The Vedas, meaning the repository of knowledge, form the fundamentals of Vedic religion and Aryan society. The available earliest literature of India has unanimously accepted the four Vedas as revealed to the seers or rishis at the time of the creation of the universe. The great sanctity attached to the Vedas and to the seers enhanced the inter-related importance of both and a rishi signifies a Veda, as well. (See p. 7, Vol. II, Vedic Vangmaya ka Itihasa). An unbiassed and careful introspection of this vast literature leads no doubt to the important conclusion that the revelation of the hymns to the seers had never been questioned. the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ushered in an era of criticism adversely affecting the fundamentals and pertinently putting forth the sarcastic proposition that the hymns are the songs of cow-herds. The studies initiated in the field during these centuries by the Western scholars had expressed divergent views on the subjecc. The earlier group who had reverence for this sacred literature, was closely followed by a motivated section bent upon denouncing fully their predecessors who had to face vehement opposition. Their view point, that Sanskrit was the source of Greek, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Slavonic, and also of other European languages etc. which helped to bring the truth to the fore, was repeatedly assailed and shelved by the prejudiced writings of the later group of scholars.
The scholars from the West had attempted writing history of Vedic literature. In the field were Maxmuller, Macdonell, Weber and Winterntz, etc., who treated the intricate subject according to their own interpretations putting forth the material in a brief, concise and summary form. Their writings do not probe into the details or dilate upon the intricacies. The desideratum was A Comprehensive History of Vedic literature.
The earliest Indian pioneer who attempted a subjective analysis and who had the necessary titanic vision was the late Pandit Bhagavad Datta, a close and ardent student of the Vedas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, the Upanishads, the Kalpa Sutras and the vast Vedic as well as classical Sanskrit literature, a very large number of manuscripts of which he had personally collected from remote corners of this vast country and deposited for a critical study in the then Lal Chand Library of D. A, V. College, Lahore, of which he was the Research Superintendent upto 1934 and this collection after the great historical event of the Partition of our Country, is now safely deposited in the Visvesvarananda Vedic Research Institute, Hoshiarpur; while a sizable porion of it remained in the University Library of the Panjab University at Lahore, now in Pakistan. He had written three volumes in Hindi on the Brahmana and Aranyaka Works (1927), the Commentators of the Vedas (1931), and the Recensions of the Vedas (1935). The volume on Brahmana and Aranyaka Works was based on his introduction to the Vedic Kosa (1922) by Hans Raj, his devoted Librarian. The treatment of the subject, his approach to the general problem and the details available with him were in simple and forceful language put forth for a careful study by the student as well as the scholar. These three volumes eventually formed the basis for subsequent writings on the subject both by Indian as well as Western scholars, who unequivocally admired his depth, comprehension and clarity of expression on the subject.
These three volumes in Hindi, required a careful editing and addition of the latest research material. Their editing was undertaken by the present writer in the year 1973. The three volumes in Hindi on Brahmana and Aranyaka Works (1974), the Commentators of the Vedas (1976) and the Vedas, their Samhitas and Recensions (1977) have been published. The volumes on the Upanishads and the Kalpa-Sutras are under preparation and are likely to be published, shortly.
The long cherished desire of the scholars, especially from foreign countries to have a simple, clear, analytical and comprehensive understanding of the subject matter, had led the present writer to bring forth, 'A Comprehensive History of Vedic Literature' in English in five volumes. The material critically put forth, herein, basically shatters the persistent views impregnated into and expressed by the Western and most of the Indian scholars. The fundamental difference between the Western thought and that expressed in these volumes centres round :
1. Were the hymns of the Vedas revealed?
2. Interpretation of the hymns
3. Do the Vedas have history?
4. Are the brahmanas also the Vedas?
5. Is animal sacrifice in yajnas prescribed in the Vedas?
A. Throughout the vast Sanskrit literature, it is maintained that speech or logos neither has a beginning nor an end. It is akshara it is eternal and is grasped at the beginning of each creation. This speech is known as div or daivi. It differs from the speech used by human beings. In the Kathaka and Mai-trayanl Samhitas, the Nirukta, the Satapatha Brahmana and throughout the Vedic literature, this distinction in speech is clearly discernible. the hymns were revealed in the daivl speech. At the time of creation the great Seers were receptive to the chhandasi prakriya or metrical movements through the highly energised particles of electricity in the heaven, the middle region and on the earth and could, therefore, transmit the hymns so available to them. TO add, each human brain, also, has electricity.
The hymns, epissima verbis, have been handed over to posterity undisturbed during the past thousands of years. The arrangement of padas has neither been changed nor replaced by synonyms. Their sanctity has never been disturbed. For example, in the very first hymn of the Rigveda. the pada, agnimlle is nowhere found to be substituted by vanhimlle, a synonym for agni. Kumarila Bhatta, writes to suggest that even if an attempt is made to compose hymns their metrical formation would betray the fact and any such interpolation could be easily detected. The formation of hymns is not regulated by rules of grammar applicable to the spoken language of the people. This had baffled the Western scholars who formed incoherent opinions and a glaring example of such an expression is by Macdonell, who writes : 'Since metrical considerations largely interfere with the ordinary position of words in the Samhitas, the normal order is best represented by the prose of the Brahmanas, and as it there appears is, moreover, doubtless the original one." (pp. 283-284)
Had these scholars correctly grasped the difference between a hymn and its explanation in a brahmana, preposterous theories and inconsistent dicta could well have been eliminated. Brahmanas being an explanation of hymns were in the spoken language of the people even though their authors could possibly have been the same rishis, who were also the seers of the hymns. The hymns are not abnormal, as Macdonell had thought and expressed.
B. Interpretation of the hymns had been confined only to their ritualistic significance by the writers of the mediaeval periods, whose works were easily accessible to the Western scholars. It was expressed that the hymns are confined to the ritualistic yajnas only as : Veda yajnartham pravrittah.