RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One.

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Tue Jul 11 02:21:49 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Attached to this mail is the first posting on the subject..
Best wishes to all.
-- Himanshu
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RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One :
(notes from selfstudy - svaadhyaaya)
------------------------------------- Himanshu B. Dave

akha.n.dama.n.alaakaara.m vyaapta.m ena caraacaram |
tatpada.m dar"sita.m yena tasmai "sriigurave nama.h ||

"sa"nkara.m "sa"nkaraacaarya.m ke"sava.m baadaraaya.nam |
suutrabhaa.syak.rtau vande bhagavatau puna.h puna.h ||

{The graceful Guru who clearly showed the meaning of the word "tat", by
which the whole Universe, consisting of animate and inanimate objects, is
pervaded, I pray to that teacher again and again.}

{Shri Adi Shankara is a form of Shiva  and VedaVyasa is a form of Shri
Vishnu. I bow down to both the author of [Brahma] Sutra and its commentator,
again and again.}

There are four types of Guru :
i. Patia guru - a teacher like a road-sign; he shows a correct direction
   in which to go, but he himself has not gone, nor is it possible for him to go,

ii. Panda guru - a teacher like a priest in a place of pilgrimage; he is at
    the place physically, shows how and helps in worship, but himself has
    possibly not reached "there".

iii. Sad guru - a real teacher, who has understood the essence of the
     scriptures, himself has gone "there" and knows how to direct you

iv. Pande guru - one's Self or Paramatman as the guru.

These four types also, generally, give the chrnological order in which a seeker
finds his guru. The ultimate guru is Self.

The first shloka  prays to these aspects of guru.

We also salute our two great teachers, Shankara and Vyasa, the first to
explain clearly the ultimate meaning of the texts collected and arranged and
also written, by the other.

In the title, there is a pun on the word "selfstudy".
A brief note about symbols and nomenclature used in this series :
1. Such notes will appear as "footnotes", as this one is. I hope it will not
   distract the reading of the main material. The limitations of text-mode
   leaves me no other option.

2. In all Sanskrit text quoted, the following text coding is used :
   s - dantya, "s - talavya, .s - murdhanya
   .h - visarganiya, .m - anusvara, .a - avagraha
   "n - kanthya, ~n - talavya, .n - murdhanya, n - dantya,
   vowels :  a aa i  ii  u  uu  .r .r.r  .l  e  ai  o  au  a.m  a.h

   consonants : k kh g gh c ch j jh .t .th .d .dh t th d dh p ph b bh
   Capital letters are not used.
3. All direct translations of Sanskrit text enclosed within {}, where added
   words are within []. Alternate meanings/very short explanations within

4. All references within [].

5. Explanations, discussions etc. in free form.

I hope the reader will find these not too confusing.
This will allow me to respond to suggestions from some list members
for additional information as footnotes.

g.rtsamada.h vi"svaamitra.h vaamadeva"scaatri"sca |
bhaaradvaaj.h vasi.s.tha"sca ka.nvaadi prabhuutaya.h ||

naama .r.se.h d.r.s.taarthasya pritirbhuutaakhyaanavat |
aakhyaayasyaami sa.mk.siptena vedaantasa.mgati d.r.s.taye ||

sa.mvardhanaaya baalaanaa.m sa.mmataye saadhakaanaam |
vinodaaya suj~naanaa.m hi e.sa.h svalpaprayatna.h ||

{Gritsamada, Vishvamitra, Vamadeva, Atri, Bharadvaja, Vasishtha and Kanva
[these seven] and several others [are Rishis of RigVeda]}

{The divine love of each of these Rishis, who has seen the Truth, appeared
as a text (mantra). I propose to briefly explain these for showing the
relation [of these mantras] with the Vedanta philosophy.}

{For helping the beginners, for seeking the approval from those already on
the path and for mere amusement of those who already "know", [I make] this
small effort.}

The text of RigVeda Samhita contains more than 10,000 mantras, arranged in
form of 10 Mandalas. The textual structure of RigVeda is more like a modern
anthology of technical papers, rather than random text of prayers.

Out of these :
Mandala I - An Introduction and summary of the main ideas in the remaining
parts of RigVeda;

Mandala II to VIII are "authored" respectively by seven Rishis named above;

Mandala IX - this whole Mandala is devoted to Soma, reason for which we
shall see later on in our discussions;

Mandala X - Conclusions derived from the previous Mandalas.

Apart from the seven Rishis mentioned above, we shall have occassions to discuss
mantras by other Rishis like Diirghatamas, Shunahshepa, etc. There are several Rishikas
(female Rishis) also.

Yaskacharya (cir. 2000 BC), the first "etymologist" whose text is available
today - called Nirukta - says as follows, explaining mantras from RigVeda :
.r.serd.r.s.taarthasya pritirbhavatyaakhyaanasamyukta
{The divine love felt by the Rishi, who has contacted the Ultimate Reality
gets expressed in verbalized form.}

The Great Discovery :

Many many years back, possibly when mankind started using its brain to do
conscious analysis of his relation with the Universe, our ancient Rishis made
some important discoveries. These discoveries concerned Self, the Creator
(if one wants to say so) and the World, the known and unknown, knowable and
unknowable. In the observed Universe, they found an underlaying unity, a
very subtle kind of analogy, which led them to investigate the nature of the
Ultimate Reality.

They found that the One origin of all is approachable by certain
means and found that tool. They realized that this was extremely important
knowledge and took steps to see that it is not lost. What we have available
today in form of RigVeda is (possibly partial) representation of that
knowledge. We Indians consider it our greatest heritage, why, it is the
greatest heritage of humankind.

Western scholars, who tried to study very deligently these texts, were,
unfortunately for them, limited in one very important way. They did not know
the true nature of these texts. It was something like a English language
teacher being called upon to translate a technical paper on Neuclear
Physics. Not only the subject and its special use of word is unknown, but
the symbols used to convey the iceberge of concepts are not known.  This
situation still exists to a large extent. The most generous assessment they
made are represented by the following (paraphrased) words of Max Muller
(bhatta mok.samula he called himself). He thought that European scholars
understood Vedas better than Acharyas like Adi Shankara. Those scholars see
in the scripture a heterogeneous ideas, where sublime and childish, grandure
and grotesque co-exists. They termed them "babbling of a child humanity,
inspired children, simple-minded worship".

It is clear that those Rishis who visualized suktas like Creation, Vak,
Nasadiaya, Mrityu are not likely to babble in other, less abstract matters.

The Western scholars are totally unacquainted with the methods by which the
knowledge contained herein is arrived at, the nature of the knowledge and
the methods by which it is transmitted from one human brain to the other.

To illustrate this point,  take just one result of modern physics. The
electron tunneling effect, which to a layman will seem to be totally
unbelievable at the worst and a magic at best, is in fact explained
theoretically and demonstrated in commercially available devices.

Vedas are written in a coded language, using various symbols, *which are
consistent across the totallity of Vedas*. A great store of spiritual
experience and conclusions thereof awaits anyone with right preparation
(adhikara) who studies Vedas.

RigVeda uses words denoting simple day-to-day objects  like cow, horse,
milk, ghee, water, well, etc. as code words or technical words. The method
of expression is also special. For example, (as will be explained in later
postings) analogies are given in a reverse order.
This has confounded most of the scholars, both Western and Western-trained
Indian. It is generally found that in order to make a sense out of a mantra
without taking into account the above mentioned special methods, these
scholars had to add extra words while translating, from their imagination,
saying that "the text is very  elliptic here." This is uncalled for and not
necessary -- to say the least.

The purpose of the text is to convey knowledge about abstract concepts
through various means - simplest being lakshana, then Dhvani, Vashatkaar and
some peculiar constructs which I shall illustrate in the next posting.

I think I have overshot the length (and your patience).
I have a request to the List members. Please hold your questions and
comments till the next posting.

With best wishes to all,

-- Himanshu

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