The Wisdom of the Vedas

Lead me from the Unreal to the Real. Lead me from darkness to Light. Lead me from death to Immortality. [1]

The creation of the Veda’s is shrouded in the mist of history. But whatever their actual date they embody the profound spiritual truths and revelations of the early Vedic Seers. The message of the Vedas has stood the test of time because they consider and express the essential spiritual nature of man and God.

Some scholars criticise the Veda’s, for their focus on rituals and social systems that seem outdated today. However, to judge the Vedas only on external forms of worship is to miss the overriding essence of Vedic Wisdom. The quintessence of the Vedas is to ‘know thyself’; The Vedas teach, that through a path of self-discovery, a seeker can attain realisation of the Supreme Transcendental Consciousness.

Key Concepts of the Vedas

Ahimsa – Non violence. In this context non violence does not just mean the absence of war and conflict. Non violence is also the avoidance of hurtful actions and thoughts. Ahimsa is the belief in a peaceful approach to all life. Through practising non-violence towards others, we feel that our self is really part of an extended reality.

‘It is from non violence that man gets his greatest opportunity to feel that he does not belong to a small family, but to the largest family of all: the universe.’
  • Sri Chinmoy [2]

The illumining ideal of ahimsa has influenced India’s great Saints and Seers. In particular we can see Ahimsa being practised by Lord Mahavir, founder of the Jains, and Lord Buddha. It was through Ahimsa, non-violence that Mahatma Gandhi sought to lead India to independence.

Sacrifice. To understand the Vedic ideal of sacrifice we should not just take a literal interpretation of the term ‘sacrifice’. Here the Vedic Seers encourage aspirants to sacrifice their lower nature, to sacrifice wrong thoughts and emotions. It is only through letting go of these negative concepts that we can grow into the divine consciousness.

Book Learning is not the Highest Ideal. The Vedas offer a unique message. They urge a devotee to go beyond the stage of mental understanding. The Vedas make the enlightening assertion that to really understand the message of the Vedas you have to meditate. It is only through a seeker’s inner experiences, that the highest consciousness can become a reality. As Sri Chinmoy says:

‘Unlike other scriptures, the Vedas have the sincere and brave heart to say that they are not indispensable; nay not even important. They say that what is really important and supremely indispensable is the realisation of Brahman, the One without a second.’ [3]

Vedas Are Universal The Vedas do not claim a monopoly on the truth. The Vedas proclaim God can be approached through many different ways. It was this universal message of the Vedas, which Swami Vivekananda brought to the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. His eloquent belief in the unity of different religions struck a deep chord with those attending.

‘I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.’ [4]

Love and Devotion. Above all else the Supreme secret of the Vedas is to Love God. Through pure devotion a seeker can attain the Supreme consciousness. To realise God as Love, is the highest teaching of the Vedas.

‘Love is the first born, loftier than the Gods, the Fathers and men. You O Love, are the eldest of all, altogether mighty. To you we pay homage! In many forms of goodness, O Love, you show your face. Grant that these forms may penetrate our hearts.’ [5]
[1] Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
[2] The Vedas The song of the Infinite by Sri Chinmoy
[3] Intuition Light from the Vedas by Sri Chinmoy
[4] Vivekananda’s Speech to World Parliament of Relgions
[5] Atharva Veda IX 2.19

Article by Richard Pettinger 10/02/2007