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Feb 05, 1995 05:09 PM
by Dr. A.M.Bain

> Date: 5 Feb 1995 16:23:26 GMT
> From: (H. Krishna Susarla)
> Subject: Teachings of the Vedas

Teachings of the Vedas

. From the book "Sri Isopanisad"
. By His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

Used with permission

(Delivered as a lecture by His Divine Grace A.  C.  Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada on October 6, 1969, at Conway Hall, London,

Ladies and gentlemen, today's subject matter is the teachings of
the Vedas.  What are the Vedas? The Sanskrit verbal root of veda
can be interpreted variously, but the purport is finally one.
Veda means knowledge.  Any knowledge you accept is veda, for the
teachings of the Vedas are the original knowledge.  In the
conditioned state, our knowledge is subjected to many
deficiencies.  The difference between a conditioned soul and a
liberated soul is that - the conditioned soul has four kinds of
defects.  The first defect is that he must commit mistakes.  For
example, in our country, Mahatma Gandhi was considered to be a
very great personality, but he committed many mistakes.  Even at
the last stage `of his life, his assistant warned, "Mahatma
Gandhi, don't go to the New Delhi meeting.  I have some friends,
and I have heard there is danger." But he did not - hear.  He
persisted in going and was killed.  Even great personalities like
Mahatma Gandhi, President Kennedy-there are so many of them -
make mistakes.  To err is human.  This is one defect of the
conditioned soul.

Another defect: to be illusioned.  Illusion means to accept
something which is not: maya.  Maya means "what is not." Everyone
is accepting the body as the self.  If I ask you what you are,
you will say, "I am Mr.  John; I am a rich man; I am this; I am
that." All these are bodily identifications.  But you are not
this body.  This is illusion.

The third defect is the cheating propensity.  Everyone has the
propensity to cheat others.  Although a person is fool number
one, he poses himself as very intelligent.  Although it is
already pointed out that he is in illusion and makes mistakes, he
will theorize: "I think this is this, this is this." But he does
not even know his own position.  He writes books of philosophy,
although he is defective.  That is his disease.  T hat is

Lastly, our senses are imperfect.  We are very proud of our eyes.
Often, someone will challenge, "Can you show me God?" But do you
have the eyes to see God? You will never see if you haven't the
eyes.  If immediately the room becomes dark, you cannot even see
your hands.  So what power do you have to see? We cannot,
therefore, expect knowledge (veda) with these imperfect senses.
With all these deficiencies, in conditioned life we cannot give
perfect knowledge to anyone.  Nor are we ourselves perfect.
Therefore we accept the Vedas as they are.

You may call the Vedas Hindu, but "Hindu" is a foreign name.  We
are not Hindus.  Our real identification is varnasrama.
Varnasrama denotes the followers of the Vedas, those who accept
the human society in eight divisions of varna and asrama.  There
are four divisions of society and four divisions of spiritual
life.  This is called varnasrama.  It is stated in the
Bhagavad-gita [4.13], "These divisions are every where because
they are created by God." The divisions of society are brahmana,
ksatriya, vaisya, sudra.  Brahmana refers to the very intelligent
class of men, those who know what is Brahman.  Similarly, the
ksatriyas, the administrator group, are the next intelligent
class of men.  Then the vaisyas, the mercantile group.  These
natural classifications are found everywhere.  This is the Vedic
principle, and we accept it.  Vedic principles are accepted as
axiomatic truth, for there cannot be any mistake.  That is
acceptance.  For instance, in India cow dung is accepted as pure,
and yet cow dung is the stool of an animal.  In one place you'll
find the Vedic injunction that if you touch stool, you have to
take a bath immediately.  But in another place it is said that
the stool of a cow is pure.  If you smear cow dung in an impure
place, that place becomes pure.  With our ordinary sense we can
argue, "This is contradictory." Actually, it is contradictory
from the ordinary point of view, but it is not false.  It is
fact.  In Calcutta, a very prominent scientist and doctor
analyzed cow dung and found that it contains all antiseptic

In India if one person tells another, "You must do this," the
other party may say, "What do you mean? Is this a Vedic
injunction, that I have to follow you without any argument?"
Vedic injunctions cannot be interpreted.  But ultimately, if you
carefully study why these injunctions are there, you will find
that they are all correct.

The Vedas are not compilations of human knowledge.  Vedic
knowledge comes from the spiritual world, from Lord Krsna Another
name for the Vedas is sruti.  Sruti refers to that knowledge
which is acquired by hearing.  It is not experimental knowledge.
Sruti is considered to be like a mother.  We take so much
knowledge from our mother.  For example, if you want to know who
your father is, who can answer you? Your mother.  If the mother
says, "Here is your father," you have to accept it.  It is not
possible to experiment to find out whether he is your father.
Similarly, if you want to know something beyond your experience,
beyond your experimental knowledge, beyond the activities of the
senses, then you have to accept the Vedas.  There is no question
of experimenting.  It has already been experimented.  It is
already settled.  The version of the mother, for instance, has to
be accepted as truth.  There is no other way.

The Vedas are considered to be the mother, and Brahma is called
the grandfather, the forefather, because he was the first to be
instructed in the Vedic knowledge.  In the beginning the first
living creature was Brahma.  He received this Vedic knowledge and
imparted it to Narada and other disciples and sons, and they also
distributed it to their disciples.  In this way, the Vedic
knowledge comes down by disciplic succession.  It is also
confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita that Vedic knowledge is understood
in this way.  If you make experimental endeavor, you come to the
same conclusion, but just to save time you should accept.  If you
want to know who your father is and if you accept your mother as
the authority, then whatever she says can be accepted without
argument.  There are three kinds of evidence: pratyaksa, anumana
and sabda.  Pratyaksa means "direct evidence." Direct evidence is
not very good because our senses are not perfect.  We are seeing
the sun daily, and it appears to us just like a small disc, but
it is actually far, far larger than many planets.  Of what value
is this seeing? Therefore we have to read books; then we can
understand about the sun.  So direct experience is not perfect.
Then there is an anumana, inductive knowledge: "It may be like
this"-hypothesis.  For instance, Darwin's theory says it may be
like this, it may be like that.  But that is not science.  That
is a suggestion, and it is also not perfect.  But if you receive
the knowledge from the authoritative sources, that is perfect.
If you receive a program guide from the radio station
authorities, you accept it.  You don't deny it; you don't have to
make an experiment, because it is received from the authoritative

Vedic knowledge is called sabda-pramana.  An other name is sruti.
Sruti means that this knowledge has to be received simply by
aural reception.  The Vedas instruct that in order to understand
transcendental knowledge, we have to hear from the authority.
Transcendental knowledge is knowledge from beyond this universe.
Within this universe is material knowledge, and beyond this
universe is transcendental knowledge.  We cannot even go to the
end of the universe, so how can we go to the spiritual world?
Thus to acquire full knowledge is impossible.

There is a spiritual sky.  There is another nature, which is
beyond manifestation and non-manifestation.  But how will you
know that there is a sky where the planets and inhabitants are
eternal? All this knowledge is there, but how will you make
experiments? It is not possible.  Therefore you have to take the
assistance of the Vedas.  This is called Vedic knowledge.  In our
Krsna consciousness movement we are accepting knowledge from the
highest authority, Krsna.  Krsna is accepted as the highest
authority by all classes of men.  I am speaking first of the two
classes of transcendentalists.  One class of transcendentalists
is called impersonalistic, Mayavadi.  They are generally known as
Vedantists, led by Sankaracarya.  And there is another class of
transcendentalists, called Vaisnavas, like Ramanujacarya,
Madhvacarya, Visnu svami.  Both the Sankara-sampradaya and the
Vaisnava-sampradaya have accepted Krsna as the Supreme
Personality of Godhead.  Sankaracarya is supposed to be an
impersonalist who preached impersonalism, impersonal Brahman, but
it is a fact that he is a covered personalist.  In his commentary
on the Bhagavad-gita he wrote, "Narayana, the Supreme Personality
of Godhead, is beyond this cosmic manifestation." And then again
he confirmed, "That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, is
Krsna.  He has come as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva." He
particularly mentioned the names of His father and mother.  So
Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by all
transcendentalists.  There is no doubt about it.  Our source of
knowledge in Krsna consciousness is the Bhagavad-gita, which
comes directly from Krsna.  We have published the Bhagavad-gita
As It Is because we accept Krsna as He is speaking, without any
interpretation.  That is Vedic knowledge.  Since the Vedic
knowledge is pure, we accept it.  Whatever Krsna says, we accept.
This is Krsna consciousness.  That saves much time.  If you
accept the right authority, or source of knowledge, then you save
much time.  For example, there are two systems of knowledge in
the material world: inductive and deductive.  From deductive, you
accept that man is mortal.  Your father says man is mortal, -
your sister says man is mortal, everyone says man is mortal-but
you do not experiment.  You accept it as a fact that man is
mortal.  If you want to research to find out whether man is
mortal, you have to study each and every man, and you may come to
think that there may be some man who is not dying but you have
not seen him yet.  So in this way your research will never be
finished.  In Sanskrit this process is called aroha, the
ascending process.  If you want to attain knowledge by any
personal endeavor, by exercising your imperfect senses, you will
never come to the right conclusions.  That is not possible.

There is a statement in the Brahma-samhita: Just ride on the
airplane which runs at the speed of mind.  Our material airplanes
can run two thousand miles per hour, but what is the speed of
mind? You are sitting at home, you immediately think of India -
say, ten thousand miles away - and at once it is in your home.
Your mind has gone there.  The mindspeed is so swift.  Therefore
it is stated, "If you travel at this speed for millions of years,
you'll find that the spiritual sky is unlimited." It is not
possible even to approach it.  Therefore, the Vedic injunction is
that - one must approach-the word--compulsory" is used-a bona
fide spiritual master, a guru.  And what is the qualification of
a spiritual master? He is one who has rightly heard the Vedic
message from the right source.  And he must practically be firmly
established in Brahman.  These are the two qualities.  Otherwise
he is not bona fide.

This Krsna consciousness movement is completely authorized from
Vedic principles.  In the Bhagavad- gita Krsna says, "The actual
aim of Vedic research is to find out Krsna.  " In the
Brahma-samhita it is also stated, "Krsna, Govinda, has
innumerable forms, but they are all one." They are not like our
forms, which are fallible.  His form is infallible.  My form has
a beginning, but His form has no beginning.  It is ananta.  And
His form-so many multiforms-has no end.  My form is sitting here
and not in my apartment.  You are sitting there and not in your
apartment..  But Krsna can be everywhere at one time.  He can sit
down in Goloka Vrndavana, and at the same time He is everywhere,
all-pervading.  He is original, the oldest, but whenever you look
at a picture of Krsna you'll find a young boy fifteen or twenty
years old.  You will never find an old man.  You have seen
pictures of Krsna as a charioteer from the Bhagavad- gita.  At
that time He was not less than one hundred years old.  He had
greatgrandchildren, but He looked just like a boy.  Krsna, God,
never becomes old.  That is His supreme power.  And if you want
to search out Krsna by studying the Vedic literature, then you
will be baffled.  It may be possible, but it is very difficult.
But you can very easily learn about Him from His devotee.  His
devotee can deliver Him to you: "Here He is, take Him." That is
the potency of Krsna's devotees.

Originally there was only one Veda, and there was no necessity of
reading it.  People were so intelligent and had such sharp
memories that by once hearing from the lips of the spiritual
master they would understand.  They would immediately grasp the
whole purport.  But five thousand years ago Vyasadeva put the
Vedas in writing for the people in this age, Kali yuga.  He knew
that eventually the people would be short-lived, their memories
would be very poor, and their intelligence would not be very
sharp.  "Therefore, let me teach this Vedic knowledge in
writing." He divided the Vedas into four: Rg, Sama, Atharva and
Yajur.  Then he gave the charge of these Vedas to his different
disciples..  He then thought of the less intelligent class of
men-stri, sudra and dvija-bandhu.  He considered the woman class
and sudra class (worker class) and dvija-bandhu.  Dvija-bandhu
refers to those who are born in a high family but who are not
properly qualified.  A man who is born in the family of a
brahmana but is not qualified as a brahmana is called
dvija-bandhu.  For these persons he compiled the Mahabharata,
called the history of India, and the eighteen Puranas.  These are
all part of the Vedic literature: the Puranas, the Mahabharata,
the four Vedas and the Upanisads.  The Upanisads are part of the
Vedas.  Then Vyasadeva summarized all Vedic knowledge for
scholars and philosophers in what is called the Vedanta-sutra.
This is the last word of the Vedas.

Vyasadeva personally wrote the Vedanta-sutra under the
instructions of Narada, his Guru Maharaja (spiritual master), but
still he was not satisfied.  That is a long story, described in
Srimad Bhagavatam.  Vedavyasa was not very satisfied even after
compiling many Puranas and Upanisads, and even after writing the
Vedanta-sutra.  Then his spiritual master, Narada, instructed
him, "You explain the Vedanta sutra." Vedanta means "ultimate
knowledge," and the ultimate knowledge is Krsna.  Krsna says that
throughout all the Vedas one has to understand Him: vedanta-krd
veda-vid eva caham.  Krsna says, "I am the compiler of the
Vedanta-sutra, and I am the knower of the Vedas." Therefore the
ultimate objective is Krsna.  That is explained in all the
Vaisnava commentaries on Vedanta philosophy.  We Gaudiya
Vaisnavas have our commentary on Vedanta philosophy, called
Govindabhasya, by Baladeva Vidyabhusana.  similarly,
Ramanujacarya has a commentary, and Madhvacarya has one.  The
version of Sankaracarya is not the only commentary.  There are
many Vedanta commentaries, but because the Vaisnavas did not
present the first Vedanta commentary, people are under the wrong
impression that Sankaracarya's is the only Vedanta commentary.
Be sides that, Vyasadeva himself wrote the perfect Vedanta
commentary, Srimad Bhagavatam.  Srimad Bhagavatam begins with the
first words of the Vedanta-sutra: janmady asya yatah..  And that
janmady asya yatah is fully explained in Srimad Bhagavatam.  The
Vedanta-sutra simply hints at what is Brahman, the Absolute
Truth: "The Absolute Truth is that from whom everything
emanates." This is a summary, but it is explained in detail in
Srimad Bhagavatam.  If everything is emanating from the Absolute
Truth, then what is the nature of the Absolute Truth? That is
explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam.  The Absolute Truth must be
consciousness.  He is self-effulgent (sva-rat).  We develop our
consciousness and knowledge by receiving knowledge from others,
but for Him it is said that He is self-effulgent.  The whole
summary of Vedic knowledge is the Vedanta-sutra, and the
Vedanta-sutra is explained by the writer himself in
Srimad-Bhagavatam.  We finally request those who are actually
after Vedic knowledge to try to understand the explanation of all
Vedic knowledge from Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita.

Please call (800) 927-4152 (in USA) for more information or mail
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