Personalities - Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

Rishi Dadhyaṅ Ātharvaṇa

As is evident from his surname, Dadhyaṅ came in the lineage of Ātharvaṇa, one of the two most primeval seers of the Vedic age. The other is Angirasas. Thanks to the Ramayana we know a lot about Vishwamitra and Vasistha. That is not the case with the life of other Vedic seers. We can know about them authentically only through references to them in the Samhitas, Dadhyaṅ is a seer to whom is attributed the seerhood of one hundred and four mantras in all. Out of these, hundred and three mantras form the last five chapters of the Yajurveda while the remaining one is compiled in the Samaveda, the Yajurvedic mantras ascribed to Dadhyaṅ are inclusive of those senenteen mantras which subsequently go by the name Isopanished. Except for its sixteenth mantra, all the the mantras of the Isopanishad are taken from the Yajurveda as seen by Dadhyaṅ. In a way, the Isopanishad forms the quintessence of the Bhagvadgita. Here from can be gauged the significance of the contribution of Dadhyaṅ to the Vedic ethos. According to him, the whole world needs to be treated as the abode of God. Action done from this viewpoint, he points out, becomes taintless and thus is capable of leading one to redemption. The famous idea about God that He is mobile and immobile or indeed dynamic and static both, has been envisioned by him as is evident from his mantra:

तदेजति तन्नैजति तद्दूरे तद्वन्तिके ।
तदन्तरस्य सर्वस्य तदु सर्वस्यास्य बाह्यतः ॥ (Yajurveda 40.5)

“The Supreme Being moves as well as moves not. He is away as well as close by. He lies within all and at the same time outside all.”

Dadhyaṅ is also the seer of the famous mystic mantra सो ऽहम्, “That I am”. The well known Shanti-path: ॐ द्यौ: शान्तिरन्तरिक्षँ शान्ति:,
पृथ्वी शान्तिराप: शान्तिरोषधय: शान्ति: also has been envisaged by him, like of which has as yet to dawn upon the human mind elsewhere.

In view of all these details about Dadhyaṅ, it is but natural we inquist about his life history as also about the mode of his sādhanā.In this regard, what the Veda has to offer us, is as the following:

Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

Dadhyaṅ went through a course of rigorous tapas  which amounted essentially to deep meditation within. As a result of his getting established in meditation, Indra, the custodian of higher consciousness became pleased with him and imparted to him the sacred knowledge of making life blessed in the highest sense of the term which is scarcely known even to some of the other gods. With departure of Indra, so to say, a group of two gods, known as Aśvin, came to Dadhyaṅ and requested him to share that knowledge with them. Dadhyaṅ wanted to share that knowledge with the entire world no doubt and not to talk of the Ashwins but he told them that he would be beheaded if he leaked out the secret to anybody else, be they be Ashwins themselves. The Ashwins, however, assured him that they had a way out and therefore he did not need to bother about the same.

Having assured Dadhyaṅ thus, they went out and returned with a horse’s head, forthwith they cut the head of Dadhyaṅ and hid it somewhere. Then they placed the horses’s head on the headless body of  Dadhyaṅ and got the secret disclosed to them through it. As soon as the disclosure came to the accomplished, Indra appeared on  the spot and cut away Dadhyaṅ head as per the pre-conditioin having been laid by him. This was, however, followed by the Aśvin restoring Dadhyaṅ’s own head to his body.

As is quite obvious, the story even at its face itself is remarkable from the viewpoint of the history of surgery in India. It bears out the possibility of such a surgery having been accomplished in those ancient days at some level or the other. If the account has any truth in the literal sense, it is something marvellous, since surgery of this level could not be even contemplated about until now, not to talk of coming anyway close to it’s possibility.

Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

This surgical miracle apart, however what is the crux of the story is the secret knowledge for the acquisition of which Dadhyaṅ went through the untold rigour of tapas and even permitted himself to get beheaded for the sake of its dissemination. That secret knowledge has been indicated to in the Rigveda as madhu,honey and possibly it would have remained almost as such if perchance it would not have been expounded in the Madhu-Brahmana of BrihadaranyakaUpanishad. The Upanishad makes the disclosure by quoting a set of four mantras two seen by Kakṣīvaṭ, the fourth by Gaṅgā Bhāradvāja,and the third by a unknown seer. While Kakṣīvaṭ mantras refer to the story and the fourth one gives some idea of pervasion of every living being by an identical Being after having created them as its next as it were. The Bhāradvāja’s mantra explains the secret in terms of the Supreme Beings’s creating everything and every being in the universe out of Himself so as to see Himself reflected in them in His dynamics. This mantra reads as follows:

रू॒पंरू॑पं॒ प्रति॑रूपो बभूव॒ तद॑स्य रू॒पं प्र॑ति॒चक्ष॑णाय।
इन्द्रो॑ मा॒याभिः॑ पुरु॒रूप॑ ईयते यु॒क्ता ह्य॑स्य॒ हर॑यः श॒ता दश॑ ॥ (RV. 6,47,18)

“He, the Supreme Being, has asumed so many forms in the universe so as to see Himself reflected in them. He, as Indra, by means of His creative powers, moves in the universe in diverse forms simultaneously, since as many as ten hundred horses, are yoked to His chariot. “

Via this mantra, the knowledge as acquired by Dadhyaṅ is explained as that mighty secret according to which each and everything in the universe is interrelated with one another, so ultimately as if the whole of it were and organic whole and not merely an adventious congregation.

The imperative part of the vision as also the secret of the madhu vidya  is that unless and until the entire universe is taken as such an organic whole, one cannot taste bliss.

Rishi Dadhyan Atharvana

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