What are Vedic Sciences?
India is widely known as the cradle of one of the most ancient civilizations of the world, whose philosophy, equitable social practices, remarkable economic prosperity and scientific developments had caught the attention of global experts, rulers and traders for centuries, from the ancient times to the medieval period. For millennia, India has had its own native educational methodology that was firmly rooted in the scientific tenets of rigorous analysis, logic, experiential validation and repeatability.
But, degeneration in all spheres of life over time and successive periods of foreign rule gradually pushed the ancient knowledge in the background and most of it was soon forgotten in the face of rapid modern scientific discoveries and inventions in the Western world. However, temporary setbacks do not make the timeless knowledge redundant and it is time to dig into Vedic Sciences once again to fish out valuable insights useful in today’s times.
The word Vedic implies that which is contained in or derived from the large body of knowledge compiled in the four ancients Vedas, viz. Rigveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda and Samveda, which together with the Upanishads, Aranyakas and Brahmanas form the category of texts called as Shruti and form the base of all knowledge. Veda itself is derived from the Samskrit word Vid, which means “to know”.
This is considered to be timeless and relevant for all eras as much as the fact that the sun rises in the east is true always. The derivations from Shruti texts are called Smruti, which are adaptations of the eternal knowledge for the prevailing era. Vedangas, Upangas, Upvedas, Darshanas, Puranas, various Smrutis, Shaastras and Itihasas are examples of this. This unique knowledge culture has accommodated a wide variety of regional indigenous disciplines over time. Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta are three most popular fruits of the Vedic system that are highly valued today. At their base lies a firm theoretical foundation of deep, holistic study of nature, human psychology and of knowledge itself, its means (observation), methods (logic and language) and validation (experimentation).
The large body of Vedic knowledge typically comprises of the eternal truths and natural laws and the sustainable practices and rituals derived from them. In this context, the word Indic (related to India) is used interchangeably with Vedic (ancient knowledge developed in the Indian subcontinent). This spectrum of knowledge called as Vedic Sciences holistically covers a range of modern disciplines including chemistry, metallurgy, technology, astronomy, astrology, botany, ecology, philosophy, psychology, language, mathematics, economics, architecture, agriculture, medicine, governance, administration, humanities and aesthetics. It also goes beyond the physical level to other levels of existence. By Vedic Sciences, we at SVS, refer to this collective body of India’s native knowledge base, and not merely its religious aspect as commonly misunderstood.
The subject matter of native Vedic inquiry can be broadly classified into subjective knowledge, objective knowledge and meta knowledge. The following table explains these classes and modern areas where they can contribute.
A Vedic education curriculum should cover all these categories for maximal benefit.