RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approach to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Jul 27 03:12:40 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Here is posting no. 7.
Please note that it is divided in two parts, this is the first part.
-- Himanshu
-------------- next part --------------
RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One :
(notes from selfstudy - svaadhyaaya)

VII : Mantras Having Seeds of Advaita - II
------------------------------------- Himanshu B. Dave
ahamannamannamadantamaa.a.admi |
aha.m vi"sva.m bhuvanamabhyabhavaa.a.am |
suvarna jyotii.h | ya eva veda | ityupani.sat || (10)
[taittiriiya upani.sat 3 - 10 "se.sena]

{I consume as food those who eat food. I concquer this whole Universe. My
Light, like Surya, is ever shining. He who knows like this. This is
[Taittiriya Upanishad last part of 3-10]

The gods (mental activities) consume "food", I consume them.
One interpretation is : I consume the output "food" given by these gods,
in order to absorb knowledge at more abstract level.
Second interpretation is : I consume the "consumerness" of the gods.
Third interpretation is  : if you (yajamaana) feel that you are consumer of
"food" I, aatmaa, consume that "you", one that believes that he is the
"consumer", the doer.

Universe means the world being enjoyed by various beings. I conquer this
Universe, because I am beyond it.

suvarna -- suva.h na - like the Sun's;

My Light is ever shining like that of suurya. Remember RA? Apply it here and
you get : "I, who is but suurya, have a shining Light."

Who is saying this? Whose light is being talked about? One who Knows this
well. That is the Upanishad. (Shows the end of discourse, i.e. Taitti. Up.)

To continue with our investigation about how RigVeda provides links to
let us consider the following mantra from Mandala II, sukta 12, by .ri.si
g.rtsamada :

yo jaata eva prathamo manasvaan devo devaan kratunaa paryabhuu.sat |
yasya "su.smaad rodasii abhyasetaa.m n.rm.nasya mahnaa sa janaasa indra.h ||

[RV II-12-1] [II-2-1-1]
{He, as soon as born, is the first god, who has done honour to gods by his
good deeds. He, at whose might heaven and earth are afraid and [who is known]
by greatness of his strength, he, O men, is Indra.}

The last quarter (sa janaasa indra.h -- He, O men, is Indra) appears in all
but last mantra of this sukta, the last mantra (15) has as the last quarter
(suviiraaso vidathamaa vadema -- blessed with good sons may we speak at the
sacrifice) which is common to all mantras (almost) of g.rtsamada. Because
that phrase carries some importance to us, we shall give its interpretation
g.rtsamada.h -- g.rtsa.h mada.h yasya sa.h -- g.rtsa.h means highly
intelligent and  mada.h means arcanaa (worship) or exhilaration; one who
worships intelligently or one whose intelligence is sharpened by exhilaration.
Indra tries to take his form (see below) so he is sat, he has intelligence
(cit) and exhilaration (ananda) -- sat cit ananda, aatmaa.

Sayanacharya quotes a story of Indra and Gritsamada while commenting on this
mantra, quoting b.rhaddevataa. (In fact three versions of the story) :
(i)   g.rtsamada, by his Tapa, acquired a body as large as Indra, visible
      simultaneously in the three Lokas. Two Asuras -- Dhuni and Chamuri --
      taking him to be Indra, proceeded to attack him. Rishi, reciting this
      sukta, stopped their advance, saying that he was not really Indra.
(ii)  g.rtsamada was officiating priest at a yajna attended by Indra and
      other gods. The Asuras came to kill Indra, who took up the form of
      g.rtsamada. Asuras went away not finding Indra. At end of yajna, when
      g.rtsamada was coming out, the Asuras, lying in wait for Indra,
      considered him to be Indra and attacked him. G.rtsamada prevented that
      by reciting this sukta saying that Indra was some one else.
(iii) Indra was coming alone to a yajna by g.rtsamada, where on the way he
      was attacked by Asuras. Indra assumed the form of the .r.si and
      escaped to svarga. The Asuras entred the chamber of sacrifice after
      some time and caught hold of g.rtsamada, who informed that Indra was
      some one else, by this sukta.

The common factor in all these three versions is that Indra assumed the form
of g.rtsamada, Asura tried to attack g.rtsamada confusing him to be Indra
and .r.si escaped by pointing out that Indra was some one else.

Commenting on this mantra, Yaskacharya in Nirukta says : "Thus the
exhilaration of the Rishi, who had insight into the Reality, gets expressed
in verbalized form." [Nirukta 10-10]

Actually in the sukta the word used is janaasa.h (men, people) and not
asuraa.h. We interprete that as :
(i)    lay people, engrossed in worldly affairs; or
(ii)   the cognizer of the waking state of yajamaana (or .r.si himself),
       engrossed in worldly affairs.

We shall take the second interpretation. The .r.si says : "I am not Indra, I
am aatmaa or I am a mere world-engrossed human being." Then who is Indra?
.r.si describes him. As these are the utterances of a realized seer, his
attitude is :"I am aatmaa and not some thing else, not even Indra, my Ego."

We interprete this mantra as :
ya.h jaata eva
"who as soon as born" -- as soon as concept of an individual self is created,
       for example, as soon as jiiva entres the foetus in a womb, Indra is
       born, and as soon as Indra is born ...

prathama.h manasvaan deva.h
"is the first amongst gods" -- the foremost amongst gods, who are manasvaan,
       i.e. operate at antarik.sa or div levels, i.e. at various higher
       levels of information processing within the brain; Indra is formost,
       prathama.h, because he gets generated first, on creation of a jeeva,
       or because he is the nearest to aatmaa (see Yakshopaakhyana in
       Kenopanishad); both the meanings of the word prathama.h are

kratunaa devaan paryabhuu.sat
"who has done ... deeds" -- by his exploits like killing of v.rtraasura --
       undesirable thoughts, disturbing thoughts, has decorated the tribe of
       gods, i.e., he is the most important god; he has overall control on
       what other gods like agni, vaayu, mitra, etc. do.

yasya "su.smaat rodasii abhyasetaam
"at whose ... afraid." -- by whose might both Heaven, i.e. the highest level
       of consciousness, and Earth, i.e., surface consciousness, are totally
       controlled; it is the basic "I"-sense, Ego, Indra, which generates
       and controls both the levels of awareness.

n.rm.nasya mahnaa
"[who is known] by ... strength" -- by greatness of his power, i.e., he has
power to create all that I perceive;

sa jaanasa indra.h -- so know that to be Indra, O my various regions of
brain, i.e., all my states of consciousness, may I be aware of the real
interpretation of word Indra.

Or, taking the stories in b.rhaddevataa as basis :
"the .r.si tells the asuras, the disturbing thoughts, thoughts of engrossment
on the world, that "I am aatmaa, not Indra, the Ego. Indra is one who does
various acts. He is the foremost of gods, when exhilarated by Soma, he kills
V.rtta, he controls all my awareness, but I am not that Indra, Ego. So there
is no use attacking me."

naaha.m manu.syo na ca devayak.sa.h cidaanandasvaruupa.h "sivo.aha.m
"sivo.aham |

All throughout the sukta, the .r.si goes on enumerating exploits and
properties of Indra, praising him, but refuses to be identified with him.
Thus seemingly the sukta is a prayer to Indra, but really the .r..si
announces advaita.

Now we shall take up the burden of g.rtsamada suktas :
(suviiraaso vidatham aa vadema -- blessed with good sons may we speak at the
sacrifice) : Vedic Rishis consider their compositions (mantras) as their
children. All the words denoting progeny are concept codes for mantras. One
opinion on the word viiraa.h (braves) is that it denotes "sons".

The word viiraa.h (as also naraa.h and .rtvik) also means various regions of
the brain which constitute the levels of information processing, as
explained in a previous posting (no. 5). Prefixed with su it means well
active, good .rtvik.

During an exhilarated state (or in deep meditation) one is as if doing a
dialogue with Ego, Indra. That dialogue (a la Shri Ramana) is called
vidatham in RigVeda (translated as "sacrifice" by scholars, not too bad as
it is a yajna where thoughts about Self are aahuuta.)

The words aa vadema means "may we speak well or boldly". May we have, during
our exhilarated state, visionary experience. The word aa denotes invitation
or acceptance and the interpretation is : may the visionary experience be
b.rhat (expanding, large, uninhibited). I usually consider myself small,
ignorant and limited due to my ignorance. During the exhilarated state, may
I have experience of oneness with the unlimited.

"Having well working brain, may we have experience of Brahman during
meditative state, when we have dialog with Self." There can be a more
abstract meaning also. (Think what it could be.)

We shall come back to this sukta in a later posting to pick up one more mantra.

This posting is becoming too long, so I am breaking it in two parts. I do
not like it at all, (the mechanism I am trying to set up is breaking down
here,) but some list members may have difficulty with their mail delivery.
If possible read the second part immediately after this first part.
-- Himanshu

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