RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approaches to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Aug 10 05:27:06 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Here is posting no. 11.
Best wishes to all.
-- Himanshu
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RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One :
(notes from selfstudy - svaadhyaaya)

XI : Mantras mentioning Self-Realization.

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

aha.m rudraaya dhanur aa tanomi brahmadvi.se "sarave hantavaa u |
aha.m janaaya samada.m k.r.nomy aha.m dyaavaap.rthivii aa vive"sa || (6)
[RV X-125-6] [X-10-13-6]

{I stretch the bow for Rudra, to kill the destructive enemy of Brahma. I
wage a war for men. I pervade Heaven and Earth. (6)}

The main weapon of Rudra is bow-arrow. Arrow of Rudra is same as Vajra of
Indra and Sudarshan Chakra of Vishnu. All these are names for Soma, the
"bliss", synchronization, in very deep meditative state. The arrow is
launched by Rudra using the bow, i.e. Para Vaak. Brahma is Knowledge. The
disturbing, base, routine, thoughts are enemies of Brahma (brahmadvi.sa.h).
"Men" are the priests Hota, Adhvaryu, etc. discussed previously. Vaak wages
a war with raksasaa.h, so that the "priests" can do their work. Vaak
pervades both the surface level and higher level thinking process of a man,
in fact, it is total manifestation of a person.


Almost all mantras in RigVeda, starting with the word 'aham' indicate the
Self-Realization of the Rishi. There are many more which indicate
Self-realization. We take up a few here for discussion.

Let us start with the following mantra from Mandala I, sukta 25, by .r.si
"suna.h"sepa.h, addressed to Varuna :

dar"sa.m nu vi"svadar"sata.m dar"sa.m ratham adhi k.sami |
etaa ju.sata me gira.h || (18)
[RV I-25-18] [I-6-2-18]

{I have really seen him who should be seen by all. I have seen his chariot
upon the earth. He has accepted these, my praises. (18)}

dar"sam nu        -- I really saw
vi"svadar:satam   -- worth to be seen by all; i.e., Self, aatmaa
ratham            -- chariot; in RigVeda concept code chariot always means a
                     "sariira, a vehical of awareness at certain level;
k.sami adhi dar"sa.m -- seen on the earth, i.e. the chariot which move at
                     the lowest level of awareness, the surface consciousness,
                     is seen; I have become aware of my waking state
                     cognizer; but see further comments below ($);
ju.sata           -- [Varuna] has accepted;
me gira.h         -- my praises; praise to a god is conveyed through the
                     highest level of vaak, i.e. para vaak; these are called
                     gira.h or uktham

18. These are te utterences of the Rishi who has had Self-realization. He
    says : I have seen him, the one whose appearance is beneficial to all. I
    have seen how he controls the activities of my mind during jagrat and
    svapna states. I feel that Varuna has accepted my praises (uktham)
    otherwise he would not have revealed himself to me. Here, Varuna
    represents aatmaa.
($) In this mantra, two states model of consciousness -- div and p.rthivii --
is used, which corresponds to higher levels of consciousness (e.g. under
meditative trance) and lower level, e.g. normal waking, dreaming, etc. This
is the simplest model used in RigVeda, which we have already seen, has
models of consciousness upto those with 13 states.
Either a person is engrossed in day-to-day living or is in a higher state of
awareness. The chariot here denotes the Ego of a person, which is present in
all the normal states.

Let us consider the following mantra from Mandala X, sukta 56, by .r.si
b.rhaduktha.h, of clan of vaamadeva :

mahimna e.saa.m pitara"s cane"sire devaa deve.sv adadhur api kratum |
sam avivyacur uta yaany atvi.sur ai.saa.m tanuu.su ni vivi"su.h puna.h || (4)
[RV X-56-4] [X-4-14-4]

{Our fathers, [angirasas], were controllers of the might of those [gods],
having become gods, they conveyed their decision to gods. They attained
brilliance which shone forth and again entered the bodies of those gods. (4)}

The mantras by .r.si b.rhaduktha are quite mystical and easily
misunderstood. First some difficult words :

pitara"scana -- our fathers, i.e., angirasas; they are the basic signals
                within the brain, the nerve signals; our very existence as a
                thinking, animated being is due to these signals and to that
                extent they are our fathers;
e.saa.m      -- these [gods]; gods are functions of various regions of the
mahimna      -- of the might, power;
ii"sire      -- became controllers;
kratum       -- decision, will;
adadhu.h     -- conveyed;
yaani        -- tejaa.msi, brilliance;
atvisu.h     -- shone forth;
sam avivyacu.h -- became co-joined, attained;
tanuu.su     -- in the bodies;
ni vivi"su.h puna.h -- again entered;

4. This mantra shows the journey of the nervous energy, as a meditator
   passes through various (here three major) stages :
        Our fathers :  the initial stage of meditation, where angirasas lord
                       over the gods;
        Having become gods      : meditator going deeper in meditation;
        Conveyed their decision : meditator going still deeper;
        They attain radiance    : deepest level attained;
        Which shone forth       : bliss (Soma) established;
        Again entered bodies
          of the gods           : once bliss is established, contact with
                                Self is attained, the brain of the meditator
                                returns to awareness of the external objects,
                                but with Knowledge about the true nature of
                                these objects; Shambhavi Mudra.

This final state is beyond Nirvikalpa Samadhi and is generally indicated in
Indian iconography by half-closed eyes of the Yogi, for example, look at
images of Shiva, Mahavira Swami, Gautama Buddha, etc.

Consider next a mantra in Mandala IV, sukta 40, by .r.si vaamadeva,
addressed to Dadhikra (Sun or horse),  a mantra which is very famous as
Hansavati Rik. The sukta has 5 mantras only, the last being Hansavati Rik.
To appreciate how the mantra appears in the total sukta, I give the whole
sukta, without translation, but note the occurrence of the word dadhikraa
in each of the mantra (1) to (4). Note also that the word does not occur in
(5), but it starts with the word ha.msa :

[RV IV-40] : vaamadevo gautama.h | dadhikraa.h, 5 suurya.h | jagatii, 1
tri.s.tup |

dadhikraav.na id u nu carkiraama vi"svaa in maam u.sasa.h suudayantu |
apaam agner u.sasa.h suuryasya b.rhaspater aa"ngirasasya ji.s.no.h || (1)

satvaa bhari.so gavi.so duvanyasac chravasyaad i.sa u.sasas tura.nyasat |
satyo dravo dravara.h pata"ngaro dadhikraave.sam uurja.m sva`r janat || (2)

uta smaasya dravatas tura.nyata.h par.na.m na ver anu vaati pragardhina.h |
"syenasyeva dhrajato a"nkasa.m pari dadhikraav.na.h sahorjaa taritrata.h

uta sya vaajii k.sipa.ni.m tura.nyati griivaayaam baddho apikak.sa aasani |
kratu.m dadhikraa anu sa.mtaviitvat pathaam a"nkaa.msy anv aapaniipha.nat

ha.msa.h "suci.sad vasur antarik.sasad dhotaa vedi.sad atithir duro.nasat |
n.r.sad varasad .rtasad vyomasad abjaa gojaa .rtajaa adrijaa .rtam || (5)
[RV IV-40-5] [IV-4-8-5]

{He is Hansa, dwelling in light; Vasu, dwelling in the Antariksha; invoker
of the gods, dwelling on the altar; the guest, dwelling in the house; the
dweller amongst men; the dweller in the most excellent; the dweller in the
truth; the dweller in the sky; born in waters, in the rays of Light, in the
variety [of manifestations] in the mountain, the Truth [itself]. (5)}

First of all, what is the meaning dadhikraa? Sayanacharya says :
(i)   the Agni in form of a horse;
(ii)  who bears or carries his rider to go;
Nighantu gives dadhikraa as synonyme of  a"sva (horse).
Almost all the mantras (1) to (4) mention the swiftness of dadhikraa.

According to our scheme of interpretation, dadhikraa would then mean Self,
or clear understanding of aatmaa (both mean the same thing), the Knowledge.

If you notice the first four mantras, they have usual flow of ideas like any
other stotra, but suddenly the nature of presentation changes in mantra (5).
This indicates that Knowledge arises as "Aha!", suddenly, when the mind of
the seeker is well prepared. The first four mantras are for preparation,
fifth is the culmination. There is a phrase in mantra (2), "leaping like a
grass-hopper" (pata"ngara.h), that leap is to the last mantra. Thus the
physical form of the sukta is its own analogy, of its meaning or knowledge
it wants to convey.

Note the very first word of the mantra (5) : ha.msa.h = aham + sa.h "I am
that". This mantra gives various manifestations of Paramatma, represented by
suurya and establishes that One that is described in various Shruti, present
in form of the mind of all beings, which is hidden, beyond all the
attributes, called Brahman, one common only.

ha.msa.h        -- root han denotes movement; one who is going everywhere,
                        always; or consider etymology : ya.h aha.m sa.h asau
                   "what is I is same as That";
"suci.sat       -- one who stays in higher regions; i.e. that manifestation
                        of suurya which is staying at the highest level of
vasu.h          -- vaayu; manifestation at the mid-level, antarik.sa;
hota vedi.sat   -- manifestation which invokes gods stays at the altar, at
                   p.rthivii level; surface consciousness;
atithi          -- the jiiva which seems to arrive at birth and leaves at
duro.nasat      -- duro.nam = house; Sayanacharya says the word denotes the
                   household fire used for cooking, etc.; but really house
                   means brain and the word means the cetan (animation) seen
                   in the brain;
n.r.sat         -- one that is established in men as caitanya, aatmaa;

varasat         -- one who resides in most excellent place, i.e., suurya;
                   which in turn denotes paramaatmaa;
.rtasat         -- one which is present in Truth, the Law or yajna;
vyomasat        -- one who is present in antarik.sa, vaayu;
abjaa.h         -- born in waters; waters denote the universal consciousness
                   i.e. it is manifested in the consciousness of beings;
gojaa.h         -- born in vaak; manifested as the Languages of Brain;
.rtajaa.h       -- born in Truth; evident in everyone, not hidden as are gods
                   like Indra etc. Or, born from the Law, as manifestation;
                   or, born from yajna, which is performed by Prajapati;
adrijaa.h       -- born on the mountain; mountain denotes the highest level
                   of awareness, aanandamaya ko.sa.h;
.rtam           -- the Truth, unlimited, the Basis of all, Brahman;

Thus this mantra expresses the Self-Realization of a seeker aha.m brahmaasmi
"I am Brahman, everything."
Many schools of Advaita, especially Shankara Mathas, have a Hansa as an
enblem. Here is the mantra on which that selection is based.

I have not given translation of mantras (1) to (4), as they are rather
difficult to explain in short and would have taken up much space in this
posting. Vaamadeva is a mystical .r.si and requires considerable discussions
to understand. In case some List Members are interested, I can give the
explanation in a separate posting.

ha.mso.aham is a palindrome (a word or phrase which can be read from both
ends) and translates as "I am Hansa" (L-R) "I am Him and He is me." (R-L)

Nothing more to say in this posting.

.o bhadra.m no apivaataya mana.h |

-- Himanshu

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