What is Shastram?

Discussion in 'Chitvish on Hindu Culture & Vedanta' started by Chitvish, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Shastram is the Sanskrit word for scriptures. The scriptures help us in the attainment of human goals. They can be compared to a “ May I help you?” counter in the Railway Station. They do not force themselves on us, but are available if we seek their help. Hindu scriptures are voluminous, unlike other religions.

    The Primary Literature:
    The Vedas:
    The Vedas are also called Sruti – that which means “that which is is heard”.
    Vedas were not invented by human intellect, but are considered to be the gift of the Lord. It is said that Rishis served as the media for receiving them in the form of sound waves. They gave them to the entire humanity and a tradition was set up.
    The Vedas are four in number – RigVeda, YajurVeda, SamaVeda and Atharva Veda.
    The Rig Veda consists of hymns to gods like Indra and Agni.
    The Yajur Veda concerns the knowledge of rites.
    The Sama Veda concerns the knowledge of chants.
    The Atharva Veda contains knowledge given by Sage Atharvana.

    The Secondary Literature:
    They are written by great teachers and deal with the attainment of human goals. The Vedas are abstract whereas these bring the ideas into concrete form through various stories. They are more systematically arranged than Vedas.

    Some of them are:

    The Sutras:
    They codify the vedic teachings and present in a terse form called an aphorism ie a profound idea is stated in a short form so that people can learn them easily byheart.
    We have Dharma-sutras, Srauta-sutras and Grhya-sytras written by Rishis.

    The Smritis:
    These are systematic presentation of secondary literature. Smritis mean “remembered wisdom”. They are compositions set to meter and consist of verses.
    General duties, specific duties, duties in crisis are all given in a well-codified form.
    Some examples are Manu-smriti, Yajnavalkya-smriti, Vyasa-smriti etc.

    The Puranas:
    Here there are stories for every duty. They run to lakhs and lakhs of verses. They convey eternal truths. Though ancient, they are ever valid, ever useful, ever meaningful and never obsolete. Along with philosophy, there is ethics, sociology and psychology. An example is Harischandra Purana.
    The western psychologists are talking today about the greatness of our puranas. We do not require a Walt Disney, for we have our puranas to cater to our children’s fantasies. We have instances in puranas of man becoming animal, man becoming a stone, a stone becoming an animal and so on. That is why a mythological story attracts attention even today on a T V show.

    The Ithihasas:
    This is historical literature like Ramayana and Mahabharatha.

    Veda-Purva and Veda-anta:
    These are 2 broad classifications of Vedas.
    Veda-Purva deals with the fulfillment of the first three human goals, namely, security, pleasre and dharma.
    Veda-Anta helps a person to discover independence (moksha)and enjoy the happiness within himself. This is ultimately what a mature person wants in life.

    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
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  2. purnima_2k

    purnima_2k Senior IL'ite

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    Immense hardwork!

    Hi Mrs CV

    Explaning Shastras and Puranas and that too in a manner where a layman can understand, is extremely difficult and i can imagine the pain you would have taken to simplify it for our sake! Great work , Mrs CV, you have made our path towards Vedic history simpler--moving the pricky thorns on the way.:clap


    I however have some doubts:

    1) I am not very clear on the differences between Puranas and Ithihasas. In fact i used to think that Ramayana and Mahabharatha are Puranas! Could you please elucidate on that?

    2) Regd Veda Purva you have mentioned that it deals with the fulfillment of the first three human goals, namely, security, pleasure and dharma. What are they ? Are they rules that govern those three goals? Are they stories? Sorry CV for these naive questions, just thinking aloud!

    Purni
     
  3. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    My dear Purni !

    Thankyou very much for the prompt F B . I cannot ask for more.
    We have 18 puranas & 18 upapuranas. Some are Shivapurana, Markandeya purana, Vishnu purana etc. They have stories for every duty. They remain a vast literature. It is because there are stories running into thousands of verses for every value that is talked about. For just one vedic mantra "satyam vada" (speak the truth), we have the whole story of Harischandra in the purana.
    The puranas show the no: of problems one faces if one has to steadfastly adhere to a value. Some of them are factual & some are a mixture of fact & fiction.
    For your second query please refer to the posting on " what are human goals". I think you have completely forgotten it. Unless one keeps on reading repeatedly & makes a note, it is difficult to follow vedanta.
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  4. Priya Amarnath

    Priya Amarnath Bronze IL'ite

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    nice explanation abt sashtrams

    My dear Chithra

    Just now finished reading this weeks posting. You have given such a beautiful explanations to Vedas that I kept reading the same topic two to three times. I am really enjoying ur style, Chithra. The classifications of Vedas are neatly written in a simple language.

    Eagerly waiting for next weeks posting

    Love and Regards
    Priya
     
  5. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Priya, Oh Priya!

    Thankyou very much for the F B .
    You are right - vedanta posts are "serious" & one has to read them & digest slowly. But since that conveys the ultimate truth in life, I do want to continue the same.
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  6. meenu

    meenu Bronze IL'ite

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    A significant drop in the vast ocean!

    Dear Chith,
    Your post this Thursday is slowly opening the wide door to vedantha. The definitions are simple in style and highly motivating.I think every Wednesday we should read and re read your previous postings to have clear cut knowledge of what you write
    Regards,
     
  7. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Chitra,

    That was a very beautifully simplifies easy to digest version on shastras!

    njoyed reading this, though like u said, i need more time to go into details and comprehend their meaning!

    I want to know if these manu -smriti , etc are available for reading....especially on the internet....i would love to read more on this subject....
    You are really highly motivating, ...so please keep up ur good postings!
     
  8. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Meenu, your caption is very catchy!

    Thankyou for the feed back.
    What I am writing now, iis just an introduction to vedanta.
    This is like building layers of bricks, one over the other. So the lower layers must be cemented well, before keeping the upper layers. It is better to take a print out & go through the previous postings. You said it right.
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Your feed backs, encourage me, no doubt, Sudha !

    Repeated reading only, makes one thorough with this subject, rather, familiar with the terms. I am not very sure about the credibility of the internet version, since I noted a misrepresentation, recently. There are some shops in Chennai, where you can get good books on the subject.
    Sudha, I now feel that I should be encouraged by the qualitative F B s for the vedanta postings, rather than bother about the quantitative F B s !
    Please stay tuned.
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  10. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Treasure chest

    Dear Chitra,

    A great explanation and a treasure of info about Shastras. All your posts in Religious and Spiritual forum have become proverbial gems. I now go about such topics with a confidence that I lacked before. When talks on Vedanta and scriptures came up before, I was a bit lost because my knowledge about it is limited. Now I know that all I have to do is tap on the IL door of Chitra and I have answers and solutions.
    Yesterday's post on Shastram was so timely, I cannot but be astounded. I took a trip to the Ashram here with some friends and we were talking about Vedas and later the Swamiji too was talking about Atma related slokam. But I could not decipher from which scirpture it was taken and believe you me, nobody knew. I mentally had the reassurance that I can take it up with Chitra, she will know and tell me. Then, I too will know! Such confidence on such subjects...only possible because of dear you.
    Sorry that I am deviating a bit from the present topic. Remember how you wrote about the many Gods of our Hinduism? I was explaining the gist of it to my friends and they were all highly impressed at that view point and it struck a chord. Ofcourse, I once again was praising you, the source of my minute knowledge:)
    I am not going to attempt thanking you for I don't really know how:)
    Love you and my God extend His blessings to you in abundance.

    L, Kamla
     
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