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Why Study the Vedic Path by Stephen Knapp


History is like a puzzle, when you put enough pieces together it provides a key to unlocking the truth of our past, where we came from, and who and what we really are. The main purpose of this book is to help restore world unity by taking another look at global history. It will provide proof that the world once had a single culture that expanded and diffused from a particular region. As we uncover ancient history, we find that we often have to re-evaluate theories that were once, or still are, accepted to be factual. When we find out-of-the-mainstream information that provides contradictory evidence for what many people think to be true, we have to think again about what has really happened in this world and where we really stand, and what is the reality and purpose of this planet.

This book provides some amazing if not startling historical evidence that reveals the prominence of the age old Vedic culture. It is not an attempt simply to glorify one culture over another, nor is it merely a chore in academic research. It is an honest attempt to allow humanity to understand its real roots, before the world came to be so divided by factions and divisions. This historical evidence provides a means by which the world and its leaders can find a way back to the peaceful unity that can exist in the pristine way of Vedic life, which is meant for the peaceful coexistence and spiritual progress of everyone.

What we will be doing in this volume is looking at the origin of the world through the ancient Sanskrit language and literature, and the culture that came from it, and the reasoning that numerous scholars have presented. Why? Because abundant evidence of Vedic culture and the Sanskrit language exists all over the world, which proves its once global influence and pervasiveness. In light of this, then no matter whether we are presently Christians, Muslims, Jews, or whatever, our ancient forefathers were once members of a global Vedic brotherhood, all speaking Sanskrit. People have forgotten their common Vedic heritage, which was originally established by the Supreme Being after the creation of the cosmos. Therefore, the divisions of the world divided by language or scripture, and sects of Muslims against Christians, or Arabs against Jews, is a great tragedy of the world. It is only due to a lack of historical understanding and the forgetfulness of our great past. This is what we are going to uncover in this volume.

Rather than trying to manipulate or misuse history to promote divisiveness and mutual animosity, true history can promote better social relations. This volume will show how the deliberate manipulation and misinterpretation of history has caused humanity to not only forget its Vedic roots, but also how some cultures and religions have destroyed historical evidence to attempt to establish its own false superiority.

Any religion should be established on Universal Spiritual Truths. A Universal Truth is applicable in any religion, in any culture, in any time in history. Unfortunately, many religions and their histories have been manipulated in a way to help establish their own superiority over all others. Thus, they have become polluted with stories that are not factual, and sayings not always based on Universal Truths. Thus, they are not religions that can bring humanity to the highest levels of spiritual understanding because they cannot deliver unadulterated spiritual knowledge, or Universal Truth. This is why we will study the oldest living culture in the world, the Vedic Aryan culture, the roots of which can be found in many areas of this planet, but are still practiced in India and wherever groups of sincere followers exist.

The importance of studying the ancient Vedic culture is explained by many scholars. For example, in his Discourse on Sanskrit and Its Literature, given at the College of France, Professor Bournouf states, "We will study India with its philosophy and its myths, its literature, its laws and its language. Nay it is more than India, it is a page of the origin of the world that we will attempt to decipher."

In History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature (page 557), Max Mueller observed, "In the Rig-veda we shall have before us more real antiquity than in all the inscriptions of Egypt or Ninevah. . . the Veda is the oldest book in existence. . ."

In the same book (page 63) Max Mueller also noted, "The Veda has a two-fold interest: It belongs to the history of the world and to the history of India. In the history of the world the Veda fills a gap which no literary work in any other language could fill. It carries us back to times of which we have no records anywhere."

Max Mueller further remarked in his India--What It Can Teach Us (Page 21), "Historical records (of the Hindus) extend in some respects so far beyond all records and have been preserved to us in such perfect and legible documents, that we can learn from them lessons which we can learn nowhere else and supply missing links."

In this same line of thinking, Mr. Thornton, in his book History of British India, observed, "The Hindus are indisputably entitled to rank among the most ancient of existing nations, as well as among those most early and most rapidly civilized. . . ere yet the Pyramids looked down upon the Valley of the Nile. . . when Greece and Italy, these cradles of modern civilization, housed only the tenants of the wilderness, India was the seat of wealth and grandeur."

The well-known German philosopher Augustus Schlegel in his book, Wisdom of the Ancient Indians, noted in regard to the divine origin of Vedic civilization, "It cannot be denied that the early Indians possessed a knowledge of the God. All their writings are replete with sentiments and expressions, noble, clear, severely grand, as deeply conceived in any human language in which men have spoken of their God. . ."

On a more personal note, another famous German thinker, Schopenhaur, remarked in his book, The Upanishads, Introduction (page 61): "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life (and) it will be the solace of my death."

The famous English woman philosopher Dr. Annie Besant also had much praise for India, as written in the cover notes from the book, Hindus, Life-Line of India, by G. M. Jagtiani. Her words put great emphasis on the value of India, its history, the Vedic culture, and its importance to the world. She says: "After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect, none so scientific, none so philosophic, and none so spiritual as the great religion known by the name of Hinduism. The more you know it, the more you will love it; the more you try to understand it, the more deeply you will value it. Make no mistake; without Hinduism, India has no future. Hinduism is the soil into which India's roots are struck, and torn of that she will inevitably wither, as a tree torn out from its place. Many are the religions and many are the races flourishing in India, but none of them stretches back into the far dawn of her past, nor are they necessary for her endurance as a nation. Everyone might pass away as they came and India would still remain. But let Hinduism vanish and what is she? A geographical expression of the past, a dim memory of a perished glory, her literature, her art, her monuments, all have Hindudom written across them. And if Hindus do not maintain Hinduism, who shall save it? If India's own children do not cling to her faith, who shall guard it? India alone can save India, and India and Hinduism are one."

All of these quotations show the value that great thinkers have placed on India and its Vedic Aryan culture. The Vedic culture, as well as the ancient history of the world, is preserved in the Vedic Sanskrit literature. This does not mean the Samhitas of the Vedas alone, such as the Rig, Sama, Atharva and Yajur Vedas, but it means all literature that contains and upholds the Vedic tradition and culture, which includes the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavad-gita. These contain the mysteries of the origin of the world and its ancient history.

It does not matter whether everyone is fully convinced of what we present here, but the overall evidence is hard to deny. The object is that by seeing our commonalities we may help to widely open the doors for further understanding and our peaceful coexistence. From that point, what we do with this information is up to us. We can work in cooperation and work out our differences. Or we can act like none of this information has any bearing on us today and live in the illusion that whatever history we uncover from 2500 years ago and beyond has no meaning. Then not only will we continue with our superficial differences, but more of such variations and factions will spring up. Most of these are a modern creation in the sense that they have only come about within the past 1400, 2000, and 2500 years with the advent of the Muslim, Christian, or Buddhist religions. This will only bring more discord and dis-harmony between us in this world. Is that what we want? I don't think so. So let us be serious about looking at our common cultural heritage as explained in the pages that follow.



Published with the kind permission of Stephen Knapp


Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana) is the President and Treasurer of the Vedic Friends Association ( He has been researching Vedic spirituality and comparative religious study for over 30 years in a variety of settings. He has directly engaged in those spiritual disciplines that have been recommended for hundreds of years. He continued his study of Vedic knowledge and practice under the guidance of a spiritual master to get the insights and realizations that are normally absent from the ordinary academic atmosphere. Through this process he has been initiated into the genuine and authorized spiritual line of the Brahma-Madhava-Gaudiya sampradaya, or disciplic succession, under the sanction of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. He has also extensively travelled throughout India to most of the major holy sights and more, and is known for his slide shows on his travels to the holy places and spiritual festivals of India (even nicknamed "the slide show acharya"), and for his lectures on the Vedic and Indian philosophy. He has written several books on the science and spiritual practice of Vedic culture and Eastern philosophy.



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This article was published on Tuesday 26 May, 2009.
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