Vedic texts, starting from Vedas, Upanishads, Aranyakas, Brahmanas, Vyasa’s Mahabharata, Valmiki’s Ramayana until Kautilya’s Arthashastra, are often described as “religious scriptures.” That is not just inaccurate but also misleading.
Vedic texts do not mention any “God” or, even, “Gods” per se. They do mention gross elements, namely: Prithvi, Agni, Toyam, Vayu, and Akash. Vedic texts explain how these elements of nature make this body happen and therefore seeks to honor these elements and, also, to live in harmony with nature. They do speak about Atman – our true self, which is not Soul; Paramatma – the universal consciousness that pervades the universe; Devas and Devis – as wise men and women. But the idea of god or gods as we know today is alien to these Vedic texts.
Vedic texts do not mention any “God” or, even, “Gods” per se. They do mention gross elements, namely: Prithvi, Agni, Toyam, Vayu, and Akash. Vedic texts explain how these gross elements of nature make this body happen and therefore seeks to honor these elements and, also, to live in harmony with nature. They do speak about Atman – our true self, which is not Soul. They do mention Paramatma – the universal consciousness that pervades the universe. They also speak about Devas and Devis – as wise men and women. But the idea of god or gods as we know today is alien to these Vedic texts.
Any religious texts essentially divide people between those who follow them and those who do not; like believers and nonbelievers, Momens and Kafirs, etc. When you divide people by saying “you are the chosen one” as “you follow this one true faith” there is nothing “whole” about them, and they can seldom be called “holy.” The word “holy” derives from the word “Whole.”
Modern-day atheists, who are also hedonists and materialists, are not much different. They revere mostly their fellow atheists and condemn those who disagree with them. And atheism is often in direct conflict with theism of various hues and colors.
Vedic knowledge and wisdom are in every way beyond theism, atheism, or any such material constructs. Vedic texts do not divide people. There were even Atheist Rishis, or Vedic sages, like Charuvak a.k.a. Charvak a.k.a. Lokayata.
You can be atheist as well as theist to follow or benefit from the teachings of the Vedic texts. You do not have to convert to “Vedic religion,” for there is nothing as such.
Given this, it’s natural for people to ask, “What exactly do the Vedic texts, scriptures, knowledge, and wisdom teach?” Here is a fascinating parable worthy of recollection:
After a long and persistent insistence from his student, a Rishi (Vedic sage) finally decided to show him [God of his choice] and said: “Okay, let me know what type of God you are prepared to see.”
Perplexed, the student asked, “Sir, are there many types of Gods?”
“What is your concept and definition of God? I’ll show you exactly according to your conviction and definition. Everyone wants to see God without having any firm conviction to God in their minds and hearts. If you are searching and are not firm and sure regarding the object of your search, what will you find? If I tell you that whatsoever you are seeing God, you are not going to be satisfied. If I say God is within you, still you won’t be satisfied. Suppose I show you God and you say, ‘No, that’s not God.’ What am I going to do then? So, you tell me the way you think of God, and I will produce that God for you.”
The confused disciple replied, “Wait a minute. Let me think.”
When after much time the disciple couldn’t come up with his description, the sage said “God is not within the range of your thinking. Go back to your meditation seat, and when you are ready, let me know. Come to see me anytime you want after you have decided what type of God you want to see. I never lie – I’ll show you, God.”
The student tried his best to imagine what God might be like, but his imagination could not go beyond the human form. His mind ranges over the kingdom of plants, then the kingdom of animals, then the human beings. Eventually, he imagines a wise and handsome man who is very strong and powerful. And he thinks, “God must look like this.” Eventually, he realizes that he was making a foolish demand. What could he experience when he didn’t have a clarity of mind?
Finally, he goes to the sage and asks, “Sir show me that God who can free us from miseries, and who can give us happiness.”
The revered Sage replied, “It is not God what you need to liberate yourself from miseries and dawn happiness in your life – but a state of equilibrium and tranquility which you must cultivate for yourself.”
Without having clarity of mind, it is virtually impossible to see through the wisdom of the Vedas. Because a great many of “holy men” are bereft of such minds, they only dawn the robe of saffron either to fool a bunch of nincompoops or with a desire to see God, as if groping in the dark.
Vedic literature tells the boundaries of the human mind and that it can visualize only according to its limited resources. No human beings, prophets, messiahs, or with any other tags have entirely failed to explain God or conceive an idea of God mentally.
A great many religious scriptures put a barbwire around the mind of their followers and discourage them from asking all inconvenient (read intelligent) questions. There is a promise of “heaven,” altogether a human concept of a place of plenty, provided they follow specific rules or “commandments,” this is religion – a completely humanized institutional entity to swindle money from emotionally, rationally, and mentally weak people in the name of something they will never understand – God. These religions can only give loose definitions like “God is Truth,” “a fountain of love,” “Absolute Reality,” or “the one who manifests this universe.” But these are only abstract ideas which make no sense as to why does a God of such description want a Church, a Temple or a Synagogue? Or a Pandit, Priest, Rabbi or a Mullah to act as an intermediary with God when they know nothing about God? The religions are on a weak foundation because of which experiences severe tremors when even a sharp question is thrown at them – religious fundamentalism.
On the contrary atheists are another set of people who are now institutionalized uniquely. Many of modern atheists have come to believe that debunking other’s faith as their only objective and proving the nonexistence of God with aid science as the ultimate path. Alas, even science has a lot many questions to answer before it can ever have that ability to get people out of the rut of religion(s). The fact that many a doctor still believes in faiths born before the advent of modern science shows how strong and deeply rooted these faiths are. And because atheists seek confrontational routes, they are often in troubles from faiths of various hues and colors.
The Vedic texts are neither theist nor atheist in nature. They are beyond the small ideas that are born of hating, fearing, or confused human mind. Everything the Vedic texts professes is for bettering our lives. You do not have to leave your existing faith to accept or understand Vedic precepts. There is no need for you to convert to Vedic religion – as there is nothing as such. Therefore, be that Yoga, Ayurveda, Dhyana, Pranayama, Rajaneeti, or any other knowledge which stem from Vedic text is a universal knowledge that is also a world heritage.