Ved Vyasa, Puranas, Mythology, Scriptures, Self-Realized Sages, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga

Shri Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, who is popularly known as Veda Vyasa was a great sage of Mahabharata era in India. He was the author of epic Mahabharata. He created Bramh-sutras which are foundation of all theistic schools of Philosophy in India. He splitted Vedas into four portions in order to facilitate their studies for people of his age. Prior to this division Vedas existed in oratorical tradition–transmitted from gurus to disciples in an endless succession in ancient India since time immemorial. He was also the compiler-author of 18 Puranas(Mythology/History/Itihasa) and many sub-Puranas which constitute majority of scriptures of Hinduism. 

Veda Vyasa was son of sage Parashara who was author of Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra–a very popular treatise on Vedic Astrology which is the basis for most of the present day predictive Astrology in India. 

The introduction above was necessary to break the ice. Now let’s start discussion on Puranas and Mythologies. Across the globe, in all  civilizations, Puranas, Mythologies and Fables exist. They serve a great purpose. They’re there to awaken you from your deep slumber. From an ordinary viewpoint they seem like having an inherent moral code. It seems that they’re there to teach you ethics but actually their purpose is to awaken you, because the quintessence of their teachings comes from your higher self, from your subtlest nature.

Under ignorance, it might seem that my  stories are better than yours. Truth is–they’re all just stories. Let’s understand it with certain examples–a person who is a devotee–practices Bhakti Yoga. This person might initially start believing that only lord Krishna is the supreme Truth and everything else is his reflection. He might believe that Bhagavata Purana is the supreme literature. It’s required for a certain degree of faith to evolve. It is good to have a great faith while pursuing Bhakti Yoga–but ultimately this Yoga has to dissolve the differences. When wholehearted devotion purifies the conscience–no differences remain–everything is seen as one–the deity is seen everywhere(in this case Krishna!)–that might well be Self–it makes no difference whatsoever. Actually, all paths take you to same place–to Truth. Only requirement is earnestness.

If you approach a person who is practicing Bhakti Yoga and tell him that those accounts of great war of Mahabharata or those of Krishna in Vrindavana are fictions–he will consider that you’re deluded…that you’re under the sway of Maya. It’s true that a devotee creates his own Truth like a Jnani creates his own. All of the scriptures and Puranas were created by the self-realized beings like Veda Vyasa in order to awaken people by various means. Bramh-sutras are very succinct and require a clear mind for realization. In order to explain Bramh-sutras, Vyasa created Bhagavata Purana and other Puranas. In other words Puranas are commentaries on Bramh Sutra. In order to inculcate teachings of Vedas he created Mahabharata. Women and outcastes were prohibited from pursuing Vedas, therefore Mahabharata, an epic which consists all fine teachings of Vedas was created by Vyasa. People in your universe don’t like dry principles. They love being submerged in divine blissful tales of Krishna–therefore Bhagavata is better than Bramh Sutra for purifying their heart. Consider all such creations—Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas–which is one of the most popular religious book in the Hindu community—Ramayana by sage Valmiki. Essentially they all contain just one message–a code to awake you from your slumber–though they appear having many differences to your mind. Differences are gross and they exist until your mind is gross–just refine your mind by attention and there are no differences. Just think–there are tens of versions of Ramayana–the epic tale of Rama. Why does the story of Tulsidas differ from that of Valmiki? Was there just one set of events or many?

Actually the events of Mahabharata and Ramayana did occur. That is why they form the skeleton of most of the scriptures and mythologies. Still, the flesh and blood in those bodies is creation of sages. The self-realized beings imbued them with various markers and pointers to awaken the devoted readers. 

 The sattva is harmony. The rajas is energy and tamas is inertia. Even the Bhagavata Purana is divided into three categories–sattvic part–describing pastimes of Krishna in Vrindavana. Rajasic —describing his pastimes in Mathura and earlier Dwarka phases and Tamasic–describing his pastimes in various wars like Mahabharata. It’s your own type of psyche which prefers one narration over another. When you realize that you need no imagination to purify yourself—all Puranas cease to exist for you. You become one with your ishta–you become Krishna. 

Poet saint Kabir says:

“When ‘I’ was, Hari(lord) wasn’t.”
“Now, Hari is, I’m not.”
“The galli of love is so narrow,
that two cannot enter in it together.” 

You alone are. This is the message your higher self–your alarm clock wants to give you. In Bhakti Yoga, you have to see your lord in everything and everyone and in Jnana Yoga, you have to see yourself in everyone and everything. There is no difference at all. 

The Bhakti Yoga has two types of knowledge. Both of these are ultimate but the former is quintessence, whereas later is required for understanding various expansions and pastimes of God. 

a. Tattva 
b. Prapancha.

Tattva says: Everything is Krishna–there is no difference between Krishna and Maya. There is no duality. Since there is nothing conscious, there is nothing unconscious either! Only Krishna is–and he is beyond consciousness and matter. He is not different from me. This is where Bhakti Yoga merges into Jnana Yoga. I would elaborate upon this aspect in another article someday.

Prapancha says: There are three since time immemorial—Krishna–Maya–Jeeva.

Important is to note that both of these approaches exist in Bhagavata Purana if you read it carefully.

Moreover: The basic difference between Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is superficial at best, can be understood by paying attention to the final advice of sage Shukdeva to king Parikshita–in Canto 11. 

He says ” Realize your true self oh king! You’re God yourself. You are death of all deaths–death cannot kill you for you are immortal.”

There are innumerable pointers in various scriptures and Puranas. The need is to awake yourself. Veda Vyasa created ample amount of literature to awaken people in his universe. 

   image sources: 5. Shukdev
                            4. Kabirdas 
                            3. Tulsidas
                            2. Valmiki
                            1.Ved Vyasa


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