RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approach to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Jul 27 03:15:44 CDT 2000

Dear List Members,
Here is the second part of posting no. 7
Best wishes,
-- Himanshu
-------------- next part --------------
Second part of posting no. 7:

Now, we consider the following two mantras from Mandala VII, sukta 28,
by .r.si vasi.s.tha :

ebhir na indraahabhir da"sasya durmitraaso hi k.sitaya.h pavante |
prati yac ca.s.te an.rtam anenaa ava dvitaa varu.no maayii na.h saat || (4)

vocemed indram maghavaanam enam maho raayo raadhaso yad dadan na.h |
yo arcato brahmak.rtim avi.s.tho yuuyam paata svastibhi.h sadaa na.h || (5)

[RV VII-28-4,5] [VII-2-11-4,5]

{O Indra, grant us with these days, because unfriendly men come near. May
the untruth which the wise and sinless Varuna observes in us, doubly
disappear, [by your grace]. (4)}

{Let us glorify that wealthy Indra, so that he may give us great and
valuable riches; he who is the main protector of the pious rites of the
worshipper. Always protect us with blessings. (5)}

This last mantra appears as the last for many suktas of Mandala VII.

ebhi.h        -- by these; Sayanacharya says : by these auspicious;
ahabhi.h      -- by days; during exhilarated state or meditation session;
durmitraasa.h -- bad friends, those who are not really friends; undesirable
k.sitaya.h    -- people, persons;  dwellings, houses; earth;
pavante       -- Sayanacharya say : coming near; getting purified or
                 refined; moving to the higher levels of abstraction;
da"sasya      -- dehi, give;
ca.s.te       -- observes;
an.rtam       -- untruth; sleep of ignorance;
anenaa.h      -- killer of sins; sinless;
dvitaa        -- dvidhaa, in two ways, doubly; Sayanacharya has not
                 explained this; the wrong notions about Self (that I am
                 separate from Brahman) and the World (that world exists as
                 seen) both are ignorances are removed;
maayii        -- having Knowledge; powerful; a code name for aanandamaya
                 ko.sa.h, nearest to aatmaa or paramaatmaa;
                 see also maayu.m in [RV I-164-29] "one which desires or
                 tries to go towards aatmaa", i.e. vaak
ava saat      -- protect and release (as per Nirukta 1-17);
varu.na.h     -- residing at the deepest level of "waters" -- consciousness,
                 he is called hater of untruth and all powerful;

vocema        -- may we praise; mentally worship;
maghavaanam   -- one having wealth;
raadhasa.h    -- valuable;
raaya.h       -- wealth;
dadat na.h    -- giving to us;
brahmak.rtim  -- vision of a poet in form of his poetry; this can also be
                 interpreted to mean the total Universe, buddhistha.m
                 purovarti jagat according to Sayanacharya, as he explains
                 the text asya suuktasya; total Universe as perceived in the
                 mind of a person;
avi.s.tha.h   -- protector; (also refer to .rcaa (2) where it is said that
                 Indra protects the brahma, i.e. the visionary composition)
svastibhi.h   -- by permanent good; avinaa"sibhi.h ma"ngalai.h

Here Indra represents aatmaa.

4. O Indra, keep your benevolent eyes on us when we are "awake", i.e., in
   exhilarated state, because at this time undesirable thoughts are acting
   like noble thoughts (our friends) and doing self-refinement, i.e.,
   getting absorbed at higher levels of abstraction and thus become part of
   our knowledge. May the untruth (ignorance) that the hater of
   untruth and powerful Varuna (aatmaa) will see in us, be removed both ways
   -- both the ignorance of Self and wrong perceptions about the World.

5. Let us worship Indra, who has vast wealth in from of Knowledge (because
   He is Knowledge itself), so that he may give us the Knowledge. He is the
   main protector of the correct world-view of the worshipper. Do protect us
   always by undestructible good.

  Indra sustains the concept of the jagat, the perceived World. The mantras
say "remove our wrong notions about ourselves and the world". Indra is the
cause of the World and he has power to give us Knowledge which will remove
the wrong perceptions.

Consider the following mantra from the same Rishi, given in sukta 50 of
Mandala VII :

yac chalmalau bhavati yan nadii.su yad o.sadhiibhya.h pari jaayate vi.sam |
vi"sve devaa nir itas tat suvantu maa maam padyena rapasaa vidat tsaru.h ||

[RV VII-50-3] [VII-3-17-3]

{May the [poison] that is in the Shalmali tree, in the rivers or which is
generated from the plants, may all gods [together] remove them from here.
Let not the one which moves hidden, snake, recognize me by sound of my

"salmalau      -- in Shalmali, silver-cotton tree(?); but here within peripheral
                  and central nervous system, especially spinal-cord;
nadii.su       -- streams of consciousness; consciousness which is aware of
                  passage of time;
o.sadhiibhya.h -- the immune system; will to be alive, jijivi.saa;
vi"sve devaa.h -- all the various functional regions of the brain; the
                  functional brain as a whole;
ni.h suvantu   -- may remove totally;
rapasaa        -- rapi.h = one which makes sound, 3rd sing.;
maa maam vidat -- let me not be known or detected;
tsaru.h        -- one which move hidden or crookedly, a snake;

Note that the word "poison" is not there in the original mantra, it is
supplied by Sayanacharya, against the word vi"svayat in mantra (1) of this
sukta, and explains it as vi"se.sena vardhamaana.m vi.sa.m -- a thing
especially increasing, poison. Seemingly this is done to match with the word
tsaru.h, translated as "snake". Many scholars have concluded from such
translations/interpretations that such suktas in RigVeda are meant for
removal of poison or diseases. It is a disease alright but not snake-bite!

Our interpretation differs considerably here. The mantra can be interpreted
at three levels :

(i)  aadhibhautika -- gross level -- as given within {} above, i.e. the mantra
     is talking about physical poison seen at above mentioned places;

(ii) aadhidaivika -- mid-level -- it can be interpreted as indicative of
     malfunction in nervous system at the three levels shown below.

(iii)aadhyaatmika -- highest level -- the three indicated place where the
     "especially increasing, poison" simply means the three knids of
     doshaa.h, as indicated below, in a persons thinking.

Please look at the following figure (limited by text-only mode) :

Level-3 interpretation         Level-1         Level-2 interpretation
---------------------------   ------------     --------------------------
"born-I"  aavara.na do.sa.h --> o.sadhi.h  <-- a deep region in Cerebellum
                                               or Hypothalamus, where link
                                               with the immune system is

"thinking-I" vik.sepa do.sa.h-> nadya.h    <-- inner brain which radiate
                                               the concept-seeds towards
                                               surface functions

"body-is-I"  mala do.sa.h   --> "salmali   <-- peripheral nervous system
                                               including spinal-cord,
                                               reticular activation system;

At the highest level of interpretation, the "poison" is the wrong perception
that any of these three bodies is the real "I". Vishvedava are the thoughts
or concepts in general. With this, the "snake" is wrong perception of the
World and "let it not know me by my foot-steps" means may I not have wrong
perceptions about the World. Then what about "especially increasing"? As one
thinks more and more about the world, the confusion, the "poison", goes on
increasing, unless "all-gods removes it" that is my total thinking is changed.

It is tempting to think that perhaps it was this "snake" which appeared in
the rajjusarpa analogy used by Indian philosophers.

In the same sukta, in mantra (1) the words kulayaya (making a place or nest,
i.e. being born with a body), ajakaa (a disease, night-blindness, wrong
world-view due to ignorance) and in (2), baadhataam (suppress) are used,
which match with Vedantic concepts. The mantra (4) says that when the rivers
flow freely (correct perceptions) then they will be free from two diseases --
"sipadaa (I am limited) and "simidaa (I am enclosed in this body).

You may have noticed that the first mantra by .r.si g.rtsamada is obviously
mentioning Advaita and related Vedantic theory, but the next two by .r.si
vasi.s.tha are more obscure and requires proper interpretation. .r.si
g.rtsamada is more explicit while vasi.s.tha is more subtle. There is a
spectrum of seven "colours", seven successive levels of subtality as we go
from .r.si g.rtsamada, vi"svaamitra, ... , vasi.s.tha to ka.nva, in their
rendering of what they "saw".

The seven Rishis, like the Saptarshi constellation in the sky, always rotate
around the One North-star, fixed, non-moving. Even in their movement, they
point to the position of the druvataraka.h, the One. (One more Vedic Homology
for you!)

With that we close this posting.

.o bhadra.m no apivaataya mana.h |

-- Himanshu

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