AUM - In the beginning was the Word.
In Hindu belief, creation started with the Divine Syllable - Om. Knowledge was one of the first creations to take place. It is supposed to have radiated from the Mind of Lord Vishnu to that of Lord Brahma and ultimately emanate from his mouth in the form of Vedas.
The tree of knowledge that we call Hinduism is so dense that an uninitiated reader may get lost in its complexities and detail. Hindu texts abound with highly intellectual philosophies with conceptions of impressive range and depth. In one of the most beautiful examples of Vedic thought process, I'm presenting a verse from the Mandukya Upanishad:
The Supreme Brahman is Infinite,
Infinite is the Brahman of a Soul,
The Infinite comes from Infinite,
And on reducing Infinite from the Infinite,
The Infinite still stands Alone!
How beautiful the imagery and how profund is the purport of this simple verse! Yet, the Path of Wisdom is a narrow one and the Rishis of yore sought to simplify the language as well as the essence of the ancient words to make it palatable for the common man. Let us try and understand the basic classification of the ancient Hindu Texts and examine them one by one:
~*~*~ Upavedas ~*~*~
Dharmashastras are the ancient law-codes dealing with the Varnashram Dharma. These law books lay down the foundations of Hindu Sanskar which are the guiding principles for the behavior of individuals as well as communities within themselves as well as while interacting with each other.
Dharma-shastras lay down the Samskar
There are 18 main Dharma Shastras, most important ones belongin to Manu, Yajnavalkya, Sankha and Parashar Munis. The laws of Manu are intended for the Satyuga, those of Yajnavalkya for Tretayuga, Sankha and Likhit for Dvapar and those of Parashar for Kaliyuga.
Each law book is based on the particular time and clime hence understandably differs in its approach. It is expressly stated that the Laws should change with the evolution of Society in order to ensure the continued progress of the human race.
The ultimate purpose of each and everyone of these is to remind man of the necessity to follow Dharma, help the fellow-being, live a moral life and ultimately attain salvation and reach the Supreme abode of Almighty God. If we fail to utilize this human form to achieve Nirvana, we have to again Begin at the Beginning.
Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti