Dr. (Amb.) Gauri Shankar Gupta
Bhartiya civilization based on the foundation of the Vedas is certainly an exception to this general law of nature. Search for the truth constitutes the foundation of Bhartiya ethos. Blind faith has no place in Bhartiya values
Eternal flow of time spares none. The Sanskrit word for time – काल – describes it beautifully. काल also means death which brings eventually everything to an end. Old and worn out is dissolved giving way to the young and new. Thus, death and regeneration are continuous happenings like the flow of a river. Old trees give way to new saplings. Older generation of humans die giving space to the younger ones. In the larger historical context, empires and civilizations fall apart and new empires, values and edifices come up. These are eternal processes of nature. Think of the marvelous Egyptian civilization. When Greeks came Pharos disappeared, when Roman came Greeks disappeared, when Christianity came Romans disappeared and when Islam came Christianity disappeared. Today the past can be seen only in the ruins, monuments, museums and archeological sites. Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Greeks, Chinese, Incas, Mayans and many other civilizations met the same fate with the eternal flow of time.
Bhartiya civilization based on the foundation of the Vedas is certainly an exception to this general law of nature. Search for the truth constitutes the foundation of Bhartiya ethos. Blind faith has no place in Bhartiya values. सत्यमेव जयते – the truth alone prevails – enshrined in the Mundak Upanishad (3.1.6) pervades Bhartiya thought and values. Humans have an innate propensity to know about the mystery of our own existence and the reality of the vast universe surrounding us. What is the nature of this universe? How did it come into existence? Who regulates its functioning? If someone does; who created Him? What is the source of properties/attributes of stars, planets, minerals, plants, different species of life? What is the origin of consciousness? What is the purpose of life? What happens after death? These are primal, eternal questions, perpetually agitating human mind. These are also known as hard questions of science in the terminology of modern era. This deeply profound science forms the corner stone of Bhartiya civilizational values. Since the search for answers to these puzzles of our existence can never stop, Bhartiya civilization has existed in an unbroken form throughout the known history of mankind and shall continue to exist for ever as the quest for the truth shall continue for eternity. Rigveda remains the most ancient written scripture in the history of human existence.
The Sanskrit word Veda – वेद, originates from the root -विद्, which means knowledge which has been seen and realized by the scientists whom we call Rishis or saints. Some other words from the same Sanskrit root are – विद्या (knowledge), विद्यालय (school), विद्यार्थी (student), विद्वान (erudite), विद्यापीठ (institution of knowledge). The knowledge acquired by the Rishis is called darshan – दर्शन – in Sanskrit, which means – seen or realized through personal experience. This realized knowledge when described to others is called shruti – श्रुति – because it is heard from the persons who have seen it or has experienced it personally. Since the Vedas and Upanishads describe the knowledge directly seen and realized by the Rishis, they are called shrutis. In May 2014, I was invited to the UN Association in Port of Spain to deliver a talk. The topic given to me was “How Bharat Captivated the West” despite centuries of colonization and massive poverty. In my talk which was televised at least 50 times on the national television, I told the audience that the philosophy of the West is primarily based on material prosperity and human pleasures while their scriptures promote blind faith. Both of these paths cannot be sustained for long. On the other hand, the scriptures and the ethos of India promote search for the eternal truths and a balanced approach between material prosperity and spiritual growth by understanding the manifest – व्यक्त – world and the non-manifest – अव्यक्त – reality. These vexed questions of our existence have been answered in a coherent and deeply scientific way by Bhartiya Rishis and therefore, Bhartiya ethos shall continue to enchant the rest of the humanity. The Bhartiya ethos are based on universal truths and not on sectarian well-being. This is precisely the reason that many western thinkers have put ancient Bhartiya scriptures at a very high pedestal.
“In the great teaching of Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages climes and nationalities and is the royal road for the attainment of the great knowledge.”
– Henry David Thoreau, American Thinker
“Veda is the ultimate knowledge. During the time of collapse of the world if only one book could be saved that must only be the Vedas”.
– Bela Hamvas, Hungarian Thinker
In the coming weeks and months, it will be my endeavour to present some aspects of our glorious heritage in a scientific way so the younger generations of India can understand the profound science behind Bhartiya scriptures. Unfortunately, due to lack of understanding, many of these writings are often termed as mythology which only shows our ignorance to these profoundly scientific thoughts. Let us start this journey to understand our own heritage which has impacted the humanity in the most profound way.
(Writer is former Ambassador/High Commissioner of India)