For the title for the divider of Vedas, see Vyasa (title). For the crater on Mercury, see Vyasa (crater). For the Brahmin community often pronounced as Vyas, see Bias Brahmin.
Vyasa (Sanskrit: व्यास, literally "Compiler") is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyāsa (वेदव्यास, veda-vyāsa, "the one who classified the Vedas"), or Krishna Dvaipāyana (referring to his complexion and birthplace). He is generally considered the author of the Mahabharata, as well as a character in it, and the scribe of both the Vedas and Puranas. Vyasa is also considered to be one of the seven Chiranjivins (long lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to Hindu belief. According to the Vishnu Purana, "Veda Vyasa" is a title applied to the compilers of the Vedas who are avatars of Vishnu; 28 people with this title have appeared so far.
The festival of Guru Purnima is dedicated to him. It is also known as Vyasa Purnima, for it is the day believed to be both his birthday and the day he divided the Vedas. He was known as badarayana
In the Mahabharata
Vyasa appears for the first time as the compiler of, and an important character in, the Mahabharata. It is said that he was the expansion of the god Vishnu who came in Dwaparayuga to make all the Vedic knowledge available in written form which was available in spoken form at that time. He was the son of Satyavati, daughter of the fisherman Dusharaj, and the wandering sage Parashara (who is credited with being the author of the first Purana, Vishnu Purana). There are two different views regarding his birthplace. One of the views suggests that he was born in the Tanahun district in western Nepal, in Vyas municipality of Gandaki zone of Tanahun district, and his name, Vedh Vyas, names his birthplace. Another view suggests that he was born on an island in the Yamuna River near Kalpi, Uttar Pradesh, India. Vyasa was dark-complexioned and hence may be called by the name Krishna, and also the name Dwaipayana, meaning 'island-born'.
Dhritarashtra born of Ambika, and Pandu, born of Ambalika and Vidura born to a maid, were born from Vyasa's powers (Siddhis).
Vyasa is believed to have lived on the banks of Ganga in modern-day Uttarakhand. The place was also the abode of the sage Vashishta along with the Pandavas, the five brothers of the Mahabharata.
According to the Mahabharatha, Maharishi Vyas and his disciples and the sage Viswamitra decided to settle down in a cool and serene atmosphere after the Kurukshetra War. In the quest for a peaceful abode, he came to the Dandaka forest and, pleased with serenity of the region, selected this place. Since Maharishi Vyasa spent considerable time in prayers, the place was then called "Vasara", which became turned into Basar (in Telangana) due to the influence of the Marathi language in this region.
According to Vishnu Purana that Shri Vyasa Deva (Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa) or Ved Vyasa, son of Parashara and Satyavati and composer of Mahabharata was born in an island on Yamuna at Kalpi.
According to the legends, in his previous life, Vyasa was the Sage Apantaratamas, who was born when Lord Vishnu uttered the syllable "Bhu". He was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Since birth, he already possessed the knowledge of the Vedas, the Dharmashastras and the Upanishads. At Vishnu's behest, he was reborn as Vyasa.
Sage Parashara was the father of Vyasa and the grandson of Sage Vashistha. Prior to Vyasa's birth, Parashara had performed a severe penance to Lord Shiva. Shiva granted a boon that Parashara's son would be a Brahmarshi equal to Vashistha and would be famous for his knowledge.
Parashara begot Vyasa on Satyavati. She conceived and immediately gave birth to Vyasa. Vyasa turned into an adult and left, promising his mother that he would come to her when needed.
Vyasa acquired his knowledge from the four Kumaras, Narada and Lord Brahma himself.
Hindus traditionally hold that Vyasa categorised the primordial single Veda into three canonical collections, and that the fourth one, known as Atharvaveda, was recognized as Veda only very much later. Hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or "Splitter of the Vedas," the splitting being a feat that allowed people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. The word vyasa means split, differentiate, or describe.
The Vishnu Purana has a theory about Vyasa. The Hindu view of the universe is that of a cyclic phenomenon that comes into existence and dissolves repeatedly. Each cycle is presided over by a number of Manus, one for each Manvantara, that has four ages, Yugas of declining virtues. The Dvapara Yuga is the third Yuga. The Vishnu Purana (Book 3, Ch 3) says:
In every third world age (Dvapara), Vishnu, in the person of Vyasa, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one, into many portions. Observing the limited perseverance, energy, and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda-vyasa. Of the different Vyasas in the present Manvantara and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account. Twenty-eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in the Vaivasvata Manvantara... and consequently eight and twenty Vyasas have passed away; by whom, in the respective periods, the Veda has been divided into four. The first... distribution was made by Svayambhu (Brahma) himself; in the second, the arranger of the Veda (Vyasa) was Prajapati... (and so on up to twenty-eight).
As per Vishnu Purana, Guru Drona's son rishiAswatthama will become the next sage Vyasa (title), who in turn divide the Veda in 29th Mahayuga of 7th Manvantara.
Chronicler of the Mahabharata
Vyasa is traditionally known as the chronicler of this epic, and also features as an important character in it. According to the legend, the sage Vyasa was the son of Satyavati and Parashara. During her youth Satyavati was a fisherwoman who used to drive a boat. One day the sage Parashara was in a hurry to attend a yaga. Satyavati helped him cross the river borders. On this account, the sage offered her a mantra which would result in begetting a son who would be a sage with wisdom and all good qualities. Satyavati immediately recited the mantra, and thus Vyasa was born. She kept this incident a secret, not telling even King Shantanu. After many years, Shantanu and Satyavati had two sons, named Chitrangada and Vichitraviriya. Chitrangada was killed by Gandharvas in a battle, while Vichitraveriya was weak and ill all the time. Satyavati then asked Bhisma to fetch queens for Vichitravirya. Bhishma attend the swayamvara conducted by the king of Kashi (present-day Varanasi), and defeated all the kings. He forceibly abducted the three princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, the last of whom was to create trouble for Bhishma. Amba, already in love with the prince of Shalva, she to marry Vichitraviriya, and later she vowed to kill Bhishma. During the wedding ceremony, Vichitraviriya collapsed and died, and Satyavati didn't know how to save the clan from perishing. She asked Bhishma to marry both the queens but he refused, as he had already promised her and her father not to marry anyone, and so could not father an heir to the kingdom. Later she revealed to Bhishma the secret of her past life and asked him to bring Vyasa to Hastinapur. Sage Vyasa had fierce personality and was rather unpleasant in appearance. Hence upon seeing him, Ambika was terrified and she shut her eyes, resulting in their offspring being born blind. The child was Dhritarashtra. Later it was Ambalika, who, upon meeting sage Vyasa, turned pale in disgust which resulted in their child being born pale. He was Pāndu. On being aware of this situation, Satyavati requested Vyasa to meet Ambika again and grant her another son. Ambika, instead sent her maid to Vyasa. The dutiful maid was quite calm and composed; she had a healthy child later named as Vidura. While these are his sons, another son Shuka, born of his wife Pinjalā (Vatikā), daughter of the sage Jābāli, is considered his true spiritual heir. He makes occasional appearances in the story as a spiritual guide to the young princes.
In the first book of the Mahābhārata, Vyasa asks Ganesha to aid him in writing the text, but Ganesha imposed a condition that he would do so only if Vyasa narrated the story without pause. Vyasa replied with a counter-condition, that Ganesha must understand the verse before he transcribed it. Thus Vyasa narrated the entire Mahābhārata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote.
Vyasa is supposed to have meditated and authored the epic by the foothills of the river Beas (Vipasa) in the Punjab region.
Vyasa's Jaya (literally, "victory"), the core of the Mahābhārata, is structured in the form of a dialogue between Dhritarashtra (the Kuru king and the father of the Kauravas, who opposed the Pāndavas in the Kurukshetra War) and Sanjaya, his adviser and charioteer. Sanjaya narrates the particulars of the Kurukshetra War, fought in eighteen days, chronologically. Dhritarāshtra at times asks questions and expresses doubts, sometimes lamenting, knowing of the destruction caused by the war to his sons, friends and kinsmen.
Sanjaya, in the beginning, gives a description of the various continents of the Earth and numerous planets, and focuses on the Indian subcontinent. Large and elaborate lists are given, describing hundreds of kingdoms, tribes, provinces, cities, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, forests, etc. of the (ancient) Indian subcontinent (Bhārata Varsha). Additionally, he gives descriptions of the military formations adopted by each side on each day, the death of individual heroes and the details of the war-races. Eighteen chapters of Vyasa's Jaya constitute the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text in Hinduism. Thus, the Jaya deals with diverse subjects, such as geography, history, warfare, religion and morality.
Ugrasrava Sauti's Mahābhārata
The final version of Vyasa's work is the Mahābhārata. It is structured as a narration by Ugrasrava Sauti, a professional story teller, to an assembly of rishis who, in the forest of Naimisha, had just attended the 12 year sacrifice known as Saunaka, also known as "Kulapati".
Reference to writing
Within the Mahābhārata, there is a tradition in which Vyasa wishes to write down or inscribe his work:
- The Grandsire Brahma (creator of the universe) comes and tells Vyasa to get the help of Ganapati for his task. Ganapati writes down the stanzas recited by Vyasa from memory and thus the Mahābhārata is inscribed or written.
There is some evidence however that writing may have been known earlier based on archeological findings of styli in the Painted Grey Ware culture, dated between 5000 B.C. and 3000 B.C. and archeological evidence of the Brahmi script being used from at least 300 B.C.[improper synthesis?]
Other texts attributed
Vyasa is also credited with the writing of the eighteen major Purāṇas. His son Shuka is the narrator of the major Purāṇa Bhagavat-Purāṇa.
The Yoga Bhashya, a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is attributed to Vyasa.
The Brahma Sutra is attributed to Badarayana — which makes him the proponent of the crest-jewel school of Hindu philosophy, i.e., Vedanta. Vaishnavas conflate Vyasa with Badarayana because the island on which Vyasa was born is said to have been covered with badara (Indian jujube/Ber/Ziziphus mauritiana) trees. Some modern historians,[who?] though, suggest that these were two different personalities.
There may have been more than one Vyasa, or the name Vyasa may have been used at times to give credibility to a number of ancient texts. Much ancient Indian literature was a result of long oral tradition with wide cultural significance rather than the result of a single author. However, Vyasa is credited with documenting, compiling, categorising or writing commentaries on much of this literature.
In Brahm Avtar, one of the compositions in Dasam Granth, the Second Scripture of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh mentions Rishi Vyas as an avatar of Brahma. He is considered the fifth incarnation of Brahma. Guru Gobind Singh wrote brief account of Rishi Vyas's compositions about great kings— Manu, Prithu, Bharath, Jujat, Ben, Mandata, Dilip, Raghu Raj and Aj— and attributed to him the store of Vedic learning.
- ^Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012). The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students. Sussex Academic Press. p. 177. ISBN 9781845193461.
- ^Bibek Debroy (2011). The Mahabharata. 4. Penguin. p. xviii. ISBN 9780143100164.
- ^Awakening Indians to India. Chinmaya Mission. 2008. p. 167. ISBN 81-7597-434-6.
- ^What Is Hinduism?: Modern Adventures Into a Profound Global Faith. Himalayan Academy Publications. p. 230. ISBN 1-934145-00-9.
- ^According to legend, Vyasa was the son of the ascetic Parashara and the dasyu Satyavati and grew up in forests, living with hermits who taught him the Vedas. Encyclopædia Britannica
- ^Essays on the Mahābhārata, Arvind Sharma, Motilal Banarsidass Publisher, p. 205
- ^Strauss, Sarah (2002). "The Master's Narrative: Swami Sivananda and the Transnational Production of Yoga". Journal of Folklore Research. Indiana University Press. 23: 221. JSTOR 3814692. – via JSTOR (subscription required)
- ^Kalpriya Nagri, Bundelkhand.
- ^Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Puranas, Volume 1 (2001), page 1408
- ^"Vishnu Purana". Retrieved 2014-03-15.
- ^Vishnu Purana -Drauni or Asvathama as Next Vyasa Retrieved 2015-03-22
- ^Skanda Purāṇa, Nāgara Khanda, ch. 147
- ^S. U. Deraniyagala. Early Man and the Rise of Civilisation in Sri Lanka: the Archaeological Evidence.
- ^N. R. Banerjee (1965). The Iron Age in India. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
- ^F. Raymond Allchin, George Erdosy (1995). The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia: Emergence of Cities and States. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37695-5.
- ^T. S. Subramanian. Skeletons, script found at ancient burial site in Tamil Nadu. Institute for Oriental Study, Thane.
- ^Ian Whicher. The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga. SUNY Press. p. 320.
- ^Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 74.
- ^The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Edwin F. Bryant 2009 page xl
- ^ abDasam Granth, Dr. SS Kapoor
- ^Line 8, Brahma Avtar, Dasam Granth
- ^Line 107, Vyas Avtar, Dasam Granth
- The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, published between 1883 and 1896
- The Arthashastra, translated by Shamasastry, 1915
- The Vishnu-Purana, translated by H. H. Wilson, 1840
- The Bhagavata-Purana, translated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, 1988 copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
- The Jataka or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, edited by E. B. Cowell, 1895
Badarayan, more commonly known as Bhagwan Veda Vyas is Sanatan Dharma's adi (first) acharya. He was born on Ashadh Purnima, of parents Parashar rishi and mother Satyavati. His dark complexion also rendered him the name Krishna. Further, because of his birth on an island - dwip - in the middle of the river Yamuna, he was conferred the name Dvaipayan. Hence the name Krishna Dvaipayan Vyas. Being a descendent of the Badari family, he is also called Badarayan. He is one among the renowned twelve chiranjivis - long-lived personalities of Sanatan Dharma, which include: Hanumanji, Bali, Parshuram, Ashwatthama, Krupa, Vibhishan and others.
In the beginning, there existed only one Veda. Vyasji then simplified and divided this into four: Rig, Sam, Yajur and Atharva (Vachanamrut Vartal-18). Hence, he became known as Veda Vyas. For the lay people he then composed 17 Purans. Through these, in the form of stories, different groups of people were then able to consolidate their devotion to their revered deities.
Vyasji then composed the Itihas text 'Maha- bharat,' to propagate the principles of dharma, arth, kam and moksha. As he uttered the aphorisms, Ganeshji scribed them. This text is also glorified as the fifth Veda or panchmo vedaha with Vyas' name, Krishna Dvaipayan Vyas. Among the philosophical sections of the Mahabharat, the Bhagvad Gita is considered the crest-jewel. Gita is contained in the Bhisma Parva, Chapters 23 to 40.
Vyas studied under great scholars like Parashar, Vasudev and Sanakadik rishis. He established his ashram in the recesses of the Himalayas, at the confluence of the sacred rivers, Saraswati and Alaknanda, near the pilgrim place of Shamyapras. Here he taught the Vedas to four pupils: Paila, Vaishampayan, Jaimini and Sumantu. His sons, born from his thoughts - a phenomenon known as sankalp putras - included: King Pandu, father of the Pandavs; Dhrutrashtra, father of the Kauravs; Vidurji and Shukdevji.
After composing such staggering voluminous scriptures he still experienced discontentment at heart. He divulged this to Narad rishi, who is considered to be God's 'mind'. Naradji replied, "Though you have written extensively on dharma, arth, and kam you have not dealt with moksha and the knowledge of the self. This is not possible without the manifest form of God. Today, he manifests as Shri Krishna. Therefore, compose a sacred text narrating Shri Krishna's glory and which will inspire bhakti in the hearts of devotees. This is the only work left for you. Only by glorifying such divine episodes will your discord be alleviated. There is no other way."
Vyasji, then composed the eighteenth Mahapuran, the Shrimad Bhagvat, also known as Satvati Shruti - the Veda of the Vaishnavs.
Veda Vyas also composed the Vedant Sutras, also synonymously known as : Uttar Mimansa, Brahma Mimansa, Brahma Sutra, Badarayan Sutra, Vyas Sutra and Sharirak Sutra.
Sanatan Dharma's fundamental belief is that the Vedas are sanatan - eternal - and apaurusheya - not composed by any human entity. At the beginning of every cosmic cycle of Brahma, God utters the divine words through Brahma's mouth. Later, at various periods different rishis, through divine grace, realise these divine words, known as sakshat darshan. They then teach their realised knowledge orally to their pupils. In this manner the tradition is handed down the ages. Later, this knowledge is scribed using letters. Through this five-fold manner: i) eternal existence of Vedic knowledge ii) vocalisation of Vedic knowledge iii) darshan (realisation) of Vedic knowledge iv) the propagation of this 'heard' Vedic knowledge and v) the compilation by scribing of Vedic knowledge, mankind is graced with Vedic knowledge.
At the end of Brahma's cosmic period, the Vedic knowledge in its gross (sthul) form apparently disappears, only to reappear in Brahma's next cycle of creation. Hence, in reality, Vedas are eternal and so in Bharatvarsh's true tradition and belief the question of dating hardly arises.
Hence the dates and periods attributed by Western so-called intellectuals and Indians swayed by them are totally preposterous; a deliberate, subtly malicious attempt to ridicule the sacred and eternal heritage of Bharat. Even their interpretations of the true and sacred meanings of the scriptures are flagrantly warped and often shallow. Without the bona fide guru's guidance this is but natural. Though many claim to have studied the texts in Sanskrit, they do not have the faintest inklings of the basics. Most copied their predecessors or Indian scholars whose thinking and bent of mind was also 'colonialised.' The most notorious among the Europeans was Max Muller, who, solely on whim, extremely reluctantly placed the dating of the Rig Veda at 1200 BCE, and the Upanishads at mere 800 to 600 BCE!
By astronomical observations of planetary movements the exact date of the beginning of Kali-yug of has been verified. From this, by simple arithmetic, the date of the Mahabharat and Brahma Sutras can be calculated.
i. Kali-yug: 3,102 years BCE - 20 February at 2hours 27 minutes and 30 seconds. The astrologer, Bailey, concurred, "The calculation of the Brahmins is so exactly confirmed by our own astronomical tables that nothing but actual observation could have given so correspondent a result." (Theology of the Hindus by Count Bjornstjerna, p.132.)
This amounts to 3102 + 2002 (CE) = 5,104 years.
ii. The Mahabharat War: began 36 years prior to the start of Kali-yug (or when 36 years of Dwapar-yug remained).
This means 5,104 + 36 = 5140 years ago.
iii. Shrimad Bhagvat: its first discourse was related by Shukdevji to King Parikshit 30 years after Shri Krishna's departure (Padma Puran, Uttarkhand 198-71.) i.e. 30 years into Kali-yug - 3082 BCE.
iv. From this it can be inferred that Vyasji composed the Shrimad Bhagvat prior to 3082 BCE. And, as mentioned earlier, the Mahabharat was written after the Bhagvat, since the Gita (part of Mahabharat, Bhisma Parva. Ch.23 to 40) also mentions the Brahma Sutras and vice-versa. They can both be contemporaneous or within a short period of each other - post 3082 BCE (c. 5084 years ago).
Hence the periods assigned to the writing of the Brahma Sutras by western and eastern scholars listed below, can be seen to be wholly ludicrous!
A.B.Keith - 200 BCE
Jacobi - 250 to 450 BCE
Frazer - 400 BCE
Max Muller - 300 BCE
Hiriyanna - 480 BCE
Dasgupta - 200 BCE
Veda Vyas and Bhagwan Swaminarayan
Bhagwan Swaminarayan has upheld Veda Vyas and the scriptures written by him as supremely authoritative. Of the eight scriptures that He cites in the Shikshapatri (93-95) and Vachanamrut Vartal-18 as authoritative, five are by Vyasji; four Vedas, Vedant Sutras, Shrimad Bhagvat, Vidurniti (Mahabharat, Udyog Parva 33-40) and Bhagvad Gita.
He praises Vyasji in eleven Vachanamruts: Gadhada I-39, Kariyani-6, Loya-4, 9, 18, Gadhada II-6, 9, 21, 64, Vartal-18 and Gadhada III-10. In Gadhada II-21, He cites the essence of all Vyasji's works; that for the liberation of the jiva, God is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the cosmos. In Vartal-18 and Gadhada III-10 He lauds Vyasji as the greatest of all acharyas; not comparable to Shankar, Ramanuja and all others, because all of them have based their beliefs and established their sampradays on Vyasji's works whereas Vyasji does not need to rely upon anyone else to be authoritative. To a Vedanti (in Gadhada I-39) and a scholar of the Madhva Sampraday (Gadhada III-10) He emphatically commands them to quote from Vyasji's scriptures to clarify certain beliefs. To the Madhvi scholar, He further requests reference from the Bhagvat because, "It is the essence of the Vedas, Purans and Itihas scriptures," and also from the Gita, which is the more authoritative part of the Mahabharat. Too overwhelmed by Maharaj's logical reasoning, both scholars failed to answer Him!
Finally, in the Swamini Vato (1/35), Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami cites Vyasji's essence and principle after his deep reflection of his texts:
Alodya sarva shastrani vicharya cha punaha punaha,
Idamekam sunishpannam dhyeyo Narayano Harihi.
i.e. after repeatedly reflecting on all the scriptures, I have arrived at one principal conclusion; that life's goal is to attain Bhagwan Narayan.
In remembrance and glory of Veda Vyas as the first and foremost acharya and guru of Sanatan Dharma, the festival of Guru Purnima is celebrated annually on Ashadh Punam, also known as Vyas Purnima, when one's spiritual guru is offered pujan.
(Total 4 lakh aphorisms)
Written By: Sadhu Mukundcharandas