[Advaita-l] Need information on learning Vedas online

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Aug 30 00:17:36 CDT 2013

On Tue, 20 Aug 2013, Shreekrishna wrote:

> The above said, I am as far from the ideal jij~jAsu as I possibly can be.
> Living in an alien land has its limitations and contributes a wee bit to my
> distance from being an ideal jij~jAsu. Nonetheless, I have found over the
> years, that there are a few more hours in the day that I obtain to invest
> in something less corporeal, as opposed to losing those hours stuck in
> traffic in Indian metros. For me, the journey into the world of vEdAs is a
> both a matter of jij~jAsA and a matter of learning something that in a
> sense is "rightfully/dutifully mine" and passing it on to posterity. It may
> not be entirely inappropriate to state that the number of authoritative
> Sanskrit scholars or shAstra exponents outnumber those who are
> authoritative dvivedins/trivedins. This, by no means, undermines the
> importance of any of these aforementioned sections of the society. I just
> feel that they are very different ballgames, sometimes with very different
> purposes.

Do not forget that the veda is "guarded" by 6 vedangas, 4 upavedas, and 4 
vidyas.  They are the reason the it has survived in its purity for 
millenia.   In chhandogyopanishad 7.1 Narada tells Sanatkumara about all 
of the subjects he has learned and included amongst them is 'vedAnAMveda'
Shankaracharya remarks that it is vyAkaraNa (grammar) which is the 'Veda 
of the Vedas' because it is only through the proper knowledge of words and 
their meanings can the Veda be understood.  So do not look upon the choice 
between learning Veda and shastra as an either/or.  They are 

> I live in what I could call a hamlet in southeast USA, where the cumulative
> brahmin-by-birth population might not even be quarter-a-century, let alone
> the ones who perform sandhyAvandanam and associated nityakarmas.

This is a serious suggestion:  Consider moving.  I fully realize that in 
these terrible economic times it is not simple to do but if you are 
serious about maintaining a dharmic lifestyle one of the best things you 
can do is to live amongst other people who do.  They don't necessary have 
to be experts either in order to benefit from network effects.  For 
instance, I'm in Jersey City, NJ.  Although I could do better, the one 
thing that keeps me here is community.  I have five mandirs within walking 
distance.  25% of the population is Gujarati like me. Sanskrit books, puja 
articles, contact with learned people from India are all relatively easy 
to obtain.  And that makes a difference.

> To some
> like us, who have an ounce of curiosity/interest at this time in life (and
> who knows how life will change) but not the local bandwidth to feel
> satiated, it is just a desire to make hay while the sun shines, that we
> have to resort to non-traditional media to learn vEdAs or shAstrAs. Then
> again, I do chicken out from giving my career and comforts up for learning
> vEdAs at Kashi or Kanchi. So, Skype/GTalk could come to the rescue of some
> of us who populate this weird stranded-at-various-levels space, who really
> want to have the cake and eat it too.

Btw, nothing I have said in this thread should be construed as being 
against the use of skype etc. _If_ that really is the only choice that 
works for you.  I'm just saying don't assume it is the only choice.

> Finally, I may have to disagree that a knowledge of Sanskrit relieves one
> from the "crutches of translations" based on what really was meant by
> translations, but in the event that they were references to bhAShyas or
> commentaries,

No no not Bhashyas.  I'm talking about English translations mainly.  Yes 
they can be useful.  I even provide them myself from time to time. But in 
the long run, you are better off spending some time upfront to be able to 
appreciate the original.  Many times, I have been asked questions such as 
"I want to study X, can you recommend a good translation?"  But even the 
best translators can face difficulties converting the concepts of one 
culture to another.  And unfortunately many translators are not so 
scrupulous.  So the poor person trying to find an easy way to read X now 
has to understand X and what somebody thinks X means.  Double the work!

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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