Premananda das, 25th September 2015
Hare Krishna Devotees
Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Gurudeva
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada
While reading in Isopanishad introduction I came across 4 words namely Puranas , Mahabharata, 4 Vedas and Upanishads.
Could you please help understand what are Upanishads and Puranas?
Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 27th September 2015
Dear Premananda Prabhu,
“Veda” means knowledge. Initially, this knowledge was imparted through the sound of Krishna’s flute, to Lord Brahma, and delivered as the Gayatri mantras. These mantras, even though they may be known generally today, are secret in it that only by initiation by a duly initiated person can the true imports of these be revealed. In this way, they are a closely guarded secret, bestowed as a blessing to the disciple by the spiritual master. By carefully chanting these mantras, one can get access to all the knowledge needed to get out of material entanglement, and in fact, go all the way back to one’s eternal position in the spiritual sky.
Initially, there was only one Veda, which was divided into 4 by Sri Veda Vyasa to make it easier to understand. Vedas include other literatures composed by Veda Vyasa and his followers, for example, in due course of time, the writings of Srila Prabhupada will be accepted as “Veda” by all people, not just his disciples and grand-disciples, because they convey the meanings of the original Vedas perfectly.
The definition of Upanishad is “That which brings us close to God”, practically, like “nearer to God”. There are 108 main Upanishads, of which the Ishopanishad is key, because this gets to the heart of the heart of the matter.
To elaborate further, Veda Vyasa left for us the Sutras (like Narada Bhakti Sutra – see translation by BBT), Upanishads, the Samhitas, the Puranas and Mahabharata. Upanishads we have described, but they are quite terse and formula-like… most people understand a concept better when it is delivered as a commentary or a history that illustrates the concept. The Samhitas are commentaries by the various great sages, like Manu Samhita, Brahma Samhita, etc., and by reading them we get an understanding from their perspective. The Puranas are ancient histories, delivered not as a chronological history, but a set of historical topics grouped by concept, and recounted as a conversation, someone asking a question and the spiritual master giving the answer in theory and by recounting an example. Why not chronological history? Because this history spans across trillions of years on different planetary systems, it gets incredibly complex. Also, chronological history recognizes insignificance as much as significance… for example, what on earth does it matter when exactly Vasco Da Gama landed in India? Who cares? Who does it make a difference to, and why? But the fact that Lord Narasimhadeva appeared for the sake of Sri Prahlada is significant, but the actual specific how many years ago He appeared is not that significant. So, it does not matter the chronological order, but what matters is the knowledge to get out of material consciousness, and that is the thrust of all these literatures.
Among all the Puranas, the Bhagavata Purana is the summum bonum of ALL Vedic literature, and hence in our tradition we study the Srimad Bhagavatam very carefully.
I hope this helps!
Premananda das, 29th September 2015
Thank you Mahabhagavat Prabhu it’s crystal clear.
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