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Friday, September 30, 2011

Sacred Texts

Okay, I'm getting back to the Yoga Sutras now after having strayed a bit with the upanishads. I would like to discuss the upanishads more and will do so shortly because they are considered one of the sacred texts.

The Niyamas of the Yoga Sutras encourage reading sacred texts. Sacred texts are spiritual and religious writings that were kept hidden and guarded for centuries because they conveyed information handed down from the wisest seeks. The texts were also hand written and there were no spare copies hanging around. There were no printing presses back then. To make copies required the help of a person who was literate (a scribe). Also, it was very laborious and time consuming to translate and transcribe them because many were written in foreign languages. So the scribe not only had to be literate, which was rare, but also be able to read and write foreing languages. Such a person was literally worth his weight in gold. Today, all of the texts can be read in Engligh and are even on audio tapes, CDs and the internet.

In talking about the sacred texts I will use BCE and CE when referring to ages. BCE (before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) are basically the same thing as BC (before Christ) and CE is the same as AD "Anno Domini" (The year of our Lord). BCE and CE are used all over the world now so as not to offend any one particular religion.

The Vedas are considered the most ancient of the sacred texts. These ancient texts were first written in Sanskrit and date back to around 1500 BCE (3,500 years ago). These are thought to be the oldest written texts known to man. There are four Vedas and they are the primary texts of Hinduism. They contain poems, hymns, rituals and metaphysical writings having to do with how to live life. There is a lot of wisdom in these texts and you have to remember they were written more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ. Back then people had to exist the only way they knew how. Staying alive had much to do with having faith in God, praying, practicing rituals, singing hymns and anything else that could possibly make life a little bit easier. Reading these writings gave me a sense of appreciation for what these people had to endure.

More about the Vedas on the next post.

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