The Vedas are the collective intelligence and experiences of over 400 super yogīs, or ṛṣi-s in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word Ṛṣi literally translates to “seer”. Through their intense yogic practices, they had acquired a vision of how the universe functioned and our relationship with it.
They then transcribed this vision using their powerfully developed memory into beautiful, clever, rhythmic and wisdom filled mantras, to make this knowledge available as the Vedas.
This knowledge helped the Ṛṣi-s live a harmonious, peaceful life, intelligently navigating the ups and downs of life.
Veda – derives from the root word “vid” which means “to know” and the Vedas are exactly that – Knowledge. Knowledge that the Ṛṣi-s made available to us, to grow personally and be effective contributors to our communities.
Sounds like something quite wonderful to learn right? But why do we have to chant these texts? Couldn’t we just read them like any other book, read good translations and understand them and learn in that way?
It is one way to learn, and this is what happens in an academic setting in Universities. There are numerous translations of the Vedas in all languages. You can easily acquire entire encyclopaedias and simply read them in your own language.
However, it would be the same as studying marine biology without ever observing an actual aquatic animal or reading amazing books on cutting hair without actually practicing. Like studying a book about swimming or cooking, but never ever getting in the water or preparing a dish, you don’t actually gain assimilated knowledge.
Same with the Vedas. The knowledge in the Vedas cannot be separated from the form of their mantras – rhythmic sounds in clever metrical poetry. The process of learning to chant these mantras is crucial in starting to understand and integrate its deep wisdom.
When we chant the Vedas, we are forced to develop concentration, focus, excellent listening skills and will power. Without this practice-based approach, the Vedas will forever remain some esoteric mystical text of the ancients, meant for unknown Vedic rituals with little relevance to our everyday lives.
Medha Sūktam practice by our students in Brussels, at the end 5 weeks of study. Medha, for developing the power of memory and analysis.