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How To Properly Read The Vedas

The Vedas are the worlds most ancient scripture, and they give complete knowledge of the absolute truth, all things material and spiritual. However, they are frequently misinterpreted. The correct way to understand Vedic Literature is explained below by Srila Prabhupada in his purports to the Caitanya-Caritamrta.

The Vedic literature is to be considered a source of real knowledge, but if one does not take it as it is, one will be misled. For example, the Bhagavad-gita is an important Vedic literature that has been taught for many years, but because it was commented upon by unscrupulous rascals, people derived no benefit from it, and no one came to the conclusion of Krsna consciousness. Since the purport of the Bhagavad-gita is now being presented as it is, however, within four or five short years thousands of people all over the world have become Krsna conscious. That is the difference between direct and indirect explanations of the Vedic literature. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, mukhya-vrttye sei artha parama mahattva: ”To teach the Vedic literature according to its direct meaning, without false commentary, is glorious.” Unfortunately, Sri Sankaracarya, by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, compromised between atheism and theism in order to cheat the atheists and bring them to theism, and to do so he gave up the direct method of Vedic knowledge and tried to present a meaning which is indirect. It is with this purpose that he wrote his Sariraka-bhasya commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. One should not, therefore, attribute very much importance to the Sariraka-bhasya. In order to understand Vedanta philosophy, one must study Srimad-Bhagavatam, which begins with the words om namo bhagavate vasudevaya, janmady asya yato ’nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah sva-rat: ”I offer my obeisances unto Lord Sri Krsna, son of Vasudeva, who is the Supreme all-pervading Personality of Godhead. I meditate upon Him, the transcendent reality, who is the primeval cause of all causes, from whom all manifested universes arise, in whom they dwell and by whom they are destroyed. I meditate upon that eternally effulgent Lord, who is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations and yet is fully independent.” (SB 1.1.1) Srimad-Bhagavatam is the real commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. Unfortunately, if one is attracted to Sri Sankaracarya’s commentary, Sariraka-bhasya, his spiritual life is doomed.

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