The Tree of Knowledge
Where did the Vedas come from?
According to Vedic tradition, when the Supreme Lord created this material world, His transcendental energy pervaded every corner of it. This spiritual energy was the pure vibration, shabdabrahman, in which the Supreme Himself can be found. It is explained that first there was the subtle vibration of spiritual sound, the eternal and spiritual vibration called the shabdabrahman. This appeared from the sky of the heart of the most elevated Lord Brahma. His mind was perfectly calm and fixed in spiritual understanding. It is possible to perceive this subtle vibration when all external hearing is stopped. Through the worship of this subtle form of the Vedas, mystics can cleanse their hearts of all faults and impurities caused by the association of various material substances and actions. Thus, they can attain liberation from further cycles of birth and death. (Bhag.I2.6.37-38)
It is from that spiritual sound vibration that arose the omkara (Om) composed of three sounds. These three sounds are A, U, and M. These uphold the three aspects of material existence, the three modes of material nature, the three Vedas, namely Rig, Yajur and Sama, and the three cosmic planes of Bhur, Bhuvar and Svar, as well as the three functional levels of consciousness called waking, sleep and deep sleep. This omkara has unseen potencies and will arise in one’s heart when it is completely purified. It is the representation of the Absolute Truth in all three features, namely as the Supreme Personality or Bhagavan, the Paramatma or Supersoul in the heart, and as the impersonal Brahman. Omkara is nonmaterial and imperceptible, and is heard by the Supersoul without the use of material ears or senses. The entire expanse of genuine Vedic sound is an expansion of omkara. It is the direct designation of the self-originating Absolute Truth, and is the internal essence and eternal seed of all Vedic hymns. (Bhag.12.6.39-42)
The spiritually elevated Gosvamis of Vrindavana have explained that in AUM the letter “A” refers to the Supreme Person, who is the master of all living entities of the material and spiritual planets and is the source from which everything emanates. The letter “U” indicates the energy of the Supreme, and “M” indicates the innumerable living entities. Therefore, omkara (om or AUM) is the resting place of everything, or, in other words, all potencies are invested within this holy vibration. As further explained in the Chaitanya-caritamrita: “The Vedic sound vibration, omkara, the principal word in the Vedic literature, is the basis of all Vedic vibrations. Therefore one should accept omkara as the sound representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the reservoir of the cosmic manifestation.” (CcAdi-lila, 7.128)
Krishna also explains: “I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rig Veda, Sarna Veda and the Yajur Veda.” (Bg.9.17). Further confirmation is found in the Yajur Veda, (Chapter 31, verse 7): “From that Absolute God unto Whom people make every kind of sacrifice, were created the Rig Veda, the Sarna Veda. From Him were created the Atharva Veda and also the Yajur Veda.”
These verses indicate that the pure Absolute Truth and the pure spiritual sound vibration are non-different and that the Vedas are the expansions of that Absolute Truth. By understanding Vedic knowledge, one can understand the Absolute. Therefore, the end result of all spiritual realizations, based on the authority of the Vedas, is to understand that Supreme Personality. It is said that originally the pranava or om mantra expanded into the sacred gayatri mantra (om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dimabi dhryo yo nab pracodayat).
The gayatri was then expanded into the following four central verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam, called Catuh-sloki which are as follows: “Prior to this cosmic creation, only I exist, and nothing else, either gross, subtle, or primordial. After creation, only I exist in everything, and after annihilation, only I remain eternally. What appears to be truth without Me is certainly My illusory energy, for nothing can exist without Me. It is like a reflection of real light in the shadows, for in the light there are neither shadows nor reflections. As the material elements enter the bodies of all living beings and yet remain outside them all, I exist within all material creations and yet am not within them. A person interested in transcendental knowledge must therefore always directly and indirectly inquire about it to know the all-pervading truth.” (Bhag.2.9.3 3-36). These Catub-sloki verses were taught by the Supreme Lord Vishnu to Brahma at the time of creation, and all other Vedic literature was expanded from them. The Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) is considered to be the complete expansion of these four verses.
From this we can see how incorrect the assumption is of some scholars who think the Vedas were written by ordinary men over a length of time which displays the gradual evolutionary changes in man’s religious thinking. The fact of the matter is that the Vedic knowledge was given by the Supreme in order for us to understand this world, who we are, and our relationship with the Absolute Reality and how to work according to that relationship. Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavatam: “As the unlimited, unchanging and omnipotent Personality of Godhead dwelling within all living beings, I personally establish the Vedic sound vibration in the form of omkara within all living entities. It is thus perceived subtly, just like a single strand of fibre on a lotus stalk.” (Bhag.l1.21.37)
What this means is that since we are all spiritual in nature, our constitutional position is to be full of eternal knowledge and bliss. The purpose of the Vedic literature is to reawaken that knowledge within us. Our spiritual position is of a very subtle nature and we cannot force our entry into the understanding of this knowledge simply by the deliberate manipulation of intelligence or logic. As pointed out earlier, one must practice the Vedic system to get the full results. By this process, one develops the power to perceive that which exists on the spiritual platform. Otherwise, how can one become qualified for understanding the higher principles of spiritual self-realization?
The next few verses clearly indicate that the shabda-brahma exists in the Absolute Truth before creation, during the creation, and after the annihilation of the material worlds. Therefore, the Source of all kinds of knowledge goes back to the Vedas.
“Just as a spider brings forth from its heart its web and emits it through its mouth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead manifests Himself as the reverberating primeval vital air, comprising all sacred Vedic meters and full of transcendental pleasure. Thus, the Lord, from the ethereal sky of His heart, creates the great and limitless Vedic sound by the agency of His mind, which conceives of variegated sounds such as the sparsas (Sanskrit consonants). The Vedic sound branches out in thousands of directions, adorned with the different letters expanded from the syllable om: the consonants, vowels, sibilants, and semivowels. The Veda is elaborated by many verbal varieties, expressed in different meters, each having four more syllables than the previous one. Ultimately, the Lord again withdraws His manifestation of Vedic sound within Himself.” (Bhag. 11.21. 38-40)
Excerpts from ‘The Secret Teachings of the Vedas: Answers to the Mysteries of Life’
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