell in Me. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he attains Me.

 

Chapter 8, Attaining the Supreme, verses 5-8

And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is not doubt.

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.

Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.

He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha [Arjuna], is sure to reach Me.

 

Chapter 8, verses 13-14

After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets.

For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Partha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.

 

Chapter 8, verses 21

That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode.

 

Chapter 9, The Most Confidential Knowledge, verses 25

Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.

 

Chapter 9, verse 28

In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds, and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to Me.

 

Chapter 9, verse 34

Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.

 

Chapter 13, Nature, the Enjoyer, and Consciousness, verse 24

One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth here again, regardless of his present position.

 

Chapter 13, verse 35

One who knowingly sees this difference between the body and the owner of the body and can understand the process of liberation from this bondage, also attains to the supreme goal.

 

Chapter 15, The Yoga of the Supreme Person, verses 5-6

One who is free from illusion, false prestige, and false association, who understands the eternal, who is done with material lust and is freed from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows how to surrender unto the Supreme Person, attains to that eternal kingdom.

That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.

 

Chapter 18, Conclusion–The Perfection of Renunciation, verses 55-56

One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.

Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.

 

Chapter 18, verses 65-66

Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.

 

Chapter 18, verses 68-71

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.

There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.

And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation worships Me by his intelligence.

And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reaction and attains to the planets where the pious dwell.

* * *

        All of these verses from the Bhagavad-gita indicate the ultimate purpose of its teachings, and, quite honestly, the ultimate purpose behind all of Vedic knowledge. We are not really a product of this material creation, nor is it our real home, nor will we ever be able to stay here forever. So Lord Krishna emphasizes the real goal of life within this recurring theme in the Bhagavad-gita.

REFERENCE

The Bhagavad-gita As it Is, translated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, New York/Los Angeles, 1972.

 

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Gotras: A Simple Explanation

Whenever you go to visit a temple in India, and participate in the doing pujas or rituals, the priest will often ask you to which gotra your family line belongs. Then you tell him your gotra, and usually the names of your father and mother, and he puts that into the recitation of prayers to offer to the deity you are worshiping, and to get blessings from that deity. In other cases, a person introduces himself to elders by stating one’s name and gotra. This is a form of acknowledging one’s ancestral ties and all that has been given by one’s ancestors.

How the system of gotra works can be explained like this. First of all, the original spiritual knowledge was given by the Supreme Being to Lord Brahma, the secondary creator of the universe. From Brahma came the powerful rishis who were capable of receiving this knowledge and preserving it, and then spreading it throughout the universe, and down through the generations of humanity.

So, after the universal creation under the guidance of Lord Brahma, it is recorded that he had 27 sons who were also progenitors for mankind, called Prajapatis, who were the seeds of humanity which spread throughout the world. The familial line from each of these Prajapatis is called a gotra. So the names of the gotra carries the name of each one of these sages. In this way, the 27 sons of Brahma were also the beginnings for the 27 gotras.

These sons of Brahma were also learned sages called rishis. These seers came to be known as the mantra-drishtaraha, seers of the Vedic mantras. The main seven sages, called the Saptarshis (Seven Rishis), are Kashyapa, Vashistha, Bharadwaj, Kapila, Atri, Vishvamitra, and Gautama. It is also these Saptarshis which help preserve and propagate spiritual knowledge to humanity for everyone’s benefit. Additional sons of Brahma include Svayambhuva Manu, Adharma, Praheti, Heti, Aristanemi, Bhrigu, Daksha, Pracetas, Sthanu, Samshraya, Sesha, Vikrita, Kardama, Kratu, Pulaha, Pulastya, and Agiras, along with Marichi, Bhrigu, and Agastya.

The gotra also helps establish your identity as part of the Vedic tradition, and that your family lineage can be traced back to one of the original great rishis or sages from whom the knowledge of Vedic culture has descended. We all belong to one of these gotras, whether we know them or not. But it is a great insight to know your gotra.

However, these gotras have since increased through time to include many others. There are now two hundred and forty-nine gotras, of which approximately forty are common today. Of these forty include: Vatula, Atreya, Garga, Kaundinnya, Kaushika, Gautama, Naidhruva-kashyapa, Harita, Bharadvaja, Shandilya, Maudgalya, and Shrivasta.

Gotras are further classified into five groups, depending upon the number of rishi descendants in a particular gotra. These groups are:

1. Ekarsheya-pravara-gotra, having one rishi descendant.

2. Dvayarsheya-pravara-gotra, having two rishi descendants.

3. Treyarsheya-pravara-gotra, having three rishi descendants.

4. Pancharisheya-pravara-gotra, having five rishi descendants.

5. Saptarisheya-pravara-gotra, having seven rishi descendants.

One example could be a Treyarsheya-pravara-gotra of Vatula, Atreya, and Kaushika gotras, or another line of three (treya) rishis.

Another point about this is that in India, one’s gotra is important because they help avoid what would be called inbreeding, or families marrying within their own gotra. In fact, sometimes they avoid four gotras, including your father’s gotra, your mother’s, your paternal grandmother’s, and your maternal grandmother’s. Marrying someone outside of these four mentioned gotras is said to help prevent birth defects or deformities in their children by keeping people from marrying within the same genetic roots.

In any case, this is a Vedic tradition that seems to be traced back to the beginning of time.

Can Vedic Dharma Bring Peace to the World? By Stephen Knapp

The gifts and contributions to society that can be traced to Vedic Dharma are many. One of the most popular these days is yoga. The benefits of yoga are both individual and social, various and numerous. On the mental level it strengthens concentration, determination, and builds a stronger character that can more easily reduce and cope with various tensions in the material world. The assortment of asanas or postures also provide stronger health and keeps ills such as diabetes, high and low blood pressure, etc., away or in check. It improves physical strength, endurance, flexibility, back pain, digestive disorders, and arthritis. It promotes detoxification of the body, toning of muscles, and relief from stress and anxiety. Certain diseases can be prevented or improved by performing yoga on a daily basis.

When you progress in yoga, you can feel the unwanted burdens of the mind fall away, such as anxiety, anger, greed, envy, hate, discontent, etc. Then other qualities like peacefulness, tranquility, contentment, and blissfulness will be felt. These are qualities everyone is trying to find and are some of the many things that can be accomplished with yoga, at least on the elementary level. As you make further progress, you may enter into the deeper levels of understanding and transcending the mind and gradually go so far as to attain realizations as to what your own spiritual identity is and what your relationship is with the Absolute. Becoming free from material life and regaining one’s spiritual identity is the superior goal of all yoga.

As we progress in this way, we separate ourselves from the general vibrations of selfishness, greed, and anger that often pervade this planet. But we also contribute to the uplifting vibrations in the social or mass consciousness that this world so much needs these days. If we all can continue to work in this way, there could be a major shift in planetary consciousness for the upliftment of humanity for the greater good. Thus, our own spiritual progress becomes a positive influence on the whole planet, starting with our own small sphere of influence. This is how the Vedic Dharma goes from being an individual benefit to a positive social influence for peace and cooperation.

FACTORS THAT KEEP US APART

One of the main concerns in establishing peace, harmony and cooperation in this world is an old problem, mentioned in the Taoist text Chuang Tzu (11): “Men of this world all rejoice in others being like themselves, and object to others not being like themselves.” One of the main reasons for this is that everyone acts under the influence of different bodily conceptions of life. This causes three of the inner enemies: envy, pride, and anger. Because of our bodily conception, we may become proud of who we are, envious of others, and angry over their apparent differences from us. Because of these diverse perceptions, people cannot act in harmony in this world. To act in harmony and unity, there must be a central focus.

Since everyone is actually a spiritual being, a soul within the material body, then accepting the body as oneself is an illusion. This illusion, the acceptance of the material body as ones real identity, causes a person to think “I am American,” or “I am European,” or “I am white,” or black, or fat, or skinny. We may think this is my country, my family, my friends, my society, or my political party, and everyone else is different or wrong. But what is this consciousness of being American or Russian? A Republican or Democrat? Black or white? It is all illusion based on the impermanent identity of the ever-changing mind and body. It is the “I” and “My” consciousness. It creates a society in which people fight with each other because of the differences of the body and their identification with it. The whole world exists under this illusion. So how can there be peace? Even though government leaders talk about peace, and meet in peace conferences, there can be no peace as long as this misdirected consciousness continues.

When people are under the bodily concept of life, they do not know that their real self-interest is spiritual. Therefore, they try to adjust things materially, changing their situation, changing the way they look, changing their job, their government, or their living arrangement, or their neighborhood. They think such adjustments are the way to be happy and to improve their lives. These arrangements, however, are temporary. Sooner or later more changes will again be necessary if we live with this mindset.

Furthermore, leaders are doing the same thing. They try to change things through political, economic, or military adjustments. However, more often than not, it is merely guesswork, speculating on what strategy to use. Yet, the same problems, fighting, and antagonisms continue.

The United Nations in New York has been formed to try to calm this fighting so countries and people can work out their differences and work in unity. Instead, people often come together and blame or threaten each other. Unity has not been achieved. Actually, more flags are flying. More countries and borders have been established. Everyone has their own agenda. Disagreements between countries have increased. This brings the whole world into a deplorable state.

So, unless we have a central focus on the goal and identity of humanity, all talk of unity is merely utopian: It will never happen. As long as people act under the influence of thinking they are their bodies, born of a certain country, culture, religion, and loyal only to that particular identity, people will continue to fight like cats and dogs. No matter how much we desire peace between everyone so we can live in unity, as long as we are in this bodily concept of life, peace is not possible.

The only possibility of unity is in rising above the bodily platform of life and coming to the spiritual platform, the level of ultimate reality. Then there is a genuine possibility of unity on this planet because we can focus on the real identity of humanity as the uniting force among us all.

Therefore, one of the goals of human existence is to realize and enter that Reality. We need to be agents of Reality. This could also be called having spiritual vision.

HAVING SPIRITUAL VISION

So what does it mean to have a spiritual vision? To attain a spiritual vision, we need to follow the Dharmic process and rise above the bodily platform if we ever expect to reach a stage of permanent peace and unity. Even on an individual basis, real peace of mind can be attained only when one realizes that he or she is not the body. Otherwise, when you think you are your body you engage in the never-ending game of trying to satisfy your mind and senses, which always want new things for stimulation. The more you try to satisfy your senses, the more you will come under the control of lust, greed and anger. Lust is there when you want to satisfy your material desires. Greed is there when you want more than you need. Anger will always be there in some form when you fail to achieve what you want, or when you attain it but then lose it. The unmerciful masters of lust, greed and anger will never leave you alone. The only way you can achieve real peace of mind is by being free from your material desires, or at least most of them. That can only be possible when you realize you are not your body but the spirit soul within. And that is part of the essential process advocated in the Vedic spiritual tradition.

We find that the best sources for explaining the characteristics of what and who we really are, as the soul, are found in the ancient Vedic literature of India. Many such texts have information about this, but the great classic Bhagavad-gita (13.34) explains: “O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.”

Another great verse compares the body to a chariot in which the self or the soul is riding. “Transcendentalists who are advanced in knowledge compare the body, which is made by the order of the Supreme Personality, to a chariot. The senses are like the horses; the mind, the master of the senses, is like the reins; the objects of the senses are the destinations; intelligence is the chariot driver; consciousness, which spreads throughout the body, is the cause of bondage in this material world.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.41)

So, naturally, until our consciousness is cleansed or spiritualized, we recognize various beings according to their body. We may see a person that appears to be a man, a woman, a child, or a baby. Or we may recognize those who appear to be animals, insects, aquatics, or plants. As long as our consciousness remains in this level, we are bound to continue living in this material world. However, once we can see beyond these material bodies, we will see that all these entities are the same. They are all spirit souls. No other tradition provides such clarity. Then we have a chance of understanding reality.

The Svetasvatara Upanishad (5.10-11) states that the self is not man, woman, nor neuter, but appears in different types of bodies only due to previous activities and desires of the living entity. This is how the entity chooses whatever status in which one presently appears. But a person in divine consciousness can perceive that he or she is beyond all material designations and activities.

As further explained in another of the ancient Vedic texts, the Sri Isopanishad (Mantras 6-7): “He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all entities as His parts and parcels and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything, never hates anything nor any being. One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?”

Only in this frame of mind or with this focus, will we be able to reach a stage of peace within ourselves individually and go on to attain peace in the world. This is what the world needs.

SEEING THE DIVINITY IN EACH OF US

This is why I have formed what I call the 11th commandment. The other commandments we hear about are but moralistic principles, but now is the time to add real transcendence to the equation, and this 11th Commandment is: “Thou shall recognize the Divinity in all living beings, and that the spirit in all forms of life is part of the Supreme Spirit.” This is the way we need to recognize each other, which if applied properly, would create great social change.

Viewing it in another way, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the Aikido method of martial arts said: “Above all, one must unite one’s heart with that of the gods. The essence of God is love, an all-pervading love that reaches every corner of the universe. If one is not united to God, the universe cannot be harmonized. Martial artists who are not in harmony with the universe are merely executing combat techniques, not Aiki (Ai–uniting harmony and love with ki–the universal energy).”

This understanding is very important even in everyday life. If we are not working in harmony with love and universal energy, if we are not recognizing the Divinity in all living beings, we are simply going through daily routines that are ineffectual and empty of any spiritual value. We need to practice the methods which also awaken the connection we have with God, the universe, and each other. This is the way we can fully grow and develop. Then our life will have meaning and purpose. We will be guided by our own upliftment and will be able to assist in the upliftment of others. And we will be able to recognize the all-pervasiveness of the Supreme Being. This is the goal of yoga and the Dharmic spiritual process.

The essence of this perception again has been related in the ancient Vedic texts, as we find in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.11) which states, “He is the one God hidden in all beings, all pervading, the self within all beings, watching over all worlds, dwelling in all beings, the witness, and the perceiver.” If one can truly understand this and become enlightened in this way, he will see that he is a part of the Supreme Reality and realize his union with all beings. Within that enlightenment one can reach Divine Love. This love is based on the spiritual oneness and harmony between all beings, which is sublime. It is a source of spiritual bliss. It is a love based not on bodily relations or mutual attraction, but it is based on being one in spirit, beyond the temporary nature of the material body. This is the love for which everyone searches, from which springs forth peace, harmony, and unity, of which all other kinds of love are but mere reflections. This state of being is reached through that spirituality as taught in the Dharmic traditions, especially in Bhakti-yoga. Therefore, a life without spirituality is a life incomplete. All have the need to fill their souls with spirituality, the presence of God, in order to feel fullness, peace, contentment, and unity.

To begin seeing how things really are, and to recognize the Divinity in each of us, we have to start adjusting our consciousness. This takes place by being trained in the Vedic spiritual knowledge and by the practice of yoga which purifies or spiritualizes the mind. When the mind becomes purified and the false ego no longer influences our vision, we become sensible people.

As the Bhagavad-gita (13.31-32) says, when a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies, he attains the spiritual conception. Those with the vision of eternity see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite being within the material body, the soul is above material contact.

In this way, we can understand that all of us are but small reflections of the Supreme Consciousness. When we put the greater whole above ourselves, and realize that we all contribute to the condition of this planet, then uniting with a common cause and with that Supreme Consciousness will be easy.

This planet does not allow us to be isolated. We all must work together and interface with others on some level. One lesson that this school of existence on this planet forces us to learn is that when we come together willingly to communicate, with a positive purpose, or to pray together, and to unite for the good of the whole, then harmony and peace can exist. That peace forms and manifests when we focus on our spiritual nature, which brings between us our unity in the Supreme, as children of the same Supreme Father. Making this the center of our existence will easily bring peace, unity, and harmony in this world because it brings in the spiritual vibration that emanates from God. That vibration is one of spiritual love. It is all that is eternal. All else is temporary. All else comes and goes. Therefore, focusing on and using our energy on temporary emotions such as envy, jealousy, and anger, will only keep us far away from the Supreme, and from reaching any peace or unity between us.

We have to recognize how similar we are in order to expand our heart toward others whom we may have previously rejected. This is how love and understanding can dissolve the boundaries that keep us stifled as a society and individuals, and keep us from entering higher dimensions of consciousness. There is no other way to grow spiritually. A lack of love toward each other is a reflection of a lack of love for God, regardless of how religious a person poses to be.

When we think in spiritual consciousness, we do not recognize others by their differences, but we see our similarities. This is easy when we think in terms of being sons and daughters of the same Supreme Father, parts of His creation, and all sharing this world together. We all belong to the One, to God. Only in this way can there be universal love among all living entities. Only in this way can we begin to think that we are all related to each other. Once we establish our relationship with the Supreme, then we can establish our true relationship with everyone else.

Remember, our spiritual nature is eternal, and our spiritual relation with the Supreme is eternal. Therefore, our spiritual relationship with each other is also eternal. We simply have to reach that stage of awareness. This central point has to be established in order for there to be universal peace, brotherhood, equality, and unity in the world.

In essence, yoga and the Dharmic principles teach us that we are all consciousness in material forms. Consciousness cannot be destroyed. It is the symptom of the soul, which is the essence of God in each of us. We are all spiritual beings, reflections of the Divine. We are not our beliefs, our cultures, or our minds and bodies. We are all divine souls on a wondrous journey through Truth. We have all manifested from God, the Supreme Truth, and we are all evolving back to God. As the Manu-samhita (12.125) relates, “Thus, he who by means of Self sees the self [soul] in all created things, after attaining equality with all, enters into Brahman [spiritual consciousness], the highest place.” That is the ultimate goal.

The Bhagavad-gita (4.39) states: “A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.”

This is how the Dharmic values and principles can spread to affect all of humanity for its greatest social good, which then also affects all life on this planet.

* * *

May I also conclude with the fact that the Vedic philosophy does not have the idea of conversion as part of its premise, nor has India and its people ever gone on campaigns to conquer other people or countries or religions. The Vedic culture has continually promoted the Sanskrit saying Vaisudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the whole world is one family–the whole world. I rarely hear that in any other country today, or in any other religion.

This is actually the reason why many people, especially in the West, often say they are not so religious but are more spiritual. They no longer want to be associated with a narrow belief system, but want to attain a natural spiritual realization without the confines imposed by religions and all their superficialities that no longer make sense. They want a more wholesome form of spiritual development. In this way, enlightenment of the spirit is more important than pushing on the victory or popularity of a particular religion or even political ideology. This is what Vedic Dharma has to offer for anyone who investigates its holistic spiritual knowledge and understanding.

This means that the behavior of any person must be consistent with Sanatana Dharma, the eternal spiritual path, which contains truthfulness, devotion, nonviolence, goodness, service to others, help toward the poor, service and prayer to God, and spiritual realization. And this must be without racial or ethnic discrimination. In this condition there is an opportunity to attain the real goal of spiritual Vedic Dharma, beyond religion, and reach the natural condition of realizing our spiritual identity and connection with God, which also means our natural relation with each other. It is the Vedic tradition that points us in this direction.

Herein it is clear that it is natural for us to feel that all people are connected. That is the spiritual essence in all of us. It is the ego which makes us look at our differences and create a feeling of unity only with those of us who seem alike. The fact is we are all alike. But the ego must be stifled and the spiritual identity must be brought to the center for us to recognize that. However, we all inherently do want to do that. But we have turned our back on that natural inclination, and now only recognize our differences, either by politics, localized religion, racial barriers, or so many other things. This is why the Vedic culture has emphasized the path which will take down our ego and raise up the means to recognize our spiritual identity, which we need now more than ever. Unless this is done with earnest, peace in the world will never happen, nor will society ever become civilized.

The spiritual principles in the Vedic tradition teaches us to embrace all human beings and all living entities of all species. It sets aside false pride, and the sense of superiority. This is our spiritual quality as the outcome of a noble life that knows no distinction of rich and poor, or the high and low. This is our ideal culture.

The Vedic philosophy points out that the whole purpose as a human being is to live harmoniously with nature, with the world, and all of society to accomplish the true goal of life. It is this human life and this planet earth that is like a portal through which we can attain many different realms of existence. After death, our consciousness carries us to the most appropriate place for us to continue our existence. It only depends on how we use this life. So the whole purpose of this planet earth and life on it is to raise our consciousness and understand and perceive who we really are as spiritual beings, rising above this human experience and to attain our real and spiritual identity, and then to act in that way. But how long that takes is up to us. That is what we are meant to do, and by clearly understanding and being educated in this Vedic culture, and following its principles, is the way we can attain that goal.

This is called Sanatana Dharma, the timeless, universal spiritual truths, which do not conflict with anyone, but are applicable for everyone, for any time in history, and for any place in the universe. This is the uplifting nature of Vedic Dharma.

Dharma Rakshati Rakshita, and Jai Sri Krishna.

More information on this topic is elaborated in Stephen Knapp’s books: Toward World Peace: Seeing the Unity Between Us All  and  The Eleventh Commandment: The Next Step in Social Spiritual Development.

Sanskrit: Its Importance to Language. by Stephen Knapp

There has always been a controversy regarding whether Sanskrit was the original language, as some feel, or whether there was what has been called a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language that was the start of all other languages, which is now said to have disappeared. So let us take a look at this.

First of all let us face the fact that Sanskrit is the language that composes what has been recognized as the earliest texts on the planet, such as the Rig Veda and the other Vedas. Secondly, it is also known that it was an oral tradition long before it became a written language. This was because the great sage Vysadeva, who compiled the main portions of the Vedic literature, could foretell that the memory of mankind would soon be greatly reduced, compared to what it had been. So there would be a need for the texts to be in written form. Thirdly, the sophistication of the language, its grammar, syntax, and so on, was highly developed. So it had to have been in existence for some time, long before most other languages, or even any other language that appeared later on, all of which were far less developed than Sanskrit. So, how could there have been a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language that was the basis of forming Sanskrit that had to have been almost as sophisticated as Sanskrit that is said to no longer exist?

SANSKRIT AND THE PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGE ISSUE

        So how did the idea come about that there must be a Proto-Indo-European language that was the origin of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin?

It all started when certain researchers started to see similarities between the main languages, such as Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. Presently, there are 439 languages and dialects, of which half is considered belonging to the Indo-Aryan subbranch. Twelve languages and their derivatives are considered to be Indo-European, including Spanish, English, Portuguese, Russian, German, French, Italian, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, and Urdu. And most of the languages in India are known derivatives of Sanskrit.

It was as early as 1583 when Thomas Stephens, an English Jesuit missionary in Goa started to recognize similarities between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. Then in 1585, Filippo Sassetti, an Italian merchant who had traveled to India, also wrote about various similarities. Next was the Dutch scholar Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn, in 1647, who noted the similarities among these languages, including Dutch, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Persian, Slavic, Celtic and Baltic languages. He was the one who first proposed that they must all derive from a common source language, which he called Scythian. Then in the late 1760s Gaston Coeurdoux made observations of the same type, with a study of Sanskrit, Latin and Greek. There were others who had done the same thing. However, none of these men aroused much notice in their research.

It was in 1786 when Sir William Jones started giving talks about the similarities between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, along with Celtic, Gothic and Persian languages, and suggested that there was a relationship between them. That is when people started to take notice.

It was in 1813 when Thomas Young first coined the phrase “Indo-European” to describe this relationship and family of languages, which then became the standard “scientific” term. Then it was Franz Bopp who produced a study of these languages, called Comparative Grammar between 1833 and 1852, that seemed to verify this relational theory. This was the beginning of the Indo-European studies as part of an academic curriculum. This went further to August Schleicher’s Compendium in 1861, and then Karl Brugmann’s Grundriss in the 1880s. From there it went further into what can be called modern Indo-European studies.

We could explain how various languages are considered part of a family or group and subgroups, or branches and subbranches, through genetic identification, or what can be called shared innovations, or their structure and phonology, or what is called their evolutionary history. But we won’t indulge in all this analysis.

In any case, we now have the “Indo-European Family” of languages, which is a study of the commonalities of numerous languages, rather than the attempt to try to understand what was the original or “Proto-Indo-European” language, or the seed from which all other languages began, starting with Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. So this is the difference when you begin talking about Indo-European language: Are you talking about the “family,” in which case you could certainly be talking about many languages, or are you talking about what could be the original, or at least the search for the original seed language of all others? In the latter case, such a language still has not yet been identified, and maybe never will.

WHERE WAS THE ORIGIN OF THE PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGE?

        So if there was to be a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language, which means the seed language of all others, it had to come from somewhere. So where and what people developed it, and how did it spread?

It was speculated that the original Indo-European people go back to 5000 BCE. These were later called the Kurgan people, who lived northwest of the Caucasus and north of the Caspian Sea. These were considered to be semi-nomadic people. The word kurgan actually means “barrow” or “artificial mound” in Turkic and Russian. The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas. In any case, it was figured that these people abandoned their homeland and started to migrate in different directions, taking their language with them, some arriving in Greece by 2000 BCE, and others to India in 1500 BCE. From there, the languages started to morph into varieties into what we find today as Greek, Sanskrit and Latin. This is known as the Kurgan Hypothesis, which basically means it is all speculation, or more diplomatically called a “model.”

Another theory is that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken by a people who lived about 6000 years ago in the vicinity of the Pontic Steppe, north of the Black Sea and east to the Caspian, near where the Scythians were supposed to have lived. It is then suggested that this PIE language faded away before there was the invention of a writing system, and then the Indo-Europeans expanded from the homeland, thus causing the evolution of the language into various dialects and incomprehensible daughter languages. These languages also evolved, giving birth to each of their own family of languages.

We also have the Anatolian Hypothesis. This theory, proposed by archaeologist Colin Renfrew at Cambridge University in 1987, holds that the Indo-European languages were spread not by marauding horsemen from the Caucuses but with the expansion of agriculture from Anatolia between 8000 and 9500 years ago. Radiocarbon analysis of the earliest Neolithic sites across Europe provides a fairly detailed chronology of agricultural dispersal. This archaeological evidence indicates that agriculture spread from Anatolia, arriving in Greece at some time during the seventh millennium BCE and reaching as far as the British Isles by 5500 years ago.

Renfrew maintains that the linguistic argument for the Kurgan theory is based on only limited evidence for a few enigmatic early Indo-European word forms. He points out that parallel semantic shifts or widespread borrowing can produce similar word forms across different languages without requiring that an ancestral term was present in a proto-language. Renfrew also challenges the idea that Kurgan social structure and technology was sufficiently advanced to allow them to conquer whole continents in a time when even small cities did not exist. Far more credible, he argues, is that Proto-Indo-Europeans spread with the expansion of agriculture – a scenario that is also thought to have occurred across the Pacific, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

So, as we can see, most of these ideas are but speculations that remain ever-changing, or, to put it plainly, inconclusive. Nonetheless, some people think that the original language has indeed already been identified, and has been around for thousands of years, if not longer, which is Sanskrit, which is the oldest of all sophisticated languages and from which all other major languages are but derivatives. Whatever factors for a Proto-Indo-European language the scholars are looking for can be found in Sanskrit. No other language has been identified to be older, or more influential in terms of texts written in Sanskrit, or how many other languages can be found that relate to it. So let us take a closer look at this.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SANSKRIT

        As we can see, the above theories are all hypothesis, or speculations which have not and cannot decisively identify who were the original bearers of the primeval language, or what that language really was. Even if these are considered the general consensus in academia, these theories are still too full of discrepancies to be taken seriously when analyzed in detail.

However, we can offer other evidence that should be considered. Of course, we acknowledge the idea that there had to have been many kinds of minor languages scattered across the globe, but we also propose the idea that there was one major sophisticated language that had great influence around the world, and which spread in various forms throughout many civilizations, and which is the prime factor for the similarities that we find in many languages today.

The problem with PIE is that they feel it was never a written language but only the seed for those languages that later did become written languages. So there is no and never will be any direct evidence for it. But they try to find words that can be identified as remnants of the Proto-Indo-European language. This is where all of the speculations begin.

So, why is this important? Remember, it is a biased interpretation of this Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language issue that has helped continue the idea of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). This is the idea, another hypothesis, that holds the premise that the Vedic Aryans came out of the Caucasus Mountain area only after they had already developed their language and writing, thus bringing with them the Vedic culture and the early Vedas to the Indus-Sarasvati region of India. This promotes the view that India was not the homeland of the real Vedic culture, and that it was brought to them by outsiders, who some call invaders, who were more advanced. This has perpetuated a false history of India and its Vedic traditions for many years, ever since Max Muller came up with this theory, and this is what must be corrected. That is why there is also a need to correct this Proto-Indo-European issue. [For more information on the Aryan Invasion Theory, please see my article and Ebook entitled: The Aryan Invasion Theory: The Final Nail in its Coffin on my website at http://www.stephen-knapp.com.]

THE ORIGINAL DEVELOPMENTS OF WRITING AND LANGUAGE IN INDIA

        There has always been questions about where the original script came from, and how did it originate. However, in this regard, famous archeologist and specialist in scripts, A. B. Walawalkar and scribe L. S. Wakankar have, through their research proved that the Indian script originated in India itself and said that on the basis of phonetics, the tradition of writing was present even in the Vedic times. 1

The name Sanskrit actually refers to a language brought to formal perfection, aside from the common languages at the time, like Prakrit. The form of Sanskrit that has been used for the last 2500 years or more is commonly known as Classical Sanskrit, which had been established by the ancient grammarians. Most scholars accept that it was finalized by Panini in the 5th century BCE. That is what became the standard for correct Sanskrit with such comprehensive authority that little has changed it down to the present day. However, even Panini mentions at least ten grammarians who preceded him. So he can not be the earliest of grammarians as some propose, which indicates that Sanskrit had been in use many years before him.

Kamlesh Kapur provides further insight into Sanskrit writing in her book Portraits of a Nation: History of India: “Sanskrit language is composed of 50 sounds and letters in its alphabet. It has 11,000 roots from which to make words. The English language has 500,000 words. Sanskrit language has 1700 Dhatu (root verbs), 80 Upasargas (suffixes, prefixes), and 20 Pratyaya (declensions). It is believed that Sanskrit has roughly 74,000,000 words. In fact, using these rules and by adding prefixes and suffixes, Sanskrit can provide an infinite number of words whose meaning is completely determined by the grammatical process.

“Several languages spoken and written today in India have been derivatives of Sanskrit. Bengali, Gurumukhi, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya and Hindi have been derived from Sanskrit. Languages of the South have been influenced by Sanskrit. Recently, Washoe County of Nevada (USA) proclaimed January 12, 2008 as Sanskrit Day. The proclamation says that, “As Hinduism expands in the West, it is important that to understand Hinduism, one should have a working knowledge of Sanskrit.’” 2

However, India also has a strong tradition in its Vedic culture that describes the possible or at least customary origin of its script. There are a few examples of this. One is that the text known as Yaju Taittariya Samhita tells the story of how the devas faced the problem that since sound vanishes once the words are spoken, what method could be applied to give it shape? So, they went to Indra and said, “Vachanvya kurvit,” which means “grant sound a shape.” Then Indra said that he would have to take the help of Vayu, the wind god. The other gods agreed and Indra gave a shape to sound in the form of the knowledge of writing or script. This is famous as Indra vayavya vyaakaran, or the grammar pertaining to the aerial Indra. 3

Another example gives credit to Lord Shiva. This one describes that with the death of various sages, particular branches of Vedic knowledge started disappearing. So, with a prayer to save them, great sages like Sanaka went to Shiva in the south Indian place of Chidambaram. Hearing their prayers, Lord Shiva strummed his damru instrument nine and then five more times during the interval of his cosmic dance. Thus, fourteen sources of sound were born. These came to be known as the Maheshwar Sutra. 4

Another story from the Vedic tradition is that when the great Vedavyas was thinking of writing the Mahabharata, he faced the problem of who would write it. To solve this problem he thought of Ganesh. When Ganesh came, Vedavyas said, “You be the writer of the Bharat Granth.” Ganesh agreed only if Vedavyas would not pause or stop, and Vedavyas agreed as long as Ganesh would not write anything unless he understood the meaning of everything that Vedavyas dictated. This was supposed to have happened shortly after the beginning of the age of Kali-yuga, which is accepted to be in the year 3102 BCE. So there had to have been the knowledge of the Sanskrit script at that time, as well as the oral tradition that went back many thousands of years before this.

Nonetheless, the archeologist Balawalkarji studied the scripts of the ancient coins and proved that it was mainly the Maheshwari script which was the Vedic script. According to him, it was only later that the Brahmi and the Nagari script developed from this. This is important as some people propose that Sanskrit came out of the preceding Brahmi script, which is not the case.

SANSKRIT LANGUAGE

        No doubt one of the greatest contributions from Vedic culture is the script and language of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the language of ancient India and of Vedic philosophy and its civilization. It is a perfect language, which also invokes the spiritual vibration of which it speaks. It is a refined language, but also most self-protective in the way it manages to maintain the original meaning that it presents, as long as a person properly understands Sanskrit grammar and syntax. In other words, when translated according to the rules of the Sanskrit language, you cannot take the interpretation far outside its firsthand intention without giving up all of the rules of Sanskrit.

A. L. Basham, former professor of Asian Civilization in the Australian national University, Canberra, writes in his book The Wonder That Was India (page 390): “One of ancient India’s greatest achievements is her remarkable alphabet, commencing with the vowels and followed by the consonants, all classified very scientifically according to their mode of production, in sharp contrast to the haphazard and inadequate Roman alphabet, which has developed organically for three millennia. It was only on the discovery of Sanskrit by the West that a science of phonetics arose in Europe.”

Basham goes on to say (page 509): “It will be seen that this alphabet is methodical and scientific, its elements classified first into vowels and consonants, and then, within each section, according to the manner in which the sound is formed. The gutturals are formed by the construction of the throat at the back of the tongue, the palatals by pressing the tongue flat against the palate, the retro-flexes by turning up the tip of the tongue to touch the hard palate, the dentals by touching the upper teeth with the tongue, and the labials by pursuing the lips.”

Furthermore, Sanskrit or remnants of it can be found in so many other languages around the world, that a person can begin to say that it may have been the original language that the world first new. In almost all languages, like Greek, French, English, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Indian, Mayan, Slavic, Russian, and the Sanskrit derivatives like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, or Malayalam, Sanskrit words are found everywhere. Either Sanskrit-speaking people carried them all over the world, or Sanskrit was the one world or main language, traces of which linger in all languages around the planet.

This is one of the reasons, however, why some people have felt that Sanskrit was one of several ancient languages that descended from another common ancestor. One of those people was the English poet, Jurist and scholar, Sir William Jones, who, in 1783, was appointed a justice of the High Court of Bengal. He began to study Sanskrit and wrote and published his high impression of Sanskrit. In 1786, while delivering his third lecture, Sir William Jones made the following statement which aroused the curiosity of many scholars and finally led to the emergence of comparative linguistics. Noticing the similarities between Sanskrit and the Classical Languages of Europe such as Greek and Latin, he delivered: “The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could not possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celt, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family…” 24

Sir William Jones in Asiatic Researches, (Vol. I, p. 423) also asserted the means by which the similarities in many languages, especially of the Indo-European group, is supplied by Sanskrit: “Deonagri [devanagari] is the original source whence the alphabets of Western Asia were derived.”

Mr. Pococke also relates: “The Greek language is a derivative from the Sanskrit.” 5 The learned Dr. Pritchard also says: “The affinity between the Greek language and the old Parsi and Sanskrit is certain and essential. The use of cognate idioms proves the nations who used them to have descended from one stock. That the religion of the Greeks emanated from an Eastern source no one will deny. We must therefore suppose the religion as well as the language of Greece to have been derived in great part immediately from the East.” 6

In this way, the idea started that there was a previous language that was the seed of the others, namely Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. They named this imaginary ancestor as Proto-Indo-European, or Proto-Indo-Germanic language. However, they have failed to find this imaginary language for the last 150 years. Plus, they will never find it because there was no such language. Nonetheless, not everyone agreed with this idea that Sanskrit was merely a part of a Proto-Indo-European language.

For example, even the British scholar Thomas Maurice, editor of the seven volumes of Indian Antiquities, mentions in Volume IV that Halhead, the first European Sanskrit scholar, “seems to hint that it (Sanskrit) was the original language of the earth. All Western scholars who readily apply their mind to the problem will find themselves concurring with Halhead that Sanskrit is the oldest language and that it was spoken all over the world. Other world languages are shattered and twisted bits of Sanskrit.”

The Great Sanskrit scholar Franz Bopp wrote in his Edinborough Review (Volume 33, page 43): “At one time Sanskrit was the one language spoken all over the world.”

As the study and interest in Sanskrit grew, there were many scholars and researchers who gave praise to it. In 1777, the French astronomer Bailly figured that the earliest humans had to have been located on the banks of the Ganges. Bailly also once stated, “The Brahmans are the teachers of Pythagoras, the instructors of Greece, and through her the whole of Europe.” 7

Voltaire also opined, “In short, Sir, I am convinced that everything–astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc.–comes to us from the banks of the Ganges.” 8

The French naturalist and traveler Pierre de Sonnerat (1782) also believed all knowledge came from India, which he considered the cradle of the human race. 9

Then in 1807, Schelling, a metaphysician who was well-known in his day, wondered “what is Europe really but a sterile trunk which owes everything to Oriental grafts.” 10

In 1808, Friedrich von Schlegel argued that “the Northwest of India must be considered the central point from which all of these nations had their origin.” 11 Schlegel, who also helped popularize German interest in Sanskrit, in his study of comparative grammar came to the conclusion that “the Indian language is older, the other younger and derived from it.”

In 1845, Eichhoff boldly proclaimed that “all Europeans come from the Orient. This truth, which is confirmed by the evidence of physiology and linguistics, no longer needs special proof.” 12 And this, I might add, is before genetics confirmed the same thing.

In 1828, Vans Kennedy related, “Sanscrit itself is the primitive language from which the Greek, Latin, and the mother of the Teutonic dialects were originally derived.” 13

Then in 1855, Lord A. Curzon, the British governor-general of India and later chancellor of Oxford, was fully convinced that “the race of India branched out and multiplied into that of the great Indo-European family…. The Aryans, at a period as yet undetermined, advanced toward and invaded the countries to the west and north-west of India, conquered the various tribes who occupied the land.” 14

Michelet was another that had the opinion that the Vedas “were undoubtedly the first monument of the world”,15 and that India “emanated a torrent of light and the flow of reason and Right.” 16

Plus, Godfrey Higgins, in his book The Celtic Druids (page 61), writes: “There are many objections to the derivation of the Latin from the Greek. Latin exhibits many terms in a more rude form than Greek. Latin was derived from Sanskrit.”

The roots of many languages are found in Sanskrit, which some called the mother of all languages, distinguished from the rest by its longevity, stability of form over the many millennia, and showed the status of a sacred language. The fact is that the farther back in time we trace the European languages, the more they begin to resemble Sanskrit. The farther we go back in time, the more we see that European and Vedic culture coalesce.

Sri Aurobindo observed that Sanskrit is “one of the most magnificent, the most perfect and wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by human mind… at once majestic and sweet and flexible, strong and clearly formed and full and vibrant and subtle…” 17

We can see many Sanskrit words in other languages, or continuations of them in Lithuanian, Russian, or English. In fact, there are many words in Lithuanian that are related to or a part of Sanskrit. I have already spent a chapter or two of my book Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence comparing Sanskrit with numerous English words, so we will not go into it here.

One of the reasons why remnants of Sanskrit appear in places around the world, since Sanskrit was the language of early India, or Bharatvarsha, was that people of the region spread or migrated to other parts of the world. Then they named oceans, rivers, mountains, and regions with Sanskrit names. Anybody can see this if they are simply a little educated in it. For example, we can see it in names like Indonesia, Indochina, West Indies, etc., or in other places we have Afghanistan, Baluchastan, Turkasthan, Kurdisthan, Kazaksthan, and Uzbekisthan, all which show the Sanskrit based sthan, and which gives a hint of the past influence of the global Vedic tradition. Looking further, there are also many Sanskrit names in the countries of the Far East and South Pacific.

Unfortunately, the similarities in languages were used to help support the Aryan Invasion Theory, the idea that Sanskrit and the Vedic culture came into ancient India from outside. But more than anything, it was not that Sanskrit traveled into India, but that it traveled west and was then adopted to varying degrees by others, thus giving way to what had been called the Proto-Indo-European language that was supposed to have pre-dated Sanskrit. Of course, this has yet to be proved, and the idea came about mostly because of the Euro-centric way of looking at things. With new evidence that has come out, we can conclude that there was a westward movement or migration of people out of India that brought Sanskrit with them, which was absorbed into the existing languages of several central and west Asian regions.

With the advanced nature of the Sanskrit language and alphabet, some feel that, like the traditional source of the Vedas, Sanskrit was given by Divinity to humanity. It could not have been developed by the slow process of a human agency. After all, in the time period in which Sanskrit appeared, mankind was considered by some to be barbarians. But how could such a people, if that is what they were, develop such a refined language like Sanskrit? For such a language to appear, it would have to come from an equally refined and advanced civilization. Otherwise, why, after thousands of years of our advanced scientific civilization, have we not seen a better or more sophisticated language?

To help substantiate this, we can relate the following quote which appeared in the 1985 spring issue of AI (Artificial Intelligence) magazine, written by NASA researcher Rick Briggs: “In the past 20 years, much time, effort, and money have been expended on designing an unambiguous representation of natural languages to make them accessible to computer processing. These efforts have centered around creating schemata designed to parallel logical relations expressed by the syntax and semantics of natural languages, which are clearly cumbersome and ambiguous in their function as vehicles for the transmission of logical data. Understandably, there is a widespread belief that natural languages are unsuitable for the transmission of many ideas that artificial languages can render with great precision and mathematical rigor. But this dichotomy, which has served as a premise underlying much work in the areas of linguistics and artificial intelligence, is a false one.

“There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a loving spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence.”

On another level, the ancients and rishis called Sanskrit the language of the gods, or devevani or devabhasha. The script was called devanagari, the script of the gods. And the fact is, the most spiritual of Vedic literature is in Sanskrit. In the Rig Veda, Sanskrit has been called vacho aggram, or the earliest language. It is no doubt the main language used by the great rishis or sages to disseminate the knowledge of enlightenment that had been received by them ever since the time of the universal creation. Sanskrit was able to invoke the spiritual energy of which it speaks, and the vibration for propelling the consciousness to the higher realms it depicts. The great epics and codes of knowledge are all in Sanskrit. Even the great acharyas, like Shankar, Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha, and other poets and philosophers wrote in Sanskrit. Sanskrit stood for at least three millennia, if not much longer, as the carrier of Vedic thought before its dominance gradually gave way to the vernacular dialects that eventually evolved from it as the modern languages of Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and so on.

There are officially 25 languages in India, along with 33 different languages and 2000 some dialects that are known to be used. In this regard Will Durant relates in Our Oriental Heritage (p. 406): “The Sanskrit of the Vedas and the epics has already earmarks of a classical and literary tongue, used only by scholars and priests; the very word Sanskrit means ‘prepared, pure, perfect, sacred.’ The language of the people in the Vedic age was not one but many; each tribe had its own Aryan dialect. India has never had one language.”

SANSKRIT GRAMMAR

        The grammar of Sanskrit is also known to be without comparison. Sir William Wilson Hunter wrote in The Indian Empire: “The grammar of Panini stands supreme among the grammars of the world, alike for its precision of statement and for its thorough analysis of the roots of the language and of the formative principles of words. By applying an algebraical terminology, it attains a sharp succinctness unrivaled in brevity. It arranges in logical harmony the whole phenomenon which the Sanskrit language presents and stands forth as one of the most splendid achievements of human invention and industry. So elaborate is the structure that doubts have arisen whether its innumerable rules of formation and phonetic change, its polysyllabic derivatives, its ten conjugations with its multiform aorist and long array of tenses could even have been the spoken language of a people.” 19

Though we give much credit to Panini for being one of the first if not the first grammarian of Sanskrit, we should still remember that in his writings, Panini himself mentions at least 10 grammarians who preceded him. 18

Mrs. Manning also relates: “Sanskrit grammar is evidently far superior to the kind of grammar which for the most part has contented grammarians in Europe.” 20

Mr. Elphinstone agrees in the same way: “His (Panini’s) works and those of his successors have established a system of grammar, the most complete that ever was employed in arranging elements of humans speech.” 21

Professor Sir Monier Williams says: “The grammar of Panini is one of the most remarkable literary works that the world has ever seen, and no other country can produce any grammatical system at all comparable to it, ether for originality or plan or analytical subtlety. . . His Sastras are a perfect miracle of condensation.” 22

Furthermore, it is known that Sanskrit was a vocal tradition long before it was put into written form. This tends to show that Sanskrit had been existing for many years before Panini, and that Panini may have also existed at a much earlier time period than many people think.

The fact that Panini listed previous philologists indicates that there had to have been a fully existing language of Sanskrit in ancient India long before he formed his book on Sanskrit grammar. Otherwise, the complex literature could not have been passed down to future generations to continue in such a flawless manner in an oral tradition. Panini did not develop Sanskrit but only compiled the rules of Sanskrit.

Dr. Cardona, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a known Panini grammarian, places Panini in the 6th century BCE, but believes that Panini could have been much earlier. In this regard, Count Bjornstjerna, even with what early evidence he could uncover, writes in his Theogony of Hindoos that Hindus possessed written texts of religion before 2800 BCE. So it is likely that it could have been long before then.

Another bit of evidence in this regard is the presence of words of Vedic Sanskrit in Syria as early as 2200 BCE. This has the effect of pushing back the period of when the Vedic hymns were composed to beyond 3000 BCE. Thus, the whole theory of a Aryan invasion into India near 2000 BCE falls flat and is contrary to the evidence found in the Middle East. 25

The earliest of glossaries on Vedic words goes back to the Nighantu, written by the ancient etymologist Yaska. Yaska explained that he compiled this based on previous glossaries, the most important of which was the Nighantuka-Padakhyana, which is attributed to Kashyapa Prajapati. Yaksa himself described at least twelve previous etymologists before him. As listed in his Nirukta, it includes Aupamanyava (Nirukta 1.1), Audambarayana (1.1), Varshayayani (1.2), Gargya (1.3), Shakatayana (1.3), Agrayana (1.9), Shakapuni (2.8), Aurnavabha (2.26), Taitiki (4.3), Sthaulastivi (7.14), Kraustuki (8.2), and Kathakya (8.5). So his own commentary, the Nirukta, is based on a long tradition of Vedic Sanskrit, and was a compilation and codification of the etymological knowledge that went all the way back to the pre-historic time of Kashyapa Muni.

Obviously, Sanskrit was the earliest of developed languages, and no country but ancient India, and no language except Sanskrit can boast of a possession so ancient or venerable. No people but the Vedic Aryans, followers of Vedic Dharma, can show such a sacred heirloom in its history, so high in its grandeur and glory when compared with other languages. The Vedas and Vedic literature, such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, serve as a beacon of divine light for the onward progress for humanity.

THE VEDIC TEXTS

        Sanskrit is the foundation of Vedic literature, which is the basis of the Vedic philosophy. The Vedic literature is a complete library for understanding life, the purpose of the creation, how the cosmos manifested, and what is the spiritual identity of the individual soul, Supersoul, and Supreme Being; plus, the relationship between them, and the pathways for directly realizing and perceiving these. This is what is called Sanatana-dharma, the eternal duty of life and the eternal state of being, meaning complete harmony and balance that we should all reach. This is the main purpose of the human form of life according to the Vedic system.

The original compositions of many of the Vedic hymns were given credit to the early sages or seers, such as Brigu, Angirasa, Marichi, Atri, Vashistha and his brother Agastya, and Vishvamitra. It was Brigu, Angirasa, Marichi, and Atri from whom came the seven rishis (Saptarishis) who became the main lineages or gotras that we refer to today. These consist of: Jamadagni from Bhrigu; Bharadvaja from Angirasa; Gautama from Angirasa; Kashyapa; Vashistha from Marichi; Agastya from Marichi; Atri; and Vishvamitra from Atri. It is said that Bhrigu and his descendants lived in the western part of the Asian subcontinent and Vashistha and Vishvamitra lived in the Sarasvati region. Later, the great sage Vedavyasa compiled it all into written form. (A detailed analysis of the Vedic literature and its numerous books has been provided in a previous book of mine called The Heart of Hinduism and in my E-book called A Complete Review of Vedic Literature. So I will not included that elaboration here.)

The point to remember is that the Vedic literature held universal spiritual knowledge. Even the Puranas, which are considered to be the interplanetary histories and elaborations of the spiritual knowledge of the Vedic samhitas, such as the Rig, Sama, Atharva, and Yajur Vedas, are said to be universal in nature. In other words, they were not exclusive to the region of India.

One little story that can help point this out is how, with the use of the Vedic knowledge, the source of the Nile River was found. The British explorer John Hanning Speke, who in 1862 discovered the Nile in Lake Victoria, acknowledged that the Egyptians themselves did not have any idea of where the Nile’s source was located. However, it was from British Lt. Colonel Wilford’s description of the Hindus’ intimate awareness with ancient Egypt that led Speke to Ripon Falls, at the edge of Lake Victoria. This was outlined in Wilford’s essay on Egypt from the Puranas, called Ancient Book of the Hindus’ Asiatic Researches (Vol. III, 1792). What was also most helpful was that Lieutenant Speke constructed a map based on the information from the Puranas, as described in his book, Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1863). He explained, “All our previous information concerning the hydrography of these regions originated with the ancient Hindus who told it to the priests of the Nile; and all these busy Egyptian geographers who disseminated their knowledge with a view to be famous for their long-sightedness, in solving the mystery which enshrouded the source of their holy river, were so many hypothetical humbugs. The Hindu traders had a firm basis to stand upon through their intercourse with the Abyssinians.”

Thus, the map coursed the river through Kushadvipa, from a great lake in Chandristhan, “Country of the Moon,” while it gave the correct position in relation to the Zanzibar islands. Speke wrote that some Hindu Pundits knew the Nile as Nila and Kaali. The word Nile means blue and Kali means dark, which were appropriate descriptions of the Nile River. Their names are mentioned in some Puranas, including the Bhavishya. This went against the idea of that time because Lake Victoria was unknown then.

Sir Richard Burton, the leader of the Nile expedition had identified Lake Tangyanika as the source. Speke, however, following the advice of a Benares Pundit insisted that the real source was a much larger lake that lay to the north. By following this advice, Speke was able to discover Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile. The Pundit also told him that the real source were the twin peaks known as Somagiri. Soma in Sanskrit indicates the moon, and giri means hill or mountain. Thus, Somagiri indicated the fabled Mountains of the Moon in Central Africa.

The wonderful inventive genius and high level of consciousness of the Vedic Aryans enabled them to produce or utilize a language which contributed materially in the creation of a literature that remains unparalleled for richness, sublimity and range. The particular beauty inherent in the language of such intellectual powers were greatly enhanced by the scientific upbringing that had developed into what is now such a model of perfection that it was known as devanagari, or the language of the gods.

Professor Monier Williams was also highly impressed with the Ramayana. He had written: “Ramayana is undoubtedly one of the greatest treasures in Sanskrit literature.” However, later he went into more detail on his appreciation for it: “There is not in the whole range of Sanskrit literature a more charming poem than the Ramayana. The classical purity, clearness and simplicity of its style, the exquisite touches of true poetic feeling with which it abounds, its graphic descriptions of heroic incidents, nature’s grandest scenes, the deep acquaintance it displays with the conflicting workings and most refined emotions of the human heart, all entitle it to rank among the most beautiful compositions that have appeared at any period or in any country. It is like a spacious and delightful garden, here and there allowed to run wild, but teeming with fruits and flowers, watered by perennial streams, and even its most tangled jungle intersected with delightful pathways. The character of Rama is nobly portrayed… ” 23

The Mahabharata also was not in want of its western admirers, even from years ago, such as Dr. F. A. Hassler of America, in his letter to P. C. Roy, dated July 21, 1888, which was published in P. C. Roy’s English translation of the Mahabharata: “In all my experience in life, I have not found a work that has interested me as much as that noble production of the wise, and I do not hesitate to say, inspired men of ancient India. In fact I have studied it more than any other work for a long time past, and have made at least 1,000 notes which I have arranged in alphabetical order for the purpose of study. The Mahabharata has opened to me, as it were, a new world, and I have been surprised beyond measure at the wisdom, truth, knowledge, and love of the right which I have found displayed in its pages. Not only so, but I have found many of the truths which my own heart has taught me in regard to the Supreme Being and His creations set forth in beautiful, clear language.”

The early American ethnologist, Jeremiah Curtin, who also had written to Baba P. C. Roy about his edition of the Mahabharata, also had deep appreciation for what he found within it. He relates in his letter, which appeared in Part XXX of the book: “I have just finished reading carefully from beginning to end, 24 numbers of your translation of the Mahabharata, and can honestly say that I have never obtained more pleasure from reading any book in my life. The Mahabharata will open the eyes of the world to the true character and intellectual rank of the Aryans of India. You are certainly doing a great work… The Mahabharata is a real mine of wealth not entirely unknown, I suppose, at present to any man outside your country, but which will be known in time and valued in all civilized lands for the reason that it contains information of the highest import to all men who seek to know in singleness of heart, the history of our race upon the earth, and the relations of man with the Infinite Power above us, around us and in us.”

THE CONCLUSION

What all of this shows is, as Dr. Vishnu Kant Verma explains, is that to this day, the Proto-Indo-European language, meaning that original language from which all others developed, such as Greek and Latin, has not been identified. What has been shown is that Sanskrit is the most ancient and developed of all sophisticated languages. What has also been shown is that many languages are but offshoots of Sanskrit, and the most likely to be the central language of the Indo-European family. One reason for this is also due to the Indo-Aryan migrations to Asia Minor, the Middle East and into Greece and Europe. (Verma, Dr. Vishnu Kant, Indo-Aryan Colonization of Greece and Middle-East, Pratibha Prakashan, Delhi, 2001, p.51)

This also shows the power of Sanskrit and what it has retained through the years, and how it is certainly one of the most powerful and original if not the seed of all other languages. This also illustrates that it is not a matter of proselytizing, but only a matter of sharing the Vedic knowledge and wisdom with others that will attract numerous people to find that the deeper levels of spirituality that they are looking for is already existing and waiting for them within the texts of the Vedic literature.

[Most of this is taken from a chapter from Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture by Stephen Knapp]

CHAPTER NOTES

1. Suresh Soni, India’s Glorious Scientific Tradition, Ocean Books Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2010, p. 199.

2. Kamlesh Kapur, Portraits of a Nations: History of India, Sterling Publishers, Private Limited, 2010, p. 401.

3. Suresh Soni, India’s Glorious Scientific Tradition, Ocean Books Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2010, p. 199.

4. Ibid., p. 200.

5. Pococke, India in Greece, p. 18.

6. Pritchard, Dr. Pritchard’s Physical History of Man, Vol. I, p. 502.

7. Jean-Sylvan Bailly, Lettres sur l’origine des sciences et sur celle des peuples de l’Asie, Paris, Freres Bebure, 1777, p. 51.

8. Ibid., 1777, p. 4.

9. Pierre Sonnerat, Voyages aux Indes Orientales et la Chine, Paris, 1782.

10. L. Poliakov, The Aryan Myth, Sussex University Press, London, 1971, p. 11.

11. Friedrich von Schlegel, Uber die Sprache und die Weisheit der Indier, Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and Hindistory of Linguistic Science, Amsterdam, Benjamins, 1977, p. 505

12. E. W. Eichhoff, Vergleichung der Sprachen von Europa und Indien, Schrey, Leipzig, 1845.

13. Vans Kennedy, Researches into the Origin and Affinity of the Principal Languages of Asia and Europe, Longman, London, 1828, p. 196.

14. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 16, 172-173.

15. J. Michelet, Bible de l’humanite, Paris, Chamerot, 1864, p. 26.

16. Ibid., p. 485.

17. Pride of India: A Glimpse into India’s Scientific Heritage, Samskriti Bharati, New Delhi, 2006, p. 130.

18. Nicholas Kazanas, Indo-Aryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues, by Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2009, p. 199.

19. Imperial Gazetteer of India, Art, “India”, p. 214.

20. Ancient and Medieval India, Vol. I, p. 381.

21. Elphinstone’s History of India, p. 146.

22. Monier Williams, Indian Wisdom, p. 172.

23. Indian Epic Poetry, p. 12.

24. Jones, Collected Works, Volume III, 34-5, quoted by Vepa, Kosla, The South Asia File: A Colonial Paradigm of Indian History Altering the Mindset of the Indic People, Indic Studies Foundation, Pleasanton, California, 2008, p.54.

25. Verma, Dr. Vishnu Kant, Indo-Aryan Colonization of Greece and Middle-East, Pratibha Prakashan, Delhi, 2001, p.130.

26. Ibid., p

[This article can be found at http://www.stephen-knapp.com]