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BE A HERO

Swami Sivananda

Be a hero in the battle of life.
March on boldly.
Do not look back.
Be a hero in the strife.
Act, strive, plod, move on.
Be up and doing.
Pursue, persist, persevere.
Aspire, achieve and attain.
Be not afraid of little setbacks.
Stand up again and roar.
Be alert and vigilant.
Climb the peak, or pinnacle.
Act well the part, Beloved Ram!
In the drama of this world.
Earn abundant money.
And spend it in charity.
Neglect not your duties.
Give up your life in a noble cause.
Learn to sacrifice and love.
Wear the laurels of peace.
Yours is Lord’s abode.
And everything that is in it.
And what is more.
You will also become the Lord,
My beloved child!

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Adi Sankaracharya’s Bhavani Bhujangam
Translated by P. R. Ramachander

Shadathara pangeruham, anthar virajath,
Sushumnantharalethi thejollasanthim,
Sudha mandalam dravayanthim pibanthim,
Sudha moorthy meede chidananda roopam. 1

I bow before that personification of nectar,
Who is the ever lasting immortal bliss,
Who is the luster in the Sushumna,
Which is in the six chakras of the body,
And who melts the moon and drinks its light.

Jwalath kodi balarka bhasarunangim,
Sulavanya srungara lokabhiramam,
Mahapadma kinjalka madhye virajat,
Trikone nishannam bhaje sri Bhavanim. 2

I sing about that Bhavani,
Who sits in the triangle,
Which shines in the stamen of the great lotus,
Who has the luster of crores of rising suns,
Who is immensely pretty,
And who attracts the entire world by her charm.

Kwanath Kinkini nuporoth bhasi rathna,
Prabhaleeda lakshardhra padaabhja yugmam,
Ajesachyuthadyai surai sevyamanam,
Maha devi manmurdhy thee bhavayami. 3

Oh, great goddess please keep your feet,
Which have jingling bells made of gems tied to it,
Which shine in the luster of your wet lac painted feet,
And which are worshipped by Vishnu, Brahma and others
On my head and bless.

Susonamambara baddha ne virajan
Maha rathna kanchi kalapam nithambham,
Sphurat dakshinavartha nabhim cha thisro,
Vallerambha thee romarajim bajeham. 4

I worship the streak of hair on your belly,
Thine shining navel circling to the left,
Thine hips dressed in red garments,
And your waist adorned with golden tinkling belt,
Studded with greatest of jewels.

Lasad Vrutha muthunga manikya kumbho,
Pamasri stanadwandha mbabujakshim,
Bhaje dugadha punarabhiramam thavedam,
Maha hara deeptham sada prasruthasyam. 5

I worship thine twin radiant raised breasts full of milk,
Which are round and like the gem studded pot,
And which are ever shining with milk,
Hey mother who has lotus like eyes.

Sirisha prasoonoolasaasad bahu dandair,
Jwaladwanakodanda pasangusaischa,
Chaladkankanodhara keyura bhoosho,
Jwaladd bharlasanthim Bhaje Sri Bhavanim. 6

I worship that Bhavani
Who glitters with her arms,
Which are as delicate as Sirisa flowers,
And which carry arrow, bow, noose and goad,
And which shines with bangles and bracelets.

Sarad poorna Chandra prabha purna bimba,
Darasmera vakthra aravindam susantham,
Su ratnavali hara tataka shobham,
Maha suprasannam Bhaje Bhavanim. 7

I worship that Bhavani ,
Who is extremely pleasant,
Who shines like the full moon of autumn,
Whose lotus like face is adorned with peace,
And who shines with gem studded necklace and ear studs.

Sunasaputam Sundara bru lalatam,
Thavo ashtai sriyam dana daksham kadaksham,
Lalate lasadh randa kasthuri bhoosham,
Sphurachri mukambhoja meedeha mamba. 8

I praise thee Amba,
Who adorns your lotus like face,
With musk on the forehead and cheeks,
Who has very pretty nostrils,
Who has a pretty forehead,
Who has well formed beautiful lips.
And who is capable of blessing with a side long glance.

Chalath kunthalanthar brahmad bhrunga vrundam,
Ghana snighdha dhammila bushojwalam te,
Sphuran mauli manikhya bandendu rekha,
Vilassollasad deepya moordhana mede. 9

I praise thine head,
Which is playfully radiant,
Which is adorned by the crescent moon,
Which is decorated by the line of gems,
In whose dense hair the swarm of bees,
Enter swirl and play,
And which is decorated,
By densely woven white jasmine flowers.

Ithi sri Bhavani swaroopam thavedam,
Prapanchat param chahi sookshma prasannam,
Sphuratvambha dimbhasya mey hrth saroje,
Sada Vang mayam sarva thejo mayam cha. 10

This form of yours, Oh Bhavani,
Which is much above the universe,
In its micro form,
May please shine in the lotus heart mine,
And bless me in your lustrous form,
So that I rule over the wealth of words.

Ganeshabhi mukkhyakhilai sakthi brundai,
Vrytham vai sphurajchakra rajollasanthim,
Param Raja rajeswari tripuri thwam,
Shivanngouparistha shivaam bhavayami. 11

I meditate on you, the wife of Shiva,
Who is sitting pleasantly on his lap,
Surrounded by Shakthis led by lord Ganesha,
Who is sitting highly radiant on the chakra raja,
And who is Tripura and Rajarajeswari.

Thwam arka sthwam indu sthwam agni sthwam aapa,
Sthwam aakasa Bhoo , Vayavasthwam mahatwam,
Thwadanyo na kaschid prapanchosthi sarva,
Thwam ananda samvit swaroopam bhajeham. 12

I sing about you as a form of blissful knowledge,
As one to whom , there is none superior,
As you are the sun, moon, fire, water,
Ether, earth, fire and the great essence.

Sruthi namagamye suvedagamagne,
Mahimno na janathi param thavamba,
Sthuthim karthumichami they thwam Bhavani,
Sramasweda mathra pramugdha kilaham. 13

Though I know not thine greatness,
Wish I to praise you, Oh, Bhavani,
Who is the knower of Vedas and Agamas,
And who is unreachable through scriptures.
So please pardon me for doing this.

Gurusthwm Shivasthwam cha Shakthisthwam meva,
Thwamevasi matha, pitha cha thwameva,
Thwammevasi vidhya, thwamevasi bhandhu,
Gathir meymathir devi sarvam thwameva. 14

You are my teacher, you are my lord Shiva,
You are the Goddess Shakthi,
You are my mother, you are my father,
You are the knowledge, you are my relations,
And so you are my only refuge, my only thought,
And everything that I can think of.

Saranye, varanye, sukarunya murthe,
Hiranyodharadyai raganye, supunye,
Bhavaranya bheethescha maam pahi bhadre,
Namasthe, Namasthe, Namasthe, Bhavani. 15

Salutations, salutations and salutations, Oh Bhavani,
You are my refuge, my boon and form of all mercy,
You are greatest among all devas, oh holy one,
And so, please protect me from this forest snare of life.

Ithi maam mahachchri Bhavani bujangam,
Sthuthim yah pated bhakthi yukthascha thasmai,
Swakeeyam padam saswatham veda saram,
Sriyam chashtasidhim Bhavani dadathi. 16

Who ever correctly reads with devotion,
This great hymn praising Bhavani from head to toe,
Would attain a permanent place of salvation,
Which is the essence of Vedas,
And also get wealth and the eight occult powers.

Bhavani, Bhavani, Bhavani, Trivaram,
Mudaram mudha sarvadha ye japanthe,
Na soko, na moho na papam, na bheethi,
Kadachi, kadanchit kuthashrijananam. 17

Three times repeat the holy name of Bhavani,
With devotion and repeatedly for ever,
And get rid of sorrow, passion, sin and fear,
For all time and for all ways.

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Bhagawan Manasa Pooja

[Mental worship of God]
By Adi Shankara Bhagwat Pada
Translated by P. R. Ramachander

[Here is a very pretty prayer describing the mental worship of Lord Krishna. In the reference book in Malayalam it is stated that it is written by Adi Shankara.]

Hrudambhoje Krishna sakala jala shyamala thanu,
Sarojaksha sragweemukuta kadagath aabharanavan,
Saradraka nadha prathima vadana Sri muralikam,
Vahan dhyeyo Gopi gana parivrutha kumkumachitha. 1

In my mind I am able to see Lord Krishna,
As the one who is black like a water rich cloud,
One with lotus eyes, one who wears garlands,
Crown and bangles, one who is like the autumn moon,
One who holds the flute, one who is surrounded by Gopis,
And one who wears the saffron tilaka in his forehead,

Payombhodher dwepan mama hrudaya mayahi Bhagawan,
Mani vrathabrajath kanaka vara peetam bhaja hare,
Suchinhou the padou yadu kula jane nejmi sujalair,
Grahanedham dhoorva dala jaladarghyam mura ripo. 2

Hey God from the ocean of milk, be pleased to come in to my mind,
And Oh Hari, please be seated on the golden seat studded with gems,
And Hey chief of Yadavas, I would be washing your feet with clean water,
And hey enemy of Mura, please receive these drops of water of Worship,
Dripping from the tips of the leaves of dhoorva grass.

Thwachamopendra tridasa saridha ambothi sisiram,
Bhajaswemam panchamrutha rachithamaplawamaghahan,
Dhyunadhya kalindya aapi kanaka kumbha sthithamidham,
Jalam thena snanam kuru kuru kuurushwaachamanakam. 3

Hey, remover of sins please sips the coldest water from the divine Ganga,
And please accept the bath made with five nectars like ghee and jaggery,
And please use the water of Yamuna filled in golden pots,
And take your bath and also wash your face again and again.

Thadid varne vasthre bhaya vibhaya kanthadhi haranam,
Pralambhari brathar mrudula upaveetham kuru gale,
Lalate pateerm mrugamadhayutham dharaya hare,
Grahanedham malyam satha dala thulasyadhi rachitham. 4

Wear the cloths which are like a streak of lightning,
And wear that holy thread which destroys,
Fear and passion in your neck, Oh brother of Bala Rama,
Wear the dot in the forehead with musk and also,
Receive from me the garland made of thulasi* and lotus.
*basil

Dasangam dhoopam sadvadanacharanogrerpithamaye,
Mukham deepenanduprabhavarajasa deva kalaye,
Emou pane vaneepathinuthasa karpoora rajasa,
Vishodhyagre datham salilamidhamachama nru hare. 5

I offer at your feet the scented smoke from ten different herbs,
And I wave the light lit on camphor over your face,
And Oh God who is being saluted by Lord Brahma,
Please receive this water from my hands,
Which have been cleaned with camphor and gargle it.

Sada thrupthannam shad rasa vadakhila vynjana yutham,
Suvarna mathre go krutha chashaka yukthe sthithamidham,
Yasoda soono thalparamadhayayasanasakhibhi,
Prasadam vanchadbhi saha thadanu neeram pibha vibho. 6

Oh son of Yasodha, along with your friends partake,
This food which has all the six known tastes,
To which Ghee is added and which is kept in a small golden cup,
And become pleased and also drink the perfumed water that I offer.

Sachandram thamboolam mukharuchikaram bakshaya hare,
Phalam swadhu preethya parimalavadaswadhaya chiram,
Saparya paryapthai kanaka mani thala sthithamidam,
Pradheepai raratheem jaladhi thanayaslishta rachaye. 7

Please eat the tasty thamboola* laced with camphor, Oh Hari,
Please eat the very tasty and scented fruits which are liked by you,
And which are being offered in a golden plate studded with gems,
And I am worshipping you with lighted lamps to please you,
Who is being embraced by the daughter of the ocean.
* Mixture of betel leaf, betel nut, lime

Vijatheeyai pushpai rabhibhirvilwa thulasi,
Yuthaischemam pushpanjalimajithathey moordhni nidhadhe,
Thava pradakshinya kramanamakha vidhwamsi rajitham,
Chaturvaram Vishno jani padha gathi sranthi vidhusha. 8

With great sweet smelling flowers like the Thulasi and Bilwa,
I worship your head, Oh God who can never be defeated,
And Oh Vishnu who has never been born,
I perambulate you four times, to take away all my sins.

Namaskaro ashtanga sakala duritha dwamsana patu,
Krutham nithyam geetham sthuthirapi ramakantha tha imam,
Thava preethyai bhooyadaham api cha dasasthava vibho,
Krutham chidram poornam kuru kuru namasthesthu Bhagawan. 9

I offer prostrations with eight body parts touching the earth,
Which is capable of destroying all sorts of miseries,
And Oh Consort of Lakshmi, I pray you, sing about you,
And dance before you to please you as I am your slave,
And please correct the faults done by me in your worship.

Sada sevya Krishnasajala Ghana leelakarathale,
Dadano dadhyannam thadanu nava neetham muralikam,
Kadachith kanthanamkucha kalasapathralirachana,
Samasaktham snighdhai saha shishu viharam virachayan. 10

I am always at the service of Krishna, who is black like a cloud,
Who holds curd rice, butter and flute in his hands,
And who sometimes is busy in drawing lines on the busts of his wives,
And some other times is busy in playing childish pranks with his friends.

Mani karnee chaya jathamidham manasa poojanam,
Ya kurvee thoshasi pragnasthasya Krishna praseedathi. 11

This worship with mind which originated in the holy waters of Ganges,
If done by a learned man in the dawn, would make Lord Krishna pleased with him.

Ithi Sri Shankaracharya virachitham Bhagwan manasa pooja sampoornam.

Thus ends the mental worship to Lord Krishna composed by Adi Shankara.

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 [Censure of the one who has not realized his self]
By Adi Shankaracharya
Translated by P. R. Ramachander
[In this simple, powerful, easily understandable and mellifluous verses, the Acharya emphasizes the need for understanding the self.]
Labdha Vidhya rajamanya, Thatha kim,
Praptha sampath prabhavadayam Thatha kim,
Buktha Nari sundarangi, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 1

What if he has got education which is honored by kings?
What if he has got wealth and great honour?
What if he has enjoyed a woman with pretty form?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Keyuradhyair bhooshitho va, Thatha kim,
Kauseyadhyai aavrutho va, Thatha kim,
Thruptho mrushtanna dheena va, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 2

What if he wears ornaments like the golden bangles?
What if he has got dressed himself in silken cloths?
What if he was satisfied by well prepared feast?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Drushta nana charu desasthatha kim,
Pushtascheshta bandhu vargha sthatha kim,
Nashtam daridryadhi dukhaam sthatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 3

What if he has visited several pretty countries?
What if he has many well nourished relatives?
What if he has lost the sorrow of poverty?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Snathastheertha jahnu jadhou sthatha kim,
Dhanam datham dravya ashtashta asankhyam sthatha kim,
Japtha manthraa koteeso vaasthatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 4

What if he has taken bath in sacred waters like Ganga?
What if he has given gifts of 16 kinds several times?
What if he has chanted billions of times the sacred chants?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Gothram samyakh bhooshitham va sthatha kim,
Gathram basmaschaditham va strhatha kim,
Rudrakshadhi sadhatho va sthatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 5

What if all his clan members are well ornamented?
What if his body has been fully applied with ash?
What if he wears sacred beads like Rudraksha?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Annair viprastharpitha va sthatha kim,
Yagnair deva sthoshitho va sthatha kim,
Keerthya vyaptha sarvalokaisthatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 6

What if he has satisfied with food learned Brahmins?
What if he has made devas happy by Yagnas?
What if his fame has spread all over the world,
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Kaya klishta schoupavasai sthatha kim,
Labdha puthra sweeyapathnyasthatha kim,
Pranayama sadhitho va sthatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 7

What if he practiced starvation punishing his body?
What if he got a son through his own sweet wife?
What if he has mastered the technique of Pranayama?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Yudhe shathru nirjitho va Thatha kim,
Bhooyo mithrair pooritho va Thatha kim,
Yogi praptha sidhayo va Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 8

What if he won over all his enemies in battle,
What if he has added his strength through new friends?
What if he has attained occult powers through Yoga?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Aabdhi padhbhyam lankitho va, Thatha kim,
Vayu kumbhe sthapitha va sthatha kim,
Meru pana vrudhatho va sthatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 9

What if he has crossed the ocean by foot?
What if he has able to retain his breath?
What if he holds the Mount Meru in his hand?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Kshwela peetho dugdha vadha, Thatha kim,
Vahnirjagdho laja vadha, Thatha kim,
Prapthaschara pakshi vathkhe, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 10

What if he has drunk poison, just like milk?
What if he has eaten fire like popped rice?
What if he moves in the sky similar to a bird?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Badha samyak pavakaadhyasthatha, Thatha kim,
Sakshadhidha loha varyas, Thatha kim,
Labdho nikshepo anjanadhyous, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 11

What if he ties and keeps fire under control?
What if he is able to pierce hard metals?
What if he is able to locate treasures using collyrium?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Bhoopendrasthwam praptha murvya, Thatha kim,
Devendrathwam sambrutho vaa, Thatha kim,
Mundeendrathwam chopa labdham, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 12

What if he secures the kingship of the world?
What if he gets the lordship over all devas?
What if he becomes the chief among the sages?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Manthrai sarva sthambhitho va, Thatha kim,
Banair lakshya bedhitho va, Thatha kim,
Kala gnanam cha aapi labdham, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 13

What if he is able to control everything through chants?
What if he is able to hit accurately his aim?
What if he is able to know, past, present and future?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Kamathanga ganditho va, Thatha kim,
Kopavesa kunditho va, Thatha kim,
Lobha slesha varjitho va, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 14

What if he is able to cut passion and worries?
What if he is able to blunt his anger?
What if he is able to keep away the embrace of avarice?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Moha dwantha poshitho va, Thatha kim,
Jathou bhoomou nirmadho va, Thatha kim,
Mathsaryadhir meelitho va, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 15

What if he is able to crush the gloom of delusion?
What if he is able to be completely devoid of all his pride?
What if he is not affected by jealousy?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Dhathur loka sadhitho va, Thatha kim,
Vishnur loko veekshitho va, Thatha kim,
Shambhor loka sasitho va, Thatha kim,
Yena swamathma naiva sakshathkrutho abhooth. 16

What if he is acquired the world of Brahma?
What if he has seen the world of Vishnu?
What if he ruled over the world of Shiva?
If he is not aware of the knowledge of his own self.

Yasyedham hrudhaye samyaghanathma Sri vigarhanam,
SAdho dhethi swatha sakshathkarasya bhajanam. 17

Any one, whose heart always thinks,
About the realization of the self.
Is the only one fit for realization of the self,

Anye thu mayika jagath branthivya moha mohitha,
Na thesham jayathe kwapi swathma sakshath kruthir bhuvi. 18

For others are in a stupor of desire,
And do not realize this world,
And to them the thought of,
Self realization never occurs.

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Question:   If God is everywhere, why do we go to the temple to pray?

Answer:   Even though God is indeed everywhere, we often find it difficult to recognize His presence in all places.   God is just as present in the middle of a busy highway as He is in the temple.  But do you feel God’s presence driving down the highway?   Probably not.  On the other hand, when we enter a temple and see the Lord’s sacred form on the altar, we can certainly feel God’s divine presence.  So, going to the temple makes it easy for us to feel God’s presence.

  

Question:   Why are there so many forms of God if there is only one God?

Answer:   We have many forms in which we worship God because it allows people to choose a form of God they prefer. If you went to a restaurant, would you be happy if the menu had only one item, and that item was creamed spinach?! Wouldn’t you prefer a restaurant with a large menu of items from which you could choose? The menu has many forms of food because different people prefer different dishes. In the same way, Hinduism has many forms of God so people can choose the form they prefer for prayer and worship.

Question:   When we worship God, why do the priests sometimes sit around a fire, and sometimes sit in front of deities on an altar?

Answer:   Just as we can choose the form of God we worship, we can also choose the manner in which we worship God. We have two basic kinds of worship: puja and yagna. In yagna (also called homa or havan), we offer ghee and other things into a sacred fire. The fire consumes our offerings and symbolically transports them to the Lord. In puja, we invite the Lord to be present upon our altar and then we offer flowers, fruits, incense, arati and our prayers to Him. Both kinds of worship bless us by invoking God’s grace upon us.

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THE SRUTIS

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The Srutis are called the Vedas, or the Amnaya. The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. These are direct intuitional revelations and are held to be Apaurusheya or entirely superhuman, without any author in particular. The Veda is the glorious pride of the Hindus, nay, of the whole world!
The term Veda comes from the root Vid, to know. The word Veda means knowledge. When it is applied to scripture, it signifies a book of knowledge. The Vedas are the foundational scriptures of the Hindus. The Veda is the source of the other five sets of scriptures, why, even of the secular and the materialistic. The Veda is the storehouse of Indian wisdom and is a memorable glory which man can never forget till eternity.
Revealed Truths Without Beginning or End
The Vedas are the eternal truths revealed by God to the great ancient Rishis of India. The word Rishi means a seer from dris, to see. He is the Mantra-Drashta, a seer of Mantra or thought. The thought was not his own. The Rishis saw the truths or heard them. Therefore, the Vedas are what are heard (Sruti). The Rishi did not write. He did not create it out of his mind. He was the seer of thought which existed already. He was only the spiritual discoverer of the thought. He is not the inventor of the Veda.
The Vedas represent the spiritual experiences of the Rishis of yore. The Rishi is only a medium or an agent to transmit to people the intuitional experiences which he received. The truths of the Vedas are revelations. All the other religions of the world claim their authority as being delivered by special messengers of God to certain persons, but the Vedas do not owe their authority to any one. They are themselves the authority as they are eternal, as they are the Knowledge of the Lord.
Lord Brahma, the Creator, imparted the divine knowledge to the Rishis or seers. The Rishis disseminated the knowledge. The Vedic Rishis were great realised persons who had direct intuitive perception of Brahman or the Truth. They were inspired writers. They built a simple, grand and perfect system of religion and philosophy from which the founders and teachers of all other religions have drawn their inspiration.
The Vedas are the oldest books in the library of man. The truths contained in all religions are derived from the Vedas and are ultimately traceable to the Vedas. The Vedas are the fountain-head of religion. The Vedas are the ultimate source to which all religious knowledge can be traced. Religion is of divine origin. It was revealed by God to man in the earliest times. It is embodied in the Vedas.
The Vedas are eternal. They are without beginning and end. An ignorant man may say how a book can be without beginning or end. By the Vedas, no books are meant. Vedas came out of the breath of the Lord. They are the words of God. The Vedas are not the utterances of persons. They are not the composition of any human mind. They were never written, never created. They are eternal and impersonal. The date of the Vedas has never been fixed. It can never be fixed. Vedas are eternal spiritual truths. Vedas are an embodiment of divine knowledge. The books may be destroyed, but the knowledge cannot be destroyed. Knowledge is eternal. In that sense, the Vedas are eternal.
The Four Vedas and Their Sub Divisions
The Veda is divided into four great books: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda. The Yajur-Veda is again divided into two parts, the Sukla and the Krishna. The Krishna or the Taittiriya is the older book and the Sukla or the Vajasaneya is a later revelation to sage Yajnavalkya from the resplendent Sun-God.
The Rig-Veda is divided into twenty-one sections, the Yajur-Veda into one hundred and nine sections, the Sama-Veda into one thousand sections and the Atharva-Veda into fifty sections. In all, the whole Veda is thus divided into one thousand one hundred and eighty recensions.
Each Veda consists of four parts: the Mantra-Samhitas or hymns, the Brahmanas or explanations of Mantras or rituals, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads. The division of the Vedas into four parts is to suit the four stages in a man’s life.
The Mantra-Samhitas are hymns in praise of the Vedic God for attaining material prosperity here and happiness hereafter. They are metrical poems comprising prayers, hymns and incantations addressed to various deities, both subjective and objective. The Mantra portion of the Vedas is useful for the Brahmacharins.
The Brahmana portions guide people to perform sacrificial rites. They are prose explanations of the method of using the Mantras in the Yajna or the sacrifice. The Brahmana portion is suitable for the householders.
The Aranyakas are the forest books, the mystical sylvan texts which give philosophical interpretations of the rituals. The Aranyakas are intended for the Vanaprasthas or hermits who prepare themselves for taking Sannyasa.
The Upanishads are the most important portion of the Vedas. The Upanishads contain the essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas. The philosophy of the Upanishads is sublime, profound, lofty and soul-stirring. The Upanishads speak of the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. They reveal the most subtle and deep spiritual truths. The Upanishads are useful for the Sannyasins.
The subject matter of the whole Veda is divided into Karma-Kanda, Upasana-Kanda and Jnana-Kanda. The Karma-Kanda or Ritualistic Section deals with various sacrifices and rituals. The Upasana-Kanda or Worship-Section deals with various kinds of worship or meditation. The Jnana-Kanda or Knowledge-Section deals with the highest knowledge of Nirguna Brahman. The Mantras and the Brahmanas constitute Karma-Kanda; the Aranyakas Upasana-Kanda; and the Upanishads Jnana-Kanda.
The Mantra-Samhitas
The Rig-Veda Samhita is the grandest book of the Hindus, the oldest and the best. It is the Great Indian Bible, which no Hindu would forget to adore from the core of his heart. Its style, the language and the tone are most beautiful and mysterious. Its immortal Mantras embody the greatest truths of existence, and it is perhaps the greatest treasure in all the scriptural literature of the world. Its priest is called the Hotri.
The Yajur-Veda Samhita is mostly in prose and is meant to be used by the Adhvaryu, the Yajur-Vedic priest, for superfluous explanations of the rites in sacrifices, supplementing the Rig-Vedic Mantras.
The Sama-Veda Samhita is mostly borrowed from the Rig-Vedic Samhita and is meant to be sung by the Udgatri, the Sama-Vedic priest, in sacrifices.
The Atharva-Veda Samhita is meant to be used by the Brahma, the Atharva-Vedic priest, to correct the mispronunciations and wrong performances that may accidentally be committed by the other three priests of the sacrifice.
The Brahmanas and the Aranyakas
There are two Brahmanas to the Rig-Veda—the Aitareya and the Sankhayana. “The Rig-Veda,” says Max Muller, “is the most ancient book of the world. The sacred hymns of the Brahmanas stand unparalleled in the literature of the whole world; and their preservation might well be called miraculous.” (HISTORY OF ANCIENT SANSKRIT LITERATURE)
The Satapatha Brahmana belongs to the Sukla Yajur-Veda. The Krishna-Yajur-Veda has the Taittiriya and the Maitrayana Brahmanas. The Tandya or Panchavimsa, the Shadvimsa, the Chhandogya, the Adbhuta, the Arsheya and the Upanishad Brahmanas belong to the Sama-Veda. The Brahmana of the Atharva-Veda is called the Gopatha. Each of the Brahmanas has got an Aranyaka.
The Upanishads
The Upanishads are the concluding portions of the Vedas or the end of the Vedas. The teaching based on them is called Vedanta. The Upanishads are the gist and the goal of the Vedas. They form the very foundation of Hinduism.
There are as many Upanishads to each Veda as there are Sakhas, branches or recensions, i.e., 21, 109, 1000 and 50 respectively to the four Vedas, the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda.
The different philosophers of India belonging to different schools, such as Monism, Qualified Monism, Dualism, Pure Monism, Difference-cum-non-difference, etc., have acknowledged the supreme authority of the Upanishads. They have given their own interpretations, but they have obeyed the authority. They have built their philosophy on the foundation of the Upanishads.
Even the Western scholars have paid their tribute to the seers of the Upanishads. At a time when the Westerners were clad in barks and were sunk in deep ignorance, the Upanishadic seers were enjoying the eternal bliss of the Absolute, and had the highest culture and civilisation.
The most important Upanishads are Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Chhandogya, Brihadaranyaka, Kaushitaki and Svetasvatara and Maitrayani. These are supremely authoritative.
May the fundamental truths of the Vedas be revealed unto you all, like the Amalaka fruit in the palm of your hand. May Gayatri, the blessed Mother of the Vedas, impart to you the milk of Knowledge, the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads.
The Upa-Vedas
There are four Upa-Vedas or subsidiary Vedas, viz., the Ayurveda, the Dhanurveda, the Gandharva Veda and the Arthasastra, forming auxiliaries to the four Vedas, which mean, respectively, the science of health, the science of war, the science of music and the science of polity.
The Vedangas
There are six Angas or explanatory limbs, to the Vedas: the Siksha and Vyakarana of Panini, the Chhandas of Pingalacharya, the Nirukta of Yaska, the Jyotisha of Garga, and the Kalpas (Srauta, Grihya, Dharma and Sulba) belonging to the authorship of various Rishis.
Siksha is a knowledge of phonetics. Siksha deals with pronunciation and accent. The text of the Vedas is arranged in various forms or Pathas. The Pada-patha gives each word its separate form. The Krama-patha connects the word in pairs.
Vyakarana is Sanskrit grammar. Panini’s books are most famous. Without knowledge of Vyakarana, you cannot understand the Vedas.
Chhandas is metre dealing with prosody.
Nirukta is philology or etymology.
Jyotisha is astronomy and astrology. It deals with the movements of the heavenly bodies, planets, etc., and their influence in human affairs.
Kalpa is the method of ritual. The Srauta Sutras which explain the ritual of sacrifices belong to Kalpa. The sulba Sutras, which treat of the measurements which are necessary for laying out the sacrificial areas, also belong to Kalpa. The Grihya Sutras which concern domestic life, and the Dharma Sutras which deal with ethics, customs and laws, also belong to Kalpa.
The Pratishakhyas, Padapathas, Kramapathas, Upalekhas, Anukramanis, Daivatsamhitas, Parishishtas, Prayogas, Paddhatis, Karikas, Khilas and Vyuhas are further elaborations in the rituals of the Kalpa Sutras. Among the Kalpa Sutras, the Asvalayana, Sankhyana and the Sambhavya belong to the Rig-Veda. The Mashaka, Latyayana, Drahyayana, Gobhila and Khadira belong to the Sama-Veda. The Katyayana and Paraskara belong to the Sukla Yajur-Veda. The Apastamba, Hiranyakesi, Bodhayana, Bharadvaja, Manava, Vaikhanasa and the Kathaka belong to the Krishna Yajur-Veda. The Vaitana and the Kaushika belong to the Atharva-Veda.

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These are the intellectual section of the Hindu writings, while the first four are intuitional, and the fifth inspirational and emotional. Darsanas are schools of philosophy based on the Vedas. The Agamas are theological. The Darsana literature is philosophical. The Darsanas are meant for the erudite scholars who are endowed with acute acumen, good understanding, power of reasoning and subtle intellect. The Itihasas, Puranas and Agamas are meant for the masses. The Darsanas appeal to the intellect, while the Itihasas, Puranas, etc., appeal to the heart.
Philosophy has six divisions—Shad-darsana—the six Darsanas or ways of seeing things, usually called the six systems or six different schools of thought. The six schools of philosophy are the six instruments of true teaching or the six demonstrations of Truth. Each school has developed, systematised and correlated the various parts of the Veda in its own way. Each system has its Sutrakara, i.e., the one great Rishi who systematised the doctrines of the school and put them in short aphorisms or Sutras.
The Sutras are terse and laconic. The Rishis have condensed their thoughts in the aphorisms. It is very difficult to understand them without the help of commentaries by great sages or Rishis. Hence, there arose many commentators or Bhashyakaras. There are glosses, notes and, later, commentaries on the original commentaries.
The Shad-Darsanas (the six schools of philosophy) or the Shat-Sastras are: the NYAYA, founded by Gautama Rishi, the VAISESHIKA by Kanada Rishi, the SANKHYA by Kapila Muni, the YOGA by Patanjali Maharshi, the PURVA MIMAMSA by Jaimini, and the UTTARA MIMAMSA or VEDANTA by Badarayana or Vyasa. The Darsanas are divided into three pairs of aphoristic compositions which explain the philosophy of the Vedas in a rationalistic method of approach. They are: the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika, the Sankhya and the Yoga, and the Mimamsa and the Vedanta. Each set of Sutras has got its Bhashya, Vritti, Varttika, Vyakhyana or Tika and Tippani.

Sutra
Svalpaksharam-asandigdham
Saravad-visvatomukham
Astobham-anavadyam cha
Sutram sutravido viduh
A Sutra or an aphorism is a short formula with the least possible number of letters, without any ambiguity or doubtful assertion, containing the very essence, embracing all meanings, without any stop or obstruction and absolutely faultless in nature.
The Sutrakara or the composer of the aphorisms is said to be as happy as one would be while getting the first male child, if he is but able to reduce one letter in his abstruse Sutra of far-fetched words and ideas. The best example of the greatest, the tersest and the most perfect of Sutra literature is the series of aphorisms called the Ashtadhyayi composed by Panini. Panini is the father of all Sutrakaras from whom all others seem to have borrowed the method of composition. The Sutras are meant to explain a big volume of knowledge in short assertions suitable to be kept in memory at all times. The six Vedangas and the six systems of Hindu philosophy form the twelve sets of Sutra literature of the world. In addition to these, there are later compositions like the Narada-Bhakti Sutras, the Sandilya-Bhakti Sutras, etc., which also wish to assume an equal form with the famous Sutras mentioned above.
Bhashya
Sutrartho varnyate yatra
Padaih sutranusaribhih
Svapadani cha varnyante
Bhashyam bhashyavido viduh
A Bhashya is an elaborate exposition, a commentary on the Sutras, with word by word meaning of the aphoristic precepts, their running translation, together with the individual views of the commentator or the Bhashyakara. The best and the exemplary Bhashya in Sanskrit literature is the one written by Patanjali on the Vyakarana Sutras of Panini. This Bhashya is so very famous and important that it is called the MAHABHASHYA and its celebrated author is specially called the BHASHYAKARA. Patanjali is the father of Bhashyakaras. The next important Bhashya is the one on the Mimamsa Sutras written by Sabara-Swamin who learnt the art from Patanjali’s commentary. The third important Bhashya was written by Sankara on the Brahma Sutras, in close following with the Sabara-Bhashya. The Bhashyas on the six sets of aphorisms dealing with Indian philosophy were written by Vatsyayana, Prasastapada, Vijnanabhikshu, Vyasa, Sabara and Sankara. On the Vedanta or Brahma Sutras, there are about sixteen Bhashyas, like those of Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha, Nimbarka, etc.
Vritti
Sadvrittih sannibandhana
A Vritti is a short gloss explaining the aphorisms in a more elaborate way, but not as extensively as a Bhashya. An example is Bodhayana’s Vritti on the Brahma Sutras.
Varttika
Uktanuktaduruktanam
Chinta yatra pravartate
Tam grantham varttikam prahuh
Varttikajnavichakshanah
A Varttika is a work where a critical study is made of that which is said and left unsaid or imperfectly said in a Bhashya, and the ways of making it perfect by supplying the omissions therein, are given. Examples are the Varttikas of Katyayana on Panini’s Sutras, of Suresvara on Sankara’s Upanishad-Bhashyas, and of Kumarila Bhatta on the Sabara-Bhashya on the Karma-Mimamsa.
Vyakhyana or Tika
A Vyakhyana is a running explanation in an easier language of what is said in the original, with little elucidations here and there. A Vyakhyana, particularly of a Kavya, deals with eight different modes of dissection of the Sloka, like Pada-Chheda, Vigraha, Sandhi, Alankara, Anuvada, etc. This forms an important aspect in the study of Sanskrit Sahitya Sastra. An Anu-Vyakhyana—like the one written by Sri Madhva—is a repetition of what is already written, but in greater detail. An Anuvada is merely a running translation or statement of an abstruse text of the original. Tika is only another name for Vyakhyana. The best Vyakhyanas are of Vachaspati Misra on the Darsanas, especially on Sankara’s Brahmasutra-Bhashya.
Tippani
Tippani is just like a Vritti, but is less orthodox than the Vritti. It is an explanation of difficult words or phrases occurring in the original. Examples are Kaiyata’s gloss on the Mahabhashya of Patanjali, Nagojibhatta’s gloss on Kaiyata’s gloss, or Appayya’s gloss on Amalananda’s gloss on the Bhamati of Vachaspati Misra.
Reference : ALL ABOUT HINDUISM By SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA

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