RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approaches to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Jul 13 02:21:50 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Here is posting no. 3
Best wishes,
--  Himanshu
-------------- next part --------------
RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One :
(notes from selfstudy - svaadhyaaya)

III Some More Remarks about contents and Methods
------------------------------------- Himanshu B. Dave

aha.m v.rk.sasya rerivaa kiirti.h p.r.s.tha.m gireriva |
uurdhvapavitro vaajiniiva svam.rtam |
asmi dravi.na.m savarcasam |
sumedhaa am.rto.ak.stita.h ||
iti tri"sa"nkorvedaanuvacanam ||  [Taittiriiya Up. 1 - 10]

{I am the director of the Tree. My fame is like the top of the Mountain. I
am the most pure and sacred. Like the Sun which gives food, I am also pure
and immortal. I have brilliant Wealth and sharp intelligence -- immortal and
non-decaying. This is the declaration of Rishi Trishanku after obtaining

The translation of this famous mantra given above is rather unsatisfying.
Why? Because it uses some "code" words. What is meant by "tree"? and
"mountain"? Why Sun is mentioned? What is the "wealth" being mentioned?
We shall consider in this posting these "tips of iceberge". Understanding of
texts like RigVeda depends very heavily on a clear and consistent handling
of such words.
Incidently, a careful reader will find a method in selection of the opening
mantra in this series. (I shall not tell you what it is, but hint is :
they are multi-purpose.) It is suggested that you try to slowly read the
original text of mantra and spend a few moments contemplating the meaning.

First we have a quick Recap :
We have seen in the last two postings the following in brief :
(i)     types of Guru;
(ii)    overall structure and nature of RigVeda;
(iii)   planes of reference (or reality);
(iv)    levels of meanings of text;
(v)     methods of conveying the meaning -- upade"sa;
(vi)    seeming confusion of meaning and its resolution.

Now we investigate the RigVedic approach further.

At several places in Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads it is said that Rik
is p.rthivii, Yajus is antarik.sa and Sama is div. This is a typical way of
expressing ideas in Vedas.

Rik is the mantra in RigVeda, Yajus is the mostly prose mantras in
YajurVeda and Sama is mantra in SamaVeda. But what is the meaning of saying

The direct meanings are :
p.rthivii --> earth;  antarik.sa --> firmament(!), sky; div --> heavens;

You will immediately see that this is rather unsatisfactory arrangement.

Actually, the three words p.rthivii antarik.sa.h and div are "code" or
technical words, used to denote successively higher or more abstract levels
of model of a system.

p.rthivii --> base level;
antarik.sa --> first or mid-level abstraction;
div --> highest level of abstraction.

Applying to the above statement about Rik, Yajus and Sama, the meaning is as

RigVeda is expression of direct experience of the Rishis, which is
the basis of further investigations (we shall discuss this further in the
next posting, where we take up a mantra by a Rishi himself stating this.)
It also seems to be describing mostly physical brain activity and its
immediate results like mana, ahamkara, buddhi, the four states of
consciousness, etc.

YajurVeda describes how these equipment can be used to develop a mental
picture, a first level model, towards path of understanding the Reality. It
shows how to use the Riks for this purpose.

SamaVeda uses the mantras to access the highest level in brain directly,
and by doing so, try to reach the level that the human mind can reach in the
investigation of Reality, nearest that mind can reach to Brahman.

The same triology of words is used to describe the three levels of
consciousness, the levels of Vak (the language tool by which our brain
thinks), etc.

The summary of the above is : certain words are used as "code" words or
technical words. They have specific meanings accepted and used throughout
the Vedas. Translations using traditional or established meanings will not
give us the intended meaning of the Vedic text.

We have thus code words in RigVeda. Some of the most important are :
I am giving here the result of my investigations, not how they are derived.
In case there is doubt about any of these, I shall explain separately.
god -- (deva) any entity which deals with information, either provides or
processes information; more specifically, various regions and functions of
brain dealing with information;

deity -- (devata) the name reference; when we use a word to denote
something, it triggers access to certain information in our mind; the
process by which that access occurs is devata;

Surya -- denotes the Atma or Paramatma;
Agni -- surface consciouness, thinking at Madhyama Vak level, mental
activities in general;
Vayu -- thinking at Pashyanti Vak level (i.e. higher than Madhyama), also a
thoughts in general as a group;
Indra -- "Ego", ahamkara; the "I-sense" in all the states of consciousness;
Mitra -- the awarer or cognizer in the waking state, which analyse the
external (sensory) inputs and thus maintains contact with the World;
Aryama -- that function of the brain which extracts the meaning from the
external inputs and passes on the summary to higher levels;
Brihaspati -- that function of brain which develops a concept-seed arising
at Para Vak level and passes on to the lower level (Pashyanti);

milk -- low level (Vaikhari Vak) thoughts;
dadhya -- (dahi, curds) -- surface level (Madhyama Vak) thoughts;
aajya -- (butter) Pashyanti level thought seeds;
gh.rta  -- (ghee, clarified butter) Para level concept-seeds;

cow -- languages of the brain, through which the brain works, (Vak), also
used to denote compositions (sentences and mantras) developed by use of Vak;
horse -- a thought, a thought arising during meditative state;
pa"su -- (victim) inputs to any information processor (gods !);

agni devaanaam pa"su.h [Aitareya Br. I - 15]
{Agni is a victim of the gods.}
This I interpret as :
"the surface consciousness provides inputs to various regions of brain."
It is absolutely essential to know about  vaak , "the Languages of Brain".
For those of the readers who are not familiar with the concept of "Languages
of the Brain" -- vaak -- here is a very brief and rough explanation :
Our brain works by successively abstracting information from the external
inputs while absorbing some information. Several levels of information
processing is involved. Similarly, while developing thoughts (or resulting
actions like speech), successively more detailed information is generated,
by the same levels of processors.
These processors communicate via a messaging system called "Languages of the
Our ancient Rishis, discovered this fact and have indicated four levels of
processing (they have given specific names to them which I shall give in due
course) and four levels of the languages. Later Vedic literature uses the
names paraa, pa"syantii, madhyamaa and vaikharii. As a group they are called

The actual physical speech is called vaa.nii.

Para is the most abstract (highest) level of the brain languages, the level
at which a concept-seed arises from our inner-most self, aanandamaya ko.sa.
Pashyanti is next lower level, at which a concept is "visualized" but not
yet verbalized.
Madhyama is the next lower level at which the entity-relationships between
the constituents of a thought are developed. The thought is now in more
concrete form.
Vaikhari is the lower level at which a grammatical sentence, in a particular
human language, is developed.

The RigVeda itself uses different set of names (ghee, ajya, dadhya and milk)
for the same languages.
This is not an invention my imagination. See [RV I - 164 - 45] tri.nii ...
where Rishi diirghatamaa gives a direct internal authority.
See also [RV IV - 5 -13], where Rishi vaamadeva gives the equivelance mentioned
There are also "concept codes", i.e. a group of words denoting a concept is
used to denote some other technical concept. The following are important
examples :

waters -- (aap) any word denoting water means consciousness; then the type
of consciousness is denoted by more specific word for water, for example,
nadii (river) denotes the stream of awareness perceived in waking or
dreaming states;

well -- (vivaram) denotes mind;
rain -- bliss felt in meditative state;

chariot -- (ratha) the body; (any of the koshas -- annamaya, praa.namaya
etc.); the carrier or information processor;

city -- (pura) the physical body;
purandara (Indra) did not destroy "dravidian cities" as claimed by some
Indologists (even today). The word means "one who removes
dehaatmabhaava, i.e. the feeling that this physical body is me)".

I think this posting has become quite long and I must stop.

Next postings :
IV. the principle of Reverse Analogy (prativartanii upamaa)
V.  The Attitude of Vedic Rishis -- how they viewed what they saw.

With best wishes to all.
-- Himanshu

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list