Synthesis of Yoga in The Veda - Part-Four


Part Four


Vedic System of Cosmic Knowledge

The Vedic system of the cosmic knowledge is the same that we find behind the later Puranic symbols. Both in the Vedic system and the Puranic system, the cosmic existence consists of the unity of seven principles of existence and seven worlds corresponding to these principles, and they can be stated as follows:





1. Pure Existence — Sat World of the highest truth of being (Satyaloka)
2. Pure Consciousness — Chit World of infinite Will or conscious force (Tapoloka)
3. Pure Bliss — Ananda World of creative delight of existence (Janaloka)
4. Knowledge or Truth — Vijnana World of the Vastness (Maharloka)
5. Mind World of light (Swar)
6. Life (nervous being) World of various becoming (Bhuvar)
7. Matter The material world (Bhur)

According to the Vedic sages, we live in physical consciousness, and we experience only this physical world of the Earth-Mother, and we are aware only of mortal



existence (martyam). It is by profound psychological methods that we can transcend the limitations of physical consciousness and enter into realms of supraphysical existence. They established close connection between our ordinary cognitive faculties of intelligence such as Medhā, Manas, Mati, Dhī and others and their final victorious illuminations; similarly, they established close connection between desire, will, and action, on the one hand, and their supreme all- achieving volitional puissance, on the other; and similarly they established close connection between our ordinary sense activities and their corresponding experiences of pleasure, pain and indifference on the one hand, and the highest spiritual ecstasies, on the other. The psychological efforts made by them to establish these connections appear to have been greatly methodized, so that hundreds of seekers could practise them and arrive at results or siddhis that can be compared, verified, modified, enlarged and perfected. It is in these methodized efforts that we find the luminous but synthetic beginnings of the later developments of Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga. In several passages,55 we can read the secret of the accomplishment of action, knowledge and joy. Works are energies pressed for result, and the secret of the yoga of works is a sacrifice or surrender of our desires and volitions symbolized in the Veda by the Horse, ashwa. Attainment of perfection in works has been noted as a condition for the attainment of immortality, such as that found in the hymns related to Ribhus. The Veda celebrates Knowledge as illumination attained by meditation in which activities of thought, understanding and intellect are so concentrated on the highest source of knowledge that supramental faculties come to be developed such as those of revelations, symbolized by Ila, inspiration or Saraswati,



intuition or Sarama, and discrimination between truth and falsehood, between knowledge and ignorance and between good and evil — the faculty symbolized by Dakshina. The Vedic yoga of knowledge is seen to be the process of sacrifice or cultivation or surrender of our cognitive activities by means of intensities of clarities, symbolized in the Veda as ghrita or ghritasya dhdrāh. In the Vedic yoga of Divine Love or Divine Delight, the method is that of transmutation of sense activities effected by means of intensities of purification, symbolized in the Veda as the pressings of the soma-plant and straining its juice through the widely spread strainer (pavitram vitatam) of the human system in the activities of purification. The climax is reached when the delight in our members is so sifted and strained that it is turned into honey-sweetnesses (madhunah) which pour into all the members of the human system and flow through all of them completely in every part (prabhur gātrāni paryeśi viśwatah).56 The three processes of cognition, volition and affection are so synthesized that the yogic results are synthetic and integral.

Psychological powers in this synthetic yoga of the Veda are sought to be purified, cultivated, developed and perfected by the constant aid sought and received from the cosmic powers in their individual or in their collective combinations. This is where the role of the Gods comes into our view prominently. Gods in their combination manifest the integrality of the one supreme Deva, one integral Divine Existent. The crown of this synthesis was in the experience of the Vedic Rishis of something divine transcendent and blissful in whose unity the increasing soul of man and the eternal divine fullness of the cosmic godheads meet perfectly and fulfill themselves.



The Supreme Object of Vedic Realisation

The highest object of knowledge, which the Vedic Rishis endeavored to discover through their methodized methods has been described by them as the One with many names who is revealed in many aspects and who approaches man in the mask of many divine personalities. This oneness can be seen to be complex oneness and integral oneness. On account of the varieties of godheads who are invoked by the Vedic Rishis, western scholars considered them as polytheists. But at the time of worshiping a given god, the rishis gave preeminence and even regarded him as in a way a sole deity; the word polytheism did not correspond to the actual position of the gods in the Veda, and therefore a new name was invented, and they called it henotheism. In reality, the Veda is not polytheistic, nor is it monotheistic in the modern sense of the word; the Vedic experience of the reality is that of one Divine Existence who manifests Himself in many names and forms, each of which is for the worshipper of that name and form, the one and supreme Deity. This idea was also continued in the Puranic religions of India. Actually, we find in the Veda the idea of ultimate reality, which is developed in Vedanta as a conception of One Brahman. In 170th hymn of the first Mandala of Rig Veda, the ultimate reality has been described as One but wonderful and unseizable by the ordinary mental understanding, and that One is described as surprisingly complex similar to later conception of Shiva-Shakti, both being one and yet capable of an otherness in motion. The hymn says: "It is not now, nor is It tomorrow; who knoweth that which is Supreme and Wonderful? It has motion and action in the consciousness of another, but when it is approached by the thought, It vanishes." That Reality is spoken of in the neuter as That (tad ekam); it is often spoken



of as He (sah) that is one with Aditi, the Divine Mother; it is identified with the Immortality, the supreme triple Principle, the vast Existence (vasu), Energy of Consciousness (urja), and Bliss (Madhu). That Reality is unmoving; it is the oneness of the gods that manifest from that Reality. It is said: "The Unmoving is born as the Vast in the seat of the Cow (Aditi),....the vast, the mightiness of the gods, the One."57 Rishi Dhirghatamas speaks of that Reality as "the one Existent to whom the seers give different names, Indra, Matarishwan, Agni".58

That Reality is also conceived as a Deva, the supreme Godhead, the father of things; He is the Blissful One to whom the movements of gods ascend; He is manifest as at once the Male and Female. Each of the gods is a manifestation, an aspect, a personality of one Deva. That Supreme Deva can be realized through any of his names and aspects, through Indra, through Agni, through Soma; for each of them is in himself that Supreme Deva, and only in its frontal aspect differs from the other frontal aspects; each god contains all the gods in himself. In the ninth Mandala of Rig Veda,59 Soma is described as the Supreme Deva in the image of his multisided splendour and complexity as follows: "This is the supreme dappled Bull that makes the Dawns to shine out, the Male that bears the worlds of becoming and seeks the plenitude; the Fathers who had the forming knowledge made a form of him by that power of knowledge which is his; strong in vision they set him within as a child to be born. As the Gandharva he guards his true seat; as the supreme and wonderful One he keeps the births of the gods; Lord of the inner setting, by the inner setting he seizes the enemy. Those who are utterly perfected in works taste the enjoyment of his honey-sweetness. O thou in whom is the food, thou art that divine



food, thou art the vast, the divine home; wearing heaven as a robe thou encompassest the march of the sacrifice. King with the sieve of thy purifying for thy chariot thou ascendest to the plenitude; with thou thousand burning brilliances thou conquerest the vast knowledge."

Let us refer to the description of a similar description of Agni in Rig Veda:60

"Thou, O Agni, art Varuna when thou art born, thou becomest Mitra when thou art perfectly kindled, in thee are all the gods, O son of Force; thou art Indra to the mortal who gives the sacrifice. Thou becomest Aryaman when thou bearest the secret name of the Virgins. They make thee to shine with the radiances as Mitra well-established when thou makest of one mind the Lord of the house and his consort. For the glory of thee, O Rudra, the Maruts brighten by the pressure that which is the brilliant and very birth of thee. That which is the highest seat of Vishnu, by that thou protectest secret Name of the radiances. By thy glory, O Deva, the gods attain to right vision, and holding in themselves all the multiplicity of the vast manifestations taste Immortality. Man set Agni in them as the priest of the sacrifice when desiring the immortality, they distribute to the god the self-expression of the being...".

The being is one, according to the Veda, but its self- expressions are many and varied. That reality is to be known, and when that Reality is known, both in self-being and its multiple expressions, and when that Reality is made to shine in all parts of the being, then Immortality is attained and enjoyed, since that Reality is imperishable, undecaying and immortal.



The Yogic Journey of the Seeker of the Highest

The human journey is a journey towards that goal, and in that journey the forces of darkness obstruct the progression; they have to be conquered with the help of the gods as Angirasa rishis did. This darkness and the sons of darkness who obstruct the journey have behind them, concealed in them, the light and the lost Sun. That darkness is not self-existent, nor is it eternal, since it has a beginning, and its end can be achieved by the pursuit of the path of Truth, the path of Immortality. The Aghamarshana mantra 61 points out: "Out of the force of concentration of being (tapas), the Right and the Truth were born; then was the night born, and thence the dark inconscient ocean was born." It is when the light gets concealed that darkness is born, but concealment does not annul the light. It is by the process of yoga that the light that is concealed is recovered. From inconscience to Ignorance and from ignorance to Knowledge is the process of reversal, the process of self-finding, the finding of That and all that That contains, That which eternally is and which has become concealed but which is then recovered and brought forth for manifestation.

The Vedic Rishis, by their plummeting depths of the inconscient and by scaling the heights of consciousness up to the Superconscient, read the riddle of death and found the secret of Immortality. They sought for and discovered the One and worshipped that One and Him in the glories of His light and purity and, wisdom and power. These Rishis manifest confidence and joy and happy, equal friendliness with the gods. They claimed the realm of the Mind as the father and the realm of the Matter as their mother and these seers had delivered the Sun out of our material darkness. The



Sun that they delivered was "That One", "That Truth", ("tad ekam, tat satyam”)

The Vedic knowledge and the Vedic system of yoga constitute the yogic heritage, and it invites the seeker to revisit the secrets that are discovered by the yogins of the Veda. But the Veda is not a closed book. The Vedic seers themselves have declared:

"brahamāna tvā śatakrato

ud vamśam iva yemire

yat sānoh sānum āruhad

bhūri aspasta kartvam,”

"The priest of the word climb Thee like a ladder, O hundred-powered. As one ascends from peak to peak, there is made clear the much that has still to be done."62

The richness and complexities of Vedic system of yoga cannot be adequately captured within a brief compass that we have in our scope. But from whatever we have said so far we may be able to gather that,

(1) The Veda is humanity's earliest composition available, which may enable us to discern a well developed Yogashastra which consists of a systematic body of the knowledge of the truths, principles, powers and processes that govern realization or yoga-siddhi, the perfection that comes from the practice of yoga;

(2) This shastra is illustrated in the examples of hundreds of Rishis, — not only those who have composed the hymns of the Veda, but also those forefathers like Angirasas, Ribhus and others whose yogic achievements have been variously described;



(3) This shastra is not only a record of the subjective experiences of the composers or others, but owing to the fact that the symbols and figures which have been used by these Rishis are fixed and shared by the composers and their disciples, the objective veracity of contents of knowledge can be studied and can be objectively determined;

(4) The quest contained in this yoga shastra is undogmatic and open ended, so that the yogic system presented in the Veda (yoga) can be continued to be developed in the light of new inquiries and new methods of quest and verification.

One of the important features of the Vedic pursuit is marked by intense goodwill and concern for universal welfare, spread of universal goodwill and openness to thoughts of goodwill that may come from all directions. The following verses from Rig Veda, Mandala I, sukta 89, bring out the emphasis that is laid in the Veda on universality? goodwill, well-being, selflessness and all-round good health: "May thoughts of goodwill come to us from all directions, without any obstruction or restraint, leading us to higher ideals, so that we may be recipients of divine protection without any hindrance, day to day, for our well deserved growth."63

"May Indra, with the opulent power of divine hearing, be propitious to us. May the omniscient be propitious to us. May Garuda with his irresistible weapons, be propitious to us. May Brahaspati be auspicious to us."64

O Gods, may we hear with ears what is auspicious; may we see with eyes what is auspicious, O gods worthy of worship. May we sing songs of gratitude with all our bodies



endowed with firm faculties and live full span of our life devoted to the divine welfare."65

"Hundred autumns are assigned to us by the divine in this fleeting existence of bodies, subject to old age and decay. May we have no affliction or infirmities in the midst of our life-span."66

There are, in the Yajurveda, six verses67 which are devoted to a prayer for the mind to be filled with Good Will.

They are as follows:

"The mind, irrespective of whether one is awake or asleep, travels to far distant corners; this far distant-moving mind is a light of lights.

May that mind of mine be filled with Good Will."

"It is by virtue of this mind that the enlightened ones, endowed with deep insight and operative skills, perform actions as a sacrifice; the mind is extraordinary, highly dynamic and effective, hidden with creative powers.

May that mind of mine be filled with Good Will."

"The mind represents insight and awareness, patience, light and nectar of the Immortality within the human beings; without mind no action of sacrifice can be performed.

May that mind of mine be filled with Good Will."

"The mind, when seized by immortality, penetrates all the past the present and the future; the mind itself extends into all actions of sacrifice that is performed by seven sacrifices (of seven planes).

May that mind of mine be filled with Good Will."



"The mind is the receptive plane of words of knowledge, prayers of worship and offerings of sacrifice; they are located in it just as spokes are contained in the centre of the wheel of a chariot; all the stuff of consciousness of all the beings is inter-locked in it.

May that mind of mine be filled with Good Will."

"As an expert charioteer mobilizes the horses with the reins, so does the mind mobilize human beings. It is the most dynamic and fast moving (director) located in the heart.

May that mind of mine be filled with Good Will."

Prayer and Bhakti Yoga

Among the four Vedas, Samaveda occupies a special place. According to Yaska, Sama has three alternative meanings:

(1) Union of heaven, life-breath and song;

(2) Union of knowledge and works;

(3) Union of divine power and individual soul.

The mantras of Samaveda are recited as songs, and some of the best prayers of the Veda are to be found in the Mahanamni Archika, which occurs between the first and the second parts of the Samaveda. It consists of only ten verses, and these prayers can be seen to be the kernel of the Bhakti yoga of the Veda. It may, however, be asked whether a book of Prayers can rightly be regarded as a book of Yoga. The truth of the yogic relationship of prayer to the Bhakti yoga is not easily grasped, and, prayer, considered as a form of external worships and even as a form of ceremonial worship, it is thought to be a part of religionism rather than as a part of



yoga. The distinguishing feature of Yoga is a process of psychological methods of inner change of consciousness leading up to the total transformation of consciousness in which the individual stands united with the universal and transcendental Divine, which leads to a further step of the reign of the divine consciousness on the psychological and even physical instruments and limbs of the individual in their action of transformation. It is true that as long as the divine consciousness is only an idea of the godhead to which one renders reverence or homage, there is not yet the beginning of yoga. The beginning is marked by a seeking after the Divine, a longing after some kind of touch, closeness or possession. It is only at that stage that there comes about inner adoration of the Divine, an inner worship; one begins to make oneself a temple of the Divine; one's thoughts and feelings become a constant prayer of aspiration and seeking, and the whole life becomes a means of service and worship of the divine. It is as this change or this new soul-tendency grows that the movement of devotion becomes a yoga, Bhakti yoga, — a growing contact and union; and with this change, even the outward worship will increasingly become only a physical expression or outflowing of the inner devotion and adoration; that outward worship will be the wave of the soul throwing itself out in speech and symbolic act. The real distinguishing mark of the Bhakti yoga is the adoration that brings with it an increasing consecration of the being to the Divine who is adored, and this consecration must be a process of self- purification directed towards a growth towards the divine contact or for the entrance of the Divine into the temple of the inner being in order that the divine consciousness and divine being is revealed in the shrine of the heart. The process of purification may be only ethical, but at the point where yoga



begins to appear in its true spirit and form, purification begins to be a process of throwing away, catharsis, of all that conflicts with what is conceived to be the Divine in himself or the Divine in ourselves. One ceases to have in the outer act a mere imitation of the Divine, and one begins to grow into the likeness of the Divine in our nature. Bhakti yoga culminates in a sort of liberation by likeness to the Divine, liberation from our lower nature and a change into the divine nature.

It is in the context of this profundity of Bhakti yoga that the place and significance of prayer needs to be underlined. There may be in the ordinary religious approach to the divine consciousness by prayer many crudities such as that illustrated by the attitude which imagines the Divine as if capable of being propitiated, bribed, flattered into acquiescence or indulgence by praise, entreaty and gifts and has often little regard to the spirit in which the divine is approached. In the Bhakti yoga proper, prayer is only a particular form given to the upward will and aspiration and to the faith which does not rest in the state of belief but which is a dynamic force by which what is held in belief is irresistibly worked out so as to be transformed into knowledge, into living experience and realization. When a prayer expresses the will and aspiration of the seeker to come into a living experience of the touch with the divine will, one enters into the yoga of realization. One begins to understand that the divine will is universal will, and it cannot be deflected by egoistic propitiation and entreaty; one begins to understand that the divine is not only universal but also transcendent who expresses himself in the universal order with omniscience, where his larger knowledge must foresee the thing to be done, needing no direction or stimulation by the human thought; one begins to learn that the individual's



desires are not and cannot be in any world order the true determining factor. At the same time, the divine fore- knowledge does not bind the omniscience and omnipotence of the divine consciousness, and in the working of the universe, the law of divine action is not a mechanical law and there is in that working a constant interaction of powers and forces, working from above and working from below, and through that interaction and, in the interaction between the human will and the divine will, Divine Events are created, and the world which was closed earlier is opened up by the transforming will in human consciousness and its offering and consecration; one then realizes that the world is not a mechanical working out of a vision but a spiritual unfoldment that permits new creation by virtue of the consecration of the individual will in order to become a vehicle of the divine's will, on the one hand, and the divine's omnipotent will that sanctions the occurrence of the creative action that brings about the transformation of all that continues to occur; consequently, new events are shaped which were willed by the divine omnipotent will but which were by the same will to be shaped by the human will, aspiration and dynamic faith. What is important in the Bhakti yoga is not the anthropomorphic approach to God that aims at flattering the divine for egoistic satisfaction but the development of the relationship between the human aspiration and the Divine will. Prayer helps to prepare a conscious relationship between the human will and the divine consciousness. It is the contact of human life with God that is important, and this contact results in constant interchange with cosmic realities and the Supreme God. The essence of the prayer consists of its power to build up higher and higher forms of relationship until one reaches the highest motiveless devotion, which is



that of divine love, pure and simple, without any other demand or longing. The demand of the prayer is, in ultimate analysis, the demand for the closest union with the divine. As the Bhakti yoga rises higher, the one thing one asked for is the divine love:, the one thing feared is the loss of love, the one sorrow is a sorrow of separation of love; for all other things either do not exist for the worshiper and lover or come in only as incidents or as results and not as objects or conditions of love. The .greatest boon of yogic prayer is eternity and intensity of the divine love.

In the few examples which are taken below from Samaveda, various motives of prayers are discovered, but they express the intense need of the Rishis in their upward aspiration and effort to unite with the divine consciousness, and therefore they can be regarded as Yogic rather than religious in character:

1. O God, Thou art All-knowing; Guide us on the right path. Teach us how to reach our goal. O Lord of all powers, Most Opulent, teach us Thy Laws!

2.O most conscious and Glorious Lord, omnipresent like Sun, make us full of knowledge, with these spiritual meditations, for acquiring life and light of learning!

3. O Lord! Thou art greatest Giver, Remover of sins; Thou art verify the Mighty. O All pervading Powerful Lord, equip us; with the fruits of knowledge and spiritual force. O Mighty Master, make us strong. Manifest Thyself in our heart. Accept our adoration. May thou ever remain blissful with the drink of our purity offered to Thee.

4. O God, grant us the force to acquire knowledge. Thou art most heroic amongst the heroes. O Mightiest, O sin destroyer



Thou art the Lord of all disciplines of knowledge and forces. Thou controlest thy subjects for their betterment.

5. He is the most charitable amongst all who possess possession. He is pure like the Sun .O Omniscient and Glorious God, lead us on for acquiring knowledge and strength. Praise Him alone, O man.

6. Verily, the Almighty Original Being rules over all. For our totally destroys our feelings of enmity. He is full of knowledge and action. He is our protector from sins, the Supramental, Vast and Truth.

7. For acquiring prosperity, we invoke the Lord the Unconquerable Conqueror. He entirely destroys our feelings of enmity. He entirely destroys our feelings of enmity again.

8. O Indivisible God, O Settler of all, grant us for our felicity, the Immemorial All-pervading Gladdening nature. O Mighty Lord, the accomplishment of an action is alone praise-worthy. Omnipresent Lord, Thou rulest over all. I adore Thee worthy of adoration!

9. O All-powerful, Vice-Destroying God, we sing Thy praise in man's pilgrimages for progress. Thou art Wise, who livest in rays of Light, the Friend, worthy of service and Pearless.

10. O Lord, Thou art resplendent Agni.

O Refulgent Lord, Thou art that Indra.

O Lord, Thou art the Increasing Sun!

O Lord! Thou art those very Gods!"68



Vedic Vision of Harmony

We may, finally, refer to the important verses, which appear at the close of the Rig Veda, since they bring out the futuristic vision of humanity and harmony, which can come about by intense aspiration for collective yoga that aims at highest welfare and solidarity of people. These verses express exhortation of Rishis for building up the future divine man, "Be, first, the mental being, and manifest, then, the divine being", — so is the message of the Veda, — manurbhav, janayÄ daivyam janam.

"Join together, speak one word, let your minds arrive at one knowledge even as the ancient gods arriving at one knowledge partake each of his own portion.

Common mantra have all these, a common gathering to union, one mind common to all, they are together in one knowledge; I pronounce for you a common mantra, do sacrifice for you with a common offering.

One and common be your aspiration, united your hearts, common to you be your mind,- so that close companionship may be yours."69


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