Archive for the ‘humans’ Tag

The Land of Vedas

Image credit: Paul Gyswyt

Veda is the entire knowledge of nature. The word ‘Veda’ is originated from the Sanskrit verb – ‘ vid ‘ denoting ‘knowing’. Thus, Veda means knowledge. Veda is believably the first creation in the history of knowledge and education. It originated right from the beginning of this creation or when man started to breath, that’s why Veda interprets ‘sosham’ denoting Sanskrit-word – sah + aham = ‘that is me’ God says – "The point where you began and the point where you exist, as well as the point where you will end-everywhere I am dwelling. India, the land of Veda, and the origin of spiritualism have a huge store of religious and cultural knowledge and all of them are originated or interpreted from Veda; not only spiritual but material, scientific knowledge is also introduced in Veda. Everybody knows the oldest alive knowledge in Sanskrit was introduced by Veda. The Vedic knowledge is so deep and so large that it is absolutely impossible to interpret and spread it in a short time and limited space. It’s most important knowledge with an authentic interpretation and application system to let people know the way to leave in peace, harmony and successes.

There are four Vedas – The Vedas are believably ‘unmade’ because it is so huge with the deep knowledge one can’t imagine to compile in the pages and that is why Veda is called – ‘apaurusheya’ that is to say man can’t make it. When it was introduce there was no existence of paper or any writing material or activities, therefore, Veda was introduced and spread by hearing tradition the Sanskrit word – shrotra = ears, therefore Veda is called shrotra; to be hearable, and the people who practice Veda are called -‘ Shrotriya’ (Brahman).

Vedas are in 4 independent volumes and every volume covers such wide area of natural activities. In short, Veda covers – spiritualism-devotion, physics-mathematics, arts-commerce and astrology to medical sciences.

The Vedas are considered the earliest literary record of Indo-Aryan civilization, and the most sacred books of India. They are the original scriptures of Hindu teachings, and contain spiritual knowledge encompassing all aspects of our life. Vedic literature with its philosophical maxims has stood the test of time and is the highest religious authority for all sections of Hindus in particular and for mankind in general. “Veda” means wisdom, knowledge or vision, and it manifests the language of the gods in human speech. The laws of the Vedas regulate the social, legal, domestic and religious customs of the Hindus to the present day. All the obligatory duties of the Hindus at birth, marriage, death and so on owe their allegiance to the Vedic ritual. They draw forth the thought of successive generation of thinkers, and so contain within it the different strata of thought.

The Vedas are probably the earliest documents of the human mind and is indeed difficult to say when the earliest portions of the Vedas came into existence. As the ancient Hindus seldom kept any historical record of their religious, literary and political realization, it is difficult to determine the period of the Vedas with precision. Historians provide us many guesses but none of them is free from ambiguity.

It is believed that humans did not compose the revered compositions of the Vedas, which were handed down through generations by the word of mouth from time immemorial. The general assumption is that the Vedic hymns were either taught by God to the sages or that they were revealed themselves to the sages who were the seers or “mantradrasta” of the hymns. The Vedas were mainly compiled by Vyasa, Krishna, Dwaipayana around the time of Lord Krishna (c. 1500 BC)

The Vedas are four: The Rig-Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda being the main. The four Vedas are collectively known as “Chathurveda,” of which the first three Vedas namely, Rig Veda, Sama Veda and Yajur Veda agree in form, language and content.

Each Veda consists of four parts – the Samhitas (hymns), the Brahmanas (rituals), the Aranyakas (theologies) and the Upanishads (philosophies). The collection of mantras or hymns is called the Samhita. The Brahmanas are ritualistic texts and include precepts and religious duties. Each Veda has several Brahmanas attached to it. The Upanishads form the concluding portions of the Veda and therefore called the “Vedanta” or the end of the Veda and contains the essence of Vedic teachings. The Upanishads and the Aranyakas are the concluding portions of the Brahmanas, which discuss philosophical problems. The Aryanyakas (forest texts) intend to serve as objects of meditation for ascetics who live in forests and deal with mysticism and symbolism.

Although the Vedas are seldom read or understood today, even by the devout, they no doubt form the bedrock of the universal religion or “Sanatana Dharma” that all Hindus follow. The Vedas have guided our religious direction for ages and will continue to do so for generations to come and they will forever remain the most comprehensive and universal of all ancient scriptures.

The Rig Veda or The Book of Mantra is a collection of inspired songs or hymns and is a main source of information on the Rig Vedic civilization. It is the oldest book in any Indo-European language and contains the earliest form of all Sanskrit mantras that date back to 1500 B.C. – 1000 B.C. Some scholars date the Rig Veda as early as 12000 BC – 4000 B.C. The Rig-Vedic ‘samhita’ or collection of mantras consists of 1,017 hymns or ‘suktas’, covering about 10,600 stanzas, divided into eight ‘astakas’ each having eight ‘adhayayas’ or chapters, which are sub-divided into various groups. The hymns are the work of many authors or seers called ‘rishis’. There are seven primary seers identified: Atri, Kanwa, Vashistha, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Gotama and Bharadwaja.

The rig Veda accounts in detail the social, religious, political and economic background of the Rig-Vedic civilization. Even though monotheism characterizes some of the hymns of Rig Veda, naturalistic polytheism and monism can be discerned in the religion of the hymns of Rig Veda. The Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda were compiled after the age of the Rig Veda and are ascribed to the Vedic period.

The Sama Veda or The Book of Song is purely a liturgical collection of melodies (‘saman’). The hymns in the Sama Veda, used as musical notes, were almost completely drawn from the Rig Veda and have no distinctive lessons of their own. Hence, its text is a reduced version of the Rig Veda. As Vedic Scholar David Frawley puts it, if the Rig Veda is the word, Sama Veda is the song or the meaning, if Rig Veda is the knowledge, Sama Veda is its realization, if Rig Veda is the wife, the Sama Veda is her husband.

The Yajur Veda or The Book of Ritual is also a liturgical collection and was made to meet the demands of a ceremonial religion. The Yajur Veda practically served as a guidebook for the priests who execute sacrificial acts muttering simultaneously the prose, prayers, and the sacrificial formulae (‘yajus’). It is similar to ancient Egypt’s “Book of the Dead”. There are no less than six complete recessions of Yajur Veda – Madyandina, Kanva, Taittiriya, Kathaka, Maitrayani and Kapishthala.

The Atharva Veda or The Book of Spell is the last of the Vedas. This is completely different from the other three Vedas and is next in importance to Rig-Veda with regard to history and sociology. A different spirit pervades this Veda. Its hymns are of a more diverse character than the Rig Veda and are also simpler in language. In fact, many scholars do not consider it part of the Vedas at all. The Atharva Veda consists of spells and charms prevalent at its time, and portrays a clearer picture of the Vedic society.

Human Pheromones—Fact-or-Fiction

Pheromones are naturally occurring odorless substances the fertile body excretes externally, conveying an airborne signal that provides information to, and triggers responses from, the opposite sex of the same species. In 1986 Dr. Winnifred Cutler, founder of Athena Institute, and her colleagues conducted the first controlled scientific studies to document the existence of pheromones in humans. Prior to their landmark research, there were no conclusive indications that pheromones were excreted by humans. In animals, it had been known that pheromones served to promote behavior that perpetuated the species. Pheromones elicit unlearned behavioral or developmental responses from others of the same species – act to regulate sexual and reproductive behavior in many nonhuman mammals. We can see examples of this throughout the animal kingdom. The human body produces chemical secretions that have pheromonal properties.

What does science tell us? Do we produce pheromonal secretions? Men and women do have odor-producing apocrine glands in their underarm, nipple, and genital areas. Also, biochemists have isolated compounds that have pheromonal properties in pigs from the urine and sweat of men and, to a lesser extent, women. So, we give off body odor and our bodies excrete substances that pigs find sexually stimulating.

Assuming the human body can secrete pheromonal substances, are we capable of detecting them? Here, the evidence is a bit more solid. Scientists have found that human infants, children, and adults are able to discriminate between other individuals on the basis of olfactory cues – we can tell each other apart using our noses. It seems possible that we have the capacity to detect pheromones, should they exist.

The question that interests most of us, of course, is whether pheromones actually influence species perpetuation behavior. Certainly many perfumes and colognes contain pheromones or their synthetic equivalents from a variety of mammals, including the musk deer, civet cat, beaver, and pig. Studies find that exposure to these substances either has no effect at all or decreases sexual feelings among adults. So exposure to pheromones produced by other mammals doesn’t seem to do much for us. Pheromones are species-specific. Thus, it really isn’t surprising that exposure to nonhuman pheromones does not directly influence sexual attraction in humans. However, it is possible that these substances have an indirect effect on desire – a scent or odor may elicit a pleasant emotional response which, in turn, may increase sexual feelings. In addition, it is likely that a particular scent or odor that has been paired repeatedly with a sex partner or with sexual activity, for example, a specific brand of cologne or perfume may come to produce a learned desire response. Of course, these types of elicited or learned responses do not constitute a true pheromone reaction.

Science will continue to advance, and the quest to identify a human pheromone will undoubtedly go on. Maybe in a year or two, I’ll be able to post a new, updated entry that presents more conclusive evidence with respect to pheromones. Human sexuality is multifactorial, and much more complex. Our responses are much less biochemically-dependent than those of other mammals. Men and women don’t require the presence of a particular hormone or chemical secretion to feel desire, want sex, or become attracted to another member of the species. No single substance would have the power to produce those animalistic, primal sexual and aggressive behaviors.

Intelligence Genes

 

Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study. The study, published today in the journal Trends in Genetics, argues that humans lost the evolutionary pressure to be smart once we started living in dense agricultural settlements several thousand years ago. The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples living before our ancestors emerged from Africa, said study author Gerald Crabtree, a researcher at Stanford University, in a statement. Since then it’s all been downhill, Crabtree contends.

The theory isn’t without critics, with one scientist contacted by LiveScience suggesting that rather than losing our smarts, humans have just diversified them with various types of intelligence today. Early humans lived or died by their spatial abilities, such as quickly making a shelter or spearing a saber-toothed tiger. Nowadays, though almost everyone has the spatial ability to do ostensibly simple tasks like washing dishes or mowing the lawn, such tasks actually require a lot of brainpower. We can thank our ancestors and the highly tuned mechanism of natural selection for such abilities. Meanwhile, the ability to play chess or compose poetry likely evolved as collateral effects.

But after the spread of agriculture, when our ancestors began to live in dense farming communities, the intense need to keep those genes in peak condition gradually waned. It’s unlikely that the evolutionary advantage of intelligence is greater than it was during our hunter-gatherer past. A hunter-gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his/her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate. Clearly, extreme selection is a thing of the past.

Intelligence genes anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 genes determine human intelligence, and these genes are particularly susceptible to harmful changes, or mutations. Based on knowledge of the rate of mutations, the team concludes that the average person harbors two intelligence-stunting genetic changes that evolved over the last 3,000 years. The hypothesis is counterintuitive at first. After all, across the world the average IQ has increased dramatically over the last 100 years, a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect.

But most of that jump probably resulted from better prenatal care, better nutrition and reduced exposure to brain-stunting chemicals such as lead. But just because humans have more mutations in their intelligence genes doesn’t mean we are becoming less brainy as a species. Instead, removing the pressure for everyone to be a superb hunter or gatherer may have allowed us to evolve a more diverse population with different types of smarts.

You don’t get Stephen Hawking (British theoretical physicist) 200,000 years ago. He just doesn’t exist but now we have people of his intellectual capacity doing things and making insights that we would never have achieved in our environment of evolutionary adaptation.

Humans and Sea Lions

There are many legends out there in the world that involve positive interactions among humans and Sea Lions. The people of Peru have a very long history of worshiping this very animal.  It is tied to their history and it continues to be an active part of their culture today.  In fact, the people of Peru often depict the Sea Lion in their art work. 

There are some very positive interactions out there that take place with humans and Sea Lions.  There are many facilities where these animals are in captivity and people come to see them. Since these animals are highly intelligent it is easy enough to train them to perform a variety of tricks for the crowd.  Sea Lions are very calm creatures so humans aren’t in danger of being harmed by them as they work side by side in the water. 

Not all of the interactions that they are trained for are for fun or entertainment purposes though.  The United States government has used Sea Lions to help their scuba diving teams. They also use them to detain scuba divers that are found in areas where they shouldn’t be until authorities can get to them scene. 

While these interactions seem to show that the Sea Lion is very gentle, unfortunately that isn’t always the case.  The Sea Lion has gotten some very negative publicity over the years due to some rare but aggressive attacks on humans.  The one that seems to get the most attention is that which took place in 2007 on a 13 year old girl. 

This girl was surfing in the water and experts believe that the attack wasn’t due to aggression or a desire to eat the girl.  Instead it is believed that she was viewed as a type of toy or that she simply peaked the curiosity of the Sea Lion.  There are also plenty of reports of Sea Lions biting swimmers in the waters around California.  It is believed this could be a sign of territorial aggression by the males. 

It is important to point out that male Sea Lions are very territorial.  They have been known to attack humans that get too close to them during mating season.  This is because of the higher levels of hormones in their bodies. They are also trying to protect their staked area so that they can attract a large amount of females to their harem. 

We have to remember that as we continue to invade the natural habitat of the Sea Lions we introduce them to things that they haven’t dealt with before.  They have their natural instincts that will direct their own behaviors.  We can’t expect them or any other animals for that matter to alter that based on the fact that humans continue to push the boundaries that were once in place. 

Yet it also isn’t fair to classify all humans as being destructive to Sea Lions.  Thousands of people volunteer their time when emergency action needs to be taken.  Without their help many Sea Lions would die when there are oil spills or other problems that arise in their natural habitat thanks to human errors. 

There are also many people that take the time to research the lives and habits of these animals.  They do so in order to share information and to find new ways to help them survive.  They work with Sea Lions to nurse them back to health and to release many of them back into the wild.  They also take the time to educate the public about conservation efforts so that there is hope that Sea Lions won’t become extinct.

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