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Friday, February 28, 2020

Asya Vamasya Sukya - 7

Mantra 13: This mantra says that all the worlds (bhuvanani) are supported by (on) this (revolving wheel) with five spokes. The second sentence says that its (the One which supports) although ancient and heavily laden never breaks down.

This seems again to refer to the Primordial Force imagined as a car or the Sun with one wheel representing one year (samvastara) with five seasons. The idea of five seasons was explained earlier. Not only Aitrya Brahmana, but also Satapata Brahmana refer to the aggregates of five. Since these two brahmanas are parts of the Vedas, may be we should consider that these categories composed of five items represent the five spokes of the wheel.

The aggregates of five may refer to : five yagnas, five seasons with 72 days each, cosmic patterns with svayambhu, Prajapati, sun, moon and earth, five animals used for sacrifice in Vedic days etc., I am not for including pancha kosha (five sheaths of annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vignanamaya and anandamaya) because this idea comes in Taittriya Upanishad which was probably compiled later in the Vedic period around 500 BCE. I am also not for including pancha buthas (pritvi, apa, agni, vayu and akasha) which is from the Samkhya philosophy with the first definitive text by Isvarakrishna coming around 300 BCE.

The wheel has been used to represent the sun, the rta or dharma in Indian Vedic art and sculpture.  

Mantra 14: “The wheel revolves without any decay drawn by 10 horses yoked to uttana. The sun’s eyes which are encompassed by rajas, move. All the worlds are supported on it (by him).”

We know what the wheel is.  Number 10 probably refers to 10 months with 36 days each (or 36 days plus 36 nights X 5 seasons). One interpreter says that 10 refers to 10 principles of Viraj and that Viraj is the first principle to emerge. (He quotes Gopatha Brahmana and lists the names of the 10 principles of Viraj as loka, deva, devagana, chandas, dik, rtu, stoma, veda, hotru and indriya. I have no idea what these mean, nor am I sure these ideas were known at the time of Dirghatamas).

But what is uttana? One interpreter says it is the car-pole. The other says it refers to a recumbent position. Or does it mean uttara meaning “above” and not uttana? A spelling error could have occurred over the centuries! Stretched out or recumbent seem the most common translation. So, it must refer to the sun (and indirectly Aditya or the Primordial) stretched out over the sky and the universe.  

What is rajas of the sun? Does it refer to Sun’s energy? Most likely so.

Mantra 15: “Of the seven who were born at the same time, the seventh is called ekajam (single born). Their desires are placed on their proper abodes. They are of various forms and move on a fixed substrate. (I am not sure of my understanding of the final sentence).”

 This hymn refers to seven who were born simultaneously (saakamjana).  One was a single born (ekaja) and the others were twins, and rishis born of devas.

Who are the seven born simultaneously of whom six are twins and one is single born? One reference is to rishis born of devas. There is this word dhamasha in the second sentence. The closest meaning of this word I can get to is something related to Agni.

If the seven refers to the seven rishis (sapta rishi), how do we interpret the 3 pairs? And the one left out? If we consider Agni as the one left out of sacrifices (as is known in Vedic writings), who are the other six, particularly as pairs? I have seen interpreters talking about agni with his flames as counterpart of/correspondence for the mind and its levels in different planes.

 If I imagine a mystic rishi who does not care for all kinds of philosophical speculations, my bias is that he was talking about the following three pairs: earth and sky (heaven); sun and moon and light and dark. The seventh one is Life itself. I can be as correct or as wrong as everyone else. But, why not, particularly since the rishi refers to male, female and progeny in the next hymn?

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