Then, they found that there are also at the same time helpful forces; there are many forces of this kind and they gave the description of these forces and gave even names, such names which are descriptive of those functions. There is Agni, there is Indra, there is Vayu, there is Surya, there is Usha, there are many other goddesses, like Bharati, Saraswati, Daksha, Ila, Sarama, and many other gods like Varuna, Pushan and then Aryaman and Bhaga and so many others: these are all helpful, and each one has a department as it were. If you want to develop your illumination, go to Indra; if you want love in the world, you have Mitra; if you want wideness, you go to Varuna: each one has its own department, this was the great discovery of the Vedic Rishis. They discovered that there are such beings as such helpers are available. Again it is not a dogma, it is not a belief: you make an experiment, you try to climb and you will find that at certain stages these gods are available to you; they will come to help you.
Then there is a relationship between you and the gods, which will also be established. Whenever you approach god, you first of all give up all that you have so far, and then the god will fill you again with what he has. Your giving is called ‘sacrifice’. What is called yajña is nothing but you’re giving up to the god and then the god fills you, he gives the rewards, they are the ‘fruits’ of your sacrifice. In the intermediate stage, you will become extremely happy: you sacrifice, you get the reward and then you enjoy them; then you stop climbing for some time, you remain stuck up there. Then again you find that this is not enough and again you climb, again you sacrifice what you already have, other gods come, and they help you again and move forward, until you reach a stage where there is nothing to be attain at all, because all that is there is eternally present. You attain to that ‘Reality’, which is Immutable, which is the Highest, which is the Supreme, which is Wonderful. To attain to the highest Reality, and to have constant relationship with Him and to be able to act in that state, this was called śreṣtā in the Veda: he is the highest. Those who have attained the highest, perfected themselves completely.
This was the teaching of the Veda in which there was three parts. You attain to the Knowledge of the Supreme; you offer yourself to the Supreme by upāsanā, by devotion; and you begin to act with the help of the Supreme, like the Supreme, you become instrument of the Supreme. You become the Knower of the Highest, the Lover of the Highest, and the Instrument of the Highest. This was the basic teaching of the Veda. And, in the details of this teachings there is also the knowledge of the human psychology, psychology of the hostile forces, psychology of the divine forces, god, goddesses and so on, a very vast psychological complex system that we get in the Veda.
What happened historically was that human beings normally do not grasp the highest: this is the limitation of human beings. Whenever a given teaching is given, even if the highest is given, everyone takes out of the teaching whatever is suitable to oneself. Since human beings normally act and enjoy the fruits of action, this aspect of acting and enjoying the fruits of action become the most important element.
And then came along a long tradition in India, that Veda is nothing but a book of sacrifices and enjoyment of the fruits of action: the boons of the gods. Sacrifice also came to be ritualised. How do you sacrifice? You have a symbolic fire, in which you offer yourself: actually, true sacrifice is that you offer yourself, but instead of that now we sacrifice only a few things, symbolically. It came to be believed that if you do even ritualistic sacrifice, which are saṅkalpa, with a certain wish, then gods will be pleased with you, and gods will give you the results: this came to be called karmakāṇḍa. And then in the tradition it came to be believed that Veda is nothing but karmakāṇḍa: other aspects of the Veda were forgotten.