Published on August 17th, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


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

Dear Inquirer,
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.

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

12 Responses to What Are The Vedas?

  1. Vasu deva maddi says:

    Sir I want to research on vedas can u help me I want vedic knowledge

  2. Akshay says:

    where in the vedas does it talk about reincarnation(having to move from one body to another) and about avatars or in other words God INCARNATING!
    pls help im confused!

    • Bhagavad-gita. Read Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is and gradually your confusion will be gone. You have to study the whole book seriously and read it again and again. All the answers you are looking for are there.

  3. Uma Sridhar says:

    Hare Krishna!

    Please accept my pranam Swamji.

    I am grateful to you for your kind guidance for improving my spiritual path. Swamiji, kindly clear my following doubts;

    1) Somebody gifted me one “Salagram” I was told that its called Santhana Gopala Salagram on last Ekadesi. I feel very much blessed. But I do not know how to worship ie do puja… Moreover, I want to know about “salagram in detail and our Gurudev Shri Prabhupada’s view about “salagram worship” and whether ladies can do salagram puja?

    2) Here, in India, there is one spiritual organization which has one spiritual Guru, having many followers (My husband & his Mom follow him) Its philosophy is, God’s is everywhere, he is within “You”; so there is no need to search outside; by searching out you are a big fool.. They says, It is like your parents are alive in front of you; but you keep photo or idle of your parents and accepting only the photo as your parents; not the alive parents; secondly, they say try to awaken the “God” within you not to worship idle, photos etc.. I feel very bad; they are very very dangerous and I maintain distance from them. Atheist is better than these ‘so called Gods”.. Interestingly, they keep and worship their Guru (Human) God photo at home; who is alive and very much enjoying family life having grand children etc. ,but refuse to worship Krishna! They have dozens of books mentioning about this philosophy; Their ritual is 5 minutes meditation & distribution of prasadam, it consist of Garlic, onion etc.. no restriction! Can you give them suitable reply Prabhuji?

    Above all, they say we are following Srimad Bhagavat Gita’s “Raja Yoga” chapter; I argued that in Gita, it is nowhere written that Meditation is for 5 minutes and without any food restrictions, rules or other austerities it is not possible to practice this Yoga. Their Guru says you can eat onion, garlic etc.

    It is totally useless to advise mooda’s as Srila Prabhupadaji’s mentioned about them. My own people are going to fall in the well of foolishness with open eyes! I am helpless Swamiji!

    I am reading Raja-vidya book of our Gurudev. What a beautiful book, I am reading it again and again, it is not easy to understand the exact meaning in one time of reading; each time I go through, I get eternal peace, happiness which I am not getting in material life. I feel more happy and make you proud If I am able to apply in practical life successfully atleast 10% in initial stage by following the instructions mentioned in Raja Yoga. Kindly clear my doubts swamiji also I want you to write an elaborate article about Salagram; which will be useful to all devotees who want your kind guidance like me.

    Once again my humble pranam to you Swamiji!

    Hare Krishna!
    Uma Sridhar

    • Hare Krishna Uma

      It is very nice to hear from you and inspiring that you are getting a lot of peace and happiness from reading Srila Prabhupada’s Raja Vidya: The King of Knowledge. It is, as you say, a very beautiful book the you appreciate more and more every time you read it.

      As far as worshiping the salagram silas Srila Prabhupada did not introduce this in ISKCON. He wrote that he will introduce it in the future. But he did not introduce it. So there is not much direct instruction from Srila Prabhupada on Salagram Sila worship. And I can not help you very much with this as I only know what Prabhupada is teaching us and he is not teaching us salagram sila worship. Of course many ISKCON devotees have started worshiping salagram silas since Srila Prabhupada has disappeared from our material vision but there is no real direct instruction from Prabhupada to do this, only the somewhat indirect statement that he will introduce salagram sila worship in the future in ISKCON.

      All I can say is that deity worship must be done very punctually, very regularly, without missing any of the regular offerings, and it must be done at the same times every day, etc. Srila Prabhupada actually established the worship of Gaura Nitai and Radha Krishna side-by-side, showing that Lord Caitanya is Krishna and should be worshiped on the same level as Krishna. He did not establish the worship of salagram-silas. Personally I have no interest in worshiping salagram silas. My interest is in worshiping Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda, Srimati Radharani and Krishna…

      So I can not really help you in regard to salagram-sila worship, really these things should not be taken up unless one fully understands what he is getting into. But if you feel attracted to worshiping the salagram sila and if you can actually do regular worship and make offerings punctually every day then there is no harm. But if you are not particularly attracted to worshiping the salagarma sila it is probably better to try and find someone else who wants to worship Him…

      Really Srila Prabhupada’s mood is the worship of Gaura-Nitai, Radha-Krishna and Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subudra. This is the type of worship he established in all the temples he opened. He never established the worship of the salagram sila anywhere…

      As far as your Mayavadi friends who are against Deity worship you are right to keep away from them. They are very poisonous. The guru tells them not to worship Krishna but to worship him… There is really nothing you can tell this sort of person to wake them up. Srila Prabhupada says the world is full of the cheaters and the cheated. Their guru is a cheater and they are cheated by him. But that is what they want. They want a guru who tells them that there is no God and that they are god themselves. Of course their guru is not coming out and saying this directly but the effect is the same. They do not worship Krishna. They worship their cheating guru. So they are cheaters who want the be cheated so they are attracted by their cheating guru and if you tell them the truth they will not like that. There is an English saying: “It is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss…” So it is like that… You know that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that He has descended in his Deity form to accept worship from us because while we are materially contaminated we are unable to see Krishna’s spiritual form.

      Of course what they say “God is everywhere, God is within you” is correct. Of course Srila Prabhupada says these people say God is everywhere but then they complain when we say that Krishna is in the Deity… So according to them God is everywhere but not in the deity…

      Anyhow there is nothing you can do with these people at least not on the intellectual platform. It requires a very great devotee to change the hearts of such people. So it is better for us to ignore and avoid such people as far as possible. We can always offer them Krishna prasadam and try to get them to chant Hare Krishna and get them to read Prabhupada’s books. But spending too much energy on trying to preach to such Mayavadis is probably a waste of time and we do not want to associate with them, we do not want to hear their poison. Better to find some innocent person who is open to hear that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and we should surrender to Him and serve Him…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  4. jealous yet?:) says:

    WOW!!! u have way to much info…and speak wierd…….oh and im doin a religin project…i need to know what the Vedas is BASED ON! i wouldnt know…im catholic

    • Hi.

      I also grew up as a Catholic and what I learned in the Catholic church is not contradictory to what Krishna teaches. It is the same philosophy. Actually Krishna says that whenever there is a problem anywhere in the world with the people not properly following the religious principles He appears Himself or He sends His son like Lord Jesus Christ, or a prophet or some other representative and they reestablish the religious principles.

      This world is set up in such a way that time is very powerful. Time destroys everything, even the religious principles are destroyed by time. You can see it also in the Catholic church, actually what they are preaching today and how they are living today is quite different from the way the original followers of Jesus understood his teachings and followed them. In time the actual teachings of Jesus have become lost and now Christians are really hardly following any of the teachings of Jesus and “Christian” has become just a meaningless title.

      Anyhow the point I am trying to make is that Jesus is also preaching the knowledge from the Vedas, but he is speaking it in the local language and explaining it with stories that the people he was preaching to could related to. So in the Bible you will find the same ideas that are in the Vedas, but explained in a different language and style. It is the same message actually.

      ‘Veda’ means knowledge and ‘anta’ means end. So the ‘Vedas’ includes all knowledge, both material and spiritual. So there are Vedic texts for example on medicine, on astronomy, on the science of warfare, on politics and government, on how to build airplanes and spaceships, on everything actually. But what we are particularly interested is the Vedanta, ‘the end of all knowledge.’ So this Vedanta is spiritual knowledge.

      The Vedas are the source of all knowledge and ideas on this planet. Originally there was a world-wide civilization and the Vedic knowledge was spread all over the world but over time everything became separated and many different countries came into existence and the Vedic knowledge was to a large extent lost. That is why I am saying that the Bible is also Vedic knowledge. Jesus is simply presenting the Vedic knowledge in the language of the local people.

      So you can find all knowledge in very great detail in the Vedas. It is thousands and thousands of books. A huge storehouse of knowledge. But we are really interested in the spiritual knowledge as actually the point of the human form of life is to realize that we can not be happy by the pleasures of the senses (sex, intoxication, meat eating, gambling, etc) but we can only be happy and satisfied by reestablishing our original but forgotten relationship with God.

      So in Krishna consciousness we are studying the Srimad-Bhagavatam which is the “Ripened fruit of the desire tree of Vedic knowledge.” Which is a fancy way of saying that it is the best of all the Vedic knowledge, the cream of all the Vedic knowledge.

      You can read Bhagavad-Gita As It Is at and you can get some books from so you can study and understand the Vedas in greater detail…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  5. ashveen says:

    where in the vedas does it talk about reincarnation(having to move from one body to another) and about avatars or in other words God INCARNATING!
    pls help im confused!

  6. Arpit Gupta says:

    hare krishna,
    we all are souls & souls go form one body to another birth by birth, then please tell me as you have written that we possess a spiritial body of knoweldge & an ever increasing biss, that means our souls has full spiritiul knoweldge, is it?
    & we as a human, dont know this & has to follow vedas as it is as this is our ture self?
    & we are here do perform our role, to get over our karmas?
    then what progress we made bith by birth as a soul?

    so much disturb because of these questions.
    Arpit Gupta

    • Hare Krishna Arpit

      Yes. By constitution we are sat cit ananda vigraha. It means eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss and posses an eternal spiritual form. But here, in the material world our real spiritual nature is covered by the material body made of earth, water, fire, air, ether and more subtle elements like the mind, the intelligence and the false ego.

      Because we are identifying with the material body and not the spirit soul we are unaware of our true eternal spiritual and blissful nature. And the world we live in reinforces more and more the material bodily identification that our true spiritual nature becomes more and more covered. And we identify more with the material body which is temporary, full of anxiety and full of ignorance. So we become more and more distressed, because we know we don’t want to be in anxiety and darkenss. But we do not know how to get out of this problem.

      Fortunately, Krishna has been very merciful to us. Because this age of Kali is so dark He has made the way we can escape this darkness very simple. If we simply chant:

      Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
      Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

      Then that will gradually clear away all the contamination and dirt that is covering our real eternal spiritual and blissful consciousness and then we will be able to see things as they are.

      So the answer to your problems and confusion is to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra at least 16 rounds a day and follow the four regulative principles [no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication] If you seriously take to this then very soon this darkness will be removed and you will get into contact with your real spiritual nature.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  7. Surendra Pandey says:

    Dear Prabuji

    Submission before the Krishna is indeed a pefect way to attain salvation. This can best be achieved by following the concepts of Vaishnism and remembering Krisna all the time and chaunting Hare Krisna Hare Krishna krisna krishna hare hare, hare ram hare ram ram ram hare hare. This can be done sitting in the house, doing your Karma, attending your job. Perhaps simply sitting in the temple is not the way to reach Krishna. If a persons sits for more than three hours in the temple, how can he justify his Karma as told by Krisna. He is ignoring his family, small kids, husband and avoiding other duties. I hope moderation is must and simply sitting in temple and avoiding work will not even please Krishna. Perhaps Krishna will be happy if persons remembers him all the time and does his Karma without getting involved in only temple activities. If you have time do render your healthy service without annoying anyone. Peace in the family will lighten path for one to attain Krisna by true Bhakti.

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