Ancient Indian Wisdom for Modern Managers – Part 2

Puranas and Vedas: Essential Differences

If the message sent by the sender is ambiguous, the receiver also gets confused. This is what happens in majority of the philosophical discourses given in the present times. People who do not comprehend philosophical concepts properly attempt to discourse and the audience is confused. This gives scope to many misunderstandings and misgivings. The preachers may not be able to comprehend the correct inner meaning of the words or the sentences they use in their public speeches. Another issue is regarding the stories / anecdotes used by speakers to illustrate a point. These stories are borrowed from the Puranas. The Puranas were written by human beings and as they were written by Manishi meaning person (human being), they would be in accordance with Manas (frame of mind) of the author at the time of writing a particular incident. When the scholars used to write, they used to keep a lamp on a stand. During the course of their writing, the wives of the scholars were supposed to adjust the wicks in order to maintain the brightness of the lamp. Apart from this, the wives used to prepare some drinks to quench the thirst of their husbands. Therefore, on any day, when the poet was happy with the services rendered by his wife, he would extol women in his writings. On some other day when the poet was doing his work, if the wife was not very helpful, women would be grossly criticized and condemned in the scholars’ writings. Thus, the nature of Puranas underwent change in accordance with the conditions and circumstances prevailing at the time of their writing. But the Vedas are not like that. They are Apaurusheya (that which is not created by man). 

Sanskrit: The Mother of all Languages

In Treta Yuga, there was no language other than Sanskrit. Gradually, all other languages were derived from Sanskrit. For instance, the English word ‘Mother’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Matru’, ‘Father’ from ‘Pitru’; ‘Brother’ from ‘Bhratru’. Today we discover that many words have their origin in Sanskrit which is an Antarvahini (inner current) for all languages. In the olden days prior to Jesus, even Divinity did not have a specific name. The king was treated as God. They used to offer worship to the king. Because of the efforts made by Jesus Christ, Christianity took its roots in Rome. In the Roman language, there is a word - ‘Persona’ which means ‘highly sacred’. This sacredness is present in every one. The derivative of this word (persona) is ‘person’ and the root word is ‘Purusha’. Thus, the root of each word can be traced to Sanskrit, which could be described as the mother of all languages. That is why even Gayatri (chanted by Indians as a sacred incantation) is in Sanskrit. Perhaps on account of this it is said, “Gayatri Chhandasaam Maata”, which means - Gayatri is the Mother of the Vedas. The true connotation 0f the verses mentioned in the Sanskrit language is not comprehended in the right way but is interpreted according to the whims and fancies of each individual. No one is enquiring whether it is right or not.

The Gayatri Mantra
Ephemeral Human Existence

In Purusha Suktam, there is a sentence: ‘Sahasra Sheersha Purusha’. It actually means that every man is God. In those days, the population was only in thousands; hence the word ‘Sahasra’ (thousands) is used. ‘Purusha’ does not mean a man who puts on a pant and shirt. ‘Pura’ means body. The one who is present in the body from the head to toe is ‘Purusha’. ‘Ramyate Iti Ramaha’, which means ‘the one who attracts is Rama’. Mother loves her child, wife loves her husband. Rama is present in the form of this love everywhere. Rama means attraction. From where do you get this attraction? It comes out of the Atman. Therefore, Rama does not merely imply Dasharatha’s son alone. It is the name of the spirit ‘Atmaram’ (the One who resides in all beings as the Atman). So, as long as it (Atman) is there, there continues to be attraction. Once it ceases its existence in the human body, the attraction also ends. 

Example 1: 

A wife and husband might have been together for 50 years. Even in pitch darkness, they draw courage and confidence from their company and are fearless. The reason is that as long as Atman or spirit is there, there is no possibility to fear each other. If suddenly the husband dies, the wife who was near him for a long time is suddenly fear-stricken. There is no longer any attraction, but on the contrary there is fear. As long as there is life, there is attraction, and also there is no fear. 

Example 2: 

There was a boy aged 20 years and his mother was aged 60 years. The mother died due to some reason. The son kept his mother’s dead body in front and cried, “Oh mother!  You have left me.” If the body was his mother, then it was still there. Then who left him? The life-force had departed the body. Therefore, body with life is the real mother and not the body without life. After death, who knows what would happen to mother, father, son or daughter? When she was living, he would have felt bad even if she had sustained a bruise, but after death, the same son mercilessly consigns the body of the mother to flames (As per the Hindu tradition, a dead body is consigned to the flames, symbolic of offering the body made of the five elements, back to the elements). 

Many people speak of worldly things and relationships. All these worldly relations are temporary. When there is Atman in the body, all the material things in the phenomenal world possess value. The body devoid of Atman would have no value. We struggle and earn money and wealth. A dying person does not take even a fistful of sand with him. Thus, we should always bear in mind that we cannot carry anything with us after death. 


[i] It is a verse of hymns from Rig Veda in praise of the ‘One’ who is believed to be behind the entire creation of cosmos in Sanatana Dharma (ancient Indian culture and way of life). 

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