Study of Vedas

Ashish Chandra ramkisno at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 8 16:37:47 CDT 2002

On Fri, 5 Apr 2002 20:39:44 -0500, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM>

>For a Brahman, dharma includes learning the shastras including the shakha
>of his ancestors.  there is no room for equivocation.  It's too bad that
>many people don't do it or only get around to it late in life but the sins
>of others are no excuse for sinning yourself.  Once you know what ought to
>be done your conscience should not allow you to leave it undone.  and it
>is better to do ones own duty however imperfectly than to chase after

I have been thinking about this for some time, i.e. what my duty is, and I
have been meaning to write to a knowledgeable authority. It is good that it
has come up here.

I come from a region of India known as North Koshal or Gauda Desh. Since we
are brahmins, we are also called Gaud Brahmins. I have been able to trace
down my Veda and Shakha as Shukla Yajur Veda and Madhyandina Shakha. Our
village lies in the Doab region (region between Ganga and Yamuna) of Uttar
Pradesh. However, I can say with some authority that one would be hard put
to find one single person who can chant this Shakha in our district. I
don't know how long ago the Vedic pathan-paathan stopped, or was forced to
stop. I don't know the circumstanced under which it was discontinued. Our
community came to be known as Tyagi due to some reason that even our own
community members differ about (Most swear to the story of Janmajeya Naag
Yajna and his grant of land to my ancestors asking them to settle in this

At least over the past 500 years, (going back to Akbar), there are records
that indicate that our community was the largest landholding community of
the region. I don't know if Vedas were studied at that point but the pre-
emininent landholding position of the community held out until zamindari
was abolished in the 60's, after which a lot of us became farmers. Now, I
do not know when was the last time our Shakha was studied. If I am to look
to my past, I only see us as landlords. If I were to follow my dharma, I
would probably have to go and start farming what little land we still have
left. Dharma may not have changed but circumstances have become exceedingly
detrimental to the practice of Sanatan Dharma, as our shastras teach us.

So basically, I have no idea as to my dharma - most of my ancestors, at
least to my knowledge, lived off their land holdings. If I am to follow
their footsteps, I will end up becoming a small farmer. If on the other
hand I try and learn my Shakha, it will be of no seeming use if I am not
100% devoted to it, which implies quitting my job and taking up the study
of Vedas full-time. Even if I am to start, given that even an imperfect
practice if dharma is better than nothing at all, I don't know if I would
be really practicing the ways of my ancestors. [Fortunately, I have been
able to trace our family bhaats (bards) who can tell me what we did several
hundred years back and that will give me more insight.]

I am sure there are many who are in the same boat as I (at least the North
Indians would be). Perhaps, I already know the answer to my own question.
However, a better elucidation from knowledgeable persons here on this list
would be doubly helpful.


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