Of all the things we are called today, the current generation is mainly acknowledged to be a product of the ‘information world’. Our lives revolve around information, which has become as basic a necessity as food and water. We like to assume that we are overloaded with information and we ‘know’ more things than any previous generation. We have stored all this information on a virtual portal that is accessible to anyone in any corner of the world, called the internet. According to the estimates made in 2014, the capacity of the internet was 10^24 bytes or 1 billion bytes. Let’s not even get to the specifications of that.
However, what we are trying to convey here is the fact that internet is not the only massive database we know. In fact, information as we know today is only fragments of the complex and intense information that our ancestors had known. It can confidently be claimed that India and Hindutva were home to an information portal greater than the internet, considering the sheer quantity of data stored and the forms in which they were stored. Doesn’t look like a reasonable claim? Here, consider these aspects.
Information documented in the Hindu heritage can be widely classified into 6 types, excluding the individual works done by sages and explorers of the times. We are talking only about the legends and religious contents documented for study. They can be classified into Vedas, Upavedas, Vedangas, Puranas, Darshanas and Kavyas.
The Vedas and the Upanishads are considered to be massive scripts that decipher the inner meaning and ways of life. Known to be created by the creator of life himself, Lord Bramha, the Vedas are divided into four – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda. Each of them a treasure deciphering the universe according to their time frame, they are further classified into four types based on their form of documentation. The Samhitas are the mantras and shlokas, the Aranyakas are descriptive and defining texts, the Bramhanas consist of remarks and interpretations of the scripts, and the Upanishads are the discussions of the manuscripts. It takes more than an entire lifetime to comprehend these Vedas for a normal human being, which represents the quantity of information stored.
There is also Upasana Veda, which consists of scriptures that worship and de-mystify the Vedas further. These are also acknowledged to be a ‘fifth part’ of the Vedas by many scholars, which is independently as large as the Samhitas and Upanishads.
The Upavedas are scriptures that de-mystify the outer and the material world. Content – different from Vedas, quantity of information – just the same. Upavedas consist of Ayurveda for health, Arthaveda for politics and economics, Gandharvaveda for arts, and Sthapatyaveda for engineering and architecture. This includes a lot of works by Shushrutha, Charaka, and the likes of them.
Vedangas are the assisting factors that help us to understand Vedas. There are six classifications of Vedangas – Siksha meaning phonetics, Vyakarana meaning grammar, Nirukta meaning etymology, Chandas meaning poetics, Jyotishya meaning astrology, and Kalpa meaning law.
Then come the Puranas, which are ancient texts that consist of folklores and legends about rulers, dynasties, wars and weddings. These texts were created in an appealing manner in order to be comprehensible by the common people as well. Puranas have been interpreted in numerous ways and presented in altered ways as well, and is considered acceptable. There are a total of 18 Puranas including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana, Shiva Purana, Brahma Purana, Padma Purana and more. Considering the intensity of Ramayana and Mahabharata alone, we can guess the quantity of the rest of the Puranas!
Darshanas are basically ‘point of views’, which can be simply explained as lessons for the common people. They include Sankhya which is reasoning, Yoga which is union of the body and mind, Nyaya which is methods of study, Vaisheshika which is study of reality, Mimamsa which is philosophy of rituals, and Vedanta, which is introspective wisdom.
The Jaina, Buddha and Lokayata schools are also encompassed under the Darshanas.
Last come the Kavyas, which are the most beautiful and aesthetically appealing form of information of all. Poetry, epics, verses, songs and plays- they all come under Kavyas created by imaginative and creative poets and writers of the times. The endless list of Kavyas can be accessed in their original form even today, and most of them are even studied in universities and schools.
Well, beat that. For more than 6000 years, Hinduism has documented and sustained a database that undoubtedly parallels today’s internet, if not exceeds. Surely, with regard to the painstaking means of documentation employed by our ancestors, the great Indian knowledge portal is beyond whatever we can imagine today. Our hearts explode with pride as we state that, and at least little efforts to comprehend and adhere by this knowledge is a duty of every Indian.