III. THE VEDA. The Rigveda

 

A new view of the Rigveda is being published in the ‘Arya’ under the caption of ‘The Secret of the Veda’. The translations here have been done according to that view which maintains that the real meaning of the Veda is spiritual and, being extremely profound and secret, is wrapped in symbolic words, various images, and expressions used in the performance of sacrifice. Though impenetrable to the ordinary person, this covering was, to the initiate in the Veda, only a transparent object which revealed all the limbs of the Truth. We have to look for the spiritual significance behind the images. If we can discover the ‘secret name’ of the gods and their respective functions, the sense of the code words, ‘go, aśva, somarasa etc., the works of the daityas the demons, and their inner meaning, the import of the Vedic metaphors and legends, then the significance of the Veda will become more or less clear. Of course, the true and subtle comprehension of its meaning comes only by a special knowledge and as the result of sadhana, and not by mere study of the Veda without any sadhana.

I wish to present these Vedic truths to the Bengali readers. For the present I shall talk only about the subject matter of the Veda. It is the eternal theme. The world exists in the Brahman but the truth of the Brahman cannot be seized by the intellect. The Rishi Agastya speaks of It as tat adbhutam, above all, beyond all time. Has any one ever known It, now or in the past? It vibrates in the consciousness of every one, yet, the moment the intellect tries to examine It from near, That disappears. The image of the Kena Upanishad has also the same significance: Indra rushes towards the Brahman but when he is quite close, the Brahman vanishes. Yet That is knowable, as a divine Being.

The Divine is also adbhuta, mysterious, but he manifests himself in three fundamentals, that is to say, God is pure Existence, Consciousness-Force and Bliss. It is possible to realise God in the principle of Bliss. Under various different names and forms, God pervades and upholds the universe. These names and forms are the Vedic gods.

The Veda speaks about two seas, one above and the other below the manifested world; below, it is the apraketa hṛdya or hṛtsamudra, the concealed sea which is known in English as the Subconscient and, above, it is the sea of pure Existence which is called in English the Superconscient. These two are known as caves or hidden truths. Brahmanaspati brings out the manifestation from the Subconscient by the World. Rudra enters the life-principle and illumines it with his mighty power, pulls it upward by Force and drives it violently along the path towards its destination; Vishnu by his pervading power upholds the constantly flowing sea of pure Existence or the seven rivers of life and guides them towards the goal. All the other gods are co-workers in the movement, helpers and agents.

Surya, the Sun, is the god of the Truth-Light, he is ‘Savita’ when he creates or manifests, ‘Pushan’ when he nourishes, ‘Surya’ when he destroys the night of falsehood and gives birth to the light of truth and knowledge. Agni is the tapas, the energising power of the Consciousness-Force; he builds the universe and dwells in all its objects: He is fire in the material principle; desire and impulses to enjoy in the life-principle, he devours everything he gets; in the mind-principle, he is the mental inspiration and the will-power; in the principle beyond mind, he is the lord of the conscious force of action.

 

Mandala 1, Sukta 1. The Text and Its Explanation

1-1-1

agnimīḷe purohitaṁ yajñasya devamṛtvijam
hotāraṁ ratnadhātamam

“I adore the flame who is in the vicar, the divine Ritwik of the Sacrifice, the summoner who founds the ecstasy.”

iḍe bhajāmi, prārthaye, kāmaye: I adore.

purohitaṁ — one who sits in front of the sacrifice; representative of the sacrificer and performer of the sacrifice. ṛtvijam — one who performs the sacrifice according to the

time, the place and the occasion.

hotāra— one who by invoking the gods accomplishes the sacrifice.

ratnadhā — Sayana gives the meaning of ‘beautiful riches’ to the word ‘ratna’; it would be more correct to say ‘delightful wealth.’

dhā — one who bears, directs or firmly establishes.

1-1-2

agni pūrvebhirṛṣibhirīḍyo nūtanairuta
sa devāṁ eha vakśati

“The Flame adorable by the ancient sages is adorable too by the new. He brings here the Gods.”

The word sa gives the hint why they are adorable.

eha vakśati iha āvahati: Agni brings the Gods in his own chariot.

1-1-3

agninā rayimaśnavat poṣameva divedive
yaśasaṁ vīravattamam

“By the flame one enjoys a treasure that verily increases day by day, most full of hero-power.”

rayim ayiḥ, rāyaḥ etc. have the same meaning as the word ‘ratna’. But in the word ratna the sense of delight is more prominent.

aśnavat aśnuyāt, obtains or enjoys.

poṣam etc. are adjectives of rayiḥ; poṣam means that which grows, increases.

yaśasam — Sayana translates it sometimes as ‘fame’ and sometimes as ‘food’. Probably its real meaning is success, attainment of goal, etc. The meaning ‘radiance’ is also quite just but it does not apply here.

1-1-4

agne yaṁ yajñamadhvararaṁ viśvataḥ paribhūrasi
sa id deveṣu gacchati

“O Flame! the pilgrim sacrifice on every side of which thou art with the envisioning being, that truly goes among the Gods.”

adhvaram — the root ‘dhvṛ’ means to kill. Sayana translates it as ahirhsita yajña, a sacrifice with no killings. But the word adhvara itself has come to denote sacrifice; such a development is impossible for the word. The word adhvan means the path, so adhvara must signify the voyager or one having the form of the path. The sacrifice was the path that led to the abode of the gods; at the same time, the sacrifice was wellknown everywhere as the pilgrim in the abode of the gods. This meaning is right. The word adhvara like the word adhvan derives from the root adḥ; as proof, we find that both the words adhva and adhvara were used in the sense of sky.

paribhūh-parito jātaḥ

deveṣu — the locative case indicates the destination.

it-eva, truly.

 

The Spiritual Significance. The Universal Sacrifice

The universal life is like an immense sacrifice.

God himself is the lord of the sacrifice. God is Shiva, and Nature is Uma. Though she carries the image of Shiva in her heart, still she misses his visible form; she yearns for his tangible body. This yearning is the deep significance of the universal life.

But by what means can her intention be fulfilled? By which appointed path can Nature attain the Supreme? How can she recover her own true form and that of the Supreme? Her eyes are tied with the bandage of ignorance and her feet are bound with a thousand chains of matter; as if the physical Nature has imprisoned the infinite existence within the finite and herself become the prisoner, no longer able to find the lost key of the self-made prison; as if the inert vibrations of the life-energy in matter have overpowered the free and unlimited Consciousness-Force and made her dumb, self-oblivious and unconscious; as if the infinite Bliss wandering about in the disguise of an inferior consciousness subject to trivial happiness and sorrow, has forgotten its real nature and unable to remember sinks lower and lower in the bottomless mire of suffering; as if the truth has been drowned under the uncertain waves of falsehood. The supramental principle beyond intellect is the foundation of the infinite Truth. The action of the Supermind is either forbidden in the earth-consciousness or very rare like the momentary glimmer of the lightning from behind the veil. The timid, lame and dull mind is again and again looking for it and by its titanic efforts may even catch a glimpse of it but the authentic, infinite and luminous form of the integral Truth escapes its grasp. The knowledge as well as the action of mind are afflicted with the same strife, indigence and failure. Instead of the smiling and effortless divine dance of the Truthaction, there is the shackled attempt of the will-power of the inferior Nature struggling in agony with the inextricable bonds of truth and falsehood, virtue and vice, poison and nectar, action, inaction and wrong action. The free, unhesitating, desireless, triumphant, blissful and passionate divine power of action, intoxicated with the wine of oneness remains as yet unrealised. Its natural and easy universal movements are impossible for the will-power of the inferior Nature. Can the terrestrial Nature, ensnared in the noose of the finite and untrue ever hope to obtain that limitless Existence, that boundless Consciousness-Force, and that immeasurable Bliss-Consciousness, and if so, by what means?

The sacrifice is the means. The sacrifice implies surrender, and self-immolation. What you are, what you have, what you become in future by your own effort or by the divine grace, what you can earn or save in the course of your action, pour all like clarified butter, into the fire of divine energy, as offering to the all-Blissful. By giving a tiny whole you will receive the infinite whole. The Yoga is implicit in the sacrifice. The infinity, the immortality and the divine felicity are legitimate results of the practice of yoga. To follow this path is the means of Nature’s salvation.

The Universal Nature knows the secret. So with this immense hope, night and day, year in and year out, age after age, sleepless and restless, she performs the sacrifice. All her actions, all her endeavours are part of this cosmic ritual. She immolates everything she produces. She knows that the divine Player who is present in all, tastes the delight without reserve and accepts all effort and askesis as sacrifice. He is the one who is ever slowly leading the cosmic sacrifice on the ordained path towards the ordained goals by detours and zigzags, through rise and fall, across knowledge, ignorance and death. His assurance has made her fearless, unwavering and indiscriminate. Moved by the unceasing and ubiquitous divine impulsion, she consciously throws all that she can lay hands on, creation and killing, production and destruction, knowledge and ignorance, happiness and suffering, the ripe and the unripe, the beautiful and the ugly, the pure and the impure, into that huge eternal conflagration of sacrifice. The subtle arid material objects constitute the clarified butter used in the sacrifice, the Jiva, the being, is the bound animal. The Nature is constantly immolating the Jiva, fastened to the slayingpost with the triple bond of mind, life and body. The bond of mind is ignorance; the bond of life is suffering, desire and conflict; the bond of body is death.

Nature is shown the path of her salvation; by what means can the Jiva in fetters be delivered? By means of sacrifice, self-surrender and self-immolation. Instead of being under the domination of Nature and being offered by her, the Jiva has to rise, become the sacrificer and offer all that it possesses. This indeed is the profound secret of the universe that the Purusha is not only the god of the sacrifice but the object sacrificed as well. The Purusha has surrendered into the hands of Prakriti his own mind, life and body as offering, as principal means of performing the sacrifice. There is this hidden motive behind his self-surrender that one day, becoming conscious, he will take the Prakriti by the hand, make her his consort and companion in the sacrifice and himself perform the ritual. Man has been created to fulfil this secret longing of the Purusha who wants to play the Lila in a human body. Selfhood, immortality, the multiple infinite bliss, unlimited knowledge, boundless force and immeasurable love must be enjoyed in a human body, in a human consciousness. All these forms of delight exist within the Purusha himself and as the Eternal he enjoys them eternally. But creating man, he is actively engaged in relishing the opposite taste of oneness in the multiplicity, the infinite in the finite, the inward in the outward, the suprasensible in the senses and the immortal existence in the terrestrial life. Seated at the same time above our mind, beyond our intellect in the hidden Supramental principle of the Truth and in the secret plane of consciousness behind the heart within us, in the cavern of the heart, in the concealed ocean of submerged consciousness where heart, mind, life, body and intellect are only little ripples, the Purusha experiences the delightful taste of the blind effort and search of the Prakriti and her endeavour to establish unity by the shock of duality. Above, he enjoys in knowledge; below, he enjoys in ignorance; he carries on these two actions simultaneously.

But if he is for ever immersed in this condition, then the deep intention, his supreme purpose cannot be fulfilled. That is why the day of awakening is fixed for each human being. The inner godhead will one day give up this mechanical, merit-less, lower self-immolation and begin in knowledge, by chanting his own mantra, the performance of the sacrifice. To perform the sacrifice consciously and with the right mantra is the ‘Karma’, the work, mentioned in the Veda. It has a double objective; a completeness in the universal plurality, what is known in the Veda as the universal godhead and the universal manhood, and the realisation of immortality in the one selfbeing of the supreme Divine. The gods mentioned in the Veda under the names Indra, Agni, Varuna are not the inferior small godheads of later days disdained by the common people; they are different forms of the Divine, powerful and luminous. And this immortality is not the puerile heaven described in the Puranas, but the svar, the world of Divine Truth desired by the Vedic Rishis, the establishment of the Infinite Existence; the immortality mentioned in the Veda is the infinite Being and Consciousness of the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

 

Mandala 1, Sukta 17

1-17-1

indrāvaruṇayoraharaṁ samrājorava ā vṛṇe
t
ā no mṛḷāta īdṛśe

O Indra, O Varuna, you indeed are emperors; we welcome you as our protectors; you two, rise in us in that state.

1-17-2

gantārā hi stho ‘vase havaṁ viprasya māvataḥ
dhartārācarṣaṇīnām

Because you come to protect the sacrifice of the wise who can uphold the power, you indeed are supporters of all action.

1-17-3

anukāmaṁ tarpayethāmindrāvaruṇa rāya ā
tā vāṁ nediṣṭhamīmahe

Enjoy, as you desire, the abundance of delight in the instrument. O Indra, O Varuna, we want to live very close to you.

1-17-4

yuvāku hi śacīnā yuvāku sumatīnām
bhūyāma vājadāvnām

May we remain established under the strong domination of the powers and the helpful thoughts which increase our inner wealth.

1-17-5

indraḥ sahasradāvnāṁ varuṇaḥ śarhsyānām
kraturbhavatyukthyaḥ

O Indra, become the desired lord of all that brings power; and you, Varuna, of all that is vast and great.

1-17-6

tayoridavasā vayar sanema ni ca dhīmahi
syāduta prarecanam

Under the protection of you two, may we live happily and peacefully and become capable of deep meditation. May our purification be complete.

1-17-7

indrāvaruṇa vāmahā huve citrāya rādhase
asmān su jigyuṣas kṛtam

O Indra, O Varuna, we perform sacrifice with the hope to obtain manyhued felicity from you. Make us always victorious.

1-17-8

indrāvaruṇa nū nu vāṁ siṣāsantīṣu dhīṣvā
asmabhyaṁ śarma yacchatam

O Indra, O Varuna, may all the faculties of the intellect submit to you; by establishing yourselves in these faculties, give us peace.

1-17-9

pra vāmaśnotu suṣṭutirindrāvaruṇa yaṁ huve
yaṁ ṛdhāthe sadhastutim

O Indra, O Varuna, may you enjoy the beautiful hymn which we offer you as sacrifice; you indeed nourish and fulfil these words of prayer.

 

Commentary

Whenever the ancient Rishis prayed for the help of the gods in the spiritual battle against the formidable attack of the inner enemies, for the establishment of fulness, the durable and compact state of force in the mind as they became aware of their own incompleteness after going a little way on the path of sadhana, or else when they invoked the gods to found, increase and protect the plenitude of inner illumination and delight, we find that, to express their feelings, they often addressed the gods in pairs, in the same hymn and in identical words. The two Ashwins, Indra and Vayu, Mitra and Varuna are typical examples of this combination. In this hymn by combining, not Indra and Vayu, or Mitra and Varuna, but Indra and Varuna, Medhatithi of the line of Kanva is praying for delight, high accomplishment and peace. His mood is now lofty, vast and tranquil. He wants a free and elevated action. He wants a mighty, fiery spirit but a might which will be founded on a pure, deep and permanent knowledge, and an ardour which shall fly in the sky of action, borne by the two immense wings of peace; even while floating on the infinite ocean of Ananda and being tossed about in the colourful waves of delight, he wants the experience of that tranquillity, greatness and stability. He is unwilling to dive and lose his consciousness in that ocean, unwilling to sink and rise alternately, buffeted by its waves. Indra and Varuna are worthy gods who can help to realise this sublime aspiration. Indra is the king and Varuna is the emperor. The mental ardour and energy from which proceed all the functions of mind, its existence and effectiveness are given by Indra who also protects them from the attacks of the Vritras, the demons. All the noble and generous moods of mind and character, for want of which, arrogance, narrowness, weakness or indolence inevitably result in thought and action, are established and guarded by Varuna. That is why right in the beginning of this Sukta, Rishi Medhatithi welcomes their help and friendship; indrā-varuṇayorahamava āvṛṇe, “O Indra, O Varuna, we welcome you as our protectors”, as our samrājoḥ, emperors, because they indeed are emperors. So īdṛśe, in this condition or on this occasion (the state of mind which I have just described), he invoked the delight of the gods for others and for himself, — tā no mṛḍāta īdṛśe.

When all the faculties and efforts of body, life, mind and the supramental part are poised in equality and self-contained in their respective places; when no one has domination over the being, and there is no revolt or anarchy; when each one accepts the sovereignty of its respective godhead of the Higher Nature and is accustomed to execute its special work with joy at the time and in the measure fixed by the Divine; when the Being is Lord of its own dominion, real emperor over the inner kingdom of its instrument; when there is deep peace along with a mighty luminous and boundless power of action, when all its faculties listen to its order and accomplish the work perfectly with mutual cooperation for the joy of the being, or when it tastes fathomless peace and ineffable delight by plunging into a deep, shadowless inaction at will: such a state of being was called by the Vedantists of the earliest times the kingdom (dominion over self) or the empire (dominion over others). Indra and Varuna particularly are masters of this state; they are emperors. Indra when he becomes emperor sets in motion all the faculties, and Varuna when he becomes emperor governs the faculties and exalts them.

But all are not qualified to receive the help of these two sublime immortals. Only when one has knowledge and is established in tranquillity, can he claim their help. One has to be vipra, a māvān. The word vipra does not mean a brahmin; the root vi signifies to manifest, to illumine and the root vip means the play or vibration or full flooding of manifestation, illumination; one in whose mind the knowledge has dawned, the door of whose mind is open for the mighty play of knowledge, he is verily the vipra. The root signifies ‘to hold’. The mother holds the child in her womb, that is why she is known as mātā. The founder and life of all action, the god Vayu, is known as Matarisvan, “he who extends himself in the Mother or the container, the sky” — the sky which holds in its womb the birth, the play and the death of all creatures and beings and yet remains for ever serene and unperturbed. One who is patient like the sky that has the power to contain and endure the wild play and remain silently plunged in its happiness even when the violent cyclone cleaves the horizon with lightnings and roaring madly smites down trees, animals and houses in a furious and destructive dance of divine rapture, one who can turn his own body into an open space for the play of unbearable physical and vital pain and yet remain impassive, full of self-delight, capable of withstanding it like a witness, he, indeed, is a māvān. When such a māvān is vipra, (illumined), when such a serene knower offers his body as the altar of sacrifice and calls on the gods, then Indra and Varuna move freely in it, sometimes they come even of their own accord, protect the oblation, become the support and foundation, dhartārā carṣaṇīnām (‘You are indeed the upholders of all action’), of all his desired actions and bestow upon him great felicity, power and illumination of knowledge.

 

Mandala 1, Sukta 75

1-75-1

juṣasva saprathastamaṁ vaco devapsarastamam
havyā juhvāna āsani

O Flame, what I am expressing is very wide and vast, an object of enjoyment for the gods; devour it with love; take all these offerings in thy mouth.

1-75-2

athā te añgirastamāgne vedhastama priyam
vocema brahma sānasi

O Divine Energy! thou are the most powerful of all the powers and the highest divinity, may the sacred hymn of my heart which I am uttering become thy favourite, and thou the triumphant enjoyer of what I desire.

1-75-3

kaste jāmirjanānāmagne ko dāśvadhvaraḥ
ko ha kasminnasi śritaḥ

O Divine Energy! O Flame! who is thy comrade, who is thy brother in the world? Who is able to extend that friendship which leads to the Divine? Who art Thou? In whose heart has Agni found shelter?

1-75-4

tvaṁ jāmirjanānāmagne mitro asi priyaḥ
sakhā sakhibhya īḍyaḥ

O Agni, thou indeed art brother of all living beings, beloved friend of the world; thou indeed art the comrade, thou art desired by thy comrades.

1-75-5

yajā no mitrāvaruṇā yajā devāṁ ṛtarṁ bṛhat
agne yakṣisvaṁ damam

Sacrifice for us to Mitra and Varuna, sacrifice to the gods, to the vast Truth; O Agni, that Truth is thy own home. Establish the sacrifice in that goal.

 

Mandala 3, Sukta 46

3-46-1

yudhmasya te vṛṣabhasya svarāja ugrasya yūna sthavirasya ghṛṣveḥ
ajūryato vajriṇo vīryāṇīdra śrutasya mahato mahāni

Very noble are the heroic deeds of mighty Indra, the thunderer, the bearer of the Word, warrior and powerful emperor, the ever young god resplendent, imperishable and possessor of tranquil strength.

3-46-2

mahāṁ asi mahiṣa vṛṣṇyebhirdhanaspṛdugra sahamāno anyān eko viśvasya bhuvanasya rājā sa yodhayā ca kṣayayā ca janān

O Great, O Puissant, thou art great; by the action of thy expansive power forcefully wrest from others the wealth we desire. Thou art one, king of all that is visible in the whole universe; inspire man in the battle; establish him in the abode of peace, worthy of conquest.

3-46-3

pra mātrābhī ririce rocamānaḥ pra devebhirviśvato apratītaḥ pra majmanā diva indraḥ pṛthivyāḥ prorormaho antarikṣād ṛjīṣī

Indra manifesting himself as radiance crosses all measures of the universe surpassing even the gods in every way and infinitely he becomes inaccessible to them. This power that drives straight, by his strength in the mental world, surpasses the wide material universe and the great vital world.

3-46-4

uruṁ gabhīraṁ januṣābhyugraṁ viśvavyacasamavataṁ matīnām indraṁ somāsaḥ pradivi sutāsaḥ samudraṁ na sravata ā viśanti

Into this wide and deep, violent and powerful from his very birth, all-manifesting ocean-like Indra, the ordainer of all thoughts, enter the intoxicating universal currents of delight like fast-flowing rivers issuing from the mouth of the mental world.

3-46-5

ya somamindra pṛthivīdyāvā garbhaṁ na ṁātā bibhṛtastvāyā taṁ te hinvanti tamu te mṛjantyadhvaryavo vṛṣabha pātavā u

O puissant Indra, for the satisfaction of thy desire, the mental world and the material universe hold this wine of felicity as a mother holds the unborn child. The priest who accomplishes the sacrifice is for thy sake only, O Bull; he drives the flow of delight so that thou mayst drink it; he refines that delight for thy sake only.

 

Mandala 9, Sukta 1

9-1-1

svādiṣṭhayā madiṣṭhayā pavasva soma dhārayā
indrāya pātave sutaḥ

O Soma, flow in most delicious, most intoxicating and pure currents; thou hast been distilled so that Indra may drink thee.

(Vividha Rachana, 1955)

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