The Veda's are termed "Apaurusheya," i.e., not of man and are the life breath of the Paramatman or Supreme Soul. His Holiness the Paramacharya has stated that the Vedas were never composed but actually "heard" or "seen" by the Rishi's (sages) of the past after years of penance.
The Veda's have, since, been passed down through a tradition of oral recitation, repetition and memorization. Disciples lived in the residences of their Guru's for many years mastering a certain branch of the Veda's and Shastra's after which they moved on to establish their own schools. The preservation of the Veda's in their exact and immaculate form is remarkable. Over the countless millennia, they have undergone no evolution or change in response to the times like some other disciplines, such as music, have.
It is critically important to learn the Veda's from a Guru who has, himself, learned it through the proper and prescribed channels. The Veda's learned in any other manner or any method of "self-learning" is not sanctioned by the Shastra's. The recitation of Vedic hymns places heavy empasis on not only pronunciation but the intonation as well.
The Paramacharya relates a rather popular story: Tvashta, the enemy of Indra, once conducted a Yagnya to beget a son who would slay Indra. To this effect, Tvashta recited the appropriate Vedic hymns. However, a mistake in the intonation changed the meaning of his request from "Give me a son who would slay Indra" to "Give me a son who would be slain by Indra." Hence was born Vritra, who, despite his preliminary victories against Indra was ultimately killed by him.
Vedic Mantra's are extremely potent if one recites them after duly adhering to Sandhyavandhanam. The Veda's may be chanted both by themselves as well as in accompaniment with a Yagnya (a non-violent fire sacrifice). Such Vedic Yagnyas as well as individual recitals do a great deal in alleviating the the sufferings of the world and bestowing prosperity.
"Nourish the gods and the gods, in turn, will nourish you." says Lord Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. "He who partakes of the gifts of the gods without contributing to them is verily a thief." He also says. According to the Paramacharya, the Veda's and Yagnya's are the means by which we nourish the gods thereby increasing their propensity to come to our aid when we need them.
Vedic Mantra's propagate by through the medium of soud. Since all of the universe consists of matter and the vibration of this matter in subatomic levels due to their inherent thermal energy, however small, always exists, the Vedic Mantra's that are once chanted are believed to remain as vibrations, however subtle, in the atmosphere, forever. The diligent chanter of the Veda's obtains great spiritual powers to heal, protect, and even destroy (wickedness).
Therefore, Brahmins were given the duty of reciting Vedic hymns on a daily basis in order to preserve and add to these positive vibrations in the atmosphere. With that tradition now again facing the test of time, it is up to us to undergo Vedic training, at least on a part-time basis and practice the recitations everyday in order to effect the good of individual as well as society. It must be mentioned here that Vedic recitation is forbidden for women (see the "Brahmana Dharma" section, paragraph 7) who, however, are to be treated as Devi Swaroopini's themselves and perform other duties towards collective salvation.
Vedic hymns are variegated and the Paramacharya says that only Brahma has learned the Veda's in their entirety. The sage Veda Vyasa compiled the Veda's into four: the Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharvana. Of these, realatively very few hymns have survived into our period of the Kali Yuga. Nevertheless, the Paramacharya states that what has remained is more than enough to ensure the world's well-being, if diligently recited.
The daily recital of the Veda's is known as "Brahma Yagnyam." As for the meanings of Vedic Mantra's, it is the Paramacharya's view that the importance of the sounds and vibrations created by the Vedic Mantra's surpasses the importance of the meanings of the Mantra's themselves. Therefore one does not even need to worry about whether or not one "understands" what the Mantra's mean. To hear them being chanted is almost as meritorious as chanting the Mantra's themselves!
Provided below are some of the most popular and potent Vedic hymns in a Sanskrit, large-font script. Please use these in conjunction with your own formal training of the Veda's under a suitable Guru. Do not attempt to learn them by yourselves as this would be a gross transgression of what is sanctioned.
Brahmayagnyam (PDF): Mantra's chanted during everyday Vedic practice. Credit for compiling this goes entirely to the diligent devotees of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.
The video tutorial for the Brahmayagnyam is also provided below:
Brahmayagnyam (click below for video tutorial):
Some popular Vedic hymns are provided below in the Devanagari script:
- Ganesha Vandhanam (PDF): Vedic recitation is always started with the invocation of Ganesha, Son of Shiva and destroyer of obstacles, through this hymn. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Shri Rudram (Namakam - Chamakam) (PDF): The Shri Rudram or Shatharidriyam is an ode to Lord Rudra who is Parameshvara, Himself. It occurs in the Krishna Yajur Veda and consists of two parts: the Namakam and Chamakam. The Namakam involves invoking Rudra, asking Him to calm His Rage and become the compassionate and merciful Shiva. Shiva is compared to absolutely everything in the Namakam, including bandits, dacoits, lighting and other forces of destruction, things that are calm and beautiful, such as the evening sun, silk, parents etc. as well as everything in between. The Rudram is divided into eleven sections or "Anuvaakams." The eighth Anuvaakam in the Rudram contains the famous Five-Syllabled Mantra (Panchakshara) - Nama Shivaaya. The Maha Mrityunjaya (death conquering) Mantra also occurs in the Shri Rudram. Following the Namakam, one chants the Chamakam (with eleven sections of its own) to request a becalmed Shiva for boons of worldly and spiritual prosperity. The Rudram may be chanted with or without the accompaniment of a Vedic Yagnya. Chanting the Namakam once followed by the first section of the Chamakam followed by chanting the Namakam again followed by the second section of the Chamakam, and so on, until the Chamakam is fully exhausted, forms an Ekadasha (Eleven) Rudram. Eleven Ekadasha Rudram's form a Laghu (small) Rudram, eleven Laghu Rudrams form a Maha (great) Rudram and eleven Maha Rudrams form an Ati (ultimate) Rudram. Ati Rudra Yagnya's are rare and are performed for global welfare. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Purusha Suktam (PDF): This hymn involves praying to the Supreme Brahman, in whatever form we choose to worship Him, i.e., as Shiva, Narayana, Devi, Ganesha, Skanda or Surya (the six primary deities of worship as per Adi Shankara). The Purusha (or the Supreme Being) is worshipped by describing His glorious form in detail and how the Universe came to be from various parts of His body. The Vayu Purana states that one who chants the Rudram and Purusha Suktam everyday will be honored in the Brahmaloka or Abode of Brahma, from which there is no return. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Narayana Suktam (PDF): Describes Narayana as the Parabrahman or Supreme Being. It is interesting that the Narayana Suktam mentions that Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, as well as Indra are manifestations of Narayana, thereby affirming the Advaita philosophy that Hari and Hara are the same. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Bhagya Suktam (PDF): This hymn occurs in the Rig Veda and involves invoking Bhaga, a solar deity, for the bestowal of luck, good fortune and happy marriage. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Medha Suktam (PDF): This hymn also occurs in the Rig Veda and involves invoking Saraswati, consort of Brahma, one of the Tridevi's and goddess of learning and the arts. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Durga Suktam (PDF): This hymn involves invoking Durga/Shakti, consort of Shiva, one of the Tridevi's and goddess of power, courage and strength. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
- Shanti Mantra (PDF): These Mantra's are chanted at the conclusion of each day's Vedic recitation. Credit for the typecast and publication of this document goes to Shri Parameshvara Sharma of Bombay.
More will be uploaded upon request or need.