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The material presented here is based on a thorough and objective analysis of roots of Vedic words, the context in which they appear, Vedic Vocabulary, Philology, Grammar and other tools critical for correct interpretation of the Vedic mantras.
Thus this research series does not merely rely on blind reproduction of works of Max Muller, Griffith, Wilson, Williams and other indologists on Vedas and Vedic language. While they are more popular in contemporary western academia, we have objective reasons to conclude that their works are far from authoritative. We shall explore this facet in more detail in this research series.
Welcome to this first part of the research series on critical evaluation of Misconceptions surrounding the Vedas – the first books of knowledge on earth.
For centuries aspersions have been cast upon the Vedas; the primary holy scriptures of the Hindus of having unholy contents. If one really started believing in those aspersions, the entire Hindu philosophy, culture, and traditions would reduce to nothing but savagery, barbarism and cannibalism.
The Vedas – the very roots of Hinduism, rather the first source of knowledge on earth – are meant for guiding the actions of human being in order to lead a blissful life.
This slanderous campaign has been unleashed by different vested interests to embarrass Hindus around the world citing specific references from the Vedas.
This also comes handy in convincing poor and illiterate Indians to give up their faith on the grounds that their fundamental holy books – the Vedas – contain all the inhuman elements like denigration of women, meat-eating, polygamy, casteism and above all – beef eating.
The Vedas are also accused of animal sacrifice in sacrificial ceremonies popularly known as the YAJNA. Interestingly a section of home-bred intellectuals claiming to have deep study of ancient India has also come up, who cite references from works of western indologists to prove such unholy content in the Vedas.
Saying that the Vedas permit beef-eating and cow-slaughter amounts to striking a lethal blow to a Hindu’s soul. Respect for cow forms a core tenet of Hinduism. Once you are able to convince him of flaws in the foundation of this core tenet and make him feel guilty, he becomes an easy prey for the predator faiths. There are millions of ill-informed Hindus who are not empowered to counter argue and hence quietly surrender.
The vested interests that malign the Vedas are not confined to foreign and home-bred indologists alone. A certain class among Hindus exploited the rest of the population including the socially and economically weaker sections by forcing them to believe and follow what they said in the name of Vedas or else face the wrath.
All the slanders heaped upon the Vedas can be attributed mainly to the interpretations of commentaries written by Mahidhar, Uvat and Saayan in the medieval times; and to what Vam-margis or the Tantra cult propagated in their books in the name of the Vedas.
In due course the falsehood spread far and wide and they became even more deep rooted when western scholars with their half baked knowledge of Sanskrit transliterated these interpretations of commentaries of Sayan and Mahidhar, in the name of translating the Vedas.
However, they lacked the pre-requisite understanding of Shiksha (Phonetics), Vyakarana (Grammar), Nirukta (Philology), Nighantu (Vocabulary), Chhanda (Prosody), Jyotish (Astronomy), Kalpa and so on that are critical for correct interpretation of the Vedas.
The purpose behind Agniveer movement is to objectively evaluate all such misconceptions about the Vedas – the foundation of human knowledge and establish their piety, sanctity, great ideals and philosophy that cater not only to Hindus but to every human being without bars, bias or discrimination of any kind.
Section 1: No Violence Against Animals
Tatra ko mohah kah shokah ekatvamanupasyatah
“Those who see all beings as souls do not feel infatuation or anguish at their sight, for they experience oneness with them”.
How could people who believed in the doctrines of indestructibility, transmigration dare to kill living animals in yajnas? They might be seeing the souls of their own near and dear ones of bygone days residing in those living beings.
Anumantaa vishasitaa nihantaa krayavikrayee
Samskartaa chopahartaa cha khadakashcheti ghaatakaah
Those who permit slaying of animals; those who bring animals for slaughter; those who slaughter; those who sell meat; those who purchase meat; those who prepare dish out of it; those who serve that
meat and those who eat are all murderers.
Breehimattam yavamattamatho maashamatho tilam
Esha vaam bhaago nihito ratnadheyaaya dantau maa hinsishtam pitaram maataram cha
O teeth! You eat rice, you eat barley, you gram and you eat sesame. These cereals are specifically meant for you. Do not kill those who are capable of being fathers and mothers.
Ya aamam maansamadanti paurusheyam cha ye kravih
Garbhaan khaadanti keshavaastaanito naashayaamasi
We ought to destroy those who eat cooked as well as uncooked meat, meat involving destruction of males and females, foetus and eggs.
Anago hatya vai bheema kritye
Maa no gaamashvam purusham vadheeh
It is definitely a great sin to kill innocents. Do not kill our cows, horses and people.
How could there be justification of cow and other animals being killed when killing is so clearly prohibited in the Vedas?
Aghnyaa yajamaanasya pashoonpahi
“O human! animals are Aghnya – not to be killed. Protect the animals”
Protect the animals.
Protect the bipeds and quadrupeds!
Kravy da –kravya[ meat obtained from slaughter] + Ada [ the eater]—the meat eater.
Pisacha — pisita [meat] +asa [eater]—the meat eater.
Asutrpa — Asu [breath of life] + trpa [one who satisfies himself on]—one who takes others life for his meals.
Garba da and Anda da – the foetus and egg eaters.
Mans da – the meat eaters
Meat eaters have always been looked down in Vedic literature. They have been known as Rakshasas, Pisacha and so on….All these words are synonyms of demons or devils that have been out-cast from the civilized human society.
Urjam no dhehi dwipade chatushpade
“May all bipeds and quadrupeds gain strength and nourishment”
This mantra is recited by Hindus before every meal. How could the same philosophy which prays for well-being of every soul in every moment of life, approve of killing animals?
Section 2: No Violence in Yajna
Yajna never meant animal sacrifice in the sense popularly understood. Yajna in the Vedas meant a noble deed or the highest purifying action.
Adhvara iti Yajnanaama – Dhvaratihimsaakarmaa tatpratishedhah
According to Yaaska Acharya, one of the synonyms of Yajna in Nirukta or the Vedic philology is Adhvara.
Dhvara means an act with himsa or violence. And therefore a-dhvara means an act involving no himsa or no violence. There are a large number of such usage of Adhvara in the Vedas.
In the post-Mahabharata period, misinterpretation of the Vedas and interpolations in other scriptures took place at various points intime. Acharya Shankar reestablished the Vedic values to an extent.
In the more recent times, Swami Dayanand Saraswati – known as the grandfather of modern India – interpreted the Vedas as per thecorrect rules of the language and authentic evidences. His literature, which includes commentary on the Vedas, Satyarth Prakash loosely translated as Light of Truth, An Introduction to the Vedas and other texts led to widespread social reformation based on Vedic philosophy and dispelling of myths surrounding the Vedas.
Let us discover what the Vedas have to say on Yajna.
Agne yam yagnamadhvaram vishwatah pari bhuurasi
Sa id deveshu gacchati
O lord of effulgence! The non-violent Yajna, you prescribe from all sides, is beneficial for all, touches divine proportions and is accepted by noble souls.
The Rigveda describes Yajna as Adhvara or non violent throughout. Same is the case with all the other Vedas. How can it be then concluded that the Vedas permit violence or slaughter of animals?
The biggest accusation of cattle and cow slaughter comes in the context of the Yajnas that derived their names from different cattle like the Ashwamedh Yajna, the Gomedha Yajna and the Nar-medh Yajna. Even by the wildest stretch of the imagination the word Medha would not mean slaughter in this context.
It’s interesting to note what Yajurveda says about a horse
Imam ma himsirekashafam pashum kanikradam vaajinam vaajineshu
Do not slaughter this one hoofed animal that neighs and who goes with a speed faster than most of the animals. Aswamedha does not mean horse sacrifice at Yajna. Instead the Yajurveda clearly mentions that a horse ought not to be slaughtered.
In Shathapatha, Ashwa is a word for the nation or empire . The word medha does not mean slaughter. It denotes an act done in accordance to the intellect Alternatively it could mean consolidation, as evident from the root meaning of medha i.e. medhru san-ga-me
Raashtram vaa ashwamedhah
Annam hi gau
Swami Dayananda Saraswati Wrote in His Light of Truth:
A Yajna dedicated to the glory, wellbeing and prosperity of the Rashtra the nation or empire is known as the Ashwamedh yajna.
“To keep the food pure or to keep the senses under control, or to make the food pure or to make a good use of the rays of Sun or keep the earth free from impurities[clean] is called Gomedha Yajna”.
“The word Gau also means the Earth and the yajna dedicated to keep the Earth the environment clean is called Gomedha Yajna”
“The cremation of the body of a dead person in accordance with the principles laid down in the Vedas is called Naramedha Yajna”.
Section 3: No Beef in Vedas
Not only the Vedas are against animal slaughter but also vehemently oppose and prohibit cow slaughter.Yajurveda forbids killing of cows, for they provide energizing food for human beings
Ghrtam duhaanaamaditim janaayaagne maa himsiheeh
Do not kill cows and bulls who always deserve to be protected.
Aare gohaa nrhaa vadho vo astu
In Rigveda cow slaughter has been declared a heinous crime equivalent to human murder and it has been said that those who commits this crime should be punished.
Sooyavasaad bhagavatee hi bhooyaa atho vayam bhagvantah syaama
Addhi trnamaghnye vishwadaaneem piba shuddhamudakamaacharantee
Rigveda 1.164.40 or Atharv 7.73.11 or Atharv 9.10.20
The Aghnya cows – which are not to be killed under any circumstances– may keep themselves healthy by use of pure water and green grass, so that we may be endowed with virtues, knowledge and wealth.
The Vedic Lexicon, Nighantu, gives amongst other synonyms of Gau[ or cow] the words Aghnya. Ahi, and Aditi. Yaska the commentator on Nighantu, defines these as-
Aghnya the one that ought not to be killed
Ahi the one that must not be slaughtered.
Aditi the one that ought not to be cut into pieces.
These three names of cow signify that the animal ought not to be put to tortures. These words appear frequently throughout the Vedas in context of the cow.
Aghnyeyam saa vardhataam mahate soubhagaaya
Cow – The aghnya – brings us health and prosperity
There should be excellent facility for pure water for Aghnya Cow
Yah paurusheyena kravishaa samankte yo ashwena pashunaa yaatudhaanah
Yo aghnyaayaa bharati ksheeramagne teshaam sheershaani harasaapi vrishcha
Those who feed on human, horse or animal flesh and those who destroy milk-giving Aghnya cows should be severely punished.
Vimucchyadhvamaghnyaa devayaanaa aganma
The Aghnya cows and bulls bring you prosperity
Maa gaamanaagaamaditim vadhishta
Do not kill the cow. Cow is innocent and aditi – that ought not to be cut into pieces
Destroy those who kill cows
Yadi no gaam hansi yadyashwam yadi poorusham
Tam tvaa seesena vidhyaamo yatha no so aveeraha
If someone destroys our cows, horses or people, kill him with a bullet of lead.
Love each other as the Aghnya – non-killable cow – loves its calf
Dhenu sadanam rayeenaam
Cow is fountainhead of all bounties
The entire 28th Sukta or Hymn of 6th Mandal of Rigveda sings the glory of cow.
Aa gaavo agnamannuta bhadramakrantseedantu
Bhooyobhooyo rayimidasya vardhayannabhinne
Na taa nashanti na dabhaati taskaro naasaamamitro vyathiraa dadharshati
Na taa arvaa renukakaato ashnute na samskritramupa yanti taa abhi
Gaavo bhago gaava indro me achhaan
Yooyam gaavo medayathaa
Maa vah stena eeshata maaghanshasah
Everyone should ensure that cows are free from miseries and kept healthy.
God blesses those who take care of cows.
Even the enemies should not use any weapon on cows
No one should slaughter the cow
Cow brings prosperity and strength
If cows keep healthy and happy, men and women shall also keep disease free and prosperous
May the cow eat green grass and pure water. May they not be killed and bring prosperity to us. What more proofs does one need to understand the high esteem in whichnot only the cow but each living being is held in the Vedas.
The learned audience can decide for themselves from these evidences that the Vedas are completely against any inhuman practice… to top it all the Beef and Cow slaughter.