Posts Tagged Rig veda
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 AkhyAna).
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”).
उ॒तेशि॑षे प्रस॒वस्य॒ त्वमेक॒ इदु॒त पू॒षा भ॑वसि देव॒ याम॑भिः । उ॒तेदं विश्वं॒ भुव॑नं॒ वि रा॑जसि श्या॒वाश्व॑स्ते सवित॒ स्तोम॑मानशे ॥
You are the One Lord over all (your very own) Creation, also you’re like Pusan through your forbearing acts, O God. And this whole world of beings is your reign, Savitr, for you SuryaHorse (also a Rsi) has created the hymn.
हिरण्यपाणिः सविता विचर्षणिरुभे द्यावापृथिवी अन्तरीयते । अपामीवां बाधते वेति सूर्यमभि कृष्णेन रजसा द्यामृणोति ॥
Savitr the golden-handed, busy with both of them, manifests in the inter DyavaPrithvi space. He overpowers sickening limitation, impels Surya (through it), and thus spreads Dyo’s Light out of the dark realm.
Asvins, what praise may win your grace? Who may be pleasing to you both?
How shall the ignorant worship you?
Here sprung to life, they both have sung together, with bodies free from stain, with signs that mark them;
One of you (is) Prince of Sacrifice, the Victor, the other counts as Heaven’s auspicious offspring.
We call the Asvins Twain, the Gods borne in a noble car, the best of charioteers, who reach the heavens.
Dropping with honey is your whip, Asvins, and full of pleasantness; sprinkle therewith the sacrifice.
This post is in follow of the earlier one, Varna-Veda-and-stuff, where Varna is shown to be same as the tripartite executive+judiciary+legislature plus the business constructs of state. No doubt, there is plenty to research after in the connection, and the genealogy, between these terms on one hand and others such as दक्ष, रुद्र, विश् – of Varna- on the other hand.
Talking of researches, and scholars, though, all their tools and methodologies, evidently, break down when handling the Veda and the Rsis. How can one explain away, for instance, the insights of an Einstein? Linear time (and closed systems) are not applicable at places of “discontinuities”; “something”, for example, may come in, but “something” may not come out of your system, and vice-versa. And, that net unexplained “something” can be big enough to change everything around it, in space and in time.
So, in the present context, once we decide to see the work of Rsis as a net “something”, we can look for the imprint, or the D.N.A., inside Veda, of the changes caused by it outside. If Varna is attributed to the efforts of Rbhus (ऋभु), the Rsi-like people who no doubt graduated from the Rsis’ schools, their efforts and motivation should have an image in Veda.
But, then, the domain of Rbhus was works, and enlightenment was that of Rsis. Varna, in its most general form, is related with works, after all, so there is seemingly no common ground between Rbhu and Rsi. Is there no work, of professional character, in Veda? Well, there is.
Veda’s soul is Yagna, or Sacrifice, which is the mechanism for a continuous growth, and evolution, into Immortality. And, rituals are the tools used, very festively, to create a conducive environment for the same.
Moreover, it was good fun to the Rsis, who doubled up as Rtvijas and conducted the Yagna rituals. The question is, granted the Yagna ritual belonged to works, was it seen sufficiently in that light by Rsis, and therefore professionally undertaken?
If the painstakingly detailed rituals described in the later texts such as Brahmanas and Srautas are any indication, or if the sophisticated Soma rites still performed in some parts of India are any evidence, certainly, the Yagna rituals were very professionally performed.
In addition, if the likes of (future) Rbhus were to be inspired, the Rsis had to show the way of works in their rituals, in which, indeed, the students too played their parts.
So what we know today for sure, based mainly on Rig Vedic body itself, the Rtvijas had a fourfold division: the Hotr (होतृ), Brahmán (ब्रह्मन्), Udgatr (उद्गातृ), and Adhvaryu (अध्वर्यु). The fourfold Varna of Rtvij.
Among these, Brahman’s work was to observe and to steer the event in a purposeful direction, by the use of timely interjections. Udgatr, the Chanter, on the other hand, was moved with Faith, Love, and Devotion; in his songs the ritual achieved its culmination and fulfilment. Adhvaryu, the Skilled one, was responsible for connecting all diverse elements of Yagna, for a hassle free passage of the events, which he did in a most graceful manner. Finally, Hotr was responsible for apparently everything, doing bits of direction, chanting and manipulation. Hotr was, above all, also responsible for money matters, and interactions with the patron, or Yajmana (यजमान) of the Yagna.
To be explicit, Hotr, Brahman, Udgatr and Adhvaryu correspond, respectively, to the example of Varna that we discussed earlier: Vispati, Brahman, Rudra and Daksha.
As discussed in Kalicharan’s Veda, though, the real motivation of the Rbhus behind the establishment of Varna in the urban society was the evolution of the state of affairs from the Dasyu mode (of Asat) to the Dyava-Prithivi (Heaven-Earth) mode of Agni.
It necessitates the existence of the Earth counterparts of the aforementioned Rtvijas. And Rig Veda doesn’t disappoint, either. Hence, we have Potr (पोतृ) for Hotr, Nestr (नेष्ट्र) for Brahman, Prashastr (प्रशास्तृ) for Adhavaryu, and Agnidh (अग्नीध्) for Udgatr. If Hotr represents the whole Soma (Homa), the presiding God of Heaven, then Potr speaks for the whole Pusan, the presiding God of Earth in the Veda. Each of these Rtvij classes were, apparently, divided into subclasses which themselves were of Dyava-Prithvi, or Varna, constitution: this elaboration was required when the Yagna ritual and event grew voluminous.
So, what’s the moral of the story?
Rig-Veda is a unified, universal language which can be understood through innumerable perspectives, and which itself creates – and has created- a myriad of perspectives. So, as seen from the standpoint of Logic, or Mathematics, and as also explained in Kalicharan’s Veda, the concept of identity, or Zero, comes from Asvini Kumar, the god of sacrifice and effort.
Asvini Kumar has a presence both in Heaven and in Earth, and more than that, acts as the connecting point, the “node” between the two realms. And in a way he separates, and creates, these two realms, resulting in Heaven-Earth, or Dyava-Prithivi.
The full significance of Dyava-Prithivi will not be discussed here. In the realm of Logic, or equally, in Rig-Veda as seen from a mathematical point of view, in a sufficiently evolved theory, there arise two spaces separated, or connected, by a “node”. One example, very known, is the number system which contains the spaces of positive and negative numbers, separated by Zero.
So Zero is both negative and positive, and thus has a “presence” in both the realms.
Asvini Kumar is such an important God in Rig-Veda that various other images of him are also perceived and explored by the Rsis. Thus Usha-Ratri becomes an alternative. Or, the imagery of Mountain (in sanskrit Parvat, which also means “joint”, “node”) is used. And (finally) the pair Shuna-Sira (शुना/सून — सिरा/सीरा) is invoked. Shuna is a Heaven God and Sira (also called Sita) is an Earth Goddess in this pair. In the history of Mathematics Shuna became “Shunna” or “Shunya” (Zero, as called in India), while Sira continued as “Sita” in India but was exported outside as the Zero. Zero, as is well known, adapted from Arabic “Sifr” which in turn got it from Sira.
ShunA शुना in Sanskrit also means “ploughshare” and sIrA सिरा/ सीरा (sItA सीता) means “the mark left on the field by the ploughshare” — both geometrically depicting of the concept of Zero. Sita, in rAmAyaNa, is known to have the birth connection with this mark and the ploughshare.
A lot has been said and written about Indo-Europians, their languages, PIE, and like, but when one realizes that the Spiritual, intuitive, thought assumes a far greater importance in the making and scheme of a civilization than the language, then one easily sees that it was Egypt, and Egypt alone, not Europe, which could be truly called a “Vedic” civilization outside the Vedic of India. Pyramid, is indeed Parvat, and represents the idea of Asvini Kumar geometrically: there is a realm outside and there is one inside, with the Parvat top (a point) being the connection. The Paravat story culminates in India as the “Meru Parvat” – which is said to be the connection, the passage, between Heaven and Earth.
Kailash Parvat was earmarked as the geometric, real, representative of Meru on Earth. This peak, found in the Himalayas, does indeed look like a pyramid, and further, has two big lakes not far from it: One is called Man Sarover and the other Rakshas Taal , representing the two realms of Heaven and Earth.
On our wide grass, Three Goddesses be seated: for you have we prepared and made it pleasant.
May Ila, she whose foot drops oil, the Goddess, taste man-like sacrifice and well-set presents.
Effort is the meaning of our lives. Why do we need this struggle, and against what?
Well, Effort is Sacrifice, or the Yagna. And the enemy is Asat which is a state of limitation, stagnancy, covered-up ignorance. It means: you stay at one ‘place’ for long, and that place would become your Hell, your Asat, where even death doesn’t liberate.
Does Veda, by the use of jargon (such as Asat, Yagna, Indra, etc), symbolize concepts, or see things real? Does Veda give mantras (and rituals and rules), chanting of which at prescribed time, place, direction, pitch, pronunciation guaranties Heavens, or Does it plainly state mantras as song, or the celebration of your own achievements, as seeker, when you are on your ‘straightest’ path of Effort and Sacrifice?
The latter is the answer: however discomforting it may be for many. Religion assures you, in its methods and prescriptions, Veda doesn’t. The Rsis of Veda, as friends, laugh, and ask: would you stop moving, if there was no Heaven, or no Heaven on your road?