The problem created by attempting to force-fit ancient texts into the framework of current knowledge is the same as that created by the likes of Max Muller and others "translating the Vedas" to fit their worldview
Hinduism is like a fractured ceramic artwork whose structure is derived from the Vedas, and trying to fit the fragments into shapes that we recognise and relate to today like continents or vimanas is possible because there are millions of fragments - but we have failed to look at the original template in reconstructions.
At the core the Vedas are an exploration of the universe by introspection and meditation and arrive at a "grand unified" explanation of the entire universe as the product of a consciousness that creates it. Remove the consciousness and the universe cease to exist - or to rephrase that, human consciousness itself is a series of blinkers and blinds that allow the perception of certain things and disallow many other things that constitute the entire universe. Shiva's "third eye" opens to remove the blinkers and blinds , shows the entire universe as one whole and therefore destroys the impression we have of reality around us -a reality that is temporary and restricted to earth in the few decades we spend as humans.
Even by the time of Sayana (13th century AD) much of this spiritual basis of Hindu thought had been forgotten - to the extent that Sayana's own interpretation of the Vedas restricted itself to the superficial meanings of the words of the Vedas and associated ritual without touching upon the spiritual core that would be evident from earlier scholars such as Yaska. It was Sayana's work that was translated in a London library by Max Muller
There exist some seriously scholarly works in English (that read like mumbojumbo unless you are primed in the subject)
that explore the concept of the Vedas as "sounds" and what types of meditation and yoga discipline one would have to perform before passing beyond the mere five human senses to sensing say what a tree or the ocean "senses". What I have written would sound like a load of bullshit - but people have spent some serious time and effort on this over centuries and there is something there that should not be discarded as the rants of savages.
But the Vedas start as a spiritual spring for Hindus and later developments include sciences such as maths, yoga, linguistics, astronomy and psychology all taught in one package. Along the way ritual worship gets included and with the "true God" being the entire all encompassing Universe that all existence is made from - worship of almost anything is valid for Hindus as long as the reality is acknowledged that all existence is just a manifestation of a supreme consciousness that defines everything.
But things have degenerated so much - ie the ceramic artwork has splintered so much, that the above basis for Hindu thought is now forgotten and people are left with "elephant headed Gods" and "Many armed goddess with blood in her mouth, trampling on a child". Hindus are unable to explain this and clutch at ridiculous explanations and rationalizations.
The role of priests would have been to explain the basis of ritual in Hindu dharma but even the priests - barring a few are unable to do that. In fact I can gave a reasonable rational explanation of the worship of Ganesh on Ganesh chaturthi - but that is OT - I won't do that, but I bring up the subject to point out how the "murti" (or that ba$tard word "idol") of Ganesh fits into the overall spiritual basis of Hindu worship. One of the things that our education in western science blinds us to is the fact that the Hindu past is so old that many layers have been added on and many people have no idea of what is what. It is a testament to the robustness of the concepts of dharma and righteouness that they have survived so long but again that is OT.
As an aside there are several Greek philosophers who have defined reality and the world as a manifestation of a supreme consciousness - all dating from eras that are very recent indicating cultural exchange between India and Greece in a pre-historic past. But since it is not recorded it does not exist according to Einstein-putras we sometimes get on here.