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The Explanation of Upanishads, Upavedas and Vedangas

V edas have several Parts. They have the Manthras or Hymns for prayers, the Brahmanas, the explanatory treatises for using the mantras i...

Vedas have several Parts. They have the Manthras or Hymns for prayers, the Brahmanas, the explanatory treatises for using the mantras in rituals, the Aranyakas, the forest books and the Upanishads, the portion of knowledge. The Aranyakas are the mystical interpretations of the mantras and rituals.

The Upanishads reveal some of the greatest truths ever known to mankind. They contain the essence of spiritual truth and philosophy of the Vedas, guiding man through the ages in his search for spiritual enlightenment. There are about 108 Upanishads known, of which 12 are important. Agamas are authoritative texts of Divine origin, independent of Vedas, given to our Rishis explaining the worship of God in various manifest forms and rules for construction of temples and other places of worship.

Besides these texts that are timeless and of Divine origin, we have other texts and explanatory treatises to guide us in the proper path. Vedangas are explanatory limbs of the Vedic texts, rituals, and astrology. They are Siksha, Vyakarna, Chandas, and Niruktha which deal with the usage, pronunciation, and grammar of the Vedic language; Jyothisha which deals with astronomy and astrology and Kalpa Suthras by various Rishis which explain various rituals, laying out the area for Yagna, ethics, customs and laws for the domestic life.

There are four Upa-Vedas on science and art of health, archery, music, and politics [Ayurveda, Dhanur-Veda, Gandharva-Veda, and Arthasasthra]. Dharsanas are called the Upangaa, texts by various authors explaining various pathways of understanding and the practice of the Vedic philosophy and teachings. The Smrithis or the Sastras are the sacred law codes written based on the Vedic teachings. Ithihasas and Puranas carry these teachings through stories to practice the faith.

By: Bala N. Aiyer

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