Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation - Track 505

Legend of the Angirasa Rishis in the Veda

And then it is also addressed as ratnadhataman. Ratnadha, dha means the holder, ratna means delight, it is that which is the holder of the delight. You see if Agni is sufficiently kindled then the jar is baked properly because of Agni. The fire purifies the jar, i.e. our entire being, thoroughly. As a result of that we become ready to receive the greatest delight.  This is the second principle which is in the Veda. The first is dhi, the second is Agni.

When you begin to develop with Agni and with your intelligence, then a certain movement arises by which you are allowed entry into the superconscious and this entry is heralded by Ushas, by the dawn. A new consciousness begins to dawn upon you. A multicoloured manifestation of the coming light begins to dawn on you. It is a delightful experience of the Maruts. Maruts are the winds which are forces of thought. When your intelligence has already tried to concentrate upon Savitri, then various forces of thought also begin to mount and there is lightning and thunder and the rains which are brought by Maruts, as a result of which you feel a new atmosphere growing in you which prepares you for a higher development.  This itself takes a lot of time. Although we can speak of it rapidly but it takes a lot of time to develop all this. That is why a lot of space is given to Agni and a lot of space is given to the various kinds of calls to various forces. Vayu also is invited. But then at a certain time of development a major experience bursts upon you. Just as you start moving upwards there is also the experience of the light of Savitri descending in you. It is always there but because of the layers of darkness around you, you are not experiencing the coming of the light, but now because of thunder and the lightning and rains of various kinds, the Ushas coming in, you begin to have a clarity between you and the superconscious. As a result, a new light begins to dawn and come out. This luminous movement is the movement of Indra. If you read Indra in the Veda you will find that wherever Indra comes there is this announcement of the coming of light, coming from above. Wherever Agni is written about, it is a call from below but Indra is the light coming from above. In answer to Agni, Indra comes down. Now there is a great wealth of information and knowledge about Indra. In fact a large number of mantras are attributed and addressed to Indra in the Rig Veda.

But we are not on that subject now, so I am just rapidly passing on to a very important legend of the Veda which is called the legend of the Angirasa. Through this legend the Veda wants to give us a description as to how we, ordinary human beings can change our nature, can be transformed and can attain to the Supreme light. The legend is very simple. There are seven great rishis called Angirasa rishis.

Question: Does seven has some connotation, like the seven rivers, now the seven rishis?

The word seven has a very special meaning in the Veda because according to the Veda the Supreme reality manifests sevenfold. It manifests as Sat, as Chit, as Ananda, as truth, as mind, as life, as matter; these are the seven. So there is a sevenfold principle of being according to the Veda. Being is one but it manifests in a sevenfold manner. That is why the word seven is very important in the Vedic numerology. It is even said that seven is the number of realisation because when you cover all the seven points then really you come to a realisation.

So there are seven rishis; you might say each one represents one of the sevenfold being. These rishis are in search of the cows which they have lost. That is a legend. They have cows which are lost and they are in search of these cows. They do not know where they have gone, where they have disappeared and they are very precious, so they are in search and they do tapasya in search of these cows. Tapasya consists of sacrifice, and sacrifice is a very important instrument in the search which is given in the Veda. All tapasya according to Veda should take the form of sacrifice. When you give up all that you think is yours then that is the sacrifice. Offer all that you are, all that you have in the intensity of your search. There is a rhythm of the sacrifice. Again ritvija, there is a season. There are nine periods of sacrifice and there is a tenth period of sacrifice. If you do nine periods of sacrifice then you almost reach the point where you can discover but you do not discover, you only reach the point of discovery. But when the sacrifice reaches its acme, you come to the tenth, then you transform yourself from navagwas to dashagwas. Then an important event takes place: Indra descends. You find Indra coming down and Indra, as I told you, is a part of the superconscious coming down. He is a Lord of the world of light, not of Savitri but the world of light which is descending from the Supreme Savitri. The world of light is called in the Veda: Swaha. That is why in the Gayatri mantra we said: bhur bhuvahaswaha. That swaha is the kingdom of Indra.

Question: Without Agni it is not possible?

No. That is a very important condition of the Vedic search. Agni is very important, Agni or aspiration is the first condition, descent is therefore the answer. There is a beautiful sentence in Sri Aurobindo's book called The Mother where he says: "aspiration from below and grace from above", the junction of these two is the point of realisation. When you aspire from below and the grace comes from above and when the two meet together that is the point of realisation.

So Agni is the Vedic principle. Then comes from above the movement of Indra. Indra comes to help you to find your lost cows. The seven rishis are now being helped by Indra himself. He comes down. In this search, Sarama is a figure – a kind of a dog goes forward. In the story a dog goes forward ahead of Indra, runs faster and finds out where the lost cows have been captured and kept. Sarama goes to that place and has a parley, has a kind of a discussion with those who had taken the cows and captured them in the dark. Then she discovers that these are Panis. They are called Panis in the Veda. They are traffickers; they are the dwellers of darkness. We were told: "do not go to darkness first". You can enter into the field of the unconscious, when you have got all this preparation because then you can safely enter into the field of darkness. So Sarama goes first and then has a discussion with Panis.  Panis first of all tempt Sarama and say: "You become our ambassador. You have come as their ambassador but you become our ambassador and do not reveal our secret. We shall give you all that you want here, you remain here with us". And then Sarama says: "No, I won't remain with you; I'll go back and report to Indra".  Sarama goes back to Indra and then of course Indra comes forward, then breaks all the dark hills under which the cows have been all kept hidden and when the hill is broken all darkness is shattered and the cows are recovered and the rishis become again the possessors of the cows. This is a legend, but it describes in a legendary form the entire process of the way by which our nature can be changed. The cows stand for light. All of us are original possessors of light because all of us are, according to the Veda, Amritasyaputraha, ie, we are children of immortality. Therefore we are all born in light, our original home is light. We have so many luminous forms and luminous possessions. Each luminous form is a cow according to the Veda. The word cow in Sanskrit is ‘go’, and go has a double meaning in Sanskrit itself: go means cow and go also means light. Therefore you may say that seven cows are lost or seven lights have been lost, it is the same thing. So when it is said the cows have been lost, it means light has been lost... satyamcharitam. You are living in satya, truth and the right, but suddenly something happened. Tato ratryajayata and then the night happened. Night occurred, the darkness came about and then as if it was not enough, tataha samudroarnavaha, and then came a complete darkness. So that is why all your cows were lost into the darkness. They were captured by Panis and kept hidden in a dark cave.  We are in search of those lost cows. We are all human beings, whether we like it or not, we are all in search. You may not know what you are looking for but we are all in search, everybody is in search. Gradually we come to realise that we are all in search of something that will really give us an inner satisfaction. First we try outer satisfactions but the point comes when you really feel that we want inner satisfaction. And then we ask ourselves by what shall we be satisfied inwardly, and then you find that we can be satisfied only when we discover ourselves, our own light, our own cows. We have lost our cows and we want to recover our own cows. Therefore we then began to search for it.