Discoveries of The Vedic Rishis - Session 3

I had said last time that the Rishis had made five main discoveries. So we shall go straight into this subject now, and then compare each discovery of the Vedic Rishis with what Sri Aurobindo has said about these discoveries, and what is something new in Sri Aurobindo in regard to these very five discoveries. So we shall have a comparative view of the old knowledge and the new knowledge.

The main subject of the discovery pertains to the question: what is life and what is the aim of life. This you might say is the basic question in regard to which all the discoveries of the Vedic Rishis refer. And the simple answer to this question, for the sake of brevity and clarity I shall tell you in a few words: What is life? The answer of the Vedic Rishis was that human life is a battle, this is their discovery. You might say this is not a very big discovery, but it is a big discovery when you ask the question of the entirety of life, not portions of life. You should be able to answer the question which pertains to the entirety of life. Just as Darwin said that human life or all evolution is evolution through the process of struggle for existence. Here too you might say it is not a very big discovery, but it is a very big discovery. At least all the scientists agree that to say that the world is an evolution which is taking place through a process of struggle for existence, is a big discovery.

Now Vedic Rishis declared that human life, all life on earth, is a battle. And the aim of human life, they put down in a few words towards the end of the Rig Veda. They are very important words, so I will repeat those words first in Sanskrit and then in English. The aim of human life is: Manur bhava janaya daivyam janam. First, be a mental being. Manur bhava. Manas is the mind. Manu is the possessor of the mind. So first be the mental being. This is the first step, but not the last step. The aim of human life is first to be a mental being. And then you go forward. Janaya daivyam janam. Generate, produce, and create, daivyam janam, the divine being. First be the human being, the mental being, and then you become the divine being. This is the answer of the Vedic Rishis. Towards the end of the Rig Veda you get this answer. It is a very significant discovery. This is as far as the individual is concerned. Then it speaks about collectivity. Collectivity of people: what should they aim at? Sam gachchadhwam, sam vadatwam. Walk together, speak together. It is a long sentence. I am not going to say the whole sentence, but the main point is: You arrive at a harmony, collective harmony, so that you can all walk together, move together, sharing with each other, carrying the same conviction, the same urge for realisation. This is the goal. This is the basic answer of the Veda. First be a human being with a mind properly trained, and then move forward to become the divine being. And collectively, walk together, move together, think together, have the same aspiration and realise together. This is the answer.

But to arrive at this answer, there are many details of the discoveries. And these are the five discoveries. The first discovery was that the battle of human life is not an isolated battle taking place among human beings or among the creatures of the earth. It is a very important statement. In Darwin's theory, all struggle is a struggle of the creatures and the environment of the earth, of the physical world. But in the Vedic view — this is their discovery. It is not a speculation, this is the body of knowledge — the battle which is going on in human life is a larger field of battle in which there are invisible forces; there are visible forces of the physical world, which are easy to detect, but there are invisible forces which are not physically perceptible.

These invisible forces are basically of two kinds. There are benign forces on one side, and then on the other side there are malevolent forces, evil forces, adverse forces, hostile forces. This was a great discovery, which they called the discovery of the gods on the one hand, and the discovery of a number of adverse forces, and again they made distinctions among them. It was such a detailed analysis. There is a force of Vritra: that is one adverse force who obstructs, whose fundamental function is obstruction. Vritra, this is a Sanskrit word, and I don't want to translate it into English because there is no easy translation of this word. So there is the first Vritra who obstructs. Any time you want to make progress in this world, one of the forces, which is Vritra, will come to obstruct. It simply wants to obstruct you. This is one of the forces of the battle. You want to move forward? There is an obstruction. Then there are forces which are called Panis. They want to negotiate with you, they don't merely obstruct. They are like merchants. They want to negotiate. You give us this, then we shall allow you this. And they will give you great rewards if you decide not to progress. Great rewards, because they are in possession of so much of riches. If you tell them: we don't want to make progress, then they will give you great rewards. They are Panis, they want to attract you, tempt you to remain in the lower world so that you don't make any progress. These are Panis. Then there are Asuras, they are forces of the mind which can calculate very easily and very powerfully and give you lots of reasons why you should not progress. They are very powerful. They want to keep you down and they are capable of giving you lots of reasonings why you should not make an effort. They are mental forces, they are capable of thinking. Then there are Rakshasas. They are different from Asuras. Rakshasas are those who are very powerful and they simply want to destroy you, or enjoy you, whatever you are. They simply want to enjoy you as you are. They have large ambitions, they want to engulf the whole world if it is possible, engulf the whole humanity, push it down, not only obstruct, ready to destroy you, they want to eat you, enjoy you and become bigger and bigger by your consuming. These are Rakshasas. And then there are Pishachas, they are of a different kind. Pishachas don't have great ambitions, they have small desires, but plenty of desires, plenty of small desires, small aims, little gains but plenty of them. So they are innumerable, you just go into their world and you will find small gains to be obtained and they can keep you for ages and ages in their field, because of the smallness and the innumerable numbers of them. So they are Pishachas. And then there are purely dark forces, forces of inconscience, resistance — not only obstruction — resistance, lethargy. They want to keep you down absolutely to sleep, pull you down to sleep, so that you can make no progress, there is not even a proposal of progress. There are forces of inconscience.

This classification which the Rishis made, and with definiteness, requires a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience of life. It is not easy to make so many distinctions among the hostile forces, adverse forces. Vedic Rishis knew which adverse force is at work, is it Rakshasa, is it Asura, is it Pishacha, is it inconscience, is it Vritra, is it Panis. And you have remedies of dealing with them, and these Rishis found out the remedies, as to how to deal with them. That is a great discovery. How to deal with Vritra? Supposing Vritra obstructs you, what is the remedy? And they came to the conclusion that mere human power is not enough against any one of them. If you just want to conquer them by your human powers, forget about it. This was the conclusion of these great Rishis. Merely by human force you cannot control them. So if any human being says: With my own powers I will be able to conquer the adverse forces, Vedic Rishis told you, after a lot of research, that merely with human forces it is not possible. How will you then conquer these forces? How will you make progress? If you want to be a true human being, a true mental being, and then if you want to generate the divine being, if this is your goal, if you want to work together, move together, think together, harmonize together, these forces are bound to come in your battle.

And for this there were found to be different kinds of forces — benign forces. Now this was a great discovery of the Vedic Rishis: the discovery of the gods. There are cosmic forces, universal forces. There are a number of these cosmic forces. So first of all, you discover that there are cosmic forces which are benign forces, which can help you and which can conquer for you the battle against the adverse forces. Who are these gods? Suppose you are told to go for a mission of work, let us say to Delhi in the Ministry of Education, now you just go to the Ministry. First of all you are not even allowed the entry. You must know how to enter the field. There are rules and regulations of entry. Similarly, there are rules and regulations of entry into the world of gods. If you want to go to the world of gods, there are rules of entry, how will you enter? By what means will you enter? Then you have a certain purpose to fulfil. You don't know who is the Secretary, who is the Under–secretary, who is the Joint–secretary, who is the Deputy Secretary, you don't know, but you need to know. In other words, there is a hierarchy. Who takes the final decision? Is there anybody who takes a final decision? Or do you have a meeting of so many Secretaries together for taking a final decision? These are questions you ask when you go to a Ministry, similarly, there is a Ministry of gods. This is the discovery of the Vedic Rishis. That there is a kind of a Ministry of gods, and if you want to make progress in the world, and you are bound to come to these obstructers, these adverse forces, and you want the help of the gods, then you must know which god has what portfolio. What is the work of each god, what is his realm, what is his dominion, what is his capacity, what is his function? Vedic Rishis discovered very minutely, they made so many experiments, it is impossible to describe how much experimentation should have been needed, not just to think about it, but really to find out, to identify them. They discovered a number of gods, and found out their function, each one's function. This is a tremendous task. Today we can speak very freely because they have written down the gods, their names.

The only difficulty is that in a certain sense they have kept the names very secret. Even if you read the Veda, and read thoroughly so many times, you may not be able to find out these secrets. They have written down the formula of these gods, in what we may call algebraic language. You know algebra? You are learning algebra perhaps? Algebra is arithmetic written in a symbolic form: x + y = 12, x stands for what, and y stands for what? If it is equal to 12, then maybe that x is 5 and maybe y is 7, so 7 is y and 5 is x, then x + y is equal to 12. But if you don't know the value, and if you simply are told that there is x and there is y, then you won’t know what is the value of this. You are not given equations, so you can't even try to find out what stands for what. This is in algebra. Algebra is difficult because unless some clues are given, you cannot resolve the riddles of algebra. Similarly, these Vedic Rishis wrote down the secrets of so many gods which they have discovered and their functions, but they have written in an algebraic language. This is where the problem of the Vedas arises. The language of the Veda is symbolic language, like algebra. But the surprising thing is that even though there are many composers of Vedic mantras, there is a common language among all of them. It is as if a group of mathematicians have agreed to their symbolism. Here you find that there is a group of Rishis who have agreed that to express a certain secret you will use a certain expression, and they commonly follow that. If you read in a very bizarre manner, obvious manner, you will make no meaning out of it. "The cow is standing before the horse", let us say. This is a sentence in the Veda. Cow is standing before the horse. So you might think that the Vedic Rishis must have seen a kind of a field, grazing ground perhaps and there must be one horse there, and there must be one cow. And he is describing that the cow is before the horse. But if you discover the algebraic language, — and this is what Sri Aurobindo has done — if you read the book The Secret of the Veda, Sri Aurobindo found out what these algebraic terms meant. "Cow" is an algebraic term in the Veda, and wherever there is the word cow, it means light, it does not mean cow, the physical cow, it means light. "Horse" does not mean the horse we know of, it means will–force. "The light stands before the will–force." It is not the cow standing before the horse; it is the light that is standing before the will–force. It says that there is always a double force in the world, wherever there is light, there is always a will–force. This is the secret language of the Veda. There is a bifurcation between knowledge and will.

Now here arises a tremendous amount of psychology. What is the relationship between knowledge and will? You know in our ordinary life, you will find in our human consciousness, there is one portion which is a portion of knowledge, there is one portion which is portion of will–force. Now this distinction you will find very easily when you have a question, a very deliberate question: what should I do in a given situation? Whenever you have a question, "what should I do", you will immediately find out that there is in you a will–force which is backed by some kind of knowledge, maybe full knowledge, maybe partial knowledge, maybe small knowledge, but always there is some knowledge, and there is a tussle between the two. Sometimes you know what is to be done. A patient of diabetes knows that he should not take sugar. He knows it, there is a knowledge given to him, he should not take sugar. But the desire, the will to take sugar, sometimes is very great. The temptation to take sugar is very great. So the will–force is to take sugar. The knowledge says: don't take sugar; the will–force says oh, it doesn't matter; once in a while you can take it and enjoy it. And then once in a while becomes more frequent because the will–force weakens. The more you indulge in the desire, the more you want it. There is always some kind of an equation or inequation between knowledge and will–force. So there is, you might say, in the Vedic terms, a great deal of equation or inequation between the cow and the horse. So if you read in a very ordinary manner, you will say that these Rishis were only watching horses and cows and seeing how many horses and how many cows and they are discussing the battles between the two, horses and cows. That is how many people, who read the Veda, said that Vedas are written by barbarians, primitive people who were interested in cows and horses. But when you read in depth, you find that there is tremendous psychological knowledge. They knew what is light and what is will–force, and what is the relationship between the two.

Not only that, they found out that if you want to increase the force of light — if you want the cows more, the horses become more powerful, because they found that the greater the number of cows with you, the greater the power of horses, in other words, the greater the knowledge, the greater is the power of the will–force. If your knowledge increases truly, then the will–force also becomes powerful — How to do that? Is there any power, any god who controls the power of cows? Cow is Sanskrit means go. Go is the word for cow. So the question was: Is there anybody who can be called gomat? Mat means having, wala, gowala, gopal, is there anybody who is real gopal, who is the preserver, the controller of the cows. They made a lot of research on this and they found that there is one god whom they called Indra, this is another algebraic term. Indra is another term in the Veda. You often found that when Vritra came in your path, (Vritra, I told you, is the one who obstructs) they found that particularly when Vritra comes in your path, then the one force which can destroy Vritra is a good equation between go and ashwa, the cow and the horse. And the one who commands this is Indra. So Indra is called Gomat. He is the one who has power over the cows, over the light. This is the secret knowledge of the Vedas. If you really want to fight against the Vritra, then take the help of Indra.

Then how to take the help of Indra? In the Veda there are verses written down, if you recite those mantras, Indra will manifest. This was also a great discovery. What is the method of approaching Indra? Just as if you want to go to the office of a Joint–Secretary, and if you know his name, then you can more easily go into his office. If you simply say, I want to meet the Joint–Secretary, without the name, then there are so many Joint–Secretaries in the Ministry! But if you know his name, it is much more easy for you to enter. And if you know much more about him, then much more easily you can go to him. Identification becomes much more easy. So here also in the Veda, they found out that if you know that Indra is the name of that who has a command over cows and horses, then it is easier for you to approach him. So there are mantras, there are verses in the Veda which, if recited, will give you an access to Indra. There are some of the verses that Sri Aurobindo has translated in The Secret of the Veda, which sometime you should read. There are very, very powerful verses and Sri Aurobindo has explained them also quite well. And Sri Aurobindo has said: Indra represents, it is an algebraic name, Indra means illumined intelligence. This is the meaning. Whenever the word Indra comes, it is to be understood it is equivalent to illumined intelligence. Now Sri Aurobindo had to find this out with a great effort, it is not an easy thing to find out algebraic meanings. Only when you read thoroughly and when you have yourself experienced... There is a very fine sentence given in the Veda itself, that all the words which are important in the Veda are secret words. Ninya vachamsi. That is a Sanskrit expression. Secret words. Vachamsi means words. Ninya, which are secret, there are secret words but kavaye nivachane, but they reveal themselves before the Rishi. Because he has experienced, he himself has the key, he has the knowledge of Indra. Therefore the moment the word Indra comes up, the Rishi will understand: Indra stands for illumined intelligence. This is how Sri Aurobindo found out, not only about Indra, but about all the gods. Which are written in the Veda. All the names of Gods in the Veda are all algebraic terms. So you do not understand normally, what are they? It is only when you understand from inward experience that you can discover their meaning.

If you read the whole book The Secret of the Veda, you will find that Sri Aurobindo has given the key to many of the gods. For instance, there is a word, Brihaspati. Sri Aurobindo has said, Brishapati, means power of the soul, the soul–power. So wherever the word Brihaspati comes, it is the power of the soul. Soma is a word. Very often you find in the Veda, Indra drinks Soma. So you might find, many people think: barbarians, Indra must be a drunkard. He must be drinking Soma. Sri Aurobindo says, Soma is the lord of Delight. It is not wine; it is the Lord of delight. And then the whole ninth chapter of the Rig Veda, is devoted to the secret of the Soma. What is this soma? And the Veda says that unless and until you have mastered your senses, you will not have an access, even a slight access to Soma. You can't enter in the Ministry of Soma unless you have mastered your senses. There is a very beautiful analogy given: if you want a vessel, how do you make a vessel of clay? You heat up, you bake the jar. Now if you have baked the jar, and made a vessel out of it, then you pour into it whatever you want to pour, then if what is poured is ordinary water, it will be retained. But if it is a very powerful kind of a drink put into it, it will break if it is not fully baked. It depends upon the baking, how much baking you have done. So it is said in the ninth chapter that our whole human body is like a jar. Now this jar can contain, can receive all delight, it is capable of receiving delight on the condition that the body is fully baked. If you don't bake the body, then when the delight will come, the body will break down. You will not be able to sustain that delight at all. So Indra is able to drink the soma: it means that Indra is so powerful, he is a master of all the senses... In fact all the senses are nothing but manifestations of Indra. That is why in Sanskrit we have got the word for senses: indriya. The word indriya comes from Indra. All the senses are nothing but manifestations of Indra. Wherever there are senses, it is the abode of Indra. But this Indra is only in the ordinary form. As you rise higher and higher, Indra becomes greater and greater, until you find the most baked Indra, as it were, fully powerful. And he is so powerful that the highest delight can be drunk by him, and can be absorbed. He can be the vessel. And if you yourself invite Indra in your body — that is a secret, how you can invite Indra in your body that can be done, by a tapasya, by a kind of movement of austerity. And the minimum is: control of senses. If you can't control your senses, then forget about Indra. Indra is not available to you. His Ministry is closed for you. You have got to control your senses. You should have a lot of tapasya in which all the desires of senses — senses are like horses, you know, they want to run in a wild manner, senses want to satisfy themselves. If you want Indra however to sit in your indriyas, in your senses, then you have to exercise a lot of control. Therefore Veda gives you also the means of how to control your senses. What are the means by which you can control your senses? What is the kind of life you need to lead to control your senses? So if you want to fight with Vritra, don't think that it is a very easy thing to fight. That is why most of the people are obstructed and they remain there. They don't know how to make any effort at all. If you want to fight against Vritra, the first condition, minimum condition is: control of your senses. Then after the senses are controlled, develop your buddhi. After development of buddhi (this means intellect, power of discrimination), then you go into higher experiences, expand your powers of the mind to a very high degree: manur bhava, become pure human mental being. When you reach that point, go beyond it. Illumined intelligence that is not mental intelligence. Veda had found out that there is an intelligence higher than the mental intelligence that is Indra's intelligence, illumined intelligence. What is the difference between human intelligence and illumined intelligence? There is a beautiful analogy which is given: when you see a thing with one eye, how do you see it? When you see it with two eyes, how do you see it? This is our normal experience. We can either be blind, or you can see with one eye, or we can see with two eyes, that is our highest capacity. But if you have Indra invited in you, then Indra is supposed to be sahasraksha, he has thousand eyes, this is the image. So what is the difference between seeing with two eyes, and seeing things with one thousand eyes? That is illumined intelligence. So if you transcend your human intelligence, then you will begin to see with many, many more eyes, until you get a thousand eyes. I told you yesterday that the present crisis of mankind is that we have reached the maximum of mental intelligence. All that we can do with the mind we have done. And yet problems remain. How shall we solve these problems? The answer is that you have to go beyond mind. Beyond mental intelligence, you have to cross the threshold of two eyes. You have to enter into the field of thousand eyes, illumined intelligence. But even this is not the highest. Illumined intelligence is not the highest.

Above illumined intelligence, above Indra, there is Vishnu. That is another algebraic term, — Vishnu. What is Vishnu? And the image that is given about Vishnu is: he is like one single eye covering the whole sky, — One single eye covering the whole sky. It is not a thousand eyes. Eyes are sockets, small sockets. But Vishnu's eye is so vast, it covers the whole sky. Imagine the whole sky having one eye, how much it can cover, how comprehensive. Illumined intelligence will give you knowledge, but still multiplicity will be there, lot of multiplicity. But when you come to Vishnu, you have one comprehensive knowledge, united knowledge, unity. So whenever the Veda speaks of Vishnu, Veda speaks of an intelligence which is unifying. One unified vision of everything. All things comprehended.

There are many other gods also, Vedic Rishis found out so much, as for instance the hierarchy of gods. That is, Vishnu is higher than Indra. There is a hierarchy. You don't stop merely at Indra, you go beyond Indra also. And the real victory comes when you have Vishnu with you. There is Rudra also; Rudra is a counterpart of Vishnu. Vishnu is the light, supreme light, comprehensive light, and Rudra is the will–force of this light which is so powerful that with one mere glance, what is to be done is done. "I came, I saw, I conquered". That is the famous formula of Julius Caesar. "I came, I saw, I conquered." Really speaking, he conquered only a little, but if you really want to conquer, really conquer, and with one mere glance, it is Rudra. I came, I saw, I conquered. That is the power of Rudra.

There is so much of knowledge. I cannot even say briefly. The whole of the Veda is "Veda" because it abounds with knowledge. Every word of Veda conveys significant meaning, significant knowledge. It gives a secret knowledge, it gives the means of getting that knowledge, it tells you how to apply that knowledge, how to cultivate yourself to gain that knowledge, how to reach the perfection of that knowledge.

Let me take only the first verse of the Rig Veda, just for a taste. As when you have done a lot of cooking, and you want to see what it is like, you just taste a little. Similarly Veda is a big cooked food as it were, huge, and you want to taste a little. So let us take the very first verse of the Rig Veda. In Sanskrit it only says, Agnimile purohitam yajnasya devamritvijam hotaram ratnadhatamam. It is a very famous, very well–known verse, because it is the very first verse of the Rig Veda. And if you slightly enter into the Veda, naturally you enter into the first verse of the Veda. So I am giving the first verse.

It starts with Agni. Agnimile: I worship Agni. So it says, first you enter into Agni. This is the message of Rig Veda. If you want to enter into the Vedic knowledge, then the first key of that knowledge is Agni. What is Agni? This is also an algebraic term, symbolic term. Agni normally means fire. I worship Fire. That is all that it means. Therefore some people who don't understand the Veda, they don't know the algebra of Veda, they say, Oh! These primitive people might have just discovered fire. Ordinary fire, by which they can cook food, they can frighten the beasts, and so on. Therefore they worship fire, because fire became so useful to them. But if you go further: I worship Fire, who is the fire? I worship the fire which is purohita, — Purohitam yajnasya devam. He is a god, who is always put in front. Now this is intriguing. If it is only ordinary fire, what is the meaning? It is always put in the front. What does it mean? Purohitam, means that which is put in the front. This is a very symbolic language. I worship the fire which is always put in the front. There is a meaning in it. If you want to achieve the highest knowledge, then one who leads you to the highest knowledge is Agni. It is fire. It is not an ordinary fire. There is fire, the first indication is: It is always put in front. It is that kind of fire which is always put in front, but in front of what? Yajnasya. Now this is a very important word. Yajnameans sacrifice. Whenever you want to make a sacrifice, Agni is put in the front. Now what is sacrifice? Sacrifice is also an algebraic term. You can see how all the Veda is written in algebraic language that is why it is so difficult to understand. Unless you know the meaning of purohita, unless you know the meaning of fire, unless you know the meaning of yajna, sacrifice, you can't make head or tail out of it. That is why Sri Aurobindo said, there is a secret of the Veda you have to find out the secret. What is yajna, what is sacrifice? Now let us deal with it a little.

What is sacrifice? To understand the meaning of sacrifice, we have to go back to the process of austerities which the Vedic Rishis made in their search, in their quest. There is a very important legend, a story written in the Veda. There were nine Rishis who were in search of the highest knowledge. What is the highest? They discovered that knowledge cannot be gained merely by walking about, merely by digging. Knowledge can be gained only on one condition, if you offer, if you burn all that is important in you. If you have brain power, burn all your brain power. Then only you can discover what the brain power can do at the highest. This burning — burning is the means by which you can find the answers. You know, when you have mathematical problems to solve, you take your note book, you put down the sum, go on and on and on, you exercise your mind and if the problem is very difficult, what do you do? You burn the midnight oil; you burn your brain on it. And when you do it, when you are absolutely filled with the data of your sum, when your brain is very, very much exercised, you might even feel a fever in your brain, it burns, and then suddenly you will find the answer. Very often you might have had this experience if you have done mathematics. You have done mathematics, no? Every student of mathematics has this experience. So the Vedic Rishis found out that you don’t find knowledge unless you burn whatever faculties you have, whatever you are, whatever you have, you just burn them. So the first thing that you need to put forward is Agni.