All the suffering in life is due to ignorance about our real identity and our relationship with Kṛṣṇa. To help us understand the transcendental knowledge, Kṛṣṇa gives us Vedas.
Etymology studies show that the word Veda in Sanskrit means knowledge. All forms of knowledge we recognize are Veda, for the teachings of the Vedas are the original knowledge. In the conditioned state, our frailties limit our knowledge.
Veda nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt. Veda means God Himself. Since the spiritual world is absolute. Lord’s name, form, attributes and past times are not different from him. So Vedas or the instructions given by Kṛṣṇa are non-different from him.
Vedas being the word of Kṛṣṇa is absolute. Just like the Parliament and the law. What Parliament has said is final. We cannot manufacture law. Similarly, Veda nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt. What Nārāyaṇaḥ says, that is Veda.
Another name for the Vedas is śruti. Śruti refers to that knowledge that is acquired by hearing. It is not experimental knowledge. In Santana culture, we regard Śruti as a mother. We take so much knowledge from our mother. For example, if you want to know who your father is, who can answer you? Your mother. Otherwise, there are millions of possible candidates. It is impossible to experiment to determine who your father is.
Similarly, if you want to know something beyond your experience, beyond your experimental knowledge, beyond the activities of the senses, then you have to accept the Vedas. There is no question of experimenting. It has already passed the test of time. The version of the mother, for instance, has to be accepted as truth. There is no other way.
In Vedic tradition, we regard Brahmā as the grandfather, the forefather, because he was the first to be instructed in the Vedic knowledge. In the beginning, the first living creature was Brahmā. He received this Vedic knowledge and imparted it to Nārada and other disciples and sons, and they also distributed it to their disciples. In this way, the Vedic knowledge comes down by disciplic succession. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that one should understand Vedic statements in this way.
If you make an experimental endeavor, you come to the same conclusion, but to save time, you should accept. If you want to know your father and take your mother as the authority, then whatever she says can be agreed upon without argument.
Vedic knowledge is called śabda-pramāṇa. The Vedas instruct that we have to hear from the authority to understand transcendental knowledge. Transcendental knowledge is knowledge from beyond this universe. Material knowledge is within this universe, and beyond this universe is transcendental knowledge. We cannot even go to the end of the universe, so how can we go to the spiritual world? Thus on our own, acquiring full knowledge even of what is in our vision is impossible.
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