The oldest and primary scripture we do have is Veda and we know that ancient Rishis heard Veda in the state of Tapasya directly from Ishwara and that is called Shruti.

But one question often comes in my mind - How did they perform Tapasya (Dhyana or deep mediation), since they had no scripture (and probably no Guru)? What led them to the state of deep Tapasya where they heard Veda?

Also, I want to know, whether it is possible for one to hear Veda in similar way that ancient Rishis heard?

  • "How did they perform Tapasya (Dhyana or deep mediation), since they had no scripture (and probably no Guru)?" - The 1st guru may be seen as BrahmaDeva who was moved to perform tapas soon after he was "born" and was at a loss as to how to start the job of creation. He heard "tapaH tapaH" and went into deep meditation. He did not need patanjali's yoga sutras or sankara's prabodhasudhakara because he was/is directly connected to the parabrahma and was "born" with some knowledge already. His knowledge of tapas would have passed on to his mAnasa putras, 7 rishis, prajApatis, manu's etc. 1/2
    – user1195
    Jun 16, 2017 at 5:12
  • Codified methods were required only much later when the tapas and competence of jeevas started deteriorating. "whether it is possible for one to hear Veda in similar way that ancient Rishis heard?" - theoretically yes because we have proof in the form of history/sruti/smriti/purANa. But I don't believe it is possible in kali yuga any more. 2/2
    – user1195
    Jun 16, 2017 at 5:14

1 Answer 1


tapas can be simply translated to austerity/penance. It includes following the injunctions laid down by guru/shAstra. Performing regular upasana/rituals and doing self study/practice. Which also includes contemplation and other aspects. Rshis too followed agni aupasana and svAdhyAya in order to attain the divine knowledge of Vedas.

The vedas are also known as "brahma". The tripadA gayatri mantra into which one is initiated as a pre-qualification for the veda adhyayana actually denotes this brahman. Hence, having been initiated into this gayatri mantra, the next step is to do the veda adhyayana. The vedas unequivocally advice svAdhyAya which is nothing but tapas or penance, as a mode of acquiring the knowledge about brahman. For such a tapas to fructify, one has to lead a householder's life and worship the agni. By worshipping the gArhapatyAgni, by being in the grihasthAshrama, when a person realises that there is a greater bliss to be experienced/enjoyed which is different and superior to the enjoyment from the senses, then this is called as brahma jigyAsa.

So svAdhyAya is a form of tapas or penance. After getting the initiation from the guru one has to get engaged in it practice by self (svAdhyAya) and also in satsanga (company of spiritual people or books etc)

Taittiriya Upanishad’s hymn 1.9.1 emphasizes the central importance of Svadhyaya in one’s pursuit of Reality (Ṛta), Truth (Satya), Self-restraint (Damah), Perseverance (Tapas), Tranquility and Inner Peace (Samas), Relationships with others, family, guests (Praja, Prajana, Manush, Atithi) and all Rituals (Agnaya, Agnihotram)

In verse 1.11.1, the final chapter in the education of a student, the Taittiriya Upanishad reminds,

सत्यंवद । धर्मंचर । स्वाध्यायान्माप्रमदः ।

Speak the Satya, follow the Dharma, from Svadhyaya never cease.

One of the earliest mention of Svādhyāya is found in Taittiriya Aranyaka 2.15: "svādhyayo-adhyetavyah" ("svādhyāya must be practiced"). Śatpath Brāhmana also repeats it. Chandogya Upanishad verse 4.16.1-2 recommends both silent (mānas) and vocal (vāchika) types of svādhyāya.

Patanjali's Yogasutra, in verse II.44, recommends Svadhyaya as follows


Study thy self, discover the divine. — Patanjali’s Yogasutra, II.44 (Wiki)

Kaya Indriya Siddhi Ashuddhi kshyat tapasaha’’ (Patanjali II Sutra 43)

Kaya = body; Indriya = senses; Siddhihi = strong; Ashuddhi = impurities; Kshayat = eliminated; Tapasaha = by penance.

“By penance or purifying actions, the body and senses become strong as the impurities are eliminated.”

Swadhyayadishtadevatasamprayogaha’’ (Patanjali II Sutra 44)

Swadhyayat = by self-study; Ishta = desired; Devata = deity; Samprayogaha = presence is felt.

“By self-study, the desired deity’s presence is felt.” Source

  • So, it sounds first step is to get initiated by Gayatri Mantra. But how did those Rishis get initiated without having any Guru or without Gayatri Mantra of Vedas? That's what I wanted to know as mentioned in 2nd para
    – Pandya
    Dec 5, 2018 at 12:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .