|Riddle In Hinduism
PART I - RELIGIOUS
Riddle No. 1 : The difficulty of knowing why one is a Hindu
Riddle No. 2 : The Origin Of The Vedas—The Brahminic Explanation or An Exercise In The Art Of Circumlocution
Riddle No. 3 : The Testimony Of Other Shastras On The Origin Of The Vedas
Riddle no. 4 : Why suddenly the brahmins declare the vedas to be infallible and not to be questioned?
Riddle no. 5 : Why did the brahmins go further and declare that the vedas are neither made by man nor by god?
Riddle no. 6 : The contents of the vedas: have they any moral or spiritual value?
Riddle no. 7 : The turn of the tide or how did the brahmins deceare the vedas to be lower than the lowest of their shastras?
Riddle no. 8 : How the upanishads declared war on the vedas?
Riddle no. 9 : How the upanishads came to be made subordinate to the vedas?
Riddle no. 10 : Why did the brahmins make the hindu gods fight against one another?
Riddle no. 11 : Why did the brahmins make the hindu gods suffer to rise and fall?
Riddle no. 12 : Why did the brahmins dethrone the gods and enthrone the goddesses?
Riddle no. 13 : The riddle of the ahimsa
Riddle no. 14 : From ahimsa back to himsa
Riddle no. 15 : How did the brahmins wed an ahimsak god to a bloodthirsty Goddess?
PART II - SOCIAL
PART III - POLITICAL
RIDDLE No. 1
THE DIFFICULTY OF KNOWING WHY ONE IS A HINDU
India is a conjeries of communities. There are in it Parsis, Christians, Mohammedans and Hindus. The basis of these communities is not racial. It is of course religious. This is a superficial view. What is interesting to know is why is a Parsi a Parsi and why is a Christian a Christian, why is a Muslim a Muslim and why is a Hindu a Hindu? With regard to the Parsi, the Christian and the Muslim it is smooth sailing. Ask a Parsi why he calls himself a Parsi he will have no difficulty in answering the question. He will say he is a Parsi because he is a follower of Zoraster. Ask the same question to a Christian. He too will have no difficulty in answering the question. He is a Christian because he believes in Jesus Christ. Put the same question to a Muslim. He too will have no hesitation in answering it. He will say he is a believer in Islam and that is why he is a Muslim.
Now ask the same question to a Hindu and there is no doubt that he will be completely bewildered and would not know what to say.
If he says that he is a Hindu because he worships the same God as the Hindu Community does his answer cannot be true. All Hindus do not worship one God. Some Hindus are monotheists, some are polytheists and some are pantheists. Even those Hindus who are monotheists are not worshippers of the same Gods. Some worship the God Vishnu, some Shiva, some Rama, some Krishna. Some do not worship the male Gods. They worship a goddess. Even then they do not worship the same Goddesses. They worship different Goddesses. Some worship Kali, some worship Parvati, some worship Laxmi.
Coming to the Polytheists they worship all the Gods. They will worship Vishnu and Shiva, also Rama and Krishna. They will worship Kali, Parvati and Laxmi. A Hindu will fast on the Shivaratri day because it is sacred to Shiva. He will fast on Ekadashi day because it is sacred to Vishnu. He will plant a Bel tree because it is sacred to Shiva and he will plant a Tulsi because it is dear to Vishnu.
Polytheists among the Hindus do not confine their homage to the Hindu Gods. No Hindu hesitates to worship a Muslim Pir or a Christian Goddess. Thousands of Hindus go to a Muslim Pir and make offerings. Actually there are in some places Brahmins who own the office of a hereditary priesthood of a Muslim Pir and wear a Muslim Pir's dress. Thousands of Hindus go to make offerings to the Christian Goddess Mant Mauli near Bombay.
The worship of the Christian or Muslim Gods is only on occasions. But there are more permanent transfer of religious allegiance. There are many so-called Hindus whose religion has a strong Muhammadan content. Notable amongst these are the followers of the strange Panchpiriya cult, who worship five Muhammadan saints, of uncertain name and identity, and sacrifice cocks to them, employing for the purpose as their priest a Muhammadan Dafali fakir. Throughout India many Hindus make pilgrimages to Muhammadan shrines, such as that of Sakhi Sarwar in the Punjab.
Speaking of the Malkanas Mr. Blunt says that they are converted Hindus of various castes belonging to Agra and the adjoining districts. chiefly Muttra, Ettah and Mainpuri. They are of Rajput, Jat and Bania descent. They are reluctant to describe themselves as Musalmans, and generally give their original caste name and scarcely recognize the name Malkana. Their names are Hindu; they mostly worship in Hindu temples: they use the salutation Ram-Ram: they intermarry amongst themselves only. On the other hand, they sometimes frequent a mosque, practise circumcision and bury their dead: they will eat with Muhammadans if they are particular friends.
In Gujarat there are several similar communities such as the Matia Kunbis, who call in Brahmans for their chief ceremonies, but are followers of the Pirana saint Imam Shah and his successors, and bury their dead as do the Muhammadans: the Sheikhadas at their weddings employ both Hindu and a Muhammadan priest, and the Momans who practise circumcision, bury their dead and read the Gujarati Koran, but in other respects follow Hindu custom and ceremonial.
If he says that "I am a Hindu because I hold to the beliefs of the Hindus" his answer cannot be right for here one is confronted with the fact that Hinduism has no definite creed. The beliefs of persons who are by all admitted to be Hindus often differ more widely from each other than do those of Christians and Muhammadans. Limiting the issue to cardinal beliefs the Hindus differ among themselves as to the beliefs which arc of cardinal importance. Some say that all the Hindu scriptures must be accepted, but some would exclude the Tantras, while others would regard only the Vedas as of primary importance; some again think that the sole essential is belief in the doctrine of karma and metempsychosis.
A complex congeries of creeds and doctrines is Hinduism. It shelters within its portals monotheists, polytheists and pantheists; worshippers of the great Gods Shiva and Vishnu or of their female counterparts,.as well as worshippers of the divine mothers or the spirits of trees, rocks and streams and the tutelary village deities; persons who propitiate their deity by all manner of bloody sacrifices, and persons who will not only kill no living creature but who must not even use the word 'cut '; those whose ritual consists mainly of prayers and hymns, and those who indulge in unspeakable orgies in the name of religion; and a host of more or less heterodox sectaries, many of whom deny the supremacy of the Brahmans, or at least have non-Brahmanical religious leaders.
If he says that he is a Hindu because he observes the same customs as other Hindus do his answer cannot be true. For all Hindus do not observe the same customs.
In the north near relatives are forbidden to marry; but in the south cousin marriage is prescribed, and even closer alliances are sometimes permitted. As a rule female chastity is highly valued, but some communities set little store by it, at any rate prior to marriage, and others make it a rule to dedicate one daughter to a life of religious prostitution. In some parts the women move about freely; in others they are kept secluded. In some parts they wear skirts; in others trousers.
Again if he said that he is a Hindu because he believes in the caste system his answer cannot be accepted as satisfactory. It is quite true that no Hindu is interested in what his neighbour believes, but he is very much interested in knowing whether he can eat with him or take water from his hands. In other words it means that the caste system is an essential feature of Hinduism and a man who does not belong to a recognized Hindu Caste cannot be a Hindu. While all this is true it must not be forgotten that observance of caste is not enough. Many Musalmans and many Christians observe caste if not in the matter of inter-dining certainly in the matter of inter-marriage. But they cannot be called Hindus on that account. Both elements must be present. He must be a Hindu and he must also observe caste. This brings us back to the old question who is a Hindu? It leaves us where we are.
Is it not a question for every Hindu to consider why in the matter of his own religion his position is so embarrassing and so puzzling? Why is he not able to answer so simple a question which every Parsi, every Christian, and every Muslim can answer? Is it not time that he should ask himself what are the causes that has brought about this Religious chaos ?
riddle No. 2
THE ORIGIN OF THE VEDAS—
THE BRAHMINIC EXPLANATION OR AN EXERCISE IN THE ART OF CIRCUMLOCUTION
There is hardly any Hindu who does not regard the Vedas as the most sacred Book of his religion. And yet ask any Hindu what is the origin of the Vedas and it would be difficult to find one who can give a clear and a definite answer to the simple question. Of course, if the question was addressed to a Vedic Brahmin he would say that the Vedas are Sanatan. But this is no answer to the question. For first of all what does the word Sanatan means?
The best explanation of the word Sanatan is to be found in the Commentary by Kalluka Bhatt on Chapter I Shiokas 22-23 of the Manu Smriti. This is what Kulluka Bhatt defines the word Sanatan*[f1].
We have found 72 pages dealing with the subject " Origin of the Vedas ". These pages were neither arranged properly nor paged either by the typist or by the author. We have attempted to organize and arrange all these loose papers systematically and divide them into the Riddle No, 2 to 6, in accordance with the arrangement given in the Table of contents. It is difficult to assume that all these pages are complete in the treatment of the subject of each Chapter.
(There is, however, one independent chapter containing 61 pages under the title 'Riddle of the Vedas 'placed as Appendix I. That essay deals with all the subjects mentioned in the Table of Contents at Sr. No. 2 to 6 in a consolidated manner. Several paras may be found repeated in that essay. The original MS of the chapters 2 to 6 included here hears corrections and modifications in the handwriting of the author, whereas the Chapter included as Appendix I is a typed second copy having no corrections at all. We have followed the chronology of the Table of contents and the pages of corrected MS are arranged accordingly.)
"The word Sanatana he says, means 'eternally pre-existing'. The doctrine of the superhuman origin of the Vedas is maintained by Manu. The same Vedas which (existed) in the previous mundane era (Kalpa) were preserved in the memory of the omniscient Brahma, who was one with the supreme spirit. It was those same Vedas that, in the beginning of the present Kalpa, he drew forth from Agni, Vayu and Surya; and this dogma, which is founded upon the Veda, is not to be questioned, for the Veda says, 'the Rig-Veda comes from Agni, the Yajur-Veda from Vayu, and the Sama-Veda from Surya. " To understand the explanation by Kulluka Bhatt it is necessary to explain what Kalpa means.
A Kalpa is a reckoning of time adopted by the Vedic Brahmins. The Brahmanic reckoning of time divides time into (1) Varsha, (2) Yuga, (3) Mahayuga, (4) Manvantara and (5) Kalpa.
Varsha is easy enough to understand. It corresponds to the term year.
What exactly the period of time covered by the term Yuga covers there is no unanimity.
A Mahayuga is a period covered by a group of four Yugas: (1) Krita Yuga, (2) Treta Yuga, (3) Dwapar Yuga and (4) Kali Yuga. The four Yugas follow one another in a cycle, when the period of the first Yuga is spent it is followed by the second and so on in the order given. When the cycle is complete one Mahayuga is completed and a new Mahayuga opens. Every Mahayuga begins with the Krita Yuga and ends with Kali Yuga.
There is no uncertainty as to the time relation of a Mahayuga and a Kalpa. 71 Mahayugas make one Kalpa. There is however some uncertainty as to the time relation between Mahayuga and Manvantara. A Manvantara is equal to 71 Mahayugas "and something more"'. What exact period of time that 'something more' means, the Brahmins have not been able to state categorically. Consequently the time relation between Manvantara and Kalpa is uncertain.
But this does not matter very much for our present purposes. For the present it is enough to confine our attention to Kalpa.
The idea underlying ' Kalpa ' is closely connected with the creation and dissolution of the Universe. The creation of the world is called Srashti. The dissolution of the universe is called Pralaya. Time between Srashti and Pralaya is called Kalpa. The idea of the origin of the Vedas is thus more intimately connected with the idea of Kalpa.
According to this scheme of things, what is supposed to happen is that when a Kalpa begins creation begins. With the beginning of the creation there comes into being a new series of Vedas. What Kulluka Bhatt wants to convey is that though in a sense every new Kalpa has a new series of Vedas the same old Vedas are reproduced by Brahma from his memory. That is why he says the Vedas are Sanatan i.e., eternally pre-existing.
What Kalluka Bhatt says is that the Vedas are reproduced from memory. The real question is who made them and not who reproduced them. Even if one accepts the theory of reproduction at the beginning of each Kalpa the question still remains who made the Vedas when the First Kalpa began. The Vedas could not have come into being ex-nihilo. They must have a beginning though they may have no end. Why don't the Brahmins say openly? Why this circumlocution?
RIDDLE NO. 3
THE TESTIMONY OF OTHER SHASTRAS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE VEDAS
The search for the origin of the Vedas may well begin with the Vedas themselves.
The Rig-Veda propounds a theory of the origin of the Vedas. It is set out in the famous Purusha Sukta. According to it, there was a mystic sacrifice of the Purusha a mythical being and it is out of this sacrifice that the three Vedas namely. Rig, Sama, Yajus came into being.
The Sama-Veda and Yajur-Veda have nothing to say about the origin of the Vedas.
The only other Veda that refers to this question is the Atharva-Veda. It has many explanations regarding the origin of the Vedas. One explanation*[f2] reads as follows:
" From Time the Rig verses sprang; the Yajus sprang from Time. " There are also two other views propounded in the Atharva-Veda on this subject. The first of these is not very intelligent and may be given in its own language which runs as follows[f3]:
" Declare who that Skamba (supporting principle) is in whom the primeval rishis, the rick, saman, and yajush, the earth and the one rishi, are sustained....
" Declare who is that Skamba from whom they cut off the rick verses, from whom they scrapped off the yajush, of whom the saman verses are the hairs and the verses of Atharvan and Angiras the mouth. "
Obviously this statement is a challenge to some one who had proclaimed that the Rig, Sama and Yajur Veda were born out of a Skamba.
The second explanation given in the Atharva-Veda is that the Vedas sprang from Indra. [f4]
This is all that the Vedas have to say about their own origin. Next in order of the Vedas come the Brahmanas. We must therefore inquire into what they have to say on this subject. The only Brahmanas which attempt to explain the origin of the Vedas are the Satapatha Brahmana, the Taitteriya Brahmana. Aitereya Brahmana and Kaushitaki Brahmana.
The Satapatha Brahmana has a variety of explanations. One attributes the origin of the Vedas to Prajapati[f5]. According to it:
" Prajapati, was formerly this universe (i.e., the sole existence) one only. He desired, 'may I become, may I be propagated '. He toiled in devotion, he performed austerity.
" From him, when he had so toiled and performed austerity, three worlds were created—earth, air and sky. He infused warmth into these three worlds. From them, thus heated, three lights were produced,— Agni (fire), this which purifies i.e., Pavana, or Vayu, (the Wind), and Surya (the Sun). He infused heat into these three lights. From them so heated the three Vedas were produced,— the Rig-Veda from Agni (fire), the Yajur-Veda from Vayu (Wind) and the Sama-Veda from Surya (the Sun). He infused warmth into these three Vedas. From them so heated three luminous essences were produced, bhuh, from the Rig-Veda, bhuvah from the Yajur-Veda, and svar from the Sama-Veda. Hence, with the Rig-Veda, the office of the adhvaryu; with the Sama-Veda, the duty of the udgatri; while the function of the brahman arose through the luminous essence of the triple science (i.e., the three Vedas combined).'"
The Satapatha Brahmana gives another variant[f6] of this explanation of the origin of the Veda from Prajapati. The explanation is that Prajapati created the Vedas from waters. Says the Satapatha Brahmana:
"This male, Prajapati, desired, 'May I multiply, may I be propagated '. He toiled in devotion; he practised austere-fervour. Having done so he first of all created sacred knowledge, the triple Vedic science. This became a basis for him. Wherefore men say, ' sacred knowledge is the basis of this universe '. Hence after studying the Veda a man has a standing ground; for sacred knowledge is his foundation. Resting on this basis he (Prajapati) practised austere-fervour. He created the waters from Vach (speech) as their world. Vach was his; she was created. As she pervaded (apnot) waters were called 'apah'. As she covered (avrinot) all, water was called 'Var'. He desired, 'May I be propagated from these waters '. Along with this triple Vedic science he entered the waters. Thence sprang an egg. He gave it an impulse; and said 'let there be, let there be, let there be again '.Thence was first created sacred knowledge, the triple Vedic science. Wherefore men say, 'Sacred knowledge is the first-born thing' in this universe. Moreover, it was sacred knowledge which was created from that Male in front, wherefore it was created as his mouth. Hence they say of a man learned in the Veda, 'he is like Agni; for the sacred knowledge is Agni's mouth '. "
There is a third explanation[f7]given in the Satapatha Brahmana:
" I settle thee in the ocean as they seat. "
" Mind is the ocean. From the mind-ocean with speech for a shovel the Gods dug out the triple Vedic science. Hence this verse has been uttered; 'May the brilliant deity today know where they placed that offering which the Gods dug out with sharp shovels. Mind is the ocean; speech is the sharp shovel; the triple Vedic Science is the offering. In reference to this the verse has been uttered. He settles it in Mind."
The Taitteriya - Brahmana has three explanations to offer. It speaks of the Vedas as being derived from Prajapati. It also says Prajapati created king Soma and after him the three. Vedas were created[f8]. This Brahmana has another explanation[f9]quite unconnected with Prajapati. According to it:
"Vach (speech) is an imperishable thing, and the first-born of the ceremonial, the mother of the Vedas, and the centre-point of immortality. Delighting in us, she came to the sacrifice. May the protecting goddess be ready to listen to my invocation, she whom the wise rishis, the composers of hymns, the Gods sought by austere-fervour, and by laborious devotion. " To crown all this the Taitteriya Brahmana offers a third explanation. It says that the Vedas came from the beard of Prajapati. [f10]
The Upanishads have also attempted to explain the origin of the Vedas. The explanation offered by the Chhandogya Upanishad is the same[f11] as that given by the Satapatha Brahmana—namely that the Rig-Veda originated from Agni, Yajus from Vayu and Sam from the Sun.
The Brahad Aranyaka Upanishad has two explanations to offer. In one place, it says[f12]:
"As from a fire made of moist wood, various modifications of smoke proceed, so is the breathing of this great Being the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Atharvangirases, the Itihasas, Puranas, science, the Upanishads, verses (slokas), aphorisms, comments of different kinds—all these are his breathings. " In another place, it says[f13]
" Prajapati (identified with Death or the Devourer) is said to have produced Vach (speech), and through her, together with soul, to have created all things, including the Vedas."
"By that speech and that soul he created all things whatsoever, rick, yajush, and saman texts, metres, sacrifices, creatures and animals. "
"The three Vedas are (identifiable with) these three things (speech, mind and breath). Speech is the Rig-Veda, mind the Yajur-Veda and breath the Sama-Veda."
Coming to the Smritis, there are two theories as to the origin of the Vedas to be found in the Manu Smriti. In one place[f14], it is said that the Vedas were created by Brahma.
"He (Brahma) in the beginning fashioned from the words of the Veda the several names, functions, and separate conditions of all (creatures). That Lord also created the subtle host of active and living deities, and of Sadhyas, and eternal sacrifice. And in order to the performance of sacrifice, he drew forth from Agni, from Vayu and from Surya, the triple eternal Veda, distinguished as Rick, Yajush and Saman."
In another place[f15] he seems to accept the story of Prajapati being the originator of the Vedas as would be evident from the following:
"Prajapati also milked out of the three Vedas the letters, 'a ', ' u ', and "m ' together with the words 'bhuh ', ' bhuvah 'and ' svar '. The same supreme Prajapati also milked from each of the three Vedas one of the three portions of the text called Savitri (or gayatri), beginning with the word tat... . The three great imperishable particles (bhuh,bhuvah, svar) preceded by om, and the gayatri of three lines, are to be regarded as he mouth of Brahma."
It is also interesting to note what the Puranas have to say about the origin of the Vedas. The Vishnu Purana[f16] says:
" From his eastern mouth Brahma formed the gayatra, the rick verses, the trivrit, the soma-rathantara, and of sacrifices, the agnishtoma. From his southern mouth he created the yajush verses, the trishtubh metre, the panchadasa-stoma, the vrihat-saman and the ukthya. From his western mouth he formed the saman verses, the jagatimetre, the saptadasa-stoma, the vairupa, and the atiratra. From his northern mouth he framed the ekavinsa, the atharvan, the aptoryaman, with the anushtubh and biraj metres. " The Bhagvat Purana[f17]says:
"Once the Vedas sprang from the four-faced creator, as he was meditating ' how shall I create the aggregate worlds as before?. . . He formed from his eastern and other mouths the Vedas called rick, yajush, saman, and atharvan, together with praise, sacrifice, hymns and expiation. " *[There appears lo be some quotations missing as there is no link between these two paragraphs.]
" Entering between her eyes. From her there was then produced a quadruple being in the form of a Male, lustrous as Brahma, undefined, eternal, undecaying, devoid of bodily senses or qualities, distinguished by the attribute of brilliancy, pure as the rays of the moon, radiant, and embodied in letters. The God fashioned the Rig-Veda, with the Yajush from his eyes, the Sama-Veda from the tip of his tongue, and the Atharvan from his head. These Vedas, as soon as they are born, find a body, (kshetra). Hence they obtain their character of Vedas, because they find (vindanti) that abode. These Vedas then create the pre-existent eternal Brahma (sacred science), a Male of celestial form, with their own mind-born qualities. "
It also accepts Prajapati as the origin. It says that when the Supreme being was intent on creating the Universe, Hiranyagarbha, or Prajapati, issued from his mouth the sound ' Om ', and was desired to divide himself—a process which he was in great doubt how he should effect— the Harivamsa proceeds[f18]:
" While he was thus reflecting, the sound ' om ' issued from him, and resounded through the earth, air and sky. While the God of Gods was again and again repeating this, the essence of mind, the vashatkara proceeded from his heart. Next, the sacred and transcendent vyahritis, (bhuh, bhuvah, svar), formed of the great smriti, in the form of sound, were produced from earth, air, and sky. Then appeared the goddess, the most excellent of meters, with twenty-four syllables (the gayatri). Reflecting on the divine text (beginning with) 'tat', the Lord formed the Savitri. He then produced all the Vedas, the Rick, Saman, Atharvan, and Yajush, with their prayers and rites."