7 The Spiritual Teachings of the Vedas
The Vedas contain a treasure trove of spiritual teachings in the form of mantras and slokas. The main philosophy of the Vedic teachings may be summarized as:
Shanti Karanam: the hymns of peace. These hymns are included in all the Vedas. Among the hymns of Shanti Karanam, the Gayatri Mantra undoubtedly occupies a place of prestige.
Bhur bhuvah suvah
Tat Savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
—Rig Veda, 1.113.13
OM is the metaphor for the Divine Supreme. We meditate on the earth (bhur), the cosmic atmosphere (bhuvah), and heaven (svar-suvah). We meditate on the early morning sun (savitra) to grant us a good mind (gayatri). Hindu sages invoked all the gods and especially the rising, effulgent sunrise savitra for granting the noble mind, the sacred gayatri. They observed the symbolic but spiritual bond between the early rising sun and the (spiritual) augmenting of the human mind. They hailed the boundless supremacy of the sun (suray) in everyday life. They also recognized the prerogative of the early morning period on the development and creation of good mind (sumati).
Other hymns of peace—Shanti Mantras:
May our prosperity, prayers and wishes, elevated intellect and riches be auspicious to us. May our truthful speech based on noblest intentions bring us welfare. May those that are entrusted with the task of dispensing justice be men of wide fame and prove auspicious to us, and may the prayerful hymns of saintly persons give us peace.
—Rig Veda, 7.35.3
Peace (shanti) and auspiciousness became watchwords in Hindu philosophy. Swami Vivekananda said, “Every word has been spoken with a blessing behind and peace in front of it.”26
After this period came the concept of the formless, transcendental, universal God.
May He, the Lord of the universe, bless our bipeds and quadrupeds.
—Yajur Veda 38.8
Hindu society started to become caring and benevolent to all creatures very early in ancient times.
O immortal Lord! Thou art my sustainer and shelter. May I, living under your protection, attain truth, good name, worldly prosperity, and spiritual advancement for my own as well as others’ good. May this prayer come true.
—Taittray Upanishad, 10.32.35
Hindu sages created the mantras with the sole aim of imparting virtuous spiritual knowledge and enhancing peace and harmony among all creatures.
The Vedic sages created Om, to become the symbol of the Divine. Most mantras start with this sacred word Om, as in the following:
(O Almighty God) Om, in whom the Vedas have their origin and who pervades all the elements, my soul is Thy fuel. O Agni (lord of fire), blaze intensely with this, advance and bless us with worthy offspring, with good cattle and animals, with divine glory, plentiful food, and spiritual advancement.
—Yajur Veda, 3.1
The respectful attitude toward nature is unique in ancient Hindu thought. It differs markedly from that of the modern science, which until very recently always boasted of conquering and exploiting nature for the material benefit of mankind.
The prayer of Gayatri Mantra heralds the augmentation of the “spiritual” mind of divine virtue and peace, by drawing parallels between the awakening of the human mind and the rising sun. Transforming the human mind from conventional intellect towards “spiritual” higher awareness of good value and morality occupied the aggregate attention of Hindu Rishis; they prompted human beings to always walk on the path of goodness and integrity.
NOTE: All the above mantras have been taken from two sources:
Vedic Prayer (contact Kuldip Mangal, 11-MIU Road, Twickenham, Midda-TWZ5HA, UK).
Deepchander Bellani. Ved Prakash (Sindhi Language). India:
Akhil Bhartiya Sindhi Arya Sabha, 1979.