Discoveries of The Vedic Rishis - Session 1

Last time I spoke to you on Dharma. Perhaps you may remember a few things of what I said and in continuation of it I thought I will speak to you of the Vedic literature. I said last time that the concept of Dharma was rooted in the Veda. So I thought, let’s explore this Veda to some extent.

There are many reasons, apart from this, as to why I have selected this topic. One important reason is that all students of Auroville are to become world citizens. They have to vibrate with world consciousness. They need to know therefore what is this world, and the whole world. And to answer this question there are many approaches. One of them is to find the origin of the world, origin of species which are all around in the world, origin of humanity, original thought of humanity, original aspiration of humanity. This is one of the ways by which we can enter into world consciousness. There are many other approaches also. If you are asked the question: how did humanity think in the beginning of history? Do we know enough of how human beings thought, aspired, worked? What was the motive of human beings? Today we have quite a good idea as to what present humanity is thinking, what are its preoccupations. Much literature is available to find out what we are thinking, what we are about. But if we are asked the question: do we know what was the first thought of humanity? If you open some history books, we are told of a prehistoric man, regarding whom we do not have any records. Paleolithic man and Neolithic man, you might come across these two words, — the Neanderthal man. There are speculations as to what this Paleolithic man or the Neolithic man, the Neanderthal, what they were thinking, there are speculations. But if you are asked the question: do we have any certainty, as to what they were thinking? Not speculations, not imaginations, not what we think they were thinking. Do we have records, so that we can be certain that they were thinking of this?

Now we know that there were many civilisations which flourished in ancient times, when people think civilisation started. So it is on a large scale that this question has to be raised, in the context of which what I am going to say will have some meaning. I do not want to present Vedic literature as Indian literature, which is how it is very often presented. We had in earliest times, some civilisations, like the Egyptian civilisation, we had a civilisation in Mesopotamia, civilisation of China, civilisation of India, and then we hear also of the civilisation of Persia, civilisation of Greece. Unfortunately even though these great civilisations flourished, we have no definite historical evidence as to what were their thoughts and aspirations among all these ancients’ records that are available in one form or in the other. In Egypt we had the Pyramids, and we have paintings in the Pyramids which are available. These paintings are being interpreted in many ways, and we imagine what the people of Egypt might be thinking of. But among all these ancient civilisations, there is only one literature available which can give you a definite idea with certainty as to what those ancient people thought, what they aspired for. And that is Vedic literature. If you ask the question, what are the ancient, most ancient records which we can open and where we can find out, with definiteness, what exactly were the thoughts and aspirations of ancient people — this is the literature available to us. So I want to present Vedic literature as world literature. It is a common heritage of the whole world, relevant to everybody in the world. Anybody, whether he is European, or American, or African, or Indian, or Asian, or Australian, whatever, if anybody wants to know with definiteness, what ancient people thought and aspired for, they have to refer to this literature, because it is available. It is available now in written form. For a long time it was available only in the oral form. We are going to explore the thoughts of the ancient people, aspirations of the ancient people, as evidenced in the Vedic literature. That is one aspect of what I am going to say. There is another aspect. Why should we at all inquire into what the ancients have thought? Why? What is the usefulness of it? Relevance of it? There are three answers to this question. What we are today can very often be known when we know better and better what we were yesterday. There is what is called, a question of identity. When we ask the question: “What are we today?” What you are asking basically is what is our identity, what are we? This is our first question. And if what we are today is dependent upon what we were yesterday, and even the day before yesterday, then it is worthwhile exploring that ancient time, and what the Ancients thought and aspired for. Maybe what we are doing today is rooted in it; maybe, maybe not. But if we know what was, we can find out whether we are rooted there or not, and our identity can be known better. That is the first answer to the question.

The second answer is that we are today in search of a solution. Why? Because today we are confronting what may be called critical problems, not only problems, but critical problems. There is a difference between a problem and a critical problem. A problem is a question regarding which we have a hope to find a good answer, more or less with some difficulty, with some uneasiness. But a critical problem is a problem regarding which the answer must be found, and yet that answer is extremely difficult to find. There are many problems, in regard to which answers may not be found, and yet it doesn’t matter, but a critical problem is a problem regarding which the answer must be found. If its answer is not found we cannot move forward. That is the meaning of a critical problem.

Now we are facing today a series of critical problems, and we are not able to find answers easily; and yet answers must be found. That is one of the reasons why many people today are looking backward, looking into history. Very often the question is asked: “Why should we study history at all?” One of the basic reasons why we should study history today is that we are confronting critical problems and answers must be found. Therefore we go back into history to see whether anything was thought of, in ancient times, if anything was discovered but lost later on, and which you can recover now, and which can be useful today to find the answers. This is one of the special reasons why the study of history becomes very important today. And that is why many serious people of the world are turning to ancient times, to medieval times, to the past. Not necessary to belong to the past, but knowledge of the past can be useful to us to the present day, to open the doors of the future. It is a study of the past to aid the future. This is the reason why we should study history. Not to belong to the past, but to create a gateway to the future. It is in that context that the study that we are going to make now, to some extent, in a preliminary manner, could be very useful.

And there is a third answer to this question: why should we study these ancient times? The third answer is: whenever we stand at the threshold of the future, at the gateway of the future, we find ourselves automatically summarizing ourselves. This is the psychological process. Whenever you want to move forward, psychologically we always tend to summarize our past. It is as it were the law of the psychological development of mankind. You cannot move forward towards the future unless in a synoptic manner, in a summarizing manner, in a very brief manner you can overview, a very rapid overview. Since we are now standing facing very consciously towards the future; we are all speaking of the millennium, isn’t it — the next millennium, and we are all visualising it. So when we stand at such a critical moment, at a very important moment of the future, it is good to summarize the past in a very rapid manner. I don’t like the study of history as a record of so many battles, so many conquests, so many dynasties, and quarrels of various kinds, intrigues of various kinds. What is very interesting in history is what can stand out in the summary. Ultimately, what is the essential experience that we gained from the past, which will give us an idea where we are today and how we can move forward.

So, it is from these three points of view that I selected this particular topic: “Glimpses of Vedic literature”. Because the Veda contains definite evidence, not speculation, but definite evidence as to what the ancient people thought and aspired for. And those who have studied the Veda feel that there is something in the Veda which is very useful to the future, so we can study that aspect, while making a leap towards the future. You know Sri Aurobindo spoke of the mutation of the human species. Sri Aurobindo said: “Man is a transitional being.” There is going to be on the earth a new race, a new type of beings, superhuman beings. He spoke of super-humanity, not humanity but super-humanity. And particularly because Auroville is designed to be the cradle of that super-humanity, I feel it is very necessary that we know in a summary manner what we are, what kind of apes we are, how much we can jump now, or if we want to make a jump how shall we jump into the future. Because we need to know this, therefore, I suggested that we can share together, open a few pages of the Veda, and learn a bit of it, not so much, because there is so much in it. I cannot propose that we should study at present all that much, but something. You have still many, many years of study ahead of you and if at this stage you have a few gems, it will be a great aid to you for the future. This is the reason why I selected this topic, and I invite all of you to share some of the things that I want to present to you.

So first let me say, the word “Veda” is a very meaningful word, it is a word which has a meaning, etymologically. The word “Veda’ is a Sanskrit word. I know that some of you started learning Sanskrit recently. There is a root word in Sanskrit called “vid” — to know. So, the book which is known as Veda is so called, because it is claimed to be the book of knowledge. Veda means “knowledge”. Now many of you might not have even seen the book “Veda”. One day there might be an exhibition here, where we can present the Vedic literature, and you can have the first hand perception, at least a visual perception. And the first thing that you will see will be four books.

Veda, as it is known, consists of four books, and these four books have each one a separate name. The most important and most ancient of these four is called “Rig Veda”, the second book is called “Yajur Veda”, the third book is called “Sama Veda”, and the fourth book is called “Atharva Veda”. These are the four books. Don’t try to memorise these names, because I will come to them so often that even without an effort you will be able to remember these four names: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda. Now each Veda is called Samhita. This is another Sanskrit word: Samhita. Samhita means collection, anthology. I do not know if you have seen anthologies of poets, anthologies of many writers, fiction writers, and prose writers. You know when you make a selection from a large body, and put them together, collect them together in a collection — that is called Samhita, is an anthology. So each book is an anthology. In other words, none of the four books is a complete book, it is only an anthology. It is said that there was a time, a very ancient time, how ancient one doesn’t know. Let’s say five thousand years ago, six thousand years ago, ten thousand years ago, one doesn’t know, there is a lot of speculation about it, and we do not go into the speculation. Can we say? In very ancient times there happened to be a number of poets. It is a great historical event that there happened to be a number of poets who lived in India and they composed some of the most marvelous poems. And there were plenty of poems, plenty of them. It seems, as it were, a great flood of poetry. And a number of poems were written and composed. Then a time came when it was felt that that whole flood was vanishing that flood of poetry. Fewer and fewer people were now composing poems, and it seemed as it were — because at that time there were no written words or things were not written down — it was felt that there should be an anthology. A great man called Vyasa, this is one name you should remember, Vyasa. He himself was a great poet, and he felt that before this poetry was lost, (because most of the communications were done orally only, not by written words but by oral tradition) Vyasa felt that there should be at least a selection out of such a huge literature which was available orally. Some of the most important things should be put together. And he made these four collections. Therefore Vyasa is also called Veda Vyasa: Vyasa who put all the Vedas into the present form. So these four books are only incomplete books, in the sense that they don’t contain all the literature that was available at that time. Actually it is said: Vedah Anantah that is in Sanskrit: ‘Vedas are limitless’. The Vedas which are available now in the books are only a selection. But this selection was done by a very wise poet. So, you can expect that this collection will contain the most essential ideas, and they will give us an insight into what the ancients thought, what they discovered. The Rig Veda is the largest collection. Sama Veda is the smallest collection.

Rig Veda consists of ten thousand verses. I have got one edition of Rig Veda which is in twelve volumes, ten thousand verses printed in twelve volumes, that is in itself a large, large amount. Even to glance at twelve volumes is a very big work, not many people have been able, even to browse through these twelve volumes.

Atharva Veda has six thousand verses, and Yajur Veda and Sama Veda have a smaller number. I shall come to this aspect of quantity later on; I am just now touching only at the fringes, some of the important ideas regarding these Vedas.

Let’s turn to Rig Veda itself which is the largest book, and is supposed to be the Veda, actually. If you do not know Rig Veda, other Vedas are difficult to know, because Yajur Veda repeats two thirds of Rig Veda. Sama Veda has most of the Rig Veda repeated excepting only seventy five verses. Only seventy five verses are unique in Sama Veda, all the others are repetitions of the Rig Vedic verses. Atharva Veda consists of half of the Rig Veda, with only half something unique. So, this means that if you do not know Rig Veda, you cannot know the other Vedas very well. That is why most people turn to the Rig Veda, and that is most significant.

So I shall do a little more on the Rig Veda. It has ten chapters. Usually when you open any book, you will find chapters in the book. In the Veda, a chapter is called Mandala, a Sanskrit word. In Sanskrit there are many words for chapter: Mandala, kanda, adhyaya. In Rig Veda a chapter is called Mandala, so there are ten Mandalas in the Rig Veda. Now these Mandalas have been organised in a particular manner, it is not a selection done pell-mell in a haphazard manner, there is a system, there is an organisation. The first verses are of one kind, the second batch of verses are still of another kind, the third batch of verses are of yet another kind. There is a system. The first chapter and the tenth chapter collect the poems of a number of poets; the second chapter to the eighth chapter collects the poems of only one poet, one poet or his progeny, poets who are born in the same family. And the ninth chapter is a very special chapter of which I will speak to you later on. It is not a collection of poems of many poets, or even of one poet, it is specialised only on one subject? The subject of immortality. While speaking of Dharma, I had spoken to you about immortality as one of fundamental aspirations, along with permanence and certainty. So that subject of immortality is specially treated in the ninth chapter, the ninth Mandala.

And then if you want to know some of the special poets who are very famous, most of the Indians know two of these poets, one is Vasishtha, another is Vishwamitra. These two names are very well known in India; even the common people know Vasishtha and Vishwamitra. The third chapter consists of the poems written by Vishwamitra, and the seventh chapter consists of poems written by Vasishtha. Then there is another poet who is very famous, he is called Vamadeva. The entire fourth chapter is given to Vamadeva. Poems written by Atri, are in the fifth chapter. The sixth chapter is given to Bharadvaj. These are some of the important names of the poets. In other words, these poets were the leaders of humanity of ancient times. We are absolutely certain about this; there is no speculation about it. It is definitely known that Vamadeva was a great leader and a great poet, that Vasishtha was a great poet, Vishwamitra was a great poet, Atri was a great poet, Bharadvaj was a great poet, and many others names such as Madhuchchandas, and many others. Even today, stories of Vasishtha and Vishwamitra, are known to the children of India. There was a great battle between Vasishtha and Vishwamitra according to historical stories that have come down. Vishwamitra particularly was opposed to Vasishtha. There is a story written by Sri Aurobindo in Bengali and which is available also in English translation (you can ask Deepti, she will tell you the story). It is a story of forgiveness, how Vishwamitra was angry and terribly angry with Vasishtha and how his anger was wiped out by the great act of forgiveness on the part of Vasishtha, (I will not tell you the story because then you will lose interest and you will not ask Deepti. I would like you to ask her about this story because it is a very interesting story.)

But when you read the poems of these great poets, you enter into a kind of a world of knowledge which is like a brilliant sun. Normally we think that ancient people must have been rather barbaric, primitive, uncivilised, uncouth, without manners. But surprisingly we find that the most ancient literature available to mankind is so civilised. It is a surprise. Actually historians may not be able to explain how this happened: how is it that the most ancient people of the world, like Vasishtha and Vishwamitra, and Bhardwaj and Atri and Vamadeva, Madhuchchandas and Dirghathamas, how do they happened to be so civilised, so cultured.

How can we say that they were very cultured, what is the proof that they were very cultured? The first proof is their language. One of the marks of a civilised or cultured person is the capacity of linguistic expression. One who cannot speak well, in chaste language, clearly, with decoration of beauty, is not a cultured person. The mark of culture is capacity of language and its expression. Now if you read what Vasishtha has written, what Vishwamitra has written, it is so beautiful, it is as if these people had such a huge vocabulary. For expressing one idea, they were capable of expressing it differently, variously. Just to take one example: while describing the mind, the human mind, Vishwamitra (in the third chapter which is allocated to him) compares Mind with women who are neither nude nor clad. If you look at the mind, it is an accurate example of something that is neither nude nor clad. Mind is an instrument, and it is transparent. When the mind becomes absolutely clear, there is transparency. This is what Descartes has said: “When certainty comes, mind is absolutely clear; transparency is the quality of the mind.” When you have a glass which is absolutely transparent, it is a glass, therefore it is something, it is a vehicle, it is an instrument, it is a medium. Therefore you cannot say it is completely nude, it is clad, and yet it is nude because it is transparent. Now, this kind of understanding of the mind, Vishwamitra just puts it in a very casual manner, a kind of analogy or simile of the mind in the third chapter. This is only one small example I am giving.

Then there are so many ideas which are so profound. Let’s take only one small example of one of the profoundest ideas. In one of the verses the poet says: Reality is strange and wonderful. Why is it strange and wonderful? The reason that is given is: it is one and yet different from one. It is one and yet it is other than one. It is a kind of a riddle which is given by the poet. Simple understanding is, one is one, and two is two. If it is two, then of course there is one and another also. But being one, it is still another, such is the nature of the reality, and therefore it is wonderful. This is one of the profoundest ideas that we find in the Vedas. How is the reality one and yet different from itself. It is itself and yet is different from itself. It is a riddle. One day we shall discuss this in detail. How can the reality be one, and yet be different from itself? This is one example of profundities.

The third characteristic of the Veda is: it is beautiful, not only in linguistic expression but beautiful in its poetic expression. Rig Veda is nothing but sheer poetry. Now what is poetry? One must be able to understand that this is great poetry. I can also write poems, Jivatma can write poems, Fanny can write poems, Vishwamitra can write poems. Is there any difference? There is a difference. First of all, good poetry must have rhythmic words. I spoke of this once before, but it can be repeated, because it is very important. Poetry is poetry only when it consists of rhythmic words. If the words are not rhythmic, it is not poetry. In prose writing, the words may not be rhythmic, but in poetry, if the words are not rhythmic, it is not poetry. That is one mark of poetry. The expression must be rhythmic. There must be rhythm. The second is, it must have style. In prose also there is style, but it is not a necessary element of prose. In poetry there must be style. And what is style? What you want to express and the manner of expression should coincide. The substance of what you want to say, and the manner of saying, must gel with each other. That is called style. What you are and the manner of your being should be consistent with each other, then it is style. To take a very small example: if you are very tall and your dress is short, it is not style. To have style, what you are and the manner of your expression should have some kind of harmony. Similarly in the case of poetry, what you want to say and the way of saying it must be harmonious. And the third characteristic of poetry is that it must have images. This is very important. In prose, you may not have images. But poetry without images is out of question. Image is the fundamental thing in poetry. Whatever you want to say must have a very concrete image. I want to express laughter, for example, and then you may give an image of the fall of Ganges from the Himalayas. It is like laughter. In laughter there is a kind of rhythm of fall, and an image of it would be something like the fall of Ganges from the Himalayas. So you might say; Himalayas are laughing. The Ganges is nothing but the laughter of the Himalayas. This is an image. Poetry must have images of whatever is to be expressed. But what image? That is very important. And that is the crux of the matter. The image must image profounder and profounder and profoundest reality. If it is an image of an ordinary thing, poetry is ordinary. If what is imaged is of a profounder thing, it is a profounder poetry. If the image is an image of the profoundest reality, poetry is profoundest. That is how you can judge poetry. Is it ordinary poetry, or is it profounder poetry or profoundest poetry? It depends upon what is the substance which is imaged. Now, when all the three: rhythm, style, image and the substance that is imaged are of the highest order, then that is the best poetry. There are many poets who are rhythmic, but they don’t have style. There are poets who have got great style, but no sense of rhythm or very little rhythm; there are poets who are profound, their images are good, but style is poor and the rhythm is poor. That is how many poets can be understood. When you read any poetry you ask these three questions and you will find out the value or evaluation of a good poet. Poets like Shakespeare, or Shelley or Keats, or like Milton for example, are very great poets and have great merits. And then if you read Sri Aurobindo’s poetry, Savitri. Savitri is the one poem which has intensest rhythmic expression. Most wonderful rhythm in English literature that you find is found in Savitri. The style in Savitri is most marvelous. What is to be expressed and the manner of expression, they completely harmonise. And the images — abounding images! One of the best images of Savitri you find in the very beginning of the book: as a young girl how she is growing up, (one day we shall read together these particular few lines of Savitriand you will see the abundance of images, and the image is so profound, the profoundest reality of Savitri is brought out. That is why Savitri is regarded as the highest poetry that we have in world literature.

Now if you judge Vedic poetry from this point of view, Sri Aurobindo himself has written on this, and he has himself said that when these three things are of the highest order, poetry becomes mantric, poetry becomes full of mantra. And Vedic poetry is mantric poetry. The word mantra is very important. What is mantra? Mantra is poetic expression which has a highest rhythmic value, whose style is most appropriate, and whose images reflect the highest reality, highest experience of reality. When the three combine together and these are expressed, then that expression is called mantra, and mantra has power. Actually every sound has a power, every word has power. But there are different kinds of power. You must yourself have seen how a powerful dialogue, may be very short, very pithy, and it make an effect like a bolt upon you. Even twenty lines cannot produce that effect which one line can produce, because the power of it is so great. Different kinds of words and sounds have different kinds of power. But mantra has the highest power. When it is uttered, then the substance of it is realised, that is the meaning of mantra. You just recite a mantra and what is recited is itself experienced by you on the spot that is the power of mantra. And Sri Aurobindo has said that Vedic poetry is mantric poetry. Rishis themselves who composed poetry, called that poetry mantra.

I have taken much of your time already but if you are tired we can stop here; if you are not tired I can take a little more time, depending on your free will. We go on for some time?

Among all the mantras of the Vedas, one which is most famous and most common is the one I shall give you. It is known very widely in India, it is written by Vishwamitra, in the third chapter. I shall first speak the Sanskrit, it has the mantric power and then I shall give the translation of it: “Om bhur bhuvah svah. Tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.”This is the mantra. It starts with Om. Now Om is a discovery of the Vedic Rishis, this word, this sound, Om. Vedic poets were discoverers. In fact every poet has to be a discoverer. Modern poets very often are not, but a real poet is one who discovers. A poet is a poet when he wants to describe his discovery in a rhythmic manner, with a style, with an image which is so powerful, as to describe the discovery accurately. It is said that only scientists describe accurately, but it is not true. The poets also have to be very accurate. Only when their description is accurate, when the image accurately describes, then only he is a great poet. That is the mark of a great poet. Now, Om is a discovery of the Vedic poets. The Vedic poets went into depths, in search of the power that is the root of the creation of the world, and when they reached the depths, inner depths, the inmost depths of the creative power, then they heard the sound “Om”. It consists of the sounds: a, u, m. You combine these three sounds; a, u, m that gives you the total sound Om. And they found out that “Om” is a sound which is prevalent all over the world. The world is nothing but this sound, “Om”. The entire world is vibrating with this word, the sound: “Om”. And if you yourself repeat this word, this sound, you will be able to go deeper and deeper until you reach the original power of creation, and then you yourself become creative, this is the promise of the Vedic Rishis. This is the discovery. If you repeat the sound “Om”, let’s say a million times, (and there are many people in India who practise this). I was myself told the word “Om” when I was only three years old and you might say I have repeated this sound, I do not know how many times, but from the age of three I have been repeating this sound, whenever I have the time, this is the one sound which I have been repeating. And the promise of the Vedic Rishis is that if you can repeat it with your utmost heart, with complete concentration, then you will chisel out your own personality, your courage, your strength, your will-power, or your creativity, you will be creative. So this is the one sound with which this mantra starts “Om”. Mother herself has said: “Om represents the Divine himself.” If you repeat this word “Om”, ultimately you will realise the Divine. It is the way of sound. It is the way of the sound by which you can arrive at the Divine. Whenever you want to address the Divine, if you want to address him in a sound form, then Om is sufficient invocation of the Divine. Mother herself has said that when she heard for the first time the sound Om, recited by somebody in France in a particular theater, She herself saw vibrations. It was pronounced in such a magnificent manner, the whole hall became luminous for the Mother. That was her first experience of Om. She did not know anything about India at that time, but her own sensitivity was so great that she immediately got the vibration of that sound and saw the power of that sound. You should find somebody who can recite Om, one day we shall try to bring some people who can recite Om so well, merely we can have one session of listening to the sound Om; it will be a marvelous experience. Some people have recited this word, the sound Om so deeply and so constantly, some of them have done it incessantly, for years, doing nothing else than reciting the sound Om, and the power of that recitation is so great that they can give you the same kind of an experience as Mother had.

The next words are: bhur bhuvah swaha. I now go rapidly. Bhur means the earth, bhuvah means the open space, and swaha means that which is higher than mind and that which is heavenly. When you recite this mantra, you are told that in one stroke you must become aware of everything. Now, how to become aware of everything? This is the small formula given by the Vedic Rishis. Bhur bhuvah swaha. With these three words, you remember the earth, the external space that is all around and that which goes beyond this space. If you remember all the three together, you are becoming widest, automatically. And one of these conditions of entering into reality is to become as wide as possible. And this was the mark of the Vedic Rishis, to be as wide as the Divine himself. Even the sky is not enough to describe that wideness, it is beyond the sky. Swaha is beyond the sky, wider than the sky. So this is the first condition of your recitation: Om bhur bhuvah swaha.

Now comes the main substance of the mantra: tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi. Dhimahi means: we are meditating. So the whole science of meditation is summarized in one word: we are meditating. Upon what? Tat savitur varenyam bhargah. We are meditating upon the light, Supreme light. Supreme light of what? Of the sun, which is the highest source of light? We are contemplating upon the Supreme light of the Supreme source of light. For what purpose? Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. So that our intellect (dhiyah means intellect) is guided, Prachodayatmeans guided, so that our intellect is guided by that light. In a sense this is a very simple statement. We are contemplating upon the Supreme light of the Supreme source of light, so that our intellect is guided by that light. Now you see the profundity of this statement. First of all, this mantra, I said earlier, contains the science of meditation. Dhimahi: What is meditation? And what is the object of meditation? There can be many objects of meditation. Descartes wrote a book called Méditations. And he contemplated on many important subjects. But Vishwamitra says: “We contemplate upon the Supreme light.” Not an ordinary object, there can be contemplation upon many objects. But here, the object of meditation is to be the Supreme light of the Supreme source of light. That is the first thing. The second thing which is very peculiar about this mantra is, it points out that if you want to be perfect, there is one instrument in your totality which you should identify, and which should be connected with that light. Now Vishwamitra discovered that among all the faculties of the human consciousness intellect is the one faculty which is most important. So he identifies it and says: so that the intellect is guided by that light. In fact, in modern science we come to this conclusion now that when consciousness, the intellectual consciousness particularly, gets diminished, the whole personality of the individual gets diminished. Therefore the most important thing that we should do in education is to sharpen the intellect. Other faculties should also be sharpened. But all other faculties can be sharpened much more perfectly if you sharpen the intellect. So this intellect is identified by Vishwamitra as the most important element. What is most modern today was in the most ancient book of knowledge written by Vishwamitra. At that time he had identified among all the organs, among of all the faculties of mankind, intellect as the one faculty which should be attended to. Not only attended too, not only sharpened, but should be united with that Supreme light. It should be guided by the Supreme light. You sharpen your intellect in such a way that you go from stage to stage of its development until it gets connected with the Supreme light.

One day we shall go into this particular mantra in a greater depth. Because this mantra is such an important mantra, particularly if you know, Sri Aurobindo himself wrote a new mantra, a new Gayatri mantra — this is called Gayatri mantra — for our times. Vishwamitra’s mantra and Sri Aurobindo’s Gayatri mantra are very similar and yet very different. So I shall conclude with the statement of Sri Aurobindo’s Gayatri mantra. His Gayatri mantra is: “Tat savitur varam rupam jyotih parasya dhimahi yannah satyen dipayet” — slightly different from the other one. Tat savitur varam rupam jyotih parasya dhimahi. We are meditating upon the Supreme light—this is also like Vishwamitra, we are contemplating upon the Supreme light of parasya— here is one difference. There it was savitur, it was sun–light. Sri Aurobindo goes one step further, parasya: the light of the Supreme transcendental reality, which is even beyond the sunlight. And then he says: Yannah satyen dipayet. So that we are not only directed by the Supreme light, as in Vishwamitra’s Gayatri, but dipayet: we are illumined, not only directed, we are illumined. And not only our intellect is directed. In the case of Vishwamitra, I identified only the intellect as a fundamental instrument, which was good, but Sri Aurobindo goes further saying: “Yannah; our entire being is illumined. Not only the intellect is to be directed, but every part of the being, totality, every cell of the body, every functioning of our consciousness, every organ of our being, our totality of the being, everything is illumined by that light. This is the mantra for our age. That was for that age. This is the mantra for our age. This is the Gayatri mantra that Sri Aurobindo has given for our age. I would like you to remember this particular mantra: “Tat savitur varam rupam jyotih parasya dhimahi yannah satyen dipayet. One day Deepti will write it down for you and you will have it in the language in which you understand and I would like you to remember this particular mantra. You will yourself become Vedic, although now living today. Thank you.