Physics is the
New Bhashya of Vedanta
are four in number: the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Atharva
Veda. Each of these four Vedas has four parts: the Samhita, the Brahmana, the
Aranyaka, and a number of Upanishads. The first three parts of all the Vedas are
collectively called the Vedas, and the fourth and the last, the Upanishads, are
collectively called Vedanta.
VEDAS are four in number: the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the
Atharva Veda. Each of these four Vedas has four parts: the Samhita, the Brahmana,
the Aranyaka, and a number of Upanishads. The first three parts of all the Vedas
are collectively called the Vedas, and the fourth and the last, the Upanishads,
are collectively called Vedanta.
These four parts of the Vedas represent the historical order of their
development over millennia. The Samhitas are the most ancient, and of them, the
Rig Veda Samhita is the earliest. The Samhitas are considered the Vedas proper;
the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads are periodic additions, made by
way of growing with the changing times.
The Samhitas are hymns addressed to gods representing the forces of nature,
followed by rites and sacrifices to propitiate those gods. The famous Nasadiya
Sukta occurs in the Rig Samhita. The Brahmanas were added to the Samhitas by way
of updating. The Satapatha Brahmana and the Aitareya Brahmana are well known.
The Aranyakas are so called because they were composed in the forests. During
this period the sages and seers took to the practice of retiring into the
forests to contemplate ‘the cream of all and what takes place’.
In the fourth and the last stage, the Upanishads appeared. There are 10-12
principal Upanishads: the Chandogya, the Brihadaranyaka, the Aitareya and the
Kaushitaki, forming the end part of the Rig Veda. The Kena concludes the Sama
Veda, with the Taittiriya, Isha, Katha and Shwetashwatara topping off the Yajur
Veda, and the Mundaka, Mandukya and Prashna signing off the Atharva Veda. These
terminals of the Vedas are generally called Vedanta or Shruti.
The Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita make post-Vedic literature, and are
called Smriti as opposite to Shruti.
Together, Shruti and Smriti (the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Gita) are
called Prastana Traya meaning the ‘Threefold Movement’, and this Prastana
Traya is said to be the scripture of the Hindus.
The Prastana Traya has a self- perpetuating spirit and mechanism by which it
adapts itself to periodic reinterpretations in order to fit in with the changing
times. These periodic reinterpretations are called Bhashyas. The latest Bhashyas
to the Prastana Traya are by Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhwa. These Bhashyas have
now lost their edge because of the passage of time. The Prastana Traya needs a
new Bhashya to be in tune with the present age. The Prastana Traya looks for a
new Shankara for a new Bhashya.
In the Samhitas, the Vedic literature starts with a passion for the truth —
‘truth in clay, truth in iron’. It grows in search of this truth through the
Brahmanas and the Aranyakas and ultimately in the Upanishads, that truth is
arrived at and declared to the world.
What is that truth? The ultimate essence of the universe is space (akasho ha vy
brahma). Consciousness is but a condition of space (prajnanam brahma). The
content of the world is the distortion, vikara, of its container,
consciousness-space. The distorted 3-D space is Saguna Brahman and space minus
its vikara or distortion, that is the unified field, is Nirguna Brahman.
Brahman-space is the ultimate reality underlying all existence: it is the
biggest ‘I’ that contains all our small ‘I’s. Our small ‘I’s can be
merged in the Big ‘I’ through contemplation or tapas and that is salvation
Modern physics takes us to the same conclusion. Physics is the study of how and
why the Nirguna distorts to become Saguna. Shruti lives in Smriti which is the
progressive knowledge and understanding of Shruti over ages. Physics is the new
Smriti; Physics is the new Bhashya of Vedanta.
There is talk in the air of introducing Vedic studies in schools and colleges.
However, what should be taught there is not the traditional Vedic studies, but
Vedanta as the anta (omega) of not only the Vedas but also of modern science,
and as an intellectual and spiritual force capable of enlightening, inspiring
and bettering the modern global village. Introducing mere traditional Vedic
studies will further only narrow agendas, and will not serve the meaning or
purpose of modern public education. We need to widen our vision by looking
beyond the written word; and for this, it is essential that we rise above mere