What Are the Vedas?
Prahlada Nrsimha das – Veda literally translates to wisdom. The Vedas are a written form of universal truths or laws, that can not be changed. Gravity, for example, is a law of nature. When you know how it works, you can use it for your benefit, but when you go against it, you may just end up with a bloody nose. In the same way as gravity is a gross material law, there are many subtle laws such as karma, reincarnation, and other subtle influences that affect our mind and overall consciousness. The Vedas are similar to a user’s manual for the human body, mind and universe. It is a great science that has been passed down since time immemorial.
Originally this wisdom/Veda was shared between guru and disciple for the benefit of mankind, and these greatly realized sages would generally live very renounced, simple lives dedicated exclusively for self-realization and achieving the perfection of life. The rulers as well as the general people would often seek out these self-realized sadhus for advice and guidance on many different levels (the Vedas give in-depth knowledge of both spiritual as well as material workings). These sadhus who knew the Veda were like oracles to the society in general due to their deep understanding and study of this profound wisdom, the veda.
From time immemorial this wisdom/Veda was carefully handed down by a process called parampara. Parampara means that a realized spiritual master/guru instructs a qualified devotee who is thoroughly honest and ready to receive the vital information and realization. Then that disciple will live with the teacher or guru and serve him humbly and study under him, and the guru will guide the disciple, and impart unto him the profound realizations that he harbors in his heart, and teach him how to practically apply it in the world to selflessly benefit all humankind.
5000 years ago Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa (Vyasadeva), the most learned sage amongst all, was selected to write down this previously only spoken knowledge. This was done to prevent the sacred wisdom from being changed or manipulated, by accident or intentionally. As a result of this grand endeavor, Vyasadeva’s life’s work – to record in written form the broad mass of knowledge – we still today have access to the original secrets of the self-realized saints of old. And just as the great kings would consult the sages for guidance on important matters, we too can take guidance from that eternal knowledge.