Brahman and Ritam

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 3 10:59:10 CST 1998

 Vivek Anand Ganesan wrote:

>   I read about this term called "Ritam" in an English translation of
>the Vedas.  The author maintains that "Ritam" was the primordial
>"Brahman" i.e. "Ritam" was the Universal Existence present in the
>Samhitas before the more intellectual concept of "Brahman", discussed
>in the Aranyakas and Upanishads.  Is there any truth to this claim?
>P.S. :
>   I know that the implicit assumption made above is that the
>Upanishads  are later than the Samhitas.  Granting this "unorthodox"
>assumption, would the claim stated above have validity?

 R^ita has several different meanings as used in the Vedas.
 Some of these  are "what is right or proper", "truth" (as opposed
 to anR^ita (untruth), "sacred order", "dharma", etc. But the
 interpretation of R^ita depends on the context. SaayaNa, who wrote
 commentaries on the vedas, has interpreted R^itaM satyaM as
 atayantasatyaM, "absolute truth".

 R^itaM (R^itagaM) satyaM paraM brahma puruShaM kR^iShNapiN^galaM
 uurdhvaretaM viruupAxaM vishvarUpAya vai namo namaH  ||
 (MahAnArAyaNa upanishad, a verse extolling umA-maheshvara),

 So SaayaNa here takes R^ita as an adjective that qualifies
 satyaM (truth). satyaM qualified by R^itaM indicates the
 Absolute truth, pAramArthika satya.

 Next, considering the aghamarShaNa mantras that are used in the
 daily sandhyaavandana, these are the mantras from the R^ig Veda,
 (MaNDala 10, suukta 190, 1-3). These three R^iks (verses) are said
 to rid one of sins, and begin with, "R^itaM cha satyaM chaabhidhaat-
 tapaso .adhyajaayata ..."

 In the R^ig bhaashhya of these aghamarShaNa mantras, SaayaNa
 interprets R^itaM as "maanasaM yathaarthasaMkalpanaM",
 meaning "true or real mental volition or will." He interprets
 satyaM as "vaachikaM yathaarthabhaaShaNaM", that means "true
 speech that is expressed by words."

 Thus we see that R^itam is interpreted differently in different

 Regarding the claim that R^itam of the Samhitaas became the
 Brahman of the upanishads later, I cannot comment because
 the theory that Samhitaas were "composed" earlier and later
 the AraNyakas and upanishads were "composed" is by no means a
 proven theory.

 But if the speculation is that R^itaM is subordinate to Brahman,
 this may have a basis in advaita. For example, we read in the
 GaNapati atharva shiirSha upanishad, "R^itaM vachmi | satyaM
 vachmi |"  Shrii upaniShad Brahma Yogin who has written commentaries
 on this (and 107 other upanishads), interprets R^itam vachmi as
 "vyAvahArikarUpeNa tvAmeva satyaM vachmi", which means " I say
 that You (GaNapati) alone are the vyAvahArika satya of the
 world (R^ita)." vyAvahArika satya is the apparent reality of the
 world, but not the absolute reality that is Brahman. Thus
 R^ita is equated with vyAvahArika satya of advaita. The word
 satya in "satyaM vachmi" is interpreted as the pAramArthika satya or


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