Vedic Seers Describe the Sevenfold Ignorance and the Sevenfold Knowledge

As we take up the next chapter in the Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo cites, in the headnotes, some revealing passages from the Rig Veda and the Upanishads to indicate the 7 types of Ignorance that needs to be overcome, and to point out the 7 forms of Knowledge required to achieve realisation. Before we begin the actual review of the chapter, therefore, it is useful to look at what the seers and sages of the Vedic scriptures had to say on this subject.

“Seven steps has the ground of the Ignorance, seven steps has the ground of the Knowledge.” (Mahopanishad, V.1.). Earlier in the Life Divine Sri Aurobindo described the seven forms of Ignorance. It is clear that the insightful, intuitive Vedantic sages had already discovered and codified this information in their cryptic utterances.

“The Master of Wisdom in his first coming to brith in the supreme ether of the great Light,–many his births, seven his mouths of the Word, seven his Rays,–scatters the darkness with his cry.” (Rig Veda, IV. 50. 4) In the Rig Veda, which utilized symbolic language to describe psychological states and the inner workings of Consciousness, we see a clear reference to the seven forms of Knowledge required to bring Light to the being.

We can see in the next passage an even clearer symbolic description of the levels of consciousness and the evolutionary path as described by Sri Aurobindo: “He found the vast Thought with seven heads that is born of the Truth; he created some fourth world and became universal….The Sons of Heaven, the Heroes of the Omnipotent, thinking the straight thought, giving voice to the Truth, founded the plane of illumination and conceived the first abode of the Sacrifice….The Master of Wisdom cast down the stone defences and called to the Herds of Light,…the Herds that stand in the secrecy on the bridge over the Falsehood between two worlds below and one above; desiring Light in the darkness, he brought upward the Ray-Herds and uncovered from the veil the three worlds; he shattered the city that lies hidden in ambush, and cut the three out of the Ocean, and discovered the Dawn and the Sun ahd the Light and the World of Light.”

Sri Aurobindo unravels the symbolic meanings of these statements in The Secret of the Veda, as well as step by step in the new chapter….

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 19, “Out of the Sevenfold Ignorance towards the Sevenfold Knowledge.”