The ancient Sanskrit text, the Rig Veda is said to be the one source of all other sacred Sanskrit texts. The Rig Veda was transmitted orally for thousands of centuries. Indian scholars say that from ancient days through modern times all the efforts to lift the veil of mystery from the word Veda only served to thicken the mist: “To this day there is no internally consistent and coherent interpretation of the Vedas” [B.G Sidharth, Indian physicist]. Western scholars wrongly translated the Rig Veda words in their ‘literal’ sense and completely obscured missed the layers of subtle metaphysical and other meanings hidden in the older Vedic Sanskrit.
The Rishis who composed the hymns in the Rig Veda were not worshipping external deities in any form, astral or otherwise. The ancient Rishis were great beings, man and women who had retained, held on to and owned the power of vision. They were Seers, which is what the Sanskrit word Rishi means.
There were around 400 of these Rishis, such as Angiras, Agastya, Vasistha, Vishvamitra, Bhrigu, Brihaspati, Dirghatamas, and at least 27 of them were women, for example Vagambhrini and Dakshina Prajapatya. These Seers carried within them the innate powers to manifest form in this universe from the infinite multitude of potencies within the formless. This ability was not unique or ‘special’ in the first cycle of time, the Satya Yuga. We all were able to do this, which is how the manifested realms were brought into being and became form — rûpa in Sanskrit.
“While the god [deva] is a presence in the mantra, he is neither visible nor palpable in any other way. …the mantra…facilitates the god’s presence, form and functions. There can be no god apart from the mantra.” – S.K. Ramachandra Rao, Yaska’s Nirukta
“…neo-spiritualism resembles…materialism extended beyond the limits of the corporeal world, this being clearly exemplified by the crude representations of the subtle world, wrongly called spiritual…consisting almost entirely of images borrowed from the corporeal domain..” – Rene Guenon, The Reign of Quantity
As we moved from the first cycle of time, the Satya Yuga, down into the denser second cycle of time, the Tretâ Yuga, the majority lost the natural gift of pulling, plucking, gathering coagulations, packets of light-energies through an intensely concentrated willed focus from the Mind of God, the Oneness. Previously we all had a shared access to the Mind of God, because the One dwells within us all. Therefore like the Rishis, we were able to transpose those packets of light-energy into manifestation both as form and ideas, seeds to build upon much as we envision fractals today endlessly building. The Kashmir Shaivite Swami Lakshmanjoo has said that this is why each of us feels that we can do anything, even though experience tells us otherwise. We remember.
‘Div’ = to Shine!
The word for god in Sanskrit is ‘deva’ — and its root derivation ‘div’ means to shine. The Rishis were invoking, creating, generating these packets of light-energy pulsations, which were shinning in the sense that they were intensely compacted encoded source energies from the Mind of God that could be used to create and bring form into this world. This knowledge was lost. The knowledge was most certainly lost by the time the ritualist Sayana (who died in 1387 A.D.) wrote his interpretations of the Rig Veda and thus led subsequent scholars astray into a distorted understanding, especially the western world of scholars who first translated the Rig Veda as the work of idol worshipping primitives.
The idea that “while the god is a presence in the mantra, he is neither visible nor palpable in any other way,” thus so brilliantly expressed by S.K. Ramachandra Rao, is further enhanced by Rene Guenon’s statement that what today often passes for traditional wisdom, what Guenon calls neo-spiritualism, is stuck in its conceptions of familiar corporeal form. Guenon: “…neo-spiritualism resembles…materialism extended beyond the limits of the corporeal world, this being clearly exemplified by the crude representations of the subtle world, wrongly called spiritual…consisting almost entirely of images borrowed from the corporeal domain.”
We are very far removed from our Origin and the states of consciousness, actually God-consciousness, that were innate and natural to us in the early yugas. In our present day state, trapped in and limited to five-sense perception, we cannot easily think in what might be termed formless or the abstract. However that formless unmanifest is what we emerge from and what we will inevitably return to — when we are weary of this sukha-duhhka, pleasure-pain polarity world.
We are not progressing towards anything except another cyclical Dissolution, perhaps brought about by the release of millions of tons of methane clathrates that have been hidden deep in our oceans, the release being a reaction to cyclical solar emissions of radiation. We are not evolving. We already are perfect as the One, our Source and Being. We are simply ‘playing’ here in Veils of Delusion, the plane of Forgetting. Therefore the need to justify spirituality and metaphysical principles by being, as Guenon says, “constantly preoccupied in adapting these ancient ideas, or what are imagined to be such, to modern science” is absurd and a waste of time. Plus because all scientific theories change with soul grinding rapidity, we are forced to alter our adaptations continually!
The Personification of Metaphysical Principles
The Rishis didn’t require pantheons of gods and goddesses. These realms of astral visions are of our own making and formed as the cycles of time devolved into density, meaning the Solidification of our world, during which this temporal illusory hologram, our creation, closed and descended further into our own projected belief systems, delusions and illusions.
The Rishis were chanting their mantras, which they composed as the Rig Veda, to create. This wasn’t ritual magic in the modern sense — it was purely the Seers plucking shining packets of light-energy ‘div’ from the Mind of God, the imperishable immutable One, and using these pulsating packets for manifestation. Even in the Tretâ Yuga, the Rishis still had the power to connect to Source and make everything happen! Because most of us down though time continued to lose our creative abilities, we were dependent on the Rishis, just as today we depend on the creativity and genius of the few.
S.K. Ramachandra Rao on the Rig Veda: “The seer is merely an instrument for the revelation of the mantra, and the poetic form is mechanically assumed by revelation. It is the god (devata) for whom the mantra is meant that is significant. The mantra is in fact distinguished by the god whose nature, power, peculiarities, and relevance for the seer is enshrined in the mantra. While the god is a presence in the mantra, he is neither visible nor palpable in any other way. He does not exist apart from the mantra. It is only through the mantra that he is visualized.”
What is useful in one phase of the expansion of our personal spiritual Wisdom-Knowledge or the larger group expansion, often becomes a trap in another phase. Thus we may understand how the Truth of one yuga is devolved into the lens of multiplicity and confusion in another. As an artist, I love the inspiring depictions of gods and goddess in stone, bronze, wood, and the colourful graceful paintings. I often touch the feet of my statue of Krishna playing the flute in my home. I do this to remind myself that the One dwells in my Heart — and simultaneously in the Hearts of All. I am particularly fond of Indian art because it symbolizes timeless primordial traditional metaphysical principles. Thank you, India!
Equilibrium Between Two Opposites
Alain Danielou in his ‘Gods of India’ offers a deeper insight on the metaphysical meaning of the gods and explains Brahma not as an old man perpetually seated in a pink lotus, but rather as the Space-Time or Revolving Principle:
“The possibility of a form, of a perceptible reality, depends on the existence of a ‘place’ where it can appear and expand, that is, on the existence of an oriented medium (in our world space-time) which is the result of an equilibrium between two opposites, between the centripetal and the centrifugal principles. It is a balance between concentration and dispersion, between a tendency toward existence and a tendency toward annihilation, between light and darkness, between Vishnu and Shiva.”
The Rig Veda deities are not the more familiar ones that emerged later. For example, there is Indra, Agni, Ushas, Surya, Soma, Mitra. Even though it may be somewhat entertaining, I shall not even begin to tell you the many explanations of what or who Indra might be. One scholar says, “Rishi Angirasa is credited with the invention of Agni (S.S. Gupta).” Most agree that Agni is some kind of fire, but exactly what kind is debated.
The Name Brahma is Not Found in the Vedas
Consider that the name Brahma is not found in the Vedas. Vishnu has only three complete mantras dedicated to him. The name Vishnu is derived from the root ‘Vis’ which means to enter or pervade. His identity in the Rig Veda is considered by some scholars to be the Sun, while others view the three mantras dedicated to Vishnu as corresponding to the three spaces of the universe. Shyam Ghosh opines that Vishnu “indicates the act of instilling knowledge into human beings.”
The etymology of the Sanskrit word shiva is ‘auspicious’ and was used in the Vedas as an epithet of Rudra. Scholars agree that Rudra in the Rig Veda later became Shiva. Rudra is more of a destructive force than the beloved wandering sage, garlanded with snakes and drinking from a human skull. Dr. Raja R.M. Roy says that Rudra represents the radiation produced when matter and anti-matter annihilate each other: “Rudra means what makes one cry, which refers to penetrating brightness of radiation.” On a recorded teaching, the Kashmir Shaivite Swami Lakshmanjoo joked with his disciples saying, “Shiva is a great god residing on Mount Kailas in the Himalayas!”…pause…”Rubbish!”
I am reminded of a passage in the Bible that I now feel was speaking of spiritual maturity when it said: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish ways.” [1st Corinthians 13:11]
Danielou states that “the source of the manifest world is neither Vishnu nor Shiva, neither concentration nor dispersion, but the result of their opposition, their equilibrium.” The gods symbolize physics in the sense of forces interacting; but as these forces are the underlying source of all manifestation, the term is more properly metaphysics. Brahma is rajasic, Vishnu is considered sattvic, and Shiva tamasic.
According to Danielou, the rajas which has become personified by Brahma “manifests itself as a revolving, space-creating, and time creating power. …Brahma is the balance of forces from which measurable extension originates. He is the nature of all form, of all perceptible existence, all of the spheres and their movements, of all the rhythms that create the divisions of relative time. …(Brahma) represents the boundless waste in which space and time originate.”
Guenon elucidates Time-Space: “Space cannot possibly extend beyond the world in order to contain it…because emptiness cannot contain anything. On the contrary, it is space that is in the world, that is to say, manifestation…space is coextensive with this world, because it is one of its conditions.” Thus Guenon makes it clear that we are wrongly attempting to define the universe with our limited five-sense perception criteria and standards. Space is one of the conditions for this world. Time is also a condition in which this world is founded. Therefore neither time, nor space and most especially not this world are infinite.
Guenon: “…this world is no more infinite than is space itself, for like space, it does not contain every possibility, but only represents a certain particular order of possibilities…time began in the world…the [manifest] world is not therefore eternal.” The ancient Rishis would have known these eternal Truths. Knowledge of the Cycles of Time was no mere theory to them. They knew that Wisdom-Knowledge would descend into absurdity and left us the enigmatic Rig Veda as a reminder of our earlier states of consciousness. We can easily comprehend why no one can translate these mantras. I must say that my meagre attempts were without a doubt the most arduous efforts of focus and concentration I have ever experienced. Receiving multiple layers of meaning from other realms requires uncharted discipline. I hope to return to them one day, to honour them, and I sincerely hope others will do the same.
As we moved deeper into the Kali Yuga, the later Seers who composed the Upanishads knew that the real meaning of the Rig Veda was being lost. Therefore they tried to rescue the meaning in the wonderful amazing Upanishads. “By the time of the Brahmanas people started being skeptical about the authenticity of the meaning (of the Rig Veda) as well as the utility of the Veda.” Yâska, the 6th century BC Sanskrit grammarian said in the Nirukta: “Seers had direct intuitive insight…by oral instruction, [they] handed down hymns to later generations who were destitute of direct intuitive knowledge.” [The Rigveda, Mandala III, Shukla & Shukla]
I would imagine that our Rishis would shake their heads in a gentle, perhaps humorous compassion at our current human obsession with worshipping anything external to our own being, when what we seek waits within our own Heart. Western religions have cooked up their own array of up-on-the-pedestal beings that are worshipped daily by supplicants around the planet. India is not alone in this by any means. And let us not forget the new ‘gods’ of consumption and mall-world, which the multinational corporations are eulogizing, turning out endless propaganda, advertising promises of material bliss in a brave new corporatocracy world — that turns out to be more of the same old familiar tyranny in a designer suit!
In the Kali Yuga ‘kings are thieves and thieves are kings’. In the past tyrants have spilled only blood on the earth. Now technology allows these who crave world domination, to poison the planet they seek to possess and bring us ever closer to the final moments in this cycle of time.
Provided by V. Susan Ferguson