Chapters :
  • ANCIENT HISTORY – CASTE SYSTEM – 03
  • THE RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS (ANCIENT INDIA)

ANCIENT HISTORY - CASTE SYSTEM – 03

THE SAMA VEDA consists of stanzas (excepting 75) taken from the Rg-Veda and arranged solely with reference to their place in the Soma sacrifice. The Samhita is not without value for the history in Indian sacrifice and magic, and the ganas attached to it are certainly important for the history of Indian music. It may be called the book of chants (saman).

THE YAJUR VEDA is the book of the Adhvaryu. The collection of various mantras for the purpose of recitation and the rules to be observed at the time of sacrifice is designated as Yajur-Veda Samhita. The method of collection is in accordance with the act of sacrifice. This Veda is in prose and stands in sharp contrast to the Rg-Veda which is in verse. The Yajur Veda is divided into tao branches. Krsna Yajur Veda or Taittiriya Samhita and Sukla Yajur Veda or Vajasaneyi Samhita. The former book is older than the later, and its Mantra and Brahmana parts are not separated.

THE RG-VEDA, SAMA VEDA AND YAJUR VEDA are collectively known as Trayi. In later years the Atharva Veda was incorporated in the group. The Atharva Veda is in the main a book of spells and incantations appealing to the demoniac world and teems with notions about witchcraft current among the lower classes of people. They are of immense value as representing the religious ideas at an early period of Indian civilization. In form this is similar to the Rg-Veda consisting for the most part of metrical hymns, and it has two branches, the Paippalada and the Saunaka.

The Brahmanas belong to the second great class of the Vedas. Their chief purpose is to explain the mutual relation of the sacred texts and their ceremonial as well as symbolical meanings with reference to each other. It may be said that the Brahmanas deal with the science of sacrifice. They give rules for the performance of sacrificial ceremories. To the Rg-Veda belong the Aitareya Brahmana and the Kausitaki or Sankhyayana Brahmana. To the Sama Veda belong the Tandyamaha Brahmana and the Jaiminiya Brahmara. The Taittiriya Brahmana is part of the Krsna Yajur Veda and the Satapatha Brahmana or the Sukla Yajur Veda. The Brahmanas of the Rg-Vega emphasize what is of importance to the Hotrpriest, while the Brahmanas of the Sama Veda are chiefly concerned with the duties of the Udgarr and those of the Yajur Veda with sacrificial is to be performed by the Adhvaryu.

The later portions of the Brahmanas are called Aranyaka and the final parts of the Aranyakas are philosophical books named Upanisads which belong to the latest stage of the Brahmana literature. The Aranyakas are no longer rules for the performance of sacrifices or explanation of the ceremonies. They deal with the mysticism and symbolism of sacrifice and priestly philosophy. In the Aranyakas we also find rules laid down for the sacrifices which are purely mental.

The Upanisads mark the culmination of Indian though. The world upanisad is dervied from upa-in-sad to sit down near some one; and it originally meant the sitting down of the pupil near the teacher for the purpose of confidential communication. There are many Upanisads, but twelve of them are of greater importance. The Upanisds Aitareya and Kausitaki belong to the Rg-Veda; Chandogya and Kena belong to the Sama Veda; Brhadaranyaka and Isa belong to the sukla Yajur Veda and Prasna. Mundaka and Mandukya belong to the Atkarva Veda. 

It has been stated in one of the Upanisads that there are two kinds of knowledge, the higher and the lower. The higher is that which helps us to know the imperishable Brahman, the lower can be gathered from the four Vedas as also the six Vedangas viz., phonetics, ritualistic science, grammar, etymology, metrics and astronomy. The Vedangas are not called Sruti, because they are of human origin. These Vedangas are written in the form of Sutras.

The Sutras are cvmposed in a peculiar prose style intended for memonization. The Sutras serve a purely practical purpose. The method of sacrifice has been stated in the Kalpa Sutras. They are divided into three sections; Srauta Sutras, Grhya Sutras and Dharma Sutras. The Srauta Sutras give directions for the laying of the three sacred sacrificial fires for the Agnihotra sacrifice, the animal sacrifice, Soma sacrifice etc. The Grhya Sutras deal with the domestic ceremonies and the sacrifices to the performed by the householder. The Dharma Sutras are concerned with the laws, manners and customs of people in general.

THE RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS (ANCIENT INDIA)

The religious movements that were centered on the historical persons like Mahavira and the Buddha about the middle of the 1st millennium B.C. fall under the second group. About that time there flourished several other religious teachers who were connected with such movements. Some early Buddhist texts speak of six foremost opponents of the Buddha, who were the chiefs of peretical sects-Purana Kasyapa, Maskari Gosala, Ajita Kesakambalin, Pakudha Karyayana, Sanjaya Belasthiputra and Nirgrantha Jnataputra. The second and the last in the list, Maskari Gosala and Nirgrantha Janataputra (another name of Mahavira) were the most important of them all-they were connected respectively with Ajivikism and Jainism. The creeds preached by some of them contained elements that were not in keeping with the Vedic tradition, and they ignored the infallibility and supernatural origin of the Vedas.

Vasudeva – Krishna Worship: Bhagavata – Pancaratra – Vaisnava. Asutra in Punini’s Astadhyayi refers to the worshippers of Vasudeva (Krsna) whom Epic and Puranic traditions describe as a hero of the Sattvata race.

The Chandogya Upanisad speaks or Krsna, the son of Devaki, a pupil of the sage Ghora Angirasa who was a sun-worshipping priest. Vasudeva – Krsna appears to have played the most dynamic role in the great Kuruksetra war, and helped in the establishment of righteousness after the destruction of impiety. He was idealized by his followers during his lifetime and was apotheosized afterwards. The large number of people who worshipped him exclusively as their personal god were at first known as Bhagavatas. 

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