RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approach to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Tue Aug 1 03:47:11 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Here is posting No. 8.
Best wishes to all.
-- Himanshu

-------------- next part --------------
RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One :
(notes from selfstudy - svaadhyaaya)

VIII : Mantras Having Vedanta Concepts like
       anirvachaniya, brahman, etc.

------------------------------------- Himanshu B. Dave

aha.m rudrebhir vasubhi"s caraamy aham aadityair uta vi"svadevai.h |
aha.m mitraavaru.nobhaa bibharmy aham indraagnii aham a"svinobhaa  || (1)

aha.m somam aahanasam bibharmy aha.m tva.s.taaram uta puu.sa.nam bhagam |
aha.m dadhaami dravi.na.m havi.smate supraavye yajamaanaaya sunvate    ||(2)

[RV X-125-1,2] [vaagaambh.r.nii .r.si.h paramaatmaa devataa]

{I move about in form of Rudra, Vasu, Aditya and all the gods. Mitra,
Varuna, Indra, Agni and both the Ashvina depend upon me. (1)}

{I sustain the valorous Soma, Tvashta, Pusha and Bhaga. One who especially
satisfies the gods, worships by offering Havi and effuses Soma -- to such
Yajamaana only I give Wealth. (2)}
[RV X-125-1,2] [Rishi is Vak, daughter of Ambhrini,   Devata is Paramatma.]

The seer of this famous sukta from RigVeda, Vak, daughter of Rishi Ambhrini,
having achieved unity with Brahman, the cause of this Universe, utters these
mantras to express her unity. In me only the whole of Universe, illusory and
subject to suppression like the silver seen in an oyster, seems like
existing. The Maya seems to be generated as the World by modification. All
these described in these mantras are generated with aloof Brahman as the basis
due to this Maya.

Brahman, inaccessible to normal human mind, seems to be having two major aspects --
a steady (sthira.h ak.sara.h), represented as a "male" aspect, which many
people call "siva, and a "moving" (ca"ncala) or "female" aspect, which is
called devii or maayaa. Note very carefully that we are not talking about
two parts or characteristicts of Brahman. It is limitation of our human
brain, which forces us to talk in these terms about something (tat) which is
but One (devasya e.sa.h svabhav.h -- Gaudapadacharya). These are attributed
aspects (upaadhi).
For those of the readers familiar with physics, analogy of an electron may
be useful. An electron seems to be a wave or a particle depending upon the
situation. We really do not know the true nature of electron, which is
neither wave only, nor particle only, nor a combination of both. Nor can we
say that an electron is total negation of a wave or a particle.
Advaita siddhanta says :
     brahma satya.m jaganmithyaa jiivo brahma.h naiva apara.h

IMHO, there is a hidden Advaita siddhanta also :
     "siva and devii are but One

When we say advaita, the non-duality of the two attributed aspects of
Brahman is also implicitly being said. Maya is non-different from "siva and
together they should be called Brahman.

In this posting, we shall see how some of the concepts used in Advaita
philosophy have seeds in RigVeda. We should not expect the actual words that
we use, but the concepts are very much there. I especially would like to
point this out, because the Western scholars try to say that Vedanta etc. are
later developments of the Indian mind. They have not read RigVeda enough.
The later developments are crystallization and isolation of ideas which are
already present in this ancient text. Our opening mantra is but one example.

Let us start with the following mantra from Mandala I, sukta 30, by Rishi
Shunahshepa, son of Ajigarta :

vaya.m hi te amanmahy .a.a aantaad aa paraakaat | a"sve na citre aru.si ||

[RV I-30-21] [I-6-7-21] [gaayatrii chanda.h]

{As if Diffused, many coloured, brilliant [u.sas], we do not know, whether
you are nearby  or far off.}

The 6th Anuvak, suktas 24 to 30 of Mandala I are by .r.si "suna.h"sepa.h,
whose story is given in Aitereya Brahmana. The names of various
personalities involved and the story itself, are highly allegoric, indicative
and worth discussing, but that at some other time.

These seven suktas are full of ideas related to approaches to the One. We will
have further occassions to draw upon teachings of this .r.si.
Some difficult words :
a"sve -- one that is spreading or spread out;
citre -- many coloured; many different types of thoughts and concepts;
aru.si -- having become shining;
aantaat -- nearby;
paraakaat -- far off;
na amanmahi -- not able to know or understand;

Shunahshepa prayed to Ushas by mantras 20 to 22. Ushas is called immortal
because she is associated with aatmmaa. Generally scholars translate the
name as "Dawn", i.e. the period before rise of the Sun in the morning.  It
is, as usual, a limited meaning, if taken literally. By now the readers of
this series must be accustomed to the code words in RigVeda and see
immediately that Usha represents, roughly, "the initial knowledge which
leads to the final Knowledge." (Dawn of knowledge, before the full light of
the Sun; the light of dawn, which promises the day Light.)

But who (what) is Ushas?
Yaskacharya has given detailed discussions in Nirukta  2-18,19,20 and also
11-46,47,48 and 12-5,6. In short he says : It shines, subsequent to night,
generates variegated and extensive light, having a resplendent calf
(suurya). He indicates that the word has two levels of interpretation, one
at madhyamaa/pa"syantii level and the other at paraa vaak level.

Nighantu (1-8) gives 16 synonymes of u.sas, vibhaavarii etc., which indicate
that u.sas is related to information, knowledge, Self-Knowledge.

Thus u.sas indiacte simultaneously rise of aparaa vidyaa (nearby) and paraa
vidyaa (far off). On one hand it indicates everything that I perceive on
the other hand it provides Knowledge beyond the normal sense perception.
Mind is also a sense organ, only it is internal (anta.hkara.na.h).

The first interpretation is derived from the root vas (to shine), while the
second interpretation is derived from the root va.s (to desire).

21. We, i.e. surface level cognizers, generally known as men, can not know
    whether you, u.sas,  are really "near" or "far". We do not know if the
    knowledge arising via senses or that arising at higher levels in our
    mind, beyond sense-based knowledge, is real you, the right Knowledge.

This is a seed of anirvacaniya concept.

Let us take one more mantra from Shunahshepa, Mandala I, sukta 27, mantra
10 :

jaraabodha tad vivi.d.dhi vi"sevi"se yaj~niyaaya |
stoma.m rudraaya d.r"siikam ||

[RV I-27-10] [I-6-4-10]

{O Jarabodha, enter into the oblation for the sacrifice that benefits all
mankind. The worshipper offers a likable praise to the Rudra. (10)}

Many scholars, including Sayanacharya, translate the word Rudra in the mantra
as "the terrible [Agni]".

First some difficult words :

jaraabodha -- the root is j.r.r.s here used as "praise"; one who gets awake
              due to praise, or, one which is known via a prayer;
vivi.d.dhi -- the root is vi"s = "to enter"; or vi.s.l = "to be spread";
              [you do] enter;
vi"sevi"se -- for benefit of progeny or men;

yaj~niyaaya -- for completion or establishing a yajna or sacrifice;
stomam     -- the composition, praise;
d.r"siikam -- really worth seeing; likable;
rudraaya -- for rudra.h; see below;

Yask says (Nirukta 10-8) that this is a noteworthy prayer to Rudra. The
mantra is supposed to be a prayer to Agni.
This switching of the devata itself tells us something of the nature of
deva (gods).

Jarabodha is actually what is called Soma, that aspect of Agni which is
awakened or established by praise (uktha). He is requested to enter the
sacrifice, i.e., may my prayers or meditation be your, Soma's, presence, may
I achieve that level of tranquility that my yajna is properly completed. Let
such Jarabodha spread in all the regions of my brain (spread of alpha wave
throughout the brain -- aadhibhautika.) This way a worshipper offers a
proper prayer to Rudra.

Someone has said that the most significant god (deva) in Vedas is not Agni,
Indra, Vayu or even Varuna, but it is Rudra. This is because Rudra is
ascribed characteristics nearest to Brahman of Vedanta, the unthinkable,
unmanifested Supreme Being. Out of all devaa.h he seems to be purest of all,
having all characteristics -- both positive and negative, includes
See Shri Rudram by Swami Dayanandaji, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam
Possibly, this mantra tends to show equivalence of Rudra and Agni. Also, in
this mantra dhyana, dhyata and dhyanii become one.

At higher level, the purport of the mantra is :
Let in all my different human activities, tranquility be present in my mind,
so that I can complete the activity as a yajna. When I do actions like this,
they are my prayers to Brahman.

aatmaa tva.m girijaamati.h sahacaraa.h praa.naa.h "sariira.m g.rha.m
puujaa te vi.sayopabhogaracanaa nidraa samaadhisthiti.h |
sa.mcaara.h padayo.h pradak.si.navidhi.h stotraa.ni sarvaa giro
yadyad karma karomi tattadakhila.m "sambho tavaaraadhanam ||

{I am you. Vaak acting in my mind is Parvati, your consort. My body and life
breath is your abode. Enjoyment of various objects in the world, is your
worship. The sleep is state of Samadhi. My movements by feet is [your]
Pradakshina. All that I speak [and think] are your praises. Whatever actions
I do, all of them are nothing but your worship, O Shambu!}

Let us take one more mantra before closing this posting. Consider the
following mantra from Mandala II, sukta 33, by .r.si g.rtsamada, the mantra
being addressed to rudra.h :

aa te pitar marutaa.m sumnam etu maa na.h suuryasya sa.md.r"so yuyothaa.h |
abhi no viiro arvati k.sameta pra jaayemahi rudra prajaabhi.h ||

{Father of Maruts, may your grace extend to us. Do not remove us from the
sight of the Sun. May our brave progeny overcome foes. O Rudra, may we be
multiplied by our progeny. (1)}

[RV II-33-1] [II-4-1-1] rudra.h

First difficult words :
sumna.m  -- happiness;
aa etu   -- aagacchatu, come here;
sa.md.r"sa.h -- from seeing, from sight; sa.mdar"sanat, i.e. seeing
                mutually, one another;
maa yuyothaa.h -- do not remove, do not separate; yuyothaa.h means
                  separating something which is unitied;
arvati -- enemies;
viira.h -- brave [son]; visionary thoughts;
abhi k.sameta -- may overcome, may win over;
pra jayemahi -- may we become many, may we multiply;
prajaa -- my descendants, but who is I?

Sayanacharya explains, in his commentary on [I-114-6], why Rudra ia called
father of Maruts. Maruts are called rudraputraa.h, sons of rudra.h. There
are 49 Maruts. They represent the messaging system within the brain. Seven
major regions of the brain and each having seven levels of messages,
corresponding to seven layers of Vaak, though the messages are all alike.
Maruts are also called p.r"snimatara.h (those having p.r"sni = "world as
perceived", as the mother.)

In the mantra, the word yuyothaa.h means "I expect to be one with my true
Self, do not separate us. Let me realize that aatmaa is really me."
The word sa.md.r"sa.h means " I see suurya and suurya sees me. The sight of
suurya is not from a distance but by being near or together."
Also, prajaa means my descendents, but who is "I"? All the thoughts and
concepts in my brain are my prajaa and this world view is created by them.
Thus this world that I see is also my prajaa. sarvam idam khalu brahman

1. May your grace, that I am able to clearly see my aatmaa, be available to
   me. I may not be without sight of suurya, i.e. my aatmaa or paramaatmaa.
   May our visionary thoughts overpower our random thoughts. May my
   consciousness extend to include all that I see in this world.

With that we close this posting.

.o bhadra.m no apivaataya mana.h |

-- Himanshu

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list