Sanskrit – the language of vast treasures of knowledge
Though the primary role of the Sanskrit hymns of the Veda was healing and maintaining harmony with nature, it also served as an infinite source of theoretical and practical knowledge.
The ancient “Rishis”, the “Seers of reality”, who cognized the flow of the Vedic hymns in their inner space, were able to derive very detailed knowledge from the Veda, which they elaborated in complete systems of knowledge in all fields of life.
Various systems of knowledge came about according to the need of the time and the comprehension ability of the people in society.
As an example we can take the field of Ayur-Veda the ancient vedic system of medicine. Ayur veda means – “knowledge of life”, or “knowledge of the span of life”.
Ayur Veda is a complete system of health oriented towards preventing, as well as treating disease, by a holisting approace to all levels of body, mind and the living environment.
In the scriptures of Ayur-Veda it is mentioned that in the ancient Golden Age there were no diseases. Everyone lived in perfect health and in perfect alignment with natures intelligence. Therefore, the system of health known as Ayur-Veda was not there. It has not been manifested yet as it was not really needed.
|Only a long time after that, when humanity deviated from natural law over long periods of time, diseases started to appear. It was at that time that the wise Rishis derived the knowledge of health from the Veda, and taught it to the people in the form of the science of Ayur-Veda.
In the same manner various other aspects of Vedic knowledge came about, not only to support certain needs of the time, but also to bring to the world knowledge which will match the understanding capacity of the population as a whole.
When, for example, there was a decrease in the ability to comprehend the abstract and subtle knowledge of the Vedas, the Rishis, the “seers”, retold and elaborated the same knowledge in the form of stories and mythologies that were more accessible and more easily understood by a larger portion of society.
The Vedas were always respected and the learned men always passed in on to the next generation but at the same time more layers of knowledge appeared for the sake of making the high and abstract knowledge available to the masses.
At first, for very long periods of time, the various aspect of Vedic knowledge were not written. Like the Veda itself, they were passed from generation to generation in oral traditions. Only when the mental capacity of humanity and the power of memory decreased they were written down – First on palm leaves, and much later, on paper.
Many of the ancient manuscripts were lost, but still thousands and thousands of them were safeguarded and preserved, and can be found in various universities, research institutes and private collections – mostly in various places all over India.
The complete scope of Sanskrit literature is enormous and can not be easily accounted for, but at least some major fields of knowledge and aspects of literature should be mentioned here.
Systems of gaining valid knowledge, as well as expanding and elevating humane consciousness, can be found in numerous works on the 6 “Darshanas” – known as “the 6 systems of India philosophy”: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Karma Mimansa and Vedanta.
Among these 6 Darshanas an increasingly popular one is the field of Yoga. Some of the major scriptures in this field are: “Yoga Sutra of Patanjali”, “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” of Svaatmaraama, “Gheranda Samhita”, “Vigyana Bhairava”, “Shiva Sutra”, “Hatha Ratna Vali” etc.
Already mentioned is the huge field of Ayur-Veda, the “Science of Life”. Some of the main scriptures for this field include: “Charaka Samhita”, “Shushruta-Samhita, and “Ashtanga Hrdayam”.
The filed of Architecture is called “Sthapatya Veda”, or “Vastu Vidya” – the science of form and the knowledge of building structures that comply with the laws of nature.
Jyotisha – or Vedic Astrology – is another very important aspect of knowledge that plays a major role in Vedic traditions. The unseen inter-connectedness of all aspects of existence forms the basis of this huge field of knowledge that is still widely used in predicting and avoiding negative influences, and in the various procedures of bringing life into accordance with the laws of nature.
The Upanishads form an important aspect of spiritual and philosophical knowledge that deals with various aspects of the infinite absolute reality and how it relates to the inner space of consciousness.
The “Puranas” and the “Itihasa”, which contains the stories of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, are the history and mythology of the ancient Vedic culture. In them the complete knowledge of all aspects of life is depicted in elaborate and intricate mind-captivating stories.
The “Mahabharata” is a huge epic told in 100,000 verses. This epic contains numerous side stories centered around the Mahabharata war – which can be seen to be a symbolic representation of the eternal interaction between good and evil, light and darkness, on the path of the evolution of consciousness. Together with the Ramayana the Mahabharata is one of the most significant scriptures of Indian culture.
The Ramayana tells the story of Prince Rama – an incarnation of the God Vishnu – who wages war and kills the demon kink Ravana who abducted his wife Sita . This also is a very symbolic story that may be seen as representing the dynamics of the interaction between good and evil, light and darkness.
A lot of the above mentioned literature has been translated into English and other languages. It is a common knowledge though, that no translation can be perfect. In Sanskrit this truth is even more valid as the richness and depth of the Sanskrit language do not allow any other language to capture the full depth of its meaning.
We therefore recommend anyone who feels inspired by the scope and richness of Sanskrit literature, to learn Sanskrit and read the scriptures in the original language – Or at least learn a little, just enough to read and to deal with any questions or doubts that may come up regarding the validity of a certain translation, or the meaning of cetain expressions.