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Adhyayana Of Vedas In Hindu Religion

In Hindu religion, Adhyayana is the study of Vedas. Adhyayana literally means ‘study’, but in the Hindu intellectual tradition, it denotes the study of Vedas or knowledge texts. Each Veda has several shakhas (recensions). Within the Svashakha School of Hinduism, each Hindu inherits a specific shakha as his family text, which his family must svadhyaya (study).

Prabhakara Mimamsa, a particular school of philosophy, upheld the tradition that a boy’s father or teacher initiated his adhyayana by performing upanayana (a ritual of initiation into the study of Veda) sacrament when he was seven years old. After a boy had received upanayana, which was not to be delayed beyond his fifteenth birthday, he began gurukulavasa (residing at his teacher's house) and was called antevasin (one who is away from home).

The ritual of commencing Vedic studies is called sravana, upakarma or vedarambha. It went on for five-and-a-half months in the dakshinayana period (when the sun moves to the southern hemisphere) and concluded with the utsarjana (giving up) ritual. During Uttarayana period (when the sun moves to the northern hemisphere), the auxiliary texts (Vedangas) were studied.

Adhyayana comprises study of the six Vedangas and one recension of each Veda. According to Kautilya, the disciplines of Vedic study are Varta (economics), Dandaniti (law and justice) and Anvikshiki (logic). Adhyayana later expanded to fourteen disciplines and eventually included Ayurveda, Dharma Veda, Gandharva Veda and Arthashastra – the Upavedas. Mundaka Upanishad classifies them as para vidya (disciplines related to this world) and apara vidya (spiritual study).

Historically, the education was free. Teachers lived on the support of kings and the alms given to them by students, who also donated whatever free they could afford at the end of the course. One who taught for money was called upadhyaya. Senior students were given the opportunity to assist their teacher.

On the completion of one’s studies, the sacrament of samavartana (return) was performed. The student would be presented to an assembly of scholars and awarded permission for activities that had been previously forbidden. This student was then considered free to enter the grihastha ashrama stage of his life, where he was expected to marry and begin his own family.

A student who completed the study of a Vedic text was called Vedapathi. The titles Dvivedi, Trivedi and Chaturvedi or Chatuspathi were suffixed to the names of those who had studied two, three and four Vedas, respectively.

Many people learnt Vedas along with modern education in sciences and arts. However, there were pathshalas (schools) that focused on one Veda only.