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Let us work to Restore the Vedas - Track 5

It appears that there must have been a Pre–Vedic period. If you read the Veda, the first sukta itself, you speak of nutanahi purvahi, the old, the ancient ones and now the nutan ones, already the new period had come. Vedic age was itself a new age according to them. So there must have been a pre–Vedic period and in pre–Vedic period there must have been great developments. Sri Aurobindo finds that this text of the Veda cannot be the beginning of an age, because there is so much of ripeness and perfection. Even for example in the very first sukta the description of Agni, the very concept of Agni and the epithet which is given, it cannot be primitive, it must be accomplished. Agnir hota Kavi kratuh satyas chitra sharvas tamah even this one sentence, so well chiselled, metrically so perfect, poetically so powerful, mantric, which can affect the experience in the individual who hears it. Even the concept kavi kratu, what is kavi kratu? It’s not an ordinary concept at all.

In the West one of the great theories, which even now the Western thinkers tried on is the Socratic Doctrine of ‘virtue is knowledge’. What exactly is the idea of virtue is knowledge? According to Socrates – virtue is a right action which flows from true knowledge, ‘virtue is knowledge’ that is you cannot be virtues unless you are seated in knowledge. In fact the whole theory is very well expounded when you go to Republic, of Plato, where in the Republic there is a famous simile of the den. According to me, both Socrates and Plato are disciples of the Upanishads and the Vedic knowledge. This is my personal view, I don’t want to controvert now, but if you read Socrates and Plato quite closely, and if you understand that there was a great commerce between India and Greece in those times, and if you admit that Vedic literature is anterior to Socrates and Plato, then it can be quite at least plausible that the Vedic concepts, Upanishadic concepts had already migrated to the West, to Greece. And this doctrine itself according to me is a great proof, you go to Veda, kavi kratu and you take Socratic doctrine of Virtue is Knowledge, and Plato’s exposition of Virtue is Knowledge, what is that simile? It is a wonderful simile that he gives. Plato says: imagine a cave in which there are pillars and to the pillars some slaves are tied, so that they can look only in one direction, on that direction there is a wall and behind these prisoners there is a fire, what will happen? What will be the vision and understanding of these slaves, as far as the experience of the world is concerned, for them shadows will be the only experience of the world. They will not be able to see even themselves because they are tied, they can only see on the wall, shadows because there is a fire behind, so because of the light and because of the intermediate bodies which are here they will only see the shadows. He says the whole world as we are, we are like slaves, who are tied to the pillars and whatever experience of the world we have is only experience of shadows, our experience there is nothing substantial in it, all shadowy experience. Then he says: if one of them however succeeds, to untie himself from the pillar and he moves out and goes out of the cave and suddenly finds the tremendous sunlight and the glorious sun, what will be his boundaries of his imagination and his experience? Imagine for the first time in your life, you are only seeing the shadows, suddenly you find a huge world outside and marvellous sunlight.  Now Plato says: that the man of knowledge is the man who has liberated himself from the pillars, gone out of the cave, gone into the outside wide vision of the world, in which sun is reigning all over, he says that is the knowledge, in fact in Plato, sun itself is the symbol of knowledge, as in Veda sun is the symbol of knowledge.
When we speak of Gayatri Mantra where Savitri is addressed:

Tat–savitur Vareñyaṃ, Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi, Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt

So when you recite that, what is that? It is Savitri, the light, the supreme light. Vareñyaṃ Bhargo, so that light in Plato, is one of the best pieces of Republic is this simile of the den and there he describes sun as the symbol of knowledge and he says: ‘one who has liberated himself, is a man of knowledge. Only he can do actions which are virtuous.’ Virtue follows from one who has seen the surya – the knowledge, one who is established in knowledge only he can see the light – the right action. Now this is kavi kratuh. What is kavi, kavi is one who has known, according to the Vedic understanding kavi is the seer, kratu is action – will to do. So one’s whose will to do is inspired by true knowledge is kavi kratuh, and Agni is described as kavi kratuh.

If you want to understand the real meaning of Agni, surely it is not the physical fire, it is symbolic, just as in Plato also, sun is only symbolic. Agni that is fire that is physically seen to us is actually a physical symbol of a true Agni which exists according to the Veda, and the whole agni–shastra of the Veda; agni–vidya of the Veda is true knowledge of Agni, what is Agni? Agni is supposed to be the master of the earth, but why? And yet it is the Agni, which was found in the waters by the Gods, although He is supposed to be reigning the earth, yet it is according to the Veda, Agni was found in the waters by the Gods, so what is this Agni? There are many symbolic meanings of the whole shastra of Agni, in due course of time, if we have time we shall do it, but this is a very important doctrine of Agni, and the description of it as kavi kratuh is extremely important, this concept cannot come easily to anybody even to a primitive man. Primitive man doesn’t know, what is knowledge, what is action and what is virtue, what is right action, what is wrong action, it is only a perfected seer, one who has attained to the highest knowledge, who can really say kavi kratuh, this concept cannot arrive just like that and the very face of it is not primitive. The whole Western idea that the Veda is primitive scripture is entirely false, right from the very first sukta tells you it is not so and then the next verse satyas chitra shravas tamah, imagine tamah means the highest.

Now nobody can speak of the highest unless you have gone above the highest. You can speak of the highest peak of the world because you can fly beyond the peak of the Himalayas, then you can say this is the highest. Nobody can speak of tamah, Supreme, unless that accomplishment is reached by somebody, and this refers to what tamah of what? satyas chitra shravas, every word is so important, what is shrava,  what is shrava? shrava is the capacity to hear the divine word. What is called shruti, comes from this word shru. According to the Veda, there are two great faculties which arise in a state of consciousness when you go beyond mind. As long as we are in the state of mind we hear and see by senses but nobody inquires what is actually sensation?

If you look into the real functioning of the light and the sight, it’s a miracle, mere eyeballs and the light coming on it and you say I see, what is this sight? It is a mystery and why is it different from hearing, what is hearing? Why does hearing differ from seeing, and vice versa what is this? That is because according to the Veda, seeing and hearing are not actually sensuous. In our present state of consciousness they are instruments of our senses but originally sight and hearing are supernormal and when you go higher, what you call hearing is heard in that consciousness. The word which is parme vayome, the words which are in the ether, highest ether, those words go on vibrating and they are heard. When those words are heard shravah and tamah, the highest words which are heard, and that is why these words which are satyas chitra, they are full of truth, there is no mistake in it.

When I see this flower with my own eyes, I say I have seen the real object, there is no question about it, even here there can be a question because even in dream, I can see a flower, and I can doubt whether it is dreaming or awaking, but there is a stage when the prisoner comes out of the cave and sees the sun and has no doubt that there is light. The truth is self–evident, that self–evidence of the truth knowledge, it is that which is spoken of in the very first sukta that too chitra that is another word which is extremely important, satyas chitra shrravas tamah, chitra is variety. The truth can be experienced variously; this can come only at the stage of synthesis, when so many truths are seen. In Jainism, unekantavada is praised because you can see truth from many sides, according to me this doctrine is derived from satyas chitra, Reality is many–sided. When you see an elephant, it has many sides, therefore it has a trunk, and the tail and the pillars and so on the story of the blind man seeing the elephant and describing several different ways, it’s the same object but described variously. So the Veda recognises that the Truth is described and experience able variously. That is why ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti is the part of the chitra. If truth was only one–sided the word chitra has no meaning and satyas and chitra together would be quite incoherent. It’s a profound teaching that Truth can be seen variously, can be experienced in various ways and that is why the Vedic truth is not rigid. If Indian culture has remained flexible, it is only Indian culture which has welcomed Islam and Christianity with the kind of open hands, as no other culture has done that is because of this idea of satyas chitra has been throughout woven into the blood, veins of India. India is so catholic; it knows Truth can be various. Truth is not a rigid monotone. The very concept of truth is a different concept, sometime when we have time we will discuss it, what is Truth? But here what is satyas chitra shrravas tamah, imagine the Vedic Rishi describing Agni as Kavi Kratuh, satyas chitra shrravas tamah, and then Devo devbhi aagamat, the one God who, when he comes all other gods come. This is another secret of the Vedic knowledge. What is in God Agni that when He comes all the other Gods come? This is also a secret knowledge of the Veda, so that you need not call all the gods, don’t invite all the gods, you just invite Agni and the moment Agni comes all the gods will come. Those who don’t believe in gods,  they will all pooh–pooh it, those who are profound, who have got time to think about, who want to have experience, gods are living realities. If Hanuman can give an answer to your prayer, it is because Hanuman, as Sri Aurobindo himself has said: ‘Hanuman is an immortal vital force devoted to the Divine’, he is alive, he is immortal therefore he can answer. It is not merely when you speak to Hanuman, and in India even common people have experiences of Hanuman answering their prayers, it is a fact. You go to millions of people in India, who have worshipped Hanuman and they have got answers, it’s a fact.

Ganesh, for example is a reality, why Ganesh is being worshipped, it’s not a superstitious belief and a kind of grotesque figure, actually Mother once said to me: ‘She has seen Ganesh, who comes here and She said Ganesh comes to me here and  with the same figure as India imagines him to be, same elephant trunk, Mother herself has told me that She has herself seen Ganesh coming in her room’, and Mother used to keep a image of Ganesh near herself because he felt very pleased about it. So Mother said: ‘He comes here’, Mother said: ‘He is my child and he comes to me’. So this is a real experience. Agni is a Deva, Agni as a God. Modern mind would pooh–pooh the idea of God, Avtaar, Devas, of Gods but that is a very superficial view of Reality and what this world consists of, that the world is wider than what we can imagine, world has mysteries greater than what we can experience, is one of the first lessons of Vedic knowledge, – Reality is adbhutam, is really wonderful.