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SPIRITUAL PATHS AND DISCOVERY OF
language came alive and showed its meaning to me. I found a Vedantic or adhyatmic vision
in nearly all the Vedic mantras, but most Vedantins do not see this. Shankaracharya, the great Vedantic commentator, did not make
Vedantic comments on the Vedic mantras but only on the Upanishads, and only on small
portions of the early Upanishads. He divided the Vedas into the Karma Kanda or section of
works and the Jnana Kanda or section of knowledge. He placed the Vedic mantras and
Brahmanas in the former section and only the Upanishads in the latter.
This to me was like consigning all the Vedas except the Upanishads
to the domain of mere ritual, which was effectively to dismiss the bulk of Vedic
literature, not to connect with their great power and legacy. This Vedantic dismissing of the Vedas gave the impression that the
Vedic rishis did not have the knowledge or the realization of the Upanishadic sages. This
was odd because the Upanishadic sages quoted the Vedic rishis to support their
knowledge. I looked at the matter differently. Like Aurobindo I felt that there was a
way of Self-realization in the Rig Veda. Shankaras division of the Vedas into
Jnana Kanda and Karma Kanda was a matter of convenience and not the last word.
He spoke to an audience that was unable
to see the deeper meaning of the Vedic mantras but could understand the logic of Vedanta.
The more accurate view is that the Vedas contain both knowledge and ritual and the Vedic
mantras can be interpreted in either sense. The Brahmanas are mainly ritualistic,
while the Upanishads emphasize knowledge, but the Samhita or mantra portion of the Vedas
can be looked at in either sense.