In Defence of the Veda — Part 3

The usefulness of a symbol such as the Veda’s, which occurs almost in every verse and chant of its mystic narrative, is immense to the seeker of spiritual knowledge. All mythical traditions use symbols as a facade of their secret dialect, to convey in a body of specialised tongue the esoteric and hidden truths through a profusion of well-crafted symbols which appeal at once to the seeker of a higher truth, but less to the common herd seeking after the mean pleasures of lower existence. It is the immortal Nectar trickling through the symbolic and the esoteric, a Knowledge so vast and immaterial that to grasp it even one must pass through the hard rigour of Vedic ritualism and submit to its equally hard and difficulty routine and flawless procedure. Those who want to study the Vedic philosophy and ritualism from a distance or without either inner discipline or fidelity to a higher purpose of self-enquiry can only go as far as their minds take them; it is often a realm of its own cherished illusions, into forms of its own half-knowledge based on error and imperfection and into a barren truth, bereft of the splendours of the Spirit.

This was the spirit of material enquiry into the nature of the Spirit, the external trying to dissect the esoteric by merely translating the symbols into figures of a half-seminal theology and deriving out of that horrible ruckus the first and last word on the Vedic mythology. Moreover, a symbol dissected from its secret sense may well throw into the intellectual mind a prevarication similar to that of a greater truth with similar contours and structure, and the mind is more likely to assume that it has uncovered the essential truth of the Vedic cycle, while in reality, it has only digressed into a non-essential and often a stupid interpretation of the Vedic symbolism, far removed from all truth of inner or higher experience. The Vedic knowledge has been founded on a deeper realisation of the different strata of the One Spirit or the Supreme God, the different planes of spiritual existence, the worlds of gods and their occult and psychological workings; it was also based on the effects of the higher spiritual planes on the earth. For the Vedic Seers, the world was an occult summary of a complex Truth, symbolic of a spiritual evolution of consciousness, not, be it noted, a dream or illusion as had been seen or insisted in the later traditional systems which followed.

Even Gita seems to suggest spiritual deliverance from this painful existence into a supracosmic Absolute as most desired or most wise; it does not bring forth the idea of world transformation or that of the individual, though it admits that the world is God and all the living and non-living in it. It also admits the importance of works among bhakthi and knowledge, not only as a way out, but to realise God in and through them and arrive at a synthetic realisation of the Divine in oneself.

In the Veda, one finds insistence, not on the Self or the Spirit or God directly as Gita seems to emphasise, but an esoteric ritualism replete with an occult sense; it moves by a fiat of a higher energy drifting into a secret symbolism and leading the seeker of the Yagna to a lengthy and cumbersome outward routine and practice, often a vehement insistence at it through marked symbols and well enumerated rituals. It cleaves out a descending path for the Gods by rebounding upon the world the sense of their arrival through mystic and vivid imagery and extraordinary description, by encasing or encapsulating the divine Sruthi in spiritual incantations and symbolic utterances, but by also encrypting the occult truth so that it may remain forever protected from devious powers and untrained minds.

The length of the ritual is symbolic of the level of our spiritual endurance on the difficult path of Yoga, but taken in itself without due regard to its inner significance, it is more likely to lead us to the conclusion that whole ritualistic exercise is a primitive practice of a philistine who had merely lived under the Sun and the Moon without a living purpose and died without finding one. The length of the ritual is a spiritual yardstick for the aspirant, not some vile, barbaric practice impervious to reason and practical knowledge. But the true measure of reason or that of practical knowledge cannot be found in the annals of Science or in recorded history, for the true sense of reason and practical knowledge derives from the sense of the Spirit realised and revealed within the adhar or the trained human instrument, in the symbol of the illumined Rishi or the bloodied act of the Kshatriya, the spiritual Warrior. How can reason or practical Science measure, by whatever forms or instruments, the immanent knowledge of the Spirit and God? How can Veda be measured or studied by the apparent instruments of Science or intellectual reason?

It is apprenticeship to a higher Ideal that is envisaged in the Vedic tradition and a divine inheritance of the riches of the inner Yagna, carried through the past ages into our present times, though with large accretions and doubtful authority, but still present in them are the occult and mystic experiences of the Rishis in a form not visible to the ordinary eye.

There is very little scope in the efforts of our present historians, philosophers, Indologists and Linguists towards knowing what lies behind the apparent and the obvious, to get behind the surface into the revelatory language of the Veda or to know by a shrewd analysis of its external forms the inner significance of the Vedic symbol. This is true of all the legitimate efforts to unravel the truth of the Veda, though most of these pursuits are intellectual, scholarly and therefore, limited in scope and enlargement of idea, a positing of an interpretation too short or too little for our purpose which is get behind into the esoteric, into the very spirit of the Vedic system of knowledge. But of the illegitimate, stupid, inexorably pathetic creed of the western sensibilities towards the Vedic truth, I have nothing much to say than what I have pointed out in the earlier essays, that neither their natural temperament or disposition nor their methods and approaches are suited for the study of the Vedic mythology and that their whole approach towards Veda rests upon a curious disregard of our native values and inherent systems of knowledge, a sort of approach which disproves something without knowing what it disproves. A society which lives in Synagogues and Churches knows nothing about the vast expanse of the Infinity in which lives the Vedic Rishi, and from which derives the true sense of the Veda.

In the Vedic symbolism, the sacrificial ground or pedestal upon which the ritual is carried out is symbolic of the preparation which the physical self has to undergo in order to contain it itself the mounting pressure of the descent of the gods, but in a lesser analysis of reason without bias or prejudice or a one-sided view of the Vedic tradition this symbol of the sacrificial high ground comes to mean something almost radically different from the actual truth, though, we must understand, such an understanding cannot be wholly avoided if one looked exclusively from the reasoning intuition.

In fact, the whole sense of the Veda is symbolic of the spiritual ascension of man into Infinity and that of his descent as an enlightened spirit into a composite determinate of life, leaving nothing of the individual as well as existence, but it was a still half-luminous determinate of the evolutionary Nature, and as such, prone to the errors of terrestrial existence and utter manipulations by contrary forces opposed to the Divine Law, and the Rishi, in his realisation of the highest, must bring into life the necessary preparation for the free manifestation of the Spirit to be possible. But it was not possible just to bring the Power down without proper safeguards and he did it by preparation of a synthetic, original Symbol out of an occult Consciousness, branching itself into many recondite procedures and methods, each bearing in itself the original sense of the master Idea but unique in its particular expression and utility.

This Symbol too comes out of Divine Sruthi, both Truth and the body of Truth, carried through the native breath of the Spirit and forming out of that breath of invocation, the language of the Veda.

The present Indian mentality is in a state of moral, ethical and cultural decline; it has not only lost its Kshatriya Spirit but also the innate understanding of the its own secret traditions. It seeks to supplement the spiritual void with reason and scientific rigour, industry and invention, instead of seeking the inner truths and higher illuminations to which it once had an almost unlimited access. The utility of a glorious spiritual tradition such as the Vedic cycle for the present humanity, especially the Indian psyche must be seen from the viewpoint of a pragmatic spirit working towards resurrection of the Vedic tradition in the present times and into the present human mentality, and not from a standpoint which seeks to modify the spiritual experience and its figures into barren intellectual terms.

To seek through the esoteric sense of the Veda and its symbolism even the meaning, development and spiritual consummation of our national Spirit is a most self-fulfilling labour of the Aryan fighter and must be pursued by hard labour and difficult sacrifice even. The Veda is not a past knowledge or a forgotten tradition, but a truth eternal and infinite which has immense importance to our present times, but one must rise above his doubtful nature into the first principle of a higher Intuition and look from that spiritual wideness the tradition and symbolism of the Vedic period, when India was at her best both spiritually and as a dominant and extraordinary civilisation.

The End

Link to “In Defence of the Veda, Part 2

Link to “In Defence of the Veda, Part 1


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Murli R

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Founder @goldenlatitude. Lover of Sanskrit and the English Metre. Mostly write on Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, whom I earnestly follow within and without.

Journal of a Yogin

Journal of a Yogin enumerates methods, approaches, paths and different practices of Yoga as found in the ancient Vedic tradition, and in the modern times perfected by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo.