Discoveries of The Vedic Rishis - Session 5

We have already discussed four great discoveries of the Vedas. The first was that life and the world are a battle, in which there are not only living creatures, our partners, but also invisible forces, consisting of benign and adverse forces. The second was that sacrifice is the means by which you can progress in this battle toward victory. The third discovery was turiyam svid, the discovery of the Supermind; and the fourth was the discovery of “the One which is strange and wonderful”? That Reality is One that is different from itself, a motion of itself in another consciousness.

So now we come to the fifth discovery. The fifth is much more complex than all the others; it consists of many parts. The fourth discovery, the discovery of the One that is simple and complex, “that which is wonderful”? Is perhaps the loftiest realization and has never been surpassed in the history of the world. But as a result of this fifth realization the Vedic Rishis obtained a very vast knowledge of the origin of things, the origin and purpose of the world, the origin of the individual, and the means by which the individual can gain the same knowledge that they themselves obtained. It is not a knowledge that is meant for only a few individuals, but a knowledge that can be given to all according to their needs, development, and capacity to receive it. It is a knowledge that can be transmitted, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled.

Let us now take all these one by one. They considered the origin of things, of the world, of individuals, and what was their reply to these questions?

They discovered that the origin of the world was a manifestation of Joy. At the root of the world is Joy, is Delight. It’s a very important discovery, because many people in the world believe that the origin of the world was desire, and not joy. But the Vedic Rishis discovered that desire is not at the root of the world, but joy, a fullness. You know, there is a difference between works impelled by desire and work which is a result of fullness. When you are absolutely full there is joy? Joy and fullness are interrelated. To take a mundane example: I don’t know if you have seen a film called My Fair Lady. It is a beautiful film that tells the story of a girl who sells flowers, and who draws the attention of a professor of languages, Professor Higgins. Hearing this girl speaking murderous English, he enters into a bet with a friend; he says, “This girl can master English in six months time.” And then she comes to his house, she is taken in by Professor Higgins, and he starts teaching her. There are a lot of tears in the labor of learning English, at least pronunciation of English, and ultimately, one fine day, after a lot of labor, suddenly she is able to pronounce one line in English beautifully? You might say that this is the day, on which she becomes full, and she sings that she can dance and dance for the whole of night. It’s a dance of joy, not of desire; there is fullness in her. She has mastered a sentence which was so difficult to pronounce earlier, and because of that mastery there is fullness in her being, she is absolutely overjoyed, in ecstasy. In that ecstasy she dances. It is a dance of joy, not of desire.

Now this world is also a dance, a dance of the Reality. At a later time in India this dance was given great significance, the world has been conceived thereafter as a dance of Shiva (you must have seen statues of Nataraj in a dancing pose), but at the root of that dance was the discovery of the Vedic Rishis that this world is a manifestation of the fullness of being. It is not that the Reality needs to manifest. There is no desire to manifest, for desire is a condition in which you attempt to grasp what you do not have, it is not from fullness but from lacunae, from want, from some deficiency. The activity of the Reality is not of this kind. The Reality is full, perfect, there is no deficiency in it, but in that fullness there is a spontaneous activity. Because it is full it can throw itself out fully, not to grasp something it does not possess, it is not a movement toward the external to grasp the external into oneself, but to throw the fullness inside outside as perfectly as possible.

Now, this word manifestation is very important. The world is a manifestation. You can manifest only what you have, what is inside, so this world is conceived by the Vedic Rishis as a manifestation. Even the word creation is not sufficiently expressive of it. Creation might mean that there is something that is not there that you are now creating, that is not the concept. The idea is that what is already inside the Reality is manifested.

Along with this there was another concept, called tapas. It’s a Sanskrit word which means “force of concentration”. This force of concentration can be inward, but also can throw itself outward. So this manifestation is by the force of tapas; the entire world is a manifestation of tapas, the force of concentration. There is a very important verse in the Rig–Veda, of which it is said that if you recite and understand it properly you can be liberated from all difficulties. If you know the origin of the world truly, then you will have only joy left, all grief vanishes. So it starts by saying what is at the origin of things, tapasah adhyajayata, and “The whole world has come out of tapas.” Ajayata means was born, manifested. Tapasah, from tapas.

And the first thing that came out of tapas, the origin of things, was ritam cha satyam, “the Truth and the Right.” In other words, the first thing that manifested was Supermind. Satyam, ritam, brihat, — these three words are the formula of the Supermind in the Veda. Wherever you come across these three words in the Veda, they refer to Supermind. So the first thing that came out of the action of force, of concentration, was ritam cha satyam, was the Supermind. This was the origin of things, so at the origin of things is the Supermind.

But then a surprising thing happened. The statement of the verse is rapid, it doesn’t state everything fully, tato ratryajayata, “from there arose the Night.” And from there samudro anarvah, “from there arose an Ocean of Inconscience.” So in one sentence there is the whole description. First came the Supermind, then came the Night, and then came the Inconscience. It’s only two lines, but this entire process has been described in the Veda in many places, under many circumstances. Actually, this is a subject of which Mother herself spoke to the children of the Ashram. She said, “I will tell you the ancient knowledge of the origin of things which was in the Veda, or even in pre–Vedic times, in Chaldean times.” She said that it can be told in a very philosophical manner, or it can be told in a simple manner, and that she would tell it like a children’s story. She said that in the beginning of things, the Reality manifested or emanated four Beings. The Being of Life, the Being of Light, the Being of Delight, and the Being of Truth, — Life, Light, Delight and Truth were the four Beings, and when they came out there was so much vastness, so much delight. And then happened what Mother called an “accident”. An accident occurred. These four Beings severed themselves from the Origin, and by separation from their relationship with the Origin, they became limited. They were vast, but by deviating, by disconnecting with the Origin, they became limited, — so limited that Life became Death, Light became Darkness, Delight became Sorrow, and Truth became Falsehood. And once this happened, from darkness came greater and greater darkness, until there came about the Inconscience.

Now if you read the Veda very carefully you will find this described in one way or the other. And Mother adds that when this happened, the Divine Mother, who is known as Aditi in the Veda, went to the Supreme Lord, the Origin of Origins, and said, “An accident has occurred. So much darkness has come about, it has to be repaired! What is to be done?” So the Lord said, “Now you will emanate other beings, who will not sever their relationship with the Origin.” These beings are called gods; this is the origin of the gods.

But even that was not sufficient. And so the Divine Mother threw out her love and delight, and all the crystals of her love and delight fell upon the Inconscience. With the help of these crystals of divine Love, with the help of the gods, in battle with the darkness, the entire world began to move forward, and Matter came, and Life came, and Mind came, and that is where we are now.

Now, out of this story, which you can find in the Veda, many consequences can be derived about the whole world. First, that gods were not present at the origin of the world. This is a very important statement. Gods don’t know everything. In the Veda there is a very beautiful verse, the Verse of Creation, it is called, Nasadiya Sukta. It is a Hymn of Creation. It is so–called because the very first words are na asat, it says that in the beginning there was no Being and no Non–being, there was only One. And then the whole world came out of it, but who knows really the story of the whole creation? Even the gods do not know, – this is what it says, – even the gods do not know the secret of creation, because they were not there at that time.

This is a very important sentence because, if you read the very first line of Savitri in The Book of Beginnings, it is written, “It was the hour before the gods awake.” What does this mean? That it was a time when the gods were not there as yet. So when you read Savitri this will be a very helpful indication. Sri Aurobindo describes the world as it was before the gods were created. They had not yet come, and Sri Aurobindo describes the darkness that was enveloped in darkness, so much Inconscience. The whole beginning of Savitristarts with this. This was discovered by the Vedic Rishis, that in the beginning there was this Inconscience, tato ratryajayata tatah samudro arnavah, “From there arose the Night, and from there arose a complete Inconscience.” It is that Inconscience that is described by Sri Aurobindo in The Book of Beginnings, at the very beginning of Savitri.

There is in the Veda a very interesting story, where it is said that the gods “were not the first born,” that they were created later. And when the gods were created, they were told by the Supreme, “Now you go down into the Inconscience and repair it. Bring the Light there.” And the gods said, “It is too dark! We won’t be able to do anything there!” Then they found that in Aditi, in the Divine Mother, there was something that they called Agni, fire. They found in her a divine element of Agni, of fire, and they said, “If that is put there, that will be able to repair the darkness.” Then Agni was brought out and put into the Inconscience. This is in the Veda, there is a whole Sukta on this subject.

There is another story where all the gods summon Agni, summon fire, and they say, “Oh please do this other work that must be done.” And Agni says, “Once upon a time, you summoned me, and I obeyed you and went into the Inconscience, and this work is so difficult that I will not do any other work for you!”

Fire is something that is born out of the Divine. This is the fire which becomes in us what we call our soul. That is why Sri Aurobindo says that the soul is a spark coming directly from the Divine. It is from that spark that the psychic being in us grows, it guides our movements, it is the leader of the sacrifice, it is the purohita, it is a priest, the forerunner of our journey. This is the discovery that the Vedic Rishis made, and this is why they gave so much importance to Agni, to fire. Why should we tend to the fire? Because it is the one element that has been put into the Inconscience to repair it. Its function is to lead the human journey, and to bring from the Divine directly all that is needed to repair the Inconscience. The purpose of our being on the earth is only this: The Inconscience has to be repaired. We are here to repair the Inconscience, and we can do it with the help of Agni. What we are is this aspiration of fire. That is why we are required to fight the battle. That is why this world is a battle, why our life is a battle. We could have easily gone away from this world, but because our task is to cure this Inconscience, it is not allowed to us to go away. We remain in the world, we fight in the world; and even if you lift yourself from the world, it is only to come back to this world. Even if you go into the highest, loftiest realization, you come back with it and put it into the Inconscience to awaken it.

Connected with this is the last point. As a result of all this knowledge, what is the highest thing they achieved? They discovered the Inconscience, but did they cure the Inconscience?

This is the answer we find in the Veda: They found out that you cannot cure Inconscience unless you enter into Supermind. That is a very important condition. So the entire process was to enter into Supermind, but entering into it was not enough. The Inconscience is down here. So there was also the process of descent. To arrive at Supermind there is a process of ascent, you go upwards. But even that movement is not a straight ascent. There are ascents and descents of various kinds. You go upward, you come down, you go up and come down again. You rise up and you distribute whatever you’ve gained, you share with everybody; then you go upward again and again distribute. Sri Aurobindo calls it the law of ascent and integration: You ascend, then you come down, give the benefit of your ascent to the lower levels, and again lift them up to the higher level. Therefore, the whole history of the world is not a straight line going upwards, it is cyclical, but like a spiral.

There is a legend in the Veda of the Angirasas, it was a group of seven Rishis who went in search of the lost cows. Now I told you last time that “cow” is an algebraic term in the Veda, and that it stands for Light. They were in search of the lost Light. The Angirasa Rishis stand for all of us, we are all Angirasa Rishis because we are all seekers. You might say that we are all in search of the lost cows. We are seeking all the time, and if you ask yourself what we are seeking? We are seeking something that we once had but that we have lost.

This idea was taken up by Plato in the West. He said that all seeking is a seeking for knowledge, and that all knowledge is remembrance. You remember what you knew, but have forgotten. When you gain knowledge, it is not a new thing, you knew it already somehow. You were originally full of knowledge, but somehow you have lost it. Then you seek out what you have lost, and then you remember. “Oh yes, I knew it already!” In fact, all processes of true knowledge are of this kind. When true knowledge dawns, you recall that you knew it. You had forgotten, now you have regained it.

Such was the movement of the Angirasa Rishis described in the Vedas. They had lost the cows. They had possessed them at one time, they had Light in them, but now that Light is lost. Where has it gone? Where have the cows gone? Where are they hidden? Are they hidden? Are they destroyed? One doesn’t know. But it is very important to find out.

What is the process by which they set about their task? First of all they went upwards. In fact, what we call Yoga, you have heard the word “Yoga” very often, it is a movement of uniting ourselves with the Light we possessed once, but have lost. It’s a re–union, in fact. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yug”, “to join”. In English you have the word “yoke”; when you have a bull, you yoke it to the cart, – this is the same word. So Yoga is a joining. Now, the Angirasa Rishis had lost the cows and they wanted to unite with the cows. This is a process of Yoga, and the Veda is therefore regarded as the origin of Yoga. The whole yogic process throughout the world ultimately can be traced to this great discovery made by the Vedic Rishis. They gave the first design of Yoga that we find anywhere. And what is the Yogic process? Go upwards first, you climb up. It is called the process of ascent.

As you make an effort upwards, there is a response. This is the law of this world. This also was discovered by the Vedic Rishis: If you try to go upwards, help will always come from above to lift you up. This is the law which Sri Aurobindo has written down in a small book called The Mother. It’s a very short book. In the first paragraph you will find: “Aspiration from below and Grace from above, when the two unite, gives you accomplishment.” Whenever there is aspiration the Grace will come from above. The junction of the two gives you accomplishment; you realize what you are looking for. Yoga is nothing but the movement of aspiration, you just aspire.

This law of aspiration was given by the Vedic Rishis. This was the discovery: that if you want to go upwards, you just aspire. All the mantras of the Veda are mantras of aspiration. It’s a call from below. As a result of it the Higher Light descends.

As to this Higher Light, I have told you the algebraic terms: Surya, the sun, is the Supermind.

Below Supermind is another region, above our mind and below Supermind, which is the domain of Indra, the Illumined Intelligence. So when the Vedic Rishis began to aspire, began to make sacrifice, — because the sacrifice is nothing but an expression of aspiration, — the first thing that happened was that Indra came down. It is said in a legend that Indra came on horseback with his lightning, tremendous force. Indra is supposed to be tremendously powerful. He comes down from above with the force of lightning, thunder and rain. And as soon as he came down to help these Rishis, it was found that Sarama was proceeding forward.

Now Saramais a very interesting term in the Veda; it’s also an algebraic term. If you read the description of Sarama, from the external point of view, just as “cow” means Light, the word sarama means “a dog”. But the inner meaning of this “dog” is that it is the power of Intuition. The Illumined Intelligence comes down, but that which leads this Illumined Intelligence is Intuition, the intuitive power of consciousness. This Intuition has a tremendous force of penetration. The special power of Intuition is that it always penetrates. Illumination reveals, does not penetrate, but Intuition penetrates and brings out from below. It is the specialty of intuition. It can go into the darkest corners, penetrate the darkness, and bring out the Light. The Veda says therefore, “Indra was preceded by Sarama, and as she went down...” The power of Intuition went down; it was a process of descent now. Going up to Indra was a process of ascent, the coming down of Indra a process of descent, and now Sarama descends into lower and lower levels to penetrate, to find out where the lost cows are. So they come down.

And then Sarama meets the Panis. I have already spoken to you of the Panis earlier; I said that there are Asuras, Rakshasas, Pishachas, Panis, Vritra. The Panis are merchants, traffickers or bargainers who work on behalf of the adverse forces. They saw that Sarama was a powerful intuitive Light, and that if she were allowed to go into the cave, into the descending movement, then she would find the lost cows. So the Panis came forward and said to Sarama, “Stop! Stop! We have something to talk to you about.”

So Sarama had a dialogue with the Panis. They said, “Join us, become our ambassador. We are very powerful, we know you. Become our ambassador and don’t go farther; be with us.”

But Sarama belonged to the Divine Force, to Indra, so she spurned the offer. They offered a lot, saying, “We shall give you this, we shall give you that. We have got tremendous wealth!” The Panis have a lot of wealth; they are merchants of wealth but Sarama refused all that and went ahead into the deep darkness of a hill. She cut across the caves, and in the deepest cavern the Shining Cows were found.

And then Indra came down with his power of thunder and lightning, broke everything open, the cave was fully broken and the lost cows were discovered. That was the achievement.

If you read the Veda you will very often find references to this story. Not the full story that I told you just now sometimes it’s one part and sometimes another but if you put it all together you get this connected story: how the lost cows were found with the help of Sarama, who spurned the Panis’ offer and cleared the way for Indra to come down and break open the hill and deliver the cows. That which was lost was regained.

This was supposed to be the great victory of the Veda, of the Vedic Rishis. This was not philosophy, not speculation, but realization; concretely realized. The Vedic Rishis had really repossessed the Light that had been lost. In fact, it is the story of all of us. We have all lost the cows and now we are all searching, we are looking for the cows. Therefore, the Yoga done by the Angirasa Rishis is also that which they prescribe to us. The Yoga is very simple, we know the whole process: You aspire, make a sacrifice, attain Illumined Intelligence, develop the power of Intuition, rise even up to Supermind; and as you rise upwards you will be better and better able to go downwards. Possess the Supermind, come down with Indra, and Intuition will always help you. It will go forward, ahead of you, so develop the intuitive power.

Don’t leave the earth: Go down, you have reached the heights, but you must also go down, descend and then by persistent effort, very difficult effort… A big battle takes place here. In the Agenda the Mother speaks of this battle with the Inconscience. As you go down into the cave of darkness of the Inconscience, (the Inconscient is nothing but the lost Light itself, so actually speaking the Inconscience is a reversal of Light), by the power of Intuition you go down and you illumine it. That is where you find the lost cows, the lost Light, and then you bring it out. You possess it now fully in your self–consciousness.

This is the simple formula of the Yoga of the Veda. All the Yogic processes that have been developed in the world (there are many such processes) have ultimately, behind them, this basic experience. All are different formulations, partial formulations, inadequate formulations, exclusive formulations but this is the basic formulation. All the others do not follow exactly everything given here, but only follow partially, and therefore some yogas are exclusive, some are partial, some are narrow and give narrow results, not all the results. They don’t give all the results which the Vedic Rishis obtained by following this entire process.

This process consisted of three parts: aspire, make a sacrifice; then there will be a descent from above; the Intuitive power will come with you, will come down and fight in the Inconscience, and then will draw out the Light. This is the general formula.

I’ll give you now a more precise formula, because this is very important.

It was the Vedic Rishis who discovered that you cannot achieve all this unless you perfect your capacities, all your capacities. It is a total sacrifice that you make of all your capacities.

What are those capacities? Basically, there are three kinds.

There is first a capacity of knowledge, and there are faculties of knowledge like buddhi, medha, dhi, mati, so many terms you find in the Veda to describe various gradations of this power of knowledge. You must develop all these powers. You will find in the Veda therefore many verses which are given to the understanding of various powers of knowledge and how they can be developed. Medhavinam kuru, “make me full of medha” that is one of the great verses of the Veda. Two days ago I spoke of Gayatri, where dhi is supposed to be united with the sunlight so that our intellect is directed by the Supreme Light. So there are first the powers of knowledge, realities of the powers of knowledge which are described. When you read the Vedas, you feel amazed by the amount of psychological knowledge contained in them. Today we are very proud of our modern psychology, but compared to the Veda it is the a–b–c. Profound psychology is given in the Veda, varieties of capacities are described, and how they can be developed. It is not only a question of the faculties, but of how they can be developed, that is a great discovery.

The second capacity is that of will and action. Everyone has got some rudimentary will, which is normally expressed in the form of desire; everyone is active in a certain way. The most normal movement of action is restlessness; all of us have some kind of restlessness. You must have seen that when you have nothing to do you loiter about, you go someplace and you just do nothing, but many things happen out of doing nothing! You just watch somebody from your balcony, and suddenly some action proceeds out of it. It was not your intention, but on the spur of the moment some activity starts. This is restlessness.

And then there is instinct, — restlessness is not instinct. Instinct is a deliberate movement of action which goes towards an object, it has a purpose. Every instinctive movement has a purpose, while restlessness has none. When I am hungry, automatically I look for food, nobody needs to teach me this; I neglect everything else and I look for food, it’s a very purposeful, directed activity, it goes straight towards its end, the acquisition of food. I strive for food, I discover it, and I gulp it. This is instinct; it is a second way in which we are active.

The third is desire, which is different from instinct. Instinct is spontaneous, it happens automatically; desire may rise out of instinct, but it is itself learned: I begin to desire because of certain experiences. I may desire to get the highest marks in an examination, because I have found that everyone praises the one who comes in first. Desire is the result of an experience of which you begin to enjoy the fruit. You don’t necessarily need it, but you like it. Instincts are needed, they impose themselves, they are imperative, but the objects of desire are not needed absolutely. You find them, you develop them, and they become so powerful that you must have them. So desire is also a motivator of action.

And then there is egoism. In Sanskrit it is called ahambhava. You do an action, not because you desire, but because you can affirm yourself, assert yourself. In a debate you have expressed a view, and then you say, “It is my view.” You have said something, and you become addicted to it because you have said it, you hold on to your view, and afterwards you’ll do anything to vindicate it. You’ll fight for it. Egoism is another means of action.

And then there is will, the fifth force of action. In desire, there is a movement to grasp from the outside world what you do not possess; in will, you express what you already possess. Will is a power and arises out of power, capacity, while desire arises out of incapacity.

Now all of these were studied by the Vedic Rishis, and they found that all have to be developed in such a way that restlessness stops, instinct is transformed, desire is abolished and egoism is annulled, until you arrive at the Supreme Will, until the Supreme Will, which is irresistible, which is most victorious, manifests itself through you.

The third capacity is that of feeling. The Veda describes various kinds of emotions. You might say that the whole Veda is a science of knowledge, a science of action, and a science of emotions. And the highest emotion they discovered was that of unrestricted joy and unrestricted self–giving: surrender. This was the discovery. The highest is surrender. Nama uktim vedema. This word namah means surrender. Salutations, bowing down, offering, this is namah. To arrive at the condition of namah was the highest achievement that they discovered. If you have this condition of namah in your consciousness, if you can always say spontaneously “namah, namah, namah”, then there is nothing that you cannot achieve, — Nothing. All is contained in namah. The moment you say “namah” truly, all will be available.

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, a 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.