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Ved Vyasa

Ved Vyasa

Ved Vyasa
Vyasa  is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa (the one who classified the Vedas in to four parts)

or Krishna Dvaipayana (referring to his complexion and birthplace). He is the author as well as a character in the Mahabharata and considered to be the

scribe of both the Vedas, and the supplementary texts such as the Puranas. A number of Vaishnava traditions regard him as an Avatar of Vishnu. Vyasa is

sometimes conflated by some Vaishnavas with Badarayana, the author of the Vedanta Sutras. Vyasa is also considered to be one of the seven Chiranjivins

(long lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to general Hindu belief. He is also the fourth member of the Rishi Parampara of the Advaita

Guru Parampara of which Adi Shankara is the chief proponent. He is believed to be the grand guru of Adi Shankara's grand guru Gaudapada.

The festival of Guru Purnima, is dedicated to him, and also known as Vyasa Purnima as it is the day, which is believed to be his birthday and also the day

he divided the Vedas.

Vyasa appears for the first time as the author of, and an important character in the Mahabharata. He was the son of Satyavati, daughter of a ferryman or

fisherman, and the wandering sage Parashara. He was born on an island in the river Yamuna. The place is named after him as Vedvyas, possibly the

modern-day town of Kalpi in the Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh. He was dark-complexioned and hence may be called by the name Krishna (black), and

also the name Dwaipayana, meaning 'island-born'.

Vyasa was grandfather to the Kauravas and Pandavas. Their fathers, Dhritarashtra and Pandu, adopted as the sons of Vichitravirya by the royal family, were

fathered by him. He had a third son, Vidura, by a serving maid.

Hindus traditionally hold that Vyasa categorised the primordial single Veda into four. Hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or "Splitter of the Vedas," the

splitting being a feat that allowed people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. The word vyasa means split, differentiate, or describe.

It has been debated whether Vyasa was a single person or a class of scholars who did the splitting. The Vishnu Purana has a theory about Vyasa. The

Hindu view of the universe is that of a cyclic phenomenon that comes into existence and dissolves repeatedly. Each cycle is presided over by a number

of Manus, one for each Manvantara, that has four ages, Yugas of declining virtues. The Dvapara Yuga is the third Yuga. The Vishnu Purana (Book 3, Ch 3)

says:

In every third world age (Dvapara), Vishnu, in the person of Vyasa, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one,

into many portions. Observing the limited perseverance, energy, and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and

the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda-vyasa. Of the different Vyasas in the present

Manvantara and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account. Twenty-eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in

the Vaivasvata Manvantara... and consequently eight and twenty Vyasas have passed away; by whom, in the respective periods, the Veda has been divided

into four. The first... distribution was made by Svayambhu (Brahma) himself; in the second, the arranger of the Veda (Vyasa) was Prajapati... (and so on up

to twenty-eight).

Vyasa is traditionally known as author of this epic. But he also features as an important character in it. His mother later married the king of Hastinapura,

and had two sons. Both sons died without issue and hence their mother asked Vyasa to go to the beds of the wives of her dead son Vichitravirya.

Vyasa fathers the princes Dhritarashtra and Pandu by Ambika and Ambalika. Vyasa told them that they should come alone near him. First did Ambika, but

because of shyness and fear she closed her eyes. Vyasa told Satyavati that this child would be blind. Later this child was named Dhritarashtra. Thus

Satyavati sent Ambalika and warned her that she should remain calm. But Ambalika's face became pale because of fear. Vyasa told her that child would

suffer from anaemia, and he would not be fit enough to rule the kingdom. Later this child was known as Pandu. Then Vyasa told Satyavati to send one of

them again so that a healthy child can be born. This time Ambika and Ambalika sent a maid in the place of themselves. The maid was quite calm and

composed, and she got a healthy child later named as Vidura. While these are his sons, another son Śuka, born of his wife, sage Jabali's daughter Pinjala

(Vatika), is considered his true spiritual heir. He makes occasional appearances in the story as a spiritual guide to the young princes.

In the first book of the Mahabharata, it is described that Vyasa asked Ganesha to aid him in writing the text, however Ganesha imposed a condition that he

would do so only if Vyasa narrated the story without pause. To which Vyasa then made a counter-condition that Ganesha must understand the verse

before he transcribed it.

Thus Lord VedVyas narrated the whole Mahabharata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote.

Vyasa is supposed to have meditated and authored the epic by the foothills of the river Beas (Vipasa) in the Punjab region[citation needed].

There is an ashram of vedavyasa in Vedhagiri. It is believed that pandavas visited vyasa at vedhagiri and got advise during there vanavasa (exile period).

The remnants of the ashram is still there on the top of Vedhagiri hill.

Vyasa's Jaya, the core of Mahabharata is structured in the form of a dialogue between Dhritarashtra (the Kuru king and the father of the Kauravas, who

opposed the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War) and Sanjaya, his advisor and chariot driver. Sanjaya narrates each incident of the Kurukshetra War, fought in

18 days, as and when it happened. Dhritarāshtra sometimes asks questions and doubts and sometimes laments, knowing about the destruction caused by

the war, to his sons, friends and kinsmen.

In the beginning Sanjaya gives a description of the various continents of the Earth, the other planets, and focuses on the Indian Subcontinent and gives an

elaborate list of hundreds of kingdoms, tribes, provinces, cities, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, forests etc. of the (ancient) Indian Subcontinent (Bharata

Varsha). He also explains about the 'military formations adopted by each side on each day, the death of each hero and the details of each war-racings.

Some 18 chapters of Vyasa's Jaya constitutes the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred text of the Hindus. Thus, this work of Vyasa, called Jaya deals with diverse

subjects like geography, history, warfare, religion and morality.

Vyasa's Jaya, the core of Mahabharata is structured in the form of a dialogue between Dhritarashtra (the Kuru king and the father of the Kauravas, who

opposed the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War) and Sanjaya, his advisor and chariot driver. Sanjaya narrates each incident of the Kurukshetra War, fought in

18 days, as and when it happened. Dhritarāshtra sometimes asks questions and doubts and sometimes laments, knowing about the destruction caused by

the war, to his sons, friends and kinsmen.

In the beginning Sanjaya gives a description of the various continents of the Earth, the other planets, and focuses on the Indian Subcontinent and gives an

elaborate list of hundreds of kingdoms, tribes, provinces, cities, towns, villages, rivers, mountains, forests etc. of the (ancient) Indian Subcontinent (Bhārata

Varsha). He also explains about the 'military formations adopted by each side on each day, the death of each hero and the details of each war-racings.

Some 18 chapters of Vyasa's Jaya constitutes the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred text of the Hindus. Thus, this work of Vyasa, called Jaya deals with diverse

subjects like geography, history, warfare, religion and morality.

Within the Mahabharata, there is a tradition in which Vyasa wishes to write down or inscribe his work:

The Grandsire Brahma (creator of the universe) comes and tells Vyasa to get the help of Ganapati for his task. Ganapati writes down the stanzas recited by

Vyasa from memory and thus the Mahabharata is inscribed or written. Ganapati could not cope with Vyasa's speed and he misses many words or even

stanzas.

There is some evidence however that writing may have been known earlier based on archeological findings of styli in the Painted Grey Ware culture,

dated between 1100 BC and 700 BC. and archeological evidence of the Brahmi script being used from at least 600 BC.

The difficulty faced by Ganapati (Ganesha) in writing down Mahabharata as described in the tradition, could be real, and was most probably faced by those

people who first attempted to write it down as some reciter recited it continuously. This is because, the reciter will not be able to stop in the middle of

recitation and then resume it, as the lines are committed to his memory as a continuous recording.

Vyasa is also credited with the writing of the eighteen major, if not all, Purāṇas. His son Shuka is the narrator of the major Purana Bhagavat-Purana.

The only non-religious book in which Vyasa has an interesting entry is the Arthashastra of Chanakya (Kautilya). In chapter 6 of the first Department, it

says:

'Whosoever is of reverse character, whoever has not his organs of sense under his control, will soon perish, though possessed of the whole earth bounded

by the four quarters. For example: Bhoja, known also by the name, Dándakya, making a lascivious attempt on a Bráhman maiden, perished along with his

kingdom and relations; so also Karála, the Vaideha... Vátápi in his attempt under the influence of overjoy to attack Agastya, as well as the corporation of

the Vrishnis in their attempt against Dwaipáyan.

This reference matches the Jataka version in including Vyasa as the sage attacked by the Vrishnis, though Vyasa does not die here.

The Brahma Sutra is attributed to Badarayana — which makes him the proponent of the crest-jewel school of Hindu philosophy, i.e., Vedanta. Vyasa is

conflated with Badarayana by Vaishnavas with the reason that the island on which Vyasa was born is said to have been covered by Badara (Indian jujube/Ber/Ziziphus mauritiana) trees. Apart from Adi Shankara who refers to these two separately rather than as a single individual, many modern

Historians also think these were two different personalities.
 
 
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