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Friday, March 22, 2019

Vedic Gods as Symbols (Concluded)

The cow and the horse often stand for the Vedic dualism of Light and its Power, Knowledge and the Will, and Consciousness and its Energy. 

Several Rk mantras are dedicated to Soma who symbolizes Ananda, Immortality. Soma is the Lord of the wine of heavenly delight, the Ananda of Immortality. The soma juice used in the sacrifice is the symbol of this heavenly delight. This is the human counterpart of the amrita of the Devas and asuras.

Brahman is expression of the heart (or soul).  Later the word Brahman came to denote Supreme Soul or Universal Brahman. Vritra is the personification of the opposite of the Conscient Brahman and is darkness, ignorance. Indra slays Vritra to release the conscient, knowledge.

Brahman also signifies the Vedic Word or mantra in its profoundest aspect. This corresponds to the logos in the west.  It arises out of the depth of the being and can be experienced as an intuitive feeling. This Universe is an expression or manifestation of the word, Brahman. The world is a creation by the Word.

Based on the area of activity, Brahman is called dhatru (supporter), Prajapati (the first offspring), Vishwakarma (maker of things), thrathru (protector, savior), nethru (guide), thvashtru (giver of forms) and savitru (animator).

“Brahma is the Creator, one of the three who form the great Puranic Trinity; Brihaspati is a figure of no great importance, spiritual teacher of the gods, and incidentally guardian of the planet Jupiter; Brihaspati is the self-expressive soul, the Purusha, the Bull of the herds. Brahmanaspati, the middle term which once linked the two, has disappeared.” (Aurobindo page 317).

Twashtri is the Framer of things, who gives the physical consciousness of the body in which to experience the delight of existence. The Ribhus are the powers of luminous knowledge who build up the vital, mental and causal/ideal from the material, physical consciousness.

The word Tat to refer to the supreme, beyond Vishnu comes as the first word in sloka 4.

All mythical images refer to planes of consciousness and to fields of experiences say Joseph Campbell and Sri Aurobindo.  According to the Vedic rishis, Prithvi, Bhu is physical consciousness; Bhuvah is Antariksha, intermediate nervous energy, mental consciousness. Swar is the summit of this pure mental consciousness; Dyaus or Heaven of the devas is pure mental consciousness. 

According to the Vedas and Vedic symbols, there are seven principles of existence. They are Pure Existence, Pure Consciousness, Pure Bliss, Knowledge, Mind, Life and Matter (earth). There are corresponding physical or metaphysical worlds (sapta loka) in the Puranic and the Mythical worlds.

According to Sri Aurobindo, the seven Principles of Existence (spiritual, supramental) and corresponding mythical worlds are 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 – Swar World of light (Swar) Dyaus

6. Life (nervous being)- (Bhuvar) Worlds of various becoming antariksha

7. Matter – Bhur  The material world (Bhur) Prithvi

In the Vedas, the Trinity (Three Divine Principle) consists of Sat – Chit – and Ananda. The link world of Vignana consists of Truth, Light and Vastness corresponding to Sat -Chit and Ananda and connects to the lower world of the human.

In the lower world, Swar is the Heaven (Dyaus) with its Truth, Light and vastness or the Pure Mind; Bhuvar or Antariksha is the life-force and Bhur is Matter or earth.

Rg Veda, Book 1 Chapter 154 on Vishnu mentions his three steps (the three worlds of Bhu, Bhuvah and Swah – Matter, Life and Mind) and of the word Nara. According to Rishi Dirgathamas, the trinity includes earth, heaven and a place called tridatu which is the ultimate step of Vishnu, a place of eternal bliss and light. Tridatu is also the concept behind sat-chit-ananda. Corresponding words in Rg Veda are vasu, ūrj and priyam or mayas.

Earth, heaven and the tridatu world of bliss are the three strides. Between earth and heaven is the Antariksha, the vital worlds of breath and nervous activity. Between heaven and the world of bliss is another vast Antariksha of Maharloka, the world of the superconscient Brahman.

Human draws his life-force and mental abilities from this world, but he is in constant touch with the Truth, Light and Vastness of the Swar world and through that with the Divine world, as seen in the classifications above. In the words of Sri Aurobindo (page 374): “We have subjective faculties hidden in us which correspond to all the tiers and strata of the objective cosmic system and these form for us so many planes of our possible existence.”

The earth is man’s (man and woman, the human) material or physical existence. The life in the mind is man’s heaven. His life with passions and desires is his mid-world of antariksha. Heaven is the mental consciousness. Dyaus or Heaven is the pure mental principle not affected by the reactions in the body and the mind. He can reach the world of Truth and Sat when he is no longer the thinker but the Seer. It is possible to go from the world of the mortal to that of Sat Chit Ananda, since they are inherent in him.

When we move from the inspirations of the Vedic poets to the era of rituals and worship of the images of God we notice that the idea of vastness leads to spirituality. The idea of multiplicity leads to gods and religions. Although names of many gods such as Indra, Varuna, Agni are mentioned in the Vedas, they are many godheads invoking only one Godhead. It is one with many aspects, has many names, and reveals Itself to man with many personalities.  It is the one Existent to whom the seers give different names, Indra, Matarishwan, Agni, (Rg I.164.46). It can be realized through any one of the aspects of the One with any one of the names and forms.

Rudra, Vishnu and Brahmanaspati of the Vedic mantras are the forerunners of the Puranic Trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. They are the forces behind the other gods such as agni, vayu, surya etc who are active in the everyday world, physical and mental.

At the mental level, Brahmanaspati, as Brahma creates the universe by his Word. He brings Light out of darkness and speeds the formation of conscious beings. Rudra is the force behind the upward evolution of the conscious being. In this process he is benevolent and healer when asked to help. He is also the destroyer of all evils and obstructions. Vishnu provides the static elements such as the earth and the space for the Word of Brahma and the Forceful actions of Rudra.

Finally, our rishis did not think that wickedness is natural to man, since he has the Divine in him. Sin is not a part of Vedic philosophy. Ignorance is.

In one parable, Rishi Shunahshepa is the victim tied to a sacrificial post by Ignorance with its triple cord of “limited mind, inefficient life and physical animality (passions)”. It is because of lack of perception of Truth and Light, or lack of acceptance or just insufficient effort to follow the Truth. It is also because of man’s natural instincts which tend to follow its desires and immediate pleasures. Sri Aurobindo quotes from Vasishta’s prayer to Varuna as follows: “It is from the poverty of the will we went contrary to truth, O Pure and Puissant one…………. wheresoever by the Ignorance we have put away thy laws, smite us not O God.”    (concluded)

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