Vedas : Philosophy, Patrons and Gods of DHARMA

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Vedā: Introduction & Poetic Significance

Introduction: Vedā and its Poetic significance
Much of the knowledge of Vedas is based on several misconceptions caused due to the carelessness of religions, several Indian scholars, and several other foreign scholars… All of them lacked one perspective: the poetic perspective. So you may ask me, how can I tell that Vedas are poetic? The answer lies in its extremely beautiful symbolism and metaphors, when decoded and applied uniformly across the Vedic text, you get a constant philosophy with absolutely no change. If you move to literal interpretations, you may notice several contradictions, several puzzles, several places where you can’t get the inference.
In this discussion lets cover the following topics:
  • Poetic significance of Vedas
  • The beauty of Vedic philosophy: Seeing the Infinite through the finite
  • Is there a gurukul/guru in India where I can learn vedas?
  • Does Veda contains any error or contradiction among its verses?
  • How did the first seers cognize the Vedas?
  • Which scriptures are really “the” Vedas?
  • Are Vedas adulterated?
Again, it would be a valid question to ask: how do you reckon your metaphors as correct? for example, many of such examples are explainable with the poetic nature of Sanskrit words having different meanings. For example, dhI is a word in Sanskrit that can stand for mind and ocean equally. What is the connection between mind and waters? The answer is in Rig Veda 1.3 itself. The Sarasvatī (“The waters”) stands for both waters and knowledge. Elsewhere, the waters are said to be the origin and sustainer of life. This is often contrasted with the mind, that sustains spiritual life. Thus Sarasvati often becomes the “waters” that sustains and promotes physical life, and the “mind” that sustains and promotes the spiritual (or mental) life. Such metaphors, having spiritual and physical significance are common.
Then there are certain metaphors that are not easily explained in Sanskrit. Here we have to consider other Indo European languages too. The best example is the “cow” metaphor. Physically, it stands for cows of the herdsman, the rays of the Sun (calling Sun “gopa” and cows as red (for dawn and dusk), yellow/white (for noon sun)) Again another metaphor of the cow is “cloud”. This is more widespread in Vedas, in certain contexts cows stand for clouds, and milk stands for rain. Thus Indra, the Lord God is called the man who rains, and finds cows “from the darkness of Vala”. Vala means blocker. Again, here, the cows refer to river streams. Such contexts are often seen in hymns praising the might of rivers. Alternatively, Vala is also the name of the mountain that blocks the path, and these features in the description of dawns. (Examples are there among translations here itself) Or sometimes, the Vala contrastingly also means rain cloud who blocks the sun in summer, and the cows are again solar rays.
Don’t be puzzled; Veda clearly provides the clue for decoding. If you check my interpretations and contrast with the literal translation, you shall understand the way to interpret it.
And Vedas stand for theism, though do not make us preach any religion. Vedic concept is highly different from other religions that since it is nonreligious, it does not prescribe any “customs” to attain God, nor has a stern belief rooted in blind faith. Vedas, moreover, believe in replacing of concepts.
I have discussed more of Rig Veda because it is the oldest, the largest, and the most poetic (completely composed with actual poetic characteristics like meter, figures of speech,….) and functions as a key to understanding the other Vedas too.
The beauty of Vedic philosophy: Seeing the Infinite through the finite
Aug 11th, 2018
The beauty of Vedic philosophy lies in the fact that it never conclusively provides finite answers to any of the questions about infinity. That is something which makes it distinct from all other thought lines in the world, which believe that they have found a partial, if not a complete finite answer to many of the “infinite” puzzles. The very Divinity is represented with the word kaḥ (who) which is a question. When you worship the kaḥ in your inner Agni with all attributes, Indra is born. And thus devas are born of you, and this is visṛṣṭi – where you “re-create” the Divine concepts, your answers to who is worthy of your worship.
Here is the role of the inner Agni. That Agni is the seat of devas, through that Agni you worship and experience the devas in mind. And they cause the Sun to shine, making your mind the enlightened “sky”. (dyaus) Thus whatever you perceive, is what makes the infinity finite to you. For infinity can be visualized as finite units of infinity, the devas are infinite in themselves, and that infinity is visible in Vedic Indra or the concept of skambha. That incomprehensible Reality is also conceptualized as Hiraṇyagarbha.

That is the significance of the word māyā in Vedic Sanskrit. It is the tool to view the infinite through finite eyes. Māyā refers to the capability to “measure” (mā māne) against a “pratimāna”. It is that light which helps to distinguish. Those rays of light which act as measuring ropes (no wonder why Vedic Sanskrit, a philosophical language, has the word raśmi) help us to segregate the infinity into convenient units in our mind. In your spiritual journey, you harness the solar horse (remember Rigveda 1.163 : the horse which tvaṣṭā fashions out from Sun) through the enlightened Sky through the raśmi. The rays and light become devas, the sky is Dyaus and the Sun is the ātmā, and the Inner Eye, of what is the lively motion. The Divinity and Existence are like sun and rays – you discern one through the other. And through the pratimāna, you measure out the Infinity for your convenience. And the pratimāna of everything is made into the concept of Indra. (yo viśvasya pratimānam babhūva…)
It would be interesting to compare with the position of the light in modern physics as well – something that defines our perceivable limits. Even causality is defined by light. A person reading nāsadīya sūkta would make sense if he just gets rid of his māyā aspect while reading the beginning lines: “It was not nonexistence, neither did existence exist then …”. Of course, this is not to say that Vedas are physics books or philosophical texts, as apologetics who have nothing else to do want to construe – but the language and expressions would promote such interpretations based on such grand poetry which could encompass the Ṛta in itself.

It is the perception that gifts us our vision. And the light which gifts our perception. That is what the word cetas or darśana (√dṛś) means in Vedic language. There is this equation of light, knowledge, and vision in the language. They are all modeled in the “Sun”, which makes our “Self”. The world we perceive exists inside us and also outside us. The negation of any of these is the product of an immature mind. The thought is a measurement using your perception, (compare māna) Motion is the distinguishing property – the rule. (Ṛta) Lawlessness is inertia, which is destruction and thoughtlessness, death. Darkness is ignorance.
In a way, Vedic language (and also contemporary old Indo European languages with literary traditions) had evolved to establish grand equations based on Ṛta. I could write a series of articles just speaking of the philosophical depth of the Vedic language. The language which traces still back, to the roots of identification, to the roots of enlightenment in man. It is still interesting to see how that language holds key to seeing the basic principles in the cosmos, which would prompt one to think and realize what is not.

Is there a gurukul/guru in India where I can learn vedas?

April 5th, 2020
You can learn Vedas by-heart from Gurus throughout India, but it is important that you will not find, and are not supposed to find a Guru to teach you the meaning of the verses.
Vedic sages themselves don’t “teach” us, they never “taught” anyone, they only supposedly imparted the vision in which successive sages crafted their verses. The teaching of something as deep as “meanings of Vedic verses” creates an almost perpetual debt, much like what the namesake gurutva makes for an object. This makes the object cling to the one with “more substance” and since the person of more substance teaches only what “he sees” and not “how to see”, there is a debt that is never paid back. It becomes an issue, such a “Guru” tradition will stop making sense within generations. There has been absolutely no tradition in India to teach the meanings of Vedas, let alone write commentary on them. Only very few people have attempted at least some verses of Vedas to comment on them, Sāyaṇa and his team being successful and unparalleled in this respect.
Sages never teach us anything. And they didn’t recommend any Guru system to teach what they know. It is supposed to happen automatically when you perceive, you observe and you listen to this universe. Question, seek, use your brain and mind, feel one with the nature and you will make sense of Vedic verses.
Yāska, who is so far the only ancient person who actually made an effort to demystify sūktas through his Nirukta, (to whom we all are indebted) narrates – through what is there in śruti itself, and through tarka, one reaches meaning of verses. Not by stretching verses out of context, but depending on what is evident in its context. This is not completely evident to someone who either not a sage, or who doesn’t have tapas. Men, on the passing over of (age) of Ṛṣis, told Devas, “But who will be there as sage for us!”. Devas gave them “Tarka” as the sage, of discussions and conclusions of the meaning of mantras. What one concludes thence, becomes ārṣam (the sage vision) indeed. (Nir. 13.12 “api śrutitaḥ, api tarkataḥ …”, “manuṣyā vā ṛṣisu utkrāmatsu …”)
He says this explaining Rigveda 10.71 verses, which are relevant in this situation.
Learning Vedas require tapas. It requires you to stop for some time and listen to this universe. Meditation on verses (not on sound, but on meaning) is necessary. You have to put effort of your own. Even if someone guides you with insights, you would need a poetic heart to even discern or hold it in your mind. Listen to people who are well knowing of the language, who are able to clearly demonstrate the poetic coherence and connections (bandhus) in getting ideas of nirvacana. Vedic verses are inherently coded, they are “well-said”. It is for us to peel them off, layer by layer, for nir-vacana, to eat the fruit. Even if someone feeds you literally with insights, you will still need your heart and thought to ponder and grasp the raśmi of Vedic perception. You have this whole universe to “teach” you what you learn. You have devas to help you with it – having Tarka for your ṛṣi, conduct discussions from different perspectives, and if possible, with different knowledgeable people. This will also make you realize where you shouldn’t go when you are ready to break the code.
It is through greatness of tapas that the one that became all this was manifest from what was neither non-existent or existent. That is from where we need to start. Start with questions. How sages achieved their vision is clearly there in Nāsadīya. Follow the ways, discern how to make “sense” out of the “chaos” of what you see initially in Vedas.

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Does Veda contains any error or contradiction among its verses?
April 7th, 2020
They don’t make any statements or facts for “contradictions”.
All that they have is poetry – and that is universe. Here, there is no “right” or “wrong”, hence no “contradictions”. Vedic verses are unified by a very finely tuned perceptional system that unifies divinity, society, earth, sky, and everything through the power of poetry. Which cause you to think, to think controlled, and inculcate a sense of being one with nature.
For example, a Vedic verse is, sūrya ātmā jagatas tasthuṣaśca. “Sun is the self of that which moves and which stands”. Does this sound like a “statement”? No, it is about establishing a bandhu, a connection that is therefore explained by Vedic poetry when we say Soma is svarvid (“finds the sun”, and thus “finds the self”) or Indra kills Vṛtra to generate the “sun”. Now you look at the sky, you see sun rising and setting. Moon is Soma, and it waxes and wanes. And self rises and sets. So many to learn from nature, if you apply this “homology”. The discovery of these bandhus is what sages are for. There is nothing right or wrong in them – but different aspects of essentially universal reality.
We say Mitrāvaruṇā together. Why? If you see the mythology, Mitra would be a “personification of contract” in IE mythology, and Varuṇa the “overseeing lord”. But fortunately, we have sages for Vedas. Their job is to find patterns that enable us to make world and Devas more sensible (and therefore, nothing in this world is wasteful, but having the potential to teach us). So they invoke them together always, and treat them right from their roots – Mitra is the holistic king, one among the people who as a companion, binds together people, delivers people from frustration. Imbibing his qualities – kindness, holistic vision would thus answer aṃhas, which he is supposed to deliver from. Varuṇa on the other hand is overlord, who with his spies, checks on you always, reminds you each time of your deeds, and the one who catches you when you are guilty. (enas) If you think of brain lateralization, you might see Right brain in Mitra, Left brain in Varuṇa. So the principles Vedic Devas stand for are always supposed to be real and perceivable, around you. That is the power of “Ṛta”, the flow of cosmic “harmony”. We don’t even care about following “dharma” (principles) in Vedas – it is all about following “Ṛta” and just moving with the best of what we can, aiming for all the beings.
This was just an example. Almost anything and everything in Vedic verses come with entangled metaphors of connections which the poets deliberately hint in certain places so that we stop for a moment, exclaim “what!!” and “re-read” the whole thing again to make sense.
That is also why Vedic verses are not religious scriptures, (the ritualistic collection of verses assigned to Brahmanic prose has also been called “Vedas” in some ages, and texts like Upaniṣads have also been called, so you should be careful of what you mean by Vedas) and they weren’t meant to be. No sage in Rigveda tells, “This is the word of God for mankind through me, obey me and get liberated”. With their kind of vision, it would still be possible for us to perceive universe in a better way to learn from it, to reduce our ego and to care for all. Vedas don’t even want to “teach you anything”. Just feel them, take their way of perception, and look on the world with the eye of Sūrya.
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How did the first seers cognize the Vedas?
May 22nd, 2020
Through inspiration (by which they become vipras and vipaś-cits), which they think and experience/see using thought (manasā) and heart. (hṛdā) This is made by tuning yourself with the nature, with the reality. At that point, we understand how we form connections between different aspects of this reality, how are they connected in a sense that is meaningful to us, what is the meaning of everything and why everything is so.
For that, they sought the cow who is the inspired Vāk, who is the insight. The treasured cows are hidden in the cave of Vala, the ignorance, which has to be broken by the might of willpower brought by Indra. One has to meditate, with his full will, open one’s senses to this reality, devote one’s senses to that alone, and perceive it.
At the point, the sage experiences a state where he roams by his limitless thoughts, while trapped in his limited body.
“na vijānāmi yad ivedam asmi
niṇyaḥ saṃnaddho manasā carāmi
yadā māgan prathamajā ṛtasya
ād id vāco aśnuve bhāgam asyāḥ”
“I do not identify like what am I here,
Bound by limits, I roam by thought;
Only when the first-born of Ṛta has come to me,
Just then do I partake of the share in Vāk”
And the sage finally wraps his senses around it.
“vatse baṣkaye adhi saptatantūn vi tatnire kavayaḥ otavā u”
“Over the fully born calf, the poet-sages stretched the seven threads to weave”
Now that they realize the reality, they should be competent enough to express it. They have to know how the language works by connecting things. This consciousness of language is a very beautiful thing which Vedas offer, and which greatly shaped the study of language in India, which was also the first in the world. There are no meaningless sounds or meaningless words in the natural language. There shouldn’t be. Language is the basis of cognition and expression, and the one who realizes the language learns how we evolved to perceive nature. The Vedic sages use this powerful nature of language through their well-preserved Vedic language in which the words are very regularly formed from roots, and very much connected to nature.
Bṛhaspate prathamaṃ vāco agraṃ
Yad prairata nāmadheyaṃ dadhānaḥ
Yad eṣāṃ śreṣṭhaṃ yad aripram āsīt
Preṇā tad eṣāṃ nihitaṃ guhāviḥ
“O Bṛhaspati, this was the first point of language,
When they came forth, establishing the namesake entities,
What was their best, what was unparalleled,
By their longing, that set hidden, was revealed.
Language is a living fossil of our cognition. For example, consider the word “direction”. (Equivalent Vedic word is “pradiś-” that has the same meanings) In English, it means to “command” and also in a positional sense. (North, South etc.) Just from the word, we understand how in our thought process, commanding might have been symbolized by a gesture leading towards a place. We understand that guiding is related to position in the cognition and worldview. How the psychology of the word is to “show” something, to “point” at something. (Meditate on the word point here as well) While English has a limitation due to its evolved nature, the old natural languages are much tuned to nature. In Vedas, we see the sages perfecting their language to connect many things – the connections which they realize by meditating and incurring insights from everything.
saktum iva tita-unā punanto
yatra dhīrā manasā vācam akrata
atra sakhāyaḥ sakhyāni jānate
bhadraiṣāṃ lakṣmīr nihitādhi vāci
When the wise have created language by thought,
Filtering her as if grain through the sieve,
In this the friends know the friendship.
Their goodness, beautiful, is settled upon the language.
Devas in Vedas are forces of reality who show attributes used to model the Vedic language and describe the connections thereof. The Vedic expression works through words in the Vedic language of poetry (chāndasa) by poet sages (kavis) which recreate the atmosphere for us to meditate upon.
Why poetry? Poetry is the only form of speech where you can speak a phrase and intend many valid and connected meanings. To add to it, the metres in Vedas had a particular feel to them that would associate with a particular concept of deva. For example, Gāyatrī with Agni and Vasus, Triṣṭubh with Indra and Rudras, Jagatī with Ādityas and Viśvedevas and so on. From the ages when sounds and actions produced rituals, the sages envisioned a religion where language and insight made the person aware of what he intends to “express” through the ritual he performs. In that way, the verses could replace the ritual. Thus, the versifying sage, the brahmā, ruled the yajña as only he could comprehend and versify it. This is clearly seen at least in the Brahmanic myths like those of Śunaḥśepa (who redeems the whole chain of sacrifices through his inspired speech) or the Brāhmanic injunctions regarding how svādhyāya replaces rituals as actions (Śat. Br.) because you have gone beyond the ritual to express what you cognize to words.
So, it is very clear that one who is a sage should know how to fashion the Vedic poetry :-
“yad gāyatre adhi gāyatram āhitam
traiṣṭubhād vā traiṣṭubhaṃ nir-atakṣata
yad vā jagad jagaty āhitaṃ padaṃ
ye it tat vidus te amṛtatvam ānaśuḥ”
“How by Gāyatri verse, one piles upon the Gāyatrī verse,
Or engineered the Triṣṭubh verse out of Triṣṭubh track,
Or say, how is Jagatī piled on Jagatī track,
Those who know this – only they have reached immortality”
But one who knows to comprehend aesthetics of poetry, but doesn’t know of the reality on which it is based upon – can he pretend to be a sage? Or be a brāhmaṇa in a yajña?
“ṛco akṣare parame vyoman
yasmin devā adhi viśve niṣeduḥ
yas tan na veda kim ṛcā kariṣyati
ye it tat vidus te ime sam āsate”
“The verses are on the eternal reality in highest space,
Thereupon where all devas take their seat;
He who doesn’t know that, what would he do with the verse!
Only they who know that have assembled together here (in yajña)”.
Now that one meditates, formulates, and knows well what he recites, he becomes a ṛṣi, whereby his speech turns to be inspiring to another – his speech also becomes a cow. So, from the Ṛta’s firstborn speech bhāga, the Kavi generates and reproduces the inspired speech through him, and the cow becomes bhagavatī when she has hit the right purpose, and she receives her share by describing devas and inspiring devas. Through her share, the sage derives his share by performing the yajña.
“Sūyavasād bhagavatī hi bhūyāḥ
atho vayaṃ bhagavantaḥ syāma”
“Feeding on vast pastures, you become possessed of share,
Then would we be possessed of share”.
Indeed, the inspiration rises, as a water-buffalo with her bellow creating rich langauge, she creates streams of perceptions. She having numerous tracks, ascends into the highest space again, manifesting as a thousand akṣaras, each of which will inspire a sage to come. Her waters flow (kṣarati) from the akṣara, (that which never wastes off).
“gaurīr mimāya salilāni takṣati
ekapadī dvipadī sā catuṣpadī
aṣṭāpadī navapadī babhūvuṣī
sahasrākṣarā parame vyyoman”
“The Water Buffalo, bellowing, has fashioned waters,
She of one track, of two tracks, of four tracks,
Becoming Eight-tracked, Nine-tracked,
She is of thousand akṣaras in the highest space”
“tasyā samudrā adhi vikṣaranti
tena jīvanti pradiśaś catasraḥ
tataḥ kṣarati akṣaram
tad viśvam upajīvati”
“Seas flow out of her,
With those, four quarters live,
Thus is akṣara caused to kṣara
All are animated on that”.
This is one of the simple narrations of the making of a Vedic sage. Complex narrations involving deva concepts or abstract realities are visible in Rigvedic verses itself. For example, from a simpler Nāsadīya sūkta narration of the making of sage, to the complex experiential sūktas by family sages.
Soma is associated with the essence of poetic inspiration and therefore immortality and wisdom, Agni is associated with the medium of enlightenment and Indra the ultimatum of Will and meaning of the reality, the dynamicity of reality. So sages mostly invoke these three devas the most when inspired, and subsequently Nāsatyas and Ādityas, and all the devas. All of these devas are connected with various aspects of reality and each of them deserve a book to discuss – at least Indra, Agni, Soma do.
Now, these are also linked to specific universal actions, the yajñas which the verses supposedly make a meaning of. That also deserves books to discuss.
Which scriptures are really “the” Vedas?

June 2nd, 2020
The term “Veda” did, and still comes with, added tones of religiosity and religious authority, or of traditional knowledge and sciences. But what do we call “Vedas” here? Which of them are really “the Vedas”?
Historically, every person in India has tried to be agreeable to Vedas or the Vedic sages although they have been for or against Brahmanism. Even Buddha and Mahāvīra have tried to see the Vedic sages as following the practices acceptable for them even when they have been against the mīmāṃsā ritual fundamentalism. Jains even used to disown the title of nāstika awarded by the later Vedāntin-mīmāṃsakas, because in their view, they were not nāstikas since they believe in ātman and they believe in meaning of their texts. Passionate Jains also have validated Jainism quoting the “Ārṣa Veda”. Even Buddha who calls out the mīmāṃsaka religious practices is in praise of Vedic sages.
Various schools in Brahmanism and other Hindu religions, in various times, have come up with their own categorization of what are to be considered Vedas and what not; because for them the Vedas are a source of “authority” – to stand in the place of “verbal testimony”, (śabda pramāṇa) to be used to guide the spiritual efforts which otherwise may not be perceived easily. The general understanding of the term Vedas has been that they are the inspired words of sages. If so, then we should be considering only the verses which have a devatā, have a definite composer sage (known name or anonymous yet clearly sage), in the chandas language, in poetry. (Sages are kavis) This is also what all people generally meant “Vedas” before mīmāṃsakas crept in.
In the later times, as the Vedic verses became more and more inaccessible to people due to their mystic nature, archaic language and very uncommon ideas, and the eagerness of certain people to make call their final authority in religion as “Vedas”, the term Veda came to be applied to the following works :-
> (Pūrva mīmāṃsakas) “mantras and brāhmaṇas” – which includes ārṣa mantras that make up Rigveda, Sāmaveda and a good chunk of Yajurveda and Atharvaveda saṃhitās along with Brahmanic prose which is present in Yajurveda/Atharvaveda saṃhitās.
Of which one branch found that Atharvaveda cannot be used for śrauta ritualist fundamentalism, so they discarded the title “Veda” for it.
> Early Vedāntins : “saṃhitas, brāhmaṇas, āraṇyakas and upaniṣads”, with first two being “karmakāṇḍa” and the last two “jñānakāṇḍa”.
> Classical Hindus : “All the śruti and then the fifth Veda is Itihāsa/Mahābhārata/Purāṇas included”
> Arya Samajis : Saṃhitās only
> ISKCON : “Bhagavad Gītā As It Is” translated and commented by Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam by Śrīla Prabhupāda, Rādhārahasyopaniṣad which is dubbed as Rigveda and the only worthy “other” text.
> Modern Sanātanis : Veds full of Ayurvedic knowledge, rocket sciences and hidden miracles which Germans stole, Americans take credit for and which Hindus have lost today
> Christians: Bible
>Muslims: Quran
And the list goes.
In this space, we speak only of those verses of the sages, which are in chandas language and explicitly not dependent on any other thing other than the poet sage’s inspiration. So, when we say “Vedas” we mean these verses. If the word Veda has gone too out of control to be used for the verses of sages themselves, then perhaps we need to find a new word for them.





Are Vedas adulterated?

June 18th, 2020

“One opinion is that there are three deiies, and from them originate the three Vedas or three types of mantras.”
The same view is expressed in Shatpath Brahman 11:5:8:1,2. Note only three Vedas are spoken here. Further Manu 1:23 says,
“But from fire, wind, and the sun he drew forth the threefold eternal Veda, called Rik, Yagus, and Saman, for the due performance of the sacrifice.”
Also see Manu 2:118, 2:118, 2:230, 9:188, where only three Vedas have been mentioned.
First of all, the idea of Vedas mentioned in the Brāhmaṇa/Manu are threefold – containing chanted verses (Ṛk), muttered litany (Yajus) and sung melodies (Sāman). Not about the number of recensions or any other idea of the term “veda” that can stand for any knowledge.
Therefore, according to Swamiji and Manu Smriti, Vedas are only 3. Is Atharvaved really a genuine Veda?
The popular opinion is that Vedas are four in number viz. Rigved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharvaved. Another opinion is that Vedas are five in number because Atharvaved is actually two Vedas; one is Atharvaved and the other Angirasved.
We have dealt this question here, on why some people got confused between the classification of the content of what they call Vedas with the number of Veda saṃhitās.
Kiron Krishnan (भगवतीश्वर शर्मन्)’s answer to How and when did the 4th Veda, the Atharva Veda come about, when Krishna says, “I am the 3 Vedas” and the Brahmananda Valli of Taittiriya Upanishad talks of only the first 3 Vedas?
Kiron Krishnan (भगवतीश्वर शर्मन्)’s answer to Why is Atharva Veda not taught widely compared to the other Vedas? Where do the followers of Atharva Veda exist?
Hence, 1121 versions of Vedas have been lost. If someone will say that the Shakhas are not Vedas but only the explanations/commentaries that would be erroneous. The presently known Vedas are also Shakhas. So are these commentaries or actual Vedas? To say that Shakhas are not the Vedas will be to undermine the present Vedas (read Shakhas) also. Considering the two opposing Shakhas of Yajurveda we may ask, “Is Madhyandina Shakha (Shukla Yajurveda) the original or Taittirīya Shakha (Krishna Yajurveda)?”.
The above analysis makes it clear that a large portion of the Vedas has been lost.
Śākhās were created at the time of compilation by the different schools. Textual “corruption” can be insinuated in the adherents of a śākhā only if they corrupt their inherited śākhā. Let the author show discrepancies within a śākhā.
Second, regarding Yajurveda, there are a lot of yajus components which were actually spontaneously recited by brahmās in the yajña. Some of these are based on older Ṛks which were recited by sages. The difference between Śukla Yajurveda śākhās and Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda śākhās is just this – the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda saṃhitās contain brāhmaṇa prose along with all yajus verses. Again, if there is a “textual corruption”, you have to show that oral tradition of Taittirīya saṃhitā followed in one place is different from oral tradition of Taittirīya saṃhitā followed in another. (This can happen in the future because most of the traditions are now switching to being semiliterate and not oral) As Vedas are not books sent by Don-on-throne in the sky or random stories that can be written by any person.
Nirukt 7:8 mentions the following,
“There is a joint oblation offered to Agni and Vishnu in the ten books of the Rigveda.”
However, in the entire Rigveda, there is not a single mantra jointly praising Agni and Vishnu. What is meant by joint oblation here? An oblation is an offering (Late Latin oblatio, from offerre, oblatum, to offer), a term, particularly in ecclesiastical usage, for a solemn offering or presentation to God. Where is an offering jointly made to Agni and Vishnu, we would like to see? This is a clear evidence that the Rigveda at the time of Yaska Muni had the joint oblation offered to Agni and Vishnu, but it is not found in today’s Rigveda, demonstrating corruption of the text.
Sorry, what? Actually, this is Yāska 7.8 relevant portion :-
āgnāvaisnavam.havis
na.tv.ṛc.saṃstavikī.daśatayīsu.vidyate
(Yaska: Nirukta)
“Agni and Vishnu (are invoked together) for oblation. However, there is no Ṛk that addresses both in the ten maṇḍalas.”
In other words, Yāska himself tells that there is no ṛk that addresses both in ten maṇḍalas himself in the same place where you quote the first half of the text. Were you drunk that you didn’t read the very next statement? And where did you take the statement you quoted to mean that Yāska says there is such a verse in Rigveda? And the first half of the text is intended to be on a context of which devas are to be invoked with which devas in the yajñas. Nothing about śākhās or Vedas here.
“According to one Mantra of Rigveda (Page 1403, Mantra 8), we come to know that it has 15,000 Mantras. However, when we count the total Mantras, we get 10,469 Mantras. It is possible that like a large portion of the books of Vedic literature and Vedas were destroyed by the anti-religious, similarly, Mantras too suffered destruction for many reasons.”
There is no such mantra in Rigveda. The Gayatri Parivar’s claim is simply wrong. Actual mantra phrase translates to “thousandfold are the fifteen ukthas”. It has nothing to say about number of ukthas, number of ṛks, and the person says it is speaking of the number of mantras in Rigveda?
The arrangement and wording of White Yajurveda upto Adhyay 15 is radically different from the Black Yajurveda.
Unlike Rigveda, Yajurveda is not about “verses” but “chants”. Chants in the context of yajñas. These are usually built on improvisations of ṛks, and also keeping yajñas in mind. In Kṛṣṇa yajurveda, there is more clarity in the role of the yajus mantras in the litany, so each word or idea is maximum elaborated. If you can show a contradictory mantra in Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda that contextually nullifies a mantra in Śukla yajurveda, that would mean a real problem. Can you?
The Ish Upanishad is not the only addition to this Yajurveda. A lot of Brahamanas have been inserted into the text of the Yajurveda. For example, Adhyay 24 is entirely a Brahman; Adhyay 30: verses 7 through 15 are all Brahmanas and not Mantras
All these are at the time of compilation. Mantras are compiled by individual schools based on what they learned by tradition, and they were aggregated in the context of śrautayajñas, in the case of Yajurveda. And none of these point out to individual editing of anything after the compilation of the mantras. How is your title or accusation justified?
We can easily see that the Samaganas of Jaiminiya Version are 1000 more than those of Kauthamiya Version.
Ok, but where is the corruption in an already compiled śākhā? Jaiminīya śākhā sung by Nambudiris and Tamil Brahmins although in different recensions, is the same.
Regarding changes in Gayatri Parivar and Arya Samaji texts, they are to prove from where they got the text, how authentic they are.
Yask Muni, the author of Nirukt and Nighantu, writes that Vaayah is one word [See Nirukt 6:28]. But in the Shaakal Shakha’s (Rigveda’s) padapatha, it has been divided and hence became meaningless. Rigveda 10:29:1 is the place which has made the mistake.
Yaska himself criticizes Shakalya and says,
“Sakalya has analyzed Vaayah into Vaa and yah, then the finite verb would have had the accute accent and the sense have been incomplete.”
Śākalya padapāṭha is Śākala śākhā’s compilation logic of analyzing the verses, which we follow in memorizing and making sense of Vedas. If any of the linguistic tenets make it impossible to agree on the padapāṭha of a text, then we could propose a new one, as Yāska says. How does this have anything to do with “corruption in recitation”? People have commented on/translated the verses with no amendments to the padapāṭha structure, and found it sensible. There is no considerable number of such amendments possible, as accents strictly regulate how you may split the word. Since Vedic verses are meaningful, there is little to no variation possible in splitting the words otherwise. Still, in some cases, there could be other meaningful ways to split the verses – in such cases, we would be inclined to think of that as a poetic device attempted by sages themselves. A good example is the Sāmaveda quoting of “mehanāsti” as “me-iha-nāsti” which you have quoted. Contextually, this becomes meaningful in Sāmaveda.
Either way, this is about how to split the words of saṃhitāpāṭha. This is something which has existed since compilation of each śākhā. And this is falsifiable using linguistic, literary analytic methods and hence very much accurate. How can this mean that “recitation is corrupted”?
Also, you might remember that the ancient forms of the verses, (as sages composed) despite the linguistic changes by the time of compilation, can be safely reconstructed from the saṃhitāpāṭha, and this continues to aid the Indo European scholarship. Thus, everyone who works with the Rigveda speaks of the incredibly accurate and precise way in which it has been transmitted for at least three thousand years.
 

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RigVedā Summary

RigVedā Summary on Creation, Deities, and GOD
Note: As more and more people are not getting the Vedic philosophy and just asking the same questions, I am forced to write a detailed answer on Vedic philosophy and show in detail how and what Rigveda hymns mean
I can bet that most of the people don’t have understood the Vedic philosophy. In Vedas, there are two realms for God: The Creator, and the non-manifest Primal Energy. Both are reflections of one another. The Creator part is the concept of God that rules everything from the greatest realms. The Energy is what manifests itself to form the whole universe. The whole of Vedas reflect this kind of philosophy. And in addition to this, the Creator whom we worship, on whom we meditate is called “who” (kaH, refer Nasadiya last part, Hiranyagarbha hymn) “virAT” (the special Ruler; refer RV 10.90) the nameless Reality. And the Creator is Everything and beyond everything. The reflection of the Creator which we can feel out is the Energy that creates the whole universe through manifestation, which is also called “puruSa” in the PuruSa hymn. (RV : 10.90) or “ekam sat” (“One Existence”; RV 1.164) or “tad ekam” (“That One” , RV 10.129) Thus, there are two parts of God – the Creator that is beyond our concepts, but still is the one whom we seek for and worship; the Creator’s energy that is spread throughout this universe manifested and non-manifested, which is noticeable as the splendor of God. (Compare with Indra’s reply to the singer in Rigveda : “I exist; look upon me here singer; I exist as the splendor that pervades the whole…” RV 8.151)
Now, within the Creator part, which we worship, the question of attributes comes up. None can worship an incomprehensible God. So, we can only worship the “concepts of” God, which “is born along with the spiritual dawn” creating “light was light was not and form were form was not”, and “assume sacrificial names”. (RV 1.6) The concepts of God are called “devas” (literally “shining ones”, because they create the spiritual dawn inside the mind). The spiritual creation thus is synonymous with the advent of the concepts of God inside the mind. Thus, devas, the concepts of God “are born” and “prospered” by the spiritual fire of the worshiper. The devas are merely concepts of God, but they have an important place in worship. The concepts of God are united together into a single power form commonly in Rigveda, and Indra is described as the “abode” for all devas. (RV : 3.54) Thus, Rigvedic Indra is considered to be an equivalent of all-powerful God, in whom different concepts of God unite. Alternatively, the poets or the worshippers are the ones who create names for the God. (RV 1.164) The “Ekam sat” (One existence) is told of differently by sages (RV 1.164), or “imagined of differently by sages”, that’s all. (RV 10.114) And this REality poetically stands for the “spiritual sun” who lights up the dawn (RV 10.114, 1.164, etc) whose lights are the devas. (RV 1.6)
Thus, the distinction between devas and God is clear. Devas are not demigods, but concepts of God which the worshipper has to imagine or describe for the mere sake of worshiping. Thus, the devas “are born after the spiritual creation” inside the devotee’s spiritual realm.
Returning to Nasadiya hymn, it talks about the “ekam”, the One that manifests from a state of timelessness (where there is no meaning for existence; though it is not non-existence), comes out as existence by desire (kAma, note that also in Rigveda 8th Mandala Kama or the spontaneous desire is the cause of manifestation of universe and creation) and self impulse (svadhA, also compare with the lines “they by svadha, agitated through regeneration and assumed sacrificial names”, RV 1.6). Thus, Nasadiya is neither nihillistic nor agnostic, it describes confidently that “sages who know the connection of what is and what is not, have found, searching their hearts for wisdom, and also measuring through the ray of knowledge outside”. So, it does state “arvAk devAH asya visarjanena..” (Here are the devas, by the spiritual Creation, or “Before are the devas by physical creation” since arvAk means both before and after, and it is a deliberate pun used in correspondence with the whole poem talking both physical and spiritual creation simultaneously), and confirms that “who (kaH) really knows” everything regarding why and how creation occurred; “only who (kaH) can proclaim it here”. Here, who (kaH) refers to the nameless final Reality who also appears in the Hiranyagarbha hymn as well as Aitareya Aranyaka. (Compare with “who (kaH) is the God we worship with offerings”, the refrain of Hiranyagarbha hymn of Rigveda, or “who (kaH) is the Self on whom we meditate upon” of Aitareya Aranyaka of Rigveda) Surely, the who transcends all our measures to anthropomorphize.
And in the end, too, the Nasadiya sukta confidently asserts that there is a president in the highest realms (The creator). The last stanza is also misinterpreted by most, without considering that it is a poetic device of “incomplete clauses”. The last stanza of Nasadiya sukta interestingly (and deliberately) uses a poetic device by using an incomplete statement. Usually, in Sanskrit, there is a clause “If/whether (condition) then else/or maybe (statement)” which is shown by “yad vA…. yadi vA….”. A mere yadi vA is meaningless. It is simply like telling “or else ….” without telling the main clause before. Interestingly, the Nasadiya sukta uses this kind of clause just as a poetic ornament :
“whence this creation became so, ….. (?; no yadvA or main clause, two syllables left blank) ….or else (yadi vA, subordinate clause) he gave or else he not or else he does not know …. the president of all in the highest realms, surely knows (saH anga veda)”
The poetic meter is also incomplete there with less of two syllables. (ironically a “yadvA” somewhere is deliberately not used though should be used) And the poet here tries to mean that whatever be the arguments regarding creation, whether it is created for us, whether it was not given to us, whether the status of creation is known to the creator…. the poet confidently establishes that the president of all in the highest realm surely knows. The poet also establishes in the incomplete nature of the arguments and tries to avoid endorsing a complete meaning to those arguments. For the poet, the “who” (as in other places in Rigveda) could be worshipped and sought by searching inside as well as stretching the cords of knowledge outside, as sages have done.
Nasadiya as usual, confidently advocates theism by putting a model of Creation from a state of timelessness through the kAma and svadhA, the common theme in Rigvedic Creation models.
There is no contradiction anywhere. Any contradiction felt is because the analyzer hasn’t analyzed Rigveda fully. And he is preoccupied regarding Rigveda. That’s all. Comments are invited.
Excellent Question:
“who (kaH) is the Self on whom we meditate upon” of Aitareya Aranyaka of Rigveda)
This may be stretching it too much. Because the कोऽयमात्मेति वयमुपास्महे is followed by कतरः स अात्मा येन वा पश्यति येन वा शृणोति etc. So in this case it is a genuine inquiry into the nature of the supreme self.
Answer: But you must note that it refers to both the question and the answer. Such a pun is common in Vedas, and that echoes in Upanishads too. The Hiranyagarbha hymn, for example, puts first the description so that the last kasmai devaaya havishaa vidhema can be undoubtedly interpreted as “who” is the God whom we worship with oblations. But in Nasadiya hymn, the same description takes a different turn, where it is said as both the question and answer. Even in the beginning, this is notable. “what” covered … The what when it refers to an imperative phrase, the sentence becomes a question so that it is conceived as a question of physical creation.
But you can see that in the same way as above, you can take “what” separate. So that “what” covered it. “where” was it. In “whose” protection. This is also a meaning, which is important for the “spiritual creation” part. At the time of spiritual dawn, only the question “what” covers the thoughtless thought. It is protected by the God whom we seek, who. And the “where” is the place where the subject of thought lies.
The question puns should be realized as such so that they can explain parallel meanings simultaneously. Nasadiya is a profound work that describes both simultaneously.
Symbolic
Everything is symbolic. From Agni to Soma, from Indra to Rudra, from Savitr to TvaSTr, everything is symbolic. Nothing is specially “One supreme Reality”.
The spiritual fire is first “born” in spiritual dawn, and hence it is the “seat” for concepts of God. The instances of “firstborn” thus is explained in a spiritual sense. Here, the concepts of God, the devas are born after, in the spiritual fire, regenerating themselves, assuming words used in yajna.
The actual Reality is conceived as inside the “spiritual sun” which is called by different names. Dirghatamas Aucathya puts it very clearly in RV 1.164, the same also features in RV 10.113.
The soma concept is almost a parallel of the Agni concept, soma too “brings the concepts of God” as Agni does (remember “sa devA(n) eha vakSati”), soma too purifies as Agni (pUta, pAvaka), soma also shines like Agni with a tawny lustre, soma is bright, light and is beloved as Agni. Soma also “grows” / “waxes”, Agni also “grows” inside his own domain. (sva dame)
The description of Agni as a supreme deva is in par with Rigvedic philosophy of equal status to all concepts; but Indra indeed shows all the qualities of Agni, Ashvins, Sarasvati, .. that Indra as a name of deva is equivalent to Agni; but as the God, contains in Him all the concepts of God. This is the reason why Indra hymns usually take a monotheistic turn in many areas. Alternatively, Indra also symbolizes specifically the sum concepts of God which unite the physical mind (earth) and the spiritual mind (dyaus) through rain. In this concept, Indra may be viewed as a symbol, and therefore can be invoked with other concepts of God.
Indra is more symbolic of an individual
The idea that Indra is more symbolic of an individual is a David Frawley idea; it is never ever co-existent with Rigvedic ideas. Because Indra, as you see, is the supreme abode of all concepts of God. Agni is the fire where concepts of God reside in the mind. Hence Agni is spoken of as one with others. The same is also the reality where Spiritual Sun, the “hiranyagarbha” whose golden rays cover the eternal Reality, is also spoken of as different God concepts. This is explicit, as I have stated, in the Dirghatamas Aucathya’s 1.164 that speaks about the spiritual Sun. You may see the verse. In such a case, the Supreme Soul is represented by Sun, and is also represented by the Golden bird with wings. (suparna)
Rigveda is a mesh network of different symbols. Concentrating on any one of the concepts will make you think that it is supreme. (That is why some Indologists who were obsessed with the Biblical concept of God saw Varuna as the supreme; those who were obsessed with the Agni principles and concepts saw Agni as supreme; those who were obsessed with Puranas even scraped out sukta portions from Rigveda to defend Vaishnavism and Shaivism….)
On the whole, you will note that Rigveda does not name the final Reality – it freely uses the term ekam sat. It is the Reality behind the golden vessel of the Sun, whose rays are the concepts of God.
You may also see that soma enjoys the same functional position as Agni many a time; but Soma is rather the physical counterpart of the spiritual rays of the Sun (sUryA), which vivifies the physical body as intellect; which vivifies the songs as emotions; which is sometimes associated with or equated with the “seed of the Sun”. In a greater angle, soma is more of a counter to Savita ( both form from suu meaning “to instigate, vivify”) and also a reflection of the Agni concept.
Agni has even more depth in concepts – Agni is the giver of treasures by purifying metals; he purifies the raw thoughts from which treasures emerge. Agni is also the “messenger” in most of the suktas. This concept is the most important in Rigveda; and this also echoes in Yajurveda referring to Agni being the lowest, and Vishnu being in most exalted realms. Agni, the spiritual fire, is the experience of instigation. It is a result of spark in the mind. The result of instigation is what makes it closer to soma. The Agni is the place where the poets make the concepts of God sit. Thus comes the dual meaning of the word, barhis which both means (sacred) grass cushion and sacred Agni. (both are basically derived from brh- meaning to grow)
The Agni as the result of kindling by a strong passion, becomes the Agni who “overcomes the hurdles and contests” (sahasva pRtanA is a very common expression; for example consider agne sahasva pRtanA abhimAtIr apAsya…); this echoes in the later Taittiriya Aranyaka speaking about Agni as Durgahan, whose lustre (like Surya – sUryA) is the durgA – that which cannot be penetrated (by others).
This mental fire also helps us “cross” or “burn off” hurdles. In this respect, Agni is through whom the Indra’s killing of Vrtra is finalized. Agni also burns the forts of enemies. (It is interesting that this feat is also made to reside in Indra, as purandara) Agni also places the virtuous lustre unto the worshiper.
Indra’s concepts are the deepest ones, since in Indra, we find all qualities. The name of Indra, like Indu is derived from “ind- ” meaning to “make grow” / “promote”. (PIE *H-eid – swell, grow) Indra vivifies the barren physical mind (earth) by connecting it with spiritual mind (sky) through rain. This can be seen as the vivifying soma poured by Indra and also the result of Indra not allowing the dark clouds to hold waters – killing of Vrtra who himself is the raincloud and piercing him by lightnings… In each of this “slaying of the malignant hurdle”, he takes the Agni concept of hurdle burner.
On a higher note, we see that Indra is concerned with Rta. He won’t allow anything that is not Rta. He won’t allow blocks in path of Rta (the block bashing is an Agni concept) and maintains Rta. Here, he assumes the role of the sole Ruler like Varuna (Madhucchandas and many others) as well as a great friend of the devotee; Mitra who protects Rta. (A mere read of Madhuchhandas in 1st Mandala is enough)
Though Ashvins are really credited for bringing the dawn and through the “horses” (the speed change of colour in dawn sky; the speed entrance of spiritual dawn), this feat is also generously transferred to Indra, whereby Indra yokes his bay horses in dawn sky. Sometimes, we find that this yoking had already been done by Brhaspati, the lord of prayers. (RV 1.161) Indra like Brhaspati is a great sage, a kratu. He is also the distinguished wise seer (sushipra – literally, “the one with a great beard”) who sees the poems as this universe. Here, he also assumes the role of the Creator. Thus, the deeds of poor Vishnu by creating the world and spanning it to measure also get generously transferred to Indra. Vishnu does not get a praise alone for that; Indra shares it and assumes the main role.
You must have thought that the Sun is spared of Indra’s splendour. But even there Indra has his part. The tale of cows in cave, if you see, has Indra behind it. Indra assumes the role of creator of dawn, and “releases the cows (solar rays) from the cave (of night)”. [Masks Ushas, Ashvins and also Sun] Alternatively, he also “releases the cows (of gushing streams) from the cave (of mountains)”. [ Masks Parjanya]
He also defeats magicians with their own magic. He defeats the shushna (who causes to shrink / who is shrunken – the narrow thoughts or narrow mind) by his own magic. He also destroys Shambara’s castles. (The blocks in mind) Thus he also is a provider of a wide earth (wide physical mind), again masking Agni.
At last, we find that beyond the individual concepts of Agni Indra, Vayu Indra, Soma Indra, Varuna Indra…. we get a final picture where there is no God if not Indra. People do not doubt the existence of individual simple concepts of God; they only doubt regarding the One God. This is why people doubt only Indra in the Rigveda. This is because Indra though made the rains, is not a rain god. Though he yoked the horses of lights in sky, he is not merely the dawn nor Ashvins. Though he destroys every blocks he is not merely the Agni, though he vivifies he is not merely soma, though he inspires the poetic minds, he is not merely Savita, though he has created the world he is not merely Tvashta, though he is the sole ruler of all, he is not simply Varuna, though he protects Rta he is not merely Mitra-Varuna, though he releases the cows and is lord of horses, he is not merely Ushas, though he is everything, he is not merely everything – he cannot be praised fully. (tunje tunje ya uttare.. na vidma asya suSTutim) And finally, you see that if you need to negate God, simply you negate Indra; only to forget the fact that his whole splendour pervades all over this universe, and that His might is visible as the eternal order Rta. He cannot be seen with eyes unlike other concepts of God. He is always the unseen Cause rather than the visible effect.
The Accent of Sanskrit (Aug 19th, 2016)
You have asked to share my version of the Rigvedic Purusha sukta, ie; RV 10.90. OK.
Before that, I shall speak on my accent. Vedic Sanskrit accent has to be a little different from Classical. You should pronounce the visarga before p as “f”. In Rigveda, you need to pronounce the retroflex “L”. Moreover, there are some unwritten rules in pronouncing certain combinations for me…
You can listen to the reading of Purushasukta without Vedic accents as asked in the question (don’t mind the quality of the recording) here. This is a casual piece.
The Tamil accent for “n” would be harder, “r” would be harder too. That should have made you compare this to Nambudiri accent. Nambudiri pronunciation is a little bit tough on varieties of n, r as well.
 

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Vedā: Where to Start RigVedā


Note that first, you should be eligible for reading Rigveda. Do I sound sarcastic? No. Rigveda itself tells that its verses reveal only to the poet. Do you like to read poetry, riddles and enjoying them? If yes, you can continue, else Rigveda is not for you, you can try out the Upanishads that talk of simpler things in simpler words. No, am not joking – to get what I mean, just check out Rigveda 1.164, and see if you understand anything. People till this date haven’t completed its interpretation! So, you are going to “read” such a book, come on.
Reading Rigveda.. I hope you are really meaning it. That is a very long process. I remember starting reading this book but haven’t yet closed it. It is not that I haven’t covered the book’s words, but I haven’t covered yet the book’s meanings completely. And none can do that easily.
There will be a time when you realize why Rigveda is composed as poems – only poetry can enclose the complete nature of truth in it. And to understand it, one should be much spiritual, much thinking (you should think free without any limitations of religion, culture), should have a good poetic perception and must be an appreciator of philosophy that is beyond the limits of Indian Vedanta or Greek philosophy. And don’t try to seek your Vedantic theory or Puranic conjectures or your fancy history theories in Rigveda. It is absolutely senseless.
To start with, go for purely literal translations of Rigveda. I would ask you to take Griffith. And don’t start from 1.1. Because you are not trained to that level so as to appreciate those. So, start from the more literal and simpler poems in Mandala 10, like :
  1. Any translation of “Nasadiya suktam”. Note that most are literal and will not and cannot cover all the realms intended by the poet in Rigveda. You will find it to be like “agnostic” if you singularly follow the last lines of ordinary translations. However, note that in actual verses, there is a poetic device used there – the incomplete clause of yadi vaa. There, the poet actually tries to tell that however you think – God knows/does not know or whether the world was created for us / not, there exists the God as the surveyor in the highest realms. Note that the poem speaks both about spiritual and physical creation.
  2. The Hiranyagarbha hymn. Note that the “who” is actually the name of the deity of this mantra. And the “who” is just not a deity, but is the name of the Reality that is the cause of everything. It is hidden behind the blinding light of the spiritual sun. Thus, it is called the source (garbha) of golden luster (hiranya). And the Reality is best called “who” (kaH) because you get to know God only by his effects, you don’t know the identity of Reality. Once you see the poem in this light, you will start appreciating the poem, and understand why the refrain comes as : “who” is the God we worship with offerings.
  3. Now, take up the Gambler’s lament poem (RV 10.34); it is an entirely different poem, based on the story of how dice destroys the life of a man. The man warns us about how gambling can destroy the life, and is a very touching and emotional poem too.
  4. Read Rigveda’s last poem, called the “aikamatya suktam” or “samvada suktam” (RV 10.191). It is pretty literal in meaning except for first verse that has a myriad of meanings. (In most literal translations, the meanings are destroyed by bad choice of words) Still, you will appreciate the sense of unity and peace the poem instills in humanity.
Once you feel you are comfortable with these poems that are much easily literally translatable, you need to learn some more before you take up the next series of poems. You need to know some basic metaphors of Vedic poetry now. And you need to know some basic ways of decoding common Rigvedic poems. For example, consider “cow”. Cow is an Indo European symbol of solar rays in the physical realm. Vedas further take it to the spiritual realm, where the solar rays or cows mean to be the “spiritual light” from the “spiritual sun” at the “spiritual dawn”. (Please don’t ask me to elaborate what spiritual sun or dawn or light exactly means in simple words – there exists no language other than poetry that can explain these words in their entirety. They have lots and lots of meanings) Sometimes, the cows are the milch cows of the sky (solar light) that milk out light (at dawn) for the Ashvins. (Ashvins symbolize the arrival of fast dawn) In some other areas, cows that represent light, also stand for knowledge, whereas the “cave” from which they may be released will refer to darkness (of ignorance).
Now, you should also start viewing nature, appreciating its beauty. Just wake up early before sunrise and get a calm view of dawn and sunshine. As the sun rises, you think, and try to relate it with instances from spiritual life, physical life. You can see the sun as a “herdsman” with cows going to graze all over the sky. You see the Ashvins coming within horses with the rudravartani (ruddy trail) of the dawn. You see the dawn driving every creature, every man from sleep. You see the “red cows” and “bay horses” in the sky. Now, equate this process to spiritual realms where the sun is the embodiment of our concepts of God and Reality that shines with its light. It emerges from the earth of our physical mind and rises to the heavens of a spiritual mind. The spiritual dawn is created, which has created life in us seekers. It inspires us and puts the knowledge in us. Thus, we find the Lord of Brahman (brahman here means word of Reality, not the Vedantic stuff), the Brihaspati enlightening the sky of our brain by creating the “cows and horses” of knowledge. And we find the beauty of dawn, we find how the God Indra props the spiritual sun out of the cave of darkness.
Now that you can think in this angle, just take poems to dawn in Rigveda, and try reading them. You will find them much deep and poetic, and to an extent appreciate them. In every poem, there will be a stanza where the key to thinking will be hidden. If you still feel confident and that you can continue, well and fine – continue your great journey and you are entering into the beautiful world of Rigvedic poetry and philosophy. If you cannot see the meaning in the lines, the metaphors, well realize that however you try, this piece is not for your solitary reading. Try reading Yajurveda 40 which at least presents some fraction understandable to non-poets. And continue your reading of Rigvedic poems not directly, but through secondary translations and interpretations like that of David Frawley’s Wisdom of the Ancient Seers: Mantras of the Rig Veda, Aurobindo’s Secret of the Veda. AC Bose’s The Call of the Vedas is also a good suggestion to start to realize the Vedic poems, Rigveda in particular.
Those who are well without the need for reading the above books, should also just read them, to develop your thinking ability. Different people interpret the same metaphors differently, and you will also realize that you can also interpret the metaphors in Rigvedic poems your own beautiful (and sometimes due to ignorance, in an awful) way. (But kindly note that neither you nor me can limit the Rigvedic poems – they are limitless) Now, you should try thinking about the mind, thought process, how God as Reality is different from our concepts, how each Vedic concepts of God (called devas or shining ones, as we have seen that they represent the rays of the spiritual sun of inspirer – Savitr, whose cause is Indra – the net concepts of God) So, we realize that God (or say the primal Reality) has sacrificed itself to become the cosmos. But it is from the cosmos that the concept of God is born. This kind of “sacrificial” and “dual” paradoxes are common in Rigveda. Now, take the Purusha sukta (10.90) and read. Note how Purusha (the manifesting “person” who is the entire cosmos) sacrifices himself to create the world, and how from that energy the All Emperor concept of God (Viraj) is born. Alternatively, you should also note that Viraj as God creates Purusha too.
🙂
You see the creation of the world being told as a division of the primal entity to form the entire cosmos and then creating the meaning of the original form. And note the functional poetic metaphors used for the creation of different skills. If you find them as “castes”, “animals”, “Vedas” etc. being created from a being called Purusha, shut the Rigveda up and do your business.
Now you should have understood the key points in how to approach Rigveda. Now, try finding the spiritual symbols of each concept of God. You may refer to David Frawley’s work, or Aurobindo’s, if you can’t do it by yourself, but never ever consider them to be the last words or limits. Begin from them. And slowly, start reading Rigveda.
Even now when you can get the sense behind Rigvedic lines, you have not fully reached even basics of Rigveda. Rigveda is life. It explains how every natural phenomenon is to be decoded so as to understand ourselves, the society, the spiritual life, God etc.
You may follow my blog in Quora or google+ community “The Vedas” for discussing Rigvedic poems. However, read from the beginning in both places, as to realize some concepts of Rigveda, it takes many things and metaphors to explain, and for decoding each poem, your thought is molded to a definite angle even with the same metaphors.
Things you should not do :
  1. Do NOT read dishonest translations or extrapolating translations because you lose the sense of understanding and realizing Rigvedic poetic metaphors. So, kindly avoid Dayanand’s or Doniger’s or similar translations which deviate from literal translations in any way. Read the Rigvedic cow as cow, and then decide whether it should mean rays of sun, knowledge, streams of speech or food in the hymn.
  2. Do NOT read historical interpretations when your aim is for philosophy. Do NOT fall for philosophy when you need to search for history. And, most importantly, never read any of the historical interpretations based on secondary sources, that will force you to look things in Rigveda wrongly with biased eyes – either as nomadic white Aryans invading or culturally super-imposing civilized blacks (if you happen to read a AIMT or AIT version) or as rishis trying to fly with soma-yielded airplanes (if you happen to read some apologetic nonsense).
  3. Do NOT try to hunt up Vedas for your presumptions.
  4. Do NOT try to interpret Rigveda literally. Understand that while a literal translation is the best, the literal interpretation is the worst for a poem. Hope you get me right.
  5. Avoid reading independent catchy “quotes” from Rigveda by people across online and deciding Rigvedic philosophy on that basis, as most of them omit the philosophical, spiritual context and sometimes are even mistranslations.
  6. Avoid looking Rigveda for Puranic stuffs. Rigvedic devas are not gods, they are concepts of God and all are rays of the Supreme. It is difficult to; but still acknowledge the fact that the Vishnu and other later gods are not gods or demigods in Rigveda – they are just other concepts of the same supreme God. There is no trinity or any element of Puranic or Hindu theosophy in Rigveda. And thus, never confuse them. Most important, don’t fail to acknowledge the supremacy of Indra (as any other Rigvedic concept of God is the Supreme). vishvasmA indra uttaraH. No, neither Indra is, nor are other Rigvedic concepts of God polytheistic anthropomorphic gods. All of them are the part of the same supreme God, and God is best represented by Indra concept in whom all concepts of God can be found. (3.54) They are just different names (1.164) and concepts (10.113) of the same Reality.
  7. Rigveda is not even decoded fully till now. And kindly don’t take Sayana’s or other Brahmanical interpretations or Indological interpretations or even ritualistic interpretations that have no spiritual basis or inclination towards poetry. Note that rituals were made by literal interpretation and misuse of Vedic poetry words, and it is not the other way round. (Purusha sukta itself hints the order in which things happened)
  8. Note that soma is a poetic symbol of spiritual life, immortality, and revival. Note that soma is not a physical drink in Rigveda. It will be clear when you read the third verse of 10.85.
Vedā Chronological Dating

Vedā Chronological Dating
How to date the Vedas based on the references to rulers and people, geography, and language? No, we are not going to assume something and go, we are just looking for a possible scenario that does not upset the Hindu mythology (except for nonsense myths) as well as the modern proponents of a mild OIT. The whole thing has continuity if we check it deeply. But many do not like to believe many things. But the following is entirely based on references from Indian texts.
Bhagavata 11th Skandha mentions that ParikSit’s death was 1115 years (or 1050 according to other Puranas depending upon the difference in ascension date) before the rule of Mahapadma Nanda of the Nanda dynasty. Surely, it is very unlikely that this information is wrong since the portion of its mention is in 11th Skandha which mentions the whole of Indian history till Mughal Period in a justified manner.(And it also does not exaggerate the dates; it gives a very satisfying picture) And from archaeology and correspondence with Alexander’s arrival and Mauryans, we know that Mahapadma Nanda came to rule about 382 BCE. Now that should tell at what date ParikSit died: 1115 + 382 = 1497 BCE; ie; around 1500 BCE. It is to be noted that one of the latest hymns of Atharvaveda, in the last chapter mentions ParikSit, his kingdom, and Kuru subjects. That means that Vedic Samhita literature has almost STOPPED around 1500 BCE entirely contradicting Aryan Migration Theory which proposes that Vedic literature starts at 1500 BCE. Janamejaya and PArikSit are also mentioned in Brahmanas, and “Krishna the son of Devaki” is mentioned in Upanishad. (Chhandogya) This also upsets the neo-Hindu historiography of Krishna dying around 3102 BCE.
All this should put Krishna’s date around 1600 BCE, if not late. Luckily, we see that the Dvaraka settlement of Indus Valley Civilisation had been around the same period.
“The nearby Bet Dwarka island is a religious pilgrimage site and an important archaeological site of the Late Harappan period, with one thermoluminescence date of 1570 BC”
(wikipedia)
On the whole, the advent of astronomical Kaliyuga should have no connection with Krishna, or the astronomical Kaliyuga is different from mythical Kaliyuga. (Astronomical Kaliyuga starts from Feb 17–18 3102 BCE, verified by Aryabhatta)
The strong correspondence is noted by the fact that Rigveda mentions Rama, Vena, and another Prithu’s descendant (Duhsima Prithavana) in its youngest portion. (This means it is at least around a thousand years earlier than Atharvaveda that mentions PArikSit). And Middle Rigvedic period (at least 500 years earlier) saw the rise of different political confederations of tribes, Sudas and the Battle of Ten Kings, thereby the separation of Indo European tribes and Indo Iranian separation, perhaps the rise of Indus civilization, Indian ritualistic religion and perhaps early Brahmanic religion. Late Rigvedic period marks Indo Iranian soma cult and the rise of horse sacrifice among Brahmanic ritualists. Middle RV period should fall around 4000 BCE – 3000 BCE. (Putting 3000 BCE as the latest date for Indo Iranian separation; Indo European tribes should have started to separate from 4000 BCE)
Early Rigvedic period could span a thousand years earlier, making it start from a convenient date of 5000 BCE. (Latest) perhaps even retaining prayers and memories of a lifestyle starting from 7000 BCE at least. So, that’s the deal. I guess this would be the most possible dating. (we can also connect the migration from the Indian subcontinent with the advent of the wheel around 3800 – 3500 BCE)
Now, the only problem left is that of horses. Here, we can note that the early “ashva” of Rigveda may not be a horse, but may even be an ass. Rigveda talks about tawny ashvas more than white horses, and the “horses” mentioned as ashvas could well have been onagers. A more accurate horse description comes in Rigveda only at 1.161 where Ashvamedha is described. Even here, the people only know of horses as imported from elsewhere through secret means. It is still viewed in wonder, and Rigveda makes an interesting error – it records no. of ribs of a horse as 34 instead of 36, latter is the expected number for a Ferrus Caballus, the “Aryan horse”. And the earliest evidence of horse, thus shrinks to the time of Late Rigvedic period, matching with Rama’s period, around 2700–2500 BCE when the first disputed horse remains are dated. Sudas could have been the Puranic “sudama” described as a friend of Indra whose son is said to be in Puranas rightly as “saudasa”. In such a case, the Puranas mention some 10 kings in the genealogy. Putting a period of 40 years in the genealogy, the Sudas should be 400 years earlier than Rama. Thus the Indo Iranian separation and migrations should have STOPPED by 3000 BCE at least, from the mainland. The horse was domesticated around 3000 BCE, and this reflects in the replacing of Indian onager/donkey with the new imported horse for draught purposes. (?) The custom of horse sacrifice was probably a borrow, along with the horse, from Central Asian Steppe culture. However, it should be noted that Indo Aryans never ate horses though it was cooked. This is also seen in Harappan culture where there is a significant dearth of horse bones as people did not hunt or eat them up. Now, the dating of Yajurveda is later than Late Rigveda and is contemporary to Brahmanic religion, which as we see, has got its power from at least 3000 BCE after the Bharatas, in Late Rigvedic period, mentioning about soma and Horse sacrifices. So, it is convenient to date Yajurvedic period from 3000 BCE to perhaps 2000 BCE, since Yajurveda does not mention iron or Kurus. Atharvaveda spans the whole period later than Indo Iranian separation up to the usage of iron that starts from around 1900 BCE. Clearly, Atharvaveda’s latest portion that describes Kuru kingdom should be around 1500 BCE. There is no other Samhita reference to Kuru kings.
Now, that means an initial guess of:-
Early Rigvedic period : (memories from 7000 BCE) c.5000 BCE – c.3500 BCE
Initial Indo European Migration: 4000 BCE – 3500 BCE
Middle Rigvedic period and Samavedic period: c.3500 BCE – c.2900 BCE
Battle of Ten kings: c. 3000 BCE
Indo Iranian separation: c. 3000 BCE
Historical Rama: c. 2600 BCE
Late Rigvedic period: c. 3000 BCE – c. 2500 BCE
Yajurvedic period: c. 3000 BCE – c. 2000 BCE
Atharvaveda period : c. 3000 BCE – c. 1500 BCE
Avesta : 2500 BCE – 1200 BCE.
Brahmanas: 2500 BCE – 1000 BCE
Upanishads: c. 1900 BCE – ….
Kuru kingdom: c. 2000 BCE
Historical Krishna: c. 1600 BCE
ParikSit: c.1500 BCE.
Mythical Kaliyuga advances in c. 1500 BCE
Iron Age: c. 1500 BCE
 

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Veda: Rigveda Period of India


The Vedic India – How was it like?
The Vedic period was not a small period, it spanned over all the late neolithic age, to Bronze Age and even early Iron Age. It spanned from the states of small neolithic settlements to smaller tribal kingdoms, to massive kingdoms administered by great kings. So, lets split the periods into these :
Rigvedic period
Society.
The Rigvedic society was a very united one, mainly united by culture, tribe, and language. There were many tribes at the time of Rigveda, and many clans within them too. The Rigvedic society was however much peaceful during the initial phase, but as the population increased and certain civil wars occurred between the same linguistic groups like Panis and Rigvedic “Aryans”. (They called themselves Aryans; it does only refer to a cultural group, not an ethnic race) For instance, the Panis were cowboys, who stole Aryan (the Panis also belonged to the same linguistic group) cows and wealth and hid them. ThePanis are now identified with Parnoi, an older Afghan tribe. Similarly, some tribes likeDasas and Dasyus also posed a major political and cultural threat to Rigvedic Aryan groups.Dasas and Dasyus are now equated to the later Central Asian Dahae and Dahyus.
Also, several cultural and political confederations emerged to become kingdoms.
The Rigvedic society was not a strictly “classified” one, however, people practiced the “three classes of” occupations like the now envisioned Proto Indo European society. There were the poets who also were the philosophers, invokers of God, and advisors. Then there were the “royal” people who protected the whole land. Then came the “common occupation” which was mostly centered around trade, mainly of milch cows (and later horses), and various associated businesses like trading milk. The “wage jobs” that supported all the other classes, like agriculture, temporary businesses like grinding grains, doctoring, etc. soon became a separate category. The last category was actually merged together with the other three in earlier Rigvedic period, but as the last jobs grew in power and importance, they began to be seen as a separate class of occupation.
There was no caste system, no class system in the Rigvedic period. As a person, you could choose your job. As one boy tells :
“My dad is a physician, my mom grinds (grains) in stone, am a poet : we all strive for wealth in different ways”
It is to be noted that according to later Manu smrti (epic period), the boy should not have been doing poet’s or brahmacaari’s job which is a “Brahmin” job when his parents are doing lesser jobs like that of a physician (which is a “fallen job” according to Manu) and grinding grains for money. (Shudra job according to Manu)
Such senselessness did not exist in the Rigvedic period, and social mobility was high. People were happy and content.
Economy. The cows accounted for the main growth of the economy, mostly in milk and as currency in a Barter system. The early Rigvedic Ashva could have been onager or other bearers rather than a “horse”. Ashvas were also exchanged as currencies and used as a medium of transportation. Agriculture (kRSi) was another important part of the income. Barley was the grain cultivated.
By the time of later Rigvedic period, the ritualists began to search for a plant, originally a poetic symbol in Rigveda, that could give them immortality and used to import it from Afghanistan. Interestingly, the soma plant is not “hallucinogenic” as it is accused to be, and the ritual needed only some physical aspects of the plant-like color, structure (described in later Brahmanas). The hallucinogenic effect is actually a misinterpretation of cranks, actually was spiritual ecstasy and elevated consciousness. This soma “alchemy” to find out the “lost soma” was done at the time of the later Rigvedic period itself. And some tribes of Central Asia and Bactria, called by Avestans as haoma-varga (Skt : soma-varga) could have fooled Aryans by giving a plant.
😛

Anyway, Rigveda itself mocks such people in the not-much-quoted verse :
“By Soma are the Ādityas strong, by Soma mighty is the earth.
Thus Soma in the midst of all these constellations hath his place.

One thinks, when they have brayed the plant, that he hath drunk the Soma’s juice;
Of him whom Brahmans truly know as Soma no one ever tastes.”
(Verses 2,3 :
HYMN LXXXV. Sūrya’s Bridal.)
And this one is pretty clear one :
Soma, secured by sheltering rules, guarded by hymns in Brhati,
Thou standest listening to the stones none tastes of thee who dwell on earth.

(Rigveda 10.85.4, Ralph TH Griffith)
(I am deliberately putting Griffith’s translation because you cannot accuse me of wrong translation)
By later Rigvedic period, the horses were also started to being imported from Central Asia / Bactria. Rigveda still, does not know much of true Ferus Caballus horses, and makes an interesting error that the typical horse contains 34 ribs, when it ought to have 36. Rigveda 1.163 alludes to the connection of Ferus Caballus horse with Gandharvas (residents of Gandhara?), and Rigveda 1.162 alludes to replacing of asses with horses, in last verses. Horse trade now made up a significant point for the Rigvedic economy.
Architecture, Settlements. Early Rigvedic period was almost the agrarian Neolithic age, which later grows through cows, chariot transportation, and agriculture. It is a colonial bias that Rigvedic Aryans were nomads, but it is true that not very massive cities could have belonged to Rigvedic scape. However, fortified cities did spot the Rigvedic period. Houses were comparatively simple in such a remote period, and a typical desired house consisted of a small lotus pond nearby. The mentions of monuments cannot be found in Rigveda, and it is also meaningless to look for monuments mentioned in a pure philosophically inclined book composed by poets.
Administration. The Rigvedic landscape was a pretty large one, right from Afghanistan to western Ganga banks. The people were ruled by Rajas or Raj~nas who should but be “chosen” by people. An early form of democracy could have been there in the smaller Rigvedic society. The people had two organizations – the Vidatha and Sabha. The Vidatha was more of a cultural and religious one, while Sabha was a political and secular one. People spoke up with confidence in those groups and took decisions for themselves. But still, the Rigvedic king was an overall representation of the people, he should protect them at any cost and fight against disorder and lawlessness in the most effective way, role modeling Indra and Varuna. King should be acceptable to the people, and people wished always to “talk well” and be “eloquent” in the assemblies.
Some of the able rulers the Rigvedic period had were the mighty Trasadasyu, Sudas, Divodasa… , Rama, Vena, Prithavana… The Rjrashva fought the Varshagirabattle and defended India from East Iranians. Sudas completely exterminated the enemy confederations including Bhalanas (Bolan), Pakthas (Pakhtun), Parshas (Persians), Alinas(a Central Asian group, also connected with IE group Hellenes??), Anus (Anavas of Iran, also related to IE goddesses in Europe “Anu”) and many more, from his territory which was later named by his tribal name, as Bharata. The war comes in the Middle Rigvedic period, as the Dasarajna yuddha.
Culture. The cultural scape of Rigveda, unlike represented by the elite verses of the poets, was not a uniform one. It ranged from the free-thinking, yet theistic philosopher poets, to mighty kings, to the common man whose aim was to get more cows and Ashvas (currencies), sell off his milk. The Rigvedic people thus were from different levels of philosophies. The Rigvedic poets, for example, opposed the materialization of soma, mocked the mugging up learning system (RV 7.103, mocks the guru and student as two frogs croaking happily), opposed gambling, and shunned alcohol. They also shunned materialistic rituals. (Rituals are almost not even mentioned in Rigveda with an exception for the more satirical episode in RV 1.162) However, we can’t take Rigveda as a symbol of common man’s culture at the time, the fact could have been that all these were there to some extent in society. (as much as they are, in every society including present day’s)
Rigvedic diet, contrary to popular belief, is mainly centered around milk, barley, vegetables, and honey. Herbs (spices) and water were used to cook the common man’s food. The only verse where Rigvedic poet speaks of food in common sense, (avoiding poetic veils) is the “anna-stuti” which talks about, as it says, FOOD. Here is the Griffith’s translation of the same: HYMN CLXXXVII. Praise of Food. (So that you won’t sue me for “bad translation”) The poem talks about milky foods, barley strews, vegetable meal, water, and plants of the earth. There is no mention of meat-eating as a part of diet anywhere in Rigveda, and in nowhere anyone tells “meat is delicious” or “let us eat this meat”. And no need to think of beef, be disappointed that Rigveda does not mention beef as a human diet. It is nonsensical to hunt Rigveda for a veg – non-veg. debate, but yea, Rigveda does know only about the above as “food”.
The festivals were usually agrarian, associated with seasons.
Appearance. Rigveda leaves us little evidence to reconstruct the appearance of a common man. Still, from what we can construct :
The men sometimes shaved their heads or sometimes didn’t, (depended on your culture and “vows”) but kept a “shikha” on their head. The Rigvedic Aryans under Sudas are mentioned as having dakshinatarspada (Right tuft) and clad in white clothes. Good beard (sushipra) was seen as a symbol of wisdom, and most often sages kept beards.
Changes during Yajurvedic period :
Rituals develop among commons and spread to kings.

The Yajurvedic period saw the development of rituals and spread to the royal community. This was followed by flocking of the older Brahmins to the new ritualist space, where they emerged as priests and served the royal members. The rituals became dogmatic and complicated. Most of them were influenced by the Central Asian customs which spread to India through horse and soma trade and political changes. The horses were now the most important animals, and Central Asian rituals connected with horses assumed a complicated Indian form at this time. Animal sacrifices popped up and gained acceptance among the new generation Brahmin priests, who took to serve the kings. (Note that Rigvedic period knew of no actual “animal sacrifices”, though poetic mentions can be extrapolated in a few areas, none of them speak of common humans doing animal sacrifices)
The kings became more powerful, and the population increased swiftly. Kingdoms became larger, and the king became more of a monarch. The absolute monarchy was the dream of every king, and a sort of love for Central Asian customs arose due to the ambition of becoming “the king of the world” or “immortal one”. Moreover, gambling and drinking wine became more accepted in society. Meat-eating and animal sacrifices were also starting to get the popularity from kings and thus new Brahmins, and class system emerged. Still, it is unclear whether any person ate meat without the “sacrifice”.
So, what did Yajurveda do?
As I told, the Vedas do not represent the culture of the whole Vedic people. Seeing this uncontrollable situation, Yajurveda took to describing all rituals as spiritual and mystic stuff with a different meaning and changed the overall face of materialistic sacrifices. The materialism was tactfully turned to spirituality, and spirituality was reinforced. Even describing the whole nasty Ashvamedha ritual, and in each line trying to create symbols, the Yajurveda concludes in the last chapter very beautifully :
He who knows the head of the sacrificial horse becomes possessed of a head and fit for sacrifice. The head of the sacrificial horse is the dawn, the eye the sun, the breath the wind, the ear the moon, the feet the quarters, the ribs the intermediate quarters, the winking the day and night, the joints the half-months, the joinings the months, the limbs the seasons, the trunk the year, the hair the rays (of the gun), they form the Naksatras, the bones the stars, the flesh the mist, the hair the plants, the tail hairs the trees, the mouth Agni, the open (mouth) Vaiçvanara [1], the belly the sea, the anus the atmosphere, the testicles the sky and the earth, the membrum virile, the pressing-stone, the seed the Soma. When it chews, there is lightning; when it moves about, there is thundering; when it makes water, there is rain; its speech is speech. The Mahiman (cup) indeed is born before the birth of the horse as the day. The Mahiman (cup) is born after it as the night. These two Mahiman (cups) surround on either side the horse. As Haya (steed) it carried the gods, as Arvan (courser) the Asuras, as Vajin (racer) the Gandharvas, as Açva (horse) men. The birthplace of the horse, indeed, is the sea, its kindred is the sea.
And yea, before suspecting me of bad translation, this is from your favorite Yajur Veda Kanda VII translation by Keith. (Yajurveda 7.5.25 – Taittiriya Samhita)
Yajurvedic period also saw the prosperity of agriculture and trade. Rice and wheat were cultivated along with barley. One of the new occupations that people recognized was the “hunting”, mainly practiced by non-Vedic people. The geography expanded up to Ganga Valley in East. The philosophy was being at risk due to Brahmins flocking to become royal priests and performing rituals. The sensible poets left created the Yajurveda. Civilization was at a pace than never before. Due to the need for new rituals, many trades prospered alongside.
Changes in the Atharvavedic period
Atharvaveda saw the development of medicinal science and mainstream voices of “doctor poets”. Moreover, the mantras were also used as a kind of placebos to assist the healing. Most of them mention medicines. Contrary to popular belief, Atharvaveda is not about spells or incantations. They are super philosophical treatises, sometimes talking in a mystic sense. Actually, the “Brahmanas” are the ones who (mis)use the mantras for “spells” and “incantations”.
Atharvaveda saw the emerging of Kuru kingdom from the lineage of Bharatas. Iron Age was gaining pace.
Intercultural relations took place, both cultures within India and abroad. Atharvaveda notes the earth inhabited by people of various linguistic groups, various cultures. Atharvaveda also explains the philosophy in common life through simple poems.
The Atharvavedic period also saw the fall of Vedic philosophy and spirituality among masses. Though Atharvaveda speaks about higher and beautiful philosophy, the just post-dated and contemporary Brahmanas come up to create the “Brahmanism”, the religion of “ritualism”.
The kings had turned to perfect monarchs by the end of Atharvavedic period, but they followed some rules and “dharma”. The class system became less mobile. As a result, it was to become a caste system within 500 years. The occupations, the populations, all rose up tremendously. The tribes and rulers had diverged much. India and Iran got separate and opposing philosophies. Indians deliberately demonized the older Rigvedic word for a spiritual being, “asura”, and Avestans emerged by demonizing “daevas”. The inner conflicts among masses of tribes, the lesser influence of philosophers on kings, and increasing influence of the simpler ritual religion, all drove Vedic philosophy to risk. The Rigvedic panentheism that was based on monotheism now turned to a kind of kathenotheism and sometimes polytheism. Soon, the first era of myths was to develop, in the Brahmanas, and polytheism was to emerge finally leading to epic polytheism in philosophy.
Food habits also are noted to change. Meat-eating was to become legitimate without even a troublesome exhaustive or expensive sacrifice. Alcohol gained popularity among elites, and gambling was also starting to get advocacy. But yes, Atharvaveda does not endorse any of these, much like other Vedas.
Apart from all these, the devastated thinkers left opted to compose the earliest Upanishads.
Why do we have this order of Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharvana?
The Sama roughly is contemporary or just predates Early Yajurvedic and perhaps Early Atharvavedic period too. (Those 75 mantras tell nothing that can be potentially related to any period, but as it quotes late Rigvedic mantras mainly, we can date it to late Rigvedic period) But the corpus of Yajurveda comes after the Rigvedic period, and Atharvaveda too has some hymns that are even at the time of Yajurveda. However, the main time frame of Atharvaveda’s own poems is certainly later than Yajus. Some portions of Early Atharvavedic period are independent of Yajus, and thus contemporary to say, late Yajurvedic period. It mostly takes some beautiful poems from Rigveda that can be sung and elaborated.
Do Vedas used only two swaras and from them, the other swaras emerged?
It is speculation. However, three notes have been identified always. There were three swaras. Moreover, only in Sama, the accent of Veda was really musical. The other Vedas were actually made musical by equating Vedic swaras with musical notes, though still older “stress” accent exists in Rigvedic Nambudiri chants.
The Samaveda soon developed into a heptatonic scale. Still, it is not 100% clear if the Samaveda really did have seven svaras from the beginning.
The Carnatic equivalent of the three vedic notes?
As I told, it depends upon the recension. For example, in the familiar Taittiriya recension in Tamil Nadu, the notes used for the Vedic svaras are kaishiki niSAda N2, shadja, and shuddha rishabha R1 for anudaatta, svarita and udaatta. The same is also true for Rigveda recension of Andhra, and some recensions of Yajurveda in Tamil Nadu and North India too.
However, Nambudiris still follow a stress accent only, and their Rigveda is purely based on language accent and not “musical” accent. (Though we can extrapolate the svaras that come out, to be N2, S, and R2 (or sometimes a bit more sharp R2)) Their recension of Jaiminiya Samaveda is the most “non-musical” and different, with only two notes in most cases.

Vedā: The Concept of GOD

GOD in Vedā
In Vedas, there is only God beyond form and concepts, who cannot be worshiped as such, but only the concepts of God can be worshiped. (which is undoubtedly the fact) Thus, God as an entity cannot be worshiped, but only concepts of God can be worshiped. And these concepts are assigned some attributes and qualities for the sake of worship. Anything that is worshiped is just a concept in our minds. That is the stark reality. As the Vedas tell, they (concepts of God) “created a form where the form was not, created light was light was not, and born together with the (spiritual) dawn”. “They regenerated themselves (in the sky of mind), assuming the names used in Yajna”.
It is clear in Vedas that concepts of God (called Devas in Vedas, esp. Rigveda) are born in “the spiritual dawn”. They are “the shining ones” (RV 1.6) who “light up the sky”. (sky of mind) They are the rays of God, the spiritual sun. Thus, God, the “spiritual sun”, “sows inspiration”, and hence is called “sower” (Savita) and prayers to Savita are for “inspiration”. (Rigveda 3.54, Yajurveda VS 1.1, and so on…) This spiritual sun is himself called by different names Agni, Indra, Matarishvan, Yama… as is the won’t by the sages/worshipers (Rigveda 1.164) Thus, it is the worshiper who imagines the One Reality differently. (Rigveda 10.114)
The spiritual sun, is again, the Self of God that encompasses the whole creation. (Ref : Rigveda 1.164 and many others) It pervades everything and yet encompasses externally. (Yajurveda 40) This “Sun”, is poetically called “the Truth hidden behind the golden vessel (of delusion)”, (Yajurveda 40) and poets pray to “see this Sun” ( remember the prayer “jyok ca sUryam drshe” and many verses in Rigveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda)
Alternatively, the final Reality is poetically called the “who” (kaH), as the answer to the question “who is God?”. (Ref : Hiranyagarbha hymn, Rigveda 10.129, cited in YV, Sh. Brahmana and many others) (Also compare with Aitreya Aranyaka: “who is the Self we meditate upon.”) This Final impregnable Reality is given different attributes to worship, so that “who is the God we worship.” (check Hiranyagarbha hymn)
“Thus, it is only this “who”; who knows exactly why and when this creation happened. The concepts of God (devas) are later than the creation. Hence, indeed “who” knows what exactly has happened”. (Rigveda 10.129 misquoted by people as agnostic without noting the poetic beauty)
Alternatively, we can also see God as Creator of matter, as well as transformed initial Energy, both reflections of each other. This is met in Purusha sukta, as “Viraj” (the special ruler and Creator), “Purusha” (All-pervading energy). Thus, the initial Energy gets transformed to all beings, from Purusha, the concept of Creator is born. But, from the Creator is the creation born. (Compare Purusha sukta : From Purusha is Viraj born, from Viraj is Purusha born) This is also reflected in another Vedic dual concept “from Daksha is Aditi born, from Aditi is Daksha born” (Daksha = Creativity, creator, Aditi = Infinite Energy)
These are altogether the VEDIC ideas of God summarised.
 

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Vedā: Agni

Essential nature of Agni in the Rig Veda

The general notion among most people who have heard of the Rig Veda, whether Hindu or non-Hindu, whether layperson or specialist, regarding the contents of the Rig Veda is that it is a collection of stutis, or “praises” of personified forces of nature. So, for example, Agni is the god of fire, Vāyu is the god of wind, Sūrya is the god of Sun, and so on.

While these descriptions of the gods are correct, it is a hundredfold more clear that that is not the end view of the hymns. The tangible forces of nature are seen as manifestations of the gods, so that the gods in and of themselves are something much more. Yāska, the author of the Nirukta the oldest commentary on the Rig Veda outside of the Brāhmaṇas, has it right when he explains the mantras at three levels: adhibhūtam, adhidaivatam, and adhyātmam. The first level is the physical phenomenon; the second level is the anthropomorphic theism; the third level is what I like to call the level of Existence. The conventional translation of “adhyātmam” is “spiritual”. But what does it really mean to be spiritual or to talk of spirituality? Pure and absolute Existence or Being is meant. The Universal Spirit is the principle of pure Being and at the root of the mystery of creation. The usual descriptions of all-pervasiveness, absolute singularity and the principle of pure consciousness are remembered.

Agni in the Rig Veda is a symbol par excellence for this Universal Spirit. The use of a divine fire as a symbol for the Supreme One is well-known in many cultures, for example, in Greek philosophy (particularly Heracleitus) and Christian theology. Here, I intend to quote specific verses from the Rig Veda which plainly show what the sages envisioned as Agni.

1. Viśvāmitra Gāthina, RV 3.26.7

अग्निरस्मि जन्मना जातवेदाः घृतं मे चक्षुरमृतं म आसन् ।
अर्कस्त्रिधातू रजसो विमानो अजस्रो घर्मो हविरस्मि नाम ॥
agnirasmi janmanā jātavēdāḥ ghṛtaṁ me cakṣuramṛtaṁ ma āsan| arkastridhātū rajaso vimāno ajasro gharmo havirasmi nāma||

“I am Agni, by birth omniscient; the light is (or, emanates from) my eye and immortality is (or, originates from) my mouth. I am the three-fold light measuring the universe, I am inexhaustible heat, sacred offering is my name.”

The very first phrase “I am Agni” says it all – the great sage Viśvāmitra is here expressing his realization of absolute unity with Agni, the realization that there is only one consciousness that is the essence of the individual and the universe. This is an exact paraphrase of “अहं ब्रह्मास्मि – aham brahmāsmi“, “I am Brahman” of Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad.


2. Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya, RV 6.9

अयं होता प्रथमः पश्यतेममिदं ज्योतिरमृतं मर्त्येषु । 4a
ayaṁ hōtā prathamaḥ paśyatemamidaṁ jyotiramṛtaṁ martyeṣu

“He is the first invoker. Look at him – this light immortal within mortals.”

The Sanskrit words used here are significant. In the same breath Agni is called “इमम् – imam“, “him” (male) and “इदम् – idam“, “it” (neuter). So Agni is at the same time, a god to be worshiped, and the One Existence to be internally realized.

ध्रुवं ज्योतिर्निहितं दृशये कं मनो जविष्ठं पतयत्स्वन्तः । 5a
dhruvaṁ jyotirnihitaṁ dṛśaye kaṁ mano javiṣṭhaṁ patayatsvantaḥ

“The firm light, which is blissful and subtler than the mind, is hidden within the senses.”

This compares with the “आत्माऽस्य जन्तोर्निहितो गुहायाम् – ātmā asya jantoh nihito guhāyām“, “The Spirit is hidden within the creatures” of Kaṭha Upaniṣad.

वि मे कर्णा पतयतो वि चक्षुर्वीदं ज्योतिर्ह्ृदय आहितं यत् ।
वि मे मनश्चरति दूरआधीः किं स्विद् वक्ष्यामि किमु नू मनिष्ये ॥ 6
vi me karṇā patayato vi cakṣurvīdaṁ jyotirhṛdaya āhitaṁ yat |
vi me manaścarati dūraādhīḥ kim svid vakṣyāmi kimu nū maniṣye ||

“My ears and my eye fly forth striving to see the light that is spread wide within the heart. My mind wanders far away – what can I speak of, and what can I think?”

This verse almost appears modern in its candid description of the internal processes when the sage is in rapture of his vision of the Light, when he has lost himself in the One Consciousness, such that he is beyond speech and thought. The last phrase “किं स्विद् वक्ष्यामि किमु नू मनिष्ये – kim svid vakṣyāmi kimu nū maniṣye” is an exact paraphrase of “यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्य मनसा सह – yato vāco nivartante aprāpya manasā saha“, “From which speech and mind turn back, not having reached” of Taittirīya Upaniṣad.

विश्वे देवा अनमस्यन् भियानाः त्वामग्ने तमसि तस्थिवांसम् ।
वैश्वानरोऽवतूतये नोऽमर्त्योऽवतूतये नः ॥ 7
viśve devā anamasyan bhiyānāḥ tvāmagne tamasi tasthivāmsam | vaiśvānaro’vatūtaye no’martyo’vatūtaye naḥ ||

“All the gods bowed down to you in fear, O Agni, when you were dwelling in the darkness. May the Universal Man protect us, may the Immortal protect us for well-being.”

Now, the curious part here is that Agni was dwelling in darkness. How can the paragon of light be in darkness? This opens up a whole discussion on the deeper Vedic metaphysics that Ananda K. Coomaraswamy has propounded. We shall see more on that in a future post. “Vaiśvānara“, Universal Man, is a famous name of Agni. Yāska’s Nirukta gives the etymology as “viśvebhyo narebhyaḥ jāyate, viśveṣu nareṣu vidyate iti va“, “he is born from all men, or that he is within all men.”


3. Trita Āptya, RV 10.5

एकः समुद्रो धरुणो रयीणामस्मद्ध्ृदो भूरिजन्मा वि चष्टे ।
सिषक्त्यूधर्निण्योरुपस्थे उत्सस्य मध्ये निहितं पदं वेः ॥
ekaḥ samudro dharuṇo rayīṇāmasmaddhṛdo bhūrijanmā vi caṣṭe | siṣaktyūdharniṇyorupasthe utsasya madhye nihitaṁ padaṁ veḥ ||

“He is the One Ocean, container of all matter, having many births he sees inside our hearts. He suckles in the lap of the secret couple, the dwelling place of the Bird is within the fountain.”

This one is very cryptic in its symbols. The four feet of the verse all seem disjointed. Ocean is a very common symbol in the Rig Veda for the all-encompassing and infinite Supreme Unity, and here it is enhanced by the word “Eka“, one, which fortifies the concept. The meaning of “bird dwelling in the midst of a fountain” eludes me.

This entire hymn is full of intricate symbolism, most of which is at present beyond my understanding. But it only goes to prove that Agni (and other gods) are complex concepts with an advanced metaphysics behind them. I shall present a few fragments, and one or two full verses from this hymn.

ऋतस्य पदं कवयो नि पान्ति गुहा नामानि दधिरे पराणि । 2b
ṛtasya padaṁ kavayo ni pānti guhā nāmāni dadhire parāṇi

“The sages protect the dwelling place of the Cosmic Order (or Motion), and take on higher secret names.”

ऋतायिनी मायिनी सं दधाते मित्वा शिशुं जज्ञतुर्वर्धयन्ती ।
विश्वस्य नाभिं चरतो ध्रुवस्य कवेश्चित्तन्तुं मनसा वियन्तः ॥
ṛtāyinī māyinī saṁ dadhāte mitvā śiśum jajñaturvardhayantī | viśvasya nābhim carato dhruvasya kaveścittantum manasā viyantaḥ ||

“The Cosmic moving pair, endowed with powers copulate and create the Baby, themselves growing. The Baby is the center of all that moves and moves not. They weave the thread of the Sage with deep insight.”

Obviously the Baby is Agni as Kumǟra, the ever-newly born. That he is described as the center (hub or navel) of the universe (i.e., all that is stationary or moving) is significant as he is also described elsewhere as the First Manifested Principle. So he is the unaffected effector of all creation, the state of convergence of opposites.

असच्च सच्च परमे व्योमन् दक्षस्य जन्मन्नदितेरुपस्थे ।
अग्निर्ह नः प्रथमजा ऋतस्य पूर्व आयुनि वृषभश्च धेनुः ॥ 7
asacca sacca parame vyoman dakṣasya janmannaditerupasthe | agnirha naḥ prathamajā ṛtasya pūrva āyuni vṛṣabhaśca dhenuḥ ||

“He is both non-existence and existence in the highest sphere (“parame vyoman“), Dakṣa’s birth from Aditi’s womb! Agni is surely our first-born of Cosmic Order, in the primeval state he is both the Bull and the Cow.”

Parame vyoman” is difficult to translate – another translation is “highest heaven or Empyrean, etc. But essentially the idea is that of a non-physical state, prior to creation and prior to space and time cognition. So, it is a state of unity, absence of opposites or multiplicity, but a state of potentiality from which all opposites come out. “Pūrve āyuni” is not a specific point in time, rather it is the cyclical state of undifferentiated existence before creation. Similarly, when Agni is called “first-born”, it is in regard to his first manifestation after a new creation has emanated. “Both bull and cow” shows that Agni is the source of the principles of creation.
Aditi is in mythology Dakṣa’s daughter – Aditi Dākṣāyaṇī, and Dakṣa is the foremost progenitor (Prajāpati). However in this verse, the relations are reversed. When a duality emerges from an original singular unity, the two parts of the duality can only be seen as creating one another. In terms of metaphysics, the idea of a ‘second’ has meaning only in context of a pre-existing counterpart, the latter in turn presupposing the existence of the former. Yāska describes the gods as “itaretarajanmānaḥ“, born from one another.

In this verse, we clearly see that Vedic Agni is identical to Brahman of the Upaniṣads, described in terms of opposites, and the ultimate state of unity from which come all opposites.



4. Vasuśruta Ᾱtreya, RV 5.3.1

त्वमग्ने वरुणो जायसे यत्त्वं मित्रो भवसि यत्समिद्धः ।
त्वे विश्वे सहसस्पुत्र देवास्त्वमिन्द्रो दाशुषे मर्त्याय ॥
tvamagne varuṇo jāyase yattvaṁ mitro bhavasi yatsamiddhaḥ |
tve viśve sahasasputra devāstvamindro dāśuṣe martyāya ||


“You, Agni, are Varuṇa when born, and you are Mitra when kindled. O Son of Strength, in you are all the gods, and you are Indra to the mortal worshiper.”

In this verse, it is clear that Agni is identified with all the other gods, and in fact is said to envelop all gods. The verses following this one elaborate on Agni’s identity with other named gods. A similar theme is found in Gṛtsamada Bhārgava‘s hymn RV 2.1 where Agni is literally identified with nearly all the named gods of the Vedic pantheon. No other god is accorded this kind of universal description.

An observation is that the concept of Agni preceded the use of fire as his symbol, rather than the other way around. Most modern scholars start with the physical fire and then attribute a “development” to an abstract god. However, the few verses quoted here show that fire is just one aspect of Agni even in the oldest hymns. In other words, physical fire and the act of offering in yajña were implemented as being the most excellent form of Agni, the Universal Spirit.


5. A few more verses:

अग्ने कदा त आनुषग्भुवद्देवस्य चेतनम् । RV 4.7.2a Vāmadeva Gautama
“O Agni, when shall I have a flash of insight (consciousness – cetanam) of you, God?

मा निन्दत य इमां मह्यं रातिं देवो ददौ मर्त्याय स्वधावान् ।
पाकाय गृत्सो अमृतो विचेता वैश्वानरो नृतमो यह्वो अग्निः ॥ RV 4.5.2 Vāmadeva Gautama
mā nindata ya imām mahyaṁ rātim devo dadau martyāya svadhāvān |
pākāya gṛtso amṛto vicetā vaiśvānaro nṛtamo yahvo agniḥ ||


“Don’t criticize that the omnipotent God has given me, a mortal, this Bliss – to me, immature, Agni the Blissful, the Immortal, the Wisest, the Universal, the manliest, the youthful.”

त्रिरस्य ता परमा सन्ति सत्या स्पार्हा देवस्य जनिमान्यग्नेः ।
अनन्ते अन्तः परिवीत आगाच्छुचिः शुक्रो अर्यो रोरुचानः ॥ RV 4.1.7 Vāmadeva Gautama

“There are three highest truths, the desirable births of the god Agni. He came clothed in the infinite, pure, white, benevolent, brightly shining.”
Saying that Agni is clothed in the infinite, is tantamount to saying he is infinite. The significance of the three births are explained in different ways: his 3 forms of fire, lightning and sun; the three sacrificial fires of Gārhapatya, Dakṣiṇa and Ᾱhavanīya; the Father, the Mother and the ever newly born Son.


शतधारमुत्समक्षीयमाणं विपश्चितं पितरं वक्त्वानाम् ।
मेळिं मदन्तं पित्रोरुपस्थे तं रोदसी पिपृतं सत्यवाचम् ॥ RV 3.26.7 Viśvāmitra Gāthina

“The inexhaustible fount of a hundred streams, the wise, the father of all sacred speech, the sparkler, rejoicing in the parents’ lap, him do you, Heaven and Earth, satiate, the speaker of truth.”


परि प्रजातः क्रत्वा बभूथ भुवो देवानां पिता पुत्रः सन् । RV 1.69.2 Parāśara Śāktya

“You are born all around by your greatness, being the son of the gods, you are also their father.”

This is very significant, that Agni is both the father and son of the gods. Further explanation will be needed to expand this metaphysics.


क इमं वो निण्यमा चिकेत वत्सो मातृृर्जनयत स्वधाभिः ।
बह्वीनां गर्भो अपसामुपस्थान्महान्कविर्निश्चरति स्वधावान् ॥ RV 1.95.4 Kutsa Ᾱṅgirasa

“Who has seen him, the Hidden One? This child has generated his mothers by his power. The offspring of many, he the omnipotent, the great sage has come forth from the womb of the waters.”


विश्वेषामदितिर्यज्ञियानां विश्वेषामतिथिर्मानुषाणाम् ।
अग्निर्देवानामव आवृणानः सुमृळीको भवतु जातवेदाः ॥ RV 4.1.20 Vāmadeva Gautama

“Aditi of all the gods, guest of all humans, Agni bringing here the protection of the gods, may he the Omniscient be benevolent to us.”
Here, Aditi in the primary sense of the word, is the mother of all the gods. Etymologically, “Aditi” means infinite. Both senses of the word are very appropriate in this verse – as seen from above, Agni has been called infinite, the father of the gods, and both male and female (Bull and Cow). It follows naturally that Aditi = Agni.

In the foregoing, some verses pertaining to Agni have been translated. These verses are in plain and simple language, without the use of intricate symbols. Although such verses form a small percentage of the hymns, they show the heart of the Rig Veda. This has also been an exercise in interpreting a coherent whole by stitching together parts taken from different verses. By ensuring to always keep the whole in view, each individual verse can be meaningfully explained. As seen above, a consistent metaphysical doctrine of Agni emerges naturally from the hymns.

Agni : Supreme singularity, reconciliation of opposites
May 31st, 2015
In the previous post, some examples were given of Agni verses from the Rig Veda, that were in simple and non-cryptic language. These clearly showed that the sages conceived of Agni as the Supreme Unity of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. The proportion of such simple and straightforward statements are few and far between. Even as it was demonstrated in Trita Āptya’s hymn RV 10.5, use of intricate and cryptic symbolism is the norm. Although it is impossible to unravel every bit of symbolism in the Rig Veda, some linked verses and some explanations from the Brāhmaṇa literature help reveal the deep metaphysics behind some of the topics.

Here is one example that requires a little more explanation than the simple verses.

1. Vāmadeva Gautama, RV 4.40.5

हंसः शुचिषद्वसुरन्तरिक्षसद्धोता वेदिषदतिथिर्दुरोणसत् ।
नृषद्वरसदृतसद्व्योमसदब्जा गोजा ऋतजा अद्रिजा ऋतम् ॥
haṁsaḥ śuciṣad vasur antarikṣasad-dhotā vediṣad atithir duroṇasat |
nṛṣad varasad ṛtasad vyomasad abjā gojā ṛtajā adrijā ṛtam
||

“The Swan present in the waters (or light), as Vasu in the atmosphere, as the priest in the altar, as the guest in houses. In men he is present, in gods, in Cosmic Order, in space – he is born from the waters, from the earth, from the Cosmic Order, from the mountains. He is Cosmic Order.”

Although this verse is attributed to Sūrya, it is obvious that most of the epithets are those of Agni – not that there is any real difference between Agni and Sūrya in the highest level. However, when dealing with the hymns attributed to individual gods, it is consistent to observe what epithets are used for each god.

Now, Hamsa is the swan, which although not an aquatic animal, still spends most of its life on water. It breathes air, can fly and walk on land, but chooses to sit in water. As such, the swan is a beautiful and apt symbol for the Supreme One, which chooses to express itself in manifestation of the world. In the Rig Veda, waters (plural) are the symbol of the universe with its potentialities. The universe is infinitely capable of producing and reproducing forms and life-forms. Hence, the Supreme One by choice, for play, has come into the universe as consciousness in living creatures. The Swan is the Samsārī, the Eternal Migrant, who is always on the move, in the form of space and time.
The only other occurrence of a single swan in the Rig Veda is in Parāśara Śāktya, RV 1.65.9:
श्वसित्यप्सु हंसो न सीदन् क्रत्वा चेतिष्ठो विशामुषर्भुत्
śvasityapsu haṁso na sīdan kratvā cetiṣṭho viśāmuṣarbhut
Agni “breathes sitting in the waters like a swan, by his power he is omniscient, waking at dawn for men.” Clearly the Swan is Agni.

‘Priest of the altar’ and ‘Guest in the home’ are well-known descriptions of Agni. “Amṛto martyeṣu – the immortal within mortals” as Agni is described (e,g., RV 4.2.1) matches “nṛṣad – in men”. Three terms are related: ṛtasad, ṛtajā, ṛtam. The first one means “is present in Cosmic Order”, the second “born of Cosmic Order”, the third “is the Cosmic Order”. These three terms coming together in this verse demonstrate the very core of Vedic philosophy. In a majority of hymns the gods are described as born from Cosmic Order, adhering to Cosmic Order, keepers of Cosmic Order, etc., resulting in a popular (especially among Western Indology specialists) notion that the gods are somehow subservient to, and are “governed” by, Cosmic Order. The image that these Western scholars create is that of a rowdy bunch who are kept in discipline by this matronly Cosmic Order. However, in this verse, Agni is the Supreme All-in-One. He is the Cosmic Order, he is the soul of Cosmic Order, he embodies it, and is the child of Cosmic Order. By extension, all the gods are an embodiment of Cosmic Order, which is an expression of their essential nature.

Moreover, this triple epithet of Agni only reflects the consistent metaphysics that we will see below.

Supreme singularity, or reconciliation of opposites
A supreme, all-encompassing, spiritual principle which is the material and efficient cause of the universe is expected, not surprisingly, to be described in terms of opposites. This supreme “singularity” would be the state of neutralization of worldly opposites, a state of existence where the manifested opposites of worldly existence have no meaning, or from which state the opposites emerge to form the structures of the world. This state of singularity is the supreme, self-luminous Observer who knows his own existence, and who exists both before the universe comes into being and after the universe is dissolved.
The Upanishads and Vedanta declare this non-dual state of existence as the ultimate reality. Not surprisingly, the Rig Veda is already full of such descriptions with regard to Agni. Comparing this to the Big Bang theory of modern physics, the energy is the state of singularity when there was no space, time or matter. The total energy content cannot increase or decrease, so it will always exist regardless of the specific structure of matter, space or time. However, the one missing piece in this theory is an absolute observer that validates the existence of this state.
Here we will see some specific ways in which Agni is described as a unity of opposites or dualities.
1. Energy and Matter, or Eater and Eaten, or Consumer and Consumed
This duality is perhaps the most fundamental in the universe. In fact, this duality is the basis for the separate existence of things that make up the structure of the universe. If everything was one, then what would eat what? Then there would be no grass, no deer, no tigers, no separate entities, no protons, neutrons or electrons or atoms or molecules. However, because there is evidence of recycling of things in the universe, there must be a single source of all opposites. This is what the sage Viśvāmitra Gāthina (RV 3.26.7) realized as his identity with Agni:
अग्निरस्मि जन्मना जातवेदाः घृतं मे चक्षुरमृतं म आसन् ।
अर्कस्त्रिधातू रजसो विमानो अजस्रो घर्मो हविरस्मि नाम ॥
agnirasmi janmanā jātavēdāḥ ghṛtaṁ me cakṣuramṛtaṁ ma āsan|
arkastridhātū rajaso vimāno ajasro gharmo havirasmi nāma||

agnirasmi janmanā jātavēdāḥ I am Agni, omniscient by birth” – here the sage has a flash of illuminating realization that he and the universal observer are one and the same. “ajasro gharmo havirasmi nāma I am Eternal heat, as well as the sacred food offering.” – here the symbols of the sacrificial ritual are used to denote the universal opposites of energy and matter, eater and eaten. He is both of them. This is the realization of the oneness behind all forms that recycle interchangeably.

2. Male and Female
This duality is another fundamental aspect of the manifested universe. Mythologies of all ancient cultures have a creation myth that has a first male and first female that produce the world. Even modern genetics expounds two fundamental types of chromosomes in DNA, X and Y that are gender-related. And yet, when the ultimate origins are questioned, logically there would have had to be a gender-neutral state from which the duality emerged, because neither a male nor a female by itself could produce the universe – by their very definition, they need to come together for any production or reproduction. Here by ‘male’ and ‘female’ we should understand ‘donor’ and ‘recipient’ or ‘force’ and ‘potential’, which denote more universal metaphysical ideas than mere sexual identity in mammals.
To recognize and realize the state of gender-neutrality requires insight into the deeper reality of all things, which is an absolute, universal observer. This is what the sage Trita Āptya (RV 10.5) realized as Agni:
असच्च सच्च परमे व्योमन् दक्षस्य जन्मन्नदितेरुपस्थे ।
अग्निर्ह नः प्रथमजा ऋतस्य पूर्व आयुनि वृषभश्च धेनुः ॥ 7
asacca sacca parame vyoman dakṣasya janmannaditerupasthe |
agnirha naḥ prathamajā ṛtasya pūrva āyuni vṛṣabhaśca dhenuḥ ||

pūrva āyuni vṛṣabhaśca dhenuḥ Before creation, he was both Bull and Cow” – here the very culturally universal symbols of bull and cow are used for male and female. Before the manifestation of the universe, the potentialities of maleness and femaleness were undifferentiated in Agni, but then came forth as concrete forms in the manifested universe.
Another observation in the hymns to Agni is that although he is a male deity for all practical purposes, he is identified with all the female deities as well. For example:
Vāmadeva Gautama (RV 4.1.20)
विश्वेषामदितिर्यज्ञियानाम् – viśveṣām aditir yajniyānām – Of all gods, he is Aditi” It is well-known that Aditi is the mother of all gods.
Gṛtsamada Bhārgava (RV 2.1.11)
“You, Agni, are the goddesses Aditi, Bhārati, Iḍā and Sarasvati.”
3. Father and Son; Father and Daughter
Another fundamental duality in relationships is that of progenitor and offspring. In the universe, for all practical purposes, the father of a creature cannot be the creature’s son. Nor is it logical to say that a father is his daughter’s son. This generational differentiation is a linear progression that is a natural outcome of reproduction.
However, after realizing the non-duality of existence, there is no escape from the knowledge that such relationships of the universe have no meaning behind or beyond the universe. Or, from the perspective of first origins, the son cannot have been without the existence of a father, but the father would have to be someone’s son. So the ideas of ‘father’ and ‘son’ are of mutual origin from a source where there is neither father nor son. This is the realization of the sage Parāśara Śāktya (RV 1.69.2) regarding Agni:
“परि प्रजातः क्रत्वा बभूथ भुवो देवानां पिता पुत्रः सन् ”
pari prajātaḥ kratvā babhūtha bhuvo devānām pitā putraḥ san
“Manifested everywhere by your power, you have become the father of the gods, being already their son.”
So the sage is reiterating the realization that Agni is all and all is Agni.
Moreover, from the Trita Āptya verse quoted above, it is seen that Agni’s primeval state of non-duality implies that Dakṣa is born from Aditi, who is his daughter. As observed above, this is due to the metaphysical need for a first origin. This same Dakṣa-Aditi symbolism is elaborated in another hymn RV 10.72.4:
“अदितेर्दक्षो अजायत दक्षाद्वदितिः परि”
aditer dakṣo ajāyata dakṣād u aditiḥ pari”
“From Aditi was born Dakṣa and from Dakṣa was Aditi born”
4. Unmanifest and Manifest, or Non-existence and Existence, or Non-being and Being
This duality is a rather subtle subject of metaphysics and philosophy, but no doubt it is much closer to the question of first origin and to the absolute non-dual reality. In all of Indian philosophy, this duality has two words: Asat and Sat. However, these same two words are used in slightly different meanings in different contexts in the Rig Veda and Upanishads, hence the three different pairs of dualities in the heading.
Subtle distinctions need to be made between the three pairs of dualities. ‘Non-being’ is a null, an absolute nothing. ‘Being’ is the opposite – a ‘something’, a final, irreducible absolute state of “is-ness”. When this ‘Being’ has not taken on a specific mode, it is ‘Non-existence’, whereas ‘Existence’ is a mode of ‘Being’. ‘Unmanifest’ is the state of ‘Existence’ that is imperceptible to a set of mind and senses, whereas ‘Manifest’ can be perceived by a mind and a group of senses.
For sure, neither Rig Veda nor Upanishads teach a state of pure nothing or null as it goes against all spiritual experience. So undifferentiated ‘Being’ is the ground zero or absolute reality of the Rig Veda and Upanishads. From this clarity, we can understand that in chapter 6 of Chandogya Upanishad, Sat means ‘Being’, which is why it is asked, “How can Being arise from Non-being? It cannot be so. Hence Being alone was in the beginning.” Similarly, in Rig Veda 1.164.46, Sat could mean ‘Being’ or ‘Existence’, “There is one Being or Existence, though sages describe it in many ways.”
Harking back to the Trita Āptya verse quoted above, Agni is said to be “Asat and Sat at the highest level (parame vyoman – literally “highest heaven” or “highest space”, meaning the highest state or sphere of existence, above and beyond the mundane world)”. In the next line, Agni is called “the first-born of Cosmic Order”. We have to reconcile these two descriptions. Since Cosmic Order implies a fully functional universe, Agni is here the “first ray of the light of consciousness” in a specific universe. In other words, he is the personal God. However, in the highest state, far removed from the universe, where there is no notion of Cosmic Order due to the absence of a Cosmos, Agni is “both Existence and Non-existence”, in other words, he is undifferentiated Being. This line of thought is confirmed by the last quarter of the verse “before creation, both Bull and Cow”. So, what will become the gender duality of bull and cow within the Cosmos, is undifferentiated Bull-Cow before creation, i.e. before Cosmos, i.e. both Existence and Non-existence, i.e. Pure Being in the highest state, i.e. the state of non-dual singularity. This same concept is also found in the famous Nasadiya hymn, RV 10.129: “There was neither non-existence nor existence then”, “That One breathed without breath on its own.”
5. Moving and Stationary; Moving and Unmoving
Aristotle is pretty famous for the concept of the “unmoved mover” as a first principle. However, this concept was nothing new. Thousands of years before Aristotle, the Rig Veda is full of such descriptions of the Supreme Unity, the Absolute Singularity of Existence and Consciousness in terms of opposites.
Viśvāmitra Gāthina (RV 3.55.7) describes Agni as:
द्विमाता होता विदथेषु सम्राडन्वग्रं चरति क्षेति बुध्नः।
dvimātā hotā vidatheṣu samrāṭ anvagraṁ carati kṣeti budhnaḥ
“The one who has two mothers (heaven and earth), or the one who is the creator of two (heaven and earth), who is the sovereign in spiritual conferences, he moves ahead even while he rests as foundation.”
First, the description of Agni as “son of two or creator of two” shows again the fundamental concept of Agni as the unifying “bridge” who transcends opposites and yet from whom opposites emerge. Then he is said to move even as he sits. This is an exact paraphrase of Īśopaniṣad, “तदेजति तन्नेजति, “It moves, it moves not“.
Also, Trita Āptya (RV 10.5.3) says, “विश्वस्य नाभिं चरतो ध्रुवस्य – viśvasya nābhiṁ carato dhruvasya – He is the center or origin of all that moves and all that is stationary.” In other words, Agni is the single source of opposites created in the universe. Or rather, Agni is the state of Existence-Consciousness that transcends worldly opposites.
Any genuine metaphysical description of the ultimate reality can only use negations of worldly opposites, as the state of ultimate reality is one of uniform, undifferentiated, “non-lumpy” existence as well as pure awareness of the existence. Existence and knowledge of existence are inseparable because if I don’t know I exist, then I am a null, a non-existent. These ideas lead to the root of all knowledge and experience, and to the deepest truth of all, which we shall see in the next post.
We have explored some deep spiritual (or, more accurately, metaphysical – which means “beyond physical” – which actually represents the idea of “spiritual” in the sense of non-corporeal) conception of Agni in the Rig Veda that correspond perfectly with the teachings of the Upanishads. Agni is realized and recognized by the sages as the non-dual singularity and the absolute observer that is the Brahman of Upanishads. In the next post, we shall see a much deeper level of meaning in some of the Rig Vedic verses that are only rarely seen in the Upanishads.
I must mention Ananda K. Coomaraswamy here as my inspiration and indirect teacher. He is a true sage in the likeness of the Vedic sages in his deep insight into the meaning of Vedic and Upanishadic texts, and his profound wisdom in connecting all texts into a systematic whole. His collected writings on the Vedas are published as “Perception of the Vedas” by Manohar Publishers, and is available on Amazon.
AKC completely rejects the methods of modern Western oriental scholars who look at the Rig Veda as a document of history devoid of metaphysical and spiritual content. He considers the Rig Veda as just the opposite – as dealing with eternal matters and not of any historical events, and this is also the traditional view. He shows with scholarly rigor and precision that each of the terms in the Rig Veda have a specific interpretation in metaphysics and that the Vedic verses were composed with the intention of expressing these metaphysics. The sages of the Rig Veda took the underlying metaphysical theory for granted when composing the verses so that there is no systematic exposition of the doctrine, but AKC recovers it by consolidating scattered verses throughout the text. He also shows the complete equivalence of the Vedic verses with the later Upanishads excepting linguistic changes in modes of expression. Another important discussion is on the real meaning and purpose of Vedic yajna (sacrifice) which is always an emulation of the “First Primal Sacrifice” done by the Gods to create the universe.
In summary, these essays are an insightful presentation of the theory of Vedic metaphysics on universal and individual Consciousness, God and the source of God, and other topics of spiritual significance.
This book is a must-have, if you are a lover of metaphysics and like to ponder deeply on questions about the nature of “God” and the universe, and the relation of individual multiplicities of existence to the single unity of undivided existence, and how different traditional systems are set up to lead to enlightenment.

Agni : Divine Darkness, or Light within the Darkness, or Divine Death, or Death before Life
Aug 2nd, 2015

If you are reading this before the articles “Agni – Part 1 and Part 2”, it is strongly recommended that you read them first as they will prepare the way for ideas discussed here.

I must once again express my gratitude and reverence to Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (AKC), one of the pioneers of Perennial Philosophy, who was a true Vedic sage – a rishi – in his comprehensive and integral, but at the same time deep and genuine, understanding of Vedic metaphysics. I also continue his use of ‘metaphysics’ in preference to ‘philosophy’ or ‘spirituality’, as the former term accurately describes the system of ideas, concepts and teachings of the Vedic literature and deep enlightenment regarding the “non-physical” or “beyond-physical”, i.e. “meta-physical” state that should result from the triple action of ṥravaṇa, manana, nididhyāsana (learning, pondering and meditating) that is the famous classic path of Vedanta. Truly, there is no difference between what has been called “Rig Veda, etc.”, i.e. the “Karma Kāṇḍa” and the “Upanishads”, i.e. the “Jñāna Kāṇḍa” except the age of the language and turn of phrase. But then, there is the real difference that the older Rig Veda uses much more complex symbolism than the younger Upanishad. The trick to unraveling symbolism is that the same symbol can stand for many things at many levels.
At the outset, I would like to emphasize my shortcomings in comparison to the genius of AKC in his energetic synthesis of different verses of the Rig Veda and Upanishads. Although every essay of his has countless gems of interconnected deductions, the following essays in particular contain material that is pertinent to my present endeavor:
1. A New Approach to the Vedas
2. The Darker Side of Dawn
3. Angel and Titan: An Essay in Vedic Ontology
4. The Vedic doctrine of ‘Silence’
5. The Tantric doctrine of divine biunity
6. Kha and other words denoting ‘zero’ in connection with the Indian metaphysics of space
7. On the one and only transmigrant
8. Vedic ‘Monotheism’
9. Vedic Exemplarism
I shall proceed to list key ideas and concepts in as logical an order as I can think of, with references from the Rig Veda and other texts that AKC has used and also a few more that are obviously in context. The overarching goal is to show by interconnecting the texts, that the rishis of the Rig Veda had fathomed the deepest secret, the deepest and most profound truth about the nature of reality. They had experienced the ultimate, irreducible state of “enlightening darkness” which level of oxymoron is the only way to describe that supreme, absolute, irreducible state of Existence-Knowledge.
1. Agni and other “Gods of Light/Heaven” are in fact “dark” in their origin. Their original state, i.e. before creation and manifestation of the universe is described.
Pañcaviṁśa Brāhmaṇa 25.15.4: सर्प्या: वा आदित्याः sarpyāḥ vā ādityāḥ The Gods are really serpents.

AKC reiterates that the descriptions of Gods prior to “coming into the light” is ophidian (serpent-like). This should not connote any vicious, terrifying or repulsive images that one may have of real-world snakes. The deep significance of the intricate symbol of serpent is noteworthy.

The long and unsegmented body of the serpent symbolizes the totality of all Being or Existence in its undifferentiated state. In fact, the most prominent myth in the Rig Veda is that of Indra cutting up the serpent Vritra into pieces that become parts of the universe. However, the myth that precedes this shows Indra and Vritra as best friends before creation of the universe. Therefore, antecedent to separation of things in creation, all Existence was in the form of a serpent, so to speak.
2. Agni is in fact explicitly described as a serpent, or with actions of a serpent.
Gotama Rāhūgaṇa (RV 1.79.1): अहि: धुनिः ahiḥ dhuniḥ A raging serpent
Aitareya Brāhmaṇa 3.36:
एष ह वा अहिर्बुध्न्यो यदग्निर्गार्हपत्य: eṣa ha vā ahirbudhnyo yad agnir gārhapatyaḥ This Agni Gārhapatyaḥ (i.e. the foundational fire) is truly the serpent of the deep.
Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa 7.3.2.14:
अद्भ्य उपोदासृप्तं पुष्करपर्णे adbhya upodāsṛptaṁ puṣkaraparṇe He had crept out of the waters onto a lotus leaf.
In the last reference, Agni is likened to a serpent slithering out from the water onto a lotus leaf. This description is loaded with several related doctrines. The lotus (puṣkara) is the symbol of an individual manifested world. As Agni is the First Manifested Principle (i.e. “God”) in any world (prathamajā ṛtasya), it is consistent with other references linking Agni to the lotus (for example, RV 6.16.13: Atharvan churned Agni from the Lotus, from Viśva’s head).
3. Agni is ‘endless’ or ‘infinite’ before manifestation or creation
The last reference tells us Agni was a slithering unsegmented Being until he crept up onto a lotus leaf, at which point, he is in a world that he created by virtue of his creeping up onto it. Before that, he is said to have no hands or feet. This is significant as the foot is a discrete mode of motion. A foot needs a solid distinct “ground” upon which to move in finite, discrete, measured “quanta”. However, slithering needs no “ground” as it is a continuous, non-discrete motion that is non-differentiated or “unmeasured”. Thus, the foot is the symbol for a distinct manifestation or a created world. Hence, the footless serpent is the symbol for the state prior to creation, prior to distinct entities.
Vāmadeva Gautama (RV 4.1.7): अनन्ते अन्तः परिवीत आगात् anante antaḥ parivīta āgāt Enveloped in the infinite, may he come to us.
Vāmadeva Gautama (RV 4.1.11):
स जायत… बुध्ने रजसः अस्य योनौ … अपादशीर्षा गुहमानो अन्ता sa jāyata… budhne rajasaḥ asya yonau… apādaśīrṣā guhamāno antā He is born in the depths of space (or waters – compare Ahi Budhnya, serpent of the deep, above) in his own womb… Without feet and without a head, he conceals his ends.
‘Conceals his ends’ essentially means infinite. Here again, the image of a serpent with its tail in its mouth comes to mind, such that the Being is continuous, unsegmented (without intervals or gaps), full of infinite potentialities prior to manifestation.

Because Agni is infinite, he is never exhausted after emptying out all the potentialities to manifest the universe. This is corroborated by Viśvāmitra Gāthina (RV 3.26.9): “शतधारमुत्समक्षीयमाणं śatadhāram utsam akṣīyamāṇam – He is an inexhaustible fountain of a hundred streams.
4. Agni dwells in the Darkness prior to creation
The idea of Agni, the exemplar of worldly light, dwelling in darkness is very paradoxical and strange at first. However, this reveals the highest conception of the Vedic sages which they symbolized as Agni. Perhaps we might get a better understanding by looking at the instances in the Rig Veda:
Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya (RV 6.9.7): विश्वे देवा अनमस्यन् भियानाः त्वामग्ने तमसि तस्थिवांसम् viśve devā anamasyan bhiyānāḥ tvām agne tamasi tasthivāṁsam – All the Gods bowed in fear to you, Agni, when you dwelt in the Darkness.
RV 10.51.5:
एहि … तमसि क्षेष्यग्ने सुगान्पथः कृणुहि देवयानान् वह हव्यानि सुमनस्यमानः ehi … tamasi kṣeṣi agne … sugān pathaḥ kṛṇuhi devayānān vaha havyāni sumanasyamānaḥ – Come … you are dwelling in the darkness … make our paths easy-faring and carry sacred offerings, being of good will to us.

RV 10.124.1:
इमं … यज्ञमेहि … असो हव्यवाळुत नः पुरोगाः ज्योगेव दीर्घं तम आशयिष्ठाः imam yajñamehi aso havyavāḍuta naḥ purogāḥ jyogeva dīrgham tama āśayiṣṭhāḥ – Come to this sacrifice, O Life-eternal, carrier of sacred offering and our leader. You have stayed too long in darkness.
These verses show the fundamental doctrine in the form of myth, i.e. by the use of Gods as personalities pleading Agni to come out of the darkness and set the sacrifice “rolling” by creating paths and carrying offerings between the worlds, which in effect causes the worlds to be created.
There is a more profound metaphysical doctrine hidden in those descriptions of Agni dwelling in the darkness. As already pointed out, it is a paradox that the paragon of light should stay in darkness. This should give us the clue that physical light is not meant here. Agni is the pure self-consciousness and existence that is the foundation of all empirical experience. Agni is the pure “I” that is the final and ultimate irreducible state of singular existence-consciousness from which worlds are created and into which they dissolve. Such a state is characterized by complete absence of multiplicity of names and forms, which implies absence of the Light of Creation that exposes, differentiates and defines the forms and names that constitute the universe.
In contrast, this “Agni dwelling in darkness” is a “Dark Light”. Compare this to Chandogya Upanishad 1.6, “The white light of the sun is ‘sa’ and the extremely dark blue black light is ‘ama’ and together they make ‘saama’.” So Vedic tradition symbolizes a dark light that is behind the white light of the sun. This ‘Dark Light’ is the ‘Agni dwelling in darkness’ which is a Silent Observer existing alone in inaction. This is the state of Brahman of the Upanishads. The famous Nāsadīya Sūktam (RV 10.129) confirms the same concept:
तम आसीत्तमसा गूळ्हमग्रे … आनीदवातं स्वधया तदेकं तस्माद्धान्यन्न परः किञ्चनास tama āsīt tamasā gūḷham agre … ānīd avātam svadhayā tadekam tasmāddha anyan na paraḥ kiñcanāsa In the beginning darkness was covered by darkness … That One breathed without breath; other than That One there was nothing else.
The above Rig Veda verses depict the myth of creation where the “Gods” are eager for Agni to come out of the darkness, i.e. project the First Ray of Universal Light, which is also depicted in different myths. One of them is that Agni-Ahi Budhyna the Primordial Serpent crept up on a lotus leaf. Another one is Indra slaying the Primordial Serpent under the name Vritra and cutting him up into parts that become the universe (along with releasing the waters of life). The true meaning of the Vedic yajna is to realize the original unity of the Serpent, and ritually effect the conjoining of the parts of Agni or Prajapati to make him whole. This is the true meaning of Agnicayana. This inner meaning of the ritual was adopted by Upanishad sages to various degrees, for example, as the Inner Fire Ritual (āntaram agnihotram) to be effected intellectually to realize the Primordial Unity.
Thus, it has been shown that Vedic metaphysics has always been consistent in its essential doctrine, while only changing in language and idiom.
The continuity has been carried on into Puranic symbolism. The most conspicuous example of Vedic serpent symbolism is the mythology of Vishnu resting on the thousand-hooded serpent Ananta Shesha.

The name of the serpent is variously Ananta (Infinite), Shesha (Remnant), Adi Shesha (Primordial Remnant). So obviously this is the same infinite Vedic serpent Agni-Ahi Budhnya. Shesha is what remains after creation. But he is Ananta Shesha, i.e. Infinite Remnant, which is an overstatement of the concept that what is infinite is never emptied out.
Vishnu is the Supreme God of the universe, whereas Ananta is the Godhead, the source of the God. This may come as a little shock to devout Hindus. Vishnu emerges out of Ananta, and rests on Ananta as his foundation. Vishnu is manifested in the universe, “visible” and active as the universal consciousness. Ananta is unmanifested, “invisible” as the Silent Observer existing alone in inaction. Of course, in the end Vishnu and Ananta are one and the same.
Author: Ram Abloh
Aug 14th, 2017
Full profile of this Author can be viewed at : https://www.quora.com/profile/Ram-Abloh?ch=10&share=8afff2bd&srid=12MJJ

The Nature of Agni in RigVedā:
The Rigvedic philosophy is not much difficult to get if one removes the hunt for a supreme God or the notion that “my supposed vision is going to be the A-Z of the Rigveda”. Analyzing Rigveda is a tougher job only when you are closed to its poetic beauties, you do not pay heed to its own voice and instead, you approach it with words of someone else. Unfortunately, the people who have managed to work to find the Rigvedic essence of philosophy and you happen to think yourself small before them does not indicate they are “condescending”.
Let’s see what the Vedic Agni means, in the light of Rigvedic mentions.
The Agni, as we see, has a multitude of depth in its symbols, though it is based on a physical symbol associated with it – the fire. Agni is the hotar, the “invoker” who invokes the concepts of God on behalf of the devotee. Agni is the one on whose kindling a relationship is established between the spiritual mind and the physical mind (Remember the symbols – heaven dyaus and earth prthivi) His kindling, thus brings the concepts of God to our mind, and he is thus the bringer of concepts of God. ( sa devaan eha vakshati)
The Agni is thus the spiritual fire. His fire burns as the never stopped fire in the spirit of life, and also as the fire that needs to be kindled in the spiritual realm. His kindling is synonymous with the spiritual dawn, and Agni is thus, the firstborn in the spiritual realm. All concepts of God are seen by the worshiper through Agni. Agni is the seat (barhis) for the concepts of God. Agni the spiritual fire is the medium by which the devotee worships the divine. It is that divine seat of concepts of God that extends from the point in the physical mind to the apex of spiritual realms of the mind. Thus, Agni is said to extend from “the centre of earth” (centre of earth is a common Vedic symbol for the sacrificial spiritual fire in the physical mind, compare Dirghatamas, 1.164 ) to the “apex of sky/heaven” (spiritual realm, spiritual mind). This is a common description of Agni in Rigveda, like for example :
Agnir murdhaa divah kakut patih prthivyaa ayam.
The Agni also dispels darkness, (doshaa /tamas..) through his light brings the spiritual awakening into the mind. Agni is the abode of True concepts. Agni makes the devotee thus conscious of the Truth as the guardian of immortality. (Barhaspatya Bharadvaja 6.9) Agni being the son of “who”, the Reality, thus knows what exactly are the warps and woofs that made this creation. (ota-prota, 6.9)
The Agni accepts our offerings and rises to the “summit of heaven” from the “centre of earth”. (Gathina Vishvamitra 3.5.9) Thus, he pillars the spiritual realms of mind onto the physical mind. He is thus the “messenger” of the physical mind of the devotee. (duuta) The Agni is also present in the sun as heat. Since Sun of Rigveda represents the embodiment of Reality in the spiritual realm, its rays being the concepts of God, Agni who focuses the concepts of God in Himself is nothing but a form comparable rays of Sun. Thus, Agni is in the Sun, Agni is in the lightning, Agni is in the sacrificial fire. Agni’s light pervades all the seven realms of spiritual existence and His summit reaches the Truth. (The seven realms of spiritual existence are called the vyaahrtis present in the pranaayama mantra associated with Gayatri mantra in Yajurveda)
Agni is also the life present in all the organisms. He is also the spiritual life. Agni is thus present everywhere, and He spreads truth and light everywhere.
Why is Agni related to Bhūḥ, Vāyu to Bhuvaḥ and Sūrya to Svaḥ? (June 28th, 2020)
Agni as fire is what that permeates across earth, Vāyu is the air that permeates across the mid-space and Sūrya is the sun who permeates the sky.
But the words, being “vyāhṛtis”, are supposed to be mystic and implying word-plays. They indeed do. Bhūḥ reminds of “bhū” – implying “be”. Agni is the basic quality that exists then, fueling what is to be – it is an upward push towards existence. Bhuvaḥ reminds one of “bhuva-”, something that has been “becoming”. Vāyu exists as life then – it is dynamic and without a specific path or limit. Svaḥ reminds one of “sva” – the “self” which is when one has become self-conscious – it is reflecting back on you. And no surprises for our already known association of sun with the self.
 

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Vedā: Indra

Indra in Vedā
In the Veda, Indra along with other gods is the highest form of divinity and is worshiped as a protector and close friend. He is the creator and sustainer of the world. In all of the Rigvedic hymns, he is praised for killing Vrtra and releasing the waters from his stranglehold so that life may begin. He is the active god who does deeds of strength for the welfare of mankind. This much is the adhibhuta (physical) and adhidaivata (celestial) level.
EDIT ADD: I also wanted to add the fact that Indra and other devatas were not just “elite gods” worshiped through Vedic mantras. At the village level, Indra had many Utsavas such as Vasantotsava. This is clearly illustrated in Krishna’s story of raising the Govardhana hill. It shows a long-standing tradition of village festivals honoring Indra for his rains. So this is one instance of the newer gods displacing Indra as the village god.
At the adhyatma (metaphysical) level, he is also the omnipresent spirit in everything. For example:
रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बभूव तदस्य रूपं प्रतिचक्षणाय ।
इन्द्रो मायाभिः पुरुरूप ईयते युक्ता ह्यस्य हरयो शता दश ।।
“He became the inner form of every form. This is his form to behold. Indra by his creative powers assumes many forms, his 1000 rays are yoked, always ready.”
Another one:
वयः सुपर्णा उपसेदुरिन्द्रं प्रियमेधा ऋषयो नाधमानाः ।
अपध्वान्तमूर्णुहि पूर्धि चक्षुर्मुमुग्ध्यस्मान्निधयेव बद्धान् ।।
“The rishis, as beautiful-winged birds flew towards Indra, singing hymns pleasing to him. They said, remove our evil, fill our eyes with vision, release us from our bondage just like birds released from a cage.”
So here you have aspects of Jnana and Bhakti.
There is an even deeper symbolism in the Vrtra-killing myth as explained by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in “Perception of the Vedas”. While Agni, Soma, and Varuna were the “pre-gods” before creation or manifestation of the universe, they were “dark”, “continuous”, ophidian (“ahi” “ahi budhyna” “ahimaya”) and unmanifested “Asat” and were identical with Asura, the great primeval father. Indra is the first wakening of the individual ego, “light”, “discrete”, “footed” and manifested “Sat”. Indra’s killing of Vrtra is simultaneous with the awakening of Agni and Soma into individual gods. It is light that is the cause of creation as it separates and distinguishes. But it is also not immortal because it changes, and causes things to change. The pre-Indra Agni, Soma, and Varuna are immortal because they existed before light, in the darkness which is the foundation of existence.
Especially Agni in the Vedas is a symbol for the highest spiritual principle, absolute truth, undivided consciousness, the singularity of opposites. In fact, Agni = Brahman of Upanishad. For more details, please see: Ram Abloh’s answer to What are your favourite passages of the Vedas or any other Hindu text? and also this blog:
Golden Reed – Hiraṇyaya Vetasa
Now coming to the Puranic depiction which you know well. After the time of the Vedic rishis, the original, spiritual concept of yajna became more mechanical and devoid of its earlier inner meaning. The Upanishad rishis wanted to bring back the Jnana and Bhakti of earlier Vedas, but for this, they had to break the association of the now-degraded yajna and gods. So they put down individual gods and gave a new name “Brahman” to the earlier “Agni” so that the message is not confused with the yajna Agni.
In parallel, popular religion was combining Bhagavata tradition with Vedic gods Vishnu and Rudra to come up with new deities of Vishnu-Narayana and Rudra-Shiva. Although we already find these personalities in Yajurveda (i.e in Narayana suktam, and Rudra Namakam/Chamakam), in the Puranas they become primary gods. Indra and other former Vedic gods now occupy a second-rank position.
In a way, Puranic religion is a highly simplified version of Vedic religion. The Vedic gods were never very concrete personalities, they merged into one another, they had very deep symbolism, the yajna was very intricate in symbol and metaphysics. By contrast, the Puranic Vishnu and Shiva are more personified, they have families, friends, enemies, careers. Of course, the same spiritual loftiness is assigned to them, but more often than not, they are easily approached by simple Bhakti and prayer than complex rituals.
Author/ Researcher: Ram Abloh
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Indra from Rigveda 1.32
Composer: Hiraṇyastūpa Āṅgirasa
Metre: Triṣṭubh

Now shall I proclaim the great activities of Indra, which the Striker performed first,
He killed the indestructible, he cleaved open the waters, he split off the strongholds of mountains.
He killed the indestructible Ahin lying over the mountain, Tvaṣṭṛ fashioned the sun-like vajra for Him,
Like bellowing running milch-cows, the waters straight away sped on to the sea.
As the Mighty, He chose soma for Himself, He drunk of the expressed from three cups,
The Generous one took vajra for his missile, he destroyed (ahan) this foremost of ahins.
Then when Indra destroyed (ahan) the foremost of ahins, he dismantled the tricks of tricksters; (definitions of definers?)
Since then, generating the sun and dawn, you indeed found no rival.
He, Indra, destroyed Vṛtra, the typical vṛtra, (blocker) he whose shoulders were apart by the great deadly vajra,
Like the logs of wood hacked down by an axe, the Ahin lies, embracing the earth.
Like a non-warrior, he, of evil pride, (or drunken?) challenged the great hero, the much responsible Indra of Silvery (soma?)
Nay, he didn’t withstand His attack of deadly blows – the one with Indra as an enemy, the sickening blows in his receptor.
Footless and handless, he lost to Indra, for He stroke the vajra upon his joints.
A castrated who tried to counter-define the Bull, Vṛtra lay shattered apart, in many places.
Over him who lies split, like a riverine reed, the rising waters of mind flow;
Even those whom Vṛtra once surrounded in might, the Ahin lay at their very feet.
She, of son Vṛtra, had her capability go down; Indra bore his deadly weapon off her,
Upward was mother, downward the son – Dānu lay like milch-cow with her calf.
In the middle of the never-resting, never-confining courses are his sunken body.
Away from Vṛtra’s secrecy, the waters flow out. The one with Indra as enemy lay in perpetual darkness.
The waters – once stood as wives of Dāsa, having Ahin for the herdsman. The waters – those restricted like the cows of Paṇis.
That which was the opening for waters – He having killed Vṛtra, uncovered it.
You were being a horse-tail, when he struck his fangs (sṛke) at you, O One God!
You won the cows, O Hero, you won soma, you released the seven streams to flow.
No lightning, no thunder for him repelled (Indra), neither did the mist or hail he scattered;
When Indra and Ahin would battle, the Generous one obtained victory then and also in after-ages.
Whom did you see then as the exterminator of Ahin, so that thrill came to your heart then, O Destroyer?*
Nine-and-ninety streams then you crossed over, like a thrilled falcon over the skies.
Indra is the king of the traveling and the settled, of the depressed and the horned.
And HE is the King, he rules over the masses, As a rim envelopes the wheel spokes, so has he enveloped all.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Aug 24th, 2016

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Indra from Rigveda 2.12
Composer: Gr̥tsamadaḥ Bhārgavaḥ śaunakaḥ
Meter: Tr̥ṣṭubh

He who emerged as the only one born first, encapsulating the mind, as
The God of the divine concepts by inspiration,
By the hissing of whose heroic greatness the two realms shook,
He, O folks, is Indra.
He who tied together with the shattered width, He who fixed calm the outraged hurdles,
He who measured out the great middle region and fixed support for the sky,
He, O folks, is Indra.
He who, weakening the cloud, released the seven streams
And drove the kine from Vala’s cave
He who created the fire between the two rubbing clouds (or stones or hurdles), the spoiler in battles,
He, O folks, is Indra.
By whom this oscillating universe was created, He who chased the silenced group of separated Dasas,
He who, like a gambler collecting the lakhs of wealth, seized the foe’s abundances,
He, O folks, is Indra.
Of Him the frightful one, they usually ask, “where is he?” or even say of Him, “He does not exist”
He sweeps away, like birds, the abundances of the rich,
Put your faith in him, for He, O folks, is Indra.
He who is the stirrer of the oppressed and lowly, of the poet and his suppliant who recites loud,
He the great sage who envelopes the one with sowed soma and singers,
He, O folks, is Indra.
In whose direction are all the Ashvas, cows, villages and the chariots,
He who created the sun and the dawn, He who leads the waters,
He, O folks, is Indra.
To whom the two crying armies call out in battle, both enemies – the strong and the weak,
He whom two invoke, in a common mind-chariot, each for himself,
He, O folks, is Indra.
From without his whose orders, people don’t conquer,
He whom the fighting ones invoke for protection,
He who has become the model of the whole world, He who shakes even the Acyuta (motionless), He, O folks, is Indra.
He who weakens the perpetually disregarding (sinners) through his weakening force,
He who, without giving way, ridicules the mocking ones,
He who is the weakener of Dasyus, He, O folks, is Indra.
He who found the quiet Shambara among the hurdles, in the fortieth autumn,
He who through his vigor, slayed the water-born resting-cloud, He, O folks, is Indra.
He who with seven rays, the Mighty bull, caused to flow the flowing seven waters;
He who, thunder-hurling, made shine the uprising one as he scaled the sky,
He, O folks, is Indra.
To him whom the sky and earth bow, on whose breath the hurdles tremble,
He who is the drinker of the inspired essence, the observed, the thunder-armed,
Yea He who is thunder armed, He, O folks, is Indra.
He who envelopes sowing, the one nurturing, the sacrificing and the toiling person,
Him whom the sowed gift of poem magnifies, He, O folks, is Indra.
You indeed are the Fierce One and the Truth, you give the strength to the sowing and nurturing,
So may we, forever, thy beloved ones, O Indra,
Speak in the assembly with brave ones.
This is the best method by which a Vedic poet could talk about Indra to the masses. (janāsaḥ)
Hail Indra.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Aug 24th, 2016
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Rigveda 6.21

let us come back and visit an Indra hymn from core family maṇḍala. This time, 6.21 from Bharadvāja maṇḍala, composed by Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya. Why I usually delay the discussion of family maṇḍalas is because they are incredibly intricate, complex, and interconnected (For example., this hymn is connected with other Bharadvāja hymns like 6.22).
This hymn is not easy to be translated – not because it contains hapaxes or grammatical complexities, but its lines enclose a lot of information which cannot be condensed to words. You have to feel the hymn. As they say, the Vāk is to be seen in two ways – by thought and by heart. (hṛdā, manasā) Use both the visions and you get what is going on in the hymn. I will let this hymn speak for itself.
Moving on to the hymn.
Rigveda 6.21 – Indra
Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya, Chandas : Triṣṭubh.
imā́ u tvā purutámasya kārórhávyam vīra hávyā havante ǀ
dhíyo ratheṣṭhā́majáram návīyo rayírvíbhūtirīyate vacasyā́ ǁ
támu stuṣa índram yó vídāno gírvāhasam gīrbhíryajñávṛddham ǀ
yásya dívamáti mahnā́ pṛthivyā́ḥ purumāyásya riricé mahitvám ǁ
sá íttámo’vayunám tatanvátsū́ryeṇa vayúnavaccakāra ǀ
kadā́ te mártā amṛ́tasya dhā́méyakṣanto ná minanti svadhāvaḥ ǁ
yástā́ cakā́ra sá kúha svidíndraḥ kámā́ jánam carati kā́su vikṣú ǀ
káste yajñó mánase śám várāya kó arká indra katamáḥ sá hótā ǁ
idā́ hí te véviṣataḥ purājā́ḥ pratnā́sa āsúḥ purukṛtsákhāyaḥ ǀ
yé madhyamā́sa utá nū́tanāsa utā́vamásya puruhūta bodhi ǁ
tám pṛcchántó’varāsaḥ párāṇi pratnā́ ta indra śrútyā́nu yemuḥ ǀ
árcāmasi vīra brahmavāho yā́devá vidmá tā́ttvā mahā́ntam ǁ
abhí tvā pā́jo rakṣáso ví tasthe máhi jajñānámabhí tátsú tiṣṭha ǀ
táva pratnéna yújyena sákhyā vájreṇa dhṛṣṇo ápa tā́ nudasva ǁ
sá tú śrudhīndra nū́tanasya brahmaṇyató vīra kārudhāyaḥ ǀ
tvám hyā́píḥ pradívi pitṝṇā́m śáśvadbabhū́tha suháva éṣṭau ǁ
prótáye váruṇam mitrámíndram marútaḥ kṛṣvā́vase no adyá ǀ
prá pūṣáṇam víṣṇumagním púraṃdhim savitā́ramóṣadhīḥ párvatāṃśca ǁ
imá u tvā puruśāka prayajyo jaritā́ro abhyárcantyarkáiḥ ǀ
śrudhī́ hávamā́ huvató huvānó ná tvā́vām̐ anyó amṛta tvádasti ǁ
nū́ ma ā́ vā́camúpa yāhi vidvā́nvíśvebhiḥ sūno sahaso yájatraiḥ ǀ
yé agnijihvā́ ṛtasā́pa āsúryé mánum cakrúrúparam dásāya ǁ
sá no bodhi puraetā́ sugéṣūtá durgéṣu pathikṛ́dvídānaḥ ǀ
yé áśramāsa urávo váhiṣṭhāstébhirna indrābhí vakṣi vā́jam ǁ
Translation :-
Note that since this hymn comes from an established wordsmith like Bhāradvāja, the hymn is so complexly arranged that I cannot provide you a word-word translation that preserves the word-order. I can only give you the final translation after fixing the order to something that could make sense to you.
O Vīra, the new insights of the best craftsman of many
Invoke the unaging one situated in the chariot –
The one who is invoked with invocations.
The splendrous richness of Vāk manifests.
And him, known as “Indra” do I hymn.
Conveyed by songs, spread out in yajña by songs.
One of many māyās, whose greatness
Has excelled by greatness beyond sky and earth.
So he made the absolutely clueless darkness
To be marked with the sun, as it extended.
How come the seeking mortals not bypass your station?
O Immortal, You who have established yourself!
He who did these, where is that Indra at all?
Which masses does he approach? Among which people?
What yajña is blissful to your thought, your choice?
Which recitation, Indra? Which invoker?
For you who do much, indeed they have actively toiled :
The ancient ones, your friends born earlier,
The ones medieval and those modern.
O most invoked! Be informed of the intimate one.
Questioning it, have the intimate ones followed themselves –
The ancient, well-famed, remote (paths) of yours – O Indra!
We hymn, O Vīra! You who are conveyed by the brahman!
So much of your greatness, just that much as we know.
To you who has manifested in greatness,
The manliness of Rākṣasa stretches wide, Stand well to it!
With your vajra, your companion from the days of old,
O Brave One! Strike these down!
And so, O Indra! O Vīra! Patron of artists!
Listen to the modern poet as he strives for brahman
For you have been the support for ancestors in days before
You have always been the one invoked well in seeking.
Forward, for help lead Varuṇa, the Mitra,
Indra and Maruts, to aid us today.
Forward lead Pūṣan, Viṣṇu, Agni, Puraṃdhi,
The Savitar, the Plants, and Parvatas.
These singers, with recitations hymn you,
First to be worshiped, O Most Capable!
Listen to the call of the caller, as you are called.
There is none immortal like you other than you.
Now, as Him begotten through withstanding, as the Knowing One,
Travel towards this speech of mine with all recipients of worship,
Those which have Agni for tongue and have supported Ṛta,
Who have put the Manu above Dasa.
So to us appear as the leader in good passages,
Also in the hard passages – for you are known as the maker of the path.
These broad, easy-going, best-conveying vehicles
With them, O Indra, convey towards us the strength.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Feb 19th, 2020
Indra from Rigveda to Purana

Indra is derived from the root ind- meaning to “waxen”, “to promote”, “to vivify”. Another popular word from the same root is indu used for the vivifying drops. Indra is the highest form of Divinity who has all the concepts of God in him. Indra “vivifies”, “promotes”, and “waxens”.
Rigveda
All the Rigvedic poems about Indra speak of the autonomous sway of Indra, in whose spiritual concept, all other deities find their place. Indra has all the qualities that are found in other concepts of God. In Indra “abide” all the concepts of God. Indra is the one whose splendor pervades throughout the universe. He through the maya assumes different forms; he verily attacks the illusory elements with their own illusion. He finds the rays of light (cows) from the darkness of ignorance (Vala’s cave), he is against unproductive Capitalism – he frees the cows from Panis who steal and hide them, he attacks the rain cloud Vrtra / Varaha with his lightning and brings the rain of knowledge that connects the spiritual mind (sky) and physical mind (earth), he quietens Shushna (the shrinker; one who causes to shrink) with his (Shushna’s) own illusion and provides wide earth (physical mind). He lets the unwedded maidens of fountains to gush from the mountains. Thus he releases the “cows” (of water streams) from mountains.
Indra is also the model for any Brahmana, any King, any Vaishya as well as any Shudra. As the sagest of all sages, the poet among all poets, he is the model for a Brahmin. As the protector of Rta (eternal Truth, law and order, cognate with English “order”, “right”) he is the model of a King. As the friend of all and connecting the world with his chariot that is vishva-sammishla (universally mingling), he is the model for the common man Vaishya. As the never-failing Help, never failing aid provider, Indra is the model for Shudra. Indra, moreover, clothes the naked and makes the blind see. He uplifts the oppressed and thus is the model for any human.
As the vivifier through the life essence of his rains that connect the spiritual mind and physical mind, we see soma in Indra. As he himself also is the richest in rays of cows of knowledge (Gautama; refer Sub. litany, Taittiriya / Maitrayani Samhita Yajurveda) as well as sows the seed by plowing the infertile and unploughable (a-halya; halya = that which can be plowed) earth of physical mind, (for this reason he is also called Kaushika, kushika means plowshare; ref: Sub. Litany) we see Savitr, the “sowing sun”, and Surya in him. He is the friend of all, he himself sees through Mitra’s eyes. As the ruler of the universe omnipresent, he is Varuna himself. As the killer of hurdles and blockers, “serpents” (or “dragons”, referring to creeping dangers) and darkness, Indra is Agni himself. He creates the world and assumes the role of Tvashtr. He is himself the spiritual Sun; the Vedic symbol of Self and container of Reality, and His radiance is the all illuminating Vishnu, who measures all realms created by Indra. He the provider of riches is simply the Lakshmi form of Agni. As infinite forms, he himself is Aditi.
As the giver of knowledge and sage of sages, Indra is the Brhaspati, he is the Vrshabha in might, he is the splendor that pervades the whole universe. (pashya meha… “See me here” the famous telling of Indra to an agnostic) There is Indra implies that all the concepts of God are there; however, there is no Indra means that there is no God. This is why in Rigveda, we find atheists denying simply Indra directly; because Indra has no single physical symbol – all the symbols form a part of Him. And we find in Rigvedic Indra the God beyond gender, creed, race, form, physical concepts. Though Indra in Rigveda can also be taken, like any other Rigvedic concept of God, as a single concept that is identical with other concepts about the Supreme God, the Rigvedic Indra is conceptually much more. The Indra of Rigveda is the concept of God that contains in itself all other concepts of God.
The Samaveda also talks about the same Indra, and Yajurveda and Atharvaveda also talk of the same Indra who is himself the God. However, the Brahmanas like to see all Vedic devas as “individual gods” and Indra as “Chief of gods”. Still, it is to be noted that all Vedic concepts are still “gods” in Brahmanas and not “demigods”.
Ramayana
By the Ramayana period, we find initial attacks to the Vedic concepts of God by the people who were now in a confused state with different gods. Also, some gods had already started to be degraded to “demigods”. The Ahalya myth is forged. (You may read my answer to What was the story of Indra and Ahalya? in detail) And Indra being the chief “god” attested in Vedas now had to suffer the most. Varuna, another important Rigvedic concept of God was brutally ripped off of his autonomous sway by the Rama. A mere mortal Rama challenges God Varuna himself. (hahaha) Indrajit, a local Rakshasa kid, simply “wins over Indra”. (One should note that Indra simply kills Vrtra, the supreme most of all demons) Rama of Ramayana generously steals many of Indra qualities. In many cases, the Rama is compared with Indra in Ramayana. The Ramayana Sita could have been inspired by Rigvedic Sita. Indra is still mocked in many myths, starting from the tale of Sagara’ horse. (Hehee.. does not it seem amusing to hear that one can become God by killing 100 horses and that God is jealous of man? :p)
Mahabharata
By the Mahabharata period, we find a total mess of gods, demigods, and “Gods”. There we find trinity emerging up, and Indra becomes King of gods. Indra is constantly mocked by furnishing myths. Indra turns out to be merely anthropomorphic character, resembling Greek gods now.
Puranas
The puranic period saw the sectarian gods coming up. No trace of Vedic names of God was left. Even concepts that had some connection with concepts in Vedas were brutally hunted, like suppressing Brahma, accusing him of incest with his daughter and Shiva “chastising him”. (fun) Indra now becomes a position. There is a vacancy in the position after a certain period of time called Manvantara, and a person who has killed 100 horses through Ashvamedha can become Indra. Indra becomes an inefficient chief of the “demigods”, and the “Gods” constantly mock him. In Shiva Purana, Shiva steals the credit of Indra’s achievements, in Vishnu Puranas, Vishnu steals the credit of Indra’s achievements… and so on. Moreover, every rape case is generously loaded on Indra’s head. If some king has his daughter being raped by some guy, he would say “Indra raped her” so that he can escape from the bad image. Some great souls even curse Indra.
The most Supreme deed of restoring Rta by killing Vrtra is turned into a legend of killing a mere demon Vrtra. Puranas, apart from trying to transfer Indra’s credit of killing Vrtra to Vishnu/Shiva/Devi worship, also try to sympathize with Vrtra! This is by making the Vrtra a “Brahmin” (Fun Fun Fun) by modifying the story, and also unnecessarily exaggerating and telling “Dadhici’s sacrifice” so that Indra is devoid of any sympathy from readers. Moreover, the killing of Vrtra is shortened to an act of killing a Brahmin who wished to conquer Devas. Again, we are shown Indra is a bad guy who does anything cruel to protect his group of “guys” ( the “demigods” are equally bad as the asuras in most of the cases) – Devas, and himself. And any achievement he gets is because he worships the relevant sectarian god of the Purana. Altogether, after reading Puranas (original) one learns never to worship Indra, or at least think of worshiping Indra. Moreover, one will hate Indra to the core.
In my answer to the origin of Dashavataras, you can read how those came. The final blow was certainly from a village boy Krishna (earlier, only mighty Rakshasas and later kings “conquered Indra”, now even village boys could!) who picks up a mountain to shield the “wrath of Indra”. (thinking of worshiping the kid, isn’t it? That is what the author also intended) The Rigvedic title of “Govinda” for Indra (because he finds the cows of light of knowledge from the Vala’s cave of darkness of ignorance) is simply transferred to the kid without a valid reason (a myth is cooked up with very difficulty). Everything that Veda praised Indra for is simply transferred to kids and shepherds, on the ecstasy of copying out the stories, the Puranic author also copied the women enjoyment to Krishna, from the earlier myths of Indra “raping women”. But you should not ever accuse Krishna. His rape is divine.
It is interesting to note that even Ahalya’s forged myth in Ramayana clearly shows Ahalya as not innocent and enjoying with Indra, but the Puranic guys take it to another level where Ahalya is chaste “kanya”, and Indra is responsible for all rape cases in the world.
I try to stop myself without cursing those insolent fools who have written nonsense. It is hard, but when one is beyond emotions and petty notions, he reaches a level of divine indifference to ignore such perverts.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
April 27th, 2017
Indra & Ahalyā

The first story in Sanskrit literature to target a Vedic deity name with a harsh offense like “taking another’s wife” is the Rāmāyaṇa story of Indra cheating Gautama to have sexual relations with his wife Ahalya. Ahalya in Ramayana is as interested as Indra in the relationship. Perhaps, Gautama was such disinterested in the sexual affairs (he is said to have exercising tapas for so long while having Ahalya as his wife) that Ahalya was tempted. Either way, Rāmāyaṇa author (whoever it be) attempts a detailed story to defame Indra specially and chooses Viśvāmitra to tell it (for reasons we will see later) to Rāma-lakṣmaṇas.
So, the story is like this – “Indra interested in Ahalyā, changes his form to her husband and has intercourse with her. Ahalya knows that it is Indra, and she perhaps proud of that, allows Indra too. After that, when Gautama is about to return, Ahalyā tells Indra that she is pleased to have satisfied him, and asks Indra to protect both of them from Gautama. However, before Indra could escape, Gautama comes to the hermitage and notices Indra; and he curses Indra that he becomes impotent, to which Indra’s testicles “fall at the instant”. Gautama, also curses his wife that she be unseen to eyes, live in dust, without food and water for thousands of years. (until Rama comes to redeem her charisma) Devas find the condition of Indra pathetic, Agni orders the testicles of a ram to be fitted on Indra. That happens, and from then, Indra is called “meṣavṛṣaṇa” – one who has ram’s testicles.”
This story is a cleverly engineered ploy, from the earlier Vedas and Brahmanas, but twisted in such a way so as to defame Indra. In fact, Ahalyā means “one who can’t be plowed”, referring to an infertile land or that which is in drought. (she is said to be the daughter of Mitra the sun by Brahmanas) Like the usual love of Indra towards the oppressed and the disregarded, the act of Indra “loving” equally the socially “defective” is shown as divine benevolence. (elsewhere, his acts of giving insight to blind man, making the lame walk, helping a shunned child of an unmarried girl to become a king, and uplifting the oppressed are famous and often quoted throughout Vedas) He showers his rain and makes Ahalya fertile. Hence, the most important invocation “formula” to Indra in Yajurveda, the “Subrahmaṇyā” (“the best formula”) poetically praises him as the lover of Ahalya. But not limited to that. The verse plays with the typical Vedic style of expression, and is a whole expression of Indra in itself, playing with words and imageries.
The emotional, ecstatic uttering of Subrahmaṇyā goes thus :
“Indra āgaccha! Hariva āgaccha!
Medhātither meṣa!
Vṛṣaṇaśvasya mene!
Gauravaskandin!
Ahalyāyai jāra!
Kauśika brāhmaṇa! Gautama bruvāṇa!”
Why I wrote in Sanskrit, is to elucidate many points. This being the supreme of all formulas in Yajurveda, it is such an important thing to be misrepresented and delude the Sanskrit illiterate people. It is quite bad to see that jāra, which in all the Vedas stand as a term for a normal lover, on the virtue of being used as an epithet for Indra, was caused to change its whole meaning in later Sanskrit. Wow, hail Hindus!
Translation of the above :
“Indra, come! You of golden (steeds) come!
You the ram of Medhātithi (Medhātithi Kāṇva is a famous Rigvedic poet who called Indra a ram and described him as drinking his soma in form of a ram)
You the menā of Vṛṣaṇaśva (an epithet of Indra already present in Rigveda)
Real coagulator!
Lover of Ahalya!
Versified as “Kauśika”! (Brahman is the verse, so brāhmaṇa should be taken to mean “versified”)
You who is being spoken of as “Gautama”!”
Now, this is the base from which Rāmāyaṇa twists out the legend. Rāmāyaṇa takes note of “Ahalyāyai jāra” (lover of Ahalya) “Kauśika brāhmaṇa” (versified as/by Kauśika) “Gautama bruvāṇa” (called Gautama) to create a story “versified by Viśvāmitra” (who is Kauśika) in which Indra is spoken of as Gautama, and him being a lover of Ahalyā. And the greatest ill-will it shows in this regard is forging a nonsensical compound “meṣa-vṛṣaṇa” by joining “medhātither meṣa, vṛṣaṇaśvasya mene” and completes it with the above nonsensical legend.
Returning to the Vedic formula, the terms are significant. Ahalyā is the barren land, whose husband is the one who shines on her, the rich in cows (solar rays) – the Gautama, who is Indra himself, (association of Indra and cows is not new) but unable to make her “fertile”. But Indra, according to Ṛta, changes his form and his “cows” become no more the rays, but the clouds which milk rain. (the other cow metaphor) Thus, the changes from to the “fertilizing” one, but still is Gautama. And further, he could also be imagined as the poetic “ploughshare” (Kuśika, kauśika) which plows Ahalyā and which is the daughter (menā) of Vṛṣaṇaśva. (plowshare is the daughter of “plow cart” which has its bearer as a bull)
The emotional aspect is that he becomes a “daughter” of the Vṛṣaṇaśva, a lover of the socially discarded Ahalyā, he becomes the ram of Medhātithi, he stirs the mind of poets and devotees deeply, he vivifies even changing his own form for the sake of Ṛta and love – showing divine benevolence and responsibility in the Vedic style.
Brahmanas somehow, manage to get that Ahalyā is Maitreyi, associated with the sun, and therefore decode the possible meaning of Ahalyā for the reader. One of the Brahmanas rightly tells that Indra goes as versified Kauśika for the sake of (plowing) Ahalya. The rest of the Brahmanas are puzzled over why Indra is both Gautama and Kauśika (they mix it up with the Vedic intended pun of both being clan names as well) and try to create contradictory myths to each other.
But Rāmāyaṇa’s purpose was not to find the meaning or explain the meaning of the Vedic formula. Its purpose was to delude the people. So, it carved out the nasty legend of Gautama being the sage of Rigveda belonging to Gautama clan (perhaps Vāmadeva Gautama) being the husband who is always at tapas (heat) of Ahalyā, and Indra being a dramatic (ill-minded) who out of lust towards Ahalyā, changes his form to Gautama. To make a presentation of the “Kauśika” mention, Rāmāyaṇa makes the whole story spoken by Kauśika Viśvāmitra. And most importantly, it creates out the nonexistent compound “meṣavṛṣaṇa” to delude public and to defame Indra. So much for honesty!
Mahābhārata, which is more or less contemporary to Rāmāyaṇa as a scripture, tries to twist the legend another way – it explains Kauśika as the one who curses Indra to lose his testicles, (for no reason mentioned) by which he has ram-testicles, but also tells that Gautama cursed Indra for violating Ahalyā, by which Indra has a golden beard. (hahaha! what a curse!)
The later Purāṇas cannot see Ahalyā as a woman with ascetic power who could recognize Indra, and also cannot obviously see her being on the same level with their arch-rival Indra in sinning. Ahalyā becomes one of the famed pañca-kanyās, she is “raped” by Indra disguised as Gautama.
Puranas take a better strategy than Ramayana, blabbering other great epithets of Indra to be a result of curses. As we saw, Mahābhārata already mentions the golden beard (hariśmaśru) of Indra, which is a Vedic epithet for his shining rays, and his sage character of suta-somapāna, to merely result of a curse. (It might be tempting to connect it with why the derived word from śmaśru, “mayir(u)” transformed its meaning in Tamil and Malayalam) MB twists the meaning of hariśmaśru to mean “old and impotent” in the context. Certain narratives take the famed “sahasrākṣa” epithet of Indra (meaning he sees everywhere) made to be from this curse, and he was initially cursed to have “a thousand vaginas” (sahasra-bhaga; bhaga also means auspiciousness but not in this context for the Puranas who still, quite amusingly, call God bhagavān – rich in bhaga) and later it is toned down to make the vaginas “eyes” and thereby make him sahasrākṣa.
So much about divinity and good-will of epics and Puranas!
 

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Vedā: Dīrghatamas

The unparallel Maharśi (Sage) Dīrghatamas
“Dīrghatamas the son of Mamatā hath come to the length of days in the tenth age of humankind. He is the Brahman of the waters as they strive to reach their end and aim: their charioteer is he.”
(RV 1.158.6)
“Let not thy dear soul burn you as you come, let not the hatchet linger in your body.
Let not the greedy clumsy immolator, missing the joints, mangle your limbs unduly.
No, here you die not, you are not injured: by easy paths unto the divinities you go.
Both Bays, both spotted mares are now your fellows, and to the ass’s pole is yoked the horse.”
(Dirghatamas Aucathya, “Ashvamedha”)
There are 1028 hymns in Rigveda, all composed in various poetic metres and on various topics. But, of them, 24 poems from the First Mandala can be exclusively separated from the rest of the poems by just recitation and inspection – such is the uniqueness the great sage Dirghatamas has carved out in his magical words. Of all the poems in Rigveda, Dirghatamas poems have a specific mystic and puzzling nature that echoes in all his poems, right from RV 1.140 to his riddle of riddles, RV 1.164.
Dirghatamas literally means “perpetual darkness”. He was born to Ucitha or Ucitha’s lineage (as in Rigveda) and MamatA. As the son of MamatA, he was known as mAmateya, as Ucitha’s offspring, he is called “Aucathya”, which is his second name. Mahabharata associates Dirghatamas with blindness, and there is a tradition that he gained vision (inner vision?) through seeing Vedic poems addressed to Agni. The story is almost attested in Rigveda in an indirect manner.
Dirghatamas many a time speaks of blind people and their situation. He also lauds Agni in various forms and uses Agni as a symbol of all divinities, almost in the same manner as the Vedic Sun or Indra, and explicitly tells in RV 1.164, the much-quoted lines: “One exists, poets speak of it differently”. As a blind person, he should have been bullied by the other “poets”, whom he bashes in the puns of 1.164. He makes the riddles in the 1.164 correspond to his own story and tells us how he, gaining the perception, transcended beyond mere vision. The poet tells paining in a riddle :
“Though they are truly women, they are told of as men to me; One who has eyes sees it; the blind man cannot differentiate;
But he the poet, indeed perceives them, he has grown beyond his father”
The riddle though is about the Krittika constellation, six women, and associated symbolism, the poet really means it a pun to imply his life story. In the poem RV 1.164, Dirghatamas gets the whole of his power put (leaving all us dumb still now; none has decoded that hymn properly yet) in the last poem, and asserts : “A poet will understand that”.
Dirghatamas says himself to be blessed by that supreme Agni (and hence Savita / Indra) in his vision. Truly, he surpasses every other poet in the mysticism and poetic tricks.
The unique things of Dirghatamas are that he is one of the few sages to frame a full hymn to Vishnu alone, in Rigveda. He is the first one to explicitly tell of the single Reality being called differently by poets. He is the first poet in Rigveda to openly bash a ritual – he is the only poem that mentions about Ashvamedha in Rigveda. He is the first poet in Rigveda to clearly use maximum implicit astronomical realms in his poetry; his poems have the deepest level of meanings, in all realms, right from grammatical, literary, astronomical, spiritual, mythological to the ritualistic realms.
Some of his famous lines and phrases include: “ekam sad viprAH bahudhA vadanti” (One exists, Sages talk of it differently), the phrase “biting the earth” (during cremation, the soil is also burnt), the first full “description of Vishnu’s deeds”, and several others such as:
“This sacrifice is the center of the world,
This altar is earth’s extremest limit,
The soma is the horse’s seed,
Brahman is the highest realm where speech exists”
“Dyaus is my Father, my begetter: kinship is here. This great earth is my kin and Mother.
Between the wide-spread world-halves is the birth-place: the Father laid the Daughter’s germ within it.”
(Riddle standing for sun)
“By means of sacrifice the Divinities sacrificed the sacrifice: these were the first rules.
These Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there the Sādhyas, ancient divinities, dwell.”
(Also said at the last of Purusha sukta)
And most importantly the much deep one :
“Two Birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship, in the same sheltering tree have found a refuge.
One of the twain eats the sweet Fig fruit; the other eating not just beholds only.”
(One of the references in this is to the spiritual self and physical ego of the person in the tree of knowledge, may also stand for the spiritual mind and physical mind or even moon is waxing and waning form… lots of symbols.)
The most popular Indo European solar riddles also appear in his poems in Rigveda. Those riddles are certainly the inspiration for Nahusha-Yudhishthira dialogue in the later Mahabharata.
His lines “gaurImimAya salilAni takSatyekapadI….” are also used in Navagraha suktam, for “soma”.
Dirghatamas also is noted for saving Indians by saying in 1.162 that the horse of his time has 34 ribs. Thanks to Dirghatamas, the OIT is saved..
On the whole, Dirghatamas and his real inspired vision had a very great deal in shaping Indian philosophy. His commendable knowledge in spirituality, and his extreme talent in poetry and his inspired gift of vision stand unparalleled even this day. No doubt why he is confident that none other than a wise poet can even hope to interpret his poems. To date, none has been able to fully decode his poems; at least the asya vaamasya poem (RV 1.164). Even his Ashvamedha poem is one of a kind – perhaps the first pun that is a satire of a ritual. His poems on Rbhus are another masterpiece. Even his metaphor poem on the horse sun is much exquisite and unparalleled in its beauty.
Yes, God did not just make the wooden sticks pile over him, or make him bite the earth. He still lives through his words and will continue his immortal life, as he himself tells :
“How on the Gāyatrī metre the Gāyatrī lines were based, how from the Triṣṭup metre they fashioned the Triṣṭup lines forth,
How on the Jagatī metre was based the Jagatī lines,—they who know this have won themselves immortal life.”
Which verses of the Rig Veda are attributed to him
Rigveda 1.140 – 1.164 are his poems.
In poems like 1.158, he mentions his name as well, but it is even not necessary since his style is well known. RV 1.162 contains that reference. Yes, the number in Rigveda is wrong if the horse is the supposed “Aryan horse” – ferus Caballus. This suggests that either people of Rigveda still had no contact with the actual horse (only a vague idea) or that the Indo European horse was not the AShva of Indo Aryan civilization. Either of this means that Aryans of Rigveda were independent of the horse culture, and thus the IAMT drastically collapses here.
Does the number match that of the onager, the wild ass of kutch? That would be almost conclusive evidence for the fact that the vedic people were native to the saptasindhu?
That is also what I am also trying for a year to know. I don’t know where I can get reliable info on that. I googled the whole thing, still, the number of ribs of onager is not clearly mentioned in any.
The thing is that the Ass / Onager could have been the Ashva, and only in later ages did horses from Central Asia (and the customs of horse sacrifice, horse chariot burial etc.) reached India. Moreover, the question of the whole Indo European horses is itself a serious one – For in many languages, the word for ass closely resembles an older form of horse word. Moreover, the word “caballus” for horse also notes that “ekwos” is not the only word for Indo European horse. In Rigveda itself, we find different names attested for the horse/bearing animals.

Vedā: Ananta, not Anaadi

Vedā: Ananta, not Anaadi
Usually, we hear people tell (starting from the later epic period) that Vedas have no beginning, they are apaurusheya (not man’s creation), and even that the seers who sculpted out the beautiful verses from divinely inspired thoughts were mere media to chant what they simply were (forced to) see. It is not much surprising since Hindus have rarely tried to acknowledge the great seers like Medhatithi Kanva, Dirghatamas Aucathya, Barhaspatya Bharadvaja… but try to lionize the fake “man gods” and supposed incarnations, wasting lots of strength, words, and eulogies to them. This should be the most brutal insult to the great Vedas, the divinely inspired poets, and real heroes in India’s literature and history.
It is pity that we still don’t learn about the real ruler who lived in flesh and blood – Sudas, who first came up with “Bharata” and established the “India” from a mass of conflicting tribal confederations. How many of us have even heard about the real legend Rjrashva, who fought with the Persians and defended our homeland from “invasion”? How many of us remember the real Vedic poets who proved their inspired brain through their astonishing and flawless works?
By telling that Vedas came millions of years ago dictated by some God, we are not only diminishing ourselves to a kind of dogmatic blindly religious people but also insulting the very efforts and talent of the wordsmiths of Vedas. It is not surprising to see that such advocates have either a little contact with Vedas, a misunderstanding of Vedas, or limit their interpretation to only certain realms. How cannot one not remember the anonymous poet who has spared us only his pseudonym, as “Hiranyagarbha Prajapatya” but has crafted one of the most beautiful poems of Rigveda – the Hiranyagarbha poem? And certainly, a genuine reader can just from inspection, separate the poems of Dirghatamas from the mystic way of progression. The prayers and praises of the Vedas take us to a world of poetic beauty, where words limit our speech. Some poems are simply spellbound.
The Vedic poems have resounded through ages, as a poet himself declares confidently in Vedas. (uttaraani yugaani) However, the interpretations and meanings have only grown with time. Till humanity lasts, newer interpretations will continue coming for Vedas, and Vedas will always remain adapted to the age in which they are interpreted. Such is the beautifully and thoughtfully crafted verses of Vedas. Surely, there is indeed a divine inspiration. And one should certainly remember the Vedic poets who made those inspired lines flow through their thoughtful usage of words symbols and imagery. The philosophy of Vedas is simply beyond time and space, so they extend and prove right as long as humanity exists. It is not based on a single concept of God, mere theological dogma, cultural dogma, or a taboo, but on pure spiritual correlations between nature, the physical life and the spiritual life of a man as a creature, a physical being, and a seeker.
Yes. Vedas are not really “beginningless” in the sense every word of Vedas have the beautiful divine inspiration of the incomprehensible nature of the cause. But, Vedas are “ananta” – endless. They will last, their words will last, the core of their philosophy will last. Last forever.


Vedās: The God of Death

Vedās: The God of Death
It is worth noting that the Vedas are always realistic, though poetic, and truthful, though poetically exaggerating. As we have seen, they have seen God in different attributes, and different characters. In the Indra, we found every mark of the God, from the helper “who bends down as a nice milch cow to the milkman” (“sudughAm iva goduhe”, scroll down to see that in Rig Veda 1.4), “the Father”, “The Lord” to the “valiant Hero”, “The Ruler”, “the terrible chastiser”, “The soft sweet lovely friend”…..
Again, these characteristics, each one is represented in the Vedas by different names of the God, as “Ashvins”, “Varuna”, “Sarasvati”, “Aditi”, “Agni”, “Vishnu”, “Vayu”, “Maruts/Rudras”, the deadly “Rudra”, the “Yama”, “Matarishvan”, “Mitra”, “Savita”, “Pushan”, “Surya”…… as we have seen in the translations. (Check out the discussions and translations of some Rig Vedic verses we have covered)
In our earlier analyses, we missed an important concept of God – The God as Death. Optimism is the key core concept in Rig Veda; the Rig Vedic poets talk less of death, except in the particular funeral poems of the later 10th Mandala, which are heartbreaking. (we shall see them later)
But still, the concept of Death in God cannot be ignored. It is an inevitable part of reality. There is no Satan or a second parallel to the Reality in Vedas because Reality is always One in Vedas. There is no lie parallel to the truth in Vedas, only there is the untruth which is relative to the truth when viewed from a perspective. (the “anrta” is absence of rta, not a separate force that opposes rta). The concept of death is accepted in Vedas as reality, and real prayers flow out from the poetic heart of the sages.
If one has to put a hymn on God, the Death, how would he do it?
The most poetic of the hymns in Yajur Veda, the “shatarudriya”, as it is called, gives the most incredible answer.
The poems from the hearts of the sages, bow down before God, the Ultimate, who is also the cause of Death. The homage to the Rudra, outbursts in a very poetic but spontaneous manner. The whole part belongs to a very beautiful section of Yajurveda and represents the Vedic philosophy of God in All, and All in God, along with panentheism, as usual, in the most efficient way.
These poems certainly pull the attraction of the enjoying readers, both to the incredible feat of the Vedic poets, and to the emotional, but wise philosophy that echoes through the lines.

Vedā: Śacī Paulomī

Śacī Paulomī: Poetess from Rigveda
Rigveda, apart from having lots of fine poets, also has notable fine poetesses, of which Śacī has very strong importance. Shachi, whose name is the ancient form of “Shakti” (The strength), is as her name, so lively, confident, and determined poetess, like other confident poetesses of her time, in Rigveda. Her confidence and her outspoken words made her a legend in later ages, equating her with Indrani Shachi.
Shachi, was probably a queen of her time too or at least makes the impression that she is as royal as a queen, through her poem, the Rigveda 10.159. Her words are really dynamic as fire and show the courage and determination of female strength.
Shachi, as her name suggests, is the daughter of Puloma sage.
Here is her short poem, from Rigveda, 10.159; the translation is provided below :
“उद॒सौ सूर्यो॑ अगा॒दुद॒यं मा॑म॒को भगः॑
अ॒हं तद्वि॑द्व॒ला पति॑म॒भ्य॑साक्षि विषास॒हिः
अ॒हं के॒तुर॒हं मू॒र्धाहमु॒ग्रा वि॒वाच॑नी
ममेदनु॒ क्रतुं॒ पति॑ः सेहा॒नाया॑ उ॒पाच॑रेत्
मम॑ पु॒त्राः श॑त्रु॒हणोऽथो॑ मे दुहि॒ता वि॒राट्
उ॒ताहम॑स्मि संज॒या पत्यौ॑ मे॒ श्लोक॑ उत्त॒मः
येनेन्द्रो॑ ह॒विषा॑ कृ॒त्व्यभ॑वद्द्यु॒म्न्यु॑त्त॒मः
इ॒दं तद॑क्रि देवा असप॒त्ना किला॑भुवम्
अ॒स॒प॒त्ना स॑पत्न॒घ्नी जय॑न्त्यभि॒भूव॑री
आवृ॑क्षम॒न्यासां॒ वर्चो॒ राधो॒ अस्थे॑यसामिव
सम॑जैषमि॒मा अ॒हं स॒पत्नी॑रभि॒भूव॑री
यथा॒हम॒स्य वी॒रस्य॑ वि॒राजा॑नि॒ जन॑स्य च”
“The Sun has risen up, yea, my grace has risen,
I, knowing this, live with my husband whom I gained.
I am the torch, I am the summit. I am the eloquent mighty one.
I have conquered. My lord will attend to my will.
My sons are killers of enemies, and my daughter is a queen
Oh yea, I am victorious. Over my husband, my song is the best.
The gift, which Indra has made, and has grown glorious and supreme,
This I offer, O Divinities! Sole queen may I become.
Having no rival queens, slayer of enemies, victorious, conqueror have I become.
Other’s grace I have brought forth here, as it were the gifts of weaker (queens).
I have conquered the whole of these other queens
So have become the sole queen of the hero and the people.”
Note the amount of confidence and the power in her words. It may be amazing to the so-called fellows who think the Vedic period mistreated or made woman “a property”. Later literature, however, makes this simply “Shachi’s triumph song of pissing her rival wives off from Indra the lustful guy”. However, the word “sapatnA” clearly means a parallel queen, and the queen could be mistranslated to mean “rival wife of king”. However, patnA comes from the same root as to mean “protect”, “rule”. (So does patnI also) Rigveda mostly uses patnI (except when referred in single, along with a mere pati, where pati becomes not just “Lord” but also Husband, and patnI is merely “wife” and not just “queen”) and in almost all cases patnA to mean queen, patna to mean king. Hence, “sapatna” or “sapatnA” is used to refer to a parallel or contemporary “king” or “queen”, particularly a “rival”. For example, note the usage in Rigveda 10.166.1 “sapatnAnAm viSAsahim”. “One who can bear other kings”, 10.166.2 “sapatnA me …” “ My parallel kings…”.
Apart from the queen’s proud words and prayer above, there are also many “wise” poetesses whose words resound with wisdom and knowledge. Of them, one popular one has left her real name anonymous but has taken the pseudonym “Sūryā sāvitrī” meaning “Sūryā”, the daughter of Savita. Her lines make the beautiful and lovely “marriage poem” that is still used as “Vivaha suktam” in Brahmin weddings. It is notable that the one who wrote that soma is not a plant, so outspokenly, is not a man or a sage, but this Suryaa.
 

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Vedā: Soma

“Of you, none ever tastes, O Soma!”
The confusion of religion with spirituality is what has ruined the spiritual traditions all over the world. Spiritual mindset is not as satisfying pastime as a religious ritual, nor is a philosophical mind a cheap solution as a religious routine, to one’s problems.
But, the engulfing of spirituality by mundane religions have resulted in destroying of the poetic spiritual traditions and conforming them to suit the mundane literal and ritualistic nonsense of religions.
The best example would be the Vedic one, which lost its life falling to the religion.
Thus, we hear the most powerful and straight words from Rigveda regarding this.
Rigveda itself points out regarding people who tried to materialize soma :
“सोमं॑ मन्यते पपि॒वान्यत्स॑म्पिं॒षन्त्योष॑धिम् ।
सोमं॒ यं ब्र॒ह्माणो॑ वि॒दुर्न तस्या॑श्नाति॒ कश्च॒न “
“Somam manyate papivAn yat sam-pimSanty-oSadhim;
somam yam brahmANo vidur : na tasya-ashnAti kashcana”
“One thinks he has drunk soma, when they have pressed a herb,
(But) The soma which poets know, none ever partakes of that.”
(RV 10.85.04)
In the following verse, the poet makes it even clear :
“आ॒च्छद्वि॑धानैर्गुपि॒तो बार्ह॑तैः सोम रक्षि॒तः ।
ग्राव्णा॒मिच्छृ॒ण्वन्ति॑ष्ठसि॒ न ते॑ अश्नाति॒ पार्थि॑वः ॥”
“Hidden; sheltered with the ordained Brihati poems, the soma is protected.
You stand, hearing the pressing stones – the singers, (but) none born of earth tastes of thee”
(RV 10.85.05)
The second one is completely a satire.
The soma as a poetic concept “cannot be tasted by any man on earth”, it is protected inside the beautiful Brihati verses (verses in Brihati metre), known only to the poet. Someone thinks “apaama somam” (we drunk soma) after braying a herb, but alas, who can really “taste” the soma hidden in the poems by the knowing poets of Veda! Even now, scholars do the same- they try to find out a plant and bray it out. But Vedic word stands still true – ignorant minds never partake of that poetic soma inside the beautiful verses.
Vedas were such poetic conceptions that interwove the different aspects of nature, society, spirit into a set of warp-woofs creating beautiful poems and metaphors. Veda is simply the creation. But the truth is often simpler than the untruth, and there lies the complexity of simplicity.
Soma was not a drink which you could drink before battles and get a sense of fury. Soma is a concept, it often opens the darkness and shows the light. It is the medium through which Ṛṣis got their vision. Other than Indra when killing dark blocking force in mind, no other person “consumes” soma and goes for war. For soma transforms your mind to get “enlightened”. If you are enlightened, then the force of enlightenment is soma. That is how it is defined.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Sep 26th, 2016

Agni is the deity par excellence in the Vedas. He is symbolized at all three levels of interpretation in the Vedas — adhibhUtam (physical), adhidaivatam or adhiyajnam (celestial or anthropomorphic) and adhyAtmam (metaphysical). He is both the father of the gods and their son, because he is born in infinite forms and bodies, because he is immortal and eternal. He is called by the names of all the deities because he encompasses everything.
Now, Soma is a bit of a mystery to most people. But the mantras of Rig Veda make it clear that Soma is the “juice of life”. Soma is the symbol of all the immortal rasa that is the foundation of life. Soma and Agni are both called “pavamAna” or “pAvaka” which means “purifier”, and “pavitra” which means “pure”. So many of the epithets and synonyms are shared between Agni and Soma, because in reality they are both metaphysically the same Agni. It is the omnipresence of Agni that ultimately gives the immortality and purifying properties to other entities. Just as wood can generate fire because Agni is already present in it, similarly Soma is a purifier because of its origin in Agni. The entire ninth maṇḍala of 114 hymns in the Rig Veda is dedicated to Soma.
The inner meaning of the relationship between Agni and Soma is that they are symbols for the archetypal primeval universal metaphysical categories consumer and consumed. Soma being the archetype of all matter, and Agni being the archetype of all energy. The Agni-Soma pair represents the most fundamental duality in the universe. This Vedic metaphysics corresponds very well with the physics of the interchangeability of matter and energy as shown in Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
As Rig Veda 3.26.7 says: “ajasro gharmo havirasmi nAma” — “I am both eternal heat and the matter being offered into it”. This corroborates the above statements regarding the relationship between matter and energy in physics.
In the Prashna Upanishad, these categories are renamed as “prANa” (energy) and “rayi” (matter). Furthermore, it says that the sun is prANa and the moon is rayi. Clearly, the sun is a form of Agni and the moon is a form of Soma.
Author: Ram Abloh
Feb 21st, 2021

Soma is a unique concept in the Vedās that is addressed with many variations. Sometimes Soma is a king, sometimes as a juice of a plant, sometimes as the home of ṛta, other times as Moon emphasizing the expression of amṛta dripping from the crescent moon on Śiva’s head, but Soma is the full moon and on this full moon day is when Rudrā is given oblations as Rudrā is Tiṣya/Pusya month, hence Mondays are called Somavara and is the day of Śiva’s TS2.2.10. Similar to Rudrā, the concept of Soma enters into the cause and event of the Yajñá (Yagna). In this way, Soma enters into the offering of the Soma juice, or the full moon, into medicines, into amṛta, and in the very ṛta. In this way many dualities are drawn among various divine concepts in Vedas, among them, Rudrā and Soma are paired together as dual divinity and are treated as one. In other places as Somapavamana meaning the purified/clarified/refined version of Soma who gave birth to both Indra and Viṣṇu during Yajñá, this doesn’t mean Viṣṇu has physical birth but the concept of Viṣṇu emerge from various states of Yajñá. Soma is also addressed as an additive to Milk or Ghee used during Medha or Yajñá, Soma is also used synonymous with amṛta and so it’s this Soma that the Devas compete RV 1.108, Indra more than any. It is this Soma that gives them health, immortality, and strength to fight off Vṛtra allowing room for ṛta, to this both Maruths and Viṣṇu provide their support. The aspects of Soma in terms of amṛta, medicines, knowledge, health are same as Rudrā, they become one conceptually, this is why the very first homage to Rudrā is conjoined with Soma RV1.43 , but this duality soon becomes one in RigVedā 6.74, by the time of Śrī Rudrām of Kṛṣṇa Yajur Vedā Anuvakam 7 makes it’s even more clear with its primary declaration “nama somāya ca rudrāya ca KYV 7.1″ and “Lord of Soma KYV5.4“, and “Soma & Rudra, the giver of medicinesTS1.8.22” hence the titles Somnath, Somashekara, Somadeva, Somaskanda, Soma:suragni Lochana, and even Somavāra (a day of Śiva). But in a unique aspect Soma is described as a conjoined expression in Sanskrit grammar called bahuvrihi wherein, ‘Soma’ = ‘sa’ (along with) + ‘uma’ (Parvati).

Vedā: Puruṣa Śuktam


Now that we have looked into the main metaphors and way of poetic speech in the Vedas, let us take a look into its poems that are in simpler literary language, but still, cover main parts of the philosophy.
First, we can check Purusha sukta, Rigveda 10.90, also quoted in the other three Vedas. The poem talks about Cosmos as a person, Purusha. It also tries to show the Vedic principle of the hidden unity of the duality of “God” and “Sum total of Creation”. It presents the relation of cosmic origin and cosmos as the puzzling chicken-egg question – the concept of “God” comes only due to Creation, but “God” is the birth of Creation. This dual concept echoes throughout the Vedas, as the Purusha-Viraj or Aditi-Daksha or “tat ekam”- “paramAdhyakSa” (RV 10.129)
Anyway, we shall be analyzing Purusha sukta in detail.
“Having thousands of heads, thousands of eyes, thousands of feet, He the Purusha, from everywhere, encompassing the earth, stands extended over ten fingers”
The Purusha sukta starts with the amazing description of a concept – Purusha. It introduces Purusha as the thousand-headed, thousand-eyed, thousand-foot magnificent being that encompasses the earth from all sides, and stands extended over “10 fingers”. The whole poem thus creates a rough idea of Purusha before beginning – as a magnificent representation of cosmos, the society, or even the different powers of nature identified with a singleness. Purusha is thus the singleness that acts as the thread weaving the Creation. The heads represent the consciousness, eyes represent light vision and knowledge, feet represent dynamicity, mobility. The ten fingers represent the grip of Purusha across ten directions.
“Purusha indeed, is this all, what has been and what’s to be; being also the lord of immortality, He rises over with Food”.
The poem underlines what is Purusha. Those who see Purusha as a man, and Purusha sukta as “Hymn for the sacrifice of man” need not read this post. You may still dwell in your paradise. The Purusha is defined as beyond time, beyond space. The last line is well puzzling – it actually refers to Purusha rising with the food for the Creation, and of the Creation.
Such is His greatness. Even beyond that is Purusha! A quarter of Him is all the Created matter. Three quarters rest immortal in radiance.
The lines summarize all the Rigvedic philosophy so beautifully. The first two lines about Purusha form the basic concept of Vedic theism – that the God’s greatness is what we experience, but even beyond our concepts is the Divine. Only a quarter of that All-pervading Reality has been manifested as creation. The rest is still not manifested – its not palpable to us, it lies in the radiant realms, still dark to us. The last sentence, as I have translated, is really deep and profound – the darkness we face when light blinds our eyes. Thus, our eyes experience and see only the Creation which is All that is manifested in the world. The three quarters are still not comprehended by us.
The last line may also translate as “a quarter of him is all the worldly creation; three quarters rest immortal in the sky”. This sky and earth shall refer spiritually to our much-discussed metaphors – the spiritual and physical mind. To understand the context more, let’s look at the next verse.
By three-quarters Purusha rose high. Still, His quarter was here. Thus, He stretched everywhere, into those which eat, and those which don’t.
This is a very beautiful philosophical expression. The most important part of this verse is that it hints the absence of the concept of reincarnation among Vedic poets. Rather, it confirms our earlier mentioned conclusions from Rigveda funeral hymns – that the bodily matter gets recycled in the earth, while the consciousness is gone and one with the impalpable part of reality. The sense of life is thus made so simple in the poem, making it a scientifically compatible concept, rather than a challenging concept like separate consciousness, separate soul, etc. Talking about Purusha, the verse notes that Purusha arose to immortal heights (impalpable radiance, ref. the previous verses), but his quarter is still here, suffering from mortality and recycling. The “abhavat punaH” is a well-planned statement that may hint recycling of matter in earth. But is that reincarnation? NO. Reincarnation should be the recycling of “real” Consciousness / the “Self” into different bodies. That is evidently absent in the poem; moreover, the poem notes that Self is one with incomprehensible Reality – the impalpable realm which we cannot still comprehend from our realms.
Still, we can only properly comprehend the living part (which is ironically the “dying art” too) of the Creation, the “what of creation”. The part of non-creation is a different realm which we cannot comprehend. Again, we are reminded of the theism of Vedas – in which the panentheism is clearly mentioned and a possibility of a part of Reality being still incomprehensible is underlined. In science, perhaps there is an analogy of dark matter and dark energy. The “radiance” is still comparable to the radiance inside a black hole.
——-Part 2 (Oct 29th, 2016)——
From that, Viraj was born, from Viraj was Purusha born. Being born, He (Purusha) spanned over the back and forth of the earth.
The concept is notable. It shows the emergence of Viraj from that, which is nothing than Purusha, or the tad ekam of Rigveda. (That one) But the next line is the contradictory reality: Purusha is again born from the Viraj. Now, we need to define who Viraj is. The Purusha could be equated to the representation of the oneness in everything, spread all over. The Viraj, as the name implies, is the name of the centralized emperor, the centralized power of the Oneness which is scattered everywhere as Purusha. Purusha could be equated with a panentheistic impersonal concept of Oneness, while Viraj is the monotheistic personal form of God. As we have already postulated in our analysis of Rigvedic theism, Rigveda takes the concept of God between the personal and impersonal levels. It is the one Reality that binds everything, and also the same Reality that controls everything centralized. At the same time, it is both centralized and decentralized, a feature that is openly spoken in Yajurveda 40. It is both the same Reality which is the impersonal Oneness as well as the personal concept of God.
The earth, as usual means “physical realm/ physical mind”. Back (pashcAt) and Front (purastAt) of the physical realm was covered by the Purusha (the One binding force) soon as the birth. Purusha is that Oneness that connects Creation back and forth.
The dual concept of Viraj and Purusha is the primary concept of Vedas – the duality between the indivisible one and the all-dividing one. You could divide any number with one, and get the same number back. However, for the indivisible zero or infinity, you cannot divide them to get clear new portions. There is no point in dividing infinite nothingness. Purusha is the infinite one, who is but also the element hidden in all, thus functioning as all dividing one too. Viraj is the One, but also the infinite indivisible form of Reality. Both complement each other. You can tell that one and zero are both complementary sides of the same coin. Both the one and zero act like infinity in the Boolean logic. In that way, you see the philosophical realms of Boolean logic in the above lines.
This is again, indicated through a more explicit dual concept in Rigveda itself, the “Aditi”-”Daksha” concept. Here, Aditi becomes the indivisible infinite one and Daksha becomes the one element in everything. Daksha and Aditi create each other in Rigveda, the same as Purusha and Viraj do. In later mythology, Brahma and Vishnu create each other, though the myth loses the poetic and factual value by then.
By the oblation through Purusha, the Yajna was furnished by the radiant ones. Spring was the oil, Summer the fuel, and autumn the gift.
Purusha is divided and dismembered to create the whole world. If you have been reading this post, you should understand why – Purusha is that oneness in all the beings. Thus, Purusha the infinite is divided to yield the infinite that can pervade overall what is. Thus, the Yajna here is furnished by offering Purusha as the oblation – Purusha is made to sacrifice himself for the sake of Creation. Purusha is certainly cosmos, and to reinstate this, the verses further bring seasons into the yajna as oil, fuelwood and gift. There is also a beauty in the poetic metaphors – Spring which promotes regeneration is shown as oil (that which regenerates the fire), Summer which burns under the sun is shown as “fuelwood”. The much adorable autumn is the gift. Hats off to the Vedic poet.
Having sprinkled that sacrifice, that firstborn Purusha in the fire (grass?), with that, radiant ones sacrificed, (with) the “attained ones” and poets.
Purusha is the firstborn. And indeed Purusha is the one who should pervade into each. It is infinite that has to disintegrate into infinite ones. From the centralized infinite position to the decentralized ones, the Purusha being the creation and the cord connecting them has to be separated to make the creation different from the cause. You could call it similar to the concept of various forms of energy and matter. The Purusha, you could call it energy’s symbol, while Viraj would represent the quark then.
Purusha, the oneness, which is first born as all encapsulating all in one infinity is split to infinite smaller parts for the sake of manifestation. This is represented by the yajna analogy, whereby there is transformation. The yajna in Vedas is a concept of transformation of one quality to another. Its an abstract concept, and has its own depth to talk about.
——-Part-3 (Dec 3rd, 2016)——-
“From that all-annihilated (or all-invited?) yajna, dripping fuel was collected. Creatures were generated thus, (also) those in air, those in forests, and those in villages (meaning domestic/pets)”
Now, this is to show the creation of all souls through the transformation of the One infinity of Purusha to the finite creation and beyond. It is this manifesting of the Purusha which is the yajna here. Note that the concept of Vedic yajna is not an annihilating sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice where something ceases to exist. It is not the means of “destroying” something by “renunciation”, or killing something out of some superstition. Instead, it is the means of transformation, it is a means of manifestation of non manifested qualities. Fuel is offered into the yajna, and fuel is taken back. There is nothing lost. The yajna principle of Vedas is thus a spiritual vision of the conservation of energy-matter in the cosmos. Nothing goes wasted in a yajna. (we shall deal really in-depth with this at the end of this sukta)
Here, the nonmanifest Purusha with infinite power is manifested to the whole finite creation, and still, the rest remains non manifested. (infinity – finite is not finite; this is the principle of Vedic panentheism. (It is different from monism/pantheism in the case that soul in monism/deity in pantheism becomes merely a superset of finite entities, but still dubbed as infinite. It is a nonsensical equation)
The Creation is continued :
“From that all-annihilated (all-invited?) yajna, the verses (rays?) and melodies were born.
From that were the meters (eternal laws?) born, from that was the concept of yajna born”.
These lines are to be read carefully. The word used for verses is rc, which also means shine, ray. The sAman, word for “song”/”melody” shall mean “splendour” in the context of rc being “ray”. Anyway, the focus of Vedic philosophy is on poetry, on the concept that the whole cosmos is the poetry of the greatest poet. (just remember the constant mentions of the poetic attribute to concepts of God, like kavim kavInAm) Here too, the Vedic poet brings the theme of the Poem of Creation. The verses for the poem, the melody or sound for the poem to resound. Note that in those days, there was no writing and poems were made and recited orally only; it was a purely oral kind of thing. And then comes the meter, which is about the aesthetics of the poem, the beauty. Finally, with the Poem of Creation, the concept of yajna is again born. This is called “yajus”.
Note that I cannot agree to claims that this verse is about the names of Vedas. There is no valid reason for such a claim. Rigveda never tells it is Rigveda; moreover, the mention of Rc, sAma as complementary parts of a poem is a common theme throughout the Vedas, it does not in any way stand for “names of Vedas” in Rigveda.
Moreover, as you read the complete verse, it is clear. On one hand, it is about the Vedic poet’s own poem, which is inspired by that and which is the birthplace of spiritual yajna. On the other hand, it is also the Creator’s poem, the Creation, which is also born from that and causes to generate the process of cosmic yajna.
It is logical to believe that this Vedic philosophy had such an impact on the society that later people named the Vedas and recited/sung/chanted them and classified them on this analogy.
“From that, were the horses born, those with two rows of teeth.
Cattle were born from that, from that were born the goats”.
Now stop here. Rigveda already told before that from that, all creatures of air and land were born. So, what is the need for specially mentioning horses, cattle, and goats? To know this, we need to grasp the idea of yajna symbols in Vedas. This part is to be read in relation to the verses from Yajurveda and Atharvaveda and also from Rigveda first Mandala itself, mentioning the cosmos in the symbol of animals. The same way as Purusha (man) is used here as a symbol to explain creation, horses (Rigveda 1.163, Taittiriya 7.5.25), kine and goats (numerous Yajurvedic and Atharvavedic passages) are also used in Veda as symbols to represent the cosmos.
This concept shall be clear for example in Taittiriya 7.5.25, which I have quoted several times to show the symbolism in Vedas.
Those who read Purusha’s account as human sacrifice, ashva accounts as “horse sacrifice”, cattle accounts as “cattle sacrifice” and goat accounts as “goat sacrifice”, kindly escape this post here. This is not for you. You are not fit to comprehend the poetic philosophy of Vedas.
Now comes the major part: The humans.
In spiritual terms, it represents the spiritual body of man. Those people who are determined to not enjoy poetry and keep on believing the nonsense they stick on to can escape the forthcoming content.
——-Part 4 (Dec 4th, 2016)——-
“That Purusha, being divided, by how much parts did they classify?
what do they call His mouth, (what) His hands, (what) His thighs, feet?”
As we see, only “a quarter” of Purusha undergoes manifestation. (pAdo’sya vishvA bhUtAni) And that part is manifested, it is known and finite. Now, that finite portion is talked about. How many portions did they (the sages, attained souls, and devas) classify into? And what are the mouth, hands, and feet called? Note that the tone here, as well as the tone that has been, is not literal. Its functional, figurative, and poetic.
“The poet was his mouth, The Royal one was created from his hands
Common trader was his thigh, from his feet was born the supporting worker.”
Brahmana in Rigveda means the one connected with poetic words. (Brahman) It is a word used for the poet in Rigveda. You might read Kiron Krishnan (भगवतीश्वर शर्मन्)’s answer to What is the difference between Brahma, Brahman, and Brahmin? for etymological analysis. The mouth is the strength of the reciter. As I told, the poem in Veda is connected with mouth and mind, rather than pen and paper. The Vedic analysis of the world processes is through the four-fold method – the inspiring part, the controlling part, the connecting part, and the action part. It is much similar to any life cycle of an industrial process – there is a devising part (vision), a controlling unit (planning), a procurement part/connecting part between plan and action, and the actual action. These qualities are also said to be born from Purusha. Perverted minds will see the “beginning of caste discrimination” or such insane things. But on close inspection, you realize that it is simply the origin of these qualities that are being described.
On the spiritual level, in the man, all these qualities exist. It is all the part of man. He needs to have all these qualities in himself. The castes in Rigveda are not seen separately anywhere. In fact, it is seen to be a desirable thing to have all four qualities of Brahmana, Rajanya, Vaishya, and Shudra in oneself. The Vedic concepts of God are of this kind – they have an existence in all the levels – Brahmana, Rajanya Vaishya, and Shudra. Simply one is just a specialization, but to have all is ideal. As Rigvedic poem himself tells once:-
“would you make me the herdsman of various people? would you make me their ruler, Maghavan? would you make me the sage who partakes of the inspired soma, would you make me the master of wealth everlasting?”
(RV 3.43.5)
The Brahmana (who inspires through his plans, inspired from divinity; soma) Rajanya (who is the ruler) Vaishya (who connects and organizes various people) and Shudra qualities (seeking wealth through action) are sought by the same person.
Or consider the post-Rigvedic, Yajurvedic verses :
“Give lustre to our Brahmanas, give lustre to Kshatriyas, give lustre to our Vaishyas, to Shudras, thus through that lustre be lustre to me.”
YV (VS) 18.48
The verses clearly pray for luster to Brahmana qualities, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra qualities and through the luster, be the luster to the poet who wants all of those qualities. Note all of those qualities.
Purusha is thus visualized to have all qualities in him. His mouth represents the inspiring, speaking part. His hands represent the controlling, ruling part. The thighs connect the upper and lower parts of the body, and feet support the Purusha. In the case of a man too, this holds true. The functional analogies in these verses are made clearer by the forthcoming verses.
“The lustrous moon was born from his mind, from the eye was born the sun.
From mouth was Agni and Indra born, from life-breath was air born.
The middle realm was at his navel, the highest realm was at his head.
From forth his feet, came earth, from his fame, came direction, and thus was the world designed.”
Here, we recall all our poetic metaphors of different concepts of God – the lustrous moon is actually the inspiring symbol of Soma, the stirrer of spiritual life. It is born from Purusha’s mind hence. Vision is associated with light, spiritual vision with spiritual Sun. (Remember the common prayer in Vedas to “see the Sun” forever) From the mouth, the part which is the product of inspiration of mind, the concepts of One Divinity, and the divine splendor are born. Indra signifies the One present infinitely everywhere. Agni represents the multitude of finite present everywhere. Indra-Agni thus comprises of the God, who is beyond easy comprehension, but whose splendor is what all we can comprehend. It is analogous to the speech when you hear one’s words, you hear the words, and his real intention/his experience is still uncertain. Thus, speech is always analogous to Brahman or God, and this idea is used by Dirghatamas to puzzle the scholars, in his (in)famous declaration that “speech is divided into four parts, three of them cannot inspire anyone, only fourth one can man speak”. (RV 1.164) This is exactly the other side of the assertion in Purusha sukta : three-quarters of Purusha is incomprehensible and non manifested. Men feel and can experience only in the fourth quarter.
Agni refers to that splendor of God which we can experience, while Indra refers to the God whom we cannot reach with our words, inexplicable. Agni is that concept of God, representing the splendor of God visible everywhere, Indra is the still “hidden” God. Equating with Dirghatamas’s explanation, its Indra’s Agni that is the visible form to us. The breath of Purusha is the defining thing of biological life. It is Vayu, which gives breath to man. (And Vayu symbolizes the dynamic nature) Now, the head and navel are likened to realms above and middle, and the feet which support Purusha, (analogous to supporting man) is the source of earth, which supports man. His fame/his hearing is the source of direction. Thus was the world designed.
It is to be noted that all these entities work on man as a recipient. Man’s mind is born from soma, his vision from Sun, his expressions from concepts of God (speech), his life from that Vayu, his fame from that directions. On dying, Rigveda asks the things “to return” to their origins. Earth is what supports man. Note that feet everywhere means as supporting part.
“Seven were the limits, set by (three x seven) fuel sticks. The divine rays of concepts of God, for the sake of accomplishment of this yajna, thus tamed the tame-able Purusha”
Here, the yajna’s continuation is expressed. The divine yajna creates the creation, the yajna inspires the thought in the Vedic poet and the poets through their verses create the concepts of God in words in return. The world is the place where the concept of God finds its meaning. God is God through Creation. This cycle continues. The Purusha’s one quarter which is tame-able by the mind, is thus extolled by the poets through invoking the concepts of God. Indeed, that one quarter is this whole Creation and concepts we can experience.
The significance of seven and three times seven here is so deep that a single post cannot cover it. Still, I can give an overall idea of the metaphor used here. The seven as limits refer to the seven realms (vyAhRtis) of the spiritual plane, the three refer to the three regions of a spiritual plane – the pRthivi, antarIkSa and dyaus. The three times seven fuel sticks indicate the occurrence of the Yajna, the Creation, in all these areas.
Another case is the speech/poetry. The seven refer to the famous seven poetic meters of Vedas, the three refer to the three realms of speech that lie inside the poet, which he cannot express.
Further implications of this metaphor shall be clear once we cover the Dirghatamas’s “Poem of riddles”. (1.164)
The last verse of Purusha sukta is a quote from Dirghatamas 1.164 poem, which is so deep that it needs a separate post. Let’s see that soon.
The last line of Purusha sukta is in fact a quote taken from Rigveda itself, from the Dirghatamas in 1.164, the much infamous riddle poem which is still incomprehensible to mankind, even in modern times, even with hundreds of interpretations. This quote is a Dirghatamas work, so requires much to tell.
The last verses of Purusha sukta are :
“By yajna, the divine concepts transformed the yajna. (In other words, the sacrifice was sacrificed by sacrifice)
Those were the primary fundamental principles.
They the great, have risen to immortal heavens, where already the attained souls and concepts of God dwell.”
Here, Dirghatamas, in his usual manner of puzzling the reader, tries to bring out the depth of the Vedic philosophy of yajna. As we have seen, yajna is not actually a “sacrifice”, it is an act of transformation. It is the process where the non manifested manifests. It is the place where thoughts transform to speech and speech inspires thoughts. It is not the end, it is not the beginning, though it is both. It is the transition. The Creation in physical realms is not a “beginning” or end product. It is a transition of the manifested Purusha. Now, read back in Purusha sukta, the mention of “his quarter here happens again”. The cyclic universe is just the part of that Purusha which we can comprehend and experience. It is this whole creation we experience. The meaning of that, everything is hidden. It is something we need to seek. It is “who” who is the cause of everything. It is that Sun which hides behind the rays. It is that truth that hides behind the golden luster.
By means of yajna, the yajna is performed. Purusha himself is that entity of yajna here. The means of his manifestation is also yajna. And yajna is the product. It is cyclic. The Creation is thus a yajna. This concept is the most important one in the Vedas. Those who equate yajna with some slaughter find it difficult to comprehend Vedas here. Brahmanas try to get the hell of this philosophy, by telling that life of animal gone transforms as blessings to the sacrificer. But it also, out of regret, prays for the killed victim’s soul. This hypocrisy itself shows that Vedic yajna is not meant to be anything related to a ritualistic sacrifice. As Yajurveda itself puts :
yajno yajnena kalpatAm.
“May yajna prosper through yajna”.
It is another paraphrase of the above lines.
Throughout the Vedas, we get the concept of yajnas related to this transition. It exists in spiritual as well as physical realms too.
These are said to be the basic principles that are primary to everything. This transformation is indeed that creates everything. It is the underlying principle of this cosmos. It is the meaning of this whole manifestation.
The Sukta ends with the second part of the verses: “They the great, have attained the heavens where attained ones and divine concepts dwell”.
As you can figure out, it is this what is the optimism of the Vedic seeker. It is this what is testified and found by the Vedic poets. Not all get that height of spiritual completeness. But indeed some do get it. The chain of yajna thus continues in this world.

Vedā: Yoga

The origin of Yoga in Vedā
Yoga in the sense of philosophy and spirituality comes from Vedic religion, (and not some stray “aboriginal religion”) and finds its mention in Rigveda. It is a purely spiritual activity in Rigveda.
The spiritual yoga is purely Vedic and is attested in the Rigvedic religion. It can be achieved by being in union with the divine knowledge (going beyond the words to attain the meaning), achieved by being in union with the essence of Vedic words, achieved by being in union with One’s Self, achieved with being in union with the final Reality going beyond the “many”s to “The One”.
In Rigveda, the solar metaphor is used to code the idea of yoga. Sun’s rays are called horses and Indra/Brhaspati “yokes” them in the dawn. This might sound funny or like a myth, but its significance comes when we read Vedic Sanskrit and note the metaphors – Sun is the metaphor for Reality, its rays are the means for us to reach the One, and the dawn is as usual, the spiritual dawn.
Yoga is thus Union.
The ideal yogi who has become one with his Self is described by the same Sun. Or more usually, the “dawn sun” who represents the enlightened person in spiritual dawn. There are many references to yogic journey in the spiritual realm by the spiritual seer poets of Rigveda. They travel in the solar boat, to and fro, in the spiritual realm (metaphor – the sky)
Seven of Rigvedic seers were the mystics, the “vAtarashanas” (air-feeders), and they saw the poem 10.136 in Rigveda. In the poem, they talk about being one with the One, and thus the Sun. The Sun is called keshin, his rays being the locks of hair. The Vedic Sun is the metaphor of One Reality or One God or one knowledge, manifested as different rays or different concepts of God or different syllables. As I have repeated, the rays are the medium through which we comprehend the presence of the Sun. But, to see the Sun, we must move through and beyond the rays. Similarly, through the horses Indra “yokes” in the spiritual dawn, one travels to the spiritual realm.
The wind of inspiration is their food and drive, they “through the ropes of winds”, fly across from the physical realm to the spiritual realm.
The word “yoga” as such appears in 6 mentions in the Rigveda. However, it is only in three of them: 1.18.7, 1.30.7, 10.114.9 that the word assumes a meaning that is not literally related to the “yoking of horse”.
Yoga – Historical implications in Rigveda
The word yoga is derived from ‘yuj-’ meaning to “yoke”. It was initially used to mean the “yoking of horses” in Rigveda, which stood for the poetic implication of yoking the Self in the rays of spiritual dawn. (usually called the “bay/tawny horses” – hari-ashva in Rigveda) Thus, yoga is the art of yoking yourself with the spiritual rays of the Dawn, the Uṣas, which is facilitated by Indra or Brahmaṇaspati. The Indra, through his bay horses yoked to his vacoyuja (yoked with the word; word of the poet/devotee) viśvasammiśla (universally mingling) chariot, gets to the mind of devotee to help him in his spiritual struggle against the Vr̥tras inside.
Thus, in the inner world, yoga is a spiritual activity, which promotes the spiritual journey.
Yoga as per Rigveda
The mentions and meanings in Rigveda
As you see, yoga deviates from even its literal meaning of yoking horses to the derived metaphorical meaning inside the Rigveda itself. In 1.18.7, the mention is :
sa dhīnāṁ yogaṁ invati
“He (saH) promotes (invati) the yoga (yogam) of thoughts (dhInAm)”. (He here is again, Brahmaṇaspati) In this mention, it is clear that Rigveda has itself showed to us what the “bay horses yoked by Indra / Brahmanaspati” are, in the more lucid part of the first Mandala. Thus, it is clear from the mention that yoga is a purely spiritual activity, it has less got to do with physical exercises in Rigveda.
The second important mention is at 1.30.7 :
yoge yoge tavastaraṁ vāje vāje havāmahe
“In each yoga, we invoke the Strong (Indra); in each struggle”.
The third relevant mention is a part of a very mystic but beautiful hymn of Rigveda, in 10.114.9 :
“kaś chandasāṁ yogaṁ ā veda dhīraḥ
ko dhiṣṇyāṁ prati vācaṁ papāda
kam r̥tvijāṁ aṣṭamaṁ śūraṁ āhur
harī indrasya ni cikāya kaḥ svit”
“who knows the yoga of the meters here, who has gained the “word” (Vak) the subject and object of thoughts? who is called the eighth Hero among the conductors of order? who has perhaps controlled the (two) bay horses of Indra!”
My regular readers may not find a problem in understanding the various meanings “who” can have in a Rigvedic poem. Here, it is simply asked as a question, and this hymn follows that it is indeed the One “who” who does all this. Anyway, note the connection of the “yoga” of metres and the speech. It refers to the spiritual process by which the sage composes the poems, the vAk.
Thus, from these mentions of yoga, it should be clear that yoga in Rigveda means the spiritual yoking, the synchronizing of the divine thoughts/speech with the spiritual car of mind to start the spiritual journey. It’s all poetic, don’t blame the poetic seers. Blame it on your curiosity. Blame it on my inefficiency.
Does this mean the sages practiced Hata Yoga? They could have practiced, but the mental and spiritual yoga is what they have given preference to. They have not stopped yoga with spirituality; they integrated it to their poetry, their thoughts, and actions. The mention of physical exercises in relation to meditation is scarce. (Though breathing techniques can be found in Brahmanas) But the inner spirituality and thoughts are given much prominence.
Origin of Yoga
(May 18th, 2017)
Now we can see a whole poem dedicated to mystic yogis, modeling them in the light of the Sun, who is the model for yogi, with hair locks as rays. The Sun in spiritual dawn is saffron colored or muddy watercolored, the color that the yogis of Rigveda wear.
The poem is 10.136, for “Keshins”, the persons with long hair locks. As the single traveler in the spiritual realm (sky), the Sun is the metaphor for the yogi, who is clad in yellowish mud color (saffron). Let’s see this poem, seen by seven mystics who name themselves as vAtarashanas (“air-feeders”/ “air-eaters”) :
1. Jūti vātaraśana
2: Vātajūti vātaraśana
3: Viprajūta vātaraśana
4: Vṛṣāṇaka vātaraśana
5: Karikrata vātaraśana
6: Etaśa vātaraśana
7: Rśyaśṛṅga vātaraśana
The poem goes thus :
The Keshin bears Agni, Moisture and the two realms earth-sky.
Keshin when viewed, is all sky, This Keshin they call the light.
The Munis, tied to the wind, wear garments of muddy yellow hue.
They travel, following the wind’s course, to where the concepts of God converge.
Gladdened by Muni-hood, Here have we entered the winds.
Just our natural body (and nothing else) is what you mortals see.
Beholding all varied forms, there goes he, flying by the middle region.
The muni, who has been ordained for each of God’s great works.
The muni who is the bearer of wind, friend of vAyu, the God-impelled,
Here dwells he, in two oceans, one of antiquity, and one to come again.
Moving in the footsteps of the Apsarases, Gandharvas and wild beasts,
He, the Keshin, who knows the intention, is the sweet, most delightful friend.
For the Keshin, Vayu crushes, he crushes the inflexible,
when he, the Keshin, drinks from the water cup, with Rudra.
This is a great poem, that talks about the mystic nature of the one who realizes the One, who is just bound by the wind of inspiration. That wind makes him fly in the middle realm between the physical and spiritual. He attains the Sun, the Reality, the master Keshin who supports everything. He becomes beyond the oceans of time, he dwells in the past and future. For him, the air of inspiration crushes what does not bend – the time, and Keshin drinks from same the water cup of Soma, with Rudra the Death.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Aug 18th, 2017

What does the word yoga mean in Sanskrit?
Yogah (योगः) means the act, process or result of:
  1. joining or connecting one entity to another,
  2. merging one entity into another,
  3. applying one entity to another,
  4. implementation of an entity or idea or person.
It is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ (युज्).
The word and its verb forms are widely used in a variety of meanings in Sanskrit and Indian languages. Examples:
  • udyoga (उद्योग:) — production, endeavor, business, job, etc.
  • viyoga (वियोगः) — separation, termination, divorce, etc.
  • Ayoga (आयोगः) — commission, committee, etc.
  • niyoga (नियोगः) — engagement, commitment, support, etc.
  • prayoga (प्रयोगः) — experiment, implementation, handle, etc.
  • upayoga (उपयोगः) — utility, use (noun & verb)
  • prayojanam (प्रयोजनम्) — purpose, rationale
  • Ayojanam/prAyojanam (आयोजनम्/प्रायोजनम्) — setup, prepare, sponsor, plan or execute (an event), etc.
  • yogya (योग्यः) — well-suited, fit (for a job or position)
  • ayogya (अयोग्यः) — ill-suited, unfit, useless
  • yukta (युक्तः) — appropriate, proper, adequate
  • yukti (युक्तिः) — clever idea, ruse, smart plan, etc.
  • Ayukta (आयुक्तः) — appointed (to an official position), selected, chosen, an officer (noun), etc.
  • upAyukta (उपायुक्तः) — sub-officer, underling, etc.
Of course, the meaning that is most popular today throughout the world is the spiritual meaning of merging one’s individual consciousness to a universal consciousness; or other variations of what is being merged into what (for example, “state of being”, or “existence”, etc.)
This spiritual meaning existed way back in the Rig Veda itself.
Two examples from Rig Veda:
  1. RV 5.46.1:
हयो न विद्वान् अयुजि स्वयं धुरि तां वहामि प्रतरणीमवस्युवम्। नास्या वश्मि विमुचं नावृतं पुनर्विद्वान् पथः पुरएत ऋजु नेषति ॥
hayo na vidvAn ayuji svayam dhuri tAm vahAmi prataraNIm avasyuvam |
nAsyA vashmi vimucam nAvRtam punarvidvAn pathah puraeta Rju neShati
||”
“Like a knowing horse, I have joined myself to the “world cycle” and I carry that which is protective and gives salvation. I do not desire a release from this, nor do I desire a continuation. The wise, all-knowing Atman, knower of the path, the leader will lead me straight.”
This pretty much summarizes all of Vedanta and all of the Bhakti teachings that came in the later times.
2. RV 5.81.1:
युञ्जते मन उत युञ्जते धियो विप्रा विप्रस्य बृहतो विपश्चितः ।
yu~njate mana uta yu~njate dhiyo viprA viprasya bRhato vipashcitah |”
“The wise humans (rishis) join their minds and intellect to the bigger wise, the all-knowing.”
This is very interesting. First of all, this mantra pretty much describes the process of yogic samAdhi. The wise persons (rishis) are trying to merge their consciousness and states of being into the universal consciousness.
Second important point to note is that both the humans and the deity are called “wise”. So there is no essential difference in substance between the human aspirant and the divine. The only difference is that the deity is called the “bigger wise”. So in calling them both “wise”, we see the concept of non-duality (advaita). And in calling the deity the “bigger wise”, we see hints of the concept of qualified non-duality (vishiShTAdvaita).
 

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Vedā: Hiraṇyagarbha

Who is Hiraṇyagarbha Rigveda 10.121
In the beginning, evolved the Golden embryo,
Born of what has been, the Lord existed alone.
He has upheld the earth and the sky here…..
To the radiant “who”, do we offer worship with oblations.
He who is the giver of soul, the giver of strength,
To whose guidance all men “sit nearby”, all the radiant ones;
Of him whose shadow is immortality; of him whose is death….
To the radiant “who”, do we offer worship with oblations.
He who by His greatness became the ONE king
Of the breathing, blinking, dynamic world;
He who is the Lord of the biped and the quadruped….
To the radiant “who”, we offer worship with oblations.
Whose are the snow-capped mountains being in greatness;
He, who is the ocean together with the sea, they say.
He whose are these directions, whose two hands …
To the radiant who, we offer worship with oblations.
By whom the heaven is strong and the earth firm,
He who has erected the light and the firmament,
He who has measured out the air in the atmosphere ….
To the radiant who, we offer worship with oblations.
To whom the crying has steadied by his aid;
The two seeking-places, with the mind;
Upon where the sun, having risen, radiates……
To the radiant who, we offer worship with oblations.
When the magnificent waters came, placing
the universal germ, generating the fire,
Then the one spirit of radiant ones evolved …..
To the radiant who, we offer worship with oblations.
He who even surveyed the waters by greatness,
Placing skill, generating the transformation;
He who is the radiant over the radiant ones alone existed.
To the radiant who, we offer worship with oblations.
May not he weaken us; who’s the progenitor of earth;
Or the who, who has and made the sky vivified;
And made the waters, lustrous and vast, vivified.
To the radiant who, we offer worship with oblations.
Lord of creation! None other than you encompasses
All these that have come into being.
May that object of desires by which we worship you,
That be ours; may we be lords of riches.
NOTES :
*1.1
Hiraṇyagarbha, or the golden embryo, could be better translated as “origin of the golden lustre”. hiraṇyagarbha refers to the progenitor and controller of the lustrous Vedic sun, in whom the radiant rays in sky converge and in whom the seekers converge. The function is Indric – all combined.
*
2,2 upa-āsate meaning revere, honour, worship, learn from .. all deriving from to stay/sit nearby. Used as the apt word in a context where the “who” “guides” the mortals towards him as well as makes the radiances stay nearby him, as cows a herdsman.
*3,1 the word “id” in Sanskrit has the same effect as writing in capitals – an emphasis. Hence the translation of “eka id” as “ONE”.
*4,2 talks about rasā and samudra; rasā could mean a river or sea, which has an “odd-man-out” appearance in the Rigveda, perhaps because it is far. People have located Rasā in Afghanistan or Central Asia.
*6 I have translated aikṣetām as “seeking” (from īkṣ – observe) The seeking realms are spiritual and physical – the sky and earth. The “crying” ones in these realms, who seek the hiraṇyagarbha, converge to him steadily, through his aid.
*7,3 The third verse of the seventh stanza (three and seven will haunt us in Vedic poems) while referring to the “one spirit of the radiant ones”, the “one spirit of devas”, uses the word “asu” for spirit; and shows a close resemblance to “devānām asuratvam ekam” – the one spirituous quality of devas”.
The last verse is most likely a Brahmanical addition, to end the otherwise open hymn that leaves the identity of hiraṇyagarbha to be judged by us. The prajāpati, in the Brahmanical age, has the meaning of “king”, and this whole philosophical poem was used for the consecration of kings.

Vedā: Viśvedevas

Rigveda 1.164 (CLXIV) Viśvedevas (“Asyavāmīya”)


Audio and transliteration : Rig Veda. Mandala 1. Sukta 164

Of him the splendid pale-old invoker,
Is his middle brother, the swift-voracious.
The third brother is the one with sprinkled back.
I saw here the all-lord of seven sons.

Seven yoke the one-wheeled car,
The single horse conveys, seven-named
Three-naved is the wheel, not aging, unstopping
Upon where all these beings stand.

This car, upon which the seven stand,
Seven-wheeled, seven horses convey
Seven sisters sing together in there
Where the seven names of cows are hidden.

Who saw the first, being born,
The bony, carried by the boneless.
What is the spirit, blood, self of the earth?
Who will approach the knowing ones to ask?

Naive, I ask, unknowing by thought,
Of these hidden steps of the Devas.
Over the full-born calf, they stretched
The seven threads – the poets – to connect.

Without perceiving, to just the perceiving ones here –
To the poets – I ask, to those knowing, as I don’t know :
These six realms propped apart,
In the form of unborn, which one did that?

Let him tell here, he who really knows
The hidden step of that Splendid bird.
Of his head, the Cows derive milk.
Clad in vesture, they have drunk water through step.

Mother shared Father Ṛta here.
Indeed the insight joined together with the thought.
She, recoiling, was penetrated with the essence of embryo.
With homages were the ones who went for addressing.

Yoked was mother, to the pole of Dakṣiṇā
The embryo stood, inside the enclosure.
Mooing, the calf beheld with the cow :-
Of all forms, to the three connections.

Bearing mothers three, fathers three,
The one stands tall, they don’t bother him.
They mutter, beneath such a heaven
The speech what all know, but not impelling all.

Twelve spoked, indeed never to age,
The wheel of Ṛta revolves around heaven,
Here, O Agni, here do the offspring, the couples,
A seven-hundred-and-twenty stand.

Of five steps, the father of twelve dimensions,
Filling up, they say, is to the far half of heaven.
Then these others speak of the one gazing apart above,
In seven-wheeled, fixed with six spokes.

In the five-spoked wheel revolving around,
In that do all the beings stand.
Carrying a great load, its axle is never hot,
From old, with the nave, it doesn’t get destroyed.

With felly, the wheel unaging, has revolved off,
Ten harnessed to the outstretched draw it.
The eye of sun moves by the domain, concealed
All beings are fixed upon it.

Of the seven born simultaneously, they say “one is singly born,
Six are twins, sages, born divine”
Ordained apart in their wishes, as their domain,
For the one still, the various ones quiver, as their form.

Truly women, of those, they say “males” to me.
One who has eye beholds, the blind doesn’t identify.
The poet who is the son, he has indeed perceived.
He who knows them apart, would be the father of father.

Away beyond, beyond this vicinity,
The cow bearing calf has stood up by her foot.
Where’s she to? What kind of half did she go beyond?
Where does she give birth to? Indeed not inside the premises!

Away, beyond, is knower of father
He who is beyond this vicinity.
Tending towards a poet, who would proclaim here :
The thought divine was born forth from where?

Which come towards, they speak of, as going beyond.
These which go away, they speak of as coming towards.
O Indra and Soma, whatever you both have made,
Those, as if connected to a beam, support the realms.

Well-winged pair, of the same yoke, feeling together (companions)
Embrace around the same tree.
Of those, one eats the sweet pippala fruit,
The other devoid of eating, beholds keenly.

There where the well-winged-pair,
Resound the share of immortality by wisdom, incessantly,
The impelling herdsman of all beings,
The insightful has entered into the naive me.

On which tree, all the well-winged
Eaters of sweetness, rest and give birth,
The pippala fruit of that alone, they say, is sweet.
He doesn’t reach it who doesn’t know the father.

How upon the gāyatri is the gāyatra verse ordained,
How from the Triṣṭubh-ic metre Triṣṭubh verse was fashioned out,
Or how the dynamic jagatī verse is imprinted in the track of Jagatī
These who know that, only they taste immortality.

By Gāyatri verse, he measures against the lyric,
By lyric the melody, by Triṣṭubh verses the speech.
By speech the speech, by two-parts, four-parts,
By syllable the seven sounds are measured.

By Jagatī verse, he fixed the stream in heaven,
Around the Rathantara, he saw the Sun.
Of Gāyatri stanza, they say the fuel-sticks are three.
Thence, it has outstripped the great by greatness.

I summon the milch-cow of excellent milk,
May a milker of easy hands milk her.
The best inspiration Savitar will impel in us,
The ignited is hot, that I shall proclaim.

Making a hiṅ sound, the good mistress of goods,
Seeking calf, came inside by thought.
.Let this indestructible cow yield milk to Aśvins,
May she prosper, for greatness, for fortune.

The cow mooed following the blinking calf
Crying hiṅ sound, against his head, to bellow.
Longing for his hot jaw,
She moos her moo, swells her udder.

So this hums – by which cow is concealed inside,
As she moos her moo, resting upon the rotting.
She, through her hiss, humbled the mortal,
Becoming the lightning, she threw off her vesture.

Breathing, the quickly-going living rests,
Moving towards the fixed through the shelters,
The living moves by the self-establishment of dead,
The immortal shares the same origin with mortal.

I saw the herdsman who never falls down,
Moving by the paths to and fro.,
He clothed in the converging, he in diverging,
Wanders back and forth inside of the beings.

He who indeed made, doesn’t know of that one
He who indeed saw – away is he from that one
He, enveloped in the mother’s womb
Having many offspring, here, entered the motionlessness.

Heaven is my father, my progenitor, navel here
Is the bond, mother is the great wide earth.
In between the stretched cups … is my womb
There the father established embryo in daughter.

I ask you of the farthest limit of wide-earth,
I ask you of the navel of the being
I ask you of the bullish aśva’s seed
I ask you of the highest space of Vāk.

This vedī is the farthest limit of earth,
This yajña is the centre of being.
This soma is the bullish aśva’s seed,
The brahmā here is the highest space of Vāk.

Seven embryos of half, the seed of the being,
Stand by the directions of Viṣṇu in the stretched firmament
They the wise, by insight, by thought,
The envelopers become the envelope of everything.

I don’t identify like what am I here,
Bound by limits, yet I roam by my thoughts,
Only when the firstborn of Ṛta comes to me
Do I attain my share of the Vāk here.

Away and towards he moves controlled by self-established power,
The immortal of the same womb as mortal
That two, ever diverging, travel apart
They perceive one … they do not perceive other.

The verses are in the highest space of syllable
There where the Viśvedevas dwell.
He who doesn’t know that, what will he do with the verse!
Just those who know that have assembled here.

Feeding on good pasturage, may you be fortunate!
So thence, might we too be fortunate.
Eat grass, O inviolable cow, at all times,
Drink fresh water, moving about here.

The buffalo-cow mooed, fashioning seas,
One-footed, Two-footed, she, four-footed,
Becoming Eight-footed, Nine-footed,
She is a thousand-syllabled in the highest space.

Her expanses of water flow on, away,
By that, the four directions live.
Thence the “flowless” (syllable) “flows”,
On that everything lives.

A dung-smoke I saw, from afar,
By the equinox, beyond this vicinity.
The men cooked the sprinkling Pṛśni,
Those were the first founding principles.

Three Keśins (haired), seasonally look on –
One of them shaves in a year,
One looks everything keenly, by his powers,
Of one, just the force is seen, form isn’t.

Four are the limits of Vāk’s quarters,
These wise Brahmins know of those,
Hidden in cave, three don’t impel.
The fourth (/impelling) speech do humans speak.

Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, they speak about,
And then the divine well-winged, the Garutmān.
One is the reality, inspired ones say differently,
They speak about Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.

Of dark course, the golden well-winged ones,
Clothed in water, fly up to heaven.
They have returned down from the seat in heaven,
And the earth is moistened with sprinkles.

Twelve are the segments, One is the wheel,
Three are the naves, and who understands that?
In that, at the same time, a three hundred pegs,
Yea, and a sixty, are fixed, which move and move.

That full breast of yours, which refreshes,
By which you nourish every noble thing,
That which places treasure, which finds wealth, which is most benevolent,
O Sarasvati! Prepare to suckle us here.

With yajña, Devas offered yajña of yajña.
These were the first foundational principles.
They followed to the summit of greatness,
Where the Sādhyas of old and Devas are.

Same is this water – it goes up and down through the days.
Earth is vivified by rain, Sky is vivified by fires.

The divine well-winged, lofty bird,
The embryo of Waters, beautiful of herbs,
One who satiates by raining from the water-cloud,
The Sarasvant, him do I call out for favour.

Sanskrit :
asya vāmasya palitasya hotus tasya bhrātā madhyamo astyaśnaḥ ǀ
tṛtīyo bhrātā ghṛtapṛṣṭho asyātrāpaśyam viśpatim saptaputram ǁ
sapta yuñjanti ratham ekacakram eko aśvo vahati saptanāmā ǀ
trinābhi cakramajaramanarvam yatremā viśvā bhuvanādhi tasthuḥ ǁ
imam rathamadhi ye sapta tasthuḥ saptacakram sapta vahantyaśvāḥ ǀ
sapta svasāro abhi sam navante yatra gavām nihitā sapta nāma ǁ
ko dadarśa prathamam jāyamānam asthanvantam yadanasthā bibharti ǀ
bhūmyā asurasṛgātmā kva svit ko vidvāṃsam upa gāt praṣṭum etat ǁ
pākaḥ pṛcchāmi manasā vijānan devānām enā nihitā padāni ǀ
vatse baṣkaye’dhi sapta tantūn vi tatnire kavaya otavā u ǁ
acikitvāñcikituṣaścidatra kavīnpṛcchāmi vidmane na vidvān ǀ
vi yas tastambha ṣaḷimā rajāṃsy ajasya rūpe kimapi svidekam ǁ
iha bravītu ya īmaṅga vedāsya vāmasya nihitam padam veḥ ǀ
śīrṣṇaḥ kṣīram duhrate gāvo asya vavrim vasānā udakam padāpuḥ ǁ
mātā pitaram ṛta ā babhāja dhīty agre manasā sam hi jagme ǀ
sā bībhatsur garbharasā nividdhā namasvanta id upavākam īyuḥ ǁ
yuktā mātāsīd dhuri dakṣiṇāyā atiṣṭhad garbho vṛjanīṣv antaḥ ǀ
amīmed vatso anu gām apaśyad viśvarūpyam triṣu yojaneṣu ǁ
tisro mātṝs trīn pitṝn bibhrad eka ūrdhvastasthau nemava glāpayanti ǀ
mantrayante divo amuṣya pṛṣṭhe viśvavidam vācam aviśvaminvām ǁ
dvādaśāram nahi tajjarāya varvarti cakram pari dyāmṛtasya ǀ
ā putrā agne mithunāso atra sapta śatāni viṃśatiśca tasthuḥ ǁ
pañcapādam pitaram dvādaśākṛtim diva āhuḥ pare ardhe purīṣiṇam ǀ
atheme anya upare vicakṣaṇam saptacakre ṣaḷara āhurarpitam ǁ
pañcāre cakre parivartamāne tasminnā tasthurbhuvanāni viśvā ǀ
tasya nākṣastapyate bhūribhāraḥ sanādeva na śīryate sanābhiḥ ǁ
sanemi cakramajaram vi vāvṛta uttānāyām daśa yuktā vahanti ǀ
sūryasya cakṣū rajasaityāvṛtam tasminnārpitā bhuvanāni viśvā ǁ
sākaṃ jānām saptatham āhur ekajam ṣaḷ id yamā ṛṣayo devajā iti ǀ
teṣām iṣṭāni vihitāni dhāmaśaḥ sthātre rejante vikṛtāni rūpaśaḥ ǁ
striyaḥ satīs tām̐ u me puṃsa āhuḥ paśyad akṣaṇvān na vi cetad andhaḥ ǀ
kavir yaḥ putraḥ sa īm ā ciketa yas tā vijānāt sa pituṣ pitāsat ǁ
avaḥ pareṇa para enāvareṇa padā vatsam bibhratī gaurudasthāt ǀ
sā kadrīcī kam svid ardham parāgāt kva svit sūte nahi yūthe antaḥ ǁ
avaḥ pareṇa pitaram yo asyānuveda para enāvareṇa ǀ
kavīyamānaḥ ka iha pra vocad devam manaḥ kuto adhi prajātam ǁ
ye arvāñcas tām̐ u parāca āhur ye parāñcas tām̐ u arvāca āhuḥ ǀ
indraś ca yā cakrathuḥ soma tāni dhurā na yuktā rajaso vahanti ǁ
dvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā samānam vṛkṣam pari ṣasvajāte ǀ
tayoranyaḥ pippalam svādvatty anaśnann anyo abhi cākaśīti ǁ
yatrā suparṇā amṛtasya bhāgam animeṣam vidathābhisvaranti ǀ
ino viśvasya bhuvanasya gopāḥ sa mā dhīraḥ pākam atrā viveśa ǁ
yasmin vṛkṣe madhvadaḥ suparṇā niviśante suvate cādhi viśve ǀ
tasyed āhuḥ pippalam svādv agre tan nonnaśad yaḥ pitaram na veda ǁ
yadgāyatre adhi gāyatramāhitam traiṣṭubhādvā traiṣṭubham niratakṣata ǀ
yadvā jagaj jagatyāhitam padam ya it tad vidus te amṛtatvam ānaśuḥ ǁ
gāyatreṇa prati mimīte arkamarkeṇa sāma traiṣṭubhena vākam ǀ
vākena vākam dvipadā catuṣpadākṣareṇa mimate sapta vāṇīḥ ǁ
jagatā sindhum divy astabhāyad rathantare sūryam paryapaśyat ǀ
gāyatrasya samidhas tisra āhus tato mahnā pra ririce mahitvā ǁ
upa hvaye sudughām dhenum etām suhasto godhug uta dohad enām ǀ
śreṣṭham savam savitā sāviṣanno ’bhīddho gharmas tad u ṣu pra vocam ǁ
hiṅkṛṇvatī vasupatnī vasūnām vatsam icchantī manasābhyāgāt ǀ
duhām aśvibhyām payo aghnyeyam sā vardhatām mahate saubhagāya ǁ
gaur amīmed anu vatsam miṣantam mūrdhānam hiṅṅakṛṇon mātavā u ǀ
sṛkvāṇam gharmam abhi vāvaśānā mimāti māyum payate payobhiḥ ǁ
ayam sa śiṅkte yena gaur abhīvṛtā mimāti māyum dhvasanāv adhi śritā ǀ
sā cittibhir ni hi cakāra martyam vidyud bhavantī prati vavrim auhata ǁ
anacchaye turagātu jīvam ejad dhruvam madhya ā pastyānām ǀ
jīvo mṛtasya carati svadhābhir amartyo martyenā sayoniḥ ǁ
apaśyam gopām anipadyamānam ā ca parā ca pathibhiś carantam ǀ
sa sadhrīcīḥ sa viṣūcīr vasāna ā varīvarti bhuvaneṣvantaḥ ǁ
ya īm cakāra na so asya veda ya īm dadarśa hirug in nu tasmāt ǀ
sa mātur yonā parivīto antar bahuprajā nirṛtimā viveśa ǁ
dyaurme pitā janitā nābhir atra bandhur me mātā pṛthivī mahīyam ǀ
uttānayoś camvor yonir antar atrā pitā duhitur garbham ādhāt ǁ
pṛcchāmi tvā param antam pṛthivyāḥ pṛcchāmi yatra bhuvanasya nābhiḥ ǀ
pṛcchāmi tvā vṛṣṇo aśvasya retaḥ pṛcchāmi vācaḥ paramam vyoma ǁ
iyam vediḥ paro antaḥ pṛthivyā ayam yajño bhuvanasya nābhiḥ ǀ
ayam somo vṛṣṇo aśvasya reto brahmāyam vācaḥ paramam vyoma ǁ
saptārdhagarbhā bhuvanasya reto viṣṇos tiṣṭhanti pradiśā vidharmaṇi ǀ
te dhītibhir manasā te vipaścitaḥ paribhuvaḥ pari bhavanti viśvataḥ ǁ
na vi jānāmi yadi vedam asmi niṇyaḥ saṃnaddho manasā carāmi ǀ
yadā māgan prathamajā ṛtasyādidvāco aśnuve bhāgamasyāḥ ǁ
apāṅ prāṅeti svadhayā gṛbhīto’martyo martyenā sayoniḥ ǀ
tā śaśvantā viṣūcīnā viyantā nyanyam cikyurna ni cikyuranyam ǁ
ṛco akṣare parame vyomanyasmindevā adhi viśve niṣeduḥ ǀ
yastanna veda kimṛcā kariṣyati ya ittadvidusta ime samāsate ǁ
sūyavasād bhagavatī hi bhūyā atho vayam bhagavantaḥ syāma ǀ
addhi tṛṇam aghnye viśvadānīm piba śuddham udakam ācarantī ǁ
gaurīrmimāya salilāni takṣatyekapadī dvipadī sā catuṣpadī ǀ
aṣṭāpadī navapadī babhūvuṣī sahasrākṣarā parame vyoman ǁ
tasyāḥ samudrā adhi vi kṣaranti tena jīvanti pradiśaścatasraḥ ǀ
tataḥ kṣaratyakṣaram tadviśvamupa jīvati ǁ
śakamayam dhūmamārādapaśyam viṣūvatā para enāvareṇa ǀ
ukṣāṇam pṛśnim apacanta vīrāstāni dharmāṇi prathamānyāsan ǁ
trayaḥ keśina ṛtuthā vi cakṣate saṃvatsare vapata eka eṣām ǀ
viśvam eko abhi caṣṭe śacībhirdhrājirekasya dadṛśe na rūpam ǁ
catvāri vākparimitā padāni tāni vidur brāhmaṇā ye manīṣiṇaḥ ǀ
guhā trīṇi nihitā neṅgayanti turīyam vāco manuṣyā vadanti ǁ
indram mitram varuṇam agnim āhur atho divyaḥ sa suparṇo garutmān ǀ
ekam sadviprā bahudhā vadanty agnim yamam mātariśvānamāhuḥ ǁ
kṛṣṇam niyānam harayaḥ suparṇā apo vasānā divam utpatanti ǀ
ta āvavṛtrant sadanād ṛtasyād id ghṛtena pṛthivī vyudyate ǁ
dvādaśa pradhayaś cakram ekam trīṇi nabhyāni ka u tacciketa ǀ
tasmint sākam triśatā na śaṅkavo’rpitāḥ ṣaṣṭir na calācalāsaḥ ǁ
yaste stanaḥ śaśayo yo mayobhūryena viśvā puṣyasi vāryāṇi ǀ
yo ratnadhā vasuvidyaḥ sudatraḥ sarasvati tamiha dhātave kaḥ ǁ
yajñena yajñamayajanta devāstāni dharmāṇi prathamānyāsan ǀ
te ha nākam mahimānaḥ sacanta yatra pūrve sādhyāḥ santi devāḥ ǁ
samānam etad udakam uccaity ava cāhabhiḥ ǀ
bhūmim parjanyā jinvanti divam jinvantyagnayaḥ ǁ
divyam suparṇam vāyasam bṛhantam apām garbham darśatam oṣadhīnām ǀ
abhīpato vṛṣṭibhis tarpayantam sarasvantam avase johavīmi ǁ



Vedā: Nāsadīya Sūkta


Rigveda 10.129 – Nāsadīya Sūkta – “Not of the non-existent”
What I am adding henceforth is an intellectually honest exposition of how the verses “look like” when you read in Sanskrit. So, you could first read the translation, but don’t miss how I have translated and why I have translated so, and how to read the verses in Sanskrit. This is to henceforth help the people realize how verses are like, how much they are deep and poetic.
Sanskrit :-
Audio : Rig Veda. Mandala 10. Sukta 129
na ásad āsīn nó sád āsīt tadā́nīm
na ́āsīd rájo nó vyómā paró yát ǀ
kím ā́varīvaḥ kúha kásya śármann
ámbhaḥ kím āsīd gáhanam gabhīrám ǁ
ná mṛtyúr āsīd amṛ́tam ná tárhi
ná rā́tryā áhna āsītpraketáḥ ǀ
ā́nīda vātám svadháyā tádékam
tásmāddhānyán ná paráḥ kím canā́sa ǁ
táma āsīt támasā gūḷhám ágre
’praketám salilám sárvamā idám ǀ
tucchyénābhv ápihitam yád ā́sīt
tápasas tán mahinā́ jāyatáikam ǁ
kā́mas tád ágre sámavartatā́dhi
mánaso rétaḥ prathamám yád ā́sīt ǀ
sató bándhum ásati níravindan
hṛdí pratī́ṣyā kaváyo manīṣā́ ǁ
tiraścī́no vítato raśmír eṣām
adháḥ svidāsī́d … upári svidāsī́t … ǀ
retodhā́ āsan mahimā́na āsant
svadhā́ avástāt práyatiḥ parástāt ǁ
kó addhā́ veda ká ihá prá vocat
kúta ā́jātā kúta iyám vísṛṣṭiḥ ǀ
arvā́g devā́ asyá visárjanena-
áthā kó veda yáta ābabhū́va ǁ
iyám vísṛṣṭir yáta ābabhū́va
yádi vā dadhé yádi vā ná ….
yó asyā́dhyakṣaḥ paramé vyómant
só aṅgá veda yádi vā ná véda ǁ
Translation :-
Non-existence wasn’t, yet existence wasn’t then.
Dust didn’t exist, nor did space beyond.
What moved back and forth? Where? In whose care?
Did water exist deep, impervious?
Death wasn’t, immortality wasn’t thence.
Day was not distinguished by the night.
Without breathing air, the one by power of self-establishment –
None else beyond that was.
Darkness it was, hidden by darkness, at the point.
Undistinguished, unsteady, all this was.
Hidden by nothing, coming to being, it was.
The one manifested by the greatness of heat.
At the point, passion evolved,
Over the thought, which was the first seed.
The bond of existence they found in non-existence :
The poets, seeking in heart, by wisdom.
Across was stretched, the cord.
What was below …? What was above …?
There were the great establishers of seed.
Self-establishment was beneath Effort beyond.
Who really knows, who could here proclaim
When this has manifested – when – this release.
Towards are the devas, of this wide release.
Then who really knows whence this has come to being!
This wide release, from what it came to be –
Or else if it was “established”, or else if not ….
He who is its overseer in the highest space –
He does indeed know, or else if he doesn’t know….
A vision :
  1. The first stanza is to be understood in the sense:- (I am writing with better-expounded translations of the same words to give the perspective of how it is when you read it in Sanskrit.

    “Neither was unreal, (asat, also “untrue”) nor was real (sat, also “true”) then.
    Neither existed the dust (rajas, also “domain power” typical of king, “rajoguṇa”), nor any space beyond.
    What moved back and forth (like the wind, like a web of connection), where, in whose (inner secure) care
    Did the “Water stream” (waves, sky, clouds) exist, deep, impervious.”

    You can also clearly see the seed of the concept of guṇas, as in the words used. (sat/sat-tva guṇa, rajas/rajoguṇa) The hymn as a whole, as we will see, does make sense if read like this too. A very superb poetic core. The word āvarīva- (translated as “moving back and forth”) is used often for the pulse of the universe, similar to breathe, that enters and exits, vivifying everything. It is often connected with metaphors of web and connection, to the herdsman who herds back and forth through the grasslands, and is homologous to the connection which sages will find between existence and non-existence through their wisdom in the lines to follow.
  2. If you read the second stanza in Sanskrit, this is what it looks like:-

    “There was no death. There was nothing im-mortal then. (without mṛtyu, there is no definition for a-mṛta)
    By no night was the day clearly distinguished (perceived, discriminated)
    Without breathing air (/vāta), by the power of self-establishment (the “force” that which is lauded as determination of the universe) that “one” existed
    Beyond that, nothing else was.

    Self-establishment (sva-dhā) is an abstract Vedic concept, which is apparently the force that drags everything through the path of time. It is typically lauded as the power of Yama (the fashioner of the path of “time” – I will discuss the Vedic Yama in detail later) and the dead ancestors. It is also the self-establishment that causes the universe to “pulsate”, to “live”. Svadhā is beyond biological life and time.
  3. Third stanza:-

    “Tamas (darkness/ignorance – tamoguṇa) existed, hidden by tamas (darkness/ignorance – tamoguṇa) at the (beginning) point.
    Not distinguished/not perceivable, “flowing” (/unsteady/chaotic) was this all.
    Covered/hidden by nothing, that which came into being existed;
    By the power of tapas (/heat, /inner heat) the one manifested.”
  4. “Passion, at that point, evolved upon the mind, as its primeval seed.
    The bond of existence (/real, /true) they found in non-existence (/unreal, /untrue)
    In their hearts, seeking, the poets through wisdom.”
  5. “Across extended (stretched apart, often used in the context of measuring, and especially as the poets stretching the threads of their metres to create the Vāk) was the cord (/ray) (for measuring).
    Below what was ……? (the verse actually has this, in the form of a pluta. Please hear the audio to understand what I am speaking about)
    Above what was ……? (here too, the verse has the pluta)
    The great establishers of seed existed.
    Self-establishment was below, Toiling/offering was above.”
  6. “Who” really knows, “who” could here proclaim,
    From where thence manifested, from where, this wide-release (sṛṣṭi, literally “release”, becomes the word for “creation” in the later ages. “Release” had a “productional” meaning as much as we have it now in English, in the context of software “release” and likes.)
    Towards (this side, our side) are the devas, of this wide-release.
    (They are released towards us)
    So then, here, who does know, from what this came to being!”

    The poetic function of the verse is quite explicit. As devas are released towards us, using the skills they represent, we might be answering these questions which is, in a sense, about our own existence. On the other hand, the devas as “beings” are created by us, so the verse can also be read as a puzzlement of how our “created divinities” “know” from where this came to be.
  7. Quite a deep and extremely poetic, word-word untranslatable, stanza – so I try my best to show what it looks like:-

    “This wide-release, from whatever it has come to be –
    Or if it was “established” (by some “creator”) or if it was not …. (pause) (could it be that it was not ???)
    The eye-over-it in the highest space –
    He indeed knows …. (intended to remind the pause earlier) or if he doesn’t know?”

    I have expounded on the meanings of this sūkta and translated it several times (in all possible ways), so this time I am leaving for you to ponder on this sūkta and observe how it has been translated.
Vedā: Vṛṣākapi

Vṛṣākapi hymn – The Kapi, the Kavi, and the Vāk
[Indra] They indeed released the soma away, they didn’t think of Indra (as) the deva.
There where my companion Vṛṣākapi delighted in the abundances of the lords – Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] You indeed run beyond the staggering Vṛṣākapi,
Even then you don’t find anywhere else, for drinking soma – Indra higher to all.
[Indra] What has this tawny beast Vṛṣākapi done to you,
Or to the abundant riches of lords, that you hate him? Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] This dear Vṛṣākapi, whom you keep watch into;
Boar-hunting hound will even bite his ear now; Indra higher to all.
The kapi spoiled away my beloved parts well built, well-demarcated.
I will break his head, I won’t be an easy passage for a bad actor. Indra higher to all.
No woman is of good clear parts than me, none would be of better embraces;
None rolls back better than me, none raises up the shafts better. Indra higher to all.
[Vṛṣākapi] Aye, mummy, easy-gain, like this you will be :
It causes my bald part, my “shafts”, my head to be aroused; Indra higher to all.
[Indra] O you of good hands, good fingers, wide praise, wide-ended;
O mistress of hero, why, just why, do you bother of Vṛṣākapi? Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] This stingy one considers me as if not having a hero,
And here am, with the hero, mistress of Indra, with companions Maruts.
Indra higher to all.
[Poet] In the first, she the woman was the one going over, whether for concourse or meeting;
She, the performer of Ṛta, is glorified as Indra’s heroic mistress. Indra higher to all.
I have heard Indrāṇī, the most fortunate among women;
Indeed not even in the future will her lord die of old age. Indra higher to all.
[Indra] Indrāṇī, I don’t “rock” in the (flow of) Ṛta without companion Vṛṣākapi;
Whose this dear gift, born of water, goes to the devas; Indra higher to all.
Vṛṣākapāyi, wealthy, having a good son and good daughter-in-law,
Indra will accept your dear consecrated gift, whatever it does. Indra higher to all.
Consecrated indeed are the fifteen for me, they cook a twenty with it;
And I eat just the substance, they satisfy both my cups, (heaven-earth) Indra higher to all.
[Poet] Like a sharply horned bull, wandering within the herd,
The churned which the pious impels out for you is bliss for your heart; Indra higher to all.
[Indra] He isn’t the controller, whose mulch-tool hangs loosely between the shafts;
He is THE controller, for whose (plow) having settled down, the hairy (field) gapes open. Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] He isn’t the controller, for whose (organ) settled down, the hairy (vulva) gapes open;
He is THE controller whose mulch-tool (organ) hangs loosely between the shafts. (thighs) Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] O Indra, this Vṛṣākapi found a killed equid,
New butchering (or “impelling”?) knife, a cooking pot, a wagon spread over with firewood. Indra higher to all.
[Vṛṣākapi] Here I go, distinguishing and recognizing the Arya and Dāsa.
I drink of the foolish presser, having viewed him to be wise. Indra higher to all.
[Indra] Desert and tilled section – how many miles would they be apart;
Come back to shelter, Vṛṣākapi, towards the nearby settlements. Indra higher to all.
[Indrāṇī] Return back, Vṛṣākapi, easy paths we will design ourselves;
While as the destroyer of sleep, you go again, to your shelter, along the path. Indra higher to all.
[Poet] When you all, O Vṛṣākapi, O Indra, had gone towards the upper house,
Where did he, the beast of many offenses, the one who frustrates the folks, go! Indra higher to all.
The woman Parśu, simultaneously gave birth to a twenty.
Auspiciousness was indeed there for her whose belly was afflicted, Indra higher to all.
Indications to metaphors and comments, ordered by verses :
Summary of basic metaphors – There are three strains working parallel in this hymn – rightly adhiyajñam, adhyātmam, and adhidaivam. All based on one social context – the slow decline and discouragement of sage tradition from new chief lords with their sponsored priests who believe only in action, not vision. Metaphors are Indra = Kavi = the Indra who is the Divine concept born of spiritual Vision = the Spiritual Self of Kavi. Indrāṇī = Vision of Kavi = the Vāk = the human Self of Kavi. Vṛṣākapi = the recipient of soma of the kings who believe not in spiritual vision, but only in mere practices = the ignorant royally sponsored Priest = the descendants of the priest-sage community who have lost their spiritual sage tradition.
> abundances of lords – (also aryaḥ puṣṭi/ aryaḥ puṣṭāni) is a classical concept in middle and later Vedic period, when chiefs (aryaḥ) turned out to be possessors of enormous wealth, and still never distributed anything properly. They ended the presence and the culture of sages and raised a community of ignorant priests, who are good enough to do the rituals, without having any much knowledge about the meaning.
> Indra running beyond staggering Vṛṣākapi is in the “ultimate greatness” which Indra transcends beyond all. Indra as the Divine concept is all-inclusive and beyond what we can think of. It cannot be compared with a Vṛṣākapi concept who merely acts when worshiped, and not based on spiritual vision. Indra here stands for kavi as opposed to kapi, again. The kavi gets immortality, so goes for his Vision as well. However, an ignorant priest who has no vision merely performs and dies off.
> Tawny beast (mṛga) reminds one of the imagery of Indra’s symbol of Yajña – the Soma, (elsewhere called Vṛṣṇaḥ aśvasya retaḥ) also explained as Viṣṇu. (who is also called mṛga) However here, Vṛṣākapi, while assuming the role of Agni/Viṣṇu/Soma to implement the Yajña, is not in the right track. Indra is tolerant of the priest – as it could have been how sages adapted with the priests. But they surely did leave a viewpoint from the other side – from the side of the Right, from the side of spiritual vision and tradition they followed – in Indrāṇī. Indra is thus fine with identifying the Vṛṣākapis worshiped by people as Viṣṇu, his companion and radiance. Just like the poet sages, who had to face the reality of priests and chiefs spoiling the rich spiritual tradition and vision and replacing it with their cults. However, this underlying irritation reflects through the Indrāṇī, who has a “humanly” basis, though with the Divine forms.
> Indrāṇī retorts to the Indrian tolerance, that the true companion of Indra – Viṣṇu, who is the boar-hunter of Vedas (who hunts Emuṣa boar with Indra) will snap the ear (pun intended for the “śravaṇa” and “śravas” – the learning and fame) of Vṛṣākapi, for this priest actually spoils the well-demarcated Vision – the Indrāṇī, and robs her off her beauty while acting himself. Ear is also the metaphor for directions (fame), hence why the “boar hunter” is fully vindicated beautifully.
> Indrāṇī explains her plight. Which is the human in the poet reacting to how the new practice has destroyed the rich spiritual tradition. She is also the “verse”, of the poet, who is effed up by the priest for his gains. The “clear”, “well-demarcated” refers to the reality of how the vision and metaphors yielded the new priests clueless, as they had no idea or the will to discern. This is a constant theme in the later Vedic period – esp. in Rigveda and Atharvaveda. By the time of Atharvaveda, the great sages had become legends – he stands for the Brahmā.
> “Rolling back” is a concept in Vedas – the vision pays to the sages. “Raising the shafts better” – as in a ploughcart that is to plow the field. The reason for this is that Indra’s wife is the humanly born vision of the poet who reaches to Indra and becomes one with Divine. This is visualized also, as the ahalyā, the field which cannot be plowed, in Vedic theme – esp. in the Subrahmaṇyā. (only Indra makes her fertile, and becomes the plow and plowshare himself) The word for shaft also happens to mean “thigh”, and this is the sublimest divine pun in the history of Vedic Sanskrit.
Head is the metaphor for heaven, as always. Indrāṇī doesn’t expect Vṛṣākapi to pass to the spiritual realm, by spoiling her. Spoiling her will make her break the “head” of Vṛṣākapi, never revealing her spiritual inside to him.
> Indrāṇī is “easy-gain” for Vṛṣākapi as he doesn’t possess a vision. He merely appropriates the Though it is the Vāk of vision which made a sage and priest in Vedic times, the Vṛṣākapi considers himself to be a child of the Vāk, though has no vision. This theme can be again, seen better represented in the Vāk hymn of same tenth Maṇḍala, where Vāk says, she makes the Brahman herself and reveals herself to the one who discerns her. Thus, while Vṛṣākapi claims Indrāṇī to be his “mommy” (ambe! is also an exclamation in Aśvamedha ritual, which is again, used in this hymn later) Indrāṇī doesn’t find him to be suitable enough to make a kavi, or even reveal herself.
The words used by Vṛṣākapi are so significant. He believes just chanting the verses will make the spiritual realm rise in him, (his “head”) lift the shafts and pull his cart of Yajña forward, making the yajña to be fruitful deed, Bald part is his bald yajña without the hairs of fire/ the inner sky without hairs of sun / Ahalyā without Indra. As these three are elsewhere called three hairy ones in metaphors. (tryaḥ keśinaḥ)
> The spiritual self of the poet, also the actual Divinity Indra, is seemingly not bothering of how people are ignorant. He asks instead, in order to make us clear of Indrāṇī’s feelings. Good hands, as she “performs” well and pays back to the sage as his passage to immortality. Good fingers, since fingers, symbolize the impelling of soma, the spiritual life. (This is a very common metaphor, especially running throughout ninth maṇḍala) Ten fingers also symbolize the ten directions, and directions of action. (hand) Indrāṇī is wide ended, as her seat is the magnificent seat of Ṛta. (again reaffirmed in verses to follow)
> Indrāṇī replies that the hurting, stingy, Vṛṣākapi takes pride in himself and thinks that he can appropriate Indrāṇī. A sage actually gives birth to his thought, through which he gains the divine inspiration, and returns it as the vision in Vāk. The Vāk becomes his companion, and both remain immortal. Vṛṣākapi has no clue of vision, hence, he doesn’t compose anything from his vision; neither understands anything. He merely tries to appropriate the verses thinking it will make him get all materialistic and spiritual benefits. Now, we are in a position to accept Indrāṇī’s viewpoint.
> Poet explains to us the key for the metaphor, that the human woman (nārī) glorified as Indrāṇī is the first one who takes her place in every meeting/assembly (to “speak brave” in assembly is a Vedic concept – the assembly is associated with Vāk always) As she gains the divinity and becomes one with Indra, she is glorified as Indrāṇī. She implements the Ṛta.
She thus is immortal and causes her hero (both Indra and kavi) to be immortal. As immortality is elsewhere clearly associated with Kavis- their knowledge of the spiritual basis of chandas. (ya it tat vidus te amṛtatatvam ānaśuḥ)
This can also be phrased with respect to the Vṛṣākapi, who really “hears” the Indrāṇī.
> Indra says that he rocks in the flow of Ṛta only with priest – it is the reality. That the priest has been ignorant of Divine vision is unfortunate, though. Whatever he offers, born of waters, (soma) does indeed go to devas, as the Devas are ultimately the recipients of all worship. If a priest doesn’t limit his worship to his own ego, Indra will be glad to accept it, and it goes to the Devas.
> Indra addresses Indrāṇī as Vṛṣākapāyī, for the priest has appropriated her. Indra shows He has no ill-will towards anyone for what is happening – whatever happens, will happen with its own consequences. Here we find the lofty spirit of Vedic sages and their concept of Divinity – that is not “jealous” but beyond any affliction of human emotions. Good “daughter-in-law” is a very good phrase used by Indra – as Indrāṇī has become her own daughter-in-law. Indra says that the glory of the Vision never fades off even though Vṛṣākapi has dealt with her – and that He accepts whatever is offered with her.
> Vrishakapi offers the soma yajna, where the bulls of fifteen (Trishtubh verses) and twenty (Dvipad verses of twenty syllables) – both are mixed together in Gauriviti Saman – are offered to Indra. Indra fills the cups of cosmos – the “heaven and earth” with the substance. (soma) Indra is not intent on the practices (unlike Vṛṣākapi) but only the substance. One who presses soma for the world to live rejuvenates the Indrian concept and simultaneously rejuvenates the world. Only those who do that will be aided by Indra.
> Poet says that Indra finds indeed the soma pressed by the inspired as blissful by heart. “By heart” is a phrase of Vedas by which one “understands” or “discerns”. (Cf. hṛdā paśyanti …)
> > Indra and Indrāṇī both describe the nature of who really wins. It is not the mere performer, but only the visionary actor achieves.
> Scene of Aśvamedha reinstated through the sighting of a killed “equid”. (Since horse stands for soma, but the Vṛṣākapāyī is unable to press the real soma – he “finds the ass killed”. This also alludes to a satire of Aśvamedha ritual that had just been released in among chiefs, where priest/horse toils for the king, and at least is killed (because it had no wits to escape) and after its death, the queen becomes fertile, and the kingdom becomes prosperous. Queen sleeps with the dead horses. The sighting of equid causes this hindsight inside the priest. This sparks an introspection in Vṛṣākapi, and makes him create a better future for him.
> Vṛṣākapi is taking his leave, saying that he will distinguish Arya and Dāsa, and thus accept only offers from righteous rulers. He also confesses what he had been doing these days.
> Indra calls back Vṛṣākapi, warning that he is going to a desert, and requests to continue being nearer to the tilled section, in nearby settlements;. (the tradition having a spirit, followed by his sagely ancestors)
> Indrāṇī, out of love to Vṛṣākapi, calls out to him to return to his shelter – to his home and traditions. She assures that then she will devise the “easy paths” for him to get to spiritual heaven. The “easy paths” are also a satire of Aśvamedha, where Aśva returns to the shelter in yajña where it is offered an “easy path”. Sage refers to their tradition already being sacrificed. And as the Indra-Indrāṇī now take the place of king and queen of the Aśvamedha, it is like they are letting loose their horse, the Vṛṣākapi. For ultimately the greater immortality and spiritual achievement are for poets and verses.
> The pattern of this kind of speech is a Vedic one, it is a syntactical feature of Vedic Sanskrit. To emphasize poetically that something happened, that is expressed as a question with the subject referred to in a third person’s viewpoint. For example, to affirm and exclaim at Indra’s killing of Vṛtra, one would say it in Vedic poetic syntax: “Who saw the exterminator of Vṛtra, O Indra, when thrill came to your heart, O destroyer!”. (RV 1.32)
Here, it is shown that only those who didn’t have any “agha” or didn’t torment people actually reached “heaven” – the upper spiritual house.
> Another political context. Will be dealt separate.
  1. vi hi sotorasṛkṣata nendram devamamaṃsata ǀ
    yatrāmadadvṛṣākapiraryaḥ puṣṭeṣu matsakhā viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  2. parā hīndra dhāvasi vṛṣākaperati vyathiḥ ǀ
    no aha pra vindasyanyatra somapītaye viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  3. kimayam tvām vṛṣākapiścakāra harito mṛgaḥ ǀ
    yasmā irasyasīdu nvaryo vā puṣṭimadvasu viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  4. yamimam tvam vṛṣākapim priyamindrābhirakṣasi ǀ
    śvā nvasya jambhiṣadapi karṇe varāhayurviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  5. priyā taṣṭāni me kapirvyaktā vyadūduṣat ǀ
    śiro nvasya rāviṣam na sugam duṣkṛte bhuvam viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  6. na matstrī subhasattarā na suyāśutarā bhuvat ǀ
    na matpraticyavīyasī na sakthyudyamīyasī viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  7. uve amba sulābhike yathevāṅga bhaviṣyati ǀ
    bhasanme amba sakthi me śiro me vīva hṛṣyati viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  8. kim subāho svaṅgure pṛthuṣṭo pṛthujāghane ǀ
    kim śūrapatni nastvamabhyamīṣi vṛṣākapim viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  9. avīrāmiva māmayam śarārurabhi manyate ǀ
    utāhamasmi vīriṇīndrapatnī marutsakhā viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  10. saṃhotram sma purā nārī samanam vāva gacchati ǀ
    vedhā ṛtasya vīriṇīndrapatnī mahīyate viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  11. indrāṇīmāsu nāriṣu subhagāmahamaśravam ǀ
    nahyasyā aparam cana jarasā marate patirviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  12. nāhamindrāṇi rāraṇa sakhyurvṛṣākaperṛte ǀ
    yasyedamapyam haviḥ priyam deveṣu gacchati viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  13. vṛṣākapāyi revati suputra ādu susnuṣe ǀ
    ghasatta indra ukṣaṇaḥ priyam kācitkaram havirviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  14. ukṣṇo hi me pañcadaśa sākam pacanti viṃśatim ǀ
    utāhamadmi pīva idubhā kukṣī pṛṇanti me viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  15. vṛṣabho na tigmaśṛṅgo’ntaryūtheṣu roruvat ǀ
    manthasta indra śam hṛde yam te sunoti bhāvayurviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  16. na seśe yasya rambate’ntarā sakthyā kapṛt ǀ
    sedīśe yasya romaśam niṣeduṣo vijṛmbhate viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  17. na seśe yasya romaśam niṣeduṣo vijṛmbhate ǀ
    sedīśe yasya rambate’ntarā sakthyā kapṛdviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  18. ayamindra vṛṣākapiḥ parasvantam hatam vidat ǀ
    asim sūnām navam carumādedhasyāna ācitam viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  19. ayamemi vicākaśadvicinvandāsamāryam ǀ
    pibāmi pākasutvano’bhi dhīramacākaśam viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  20. dhanva ca yatkṛntatram ca kati svittā vi yojanā ǀ
    nedīyaso vṛṣākape’stamehi gṛhām̐ upa viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  21. punarehi vṛṣākape suvitā kalpayāvahai ǀ
    ya eṣa svapnanaṃśano’stameṣi pathā punarviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  22. yadudañco vṛṣākape gṛhamindrājagantana ǀ
    kva sya pulvagho mṛgaḥ kamagañjanayopano viśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
  23. parśurha nāma mānavī sākam sasūva viṃśatim ǀ
    bhadram bhala tyasyā abhūdyasyā udaramāmayadviśvasmādindra uttaraḥ ǁ
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Vedā: Ādityas


Rigveda 8.47 – Anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ

We start from an outlier hymn in Eighth Maṇḍala – 8.47, the seer of which is not spared to us. (Anukramaṇī cluelessly assigns the hymn to Trita Āptya) This hymn presents the Vedic view of Ādityas and Aditi – the concepts that are not limited to the endless sky or the limitless cosmos, but very much relevant in the mental purity and unblemished thoughts. I am posting this post phrased in a more deep language, as a trial. If ever this post gets too troublesome, I will try choosing simpler words and a simpler discussion to let the reader get a prick of what is going on here.
Aditi stands for no limits, no errors. Therefore she represents the space, the expanse of thought, the infinity and 100% efficiency. In a society she represents freedom, in feeling she symbolizes innocence. (not ignorance but) She represents purity and inclusiveness, and she facilitates the lighting of the dark spots to correct them. Therefore inherently Ādityas – the divine concepts born from Aditi, carry the feature of light, guide people, and rule the space, provide for the people to act and expand.
Vedas believe in the shelter that Ādityan psychological forces will stretch over our psyche. That “shelter” is the keyword.
Yet the hymn seems to combine two seemingly unrelated things in the first glance – a glorification of moral purity and shelter offered by Ādityas, and in the second half, a generous loading by us into Trita, our nightmares. This might sound unrelated at first, but anyone who has had a fear of unknown cause in night will relate with this hymn and its every word. Including the word Trita and the threefold arrangement of “shelter” – that refers to “three” – a number that signifies aggregation and alignment. Usually these nightmares are caused due to our faulty perceptions – these fears are a result of our deficiency in regulating the Ṛta aspect of existence, a problem with our cognition (cetas) and learning (√vid). As I have said elsewhere, the Vedic view sees existence as three-fold – in Satya, Ṛta and Dharma perspectives. That model or paradigm is good to be extended even to understand nature (particle, wave, law of existence) (matter, energy, basic force) and Vedas extend that even to the human body (Ātmā, tanu, śarīram). The instance of tanu as what we perceive being wrong is a defect with our attitude and cognition/perception. Ṛta corresponds with space, energy and tanu. As we see, when Ṛta is downplayed, it causes us to create dogmas or fear things, much of which places us into unknown spurts of emotions like anger or fear or negligence. Note how in this hymn each are treated. And the solution lies with Ādityas.
The “dream” sits in the same stage. It is also a matter of cognition and it exhibits the fear and our unwillingness to find a solution to the nightmare we have. When we transform that fear and move forth to get ourselves freed, we free ourselves from the narrow and winding roads. It relieves us from aṃhas. (anxiety) That is possible when we are sure of the unerring and perfectly natural nature. We need to cast off our fantasies.
Coming to Trita Āptya, he symbolizes this “three”, and he adorns himself with the nightmare, corrects them with the light of dawn and rises as the Sun from his “well”. Dvita and Trita are none but the supposed concepts of second and third phase of night – a time when such nightmares occur mostly. Dawn carries the darkness away to Trita, who rises converting everything into light. It is our perception that defines what is good and what is bad – and we are the ones who control it, by succumbing to our Ādityas. Only through crooked paths or treachery can one negate what Ādityas have for him.
In the species, the three-model becomes the go, (the cows, the wealth, the knowledge) aśva (the horse/oxen, work, the passion) and and puruṣa (man, security, plan) and Aśva stands with the Ṛta. A case why Aśvins carry the dawn/Sūryā.
Sanskrit text :
Find the audio for South Indian smārta recitations here. Or if you prefer Nambudiri recitation, you might find it here or here.
mahi vo mahatām avo varuṇa mitra dāśuṣe ǀ
yamādityā abhi-druho rakṣathā nem agham naśad
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
vidā devā aghānāmādityāso apākṛtim ǀ
pakṣā vayo yathopari vy~asme śarma yacchata-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
vy~asme adhi śarma tat pakṣā vayo na yantana ǀ
viśvāni viśvavedaso varūthyā manāmahe’
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
yasmā arāsata kṣayam jīvātum ca pracetasaḥ ǀ
manor viśvasya ghedima ādityā rāya īśate’
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
pari ṇo vṛṇajann aghā durgāṇi rathyo yathā ǀ
syāmed indrasya śarmaṇy ādityānām utāvasy
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
parihvṛtedanā jano yuṣmādattasya vāyati ǀ
devā adabhramāśa vo yam ādityā ahetana-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
na tam tigmam cana tyajo na drāsadabhi tam guru ǀ
yasmā u śarma sapratha ādityāso arādhvam
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
yuṣme devā api ṣmasi yudhyanta iva varmasu ǀ
yūyam maho na enaso yūyam arbhād uruṣyata-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
aditir na uruṣyatu aditiḥ śarma yacchatu ǀ
mātā mitrasya revato’ryamṇo varuṇasya ca-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
yad devāḥ śarma śaraṇam yadbhadram yad anāturam ǀ
tridhātu yad varūthyam tad asmāsu vi yantana-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
ādityā ava hi khyata adhi kūlād iva spaśaḥ ǀ
sutīrtham arvato yathā anu no neṣathā sugam
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
neha bhadram rakṣasvine nāvayai nopayā uta ǀ
gave ca bhadram dhenave vīrāya ca śravasyate’
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
yadā viryad apīcyam devāso asti duṣkṛtam ǀ
trite tad viśvam āptya āre asmad dadhātana-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
yac ca goṣu duḥṣvapnyam yac cāsme duhitardivaḥ ǀ
tritāya tad vibhāvary āptyāya parā vaha-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
niṣkam vā ghā kṛṇavate srajam vā duhitardivaḥ ǀ
trite duḥṣvapnyam sarvam āptye pari dadmasy
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
tad annāya tad apase tam bhāgam upaseduṣe ǀ
tritāya ca dvitāya coṣo duḥṣvapnyam vaha-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
yathā kalām yathā śapham yatha ṛṇam saṃnayāmasi ǀ
evā duḥṣvapnyam sarvam āptye sam nayāmasy
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
ajaiṣmādyāsanāma cābhūmānāgaso vayam ǀ
uṣo yasmādduḥṣvapnyād abhaiṣmāpa tad ucchatu-
anehaso va ūtayaḥ suūtayo va ūtayaḥ ǁ
Translation :
Great the help of yours, O great ones, Varuṇa! Mitra! to him who worships.
Whomever the Ādityas save from path-of-deceit – evil never reaches him.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
You have known, O radiant Ādityas! to keep away the evils.
Stretch out shelter over us, as birds their wings!
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Stretch out that shelter over us, like birds their wings.
We consider you, who know everything, as defence against all.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
That to which you gave dominion and life, you all who discern beyond,
That mankind, its all riches do you Adityas control.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Evil will diverge off us, as charioteers avoid difficult drives,
May we be in Indra’s care, in the guidance of Ādityas,
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Only by crookedness do people become lost of what you have given.
O radiant Ādityas, much has he enjoyed, whom you have guided.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
No anger or serious negligence will subdue him.
Him whom, you Ādityas have granted a broad shelter.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Inside You, o Devas, we abide – as warriors in armours,
You guard us from sin, from the great and small.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Let Aditi safeguard us, let Aditi extend the shelter
She the mother of Mitra, the rich Aryaman, the Varuṇa.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
That shelter, O Devas, that which is refuge, happiness, doesn’t collapse,
That three-fold shelter – do you stretch out over us!
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Adityas! For you observe below, as spies from a height,
You would lead us to easy passages, as runners to the best path.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
There is no happiness for the malignancy here – it won’t descend or approach by.
For happiness is with the milch cow and the man who strives for fame.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Whatever is messed up, whether visible or hidden, O Devas!
We load everything of that in Trita Āptya far from us.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Whatever haunts sleep in cattle, whatever in us, O daughter of Sky,
Carry that forth to Trita Āptya, You who shine over,
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
May he make a neck-chain of it, or a garland, O daughter of Sky,
We hand off that which haunts sleep to Trita Āptya.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
That for food, that for water, thus is the share for him who waits it.
To Trita, and Dvita, O Dawn, convey the nightmare.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
How a minute part, how a smaller part, how thus we combine towards the debt, (as interest)
Thence we aggregate and lead to Āptya our nightmare as a whole.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
We have conquered now, we have won, and we have become free of evil.
O Dawn, shine off that bad dream of which we have been afraid.
Favours by you all, are incomparable, your aids favour well.
Author/Translator: Kiran Krishnon
Mar 21st, 2019

Indra and Vishnu

Viṣṇu is indeed the pervading Deva – but he is not representing “the Godhead” – this is where Aurobindo has his own limitations, as much as he criticizes Europeans or Brahmanist tradition. That Devas are merely qualities of “One God” is a problematic idea. Because Vedic divinity is beyond the limits of any number – we never get worried about their number, their superiority. They are always relevant and real – that is what is important.
What is the reality to which Viṣṇu corresponds then? The Vedic Viṣṇu is the ability to stride, to leap, to pervade. As a king in war, Indra defeats Vṛtra who blocks Ṛta. Once Vṛtra is slain, space is generated – Viṣṇu fills that space. For modern imagery, you could have the “big bang” as Vṛtrahatyā performed by Indra, and the resultant “space-time” is full of Viṣṇu. In the context of divinity, this will be like Indra diminishing off the arrogance of Vṛtra and letting the light of Viṣṇu pass through. (There is even a “dialogue” Indra makes to Viṣṇu, repeated twice in Rigveda – “sakhe Viṣṇo vi taraṃ vi kramasva!” – “O my friend Viṣṇu, just stride it off across!”) This makes room for yajña. In a cosmic context, the whole cosmos expands and pervades by the strides of Viṣṇu – which in the spiritual realm is marked from a leap from the mind to the self. While Indra helps the restoration of Ṛta, the implementation of ṛta in the form of dharmans, institutes, is made possible by subsequent striding of Viṣṇu. He is like the sun, moving to the summit, measuring and striding wide, illuminating and making us define time. Hence Indra is called the finder of sun, or the friend of Viṣṇu, and hence why the “dialogue” from Indra to Viṣṇu metaphorically described in Vedas.
In the context of a process, Indra is the will, Viṣṇu is whatever is acted.
Author/Translator: Kiran Krishnon
Jan 29th, 2021

Rigveda 1.41
Kaṇva Ghaura,
Chandas: Gāyatrī

Audio : Rig Veda. Mandala 1. Sukta 41 (South Indian)
yám rákṣanti prácetaso váruṇo mitró aryamā́ ǀ
nū́ citsá dabhyate jánaḥ ǁ
yám bāhúteva píprati pā́nti mártyam riṣáḥ ǀ
áriṣṭaḥ sárva edhate ǁ
ví durgā́ ví dvíṣaḥ puró ghnánti rā́jāna eṣām ǀ
náyanti duritā́ tiráḥ ǁ
sugáḥ pánthā anṛkṣará ā́dityāsa ṛtám yaté ǀ
nā́trāvakhādó asti vaḥ ǁ
yám yajñám náyathā nara ā́dityā ṛjúnā pathā́ ǀ
prá vaḥ sá dhītáye naśat ǁ
sá rátnam mártyo vásu víśvam tokámutá tmánā ǀ
ácchā gacchatyástṛtaḥ ǁ
kathā́ rādhāma sakhāyaḥ stómam mitrásyāryamṇáḥ ǀ
máhi psáro váruṇasya ǁ
mā́ vo ghnántam mā́ śápantam práti voce devayántam ǀ
sumnáir íd va ā́ vivāse ǁ
catúraś cid dádamānād bibhīyā́d ā́ nídhātoḥ ǀ
ná duruktā́ya spṛhayet ǁ
Translation
Him whom the wise perceivers Varuṇa, Mitra, Aryaman guard
– His person is never deceived.
The mortal whom they bear across, as if in the arm, and protect from harm –
Unharmed, is whole, is boosted.
The Kings loosen apart the hatred, the hard passages in front of them,
They lead to beyond the difficulties.
O Ādityas! The passage is easy, never demotivating, for the one looking forth to Ṛta,
No devourer of yours (powers) exists here.
That yajña, as you lead, O active Ādityas, along the straight path,
Would attain forth, for your insight.
The mortal approaches towards delight, all the best things,
To a good legacy with his life, never shattered.
Friends, how do we present the hymn a great feast
For Mitra, Aryaman and Varuṇa?
May I not speak against to him who curses you all, him who belittles you all, or him who strives for devas,
Just through good thoughts shall I live for you.
Let him be alarmed of the one as giving fours, until the placing down.
Let him not have a love for evil utterance.
Ādityas, as we know now, are connected with the limitless inner consciousness and conscience, innocence, and wisdom. They govern the boundless spirit of ours that is contained in our bodies. Through this life, we just move through what we are, we explore what we are. Many a time, we find our passage difficult. We find nature to be cruel to us. We feel cheated. We feel we lose motivation and hope.
Life is where we are gamblers, says the imagery in the last verse in italics. We are to be alarmed about the uncertainty that life could beat us by winning the bet with its “fours”. Until the “placing down” or the final settlement of this game, we should be planned to occupy ourselves to deal with it the best way we can. And do it with utmost positivity in you. Just hold the good thoughts, aim for Ṛta, and let the Ādityas protect you. Let them guard you through this gambling of life you are exposed to. Have the actions in your control under your control.
Regarding three, three is the number of balance and “containing the alignment”. Ādityas act threefold, help us contain what we experience. That is one reason why the sage has used Gāyatrī here (which has three pādas), with nine verses arranged in Tṛcas (groups of three). The relevance of fours in the last verse, in this context of “three”, “four” refers to “overwhelming” and “beyond our individual capability”. Everything in this outside world is not in our control. But inside our mind, where we “are” and where we “live”, they can be brought into the threefold beauty of Ādityas.
So, play your cards right. As much scary as it sounds, yes, you have to be alarmed of each step the life reveals for you. But never lose the goodness, the commitment to Ṛta, or fall into wasting yourself cursing yourself or others for your personal life tragedies.
Imbibe the Ādityas. Be positive.
Syāmed indrasya śarmaṇi, Ādityānām utāvasi.

Vedā: Mokṣa


When I decided to meditate on Vedas, I was left with two options – I had the privilege to combine it to my existing pool of perception and reduce it to what I wanted from it, or I had the privilege to unlearn everything and learn everything from start. From the poetic interconnection the Vedas spoke of, the latter seemed to be the right way to me. The words from Yajurveda VS 40, better known as Īśopaniṣad, kept ringing inside: “They fall into blinding darkness those who worship the deconstruction. Those fall into even more darkness who on construction is intent. Different is the fruit of destruction and synthesis, so have the wise sages of yore spoke. Through destruction one crosses the death, through synthesis reaches immortality”.
I would not agree with the statement that “But there are so many confusions that have been created by people who wrote about Moksha from time immemorial, without knowing it in one’s experience. Also, there is a huge problem in putting it in words.” People don’t just write for fun. Many of them have experiences that they choose to not philosophize or conclude into anything. Many of them do have self-restraint on certain topics that they wouldn’t randomly speak of. And all the people have their own concepts of what they perceive as something.
For someone to write about sweetness, he should have conceptualized it and felt in his mind, in his reality, if not as a perception of outer reality. I agree that putting it into words is tough. But what makes you think that what you have experienced is mokṣa or Nirvāṇa? There is the same pre-conditioning in your mind that facilitates it. Everything in this world is like that. Whether we like it or not, we exist only because of the māyā. Hence, any kind of action is possible only through māyā. Deconstructing the māya is destruction – it helps us transcend death by being in it, but then we are in the shut world of our darkness, of ignorance. Ignorance is not a solution to a problem. Why I say problem, is because the mokṣavādis essentially bring mokṣa as a solution to the problem called duḥkha. And indeed, the traditional schools don’t stop it with the ignorance of outer reality. Their “spiritual science” comes with all the paraphernalia in carving out a newer philosophy to rise to life, newer concepts, forms, and things. And this is where I disagree – not with the exact experience that caused this transformation, but how they begin their perception afterward. In short, how they carve their māya again.
If you see, the dhyāna methods all converge into very similar experiences, which almost all schools of philosophy who have used it, have succeeded to put into words. (though those words are mostly dead for the person who hasn’t experienced it) But the schools of philosophy – do they end up the same?
If Buddha experienced Nirvāṇa and became Buddha, did he stop his engagement with the world there? No. He came up with its philosophy, that could enable others, in his perspective, to leave their duḥkha. He preached. All the great masters of various Brahmanic and Samaṇic philosophies have done exactly the same thing. And then, why do they disagree? Is it because they disagree with the experience? No. It is exactly based on what māyā they crafted afterward.
If you didn’t yet know, it is the same experience of seeking which Dīrghatamas speaks of when he says, “na vijānāmi yadi vedam asmi, niṇyaḥ sannaddho manasā carāmi”. “I do not yet identify like what am I here. Being bound in my limit, I still roam (beyond) by the thought”. But what he says the next half of the stanza is the key takeaway: “yadā māgan prathamajāṃ ṛtasya, ād id vāco aśnuve bhāgam asyāḥ”. “Only then when the first-born of Ṛta comes to me, it’s just then that I taste the share of speech”. Ever wondered why the masters who have concluded things from their experience in these days, have come up with totally contradictory philosophies, while the 350+ sages of Rigveda all speak their perception in the same way despite being separated by language and generations? It amounts as to what māyā they have crafted after they deconstructed what they are from what is not. Guess why the Vedic kavis were not just held in a great position covertly by traditional Brahmanic philosophers, but even by the Buddha in a subtle way, when he speaks of the kavis?
If you read again the Nāsadīya, you see that the seeking comes at the half of hymn. “The mindful poets, seeking their hearts through wisdom, found the bond of what “is” in what isn’t.” Doesn’t this exactly correspond to neti-neti philosophy or in a way, to the śūnyatā which Buddha speaks of? But do the wise stop there? No. They began to craft their māyā again, they synthesize again. That is what Buddha did, that is what Śaṅkara did – even if they have failed to acknowledge that they did. That is also what Vedic poets did. So what exactly made their perception universal and poetic while the perception of Buddhism or Advaita became rigidly philosophical? Sages of different clans, different tribes, invoking different devas, all speak through the same perception – why?
The answer is the two-syllabled word – Ṛta.
That there exists Ṛta is reality. Anṛta is what is contradicting the reality – it cannot exist. Adharma is something that shouldn’t exist. Asatya is simply that doesn’t have an existential realm. Anything that is yet to be perceived under time is asatya. Anything extinct is currently asat. We have no issues with it. (In fact, it is from asat that we reach sat – that is how it has happened in the yore) But the negation of Ṛta results in arrogance. The premise that “only my conclusion of the reality is true”. That does conflict with all other perspectives even while being built on the same experience.
Meditating on sat alone results in this – because the seeker apparently fails to include dharma and ṛta in it. His conclusions will surely lack the characteristic of dharma and ṛta in it. To compensate it, he has to theorize or propose a system, and that is exactly where the schools disagree. On how the connection to the world can be made possible through this experience, on how dharma can be understood from this experience. The answer is that this experience can only lead you to where you should start. Not where you should stop. Once your engagement with the world has become fully meaningful and you have no more obligations to the society, you can pursue the end as identifying yourself with everything, with the fullness that you have reached. You might return to that experience any time you think you need inspiration, but you must also have an active perception that decides how you should move on.

Vedā: Māyā


One of the important buzzwords of the Vedantic world is māyā. What is māyā, how to face it, is it “good” or “bad” for “mokṣa”, and so forth.
Here, we have to see what Māyā stands for in Vedas, and how it is described.
Māyā comes from √mā (mā māne) which means “to configure”, “to measure”, “to model”. The contextual meaning is of course in the sense of a “model” which is forged to demarcate and describe reality. Indeed, māyā is a kind of forging, though as you see, can also stand for forgery. What we fail to realize is that we exist only because of this forging. We forge the models on which our perception becomes meaningful. We are real because we discern. Discernment exists because we forge to discern – we make the māyā.
Imagine yourself seeing a portrait. Instead of just a display of colors, you are able to identify what the portrait portrays – by forging the frames in your mind to fit the shapes, colors and “identify” by “comparison” what the portrait is all about. Even with a sketch of a pencil with just the “outlines”, your mind is able to forge the reality that I intended to draw Gandhi. So, forging is not at all bad. It is that which makes us wise, the very reason why our brain gains experience and why “we” exist. Māyā is literally the meaning of existence. When I thought of Gandhi and I drew using my talent some curves with my pencil, you could recreate the experience of Gandhi from it.
Exactly this is the very basis of Vedic Brahmanism as a religion. We “forge” our rituals to relate and immerse ourselves into being ourselves. Therefore, yajña is a construct of māyā. And māyā is the power of yajña. Which is why exactly in Rigveda, we “weave” out the yajña, and yajña has its māna and pratimāna. (Measure and countermeasure) Indeed the one who possesses māyā is spirit. Without spirit, there is no discernment or māyā. Hence, māyā is for asuras, and for the same reason, in Rigveda, the greatest devas are asuras.
While the perceived reality is māyā, does it mean māyā is the reality? No. Let us understand this. Suppose I am bad at drawing. Then, my sketch of Gandhi might look to you as Sardar Patel. My “version” of reality didn’t match with yours. I cannot blame you. I cannot blame myself too. But I have to blame one thing – that māyā which I forged to action, which was actually inadequate or incomplete to generate the experience in you as I felt. I didn’t have the talent to generate that level of māyā. So, I failed to induce the reality of Gandhi through the drawing.
So, to the tricky questions. Should māyā ever be blamed? When is it to be resisted or destroyed? Should there be a māyā? Is it ever possible to “be” after transcending māyā?
The answer is simple – the māyā is right when it conforms to, underline the three-lettered word again, Ṛta. It is the Ṛta that makes māyā real. When my talent was in sync with Ṛta, I could create a portrait of Gandhi, which anyone who had seen Gandhi could identify. Why did Vedas have a whole set of ritual enactments and had all the symbols in yajña? Not because they were fanatical about their rituals like the medieval ritualists, but because the ritual was the Ṛta for them. Every Vedic Brahmanic rite stands as a symbolic enactment for the same reason. We forge the reality through which we understand the certain dimensions of our worlds. We create the devas through the māyā of Yajña, in turn, inspired by devas. The sages see the sun that is created by the Asura; the spirit; by heart, through wisdom.
Discrimination is a key quality of māyā. Hence, it is only expected that you associate this with Varuṇa. And you see that Varuṇa is evidently the possessor of the Asuric māyā – he is the one who tells us that we are separate as an entity in this world. It is he who makes the sunshine, the natural living. When Varuṇa wills, it happens. Because his māyā is the will. It is not a coincidence that Varuṇa is the one to whom our actions are to be justified. His will is apparently in accordance with Ṛta. If our māyā was not in accordance with Ṛta, we incur guilt. This enas has to be justified to Varuṇa in us.
While Agni is the creative power of māyā, and Varuṇa the discriminative, there is a point at which māyā becomes the reality or just the opposite. Only the right māyā can destroy the “wrong” one. Who does this?
You return to the greatest wielder of māyā, who by his māyā, destroys and corrects the māyā of those in the path of anṛta. Ṛta is what is the subjective reality or the “relatable reality”. (For example, that the outlines or sketch conveys Gandhi) Anṛta is that what is not a relatable reality. Which is false, a lie, that shouldn’t exist. There comes him, crushing the fortresses. Killing the Vṛtra. Destroying the māyins by māyā. Indra. He who “enables” Ṛta again.
By the philosophy of Vedānta, Buddhism, and Jainism, their analogous state corresponding to the end of this Vṛtra should be their equivalents of mokṣa or nirvāṇa or whatever the ideal spiritual destination be. They view Māyā as a hindrance, building what we call the Vṛtras. As a result, their view of the world is dark, as a burden, a distraction. You cannot blame them. That is exactly what people trapped in a wrong māyā have to worry about, and should do.
But, does Indra end everything by just destroying the Vṛtra? No. He goes forth, to release the seven streams (for all those who haven’t yet understood, seven is the number of holes in your head through which you connect with the world) and thus reactivating the seven sages in you to express, to carve their māyā again. That is where the great Viṣṇu comes and strides forward, making the light shine. And that is where Vedas take the step beyond what Vedānta thinks – how to re-emerge and synthesize what you must be. How to synthesize reality again? How to synthesize your perception. In short, how to create your māyā. The guide is there around us – the nature of which we are a part of. If we can relate nature with ourselves through any artistic way, as the sages attempt through their unparalleled verses, we are almost there. We become the possessors of māyā that is divine, that is true.
So, mokṣa, (esp. the “Jīvanmukti”) as I said in the previous post, is not to be the end of anything. It should only be the beginning of what you have to be. If you don’t acknowledge that, you end up thinking you are devoid of māyā, while being in this very world, inside the cage of your māyā.

Vedā: Yajña and Ṛta


Before continuing on saying about what to do when you are enlightened, let us revisit the Vedic yajña. There is a lot that should be spoken about before we realize how we have to row through the Ṛta. And to realize what I speak of, we should be aware of the Vedic perceptional model.
To the naive, the Vedas are all about random invocations to some nature gods who matter very less in their fanciful “spiritual world” devoid of forms and meanings. If so, why would it be so hard to interpret Rigveda (as chāndasa verses are aggregated together in Rigveda, I am using Rigveda as the standard to explain Vedas) that Rigveda is still deemed to be an undeciphered text? So far, the explanations of the Vedic gods by the countable stalwarts worked on Vedas seem to the newbie as all signifying some sort of sun, water, or fire. If it was all Sun, why would we have a separate Savitar, a Pūṣan, a Bhaga, a Sūrya, Mitra? If all Vedic devas are literally the same, then why exactly should the wise and inspired sages invoke them variously? Why would you even bother about the various forms of the same deva like Agni Rakṣohan/Agni Tanūnapāt or Soma Rājan/Pavamāna Soma or Indra Vṛtrahan/Indra Marutvā? Why would sages even bother to distinguish all of these concepts if they are all the same sun, light?
Surely, it is not their problem, but ours. What we have made the rich and abstract Viśvedevas into. The whole philosophy of Vedas has based on the bandhus the sages connect between various worlds. Hence by the inner reality, we see sun, light or a basic function common to all of these concepts. That is their success in conveying the oneness of everything. But have we understood how varied and how unique each deva is?
As much as they are physically unique, the Devas are also spiritually unique. Every deva has homologous parts in the various worlds we live in. They all connect together and reveal to us the otherwise hidden “purpose” and “meaning” of life and this cosmos. That is exactly what the bandhus convey to us.
That the sun rises at dawn is analogous to the fact that we will rise from our sleep too. Just as the spark rises from friction, we realize that friction can be the cause of creation. We realize that water is our foster mother. We realize we naturally need air to breathe and live. Why should we live then? The purpose of everything is the edifice in which everything is built. The dharmans. In physics, we have these basic forces which govern the entire universe. In Vedas, the dharmans are similarly established as the eternal yajñas that occur here. Yajñas are the kind of models into which the reactions, transformations, metamorphoses are formulated. They are the mathematical equations we have in science. They are the perceptional models into which we put our perception of this world and identify it. They are the measuring sticks that tell us the difference between one metre and two metre. Yajña is always productive, but production is the result of an offering. There are always both sides to equations. There has to be an object of perception. In a way, yajña recreates itself – one equation is the source of another.
This bandhu or the homologous/analogous connection is visible in science too. Despite the mechanics and electricity being apparently unrelated directly, you can convert an electrical system into an analogous mechanical system and vice-versa, with the help of the mathematical “formulae” that describe to us the power of analogy. The sages also do the same. They hold the right “equations” into which we put the reality around us, and suddenly everything becomes meaningful and validated. Thus, the sun is analogous to self in a context which you might see in the Vedic “formulae” (brahman) crafted by the formulator sages (brahmās) in whom they say, is the highest station of Vāk. The brahmā conceives the formulae in the yajñas by the power of his intuitive and intellectual union, formed out of divine inspiration. He makes the yajñas real. Those were the times of Vedas, when sages were brahmās in the yajñas, spontaneously versifying a reality that makes the yajña an enactment of reality rather than a “ritual”.
Yajñas can be both self-sustained (the eternal yajñas which are dharmans) or have to be activated (by us appropriately). The automated ones happen everywhere around us, even in us. Right now, as you read this, you are breathing involuntarily, the train of thoughts arriving in your mind is mostly involuntary. This is indeed your share, your “fortune”. People are unique. Everything in this cosmos is unique and has its own share and purpose. The apportioner of share, the Bhaga, belongs to Ādityas, signifying his primarily moral existence. But not everything seems automated and complete (Āditya) in this world. There are things that require an initiation, a kick-off by an agent at the right time. Thus, we have these yajñas kicked off by Ṛtvijs (who perform yajña in the ṛtus) who do their yajña from what is allotted to them.
What is that which mediates between the automated world of uncertainty and our “choice to experience the reality”? It is the “light” that helps us “see” and “identify”. Thus, we generate the medium of yajña, the Agni, who connects the Dyāvāpṛthivī together, the devas with us mortals. We, through friction, give birth to the Agni who is, in reality, the fashioner of his own perceptional form (tanu). He is light himself. He is ultimately the subject and agent of the yajña. The object is what we call the “motivation” or “inspiration” which fuels him to the destination – the soma which goes to the gods. Agni is thus the visible example of mass-energy equivalence as well as conservation of matter and energy. He has heat and light in him. He proves that there is his latent form inherent in everything, which can be brought out by efforts and kept throughout by offerings. As the nāsadīya hymn says, “svadhā avastāt prayatiḥ parastāt” (the self-established power as offered below, the effort above).
The very quality of this yajña is māya – how we model and perceive the reality, how we set up the equation for the experiment. And this is where Ṛta plays the most important factor. Ṛta is that which connects everything and moves through all reality, making them real. Without Ṛta, there is no reality perceivable. Whatever you want to perceive, be it the food in your mouth or yourself in meditation, you require this Ṛta to act all over. On experiencing the food, the associated taste buds generate their models, which are then compared with known models so that you can “taste” the food. Ṛta is that which cemented the experience of “sweetness” or “sourness” for you, which through Ṛta you will discern.
But again yes, so why should we do yajña as worship? Why do we worship the Vedic devas? Why do the brahmās instantaneously verify their formulae in yajñas, or at least rationalize the models of yajñas? It is because yajña is the ṛta of spiritual existence. Through yajña, we take the position of sages and devas. We keep the cosmos going meaningfully and (hopefully) desirably. As a result, Vedic devas are also unique – they are poetic perceptions of the reality they embody in their words and symbols, testified by the bandhus.
We worship the reality through Ṛta so that there is a meaning to our “choice” of living in this world, not just for ourselves but for others too. We make hay while the sun shines. What else would be the best way to worship the devas than to celebrate the reality they represent? Vedic Brahmanic rituals are all painfully provided meanings, step-by-step, and given an elaborate mythological symbolism in Brāhmaṇas only because of the Ṛta significance.
In real life, how do we know what is Ṛta? Isn’t it possible that our perceptions can be wrong and can often result in a wrong path? Who is there to control this?
Ṛta, as we see, is synonymous with harmony. If what you are doing is known to create harmony, it is Ṛta. Because then, the various aspects become aligned meaningfully. When a person dies due to the “automated” reasons, that is Ṛta. When he is murdered by a person “who chooses”, that is anṛta, and it has to be answered. Vedas try to enforce the good faith that if yajñas are done, we regularly take the position of devas and our conscience becomes limitless as our consciousness, the Aditi. At the time, we become offenseless in our inner court. This also puts the burden to be moralistic upon us, and a true necessity to be moralistic as a well-wisher of the entire world we live in.
Ṛta is applicable in every perceivable unit. For example, what you do maybe harmonious within your family, but might disturb things outside it. That means, in that unit, what you do is still anṛta. Thus if one goes by the golden rule of empathy, one would be traversing through Ṛta.
However, since Ṛta is a “revealed path”, can it always result in success? Ideally, it should be. That is how it is – like the two sides of the equation. However, practically, we might not have knowledge or control over every parameter that affects this equation. Thus, naturally, māyā does create another by-product – the Vṛtra who tests our limits of applying Ṛta. This Vṛtra needs to be dealt with. It is our duty to. We have this powerful option inside us – rightly guided thought/inspired thought (soma) which challenges Vṛtra through the enabling divinity in us, the Indra.
If Ṛta is not always applicable ideally, how would we deem it a reality? Well, the thing is that Ṛta is never fully applicable by us save through the best models where we get closer to the satya through Ṛta. Certain things are beyond our measuring scope (māyā) and it is not wise to cry over the setting sun. Why is science the “best knowledge”? Because science is essentially falsifiable at least in principle. That is also how Ṛta is applied – the best guess through observed reality. Ṛta is true because its application is essentially falsifiable in principle. Yajñas are real because they are essentially modifiable in their constructs. Indra is the best Reality because he can always be questioned. Hence why Rigvedic sages have recorded people always questioning Indra.
Rta (cosmic harmony) and through our ignorance of this harmony, we unintentionally create unwanted reactions and these unwanted reactions are Vrtra? And when we experience something unwanted, who shows the path? Soma? Soma is our genuine feeling of how to deal with the given situation? Where and who/what is Indra here?
Let us take this example.
We all know that colors, for instance, are perceptions created by our mind. There is no “colour” inherent in the world if not for our perception. There are many tests to show how our brain has learned to perceive them apart.
Now, knowing that there is no color in the “outer” world apart from our perception, does that mean our perception of the color is false? No, it is still, our reality. The way another person experiences colors might be his reality. Ṛta, when applied, is exactly like that – it can be applied in unique ways in various models of perception. So, you might think – Ṛta is a non-existent thing outside our perception. But wait.
We have some cases called “disorders” where we know some people cannot differentiate between blue and green. If we don’t know how does another person even experience a physically “non-existent” (as we dismissed off it quite a while before) color in his perspective (we are still in our own brain, not in another one’s) how can we say that his color blindness is a disorder? Because we can relate it with a general harmony by which we all can differentiate what we all call green and what we all call blue, but this guy cannot. That “harmony” or “order” against which we measured to understand his “disorder” is analogous to the Ṛta we are speaking about. (Only that Ṛta comes in the planes where we could choose our disorders)
Your life is yours. The main reason why you should know your self (“see the Sun” or “know your day” in Vedic words) is to understand how you should apply the Ṛta in your life. Have you seen how a baby learns? You can see how his brain instinctively uses the Ṛta to understand and learn from his mistakes and experiences. Ṛta is always fresh and evolving. It is there for you to see and know. It is not an objective thing, but a very non-individualistic thing, applying what you realize and acknowledge you are a part of this ever-evolving jigsaw puzzle of cosmos. Whether you fit into your position is what your life is about.
The power of Ṛta-aided māyā is beautiful. Through māyā, you can now read this sentence in seconds without having to read through each alphabet as you did in your initial schooldays. That we are able to read through the words just by seeing and comparing them unconsciously with known models shows our brain has adapted to the Ṛta. That is also why we can type “typos” and also read words that are spelled wrong. Our steadfastness to Ṛta makes them right to us.
🙂

Whatever happens without perception is Ṛta. It has to happen like that. Whatever happens due to perception is māyā. It is what we think about how it should happen. When māyā is in accordance with Ṛta, we say it is harmonious and appropriate. Else, we say it is not appropriate. That could also come like an ethical problem of what is right and what is wrong. There is nothing like that which is objective, and there should be one like that in the subjective, common world and that is exactly why there is Ṛta. Perception is the cause and end of all – be it desire, suffering, or anything. And the answer for what we are lies in ourselves – what we perceive, what tanu we have. It is not right to kill our perception to bid good riddance to this world. There is a difference between enlightenment and absolute ignorance.
Author/Researcher: Kiron Krishnan
Jan 19th, 2020

When Yajña became merely “karma”


Yajña is a combination of kratu the resolve, kavi the insightful sage and karma the action. Or you take it as the combination of dīkṣa, dakṣiṇā and dakṣa. Or you think it as the combination of manas, dhī and kalpanā. The union of ṛk, sāman, yajus in the chandas that makes the Vāk that literally enlivens the yajña.
When sage tradition was put to an end, the kratu became an artificial ritual of dīkṣā, the kavi became extinct in whose position the purohita was the brahmā, and yajña was reduced to the mere ritual which is karma. At least the mīmāṃsā school of classical Brahmanist philosophy believed in absolute efficacy of karma over anything else. Nothing else mattered. So naturally, you couldn’t fulfill yourself in one life. Your “karma” had to haunt you to several rebirths. And to attain liberation, you had to deal with this karma.
It is not that insight or intention disappeared (they were subsumed into karma) but their relevance did. No wonder why Sarasvatī, the symbol of Vāk, became a pool instead of a flowing river, ending up in a desert. And the modern sons of Brahmā had several issues about their ancestor brahmā, ending up in jealousy, envy or even denial, that would result in the caricature of brahmā later in literature.
The brahman remained literally the “source of everything” because of course, the verses were still committed to by-heart. But brahmā?
The way by which the sons of brahmā tied up brahmā is much known throughout in the myths they have ended up with. The “father” is an old guy who has no control over his senses even being this old, and son tries to correct it. (However, I must note that Rāma is perhaps the only person who tries to side with, obey Daśaratha, and goes to forest) Brahmā is a poet, a specialized liar. In his hands are Vedas, full of lower-level knowledge (but which have to be revered because they are heritage, paitṛka, which you receive from your dad and hence your personal property). Brahmā the poet marries his own inspired daughter – the dhīti of Vāk (later, Sarasvatī) and see – you have all reasons to chastize him and absolve yourself of the guilt of “dethroning” him and his position for your benefits.
In the world of kings, the priests did get their share of “karma” – we do see the kings taking away wives of priests. Or maybe it was also a defence to say that tapas (that could make him a kavi) can be unhealthy for a priest – his wife can be taken over by king at any time.

Vedā: Aśvins


Rigveda 2.39 – Aśvins
Ṛṣi : Gṛtsamada Bhārgava Śaunaka
Chandas : Tṛṣṭubh

Audio : Rig Veda. Mandala 2. Sukta 39 (South traditions)
Mandala 02 | Vedic Heritage Portal (Nambudiri recension)
grā́vāṇeva tád íd ártham jarethe
gṛ́dhreva vṛkṣám nidhimántam áccha ǀ
brahmā́ṇeva vidátha ukthaśā́sā
dūtéva hávyā jányā purutrā́ ǁ
prātaryā́vāṇā rathyéva vīrā́
ajéva yamā́ váramā́ sacethe ǀ
méne iva tanvā́… śúmbhamāne
dámpatīva kratuvídā jáneṣu ǁ
śṛ́ṅgeva naḥ prathamā́ gantam arvā́k
chaphā́viva járbhurāṇā tárobhiḥ ǀ
cakravākéva práti vástorusrā
arvā́ñcā yātam rathyéva śakrā ǁ
nāvéva naḥ pārayatam yugéva
nábhyeva na upadhī́va pradhī́va ǀ
śvā́neva no áriṣaṇyā tanū́nām
khṛ́galeva visrásaḥ pātam asmā́n ǁ
vā́tevājuryā́ nadyéva rītír
akṣī́ iva cákṣuṣā́ yātamarvā́k ǀ
hástāv iva tanvé… śámbhaviṣṭhā
pā́deva no nayatam vásyo áccha ǁ
óṣṭhāviva mádhvāsné vádantā
stánāviva pipyatam jīváse naḥ ǀ
nā́seva nas tanvó rakṣitā́rā
kárṇāviva suśrútā bhūtam asmé ǁ
hásteva śaktím abhí saṃdadī́ naḥ
kṣā́meva naḥ sámajatam rájāṃsi ǀ
imā́ gíro aśvinā yuṣmayántīḥ
kṣṇótreṇeva svádhitim sám śiśītam ǁ
etā́ni vām aśvinā várdhanāni
bráhma stómam gṛtsamadā́so akran ǀ
tā́ni narā jujuṣāṇópa yātam
<<bṛhád vadema vidáthe suvī́rāḥ>>
(The last phrase highlighted is the signature of Gṛtsamadas)
Translation
As twain announcers, you cry out just to the purpose.
As vultures to the tree, you approach the store.
As brahmās, you recite the hymn at the vidatha
As twain messengers, you are invoked by people everywhere.
Traveling early morning, as twain heroes of chariots;
As twin goats, you stick to the enclosure.
As two ladies, beautifying the body-image;
As couple daṃpatī, you find the will among people.
As two horns, come first towards us,
As two hooves – stirring with dashing powers,
As chakravāka pair, at each dawning,
Drive along this side, as the capable ones of chariots.
As boats, carry us across; as yokes,
As two naves, as two spokes, as two fellies.
As two dogs, allowing no harm to the tanu,
As two crutches, protect us from falling apart.
As two breezes never dying out; of one course, as two rivers;
As two eyes with vision, travel towards here.
As two hands, becoming bliss for the tanu…
As two feet, lead us towards the better.
As two lips, speaking sweet for the mouth,
As two breasts, nourish us, that we may live.
As two nostrils, protecting tanu for us,
As two ears, become well-hearing for us!
As hands, clasping power within us,
As two dominions, control together the domains!
These songs, O Aśvinā!, travelling towards you –
Sharpen them, as whetstones the axe!
So these, for magnifying you, O Aśvinā!
The lofty verses, the laud, have Gṛtsamadas made.
Having enjoyed those, approach us, champions!
As great vīras, let us speak loftily at vidatha. (Signature)
This hymn looks altogether a mashup of similes in the first glance, but you will appreciate how deep, how interesting each of the similes are. Not to mention the charming flow of this sūkta. For instance, just check the last two stanzas – Aśvinā are indirectly like a wide expanse of forest, towards whom our songs rush to “slice them up” so that they are expanded and we make sense of them (and they make sense of us). They are the whetstones that sharpen our axe so that we make a settlement out of the “forest” they are.
I will let the rest of the sūkta speak for itself. Just meditate on the love, charm, and wise discrimination of Aśvinā.
What are some good mantras of the two Aśvins Kumaras
Oct 20th, 2019

After Indra, Agni, and Soma, Aśvins have the most number of hymns dedicated to them in Rigveda. They are among the most frequently invoked Devas of Aryans.
Go there and you will find plenty of Aśvin hymns.
All of them are excellent (as it is not fair to compare verses) but for the purpose of the question, I would suggest RV 2.39 that pleases anyone.
Rig Veda. Mandala 2. Sukta 39 (Kāñci and Śṛṅgerī traditions)
Mandala 02 | Vedic Heritage Portal (Nambudiri tradition)
Myths of Aśvins Kumaras (Gods of medicine)
Well, Puranas don’t have much to say about the Aśvins (despite making them Aśvinī kumāras) as they are the most important Vedic devas, only next to Indra and Agni-Soma. Aśvins are the closest devas whom anyone calls out for help.
And no, Aśvins are not merely gods of “medicals”, as much as how Indra is not merely the god of rain.
The Aśvins help people get out of tough situations and answer the calls always. Whenever a person was in trouble, he would call out for Aśvins, and when he is rescued, he would thank Aśvins. There are a whole lot of such incidents that occurred in history or occur symbolically in nature, mentioned in Vedas umpteen times. Fortunately, the crappy books of later ages which copy legends never even expanded one percentage of this, neither preserved these. So that people don’t start worshiping Aśvins and forget the non-existent sectarian gods.
Let this answer be my tribute to Aśvins, enumerating their famous deeds mentioned and remembered throughout Vedas with high gratitude and reverence :
> Vimada, whose marriage wasn’t getting done, found a wife in Kamadyū – the daughter of Purumitra, by the grace of Aśvins.
> Bhujyu, the abandoned son of Tugra, was trapped in waters of the deep sea, and Aśvins rescued him out. It is said that Tugra himself changed his mind miraculously by the power of Indra and Aśvins, and sent boats to the sea to bring Bhujyu back.
> Pedu who didn’t have a good racehorse got a champion white racehorse by the grace of Aśvins.
> Pajra’s descendant Kakṣīvant, who praised the Divine Aśvins, was blessed by Aśvins with great soma.
> Aśvins quenched the thirst of Gotamas by reviving their well.
> They made the skin wrinkles due to old age in Cyavāna to go, and made him appear young. (Only thing which comes as a myth, though again in a misrepresented form, in Puranas)
> Vadhrīmati (literally having an impotent husband) got a son by the grace of Aśvins, who was named after the golden hand of Devas, Hiraṇyahasta.
> Ṛjrāśva, succumbing to a she-wolf, “offers” (or more derisively, “slaughters”) his hundred sheep. His father, seeing all his property wasted away by his son, became so angry and mercilessly blinded his son Ṛjrāśva. Lost in his sight, Ṛjrāśva realizes the value of wisdom and prays to Aśvins who gift him far sight and eternal Vedic light.
> Ṛcatka’s son Śara got a dry well, and he found a spring by the grace of Aśvins.
> Śayu was a poor person who had just a sterile cow and was starving. By the grace of Aśvins, the cow began to milk, and Śayu was rescued.
> Viśvaka (son of Kṛṣṇa) lost his son Viṣṇāpu and by the grace of Aśvins he was found all fine.
> Rebha, who was wounded due to an attack by an enemy, and was tossed to a raging sea, survived miraculously by the grace of Aśvins, even after ten nights.
> Dasyus made Atri and his group fall into pits, and made them trapped in narrow straits. Again, thanks to Aśvins, they were saved.
> Ghoṣā was a woman who was alone with her father chief in her home, looking after him. Though she was turning old, she still found a good husband thanks to Aśvins. The remarkable thing is the way she asks Aśvins, “would you two be there for me day and night, to help me achieve, as a racehorse wins the stakes”.
> Śyāva Kaṇva’s skin disease recovered and he got bright skin, thanks to Aśvins.
> Aśvins were even helpful towards the cultivators of barley in helping the lands fertile.
> Antaka was lost in foreign lands not knowing what to do. Aśvins helped him out.
> Aśvins were instrumental in helping Mandhātā conquering lands and establishing his rule.
> Śaryātā was helped by Aśvins in winning a contest.
> Śucanti was also helped by Aśvins in winning bets.
> The famous Sudās who wished for wife got Sudevī as his wife, thanks to Aśvins.
> Aśvins, with Indra assisted and attended the call of Divodāsa and Atithigva Kaśojū while smiting Śambara
> Aśvins and Indra stood with Purukutsa in the wars.
> Aśvins and Indra helped Trasādasyu smash the forts of Dasyus.
> Aśvins helped Vaśa Avya in battle.
> Aśvins helped Pṛthuśravas to consolidate his rule, warding off all misfortunes and hostilities.
> Vandana who was exhausted in a wasting disease, bedridden, got cured and lived long to see the sun from his what was to be the death bed, thanks to Aśvins. He became a great kavi.
> Karkandhu was revived from his disease.
> Jāhuṣa who was trapped in the night, where he was besieged from all directions, got miraculously saved as if he was flown back through the air.
> Aśvins blessed Jahnu’s wife with prosperity, as she was worshiping them frequently.
> Aśvins help the downtrodden and make the blind see and lame move.
> Aśvins even today are the ones who make marriages possible and are venerated in Brahmanic marriages.
A non-exhaustive list of other great people who received the unbelievable and ever-reliable help of Aśvins :
Kutsa Ārjuneya, Bharadvāja, Uśanā Kāvya, Preṇi, Vayya, Turvīti, Dhvasanti, Dabhīti, Puruṣanti, Ṛtastubh, Adhrigu, Kakṣīvant, Dīrghaśravas Auśija, Śrutarya, Narya, Pṛśnigu, Vyaśva, Pṛthi, Vamra, Upastuta, Paṭharvan, Puraṃdhī …
Aśvins not only show their benevolence to humans, but to all suffering creatures. For example :
> Aśvins rescued the quail-hen from the snap of wolf. The cry of helpless quail-hen is specifically stressed in Rigveda.
> When the racing mare Viśpalā got her foot injured and cut off, Aśvins helped her win the race by replacing her foot with metal.
> The funniest thing is that she-wolf who was blinded by Ṛjrāśva was actually unable to sustain itself. The wolf was helped by Aśvins, believe the sages, through the once-foolish Ṛjrāśva. For which the she-wolf was grateful to Ṛjrāśva, and sages believe that the wolf was the reason for his wisdom.
In nature, Aśvins are those who bring the dawn, connect the Sūryā and Soma (and thus bridge the spiritual source of inspiration and spiritual essence), and so on.
Aśvinā! Reverence to you both!

Dadhyak and him imparting a certain vidyā to the Aśvins, or is that a misrepresentation?

Dadhīcī imparting the knowledge of Tvaṣtar’s hidden madhu/soma through a horse’s head is mentioned in Vedas. But this is more mystic and never expanded, and multiple Brahmanic myths have come up to explain it in Brahmanas.
Most of the Brahmanic narratives are mystic, a play with “heads”. As the generally agreed part of the story goes, Dadhīcī, the son of Atharvan, knew about the secret “head” of sacrifice (usually Pravargya) and was instructed by Indra to not reveal to anyone about this, or else “his head” would be cut by Indra.
Aśvins approach Dadhīcī to learn the same, and Dadhīcī explains his situation. To which Aśvins offer a solution that the head of Dadhīcī will be cut by them (his own head that knows the knowledge) and instead horse’s head will be installed at the place, where Aśvins can listen to the secret, and Indra will cut only horse’s head instead of his original head. Aśvins will restore the original head, goes the myth.
However, the association of this myth with Pravargya, head of the sacrifice, and Indra cutting it, are all products of mystical myth makers of later Brahmanas, not present in Vedas.
While the Vedic symbols might show that Dadhīcī actually means one who is “oriented towards the curd”, and curd represents the curd offering to Indra that was prevalent, reminiscent of the afternoon sun that strides to the highest heaven. (when the “curd” is offered) The symbolism is based on dawn being cow, dawn sky being the milk on which the calf sun feeds on, and as the sun ascends to the highest heaven, the milk turns curd. This shows the supremacy of light over darkness and thus Indra’s might over the Vṛtra of darkness.
The sun thus oriented towards the curd of the sky becomes Dadhīcī, and his “bones” or rays are used by Indra to put an end to Vṛtra’s darkness. The soma of Tvaṣṭar is in the highest sky, in the energy that the sun gains with the power of Indra and the impel of Aśvins. Horse’s head symbolizes the seat of knowledge and swiftness in thought, and also stands for the fruitfulness of knowledge as per sāṃhitīr brāhmaṇa of Taittirīya saṃhitā.
Aśvins in Vedas, represent the churners of dawn, who realize the seat of soma/madhu in sky – the abode of the supreme Viṣṇu, through imparting the swiftness to the morning sun.
Jan 31st, 2019
In a spiritual view, why are they, twins? What twin ideas do they represent?
Feb 3rd, 2019
Twins represent the changeover between two states and two extremes. They were considered to be a symbol of naturally created complimentary pair to each other in older cultures.
This old symbolism finds its place in Vedas, being one of the first works to pop up and survive in human literary history. Thus, Asvins are said to be complementary pairs – like nostrils, hands, legs, eyes etc., and provide the perfect defense and solutions to problems.
This is visible not just in vedic Asvins but even in later ages, both inside and outside the subcontinent. For example, Lithuanians still keep Asvienei motifs on their house roofs to guard them and their animals.
Aśvins and Dhanvantari
Feb 6th, 2019

Aśvins are not replaced by Dhanvantari. Dhanvantari is just a lord of medicines. While Aśvins are the guardians of the world.
Nothing replaces Aśvins. From conducting marriage, from rescuing trapped people, from removing malignancy and diseases to revive people… everything in this world is changed over from one state to another by the grace of Aśvins.
Just like how Puranic Amṛta is no way near the lofty concept of Soma, Dhanvantari has nothing to do with Aśvins.
When did Ashswins (Aśvins) get relegated to the background?
Feb 6th, 2019
Which Vedic deva is yet “worshiped”?
Though yes, Brahmins still do consciously or unconsciously worship them. And it is a very fact that you live means you are already implementing your share of Ṛta of them.
Everyone wants to get into Golokam or Śivalokam and all stuff. But when one does upanayana, it is the Savitar who blesses. In Sandhyāvandanam, one actually remembers the Dadhikrā to remain pure. To actually ward sins unknown, he asks forgiving prayer to Varuṇa daily evening. Agni is kindled, and Indra-Vāyu-Prajāpati is remembered during samidādhānam.
During marriage, again Aśvins have to favor. And when they die, these Brahmins who speak of golokam and countless reincarnations shamelessly resort to bowing down verbally before the Agni Kravyād, to Yama and to send the man to the world of Pitars. The guys who believe in “instant punarjanma” shamelessly still resort to doing śrāddha.
In the present situation can one ask Aśvins Kumara for help?
Feb 26th, 2019
In all Brahmanic rituals, Viśvedevas have to be worshiped. There are however already ways to circumvent rituals today. In a matter of a few years, these rituals will stop or get replaced by popular crap, and people will forget the names of real devas who are actually being with them making them live and survive.
It is not like that, whenever you ask out for help with your heart and you are doing your best of what you can, the Aśvins are the ones who help you.
Just last week I had called Aśvins for a purpose, and gladly they helped me, quite incredibly.
They have also done very incredible but very possible help before.
You have to strive and that is how nature helps you. No matter what you call out for help, Aśvins are the ones who actually help you. That is how they are defined. Thus, they are not gods defined by your imagination or some untrustworthy books created by humans, neither are they supernatural fantasies, but very real agents who work for you every time in this world. Just experience them, and if you are fortunate, you will surely.
Just let go of your ego and the constructs born from ego, like the dogmatic concepts of cult gods, Puranic gods, philosophical dogmas and theological dogmas in different books that are not based on any natural truth.

Vedā: Vivāha Sūktam


Rigveda 10.85 – Vivāha Sūktam – Soma, Sūryā-Soma marriage, Blessings and charms
Ṛṣi: Sūryā Sāvitrī
Chandas: Anuṣṭubh, with Triṣṭubh, Jagatī, Urobṛhatī verses too

Rig Veda. Mandala 10. Sukta 85 (Audio: South Indian Brahmins)
स॒त्येनोत्त॑भिता॒ भूमि॒: सूर्ये॒णोत्त॑भिता॒ द्यौः ।
ऋ॒तेना॑दि॒त्यास्ति॑ष्ठन्ति दि॒वि सोमो॒ अधि॑ श्रि॒तः ॥१॥
सोमे॑नादि॒त्या ब॒लिन॒: सोमे॑न पृथि॒वी म॒ही ।
अथो॒ नक्ष॑त्राणामे॒षामु॒पस्थे॒ सोम॒ आहि॑तः ॥२॥
सोमं॑ मन्यते पपि॒वान्यत्स॑म्पिं॒षन्त्योष॑धिम् ।
सोमं॒ यं ब्र॒ह्माणो॑ वि॒दुर्न तस्या॑श्नाति॒ कश्च॒न ॥३॥
आ॒च्छद्वि॑धानैर्गुपि॒तो बार्ह॑तैः सोम रक्षि॒तः ।
ग्राव्णा॒मिच्छृ॒ण्वन्ति॑ष्ठसि॒ न ते॑ अश्नाति॒ पार्थि॑वः ॥४॥
यत्त्वा॑ देव प्र॒पिब॑न्ति॒ तत॒ आ प्या॑यसे॒ पुन॑: ।
वा॒युः सोम॑स्य रक्षि॒ता समा॑नां॒ मास॒ आकृ॑तिः ॥५॥
रैभ्या॑सीदनु॒देयी॑ नाराशं॒सी न्योच॑नी ।
सू॒र्याया॑ भ॒द्रमिद्वासो॒ गाथ॑यैति॒ परि॑ष्कृतम् ॥६॥
चित्ति॑रा उप॒बर्ह॑णं॒ चक्षु॑रा अ॒भ्यञ्ज॑नम् ।
द्यौर्भूमि॒: कोश॑ आसी॒द्यदया॑त्सू॒र्या पति॑म् ॥७॥
स्तोमा॑ आसन्प्रति॒धय॑: कु॒रीरं॒ छन्द॑ ओप॒शः ।
सू॒र्याया॑ अ॒श्विना॑ व॒राऽग्निरा॑सीत्पुरोग॒वः ॥८॥
सोमो॑ वधू॒युर॑भवद॒श्विना॑स्तामु॒भा व॒रा ।
सू॒र्यां यत्पत्ये॒ शंस॑न्तीं॒ मन॑सा सवि॒ताद॑दात् ॥९॥
मनो॑ अस्या॒ अन॑ आसी॒द्द्यौरा॑सीदु॒त च्छ॒दिः ।
शु॒क्राव॑न॒ड्वाहा॑वास्तां॒ यदया॑त्सू॒र्या गृ॒हम् ॥१०॥
ऋ॒क्सा॒माभ्या॑म॒भिहि॑तौ॒ गावौ॑ ते साम॒नावि॑तः ।
श्रोत्रं॑ ते च॒क्रे आ॑स्तां दि॒वि पन्था॑श्चराचा॒रः ॥११॥
शुची॑ ते च॒क्रे या॒त्या व्या॒नो अक्ष॒ आह॑तः ।
अनो॑ मन॒स्मयं॑ सू॒र्याऽऽरो॑हत्प्रय॒ती पति॑म् ॥१२॥
सू॒र्याया॑ वह॒तुः प्रागा॑त्सवि॒ता यम॒वासृ॑जत् ।
अ॒घासु॑ हन्यन्ते॒ गावोऽर्जु॑न्यो॒: पर्यु॑ह्यते ॥१३॥
यद॑श्विना पृ॒च्छमा॑ना॒वया॑तं त्रिच॒क्रेण॑ वह॒तुं सू॒र्याया॑: ।
विश्वे॑ दे॒वा अनु॒ तद्वा॑मजानन्पु॒त्रः पि॒तरा॑ववृणीत पू॒षा ॥१४॥
यदया॑तं शुभस्पती वरे॒यं सू॒र्यामुप॑ ।
क्वैकं॑ च॒क्रं वा॑मासी॒त्क्व॑ दे॒ष्ट्राय॑ तस्थथुः ॥१५॥
द्वे ते॑ च॒क्रे सू॑र्ये ब्र॒ह्माण॑ ऋतु॒था वि॑दुः ।
अथैकं॑ च॒क्रं यद्गुहा॒ तद॑द्धा॒तय॒ इद्वि॑दुः ॥१६॥
सू॒र्यायै॑ दे॒वेभ्यो॑ मि॒त्राय॒ वरु॑णाय च ।
ये भू॒तस्य॒ प्रचे॑तस इ॒दं तेभ्यो॑ऽकरं॒ नम॑: ॥१७॥
पू॒र्वा॒प॒रं च॑रतो मा॒ययै॒तौ शिशू॒ क्रीळ॑न्तौ॒ परि॑ यातो अध्व॒रम् ।
विश्वा॑न्य॒न्यो भुव॑नाभि॒चष्ट॑ ऋ॒तूँर॒न्यो वि॒दध॑ज्जायते॒ पुन॑: ॥१८॥
नवो॑नवो भवति॒ जाय॑मा॒नोऽह्नां॑ के॒तुरु॒षसा॑मे॒त्यग्र॑म् ।
भा॒गं दे॒वेभ्यो॒ वि द॑धात्या॒यन्प्र च॒न्द्रमा॑स्तिरते दी॒र्घमायु॑: ॥१९॥
सु॒किं॒शु॒कं श॑ल्म॒लिं वि॒श्वरू॑पं॒ हिर॑ण्यवर्णं सु॒वृतं॑ सुच॒क्रम् ।
आ रो॑ह सूर्ये अ॒मृत॑स्य लो॒कं स्यो॒नं पत्ये॑ वह॒तुं कृ॑णुष्व ॥२०॥
उदी॒र्ष्वात॒: पति॑वती॒ ह्ये॒३षा वि॒श्वाव॑सुं॒ नम॑सा गी॒र्भिरी॑ळे ।
अ॒न्यामि॑च्छ पितृ॒षदं॒ व्य॑क्तां॒ स ते॑ भा॒गो ज॒नुषा॒ तस्य॑ विद्धि ॥२१॥
उदी॒र्ष्वातो॑ विश्वावसो॒ नम॑सेळा महे त्वा ।
अ॒न्यामि॑च्छ प्रफ॒र्व्यं१ सं जा॒यां पत्या॑ सृज ॥२२॥
अ॒नृ॒क्ष॒रा ऋ॒जव॑: सन्तु॒ पन्था॒ येभि॒: सखा॑यो॒ यन्ति॑ नो वरे॒यम् ।
सम॑र्य॒मा सं भगो॑ नो निनीया॒त्सं जा॑स्प॒त्यं सु॒यम॑मस्तु देवाः ॥२३॥
प्र त्वा॑ मुञ्चामि॒ वरु॑णस्य॒ पाशा॒द्येन॒ त्वाब॑ध्नात्सवि॒ता सु॒शेव॑: ।
ऋ॒तस्य॒ योनौ॑ सुकृ॒तस्य॑ लो॒केऽरि॑ष्टां त्वा स॒ह पत्या॑ दधामि ॥२४॥
प्रेतो मु॒ञ्चामि॒ नामुत॑: सुब॒द्धाम॒मुत॑स्करम् । यथे॒यमि॑न्द्र मीढ्वः सुपु॒त्रा सु॒भगास॑ति ॥२५॥
पू॒षा त्वे॒तो न॑यतु हस्त॒गृह्या॒ऽश्विना॑ त्वा॒ प्र व॑हतां॒ रथे॑न ।
गृ॒हान्ग॑च्छ गृ॒हप॑त्नी॒ यथासो॑ व॒शिनी॒ त्वं वि॒दथ॒मा व॑दासि ॥२६॥
इ॒ह प्रि॒यं प्र॒जया॑ ते॒ समृ॑ध्यताम॒स्मिन्गृ॒हे गार्ह॑पत्याय जागृहि ।
ए॒ना पत्या॑ त॒न्वं१ सं सृ॑ज॒स्वाधा॒ जिव्री॑ वि॒दथ॒मा व॑दाथः ॥२७॥
नी॒ल॒लो॒हि॒तं भ॑वति कृ॒त्यास॒क्तिर्व्य॑ज्यते ।
एध॑न्ते अस्या ज्ञा॒तय॒: पति॑र्ब॒न्धेषु॑ बध्यते ॥२८॥
परा॑ देहि शामु॒ल्यं॑ ब्र॒ह्मभ्यो॒ वि भ॑जा॒ वसु॑ ।
कृ॒त्यैषा प॒द्वती॑ भू॒त्व्या जा॒या वि॑शते॒ पति॑म् ॥२९॥
अ॒श्री॒रा त॒नूर्भ॑वति॒ रुश॑ती पा॒पया॑मु॒या ।
पति॒र्यद्व॒ध्वो॒३ वास॑सा॒ स्वमङ्ग॑मभि॒धित्स॑ते ॥३०॥
ये व॒ध्व॑श्च॒न्द्रं व॑ह॒तुं यक्ष्मा॒ यन्ति॒ जना॒दनु॑ ।
पुन॒स्तान्य॒ज्ञिया॑ दे॒वा नय॑न्तु॒ यत॒ आग॑ताः ॥३॥१
मा वि॑दन्परिप॒न्थिनो॒ य आ॒सीद॑न्ति॒ दम्प॑ती ।
सु॒गेभि॑र्दु॒र्गमती॑ता॒मप॑ द्रा॒न्त्वरा॑तयः ॥३२॥
सु॒म॒ङ्ग॒लीरि॒यं व॒धूरि॒मां स॒मेत॒ पश्य॑त ।
सौभा॑ग्यमस्यै द॒त्त्वायाऽथास्तं॒ वि परे॑तन ॥३३॥
तृ॒ष्टमे॒तत्कटु॑कमे॒तद॑पा॒ष्ठव॑द्वि॒षव॒न्नैतदत्त॑वे ।
सू॒र्यां यो ब्र॒ह्मा वि॒द्यात्स इद्वाधू॑यमर्हति ॥३४॥
आ॒शस॑नं वि॒शस॑न॒मथो॑ अधिवि॒कर्त॑नम् ।
सू॒र्याया॑: पश्य रू॒पाणि॒ तानि॑ ब्र॒ह्मा तु शु॑न्धति ॥३५॥
गृ॒भ्णामि॑ ते सौभग॒त्वाय॒ हस्तं॒ मया॒ पत्या॑ ज॒रद॑ष्टि॒र्यथास॑: ।
भगो॑ अर्य॒मा स॑वि॒ता पुरं॑धि॒र्मह्यं॑ त्वादु॒र्गार्ह॑पत्याय दे॒वाः ॥३६॥
तां पू॑षञ्छि॒वत॑मा॒मेर॑यस्व॒ यस्यां॒ बीजं॑ मनु॒ष्या॒३ वप॑न्ति ।
या न॑ ऊ॒रू उ॑श॒ती वि॒श्रया॑ते॒ यस्या॑मु॒शन्त॑: प्र॒हरा॑म॒ शेप॑म् ॥३७॥
तुभ्य॒मग्रे॒ पर्य॑वहन्त्सू॒र्यां व॑ह॒तुना॑ स॒ह ।
पुन॒: पति॑भ्यो जा॒यां दा अ॑ग्ने प्र॒जया॑ स॒ह ॥३८॥
पुन॒: पत्नी॑म॒ग्निर॑दा॒दायु॑षा स॒ह वर्च॑सा ।
दी॒र्घायु॑रस्या॒ यः पति॒र्जीवा॑ति श॒रद॑: श॒तम् ॥३९॥
सोम॑: प्रथ॒मो वि॑विदे गन्ध॒र्वो वि॑विद॒ उत्त॑रः ।
तृ॒तीयो॑ अ॒ग्निष्टे॒ पति॑स्तु॒रीय॑स्ते मनुष्य॒जाः ॥४०॥
सोमो॑ ददद्गन्ध॒र्वाय॑ गन्ध॒र्वो द॑दद॒ग्नये॑ ।
र॒यिं च॑ पु॒त्राँश्चा॑दाद॒ग्निर्मह्य॒मथो॑ इ॒माम् ॥४१॥
इ॒हैव स्तं॒ मा वि यौ॑ष्टं॒ विश्व॒मायु॒र्व्य॑श्नुतम् ।
क्रीळ॑न्तौ पु॒त्रैर्नप्तृ॑भि॒र्मोद॑मानौ॒ स्वे गृ॒हे ॥४२॥
आ न॑: प्र॒जां ज॑नयतु प्र॒जाप॑तिराजर॒साय॒ सम॑नक्त्वर्य॒मा ।
अदु॑र्मङ्गलीः पतिलो॒कमा वि॑श॒ शं नो॑ भव द्वि॒पदे॒ शं चतु॑ष्पदे ॥४३॥
अघो॑रचक्षु॒रप॑तिघ्न्येधि शि॒वा प॒शुभ्य॑: सु॒मना॑: सु॒वर्चा॑: ।
वी॒र॒सूर्दे॒वका॑मा स्यो॒ना शं नो॑ भव द्वि॒पदे॒ शं चतु॑ष्पदे ॥४४॥
इ॒मां त्वमि॑न्द्र मीढ्वः सुपु॒त्रां सु॒भगां॑ कृणु ।
दशा॑स्यां पु॒त्राना धे॑हि॒ पति॑मेकाद॒शं कृ॑धि ॥४५॥
स॒म्राज्ञी॒ श्वशु॑रे भव स॒म्राज्ञी॑ श्व॒श्र्वां भ॑व ।
नना॑न्दरि स॒म्राज्ञी॑ भव स॒म्राज्ञी॒ अधि॑ दे॒वृषु॑ ॥४६॥
सम॑ञ्जन्तु॒ विश्वे॑ दे॒वाः समापो॒ हृद॑यानि नौ ।
सं मा॑त॒रिश्वा॒ सं धा॒ता समु॒ देष्ट्री॑ दधातु नौ ॥४७॥
Translation:
As you might have known, the Vivāha sūkta is one of the oldest hymns still in popular use in rituals, and is the basis of Brahmanic marriage. Interestingly, the hymn is mostly from the point of view of a woman, and the poetess takes the name of Sūryā Sāvitrī, whose marriage is celebrated, and is the archetype for Vedic Brahmanic marriage. You shouldn’t be surprised if you see many of the metaphors and careful choice of words completely in opposition with the patriarchal view of marriage. Just for one instance, Savitā the father of Sūryā bestows Soma as her husband as she wishes him by her mind. The act of bestowing (√dā) which is classically seen in the “gift of bride” (as in the classical era phrase “kanyādānam”) to the bridegroom is seen completely the opposite way by the woman sage here. It is also interesting how she maintains, in this sūkta, that “wife enters her husband” instead of the normal idea that husband enters the wife. This is also a popular culture hymn, and has therefore several inputs from outside sage culture which includes a long list of hapaxes in vocabulary and common practices of those days. Being the part of popular culture, there are many concepts and charms here which are so non-Rigvedic otherwise. This hymn, in that way, translates to have an Atharvanic character, and not surprisingly, is elaborated in a whole Atharvaveda kāṇḍa.
Soma :
Earth is supported by satya,
Dyaus is supported by sun,
Ādityas are supported by Ṛta,
Soma rests upon the sky.
By Soma are the Ādityas strong,
By Soma is the wide earth great,
Lo! Among these constellations
Soma has been set in the midst.
He thinks he has drunk Soma
When they pound the plant together
The Soma which the formulator sages know
No one partakes indeed, of that.
Sheltered by rules, hidden by lofty (/Bṛhatī) verses,
The Soma stands guarded.
O you, who do stand hearing the announcers of pressing,
No earthy indeed partake of you.
When they “drink” you forth, O Deva,
You just waxen from there again.
Vāyu is the guardian of Soma,
With moon, the lunar months are shaped.
Sūryā-Soma marriage
Raibhī song was gifted along,
Nārāśaṃsī ballad the dweller.
Sūryā’s truly auspicious garment
Flies embellished by Gāthā songs.
Perception was her couch,
Vision was her unguent,
The sky-earth her casket
When Sūryā traveled to her husband.
Hymns were the cross-bars,
Metre the covered seat,
Aśvinā accompanied Sūryā,
Agni moved in front.
Soma was the bridegroom,
Both Aśvinā the accompanying ones,
When to the Sūryā who wished by her mind,
Savitā bestowed Soma as her husband.
Thought was her carriage,
And the sky was the canopy,
Dazzling ones were the two draft-animals,
When Sūryā drove to the home.
The two draft-cows of yours,
Harnessed to Ṛk-Sāman are harmonious,
Hearing was your wheels,
Path in the sky kept moving on.
Bright were your wheels as you drove,
The Vyāna breath was the fixed axle.
Sūryā mounted the carriage of thoughts
As she drove forth to her husband.
Sūryā’s conveying went on,
As Savitā let it flow on,
In Aghā days they loosen the cows,
In Arjunī days she is conveyed.
When, O Aśvins, you drove, asking her,
By the Three-wheeled car, to Sūryā’s conveying,
Viśvedevas approved you two to it.
Pūṣan the son, selected the two fathers.
When you both drove, O lords of pleasantness,
To Sūryā, to accompany her,
Where was the one wheel of yours?
Where did you stand for the declaration?
O Sūryā, your two wheels,
The formulator-sages, know, by seasons,
Then that one wheel which is hidden,
Only just those meditated to it, know.
To Sūryā, to the Devas,
To Mitra, and to Varuṇa,
These who discern forth of what has been,
To them have I made this reverence.
Forward-backward, the two move by Māyā
As two children playing, they drive around the eternal.
One of them peeks into all beings,
Establishing seasons, the other is born again.
New, he becomes new, while being born,
As the sign of days, he moves to the first of dawns,
He sets apart the shares of Devas.
Moon extends forth his longevity.
Well-blossomed, well-crafted, of all forms,
Of golden hue, well-turning, well-wheeled,
Mount, O Sūryā, the spot of immortality,
Make the wedding easy for your husband.
Popular charms
Rise up, this lady is with her husband,
I reverently sing to you – O Viśvāvasu,
Seek another one, adorned, sitting with her father,
That is inherently your fate, know it.
Rise up from here, O Viśvāvasu,
Reverently I laud you myself.
Seek another woman who is to be married,
Send the lady to her husband.
Unharming to man, straight, be the paths,
By which the companions go to the ceremony,
Together Aryamā, together lead us Bhaga,
Let the united house be connected well, O Devas!
I release you forth from the bonds of Varuṇa,
With which the well-kind Savitar bound you.
At the source of Ṛta, at the spot of the well-done,
I establish you, unharmed, with your husband.
I release you from here, not from there.
I have made her well-bound there.
By which way, O Indra the Bestower,
She would be of good offspring, of good fortune.
May Pūṣan lead you on from here, holding your hand,
May the Aśvinā convey you by the chariot,
Go to the home, so that you will be the mistress of house,
As a crowd-pulling lady, you will speak to the vidatha.
Here, age together through your prajas,
Be aware for the ruling of the house,
With this husband, create your tanu together,
So that, as an experienced couple, you both would speak to vidatha.
She becomes blue, red. The attached enchantress is shooed off.
Her relatives are excited, the husband is bound in the relation.
Pass the śāmulyam garment to the sages, who portion the goods,
She the enchantress having flown away, here the lady enters the husband.
His tanu becomes inauspicious, gleaming due to the Evil that way,
When the husband puts the bride’s garment unto his own body part.
The diseases from people that follow the lustrous wedding
May the worship-worthy Devas lead those to there from where they came.
Let the way-wanderer rogues who lie waiting,
Not find the married couple.
Let them cross the hard passages through easy courses,
Let the malignancies be driven away.
Auspicious is the bride here.
Go together, and look at her!
Wishing good luck for her,
Return back to your home.
This is coarse, this is pungent,
Pointed, Poisonous, this is not for eating.
The formulator sage who knows Sūryā
Just he deserves this thing of bride.
The piercing in, piercing out,
And then the cutting apart :-
Behold the forms of Sūryā,
However, the sage makes them clean.
I hold your hand for good fortune,
So will we age together with me the husband,
Bhaga, Aryaman, Savitar, Puraṃdhi –
To me the Devas have given you to rule the house.
O Pūṣan, stir her who is the most auspicious,
In whom men shed their seed,
She who lovingly spreads her thighs apart,
In whom, we can lovingly insert the tail.
To you they conveyed her first –
Sūryā and her wedding procession,
Give the lady to husbands,
Agni, with the progeny.
Agni has given the mistress –
Along with longevity and lustre,
Who as her husband, would live
For a hundred autumns.
Soma first gained her, Gandharva gained afterwards,
Third husband of yours is Agni, fourth the one born of man.
Soma gave for Gandharva, Gandharva gave for Agni,
Riches and offspring, and this lady has Agni given to me.
Blessing to the bride
Stay both, just here, do not separate apart,
Reach the whole of lifespan.
Playing with children and grandchildren,
Happily, in your own home.
Let Prajāpati generate progeny for us,
Let Aryamā smoothen you to old age.
Without any inauspiciousness, enter the spot of your husband,
Become blessing to us, to the biped, blessing to the quadruped.
Free from evil glance, not smiting husband,
Gentle to tame animals, of good thought, of good lustre,
A heroic mother, beloved of devas, pleasant,
Become a blessing to us, to the biped, blessing to the quadruped.
This lady, O Indra the Bestower, make her
Of good offspring, of good fortune.
Confer offspring upon her ten,
Make her husband the eleventh.
Become the sovereign queen over your father-in-law,
Become the sovereign queen over your mother-in-law,
Become the sovereign queen over your sister-in-law,
Become the sovereign queen over brothers-in-law.
Let Viśvedevas streamline both of us,
Let Waters unite both of our hearts.
Together Mātariśvan, together Dhātā,
Together let Deṣṭrī set both of us.

Gandharva
Gandharva is the lord of grace and music. Gandharva is the one who gives the horse and the women their “grace”.
Just like how a brahmacārin is born twice, a girl is first attended by Soma giving her beauty and intellect, then Gandharva (Viśvāvasu = “all the grace”) giving her grace, and then Agni giving her maturity. The fourth lord is the human one, who can marry her after she is blessed by these ones.
The human one, on the other hand, gains the lordship of his father first, and then his teacher – including the divine teachers of Agni and Indra as well, before he is married.
In this hymn, the marriage part of Sūryā, and the blessing parts would be the ones which should be original. The other ones are based on the customs and rituals followed in those days, and were made into the hymn.
Marriage did have much relevance as a rite. Though the symbolization of ritualistic part actually belongs to Atharvaveda sections.

Vedā: Bhikṣu Āṅgirasa


Rigveda 10.117 – Teachings of a Bhikṣu
Devatā: “Dasyat” – “selfless generosity”
Metre: Jagatī, Triṣṭubh
Sage : Bhikṣu Āṅgirasa

Rigvedic sages are diverse in their clans, their social status and lifestyle. And let us listen to this Āṅgirasa sage who was a bhikṣu, literally meaning “one who begs” (if the word “beggar” has any unpleasant connotation today) who has this sūkta to teach us something from his life experiences. Usually, the title Āṅgirasa signifies two things – either it refers to one belonging to the lineage of Aṅgiras (who is himself one of the oldest sages, already legendary and of a remote past, in Rigveda) or it refers to divine brahman sages whose words have the power to “stir” humans and masses, and to “effect” a ritual. One should remember that Indra as Bṛhaspati breaks the Vala’s cave of ignorance with the help of the verses of Aṅgirases.
Just like another divinely seen child poet called Śiśu Āṅgirasa of ninth maṇḍala, the Bhikṣu who composed this sūkta is also regarded as an Āṅgirasa – whose words have the power to stir.
Devatā: “Dasyat” – “selfless generosity”
Metre: Jagatī, Triṣṭubh
Sage : Bhikṣu Āṅgirasa
Rig Veda. Mandala 10. Sukta 117
ná vā́ u devā́ḥ kṣúdham íd vadhám dadur
utā́śitam úpa gacchanti mṛtyávaḥ ǀ
utó rayíḥ pṛṇató nópa dasyaty
utā́pṛṇanmarḍitā́ram ná vindate ǁ
yá ādhrā́ya cakamānā́ya pitvó
’nnavāntsánraphitā́yopajagmúṣe ǀ
sthirám mánaḥ kṛṇuté sévate
purótó citsá marḍitā́ram ná vindate ǁ
sá ídbhojó yó gṛháve dádāty
ánnakāmāya cárate kṛśā́ya ǀ
áramasmai bhavati yā́mahūtā
utā́parī́ṣu kṛṇute sákhāyam ǁ
ná sá sákhā yó ná dádāti sákhye
sacābhúve sácamānāya pitváḥ ǀ
ápāsmātpréyānná tádóko asti
pṛṇántamanyámáraṇam cidicchet ǁ
pṛṇīyā́dínnā́dhamānāya távyān
drā́ghīyāṃsamánu paśyeta pánthām ǀ
ó hí vártante ráthyeva cakra
-́anyám anyamúpa tiṣṭhanta rā́yaḥ ǁ
mógham ánnam vindate ápracetāḥ
satyám bravīmi vadhá ítsá tásya ǀ
nā́ryamáṇam púṣyati nó sákhāyam
kévalāgho bhavati kevalādī́ ǁ
kṛṣánn ít phā́la ā́śitam kṛṇoti yán
nádhvānamápa vṛṅkte carítraiḥ ǀ
vádan brahmā́vadato vánīyān
pṛṇánnāpírápṛṇantamabhí ṣyāt ǁ
ékapād bhū́yo dvipádo ví cakrame
dvipā́ttripā́damabhyéti paścā́t ǀ
cátuṣpādeti dvipádāmabhisvaré
sampáśyanpaṅktī́rupatíṣṭhamānaḥ ǁ
samáu ciddhástau ná samám viviṣṭaḥ
sammātárā cinná samám duhāte ǀ
yamáyościnná samā́ vīryā́ṇi
jñātī́ citsántau ná samám pṛṇītaḥ ǁ
Translation :-
No, Devas didn’t give hunger as the only weapon to kill,
Various forms of death do approach the well-fed.
Neither the wealth of the gratifier ever exhausts off.
Neither the non-gratifier ever finds anyone to comfort him.
When to someone weak, trembling, broken,
Who has approached the man with food, who eats,
If the man makes his mind hard, “he is the one I helped before”
Indeed, neither he finds anyone to comfort him.
He is the generous one – who gives
To the weak, roaming, beggar wanting food.
He becomes the answer for the cry for help,
He makes a friend for the future.
He is not a friend, who doesn’t give food to his friend –
To the one who has followed him in his company.
Let one turn away from him, his is not a home,
Let one seek a gratifier, even if a stranger.
Let the strong really satisfy the one crying for help.
Let him take a look along the longer path.
For riches, like chariot wheels, roll over.
They stay with one after another.
The soulless man finds fruitless food.
I speak the truth – of that would be his destruction.
Neither a nobleman makes him prosperous, nor a friend.
The lone eater becomes the lone sinner.
Only through agriculture does plough feed,
Only through walking does one cover the tracks.
Thus the speaking formulator poet gains much than the silent one.
The one who gratifies would be greater than the one who doesn’t.
The single-footed has strode over the two-footed,
The two-footed approaches the three-footed later.
The four-footed comes at the call of two-footed,
While overseeing the five-fold staying by him.
Despite hands being similar, their activities aren’t.
Despite having same mother, cows don’t milk equally.
Deeds of even twins are not the same,
Even two men, sharing kinship, don’t donate the same way.
The tone of this sūkta is very emotional (as Āṅgirasa verses usually are) and hard-hitting. It also has a lot to teach – about how morality should come from within, (as you see, no Deva or a Karmic rebirth is the motivating factor here, )how one should see and understand that differences occur naturally in among people. How he should discern and strive, and selflessly help people, looking it empathetically, as the chariot of riches doesn’t stay with anyone forever. In the second-last verse, the ekapād (one-footed) is the sun, the “self” called Aja ekapād, the two-footed are the humans who walk about, the three-footed is the old man with staff, and the four-footed is dog/horse that looks after the five-fold herd. All these relationships have both sides, and that is the reality of existence.
The last verse celebrates diversity, and asks us not to judge anyone or expect from anyone.
*Please note that I could not find a better single word for translating pṛṇat – the one who fulfills the want. I have used “gratifier” in the sense of its actual meaning as derived from Latin, as one who pleases someone who is wanting. It is not just about “giving off” but also giving so as to please, gratify a person.
Aja ekapad
Aja means unborn. It refers to the unborn sun who slowly rises through the horizon. It has this association with enlightenment and rising of knowledge, the “propping up” of “heavens” and “lights” in our life. The reason for goat being aja is different, but as Vedic wordsmiths like to pun, they pun it with goat to bring something else. Like for example, in the Aśvamedha where the horse which is the “moving sun”, the “flying Ātman” is “sacrificed” only after the “aja” moves before.
how come this Sage is a Bhikshu?
Bhikṣu simply means “one who begs”. It was not part of any religious order, indeed.
Perhaps the sage here was unfortunate enough to be deserted by a patron chief that he was reduced to streets. I would like to think instead, that an anonymous sage composed this sūkta being in his shoes.
 

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Vedā: Asuratva


Asura in the Rig Veda
In the Puranic and Epic theology and mythology of Hinduism, there are different classes of beings (super-human, human, sub-human, non-human) born from the creator Brahma. The major of these classes are the Devas (gods of light) and Asuras (anti-gods, older cousins of the gods), who are depicted as always warring with one another for the dominion of the worlds. Typically the Devas are victorious by virtue of them adhering to the Vedic doctrines and righteous performance of Vedic rituals. The Asuras are almost equal in power to the Devas and, on occasion, do manage to defeat their younger cousins. However, what makes Asuras mythical villains is the unorthodox and uncivilized methods they use in administration, governance, and religious observance. The explanation is that Asuras cause more chaos in the universe whereas Devas maintain order and prosperity. Apart from these two, there are Rakshasas, who are evil spirits originally tasked to protect and nurture other creatures (Sanskrit “raksh” meaning “to protect”). This above situation is primarily found in the Puranas (i.e. books containing history and mythology) and the epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata). However, later parts of the Vedic literature (Yajur Veda Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas) at least have the core of the Deva-Asura conflict myth.

In contrast to the above-cited literature, in the oldest Vedic text, the Rig Veda, a very different situation is found. In the Rig Veda, there are no two feuding classes Devas vs. Asuras, but only the Devas who are also Asuras. The most common reference is of the singular ‘Asura’ in the sense of ‘one supreme power’. Moreover, the Asura symbol is part of a great and profound metaphysical doctrine and mystical experience. For a modern-day practising Hindu, who has been educated in the myths of the religion, it is very hard to believe that in the oldest and most sacred book the terms mean the very opposite of what he/she may be used to. This is due to the fact that classical Hinduism draws more inspiration from the Puranas and Epics than the ancient Vedic literature.
The Vedas, Puranas and Epics form one single corpus of literature whose core objective is to expound the ultimate reality as the experience of pure existence-consciousness at the individual level being identical with the cosmic reality. However, the expanded purpose of each of these texts is different and meaningful. The Vedas (comprising Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad texts) are the very heart and cornerstone of the Hindu world. They are the most ancient, most arcane and most technical in language and expression. The highest and most subtle spiritual experiences of sages are poetically recorded in the Vedas, along with intricate symbolism and metaphysical myth. The sages expressed their experience in the esoteric language of symbol and myth, which became the basis for elaborate ritual to re-enact the mystical experiences. Internal evidence shows differences in language and terminology from the earliest to the latest parts of the Veda. This is a natural process of change that is universal in all human cultures. However, through and through the external changes, it is also equally evident that the essential message has remained the same.
The Epics and Puranas represent the more ‘popular’ side of the religion. These texts primarily use the medium of stories of heroes, heroines, sages, gods, demons, superhuman beings, animals and birds to convey to a wider audience the spiritual teachings of the Vedas. This concordance is made pretty clear in the Puranas and Epics. Hinduism, by its very nature, has always been evolving with the times while recasting ancient truths in contemporary modes of thought and expression. By virtue of this, the language and myth of the Epics and Puranas are vastly different from that of the Vedas. This might partly explain why the notion of ‘Asura’ is so different in the Rig Veda as compared to the Epics and Puranas. However, there might be other historical causes for this shift – we will see this later.
Below I attempt to list the most important references to ‘Asura’ in the Rig Veda and give the metaphysical meaning.
1. Viśvāmitra Gāthina (RV 3.55)
This hymn of 22 verses is a majestic and magnificent depiction of the concept of Asura in the Rig Veda. Each verse ends with the following phrase:
“महद् देवानाम् असुरत्वम् एकम्” – “mahad devānām asuratvam ekam
“Great is the single Asura-hood or Asura-ness of the gods”.
In this hymn Asura is not a specific god or personality, but an abstract spiritual concept that encompasses all gods. It is an essential nature of every god. Moreover, the emphasis is on the unity or singular essence of all gods. Thus, Asura in the Rig Veda is equivalent to Brahman in the Upanishads.
2. Rig Veda 10.124
This hymn is a real hidden gem. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy has elegantly brought out the subtle meanings in this hymn that tie into the overall metaphysics expressed in the Rig Veda. I have already introduced this metaphysics in my series of articles on Agni. The hymn is a highly symbolic allegory describing the deepest ultimate truth as hiding in deep Darkness:
“ज्योगेव दीर्घम् तम आशयिष्ठा:” – “jyogeva dīrgham tama āśayiṣṭhāh” (1)
“You have been sleeping in the deep Darkness for far too long”.
This Agni who is hidden in deep Darkness for long, is prayed to come out of the Darkness and activate the yajña. This is a symbolism for the manifestation of the first principle of the universe. Darkness is seen as the primeval, original state of existence, and hence the deepest absolute, ultimate truth. As I have already elaborated on this in my articles on Agni, I shall refrain from that here. The noteworthy part of this hymn in the present context is this:
“शंसामि पित्रे असुराय शेवम्” – “śamsāmi pitre asurāya śevam” (3)
“I invoke well-being for Father Asura”.
This makes it very clear that Asura is a father figure, full of auspicious qualities. However, this Father Asura is the symbol of the primeval deep Darkness, which is the original ultimate truth experience. Hence, when Agni comes out of the Darkness, he is also rejecting his origin and home, and moving to a new state:
“अयज्ञियाद् यज्ञियं भागमेमि” – “ayajñiyād yajñiyam bhāgam emi” (3)
“I go from the non-yajña to the yajña“.
“इन्द्रं वृणानः पितरं जहामि” – “indram vṛṇānah pitaram jahāmi” (4)
“I give up the Father and choose Indra”.
Indra represents the manifested universe. He is the active, benevolent, protective “God” defined for the visible universe. So it becomes clear why Agni says that he quits the Father (i.e. the primeval unmanifest Darkness) and joins Indra in the manifest universe.
In consonance with the above, the previous forms of Agni, Soma and Varuna, who are the original old forms of divinity, fall away, and the new forms of gods Agni, Soma and Varuna are manifested:
“अग्निः सोमो वरुणस्ते च्यवन्ते पर्यावर्त् राष्ट्रम् … निर्माया उ त्ये असुरा अभूवन्” – “agnih somo varuṇaste cyavante, paryāvart rāṣṭram … nirmāyā u tye asurā abhūvan” (4)
“Agni, Soma and Varuna, they fall away … those Asuras become powerless”.
So Agni, Soma and Varuna are called “Asuras”, whose old form is destroyed, and they are recast as “gods” in the universe.
3. Asura’s sons (asurasya vīrāh)
In continuation of the theme of Asura described as the original primeval Father, I shall give examples here of the occurrence of the description of various revered personalities, including gods and sages, as the Asura’s sons, i.e. “asurasya vīrāh”.
.
  • RV 3.53.7: “इमे भोजा अङ्गिरसो विरूपा दिवस्पुत्रासो असुरस्य वीराः । विश्वामित्राय ददतो मघानि सहस्रसावे प्र तिरन्त आयुः ” – “ime bhojā aṅgiraso virūpā divasputrāsoasurasya vīrāh, viśvāmitrāya dadato maghāni sahasrasāve pra tiranta āyuh” — Here, the Aṅgiras sages are called Sons of Heaven, and Asura’s Sons.
  • RV 3.56.8: “त्रिरुत्तमा दूणशा रोचनानि त्रयो राजन्त्यसुरस्य वीराः । ऋतावान इषिरा दूळभासस्त्रिरा दिवो विदथे सन्तु देवाः ” – “triruttamā dūṇaśā rocanāni trayo rājanti asurasya vīrāh, ṛtāvāna iṣirā dūḷabhāsah trirā divo vidathe santu devāh” — Here, Agni, Indra and Surya are called Asura’s Sons.
  • RV 10.10.2: “न ते सखा सख्यं वष्ट्येतत्सलक्ष्मा यद्विषुरूपा भवाति । महस्पुत्रासो असुरस्य वीरा दिवो धर्तार उर्विया परि ख्यन्” – “na te sakhā sakhyam vaṣṭyetat salakṣmā yadviṣurūpā bhavāti, mahasputrāsoasurasya vīrā, divo dhartāra urviyā pari khyan” — Here, the gods in general are called Sons of the Great Asura.
  • RV 10.67.2: “ऋतं शंसन्त ऋजु दीध्याना दिवस्पुत्रासो असुरस्य वीराः । विप्रं पदमङ्गिरसो दधाना यज्ञस्य धाम प्रथमं मनन्त” – “ṛtam śamsanta ṛju dīdhyānā divasputrāso asurasyavīrāh, vipram padam aṅgiraso dadhānā yajñasya dhāma prathamam mananta” — Here, the Aṅgiras sages are called Sons of Heaven and Sons of Asura. Incidentally, Sāyaṇa’s commentary on this verse explains “Asura” as “Agni”.

4. Individual gods called as Asura
Agni

  • RV 3.3.4: “पिता यज्ञानामसुरो विपश्चितां विमानमग्निर्वयुनं च वाघताम्” – “pitā yajñānām asurovipaścitām vimānamagnir vayunam ca vāghatām“
  • RV 4.2.5: “इळावाँ एषो असुर प्रजावान् दीर्घो रयिः पृथुबुध्नः सभावान्” – “iḷāvān eṣo asura prajāvān dīrgho rayih pṛthubudhnah sabhāvān“
  • RV 5.12.1: “प्राग्नये बृहते यज्ञियाय ऋतस्य वृष्णे असुराय मन्म” – “prāgnaye bṛhate yajñiyāya ṛtasya vṛṣṇe asurāya manma“
  • RV 5.15.1: “घृतप्रसत्तो असुरः सुशेवो रायो धर्ता धरुणो वस्वो अग्निः” – “ghṛtaprasatto asurah suśevo rāyo dhartā dharuṇo vasvo agnih“
Varuṇa
  • RV 1.24.14: “क्षयन्नस्मभ्यमसुर प्रचेता” – “kṣayann asmabhyam asura pracetā”
  • RV 2.27.10: “त्वं विश्वेषां वरुणासि राजा ये च देवा असुर ये च मर्ताः” – “tvam viśveṣām varuṇāsi rājā ye ca devā asura ye ca martāh“
Indra
  • RV 1.174.1: “त्वं राजेन्द्र ये च देवा रक्षा नृृन् पाह्यसुर त्वमस्मान्” – “tvam rājendra ye ca devā rakṣā nṛṛn pāhyasura tvamasmān“
  • RV 3.38.4: “महत्तद्वृष्णो असुरस्य नामा विश्वरूपो अमृतानि तस्थौ” – “mahattad vṛṣṇoasurasya nāmā viśvarūpo amṛtāni tasthau“
Sūrya
  • RV 1.35.7: “वि सुपर्णो अन्तरिक्षाण्यख्यद् गभीरवेपा असुरः सुनीथः” – “vi suparṇo antarikṣāṇi akhyad gabhīravepā asurah sunīthah”
  • RV 1.35.10: “हिरण्यहस्तो असुरः सुनीथः” – “hiraṇyahastoasurah sunīthah”
  • RV 1.110.3: “तत्सविता वोऽमृतत्वमासुवदगोह्यं यच्छ्रवयन्त ऐतन । त्यं चिच्चमसमसुरस्य भक्षणमेकं सन्तमकृणुता चतुर्वयम्” – “tatsavitā vo’mṛtatvamāsuvadagohyam yacchravayanta aitana, tyam ciccamasam asurasya bhakṣaṇameko santamakṛṇutā caturvayam”
  • RV 4.53.1: “तद्देवस्य सवितुर्वार्यं महद् वृणीमहे असुरस्य प्रचेतसः” – “tad devasya savitur vāryam mahad vṛṇīmahe asurasya pracetasah

As we see from the few examples above, the concept of Asura is an all-encompassing, universal subtle reality. The gods are called both “Asura” and “Asura’s Sons”. This shows the highly metaphysical and esoteric content of the Rig Veda. This is also consistent with what the Niruktam says about the nature of the Vedic gods, that they are “born from one another (itaretarajanmānah)”.

This again confirms my earlier conviction regarding the idea of Agni in the Rig Veda. The Vedic gods, especially Agni, are fully equivalent to the idea of Brahman in the Upanishads. The only difference is that the Rig Veda is also poetry, so it is loaded with intricate symbolism which hides the deep subtle metaphysics.

The meaning of ‘Asura’ is made clear by studying the traditional list of Vedic words, Nighaṇṭu. In chapter 3.9, the following list for the synonyms of knowledge or wisdom:

केतुः । केतः । चेतः । चित्तम् । क्रतुः । असुः । धीः । शची । माया । वयुनम् । अभिख्येति एकादश प्रज्ञानामानि ।

Note that “asuh” is in the list. The Niruktam derives the word “Asura” from this word, as “giver of wisdom, or the wise one”. There are also other meanings such as “giver of life”.

So far, we have seen that in the Rig Veda, the words ‘Deva’ and ‘Asura’ are synonyms.


Now, coming to historical reasons why the word ‘Asura’ came to have negative meanings, and became the complete opposite of ‘Deva’ in post-Rigvedic times.

A tectonic shift occurs in the later Vedic literature (Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda, Brahmanas, etc) where only ‘Deva’ is used for the Vedic gods, and ‘Asura’ is now used for the anti-gods. The derivation of ‘Asura’ now changes to ‘A-sura’ i.e. “not sura”, and “sura” now becomes a synonym of ‘Deva’. This is totally unknown in Rig Veda, where “Asura” has absolutely no negative connotation.
In parallel with the later Vedic literature, in the lands neighboring west of India, the person called Zarathushtra begins preaching a new set of beliefs that are distantly related to the old Vedic religion. But there are some radical new beliefs. A central tenet is that the god is called ‘Ahura’, which is the Sanskrit ‘Asura’, and the anti-god is called “daeva”, which is the Sanskrit ‘Deva’. It is from the Avestan “daeva” through Hebrew, then Latin that the European languages have the word “devil”, “diavolo” etc. So you see, in the Avesta, the words have the exact opposite meanings as the later Vedic texts.
Even in the earliest texts of the Zoroastrians, there is already an opposition between the positive ‘Ahura’ and negative ‘Daeva’; between positive ‘Vanguhi Daitya’ and negative ‘Angra Mainyu’. On the Vedic side, in Yajur Veda and later texts, the former set of characters is the negative one, and the latter set is the positive one. (‘Angra Mainyu’ is none other than our Angiras rishi).
But the Rig Veda sees no such dichotomy as there is no reason for it, as seen from the original meaning of the words.
So it can be concluded that in the later Vedic period there was a struggle between the Vedic people and their cultural cousins the Zoroastrians, which was so significant that the fundamental religious expression changed forever. Even now, most Hindus would not believe that “deva” and “asura” were once synonyms. And Zoroastrians would never consider the two words as synonyms either.


Author: Ram Abloh
July 15th 2019
Full profile of this Author can be viewed at : https://www.quora.com/profile/Ram-Abloh?ch=10&share=8afff2bd&srid=12MJJ
Rigveda 3.55 – Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Sage: Prajāpati Vaiśvāmitra
Chandas: Triṣṭubh

Audio : Rig Veda. Mandala 3. Sukta 55
Please hear the audio as you read through this translation, since otherwise this is close to being unreadable given the extremely mystic nature.
Thence when the early dawns shone apart,
The Great Akṣara was manifest in the track of the Cow.
It beautifies very now the statutes of the Devas
Great is the one asuratva of Devas!
May not the Devas deflect us from here,
May not, the Pitṛs, the knowers of the track, O Agni!
In between the two ancient mansions is the Sign.
Great is the one asuratva of Devas!
Desires of mine fly apart many-a-place,
Exerting, I illuminate the earlier ones.
Let’s tell just Ṛta at the kindled Agni,
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Same is the ruler distributed many-a-place,
Nestling in places of rest, entangled along with the woods,
Another bears the calf; the mother dwells.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Dwells he in the earlier ones, growing through the later ones,
Within the just-born, tender ones.
Him within, they bring forth without having approached;
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
He was lying far beyond, the One of two mothers now,
The single calf, unbounded, roams.
These are the statutes of Mitra and Varuṇa.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
The Invoker, Of two mothers, the king of all in the station of wise,
His edge roams along, the base rests.
Pleasant people bear forth the pleasant speech;
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Like a hero battling in closely,
Approaching, he peeks into all.
Mind moves amidst, to the release of Cow,
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
He permeates, the grey messenger,
The great one roams amidst, by light,
Bearing various forms, he perceives us,
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
The pervading herdsman (Viṣṇu), protects the farthest shelter,
Establishing dear immortal settlements,
Agni knows all these worlds of beings.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
The twin ladies …. have themselves assumed many forms,
Among the two, one of them shines, the other is black.
Dusky and the ruddy ones are sisters.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Where both the mother and daughter, rich in milk,
Suckle jointly, yielding milk readily.
There amidst the stage of Ṛta, I hymn both.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
She bellows, licking another’s calf,
How has the milk cow set her udder?
Iḷā has teemed with richness of Ṛta.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Through the track, she of many forms wears various appearances,
Licking the tryavi, standing up straight.
I roam through the seat of Ṛta as the one who knows.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Like two footsteps set down amidst wonder,
One of the two is hidden, the other clear.
Aiming one their paths are divergent,
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Let them resound, the milch-cows without kids,
Those readily milking, unfailing, who are not milked,
Becoming young ladies anew.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
When the bull roars amongst one herd,
He deposits his seed in another.
He is the keeper of earth, the Bhaga, the king;
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
O People! May we declare now
Vīra’s “well-horsedness” – Devas know of that.
Sixfold yoked, five-five they convey (him) here.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
The Deva is Tvaṣṭar, Savitar, of all forms,
He flourishes, having given birth to offspring many ways;
All these beings are his.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Two great united realms he drove together,
Both of these are studded with his valuables.
The Vīra is famed for revealing the valuables.
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
And in this earth, the depositor of all for us,
Dwells by, as a king with his allies (Mitra) set,
Settled in the front, as heroes under divine care,
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
For you, the plants and the waters proffer,
For you, the Earth bears richness, O Indra!
May we be your friends, sharing your Grace,
Great is the one Asuratva of Devas!
Notes :-
This sūkta is likely by an anonymous descendant of Viśvāmitra or perhaps Viśvāmitra himself. The sūkta is notable for its reliance of on the quality of Grace “Vāma” throughout, (comparable to RV 1.164) and therefore is to be shifted more to your right brain as you read through. The sūkta is not to be approached in an analyzing and judging manner, looking for exactly which Deva is described where – rather, the Asuratva, the Asura nature – the living reality of Devas is wondrously depicted. The sūkta starts with the track of divine inspiration (“Cow”) still unmarked if not for the Akṣara that dwells in it. From Vāk, the Devas manifest and show up as the sūkta progresses – from Agni to Dyuniśa (day and night), Rodasī, Mitrāvaruṇā, Iḷā, Uṣas, Bhaga, Ādityas, Indra and Aśvins, Tvaṣṭar, Savitar, Prajāpati and finally back to Agni/Varuṇa and stopping in Indra.
To comment on this would take up so much of time, I will leave that for later – but while you go through this, you should surely realize the toughness of commenting/interpreting/translating the full-blown poetry of Rigveda.
*tryavi – “of three lambing seasons old”, ie; of one and half years. However, here it is meant to be a pun. Given avi has a protection/blanket connotation and the “threefold” protection of Ādityas in the three dimensions is supposed to be implied here.
Asuratva, other than in sūkta, is mentioned only two times in Rigveda, in 10.55 and 10.99.
In 10.55, the context is much similar, it is a sūkta ultimately referring to Indra, with Viśvedevas. In 10.99, the sūkta is for Indra, and Indra establishing asuratva is described.
Is Asuratva Brahma/HiranyaGarbha. Can you please elaborate this Asuratva in Upanishadic terms or metaphysics ? What the word Asuratva actully mean ?
Brahma and Māyā is not a good construct to come with, when we go through sūktas of sages. The asuratva is the living and effecting nature (<asu “life”, “spirit”) of Devas – which all the devas share. Elsewhere, Indra is credited for asuratva (10.99). He animates the Waters, releases them (sṛṣṭi = release) from Vṛtra. He himself chooses to be Indra so that Devas side with him and work for the life of universe. The universe is in the medium of Agni – everything exists and expresses in him. The ladies of slumber and wakefulness, night and day, let us experience time and existence. Pulsation, change, causes existence. This change is effected in the medium of Agni, through Devas, by Indra.
Regarding referrents in the sūkta, that is a long thing to speak about.

I will save that for a later time. Or probably make video because writing seems so lengthy and taking up much effort.

Vedā: Rātrī


Rigveda 10.127 – Rātrī
Chandas : Gāyatrī
Sage : Kuśika Saubhara/Rātrī Bhāradvājī

Audio here : Mandala 10 | Vedic Heritage Portal
The Devī Night, coming here, has glanced many-a-spot with her eyes,
She has laid on herself all the graceful beauties.
She, divine, immortal, has filled the broadness, its depths and heights,
She repels the darkness with light.
The night has set her sister dawn, as she arrived
Indeed, this darkness will depart away.
So be for us today, at you whose journey we have settled;
Like the birds that dwell in the tree.
Down have the villagers settled, down the walking and flying;
Down have even the active falcons.
Ward off the wolves, ward off the thief, you wave of Night!
Be easy for us to sail.
She, the black, fully ornamented, smeared all over with hues, has approached me, clearly;
O Dawn, settle this like debts.
O Daughter of sky, towards you have I arranged this, like cows (back to home)
Choose it for yourself, O Night, as a victor his song.

Vedā: Shad-darśanas

Classical philosophers of the six darśanas in relevence to Vedā.
Sāṃkhya

In the Sāṃkhya philosophy, the idea that Vedas are from eternity is denied, because there is evidence for their production by knowledgeable and experienced sages/devas as they “know” the truth. In the case of ritual scriptures, (also dubbed as Vedas) they are not about any mysterious thing “beyond senses” but their efficacy rests on the principle of karma. Sāṃkhya also repels the notion that no human can ever instruct any knowledge of Vedas or that Vedas are superhuman and impossible to understand. Sāṃkhya argues that knowledge of Vedas is traditional, (and therefore people can instruct it without any issue) those who “know” can surely understand Vedas.
Sāṃkhya explains the “apauruṣeya” doctrine as that the knowledge of Vedas proceeds naturally and involuntarily from the knowing brahma, just like respiration, and not preceded by voluntary thought. Therefore, it is not a “creation” of any supreme man.
Pros : The theory of evolution, studying by classification, wise discrimination, stress on suffering and attainment of knowledge of oneself by detachment with the modes of nature. Rational arguments against dogmatic theism.
Cons : Later schools in Vedānta didn’t allow sāṃkhya to have cons on Indian culture – they appropriated best of ideas and reduced sāṃkhya.
Nyāya
Nyāya also disputes the notion that Vedas need to be from “eternity” to be authoritative. Its authority is accepted because of the expertise of the authors (sages), just like how Āyurveda (medical science) or Mantras are accepted – not through blind faith but because we are aware of the expertise of the relevant persons.
However, Akṣapāda Gautama argues that there is no ground for charging Brahmanical injunctions with tautology or contradictions or untruth, and whatever seems to be untruth is because the action has not been performed well.
Still, Nyāya established that Vedas are subjected to logic and reason – and this itched Mīmāṃsakas and their descendants, who declared the Naiyāyika hetuvādins to be heretics.
Pros: Reasoning, knowledge of logical fallacies, concept of arriving at truth through discussion, rationalism.
Cons : Often led to focus on winning debates and somehow establish one’s points. This was not mostly done by ancient Naiyāyikas, but the medieval ones who appropriated Nyāya systems for their own use. Nyāya also believed in a presence of a clear cause and effect instead of the sāṃkhya viewpoint that described it a spectrum of evolution from cause to effect. Developed a soft-corner towards the idea of God which would be taken for granted by later schools.
Vaiśeṣika
Vaiśeṣika as in Kaṇāda sūtra basically has no problem with the notion that Vedas are self-validated or that they are authoritative, but their authority is not established by the “eternality of sound” (śabda brahman is negated) – just like how Nyāya and Sāṃkhya deny. Vaiśeṣika doesn’t know of any “īśvara” to be the author of Vedas.
However, Vaiśeṣika says that the Vedas are devised with intelligence, because we see wisdom in them. In what Vedas hold as sanctified/pure, we see wisdom, in what they hold doṣa, we see hiṃsā in them. The authority of Vedas comes from the fact that they are part of an intelligent teaching of sages and their tradition, based on wise observances. This is opposed to the Sāṃkhya notion that Vedas are involuntary and not a product of intelligent thinking.
Pros : Naturalist philosophy, scientific attitude, concept of atoms.
Cons : No notable cons.
Yoga
Yoga as proposed by Patañjali doesn’t indulge in arguments about the origin of Vedas. And it says that blind following of word-knowledge or ritual injunctions is a distraction. The actual experiential knowledge of the ancients can still be attained through union of yoga, in meditation. Yoga is attainable through meditation on an Īśvara who represents omniscience and oneness of everything, (different from “God”) and this Īśvara is supposed to be the Ācārya of ancient sages. The eternal sound of praṇava is mentioned on which one shall meditate.
Pros : Mental well-being, power of mind and thinking, mindfulness, warnings regarding hair splitting over unnecessary things and bothering about unnecessary things.
Cons : Had a soft corner towards the ideas of supernatural powers earned through meditation, and also the idea of meditating on God, which would later be exploited by bhakti cults to apply to their personal Gods.
Mīmāṃsā
Mīmāṃsā was a radical ritualist system which held Vedas as not any more purposeful other than the ritual injunctions that could be developed from them. So, more than the verses, the ritual injunctions, brāhmaṇas and ritual context matters. Since the best right karma is “yajña” according to mīmāṃsakas, the karma as ritual validates itself and there is no need for an īśvara and Vedas are indeed self-validated because of the ritual injunctions alone. Mīmāṃsā has the most radical notion that Vedas existed from eternity, their eternity unquestionable. They are not produced or created by any person. The teaching establishes the eternity of Vedas because “sound is eternal”. (This was severely opposed by other schools, as we already saw) Mīmāṃsakas believed so much in the efficacy of the ritual that they maintained that even Devas mentioned in mantras don’t exist outside the mantra, and it is the mantra that produces the devas who bestow the fruit of the ritual.
Later mīmāṃsakas modify the nāda theories to suit the opponents, and seem to have succeeded – with Vedānta under Śaṅkara again modifying to bring nāda as a manifestation of an intelligent brahman.
The usual arguments we read by Buddha against the “Vedas” are against the mīmāṃsaka dogmas/beliefs and not against any of the Vedic sages.
Pros: Very systematic inquiry and methods to perform passionate study.
Cons: Dogmas related to Vedas, superstitions regarding rituals, ritualist fundamentalism.
Vedānta
In Vedānta, the Upaniṣads get the primary importance as the “jñāna kāṇḍa”, and their content is all explained off as brahman. For example, one might see how Indra’s teaching in Kauṣītakī Āraṇyaka is explained off by Vedāntins, so is Kṛṣṇa’s teaching in Gītā, as these persons united with brahman teaching about brahman. So, sages are also viewed in this way. The Vāmadeva’s famous sūkta for instance is viewed as his “realization” with brahman. Thus, the popular theory of sages being realized with brahman and their “vision” being Vedas is born from Vedānta.
Pros: Inclusiveness
Cons: Vedas completely removed from picture, obsession with brahman and megalomaniac projections of reality. Appropriation of other cults to decimate them ultimately.
All Vedic devas are manifestations of brahman, Vedas themselves are so.
Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta see Oṃkāra as the primordial nāda on which sounds (esp. of Vedas) are built, however Śaṅkara seems to imply that the nāda is not eternal in the sense it will merge with brahman at the time of dissolution, however those who meditate on nāda can attain brahman.
Disclaimer: The post is based mostly on the original and initial viewpoints of the philosophical schools. With the evolution of thoughts and the defensive mechanism triggered by the “nāstika” schools, the classical philosophers have tried to interpret their theories in a different light.
Nirīśvara and Nāstika.
A nirīśvara is someone who doesn’t believe in a creator God who is “beyond” this “creation”. It is different from atheism in the sense the person might advocate the worship/adoration of natural entities and concepts which can actually affect your mind and life. Sāṃkhya is strongly nirīśvara, you might call it atheist in the sense today theism refers to belief in supernatural “G”od(s). It is not nāstika.
Nāstika is a pejorative term used to label the deniers of Vedas or Vedic sages or certain tenets which the mainstream believes in. (Something like “heresy”) Quite contrary to popular perception, Buddha never criticized the sages themselves, and Jains were once against getting labeled nāstikas by the mīmāṃsakas and tried to locate Ṛṣabhadeva and Ariṣṭanemi in Vedic/Brahmanic literature to support themselves. The only pure nāstikas which all of them accused were the Cārvākas or Lokāyatas who were more like hedonists and propagated rumours that Vedas are composed by demons.
Therefore, the Sankya, Nyaya and Vaisheshika are Nasthika schools and not Asthika schools as believed by Kiron.
I didn’t invent anything on my own, and neither do you have the right to invent labels all by yourself. I am quoting the popular opinion in the medieval ages by the mīmāṃsaka-Vedāntins, as reflected in works like Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha.

Vedā: Enas (guilt/AḌharma)


In the Vedic context, a guilt (enas) is incurred by an immoral action, something that is primarily against someone, but also against yourself or the natural divine concepts of Devas. Whatever is done against the Ṛta, against the ordinances of conscience (Adityan vratas) incurs enas.
Guilt is basically a force that should come from your conscience to let you know of the right path to tread. It is the responsibility of the society, of the parents and the individual to equally inculcate the feeling of guilt towards what is not in accordance with empathy or Ṛta. If a person commits something that is supposed to be wrong as it makes someone suffer, but doesn’t feel guilty about it, that is a dangerous failure of the society, in failing to instill righteousness.
Like children who when parented with rewards against doing evil resulting in them being materialistic and looking for an opportunity to go for a shortcut, a people who are instructed with a rewarding individual ideology like a great rebirth or heaven tend to be materialistic the same way, ultimately. Punishment and reward is good when there is someone who has done something that is radically empathetic or radically out of phase compared with social norms. Else, every “good karma” being “rewarded” and “bad karma” being “punished” through an individualistic, automated nature/God is an ideology that will not raise people to the Aryan righteousness and nobility of thoughts, to the Ādityan conscience and consciousness that is built on harmony, Ṛta.
So what will happen if someone does a wrong thing to another but feels no remorse? The society should see that such a person is punished so that justice is ensured, and a principle is set, a limit is set. This is why kings are supposed to be the implementers of Ṛta in our world. If someone wrongs society and doesn’t get the punishment, then the guilt befalls the king/the people who are responsible for the justice in the society. This will trigger the instincts of people to see that society accepts it as right and an incentive to showcase their instinctive actions that might be disastrous. You might think of it like, such a person’s bad traits are “reborn” in the society each time multiplying until the society as a whole strives to end it.
Now, coming to what guilt can create. Guilt creates a tight spot for us instead of the Ādityan Ṛta that is based on the unlimited mind and purity of our spiritual existence. This guilt eventually burns us from within. It affects the “us” in us, we tend to lose hope on ourselves, we tend to hate ourselves and this can turn our life into disaster. If you feel genuinely guilty about something for which you feel nature or society has not provided justice (in the case of doing something against yourself or Ṛta) and you are sure that you will never do it again – that means your conscience has developed and held you responsible for the Ṛta only now. You then surrender to the discriminating, wise power of conscience, the great Rājā Varuṇa and pray to him to release you from his guilt.
The notion of justice, good and bad all exist meaningfully only in a self-conscious social perception. If your conscience is not evolved (but had the power to evolve) to discriminate between good and evil, can you alone be held accountable for your actions, which are merely natural and instinctive actions of you? (Your instincts are shaped mostly by society and people in sphere of your influence) These are complex questions in ethics. The satisfactory, real solution we might give is to implement the notion of Ṛta and held the steadfastness to Ṛta as a marker of your right to exist. A lion killing deer is the Ṛta, however a man killing another man for food would not be – because our morals are evolving differently. Morals in the stone age should differ from morals in the iron age. Morals of the 21st century should differ from morals which we might reach in the next century by the virtue of our changing culture. Culture and self-acceptance greatly influences the factor of “guilt” and “suffering” in people. For instance, death is an accepted form of suffering. So there is nothing unnatural about it. A deer is bound to naturally suffer death most likely from a predator who has no choice otherwise. That is natural, there is no “suffering”. A woman takes pain to give birth to a baby. It is not considered “suffering”. You might toil hard to earn your food, that is not considered suffering. “Suffering” comes as an ethical problem where there is choice on the side of the one who inflicts from not doing so. This is controversial, but just introspect the ethics of twenty first century people killing animals for sport or eating meat. It will go on unless the conscience of the society as a whole develops. And till then, the notions which justify this behaviour will also be present in the society. (speciesism, exploitation of the weaker, jungle laws) This is the way of nature. It is for us to evolve, else we face the consequences as a whole.
The objective morality system is basically against the progressing flow of Ṛta. We cannot decide any objective good or evil other than perhaps acting against our empathetic conscience which shows the ṛta. So, everyone should be accountable only so much as to act in accordance with Ṛta, which everyone should strive to establish as an individual, as a community, as a nation, as a living world that strives for progress and existence, thus following Ādityas.
 

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Vedā: Āśrama Ḍharma


In the Vedas and earliest brāhmaṇas, we find evidence only for the brahmacārin and gṛhastha āśramas as a system followed by common people. However, some form of sannyāsa did exist, so did vānaprastha, both of which were mostly a sagely affair before the sage gets enlightened. It is this asceticism and celibacy of Agastya which his wife Lopāmudrā intends to stop (in Rigveda) by enlightening him about the duty of a married couple, after which Agastya is enlightened.
For example, works in the post-Vedic period see Vedic sages as having followed both śramaṇa and gṛhastha lifestyles. In Rigveda, we already find the Keśī sūkta about the Keśī munis who have left everything behind but their mortal body. Taittirīya Āraṇyaka glorifies them as the first sages and first śramaṇas, still knowing no dichotomy between brāhmaṇa and śramaṇa. Sages who didn’t yet obtain their vision should have practised austerities being munis before they become inspired. Indra is said to be the lord of those who wander, seeking the truth. The munis wander, following the track of the Cow (the inspiration) and after they find it, they get their share of soma.
The concept of four āśramas as a social ideal (just like the four varṇas) for all people is not actually implied in Vedas or in the śrauta/gṛhya (smārta) karmas. Śramaṇa lifestyle became a common phenomenon after the success of some śramaṇa schools like Ājīvikas, Bauddhas and Jains, and soon people started escaping their normal course of life into forests to “find their self/non-self”. This became the case after sagehood ended and ideas like saṃsāra or endless rebirths emerged. A glorification of monkhood emerged, and people began rushing to forests allured by certain śramaṇa traditions. Dharmasūtras do approve of śramaṇa lifestyle, but only after one has “paid off his debts” by living as a brahmacārī and gṛhastha, learning Vedas and doing the saṃskāras without any omission. Brahmanism allowed for śramaṇa lifestyle within its own authoritative śramaṇaka sūtras, which prescribe the laws and rules to be followed in forest. Brahmin mendicants are called parivrājakas, and already feature in epics. Still, early dharmasūtras, fearing śramaṇa labels by mīmāṃsakas, are defensive about gṛhastha āśrama and maintain that even if one doesn’t follow sannyāsa or vānaprastha and just follows the gṛhastha lifestyle, he is still entitled to “liberation”.


Vedā: Upaniṣads/Brāhmaṇas


Let us make it clear. “Veda” has come to mean anything what its people want that word to mean – from Chāndasa mantras to even Bible in the modern times.
If you are asking about verses of sages, verses of sage composers the “mantradraṣṭāraḥ”, then that is composed of Ṛks and mantras in chandas – that includes complete Rigveda and Sāmaveda with a huge chunk of Yajurveda and Atharvaveda saṃhitās. Traditionally, for the mīmāṃsā usage esp., Veda term meant both mantra and brāhmaṇas.
Brāhmaṇas are prose works which are mythologies/narrations centered on a ritual theme, and explaining the verses used there in the specific context. They are clearly later than mantras as they presuppose the existence of mantras, and they are not divinely inspired.
Upaniṣads are the latest layer of texts in Vedic Sanskrit (by that, I refer to authentic śākhā-preserved Upaniṣads and not the ones like Allopaniṣad or Rahasyopaniṣads). They are teachings and speculations, prayers and benedictions collected in the final layer of texts in Vedic Sanskrit, mostly attached as chapters of Āraṇyakas or Brāhmaṇas and in one case (Īśopaniṣad) a part of saṃhitā itself.
Mīmāṃsakas believed that yajña was beneficent because it was the best karma – the “ritual action” with the “right verse” yielded the fruit. Therefore, their pramāṇas were saṃhitās + brāhmaṇas (as without brāhmaṇas, mantras would no longer be restricted to ritualistic realm, which goes against the agenda of mīmāṃsakas).
Vedāntins on the other hand, based their religion on various speculations and teachings in Upaniṣads, deeming them to be confident and coherent. They never looked beyond Upaniṣads and dismissed off the whole mantras as mere “karmakāṇḍa” against which the Upaniṣadic verses became “jñāna kāṇḍa”.
Upaniṣads, Āraṇyakas, Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas are the texts in Vedic Sanskrit which are transmitted orally in a śākhā of Vedas (a school/branch of Vedic recension). This is what is meant by when one says Īśopaniṣad for instance belongs to Śukla Yajurveda. (It belongs to Śukla Yajurveda following school)

Vedā: Animal Sacrifice

Rigveda 1.162 Horse
When I first saw this sūkta in Rigveda I was only surprised that it is the only instance where immolation of animal is actually mentioned in the Rigveda, given the Vedic period was 4000 years before, at a time when agriculture wasn’t efficient enough to be sufficient for any population.
And the hymn is very much conscious of the violence in the contemporary ritual of those times. The hymn already turns ambivalent about the reality that the animal is dying – it wants to turn the animal from the tough path to the easy path to Devas – whatever it be. The sage himself prays to Aditi (usually done as an expiation of sin) to ward off sins at the closing verse, which suggests that sage is in fact ambivalent about the violence involved in the ritual, and sets the theme for his next sūkta 1.163. Unsurprisingly, appropriate to the Vedic standards, Dīrghatamas dedicates his next sūkta to Aśva itself, now transforming Aśva from horse to something else. Those who “read” 1.162 should also “read” 1.163. Taittirīya Saṃhitā, in its comment on Aśvamedha in the closing chapter, begins it with the lines “those who know about the head of the Aśva become possessed of a head and become eligible to perform the sacrifice”, and thereafter describes Aśva as the macrocosm. That spirit to improve and grow one’s morality according to the changing times is the key takeaway from Vedas.
Although we might be able to understand the political and social reality of the times by which sages had to produce their verses for the rituals, it is very gladdening that sages had their own independent vision and took extreme care to not make anyone stick to the time or morals. The ambivalence towards ritual violence is a key theme that is developed even in the early Brāhmaṇas, the tale of śunaḥśepa and also the anecdote of how rice and barley replace animal offerings point towards this. Although mīmāṃsakas who believed in the efficacy of yajña as a karma did increase in the medieval period and did some job justifying violence in yajñas against their opponents, the spirit of morality envisioned by sages and Brahmanism is contrary to it. This is why the Vedic system produced vegetarianism and a concern towards fellow beings.
what kind of animals sacrificed in the rituals?
The five-fold paśus – Cattle, horse, rams, goats, and men.
Regarding man, the sacrifice was supposed to be by binding to the stake, whispering the mantras in the ear and releasing them, as Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa states. Other animals are also sacrificed in a similar way, by binding them to stakes and releasing them as the relations with them “sacrificed”. They aren’t killed. Already Atharvaveda has mantras that show the practice of not killing and releasing the animals was accepted as a sacrifice.
The releasing of cattle instead of killing them also became a major practice with Rigvedic verse of “don’t kill the Aghnyā” getting scriptural sanction for ritual use in Dharmasūtras. This replaced the “killing for guest” custom in madhuparka. Regarding horses, Aśvamedha was made quite lengthy and complex, albeit terribly expensive that no king could even perform one in his life. Rams were already replaced by goats itself, and the immolation of goats in very occasional sacrifices has continued since the mīmāṃsā era to modern times, although in 99% of the places (except the complex śrauta yajñas) the sacrifice has been made by piṣṭapaśu as Vedas and Brāhmaṇas permit, or with similar vegetable substitutes. (Like lentil-vaḍa that is said to substitute meat in śrāddha offerings) In 1975, the Nambudiris who perform śrauta yajñas without any adulteration or modification stopped the immolation of goats in the Agnicayana, and have turned to the Piṣṭapaśu (animals made of rice-flour as per the injunctions of Brāhmaṇas and Śāstras).
Goghanya (गोघन्य) versus aghanya (अघन्य) – where lies the truth of Vedic endorsement of animal sacrifice and partaking of meats?
Vedas don’t endorse it, although sages don’t oppose it directly. Instead, they bring a higher meaning to the ritual and want to see the substitution of verses for the actions and insights in place of muttering chants in the future.
By introducing symbols, the sages envisioned a time when the people will be matured enough to make the “ritual” symbolic. Certainly, Manu’s injunction that staying vegetarian till death is equivalent to doing 100 Aśvamedhas only shows that the sages succeeded in lifting man. When in 1975, Nambudiris completely stopped any immolation of animals in their rituals by sticking to the power of verse and ideas, the sages won over the ritualists who believed in action. And sages will win in the years to come.
Author/Researcher/Translator: Kiron Krishnan
Aug 8th, 2020

Alternatives to animal sacrifice in Vedic yajñas

The topic of animal sacrifice in Vedic yajñas these days always stirs up controversy and debate due to various reasons. One of the main reasons is the nearly complete obsolescence of traditional Vedic yajña culture of the karma kāṇḍa. As a result, intimate and practical details of the rituals are unknown to most Hindus, and there are probably only a handful of traditional scholars and practitioners of the full-fledged institution of yajña. So the status quo in Hinduism today is that animal sacrifice is not practiced in the context of Vedic or orthodox rituals.
The historical fact is that animal sacrifice was once a part of some Vedic yajñas. However, the important point to note is that it was not an essential or indispensable part. What bothers me is the biased manner in which certain academics and historians depict this aspect when describing Vedic culture. These people can be categorized as anti-Hindu by means of their various affiliations such as leftist, pseudo-liberal, pseudo-secular, etc. Whatever be their affiliation, their common objective is to denigrate Hinduism and show it in bad light by misinterpreting and misrepresenting its history, scriptures and religious practices, and over-projecting other systems as paragons of enlightenment that rescued people and animal victims from the barbaric and wanton slaughter of animals in the Vedic system. In the descriptions of these people, the entire Vedic culture was nothing but inhumane and horrible animal slaughter until Buddhism and Jainism taught the gospel of non-violence. So according to this group, traditional Vedic culture did not have any independent, internal recognition of the violence and brutality involved in animal sacrifice and hence did not come up with any internal alternatives. The simplistic theory is that Vedic practitioners had to wait for the advent of Buddhism and Jainism to receive the message of non-violence.
The reality is much more complex and far from being so black-and-white. To start, let’s have a quick and brief overview of the institution of yajña.
There are three categories of yajña – pāka, havis, andsoma. Each of these categories consist of seven individual prototypes, thus totaling to twenty-one. Of these twenty-one, the seven pākayajñas and the seven haviryajñas do not involve any animal sacrifice, while the seven somayajñas have some kind of animal sacrifice. So, even theoretically, only one-third of the prescribed rituals have the possibility of animal sacrifice.
However, one must question the prevalence of animal sacrifice in real practice. We must consider the fact that Vedic culture was not a monolith, but rather a complex criss-crossing of multiple levels of beliefs and practices at multiple time periods. The Vedic rishis constitute the highest level and the oldest time period, as represented by the mantras and hymns of the Ṛgveda Samhitā. The enlightenment, self-realization and refined thought of the rishis is seen in the subtle metaphysics and spirituality expressed in the mantras. I have demonstrated the subtle Vedic metaphysics (brahmavidyā or adhyātmavidyā) in these essays:
As also noted in the essay on the Cow Hymn of the Ṛgveda, rishi Bharadvāja expresses utmost affection, love and reverence for cows and states as a matter of fact that cows are never sacrificed or slaughtered for any purpose. This philosophy and belief represent the most refined level as well as the most ancient period of Vedic culture. This also corresponds to the period of high spirituality, simple rituals, and no animal sacrifice. Throughout the Ṛgveda Samhitā, the offerings into Agni that are mentioned most frequently are ghṛtam (ghee) and puroḍāśa (rice cake).
This tallies with the traditional theory of the eons (yugas), where the first golden eon (Kṛta Yuga) consisted of spiritually elevated beings without yajñas, while the second eon (Tretā Yuga) saw a huge proliferation of yajñas, which may also involve animal sacrifice. This is evidenced by the statement “tretāyāṃ bahudhā santatāni” of Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.1.
An interesting data point in support of the above thesis is the fact that Yājñavalkya, who is credited with revealing the “new” Śukla-yajurveda, derives his name from his father’s name Yajñavalka, literally “teacher of yajñas”, which implies that he was involved in constructing new rituals and this is indicated symbolically as the story of him giving up the old Yajurveda and obtaining a new one.
Finally, another interesting data point in support of the above thesis comes from the Buddhist Sutta Nipāta [1][2]. In chapter 2 “Cūḷavagga”, section 7 “Brāhmaṇa-dhammika-sutta”, Buddha describes the lifestyle of the “ancient Brāhmaṇas” who were more pious and spiritually dedicated than those of his time. In the course of his lecture he says:
“Seers, before, were austere & restrained in mind. Abandoning the five strings of sensuality, they practiced for their own benefit. They had no cattle, no gold, no wealth. They had study as their wealth. They protected the Brahmā treasure.…….They asked for rice, bedding, cloth, butter & oil. Having collected all that in line with rectitude, from that they performed the sacrifice. And in setting up the sacrifice, they didn’t harm cows.
Like a mother, father, brother, or other relative, cows are our foremost friends.From them comes medicine. They give food, strength, beauty, & happiness.”
Knowing this line of reasoning, they didn’t harm cows.”
Now, this is probably a unilateral depiction of the situation in Buddha’s time, showing Brāhmaṇas as greedy and wanton, and coming to Buddha for advice on how ancient Brāhmaṇas behaved as if they had completely lost their connection with their own tradition. I haven’t come across independent evidence from non-Buddhist sources of the same time period to back this up. We wouldn’t be remiss in assuming that Buddha may have been exaggerating the apparent deterioration of Brāhmaṇas in his own time, as his motive was to wean away Vedic practitioners into his own fold. However, there is certainly truth in his statements about “ancient Brāhmaṇas” treating cows with love and affection, as seen clearly in the Cow Hymn. So, we can confidently deduce that animal sacrifice was a relatively newer development not practiced in the most ancient Vedic period.
However, the central question is whether there was any recognition of non-violence in ancient Vedic texts, and hence prescription of alternatives to animal sacrifice.
The texts that specialized in prescriptions of rituals are the Brāhmaṇas and Āraṇyakas. Two important points to note about these texts are:
  1. They prescribed rituals for the general population of Vedic times, who were from all walks of life and with various levels of spiritual awakening. As in any society, the enlightened people (rishis) only made up a small percentage of the population. Hence these texts have a variety of different rituals to cater to the religious needs of many different types of people, including those who feel obligated to sacrifice animals.
  2. They represent the second period of Vedic culture. This is evidenced by the fact that these texts quote the Samhitā mantras to be recited for each ritual. Hence the Samhitā must have existed prior to the composition of these texts.
I was pleasantly surprised to find several explicit, direct and unambiguous passages which prescribe a bloodless alternative to animal sacrifice. I shall detail them below.
There are only a handful of academics who have studied the ancient Brāhmaṇa and Āraṇyaka texts from this perspective. In the upper echelons of western academia, Edwin Bryant[3] stands out as someone who is more balanced and less biased in his views. However, his analysis is also somewhat unsatisfactory. He explains the alternatives to animal sacrifice as “confusion and conflict” in the minds of the experts, who while upholding the “orthodoxy” of animal sacrifice, begin to have feelings for the animals, and hence they insert these alternatives. He sees this as a clash of opposing old and new beliefs.
I must disagree with Bryant. These Brāhmaṇa and Āraṇyaka texts are distilled compilations of many centuries of ritual practice. They represent the best and most accepted form of the rituals coming down through tradition. So, they do not contain material that is adventitious according to the whimsical beliefs of an individual. They contain settled and canonical doctrine. Therefore, if they prescribe alternatives to animal sacrifice, then it is certainly an old teaching that has co-existed with other teachings as options. Hence, we must conclude that the idea of non-violence in yajñas has always been encouraged, but the choice of animal sacrifice has been provided in the hope of gently nudging the worshipper towards higher spirituality.
Below, I shall provide details from the instances I have found. There is no doubt that many more instances would be found.
Aitareya Brāhmaṇa (chapter)6.8-9 or (pañcikā)2.1.8-9 has a very explicit statement regarding effectiveness of using rice in place of real animals.
Khaṇḍa 8 starts with an allegorical story describing how the Devas first sought man as the yajña-paśu:
पुरुषं वै देवाः पशुमालभन्त तस्मादालब्धान्मेध उदक्रामत् सोऽश्वं प्राविशत् तस्मादश्वो मेध्योऽभवत् अथैनमुत्क्रान्तमेधमत्यार्जन्त स किंपुरुषोऽभवत्
“The Devas first obtained man as the sacrificial animal. From that man, the sacred part escaped and it entered the horse. Hence the horse became fit for sacrifice. They abandoned the man from whom the sacred part escaped, he became Kiṃpuruṣa.”
तेऽश्वमालभन्त सोऽश्वादालब्धादुदक्रामत् स गां प्राविशत्, तस्माद् गौर्मेध्योऽभवत् अथैनमुत्क्रान्तमेधमत्यार्जन्त स गौरमृगोऽभवत्
“They obtained the horse. From the horse, the sacred part escaped and entered the cow/bull. Hence the cow/bull became fit for sacrifice. They abandoned the horse from whom the sacred part escaped, it became the Gauramṛga (Nilgai).”
ते गामालभन्त, स गोरालब्धादुदक्रामत् सोऽविं प्राविशत् तस्मादविर्मेध्योऽभवत् अथैनमुत्क्रान्तमेधमत्यार्जन्त स गवयोऽभवत् तेऽविमालभन्त सोऽवेरालब्धादुदक्रामत् सोऽजं प्राविशत् तस्मादजो मेध्योऽभवत् अथैनमुत्क्रान्तमेधमत्यार्जन्त स उष्ट्रोऽभवत् ।
“They obtained the cow/bull. From the cow/bull, the sacred part escaped and entered into the sheep. Hence the sheep became fit for sacrifice. They abandoned the cow/bull from whom the sacred part escaped, it became the ox. From the sheep it escaped and entered into the goat. Hence the goat became fit for sacrifice. They abandoned the sheep from whom the sacred part escaped, it became the camel.”
सोऽजे ज्योक्तमामिवारमत तस्मादेष एतेषां पशूनां प्रयुक्ततमो यदजः ।
“The sacred part stayed in the goat for the longest time as it were, hence the goat is the most frequently used among these animals.”
तेऽजमालभन्त सोऽजादालब्धादुदक्रामत् स इमां प्राविशत्, तस्मादियं मेध्याभवत् अथैनमुत्क्रान्तमेधमत्यार्जन्त स शरभोऽभवत् ।
“They obtained the goat. From the goat, the sacred part escaped and entered the Earth. They abandoned the goat from whom the sacred part escaped, it became the Śarabha.”
तमस्यामन्वगच्छन् सोऽनुगतो व्रीहिरभवत् …
“They followed this sacred part in the Earth, he became rice…”
Khaṇḍa 9:
स वा एष पशुरेवालभ्यते यत्पुरोडाशः ।
“The cake made from rice is indeed the same as getting an animal.”
तस्य यानि किंशारूणि तानि रोमाणि, ये तुषाः सा त्वक् ये फलीकरणास्तदसृक् यत्पिष्टं किक्नसास्तन्मांसं यत्किंचित्कं सारं तदस्थि ।
“Of the rice, the straw compares to the hair of the animal, the chaff compares to the skin, the soft material that comes off after whitening the rice compares to the blood, the white rice that is ground into flour compares to the flesh, and whatever hard part of the rice grains is remaining, that compares to the bones.”
सर्वेषां वा एष पशूनां मेधेन यजते यः पुरोडाशेन यजते ।
Hence, he who performs yajna with the rice cake (puroḍāśa), effectively he performs yajna with the essence of all animals.
तस्मादाहुः पुरोडाशसत्रं लोक्यमिति ।
“Hence, the learned people say that the puroḍāśa-satra is beautiful to view (or beneficial) (or preferable).”
ŚatapathaBrāhmaṇa 1.2.3.6-9 has an almost identical description and conclusion.
Taittirīya Samhitā 2.3.2.8 says:
… दधि मधु घृतमापो धाना भवन्त्येतद्वै पशूनां रूपं रूपेणैव पशूनवरुन्धे …
“… Curds/yogurt, Honey, Ghee, Waters, Grains – these are verily the forms of the animals. By the forms alone the animals are obtained…”
Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 6.2 provides a different alternative. This section deals with the Pitṛ-yajña:
कल्पः – अत्र राजगवीमुपाकरोति…जरतीं मुख्यां तज्जघन्यां कृष्णां कृष्णाक्षीं कृष्णवालां कृष्णखुरां
“He obtains/prepares the “royal cow” who is old and decrepit, black, with black eyes, black tail and black hooves.”
However, the next paragraph says that the yajamāna has the option of either killing the cow or releasing her:
कल्पः – तां घ्नन्ति उत्सृजन्ति वा“They can either kill her or release her.”
There are very likely many more such teachings of alternatives to animal sacrifice in the vast literature that is the Brāhmaṇas and Āraṇyakas. Suffice it to say from the above evidence that animal sacrifice was not a required or mandatory part of Vedic ritual, and non-violence was already a firmly established teaching in Vedic scriptures.
References:[1] https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/KN/StNp/StNp2_7.html[2] https://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe10/sbe1034.htm[3] “Strategies of Subversion: The Emergence of Vegetarianism in Post-Vedic India” in A Communion of Subjects (194-203) Eds Waldau, P & Patton, K New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.
 

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Vedā: Lineage of Rishis

Lineage of Rishis (Ṛṣi) in the Rig Veda
The Rig Veda is the most ancient sacred literature in the world, and is without a doubt the foundational cornerstone of the architectural wonder that is Hinduism. Anyone with even a faint familiarity with the Rig Veda cannot but be in awe of the majesty of the hymns composed in various exquisite meters. Anyone who has strove deep into the ocean of wisdom that is Rig Veda is sure to have their entire thought process and world-view completely transformed. The richness of imagery and symbolism, the depth of spiritual insight and the brilliance of the ultimate absolute Truth revealed in the mantras, all come together in a package that is truly the heritage of the entire human race, much more so that any other non-material entity available to us today.As I have written elsewhere on the origin of the Veda, its significance, its contents and its intent, I shall not dwell on those matters here. The purpose of the present endeavor is to shed more light on the visionaries who composed the hymns in the Rig Veda. Pious Hindus need not feel offended by the use of the word “composed”, because that is the fact of the matter. The sages were no doubt in the exalted state of samādhi when they experienced seamless oneness with the Universal Spirit. But we would be depriving them of the due credit they deserve, for coming down from the exalted state and putting their experience into words. And what words those are! Not a mere collection of sentences, not incoherent babbling, but beautiful poetry. We Hindus are fortunate to have had such a unique development of this ‘rishi culture’ in India.The study of the lineage of the rishis who are composers of the Rig Veda is fascinating. There are at least 3 generations of rishis by name. However, it is very evident that these rishis knew even older generations of rishis whose hymns are now lost. Even the oldest generation of rishis frequently refer to “ancient ancestors” who were the “pathfinders” (pathikṛt — पथिकृत्).Regardless of the particular ancestry of a rishi, all rishis considered Aṅgirā (अङ्गिरा), Bhṛgu (भृगु), Atharvā (अथर्वा) and Trita Āptya (त्रित आप्त्य) as their common primordial ancestors. Evidence of this comes from the mantras themselves. Only these four rishis are included in the mantras along with the gods. In fact, these four rishis are considered almost gods. However, Aṅgirā (अङ्गिरा) is by far the most important and most revered personality. In many mantras, the reference is to a plural number, i.e. not one Aṅgirā (अङ्गिरा) but several Aṅgirases (अङ्गिरसः). They are most commonly called Navagvas (नवग्वाः) and Daśagvas (दशग्वाः).In any case, the family line of Aṅgirā is the most widespread of all rishi families in the Rig Veda.Below I will list the most prominent generations of rishis with the hymns (sūktams) or mantras attributed to each. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and I will try to make it an exhaustive one, time permitting.As you read through the list, note the beautiful method of Sanskrit names, where the son or daughter is given a surname which is the guṇavṛddhi (गुणवृद्धि) form of the parent’s name.
Aṅgirā (Aṅgiras)[
so called because he is an Aṅgāra, i.e. a burning coal, i.e. a form ofAgni]
  • Bṛhaspati Āṅgirasa (RV 10.71, 72)
    • Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya (RV 6 —almostentire sixth maṇḍala) <<<First of the famous saptarshi>>>
      • Suhotra Bhāradvāja (RV 6.31,32)
      • Śunahotra Bhāradvāja (RV 6.33.34)
      • Nara Bhāradvāja (RV 6.35,36)
      • Garga Bhāradvāja (RV 6.47)
      • Ṛjiśvā Bhāradvāja (RV 6.49–52)
      • Pāyu Bhāradvāja (RV 6.75)
      • Vasu Bhāradvāja (RV 9.80–82)
      • Rātri Bhāradvājῑ (RV 10.127)
      • Śāsa Bhāradvāja (RV 10.152)
      • Śirimbiṭha Bhāradvāja (RV 10.155)
    • Śamyu Bārhaspatya (RV 6.44–46, 48)
    • Tapurmūrdhā Bārhaspatya (RV 10.182)
  • Rahūgaṇa Āṅgirasa (RV 9.37,38)
    • Gotama Rāhūgaṇa (RV 1.74–93; 9.31) <<<Second of the famous saptarshi>>>
      • Vāmadeva Gautama (RV 4 — almost entire fourth maṇḍala)
      • —→ Bṛhaduktha Vāmadevya (RV 10.54–56)
      • —→ Amhomuk Vāmadevya (RV 10.126)
      • Nodhā Gautama (RV 1.58–64; 8.88; 9.93)
      • —→ Ekadyu Naudhasa (RV 8.80)
  • Kaṇva Āṅgirasa or Ghaura (RV 9.94; 1.36–43; 8.1.1–2) [technically, he is Ghaura, i.e. son of Ghora Āṅgirasa, who only has one mantra (3.36.10) in Rig Veda, but he is mentioned in other Vedic texts] [Kaṇva’s descendants cover almost the entire eighth maṇḍala]
    • Medhātithi Kāṇva (RV 1.12–23; 8.1.3–29, 8.2–3, 8.32; 9.2)
    • Devātithi Kāṇva (RV 8.4)
    • Brahmātithi Kāṇva (RV 8.5)
    • Vatsa Kāṇva (RV 8.6,11)
    • Punarvatsa Kāṇva (RV 8.7)
    • Sadhvamsa Kāṇva (RV 8.8)
    • Śaśakarṇa Kāṇva (RV 8.9)
    • Pragātha Kāṇva (RV 8.10, 48, 62–65)
      • Bharga Prāgātha (RV 8.60–61)
      • Kali Prāgātha (RV 8.66)
      • Haryata Prāgātha (RV 8.72)
    • Irimbiṭhi Kāṇva (RV 8.16–18)
    • Sobhari Kāṇva (RV 8.19–22, 103)
      • Kuśika Saubhara (RV 10.127)
    • Medhyātithi Kāṇva (RV 9.41–43; 8.1.3–29, 8.33)
    • Nῑpātithi Kāṇva (RV 8.34)
    • Nābhāka Kāṇva (RV 8.39–42)
    • Praskaṇva Kāṇva (RV 9.95; 1.44–50, 8.49)
    • Parvata Kāṇva (RV 9.104,105; RV 8.12)
    • Nārada Kāṇva (RV 9.104,105; RV 8.13)
    • Triśoka Kāṇva (RV 8.45)
    • Puṣṭigu Kāṇva (RV 8.50)
    • Śruṣṭigu Kāṇva (RV 8.51)
    • Āyu Kāṇva (RV 8.52)
    • Medhya Kāṇva (RV 8.53, 57, 58)
    • Mātariśvā Kāṇva (RV 8.54)
    • Kṛśa Kāṇva (RV 8.55)
    • Pṛṣdhra Kāṇva (RV 8.56)
    • Suparṇa Kāṇva (RV 8.59)
    • Kurusuti Kāṇva (RV 8.76–78)
    • Kusῑdῑ Kāṇva (RV 8.81–83)
  • Ucathya Āṅgirasa (RV 9.50–52)
    • Dīrghatamā Aucathya (RV 1.140–164)
      • Kakṣῑvān Dairghatamasa (RV 1.116–126; 9.74)
      • —→ Sukῑrti Kākṣῑvata (RV 10.131)
      • —→ Śabara Kākṣῑvata (RV 10.169)
      • —→ Ghoṣā Kākṣῑvatῑ (RV 10.39–40)
      • ———→ Ghauṣeya Suhastya (RV 10.41)
  • Ayāsya Āṅgirasa (RV 9.44–46; 10.67–68)
  • Hiraṇyastūpa Āṅgirasa (RV 9.4,69; 1.31–35)
    • Arcan Hairaṇyastūpa (RV 10.149)
  • Nṛmedha Āṅgirasa (RV 9.27,29; 8.89–90, 98–99)
    • Śakapūta Nārmedha (RV 10.132)
  • Priyamedha Āṅgirasa (RV 9.28; 8.68–69)
    • Sindhukṣit Praiyamedha (RV 10.75)
  • Bindu Āṅgirasa (RV 9.30; 8.94)
  • Prabhūvasu Āṅgirasa (RV 5.35–36; 9.35,36)
  • Bṛhanmati Āṅgirasa (RV 9.39,40)
  • Harimanta Āṅgirasa (RV 9.72)
  • Pavitra Āṅgirasa (RV 9.73,83)
  • Savya Āṅgirasa (RV 1.51–57)
  • Kutsa Āṅgirasa (RV 1.94–98, 101–104, 106–115)
    • Sumitra Kautsa (RV 10.105)
  • Śaśvatῑ Āṅgirasῑ (RV 8.1.34)
  • Vyaśva Āṅgirasa (RV 8.26)
    • Viśvamanā Vaiyaśva (RV 8.23–25)
  • Virūpa Āṅgirasa (RV 8.43–44, 75)
    • Aṣṭādamṣṭra Vairūpa (RV 10.111)
    • Nabhaprabhedana Vairūpa (RV 10.112)
    • Śataprabhedana Vairūpa (RV 10.113)
    • Sadhri Vairūpa (RV 10.114)
  • Puruhanmā Āṅgirasa (RV 8.70)
  • Kṛṣṇa Āṅgirasa (RV 8.85, 87; 10.42–44)
    • Kṛṣṇa Kāṛṣṇi (RV 8.86)
  • Purumedha Āṅgirasa (RV 8.89–90)
  • Sukakṣa Āṅgirasa (RV 8.92–93)
  • Tiraścῑ Āṅgirasa (RV 8.95–96)
  • Amahῑyu Āṅgirasa (RV 9.61)
    • Urukṣaya Āmahῑyava (RV 10.118)
  • Śiśu Āṅgirasa (RV 9.112)
  • Saptagu Āṅgirasa (RV 10.47)
  • Mūrdhanvān Āṅgirasa (RV 10.88)
  • Baru Āṅgirasa (RV 10.96)
  • Divya Āṅgirasa (RV 10.107)
  • Bhikṣu Āṅgirasa (RV 10.117)
  • Vihavya Āṅgirasa (RV 10.128)
  • Samvarta Āṅgirasa (RV 10.172)
  • Dhruva Āṅgirasa (RV 10.173)
  • Abhῑvarta Āṅgirasa (RV 10.174)
  • Samvanana Āṅgirasa (RV 10.191)
  • Dharuṇa Āṅgirasa (RV 5.15)
Bhṛgu Vāruṇi [i.e. son of Varuṇa] (he is also considered a form of Agni, his name mimicking the sound of burning fire)
  • Gṛtsamada Bhārgava (RV 2 — almost entire second maṇḍala)
  • Kṛtnu Bhārgava (RV 8.79)
  • Nema Bhārgava (RV 8.100)
  • Jamadagni Bhārgava (RV 8.101; 9.62, 65) <<<Third of the famous saptarshi>>>
    • Rāma Jāmadagnya (RV 10.110)
  • Prayoga Bhārgava (RV 8.102)
  • Kavi Bhārgava (RV 9.47–49, 75–79)
    • Uśanā Kāvya (RV 9.87–89)
  • Vena Bhārgava (RV 9.85; 10.123)
    • Pṛthu Vainya (RV 10.148)
  • Cyavana Bhārgava (RV 10.19)
  • Syūmaraśmi Bhārgava (RV 10.77–78)
  • Iṭa Bhārgava (RV 10.171)
Now, by tracing the names backwards to the ancestor, we find that Sobhari Kāṇva is possibly the father of Kuśika, who is the grandfather of Viśvāmitra. So essentially, even Viśvāmitra belongs to the ancient Āṅgirasa lineage. On the other hand, there is also a Kuśika Aiṣῑrathi mentioned in the third maṇḍala. So it is not fully clear what the complete lineage could be, but given the fact that all of Viśvāmitra’sancestors and descendants are rishis, it is highly unlikely that he was a king (as per popular Hindu mythology). There is no evidence in the Rig Veda to show that he was ever a Kṣatriya. In any case, he is also famous as the starter of a big family tree as well.SobhariKāṇva (RV 8.19–22, 103)Kuśika Saubhara (RV 10.127) or Kuśika Aiṣῑrathi (RV 3.31)
  • Gāthi Kauśika (RV 3.21–22)
    • Viśvāmitra Gāthina (RV 3 — almost entire third maṇḍala) <<<Fourth of the famous saptarshi>>>
      • Ṛṣabha Vaiśvāmitra (RV 3.13–14; 9.71)
      • Kata Vaiśvāmitra (RV 3.17–18)
      • —→ Utkῑla Kātya (RV 3.15–16)
      • Madhucchandas Vaiśvāmitra (RV 1.1–10)
      • —→ Jetā Mādhucchandasa (RV 1.11)
      • —→ Aghamarṣaṇa Mādhucchandasa (RV 10.190)
      • Prajāpati Vaiśvāmitra (RV 3.38, 54–56)
      • Reṇu Vaiśvāmitra (RV 9.70; 10.89)
      • Aṣṭaka Vaiśvāmitra (RV 10.104)
      • Pūraṇa Vaiśvāmitra (RV 10.160)
Agastya Maitrāvaruṇi [son of Mitra and Varuṇa] (RV 1.165–191)
  • Dṛḍhacyuta Āgastya (RV 9.25)
    • Idhmavāha Dārḍhacyuta (RV 9.26)
Vasiṣṭha Maitrāvaruṇi (RV 7 — almost entire seventh maṇḍala) <<<Fifth of the famous saptarshi>>>
  • Indrapramati Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.4–6)
  • Vṛṣagaṇa Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.7–9)
  • Manyu Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.10–12)
  • Upamanyu Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.13–15)
  • Vyāghrapāt Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.16–18)
  • Śakti Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.19–21; 9.108.3,14–16)
    • Parāśara Śāktya (RV 9.97.31–44; 1.65–73)
    • Gaurivῑti Śāktya (RV 5.29; 9.108.1–2; 10.73–74)
  • Karṇaśrut Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.22–24)
  • Mṛḍῑka Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.25–27; 10.150)
  • Vasukra Vāsiṣṭha (RV 9.97.28–30)
  • Citramahā Vāsiṣṭha (RV 10.122)
Kaśyapa Mārῑca [son of Marῑci] <<<Sixth of the famous saptarshi>>>(RV 1.99; 8.29; 9.64; 9.67.4–6; 9.91–92; 9.113–114)
  • Rebha Kāśyapa (RV 8.97; 9.99–100)
  • Asita Kāśyapa (RV 9.5–24)
  • Avatsāra Kāśyapa (RV 5.44; 9.53–60)
  • Nidhruvi Kāśyapa (RV 9.63)
  • Sūnu Kāśyapa (RV 9.99–100)
  • Bhūtāmśa Kāśyapa (RV 10.106)
  • Vivṛhā Kāśyapa (RV 10.163)
Atri Bhauma[son of Bhūmā *] (RV 5.37–43; 5.76–77; 5.83–86) <<<Seventh of the famous saptarshi>>>
  • Budha Ātreya (RV 5.1)
  • Gaviṣṭhira Ātreya (RV 5.1)
  • Kumāra Ātreya (RV 5.2)
  • Vasuśruta Ātreya (RV 5.3–6)
  • Iṣa Ātreya (RV 5.7–8)
  • Gaya Ātreya (RV 5.9–10)
  • Sutambhara Ātreya (RV 5.11–14)
  • Pūru Ātreya (RV 5.16–17)
  • Dvita Mṛktavāhā Ātreya (RV 5.18–19)
  • Sasa Ātreya (RV 5.21)
  • Viśvasāmā Ātreya (RV 5.22)
  • Dyumna Viśvacarṣaṇi Ātreya (RV 5.23)
  • Vasūyava Ātreya (RV 5.25–26)
  • Viśvavārā Ātreyῑ (RV 5.28)
  • Babhru Ātreya (RV 5.30)
  • Avasyu Ātreya (RV 5.31)
  • Gātu Ātreya (RV 5.32)
  • Sadāpṛṇa Ātreya (RV 5.45)
  • Pratikṣatra Ātreya (RV 5.46)
  • Pratiratha Ātreya (RV 5.47)
  • Pratibhānu Ātreya (RV 5.48)
  • Pratiprabha Ātreya (RV 5.49)
  • Svasti Ātreya (RV 5.50–51)
  • Śyāvāśva Ātreya (RV 5.52–61; 5.81–82; 8.35–38)
    • Andhῑgu Śyāvāśvi (RV 9.101.1–3)
  • Śrutavit Ātreya (RV 5.62)
  • Arcanānā Ātreya (RV 5.63–64)
  • Rātahavya Ātreya (RV 5.65–66)
  • Yajata Ātreya (RV 5.67–68)
  • Urucakri Ātreya (RV 5.69–70)
  • Bāhuvṛkta Ātreya (RV 5.71–72)
  • Paura Ātreya (RV 5.73–74)
  • Avasyu Ātreya (RV 5.75)
  • Saptavadhri Ātreya (RV 5.78)
  • Satyaśravā Ātreya (RV 5.79–80)
  • Evayāmarut Ātreya (RV 5.87)
  • Apālā Ātreyῑ (RV 8.91)
* this could just be symbolic, as Bhūmā means ‘infinite existence’
Thus far, we have listed most of the major rishis of the Rig Veda belonging to prominent lineages. Of the four primordial rishis who were mentioned at the beginning (i.e. Aṅgirā, Bhṛgu, Atharvā and Trita Āptya), the above lineages covered the first two.To round this up, I will provide some references to the other two rishis.Trita Āptya — RV 10.1–7; 9.102 [He seems to have had a brother Dvita Āptya who composed 9.103]Atharvā
  • Bṛhaddiva Ātharvaṇa (RV 10.120)
  • Bhiṣak Ātharvaṇa (RV 10.97)
Of course, the Atharva Veda has many more hymns attributed to Atharvā.
 

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Vedā: Concordance Samhitā – Upaniṣads

Concordance of Ṛg Veda Samhitā with Upaniṣads
The following table of concordance is an attempt to build a comparative list of equivalent concepts seen in the Ṛg Veda Samhitā and the Upaniṣads.
It is well-known that Hindu tradition considers the Veda Samhitās and Upaniṣads as forming integral parts of a single canon of orthodox scripture, the Veda. There must have been a really good reason for this. The reason is that the Veda is thoroughly consistent in its subject matter and fundamental metaphysics and philosophy, beginning with the Samhitās all the way through to the Upaniṣads. This internal consistency is acknowledged by traditional scholars and commentators such as Yāskācārya and Sāyaṇācārya. I shall demonstrate this consistency from the viewpoint of the latter’s Vedic commentary in another essay.
The present endeavor seeks to disprove the prevalent view amongst western Indologists, Sanskritists and so-called Vedic scholars, that there is a radical revolution of ideas and philosophies in the Upaniṣads in opposition to the Samhitās. For the better part of the last 200 years, under the influence of the unenlightened, pedestrian and agenda-based views of western Indologists, even those in the Hindu fold who are otherwise staunch traditionalists have ingested and succumbed to this ridiculously wrong assertion.
Even many eminent monks of the Ramakrishna Mission who project an image of being the custodians or representatives of authentic and native understanding of its own traditions, have fallen prey to such foreign and untenable views. You will find in many of the older translations of Upaniṣads published by Ramakrishna Math, in the introduction, such wrong views being propagated. According to such writings, the Upaniṣads supposedly represent a “revolt” against the older Vedic ritualism, led by Kṣatriyas against Brāhmaṇas.
The utter absurdity of the above view is evident from even a cursory look at the texts. If the Upaniṣads were revolts against the ritualistic “orthodoxy”, they wouldn’t even be included in the sacred Vedic canon. This is similar to saying that the Cārvāka writings were included in the Veda, when they indubitably ridiculed, criticized and denigrated the Vedic system in absolute terms. It is also patently untrue that Upaniṣads are a caste-based conflict between Kṣatriyas and Brāhmaṇas. Not only are the Upaniṣads strictly framed within the orthodox institution of yajña, all of the most crucial and important concepts and philosophy are taught by, and occur in discussions between, Brāhmaṇas. The very fact that some Kṣatriya teachers are included in the same texts shows that they are fully in conformance to the orthodoxy.
The Upaniṣads aim to change the perspective of the student from a superficial understanding of Vedic ritual to the deeper realization of the profound metaphysics that is expounded throughout the Vedic canon in different ways and at different levels of subtlety. This fact is also corroborated by the quoting of numerous Samhitā mantra verses verbatim and in toto. The Upaniṣads use the Samhitā mantras as authority to demonstrate that they are saying the same thing that has been said in different words in the mantras. Below, I have also included a table of direct Samhitā mantra quotes in the Upaniṣads. Overall, you will notice that the Samhitā mantras use more poetical, metaphorical, symbolical and esoteric language, while the Upaniṣads use more straightforward language.
Ṛg Veda SamhitāUpaniṣads
RV 3.26.7अग्निरस्मि जन्मना जातवेदाः घृतं मे चक्षुरमृतं म आसन् ।अर्कस्त्रिधातू रजसो विमानो अजस्रो घर्मो हविरस्मि नाम ॥“I am Agni, omniscient by birth, Light is my eye and Immortality is my mouth. I am the three-fold Light that measures the universe. I am both immortal energy and matter.”Bṛ. Up. 1.4.10ब्रह्म वा इदमग्र आसीत्तदात्मानमेवावेदहं ब्रह्मास्मीति । तस्मात्तत्सर्वमभवत् … । तदिदमप्येतर्हि य एवं वेदाहं ब्रह्मास्मीति स सर्वं भवति …।“Brahman was indeed all this in the beginning. It knew only Itself as “I am Brahman”. Hence It became everything… Hence even today, whosoever knows “I am Brahman” becomes everything.”
RV 8.19.25यदग्ने मर्त्यस्त्वं स्यामहं मित्रमहो अमर्त्यः“O Agni! May I, a mortal, become You, Immortal, O Best Friend!”Chān. Up. 6.8.7स आत्मा तत्त्वमसि“He is the Self, and You are That”
RV 10.5.7असच्च सच्च परमे व्योमन्दक्षस्य जन्मन्नदितेरुपस्थे ।अग्निर्ह नः प्रथमजा ऋतस्य पूर्व आयुनि वृषभश्च धेनुः ॥“Both non-existence and existence in the highest realm, Daksha’s birth from Aditi’s womb, Agni is for us the first form of the universe, and in an earlier state, he is both Bull and Cow.” RV 10.129.1नासदासीन्नो सदासीत्तदानीं“There was neither non-existence nor existence in that state” RV 10.129.2न मृत्युरासीदमृतं न तर्हि“There was neither death nor immortality”Tait. Up. 2.6सच्च त्यच्चाभवत् निरुक्तं चानिरुक्तं च निलयनं चानिलयनं च विज्ञानं चाविज्ञानं च सत्यं चानृतं च सत्यमभवत् यदिदं किंच ।“He became both existence and non-existence, both explicit and implicit, both hospitable and inhospitable, both knowledge and ignorance, both real and unreal, he became the Reality of all.” Bṛ. Up. 2.3.1द्वे वाव ब्रह्मणो रूपे मूर्तं चैवामूर्तं च मर्त्यं चामृतं च स्थितं च यच्च सच्च त्यच्च ।“Two indeed are Brahman’s forms – gross and subtle, mortal and immortal, stationary and fluid, existence and non-existence.”
RV 3.55.7अन्वग्रं चरति क्षेति बुध्नः“He moves ahead while staying still as foundation”Īśā. Up. 5तदेजति तन्नैजति“It moves and it moves not”
RV 6.9.5ध्रुवं ज्योतिर्निहितं दृशये कं मनो जविष्ठं पतयत्स्वन्तः ।विश्वे देवाः समनसः सकेता एकं क्रतुमभिवियन्ति साधु ॥“A firm Light is hidden within the senses (or the creatures), for the sake of vision. It is the source of bliss, and it is subtler than the mind. All the deities (or senses) with a single mind and single knowledge move towards the one center of ultimate knowledge.” RV 6.9.4… पश्यतेममिदं ज्योतिरमृतं मर्त्येषु …“… Look at Him! This Immortal Light within the mortals…”Īśā. Up. 6अनेजदेको मनसो जवीयो“The one unmoving, faster (or subtler) than the mind.” Kaṭha Up. 1.2.20आत्माऽस्य जन्तोर्निहितो गुहायां“The Self is hidden within the creature” Tait. Up. 2.1यो वेद निहितं गुहायां परमे व्योमन्“He who knows the (Self) hidden inside the supreme space (or highest realm)” Bṛ. Up. 4.4.16तद्देवा ज्योतिषां ज्योतिरायुर्होपासतेऽमृतम्“The deities worship that Light of Lights, the Life, the Immortal” Kaṭha Up. 2.1.13अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषो ज्योतिरिवाधूमकः“The thumb-sized Person, like a smokeless Light”
RV 6.9.6वि मे कर्णा पतयतो वि चक्षुर्वीदं ज्योतिर्हृदय आहितं यत् ।वि मे मनश्चरति दूरआधीः किं स्विद् वक्ष्यामि किमु नू मनिष्ये ॥“My ears fly forth, my eyes fly forth seeking this Light that is spread wide within the heart. My mind wanders far in search, what shall I speak of, and what shall I think of?”Kena Up. 3न तत्र चक्षुर्गच्छति न वाग्गच्छति नो मनः“The eye does not go there, nor speech nor the mind” Tait. Up. 2.9यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्य मनसा सह“From which speech and mind return back, not having reached” Kaṭha Up. 2.3.12नैव वाचा न मनसा प्राप्तुं शक्यो न चक्षुषा“Neither by speech nor by the mind nor by sight, is he attainable”
RV 6.9.7विश्वे देवा अनमस्यन्भियानास्त्वामग्ने तमसि तस्थिवांसम् ।वैश्वानरोऽवतूतये नोऽमर्त्योऽवतूतये नः ॥“All the deities bowed down in fear of you, O Agni, when you were sitting in the darkness. May the Universal Person protect us, may the Immortal One protect us.”Tait. Up. 2.8भीषास्माद्वातः पवते भीषोदेति सूर्यः भीषास्मादग्निश्चेन्द्रश्च मृत्युर्धावति पंचम इति ।“Out of fear of him, the wind blows, out of fear the sun rises, out of fear Agni and Indra, and Death, the fifth, go about doing their work”
RV 1.164.4अस्थन्वन्तं यदनस्था बिभर्ति“The boneless one (i.e. without physical form) supports the one with bones (i.e. a physical form)Kaṭha Up. 1.2.22अशरीरं शरीरेष्वनवस्थेष्ववस्थितं“The one without a body is present within bodies, the permanent presence within impermanent states”
RV 10.72.2असतः सदजायत“From non-existence was born existence”Tait. Up. 2.7असद्वा इदमग्र आसीत् ततो सदजायत“Non-existence was indeed all this in the beginning, from it existence was born”
Direct quotes:
Ṛg Veda SamhitāUpaniṣads
RV 4.26.1अहं मनुरभवं सूर्यश्चाहं कक्षीवान् ऋषिरस्मि विप्रः।अहं कुत्समार्जुनेयं न्यृञ्जेऽहं कविरुशना पश्यता मा ॥“I was Manu and the Sun. I am the wise Kakṣīvān Ṛṣi. I nurture the white bolt of lightning (or the Ṛṣi Kutsa). I am the ancient Kavi Uśanā. O people, look at me! (i.e. you can also become enlightened like me).”Bṛ. Up. 1.4.10तद्धैतत्पश्यन्नृषिर्वामदेवः प्रतिपेदे अहं मनुरभवं सूर्यश्चेति“Having realized this truth, the Ṛṣi Vāmadeva declared “I was Manu and the Sun” …”
RV 4.27.1गर्भे नु सन्नन्वेषामवेदमहं देवानां जनिमानि विश्वा ।शतं मा पुर आयसीररक्षन्नधः श्येनो जवसा निरदीयम् ॥“While still in the womb, I knew of all the forms of all the deities. A hundred iron forts held me down, but I escaped swiftly like a hawk.”Ait. Up. 2.5तदुक्तमृषिणा गर्भे नु … जवसा निरदीयम् ॥“(this same truth) is said by the Ṛṣi: “While still in the womb … swiftly like a hawk.” …”
RV 1.116.12तद्वां नरा सनये दंस उग्रमाविष्कृणोमि तन्यतुर्न वृष्टिम् ।दध्यङ् ह यन्मध्वाथर्वणो वामश्वस्य शीर्ष्णा प्रयदीमुवाच ॥“That fierce deed of yours (Aśvins) I shall declare, just as a cloud reveals rain. The secret Madhu knowledge that Dadhyaṅ Ātharvaṇa taught you through a horse’s head.” RV 1.117.22आथर्वणायाश्विना दधीचेऽश्व्यं शिरः प्रत्यैरयतम् ।स वां मधु प्रवोचदृतायन् त्वाष्ट्रं यद्दस्रावपिकक्ष्यं वाम् ॥“O Aśvins, you installed a horse’s head on Dadhyaṅ Ātharvaṇa. He then taught you the secret Madhu knowledge of Tvaṣṭā.”Bṛ. Up. 2.5.16इदं वै तन्मधु दध्यङ्ङाथर्वणोऽश्विभ्यामुवाच तदेतदृषिः पश्यन्नवोचत् । तद्वां नरा … प्रयदीमुवाचेति ।“This verily is that secret Madhu knowledge that Dadhyaṅ Ātharvaṇa taught the Aśvins. Having witnessed that, a Ṛṣi declared this mantra: “That fierce deed…” …” Bṛ. Up. 2.5.17इदं वै तन्मधु दध्यङ्ङाथर्वणोऽश्विभ्यामुवाच तदेतदृषिः पश्यन्नवोच । आथर्वणायाश्विना … वामिति ।“This verily is that secret Madhu knowledge that Dadhyaṅ Ātharvaṇa taught the Aśvins. Having witnessed that, a Ṛṣi declared this mantra: “O Aśvins…” …”
RV 8.6.30आदित्प्रत्नस्य रेतसो ज्योतिष्पश्यन्ति वासरम् । परो यदिध्यते दिवा ॥“They see the enveloping Supreme Light of the Ancient Seed everywhere, which shines in heaven.” RV 1.50.10उद्वयं तमसस्परि ज्योतिष्पश्यन्त उत्तरं । देवं देवत्रा सूर्यमगन्म ज्योतिरुत्तमम् ॥“May we overcome the darkness and see the light. May we, the godward, reach the god Sūrya’s supreme light.”Chān. Up. 3.17.6-7तद्धैतद् घोर आङ्गिरसः कृष्णाय देवकीपुत्रायोक्त्वोवाचापिपास एव स बभूव सोऽन्तवेलायामेतत्त्रयं प्रतिपद्येताक्षितमस्यच्युतमसि प्राणसंशितमसीति तत्रैते द्वे ऋचौ भवतः।आदित्प्रत्नस्य रेतस उद्वयं तमसस्परि ज्योतिष्पश्यन्त उत्तरं स्वः पश्यन्त उत्तरं देवं देवत्रा सूर्यमगन्म ज्योतिरुत्तममिति ज्योतिरुत्तममिति।“That verily is what Ghora Āṅgirasa taught Kṛṣṇa Devakīputra, who became free from thirst.At the last moment of life, one should chant these three: “You are endless, you are faultless, you are protected by Prāṇa”. In regards to this, there are two Ṛk mantras RV 8.6.30) (RV 1.50.10)”
RV 1.189.1अग्ने नय सुपथा राये अस्मान् विश्वानि देव वयुनानि विद्वान्। युयोध्यस्मज्जुहुराणमेनो भूयिष्ठां ते नमउक्तिं विधेम ॥“O Agni, lead us on the right path as you O Lord are omniscient. Destroy this stubborn sin from us, we bow to you profusely.”Īśā. Up. 18
RV 1.164.20द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते।तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्यो अभिचाकशीति ॥“Two birds of beautiful feathers, very attached to each other, best friends, sit on the same tree. Of them, one eats a tasty fruit, and the other watches silently without eating.”Muṇḍ. Up. 3.1.1Śvet. Up. 4.6
RV 3.29.2अरण्योर्निहितो जातवेदाः गर्भइव सुधितो गर्भिणीषु।दिवेदिव ईड्यो जागृवद्भिर्हविष्मद्भिर्मनुष्येभिरग्निः ॥“The Omniscient One (Jātavedā) is well-hidden in wood (or bodies) just as an embryo is well-hidden in the womb of the pregnant. Agni is to be worshipped everyday by the awakened (i.e. enlightened), offering human beings.”Kaṭha Up. 2.1.8अरण्योर्निहितो जातवेदाः गर्भइव सुभृतो गर्भिणीषु।दिवेदिव ईड्यो जागृवद्भिर्हविष्मद्भिर्मनुष्येभिरग्निः ॥(Same except सुधितो “hidden” changed to सुभृतो “protected”)
RV 4.40.5हंसः शुचिषद्वसुरन्तरिक्षसद्धोता वेदिषदतिथिर्दुरोणसत्। नृषद्वरसदृतसद्व्योमसदब्जा गोजा ऋतजा अद्रिजा ऋतम् ॥“The Swan is present in water, in the atmosphere, is the main priest, present in the altar, the guest, present in the house, present in humans, in deities, in the dynamism of the universe, in space. He is born from water, from light, from truth, from mountains. He is the truth.”Kaṭha Up. 2.2.2
RV 1.164.12पञ्चपादं पितरं द्वादशाकृतिं दिव अाहुः परे अर्धे पुरीषिणम्। अथेमे अन्य उपरे विचक्षणं सप्तचक्रे षडर आहुरर्पितम् ॥“The Father of five feet and twelve forms is said to be showering down from heaven. Others say of him as having a chariot of seven wheels each of which have six spokes.”Praśna Up. 1.11
RV 5.81.1युञ्जते मन उत युञ्जते धियो विप्रा विप्रस्य बृहतो विपश्चितः।वि होत्रा दधे वयुनाविदेक इन्मही देवस्य सवितुः परिष्टुतिः॥“The wise humans join their mind and intellect with the Great Wise Omniscient. He, the omniscient, alone knows the activities of all. This is the great praise of the god Savitā.Śvet. Up. 2.4
RV 10.81.3विश्वतश्चक्षुरुत विश्वतो मुखो विश्वतो बाहुरुत विश्वतस्पात्।सं बाहुभ्यां धमति सं पतत्रैः द्यावाभूमी जनयन्देव एकः ॥“His eyes are everywhere, his face (or mouth) is everywhere, his arms are everywhere, his feet are everywhere. With his arms and wings he blows (like melting a metal) and manufactures the earth and heaven.”Śvet. Up. 3.3
RV 10.90.1सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात्।स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वात्यतिष्ठद्दशाङ्गुलम् ॥“The Universal Person has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He envelops the earth all around but stays above it by a measure of ten fingers (or cubits).”Śvet. Up. 3.14
RV 10.90.2पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम्।उतामृतत्वस्येशानः यदन्नेनाति रोहति ॥“The Universal Person is indeed all this, whatever was, and whatever will be. He is the Lord of Immortality, and he grows by food (or matter).”Śvet. Up. 3.15
RV 1.164.39ऋचो अक्षरे परमे व्योमन्यस्मिन्देवा अधि विश्वे निषेदुः।यस्तन्न वेद किमृचा करिष्यति य इत्तद्विदुस्त इमे समासते ॥“The Ṛk mantras are present in the imperishable highest realm in which all the deities reside. One who does not know this, what use are the mantras to him. Those who know that, they imbibe the (meaning of the) mantras.”Śvet. Up. 4.8

Vedā: Svarās – Udātta, Anudātta, Svarita


The Svarās – Udātta, Anudātta, Svarita

What are the rules to be followed when the words are being joined into a verse or I want to split a verse into words?

Before moving to the answer, we must understand that people who lived through the Vedic Sanskrit have already redacted to us the split of verses into words through the śākhās in the form of padapāṭha. We do not need to think of mending those, as we are not in any advantageous position in understanding the Vedic Sanskrit without their effort. So far, the Vedic accentuations have been verified by parallel accents in Greek or other cognates on the same syllables of same meaning, thereby Vedic Sanskrit the best preserving of Indo European tonal accents and the most reliable. Vedic Sanskrit has been instrumental in reconstructing the accents of PIE words.
What we need to know is how accents are affected when two or more words join together, which we do in the form of vikṛti pāṭha exercises like ghanapāṭha or jaṭāpāṭha. The accentuation is a very vast subject, but I will just let you know the most important rules that will enable you to satisfactorily create each of the pāṭhas from the basic padapāṭha form which is traditionally inherited.
About accents in Vedic language
The basic and unchangeable accent is called udātta, which is the principal linguistic accent marker that is unique to each word carrying a particular meaning. Vedic Sanskrit has a pitch-based accent for each word. It is the property of a particular word. (Now just imagine how we have preserved the accent of each and every word with our oral tradition and you will realize the hard work and perfection of the tradition) For example, it is agní (udātta accent on the syllable ni) while it is hótā, with accent on the syllable ho. Henceforth, we will use the accent marker like this to denote udātta. You can understand the other accents based on udātta’s position.
How an accent is realized and chanted depends on individual traditions, it matters less – what matters is the preservation of accent and syllable. If you follow Taittirīya śākhā in Tamil Nadu/Andhra or Śākala śākhā in Karnataka/Tamil Nadu/Andhra of realization of this accent, the udātta syllable is pronounced with the middle and normal pitch. Henceforth, I am speaking from this perspective when I speak of higher pitch or lower pitch, as these śākhās use a relatively simpler and easier system of realization and chanting of accents, and I am knowledgeable of these traditions myself.
As a thumb rule, every udātta syllable has to be preceded by the svara anudātta. An anudātta is marked in the above mentioned system by a low pitch. So, agní becomes practically marked as अ॒ग्नि, the “underline” we mark in this convention for anudātta and a “lower pitch” than what udātta, the normal pitch is pronounced. Since we pronounce the udātta in normal pitch, we don’t usually mark it in devanāgarī or other Indic texts (though udātta is what we should keep in mind while we speak of svara sandhi). This also means that every anudātta is usually followed by udātta. When you see a text or hear the verse “अ॒ग्निमी॑ळे पु॒रोहि॑तं “, you should be suddenly able to locate the udāttas as अ॒ग्निमी॑ळे पु॒रोहि॑तं. (As anudātta or the lower pitch is the marker of the succeeding udātta syllable)
I hope you are clear till this.
Now, there is the third accent, which is called “svarita”, which we realize as “high pitch” or is marked in this kind of writing with a vertical line. (these conventions in writing can change, the accented syllable is what matters) As you might rightly spot, a svarita should have an udātta before it. However, the application of this law is secondary to the first rule. Thus, for example, say the words ágne, yám and yajñá combine together to get ágne yám yajñá. How will you translate this to our three accented chanting? First follow the golden rule of anudātta. Mark every anudātta before the udāttas. And only then mark svaritas after the udātta. So, you will get :- अग्ने॒ यं य॒ज्ञ. We see that there is no need for svarita in this case, as there is no syllable after jña. And there can be no svarita when there is precedence for anudātta, we don’t put svarita at ya of yajña, but put anudātta because jña is udātta. For the sake of interest, you might note that in nominative case agniḥ, udātta is in ni, while in vocative case agne, udātta is in the syllable a(g). You don’t have to bother about this, since this is already redacted to us in padapāṭha.
Now, the problem occurs. After we intonate these accents, we find that there are unmarked syllables which are actually not udātta but which are pronounced in normal pitch in many śākhās, since they are perfectly unaccented syllables. These are said to be of “pracaya” accent.
How do we distinguish between pracaya and udātta in saṃhitāpāṭha? It is easy – the normal pitch (or unmarked syllable) which is preceded by anudātta or succeeded by svarita is udātta, while that which is not so (mostly preceded by a svarita instead of anudātta) will be pracaya.
In padapāṭha, there is no pracaya shown if the word is totally unaccented, also we intonate syllables with anudātta till we see an udātta syllable.
To sum it up, let us consider a real example from Rigveda 1.1.1. Following is the padapāṭha of the words.
agním ǀ īḷe ǀ puráḥ-hitam ǀ yajñásya ǀ devám ǀ ṛtvíjam ǀ
hótāram ǀ ratna-dhā́tamam ǁ
In our three (four) accent system, we will realize this in chanting as :-
अ॒ग्निम् । ई॒ळे॒ । पु॒रः – हि॑तम् । य॒ज्ञस्य॑ । दे॒वम् । ऋ॒त्विज॑म् ।
होता॑रम् । र॒त्न॒ – धात॑मम् ॥
I hope this much is clear.
Now, convert this to saṃhitāpāṭha (alert – you need to be thorough with Sanskrit sandhi of syllables while you combine words). If you find it confusing to begin with three accent system, try it with just udāttas first :-
agnímīḷe puróhitaṃ yajñásya devámṛtvíjam |
hótāram ratnadhā́tamam ||
Now, apply the anudāttas before udāttas. I am going to represent the anudātta syllables in italic. (Note that | indicates a stop, and therefore first half is treated separate from second)
agnimīḷe purohitaṃ yajñasya devamṛtvijam |
hotāram ratnadhātamam.
Now, apply svaritas. We are going to use bold italic to indicate svaritas :-
agnimīḷe purohitaṃ yajñasya devamṛtvijam.
hotāram ratnadhātamam.
Or in Devanāgarī,
अ॒ग्निमी॑ळे पु॒रोहि॑तं य॒ज्ञस्य॑ दे॒वमृ॒त्विजं॑ ।
होता॑रं रत्न॒धात॑मं ॥
Note that while I just illustrated this through scripts for the ease of making the idea clear, in practice this has to spontaneously come from your head while you recite verses. This is achievable by mindful practice. The udātta’s position in a word has to stay in your head and with that you can create any kind of pāṭha if you know Sanskrit sandhis.
A thing to note is that there are a few special accents which are basically modifications of the basic accents. One such is the dīrgha svarita, when long vowel or end nasal stop (ṃ) carries the svarita. It is dependent on individual śākhās on how and what they accentuate as dīrgha svarita. Such accents are helpful to memorize chants and preserve words correctly as they are based on certain sandhis. There is also the accent on pluta (the long vowel) in Rigveda that is particularly unique, and can be gleaned from the tradition.
Also, there are a few noted cases in some words containing clustered syllables which are actually linguistically realized as of more syllables, and thus behave accentually like that. However, I don’t want to confuse you now with them, they rarely enter and you can already understand them from saṃhitāpāṭha and padapāṭha.
I hope I am clear.
pronunciation of तन्वे?
In Rigvedic Sanskrit, tanve is actually realized as three-syllabled word tanuve, usually with ta as anudātta and ve as udātta. The “nu” syllable acts as an almost silent syllable.
The thing you asked is of an advanced level. All svaritas are not dependent on the succeeding or preceding syllable. There are certain svaritas as I indicated in my answer, which are permanent and follow certain exceptional rules. The rules of these are mentioned and regulated in Prātiśākhyas which teach the phonetic aspect of Vedic Sanskrit of a śākhā. Usually, around six kinds of svarita (abhinihita, jātya, kṣaipra etc.) are recognized. The tanve in the verse you quoted, uttānayoś camvoḥ in 1.164, tanvāḥ śumbhamāne in 2.39 etc. are such instances in Rigveda where this particular kind of svarita manifests, which is due to ending “u” of the basic words tanu and camu, ending in svarita which supposedly holds its svarita without any threat from the power of udātta that follows it; this creates a scenario as you hear in the oral tradition of a svarita merged with an anudātta so as to account for the succeeding udātta. This is called kṣaipra svarita.
Is there any way/rule to know which syllable has Udatta or is it random? And what is with all the hand movements when chanting?


Is there any way/rule to know which syllable has Udatta or is it random?
It is a property of the word, and not assigned by us. Vedic Sanskrit is a pitch accented language – when we say that, we mean the presence of accent udātta is the property of a particular word. It is a fundamental accent and not assigned by us. The other accents are based on where udātta comes.
Different recensions have different ways to realize and express the accents through chants. I am well knowledgeable only of certain traditions. There are many other traditions in India, and all of them operate on their own principles of understanding the accents. Though the expression of accents might differ from recension to recension, the accents themselves never change, and that is the greatest proof of the infallibility of oral tradition.
What is the reason behind pronouncing Y like J, Sh like Kh, and anusvara like Gm in Yajurveda? (Aug 8th, 2020)

This is a recension-specific thing, detailed in Prātiśākhyas and also the books related to śikṣā.
Pronouncing y like j or ṣ like kh is primarily something that has survived from late Vedic times, as we cannot doubt the recensions have been changed since the time of compilation. So, the recensions reflect the pronunciations of the verses at the time of compilation. Considering that at the time of final compilation and redaction, many of the “Prakritisms” were common and that Vedic Sanskrit had many dialects over a huge area, the recensions reflect the dialect of Vedic Sanskrit spoken by the people of that branch.
The dialectal quality also affects secondary accents like the occurrence of dīrghasvarita and sandhi of anusvāra for example. The pronunciation of anusvāra is a thing unique to many recensions. Almost all Yajurvedic recensions pronounce the anusvāra before an “s”, “ś”, “ṣ”, “h”, “r” or before vowels as a separate syllable “(g)m”, many recensions pronounce the anusvāra before “y”,”v” as a half-nasal.
In Taittirīya Yajurveda recension prevalent in South India, the following rules are followed in pronunciation of anusvāras:-
> The anusvāra is realized as “ṃ” and pronounced as the nasal cognate of the succeeding letter or “m” – This is for cases like:-
amṛtaṃ martyam (pronounced as amṛtam martyam)
agniṃ dūtam (pronounced as agnindūtam or as agnim-dūtam in some recensions)
However, this is not always the case for pronunciation of anusvāra.
> The anusvāra is pronounced as a half-nasal in its conjunction with succeeding syllables like y, v, l. This has been considered to be optional by grammarians, and therefore all recensions don’t necessarily subscribe to this.
Cases would be like ima(ṁ)llokam for imaṃ lokam, śa(ṅ)yyoḥ for saṃyoḥ etc.
> Anusvāra becomes pronounced as (g)ṃ and treated as a separate syllable in accentuation, when followed by r, vowels or fricatives s, ś, ṣ, h.
Examples – a(g)ṃśuś ca me instead of aṃśuś ca me, a(g)ṃhasaḥ instead of aṃhasaḥ, martyā(g)ṃ ā viveśa (martyāṁ ā viveśa), devī(g)ṃ śaraṇam, pratyuṣṭa(g)ṃ rakṣaḥ etc.
> The nasal part of anusvāra gets completely lost and is replaced with a syllable (g) when followed by a cluster headed by any of the earlier mentioned letters that produce gṃ and preceded by a long vowel.
For example, chandāṃsyāpaḥ would be chandā(g)syāpaḥ, jyotīṃṣyāpaḥ would be jyotī(g)ṣyāpaḥ
> The nasal part of anusvāra gets completely lost but gets replaced by syllable cluster (gg) when followed by a cluster that produce gṃ but preceded by a short vowel.
For example, kṛṇvaṃstvā becomes kṛṇva(gg)stvā.
 

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Vedā: Sāyaṇācārya

Sāyaṇācārya: His life and work
Sāyaṇācārya
is a unique personality in India’s history, and as equally unique as his older brother Mādhavācārya, who was better known as Svāmī Vidyāraṇya of the famous Śṛṅgerī Maṭha. These brothers, who lived in the 14th century CE, together can very aptly be called India’s Yuga Puruṣas (millenial men) of the last 1000 years – such is the significance and force of their life’s work.
The all-roundedness of their multifaceted contribution to India’s cultural, religious, social, political, geographical and civilizational continuity is unmatched in the entire history of India considering the extremely adverse and hostile situation of their era.
If we were to look back at India’s long and ancient history, we would find probably one or two other such gigantic personalities who can lay claim to the title of Yuga Puruṣa. One is Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva from the 2nd millenium BCE, and the other is Kauṭilya Cāṇakyafrom the 1st millenium BCE. Both these men are well-known for their multifaceted contribution to India’s civilization. However, I dare say that the difficulties and adversities faced by these two men are trivial in comparison to those faced by Sāyaṇaand Vidyāraṇya.
From ancient times down to the 1st millenium CE, India was at the peak of its civilizational glory. Its borders were secure, its economy prosperous, its culture vibrant and flourishing, its philosophical and spiritual traditions shining like a beacon of enlightenment for the whole world. Its ancient universities were thronged by foreign students from far and wide, just as students today throng to the American universities.
The obstacles that Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva overcame in his time were largely internal and benign to India’s civilization. The obstacles that Kauṭilya Cāṇakya overcame in his time were foreign, but they were so minor in comparison to the strength and solidarity still pervasive in the civilization of the time.
The obstacles that Sāyaṇaand Vidyāraṇya faced in their time were foreign and brutal, of monstrous and barbaric proportions never before seen in India’s long civilization. These obstacles were of the character of ferocious and unrelenting attack by the armies of Muslim invaders who were having a field day, easily destroying Hindu kingdoms and decimating India’s glorious civilization.
At such a weakened, chaotic and calamitous time, Sāyaṇaand Vidyāraṇya were pivotal in organizing and guiding a powerful resistance to the advance of Islam in southern India. The final form of this resistance is very well-known as the Vijayanagara empire, which flourished under the dharmarājya of kings Harihara and Bukkarāya at its inception, and then later by their equally capable brothers Kampaṇa, Muddappa and Mārappa, as well as the second generation king Kumāra Kampaṇa who freed the Tamil country from brutal Muslim rule (the contemporaneous account of the liberation of Madurai is the Sanskrit work Madhurāvijayam written by his queen Gaṅgādevī). I shall not dwell too much into the glories of the Vijayanagara empire, as it has already been admirably and famously described by foreign travelers of the era and by later historians and history buffs. In summary, the Vijayanagara empire brought back the ancient glory of Indian Hindu civilization and preserved Hinduism in south India in a time of ferocious and predatory Islamic invasions in the rest of India.
One important point to note is that the founding kings of Vijayanagara, Harihara and Bukkarāya, whom Svāmī Vidyāraṇya consulted with and chose to lead the new kingdom, were neither Brahmins nor Kshatriyas. They were from the caste of Kannada Vokkaligas, traditionally Kurubas, or shepherds. This is very significant for the present-day social justice warriors to remember when they incessantly and ignorantly rant about the oppression of the caste system. To Sāyaṇaand Vidyāraṇya, who were Brahmins by birth, no other two people were more capable than Harihara and Bukkarāya to lead this new Hindu kingdom. This also has exact parallels with Kauṭilya Cāṇakya choosing the “low caste” Candragupta Maurya to be the king. So much for caste discrimination!
The achievements of the Vijayanagara empire are unmatched by any other medieval kingdom, be it the Maratha empire or the Sikh empire. The reason is that in the 14th century, the Hindu kingdoms were still shell-shocked by the brutality and ferocity of the Muslim invasions, and were utterly scattered and clueless as to how to re-organize themselves and stay alive, much less put up a fight. One after another, the Hindu kingdoms were falling like flies in the face of the Muslim invasions. At such a time, the Vijayanagara empire is truly a visionary and courageous idea that was never tried before in India’s history. The crux of this idea was to unite all the fallen and weak kingdoms under the umbrella of the Vijayanagara rule so that a single combined effort would potentially be able to resist the invasions and sustain Hindu civilization. The founding team of the Vijayanagara empire were the first to recognize the threat of Islamic imperialism to Hindu civilization and respond in a systematic, strategic and intelligent manner. So the founders of the Vijayanagara empire were true pioneers of their time.
It is highly regrettable that today’s Indian leaders have forgotten the lessons from Vijayanagara, just as the kings of early centuries CE forgot the lessons from Kauṭilya Cāṇakya. It is also regrettable that the leaders of India’s freedom movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries did not have the same wholistic integral Vedic vision of Sāyaṇaand Vidyāraṇya.
After 350 years of glorious rule, when the Vijayanagara empire also collapsed due to several reasons, in the 17th century, its political, administrative and military organization was an inspiration for the great Shivaji in his establishment of the Maratha empire.
Thus was the inimitable and unreplicable contribution of Sāyaṇaand Vidyāraṇya to the resurgence and revival of India’s native civilization through pioneering work in the arena of politics, administration and statesmanship.
Even more remarkable is the fact that after devoting their most energetic and youthful decades to the materialistic well-being of Hindu civilization, the two brothers went on to make seminal contributions to the spiritual well-being of Hindu civilization —
Svāmī Vidyāraṇya became the pontiff of the Śṛṅgerī Maṭha that was established by the Ādi Śaṅkarācārya in the 7th century CE. Under his leadership, the monastery started keeping accurate historical records that have been indispensable for understanding the history of not only the monastery but also the social and political climate through the centuries. Further, he authored several highly regarded and authoritative works on Advaita philosophy. The most famous work, the Pañcadaśī, is a very unique treatise that explains Advaita through the medium of worldly areas of interest such as painting, music, dance and drama. This is, again in his own style, inimitable because the typical saṃnyāsī is advised or is under the impression that monkhood means the complete renunciation of, and aversion to, worldly matters. Whereas the true saṃnyāsī is enlightened to see the whole world through Advaita.
Sāyaṇācārya contributed in another crucial area of spirituality and religion, the Vedas. We shall take a deeper look into this in Part 2.
Part 2 — The unfair criticism of his Vedic commentaries
Part 1 talked about the incredible contributions of the great Sāyaṇācārya in the realm of worldly affairs. Here we shall look at his contribution to religion and spirituality.
His greatest contribution to Hinduism is the publishing of the complete commentaries on all extant Vedic scriptures. One can grasp the immensity and scope of this undertaking only if one has knowledge of the vastness of the ocean that is the Vedic corpus.
The modern printed books of the entire Vedic corpus probably run into several tens of thousands of pages of fine print. Now add to this enormity the fact that all this literature was orally transmitted even in the time of Sāyaṇācārya, the 14th century CE. Even if we concede the fact that there were written manuscripts of all these texts, it is not an easy task by the longest stretch of imagination to organize, edit and publish authentic commentaries on every single text.
In fact, that is precisely what Sāyaṇācārya accomplished. We know from other writings that he had assembled under his editorship a team of the best Vedic scholars of his day. This is another example of the pioneering work done in the Vijayanagara empire. Never before in the history of India, had any scholars undertaken such a systematic project of such huge scale. Never before had there been such a collaboration among scholars towards a common goal. We do not know the names of the scholars who contributed, but such is the selflessness, magnanimity and commitment to a higher cause that is seen in this project.
Sāyaṇācārya’s Vedic commentaries became the standard across all of India for centuries to come. Even the early European Indologists who came to India interested in studying Vedas (either genuinely or with an agenda) had to rely on Sāyaṇācārya’s commentaries. It is a different matter that later European “scholars” abandoned Sāyaṇācārya and went off interpreting the Vedas based on their own sinister agendas. In any case, there is no other traditional, complete and authentic commentary on the Vedas today. It is no exaggeration to say that the Vedic texts have survived through the centuries to come down to us only because of Sāyaṇācārya’s massive project.
Keeping all the above in mind, we should look at some criticisms of the interpretation of Sāyaṇa by some recent thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The foremost of these thinkers is Aurobindo.
There is no doubt that Aurobindo was a great thinker and activist who was influential in the arenas of social, political and cultural problems faced by India under British rule. There is much more that I agree with Aurobindo on, than disagree. However, I disagree with his interpretation of the Vedas. He has clearly departed from tradition in his unique and strange ideas such as ‘Super Mind’ and his very unnatural and ill-suited insertion of modern “new age” psychological symbolism in the Vedic deities. He says that Agni represents the “will” and so on. We find no support for such interpretations in tradition.
Furthermore, he accuses Sāyaṇācārya of ignoring, or even obfuscating, the spiritual interpretation and focusing entirely on the ritualistic interpretation of the Vedas, and especially of the Rig Veda. Several other such thinkers of modern India reject Sāyaṇācārya along the same lines. I come across many modern Hindus who would rather trust and believe Aurobindo over Sāyaṇācārya or other traditional scholars.
To all this, my reply is that present-day Hindus, or even Hindus of the 19th century (which include Aurobindo) are much further away from authentic Vedic tradition and understanding than Hindus of the 14th century. That was a time when Hinduism was still standing on its own feet, unsullied by foreign interventions into the Hindu mind. Obviously, the further back we go in history, the closer we get to authentic understanding and practice of Vedic traditions. Even in the 14th century, the system of traditional Vedic education was unbroken and very much alive. In comparison, in the 19th century that system had already suffered severely due to British intervention.
When we further ascertain the fact that resurgence thinkers such as Aurobindo, Gandhi, Tilak, Swami Vivekananda and others had had a strictly British education and no traditional Vedic education, it becomes harder and harder to trust these thinkers when it comes to authentic understanding of the deepest topics of Vedic knowledge. Sure, they were better-informed about Hindu philosophy, especially Vedanta, than the average Hindu. However, “popular” Vedanta is still far away from “technical” Vedanta that is taught traditionally in a Vedic school.
We must further endeavor to understand what the Vedas meant to Hindus prior to the modern period. The Vedas were considered the fount of all knowledge, and they were the basis of Dharma. As the Manu Smṛti says, “वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलम् — vedo’khilo dharmamūlam“. Dharma was much more comprehensive than the modern understanding of “spirituality”. Dharma defined society, it defined codes of conduct, it defined culture and civilization. The performance of the sacred ritual of yajña was an integral part of observance of Dharma and spiritual advancement. The ritual of yajña had a highly symbolic and spiritual original meaning which is evident in the study of the Brāhmaṇa texts of the Vedas.
The Vedas embody a wholistic and integral view and observance of life, where there is no demarcation between mundane and what modern Hindus understand by “spirituality”. Every aspect of life is important and has its place and significance in the spiritual advancement of an individual. Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why tradition does not fall into the narrow and shallow pit of lop-sided “spirituality” in complete rejection of, or apathy towards, this wholistic integral vision of life.
The inherent pitfall of “spiritualizing” everything is that it is very easy to insert and force a “spiritual” symbolism into anything. Our speech is full of suggestive and interpretive nuances that can all be forced into “spiritual” meanings. However, spirituality does not exist in a vacuum. It needs the structure of society, culture, religion and rituals. Spirituality comes to life only within rituals. When enacting the physical aspects of a ritual, if one is cognizant of the inner meaning of the ritual, or the connecting link between the human world and the rest of the universe, that is the means of internalizing the equivalence or identity between our individual existence and the universal existence. In other words, “spirituality” is “sublimated ritual”.
This above point is completely missed in the writings of Aurobindo or other such thinkers.
In this matter, I would trust the philosopher and art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy over others. He stays true to traditional interpretation while interlinking the various mantras brilliantly to bring out deep insights into Vedic metaphysics.
The wholistic integral vision of the Vedas is kept alive in tradition, to which Sāyaṇācārya belongs. His Vedic commentaries are appropriate to the context of each mantra. As Yāskācārya the traditional author of the Niruktam says, “एवमुच्चावचैरभिप्रायै ऋषीणां मन्त्रदृष्टयो भवन्ति — evam uccāvacair abhiprāyaihṛṣīṇāṃ mantradṛṣṭayo bhavanti“. The vision of the rishis is inspired by various aspects of the universe. Hence, every mantra is unique in its context and intent.
To twist the evident meaning of the mantra in order to force a “spiritual” or psychological or some other interpretation into it, is tantamount to insulting the rishi who envisioned the mantra. It is as good as saying that we know better than the rishi himself what his own intent was.
There is no doubt that the Vedic mantras have a lot of intricate and esoteric symbolism. However, tradition that has been passed down through the millenia from the time of the rishis themselves, knows best the symbolism hidden in mantras. Tradition knows best whether a mantra’s meaning is simple and straightforward or whether the rishi intended it to be a symbolism to express a deeper truth. Just because a mantra’s meaning turns out to be simple, does not mean that the mantra has no significance. There is a reason why the mantra is in the Veda.
To conclude, let me provide a solid example of a mantra where Sāyaṇācārya himself does not hold back from giving a fully “spiritual” interpretation. It is as though all of Vedanta is encapsulated in this one mantra. This is proof to show that Sāyaṇācārya was fully aware of the spiritual symbolism in the Vedic mantras, and he was not an ignorant “ritualist”.
Rig Veda 3.26.7:
अग्निरस्मि जन्मना जातवेदा घृतं मे चक्षुरमृतं म आसन् ।
अर्कस्त्रिधातू रजसो विमानो अजस्रो घर्मो हविरस्मि नाम ॥
agnirasmi janmanā jātavedā ghṛtaṃ me cakṣuramṛtaṃ ma āsan
arkastridhātū rajaso vimāno ajasro gharmo havirasmi nāma

Every mantra is traditionally assigned a rishi, a deity and a meter. This mantra’s rishi is Brahman! The mantra’s deity is Agni Parabrahman!
Here’s is Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary:
साक्षात्कृतपरतत्त्वरूपः अग्निद्व्ृचेन स्वात्मनः सर्वात्मकत्वानुभवमाविष्करोति । हे कुशिकाः । भोक्तृभोग्यभावेन द्विविधं हीदं सर्वं जगत् । “एतावद्वा इदमन्नं चैवान्नादश्च सोमो एवान्नमग्निरन्नादः” (बृ उ १.४.६) इति श्रुतेः । तत्र सकलभोक्तृवर्गरूपेणान्नादोऽग्निः । स च अग्निवाय्वादित्यभेदेन त्रेधा भूत्वा पृथिव्यन्तरिक्षद्युलोकानधितिष्ठति । तदुक्तं वाजसनेयके — “स त्रेधात्मानं व्यभजत । आदित्यं तृतीयं वायुं तृतीयम्” (बृ उ १.२.३) इति । तत्र सः अग्निः जन्मना एव जातवेदाः अस्मि । श्रवणमननादिसाधननिरपेक्षेण स्वभावत एव साक्षात्कृतपरतत्त्वस्वरूपोऽस्मि । घृतं मे चक्षुः । यदेतत् विश्वस्य विभासकं मम स्वभावभूतप्रकाशात्मकं चक्षुस्तद्घृतम् । इदानीमत्यन्तं दीप्तम् । यदेतत् अमृतं कर्मफलं दिव्यादिव्यविविधविषयोपभोगात्मकं तत् मे मम आसन् आस्ये वर्तते । सकलभोक्तृवर्गात्मना स्वयमेवावस्थानात् । एवं स्वात्मनः पृथिव्यधिष्ठातृरूपतामभिधाय वाय्वात्मनान्तरिक्षाधिष्ठातृतामाह । अर्कः जगत्स्रष्टा प्राणः । “सोऽर्चन्नचरत्तस्यार्चत आपोऽजायन्तार्चते वै मे कमभूदिति तदेवार्कस्यार्कत्वम्” (श ब्रा १०.६.५) इति श्रुतेः ।स प्राणोऽहं त्रिधातुः । त्रेधात्मानं विभज्य तत्र वाय्वात्मना रजसः अन्तरिक्षस्य विमानः विमाता अधिष्ठाता अस्मि । तथादित्यरूपेण द्युलोकाधिष्ठातृतामाह । अजस्रो घर्मः इति । अजस्रोऽनुपक्षीणो घर्मः प्रकाशात्मा द्युलोकाधिष्ठाता आदित्योऽहमस्मि । एवं भोक्तृरूपमात्मनोऽनुसंधाय भोग्यरूपतामप्यनुसंधत्ते । यत् हविः भोग्यं प्रसिद्धमस्ति तदप्यहमेव अस्मि । किंच जन्मना उत्पत्त्या जातवेदा जातप्रज्ञोऽस्मि । उत्पत्तिक्षणे एव सर्वज्ञोऽहमस्मि । अथवा जातं सर्वं स्वात्मरूपतया वेत्तीति जातवेदाः । सर्वात्मक इत्यर्थः । तदनेनाग्नेः सर्वात्मकत्वप्रतिपादनेन परब्रह्मत्वमुक्तं भवति ।
sākṣātkṛtaparatattvarūpaḥ agnidvṛcena svātmanaḥ sarvātmakatvānubhavamāviṣkaroti । he kuśikāḥ । bhoktṛbhogyabhāvena dvividhaṃ hīdaṃ sarvaṃ jagat । “etāvadvā idamannaṃ caivānnādaśca somo evānnamagnirannādaḥ” (bṛ u 1.4.6) iti śruteḥ । tatra sakalabhoktṛvargarūpeṇānnādo’gniḥ । sa ca agnivāyvādityabhedena tredhā bhūtvā pṛthivyantarikṣadyulokānadhitiṣṭhati । taduktaṃ vājasaneyake — “sa tredhātmānaṃ vyabhajata । ādityaṃ tṛtīyaṃ vāyuṃ tṛtīyam” (bṛ u 1.2.3) iti । tatra saḥ agniḥ janmanā eva jātavedāḥ asmi । śravaṇamananādisādhananirapekṣeṇa svabhāvata eva sākṣātkṛtaparatattvasvarūpo’smi । ghṛtaṃ me cakṣuḥ । yadetat viśvasya vibhāsakaṃ mama svabhāvabhūtaprakāśātmakaṃ cakṣustadghṛtam । idānīmatyantaṃ dīptam । yadetat amṛtaṃ karmaphalaṃ divyādivyavividhaviṣayopabhogātmakaṃ tat me mama āsan āsye vartate । sakalabhoktṛvargātmanā svayamevāvasthānāt । evaṃ svātmanaḥ pṛthīvyadhiṣṭhātṛrūpatāmabhidhāya vāyvātmanāntarikṣādhiṣṭhātṛtāmāha । arkaḥ jagatsraṣṭā prāṇaḥ । “so’rcannacarattasyārcata āpo’jāyantārcate vai me kamabhūditi tadevārkasyārkatvam” (śa brā 10.6.5) iti śruteḥ ।sa prāṇo’haṃ tridhātuḥ । tredhātmānaṃ vibhajya tatra vāyvātmanā rajasaḥ antarikṣasya vimānaḥ vimātā adhiṣṭhātā asmi । tathādityarūpeṇa dyulokādhiṣṭhātṛtāmāha । ajasro gharmaḥ iti । ajasro’nupakṣīṇo gharmaḥ prakāśātmā dyulokādhiṣṭhātā ādityo’hamasmi । evaṃ bhoktṛrūpamātmano’nusaṃdhāya bhogyarūpatāmapyanusaṃdhatte । yat haviḥ bhogyaṃ prasiddhamasti tadapyahameva asmi । kiṃca janmanā utpattyā jātavedā jātaprajño’smi । utpattikṣaṇe eva sarvajño’hamasmi । athavā jātaṃ sarvaṃ svātmarūpatayā vettīti jātavedāḥ । sarvātmaka ityarthaḥ । tadanenāgneḥ sarvātmakatvapratipādanena parabrahmatvamuktaṃ bhavati ।

Having directly experienced the Ultimate Reality, the rishi declares through the medium of Agni that he is identical to the universal reality. This entire existence is of the two-fold nature of “consumer” and “consumed”. As the Veda itself says (Br. Up. 1.4.6): “Only this much is all this– food and eater. Soma is verily the food and Agni is the eater”. There Agni is the form of the category of all consumers. He pervades the Earth, Atmosphere and Heaven in the form of Agni, Vāyu and Āditya. As the Vedic text (Br. Up. 1.2.3) says: “He divided himself three ways, one third as Āditya and one third as Vāyu.” Now I am this Agni “Jātavedā” because by my own nature I have realized the Ultimate Reality without having to resort to methods such as study, meditation and others. “Ghṛtaṃ” is my eye — this my self-illuminating light that shines on this universe, that is my eye. “Amṛtaṃ” is my mouth — the result of deeds in the form of all kinds of intake (i.e. consumption through senses or mind or other ways) goes into my mouth. This is because I take the form of every consumer and enjoyer. Having thus expounded his nature as the foundation of the Earth, he now declares his nature as the foundation of the Atmosphere in the form of Vāyu. I am “Arka“, the creator of the universe, Prāṇa. Then he declares his nature as the foundation of Heaven in the form of Āditya. I am “ajasro gharmaḥ” — inexhaustible heat (sun) as Āditya. Having thus described his Self as the “consumer”, he now declares his form as the “consumed”. I am “Havis“, the form of food. Now what is the meaning of “Jātavedā“? Omniscient by birth. Or else, he knows every existing thing as his own Self. In other words, the Universal Self. Thus by declaring Agni as the Universal Self, the state of Parabrahma is declared.
In the second article above, I believe I have given a good response, in defence of Sāyaṇācārya, to the point of view prevalent in many circles of modernist scholars that Sāyaṇācārya’s commentaries on the Vedas are strictly from the ritualistic perspective in complete suppression of the spiritual content. In the same article, I have quoted the full commentary of Sāyaṇācārya on a particular mantra of Ṛṣi Viśvāmitra, which is a completely spiritual interpretation.
There are dozens of examples where the commentary of Sāyaṇācārya does full justice to the spiritual expression of the mantras, as also seen in the above article on Bharadvāja’s enlightenment.
However, we must endeavor to understand what the Vedas meant to Hindus prior to the modern period. The Vedas were considered the fount of all knowledge, and they were the basis of Dharma. As the Manu Smṛti says, “वेदोऽखिलो धर्ममूलम्vedo’khilo dharmamūlam”. Dharma was much more comprehensive than the modern understanding of “spirituality”. Dharma defined society, it defined codes of conduct, it defined culture and civilization. The performance of the sacred ritual of yajña was an integral part of observance of Dharma and spiritual advancement. The ritual of yajña had a highly symbolic and spiritual original meaning which is evident in the study of the Brāhmaṇa texts of the Vedas.
The Vedas embody a wholistic and integral view and observance of life, where there is no demarcation between mundane and what modern Hindus understand by “spirituality”. Every aspect of life is important and has its place and significance in the spiritual advancement of an individual. Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear why tradition does not fall into the narrow and shallow pit of lop-sided “spirituality” in complete rejection of, or apathy towards, this wholistic integral vision of life.
The inherent pitfall of “spiritualizing” everything is that it is very easy to insert and force a “spiritual” symbolism into anything. Our speech is full of suggestive and interpretive nuances that can all be forced into “spiritual” meanings. However, spirituality does not exist in a vacuum. It needs the structure of society, culture, religion and rituals. Spirituality comes to life only within rituals. When enacting the physical aspects of a ritual, if one is cognizant of the inner meaning of the ritual, or the connecting link between the human world and the rest of the universe, that is the means of internalizing the equivalence or identity between our individual existence and the universal existence. In other words, “spirituality” is “sublimated ritual”.
The wholistic integral vision of the Vedas is kept alive in tradition, to which Sāyaṇācārya belongs. His Vedic commentaries are appropriate to the context of each mantra. As Yāskācārya the traditional author of the Niruktam says, “एवमुच्चावचैरभिप्रायैः ऋषीणां मन्त्रदृष्टयो भवन्ति — evam uccāvacair abhiprāyaih ṛṣīṇāṃ mantradṛṣṭayo bhavanti”. The vision of the rishis is inspired by various aspects of the universe. Hence, every mantra is unique in its context and intent.
With the above vision in mind, tradition has assigned different contexts to different parts of the Veda, varying according to the viniyoga (application) of each part. As such, the Veda Samhitās and Brāhmaṇas are employed predominantly during the yajñas and other rituals, while the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads are employed predominantly as pedagogical texts to elaborate the internal philosophy of the rituals. Even here, there is significant overlap and crisscrossing of subject matter, as is evidenced in the above-mentioned articles.
Fortunately for us, there is Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad, also known as Yājñikī Upaniṣad which is the tenth chapter of the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka. This Upaniṣad consists of numerous entire sections that are verbatim quotes of mantras from the Ṛgveda Samhitā. This clearly shows that the ancient Ṛṣis who composed the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka knew the deep spiritual metaphysics hidden within the Samhitā mantras, so much so that they felt that these mantras can speak directly about the philosophy that Upaniṣads are meant to convey.
This makes me feel completely validated and justified in sincerely understanding the deep and intimate concordance between the Ṛgveda Samhitā and the Upaniṣads. It proves to me incontrovertibly that my understanding of Vedas is completely in agreement with the long and ancient tradition. I have demonstrated the concordance in this article:
Furthermore, this deep intimate concordance is also demonstrated by the context-based commentary of Sāyaṇācārya. What I mean by “context-based” is that his commentary differs in focus depending on the part of the Veda where a mantra occurs. In particular, a mantra occurring in the Samhitā is given a more ritual-oriented explanation, while the same mantra occurring in the Āraṇyaka is given a more philosophical explanation. Again, this has been made possible by the existence of the tenth chapter of the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka, i.e. Yājñikī Upaniṣad, which quotes big chunks of Samhitā mantras in their original form.
 

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Vedā: Cow Significance

The Cow Hymn in the Rig Veda (Gomātha)
The cow is known universally as an animal that is preeminently held sacred and holy by Hindus since time immemorial. She is used as a metaphysical symbol of nature’s bountiful and selfless generosity. She symbolizes the Divine Mother who loves her children (real and adoptive human) unconditionally. She is by her own nature very gentle, docile, harmless and warmly affectionate. Only people who have actually reared cattle, lived in close proximity with them and observed their character minutely would appreciate the magnanimity and beautiful and intelligent nature of cows.
The Vedas, which are the most ancient and most sacred scriptures of Hinduism, are filled with deep multiple levels of metaphysical and spiritual symbolism of the cow and the bull. The cow figures innumerable times in the Vedas as a symbol of deep revelation of spiritual knowledge. The Sanskrit name gauḥ (गौः) is a synonym for the Earth, sacred revealed Speech (vāk वाक्), mystical Light and the flow of deep insight. The Nighaṇṭu, the ancient Vedic thesaurus, lists among the words for the cow, jagatī (जगती) and śakvarī (शक्वरी), which are Vedic poetic meters (chandas छन्दः), and Aditi (अदिति) and Iḷā (इळा), which are names of female deities. It is noteworthy that Aditi is the mother of the gods and the mother of the universe in Vedic metaphysics, and Iḷā is the ancestor and progenitor of the Vedic people. Such is the reverence and affection for the cow.
The Ṛgveda, the oldest Veda and the cornerstone of the foundation of the edifice of Hindu civilization, dating back to at least 3500 BCE (and very probably much earlier), features a recurring creation myth in which Indra kills the mythical dragon Vṛtra who has all the waters and riches trapped. Once he is killed, Indra discovers the cows and releases them, thereby creating the universe. Here, the cows are the symbol of primeval life and knowledge. Indra is the original Govinda who finds the cows (gā avindat; RV 1.101.5; 1.103.5; 5.29.3; etc.), and he has a special bond with cows, very much paralleling the later legends of the cowherd Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva in Vṛndāvana.
In spite of such extensive evidence for the deep reverence for the cow in the Vedas, western Indology academics (not “scholars”, which has a much more esteemed meaning) and their Indian cohorts of the left-leaning variety, as usual unscrupulously brush aside such inconvenient evidence in order to further their own erroneous and devious theories about crude, brutish and primitive slaughter and sacrifice of cows and beef-eating in Vedic times. There is a huge inconsistency in their approach. On the one hand, distinct from Hindu tradition, they espouse an internal chronology for the development of the Vedic corpus, saying that Samhitās were composed first, followed much later by Brāhmaṇa and Āraṇyaka texts. On the other hand, they also espouse a theory of gradual development from primitive pastoral society of cow sacrifice and beef-eating to a mature agricultural society where animal sacrifice is gradually abandoned. The inconsistency here is shown by the fact that the supposedly oldest Vedic texts, the Samhitās, have absolutely no evidence of any animal or cow sacrifice or beef-eating, while the same is found in supposedly later Brāhmaṇa or Śrauta prayoga texts.
The metrics of consistency, academic rigor, and integrity demand that the western Indology academics recognize the fact that in the oldest Vedic text, the Ṛgveda Samhitā, there is absolutely no evidence for animal sacrifice and beef-eating. On the contrary, the text shows the utmost reverence for the cow, and the existence of simple rituals with preponderance of deeper metaphysical or spiritual significance. The fact that the Vedic religious system was not monolithic but was instead a complex criss-crossing of multiple beliefs and customs, is seen in the later gradual development of complex rituals and introduction of animal sacrifice. This later period is represented by the Brāhmaṇa and Śrauta Sūtra texts.
This view also agrees with traditional doctrine that in the golden first epoch (Kṛta Yuga), there was no animal sacrifice and no yajñas, and people were spiritually advanced, while there was a proliferation of rituals and yajñas in the second epoch (Tretā Yuga) as seen from Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.1 (tretāyāṃ bahudhā santatāni).
To recapitulate, all evidence from the oldest and most important Vedic text shows the practice of simple rituals, a complete absence of cow/animal sacrifice, and utmost reverence, sanctity and spiritual symbolism of the cow. Later Vedic texts show a gradual development of complex rituals, reduced and simplified spiritual symbolism, and introduction of the non-Vedic new practice of animal sacrifice.
In demonstration of the above evidence, I shall present below the Cow Hymn (RV 6.28) of Ṛṣi Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya, one of the most ancient Vedic seers. The sixth maṇḍala, which contain his hymns, is universally accepted as the oldest part of the extant Ṛgveda Samhitā. In case the reader had the impression so far that cows were only symbolic in the Ṛgveda, the cows in this hymn are very real, and share a deep bond with Indra.
Sāyaṇa’s commentary is straightforward and reflects the mantras almost identically. The only noteworthy point is that in verses 3 and 4 he interprets the verbs of present tense (laṭ lakāra लट् लकारः) as the benedictive (āśīrliṅ आशीर्लिङ्) and imperative (loṭ lakāra लोट् लकारः) moods. I shall mention the specifics under each verse.
RV 6.28.1:
आ गावो अग्मन्नुत भद्रमक्रन्त्सीदन्तु गोष्ठे रणयन्त्वस्मे ।
प्रजावतीः पुरुरूपा इह स्युरिन्द्राय पूर्वीरुषसो दुहानाः ॥ १
ā gāvo agmannuta bhadramakrantsīdantu goṣṭhe raṇayantvasme ।
prajāvatīḥ pururūpā iha syurindrāya pūrvīruṣaso duhānāḥ ॥

“May the Cows come to us, may they bring welfare, may they sit in our home, may they be satisfied with us. May they be plentiful in calves, in different forms, and in large numbers, may they be available for milking at Dawn for Indra.”
Here the rishi is hoping that the cows will be satisfied and happy with him and his family. The cows are treated as exalted deities whose pleasure is an important goal for the rishi.
RV 6.28.2:
इन्द्रो यज्वने पृणते च शिक्षत्युपेद्ददाति न स्वं मुषायति ।
भूयोभूयो रयिमिदस्य वर्धयन्नभिन्ने खिल्ये नि दधाति देवयुम् ॥ २
indro yajvane pṛṇate ca śikṣatyupeddadāti na svaṃ muṣāyati ।
bhūyobhūyo rayimidasya vardhayannabhinne khilye ni dadhāti devayum ॥

“Indra generously gives to the worshiper who pleases him with beautiful hymns. He never takes away wealth from him. Again and again, Indra makes his wealth grow, and places the worshiper who desires Indra in a secure place safe from enemies.”
RV 6.28.3:
न ता नशन्ति न दभाति तस्करो नासामामित्रो व्यथिरा दधर्षति ।
देवाँश्च याभिर्यजते ददाति च ज्योगित्ताभिः सचते गोपतिः सह ॥ ३
na tā naśanti na dabhāti taskaro nāsāmāmitro vyathirā dadharṣati ।
devām̐śca yābhiryajate dadāti ca jyogittābhiḥ sacate gopatiḥ saha ॥

“Our Cows are never lost, they are never harmed by thieves. The weapons of enemies never violate or injure them. These Cows, by means of whom their owner worships the Devas and gives, he enjoys their company for a long time.”
Here, the indication is that the cows are not only sacred but also domestic pets with whom their owner enjoys an intimate friendship and bond, and hopes to have their companionship for a long time.
Sāyaṇa’s commentary: naśanti नशन्ति (present tense) = naśyantu नश्यन्तु (imperative); dabhāti दभाति (present tense) = hiṃsyāt हिंस्यात् (benedictive); ā dadharṣati आदधर्षति (present tense) = ā krāmatu आक्रामतु (imperative); sacate सचते (present tense) = saṃgacchatām संगच्छताम् (imperative).
So Sāyaṇa’s interpretation would be: “May our Cows never be lost, may they never be harmed by thieves. May weapons of enemies never violate or injure them. These Cows, by means of whom their owner worships the Devas and gives, may he enjoy their company for a long time.” This does make better sense in some ways, but fundamentally it’s the same.
RV 6.28.4:
न ता अर्वा रेणुककाटो अश्नुते न संस्कृतत्रमुप यन्ति ता अभि ।
उरुगायमभयं तस्य ता अनु गावो मर्तस्य वि चरन्ति यज्वनः ॥ ४
na tā arvā reṇukakāṭo aśnute na saṃskṛtatramupa yanti tā abhi ।
urugāyamabhayaṃ tasya tā anu gāvo martasya vi caranti yajvanaḥ ॥

“The war-horse never catches them, they never go to the place of slaughter or sacrifice. The Cows always roam without fear on the wide-spreading land of the mortal worshiper.”
This verse is very important for its direct and unambiguous statement that cows are never slaughtered in any way (i.e. either for food or for ritual sacrifice). The word “saṃskṛtatram” is the generic word for a setup used for cutting up the body of an animal.
Sāyaṇa’s commentary: aśnute अश्नुते (present tense) = prāpnuyāt प्राप्नुयात् (benedictive); yanti यन्ति (present tense) = gacchantu गच्छन्तु (imperative).
saṃskṛtatram संस्कृतत्रम् = viśasanādisaṃskāraṃ विशसनादिसंस्कारं (preparation of meat by slaughter, cutting, etc.).
So Sāyaṇa’s interpretation would be: “May the war-horse never catch them, may they never go to the place of slaughter or sacrifice. May the Cows always roam without fear on the wide-spreading land of the mortal worshiper.” This interpretation as a benediction by the rishi, complements the main literal meaning of the verse.
The original words state the fact of absence of cow slaughter/sacrifice, while the interpretation expresses prayer, concern and hope for the protection and safety of the cow.
What we can glean from this verse is that at least during the Vedic time period and culture of rishi Bharadvāja (most ancient period), cows were not slaughtered by the Vedic people. This practice may have been carried out by non-Vedic contemporaries of the Vedic people, who abhorred it because it conflicted with their own reverence and affection for the cow. This contempt and abhorrence for animal sacrifice may have expressed itself in the rishi’s benediction of protection (as per Sāyaṇa) for cows from the ill fate of slaughter.
RV 6.28.5:
गावो भगो गाव इन्द्रो मे अच्छान् गावः सोमस्य प्रथमस्य भक्षः ।
इमा या गावः स जनास इन्द्र इच्छामीद्धृदा मनसा चिदिन्द्रम् ॥ ५
gāvo bhago gāva indro me acchān gāvaḥ somasya prathamasya bhakṣaḥ ।
imā yā gāvaḥ sa janāsa indra icchāmīddhṛdā manasā cidindram ॥

“Cows are my prosperity, may Indra grant me cows. They provide the offering (in the form of clarified butter) for the freshly squeezed Soma. O people! these Cows are verily Indra. I desire Indra with deep and sincere meditation.”
Sāyaṇa’s commentary: imā yā gāvaḥ sa janāsa indrah इमा या गावः स जनास इन्द्रः = evaṃbhūtāḥ yā gāvaḥ santi tā eva gāvaḥ indraḥ bhavanti एवंभूताः या गावः सन्ति ता एव गावः इन्द्रः भवन्ति
So this verse makes it unambiguously clear that cows were truly and sincerely considered Indra himself. Thus the sanctity and sacredness of the cow in Vedic religion and culture is firmly established.
RV 6.28.6:
यूयं गावो मेदयथा कृशं चिदश्रीरं चित्कृणुथा सुप्रतीकम् ।
भद्रं गृहं कृणुथ भद्रवाचो बृहद्वो वय उच्यते सभासु ॥ ६
yūyaṃ gāvo medayathā kṛśaṃ cidaśrīraṃ citkṛṇuthā supratīkam ।
bhadraṃ gṛhaṃ kṛṇutha bhadravāco bṛhadvo vaya ucyate sabhāsu ॥

“O Cows! you make an emaciated person fat, you make an ugly person beautiful. O Cows, you with auspicious voices, you make our homes auspicious. Your mighty power and strength is praised in the sacred assemblies.”
RV 6.28.7:
प्रजावतीः सूयवसं रिशन्तीः शुद्धा अपः सुप्रपाणे पिबन्तीः ।
मा वः स्तेन ईशत माघशंसः परि वो हेती रुद्रस्य वृज्याः ॥ ७
prajāvatīḥ sūyavasaṃ riśantīḥ śuddhā apaḥ suprapāṇe pibantīḥ ।
mā vaḥ stena īśata māghaśaṃsaḥ pari vo hetī rudrasya vṛjyāḥ ॥

“May you have many offspring, may you graze on delicious grass, may you drink pure water from safe and easily accessible water places. May neither thieves nor predatory animals get control over you. May you be spared from Rudra’s weapons.”
RV 6.28.8:
उपेदमुपपर्चनमासु गोषूप पृच्यताम् । उप ऋषभस्य रेतस्युपेन्द्र तव वीर्ये ॥ ८
upedamupaparcanamāsu goṣūpa pṛcyatām । upa ṛṣabhasya retasyupendra tava vīrye ॥
“Let this mixture (or blend) be imbibed into the Cows, into the Bull’s seed, and into your might, O Indra!”
This verse is not fully clear, even by Sāyaṇa’s commentary. My guess is that the cows and bulls are fed a medicinal nutritious supplement. Even to this day, traditional Indian farmers regularly feed a highly nutritious blend to their cattle. Sāyaṇa says that through the use of milk and milk derivatives as havis offering in the yajña, Indra also ultimately receives and imbibes this “mixture or blend”.
Author: Ram Abloh
June 29, 2020
Full profile of this Author can be viewed at : https://www.quora.com/profile/Ram-Abloh?ch=10&share=8afff2bd&srid=12MJJ
Evolution of Human Consciousness and relation with COW
Evolution happened in two strides, one as a continuation of sentient species (animal to offspring, plant to seed). Second, evolution also happened on a different dimension, it’s called consciousness, and human beings triumphed to become the dominant species in that regard. Maybe on a parallel creation reptiles would have triumphed.
Since a multitude of species emerged they all have equal rights to prolong their existence and continue their species. Since there is only one planet for all of them, the only choice is “CO-EXIST”. So, plants didn’t just create a seed, they created a fruit and made it sweet so that animals eat it and dispose of it with its excrete to create nutrition for the seed. Coexistence is the key for this planet to survive.
Good but all the above doesn’t explain COW? Our scriptures talk about the evolution of the cow. You don’t find wild cows, you only find wild buffalos and wild horses. Cows were genetically groomed by humans so that we can rely on them and they rely on us (but you can discard the genetically grooming nonsense for this conversation). That is why cows are well treated and taken care of, like giving them a bath, proper nutritious food, safety from predatory animals. More than all this cow become a family member and TREMENDOUS love was given to them. You will not believe the among of love. The cowshed is considered more auspicious to live and stay in than royal homes. The cow became the second mother to human beings due to its symbiotic relationship with humans. Why? because during the second dimension of human evolution (consciousness) only a cow created the means for human beings from becoming wild hunters. Without cows, human beings have to resort to hunting. Cows created an ecosystem allowing humans to achieve pastoring. Other civilizations are clear examples of how hunting was a daily livelihood. Only in the land of Hind, cows created means where day-to-day hunting was only limited to savage and forest dwellers. Hence milk become the YEAR-ROUND PROTINE AND PROBIOTIC along with Ghee which became the OJAS center for human conscious evolution. That is why this culture is the only spiritual culture that survived whereas all (Egypt to Mesopotamia to greek to pagan …. all vanished during the exploits of barbaric invasions who relied on meat as their primary source).
A Calf is never ever to be deprived of its mother’s milk in this culture. Only after a certain age (like us) does the calf move into the grass and other vegetables then a separation takes place, There are so many stories revolving around cow and calf. They are treated like GODS.
 

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Vedā: Vyaṣṭi – Samaṣṭi

Vyaṣṭi and Samaṣṭi in Vedic philosophy
The concepts of Vyaṣṭi (व्यष्टि) and Samaṣṭi (समष्टि) are quite apt in describing the outlook and perspective of someone who has truly imbibed and internalized Vedic philosophy.
Vyaṣṭi denotes the individuality and separateness of things, and Samaṣṭi denotes the integral wholeness. There are other similar pairs of words to denote this pair of opposites — such as, vyāsa (to analyze or expand or differentiate) and samāsa (to contract or merge or integrate).
In the Vedas, the ṛṣis do not miss even the tiniest aspect of the universe in their universal rapturous vision of the complex and intricate interconnectedness of everything. The poetic genius of the ṛṣis is exalted by their deep enlightenment of the ultimate reality in its manifestation as the universe, even as it remains itself.
Vedic philosophy is unique in the world for its concepts of vyaṣṭi and samaṣṭi. Enlightenment or realization of the ultimate reality cannot happen without witnessing both vyaṣṭi and samaṣṭi together. The superficial separateness of things should lead to a recognition of the deeper connection, and the deep oneness of everything should be seen in expressions of diversity and variety in the universe.
This dynamism is at the heart of the nature of reality called Brahman. If this give-and-take dynamism between separateness and unity was not true, then we would not exist as individuals and yet be capable of recognizing the unity underlying diverse things. It is our own innermost nature that gives evidence.
This is abundantly evident in the Vedas. For example, the one and same Agni is said to be Indra, Mitra, Varuna, and all other gods:
  • Vasuśruta Ᾱtreya, RV 5.3.1
त्वमग्ने वरुणो जायसे यत्त्वं मित्रो भवसि यत्समिद्धः ।
त्वे विश्वे सहसस्पुत्र देवास्त्वमिन्द्रो दाशुषे मर्त्याय ॥
tvamagne varuṇo jāyase yattvaṁ mitro bhavasi yatsamiddhaḥ |
tve viśve sahasasputra devāstvamindro dāśuṣe martyāya ||

“You, Agni, are Varuṇa when born, and you are Mitra when kindled. O Son of Strength, in you are all the gods, and you are Indra to the mortal worshiper.”
In this verse, it is clear that Agni is identified with all the other gods, and in fact is said to envelop all gods. The verses following this one elaborate on Agni’s identity with other named gods. A similar theme is found in Gṛtsamada Bhārgava’s hymn RV 2.1 where Agni is literally identified with nearly all the named gods of the Vedic pantheon. [1][2][3]
Another example is the famous refrain in RV 3.55: “mahad devānām asuratvam ekam”— “Great is the single asura-ness of the gods”. [4]
And yet, all the gods also have their individuality. They are all also worshiped individually with their own characteristic features and feats (līlā).
This is the exemplar of the dynamism of vyaṣṭi and samaṣṭi.
Even in the Upaniṣads, the state of Brahman is described as a negation of all worldly pairs of opposites (samaṣṭi), and at the same time, as the source of all those opposites (vyaṣṭi).
For example, Chāndogya Upaniṣad 3.14.2,4:
“सत्यसङ्कल्प सर्वकर्मा सर्वकामः सर्वगन्धः सर्वरसः सर्वमिदमभ्यात्तः” — “satyasaṅkalpa sarvakarmā sarvakāmaḥ sarvagandhaḥ sarvarasaḥ sarvamidamabhyāttaḥ
“That Brahman is one whose every imagination becomes reality, who performs all actions, who smells everything, tastes everything, and envelops everything.”
And also, Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.1.20:
“स यथोर्णनाभिस्तन्तुनोच्चरेद्यथाग्नेः क्षुद्राः विस्फुलिङ्गाः व्युच्चरन्त्येवमेवास्मादात्मनः सर्वे प्राणाः सर्वे लोकाः सर्वे देवाः सर्वाणि भूतानि व्युच्चरन्ति” — “sa yathorṇanābhistantunoccaredyathāgneḥ kṣudrāḥ visphuliṅgāḥ vyuccarantyevamevāsmādātmanaḥ sarve prāṇāḥ sarve lokāḥ sarve devāḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni vyuccaranti
“Just as a spider creates its own web and moves around in it, just as small sparks fly out from a big fire, exactly the same way from this Ātman all energies, all worlds, all gods and all things have emerged.”
So the above examples demonstrate the vyaṣṭi aspect.
At the same time, Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.8.8:
“अस्थूलमनण्वह्रस्वमदीर्घमलोहितमस्नेहमच्छायमतमोऽवाय्वनाकाशमसङ्गमरसमगन्धमचक्षुष्कमश्रोत्रमवागमनोऽतेजस्कमप्राणममुखममात्रमनन्तरमबाह्यं न तदश्नाति किंचन न तदश्नाति कश्चन” — “asthūlamanaṇvahrasvamadīrghamalohitamasnehamacchāyamatamo’vāyvanākāśamasaṅgamarasamagandhamacakṣuṣkamaśrotramavāgamano’tejaskamaprāṇamamukhamamātramanantaramabāhyaṃ na tadaśnāti kiṃcana na tadaśnāti kaścana
“It is not gross, not subtle, not short, not long, not red, not wet, not shadowy, not dark, not windy, not spacious, not connected to anything, does not taste anything, smell anything, see anything, hear anything, say anything, think anything. It is not bright, not breathing, has no mouth, has no measure, has no interior or exterior. It does not eat anything, nor does anything eat it.”
And also, Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 7:
“नान्तःप्रज्ञं न बहिष्प्रज्ञं नोभयतःप्रज्ञं न प्रज्ञं नाप्रज्ञं अदृष्टमव्यवहार्यमग्राह्यमलक्षणमचिन्त्यमव्यपदेश्यम्” — “nāntaḥprajñaṃ na bahiṣprajñaṃ nobhayataḥprajñaṃ na prajñaṃ nāprajñaṃ adṛṣṭamavyavahāryamagrāhyamalakṣaṇamacintyamavyapadeśyam
“It is neither internal consciousness nor external consciousness, nor both. It is not conscious nor unconscious. It is unseen, non-transactionable, ungraspable, without definition, unthinkable, without representation.”
The above examples demonstrate the samaṣṭi aspect.
Admittedly, the Upaniṣads contain more teachings on samaṣṭi, as seen in the various meditation aids such as madhuvidyā (Bṛ Up) and pañcāgni vidyā (Ch Up). This is because Upaniṣads are specifically meant to be pedagogical texts for the spiritual aspirant (sādhaka), whereas the Samhitā mantras are the expressions of deep vision of the ṛṣis who arethe spiritually accomplished (siddha). The siddha has seen both the samaṣṭi and vyaṣṭi aspects of reality, and sings ecstatically about both of those aspects. The sādhaka must focus on moving from the vyaṣṭi of the everyday world to the samaṣṭi.
Obviously from the above discussion, we see that the vyaṣṭi-samaṣṭi pair has meaning only in a realm of existence which exhibits aspects of both. If the frame of reference is always purely one of them and never the other, then from that frame there can be no realization of either of them. This is a paradox that has also seen a lot of thought in Hindu tradition—
For example, even in the Ṛgveda, RV 10.129.7:
“यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा न वेद” — “yo asyādhyakṣaḥ parame vyomantso aṅga veda yadi vā na veda
“The one who is the supreme, in the highest realm, he alone knows, or maybe he does not know.”
This mantra is wrongly interpreted as expressing agnostic or atheistic views. All it is saying is that the state of Brahman is the state of pure samaṣṭi, where there is nothing other than Brahman for it to know. So Brahman knows only itself, or it is as good as saying it knows nothing.
Another example is from classical Advaita teachings, where the significance of a human birth is emphasized repeatedly. It is only humans who are fortunate enough to experience the vyaṣṭi-samaṣṭi pair through the three states of consciousness (waking-dreaming-deep sleep). The realization of Ātman through the analysis of the three states (avasthā-traya-nyāya) is an important part of Advaita pedagogy. Here, the teaching is that the gods are so unfortunate because they do not experience the dreaming and deep sleep states, and hence they cannot attain the same realization of Ātman as human beings, and must take birth as human beings to attain mokṣa. Of course, this is a paradox of post-Vedic theology where the Devas are a separate class of beings subordinate to Brahman. Whereas in reality, the Devas are already part of the frame of existence of pure samaṣṭi of Brahman, which is why they do not have dreams or sleep.
References:
[1] Essential Nature of Agni in the Rig Veda
[2] Agni — Part 2: Supreme ingularity, reconciliation of opposites
[3] Agni — Part 3: Divine Darkness, or Light withing the Darkness, or Divine Death, or Death before Life
[4] Asura in the Rig Veda
 

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Vedā: Ṛṣi Bharadvāja

Ṛṣi Bharadvāja’s enlightenment in the Ṛgveda
The Ṛgveda Samhitā is the fount of all religious, spiritual and philosophical systems that originated in India. It contains the seeds of all subsequent developments. And yet, it is misunderstood even by people who claim to be Vedic scholars or experts in Hinduism.
I have seen two categories of views on the Veda Samhitās. The first view is that of western Indologists and academics who, since the time of Max Muller, see the mantras as nothing but primitive and childish prayers to gods asking for material benefits, without any higher spiritual content. This category sees a gradual “development” or “progress” in maturity from the Samhitās to the Upaniṣads, which are the sole containers of philosophy, metaphysics and higher subtle thought. In fact, this category is of the opinion that the Upaniṣads represent a revolt against the prevalent Vedic religion represented by the so-called ritualistic Samhitās and Brāhmaṇas and the institution of yajña. Many, and probably the vast majority of, modern-day thinkers, scholars and laypeople are of the same view.
The second view is that of some Indian scholars such as Aurobindo, Dayanand Sarasvati, and their followers and admirers. According to this category, the Samhitās contain knowledge encrypted in symbols that has been ignored by tradition. And this category goes to extreme lengths trying to attribute strange new-age psychological interpretations to the deities. In effect, this category tries to force-fit their ideas into the Samhitā texts, and the result is a strange, highly concocted, artificial and unusable meaning of the mantras. According to this category, the Samhitās alone contain the original, uncorrupted philosophy of the Vedas, and the Upaniṣads are deviations and corruptions.
I find that both the above categories are equally incorrect, simplistic and inadequate explanations of the complex Vedic corpus. Even a cursory glance at the Samhitās, Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads shows the common thread running through all of them. That is why tradition has grouped these together under the term Veda. The above two categories of incorrect views result from the arrogance and presumption that they themselves have better knowledge of the Vedas than the tradition of thousands of years, whose adherents solely dedicated their entire lives to the study and analysis of the Vedas. I shall write a future article on the concordance between the Samhitās and Upaniṣads.
I had previously shown the deep spiritual and metaphysical meanings of Agni in the Ṛgveda (here, here and here). I had also shown (here) that the traditional commentary of Sāyaṇācārya recognizes appropriately the spiritual symbolism present in the mantras.
Here, I shall provide another example of the spiritual knowledge present in the Ṛgveda Samhitā, and its recognition in the traditional commentary of Sāyaṇācārya.
The present sūktam is Ṛgveda 6.9, whose ṛṣi is Bharadvāja Bārhaspatya and devatā is Agni Vaiśvānara.
To me, this hymn is quintessentially Vedāntic in its vocabulary and expression. It is surprisingly “modern” in its candid expression of the internal process of self-realization, and yet, it is undoubtedly one of the most ancient Vedic hymns, as also its author is a very ancient seer in the Vedic lineage. This again proves to me that the entire Vedic corpus contains the same metaphysics throughout. I shall present Sāyaṇa’s commentary where the mantra appears to be cryptic or where it has multiple meanings, and hence his commentary shows the traditional understanding of the spiritual meaning of the mantra.
अहश्च कृष्णमहरर्जुनं च वि वर्तेते रजसी वेद्याभिः ।
वैश्वानरो जायमानो न राजावातिरज्ज्योतिषाग्निस्तमांसि ॥१॥
ahaśca kṛṣṇamahararjunaṃ ca vi vartete rajasī vedyābhiḥ |
vaiśvānaro jāyamāno na rājāvātirajjyotiṣāgnistamāṃsi ||

“The dark day (i.e. night) and the bright day (i.e. day) which enliven all creatures keep turning around by means of well-known signs. Vaiśvānara, being born like a king, dispells darkness with his light.”
Sāyaṇa: “… रजसी स्वस्वभासा सर्वं जगद्रञ्जयन्तौ …. यद्वा रजसी द्यावापृथिव्यौ । … एतच्च वैश्वानराग्नेराज्ञया … । ” — “rajasī means the pair which illuminate or enliven everything by their brilliance. The other meaning of rajasī is the earth and heaven. … All this comes from the will of Agni Vaiśvānara.”
नाहं तन्तुं न विजानाम्योतुं न यं वयन्ति समरेऽतमानाः ।
कस्य स्वित्पुत्र इह वक्त्वानि परो वदात्यवरेण पित्रा ॥२॥
nāhaṃ tantuṃ na vijānāmyotuṃ na yaṃ vayanti samare’tamānāḥ |
kasya svitputra iha vaktvāni paro vadātyavareṇa pitrā ||

“I do not know the warp (tantu) nor do I know the woof (otu) nor that which they weave in the gathering. Whose son shall here talk about the subject, through his father who was recent?”
Sāyaṇa: “वैश्वानरस्य महत्त्वमाख्यास्यन्नृषिस्तदर्थं यज्ञं वस्त्रात्मकतया रूपयन् तस्य दुर्ज्ञानत्वमनया प्रतिपादयतीति यज्ञवादिनो मन्यन्ते । पटं यज्ञलक्षणं देवयजने सततं चेष्टमानाः ऋत्विजः तन्तूनोतूंश्च संतन्वन्ति । वस्त्ररूपेण निष्पादयन्तीत्यर्थः । इह अस्मिन् लोके कस्य स्वित् कस्य खलु पुत्रः मनुष्यः वक्तव्यानि परस्तादमुष्मिन् लोके वर्तमानो यः सुर्यः तस्य पित्रा अवस्तादस्मिन् लोके वर्तमानेन वैश्वानराग्निनानुशिष्टः सन् वदेत्? न कश्चिदपि प्रवदितुं शक्नोतीत्यर्थः । रूपकतया जगत्सृष्टेर्दुर्ज्ञानत्वमनया प्रतिपादयतीत्यात्मविदो मन्यन्ते । तन्तून् तन्तुस्थानानि वियदादीन्यपञ्चीकृतानि भूतानि न विजानामि । ओतून् पञ्चीकृतानि स्थूलान्योतुस्थानीयान्यपि वियदादीनि न विजानामि । न च तत्कार्यं पटस्थानीयं प्रपञ्चं विजानामि यं प्रपञ्चं सततं चेष्टमानाः संसारिणो वयन्ति उत्पादयन्ति । तेषां भोगार्थमीश्वरः सृजतीति कर्तृत्वमुपचर्यते । इहास्मिन्विषये परस्ताद्बुद्धेरविषये वक्तव्यानीमान्यवरेण अर्वाचीनेन सृष्ट्युत्तरकालमुत्पन्नेन पित्रा स्वजनकेनानुशिष्टः सन् कस्य खलु पुत्रः वदेत् । स्वोत्पत्तेः प्राचीनं वृत्तान्तमजानानः कश्चिदपि न वदेदित्यर्थः ।”
“According to the school ofritualistic interpretation, the ṛṣi is trying to describe the greatness of Vaiśvānara through the symbolism of the yajña as a fabric, and expresses the difficulty of knowing it. The ever-active priests weave the warp and woof of this fabric. The ṛṣi is giving an analogy of the sun in heaven as the son, and Agni Vaiśvānara on earth as the father, and asks, which human can talk about these deep topics having been instructed by his father? The meaning is that nobody can. According to the school of metaphysics or spiritual interpretation, this is a symbolism for the universe whose creation is a mystery and cannot be known. The warp symbolizes the undifferentiated subtle elements, and the woof symbolizes the differentiated gross elements. The creatures living in the universe are constantly weaving this fabric by their activities. Or this fabric has been woven by the creator for the enjoyment of the creatures. So being here (in this universe), to talk about things that are beyond the intellect, nobody who has been instructed by their human father (whose birth is recent compared to the universe), can talk about these things. Having not understood the ancient source of their origin, nobody can talk about these mysteries.”
स इत्तन्तुं स विजानात्योतुं स वक्त्वान्यृतुथा वदाति ।
य ईं चिकेतदमृतस्य गोपा अवश्चरन्परो अन्येन पश्यन् ॥३॥
sa ittantuṃ sa vijānātyotuṃ sa vaktvānyṛtuthā vadāti |
ya īṃ ciketadamṛtasya gopā avaścaranparo anyena paśyan ||

“He knows the warp and the woof, and he speaks the truths from time to time. He who sees all this, is the protector of immortality, and he roams below, while seeing through another above.”
Sāyaṇa: “यद्यपि उक्तेन प्रकारेण दुर्ज्ञानानि तथाप्येतानि वैश्वानरोऽग्निः जानाति वदति चेत्यनया प्रतिपादयति । स एव वैश्वानरोऽग्निः तन्तुस्थानीयानि गायत्र्यादीनि छन्दांसि स्तुतशस्त्राणि तथा ओतुस्थानीयानि यजूंष्याध्वर्यवाणि च कर्माणि वि जानाति । ऋतुथा काले काले तत्तदनुष्ठानसमये वक्तव्यानि वदेत् । अवस्तात् भूलोके पार्थिवाग्निरूपेण संचरन् परस्ताद्दिवि सूर्यात्मना सर्वं जगत् प्रकाशयन् इमानि परिदृश्यमानानि सर्वाणि भूतानि जानाति । यद्वा । स एव तन्तुं तन्तुस्थानीयानि सूक्ष्मभूतानि विजानाति नान्यः कश्चित् । तथौतुमोतुस्थानीयानि स्थूलभूतानि च स एव विजानाति । स एव वक्तव्यान्युपदेष्टव्यानि काले काले यदा यदा विद्यासंप्रदायोच्छेदस्तदा तदा वदेत् । कोऽसौ यो विजानीयाद्वदेच्चेत्यत आह । यो वैश्वानरो विश्वनरात्मकः परमात्मामृतत्वस्य विमोक्षणस्य गोपा रक्षिता अवस्तात् संसारदशायां चरन् अन्तःकरणोपेतः जीवात्मभावेन संचरन् परस्तादविद्याया ऊर्ध्वं वर्तमानेनान्येनोक्तविलक्षणेन निरुपाधिकेन सच्चिदादिलक्षणेन रूपेण पश्यन् सर्वं जगत्प्रकाशयन् इमानि जानाति । तथा च परमात्मानं प्रकृत्य श्रूयते — ’तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति’ (श्वेउ ६।१४)”
“(Ritualistic interpretation): These mysteries are known to Agni Vaiśvānara. He alone, Agni Vaiśvānara, knows the warp symbolizing the various chandases and the woof symbolizing the ritualistic works of the Yajus. He speaks from time to time as in during the regular times of performance of the rituals. He moves on the earth in the form of the terrestrial fire while seeing all creatures in the form of the sun giving light to the entire universe. Or else:
(Spiritual/metaphysical interpretation): He alone, Agni Vaiśvānara, knows the warp symbolizing the subtle elements and the woof symbolizing the gross elements. He alone speaks the secret teaching from time to time when the lineage of knowledge is broken among humans. Who is this who knows and shall speak? He who is known as Vaiśvānara, who is present in all living creatures, the Paramātman, the protector of immortality, i.e. Mokṣa. He moves in the world as the Jīvātman conjoined with the mind, and sees the universe through the higher form, beyond Avidyā, and defined as Saccidānanda without attributes. This form illuminates the entire universe. Hence it is said in the Śruti: “Everything shines because He shines, by His light everything is lit up” (Śvet. Up. 6.14)”
अयं होता प्रथमः पश्यतेममिदं ज्योतिरमृतं मर्त्येषु ।
अयं स जज्ञे ध्रुव आ निषत्तोऽमर्त्यस्तन्वा३ वर्धमानः ॥४॥
ayaṃ hotā prathamaḥ paśyatemamidaṃ jyotiramṛtaṃ martyeṣu |
ayaṃ sa jajñe dhruva ā niṣatto’martyastanvā3 vardhamānaḥ ||

“He is the first invoker, see Him, this immortal light within mortals. He is born firm and he is omnipresent (i.e. present everywhere), and being immortal he grows through a body.”
(This is pretty straightforward, and it is quite clear from Sāyaṇa’s commentary).
ध्रुवं ज्योतिर्निहितं दृशये कं मनो जविष्ठं पतयत्स्वन्तः ।
विश्वे देवाः समनसः सकेताः एकं क्रतुमभि वि यन्ति साधु ॥५॥
dhruvaṃ jyotirnihitaṃ dṛśaye kaṃ mano javiṣṭhaṃ patayatsvantaḥ |
viśve devāḥ samanasaḥ saketāḥ ekaṃ kratumabhi vi yanti sādhu ||

“This firm light, that is bliss, that is subtler than the mind, is hidden within the senses (or creatures). All the deities, with one intention and one intelligence, surround Him, the doer of deeds.”
Sāyaṇa: “ध्रुवं निश्चलं मनसः तस्मादपि जविष्ठं अतिशयेन वेगवत् ईदृशं वैश्वानराख्यं ज्योतिः पतयत्सु गच्छत्सु जङ्गमेषु प्राणिषु अन्तः मध्ये निहितं प्रजापतिना स्थापितम् । किमर्थम् । दर्शनार्थम् । किं च सर्वे देवाः समानमनस्काः समानप्रज्ञाश्च सन्तः एकं मुख्यं गन्तारं वा क्रतुं कर्मणां कर्तारं सम्यक् आभिमुख्येन विविधं प्राप्नुवन्ति सेवन्त इत्यर्थः । यद्वा । पतयत्सु गच्छत्सु प्राणिष्वन्तर्मध्ये हृदये मनो जविष्ठं मनसोऽप्यतिशयेन वेगयुक्तं ध्रुवं निश्चलं निर्विकल्पम् । तथा च वाजसनेयकं — “अनेजदेकं मनसो जवीयः” (वा सं ४०।४) इति । ज्योतिर्ब्रह्म चैतन्यं निहितम् । न केनचित् स्थापितम् । “यो वेद निहितं गुहायां परमे व्योमन्” (तै आ ८।१) इति हि श्रूयते । किमर्थम् । दृशये दर्शनार्थम् । ज्ञानेन हि सर्वं जानन्ति । दीव्यन्तीति देवा इन्द्रियाणि । विश्वे सर्वे देवाः सर्वाणीन्द्रियाणि चक्षुराद्याः समनसो मनसा सह वर्तमानाः सकेताः सतेजस्काः सन्त एकमद्वितीयं क्रतुं सृष्ट्यादीनां कर्मणां कर्तारं विश्वनरात्मकं परमात्मानमभिलक्ष्य साधु सम्यक् वि यन्ति विविधं गच्छन्ति । देवा एव वेममभि वि यन्ति । आभिमुख्येन विविधमुपयन्ति । उपासत इत्यर्थः । तथा च श्रूयते — “तद्देवा ज्योतिषां ज्योतिरायुर्होपासतेऽमृतम्” (बृ उ ४/४/१६) इति ।”
“(Adhibhūtam/adhidaivatam) The firm light called Vaiśvānara, which is subtler than the mind, is placed within the creatures by Prajāpati for the sake of the vision. And all the gods with common mind and common consciousness serve this one doer of actions. Or else:
(Adhyātmam) Within the creatures, i.e. in the heart, there is hidden a firm and independent light that is subtler than the mind. As the Vājasaneyi text says: “The unmoving one that is faster than the mind” (Iśa. Up. 4). The light is Brahman consciousness. It is not established by anyone, i.e. it is there by its own nature. As the Śruti says: “Whoever knows this that is hidden in the heart in the highest space” (Tai. Up. 2.1). The purpose of this light is to have the vision, because by this vision one knows everything. The senses are called Devas because they shine or because they go forth. So the senses along with the mind approach this One Doer from various directions. This Doer is the Vaiśvānara, the omnipresent Paramātman, who does various deeds such as creation, etc. Or the Devas worship Vaiśvānara. As it is said in the Śruti: “The Devas worship the Light of lights, the Immortal.” (Br. Up. 4.4.16).”
वि मे कर्णा पतयतो वि चक्षुर्वी३दं ज्योतिर्हृदय आहितं यत् ।
वि मे मनश्चरति दूरआधीः किं स्विद् वक्ष्यामि किमु नू मनिष्ये ॥६॥
vi me karṇā patayato vi cakṣurvī3daṃ jyotirhṛdaya āhitaṃ yat |
vi me manaścarati dūraādhīḥ kiṃ svid vakṣyāmi kimu nū maniṣye ||

“My ears fly forth, and my eyes fly forth striving to see this Light hidden within the heart. My mind wanders far in search of it, what shall I speak of, and what shall I think?”
(This verse almost appears modern in its candid description of the internal processes when the sage is in rapture of his vision of the Light, when he has lost himself in the One Consciousness, such that he is beyond speech and thought. The last phrase “किं स्विद् वक्ष्यामि किमु नू मनिष्ये – kim svid vakṣyāmi kimu nū maniṣye” is an exact paraphrase of “यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्य मनसा सह – yato vāco nivartante aprāpya manasā saha“, “From which speech and mind turn back, not having reached” of Taittirīya Upaniṣad.)
Sāyaṇa: “वैश्वानरं श्रोतुकामस्य मम कर्णौ वि पतयतः विविधं गच्छतः । श्रोतव्यानां तदीयगुणानां बहुत्वात् । तथा वैश्वानरं दिदृक्षमाणस्य मम चक्षुः इन्द्रियं वि पतयति विविधं गच्छति । द्रष्टव्यानां तदीयरूपाणां बहुत्वात् । तथा ज्योतिः प्रकाशकं हृदये हृदयपुण्डरीके आहितं निहितं यत् बुद्ध्याख्यं तत्त्वं इदमपि वि पतयति विविधं गच्छति वैश्वानरात्मानं ज्ञातुम् । अपि च दूरआधीः । दूरे विप्रकृष्टे विषय आधीराध्यानं यस्य तादृशम् । मे मदीयं मनः च वि चरति विविधं प्रवर्तते । एवमहमहमिकया सर्वेष्विन्द्रियेषु प्रवृत्तेषु किं स्वित् अहं वैश्वानरस्य रूपमिति वक्ष्यामि । किमु नु किमु खलु संप्रति मनिष्ये मनसा प्रपत्स्ये । वैश्वानरस्य गुणानामनन्तत्वात् मन्दप्रज्ञेन मया ज्ञातुं न शक्यत इत्यर्थः ।”
“Desirous of hearing Vaiśvānara, my ears go forth in different directions due to His infinite qualities to be heard. Desirous of seeing Him, my sight goes forth due to the infinite forms to be seen. The light established in the heart also strives to know the Vaiśvānara Ātman. Thus with all the senses striving to know Him, and since they fail, what can I say and what can I think about it? (i.e. He is beyond the senses, but I have already found Him as the immortal light within my heart).”
विश्वे देवा अनमस्यन् भियानास्त्वामग्ने तमसि तस्थिवांसम् ।
वैश्वानरोऽवतूतये नोऽमर्त्योऽवतूतये नः ॥७॥
viśve devā anamasyan bhiyānāstvāmagne tamasi tasthivāṃsam |
vaiśvānaro’vatūtaye no’martyo’vatūtaye naḥ ||

“All the gods bowed down in fear in front of you, Agni, when you were hidden in the darkness. May Vaiśvānara protect us, may the Immortal One protect us.”
This verse is quite clear and needs no explanation. However, there is a deep metaphysics associated with the “Agni hidden in the darkness”, which Ihave discussed in detail in my Agni article.
 

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Vedā: Varṇa

The philosophical idea of varṇa (not “caste”) in Upaniṣad and Veda
First, let us look at the following passages of Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4:
ब्रह्म वा इदमग्र आसीदेकमेव तदेकं सन्न व्यभवत् । तच्छ्रेयोरूपमत्यसृजत क्षत्रं यान्येतानि देवत्रा क्षत्राणीन्द्रो वरुणः सोमो रुद्रः पर्जन्यो यमो मृत्युरीशान इति । तस्मात्क्षत्रात्परं नास्ति तस्माद् ब्राह्मणः क्षत्रियमधस्तादुपास्ते राजसूये क्षत्र एव तद्यशो दधाति सैषा क्षत्रस्य योनिर्यद् ब्रह्म । तस्माद्यद्यपि राजा परमतां गच्छति ब्रह्मैवान्तत उपनिश्रयति स्वां योनिं य उ एनं हिनस्ति स्वां स योनिमृच्छति स पापीयान् भवति यथा श्रेयांसं हिंसित्वा । ११
“Brahman alone was indeed all this in the beginning. It being alone did not prosper. Hence it created a better form than itself, called Kṣatra. These are the deities who are Kṣatra — Indra, Varuṇa, Soma, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Mṛtyu and Īśāna. Hence, there is nothing higher than the Kṣatra, and that is why the Brāhmaṇa worships the Kṣatriya from below in the Rājasūya — he bestows that glory on the Kṣatriya only. The Brahman is the origin of the Kṣatra. Hence, even though the king is raised to superiority, in the end he seeks refuge in his origin, the Brahman. He who harms him, he harms his own origin and becomes sinful just as by harming one’s elder.”
स नैव व्यभवत्स विशमसृजत यान्येतानि देवजातानि गणश आख्यायन्ते वसवो रुद्रा आदित्या विश्वेदेवा मरुत इति । १२
“He still did not prosper. He created the Viṭ (i.e. Vaiśya). These are the Viṭ deities — the ones enumerated in groups — Vasus, Rudras, Ādityas, Viśvedevas and Maruts.”
स नैव व्यभवत्स शौद्रं वर्णमसृजत पूषणमियं वै पूषेयं हीदं सर्वं पुष्यति यदिदं किंच । १३
“He still did not prosper. He created the Śūdra varṇa. The deity who is Śūdra is Pūṣan. This earth is indeed Pūṣan, because she nourishes everything that exists.”
तदेतद् ब्रह्म क्षत्रं विट् शूद्रस्तदग्निनैव देवेषु ब्रह्माभवत् ब्राह्मणो मनुष्येषु क्षत्रियेण क्षत्रियो वैश्येन वैश्यः शूद्रेण शूद्रः …. । १५
“This then is the Brahman, Kṣatra, Viṭ and Śūdra. Brahman became Agni among the deities, and among humans it became the Brāhmaṇa. Similarly, from the Kṣatra deities came the human Kṣatriya, from the Vaiśya came the Vaiśya, and from the Śūdra came the Śūdra.”
We must first understand the objective of the Vedic texts, the Brāhmaṇas and Āraṇyakas. Technically, there are no traditionally separate texts called Upaniṣads because these are extracts from the Samhitās, Brāhmaṇas or Āraṇyakas.
So these prose texts aim at providing integrative philosophical explanations for fundamental questions of human existence. While the Brāhmaṇa texts do this in the context of elaborating the rituals of yajña and the mystical symbolism of each ritual, the Āraṇyaka texts take a step further and abstract the philosophical explanations further.
The above quoted passages demonstrate the typical style of this integrative philosophical explanation. The overall theme of the section 1.4 is to discuss the sole existence of the ultimate spiritual reality called Brahman and the creation of the universe and its various aspects. Hence, the same metaphysical Brahman is conflated with post-creation physical categories such as the human Brāhmaṇa. This is an example of expressing the identities and equivalencies between the physical and metaphysical realms. As is understandable, when crossing the boundary from metaphysical to physical, we cross from pure unconditional truth to conditioned human constructs.
The first point to note carefully is the use of the neuter “It” and “Brahman” in the first paragraph. This refers to the primeval state of the undifferentiated ultimate non-dual existence of Brahman in and of itself, prior to creation of a duality. In this state, obviously everything is the same Brahman without distinction and discrimination. This is the state that is the goal of spiritual aspirants. Looking at it from another point of view, the state of Brahman is also the reversal of creation, where all the dualities merge back into the non-dual state.
Hence, our tradition makes no distinction between enlightened persons (Jñānis) of different births or “castes”. Once a person becomes a Jñāni, he/she is beyond physical constructs, and joins the metaphysical non-duality. Our history is filled with people of various “high and low” births who attained the same unquestionable spiritual status. This is also supported by authority. The previous passage in this same text says that whoever realizes the truth “I am Brahman” surely becomes Brahman without distinction. Also, Śaṅkarācārya says in his Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣyam, “ज्ञाने सर्वेषामधिकारः jñāne sarveṣāmadhikāraḥ” — “Everyone is entitled to knowledge”.
However, the subtle point to be noted is that once the physical categories of duality have been created, every category “owns” a mode of operation. Hence, in the created universe, jumping across modes of operation is resented by definition. To simplify terms, what I mean is that although everyone is entitled to knowledge, not all the various modes of gaining that knowledge are open to all classes of people. This is an unfortunate and inevitable paradox of the created universe. The end state of equality is respected, but the means of reaching that end state have restrictions. In our tradition, we see three stages of development:
  1. In the beginning, when society was simple (i.e. symbolized by a new creation), everyone regardless of birth had equal entitlement over knowledge (Jñāna) and modes of operation (Karma). This is when everyone studied Veda and performed yajña.
  2. As society proliferated, the entitlement over knowledge (Jñāna) was still equal but the different modes of operation (Karma) were now “owned” by different categories. This is when everyone still studied Veda, but not everyone could perform yajña.
  3. As competition grew in society, there was increasing monopolization of both knowledge (Jñāna) and modes of operation (Karma). This is when not everyone could study the Veda nor perform yajña. This is also when alternative parallel systems that provided the same knowledge as the Veda (e.g. Epics and Purāṇas) came into existence. This restored the state back to the one where everyone is entitled to, and has access to, knowledge.
The second point to note is that after creation of the duality of the universe, Brahman by its non-dual self is not adequate to operate in this duality. This might seem nonsensical as Brahman is everything and omnipotent. However, the non-dual Brahman “in-and-of-itself” exists in a completely different plane than the physical “dualized” universe. To give a sci-fi analogy, a creature from a three-dimensional world cannot operate in a two-dimensional world without modifications. Hence, Brahman needs to “dualize” itself into various modes and forms that correspond to the various aspects and elements of the physical universe. This is the reasoning behind the existence of, for example, five senses to correspond to the five media of perception.
The extrapolation of the non-dual Brahman into the four categories according to modes of operation (Karma) is as essential to the working of the universe as any other aspect.
This idea is evident in the above quoted passages, where the four categories are ascribed even to the deities. So it should be obvious and indisputable that the philosophy of the four varṇas is not based on denigration, oppression, disadvantaging or other development that is inevitable in real-world social group dynamics. Hence we observe that the text says that the Brahman did not prosper until all four varṇas had been created.
As a consequence of this “dualization”, please notice the text beginning to use the words “He” and “Brāhmaṇa” in place of “It” and “Brahman”.
The third point to note is the ascription of the Brāhmaṇa as the source of the Kṣatriya even though the latter gets all the glory. This is easily understood philosophically. The Brāhmaṇa symbolizes all undifferentiated or non-specialized mental activity. As such all idealized aspects of the mind such as general decision-making, intellectualizing, conscience, uncompromised adherence to truth, etc. will be the starting point for actual physical implementation or action, which is symbolized by the Kṣatriya. As we see in the physical world, the film actor is the center of attention and fame, whereas the director works behind the camera.
This philosophy demonstrates a great symbiosis that was conceived and implemented by our ancients. The Brāhmaṇa cannot be undermined by the Kṣatriya, as the former is uncompromised idealization, whereas the latter is forever facing constraints that force compromise. The concept is that of ideal ideation and optimized implementation.
The fourth point to note is the great spiritual and physical status of the Śūdra varṇa. Not only is the god Pūṣan called Śūdra and identified with Mother Earth who sustains all life, but the text says that the human Śūdras are descended from the divine Śūdra, just as the other human varṇas are descended from the divine varṇas.
So, all the varṇas are philosophically and theologically equal in status and dignity.
In this context, the criticism and denigration of the Ṛgvedic Puruṣa Sūktam (10.90) as defining a hierarchical “caste” structure, is extremely pedestrian, willfully ignorant and unenlightened. In particular, the origin of Śūdra varṇa from the feet of Puruṣa (10.90.12: padbhyām śūdrah) is followed by the origin of the Earth also from the feet of Puruṣa (10.90.14: padbhyām bhūmih). So if origin from feet is supposed to imply attributed inferiority, then should we consider the Earth on which we live, as inferior? And if so, inferior compared to what? Moreover, Puruṣa himself is introduced in the first verse as possessing a thousand heads and a thousand feet. So it seems that both the head and the feet are equally important characteristics of thePuruṣa.
Now, as far as the social reality is concerned, there is no doubt that every idealized social system will degrade and deteriorate when it steps into human society, which is comprised of imperfect humans with their greed, fear, envy, lust and a host of other vices.
The historical system that was named “caste” is actually a combination of the philosophical categories of varṇa and the biological lineage of jāti.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Vedā: Yama Yami


Rig Vedā 10:10 is indeed a very deep hymn – and one of the few hymns in Rigveda to show a typically mythological character. There are several things we need to see here. What we essentially know as we proceed to the sūkta is that Yama and Yamī are twins. So they “are born together”.
Who is Yama? In Yama are the metres established. He is what “connects”. He connects mortality and immortality. He becomes a mortal who carves the path of mortals through dying himself and remains “immortal” as manifesting again. In him is time. Through time, he describes a course for life. After the course, the life is absorbed in time. Who is the sister of time? The spurt of what distinguishes things inside the dimension of time. How to see them in nature?
Sun, rises, sets, and takes the course under our horizon. Who is sun, but Ātmā. When ātmā is perceived, he is sūrya and he becomes the lover of his sister, the light. The self at enlightenment falls in love with the vision. They call Pūṣā as the lover of his sister, and wooer of mother. (because Uṣas is also the “mother” whose “calf” is sun) They create “viśvarūpāḥ” in dawn, (all forms) they prop up “heaven and earth”. Where Devas are manifest. Read the Yama-Yamī saṃvāda and see who tells these two things to defend their perspective. When it is night, sūrya is practically absorbed into time. (The time as a female later manifests as “Kālī” again) The setting sun doesn’t yield to Yamī the dusk to make a “backward oscillation”, he just absorbs himself to mortality. So that every self ātmā that is his representative is born and dying in this earth. Because Yama dies, Jīva is born with the dawn the next day. Because Yama is, the chandas is regulated. Because Yama is, the cattle return to their homes after grazing through the pastures.
Yamī is not a mortal, but Yama is. Yama is always “measured” and “known” by periods of life. Yamī is therefore the marker of Devayāna and Yama the marker of Pitṛyāna. In the popular culture, Yama stays as a true brother to Yamī, and the passover of Yama marks the beginning of year, (in Kārtika māsa), beginning of Devayāna, which is celebrated in the Kārtika Paurṇamāsa (the good old Dīpāvali and South Indian Kārtikai Dīpam) which also comes with the symbol of sister-brother relationship observed as Bhai dooj in North India and regarded along with Kārtikai Dīpāvali in Tamil Nadu/Kerala.
Does Yama yield to Yamī? No, say the legends. He already uses arguments from morals, and the “kinship” to assert that they are siblings, whereas Yamī is driven by emotions and the māyā of love. Then how does he procreate the mortals? Rigveda doesn’t answer it there, but in the 13th sūkta of tenth maṇḍala the answer is given – Yama was sacrificed by Bṛhaspati and Devas. Bṛhaspati, as you know, is the lord of the lofty sky, the lord of many cows which he releases at dawn from Vala, as Indra. Yama through the power of yajña, sacrifices himself through annihilation, thereby creating a debt – which is a cyclic yajña. Hence, the other Indo European myths also speak of Manu, the man, being the brother who sacrifices Yama through his sacrifice. The Norse myth has Ymir, the Norse Yama, sacrificed like Puruṣa (Puruṣa is indeed, as we saw, a form of Yama himself) to create everything. Dīrghatamas too delves on Yama quite passionately in his riddles. Find them out!
Thus, through annihilation of the Puruṣa in Yama, a debt is created. Through a debt, exchange is created. Through exchange, the world moves on – and thus time is created and we “exist”. This exchange is what Indra is for. Yama is who “moves” from his sister so that he is mortal, he stays a mortal, and he finds a way for those who want to “live” and take the course of “life”.
Through soma, we take inspiration and resultant “birth” again. (No, not the ghostly rebirth, but in our selves) We just move through devayāna and pitṛyāna. This idea also gives way to the idea behind meditation where there is thought, (candramās, “moon the thought”) there is no beholding of self. (“sun”) Vedas would say that both should complement one another. In other words, ātman and anātman are to be our two eyes of existence.

Conluded.
 

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