Part 2

The Vedas

by PR Sarkar Icon


The oldest portion of the Vedas is the Rgveda.

  • It was composed outside India.

The remaining portions were the Yajurveda and Atharvaveda.

  • These were partly Indian and partly non-Indian.

Sámaveda is not a separate Veda by itself.

  • It is the compilation of the lyrical and musical portions of the different Vedas.

Only the Rgveda is the ancient relic of the non-Indian Aryan civilization.

The Yajurveda was composed in Iran, Afghanistan, northwest India and parts of Russia.

  • It is not entirely non-Indian since Afghanistan (Gándhár) and some parts of Russia were part of India at that time.

The original Rgvedic civilization belonged, in spirit and language, to the non-Indian Aryans.

But the Yajurveda was composed by a particular branch of the Vedic Aryans who, when the Aryans later began to spread out in search of food (especially wheat), migrated to India via Iran (Áryańya Vraja) and Afghanistan. When we say “Indo-Aryan civilization”, we basically mean the civilization of these people.

These nomadic Aryans came in contact with the people of:

  • Iran
  • Afghanistan
  • northwest India

This led them to take up:

  • farming and
  • strategic warfare.

This new thought gave them a refined intelligence.

In the beginning, during the Rgvedic era, the cattle-rearing Aryans were only acquainted with barley and a few other crops.

  • After they came to Iran, they learned to cultivate wheat and, to some extent, rice, from the Asuras, the primitive natives of Iran.
  • They learned the use of boiled rice in India.
  • Yet their staple was generally barley.

They developed during the Yajurvedic era.

  • This led to the Brahmaváda or the doctrine of monotheism.

During this era, there was a noticeable intellectual development among the Aryans.

among the munis [intellectuals or seers] and the rśis, philosophy and spirituality also attained a brilliant height of expression.

The Brahmaváda was a lot deeper and clearer than that of the Rgveda.

The Atharvaveda was initially composed in India.

During the composition of this Veda, the Aryans came in close contact with the non-Aryans. This resulted in an exchange of thought between the two.

The Tantra of the non-Aryans had a marked influence on the Atharvaveda.

Being non-Aryan, the Atharvaveda cannot be regarded as a representation of Aryan civilization.

In the subtle philosophy of the Atharvaveda, particularly of the Nrsiḿha Tápańiiya Shruti, there is a far greater influence of the non-Aryan Tantra than of the Aryan Veda.

The migrating Aryans first settled in the hilly valleys of northern India.

Although there was not much intermixture of blood between the Aryans and the inhabitants of this area, the Aryans were greatly influenced by non-Aryan culture. The Aryans settled down in this area, which was known as Kash (or Khash) after defeating its ancient non-Aryan inhabitants.

Using the original name, Kash, they renamed the area “Kashmeru” or “Kashmiira” [Kashmir]. Although the Aryans of Kashmiira did not give up their Vedic study, in the spiritual field they did cultivate the indigenous Indian Tantra.

As the southern part of Kashmiira was littered with pebbles resembling the jambu fruit [Eugenia jambolana Lam], the Aryans named it “Jambu Dviipa” (modern Jammu). Subsequently, Jambu Dviipa came to mean the whole of India. Possibly in the sandy beds of the many rivers that transect Jambu Dviipa they discovered gold for the first time, and so gold came to be known as jámbunada.

When still later they settled throughout the entire land of India, they realized that it was ideal not only for habitation, but also for self-development. Thus they named it “Bháratavarśa”. Bhara means “that which feeds”; ta means “that which gives”, or “that which helps in the process of expansion”; and varśa means “a vast stretch of land”. Thus, bháratavarśa means “a vast expanse of land which helps in the all-round development of its inhabitants”.

The Aryans did not have their own script.

  • They learned the written alphabet after coming in contact with the Dravidians of the Harappa and Mahenjodaro civilizations of India who were already using the Saendhavii script.
  • After the Aryan migration into India, that script transformed into the Bráhmii and Kharośt́hi scripts.

Due to their old superstitions, most of the Aryans were reluctant to write down the Vedas.

  • They adhered to their illogical reasoning even after the scripts came into being
  • They thought that the rśis had not written out the Vedas because:
  1. It was improper
  2. The Vedas were named shruti

However, much later, in Kashmiira,(1) the Vedas were written down in the Sáradá script in use there at the time.

  • This was because there was almost nobody left who knew all the Vedas by heart.
  • The number of people who knew even parts of them was very small.

When the Kashmiira scholars finally did write down the Vedas, they discovered that many parts of them were missing for good.

It was not difficult for the healthy, martial, almost invincible Aryans to conquer northern India.

The victorious Aryans treated the vanquished non-Aryans as slaves, trampling them underfoot to the bottom of their trivarńa [three-caste] society – their society of Bráhmańas, Kśatriyas and Vaeshyas.

There, the non-Aryans became the fourth class, or Shúdra Varńa, while society became a cáturvarńa [four-caste] society.

In the beginning, the Aryans tried their utmost to avoid blood relationships with the Shúdras.

  • This is proven in the Vedas and later books
  • Eventually, it became impossible for them to avoid intermixture.

In northern India the Aryans enjoyed political dominance.

  • But the non-Aryans’ influence in the social sphere gradually increased and persists even today.

The Aryans were unable to extend their political power into southern India.

  • There they did exert some social influence, but even less than in the north.

The courage, strength and physical beauty of the Aryans was conspicuous in the north, south and east of India.

  • So in these areas, the non-Aryans were very eager to establish social relations with the Aryans.
  • They often proudly called themselves Árya-Vipras [Vipra = Bráhmańa, or Brahman], Árya-Kśatriyas or Árya-Vaeshyas.

The non-Aryans maintained social and cultural predominance.

  • But the Aryan influence over the language spread everywhere.

Moreover, the influential leaders of society everywhere began to introduce themselves as Aryans.

  • The anti-Aryan sentiment gradually weakened, causing a widespread inferiority complex to take root among the non-Aryan population.
  • This inferiority complex proved extremely detrimental to the interests of the non-Aryans.

The Aryan leader Agastya was the first to go to southern India to popularize the ideas and ideals of the Aryans.

He explained the greatness of the Aryans to the people there allegorically.

According to this mythological tale, Vindhya Hill on the northern frontier of the Deccan bent its head out of reverence for Agastya, enabling him to cross into southern India, and has kept its head bent in reverence ever since.

The great epic Rámáyańa depicts the Aryan invasion of southern India.

  • The ‘monkeys’ of Kiśkindhyá and the rákśasas [demons] of Lanka in the Rámáyańa were the sub-castes of the Dravidian society itself.

The proof that the non-Aryans, particularly the Dravidians, were a highly developed community in regard to knowledge, learning, intellect, city and town building, cultivation of science, and social order and discipline, is traceable in every line of the Rámáyańa.

It was extremely difficult for the Aryans to hold their own in an intellectual duel with the Dravidians.

At every step they found themselves outwitted, and said, “Queer are the ways of demons.”

As a result of co-existing with the non-Aryans for a long time, the Aryans learned many things from them.

In fact there is hardly anything of Aryanism left in them today.

Of course, the non-Aryans also took on certain Aryan traits, among them their fair complexion, their proficiency in various activities, and their ostentatious lifestyle.

From the non-Aryans the Aryans acquired a well-knit social system, a subtle insight, spiritual philosophy and Tantra sádhaná.

In the beginning, the Aryans tried hard to preserve the purity of their blood.

Shúdras used to be kept scrupulously at arm’s length. But such precautions eventually failed.

The non-Aryans were:

  • Dravidians
  • Austrics
  • Mongolians

Everywhere in India, there was intermixing between the Aryans and non-Aryans, leading to a new mixed race.

  • This is why dark Vipras and fair Shúdras are not rare in India today.
  • Their very colours pay testimony to the intermixture of Aryan and non-Aryan blood.

The victorious Aryans, coming from cold countries, were a skilled and competent race.

  • Their competence, their sense of superiority over the non-Aryans, and their unity born out of hatred for the non-Aryans, helped them in their victory over India.

The non-Aryans were defeated by the Aryans in northern India.

  • The non-Aryans of southern and eastern India were under an inferiority complex. Yet none of them surrendered to the Aryans without a fight.

As they were constantly engaged in warfare with the Aryans, they became much more proficient in battle. Thus Aryan victory in southern and eastern India eventually became impossible.

In the accounts of major battles fought between the Aryans and the non-Aryans, as depicted in the Sanskrit books written in the subsequent period,(2) the non-Aryans display no less competence than the Aryans.

Aryan life was full of noisy revelry and pomp.

The non-Aryan life was simple and unostentatious, although it was the non-Aryans who had access to more materials of enjoyment.

But when the non-Aryans came in contact with the Aryans, they became tempted to enjoy pomp and splendour. Such a lifestyle proved more harmful to the comparatively inactive non-Aryans, inhabitants of a tropical country, than to the active and hardy Aryans.

The Aryans outside India had no well-structured social system nor any clearly-defined marital discipline. “Might is right” was the order of society.

Nevertheless there was a predisposition in them to mould a society. The non-Aryans had happy families. They were characterized by a well-knit social structure and strong conjugal relationships. Even those nature-worshipping ethnic groups forming part of the Austric population of non-Aryan society, though comparatively backward, had very strong family relationships. So when the Aryans came in contact with these non-Aryans, they found new light for the formation of a society.

With the exception of a few munis and rśis, the militant (kśatriya-predominant) Aryans used to view the world with an extoversial outlook. After major battles they would kill the men of the conquered community, employ their children as servants, and either marry the women or employ them as maid-servants. For that reason there was a large number of male and female slaves in their society.

War-loving races are generally careful to honour the rules and laws of war, and frame new laws to suit the convenience of warring armies. Thus, the Aryans displayed a commendable sense of discipline during war. Being a war-loving race, it was but natural for them to do so.

The non-Aryans, however, were backward in this regard. During their battles with the Aryans they did not respect the rules and laws of war (such as not to strike at the defenceless, not to employ more than one fighter against another, not to kill a retreating or surrendering soldier or a soldier begging for mercy).

Not only was this highly irritating to the Aryans; the lack of a disciplined military mentality was actually one of the main reasons for the non-Aryans’ defeat.

Usually the non-Aryans were content with little. What was developed in them was their introspective nature, which not only made them devotees of God, but infused in them a surging love for spiritual philosophy. The religious practices of the Aryans, however, entailed performing certain sacrifices in order to attain certain materialistic gains. That is, their religious observances were mainly ritualistic.

On the whole, the non-Aryans were followers of Tantra, or subjective sádhaná. Of course the non-Aryans, depending on their different degrees of intellectual development, ranged all the way from animists to Brahma sádhakas [intuitional practitioners whose goal is the Absolute]; but in general, individual sádhaná ranked very high.

The religion of the Vedic Aryans was, as a rule, one of prayer. It did not include even the subtlest hint of any intuitional meditation. And here lies the difference between the Brahmaváda of the Vedas and the Upanishads on the one hand, and that of Tantra on the other.

As previously mentioned, by “non-Aryans” no particular ethnic group was meant. When the Aryans first migrated to India, the non-Aryans were, on the whole, divided into three populations. Of these, the Negro-Austric Dravidians were the most developed intellectually and spiritually. Their Tantra sádhaná bore a predominance of jiṋána and bhakti. The next groups deserving mention are those of the Mongolian population. In their Tantra sádhaná, karma and bhakti were predominant.

The groups which constituted the Austric population were almost equal to the Aryans intellectually, but in the practical and spiritual spheres they gradually lagged behind due to the comparative lack of dynamism of their society. This Austric society was content to practise the extroversial aspects of Tantra (witchcraft, invultuation, magic, magical incantation for evil purposes, hypnotism, etc.)

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