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From: sudarshan madabushi (
Date: Thu Jun 17 1999 - 13:27:47 PDT

Dear bhAgavatOttamA-s,

The last post (No:18) ended saying that the clue to understanding Sankara's 
poetic metaphor, "samsAra-vruksha", in the 8th stanza of the 
"lakshmi-nrsimha-karAvalmba-stOtram" … the clue to understanding that 
particular term lies in probing what the 'Tree of Knowledge or Life' is 
really all about:

"samsAra-vruksha" (or the 'World Tree', which with the help of the 
'Brittanica' entry we learn) is the "VITAL CONNECTION BETWEEN THE WORLD OF 

The above definition, when taken at both face and real value, leads us to 
believe the "samsAra-vruksha" Sankara was referring to in this verse of the 
LNKS was… unmistakably … the "Vedas".  For, if anything definitive at all 
can be said about the Veda in layman terms it is certainly this: (1) It is a 
great 'Tree'. (2) It is protected by supernatural guardians. (3) It is the 
connection between the world of gods and the human world. (4) It is the 
source of terrestrial fertility and life.

(1) Why is the Veda poetically conceived as a great "vruksha"?

The word 'Veda' is derived from the Sanskrit root "vid" … i.e. "to know" and 
the "veda" thus literally means "Knowledge". This 'Knowledge' is conceived 
in the form of a great Tree. The Tamils, in fact, refer to the Veda as 
"marai", "maramOduvadhu" etc. And the variant "maram" literally means "tree" 
in the Tamil language. All those who embrace the Veda know only too well 
that every possible characteristic of a great tree is in fact associated 
with it. Hence:

--- Chapter 15 in the Bhagavath-gita (about which we will have more to say 
in the following posts) begins with the ringing, esoteric words:

     " sri bhagavAnUvAcha:

     "urdhva-moolam aDah:shAkham
         aswattham prAhur avyayam
       chandAmsi yasya parNani
         yas tam veda sa vedavit"  II

(Thus spake Bhagavan Krishna: "There is a banyan Tree and it has its roots 
going upward and its branches going down! It has the Vedic hymns for its 
leaves! He who knows this Tree knows the Vedas too!")

--- The "manu-smriti" says: "vEdo'khilo dharmamulam"… where "mulam" refers 
to "root", which is to say, "The Vedas are the ROOT of all "dharmA"",
---  The Vedas are also commonly known to be divided into 4 "shAkA-s" i.e. 
tree BRANCHES of learning called Rg., Yajur, Sama and Atharva.
---  Then the Vedic Tree is also known to have its LIMBS called "vEdAngas":  
"siksha", "vyAkarana", "chandas", "nirukta", "jyOtisa" and "kalpa". These in 
turn further are said to STEM out into "upangA-s" called "meemAmsa", 
"nyAya", "purAna" and "dharmasAstra".
--- If the Veda is a Tree, the "AchAryA-s" also explain, then the "samhita" 
may be said to be its FOLIAGE, the FLOWER its "brAhmaNa", the unripe FRUIT 
its "Aranyaka" and the mellowed FRUIT its "upanishads".

(2) Next, why is it said that the Veda is "protected by supernatural 

The Veda is "apowrusheya" and "anAdi"… It is as ageless and limitless as the 
cosmos. It has no authorship. It has no such thing as a "first published 
date". In pre-history it seemed to have been all revealed to seers 
("r-shis") as Pure Sound ("mantrA") in moments of true inspiration.

Over the centuries only once (under the aegis of the great Sage Vyasa) has 
the Veda ever undergone any sort of "revision" and re-issued as a sort of 
"new edition". Thereafter neither abridgement nor embellishment has ever 
been necessary for it. Until about a few thousand years ago not a word of it 
was ever written down… not on stones or tree-barks and not on palm-leaves or 
paper. Instead it remained indelibly etched in the memories and hearts of 
men. The Veda perpetuated itself as the priceless and unchanged legacy one 
generation of Man left behind in trust for another through aural and oral 
traditions of bequeathing.

During the march of millennia, from primordial time to pre-history, from 
pre-history to history and right until the present day, the unwritten Veda 
sometimes waxed and waned… and much of it went under the eclipse of human 
neglect and desuetude too.

But the Veda dimmed only because Man's faculty to apprehend it dimmed; never 
was the Veda in itself extinguished… Like the macrocosm the "r-shis" said it 
reflected in earthly microcosm, the Veda remained, as it does to this day, 
eternal and unbounded in an utterly supra-mundane Reality of its own... 
"anantAh: vai vedAh:"…

What keeps the aural Reality of the Veda intact and timeless? Who or what is 
the agency that is responsible for its preservation? Does it have a 
'guardian angel' to stand guard over it? How has it survived? Who protects 
it from the ravages of Time and the tide of human history?

No one can categorically answer such questions for sure. For, to ask "Who is 
the guardian of the Veda?" is like inquiring, "Who is the guardian of the 
Cosmos?"… It is often explained by the Vedic Masters , the "AchAryA-s", that 
if it is accepted a Supernatural Being is the guardian of the Cosmos then we 
might as well accept that the same Supreme Being is also the guardian of the 
Vedas. It is for the same reason why the "purAnA-s" are full of allegorical 
stories of how the Veda came to be preserved, protected and propagated by 
the 'avatars' of God Himself. All those "purAni-c" accounts serve, in fact, 
to only underscore and reiterate the divine guardianship of the Vedas.

In this context, those of you who are familiar with the "hayagriva-stOtram" 
of Swami Vedanta Desikan will quickly recall a beautiful and oft-quoted 
verse from the hymn (Stanza#8):

"mandOBhavishyan-niyatam virinchO
vAchAm-niDhE vanchita-BhAga-DhEya-ha  I
daityApaneetAn daya-yaiva BhuyOpi
aDhyApayishyO nigamAn na chEtvam    II

(I am not going to translate or explain the verse since I'm pretty sure most 
of you are already very well acquainted with the famous 

(3) The next question: "Why do we say the Veda is the "connection between 
the world of gods and the human world"?

The answer in the next post.

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,

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