The Veda is therefore a synthesis of Jnana Yoga (the Yoga of Knowledge), of Karma Yoga (the Yoga of action), and Bhakti Yoga (the Yoga of Devotion). The first synthesis is found in the Veda. It was repeated later on with various kinds of enrichments, modifications, different kinds of uses, and so on. But the original synthesis is found in the Veda. That is why it is called integral knowledge, synthetic knowledge. This is what the Vedic Rishis have given, not only to India, but to the whole world, because as I’ve said it is the first available record of humanity. It is a kind of a heritage or patrimony given to the whole world, available to all those who want to be world citizens.
Now comes the last word of my present exposition: When you combine the Yoga of Knowledge, the Yoga of Action and the Yoga of Devotion; when all that is prescribed is done, - you rise to the Supermind, you get the help of Indra and Sarama, you go to the Inconscient, dig out the Light, bring out the lost cows, when you’ve done all that, what then happens?
The answer that the Veda gives is that you attain to Immortality, amritam. This is the goal which they have fixed. When you do all this, you arrive at the state of Immortality. Until that time you are martya, mortal. We are all mortals until all this is done.
There is one verse in the Rig Veda which gives some kind of an idea of this Immortality. It is written by Parashara, a great Rishi. It says that “They” the Angirasas, our forefathers, -- “They made the path of Immortality by ripening everything.” That’s the first condition, - you ripen your willpower, emotions and knowledge. Then you bring down the power which comes from the gods, who are the children of Aditi, Aditaih putrah. Aditi is the Divine Mother, the gods are Her children, and the powers of the gods derive from Her. You must ripen yourself because his power is very great. An unbaked jar breaks down if you put a very hot liquid in it, and this power is not only hot, but super-hot. If this power is to be brought down, you must ripen yourself, and ripen your body also, to such an extent that when it comes down the body remains stable. When the Power comes down into you and the body can hold it, then you realize that you are indestructible. This is the condition of Immortality described in the Veda. This is what is called the “victory of the forefathers”.
In a sense you might say that the Veda is nothing but an epic. You know there is a difference between a lyric poem and an epic poem: A lyric poem is an expression of intense emotion, but an epic is a description, a narration of a great adventure involving great heroism and great achievement. There is no epic without a great adventure. The Veda is an epic because a great adventure is described in the Veda, a great heroism is manifested, and a great victory is obtained, is secured. So you might say that the Veda is an epic celebration of Immortality.
The five discoveries of which I spoke to you during the last few days are extremely important. In a sense, they are stupendous discoveries. Because they are stupendous, there is a tendency to be so overwhelmed by them that it seems that all that is to be known is already known in the Veda. This sometimes puts a brake on new developments and new discoveries.
We have to underline however that the Vedic Rishis never claimed that all that has to be known is known. They themselves claimed that knowledge is infinite, that it is endless. It is stated in the very first chapter of the Rig-Veda that as we rise higher and higher, new vistas of knowledge open before us. In the sixth chapter there is a very special verse by Bharadwaja in which there is a special prayer to Agni: “O Agni, protect those who are the discoverers of new knowledge!” So the very spirit of the Veda is a spirit of the constant discovery of new knowledge.
Perhaps because of this, there has been in India no dogmatism of the kind that we find in many traditions. There is dogmatism, but not of the kind or of the degree that you find elsewhere. You might say that in India there is a very great deal of the scientific spirit. The scientific spirit consists of a few elements which are distinguishable from many other attitudes.
There is for example a skeptical spirit, which is just to remain in a constant state of doubt. This is not the scientific spirit. Skepticism can be a part of science and philosophy, but not the spirit of skepticism. The aim of philosophy or science is not to arrive at doubt — though doubt can be an instrument, a springboard for discovery of new knowledge — but to arrive at the Truth. That is the scientific and philosophical spirit.
There is what is called the critical spirit, which always wants to criticize whatever is presented. Now again, this spirit is fine, it has its value, its place. But if you were to take it as a permanent spirit then it would mean that Truth could never be discovered, and that you could never arrive at a point where there would be no criticism. So this also is not a part of the scientific spirit.
At the other end there is the religious spirit, which is an advocate of revelation. The Truth is known, according to this spirit, by revelation, and can never be questioned nor criticized. It can never be renewed, it can never be modified, it can never be enriched — it is known once and for all. This is the dogmatic spirit.
Having spoken of these different spirits, now we can say what the scientific spirit is, and also why it is a special characteristic of the Veda.