RigVeda and the Systems of Approach to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Fri Aug 11 22:39:29 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Here is posting no. 12
Best wishes to all.

-- Himanshu

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

XII : Flight of Shyena -- the Hawk.

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

aha.m suve pitaram asya muurdhan mama yonir apsv anta.h samudre |
tato vi ti.s.the bhuvanaanu vi"svotaamuu.m dyaa.m var.sma.nopa sp.r"saami ||(7)
[RV X-125-7] [X-10-13-7]

{I bring the fathers upon the head of this [heaven]. My birthplace is in the
midst of the waters, in the ocean. From there I spread through all beings and
[at the same time] touch this heaven with my body.  (7)}

Vaak, in contact with Atma as paraa vaak, comes down to Vaikhari level.

I am the creator of the Sky --- the father of this World --- over the
Basis, Paramatma. My Cause is established in  Waters and Samudra (the
movements of one's mind). That is why I am spread out throught the Creation
and also touch the Heaven with my body.

The deepest part of my individual Self, which says "I", is prepared by vaak
only, as an covering over the Basis, Paramatma. Waters refers to the total
mass of the consciousness of a person, Samudra here refers to the waves
on the surface of this consciousness, the movements of mind.

The Vaak is in contact with Paramatma (because she is inseparable part of
Paramatma) at the same time she provides the Creation. She is the link
between Paramatma and the percieved world.

Throughout RigVeda, the birds are compared to thoughts in general and Shyena
(hawk) and Garutmaan (eagle) are compared to a very special thought, the
residual thought "I am" of a seeker as he approaches the One. Just as a bird
is a kind of link between the earth and sky, this thought is a link between
the manifestation and the Basis.

A boy flying a kite also establishes a link between the earth and sky. When
he (jiiva) flies the kite (the pure "I am" thought), his pleasure knows no

The free, unrestricted flight of a Shyena bird is very much similar to the
residual perceptions of a Yogi as he goes deep in meditation. Though flying
high (at highly abstract level, div), it is able to see clearly the objects
on the earth (the worldly objects in their true form).

We consider in this posting a few mantras talking about Shyena, the high
flying, aloof, observer.

First, a mantra which does not name it as Shyena, but calls it supar.na, from
Mandala X, sukta 55, by .r.si b.rhaduktha.h belonging to clan of vaamadeva :

"saakmanaa "saako aru.na.h supar.na aa yo maha.h "suura.h sanaad anii"da.h |
yac ciketa satyam it tan na mogha.m vasu spaarham uta jetota daataa     ||(6)
[RV X-55-6] [X-4-13-6]

{Powerful with internal power, a purple coloured bird, mighty, heroic,
ancient, having no nest. He knows the Truth and is not purposeless. He is the
conqueror and distributor of desirable wealth. (6)}

"saakmanaa      -- by [own] power, ability;
"saaka.h        -- powerful, able; i.e., able without any external help;
aru.na.h        -- purple coloured; RigVeda uses coloured coding to denote
                   states of awareness :
                        red/orange --> waking state, well agitated;
                        yellow     --> waking state, active;
                        green      --> in meditation;
                        blue       --> very deep in meditation;
                        purple     --> simultaneously deep in meditation and
                                        aware of the external world; Shambhavi
                                        Mudra or Vishnupada;
supar.na.h      -- having powerful wings; shyena; Self or Ego of the Yogi
                        who is in the purple state, i.e., outwardly dealing
                        with the world, but internally very calm;

sanaad ani"da.h -- without a resting place or nest since ancient times;
                        shyena has really no nest, it does not reside in one
                        place; it is placeless; Or, he does not make a nest;
yat ciketa      -- knows as its ability,
tat satyamit    -- that Truth;
na mogha.m      -- not purposeless; unfailing;
spaarha.m       -- desirable;
vasu uta jetaa  -- he wins from the enemies wealth;
uta daataa      -- giver [to the worshipper];

Shyena is supposed to bring Soma, the Bliss, from the Heaven, to the
worshipper. The following t.rcaa (a sukta consisting of a group of three
.rcaa only), from Mandala X, sukta 178, by .r.si ari.s.tanemi.h, describes
it :

tyam uu .su vaajina.m devajuuta.m sahaavaana.m tarutaara.m rathaanaam |
ari.s.tanemi.m p.rtanaajam aa"su.m svastaye taark.syam ihaa huvema || (1)

indrasyeva raatim aajohuvaanaa.h svastaye naavam ivaa ruhema |
urvii na p.rthvii bahule gabhiire maa vaam etau maa paretau ri.saama || (2)

sadya"s cid ya.h "savasaa pa~nca k.r.s.tii.h suurya iva jyoti.saapas tataana |
sahasrasaa.h "satasaa asya ra.mhir na smaa varante yuvati.m na "saryaam || (3)

[RV X-178-whole] [X-12-28-whole]

{Let us invoke that Tarkshya for our welfare, who is mighty, employed by
gods, the victorious, who overtakes chariots, defeater of enemies, the
swift. (1)}

{Repeatedly invoking the grace as of Indra, let us mount upon it for our
welfare as upon a ship. O Heaven and Earth! vast, expanded, manifold,
profound, may we not have any harm now due to [Tarkshya's] coming to or
going away from you. (2)}

{He who has rapidly spread out the waters, by his strength, for the five
types of men, like the sun by its light -- giving thousand, giving hundred,
on his way, like an unfailing arrow, none can stop it. (3)}

Words :
tyamuu          -- that welknown;
taark.sya.m     -- son of t.rk.sa.h, the Shyena; he was told by gods to
                   bring Soma from heaven;
devajuta.m      -- being directed or employed by the gods; Yaska says in
                   Nirukta (10-28) that this may mean "for pleasing gods".
sahaavaana.m    -- heroic, victorious;
tarutaara.m     -- winner in battle, or, overtaker of chariots;
ari.s.tanemi.m  -- whose chariot is not broken; or, whose weapon is not
p.rtanaaja.m    -- winner over enemies;
aa"su.m         -- fast, swift;

raati.m         -- donation; grace;
aajohuvaanaa.h  -- invoking again and again;
ruuhema         -- may we ride;
urvii           -- extended;
p.rthvii        -- earth;
etau            -- on coming, i.e. when Tarkshya arrives;
paraitau        -- on going;
ri.saama        -- may we not be destroyed;

"savasaa        -- by [his own] power;
apa.h           -- waters; consciousness; but here bliss that is felt in
tataana         -- spread out;
pa~nca.h k.r.s.tii.h -- five types of men; the four "priests" and the
ra.mhi.h        -- motion;
varante         -- stop, resist;
"saryaa.m       -- an arrow which divides the target into two;
yuvati.m na     -- as an arrow get stuck in the target;

Shyena overtakes chariots, i.e., it moves faster then normal cognizers. Once
we ride Shyena, we do not expect any problems in travelling to and fro from
Heaven and Earth, i.e., the exhilarated and normal states. Shyena rapidly
spreads bliss. It moves like an arrow (because it is arrow itself, RA here;
remember the arrow of Rudra?), splitting the target (aanandamaya
ko.sa.h). Not only it splits but gets stuck in the target.

Let us consider the following two mantras from Mandala X, sukta 144, by
.r.si supar.na.h :

ya.m supar.na.h paraavata.h "syenasya putra aabharat |
"satacakra.m yo3 hyo vartani.h || (4)

ya.m te "syena"s caarum av.rka.m padaabharad aru.na.m maanam andhasa.h |
enaa vayo vi taary aayur jiivasa enaa jaagaara bandhutaa || (5)
[RV X-144-4,5] [X-11-17-4,5]

{The Soma whom Suparna, the son of the hawk brought from afar, the giver of
many boons, who is the activator of Ahi --- (4)}

{whom the hawk brought to you, [Indra], with his claw, beautiful,
unassailable, purple-coloured, the creator of food. By that, food and
age was was prolonged for living, by it friendship was awakened.  (5)}

Words :
"satacakra.m    -- provider of many boons, wealth;
ahyo.h          -- of Ahi, asura.h v.rtraasura.h;
vartani.h       -- director, activator;

ya.m            -- indicates Soma;
caaru.m         -- beautiful;
av.rka.m        -- unassailable;
padaa           -- by feet, claws;
aru.na.m        -- purple coloured; (refer to a previous mantra for
                   meaning of colours in RigVeda)
andhasa.h       -- of food (annasya)
maana.m         -- creator by means of yajna;
vaya.h          -- annam, food;
jiivase         -- for [our] life;
taari           -- giver;
bandhutaa       -- circle of friendship, loving attachment;
jaagaara        -- awakened;

Note that Syena is activator of Ahi (routine thoughts) also. The Shyena
increases alertness to various kinds of inputs and also prolongs life time
of the meditator. Though this is lower level interpretation of the mantras,
this is also an observed fact. The most important result is that flight of
Shyena awakens "friendship", with whom? With Self, aatmaa.

The last mantra that we consider in this posting is by .r.si ku"sika.h of
bhaaradvaaja clan, in Mandala X, sukta 127 and it indicates that after the
flight the Shyena rests :

ni graamaaso avik.sata ni padvanto ni pak.si.na.h |
ni "syenaasa"s cid arthina.h || (5)
[RV X-127-5] [X-10-15-5] [Ratri sukta]

{Men have reentered [their homes], and animals and birds and the
hawks, who eye their prey with desire. (5)}

"Men" indicate the various functions of the brain, here the word used is
graamaasa.h which indicate those functions of the brain dealing with
routine, day-to-day activities. They have come to rest.

Animals (padvanta.h) means thoughts related to activities of the sense organs.
Birds (pak.si.na.h) thoughts related to emotions;
Shyena are thoughts which constitute meditation itself; the prey of Shyena
is Soma.

This mantra is from the famous Ratri sukta. When Ratri arrives these events
take place; but what is Ratri? After end of meditation session or with
spiritual progress when the seeker establishes contact with the world again,
unafraid of the bonds, it is said that Ratri has arrived. Shyena has come to
rest after the flight, but with a promise of flying again, when Usha will
arrive. And so till it flies again :

{The straight flying Shyena, conveys Soma from far. The bird, attended by
gods, brought for a particular purpose the adorable, exhilarating Soma,
having taken it from high heaven.}
[RV IV-26-6]

For those of you the readers, who have been following this series regularly,
the meaning of this mantra should be perfectly clear.

Observing that Flight of Shyena in reverence and wonder, we come to end of
this posting.

udutya.m jaatavedasa.m deva.m vahanti ketava.h | d.r"se vi"svaaya suuryam ||
{The horses are taking suurya, the Knower of all beings, upwards at high
speed, for showing Him to the World.}

.o bhadra.m no apivaataya mana.h |

-- Himanshu

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