The Bedrock of Thought, Culture & Civilization - The Rig Veda Exalted to its Rightful Position
The 4 Vedas have been the “the bedrock of thought, culture and civilization; not only in India, but also, in other parts of the world,” says an erudite and a passionate Dr Satish Prakash on the occasion of the launch of a book titled, “Rigveda Mani Maala: Gems from the Rigveda” on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula, Queens, New York City. It was indeed a memorable event where the audience’s excitement for spiritual knowledge on the formerly obscure Vedas has become less mystical, and less complex because of the translations and accompanying commentaries by the Guyanese-born scholar, Dr Satish.
I am so happy that I made one of the better decisions in my life to attend the workshop on the RigVeda at the Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula. Once at the workshop, I said to myself that I rather be at no other place in the world than to be at this workshop. I gather from post-workshop conversations that many participants felt the same way. I was unable to probe whether or not they feel the same way when they attend regular Sunday morning satsangh. What I do know is that the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about the ancient wisdom of the Vedas were evident at the workshop. I personally have never sat down in one place for 2 ½ hours to listen to anyone before, irrespective of the quality of the oration; but at Saturday’s workshop, I just did that, and in the process created a bit of history for myself in this regard.
In one of the most inspiring spiritually-oriented workshops in New York City that happened on Saturday April 6, 2018, Vyakaranacharya Dr Satish Prakash, Head of the Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula, demonstrated why he is one of the bright lights of Hinduism in the West. Dr Satish Prakash elaborated on doctrines and philosophy, and applied those to everyday living. In this way, he has been able to connect easily with his audience who left the event with important life-enrichment message(s).
It was a great educational experience to have been at his workshop on the Rigveda which was organized by the Maharishi Dayananda Gurukula under Dr Satish’s leadership. The book, “Rigveda Mani Maalaa: Gems from the Rigveda” was another remarkable production by Dr Satish Prakash, who usually writes solely on scriptural matters. The Rigveda consists of 10,522 mantras. Dr Satish painstakingly selected a sample of mantras that have direct linkages to our everyday life, like ideas on morality, charitable giving, and respect for parents, and explained their significance. The 4 Vedas have been the “the bedrock of thought, culture and civilization: not only in India, but also, in other parts of the world,” according to Dr Satish.
In launching the book, “Gems of the Rig Veda,” Dr Satish told the capacity audience of about 250 that comprised a good proportion of youth, and a balance between the two genders, that the Vedas are for all humanity, irrespective of religious faith, color, caste, social class, nationality, and language. It’s the source of universal spiritual knowledge that was revealed to the four sages/rishis (Rig Veda by Rishi Agni; Yajur Veda by Rishi Vaayu; Saama Veda by Rishi Aditya; and Atharva Veda by Rishi Angiras) which consist of 20, 358 mantras that have passed down onto us. Griffith admits, “These Rishis were inspired seers who saw or received the Vedas directly from the Creator.” Yaask Acharya attests, “the Rishis had direct intuitive insight and they handed down the mantras and their imports by oral instruction to later generations…..”
If we, the people, follow the teachings and instructions of the Vedas our path ahead would be glorious. For every problem in life, there is a positive answer in the Vedas. Once we touch the Vedic nectar, it would make us yearn for more and more until we become intoxicated with its delicious wisdom. And we would always want to remain in that state of spiritual ecstasy. Dr Satish emphasized that the Vedas are not a set of Hindu scriptures revealed for use by Hindus only, but rather these are meant for all humanity; just as how Christianity arose in Jerusalem but is meant for all mankind, and Islam arose in Arabia but it’s for the people of the world.
Dr Satish’s presentation of his work was superb and he elaborated with appropriate commentaries, drawing also from Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s Sanskrit interpretation of the Vedas. The translations and commentaries are essential because without these we, the ordinary folks, will be unable to get a fair understanding of the Vedas. Dr Satish skillfully utilized his talent as an etymologist and Sanskrit grammarian to simplify complex Sanskrit words for the benefit of his audience. Several scholars, not necessarily versed in the scriptures or in Sanskrit, couldn’t help but rose to commend Dr Satish for his excellent production (book on Rigveda) as well as his presentation. And no one there would disagree with their expressed sentiments.
The launch of the Rig Veda represented a unique opportunity for our community to get a fair understanding of the power of the Vedas. All 4 Vedas teach the value of truth, love, divinity and humanity. The audience will likely treat their copy of the Rig Veda, from now onwards, as a reference guide to good living!
Congratulations to the Dayananda Gurukula and Dr Satish Prakash on an excellent production.