Critic of Blind Recitation: Enemy or Friend of Hinduism?

Critic of Blind Recitation: Enemy or Friend of Hinduism?

Shri Hrushikesh asked: Dear Swami, My Pranaam to your lotus feet. I was very happy to read the answer given
by you for the question asked on Vedic accents. So far it has received 300 likes on different
facebook groups. However, there was also an objection raised
by Mr. Sid Pat. Please find his objections below. I have made it the in the form of dialogue
for easy understanding of his arguments on certain points. Regards, Hrushikesh (A Dust particle in your
creation). Swami Replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants
of God! I am not saying that accents are useless because
the accents serve the purpose of pleasant musical hearing. Except for this one purpose, the accents have
no significance since the sound energy of these accents is inert and incapable of doing
any miracle. Even the ultrasonic sound energy having a
higher frequency than the audible sound energy cannot do any miracles. The priests have developed a false theory
to defend their blind recitation that the sound itself does miracles and removes the
problems of the doer of the ritual. The doer is also misled by this false theory
and is not interested in knowing the meaning of the Veda. He does not demand that the priest explain
the Vedic verses being recited. The doer is satisfied with the false explanation
of the priests and believes that the sound energy of the blind recitation will do some
miracle and remove his problems. These priests who themselves are spoiled,
are also spoiling the innocent public by exploiting their weakness for solving their problems. In short, according to these priests, knowing
the meaning of the Veda is not necessary. Using this argument, priests try to convince
people to support their blind recitation of the Veda without knowing its meaning. Sid Pat: Please show scriptural reference
to the above-derived conclusion. It appears that the article intends to postulate
that the specific accents in Vedic recitation are useless. Could you confirm that you agree to this stand? Swami: The word ‘Veda’ itself means knowledge
based on its root verb ‘Vidul—jñāne.’ So, the blind recitation of the verses without
knowing their meaning is not the Veda. Veda adhyayana is studying or learning the
Veda; not merely reciting it. But the word adhyayana is also taken by these
blind priests in the wrong sense to mean blind recitation. This is totally wrong. Adhyayana is derived from the words adhi and
ayana, and it means knowing or learning the knowledge as per Sanskrit grammar. Hence, the scripture says that in order to
understand the meaning of the Veda, one should study the Veda along with the supporting scriptures
on grammar, logic etc., which are known as the Vedāṅgas, “Sāṅgo Vedo adhyetavyo
jñeyaśca”. Here, the Veda means knowledge. Adhyayana (adhyetavyo) again means knowledge. Jñeya also means knowledge. Knowledge is stressed thrice in this statement! My mind is shocked to see the tradition of
these priests reciting the Veda blindly, without knowing its meaning, especially since the
word Veda itself means spiritual knowledge. In the ancient times also, people used to
recite the Veda blindly to preserve the text of the Veda. But it was necessary then since there was
no printing technology. The technology of manually writing on palm
leaves was very inconvenient and the palm leaf-scriptures were prone to damage. Memorization and recitation had important
advantages for preserving the scripture. But apart from the preservation of the Veda
by recitation, they used to study the Veda too, after first studying the supporting scriptures
on grammar etc. But now the Vedas are mass printed and well-preserved. They are also safe from any adulteration now. So, in the present context, these priests
are wasting time by blindly reciting the Veda when there is no need to take any further
efforts to preserve it. Moreover, they are putting a full stop after
this unnecessary blind recitation. They are not even studying the Sanskrit language
and the supporting scriptures on grammar, logic and so on. So, there is no effort to understand the deep
meaning of the holy Veda. The Veda is holy because its knowledge is
holy as said in the Gita (Nahi jñānena sadṛśaṁ pavitraṁ…). The scripture also says that reciting the
Veda, without knowing its meaning, is very bad (Anarthajñaḥ… pāṭhakādhamāḥ). I sincerely feel that the time used in blind
recitation must be diverted to learning Sanskrit, its grammar and so on, so as to understand
the deep meaning of the Veda. This is very essential today since the public
does not know Sanskrit. In ancient times, God inspired the sages to
compose the Veda. They composed it in Sanskrit since Sanskrit
was the mother tongue of the sages. This coincidence is exploited by the priests
to support their blind recitation of the Veda since they neither know the true meaning of
the Veda nor do they want to explain it to the public. Sid Pat: Does every mechanic specialized in
car repairs understand the intricate complexity in the applied technology required to build
an automobile in its entirety? In any case, are the priests insincere towards
their duty of reciting the Vedas as per the paramparā even if they do not know the meaning? Swami: Your example is not a perfect simile
for the concept. The owner of the car only needs the repair
of his car. He does not require the knowledge of the background
technology. The mechanic is serving the need of the customer
fully. But in the actual concept, the customer of
the priest is the performer of Vedic ritual, who needs guidance on the spiritual knowledge
contained in the Veda. Even the prayers of the Veda recited by the
priests are not understood by the customer and hence, the customer’s devotion to God
is also not improved. Thus, in this case, the need of the customer
is not served even to the slightest extent, whereas the need of the car-owner is fully
satisfied by the mechanic. Sage Yāska says that a priest reciting the
Veda without knowing its meaning is like a laborer carrying a loaded bag of gold without
knowing its value (Svarṇabhāraharaḥ…). You speak about paramparā or tradition. There are two traditions. The first one is the oldest tradition of the
sages who spoke Sanskrit as their mother tongue. They both recited and studied the Veda. The second tradition is that of the older-generation
priests, who are more recent than the ancient sages. These priests only recited the Veda without
studying its meaning, even though their audience was unaware of Sanskrit. I am criticizing this second tradition and
not the first ancient tradition of the sages. The present-day priests are the descendents
of the second tradition of priests. They are in line with the Pūrva Mīmāṁsā
philosophy of doing rituals with the blind recitation of the Veda, which is the karma
mārga. They emphasize on the recitation of the Veda
even when there is no need of it today due to the availability of the Veda in print. They believe and promote the false theory
that the sound of the Veda with accents will lead the soul to heaven after death. Both the present-day priests and the older
priests of the second tradition do Vedic rituals based on this false theory. The only difference between the two is that
present-day priests do it for the sake of earning money while they are alive whereas
the old priests did the same to reach heaven after death. The older ignorant priests like Maṇḍana
Miśra felt that the Veda is simply a text of eternal words and that there was no need
to bother about its meaning or knowledge. The Gita condemned this line of thinking (kāmātmānaḥ
svargaparāḥ…). This line of thought was also condemned by
Śaṅkara, who stressed on the knowledge of the Veda, which is the jñāna mārga. As we have seen earlier, the Veda means knowledge
and not mere unknown sounds. The Gita also says that one should perform
rituals after knowing the meaning of the Vedic verses recited in that context (Jñātvākurvīta
karmāṇi). Ultimately, God only sees your feeling in
any ritual, worship or prayer (Bhāvagrāhī Janārdanaḥ). The feeling results from the meaning of the
words recited. The feelings of gratefulness and praise for
God generate devotion to God. Thus, words, meaning, feeling, and devotion
are the gradual steps. If you stick only to the first step of words,
how can you get to the meaning or knowledge that guides your actions and the devotion
to God? Sid Pat: I find a Brahmin-bashing voice in
this article that is typical of a totally westernized lens of looking at Hindu Dhārmik
traditions. Do you see it too? Swami Replied: You must know that I am also
a Brahmin by the false theory of caste-by-birth. In that case, why would I criticize My own
caste unnecessarily? Do you know the meaning of the word ‘Brāhmaṇa’? A Brāhmaṇa is he who leads the public towards
God by preaching spiritual knowledge and by developing their devotion (Brahma nayati iti
Brāhmaṇaḥ). Speaking the harsh truth is the inherent characteristic
of a Brāhmaṇa. Sage Gautama decided that the boy Satyakāma
Jābāla was a Brāhmaṇa since he spoke the bitter truth. The boy said that he did not know who his
biological father was because his mother was an unmarried maid-servant who had worked in
several houses. This clearly shows that caste is decided by
qualities and deeds and not by birth. Our Hindu religion once occupied the highest
place in the world due to its spiritual knowledge which was developed by the ancient sages and
scholars. I am deeply worried to see the present position
of our religion and our caste. It is at the bottommost place, where there
is total ignorance of the spiritual knowledge contained in the Veda! There is a saying in Sanskrit “Paṇḍita
putraḥ paramaśuṇṭhaḥ”, which means that the son of a great scholar is a great
idiot! If you support these priests blindly just
because they belong to our religion, it would be another blind bias, which will keep them
in this spoiled state forever. We should realize and rectify our own mistakes
before pointing out mistakes in others. Kabīr said that the friend praising you is
your real enemy and the enemy scolding you for your faults is your real friend. I appreciate your loyalty to our religion. I am only bringing out the truth for the sake
of helping out the priests and the innocent public. I might appear to be the bitter enemy of these
priests, but in reality, I am their hidden friend, whereas you appear to be their sweet
friend but unknowingly, you are their bitter enemy. How can you say that I view Hinduism through
a western lens when I authored about a hundred books in Sanskrit on spiritual knowledge by
the age of sixteen? Whether it is the East or West, the entire
world is the creation of God alone. I shall call the true spiritual knowledge
told by even a westerner in English as the Veda but not the false spiritual knowledge
spoken by an eastern scholar in Sanskrit. Since the Veda only means knowledge, I do
not go by the language. This is the basic spirituality needed in this
world today. It alone can create a peaceful atmosphere
in this world which is created by the one and only God.


  • Veenadatta Dasika says:

    Actual meaning of veda and importance of rituals and vedic recitations is well defined. Jai guru Datta

  • naga lakshmi says:

    Excellent explanation about studying and understanding the Veda and mere chanting of Vedic hymns without understanding the meaning is useless even in a time where the entire Veda is available in print formats in the present times. Excellent advise by Shri Datta Swami to utilise the time used for mere recitation To understand and study Sanskrit so that the real meaning can be understood. Guru Datta, Sri Datta, Prabhu Datta.

  • D NAGA LAKSHMI says:

    Excellent explanation by Shri Datta Swami. Jai Guru Datta

  • Nikhil Kothurkar says:

    In a time when Hinduism is being attacked from many sides owing to many blind practices that have crept into it over the years it is essential for Hindus to introspect and purify their own religion. It is ironic that when Swamiji is precisely trying to do what is most critically required, the so-called proponents of Hinduism are the first ones to criticize Him! These proponents of the blind traditions of Hinduism are themselves blind. It is a classic case of the blind leading the blind! I pray to Lord Datta that they take the knowledge of Swamiji seriously and begin to see reason.
    गुरु दत्त श्री दत्ता प्रभु दत्त!

  • Abhijith anil says:

    Jai Dattaswami Veda shall be recited knowing its meaning!!

  • kishore ram says:

    1. Caste based on qualities and deeds.
    2. Vedic chanting actually do not bring the fruit of the prayer, but its the God grace that brings the fruit.
    Both the above points explained beautifully.

  • Ramya Sri Salipalli says:

    Excellent video on Vedic Chants and Caste by birth concepts. Do you have more videos similar to these concepts?

  • Laxmi Thrylokya says:

    Reciting Vedha without knowing the meaning is similar to carrying a bag loaded with Gold without knowing it's value. Jai Guru Datta

  • bharath krishna says:

    I feel blessed to watch this video. As a child whenever i see my parents doing Pooja or they attend some ritual I had sit obediently without asking a single questions. I had to sit just like that looking at the ritual. As time passed by i became angry on god for creating such boring rituals and gradually i became atheist. Had I not attended such rituals probably i would have remained theist. So doing a ritual without explaining the meaning is actually dangerous.

    Thank you so much showing us the right path Shri Datta Swamy.

  • Laxmi Thrylokya says:

    Shankaracharya came and changed Mandana Mishra who believed that meaning of Vedha is unimportant and revived our tradition. Now, Datta Swami has arrived to preach the present day priests. Feel lucky to be in this generation.JGD🙏

  • Naveen Kottapalli says:

    Not at all a valid argument. Vedam is apaurusheyam means it is not written by sages in sanskrit. Vedas are not told or written by sages. Had this argument been true, there is no use of any sound energy.

  • surya narayana says:

    Really really excellent. I didn't notice the time and got finished. Very smooth flow of knowledge. None can deal this topic better than Shri Datta Swami. Guru Datta Shri Datta Prabhu Datta

  • Naveen Kottapalli says:

    Who is this Swamiji? Which tradition does Swamiji belong to? What is the authenticity?

  • Naveen Kottapalli says:

    Dustarkaastu viramyataam… But whatever I found in this video is not correct and a misleading stuff. Any blind follower of any swami can't take right and valid point against his sayings. Rest is up to all. God bless all.

  • surya narayana says:

    I would like to appreciate the efforts of the team making these videos too.

  • Naveen Kottapalli says:

    Here is the excerpt from the very well known authority of the vedas, sastras and much more.

    The Vedas are the evidence of all the properties. It is called Sruti. (That is why it is not written, read and learned, because he learns to listen.) Sruti came from memory. The Titras made based on the study of the Vedas are called Smritis. This is the law. — Kanchi Paramacharya

    All I can say is this video is very misleading based on the following

    1. Saying that vedas were written by god. This is not true. It was never written by anyone.
    2. Saying that there is no use of sound energy being produced by chanting the veda mantras. There is and it is scientifically proven too.
    3. The question of what happens when the person chanting the veda mantra has knowledge of what mantra is for and why it is like that. This video does not say what is the result of such chanting. If one of the followers try to counter this question, that itself will prove that the video is completely wrong.

    With this reply am putting an end to this chain.

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