Going by the word alone
'Vedic' is a word. It has meanings that derive from ancient Sanskrit, "to know", so 'Vedic' means "of knowledge". It has other meanings too.
Going by one or more traditional uses of 'Vedic'
A traditional outlook defines it to how ancient folks in Vedic times came to use it. It was quite common that the terms had several meanings, and some branched out. It happened to the word 'Vedic' too.
A dictionary's entry on Vedic: of or relating to the Vedas or the ancient form of Sanskrit in which they are written; of or relating to the ancient Indo-European settlers in India, regarded as the originators of many of the traditions preserved in the Vedas. (Collins Dictionary)
The Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts. Transmission of texts in the Vedic period was at first oral, preserved with the help of artful mnemonic techniques. Oral tradition predominated until c. 1000 CE (Current Era).
The term Veda, "knowledge", can also be used to refer to fields of study that are unrelated to liturgy or ritual, as in agada-veda, "medical science", sasya-veda "science of agriculture".
Gradations in the uses of 'Vedic'
The word 'Vedic', of knowledge, may be used to describe or launch a lot of things, and it may be aligned with Vedic culture also. It is not any either-or in such a case. It is good to know what 'Vedic' often stands for, though, which is "of Vedas".
The ancient texts classified and subdivided
The word Vedic derives from the Sanskrit véda, "knowledge, wisdom", from the root vid "to know") The Vedas comprise a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus keep the Vedas sacred. For orthodox Indian theologians they are considered revelations and some way or other the work of the Deity. In the Hindu Epic Mahabharata, God the Creator is credited with creating Vedas.
There are the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and maybe also the Atharvaveda, depending on who classifies them. The common divisions of the Veda into four, come from Fritz Max Müller and may seem clear-cut, but all ancient texts do not fit these schemes full well. For example, Manu Samhita often speaks of the three Vedas -
Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types:
Some scholars add a fifth category: the Upasanas (worship). Ayurveda, "life-knowledge", is also included among the Vedas by some (Ayurvedic medicine is a system of Hindu traditional medicine).
Vedanta, "the end of the Vedas" sum up teachings in Upanishads and present "Veda" in philosophical terms. Further, the essence of the three Vedas is presented as the syllable Aum (Katha Up. 1.2.15)
Other Vedic texts
The term "Vedic texts" is used with two distinct meanings: (a) Texts composed in Vedic Sanskrit during the Vedic period; (b) Any text considered as "connected to the Vedas" or a "corollary of the Vedas".
The texts considered "Vedic" in the sense of "corollaries of the Vedas" is less clearly defined, and may include numerous post-Vedic texts.
The Oldest Veda
The Rigveda Samhita was composed by poets from different priestly groups over a period of several centuries, commonly dated to the period of roughly the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab (Sapta Sindhu) region of the Indian subcontinent.
There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities between the Rigveda and the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times.
Unlike the other three Vedas, the Atharvanaveda has less connection with sacrifice. Its first part consists chiefly of spells and incantations, concerned with protection against demons and disaster, spells for the healing of diseases, for long life and for various desires or aims in life.
The Atharvaveda is a comparatively late extension of the "Three Vedas". The Atharvaveda is concerned with the material world or world of man and in this respect differs from the other three vedas.
Brahman as the Source, Veda-limbs and Veda Supplements
The Vedas are identified with Brahman. Further, vac, "speech", is called the "mother of the Vedas".
Vedangas, "limbs of the Veda", include subjects like Phonetics (Shiksha); Ritual (Kalpa); Grammar (Vyakarana); Etymology (Nirukta); Metre (Chandas); Astronomy (Jyotisha)
Parisistas, "supplements, appendices", deal mainly with details of ritual and elaborations of Vedic texts prior to them: the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Sutras. Only the supplemental literature associated with the Atharvaveda is extensive.
Four or Three Vedas in the Puranas
Puranas are ancient and sacred story books of Hindus. There are at least twenty such works. Some of them are available in English translations.
In the Vishnu Purana it is held that the Vedas were edited into four parts by the sage Veda-Vyasa, who is said to be a form of God Vishnu.
The Bhagavata Purana (12.6.37) traces the origin of the primeval Veda to the syllable Aum, and says that the body of the Veda was divided into four at the start of Dvapara Yuga, because men had declined in age, virtue and understanding. As for yugas, eras, four are described in the Manu Samhita and Vishnu Purana. They correspond somewhat to the four ages of ancient Greeks.
In a differing account Bhagavata Purana (9.14.43) attributes the division of the primeval Veda (Aum) into three parts to the monarch Pururavas at the beginning of Treta Yuga. The Mahabharata (santiparva 13,088) also mentions the division of the Veda into three in Treta Yuga.
The term upaveda ("applied knowledge") is used in traditional literature to designate the subjects of certain technical works. Lists of what subjects are included in this class differ among sources. Four subjects:
Archery (Dhanurveda), associated with the Rigveda
Architecture (Sthapatyaveda), associated with the Yajurveda.
Music and sacred dance (Gandharvaveda), associated with the Samaveda
Medicine (Ayurveda), associated with the Atharvaveda.
"Fifth" and other Vedas
Some post-Vedic texts, including the Mahabharata, refer to themselves as the "fifth Veda".
Other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita or the Vedanta Sutras are considered shruti or "Vedic" by some Hindu denominations but not universally within Hinduism. The Bhakti movement, and Gaudiya Vaishnavism in particular extended the term veda to include the Sanskrit Epics and Vaishnavite devotional texts.
Vedas in the West
The study of Sanskrit in the West began in the 1600s. Voltaire regarded Vedas to be exceptional, "the most precious gift for which the West had ever been indebted to the East."
English translations of the Samhitas were published in the later 1800s, in the Sacred Books of the East series edited by Max Müller between 1879 and 1910. Ralph T. H. Griffith also presented English translations of the four Samhitas (prime Veda collections), published from 1889 to 1899.
[Source: WP, "Vedas"]
After some time in the West, Maharishi sought to transfer Vedanta teachings by other terms, to be better understood. He said so in an interview in a december issue of International Times in 1967:
The western man should not fall under stress and strain - he should know how to enjoy his own inner life and yet be more progressive. - Maharishi
In the 1967 interview, Maharishi speaks of "a very ancient system" of "successful withdrawal from outside to the inner region of energy and intelligence and bliss", adding he presents it to suit modern scientific understanding. He sees it in the Bhagvayad Gita somehow too. In his commentary on the Gita, he brings out the essential teaching as: "Go to the Self within."
When Maharishi was further asked in the interview if his Guru Dev had taught him transcendental meditation, Maharishi said that he himself "gave it the present expression, but I learnt it from him in the traditional way. . . . He taught me in the traditional way of yoga and Vedanta and Indian religious language."
(Maharishi Interview in International Times [London], December 15th - December 28th, 1967)
Practical wisdom benefitting daily life and bringing fulfilment of human life were Maharishi's overarching goals when it came to applied Vedic knowledge and knowhow.
Barbara Briggs (2009) explains what is in the Vedic Science of Maharishi and what it entails. In her preface she informs that the Maharishi-based information she refers to, comes from "the Vedic tradition" - one of them. Further, to distinguish it from other interpretations of Vedic teachings, it is called Maharishi's Vedic Science.
One goal is to help individuals develop and thus create a better world, a veritable Heaven on Earth. It depends on individuals.
In her introduction, Briggs repeats that Maharishi's Vedic Science is formulated on the basis of Vedic texts as interpreted and understood, and on the basis of experiencing Transcendental Consciousness and higher states of consciousness in deep meditation, in Transcendental Meditation. The Vedic sides to Maharishi's efforts apparently hinge on sound TM practice. Also, his Vedic Science is taught to be the science of consciousness and the inner Self.
Through many chapters, Briggs goes into several sides to what is established along with TM practice for those who want to add to the basic TM method, which is a form of mantra meditation.
Atmabodha means Self-knowledge, Self-awareness. Sometimes Self-realisation is used, and Atmajnana too. The terms are used in Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta.
There are pros and cons of an approach like the one Maharishi opted for at last. His term for the all-consciousness (God, Brahman or Atman) inside is "the unified field". Adi Shankara uses terms like Atman and jiva for the Self.
There is no attainment higher than the attainment of the Atman (Self). - Shankara, in Upadesha Sahasri 2.17.4
To make ancient words understandable, scholars use dictionaries. May I recommend one by John Grimes. (2009).
Now, Maharishi uses traditional Sanskrit words too, for example in some of his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, and in Vernon Katz' books Conversations with Maharishi, Vols 1 and 2.
Maharishi posits there is something deep in every part of creation, something called consciousness or intelligence. Further, Maharishi's Vedic Science explains how the self-referral consciousness functions at its best through mind and body and creation - expressing orderliness at best. His Vedic Science includes the ways to gain this subtle knowledge of what expresses itself in so many different ways in the world. Briggs relates further how such subtle, inside knowledge is of the most basic reality of life. (Briggs 1-2.)
Maharishi holds there are seven states of consciousness leading to the subtle, inmost Self. He calls the first four "from bottom":
The first four - waking, dreaming, deep sleep and turiya - are told of in ancient Upanishads, that is, in Vedic scriptures. The last three in the list refer to increasingly subtle, refined, unified lokas (levels) of existence going inwards from the turyia level somehow For example, the fifth level is sustained turya (i.e. meditating well many times or for long), and the behaviour is no longer due to gross desires". In this fifth state "one has realized the . . . eternal Self". (Briggs 2009, 36,37).
The sixth is detectable by still increasing appreciation, still more refined perceptions, and being grounded in reality.
The seventh develops spontaneously from that again, in the course of time (if it happens in just one life-time). In this good state, feeling, thinking, perception and action is raised to the highest level and a "full range of the mind and heart have unfolded." (Briggs 2009, 37, 40)
Thus, it is postulated that the goings get finer (subtler), more refined, marked by integration and resulting, formidable zest or appreciation and harmoniousness unless something untoward sets in. That could happen.
Classifications can bring help up to a point or level: good words help up to a point or level. Yet, as Adi Shankara says:
Study of the scriptures is fruitless as long as Brahman [God] has not been experienced. And when Brahman has been experienced, it is useless to read the scriptures. [Adi Shankara]
Much boils down to this: Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 above seem to be beyond mental classifications - for turya is, and they depend in it. They could be like stages of subtlety and unification, of sound integration through deepening meditation, transcendental meditation.
Although a meditator cannot find good classifications of states beyond ordinary thinking, such states or stages of development may be there still. And they may be detected. One means to do it is called viveka, it is at bottom a spiritual faculty: that of discerning. And as Buddha pointed out, even though the other shore and nirvana is difficult to tell about, allegories and similes and some words tell of it. It is similar with Self-knowledge, Atmabodhi. It is possible to wake to it, find words that indicate it somehow - within limits. That is to say, the meditation takes you into subtler states to experience, be in, and descriptions could in time dawn on you come through and get well sorted by your deep discerning ability, if any. In these waters, "possible" is not always "a piece of cake".
One more word: "figuring" is central for understanding. The ability to figure, including imagine, is a top faculty in humans, we are told, also by Zoroaster.
In actual practice we go beyond by good meditation and glide within, beyond thoughts. And that is what matters: good meditation done with skill. As this daily effort gets successful, the goings may get lighter - let us hope that, for it could depend a long time on what one's neighbours want too, and the quality of one's mate, if any, or partners, circumstances, newspapers and further, since few live completely by themselves, self-supporting and fair.
If the meditation goes well, we gain experiences also, and can thus be better able to evaluate the classifications of others and the range of the possible usefulness of some of them. They are not of great help if they hinder one's inward glide and what follows or does not follow - one's experiences.
The seven states that Maharishi speaks of, go out from the Self, he teaches, and going towards the Self is sensed by increased subtlety and unity toward Oneness in the Self somehow. A reader of the Armenian Gurdjieff may like a comparison with his suggested stages. (Dr Kathleen Riordan, in Tart 1977; Speeth 1989)
Maharishi further bases some of his teachings on a certain triad that is also found in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. The three sides to the mind are the knower, the process of knowing and the known. Patanjali goes into them in the Yoga Sutras (1:41).
Maharishi says knowledge is different in different states of consciousness, as each level of consciousness has its own world, its own level or loka to correspond with it. To cultivate human consciousness through the levels is to make good use of such knowledge as Vedanta teaches and function better. There are two sides to these things: (a) direct, personal, tall experience of subtler and finer levels, and (b) good teachings to support the developing mind and further probings inward. Thus, Maharishi aims at an integrated approach to get direct experiences, and emphasises the inner Knower as the ground of knowledge.
Meditation may help in getting more and more knowledge day by day.
Stress is deranging to health, and perhaps also to one's mind, on levels where such as psychosomatic diseases get established - in the aura. Stress is no little culprit in life. It has killed millions, estimatedly, and is estimatedly a contributing cause in 70 to 90 percent of medical diseases.
Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. According to statistics from Meridian Stress Management Consultancy in the U.K, almost 180,000 people in the U.K die each year from some form of stress-related illness . . . According to Occupational Health and Safety news and the National Council on compensation of insurance, up to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints. [◦Link] (See also Shrand 2012)
Transcendental Meditation goes a long way to assist people who want to get it better and not be victims of massive stress and its dangerous repercussions - such as stress-related diseases. Great calm, relaxation and deepening insights may tie in with one another.
Some may have to struggle a long time to relax deeply and well
Maharishi also introduced yoga postures to help TM practitioners along with their TM. It is a way of adjusting in tune with common hatha-yoga, where meditation is of the higher yoga, and postures help it "from below", so to speak, in part according to "A healthy body is a great help". Maharishi got expert help in the simple and effective program of yoga postures he published years before the unhappy disagreements that led to a break with Acem.
I look on Maharishi's auxilliaries to TM as hands stretched out to help further along the way, where "All you need (at last) is solved" and good food, shelter from the storms, from bad neighbours and further.
Some walk with light steps, others struggle harder to get along - it is not the road (here: TM) that is different, but those upon it. Although there are things that seem less than perfect - at least to some - we are many who are grateful to Maharishi, for all he did for the good of many - One important point is: "Keep walking, and find out for yourself what the good practice furthers and changes in own your life."
Here is a survey with research to back up the self-development parts of it. That is how far much research goes.
1. TM is simple and not dangerous
TM is hardly dangerous to anyone, not even mentally unstable ones. The method is found to be safe, and not only that: "TM has not only a preventive effect against psychiatric illness but effectively promotes mental stability and improved mental health, even in severely disturbed cases," concludes Jaan Suurküla, M.D. [Evidence]
The growth to higher states of consciousness is characterized by such as comprehension - growth of a more integrated personality; increased learning ability; recovery from stress. (Briggs 2009, 10)
The Transcendental Meditation Technique is simple.
Maharishi's Vedic Science is the TM method, some ideas clustered around it, and a growing body of decent developments with later additions, as the TM Sidhi Programme. Note well: The TM Sidhi Programme, its marketing and marketing effects are not considered by me.
Maharishi's Vedic Science - These principles are: "knowledge is structured in consciousness," and "knowledge is different in different states of consciousness." (Briggs 2009, 5)
The "fruit of all knowledge" offered by Maharishi's Vedic Science is the ability to live a mistake-free life [eventually, at long last, maybe] - a life in which one enjoys great waves of happiness, harmony, success and fulfilment, (Briggs 2009, 10)
[However, some suffer from the mistakes of others, so being cautious is good too.]
One's level of knowledge is entirely dependent on one's state of consciousness. (Briggs 2009, 5)
Maharishi says "the conscious mind of anyone, can easily align itself with this . . . self-referral state of consciousness. (Briggs 2009, 9-10)
Maharishi's Vedic Science is enlightenment-orientated education. (Briggs 2009, 10)
Pure awareness, also called Transcendental Consciousness, is said to be simple awareness. (Briggs 2009, 7) (2)
Maharishi: "[A] huge tree grows from a tiny seed, without any fuss or fanfare." One becomes capable of not losing sight of the whole of life while one is busy attending to specific parts of individual life. (Briggs 2009, 9)
2. Transcendental Consciousness is otherwise called turiya, a fourth state
Turiya, "the fourth", is Sanskrit for a state that corresponds well with Maharishi's "Transcendental Consciousness. "In Hindu philosophy, turiya . . . is pure consciousness. Turiya is the background that underlies and transcends the three common states of consciousness . . . waking consciousness, dreaming, and dreamless sleep." And "Chapters 8.7 through 8.12 of Chandogya Upanishad discuss the "four states of consciousness" as awake, dream-filled sleep, deep sleep, and beyond deep sleep." And that last state "beyond deep sleep" is turiya. (Wikipedia, "Turiya"; "Advaita Vedanta")
TM allows better awareness that glides into subtler levels.
Maharishi's Vedic Science is offered [for a fee and not for free any more] to individuals. (Briggs 2009, 12) (3)
[Maharishi's Guru Dev did not want money for helping others, and TM was taught for free by Maharishi too the first few years. It has changed.]
Maharishi says: "When individual awareness is established in the Home of all the Laws of Nature . . . the Unified Field . . . in Transcendental Consciousness . . . . In this state of enlightenment the individual meets with no resistance in achieving his goals - - - he can know anything, do anything, and accomplish anything." (Briggs 2009, 11)
[With a grain of salt or three: (1) What if two want to own the same plot of land that only one can own? (2) Can anyone pull hairs from a bald head? (3) Can Jehovah create a stone so big that He cannot lift it?
After all, even Maharishi himself shows he could not get funds enough for spreading TM as he wanted. He tried repeatedly. Were his efforts a waste of time, then, because he accomplished only a 1000th part of his life's mission, to bring TM to all within a few years? It would depend on how one looks at his accomplishments. Seven millions have learnt TM so far (2017). What Maharishi gave rise to is simply astounding. An Earth where lots of individuals meditate well should turn into a better place to live for animals, plants and good human beings who take care of the soil so that worms thrive a lot there too. Maharishi saw it fit that auxilliaries to TM practice were established for the good of many: Organic farming; simple yoga postures as taught in Maharishi's university in Fairfield, Iowa; holistic Yayurvedic treatments; herbal additions or medicine; Vastu planning for homes, larger houses and urban environments. (cf. The Institute of Vedic City Planning of Maharishi University of Management. Maharishi Vastu. Architecture and Planning, 2013).
Maharishi aimed high and got a lot of good results, and some other results. However, the enlarging vision of a devoted disciple of Guru Dev, Shankaracharya Brahmananda of Jyotir Math, has had a very good impact on followers fond of sitting down and getting lax.
TM enables the mind to directly experience the source of thought, the field of pure intelligence or pure consciousness. (Briggs 2009, 7)
The TM-Sidhi Programme trains the individual to think and act from the level. This can enrich a life, and lead to fulfilment of one's desires. (Briggs 2009, 7) (4)
The purpose of knowledge is to produce lasting fulfilment. Maharishi says: "My Vedic Science offers this . . . education . . . knowledge grows from within . . . and enlivens his total creative potential (Briggs 2009, 6)
Maharishi says: "Today is the dawn of that great civilization where life will be free from suffering. . . . The great Vedic wisdom, which declares life to be bliss, is (Briggs 2009, 12)
3. Educators get helped when students learn to sit down and rise beyond schooling
Educators and all leaders have to wake up . . . on the basis of Vedic Science. (Briggs 2009, 12)
TM allows the mind to experience quieter and quieter levels of the thinking process until one transcends [leaves behind] thought and experiences . . . (Briggs 2009, 7)
And this helps good schooling and education too, as TM studies document sides of. (David Lynch Foundation research summaries) Maharishi: "My Vedic Science is the science of consciousness, which is the most basic element of all creation. . . . It actually enlivens . . . Creative Intelligence." (Briggs 2009, 8) (6)
So, knowledge on how to work one's way into transcendence is good for schooling, relaxation and health too.
Briggs, Barbara. The Contribution of Maharishi's Vedic Science to Complete Fulfilment in Life. New Delhi: Sagar Publications, 2009.
Gombrich, Richard F. What the Buddha Thought. London: Equinox, 2009.
Grimes, John. A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. New, rev. 3rd ed. Varanasi: Indica Books, 2009.
Katz, Vernon. Conversations with Maharishi: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Speaks about the Full Development of Human Consciousness. Vol 1. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management, 2011.
Katz, Vernon. Conversations with Maharishi: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Speaks about the Full Development of Human Consciousness. Vol 2. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management, 2015.
Maslow, Abraham. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins, 1987.
Mason, Paul. The Maharishi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World. Rev. ed. Lyndhurst, Hampshire: Evolution, 2005.
Roth, Bob. 2018. Strength in Stillness; The Power of Transcendental Meditation. London: Simon and Schuster UK.
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Sands, William F. Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment. Fairfield IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2013.
Shrand, Joseph A., with Leigh M. Devine. 2012. Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Speeth, Kathleen Riordan. The Gurdieff Work. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1989.
Tart, Charles T., ed. Transpersonal Psychologies. Colophon ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.
The Institute of Vedic City Planning of Maharishi University of Management. Maharishi Vastu. Architecture and Planning: Vastu City Planning: Sustainable Cities in Harmony with Natural Law. 4th ed. Roerdalen, NL: Maharishi University of Management, Institute of Vedic City Planning, 2013.
Varma, Raj R. P. Strange Facts about a Great Saint: A Short Biography of Shri Guru Dev, His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj, Jagad Guru Shankaracharya of JYOTIRMATH Badarkahram, Himalayas. Jabalpur: Varma and Sons, 1980..
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Maharishi and Love. Lecture, 1964.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary with Sanskrit Text. Chapters 1 to 6. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Maharishi Speaks to Students: Mastery over Natural Law. Vols 1-4. Napier Town, Jabalpur: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic Viswavidyalaya, 1997.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. The Science of Being and Art of Living. New York: Signet/New American Library, 1968.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Transcendental Meditation with Questions and Answers. 3rd ed (a reprint of the 1st ed. of 1967, with new appendices). India: Spiritual Regeneration Movement, Maharishi Foundation International, Maharishi Vedic University, 2011.
Internet sources, including All TM.org; Maharishi Channel: Maharishi Open University; Maharishi's Programmes in India; Maharishi Press Conferences at globalgoodnews.com; and Maharishi's Programmes for Every Area of Society.
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