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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Symbolism of the Vedas

Symbolism of the Vedas: The four parts of the Vedas have significance and relevance to the four stages (ashramas) of human life, namely brahmacharya, grihastashrama, vanaprastha and sanyasashrama respectively. How this is so is explained below.

1. Brahmacharya : Brahmacharya is the phase of studentship. During this phase a student of the Vedas is expected to memorize the mantras completely and recite them with utmost accuracy. At this stage in life for a man, the mantra part of the Vedas are important.

2. Grihasthashrama: This is the stage of the householder. During this phase each adult is expected to lead a righteous life and live like Lord Vishnu on earth working for the preservation of his family and society through righteous deeds. For him at this stage, knowledge of Brahmanas carry importance, because they deal with the techniques of karmakanda.

3. Vanaprastha: This is the stage of forest dwelling. During this phase a person leaves his house and properties to the care of his children and retires into the solitude of the forest with his wife, to lead a spiritual life. The knowledge contained in the Aranyakas is useful to him during this phase.. (Interested readers may visit our sacred scriptures section and read the Aitareya Aranyaka available there under the heading the Upanishads.)

4. Sanyasashrama: This is final stage of renunciation in the life of an individual during which he renounces the worldly life completely and spends the rest of his life in the contemplation of God and Self. During this stage the knowledge of the Upanishads is very useful to him.

According to another classification the contents of the Vedas are divided into three parts instead of four. These are the first part known as karmakanda or the procedural part comprising of the Mantras and the Brahmanas, the second part known as upsanakanda or the contemplative part consisting of the Aranyakas and the third part known as Jnanakanda or the knowledge part comprising of the Upanishads.

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