Let us work to Restore the Vedas - Session 4-18 June 2006

Yesterday we had four verses from the first Sukta, first Mandala of the Rig Veda and therefore we had some inkling into what Sri Aurobindo calls the psychological interpretation of the Veda. But we can dwell a little on this question of psychological sense, psychological meaning even what Sri Aurobindo calls symbolism. The one example that we took was kavi kratu, this is a word which we emphasised yesterday, while describing the nature of Agni, we said Agni is kavi kratu. And Sri Aurobindo points out that Sayana who is interpreting in a ritualistic manner translates this word kavi kratu as one who is active in the ritual, kratu is the active and kavi is the one who knows rituals and one who is engaged in rituals and says kavi kratu is one who is active in the ritual. And Sri Aurobindo when he translates he says kavi kratu means whose will towards action is that of a seer, there it is active in the ritual that is one ritualistic interpretation; the same word Sri Aurobindo says one whose will towards action that is kratu, will towards action is that of a seer − kavi, not one who is engaged in ritual, it makes a lot of difference, one who is active in ritual and one who is a seer. One who is active in ritual can also be a mechanical action, perhaps even a robot can do if it is programmed, a robot also can do active in ritual the same ritual to be repeated at certain timings and it can be done by a robot, there is no psychological necessity in it but a seer is quite different, you cannot make a robot a seer, it’s a different dimension altogether. This is one example to show what is the difference between a ritualistic interpretation and a psychological interpretation?

What is psychology? And why Sri Aurobindo calls his interpretation psychological interpretation. Psychology is understood in several different ways, there is in the West today a school of psychology which is called Behaviourism, there is another school which is called Gestalt school of psychology, a third is what is called Functional psychology, a fourth is called Structural psychology and then there is a school which is called Psychoanalysis, Personalistic psychology. There are many schools of psychology in the West and the word psychology therefore does not become very easily clear when we say psychological interpretation. But in the Indian context psychology has been, you might say, the most prominent study right from the beginning to the present day except at a given time in the intermediate period study of psychology became extremely poor. It is now again that we have to re-establish as it were. In fact today in most of the universities Indian psychology is not being taught, what is taught is only Western psychology. And even in Western psychology there is no certainty because of so many schools of psychology. The basic point is that there is a phenomenon of consciousness, this is the central point in psychology. The phenomenon of consciousness and how the consciousness operates this is the basic theme of psychology, study of consciousness, study of the operation of consciousness, the study of states of consciousness, the study of different combinations that can be created in psychological components, analysis of consciousness, synthesis of the various elements of consciousness, utilisation of these combinations, application of these combinations and whatever results are obtained by the application, study of the results and trying to see whether some other results can be produced, higher results can be produced. In fact this is the basic study whether Western psychology or Indian psychology both of them have this basic point.

According to Behaviourism consciousness does not exist, all that is happening is what we call thinking. He says thinking is nothing but loud speaking, it is a silent speaking. Speaking is a physical act. Now according to Behaviourism there is no such thing as thinking as such. When you start speaking, mother tells you that this is this object, you repeat the word then afterwards you go on talking whatever you think, they don’t use the word thinking, whatever you talk you go on talking. When a child learns a language he goes on talking, talking. One day my father or mother said: ‘I will slap you now if you talk.’ So the child stops talking but goes on silently talking within himself. This silent talking becomes more and more complex and that is what you call thinking. This is the account that behaviourist psychology gives of what we call the thinking process.

In India however when you read the text like the Veda which is regarded as the oldest extant document in the world not only in India but the whole world, there is no text available in the whole world comparable to the Veda and such a huge, it is not only at one stroke, you have got such a huge body of text. And if you read the Veda you find that these composers of the Veda must have not only studied psychology but must have studied psychology to such a length and breadth and such height, such depth that these concepts which are present in the Veda could come only when extraordinary experiments would have been carried out, which you can’t even today imagine and even today we are not ready to experiment upon. This is how this Veda has to be seen. If you regard Veda as a text which only tells you how to do yajya and what are the vidhis to be performed at given times it will be still valuable but if you can show there are concepts in Veda which manifest a tremendous psychological understanding of the human consciousness and not only as it operates here but how it can operate at different levels of consciousness, which are even what may be called Supreme levels.

As I had said in the beginning, this concept satyaś citraśravastamaḥ is a psychological concept. Sri Aurobindo has said that how ritualistically it can be brought down on a lower level, shravas instead of thinking, shravas in the real sense of Shruti, Sayana says shravas means fame, so Agni is famous. To say that Agni is famous is one way of interpreting the same word and Sri Aurobindo says shravas is the inspired forms of knowledge. Now you see the distinction when you say shravas is a word which indicates inspired forms of knowledge. I had given the example of great poets, great poets when they reach a state of inspiration they don’t fabricate words, they don’t fabricate lines and expressions, all that is in the poetic formulation, rhythmic word, the vision and the style, all the three are combined together in a poet of a high level and when he utters even one sentence, all the three are present combined together, – the vision, the style and the rhythmic word. The main distinction between prose and poetry is that in prose you do not care for rhythms, the distinguishing feature of poetry is that it is rhythmic unless there is a rhythmic word it’s not poetry, it may be anything else. Even there are many good prose writers whose writings also have rhythmic form like Plato for example that is why his prose is called poetic prose because when you read his prose, you have the rhythm there is a kind of a beat. Now a good poet does not try to see whether the beat is there or not, when he is inspired by the very word, it automatically flows out, that is a mark of a poet, he doesn't labour. He is so inspired that the words themselves begin to dance as it were and they automatically take their place to express the vision that he wants to express. In Nala and Damayanti of Vyasa in Mahabharata, when Nala disappears and Damayanti is left alone, she wakes up in the morning and she wakes up and says: “Natha Natha, hatasmi, hitasmi, nashtasmi”. These words you know in a torrent, there is no effort, the psychological vision of a woman who gets up in the morning and doesn’t find her husband and she cries out, this is a mark of a poet. This is shravas. Now difference between calling shravas, a fame and saying Agni is famous and to say that Agni is capable of this kind of Shruti, this kind of capability of inspired expressions of visions of the highest Truth, − this is the difference.

Now we know that in Veda there are all kinds of psychological terms that we come across. There is for example mati is a word which comes very often, dhi is another word, dhiyo yona prachodayat even in the Gayatri Mantra:

yam medham devaganah pitarashcho pasate |
Taya mamadya medhaya’gne medhavinam kuru || (Yajurveda 32.14)

Now this medha is a very prized capacity and here there is no ritualistic interpretation possible because medha is medha and it is admitted that Vedic seers were aware of what is medha, and then there is a real subtle understanding, what is dhi, medha, mati, sumati, sankalpa all these are psychological terms. And these we find accurately given at the right moment, there is no confusion. For example, we do make a distinction between sensation and perception. When somebody touches me it’s a sensation, when I see a cow there is a sight, which is a sensation. But when I perceive and recognise it as a cow it’s a perception. And then there is a conception, - sensation, perception, conception. Then there is a process of combination of conceptions which we call reasoning, reasoning is nothing but a combination of so many concepts put together and put them in an order which is considered to be consistent. And the perception of the Law of Contradiction and Law of identity, Law of excluded middle which are the normal laws of thought and application is the process of reasoning is a still higher process of understanding and the highest, highest concept that we can have as I told you yesterday of the ontological argument that when you can see that the highest concept is a concept of God and is the perception that the God exists is the highest that we can have in intelligence and I say this is not all because the Veda does not stop at this point it goes beyond conception and then there are many faculties of which the Veda speaks. Veda speaks of Ila, of Saraswati, of Mahati, of Dakshina. Now what are these? We don’t have the time to go into the details of these four faculties which are described in the Veda and if you see what is written about them surely they are not intellectual conceptions, they are direct perceptions and direct seizing of the Truth. Now that we can seize the Truth, we can seize it intellectually but we can also seize it experientially. When you can seize the Truth experientially then there is a revelation that is a power of Ila. It is corresponding to opening my eyes and I see, things are revealed before me. Similarly Ila is a power which when it operates it sees the Truth directly.

Now what is the difference between truth of fact as I see it and the Truth of which the Veda speaks? It’s a very important concept Truth because when we were told Agni is satayas chitras shravas tamaha, the word satya is very important. What is satya according to the Veda? As Sri Aurobindo has explained when you go in detail as we shall see later on also that satya is expressed in the Veda by three words Satyam, Ritam, Brihad. The normal grasp of objects which may be an accurate grasp of objects is a grasp of a fact but we know that any fact seen in its isolation is corrected by the next perception that I make, combined with it. When you combine many precepts or sensations or precepts together then your apprehension of the fact becomes clearer. The simple example is of the blind men and the elephant. If you touch only one aspect of the elephant you may call it a tree or you may call it a small little thing, the eyes and ears and so on, different things can be described individually. When you combine many precepts together your perception of the fact becomes larger. Now when in the Veda the word satyam is pronounced it has another meaning. It has first of all another perception of the vast,The real physical experience of the vast is obtained when you go to the top of the hill. As you rise higher, and higher then you find that your vista becomes vast. And when you see from the top of the hill you have a better perspective and all the particular facts also fall in their place better. Now in the Veda when you say Brihad, it is even vaster than that. There is a concept even in ordinary logic; this is a concept of all, what is the meaning of all? And in Western thinking there is a lot of discussion on this word - all. It is not possible here to enter into that aspect of discussion on ‘all’ because that will take us into far different domains altogether. But I only leave it with you this question of thinking on what is ‘all’. It’s a word we use so often and it is said that reasoning is impossible without reference to ‘all’. The normal example which is given in ordinary logic is that Socrates is mortal can be derived as a proposition when you know that Socrates is a man and when you know all men are mortal, so unless you know all men are mortal you cannot deduce that Socrates is mortal. It is a simple example of logical reasoning. But there what is important is the reference to 'all'.

What is all? Now it is this concept of ‘all’ which Veda says you can experience, at present although you use the word ‘all’, nobody can say that he has seen all. The Veda claims and that is the height of the psychological understanding which we find in the Veda, Brihad is also known as vishwa, there is a concept in the Veda, constantly you find vishwa, vishwa is a word which is for ‘all’ in the Veda, vishwa devah, all the gods. Now this word vishwa and Brihad are constantly associated in the Veda. You have written here vishwtoyanto let it come from all sides. Now that experience of ‘all’ is actually called in the Veda, − Satyam. Satyam is not an ordinary perception of ordinary fact; it’s particular but experienced, not only the concept of all but the experience of all. Sri Aurobindo defines Satyam of the Veda as fundamentally a concept of all comprehension, this word all comprehension is what Sri Aurobindo calls in The Life Divine, in fact in The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo has written five long chapters on the Supermind. And one of the important chapters is ‘The Triple Status of the Supermind’. What are the three statuses of the Supermind? Sri Aurobindo says that this is described in the Veda, he has taken from the Veda but of course expressed in the language which is more accessible to the modern times but the concepts which are taken are taken from the Veda. The three statuses of the Supermind are the following: in the first status of the Supermind there is 'all comprehension'.

Now according to the Vedic knowledge and according to The Life Divine the Supreme Reality is unlimited, is infinite and from the infinite whatever comes out, infinite contains all. There is nothing outside it these are all our poor ways of understanding all, nothing outside it, everything is contained in it. Even the word infinite today is considered to be extremely difficult to define. Bertrand Russell while analysing the word infinite he said the whole concept is odd, he does not say wrong or false or understandable, or should not be used, he said the idea of infinite is an odd idea. Why because you take two series of infinity 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and there is no end of it, any figure that you can think of is a part of that series. It’s all and yet infinite, unending. Then you take another series 2, 4, 8, 16 etc, etc, it’s also unending. Now in the first series the number of figures that you will have, in the second series the number of figures you will have will be smaller and yet both will be infinite. Now when you examine the concept of infinite in this way, what is infinite, smaller or bigger? He is not able to answer this question. He says, you can only say that the idea of infinite is odd. This is the concept with which the Vedas starts as it were.

Vedic knowledge is the knowledge of the infinite. The infinite which is beyond, neither here, nor there, nor today nor yesterday, nanu nam asti no shawaha, it is that kind of reality and that Reality is manifestation, is manifesting. Now this manifesting consciousness, according to Sri Aurobindo and according to the Veda this manifestation is a conscious manifestation. In the Big Bang theory it is not a conscious explosion, but in the Vedic manifestation it’s a conscious manifestation. There is consciousness which holds all as it were, all comprehending in which all is understood, is comprehended, important word is consciousness is comprehension, is understanding. But understanding can also be apprehending but this is comprehending, apprehending is only when you take cognisance of this or that or that, when you say I have comprehended it means all aspects I have taken into account and I have comprehended, I have understood now fully. So the first status of the Supermind is all comprehending consciousness. The Veda says such a consciousness exists. This is a very important claim, such a consciousness exists and it is that which is called satyam. So when it is said Agni is satya, satayas chitras shravas tamaha, it looks a very simple word but if you examine the Vedic text and see what actually satyam means, in the ritualistic interpretation satya means the true, true in the sense that true in its effect. If you can ask for a certain boon and that boon comes about, it is true and that is the meaning of satya. But if you examine the whole Veda and see what is satya? You will find that satya is all comprehending consciousness. That which is realised that which is seen in all comprehending consciousness that is satya and that is the first and then Veda claims that such a consciousness exists. And that is that consciousness is Svam damam of Agni that is the real home.

Agni has its own home and it is in its own home swedame, when it comes into its own home it brightens up and fully blazes up. At lower levels Agni is not so bright, it is not in its own home it has come down from there. It is put into the inconscient so that it can be enlightened, therefore it’s not so bright but when it rises up and goes to its home, its fullness is manifested. So Agni is the one whose own home is there that is why if you worship Agni, if you call Agni, if you take Agni as your companion and he leads you and takes you, takes you to what, what is the goal, it takes you this all comprehending consciousness, which exists. This is the claim of the Veda. You can say it is all imagination, fiction, fine! Even as an imagination to say that there is an all-comprehending consciousness somewhere requires a great boldness, even to imagine but the Vedic claim is this is seen, what is kavi, kavi is the seer and seer of what, he is a seer of all-comprehending consciousness. You are not a seer unless you are established in this all-comprehending consciousness. In Indian psychology this all-comprehending consciousness is a starting point, you might say because Veda speaks of it and our entire Indian psychology is based upon the idea of an all-comprehending consciousness. We can go on, on this subject because it is a very large subject but since I spoke of triple status, I will just conclude the two other statuses of the Supermind.

The second is apprehending consciousness. This comprehending consciousness is capable also of the apprehending consciousness. That is to say although there is all comprehending vision available to that consciousness it is not devoid of a capacity to concentrate on particulars either. It is simultaneous, it can comprehend, it can apprehend. It is like a mother working in a kitchen who has to look after a child at the same time. The mother has a complete comprehending consciousness regarding the kitchen, regarding the work of cooking, she keeps an eye upon the child also because she is keeping an eye on the whole she does not therefore have the incapacity of cooking also while concentrating on the child. So while doing many other things if she concentrates also on the child, it’s an apprehending consciousness. This is an analogy but a comprehending consciousness which can also look into particulars and concentrate upon the particulars at the same time, simultaneously; normally when you start from a large vision to a particular you lose the large, when you have particular vision you lose one or the other, you can’t combine together. In the supramental consciousness, you have both together, the consciousness of all, consciousness of any particular part and all the parts and perception of all parts from all sides of things.

You know Leibniz when he wanted to explain something of this kind. In fact I regard Leibniz as one of the great philosophers of the West who comes very close to the Vedic knowledge. He spoke of a consciousness which he called all consciousness and he said that each individual is a monad, he used the word for each individual a monad, and he said a monad however although it is a particular one it has a reflection of all, it perceives all. Although he says the monad is windowless, he does not have the capacity of crossing its boundaries and yet it is capable of reflecting all, but from its own point of view. Now something of this kind happens in the apprehending consciousness. If you examine the apprehending consciousness, Vedic idea of apprehending consciousness is a perception of each, of all from its specific point of view. But Supermind also knows what this specific perception of all, what that specific perception of all, of the other one specific perception of all. It is something like having mirrors all around in a room. He himself has given this example. If there is a room in which there are mirrors all around, what do you see? If you can perceive, first of all there is no end to it, you will see what is called infinity. There is no end of reflections, it goes on and on, and on, and on and if you look into this mirror you’ll get one perception of all from that point of view, if you will look into this, you will get perception of all from this point of view and if you are able to rise up, you and have all of them together, this is an analogical example I can give you because Leibniz has given this example in one of his writings and this is very interesting for us to understand something of this kind. Therefore when Veda speaks of satya it speaks first of all comprehending consciousness, apprehending consciousness and third projecting consciousness this consciousness not only comprehends and apprehends it also projects. Now what is projection? I will not go into it because it would be another long, long statement. I leave it at this moment that there are three statuses of the Supermind, comprehending consciousness, apprehending consciousness and projecting consciousness. So whenever the word satya is used in the Veda it is this all comprehending, apprehending and projecting consciousness and such a consciousness exists. And what Sri Aurobindo points out is the Veda states, that is the psychological truth brought out by Sri Aurobindo that Veda contains truths of the psychology not only of man but psychology of God, of the highest consciousness because basically psychology is a study of consciousness and God is consciousness therefore psychology is not only human psychology, it’s Divine psychology and therefore Veda is a book of Divine psychology but also which connects human psychology with human consciousness and therefore it’s a comprehensive psychological work.

Now on this subject much can be said and we shall also have a chance of more to say. But I thought we shall go to one more text which Sri Aurobindo has given on Agni and maybe that some of the things that I have spoken just now will be illustrated in that particular statement. I am taking this particular example for three reasons; one is that it continues the exposition of the idea of Agni as you find in the Veda. We already had an introduction to this idea in the very first sukta. This sukta is the first sukta of the third mandala that was the first mandala, this is the third mandala of the Rig Veda and the first sukta of it, it is attributed to Vishwamitra. The second reason why I am taking it is that when you read for the first time, you will have a direct experience of what these verses are like. We speak of the Veda very often but when we are acquainted with some material, when you come across some text of the Veda, you get an experience of the Veda, first hand experience. And this is a long sukta, therefore it gives a good experience, at least symbolic experience of what the Vedic verses are like. And third is that its meaning, the psychological interpretation that Sri Aurobindo gives when it is understood in the way in which Sri Aurobindo explains it, gives you a kind of a perception of the wealth and depth of the Vedic psychology and the Vedic knowledge. Why we call Veda as a book of knowledge, what is the knowledge in it because very often Veda is dismissed either as karmakanda or at the most as upasana, you do some prayers but that it contains knowledge, − this aspect, you see there is a claim that Veda contains various kinds of disciplines of knowledge, there is physics in it, there is chemistry in it, there is mathematics in it, astronomy in it, psychology in it, philosophy in it, many kinds of knowledge are to be found in the Veda, it is a claim. In fact Dayanand Saraswati when he interpreted the Veda, he wrote a book Rigveda Bhasya Bhoomika in which he has tried to explain Veda as a book of knowledge and he has even said that Veda contains all disciplines of knowledge, sarva vidya. Now this is a proposition which is being controverted all over in fact, how can you say that Veda contains all disciplines of knowledge? I am not going to discuss that question now, whether it contains all disciplines of knowledge or not. Even today many attempts are being made.....

We have here a friend of ours who has written a book on Vedic Physics, it is not yet published, it is going to be published very soon. There are many others who have written Vedic Mathematics for example, there is also a claim that mathematics is also involved in this Vedic text. It is also said that Vedas contain ethics, what should you do? In fact it is said that you can get all kinds of knowledge from any other sciences but as far as what you ought to do that knowledge you can get only from the Veda and that knowledge is so profoundly given is also claimed. My present concern is only to show that the Veda contains the highest possible understanding of the Divine consciousness, human consciousness, connection between the two and the methods by which you can rise from human consciousness to the Divine consciousness, so that the highest fulfilment can be possible. This knowledge is certainly present according to me in the Veda and for that reason I call the Veda as a book of knowledge.

Now something of this kind we shall be able to taste in these verses which I am going to read out to you. I won’t read the Sanskrit part because many of us do not know Sanskrit but I shall read Sri Aurobindo’s translation. Now this translation of Sri Aurobindo is not a ritualistic interpretation, it is directly a psychological interpretation but this is what it says: “We have made the sacrifice to ascend towards the supreme, let the Word increase.”

I’ll just stop here at this moment, when you read this whole passage you will find that it will somewhat look like a bizarre statement. A bizarre statement is one in which a statement is made, second statement is made, third is made, fourth is made but there are no links and you don’t understand why this sentence should follow this sentence and why this word should follow this sentence, this is called bizarre. But you should experience it, that's why I am reading it. You should see that Veda, why many people say that this is incoherent, barbaric, primitive, there are no connections, no sense in it. This is the criticism which is made about the Veda and we have to understand why and this is an example, when you read it, for example even now the first sentence that I read:

We have made the sacrifice to ascend towards the supreme, let the Word increase.

Now what is the connection? You have made the sacrifice to the Supreme, let the word increase, Prāñcaṁ yajñaṁ cakṛma vardhatāṁ gīḥ,this is the sentence - Prāñcaṁ yajñaṁ cakṛma, cakṛma means we did it, we performed, Prāñcaṁ, the highest towards the highest, Prāñcaṁ, you have done the highest possible sacrifice to reach the Supreme. It claims that there is a Supreme and you have made an attempt to reach the Supreme, then let the word vardhatāṁ gīḥ. What is the connection? So at the very first sight you may say the one who has written does not know. Let the word increase, what is the meaning of word increasing, can the word increasing, word is word, what is the meaning of vardhatāṁ gīḥ, what is the increase of the word? We shall come to all that but I am just making a remark, so that when you read it don’t feel uncomfortable. This is a challenge as it were, Vedic text is a challenge to our consciousness, it’s like riddles. In riddles you say many things which don’t make any sense in the beginning and only when the key is given then you can find out the meaning. That is why there is a need to interpret the Veda there is a need to find the key of the Veda. This is an example which will give you an experience of it.

“We have made the sacrifice to ascend towards the supreme, let the Word increase. With kindlings of his fire, with obeisance of submission they set Agni to his workings; they have given expression in the heaven to the knowings of the seers and they desire a passage for him in his strength, in his desire of the word.(2)

Now you will see all bizarre statements from a certain point of view. Now go forward.

“Full of intellect, purified in discernment, the perfect friend (or, perfect builder) from his birth of Heaven and of Earth, he establishes the Bliss; the gods discovered Agni visible in the Waters, in the working of the sisters.(3)

Now here you will see so many concepts put together and unless you have got some kind of symbolic meaning, our understanding it won’t make any meaning, what does it mean? Now move forward.

“The seven Mighty Ones increased him who utterly enjoys felicity, white in his birth, ruddy when he has grown. They moved and laboured about him, the Mares around the new-born child; the gods gave body to Agni in his birth.(4)

“With his pure bright limbs he extended and formed the middle world purifying the will-to-action by the help of the pure lords of wisdom; wearing light as a robe about all the life of the Waters he formed in himself glories vast and without any deficiency.(5)

“He moved everywhere about the Mighty Ones of Heaven, and they devoured not, neither were overcome,—they were not clothed, neither were they naked. Here the eternal and ever young goddesses from one womb held the one Child, they the Seven Words.(6)

“Spread out were the masses of him in universal forms in the womb of the clarity, in the flowings of the sweetnesses; here the fostering Rivers stood nourishing themselves; the two Mothers of the accomplishing god became vast and harmonised.(7)

“Borne by them, O child of Force, thou didst blaze out holding thy bright and rapturous embodiments; out flow the streams of the sweetness, the clarity, where the Bull of the abundance has grown by the Wisdom.(8)

“He discovered at his birth the source of the abundance of the Father and he loosed forth wide His streams and wide His rivers. By his helpful comrades and by the Mighty Ones of Heaven he found Him moving in the secret places of existence, yet himself was not lost in their secrecy.(9)

“He bore the child of the Father and of him that begot him; one, he fed upon his many mothers in their increasing. In this pure Male both these powers in man (Earth and Heaven) have their common lord and lover; do thou guard them both.(10)

“Great in the unobstructed Vast he increased; yea, many Waters victoriously increased Agni. In the source of the Truth he lay down, there he made his home, Agni in the working of the undivided Sisters.(11)

“As the mover in things and as their sustainer he in the meeting of the Great Ones, seeking vision, straight in his lustres for the presser-out of the Soma-wine, he who was the father of the Radiances, gave them now their higher birth,—the child of the Waters, the mighty and most strong Agni.(12)

“To the visible Birth of the waters and of the growths of Earth the goddess of Delight now gave birth in many forms, she of the utter felicity. The gods united in him by the mind and they set him to his working who was born full of strength and mighty for the labour.(13)

“Those vast shinings clove to Agni straight in his lustre and were like bright lightnings; from him increasing in the secret places of existence in his own seat within the shoreless Vast they milked out Immortality.”(14)

Now we have these thirteen verses before us, and they are at first sight quite incomprehensive, even if you take ritualistic interpretation it will not make much difference. It is actually incomprehensible one way or the other and Veda consists of all kinds of statements of this kind and that is why we have to try to understand. Now let us before going into interpretation, a few words I will speak about them.

In the Veda there is this arrangement of exposition of the mantras. In every mandala except the ninth mandala where it is devoted only to soma, at least the seven mandalas all of them begin with address to Agni. The first suktas are all addressed to Agni, it’s a system. Why has Vyasa done so? It also requires questioning. Why does Vyasa select Agni to be in the first suktas in every mandala? According to my understanding he does so because Agni is the one companion, the one power, the one force whose help is available to us because he belongs to the earth as it were, he is available here on the earth, most easily available and if you know the secret of Agni, if you know how to call him for your companionship, if you can take help of him, if you understand him properly and if you move with him, if you call him and move with him then you can reach to the highest. This is the speciality of the function of Agni according to the Veda. It is for this reason I think that Vyasa thought that Agni should be given primary place in all the mandalas, in every mandala, wherever Agni comes, Agni is described. It is the knowledge given to us as to what Agni is. It is like bio-data of any individual where all that an individual has done, is doing, or can do, capacity and so on. So in every mandala you get some kind of a revelation of the idea of Agni. We had something of this in the very first mandala which we have seen a few times. Now here in the third mandala. Vishwamitra has addressed Agni and he gives us some understanding of what Agni is. Now it is said that the Vedic mantras are all prescriptive, they always give injunction. Now here you will see so many verses are there, in many verses there is no injunction at all. They simply describe something, except one sentence where he says “may he protect us”. That is the only one which is a kind of prayer, it is not even injunction. When you read the Veda itself, many of theories are blown up about the Veda. They will be found to be based upon certain ideas which are not to be thrown out but you will try to understand why they have said what they have said and what is the limitation of what they have said. It is by visiting Veda yourself once again and since Veda contains so much of knowledge, therefore we have to go back. If it was simply a small book of prayers, incomprehensible set of prayers, we could say, let it go we shall praise it, we shall put in the historical museum but nothing more than that. But it is not true, if Veda contains a knowledge which we don't possess and we can get it then even if the language is difficult, the symbolism is so difficult, we have got to penetrate through it. Now this particular mantra, this describes Agni and the very first sentence said that Agni is used in sacrifice and that sacrifice, the receiver claims we have made a sacrifice to the supreme. This itself is a very powerful statement. He doesn't say I made a kind of an obeisance or some kind of prayer, it's a sacrifice done to the Supreme. And sacrifice we have seen is a symbolic term in the Veda. Truth applied in action is sacrifice. So even though it may be only a ritualistic description, what Vishwamitra says is that we have done something, applied the truth in action in such a manner that we can address it to the Supreme, the Highest. Anybody claiming the Highest itself is a great thing but this is the claim, very simply done. Now action and expression are combined together. When do you get an epic expression, an epic usually like Ramayana or Mahabharata, why is it called epic? Because it describes highest possible action. Every epic is a description of a very high difficult action. When you describe it, that is called epic. It's not the length of the poem. In fact Sri Aurobindo says that the suktas of Veda are epical in character, that is to say these suktas describe an apical effort. So when you say, I have tried to reach the Supreme, it's an epical effort, it's not easy to say epical effort, nobody can easily have done the Supreme. So whole sukta actually is an epical sukta. Now it is only when you do a great action that great poetry comes out of it. You see all great poets, when they are inspired to write ethical poems, when there is highest action, so there is a close connection between action which is of the highest kind and the increase of the world of the epical expression, epical poetry. And there is another meaning in the Veda that word is not merely a description as we normally think poetry is expression, which is description, but according to the Vedic theory word is a sound and sound vibrates and vibrates and breaks the obstacles. This is the power of the word. In fact this power was explored gradually in India when we come to Tantricism. The very secret of tantricism is the power of the word, the power of mantra. A few words which you just utter, mature them, vibrate them and vibrations of effects. The entire Tantricism is based basically upon this power of the world. This is derived from the Veda. Very often people say that tantricism is not Vedic but it is not true. The truths of tantra are to be found in the Veda including worship of the divine mother, the worship of Aditi is present in the Veda. And it is Aditi's prayer, for the worship of Aditi, which has become specialized in Tantricism. Now this apart from saying that there is an action done in such a manner, that the supreme can be addressed by that action and that a great expression can emerge out of it, there is a need to express why this is possible in a sacrifice to the Supreme. And that is why the sukta describes what is Agni and all the verses can be easily understood. This sukta describes the ancient theory of evolution. The present theory of evolution is known since the time of Darwin but that the Veda contains is a polished theory of evolution. Polished theory, it's not ordinary theory. It you gives you a vivid description. That vivid description is to be found over here. And I’ll give you a few stray remarks on this without going into the text of the explanation which we shall do. But just here, see the number four:

The seven Mighty Ones increased him who utterly enjoys felicity, white in his birth, ruddy when he has grown. They moved and laboured about him, the Mares around the new-born child; the gods gave body to Agni in his birth.(4)

Now seven mighty ones is a symbolic term. In fact this whole sukta refers to seven powers, seven rivers, seven worlds, seven fires, seven horses, and all that. It's a symbolic term to use that this evolution which has taken place is not an ordinary movement, some mighty energy is at work and according to the Vedic knowledge this energy is sevenfold. Why sevenfold? We have already touched upon it last time because there are four seven planes in which the being can manifest, - Satyam, Tapas, Janah, Mahah, Swaha, Bhuha, Bhur these are the seven. So whenever the energy spreads out from the Divine it is always sevenfold. And this sevenfold energy works according to a principle on which it is working at what plane it is working. They are very conscious energies. A very wise and learned man when he speaks to the child, he knows how to speak to the child, he doesn’t use pedantic words, he adjusts himself to the level at which he works. Therefore these seven energies are described differently according to the level in which they are working. So it says “The seven Mighty Ones increased him ... so seven mighty energies to start with increased him who utterly enjoys felicity, Agni is the one who enjoys felicity the best, why, because he comes from Ananda as we said last time. He is Swam damam, original home is felicity, the love of the Divine, the joy of the Divine, Ananda, which is even beyond Supermind, that is its home. Therefore its very nature is full of felicity. Now that one he was white in his birth... whiteness is a symbol of utter purity and absolute beginning as it were, unpolluted but grows ruddy as he grows. That is to say this fire was planted to begin with, in the earth or that which is complete inconscient. When he was put into the inconscient, he was white, when he began to work in the inconscient, to push forward it became ruddy, it took the form, something of a white and dark all combined together it became ruddy in its growth. Fine, then what happens? They moved and laboured about him, they mean these seven ones, they now laboured to push Agni further, that is to say Agni is a power which is striving to bring back inconscient towards consciousness, it labours. In this labour the seven energies of the Divine are helping and as they come down on the physical plane and want to drive him towards the higher manifestation of the vital plane, then vital energy is described as ashwa that is the symbolic word. So when there is a question of the manifestation of the vital plane, the life plane, from the Matter comes the Life, from Life comes the Mind, and from Mind comes the Higher Mind and Supermind, this is the whole process of evolution which has been described in this sukta. So it’s a description of what Agni is, so when these mighty energies, seven energies of the consciousness, were striving to support Agni that take the form of mares − ashwaha. They moved and laboured about him, the Mares around the newborn child; so Agni now when he is taking birth, he looks like a small child, he is gradually growing in evolution. So the gods gave the body to Agni in his birth. It is now in organisms that the first bodies as we see them begin to grow, so in the beginning the bodies were given by Gods, that is Gods have a promise where he is they will also come and help him, so as he is labouring what is the contribution of the other Gods they gave him the body. The force is Agni’s force, help is of the seven energies and now the evolution takes place and moves forward. Now comes the next one, “With his pure bright limbs he extended and formed the middle world”, it is very important, the vital world is the antariksha, the middle world. It is Agni who works in the earth and from the earth as he moves out he builds also the middle world, that is the world of the vital force, vital being, organisms. The middle world purifying the will-to action the Agni has a great power of purification, even now if you want to purify any metal you heat it. Even psychologically when you do tapasya, tapasya means release the heat Agni. When you put Agni in your consciousness, purification takes place. So Agni is always purifying and therefore it says that purifying the will to action “by the help of the pure lords of wisdom”, other Gods also are helping. So Agni and the other Gods, who are lords of wisdom, are also helping him. Now as he moves forward “wearing light as a robe about all the life of the Waters” Now he changes his clothing also, “wearing light as a robe he formed in himself glories vast and without any deficiency”. That is to say this world has evolved is done by meticulous labour, every little thing is looked after, properly arranged. To produce a human being as we are now by a process of evolution, how much meticulous work must have been done at lower levels of existence to produce this kind of product that man is?

Yesterday Bhargav ji was saying what a wonder it is that in nine months a child is formed in the womb of the mother and all the organs and the intricacy of the machinery of the body, if that is the intricacy, complexity, subtlety involved in the formation of one human body, now how much labour and that labour this sukta attributes to Agni. It is Agni which has worked out in the whole vital world and the work has been without deficiency. Then you go forward.

“He moved everywhere about the Mighty Ones of Heaven, even the child the Agni, when he was born he is moving forward and they devoured not, it’s a very important word and they devoured not in the life force increase takes place by devouring, even now we eat food, we devour, without it the body and the vital existence is not possible. So physical and vital existence depend upon devouring but when you come to the mind it is not so, you increase without devouring, the mind does not devourer, mind accommodates, enlarges, this is the speciality of mind. Now it’s a description of the manifestation of the mind, evolution of the mind. “He moved everywhere about the Mighty Ones of Heaven, and they devoured not, neither were overcome,—they were not clothed, neither were they naked.” Now these goddesses when they come to the mind plane, beautifully described by Vishwamitra.

You see the mind principle has one speciality, mind in its purity is conception, conception becomes clearer and clearer when there is transparency of a conception. You hear a confused lecture, you hear a lecture with clarity, what is the difference, the difference is in a confused lecture the ideas are pell-mell, mixed, they are not transparent in a pure lecture, lecture which is clear the ideas are clarified, become transparent but they are words, in the mind plane this is the important point, words are clothing but if the words are transparent then they are naked but since they are words therefore clothed, therefore they are also clothed. So the pure mind is a plane where your expressions, your mediums are neither naked nor clothed. This subtlety of exposition, Vishwamitra imagine how many years ago the exact description of the mental consciousness is described in this poetic figure that the energies working in the mind plane, they are the pure mental energies and Agni is now manifesting the mind and these energies here are mental energies, no more vital energies, vital energies are like ashwaha, they were horses, wild, devouring. Whereas when you come to this plane they devourer not. They are clothed but not clothed also. This is the description and what a powerful description it is, they were not clothed, neither were they naked. Here the eternal and ever young goddesses from one womb held the one Child, the Seven Words. Now you see the description has changed, no more mares, there are seven words appropriate to the mental plane, in the mental plane the words are the expression, they are the clothes, words which are neither naked nor clothes that kind of words. So these goddesses who are working there are now seven words, they are described as seven sat vak - seven words. You can see the accuracy of the whole description, it’s not pell-mell. If it was a barbaric expression it would be all devouring, why not mares here and, why not words there, but no, this is the mental plane and in the mental plane should be appropriate to the mind.

Now we go further. “Spread out were the masses of him in universal forms in the womb of the clarity, it’s a tremendous statement, what is the highest in the mind? The highest in the mind is the perception of conceptions of universal forms. We had seen last time Plato’s Theory of ideas; how concepts become more and more universal until you reach the highest universal. So in the mind plane what Vishwamitra speaks of is that the highest plane, Agni manifests the highest universal form. This can only be done when you have gone out of Plato, to speak of one sentence like this. Plato took such a long time to describe his theory of universal forms whereas here in one stray sentence he says “Spread out were the masses of him in universal forms in the womb of the clarity, it is very important why he speaks of clarity here and not in the mares. It is in the mind plane that you can speak of clarity. So in the womb of the clarity, you see this idea of womb of clarity is also very important. In fact the word clarity here is Sri Aurobindo’s translation which is psychological translation. In the original I think it must be ghrita. If you look at verse number seven ghr.tasya yonau. According to Sri Aurobindo the word ghrita is a symbolic word in the Veda which has been used by sacrificial interpretation in the ordinary offering of ghrita. But when you read the word ghr.tasya yonau, the yoni of ghrita, what does it mean? It makes no sense in the ritualistic interpretation, the word has no meaning, so somehow it is interpreted but there is not that clarity. The womb of clarity has a meaning, but the womb of ghee has no meaning. So Sri Aurobindo says wherever the word ghritam comes in the Veda, if you translate it in the term of clarity, you will get the right understanding throughout and this is one of the symbolic words in the Veda. So in the womb of clarity, even the concept of womb of clarity is a tremendous concept that clarity has a womb. What is the womb of clarity? You get clarity only when the origin is in the light. In Plato the clarity comes when the slave goes out and sees the sun. When he sees the sun then he understands the clarity comes to him when he comes back from the sun. He goes to the womb of clarity, when he sees the light. So the Agni, he spreads out and he spreads out in masses, in universal forms, in the womb of clarity, in the highest light to which it has an access and from there he brings out the clarities and makes universal forms in the mind. Not only clarity, in the flowings of the sweetnesses; because higher than the mind is Supermind. Therefore light is the womb but that light is also full of Ananda. Therefore from that from where the clarity is born is itself anandamaya and vijnanamaya, vigyana is the light, anandamayi is the sweetness, is the madhu, is the Ananda..... “here the fostering Rivers stood nourishing themselves; now comes the idea of rivers. The seven words now come, the rivers stood nourishing themselves. Rivers are the original forces of energies coming from the Supermind. So it is from the Supramental light and sweetness that Agni was able to draw out universal forms. But even while forming the seven universal forms the nourishing powers were coming from high, from the highest Supreme Reality and then comes a very important word “the two Mothers of the accomplishing god became vast and harmonised.”... the two Mothers, who are the two Mothers, the two Mothers in the Veda refers to earth and heaven, it is called rodasi. In the Veda the word rodasi is very often used. And rodasi means earth and heaven that is to say - earth is the physical consciousness, heaven is the mental consciousness, this is the psychological interpretation of the Veda. Wherever you hear the word dyau, dyau refers to mind, like antariksha refers to vital and prithvi refers to physical. Even in shantipath - dyau shanti, antariksha gunshanti, prithvi shanti rapah so there also the three are spoken first. dyau shanti, antariksha shanti, prithvi shanti these three are constantly spoken in the Veda. And the two of them, the earth and the heaven they both are regarded as the two firmaments in the Veda, these firmaments are also called rodasi. Now the two Mothers of the accomplishing God became vast and harmonised. Now you see in the ritualism of Veda, of Vedic sacrifice there is always this important point that fire is burnt, it’s lighted, in kindled by two arnis, you make a friction between the two and then the fire is kindled. Even today in most of the Vedic yajnas this process is still followed. The two arnis are rubbed together, frictioned together and the fire is produced. This ritualism is important because this ritualism reminds the one that fire has its real birth when earth and heaven meet together and there is a friction between the two. They are called the two Mothers supporting the kindling of the fire.... the two Mothers of the accomplishing god, that is of Agni became vast and harmonised. See here in this world as it is, earth that is the physical and the mental are divided, there is constant conflict between the mind and the physical. All human psychological problems arise because the flesh demands one thing and mind demands something else and the two clash with each other. So in the ordinary state of evolution the two Mothers earth and heaven are normally in clash with each other, they are divided. It is only when you go to higher plane that they become harmonised. If you want to harmonise the body and the mind then you have to go with Agni to the higher plane of consciousness to the higher mind and to beyond the mind.

“Borne by them, O child of Force, thou didst blaze out holding thy bright and rapturous embodiments; out flow the streams of the sweetness, the clarity, where the Bull of the abundance has grown by the Wisdom.(8)

Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda: The Seven Rivers

Now you see you go beyond the mind, you were first at the physical level then at the vital level and then the mental level now evolution has gone farther. It is when you go to the highest that you come to the highest Reality is described by the Veda as Bull, it’s a symbolic word.

The symbolic word is the highest Reality, - Rishab. Very often we do not realise Mohenjo-Daro civilisation whether it is Vedic or not, people do not know. But if they know Bull is the symbol of the Supreme Reality in the Veda, it is not surprising that the seals of Mohenjo-Daro, they are all with Bull, it’s a very prominent figure in the seals of Mohenjo-Daro because at that time the Vedic civilisation had penetrated the life of people so greatly that the symbols of Vedic knowledge were inscribed even in the coins, in the seals. This Bull, why is it that the idea comes at this point, it’s a system, that is why Vedic verses are not pell-mell, they are very accurate, certain images come only at the right time, in the right place in the right manner. This is the perfection of the Vedic knowledge. So it is only here when you have gone beyond the mind that now the real Reality begins to manifest or at least first of all where Bull of the abundance has grown by the Wisdom, it is still not the realm of Bull himself. It is still only that plane, those planes where wisdom flows but wisdom which has been developed by the Supreme himself. The Supreme’s wisdom is growing in the planes of consciousness, which are between mind and Supermind.

“He discovered at his birth the source of the abundance of the Father and he loosed forth wide His streams and wide His rivers. By his helpful comrades and by the Mighty Ones of Heaven he found Him moving in the secret places of existence, yet himself was not lost in their secrecy.(9)

He discovered at his birth, now when he reaches this point, this is now he has reached his home, going beyond the mind crossing the waters of wisdom that is Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind now he has come to the Supermind and there he finds his real home. He says: “He discovered at his birth the source, there he meets the Supreme Reality and loosed forth wide His streams and wide His rivers, and therefore Agni was now able to manifest its fullness. This is a description of a gradual evolution from Matter to Supermind. What Sri Aurobindo speaks of is evolution, in fact Sri Aurobindo’s theory is simple from this point of view.

According to Sri Aurobindo this world is a world of evolution. In the scientific world today this idea of evolution is more or less accepted. Therefore we are sympathetic to this idea. But at one time when Veda spoke of this evolution and the Western idea never accepted evolution this whole thing would have seemed very bizarre. What is all this, first came this then came this, then came this, what is this? But now in a much better climate of knowledge which is even supported by science we find that this is an evolution of consciousness. This whole sukta is devoted to the evolution of consciousness and how Agni is the main force, main power of the whole evolutionary force and at what stages to what stages this evolution passes, Matter, to Life, to Mind and Mind to the higher levels of consciousness to Supermind and then to reaching to the Supreme Reality. This is the whole simple description actually and Sri Aurobindo actually says the same thing that now we have reached a point where Supermind is to be ascended to but according to the Veda this has been at least attempted in the Vedic times, already done and this is what Sri Aurobindo said that the greatness of the Vedic knowledge lies in the fact that Rishis were able to evolve beyond the mind. What we are now trying at a larger scale that was at least tried out. India is a laboratory of the greatest achievements of the developments of consciousness and this laboratory work started right from the Vedic times. They tried to cross the barriers of the mind; they went further, evolved and discovered what is lying in the highest levels of consciousness. And whatever they have described is the description of that discovery and their knowledge and therefore Vishwamitra writes very simply in a way, in a few verses he gives the whole story of evolution and in words which are amazingly accurate. Our time is over.