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This wiki site Veda is dedicated to understanding Sanatana Dharma (eternal way of life), prominently known as Hinduism, the oldest living religion on earth. It covers information related to Hindu (Vedic) concepts, teachings, philosophy, scriptures and everything that we can think of related to the Hindu Dharma.

The Seeds of Desire

The impressions of past action, stored deep in the mind, are the seeds of desire. They ripen into action in seen and unseen ways—if not in this life, then in a future one.

— The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 2:12

The Vedic Tradition
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The Vedic tradition of knowledge, based on the extensive Vedic literature, is the oldest tradition of knowledge in the world. Though it has been long preserved in India, this traditional wisdom has been almost lost in recent centuries—due in part to repeated foreign invasions. The Vedic tradition includes detailed information on a wide range of topics—from astronomy to music, architecture to health care, administration to economy. But it is all based on the knowledge of consciousness—including technologies of consciousness, and evolution to the highest state of consciousness (enlightenment).

Do you know?
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From the invention of the decimal system in mathematics to the noble philosophy of ahimsã, Hindus have contributed their share in all fields of knowledge and learning. Over five thousand years ago, when Europeans were only nomadic forest dwellers, ancient Hindus had established a civilization, known as the Harappan culture, in the Indus Valley, the northwestern region of India. When much of the world was still sunk in sleep, people of the Harappan culture were conducting trade workshops in weaving, bead-making, pottery, dying of fabrics, and metallurgy. read more...

The Game of Chess

The game of chess was invented in India and was originally called Ashtapada (sixty-four squares).

"Ashtapada" Sanskrit for spider -"a legendary being with eight legs" was played with dice on an 8x8 checkered board. There were no light and dark squares like we see in today's chess board for 1,000 years. Other Indian boards included the 10×10 Dasapada and the 9×9 Saturankam.

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Krishna and Radha playing chaturanga on an 8x8 Ashtāpada.

Later this game came to be known as chaturanga. The Sanskrit name Chaturanga means 'quadripartite' — the four angas (divided into four parts). The earliest known form of chess is two-handed chaturanga, Sanskrit for "the 4 branches of the army." Like real Indian armies at that time, the pieces were called elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers. Unlike modern chess, chaturanga was mainly a game of chance; results depended on how well you rolled the dice.

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Map showing origin and diffusion of chess from India to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and the changes in the native names of the game in corresponding places and time.

Chaturanga is well recognized as the earliest form of chess. Played on an authentic cloth game surface by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as each move is determined by the random roll of wooden dice. There is evidence of ‘chaturanga’ having been played with dice, which is still not uncommon, although it involved more skill than chance in this version. In fact, Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, in the Mahabharata, played a version of chaturanga using a dice. The game Chaturanga was a battle simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time.

In 600 AD this game was learned by Persians who named it Shatranj. Shatranj is a foreign word among the Persians and the Arabians, whereas its natural derivation from the term Chaturanga is obvious. Again affix the Arabic name for the bishop, means the elephant, derived from alephhind, the Indian elephant.

Even the word 'checkmate' is derived from the Persian term Shah Mat which means 'the king is dead!'. The Sanskrit translation of this term would be Kshatra Mruta. Another term viz. 'the rooks' which is the name for one set of the counters used in chess, originated from the Persian term Roth which means a soldier. The Persian term is derived from the Indian term Rukh, which obviously seems to have originated in the Sanskrit word Rakshak which means a soldier from Raksha which means 'to protect'.

About the introduction of this game into Persia, the Encylopedia Britannica says that the Persian poet Firdousi, in his historical poem, the Shahnama, gives an account of the introduction of Shatranj into Persia in the reign of Chosroes I Anushirwan, to whom came ambassadors from the sovereign of Hind (India), with a chess-board and men asking him to solve the secrets of the game, if he could or pay tribute. The king asked for seven days grace, during which time the wise men vainly tried to discover the secret. Finally, the king's minister took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a day and a night.

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Chaturanga.

The Encyclopedia Britannica concludes that "Other Persian and Arabian writers state that Shatranj came into Persia from India and there appears to be a consensus of opinion that may be considered to settle the question. Thus we have the game passing from the Hindus to the Persians and then to the Arabians, after the capture V of Persia by the Caliphs in the 7th century, and from them, directly or indirectly, to various parts of Europe, at a time which cannot be definitely fixed, but either in or before the 10th century. That the source of the European game is Arabic is clear enough, nor merely from the words "check" and "mate", which are evidently from Shah mat ("the king is dead"), but also from the names of some of the pieces.

Local Variations

Tamil variations of chaturanga are ‘puliattam’ (goat and tiger game), where careful moves on a triangle decide whether the tiger captures the goats or the goats escape; the ‘nakshatraattam’ or star game where each player cuts out the other; and ‘dayakattam’ with four, eight or ten squares, a kind of ludo. Variations of the ‘dayakattam’ include ‘dayakaram’, the North Indian ‘pachisi’ and ‘champar’. There are many more local variations.

Veda
The Vedic tradition of knowledge, based on the extensive Vedic literature, is the oldest tradition of knowledge in the world.
Hinduism at a Glance
If you're new to this faith, here's where to begin. In this simple introduction to a complex religion, get your basic questions on Hinduism answered and explained in brief.
Hinduism
Overview of Hindusim.
Sanatana Dharma
Sanatana Dharma is is the original name of what is now popularly called Hinduism. Sanatana Dharma is the world's most ancient culture and the socio, spiritual, and religious tradition of almost one billion of the earth's inhabitants.
FAQs - Hinduism
Covers the frequently asked questions on Hindu Dharma.
Sanskrit
Sanskrit is considered to be the oldest language in human history. Sanskrit is the progenitor and inspiration for virtually every language spoken in India. Sanskrit has a tradition going back at least 5,000 years and is the language in which every ancient Hindu text, devotional or otherwise, is written in.
Do you know?
Little bits of information on amazing facts related to Hindus and India.
Pearls of Wisdom
A selection of quotes relating to various aspects of Hinduism on Vedas, Dharma, Athma, Ayurveda and others.
Glimpses
Glimpses through the lens on Hindu thought, culture, contribution, events and its global presence.
sūtras
sūtras metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or large a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual — is a distinct type of literary composition, based on short aphoristic statements, generally using various technical terms. Sūtras form a school of Vedic study, related to and somewhat later than the Upanishads.
sastra
The overview of Hindu Scriptures.
Vedas
The Vedas are the oldest extant Hindu texts. The ideas expressed in the Vedas were traditionally handed down orally from father to son and from teacher to disciple.
Agama
The Ãgamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of God, in idols, temples, etc
Purāṇas
The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events.
Bhagavad Gītā
The Bhagavad Gita is known as the Song Celestial. It is the most important sacred text in the Hindu tradition. It is Brahma-vidya, the knowledge of existence, as well as Yoga-shastra, scripture on the science of the Self.
Ramayana
The Rãmãyana has been a perennial source of spiritual, cultural and artistic inspiration, not only to the people of India but also to the people all over the world. It has helped to mold the Hindu character and has inspired millions of people with the deepest of love and devotion.
Mahābhārata
It is an historical epic about the great kingdom of Bharatavarsa, or the region of India. It contains 110,000 couplets making it the longest poem and greatest epic in world literature.
Upanishads
The Upanishads are epic hymns of self-knowledge and world-knowledge and God-knowledge. There is no book in the whole world that is so thrilling, soul-stirring and inspiring as the Upanishad. The philosophy taught by the Upanishads has been the source of solace for many, both in the East and the West. The human intellect has not been able to conceive of anything more noble and sublime in the history of the world than the teachings of the Upanishads.
vedāṅga
The Vedanga ("member of the Veda") are six auxiliary disciplines for the understanding and tradition of the Vedas.

Avasthas
The most comprehensive study of the Science of Consciousness. It expounds the various levels of consciousness, states of consciousness, the nature of consciousness at each level, the nature of Truth at each level of consciousness and methods to attain those levels.
Shariras
The vehicle of consciousness with which one passes from life to life.
Yoga Sutras
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
Lokas
The various planes of existence.
Vyuhas
Stages of Emanation of the Universe.
Sankhya
The Principles of the Universe.
Vedic Time System
In the Vedic Time System, kala (Time) is not a linear, single-directional movement, like an arrow speeding from past to future. The idea of Time itself was quite advanced in Hindu Heritage.
Srishti and Pralaya
Creation of the Universe — the cosmos follows one cycle within a framework of cycles. It may have been created and reach an end, but it represents only one turn in the perpetual "wheel of time", which revolves infinitely through successive cycles of creation and destruction.
Hindu Cosmology
Hindu Cosmology upholds the idea that creation is timeless, having no beginning in time. Each creation is preceded by dissolution and each dissolution is followed by creation.
Panchanga
The Hindu Almanac provides vital information about astrological factors, planets and stars — aspects of our subtle environment which are unseen but strongly felt. It is far more complex than the simple Gregorian calendar normally used in the West and far more useful.
karmaphala
karmaphala — the fruit (consequence) that a persons gets (either enjoys or bears) depending on his past-Karma.
chakra
chakra (Sanskrit: “wheel”;) — the psycho-energetic centers of the subtle body known as the pranamaya kosha; in yoga there are considered to be twelve major chakras, six higher, and six lower. However, the six higher chakras are typically group as one. Thus seven chakras are commonly spoken of. They are Muladhara Chakra at the base of the spine, Svadhishstana Chakra at the genitals, Manipura Chakra at the navel, Anahata Chakra at the heart, Vishuddha Chakra at the throat, Ajna Chakra the forehead, and Sahasrara Chakra (comprised of the six higher chakras) at the top of the head.
sudra
sudra — member of the traditional working class. The sudra was the fourth varna in the system of varnasrama dharma.
adhyatma vikasa
adhyatma vikasa (Sanskrit: "Spiritual unfoldment" — he blossoming of inner or higher (adhi), atma (the Self) qualities as a result of religious striving, sadhana. Vikasa means, "becoming visible, shining forth, manifestation opening," as a flower unfolds its petals, or the chakras unfold theirs as a result of kundalini awakening. See: spiritual unfoldment.
brahmana
brahmana — a member of the traditional priestly class. The brahmana was the first of the four varnas in the social system called varnasrama dharma. Literally the word means “in relation to brahman.” A brahmana is one who follows the ways of Brahman. Traditionally a brahmana, often written as brahmin, filled the role of priest, teacher and thinker.
gotra
A term applied to a clan, a group of families, or a lineage - exogamous and patrilineal - whose members trace their descent to a common ancestor.
dharma
Dharma (Sanskrit: "way of righteousness." From dhri, "to sustain; carry, hold.") refers to the underlying order in nature and human life and behavior considered to be in accord with that order. The word Dharma is used to mean nyaya (Justice), what is right in a given circumstance, moral values of life, pious obligations of individuals, righteous conduct in every sphere of activity, being helpful to other living beings, giving charity to individuals in need of it or to a public cause or alms to the needy, natural qualities or characteristics or properties of living beings and things, duty and law as also constitutional law. Dharma is the law that maintains the cosmic order as well as the individual and social order. Dharma sustains human life in harmony with nature. When we follow dharma, we are in conformity with the law that sustains the universe.
Pitriloka
Pitriloka (Sanskrit: "World of ancestors.") — the upper region of bhuvarloka. See: loka.
Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of the words "ayus" and "veda." "Ayus" means life and "Veda" means knowledge or science. The term "ayurveda" thus means 'the knowledge of life' or 'the science of life'. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" comprises the mind, body, senses and the soul. Ayurveda can be defined as a system, which uses the inherent principles of nature, to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual's body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature.
siddhi
siddhi or siddhiḥ (Sanskrit:सिद्धि; "perfection", "accomplishment", "attainment", or "success") — extraordinary powers of the atma (Self), developed through consistent meditation and deliberate, grueling, often uncomfortable tapas, or awakened naturally through spiritual maturity and yogic sadhana. Through the repeated experience of Self Realization, siddhis naturally unfold according to the needs of the individual. Before Self Realization, the use or development of siddhis is among the greatest obstacles on the path because it cultivates ahankara, I-ness, and militates against the attainment of prapatti, complete submission to the will of God, Gods and guru. The mastery of specific Siddhis is taught to be attained through the right kind of Samyama. There are eight primary siddhis, and ten secondary siddhis and five siddhi's specific for concentration in yoga.
prarabdha karma
prarabdha karma (Sanskrit: "Actions begun; set in motion.") That portion of sanchita karma that is bearing fruit and shaping the events and conditions of the current life, including the nature of one's bodies, personal tendencies and associations. See: karma
vidya
vidya: (Sanskrit) "Knowledge, learning, science." The power of understanding gained through study and meditation. Contrasted with avidya, ignorance.
rishi
rishi (Sanskrit: "seer; one who sees") — is a word that simply means a sage or a divine seer in general. the great sages of ancient India who, in deep states of meditation (communion with the cosmos), and through spiritual experimentation, discovered the underlying, fundamental truths of the Universe, and whose teachings formed the basis for the spiritual culture of the ancient Vedic civilization. In more specific usage the rishis are divine beings distinct from devas (Gods), asuras (demons) and men who “heard” the Vedic hymns and passed them on down to mankind.
Diwali
This is one of the oldest Hindu festivals occurring in the month of Kartik, which commemorates the return of Rama to Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years. It also marks the beginning of the New Year and is celebrated with the lighting of lamps.
Aham Brahmasmi
Aham Brahmasmi (Sanskrit: "I am Brahman") — is one of the great Vedic Dicta or Mahavakya. Famous phrase often repeated in the Upanishads. In this ecstatic statement of enlightenment, "I" does not refer to the individuality or outer nature, but to the essence of the Self which is ever identical to Brahman, the Supreme Being as Satchidananda.
asat
Opposite of sat, non-being, impermanent, false, evil, unreal, sometimes used to refer to matter or to the body.
dharma
Dharma (Sanskrit: "way of righteousness." From dhri, "to sustain; carry, hold.") refers to the underlying order in nature and human life and behavior considered to be in accord with that order. The word Dharma is used to mean nyaya (Justice), what is right in a given circumstance, moral values of life, pious obligations of individuals, righteous conduct in every sphere of activity, being helpful to other living beings, giving charity to individuals in need of it or to a public cause or alms to the needy, natural qualities or characteristics or properties of living beings and things, duty and law as also constitutional law. Dharma is the law that maintains the cosmic order as well as the individual and social order. Dharma sustains human life in harmony with nature. When we follow dharma, we are in conformity with the law that sustains the universe.
anandamaya kosha
anandamaya kosha (bliss-apparent-sheath), literally the bliss sheath is associated with the karana-sharira or causal body. This is the stage in which atma (the Self) experiences the eternal bliss, a perfect state of peace, comfort, stability and carefree nature. This svarupa (inmost Self form) is the ultimate foundation of all life, intelligence and higher faculties. This state is explained as the state of sthitaprajna. This is also known as the state of samadhi. The sadhaka who has reached anandamaya kosha understands all the previous koshas better and realizes how incomplete they are. He also understands how transitory the world is. By understanding this difference, he gives importance to philosophy, reality and subtleness. In this light, he feels all the worldly problems insignificant and he finally attains a state of peace and content.
avatara
avatara (Sanskrit: avataranam means "the decent of Supreme Being on earth for the ascent of man"), means ‘descent’, and usually implies a deliberate descent of the Divine into the mortal realms to reveal the Absolute Truth to humanity and remind them of their true divine nature. This voluntary ‘descent’ into the world out of boundless compassion for all creatures is called avatara and has 4 basic purposes; 1. Protection of the righteous; 2. Elimination of the wicked; 3. Re-establishment of Dharma (righteousness) and 4. Bestowing of Grace.
vaishnava
vaishnava or vaishnavam (Sanskrit: vaiṣṇava), which is the vriddhi form of Vishnu meaning "relating, belonging, or sacred to Vishnu" or "a worshiper or follower of Vishnu".
Saurya Manvantara
Saurya Manvantara or Saurya Pralaya (Sanskrit: ";") from surya (sun) + pralaya (dissolution) — manvantara manifestation. The dissolution, or manifestation, of the solar system; frequently termed a mahapralaya or mahamanvantara.
Grihya Shastras
Grihya Shastras or Grihya Sutras (Sanskrit: "Household maxims or codes") — an important division of classical smriti literature, designating rules and customs for domestic life, including rites of passage and other home ceremonies, which are widely followed to this day. The Grihya Sutras (or Shastras) are part of the Kalpa Vedanga, "procedural maxims" (or Kalpa Sutras), which also include the Shrauta and Shulba Shastras, on public Vedic rites, and the Dharma Shastras (or Sutras), on domestic-social law. Among the best known Grihya Sutras are Ashvalayana's Grihya Sutras attached to the Rig Veda, Gobhila's Sutras of the Sama Veda, and the Sutras of Paraskara and Baudhayana of the Yajur Veda.
treta yuga
treta yuga or trétha yuga (Sanskrit: त्रेता युग, ";") — is the second out of four yugas, or ages of man following the satya-yuga of perfect morality and preceding the dwapara-yuga. In the treta yuga changes in relationships start to occur. Duties are no longer the spontaneous laws of human behaviour, but have to be learned. Sacrifices are needed; people follow truth and devote themselves to righteousness through ceremonies, which are regarded as a means of obtaining specific objects.
buddhi manas
buddhi manas (Sanskrit: "Intuitional-Mind.";) — higher mind.
Shulba Shastra
Shulba Shastra — practical manuals giving the measurements and procedures for constructing the sites of Vedic yajna rites. A division of the Kalpa Vedanga (Veda limb on rituals), these sutras employ sophisticated geometry and are India's earliest extant mathematical texts. Shulba means "string or cord," denoting the use of string for measuring.
Patala
patala (Sanskrit: "Fallen or sinful region.") The seventh chakra below the muladhara, centered in the soles of the feet. Corresponds to the seventh and lowest astral netherworld beneath the earth's surface, called Kakola ("black poison") or Patala. This is the realm in which misguided souls indulge in destruction for the sake of destruction, of torture, and of murder for the sake of murder. Patala also names the netherworld in general, and is a synonym for Naraka. See: chakra, loka, naraka.
Nirukta Shastra
Nirukta Vedanga (Sanskrit: "etymology Veda-limb.") — auxiliary Vedic texts which discuss the origin and development of words; among the four linguistic skills taught for mastery of the Vedas and the rites of yagna. Nirukta relies upon ancient lexicons, nighantu, as well as detailed hymn indices, anukramani. Five nighantus existed at the time of sage Yaska, whose treatise is regarded a standard work on Vedic etymology.
bhumi
(Sanskrit: भूमि ) : Earth
varnasrama
The traditional social system of four varnas and four asramas. The word varna literally means, “color” and it refers to four basic natures of mankind: brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. The asramas are the four stages of an individual’s life: brahmacarya (student), grhastha (householder), vanaprastha (retired) and sannyasa (renounced).
sūtras
sūtra (Sanskrit: सूत्र, "a rope or thread that holds things together") metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or large a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual — is a distinct type of literary composition, based on short aphoristic statements, generally using various technical terms. The literary form of the sutra was designed for concision, as the texts were intended to be memorized by students in some of the formal methods of svādhyāya (scriptural and scientific study). Since each line is highly condensed, another literary form arose in which bhāṣya (commentaries) on the sūtras were added, to clarify and explain them.
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