Reflections on Russia (HH 206)

A Talk by Alok Pandey from “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)

Today we shall share some thoughts and reflections on the common Aryan link between Russia and India. 

Russia is a land impregnated with the seed of spirituality. Mysticism runs in its fabric and though forgotten in modern times, it is necessary and even inevitable that Russia reconnects with its own mystic roots. One way towards this is to go deep within its past, its origins when it was the land through which ancient mystics or Rishis migrated from the Arctic region during the previous Ice-Age towards more habitable regions. The seeds of Sanskrit and ancient Aryan culture can still be traced here despite the effort of the Revolution to destroy it. Of course we must distinguish, as Sri Aurobindo distinguishes and other modern scholars do, between Aryan migration and Aryan invasion. The former is a distinct possibility while the latter is a myth that has been debunked by genetic and archeological as well as philological studies. The latter theory was mainly created as a political tool to support Imperialism and paradoxically found its base on the Arctic Migration theory which indeed is a real possibility. 

Another way is to move forward and look within its soul that seeks to establish the Ideal of Brotherhood and Fraternity in humanity. This is what the Revolution was supposed to accomplish and though a bold and courageous attempt it had to eventually fail as its motive power was political and external rather than spiritual.

To the devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Russia is indeed a special place being the place of Her last incarnation just before the present one.


Words of the Mother

Now, this [Mother’s being] is a rather special conscious being…. The psychic of this life (laughing) was rather collective! Memories of Catherine the Great, memories of Elizabeth, memories of two lives at the same time (!) in the age of Francis 1, memories … innumerable memories, and quite diverse. Each one … It’s not that you were in such or such person for his or her whole life: you were the important psychic MOMENT in those lives.

I stopped paying attention to all that when I came here – it was part of occult knowledge, not of spiritual knowledge. I stopped paying attention to it.


Russia, changed to the right side, it would be wonderful!… Naturally I was Russian in a recent incarnation, when I was…. Is it Catherine?

       Catherine, yes.

And that’s very much alive in me.

My impression is that if the whole Russian bloc were to turn to the right side, it would be a tremendous support…. And they are not satisfied; you know, they’re in the state in which you’re capable of doing something because you’re not satisfied – they are NOT satisfied. Their experience … basically they don’t want to admit it, but their experience has failed.


Words of Sri Aurobindo

…..without the Ivans, Peters and Catherines there would have been no Russia….

in Russia the rule of Peter the Great and Catherine were the time in which these nations reached their maturity, formed fully and confirmed their spirit and attained to a robust organisation.


. ….But the indications in the Veda on which this theory of a recent Aryan invasion is built, are very scanty in quantity and uncertain in their significance. There is no actual mention of any such invasion. The distinction between Aryan and un-Aryan on which so much has been built, seems on the mass of the evidence to indicate a cultural rather than a racial difference. The language of the hymns clearly points to a particular worship or spiritual culture as the distinguishing sign of the Aryan,—a worship of Light and of the powers of Light and a self-discipline based on the culture of the “Truth” and the aspiration to Immortality,— Ritam and Amritam. There is no reliable indication of any racial difference. It is always possible that the bulk of the peoples now inhabiting Indiamay have been the descendants of a new race from more northern latitudes, even perhaps, as argued by Mr. Tilak, from the Arctic regions; but there is nothing in the Veda, as there is nothing in the present ethnological features of the country to prove that this descent took place near to the time of the Vedic hymns or was the slow penetration of a small body of fair-skinned barbarians into a civilised Dravidian peninsula.

Nor is it a certain conclusion from the data we possess that the early Aryan cultures—supposing the Celt, Teuton, Greek and Indian to represent one common cultural origin,—were really undeveloped and barbarous. A certain pure and high simplicity in their outward life and its organisation, a certain concreteness and vivid human familiarity in their conception of and relations with the gods they worshipped, distinguish the Aryan type from the more sumptuous and materialistic Egypto-Chaldean civilisation and its solemn and occult religions. But those characteristics are not inconsistent with a high internal culture. On the contrary, indications of a great spiritual tradition meet us at many points and negate the ordinary theory. The old Celtic races certainly possessed some of the highest philosophical conceptions and they preserve stamped upon them even to the present day the result of an early mystic and intuitional development which must have been of long standing and highly evolved to have produced such enduring results. In Greece it is probable that the Hellenic type was moulded in the same way by Orphic and Eleusinian influences and that Greek mythology, as it has come down to us, full of delicate psychological suggestions, is a legacy of the Orphic teaching. It would be only consonant with the general tradition if it turned out that Indian civilisation has throughout been the prolongation of tendencies and ideas sown in us by the Vedic forefathers. The extraordinary vitality of these early cultures which still determine for us the principal types of modern man, the main elements of his temperament, the chief tendencies of his thought, art and religion, can have proceeded from no primitive savagery. They are the result of a deep and puissant prehistoric development.


It is the races called Aryan from their common original culture whose script is directed from left to right; the Mesopotamian races deriving their culture from the Chaldeans proceed from right to left; the Mongolians write vertically….

The one important circumstance common, one might almost say central, to the ideas and practices of the ancient nations was the reverence for the sun and its supreme importance in religious ceremonies. Might not the direction adopted for their writing be determined by some difference in their attitude towards the direction of the sun in its daily movement from east to west?

The difference of attitude can only be explained if we suppose that for some reason the Aryan forefathers had their faces turned southwards, the Mesopotamian northwards and the Mongolian eastwards. In that case, the sun for the Aryans would move from their left to their right, for the Mesopotamians from their right to their left, for the Mongolians straight towards them, and this difference would be represented by the movement of the hand tracing the sacred symbols on some hard flat surface, of stone or other material used for these early scripts.

But what circumstance, again, could lead to this difference? We can only think of one,—that this tendency might have been formed during the constant migration of these races from their original habitat. If we accept Mr. Tilak’s theory of an Aryan migration from the arctic regions southwards towards India, Persia and the Mediterranean countries; if we can suppose that the fathers of the Mesopotamian culture came from the south northwards and that the first Mongolian movement was from Central Asia to the east, we shall have the necessary conditions. We may thus explain also the Sanskrit terms for the four directions; for entering India from the west and following this line in their early colonisation, the east would be in front of the Aryans, pu¯ rva, the west behind, pas´cima, the south on their right, a, while the name for the north, uttara, higher, might possibly indicate a memory of their old northern home in that supreme point of the earth where they still placed the sacred mountain of their gods.

Necessarily, this explanation is in the highest degree conjectural and depends on pure intellectual reasoning which is an unsafe guide in the absence of solid and sufficient data. Nevertheless, it is the one positive explanation that suggests itself to us and, as a hypothesis, is well worth taking into consideration.


Mr. Tilak in his Arctic Home in the Vedas has accepted the general conclusions of European scholarship, but by a fresh examination of the Vedic Dawn, the figure of the Vedic cows and the astronomical data of the hymns, has established at least a strong probability that the Aryan races descended originally from the Arctic regions in the glacial period. Mr. T. Paramasiva Aiyar by a still bolder departure has attempted to prove that the whole of the Rig Veda is a figurative representation of the geological phenomena belonging to the new birth of our planet after its long-continued glacial death in the same period of terrestrial evolution. It is difficult to accept in their mass Mr. Aiyar’s reasonings and conclusions, but he has at least thrown a new light on the great Vedic mythus of Ahi Vritra and the release of the seven rivers. His interpretation is far more consistent and probable than the current theory which is not borne out by the language of the hymns. Taken in conjunction with Mr. Tilak’s work it may serve as the starting-point for a new external interpretation of the old Scripture which will explain much that is now inexplicable and recreate for us the physical origins if not the actual physical environment of the old Aryan world. The third Indian contribution is older in date, but nearer to my present purpose. It is the remarkable attempt by Swami Dayananda, the founder of the Arya Samaj, to re-establish the Veda as a living religious Scripture. Dayananda took as his basis a free use of the old Indian philology which he found in the Nirukta. Himself a great Sanskrit scholar, he handled his materials with remarkable power and independence. Especially creative was his use of that peculiar feature of the old Sanskrit tongue which is best expressed by a phrase of Sayana’s,—the “multi-significance of roots”. We shall see that the right following of this clue is of capital importance for understanding the peculiar method of the Vedic Rishis.


If, however, we are to give a naturalistic explanation and no other to the Vedic hymns, it is quite clear that the Vedic Dawn and Night cannot be the Night and Dawn of India; it is only in the Arctic regions that the attitude of the Rishis towards these natural circumstances and the statements about the Angirases become at all intelligible. But though it is extremely probable that the memories of the Arctic home enter into the external sense of the Veda, the Arctic theory does not exclude an inner sense behind the ancient images drawn from Nature nor does it dispense with the necessity for a more coherent and straightforward explanation of the hymns to the Dawn….

But what is meant by the figure of the months? for it now becomes clear that it is a figure, a parable; the year is symbolic, the months are symbolic.3 It is in the revolution of the year that the recovery of the lost Sun and the lost cows is effected, for we have the explicit statement in X.62.2,r.ten¯abhindan parivatsare valam, “by the truth, in the revolution of the year, they broke Vala,” or, as Sayana interprets it, “by sacrifice lasting for a year.” This passage certainly goes far to support the Arctic theory, for it speaks of a yearly and not a daily return of the Sun. But we are not concerned with the external figure, nor does its validity in any way affect our own theory; for it may very well be that the striking Arctic experience of the long night, the annual sunrise and the continuous dawns was made by the Mystics the figure of the spiritual night and its difficult illumination….


We have then a curious image which seems to support the Arctic theory. “Many were those days which were before the rising of the Sun (or which were of old by the rising of the Sun), in which thou, O Dawn, wert seen as if moving about thy lover and not coming again.” This is certainly a picture of continual dawns, not interrupted by Night, such as are visible in the Arctic regions. The psychological sense which arises out of the verse, is obvious.