Veda : An Alien Language

Before we delve into the Vaidika universe, let me present a question:
“how do we recognise asat (ignorance)?”

One particularly safe check, kAla and desha accounted, would be to say:
“ignorance is synonymous with unreasonable confidence.”

Or, in this way, when assumptions become synonymous with conclusions, we say this is ignorance. Some of the contemporary discussions conducted — on Vaidika subjects — among the online groups, in my opinion belong to this category, and as such require periodic reviewal and addressal; hence this short piece.

Vaidika studies in bhArata must take a problem solving approach, over and above that of a purely linguistic or history oriented one. It is precisely the failure of publicly funded institutions in this regard that has left wide open the windows on many a problem — right from bhArata’s prehistory, to the possibilities for the future — and has made the “market” rife for speculations, such as to be seen in exchanges within the online world, that predictably, make use of many unsound tools, such as comparative mythology, poor translations of Sanskrit texts, etc.

That AdhyAtmika ideas don’t compare/ translate well at all from one culture to another is a long standing consensus on the issue, really, so when this same translation is still suitably used to “better” understand the fundamental thoughts of the Veda, or say its traditions, one is hard pressed to fathom why this shouldn’t be better seen as a polemical/ ignorant exercise that starts with assumptions (Aryan invasion is one such) and ends with the same in the form of conclusions, in addition to nothing of note returned at all in-between.

Indeed, comparative mythology can be of some value in special contexts —there is admittedly a distinct possibility of the existence of a unique devatA or AdhyAtmika motive that itself could have been the very banner — the propellant force, as it were — associated with the expansion (and remembered accordingly) of certain conquering tribes (from whichever homeland).

The evidence is encouraging, and in Vaidika devatA parjanya we do find the single pan-Indo-European deity remembered both in name as well as in religious import, wide across-the-board.

More importantly, there is this basic homeland requirement of the consistency of seemingly diverse basis ideas — a requirement, which in layman’s terms means, e.g. there can be no vishNu-expression without a garuDa-expression, or there can be no marut-expression without a parjanya-expression, or no mitra without varuNa, no agni without iLA, etc. In other words, when all the expressions in a system are connected to each other in measured (unambiguous) steps, the system is known as being consistent.

Any adequately evolved (“axiomatised”) thought (or belief-, or aesthetic-) system cannot be both complete and consistent at the same time — again, a widely demonstrated proposition, albeit having its origin in Mathematics.

“Complete” in simple words means, any truth (that the system is supposed to express) can be expressed by some finite collection/ application of the expressions of the system.

In simple terms, if the Vaidika system is indeed the original home — as reflected in its consistency of ideas — then it must also be not complete, that is, original ideas should keep coming — springing from the same base — in an ever recursive quest for “to know it all”. HanumAn, kALI, gaNEsha, durgA, krishNa, rAma, chhinna•mastA, and uncountably others — are a testimony to that. On the other hand, all Arya traditions outside bhArata didn’t sustain because they, of necessity, came out as being inconsistent (their disparate elements being historical accidents) and complete (fully expressive of all truths in their narrow domain of mythology).

In the expression of a consistent system, therefore, much more is at stake than the fulfilling of some mythology geared towards festive museum-cum-temple art-and-architecture.

A consistent knowledge system is, of purpose, implemented on real world objects. This is by certain mechanisms, one of which is known — again from Mathematics — as “homomorphism” (saMvartana). The most important class of such homomorphisms in the Veda is the spelling out of the devI equivalents of each Vaidika deva, and vice versa. For example, dakshA and daksha, indrANI and indra, etc.

Or, in the contexts of different Vaidika traditions, in Tantra the iDA and the pingalA, in sankhyA the Zero (shunA) and the One (sItA), in the primeval “left” and “right” of the Hindu sampradAya-s and geographies, in the sisterly mirrors gangA and sarasvatI — and such and such — all exemplarily speak of an exceptionally high degree of consistency running through the veins of Hinduism straddled across vast measures of times and spaces. Remember, this is just one example.

A consistent system, if meticulously revealed, has the capacity to explain all the other real/ abstract world objects. sankhyA — the number system — comes out of the same Vaidika system, and further leads to sAnkhya, Physics. (That the Vaidika system indeed contains the sankhyA-system is no trivial conclusion, and requires more than a passing remark. This also means that Vaidika system has more, not less, to do with modern science.)

“Homomorphisms”, such as explained here, in this way become one of the tools that a consistent system utilises for grasping all truth that is possible. Some other methods are: recursive application, parallel (vector) compilation, fibre connections, etc.

The Veda, literally “the-knowledge”, in a way indeed encompasses all possible knowledge, by the way of containing “all-consistencies.” And since the Veda is not closed knowledge, you will not find the detail of “interplanetary travel” laid out in it : as the ignorants on the other end of the spectrum — in reality the other side of the same coin — love to shout off their rooftops.

Both ends of asata are equally dangerous, because both wrongly assume Veda to be a complete and inconsistent system, and not surprisingly, both come to the same conclusion, “Veda is primitive.” (Or, “Veda is mere ritual”, etc)

The correct view of Veda therefore is, not as “the-knowledge” (vidyA) — which makes it closed (asata)— but as “the-knowing” that acknowledges its consistency (Rta).

The polemical discourse (Aryan Invasion, etc) has the “currency” — literally speaking — that it has because it is backed by big money. In such circumstances, it is convenient to lose faith, and become a conformist. But because one cannot change one’s skin tone as easily (as ones’s convictions), hence the need for “respectful cognition (by the-other-earth-dwellers) of (unique) Hindu identity, also the-being-different” and so forth. This sums up to a large extent the contemporary Hindu trajectories visible in the media.

Back to the matter at hand: what is this Vaidika system in its basic outline — what is this marvellous superstructure like — that has been the ever breathing progenitor, the fountainhead, of originalities among the bhAratIya-s?

Before I answer this question, let us understand the meaning of a system, or a context. Again, a simple example: if shrI rAma is an avatAra, bhagavAna•vishNu is the context. Or, if kAtyAyinI is the devI then amba•durgA is the context. Or, if indra is a vasu then agni, the ashTa•vasu is the context. And so on.

The biggest such context, which is indeed also seen as a deity, therefore becomes very much one and the same as the “Vaidika system” itself.

Well, the name of that deity is Aditi.

Dictionaries give the meaning of this theonym as “unbounded, undivided”, alright, though in my opinion better understood, arguably, as:
ad अद् + iti इति, or “the start to the end”. “From the Alfa to the Omega.”

Aditya-s are therefore the basic devata-s, the pillars, which build up the Reality that surrounds us all, here and now. And, by definition (cf. Yaska), Aditya-s are the ones who are ever present — from the very start (ādi) to the very end (iti).

The widely understood virATa manifolds (lokAH): pRthvI, dyO (svarga), antariksha, and Om : which are further divided into three sub-manifolds each, lead necessarily to the existence of twelve Aditya-s (sometimes exclusively dealt in only the six or seven of dyO•pRthvI context).

The earliest material evidence of toying with this core idea is found in the indu-valley seals, where the various designs — ranging from four mutually tangent circles (each concentric with three circles), to the fully evolved svAstika in the end — are testimony to the creative efforts involved in the shaping of Aditi as this abstract art.

Aditi is still here, you will still find Her devotees, if only you looked harder. svAstika, Aditi’s signature, is alive too — even survived organised misappropriation (courtesy the Nazis). The neo-Nazis, however, are still very keen about their Aryan project as having its logical conclusion in the successful appropriation of the svAstika, even if necessitated by the planting of “minority Aryan tribes” among “majority Dravidian Indu-dwellers” even before the muhUrta of the official “Aryan Invasion”.

No doubt there is much to talk about— the 33 devatAs, the flow of soma, the dyAvA•pRthvI, visvedevA as Aditya-s, the rAmAyaNa and the mahAbhArata, the tantra and the yoga, the sankhyA and the sAnkhya, among others — but I intend to end this essay here with the outlining of the basics already complete.

But not before offering a word of caution to bhAratIya scholars who aspire to become students of dharma. This is regarding the fundamentals of studying (and, quoting) the dhArmika literature. Remember this “parimANa” thumb rule:

(One word of the Veda, aka śabda) = (one line of upanishads, aka vAkya) = (one para of the purANa-s, aka upAkhyAna).

This is only a thumb rule, I agree, but is an important formula which when respected, takes into account all such factors such as synchrony, diachrony, polysemy, the intended depth and measure of thought, etc.

Otherwise, for example, weighing the śabda of Veda against the śabda of purANa, or the vAkya of purANa with that of the upanishads, etc, will only keep you running into circles if not into contradictions.

To sum up, I dealt a complex issue, namely the Veda and its contemporary studies, in simplest possible terms. However, I sense this write-up still sounds unfamiliar, disorienting to the majority (if not the totality) of the readers, who are daily fed the by-far-the-most-dangerous-of-all-theories, the VIP — “Veda-is-primitive” theory (peddled by Western Indologists, muddled by desi-s who have “evolved” beyond “rituals”).

Wake up.

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  1. #1 by جسکرن دھالیوال on December 18, 2015 - 2:07 AM

    Namaste KT,
    I’ve been wanting to say something regarding a certain hymn of the RV that surprised me. Recently, a little over three weeks ago when I visited India, I went to a Balak Nath mandir near Jandiala and someone pushed me, causing me to hit a wooden shelf. A Hanuman murti fell and broke. I didn’t worry about it at the time, but the same night, I had a extremely strange dream involving Hanuman. At the start of the dream, I was on the moon, shocked that there was nothing for miles. I looked up and saw a black circle in the sky on which was Hanuman with a red trishul shaped tilak on its forehead. He repeatedly said something loudly and coarsely in Sanskrit. He first said “नैष प्रभुर्” and kept repeating, till I repeated it. Then “यस्य पन्नगयधते” and I followed suit. After that, he said “यो रोदस्योजातो”, “अस्कभ्नाद्दिवम्”, and lastly “प्रभुरेव स.” Shortly after, it started to rain and I noticed I was bleeding from my radial artery (not in real life, but in the dream). When I woke up, I had a strange taste in my mouth (a chemical taste, perhaps like isopropanol, but I don’t remember exactly). I drank some water and it went away.
    It was a odd dream/nightmare and I normally don’t think about dreams (even if I do remember them). However, since there was something involving Sanskrit, I wondered what it meant.
    I knew that नैष प्रभुः is “he is not lord”
    I assumed यस्य पन्नगयधते was यस्य पन्नग एधते “whose snake grows”
    Similarly, I assumed यो रोदस्योजातो was यो रोदस्योर्जातः “who has been born of rodasI [heaven and earth]”
    अस्कभ्नाद्दिवम् means he supported the sky
    प्रभुरेव सः means “he verily is lord”
    So the entire verse meant “He is not lord whose snake grows.
    He who, having been born from heaven and earth, supported the sky, he verily is lord”
    I still don’t know what that refers to, but “अस्कभ्नाद्दिवम्” reminded me of “द्यामस्तभ्नात्”. Hence, I thought that it was some Vedic verse that read before and subconsciously remembered. I checked the Indra hymns and couldn’t find anything that matched completely. However, Rig Veda 10.86.16-17 was similar in meaning to the first part (except that the RV verse has penis rather than snake). However, I didn’t remember reading that verse before having that dream (I pretty sure I would remember the refrain विश्वस्मादिन्द्र उत्तरः if I had read it previously). Even more strange was that the hymn mentions vRiShAkapi (human-monkey) and verse 20 says “dhanva cha yat kRintatram cha kati svit tA viyojanA” (the dry land and chasms, how many yojanas do they extend?), which is slightly similar to the moon and it’s craters. Or perhaps I’m just begging the question and making connections between the dream and the hymn that don’t actually exist.

    I was wondering, what are your thoughts of Rigveda 10.86?

    Like

    • #2 by Kalicharan Tuvij on December 18, 2015 - 7:51 PM

      Namaste Jaskaran,

      No, I have no thoughts of RV 10.86 because in my view the whole RV 10 is unreliable as far as deeper Vedic undercurrents go, notwithstanding the otherwise huge historical importance attached.

      However, your dream has a lot to do with RV. I am quite surprised to hear it, to say. Last time during our interactions (on Sanskrit grammar) I was a bit anxious.

      Not so much now, though. Your dream is very much valid, in my view, which usually should have far reaching consequences if I am correct : a marriage between a scholar’s widths with a knower’s depths.

      Well, fortunately you mentioned the name Baba Balaknath which I didn’t know about but a quick search was enough to reveal his nature to be of a realised Lord KumAra sAdhaka.

      The same Kumara whose direct manifestations are Skanda and Hanuman, and Asvins. Asvini Kumara-s as you know are the “distributors of Yajña”. Baba Balaknath is another reminder, coming from folk memory, about the kind of realisations that went into Kumara particularly in the NorthWest of the Vedic era: and also that there still are enough vibes for receptive ones.

      So in the dream experience Hanuman says नैष प्रभु – a direct invocation of the power of discrimination. यस्य पन्नग एधते yes I agree with this translation broadly. So, “He is not Lord who’s snake grows on”. In short, Ishwar Shiva who is worshipped surrounded with snake(s) is not the Lord.

      So, then who is it? यो रोदस्योजातो who is born of dyAvAprithvI. That is, Kumara Himself.

      Hanuman himself. Belonging to one of the tribes in the ancient Eastern India, Hanuman is the Kumara manifestation who ultimately became the trigger for the rise of Vedic culture in the East and beyond; coarse utterance of Sanskrit is but natural, illustrative of Vedic acclimation, even though there can be no greater scholar than him.

      In short, Hanuman came to you “bringing Shiva with himself”; he was Shiva, the Lord. Any Vedic scholar must know this (however there is no other way than a direct experience of this kind) that everything is understood through Kumara.

      At the minimum Kumara is the Gate, at the maximum he is the Lord, manifesting at the knot between Dyo and Prithvi.

      There is also a third instance– at the worst, “Kumara is the Barrier”.

      The dark circle is Surya GrahaNa (which we know is caused by ChandramA; glad that devas know it too :-)), the other barrier is the Snake.

      Or, say, Snake is a “narrow path” not easy to travel. The Shiva, also the Vishnu that we worship who is with a snake – is a deva inaccessible (as clearly indicated by the presence of the snake).

      अस्कभ्नाद्दिवम् I will try to look into this more, but broadly should indicate supporter or revealer of all other realms.

      This is your experience, your path, but everything of it made sense. You should never let go of it, though no need either to do anything foolish.

      Like

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