I want to talk to you about the first discovery of the Vedic Rishis. You understand the word Rishi, no? Rishi is a sage, who is a poet, who is capable of seeing the truth and expressing the truth in the most sublime manner. Rishi is the guide, the teacher, wise teacher, illumined teacher. That is the Rishi. So the first discovery of the Vedic Rishis was very simple, that life is a battle, but this battle is not merely among the physical living creatures as we know them, but also a battle between invisible forces. These invisible forces are divisible into two categories: one, benign forces, very kind forces, the forces that are for the divinity; the opposite forces are the forces of evil, Asuras, Rakshasas Pishachas, Panis, Vritras. I have given so many names, each one having a specific function or a role to play in the battle.
I was telling you about the second discovery and for that I began to tell you a story of a legend. A certain number of Rishis, let us say 9, were in search of the truth. Now how to seek the truth? I told you that they found out the means of finding the truth. What was the means? In one word, it is sacrifice. In Sanskrit it is called Yajna. In English we call it sacrifice, and I told you what a sacrifice means. Sacrifice implies fire. All sacrifice implies fire. Without fire there is no sacrifice. Therefore I spoke to you last time about Agni. Agni means fire. I told you that fire is not physical fire. There is an inner fire, and then I gave you the first verse of the Rig Veda when the fire is invited. So that one verse itself gives you a good indication of what sacrifice means. You have first of all to invoke the fire, the inner soul which is the fire in us, awake, ignite the fire. So the very first verse says: I worship the fire; Agnim ile. Ile means I am worshipping. You invoke the fire by saying I worship the fire. So the first step is invocation. Invocation of the fire, this is the first step of the sacrifice. Then we put it in the front, purohitam, it is that which is in the front. So put the fire into the front. Then once it takes up the front role, things become easier. It knows the rita, the fire knows what is right. So once he is your leader, you are in the hands of one who can guide you to the Right. It also knows what is not only right but also the right time of right action. In Sanskrit we have got the word ritu. Ritu is the season, it comes from the word rita. Ritu and rita are combined. The right season of the right action. So you know what is the right action and at what time the right action is to be performed. I told you that in India they developed the science of time. I spoke of astrology also to some extent. The entire astrology is based upon the science of time. And I told you that those who know Agni, those who know Fire, they don't need to go to astrology. Inwardly they know what is the right time for the right action. And then it is the one who knows how to sacrifice, the manner of sacrifice — the manner is very important. In the Vedic literature, manner has been given a great importance: how you do it. The question is not only of doing something, but how you do it. This is a vidhi. Vidhi means rule. What is to be done first, what is to be done second, what is to be done at the end. So Agni, the fire, knows. Once you make him your leader, the sacrifice can be done. Now sacrifice implies a journey.
This is another truth they discovered regarding sacrifice. As you make sacrifice, that is to say, as you burn yourself, burn what you are and what you have, by invoking the truth that you want to discover, you simply speak the truth, invoke the truth, aspire for the truth, and as you go on aspiring, you go on burning yourself. Whatever you are and what you have is imperfect. So these imperfect things have to be offered. Whatever we are, we are imperfect. This imperfection is to be thrown into the fire where it is burnt. It is this burning which is of essence, and as you burn, you begin to get pushed. There is a motion that happens. You move from untruth to truth. There is a journey. That is why the sacrifice has been described in the Veda as a path of ascension, as a path of going upwards. As you go on burning yourself, you find that you are moved. There is a progress which is being made.
This progression of moving from untruth to truth, –– there is a famous sentence in the Vedic literature, asato ma sad gamaya, "from falsehood lead me to the truth". So this is the path of sacrifice and you go on making a sacrifice. As you go on making a sacrifice, you discover more and more of the truth. You become truthful, not only you discover truth, you become truthful, you become yourself, you become your true Self. The falsehood is shed as it were, it is burnt away, and you emerge out of the burning. Something that is golden in you emerges, which can't be burnt. It is inextinguishable.