Vedas:An Overview.


Valued Senior Member
Vedas, An Overview

written by Unknwon Author
Posted Fri, 30-Dec-1994 23:29:22 GMT

Primary or Classic Vedas consist of invocations to the One Divine and the divinities of nature, such as the Sun, the Rain, the Wind, the Fire and the Dawn - as well as prayers for matrimony, progeny, prosperity, concord, domestic rites, formulas for magic, and more. They are composed in beautiful metrical verses, generally of three or four lines.

The heart of the entire Veda with 10,552 verses.
Rg-Veda Interpretation (Poorna Pragnya)
Mainly liturgical selections from the Rg-Veda arranged for melodious chanting, apr. 2000 verses
as Sama-Veda, but for cadenced intonation, apr. 2000 verses
Nearly 6,000 verses of prayers, charms and rites are unique
Besides its Samhita, each Veda includes one or two Brahmanas, ceremonial handbooks, and Aranyakas, ritual interpretations, plus many inestimable Upanishads, metaphysical dialogs. In all there are over 100,000 Vedic verses, and some prose, in dozens of texts.

The Vedangas and Upavedas are collections of texts that augment and apply the Vedas as a comprehensive system of sacred living.

Jyotisha Vedanga
delineates auspicious timing for holy rites.
look at astrology and Jai Maharaj's texts
Kalpa Vedanga defines
public rituals in the Srauta and Sulba sutras,
domestic rites in the Grihya Sutras and
religious law in the Dharma Sastras.

Four other Vedangas ensure the purity of mantra recitation, through knowledge of phonetics, grammar, poetry and the way of words.
The Upavedas expound profound sciences:

Artha-Veda unfolds statecraft
Ayur-Veda sets forth medicine and health
Dhanur-Veda discusses military science
Gandharva-Veda illumines music and the arts
Sthapatya-Veda explains architecture
In addition, the Kama Sutras detail erotic pleasures. The Agamas, too, have ancillary texts, such as the Upagamas and Paddhatis, which elaborate the ancient wisdom.

The Epics maybe the Mahabharata and Ramayana as the two main classics.

Vedic Civilization

written by Sadaputa Dasa
Posted Sun, 3-May-1992 03:20:00 GMT
Sadaputa Dasa

Sadaputa Dasa (Richard L. Thompson) was born in Binghamton, New York, in 1947. In 1974, he received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University. He went on to do research in quantum physics and mathematical biology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, and the La Lolla Institute in San Diego. He is the author of six books and the producer of four videos on science and philosophy, and he has written many articles for scientific journals.
More articles by Sadaputa Dasa, visit
From Back to Godhead magazine, May/June 1991

Cross-Cultural Traces Of Vedic Civilization

(c) 1991 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Used with permission.

The ancient Greek writer Aratos tells the following story about the constellation Virgo, or the virgin. Virgo, he says, may have belonged to the star race, the forefathers of the ancient stars. In primeval times, in the golden age, she lived among mankind as Justice personified and would exhort people to adhere to the truth. At this time people lived peacefully, without hypocrisy or quarrel. Later, in the age of silver, she hid herself in the mountains, but occasionally she came down to berate people for their evil ways. Finally the age of bronze came. People invented the sword, and "they tasted the meat of cows, the first who did it." At this point Virgo "flew away to the sphere"; that is, she departed for the celestial realm.[1]

The Vedic literature of India gives an elaborate description of the universe as a cosmos -- a harmonious, ordered system created according to an intelligent plan as a habitation for living beings. The modern view of the universe is so different from the Vedic view that the latter is presently difficult to comprehend. In ancient times, however, cosmogonies similar to the Vedic system were widespread among people all over the world. Educated people of today tend to immediately dismiss these systems of thought as mythology, pointing to their diversity and their strange ideas as proof that they are all simply products of the imagination.

If we do this, however, we may be overlooking important information that could shed light on the vast forgotten period that precedes the brief span of recorded human history. There is certainly much evidence of independent storytelling in the traditions of various cultures, but there are also many common themes. Some of these themes are found in highly developed form in the Vedic literature. Their presence in cultures throughout the world is consistent with the idea that in the distant past, Vedic culture exerted worldwide influence.

In this article we will give some examples of Vedic ideas concerning time and human longevity that appear repeatedly in different traditions. First we will examine some of these ideas, and then we will discuss some questions about what they imply and how they should be interpreted.

In the Vedic literature time is regarded as a manifestation of Krsna, the Supreme Being. As such, time is a controlling force that regulates the lives of living beings in accordance with a cosmic plan. This plan involves repeating cycles of creation and destruction of varying durations. The smallest and most important of these repeating cycles consists of four yugas, or ages, called Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. In these successive ages mankind gradually descends from a high spiritual platform to a degenerated state. Then, with the beginning of a new Satya-yuga, the original state of purity is restored, and the cycle begins again.

The story of Virgo illustrates that in the ancient Mediterranean world there was widespread belief in a similar succession of four ages, known there as the ages of gold, silver, bronze, and iron. In this system humanity also starts out in the first age in an advanced state of consciousness and gradually becomes degraded. Here also, the progressive developments in human society are not simply evolving by physical processes, but are superintended by a higher controlling intelligence.

It is noteworthy that Aratos' story specifies the eating of cows as a sinful act that cut mankind off from direct contact with celestial beings. This detail fits in nicely with the ancient Indian traditions of cow protection, but it is unexpected in the context of Greek or European culture.

One explanation for similarities between ideas found in different cultures is that people everywhere have essentially the same psychological makeup, and so they tend to come up independently with similar notions. However, details such as the point about cow-killing suggest that we are dealing here with common traditions rather than independent inventions.

Another example of similarities between cultures can be found among the natives of North America. The Sioux Indians say that their ancestors were visited by a celestial woman who gave them their system of religion. She pointed out to them that there are four ages, and that there is a sacred buffalo that loses one leg during each age. At present we are in the last age, an age of degradation, and the buffalo has one leg.[2]

This story is a close parallel to the account in the Srimad Bhagavatam of the encounter between Maharaja Pariksit and the bull of Dharma. There, Dharma is said to lose one leg with each successive yuga, leaving it with one leg in the present Age of Kali.

According to the Vedic system, the lengths of the Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali yugas are 4, 3, 2, and 1 times an interval of 432,000 years. Within these immense periods of time the human life span decreases from 100,000 years in the Satya-yuga to 10,000 years in the Treta-yuga, 1,000 years in the Dvapara-yuga, and finally 100 years in the Kali-yuga.

Of course, this idea is strongly at odds with the modern evolutionary view of the past. In the ancient Mediterranean world, however, it was widely believed that human history had extended over extremely long periods of time. For example, according to old historical records, Porphyry (c. 300 A.D.) said that Callisthenes, a companion of Alexander in the Persian war, dispatched to Aristotle Babylonian records of eclipses and that these records covered 31,000 years. Likewise, Iamblicus (fourth century) said on the authority of the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus that the Assyrians had made observations for 270,000 years and had kept records of the return of all seven planets to the same position.[3] Finally, the Babylonian historian Berosus assigned 432,000 years to the total span of the reigns of the Babylonian kings before the Flood.[4]

We do not wish to suggest that these statements are true (or that they are false). The point here is that people in the old Mediterranean civilization evidently had a much different view of the past than the dominant view today. And this view was broadly consistent with Vedic chronology.

Although the Bible is well known for advocating a very short time-span for human history, it is interesting to note that it contains information indicating that people at one time lived for about 1,000 years. In the Old Testament the following ages are listed for people living before the Biblical Flood: Adam, 930; Seth, 912; Enos, 905; Kenan, 910; Mahaleel, 895; Jared, 962; Enoch, 365; Methusaleh,969; Lamech, 777; and Noah, 950. If we exclude Enoch (who was said to have been taken up to heaven in his own body), these persons lived an average of 912 years.[5]

After the Flood, however, the following ages were recorded: Shem, 600; Arphachshad, 438; Selah, 433; Eber, 464; Peleg, 239; Reu, 239; Serug, 230; Nahor, 148; Terah, 205; Abraham, 175; Issac, 180; Job, 210; Jacob, 147; Levi, 137; Kohath, 133; Amaram, 137; Moses, 120; and Joshua, 110. These ages show a gradual decline to about 100 years, similar to what must have happened after the beginning of Kali-yuga, according to the Vedic system.

Here we should mention in passing that the Biblical Flood is traditionally said to have taken place in the second or third millenium B.C., and the traditional date in India for the beginning of Kali-yuga is February 18, 3102 B.C. This very date is cited as the time of the Flood in various Persian, Islamic, and European writings from the sixth to the fourteenth centuries A.D.[6] How did the middle-eastern Flood come to be associated with the start of Kali-yuga? The only comment we can make is that this story shows how little we really know about the past.

In support of the Biblical story of very long human life-spans in ancient times, the Roman historian Flavius Josephus cited many historical works that were available in his time:

Now when Noah had lived 350 years after the Flood, and all that time happily, he died, having the number of 950 years, but let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives...make the shortness of our lives at present an argument that neither did they attain so long a duration of life....
Now I have for witnesses to what I have said all those that have written Antiquities, both among the Greeks and barbarians, for even Manetho, who wrote the Egyptian history, and Berosus, who collected the Chaldean monuments, and Mochus, and Hestiaeus, and beside these, Hiernonymous the Egyptian, and those who composed the Phoenician history, agree with what I here say: Hesiod also, and Hecataeus, Hellanicaus, and Acuzilaus, and besides Ephorus and Nicolaus relate that the ancients lived a thousand years: but as to these matters, let everyone look upon them as he sees fit.[7]

Unfortunately, practically none of the works referred to by Josephus are still existing, and this again shows how little we know of the past. But in existing Norse sagas it is said that people in ancient times lived for many centuries. In addition, the Norse sagas describe a progression of ages, including an age of peace, an age when different social orders were introduced, an age of increasing violence, and a degraded "knife-age and axe-age with cloven shields."[8] The latter is followed by a period of annihilation, called Ragnarok, after which the world is restored to goodness.
The Norse Ragnarok involves the destruction of the earth and the abodes of the Norse demigods (called Asgard), and thus it corresponds in Vedic chronology to the annihilation of the three worlds that follows 1,000 yuga cycles, or one day of Brahma. It is said that during Ragnarok the world is destroyed with flames by a being called Surt, who lives beneath the lower world (appropriately called Hel) and was involved in the world's creation. By comparison, the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.11.30) states that at the end of Brahma's day, "the devastation takes place due to the fire emanating from the mouth of Sankarsana." Sankarsana is a plenary expansion of Krsna who is "seated at the bottom of the universe" (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.8.3), beneath the lower planetary systems.

There are many similarities between the Norse and Vedic cosmologies, but there are also great differences. One key difference is that in the Srimad Bhagavatam, all beings and phenomena within the universe are clearly understood as part of the divine plan of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In contrast, in the Norse mythology God is conspicuously absent, and the origin and purpose of the major players in the cosmic drama are very obscure. Surt, in particular, is a "fire giant" whose origins and motives are unclear even to experts in the Norse literature.[9]

One might ask, If Vedic themes appear in many different societies, how can one conclude that they derive from an ancient Vedic civilization? Perhaps they were created in many places independently, or perhaps they descend from an unknown culture that is also ancestral to what we call Vedic culture. Thus parallels between the accounts of Surt and Sankarsana may be coincidental, or perhaps the Vedic account derives from a story similar to that of Surt.

Our answer to this question is that available empirical evidence will not be sufficient to prove the hypothesis of descent from an ancient Vedic culture, for all empirical evidence is imperfect and subject to various interpretations. But we can decide whether or not the evidence is consistent this hypothesis.

If there was an ancient Vedic world civilization, we would expect to find traces of it in many cultures around the world. We do seem to find such traces, and many agree with Vedic accounts in specific details (such as the location of Surt's abode or the sacred buffalo's loss of one leg per world age). Since this civilization began to lose its influence thousands of years ago, at the beginning of Kali-yuga, we would expect many of these traces to be fragmentary and overlain by many later additions, and this we also see. Thus the available evidence seems to be consistent with the hypothesis of a Vedic origin.


[1] E. C. Sachau, trans., Alberuni's India
(Delhi: S. Chand & Co., 1964), pp. 383-4.
[2] J. E. Brown, ed., The Sacred Pipe
(Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1971), p. 9.
[3] D. Neugebauer, History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy
(Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1975), pp. 608-9.
[4] J. D. North, "Chronology & the Age of the World," in Cosmology,
History & Theology, eds. Wolfgang Yourgrau and A. D. Breck
(N. Y.: Plenum Press, 1977), p. 315.
[5] D. W. Patten and P. A. Patten, "A Comprehensive Theory on Aging,
Gigantism & Longevity," Catastrophism & Ancient History,
Vol. 2, Part 1 (Aug. 1979), p. 24.
[6] J. D. North, Ibid., p. 316-7.
[7] D. W. Patten, Ibid., p. 29.
[8] V. Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology, R. B. Anderson, trans.
(London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1889), pp. 88,94.
[9] Ibid., pp. 448-9.

Sadaputa Dasa (Richard L. Thompson) earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University. He is the author of several books, of which the most recent is Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy.

Vedic Cosmology & The Emerging Cosmos

written by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Posted Tue, 22-Nov-1994 23:34:59 GMT
Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet

In October of 1985 Ms. Norelli-Bachelet began to publish her yogic realizations in a bi-monthly journal called, "The Vishaal Newsletter". Like Sri Aurobindo's journal, "Arya", which published his major works in the 1920s, Vishaal presented the unifying principles of Ms. Norelli-Bachelet's work with Cosmology, Sacred Architecture and Supramental Time. The Vishaal Newsletter has been one of the principal links between Ms. Norelli-Bachelet and her students throughout the world.
More articles by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, visit

"At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny."
Sri Aurobindo

The malaise of our civilisation is not an inchoate or unpredictable development. Rather, it is the logical, foreseeable result of thousands of years of partial and ineffective spiritual visions and incomplete philosophical systems. These have always been the driving force behind the evolution of higher mental forms. Therefore, if our civilisation stands at a critical juncture at present, it is not in the secular and scientific domain that we must search for the cause of the decay. We must discover what has been lacking in the dimension of existence that moulds the more external and material patterns which condition life on this planet.

Once the root of the problem is located in its true area of causation, necessarily a change must be introduced in that sphere before the more external levels can be influenced. Thus if we can locate the root cause of the decay in that more essential domain, our task of bringing about a change in the individual and in society and of establishing a new world order on Earth is greatly facilitated.

Indeed, the crux of the problem lies here: for thousands of years sages, saints, yogis, philosophers, and men and women of wisdom have described the purpose of birth on this planet as simply a passage to a reality beyond not only our planetary home but entirely out of the cosmic dimension. The course our civilisation has taken can therefore be directly connected to this factor. The influence a vision of this nature has wielded has been devastating--for it has carried the planet and its multiple societies to the brink of total annihilation.

We may call this development a conspiracy of the spiritual elite which gradually influenced the whole tenure of life on Earth, spreading its tentacles of influence through religions and philosophical systems during the past several thousands of years, but now through scientific, political and socioeconomic systems. The latter can invariably trace their inspiration to some spiritual or philosophical source. For even our most material ideologies that apparently deny the higher realities of existence and focus entirely on the physical dimension, have done so by virtue of a reaction to those more metaphysical postulations.

Many profound thinkers throughout the world have perceived that it is only a spiritual renaissance that can save our civilisation. Only if we attain a different consciousness, rooted in some higher seeing, can there be any real change, they feel. This may well be true, but what is not appreciated is that the present chaos is a direct outcome of our past mystic and spiritual perceptions. There are two aspects to this development. One is the course spirituality took in the West, which founded itself on a certain form of negation of life; and the other is the Eastern orientation, in its own way equally a denial of life.

In the West, out of denial and suffering there developed a certain strength. Believers had been encouraged to accept suffering as a way to God and the means to attain a heaven beyond this life. Indeed, life on Earth came to be considered a prison and the fall of the soul. Salvation, through negation of life, could only come in a beyond, namely in some transcendent Heaven. The final outcome of this negation has been the materialistic philosophies and political ideologies which the West has given to the world. Presently there is a clear dichotomy on the planet, whereby western civilisation has aligned itself clearly and decisively with what has come to be called in spiritual circles the 'materialistic consciousness'.

However, in the East we find a similar denial of life, also as an outcome of its spirituality. Interestingly, this negation took hold of the consciousness of eastern wisemen at about the same time that a similar denial caught hold of their western counterparts. About the end of the first millennium Indian spirituality veered fully toward a quest for otherworldliness: the philosophies of the day made the conclusive proclamation that all creation in matter was an 'illusion', a deceptive veil that seekers of Truth must tear through in order to reach the immutable, immobile, transcosmic and static Brahman; or a Self devoid of all relations in this material web of time and space.

Thus at approximately the same period in history, the stamp of otherworldliness and denial of life and the planet's own truth of being and purpose as a home of an evolving species, became firm pillars of our civilisation. This conditioned everything. This denial coloured all our perceptions and gradually moulded every pattern we evolved for the regulation of our individual and collective life. And what we are faced with today is simply the ultimate display of that denial and negation of life. The human being has carried the formula of this negation to its fullest extremes: What was seen as the highest spiritual poise has been carried over to the material realm, or the stage upon which all the ideals and more ethereal concepts of humankind are played out; with the predictable result that now science has furnished the race with the ultimate powers for its own destruction. If the only purpose of life on this planet is to escape it somehow, never more to return, then we are wholly justified in seeking means to destroy this springboard base as the ultimate and conclusive 'solution'.

It is important to see clearly that the root of this problem is directly connected to the religious dogmas and spiritual visions that have conditioned our living since time immemorial. Spirituality is not a static expression. It has evolved pari passu with the material evolution. In fact, there is only ONE evolution, one principle evolving through the myriad forms that constitute our world. This 'consciousness' has two facets, material and spiritual. But both respond to the same underlying energy and drive.

Consequently, to posit the ultimate solution in either the spirituality we know today or in materialism, with its own brand of denial of life, is inadequate. Indeed, such attempts have consistently failed. Spirituality can only offer old solutions which were themselves largely the causes of the decay. Likewise, materialistic answers are prisoners of the same insufficiencies; and continuing as we are, they will drive us to a total destruction in order to play out the drama of denial of life that spirituality has constantly espoused in one form or another, under one disguise or another.

To accurately assess the situation it is required that we examine the problem deeply, in an effort to reach the core of the matter and discover the fount from which both science and spirituality receive their driving force. Therefore, it is necessary to perceive what stands behind the play of forces; and to do so we must come to a more enlightened understanding of the evolutionary process itself. This will provide us with a more holistic assessment of the condition of the highest instrument nature makes use of for the purpose of the evolution of the species, in order to effect this upward march to ever better forms of consciousness and life: the mental human being.

For this is the self-evident purpose of evolution. It is to bring forth evermore perfect forms in order to create more complex and sophisticated networks or patterns of structured energy that can express more harmonious states of consciousness-being. Our present stage is merely one step along the evolutionary way, albeit a decisive one. We have reached a major evolutionary turning point. There is a choice: Before us lies a totally new way of life and by consequence a new world order. For this, a finer, more refined instrument has to manifest. And this is the major focus of the present crisis. We are in the process of evolving a human instrument capable of sustaining the greater cosmic forces at play through life and matter on this planet, without experiencing destructive collapse of energies or succumbing to the old ways of escape through outdated solutions and methods the world has known until now.

The human instrument as it is presently constituted pivots a void. At its centre lies a 'black hole' into which energies collapse, cave in, dissolve; resulting ultimately in decay and death. And out of this condition of the instrument ,through which the human consciousness perceives the reality beyond, came the projection of a world in chaos and collapse and hence the perception that salvation, of whatever order and under whatever guise, lay beyond this material universe and, above all, away from this woeful planet Earth. The demon of the drama was seen to be the senses, which wisemen understood to be the limiting factor which distorts a reality that somehow could be disconnected from the body and experienced separately, free from our physical organs of perception and hence disengaged from the world of material creation, out of which and within which these senses have evolved. Thus, ways were devised to liberate the seeker from the physical, sensual instrument, limited by its own apparently untransformable insufficiencies.

To be more specific, such projections and perceptions of our condition are the logical outcomes of a species ill-poised, but for reasons quite different than those given in current religious, mystic and spiritual explanations. The human being has an off-centre pivot of his bodily instrument, which results in a distorted perception of our world; but which is, paradoxically, caused by the perception itself. Consequently, to alter that perception it is required that concurrently we shift this axis of being--in the species--and allow evolution to carry us to a new and higher destiny.

The human instrument, an intrinsic part of the solar system and the universal harmony, is structured energy just as any other microcosmic or macrocosmic body. The human being has its 'axis' also, around which the individual frame is organised and because of which a separate entity can come into existence and sustain itself without dispersion, adding to this magnificent display of multiplicity within unity, which is the key feature of our material world. But because we are as yet merely a transitional species, albeit evolving to a higher form, the present 'axis' and its location within the body, which has come into being in accordance with certain evolutionary laws, encourages atavism as the single most important driving force of the species.

Over the ages, wisemen, philosophers, seers, mystics, have sought through various means to alter this condition. In place of the inertia of atavism they have sought to install a higher purpose. But the inadequate condition of the instrument through which perception is made, provided only a partial understanding of the problem; and hence the techniques which were devised in order to help the human being to find release from this limiting function were in themselves inconclusive and did nothing to alter in any way conditions on the planet. Matters progressively worsened, until finally, seeing the gravity of the situation, all those who in some way have been concerned with this problem, came to a dramatic impasse. Finding that it was apparently impossible to change this evolutionary determinism, all spiritual and religious paths proffered methods of escape from the 'coils of this corruptible flesh' as the only way to salvation, and to seek dissolution of the consciousness in a transcendent Beyond or a nirvanic Void. Not only has this done nothing to change conditions on Earth, it has complicated the task of discovering the solution. And finally we find ourselves, as a species, facing possible annihilation.

Let us demonstrate the subtle ways in which this notion of irredeemability has penetrated the thinking of even those philosophers whom one would expect to perceive the position differently, primarily because they are indefatigably engaged in the task of instructing men and women the world over on the ways to a better life. But a better life where? If it is here, on this planet, then the flaws that emerge in these teachings must be pointed out, which will serve to expose the fact that on the basis of just such erroneous visions the human condition is what it is and cannot hope to change. Rather, the condition becomes compounded.

To illustrate, we may quote a statement of one of the most eminent thinkers of our times, the late J. Krishnamurti:
'Truth cannot be exact. What can be measured is not truth.' (Krishnamurti's Notebook, Harper & Row, 1976, p.24.)

This declaration is sure to appeal to all those who have become disenchanted with life in the body and in the material universe of which measure is the salient feature, and who have subsequently posited the goal of their quests in some extra-cosmic heaven or transcendent Beyond. For, what is Krishnamurti really stating?
It is simply this: the higher reality is not of this world, measurable in time and space, and any such attempt to find truth within this material (measurable) universe is futile. Hence this statement is a denial of life and fosters a totally divisive consciousness (certainly not the aim of his teaching efforts on the surface), whereby truth is OUTSIDE of time and space and hence beyond our world. God, the supreme Reality, or Truth is not, according to Krishnamurti, found in what is measurable.

It is this sort of postulation that has carried us to the point of such a tremendous evolutionary crisis. And lamentably, it is men and women concerned preeminently with the spiritual well-being of humankind who have contributed most to this situation, either by encouraging the faithful to live rightly and morally--but only for the purpose of reaching 'heaven' after death; or else by subtly and more often unknowingly, as in the case of Krishnamurti, consolidating the perception of an untransformable, irredeemable material creation, into which the soul and spirit of the human being has fallen and out of which some form of escape must be found in order to know truth in its transcendent, pristine and uncontaminated purity.

Krishnamurti, provides us with another example of the way in which this vision has permeated the intelligentsia, in quarters that one could not have anticipated. Of late two books have appeared with transcripts of his conversations with the physicist David Bohm. It is interesting to observe that Krishnamurti succeeds in carrying Bohm, a physicist and hence a person supremely trained in the art of Measure, into his vision of a featureless void, in which time is an illusion and there is no becoming. A portion of their conversation will suffice to illustrate the nature of the problem:

JK: I am asking you as a physicist, is this universe based on time?
DB: I would say no, but you see, the general way...

JK: That is all I want. You say no! And can the brain, which has evolved in time ... ?

DB: Well, has it evolved in time? Rather, it has become entangled in time. Because the brain is part of the universe, which we say is not based on time.

JK: I agree.

DB: Thought has entangled the brain in time.

JK: All right. Can that entanglement be unraveled, freed, so that the universe is the mind? You follow? If the universe is not of time, can the mind, which has been entangled in time, unravel itself and so be the universe?

And further on, Krishnamurti makes this revealing statement:
' be free of becoming? That is the root of it. To end becoming...Of course, there is only complete security in nothingness!' (The Ending of Time, Harper & Row, 1985.)

This clearly, is the perception that must change if at all a new species and a new world order can safely take their place upon the planet for which they are destined. This calls for a complete readjustment in the 'lens of our seeing', precisely our 'instrument of measure', whereby the Earth comes into focus not as some eternal, irredeemable Hell that a chastising Creator has condemned us to, but rather the planet that serves a noble purpose in the cosmic order. This purpose is to evolve continuously higher and better forms of life. At present the human being is in transition toward a new condition. The breakdown we witness about us, inclusive of the marvels of technology that the human mind has brought into being, is an indication of that new order that is arising. The axis of the human instrument is being encouraged to shift to a higher pivot, whereby the present atavism is no longer a rigid cross to which we are nailed as a race. Rather, the new species is liberated from this compelling drive and begins then a more conscious participation in this grand act of Becoming through which a new instrument is being wrought. But for this to occur, the orientation of our quest and its consequent goal, based on a truly new perception of the higher reality of existence, must shift. The direction must cease to be otherworldly, no matter how camouflaged this may be, as noted by the example furnished above. The answer lies here, on Earth, in the body--but transformed by the power of a new seeing.

How is this achieved? The new axis is not metaphysical. It is a pivot that comes into being in accordance with precise evolutionary laws involving time. By working with time in a particular manner, it is possible to restructure the consciousness, and ultimately the physical being, around a higher pivot. This cannot be accomplished while religions and the old spirituality block the process by emphasis on a metaphysical experience that disengages the human being from any spiritually and materially meaningful contact with the physical world, and consequently absolves him from any responsibility therein. According to these now outdated ways, the purpose of life was to somehow find escape from it, to either expiate one's sins and reach heaven, or to work out a karma and thereby become freed from taking birth again on this woeful planet. In the midst of such a conditioning, it was not possible to alter the evolutionary pattern, insofar as the means to do so, in particular a conscious work with time, were denied their truth and the part they played to attain a higher reality.

The new world is a world in which both the being and the becoming are harmonised in the vision. Therefore Sri Aurobindo describes the choice of destiny that faces mankind at this crisis point as an accepting and embracing precisely of the becoming, as the means to attain the ultimate apotheosis, an evolutionary leap to a totally new status:

"The significance of our existence here determines our destiny: that destiny is something that already exists in us as a necessity and a potentiality, the necessity of our being's secretand emergent reality, a truth of its potentialities that is being worked out; both, though not yet realised, are even now implied in what has been already manifested. If there is a Being that is becoming, a Reality of existence that is unrolling itself in Time, what that being, that reality secretly is is what we have to become, and so to become is our life's significance."
(The Life Divine, Chapter 28.) While the old degenerates into chaos and begins its collapse, there is simultaneously a work in progress to evolve a new species. The process entails, however, a laying of correct foundations. That is, a new 'blueprint' is being evolved, the lines of which are drawn by time, the power of evolution for the gestation of any new form.

The new 'blueprint' being established at present is a pattern of harmony. Indeed, its inspirer is the closest, most complete pattern of harmony that we can observe and of which we are an intrinsic part. It is the solar system--seen with a new eye and an entirely new and different instrument of perception and measurement. This blueprint of a new consciousness-being will provide the basis for a new world order. The outcome is a planetary society, inspired in its governance by the very harmonics of our System and in particular founded upon a vision that sees and accepts the Earth as the place where upon this progression is destined to occur.

But foremost in this evolutionary leap is the question of the purpose of evolution; and by consequence the purpose of our planetary home within the scheme of the cosmic order. It is clear that while we continue to turn to the old spirituality for solutions to our present state of collapse, we are only compounding that collapse, insofar as all spirituality considers life in this cosmos to be a fall and posits salvation in some form of a Beyond, unevolving and static. The dramatic shift that is required is then the complete refocusing of the lens we are provided with for evolution on Earth, and the resultant consciousness that introduces an entirely new direction in our perceiving. We cease to deny life and material creation as channels for expression of the highest truth principle. Rather, we see these as instruments on Earth of what Sri Aurobindo has called, the 'life divine'.

There is a tested method to establish this new blueprint. It utilises time as the creative power for this revolutionary activity. By a specific knowledge of the mechanics of our solar system and the relation of the planetary harmony to time, as experienced on Earth and in the human body, a shift is brought about in the consciousness-being of the individual practitioner, whereby a new pivot is established in the body, no longer prisoner of atavistic drives but responsive to a higher purpose. On that basis a truly new harmony establishes itself within the individual and his society. There is no longer a collapse of energies but rather a sort of mini-solar system manifests as a nuclear compound from where new influences emerge. Gradually these accumulate and extend and eventually draw into the orbit of the new System an increasingly wider sphere; until finally the entire planet becomes the home of this higher planetary society.

What evolves is therefore neither a new spirituality nor a new science or material ideology. It is something beyond all these known methods but that miraculously harmonises and integrates all the expressions of mind, life, and matter in a splendid act of synthesis. The truth of our world is a magnificent manifoldness, expressing an exquisite diversity. But-this multiple diversity is upheld and sustained by a power of integration and arises in a field of oneness, --just as our solar system is an expression of a superb manifold harmony within an integrating oneness.

This is an evolutionary process which respects the being as well as the becoming. Hence it does not seek to obliterate the cosmic harmony which is rooted in time and is the instrument for the Becoming. Rather, it evolves by the aid of those laws. Thus we can applaud Ilya Prigogine when he declares, 'I want to feel the evolution of things. I don't believe in transcending, but in being embedded in a reality that is temporal.' (OMNI, May, 1983.)

The critical crossroad we have reached is mirrored in the expansion of this very solar system to the observing eye of humankind. During the past several hundred years we have seen the System increase by three planets. While over this same period, pari passu with this expansion, the consciousness of the species and the condition of our civilisation have also undergone singular alterations. An acceleration in the evolution of consciousness never before witnessed has set in during this period, particularly heightened in our century. But what is required now, that 'choice of destiny', as Sri Aurobindo has called it, is a conscious collaboration with this process. Prior to this critical juncture the human being was carried along on the crests of the evolutionary wave in an unconscious fashion. But now, with the birth of a new consciousness and species, poised differently, centred on the higher axis of being, the possibility arises that we may collaborate consciously, guided by the harmonics of the very cosmos we inhabit and stand in awe of: an applied cosmology, not another speculative theory.

In the midst of the chaos we see about us a sublime cosmos emerges. Its life does not depend upon the old in the midst of which it stands. It emerges as the old crumbles, uncontaminated by the morose suggestions of purposelessness that vitiate the atmosphere of this dying world. It emerges because the conditions for it are determined by higher evolutionary laws, and is hence a thing inevitable in the history of our planet's time; even as the present mental being was an unavoidable and necessary circumstance, a step along the way but nothing more, and nobly played its role in the evolution of consciousness. The foundations of this new and higher species are solidly laid in the stratum that is indestructible. But not disengaged from material creation. Rather, these new foundations are rooted in matter and they form the basis for a new species and society.

Ms. Norelli-Bachelet lives in southern India, where she presides over the operations of the Aeon Centre of Cosmology. She has produced numerous published books and articles on the working of this new evolutionary force in the world and may be reached through Aeon Group, P. O. Box 396, Accord, New York, 12404 (914) 658-3068

What is Vedic Literature?

written by Jahnava Nitai Das
Posted Fri, 3-Mar-1995 23:16:19 GMT

The following are some lessons explaining the different branches of the tree of Vedic knowledge (Vedas, Upanisads, Vedangas, Darsanas, Bhashyas, Puranas, Itihasas, etc.). This is originally published as a booklet by Bhaktivedanta Academy (Coimbatore) under the title "Four books are enough."

The original booklet also contains 15 pages of charts and diagrams that explain how all the various branches of Vedic literature are connected. If anyone is interested in the booklet, email me.


Four Books are Enough
Lesson One (Vedas)
Veda means knowledge. The original knowledge are the teachings of the Vedas. In the conditioned state our knowledge is subjected to many deficiencies. There are four defects that a conditioned soul has: committing mistakes, subject to illusion, cheating propensity and imperfect senses. These deficiencies make us unfit for having perfect knowledge. Therefore we accept the Vedas as they are.
Vedas are apauruseya, which means they are not compilations of human knowledge. Vedic knowledge comes from the spiritual world, from Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the beginning the first living creature was Brahma. He received the Ve dic knowledge from Krsna.

Vedas are compared to desire tree because they contain all things knowable by man. They deal with mundane necessities as well as spiritual realization. Above and beyond all departments of knowledge there are specific directions for spiritual realization. Regulated knowledge involves a gradual raising of the living entity to the spiritual platform, through varna (brahmana - intellectual, ksatriya - ruler, vaisya - merchant, sudra - worker) and asrama (brahmacarya - student, grhastha - family, vanaprastha - retired, sannyasa - mendicant). The highest spiritual realization is knowledge that the Personality of Godhead is the reservoir of all pleasures, spiritual tastes.

Formerly there was only the Veda of the name Yajur. The sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas were means by which the peopleFs occupations according to their orders of life (namely brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa) could be purified. To simpli fy the process and make them more easily performable, Vyasadeva (the empowered incarnation of Krsna) divided the one Veda into four, Rg (prayers), Yajur (hymns for oblations), Sama (same prayers and hymns in meters for singing), Atharva (body/world mainte nance and destruction) in order to expand them among men.

Thus the original source of knowledge is the Vedas. There are no branches of knowledge either mundane or transcendental, which do not belong to the original texts of the Vedas. They have simply been developed into different branches. They were originally rendered by great seers. In other words, the Vedic knowledge broken into different branches by different disciplic successions (known as sakhas) has been distributed all over the world. No one, therefore, can claim independent knowledge beyond the Vedas.

The texts of the Vedas are known as Samhitas. Within these Samhitas there are portions known as Mantras, which contain prayers in the form of potent sound compounds revealed to great seers for different purposes. In the Vedic civilization three orders of life lived in the forests. Only grhasthas inhabited the cities. The regulated knowledge for living in the city, is revealed in the books known as Brahmanas, whereas the regulated knowledge for living in the forest is revealed in the books known as Aranyakas.

What are Vedas?
What are four defects of conditioned souls?
Why should one accept Vedas as they are?
What is the subject matter of Vedas and what is the purpose of it?
What is varnasrama?
What are the divisions of the Vedas? Who divided them? Why were they divided?
Why is it that no one can claim independent knowledge beyond the Vedas?
Describe the different sections of the Vedas.
Lesson Two (Sruti, Smrti, and Nyaya)
There are three different sources of vedic knowledge, called prasthana-traya. The Upanisads are known as sruti-prasthana, the scriptures following the principles of six limbs vedic knowledge (Vedangas) as well as Mahabharata, Bhagavad-gita, and Puranas a re known as smrti- prasthana and Vedanta-sutras which present the vedic knowledge on the basis of logic and arguments is known as nyaya-prasthana. All scientific knowledge of transcendence must be supported by sruti, smrti and a sound logical basis (nyaya ). Smrti and nyaya always confirm that which is said in the sruti.
Vedic injunctions are known as sruti. From the original Veda Samhitas up to the Upanisads are classified as sruti. The additional supplementary presentations of these principles as given by the great sages are known as smrti. They are considered as eviden ce for vedic principles. Understanding the ultimate goal of life is ascertained in the Vedanta-sutras by legitimate logic and argument concerning cause and effect.

There are six aspects of knowledge in the Vedas known as Vedangas:

Siksa - phonetic science
Vyakarana - grammar
Nirukti - context (conclusive meaning)
Candas - meter
Jyotis - time science (astronomy & astrology)
Kalpa - rituals
The seers who have realized these aspects of knowledge from the Vedas, have composed sutras (short but potent phrases which convey a lot of meanings) on each Vedanga. Kalpa-sutras are of four categories, viz., srouta (collective sacrifices), grhya (fami ly rituals), dharma (occupational duties) and sulba (building of sacrificial fireplaces, altars etc.).
According to the different levels of conditioned consciousness there are instructions in the Vedas for worship of different controllers, with the aim of reaching different destinations and enjoying different standards of sense enjoyment. Agamas (emanated scriptures) are books which are classified into five for this purpose:

energy - Sakti - Sakta Agamas
visible source (Sun) - Surya - Soura Agamas
controller - Ganapati - Ganapatya Agamas
destroyer - Siva - Saiva Agamas
ultimate source - Visnu - Vaikhanasa Agamas
For those who are below standard for vedic purificatory process, Lord Siva gave the Tantra sastras. These have two general classifications, right and left. While the right aspect contains regulations for purification for those who are grossly engaged in meat eating, intoxication and illicit sex, the left aspect contains low class activities like black magic etc.
From the point of view of common human activities sense gratification is the basis of material life. To cater to this aim, there are three paths mentioned in the Vedas:

The karma-kanda path involves fruitive activities to gain promotion to better planets. Using the methodology from the first five Vedangas, the Kalpa-sutras explain this path.

Upasana-kanda involves worshiping different controllers for promotion to their planets. The Agamas explain this path.

Jnana-kanda involves realizing the Absolute truth in impersonal feature for the purpose of becoming one . The Upanisads explain this path.

Though these paths are all from the Vedas, and the Vedas do explain them, one should not think that that is all the Vedas have. The real purpose of the Vedas is to gradually push one in the path of self realization to the point of surrender in devotion al service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna.

What is prasthana-traya?
What is the difference between sruti, smrti and nyaya? What are the vedic books under this classification?
What are Vedangas?
Describe the four divisions of Kalpa-sutras.
How many are the paths mentioned in the Vedas? What are they? Which books explain them?
What is the real purpose of the Vedas?
Lesson Three (Upanisads and Darsanas)
(Vedanta and six systems of philosophy)
Upanisad means receiving knowledge while sitting near the teacher. These are conversations between self realized souls and their students on the subject matter of Absolute truth. The philosophical aspects of all the important processes and practices of k nowledge (known as vidyas) that are given in the Vedas are discussed in the Upanisads. Veda means knowledge and anta means end. Upanisads are known as Vedanta, end of knowledge.

In the Upanisads the description is more or less negation of the material conception of everything, up to the Supreme Lord. It is very important to note that there is no denial of the spiritual, absolute, transcendental conception in the Upanisads. The purpose of the Upanisads is to philosophically establish the personal feature of the Absolute Truth as transcendental to material names, forms, qualities and actions.

There are 108 Upanisads, as accepted by disciplic succession. Among them the following are considered as topmost:

1) Isa 2) Kena 3) katha 4) Prasna 5) Mundaka 6) Mandukya 7) Taittiriya
8) Aitareya 9) Chandogya 10) Brhad-aranyaka 11) Svetasvatara
Darsana means, sight or vision. In the Vedanta philosophy, the first question is, what is the source of everything? There are philosophers who saw different stages of the original source, and explained philosophy according to their vision. These are known as darsanas. They are also known as sad-darsanas (six systems of philosophy).

The six philosophical treatises are:

Nyaya propounded by Gautama
Vaisesika propounded by Kanada
Sankhya propounded by Kapila
Yoga propounded by Patanjali
Purva (karma) Mimamsa propounded by Jaimini
Uttara (brahma) Mimamsa propounded by Vyasa
Nyaya, the philosophy of logic, maintains that the atom is the cause of the cosmic manifestation.
Vaisesika, philosophy of specialised logic, maintains that the combination of atoms is the cause of the cosmic manifestation.

Sankhya, philosophy of analytical study, maintains that the material nature is the cause of the cosmic manifestation.

Yoga, philosophy of mystic perfections, maintains that universal consciousness is the cause of the cosmic manifestation.

Purva (karma) mimamsa, philosophy of actions and reactions, maintains that fruitive activities are the cause of the cosmic manifestation.

Uttara (brahma) mimamsa has two different categories:

The impersonalists maintain that the impersonal Brahman effulgence is the cause of the cosmic manifestation.

After studying the six philosophical theses, Vyasadeva completely summarized them all in his Vedanta-sutra darsana: The Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the cause of all causes.

Anyone who wants to establish his own philosophy certainly cannot explain any scripture according to the principle of direct interpretation. Among the six kinds of philosophers up to the impersonalist brahma-mimamsa philosophers, none really cares for th e Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the cause of all causes. They are always busy refuting the philosophical theories of others and establishing their own.

Nyaya and Vaisesika philosophers by accepting atoms as source have rejected the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The Sankhya philosophers do not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead, because after scrutinizingly analysing the material elements, they have come to the conclusion that material nature is the cause of everything.

The Yoga philosophers imagine a form of the Absolute Truth within many forms , and thus do not give any information about the transcendental Personality of Godhead.

Purva (karma) mimamsa philosophers maintain that if there is a God, He is subjected to our fruitive activities. Therefore they do not see any need to become devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The impersonalist Uttara (brahma) mimamsa philosophers say that everything is an illusion. Headed by philosophers like Astavakra, they stress the impersonal Brahman effulgence as the cause of everything, rejecting the transcendental Personality of Godh ead, who is also the source of that Brahman effulgence.

Srila Vyasadeva wrote the Vedanta-sutras and taking the essence of all vedic literature, established the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


What are Upanisads? What do they teach?
How many are the Upanisads? List the most important ones. (Do you know the name of the Upanisad that Srila Prabhupada translated and given purports to?)
What is the actual purpose of the Upanisads?
What are darsanas? Name the six darsanas.
What do the six systems of philosophy establish as cause of cosmic manifestation?
Explain how the six systems of philosophy are all atheistic.
What system of philosophy will you classify Vyasadevas Vedanta-sutras in? Why are Vedanta-sutras the complete Vedanta Philosophy?
Lesson Four (Bhasyas)
(Commentaries on Vedanta Sutra)
Vyasadeva is an incarnation of Krsna. He compiled Vedanta-sutra to enable one to understand the Absolute Truth through infallible logic and argument.

Veda means knowledge, and anta means the end. In other words, proper understanding of the ultimate purpose of the Vedas is called Vedanta knowledge.

A sutra is a code that expresses the essence of all knowledge in a minimum of words. It must be universally applicable and faultless in its linguistic presentation; this is the definition of sutra according to Vayu and Skanda Puranas.

Knowledge which is given in the Vedanta-sutra is supported by the Upanisads. Vedanta-sutras are known as nyaya-prasthana, legitimate logic and argument concerning cause and effect giving the conclusive understanding of the sruti-prasthana, the Upanisads.

Vedanta-sutra, which consists of codes revealing the method of understanding Vedic knowledge, is the concise form of all Vedic knowledge. It begins with the words "athato brahma-jijnasa" ( "now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth"). The hum an form of life is especially meant for this purpose, and therefore the Vedanta-sutra very concisely explains the human mission. According to the great dictionary compiler ( Kosakara), Hemacandra, Vedanta refers to the purport of the Upanisads and the Bra hmana portion of the Vedas.

The Vedanta-sutras are also known by the following different names:

(1) Brahma-sutra, (2) Saririka-sutra, (3) Vyasa-sutra,
(4) Badarayana-sutra, (5) Uttara-mimamsa, (6) Vedanta-darsana.
The Vedanta-sutra consists of four chapters. The first two chapters discuss the relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is known as sambandha-jnana, or the knowledge of relationship.

The third chapter describes how one can act in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhideya-jnana.

The fourth chapter describes the result of such action. This is known as prayojana-jnana.

Because the Vedanta-sutra is in codes which contain a lot of knowledge, it required commentaries (bhasyas).

Sripada Sankaracarya wrote his commentary on Vedanta-sutra based on monism (advaita - not two). He established that God and the living entity are one. Not accepting the transformation of the energy of Absolute Truth, which is the actual explanation of th e Vedanta-sutra, he introduced the theory of illusion. He claimed that everything is one with Supreme.

There are other (theistic) commentaries by vaisnava acaryas:

Nimbarka - dvaitadvaita (oneness and dualism)
Visnuswami - suddhadvaita (purified oneness)
Ramanujacarya - visistadvaita (specific oneness)
Madhvacarya - dvaita (dualism)
Baladeva vidya bhusana - acintya bhedabheda (inconceivable oneness and difference)
In each of these commentaries, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is established as the cause of all causes, the cosmic manifestation is established as transformation of His inconceivable energies, and devotional service is described very explicitly. Questions:
Who is Vyasadeva? Why did he compile Vedanta-sutras?
What is Vedanta? What is sutra? How do you know?
What is the connection between Upanisads and Vedanta-sutra?
What is the connection between knowledge of the Vedas and Vedanta-sutras?
What are the different names of Vedanta-sutra?
What are the contents of the Vedanta-sutra?
What is the necessity of commentaries on the Vedanta-sutra?
Describe in brief the commentary of Sankaracarya?
List the vaisnava commentaries and the names of their philosophies.
What is common in the vaisnava commentaries?
Lesson Five (Puranas, Itihasas, and Kavyas)
Puranas are compiled from related historical facts which explain the teachings of the four Vedas. In the Chandogya Upanisad, the Puranas and the Mahabharata, generally known as histories, are mentioned as the fifth Veda.
Srila Vyasadeva, due to his kindness and sympathy toward the fallen souls, supplemented the Vedas with Puranas which easily explain the Vedic truths, intended for different types of men.

All men are not equal. There are men who are conducted by the mode of goodness, others who are under the mode of passion and others who are under the mode of ignorance. The Puranas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradu ally regain their original position and get out of the hard struggle for existence.

All the stories mentioned in the Puranas are actual histories, not only of this planet but also on millions of other planets within the universe.

In the Puranas, (which are classified under the three modes) as a matter of course, Srila Vyasadeva has certainly given descriptions of the glories of Krsna, but not as many as given to religiosity economic development, sense gratification and salvation . These four items are by far very inferior to engagement in the devotional service of the Lord.

Therefore, in the pure-goodness Purana, viz., Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva proclaims that the prime necessity of human life is to realize ones eternal relationship with the Lord and thus surrender unto Him without delay.

Itihasas are literatures describing historical events pertaining to either a single hero or a few heroic personalities in a lineage: for example, Ramayana describing the pastimes of Sri Ramacandra and Mahabharata describing the pastimes of the Pandavas i n the lineage of the Kurus. In these books there are topics on transcendental subjects along with material topics. The Bhagavad-gita is a part of Mahabharata. The whole idea of the Mahabharata culminates in the ultimate instructions of the Bhagavad-gita t hat one should give up all other engagements and should engage oneself solely and fully in surrendering unto the lotus feet of Krsna. The conclusive teaching of the Ramayana also is to fully surrender and take shelter of Lord Sri Ramacandra.

Kavyas are dramatic poetical presentations of selected histories from the Itihasas and/or Puranas, some examples are Raghuvamsa, Meghaduta, Sakuntala.

All the vedic literatures, are put into systematic order for the benefit of the fallen souls who are detached from the transcendental loving service of the Lord, It is the duty of the fallen souls to take advantage of such literatures and become freed fr om the bondage of material existence.


How are Puranas compiled?
Give an evidence for the Vedic authority of the Puranas.
How did Vyasadeva helped the different types of men to understand the vedic truths?
How are the Puranas divided?
What subject matters are given more importance in the Puranas under the three modes?
How is Srimad Bhagavatam different from the other Puranas?
What mode is Srimad Bhagavatam in?
What are Itihasas? What is the ultimate teaching contained in them?
What is the utility of the Puranic classification of the Vedic literature?
Lesson Six (Pancaratras)
Pancaratrasya krtsnasya vakta to bhagavan svayam: The Pancaratra system is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead (just like the Bhagavad-gita); there are 108 Pancaratra books in which the system of worship of the Lord in His Deity form is explaine d to and through the great authorities of devotional service, viz., Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, Goddess Laksmi etc., Padma Pancaratra, Narada Pancaratra, Hayasirsa Pancaratra, Laksmi-tantra, and Mahesa Pancaratra are some of the most important books of Pancar atra.
Under the Vedic vidhi (rules) a student is required to be a bonafide son of a brahmin or twice born, but a sudra can be elevated to a brahmins position by Pancaratrika vidhi.

As human society becomes degraded by the influence of the age of Kali, people become unfit for the vedic system. So the Pancaratra system of making one qualified by initiating him into the process of devotional service by which he is engaged fully in the service of the Deity form of the Lord is the only practical method for deliverance in this age of Kali.

Pancaratra books contain elaborate descriptions on the subject matter of the expansions and incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, especially the Deity incarnations, detailed informations on day to day worship of the Deity forms, methods of purification of the worshipper and process of practical meditation, process of installing temple and Deities, and instructions on how to conduct different festivals in glorification of the pastimes of the Lord.

In the four authorised sampradayas, the acaryas have compiled Deity worship manuals based on these Pancaratra books. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami in the subject matter of Pancaratra and advised them to write b ooks on this subject.

Srila Sanatana Goswami compiled Hari bhakti vilas, giving elaborate descriptions of vaisnava regulative principles and practice. Srila Rupa Goswami made his treatise on the subject, viz., Bhakti rasamrta sindhu with profound knowledge of revealed scriptu res and authoritative references from various Vedic literatures, especially Narada Pancaratra.

Srila Prabhupada gave a summary study in prose on Bhakti rasamrta sindhu, in his book Nectar of Devotion. Thus the codes of conduct book for the Krsna conscious devotees, the Nectar of Devotion, is the Pancaratra book for the Krsna consciousness movemen t.


What are Pancaratras?
What is the difference between Vedic rules and Pancaratrika rules?
What is the special importance of the Pancaratra system in the age of Kali?
What are the subject matters of the Pancaratra books?
What is Nectar of Devotion? Explain its connection with the Pancaratra books.
Lesson Seven (The Four Books)
Bhagavad-gita As It Is:
This book is the a, b, c book of spiritual education. This is the essence of the knowledge imparted in the Upanisads. Since Brahma-sutras give conclusive meaning to the Upanisads, Bhagavad-gita is also the essence of the subject matter of the Brahma-sutr as. Vedic knowledge is complete because it is above all doubts and mistakes, and Bhagavad-gita is the essence of all such Vedic knowledge. Out of many standard and authoritative revealed scriptures, the Bhagavad-gita is the best.

In the present age people are so absorbed in mundane activities that it is not possible for them to read all the Vedic literatures. This one book, Bhagavad-gita As It Is will suffice because it is the essence of all vedic literatures and especially becau se it is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The whole Bhagavad-gita centers around the declaration that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that the ultimate perfection of life for the living being is to fully surrender unto Him.

Nectar of devotion:

Bhaktirasamrta sindhu by Srila Rupa Goswami is a treatise on the codes of conduct of devotees compiled in Haribhakti vilas by Srila Sanatana Goswami. Srila Prabhupada gave a summary study of Bhaktirasamrta sindhu in his book Nectar of Devotion, thus prov iding the Pancaratra for the devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement.

The Nectar of Devotion teaches us how to turn that switch that will immediately brighten everything, everywhere, by engaging in the simple and natural method of loving Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even those who are completely confused and frustrated in life, can extinguish immediately the fire of material existence burning within their hearts, by learning this art of devotional service as directed in the Nectar of Devotion.

The Nectar of Devotion is specifically presented for persons who are engaged in the Krsna Consciousness movement.


Within the Vedic literature, there are two systems of education. One deals with transcendental knowledge (para vidya) and the other with material knowledge (apara vidya). The Vedas and their corollaries the six Vedangas deal with the inferior system of m aterial knowledge, viz, to improve religion (dharma), economic development (artha), sense gratification (kama), and liberation (moksa).

As far as Vedic literature is concerned, Vedanta-sutra is accepted as the para vidya. Srimad Bhagavatam is an explanation of that para vidya. It is the fully matured fruit of the desire tree known as Vedic literature.

Srila Prabhupada has given his Bhaktivedanta (devotional Vedanta) translations and purports on Srimad Bhagavatam as the graduate study for the devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement.

Sri Caitanya Caritamrta:

Sri Krsna appeared as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to give practical demonstrations of the teachings He gave as Krsna. He relished the descriptions of Krsna lila given in the Srimad Bhagavatam by Vyasadeva.

Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur, the Vyasa of Caitanya Bhagavata described Lord Caitanyas pastimes. Following in his footsteps Sri Krsnadas Kaviraj Goswami, composed Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, in which the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are described in g reat detail.

One begins with Bhagavad-gita and advances through Srimad Bhagavatam (for which conducting life according to the codes of Nectar of Devotion is a must), to the Caitanya Caritamrta. Although all these great scriptures are on the same absolute level, for t he sake of comparative study Caitanya Caritamrta is considered to be on the highest platform.

Srila Prabhupada says in his preface to the Caitanya Caritamrta, "I sincerely hope that by understanding the teachings of Lord Caitanya human society will experience a new light of spiritual life which will open the field of activity of the pure soul."

Srila Prabhupada says in his purport to text 118 of chapter twenty-two, in the Madhya-lila of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta:

"In our Krsna consciousness movement we have therefore limited our study of Vedic literatures to Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya Caritamrta and Bhaktirasamrta sindhu. These four works are sufficient for preaching purposes. They are adequat e for the understanding of the philosophy and the spreading of missionary activities all over the world."
The whole ocean of Vedic literature is contained in these four books of Srila Prabhupada - as you have seen through these lessons. If a student sincerely studies these four books analytically and systematically,
"Four books are enough!"

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Question ...

Did this text come from a website? If so, which
one? I ask because it looks familiar and I can't
seem to place it.
I am familiar with that website which explains why
the text looked familiar. Thanks for the reply, much
appreciated. :)