Veda Vyasa वेद व्यास

Veda Vyasa was an Ancient Indian. (Sanatana Bharatiya). He was one of the important historians, astronomers and philosophers of the Dwapara Yuga.

Vyasa’s Work :

When he was young, all the knowledge of the past was available as one single Veda. (Veda means -That which is known). But when he wanted to teach the Veda to his students, he found that no one student had the ability to learn it all. So he divided it into 4 vedas, Puranas, UpaPuranas. And he asked different students to learn different Vedas. He himself documented the Mahabharata an itihasa like the Valmiki Ramayana.

He also felt that ordinary people would never be able to understand the Vedas and all that they meant. He thought the philosophy would be too hard. So he created the The Mahabharata. This was one big epic story that had all the stories of all the puranas and all the philosophy of all the Vedas and Upanishads.  It had thousands of verses. It is a wonderful story that teaches us not only about the life and times Of Vyasa, his forefather and his descendants, but also about what is right and wrong, what is wise and foolish and what God is like and how God may be attained.

At that time, there were some people who knew how to write. But Ganapati, the son of Parvati was the best and the fastest. So he asked Ganapati to write down The Mahabharata even as he composed it.

Vyasa also composed one of the 18 original astronomical siddhantas.

Vyasa’s Birth (Click for Details):

Vyasa was born to Parasara and Vasu’s daughter (Satyavati). He was born in the Tretha as the Dvapara Yuga was approaching and lived to see the early part of Kaliyuga. So he was a chiranjeeva, a long lived one. This is further proof that Sri Rama of the Tretha Yuga, when he was a child, may have seen Veda Vyasa : as given in the translation of the Yoga Vasishtam.

It is further proof that Veda Vyasa was the 17th incarnation, with Sri Rama as the 18th as given in the 1st canto of the Bhagavatham.

Vyasa’s Real Name:

He was born on an island of the Yamuna River. His father was sage Parasara and his mother was a fishergirl called Satyavati. He was a dark young one, so he was called Krishna and since he was born on an island or Dvipa, he was called Dwaipayana. So one of his names was Krishna Dwaipayana. Since he was the son of Parasara, he was also often called Parasarya. It is also interesting that his hero Krishna was dark and so was Krishnaa (Draupadi)

Vyasa’s father:

Parasara wrote a book on astrology called the “Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra”. This is currently the most important book of Indian Astrology, though there are other books too.  Vyasa grew up with Parasara and not with Satyavati. Parasara taught Vyasa everything that he knew, and that was a huge ocean in itself. Some of the Vedic Mantras that we recieved through Parasasara were placed in the first Mandala of the Rg Veda by Veda Vyasa.

Vyasa’s grandfather:

Vasishtha Maharshi was Parasara’s grandfather. He is one of the SaptaRishis or seven important rishis. He was an expert in Astronomy, Yoga and Spirituality. He was a Guru of Sri Rama. Vyasa was very lucky to be born into a family like this, a family of brilliant rishis. Vasishta’s father was Brahma himself. Some people say that Vasishta was a ManasaPutra or Mind-Son of Brahma and not a biological son.

Vyasa collected all of Vasishta’s hymns to the Agni, Indra, Saraswathi, Mitra, Varuna, Vayu, Vishnu, Brihaspati, and others and put them into the seventh Mandala of the Rig Veda. There are some hymns even to the frogs! Some hymns just praise the waters. This is not surprising. Once there was a huge flood and all the land was under water. At that time, Vishnu turned into a horned fish (dolphin?) and rescued Satyavrata Manu and the Saptarishis and brought them to the Himalayas. Vasishtha was one of those Saptarishis.

(Did you know that there are fish fossils in the Himalayas? That is how they know that  the India crashed into the Himalayas about 65 million years ago. But, by the time this story took place, the Himalayas were already in place and people already knew how to travel by boat. All they needed was a little warning time from Matsya, to collect seeds and wise men into a boat and a little help from Matsya to drag the boat to the northern side of the Himalayas. There are lots of pictures of boats in Mohenjadaro art.  Since Vasishtha was one of the Saptarishis who came over by The Boat, Vyasa knew all the stories of the days before and after the flood directly from Vasishtha and Parasara. All this helped to make the Mahabharata, so perfect in all its details.)

Vyasa’s Location:

Vyasa did most of his writing work on the banks of the river Saraswathi. You can see his cave near the beginning of the Saraswathi waterfall, 4 km from Badrinath. See Vyasa, Saraswathi and Yamuna. Unfortunately for us the river Saraswathi started drying up thousands of years ago and went underground in those ancient days. Today we can see the remnants of civilization on what was once the Saraswathi river bed. For a long time people thought that the Sarawathi was an imaginary river, but now, we know that it was a real river. I wish that the wonderful Saraswathi river that nourished and inspired so many ancient Indians had never become dry!

Alternate Location :

Basar (originally, Vyasara) – Sri Gyana Saraswathi temple is situated on the banks of Godavari, in Adilabad district, Andhra Pradesh. It is 210 km from state capital Hyderabad and accessible by road and rail (nearest major station: Nizamabad, although Basar station also exists). The Sthala Purana states that the sage Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata on the banks of Godavari at this location, and thus the place came to be known as Vyasara. (Source) It might be associated with Vyasaraya and Vyasa.. But I need to investigate this idea.


Vyasa’s Students :

Veda Vyasa collected, consolidated, and classified the Veda into the 4 Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads.  Different brahmans had different functions in a yajna.

Vyasa taught each of these functionaries a different set of Veda Mantrams and asked them to perform the Yajnams together. So for a complete understanding, we need to study the Vedas all together with the gestures and the actions to be performed along with the yajnam.

As per the Vishnu Puranam and Srimad Bhagavatam, Vyasa taught Rig Veda to Paila, Yajur Veda to Vaisampayana, Sama Veda to Jaimini, Atharva Veda to Angirasa also known as Sumanthu, Puranas and Itihasas to Romaharshana. (See Also : Division of one Veda into four and development of many S’akas or branches.)

Vyasa’s Sons:

Vyasa’s son Suka, was such a pure and accomplished soul that many consider him greater than Vyasa himself. Suka grew up entirely in the forest without even a concept of sin. Vyasa had two sons for his step-brother, Vichitravarya through Niyoga. They were Pandu and Dhritarashtra whose sons the Pandavas and the Kauravas fought the Bharata war. He also had a wise son, called Vidura through a Dasi.

See Also :

  1. Vyasa’s greatest son : S’uka
  2. Vyasa desires a son : Devi Bhagavatham : 4th Adhyaya of the First Skanda
  3. Vyasa’s meditation and Suka’s birth : Devi Bhagavatham : 10th and 14th Adhyaya of the First Skanda

Vyasa and Valmiki :

Time: In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Vyasa said that he would not describe Rama’s story because “others have done it so well”. So Valmiki had already composed the Ramayanam. Valmiki’s Ramayanam was composed in the time of Sri Rama himself, in the Tretha Yuga. Sri Rama heard the composition in his Aswamedha Yajna. Vyasa started writing the Mahabharatam in year 1 of Kaliyuga. It is also called the starting year of Jaya-Abhyudaya-Saka. He took 3 years to finish it. (Nannaya tells us this in the Telugu free translation of the Mahabharatam). (See Also : Janamejaya’s Dana Sasana Patram)

After that Vyasa wrote the Bhagavatam.

Valmiki’s choice of a hero : Valmiki asked Narada, “Who, today, is that great person endowed with excellent qualities, prowess, knowledge of righteousness, gratitude, truth and firmness in practice of vows?” ” Who is that great person endowed with good conduct, who is the benefactor of all living beings, who knows of everything which is to be known,who is capable of doing things which cannot be done by others and who is solely delightful in appearance? ” “Who is courageous, has conquered anger, is endowed with splendour and free from envy? Who are even the devatas are afraid of when he allows hismself to be angry?” Valmiki very clearly wanted to tell the story of a wonderful hero. He must have been delighted when Narada picked Sri Rama, as the ideal hero. When you hear the Ramayanam, you will be filled with delight. We all love stories in which the hero is good and the hero wins in the end.

Vyasa’s choice of a hero : When Vyasa composed the ‘Jayam’ later called the Mahabharatam, he wanted to achieve some things. One, he wanted to interleave the events with all the knowledge of the Veda, including astronomy, politics, sociology, geography and spirituality. He wanted to weave together all the stories of the Puranas. He wanted to do this because he was convinced that people were less intelligent than they used to be. He also wanted all the people who were not able to study the Vedas in a Gurukula, to understand it through stories. Vyasa’s Mahabharatam is so full of politics and so realistic, that it depressed Vyasa thoroughly when he finished writing it. Vyasa also recorded the Krishna Arjuna Samvada (conversation), known as Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata. Thus he illustrated the Vedas and the Upanishads with the Mahabharata and recorded the entire summary again in the form of the Bhagavad Gita.

Even though Vyasa wrote the Mahabharatam, he had no peace of mind. Narada, who was a Rishi of the Devas visited him. He suggested that Vyasa write the story of God, just as he had written the story of people, and that would give him peace of mind. So Vyasa then composed the story of the perfect, poornavatara Sri Krishna, the Srimad Bhagavatam and he attained peace.

Vyasa and Sanatakumara :

Vyasa was the great grandson of Brahma and Santakumara was a son of Brahma. So Vyasa was of grandson generation to Sanatkumara. Vyasa received the Siva Maha Puranam from Sanatkumara who had received it from Nandi, Siva’s Vahana and devotee. Nandi had received the Siva Puranam from Siva himself. Vyasa abridged the Siva Puranam from 100,000 shlokas to 24000 shlokas and from 12 samhitas to 7 samhitas.

Vyasa’s Final Lament:

At the very end of the Mahabharata, this is what Veda Vyasa says to his son, Suka.  ( Source)

”Thousands of mothers and fathers, and hundreds of sons and wives arise in the world and depart from it. Others will (arise and) similarly depart. There are thousands of occasions for joy and hundreds of occasions for fear. These affect only him that is ignorant but never him that is wise. With uplifted arms I am crying aloud but nobody hears me. From Righteousness is Wealth as also Pleasure. Why should not Righteousness, therefore, be courted? For the sake neither of pleasure, nor of fear, nor of cupidity should any one cast off Righteousness. Indeed, for the sake of even life one should not cast off Righteousness. Righteousness is eternal. Pleasure and Pain are not eternal. Jiva is eternal.”

Vyasa and Valmiki.

Ancient Indians and the Veda.

The Way to the Vedas.

Systems of Indian Philosophy and Vedangas

How many Veda Vyasas were there? : Devi Bhagavatham :

In this site whenever I say Vyasa or Veda Vyasa, I always mean Krishna Dwaipayana, the son of Parasara and Satyavati, the great grandson of Vasishtha and the father of Suka, Dhiritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura.

However, it is written in the Devi Bhagavatham, that every Dwapara Yuga, had its own Veda Vyasa, the one who classified the Vedas.

The important thing about our Veda Vyasa, is that he classified the Vedas into 4 vedas and included the Atharva Veda as the 4th Veda. And of course he also edited and compiled all the Puranas, which he received from his pUrvajAs (people born earlier to him). And as if this was not enough he authored the Mahabharatam and the Srimad Bhagavatham.

When Hanuman met Sri Rama for the first time.  Rama praised Hanuman to Lakshmana, saying that Hanuman‘s excellent speech clearly indicated mastery over the Rg, Yajur and Sama Vedas.

This is important also from the point of view that Valmiki referred to 3 vedas. Not one and not four. By the time of Sri Rama, there were 3 Vedas already.

So who did this classification? One of the earlier Vyasas. Who were they? Please see the list from Devi Bhagavatham reproduced below. Below that you can find some of my thoughts and conclusions, which I think are important.

The names of the Veda Vyasas of each Dvapara Yuga :

The present auspicious Manvantara is Vaivaswatha Manu; it is the seventh in due order; and the son of Satyavati, the best of the knowers of Dharma, is the Veda Vyâsa of the 28th Dvâpara Yuga of this seventh Manvantara. In the next Dvâpara, Yuga Asvatthama, the son of Drona will be the Veda Vyâsa. Twenty-seven Veda Vyâsas had expired and they duly compiled each their own Purâna Samhitas in their own Dvâpara Yugas.

  1. In the first Dvâpara, Brahmâ Himself divided the Vedas;
  2. In the second Dvâpara, the first Prajapati Vyâsa did the same;
  3. So S’akra, (Indra) in the third,
  4. Brihaspati, in the fourth,
  5. Surya in the fifth;
  6. Yama, in the sixth,
  7. Indra, in the seventh,
  8. Vasistha, in the eighth;
  9. Sarasvata Risi in the ninth,
  10. Tridhama, in the tenth;
  11. Trivrisa, in the eleventh,
  12. Bharadvâja, in the twelfth;
  13. Antariksa, in the thirteenth;
  14. Dharma, in the fourteenth;
  15. Evaruni in the fifteenth;
  16. Dhananjaya, in the sixteenth;
  17. Medhatithi in the seventeenth;
  18. Vrati, in the eighteenth;
  19. Atri, in the nineteenth;
  20. Gautama in the twentieth,
  21. Uttama, whose soul was fixed on Hari, in the twenty-first,
  22. Vâjasravâ Vena, in the twenty second;
  23. His family descendant Soma, In the twenty-third;
  24. Trinavindu, in the twenty-fourth;
  25. Bhârgava, in the twenty-fifth;
  26. Sakti, in the twenty-sixth,
  27. Jâtûkarnya in the twenty-seventh
  28. and Krisna Dvaipâyana became the twenty-eighth Veda Vyâsa in the Dvâpara Yugas.

My Thoughts and Conclusions :

kRSNa dwaipAyana was of the 28th Dwapara Yuga, his grandfather Sakthi was of the 26th Dwapara Yuga, his great grandfather Vasishta was of the 8th Dwapara Yuga. In my article How many kinds of Yugas are there?, I have detailed how the definitions of Mahayugas (Carturyugas) grew in length from the 5 years of the Paitamaha siddhanta to the 4,320,000 years of Aryabhatta, as more celestial bodies were taken into consideration, for computing Yuga durations.

  • Krishna Dwaipayana Veda Vyasa is fifth generation from Brahma, but in the 28th Caturyuga.
  • This would be about 140 years if we take 5 years as the duration for a Caturyuga.
  • If we take it that each generation was born 15 years after the previous generation, we are looking at 75 years for 27 Caturyugas or about 3 years to a Caturyuga.
  • If we take 12 years as the Caturyuga duration, we have 324 years between Brahma and our Vyasa. That is about 60 years between generations.
  • What I am increasingly coming to believe is that first Caturyuga was 5 years old, the next was 12, then 60 and so on… The answer lies in finding the formula or equation that fits all the data points.

References to Yugas in Srimad Bhagavatham : Vyasa’s Birth

Source : 1.1.21

kalim agatam ajnaya

kshetre ‘smin vaishnave vayam

asina dirghasatrena

kathayam sakshana hareh

Saunaka tells Suta that Kali has come. This is a reference to the beginning of the Kaliyuga. Saunaka received the puranas from Suta and his son, during the early part of the Kaliyuga.

Source : 1.4.14

suta uvaca

dvapare samanuprapte

tritiye yugaparyaye

jatah parasarad yogi

vasavyam kalaya hareh

 Vyasa was born to Parasara and Vasu’s daughter (Satyavati),

tritiye yugaparyaye – after the tritiya (tretha) yuga, Using the correct translation of paryaye, in this context, we get during the tritiya yuga.

dvapare samanuprapte – as dvapara approached.

Apparent Contradiction : In the above couplet there appears to be a contradiction. How can dvapara, come after the the third yuga is over? We know that the sequence of yugas is Kruta, Tretha, Dvapara and Kali. While this Source explains this by speaking of an “overlapping” of yugas, my reasoning is given below.

Resolution :

  • Dharma walks on  four feet in Kruta/Satya, on three in Tretha, on two in Dwapara and on one in Kali. So the Yuga that was over was the one in which Dharma walked on 3 feet. The yuga that was approaching was the one in which Dharma walks on 2 feet.
  • Therefore, Vyasa was born in the Tretha Yuga as the Dvapara Yuga approached and lived to see the early part of Kaliyuga. So he was a chiranjeeva, a long lived one.

Source : 1.3.21 : States that Vyasa, son of Satyavati and Parasara was the 17th Avatara

tatah saptadase jatah

satyavatyam parasarat

cakre vedataroh sakha

drishtva pumso alpa-medhasah

Source : 1.3.22 : Implies that Sri Rama was the 18th Avatar – God in human form who controlled the Ocean etc.

naradevatvam apannah

surakaryacikirshaya

samudra-nigrahadini

cakre viryany atah param

Apparent Contradiction : How can Vyasa be prior to Sri Rama and be born in the sandhi of the tretha and the dwapara yugas? Using the correct translation of 1.4.14, there is no contradiction. Vyasa was born in the Tretha Yuga prior to Sri Rama.

Notes :

  • That Sri Rama was of the Tretha Yuga is known because the Uttarakanda of the valmiki rAmAyaNam, says that trEtA yugam started at the instant of vEdAvatI’s death due to rAvaNA’s insult.

Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

References and More :

Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

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