Published on February 20th, 2016 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada | Full size image10
What Are The Vedas?
Veda means knowledge, and there are two kinds of knowledge, one mundane and another transcendental. The Vedas are considered to be originally transcendental because they come from the platform which existed before the creation. This transcendental knowledge was impregnated in the heart of the first created living being, and then he distributed the knowledge both for material and spiritual purposes.
Letter to: Inquirer — Boston
I thank you very much for your interest.
Since you would like to know more about the temple, the worshipers and the scriptures, I beg to inform you that this Krsna consciousness movement is based on the Vedic scriptures. Veda means knowledge, and there are two kinds of knowledge, one mundane and another transcendental. The Vedas are considered to be originally transcendental because they come from the platform which existed before the creation. This transcendental knowledge was impregnated in the heart of the first created living being, and then he distributed the knowledge both for material and spiritual purposes.
This Vedic knowledge was stated in the Atharva-veda. Later on, just at the beginning of this millennium, the Kali-yuga, Vyasadeva, who is the supreme authority on Vedic knowledge, considering the degraded condition of men in this age, divided the whole Veda into departmental knowledge, and some of his disciples were entrusted with the particular departments. In this way the entire Vedic knowledge was developed into four Vedas, then 108 Upanisads, 18 Puranas, and then summarized in Vedanta-sutra. And then again, to benefit the less intelligent class of men like women, workers, and the degraded descendants of the higher class, Vyasadeva made a fifth Veda, known as Mahabharata, or the great history of India.
The original Bharata and modern India are not the same. The original Bharata means the whole planet earth. Having been gradually divided, the modern India is only a fractional part of the original Bharata. So the knowledge is distributed in so many departments of Vedic knowledge, but the whole process aims at God realization.
The living entities within this material world are understood to be rebellious conditioned souls who disregarded the order of the Supreme Lord and thus lost their spiritual kingdom. It is something like Milton’s idea of Paradise Lost. This material world is created, developed, and maintained; it produces many by-products, then gradually dwindles, and at last it is dissolved or annihilated. The spirit souls or living beings are by nature eternal. This condition of life for the living beings, namely, to go through repeated births and deaths, is unnatural for them. Therefore the entire Vedic knowledge is designed to regulate the life of the living entity, not in the animal form of life, but in the human form of life, so that he can fulfill his material desires but at the same time become elevated to his original spiritual position. This process of evolution from the lowest aquatic life up to the stage of brahminical culture is deliniated in the Vedas. This is called knowledge, and when one is liberated from the material contamination, the same knowledge, further advanced, becomes transcendental knowledge.
This process of elevating oneself from different platforms of understanding to the highest status of life is called religion. According to the Sanskrit language, religion is not a kind of faith, but it is a prescribed form of duty to be discharged by the respective divisions of human society, ultimately rising to the platform of Krsna consciousness or God consciousness. The first-class religion, therefore, is that which teaches love of God because religion means to understand one’s position in relationship with God.
This God realization also depends on three phases of life. When God realization is there, distinguished from material realization, this is called the liberated stage of transcendental enlightenment. The next stage is to realize God everywhere in His localized aspect, and the highest stage of God realization is to know Him as the Supreme Person–all-powerful, full of all riches, all reputation, all beauty, all wisdom, and all renunciation.
For further understanding of this religious process, I would recommend that you read our three books, namely Sri Isopanisad, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and Easy Journey to Other Planets. When you have finished them, you can read Srimad-Bhagavatam and Teachings of Lord Caitanya. Besides these we have many other books and our Back to Godhead magazines, in which we fully describe this religion only. So please read them one after another, and whenever there is a question you may write to me, and I shall be very glad to answer you as far as possible.
I am so pleased to learn that you are so impressed with our activities and that you are so eager to learn about religion. Thank you very much.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has branches in major cities throughout the United States, Canada, England, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and India.