In the previous episode, we saw the main reason as to why “Bhagawan” (The Lord) incarnates in this earth, along with a small introduction about the Vedas and the Veda-Upabrahmanas. We also saw a short description about the “Shaastraas” and why are the Vedas described as the Shaastraas. We had concluded the last episode with a couple of questions – Why at all should one read the Vedas and the Veda-Upabrahmanas and which one to read first? Let’s see the answers in today’s episode.
Yesterday we had seen that Bhagawan incarnates on this “Mother Earth” to demonstrate the ways and means of living an honest and a sincere life. The significance of Veda-Upabrahmanas can be understood better by the following Sanskrit sentence (Vaakyam):
Vedopabrahmanaarthaaya thaavagraayatah prabhuhu!!
This sentence implies that Lord Vishnu had a desire to create the “Veda-Upabrahmanas” for the Vedas. Since the Vedas are a complex text to understand and comprehend by normal people like us, it might be easily ignored off, or could be misunderstood. To avoid these kinds of situations, it is said that Lord Vishnu wished to incarnate on the earth and enact all those principles that are mentioned in the Vedas so that, it would be a “Simplified Version” for people like us to follow. Also, when anything is in the form of a story, it’s easier for all of us to understand, comprehend and follow. It is for this reason the Veda-Upabrahmanas were created by Bhagawan, and it is also for the same reason that, one is advised to read through the Veda-Upabrahmanas prior to exploring into the Vedic texts.
Now let’s see how were these “Veda-Upabrahmanas” created. Of course, Bhagawan incarnated in different times as different “Avataars” and demonstrated various things for all of us, through his lives on earth. However, there was a need at one point of time that all the various activities, incidents of every incarnation of Bhagawan had to be documented, so that it would be made available for the future generations of people. It was for this purpose, the great “Maharishis” (Saints) were born. Many of them (like Valmiki Maharishi, Veda Vyaasa, etc.) took up the responsibility on themselves to document all the various activities performed by Bhagawan during His various incarnations in the form of “Slokas” (Verses) in Sanskrit. All these documented texts compiled by various “Maharishis” (Saints) are collectively termed as “Upa-Brahmanas” to the Vedas, meaning “The simplified version of the complex Vedic texts, in a readily understandable and an implementable form”.
This “Upa-Brahmanas” are classified further into the “Ithihaasas” and the “Puraanaas”. It’s quite a known fact that there are two Ithihaasas in the Hindu Literature – The Ramayana (Life incidences of Lord Rama) and the Mahabharata (Life incidences of Lord Krishna), and the Puraanaas are eighteen in number – Six “Saathvika Puraanaas”, six “Raajasa Puraanaas and six “Thaamasa Puraanaas”.
How do we differentiate between the “Ithihaasaas” and the “Puraanaas”? If the text is written during the time of the Lord’s incarnation itself, it’s called “Ithihaasaas”, and if the text is written after the Lord’s incarnation is over, it’s called “Puraanaas”. This differentiation is extremely important to be understood by the readers. For example, Valmiki Maharishi composed the Ramayana even when Rama was alive and was ruling the Ayodhya kingdom. The great sage Veda Vyaasa composed the Mahabharata even when Lord Krishna was alive. However, the Puraanaas were done at a much later stage after all the incarnations were over.
Even within these two “Veda-Upabrahmanas”, the “Ithihaasas” are considered to be more prominent and significant than the “Puraanaas”. Why? The answer lies in the next episode!!