In Defence of the Veda — Introduction
Editorial Note: We have sourced our material as well as our inspiration largely from the writings of Sri Aurobindo. His extraordinary exposition of the Rigveda in his book “The Secret of the Veda” helped us understand things from a certain higher perspective, and empowered us to counter the western deformities, otherwise mistakenly accepted as a default rule of thumb for the study of the Veda.
A surface mind cannot fathom the deeper mysteries of the Spirit by a rigid obedience to the outward symbolism of the ritualistic tradition of the vedic cycle. All ritualism is a symbol of a hidden knowledge, initiated only to the chosen and held by a secret tradition of men seeking after a most high knowledge and a wide Truth. Indology studies the apparent and the obvious and concludes by interpreting the outward symbolism that the basis of vedic thought is a moonshine and a primitive barbarism of an uncultured race given entirely to the external crudities of life. The inquisitive western philosopher finds the symbolism of the Veda utterly unexplainable by rational terms, because his sense of the rational is only a surface knowledge verified by reason, logic and scientific temperament.
The western mind is not a trained judge of the spiritual truth; it has not been trained to look deeper into the symbolic and ritualistic, its temper is not suited to a quiet self-enquiry into the Spirit and Nature; it always looks from the standpoint of reason & logic and instead, insists on provable phenomena and scientific enquiry to study what it considers to be apparent and obvious. But the ritualistic symbolism of the Veda is founded on a deeper self-realisation of the Spirit, of which the western mind knows nothing. Science as an instrument of knowledge may be helpful only in so far as it is bound to go and flop at a point but the unverifiable is always dubbed as non grata and inadmissible into the stupendous focal point of its infallible science.
Every system moves by a trenchant formula, verified, tested, trimmed to perfection and encased into a tight shell and thrown into the muddy waters of human intelligence; it dazzles for a while until it loses the appeal and is lost into the coarse mud below. No system has ever survived infinitely. Veda, on the other hand, is not a system of knowledge but a symbol of the times of spiritual glory and utter self-revelations and it required an effective outward symbol, a certain spiritual encryption in which it could hide the immense treasure of the spiritual and the mystic from reaching the wrong or indeft hands. To decipher the symbol, one must get behind the apparent and the obvious, into the inner and the profound and not just float on the surface and cry foul of the representative symbol.
Speaking of the representative symbol, in the vedic symbolism, Agni is a god of fire but he is not just the bonfire or the raging forest fire but a fire of the Soul, its power of aspiration and inviolable purity and, without him no spiritual aspiration is possible. He is the sacrificial fire of inner Yagna but an outward ritualistic symbolism of Yagna must bear a direct correlation to the inner significance but in the manner of a language of a secret lore, a recondite tradition which does not reveal the secrets to the surface mind. A surface mind therefore dabbling in the symbolic outward sees only the skeletal remains of a past buried under the weight of its meaningless symbols. The western mind caught in the external dichotomy of confusing symbols always fails to understand the psychological functions of the godhead.
It is a necessary dichotomy, if it is to be so termed at all, a certain intangible knot hiding the revealed truth or the illumined word but it is also meant to serve as a key to a greater Knowledge to those who seek the secret of the Veda by way of an inner quest and not by wrestling with the outward symbol and turning it into a lifeless entity or a sign of a primitive superstition of a barbaric age. The study of the Veda entails an inner effort, a toil in the depths, a slow process of uncovering tending to be more and more rapid and an aspiration for a higher Life. A mere academic pursuit for the sake of intellectual study of the Veda is bound to be a failure but a failure often extolled, systematised and shoved into the human intellect as if it were all we had to know of the Veda.
Mythology is not science or history; it is not a narrative of the past but a symbolic representation of the Spirit of those times. All narrative belongs to history and it is bound to be full of glaring assumptions, unscrupulous accretions and methodical prevarications, a sort of inglorious extolling of half-knowledge and academic distinction. Such dubious, Nobel-worthy narratives by the western Indologists have only contributed to the misunderstanding of the esoteric symbolism of the vedic cycle. Indology dwells upon the abracadabra of the external symbol and takes it for the whole truth and therefore, it loses the plot, the significance of the esoteric idea which the symbol represents or rather hides well and instead, supplies its own data to fill in the void; the result is a self-adorning chimera, an awkward masquerade; the Seer of the symbol is replaced by a half-enlightened philistine armed with a pseudo-narrative to maim the spiritual and mystic tradition of the Veda. It is a pittance of the beggar that we get out of western Indology, not the bounty of the King.
We must build a spiritual narrative of the Truth based on a higher experience of the symbolic and mystic, much like the Upanishads but we must desist from overtly explaining the esoteric and keep the secrecy of the external symbol intact, lest it may lead to coveting of the treasures of the Spirit by the uninitiated and a possible exploitation of the their occult symbolism for a dark and inferior purpose. The age of reason cannot impose on the eternal Spirit its imperfect law; it is reason that must surrender to the law of the Spirit and allow it to be transformed into a direct, luminous principle of a higher Truth.
The profound tradition of the vedic age cannot be simply explained away by a horde of self-confident Indologists or verified by a system external to its secret lore and hidden knowledge but if men insisted on such a verification by putting the external symbol into the apparatus of crass human intellect, the result is most likely to be not a symbol explaining itself or shedding its cloak of secrecy but a cheap, transmogrified sense far from the truth of the symbol it attempts to represent, a Dionysian half-figure instead of a vedic Godhead.
In the subsequent essays, we shall discuss in detail the body of the vedic thought from a more pragmatic viewpoint without falling into the intellectual trap of hard reason and rigorous logic. Reason and logic have their own use and validity for mankind in its spiritual twilight towards something higher and more profound but in matters of spiritual experience these have to be subordinate instruments and can only aid the spiritual evolution of Consciousness out of its slumber into a greater Supracosmic Reality. The vedic seers have extolled, sang in praise and celebrated that Reality through esoteric symbols and pregnant imageries. It is to this high purpose that we are moving knowingly or unknowingly.