As per the Atharva Veda, ?Devasya pashya kavyam na mamaar na jiryati?, (See the divine scripture. It neither grows old, nor ends). Vedas are ancient Bharat'stimeless and divine scriptures to guide humans in their day-to-day life as also in their pursuit of self-realisation.
Written in Sanskrit, the Vedas are the proud possession and earliest books of mankind. They are the foundation of Sanatan Dharma commonly known as Hinduism. Vedas contain sublime thoughts in sublime language and represent the world'sancient-most literature. First mantra of the Rig Veda is the first known poem in the world.
Four Vedas viz. Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda, contain altogether 20416 mantras. Rig Veda is the oldest and has maximum number of mantras. Each Vedic mantra has its Devata; and the Rishi (sage) to whom the mantra was revealed and its Chhanda (metre). And all Vedas have got their respective Mantra Samhitas, braahmana, aaranyaka and Upanishad books.
You are ?Supreme?
While addressing humanity, Atharva Veda informs every seeker, ?Shukro-asi, bhrajo-asi, swar-asi, jyotir-asi? (You are pure, you are radiant, you are blissful and you are enlightened). Carrying this message further, various Upanishads proclaim, aham brahmasmi (I am the Supreme: Brihad Aaranyak Upanishad); tat tvam asi (you are the same: Chhandogya Upanishad); pragyanam brahmam (know the Supreme: Aitreya Upanishad) and ayam atma Brahmam (this Atma is Supreme: Mandukya Upanishad). These four maxims are called four Maha Vakyas (great maxims).
Casteless and classless society
Vedas are all-embracing and stipulate a casteless and classless society. Vedas treat all humans with the same affection. Vedas speak of nobility and one-ness of entire humanity (krinvanto vishvam aryam). Mantra number 10-13-1 of Rig Veda addresses entire humanity as divine children (Shrunvantu vishve amrutsya putraha).
Innumerable mantras of Vedas emphasise oneness, universal brotherhood, harmony, happiness, affection, unity and commonality of entire humanity. A few illustrations are given here.
Vide Mantra number 5-60-5 of Rig Veda, the Divine Poet declares, ?All men are brothers; no one is big, no one is small, all are equal?. Mantra number 16.15 of Yajur Veda reiterates that all men are brothers; no one is superior or inferior.? Mantra number 3-30-1 of Atharva Veda wants all humans to be affectionate and to love one another as the cow loves her newly born calf. Underlining harmony still further, mantra number 3-30-6 of Atharva Veda commands humankind to dine together, and be as firmly united as the spokes attached to the hub of chariot wheel.
Last mantra of Rig Veda further emphasises unity and harmony of entire humanity, ?Samani Vha Aakuti, Samana Hrudyani Vha, Samanam Astu Vo Mano, Yatha Vha Su Saha Asti.? (?Let your aims be one, let your hearts be one, let your minds be one, and let your unity go from strength to strength?).
Mother Earth and harmony
Though ecology is claimed to be a modern concept, the best tribute ever paid to environment is found in Vedas. 63 mantras of Atharva Veda (12.1.1. to 12.1.63) pertain to Prithvi-sukta (Hymn to Earth), which glorifies Mother Earth. Vedic sages regarded Earth as sacred and inviolable.
Mantra number 12.1.12 of Atharva Veda calls Earth as the mother and humanity as its children (Mata bhumih putro aham prithivyaha). Prithvi Sukta proclaims Earth as the mother of all creatures, and solicits its blessings.
According to Prithvi Sukta, Mother Earth is adorned with heights, slopes, plains, hills, mountains, forests, plants, herbs and treasures; and She takes care of every creature that breathes and stirs. May She give us joy, wealth, prosperity, good fortune and glory!
Universal peace and harmony are integral to the Vedas. Famous Shanti Mantra (Hymn of Peace) in Yajur Veda for peace and harmony to pervade the entire universe is as follows:-
?I pray for peace to pervade all the worlds; I pray for peace in the Sky and Earth; peace in waters; peace in herbs, vegetation and forests; peace among all people and rulers of the world; peace in entire universe; peace for everyone everywhere. Peace, real peace. I pray for that very peace!?
Vedas propagate universal harmony and well-being of entire humanity. Vedic sentiment is ?Sarve janah sukhino bhavantu? (may every one be happy)!?
Many Vedic mantras direct humans to share their wealth with others. Rig Veda (1-15-8) stipulates, ?Let us become God'sinstruments and distribute fortune to the poor and needy.? Rig Veda (10.117.6) further declares that not sharing your wealth with others is sinful, and any one who eats alone incurs sin. Similarly, Atharva Veda (3-30-7) commands humans to share their comforts with others.
Constant efforts made for propagating the Vedic heritage and Sanskrit will certainly save Vedic echoes and ethos in the land of Vedas as Atharva Veda proclaims, ?Effort is in my right hand, and victory in my left? (kritam may dakhshine haste, jayo may savya aahitah).
(The writer is former Chief Commisioner of Income Tax and can be contacted at 71, Shanti Niketan, Prabhat Colony, Santa Cruz (East), Mumbai-400 055)