In this chapter, I will devote myself to a 30,000 feet explanation of how and why I am writing about Vedic texts.
My study of Vedas and Upanishads in the last 15 years leads me to say with high degree of confidence, that the Vedic texts actually texts of cosmic evolution. For eg., uSa, the Dawn in the Rg Vedic texts is the dawn of Universe and not the morning dawn that we see daily. They are texts of Science whose description of events match mostly with our current understand and also exceed our understanding.
Like any science book, Rg Veda talks about various evolutionary forces that work at the dawn of Universe. Probably these texts got handed over across a civilizational bridge or an evolutionary bridge. The new owners of Vedas realized that these were great texts of 'truth'. But they could not comprehend what exactly they were.
So they started preserving the Vedic texts for a future understanding. The whole system of Brahmans reciting vedic scriptures mentally like a recorder and transmitting it to future generations without understanding what they were reciting, but transmitting it without an error by having different methods of recitation (using principles of parity like the ghana recitation mechanism) was designed to preserve Vedas for a future understanding.
But people were continuously also trying to decipher Vedic texts, while they were also transferring them across generations.
UpaniSads - Theorems of Vedic texts
niSad means that settles/sinks down or that is seated. niSAdas are people that are 'drivers' seated on animals and carts.
Part of vedic texts that settles/seats some core truths are called Upanisads. They are the theorems of modern science that indicate a design pattern or the foundations of a 'model'.
As people investigated these theorems, several schools of thought emerged from the investigation of Upanisads.
The SaMkya model was similar but not same as current Standard Model of Universe. Carvakas had a view akin to current quantum physics view. Vijnana had a view akin to current classical physicists view. Vendata a view akin to current philosophers view. Some more on it here
These models came out of the investigation of Upanishads.
The Puranic wisdom
But meanwhile as people who were reciting and repeating the raw Vedic texts were trying to decipher these texts in course of their recitation, they personified the various forces, energies and matter forms. These became divinities which had specific characteristics. Their interactions became social events. Thus the puranic stories were born.
Now these puranas were able to be carried more easily across generations, as it is easy to be transferred, as people understood them easily and less focus on error-free transmission. Puranas eventually became a separate body of literature.
While several vedic texts have been lost in the process of manual transmission, Puranas help to bridge the gaps in some of the places, as we can infer the essence.
pUrva-mImAmsa - The earlier reflection on Vedas
Another school of thought that emerged was the pUrva mImAmsa. It focused on the personified divinities, but the idea was to invoke those divinities in us. Essentially every divinity had certain characteristics. By invoking that divinity, those characteristics were invoked in us. This used the ritual mechanisms of Homa, Puja, Yajna etc to invoke those characteristics in us.
mImAmsa is translated as 'profound thought' or 'reflection' or 'examination'. It is the 'reflection' or investigation of Vedic scriptures that resulted in development of Vedic worship rituals such as 'Yajna', 'homa' and 'puja'.
These mimAmsa focussed on these rituals, because it is through these rituals the 'divinities' of early Universe were understood and their characteristics invoked in us. It is through these rituals, the human beings learnt from these divinities and evolved their life from primitive to advanced societies.
But over a period, the realisation and learning from rituals lost steam. Worship become just a ritualistic procedure devoid of logic.
Rise of Vedanta
The advent of Buddhism and Jainism and the popularity of simple philosophical models as compared to more complex Carvaka or Vijnana models which were more scholasitc or as opposed to the purAnic understanding which was very confusing or as opposed to mImAmsa which was highly ritualistic.
Philosophication of anything is extremely popular even today, as it cuts down the complexities of science and makes it light-weighted for people to consume. On one end, creating right philosophical models need in-depth understanding, on another end, such philosophical models can have huge errors, if not carefully peer-reviwed.
Vedantic understanding of Vedas, which is propounding simple phiolosophical models was popularized by Sankara's advaitic approach.
Sankara had a deep understanding of Vedas and Upanishads. I believe this deep understanding he got should have been the work of several generations of his gurus. It is not possible to put up these philosophical models without a very deep understanding.
To explain something simply, one must be a real expert. That was what Sankara was on Vedas and Upanishads. To ensure the philosophical model that he created was the right approach, Sankara did peer-review of his model through his debates across the country. Those peer-review debates were the foundations of success of advaitic approach, as it ensured it was a near error-free model.
Sankara understood the divinities, their characteristics, their properties and their relationships. With that he created this model. That model stands out, even when we put in the current perspective of science too.
Sankara approached the Vedas from 'Shiva', the property of Energy. The entire Universe is just a bundle of energy, though it may manifest in various forms. Sankara saw the 'consciousness' of Human beings as just another manifestation of the property of energy. This Shiva was the Paramatma.
Universe's matter forms originate because of Higgs interaction with Energy. Hence for the Universe's matter forms, Vishnu the property of Mass is the Supreme being is true. The mass based matter forms are the jivatma.
Though Mass can be seen as just a property rising due to Higgs field interacting with Energy, it is not exactly same as energy. Mass based matter forms (jIvatma) is equivalent to energy (paramAtma) but not equal to energy.
Sankara recognized the Mass-Energy (Vishnu- Siva) relationship. But he dismissed the property of Mass as 'mAyA', the illusion that covers the energy, that arises and subsides. When matter forms annihilate they become energy again. So he had propounded Universe is energy only or Shiva only.
Hence the concept of Advaita came up, wherein Universe is just Shiva, the paramAtma, the property of energy, that also manifests as consciousness in living beings. In a way it is right, because consciousness is ultimately the transaction of energy in electromagnetic field generated in biological beings.
Hence jIvatma, the mass based matter forms are simply manifestations of that paramAtma.
Ramanuja's Visishta-advaita understanding
Ramanuja's understanding approaches the Vedas from 'Vishnu', the property of Mass due to Higgs Interaction. Universe's matter forms originate because of Higgs interaction with Energy. Hence for the Universe's matter forms (jIvatma), Vishnu the property of Mass is the Supreme being.
Ramanuja saw Vishnu (the property of Mass due to Higgs interaction in visible matter forms) as a manifestation of nArayana, which is the Purusha, the observer. Purusha is the Observer that does not interact, does not evolve, is never born, but just observes. nArAyana is the dark matter that just observes the Universe, does not evolve, while interacting/visible matter forms evolve.
The mere observation of dark matter evolves the matter based Universe, as dark matter bends the underlying fabric of spacetime, makes matter to interact more.
If we look at relationship between dark matter and matter, then dark matter is the detached observer. The interacting matter can be seen as a 'special' form of matter, but distinctly different from the Observing dark matter.
In this vaishnative view, nArAyana is the paramAtma and vishnu sustains the jIvatma. nArAyana, the dark matter exists inside all matter forms, the jivAtma. Here Shiva, the property of energy expressed by matter forms and nothing more. Here nArAyana, the dark matter, manifests as the 'Heart' or consciousness of biological beings.
While Sankara is right when we view Universe as a bundle of energy, Ramanuja is also right, as something like Higgs interaction or Big-Bang is not explained by energy, but by something beyond the energy in itself.
If observer drives evolution in every places (as dark matter does matter evolution), then there is an observer beyond the Universe for all Universe's evolution. It's like dark matter and matter having the same property of bending the spacetime and curving it, but matter evolves, dark matter does not. Thus Visista-advaita sees our Universe as a continuum of this detached Observer.
Dvaita sees this observer as nothing to do with Universe, but beyond this Universe. This view arises from the nAsadiya Suktam which states there is something beyond, which cannot be known or partly only known.
But Vedic texts are actually literatures of science
Each one of the above translated Vedas in the 'context' of their available knowledge. They worked in the 'domain' of their Understanding of the Universe.
Maxmullers, Griffiths etc translated vedic texts as social songs/poetry of nomads. To fit into that description, they left out some translations, they tortured some and even wrongly translated at some places.
Unfortunately a lot of our current 'gurujis', 'swamiji's try to base their understanding of Vedic texts on what they wrote, by even more philsophizing it or attaching importance to the vibrations/sounds etc to overcome the 'nasty' meanings that were put out by these scholars.
When we look at it from science perspective and see these as forces, energies, matter forms and their interactions, then the 'nastiness' or 'foolishness' of their meanings go away. Rudras no longer need to drop from the nose or ears or skins of Brahma, Indra need not have to have sex with bulls or kill thousands of them, Soma or Sura is not a liquor that gods drunk, madhu is not arrack that humans drunk.
Several people have attempted this in the modern times. Mine is also an attempt.
I believe the difference is that I have been able to create a standard framework for understanding the vedic texts and their various divinities, which is very very consistent across scriptures. This consistency is the first success that I see in my translations.
The second success that I see is that almost all scriptures that I read, which were hitherto categorized as conflicting, now appear conveying the same thing. Vedas, Upanishads, saMkhya etc convey the same thing. They are not diverse texts. Even purAnas convey the same except they personified.
The third success that I see is the same standard design pattern emerging across multiple domains. This is something new which is not hitherto in science. Also several new ideas like dark energy scalar field of quintessence model, a probable fifth dimension of spacetime (brahma) which was stuck out during Big Bang or cosmic inflation epoch (by Shiva, the energy) which leads to quantum entanglement etc can be inferred. Ofcourse this needs more study, which I hope to do, while continuing this journey.
But the key point here is exactly what we learn from Sankara. How do we peer review my translations, my understanding, as Sankara could do with his debates..?
That's a tough question to answer, as people who believe in Science don't invest time in Vedic scriptures and people who believe in Vedic scriptures don't have understanding of real science (many of them follow pseudo-science in the sense there is no margin of error, they have absolute faith in their understanding, which is anathema to real science).
But I believe my work is one of the hits on the glass ceiling. May be it is so hard that it nearly cracks, but we need much more hits in future to break the ceiling. Time will provide those hits.
My translationsMost of my translations are based on how Srila Prabupadha translates in Srimad Bhagavatham and other texts. They are also mostly raw translations and not some metamorphic meanings that most translators resort to, to produce a meaning out of these texts.
In general whenever there is an conflict in translation, I rely on Srila Prabupadha's translation. I go with the way he translated more than any other tranlsation.. In that way he is my Heartfelt Guru.
Srila Prabhupada's gaudiya vaishnavism is similar to visishta-advaita except that he made Krishna as that observer from whom the Universe flows. But like Sankara, I believe Srila Prabhupada's understanding comes from an in-depth understanding of Vedas and Puranas. I can say this confidently looking at the way he stuck to the translations to actual translations in his works.
Though he may call me a Rascal, if he is alive now, because he believed no more research needed to be done than what has been done and we simply need to propagate the guru's words and called people who did their own research as 'rascals', I would still like him to be the 'manasik' Guru of this Rascal.
My Understanding till now
From a Scientific perspective, when I translate vedic texts, Siva represents the property of energy, Vishnu the property of Mass due to Higgs interaction, Hiranyagarbha the spacetime, Brahma the spacetime curvature we perceive as gravity, Shakti represents the energy locked in matter forms with property of mass which could be potential (parvati) or kinetic (ganga/durga), Skanda represents heat energy, Ganapati the work done, Lakshmi the matter forms, nArayana the dark matter, Rudra the eleven force-fields, Adityas the 12 different forces that create matter forms, Vasus the eight forms of matter etc etc..Easwaro Rakshatu!
Shiva, the property of energy has 2 consorts. The potential energy that is dormant which is pArvati, Uma etc and the Kinetic energy that is in motion which is durga, ganga etc.
Vishnu, the property of mass due to Higgs interaction is the 'foundation' (padam) on which all the Universe's matter forms arise and evolve. Vishnu has 2 consorts. Lakshmi is generic name of all matter forms in the Universe which are the wealth of the Universe. This Lakshmi can be either Sri-devi, which are matter forms that interact via Electromagnetic field and keep changing or Bhu-devi, which are matter forms that are neutral and become the 'bearers' of matter forms that evolve.
When Shiva, the property of energy is added to a system, it results in either 'Work-done' on the system, which is the physical expansion of the system or it results in raising the temperature of the system, which is the heat energy of the system. So Shiva results in both Ganapati and Skanda.
More on it here (9)
0. Bhaktivedanta Vedabase - by Srila Prabupadha
1. A Sanskrit Reader: Text and Vocabulary and Notes By Charles Rockwell Lanman
2. Language and style of Vedic Rsis - Elizarenkova T and Wendy Doniger
3. The Sanskrit Language (Chap 20. VRDDHI in derivation) By Thomas Burrow
4. A Vedic Reader for students – By Arthur Antony Mardonell
5. A History of Religious Ideas - Vol 1- Mircia Eliade
6. The roots, verb-forms and primary derivatives of the Sanskrit Languauge - William Dwilight Whitney
7. Ancient Sanskrit Online - University of Texas, Linguistics Research Center
8. A Sanskrit Grammar (Including both classical language and older dialects of Veda and Brahmana) - William Dwilight Whitney. Sanskrit and Paninini - Core and Periphery - By H.H. Hock
You spoke of Shankara and Ramanuja's understanding of Supreme Consciousness. What about Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Acintya Bedha Abedha philosophy, which makes perfect sense to me. What do you think of it?
That we are inconceivably the same and different from Supreme Consciousness, that we are inextricably linked, yet we forget that and are prone to the forces of Maya, which further oscillate us between darkness and light, suffering or enjoying the results of our karma, until we surrender unto the Supreme Consciousness and go to the light.