The Destructive Power Removes Obstacles in the Way of the Higher Illumination

Sri Aurobindo translates Nilarudra Upanishad, First Part, Verses 6-9: “With fair speech, O mountain-dweller, we sue to thee in the assembly of the folk, that the whole world may be for us a friendly and sinless place.  That thy arrow which is the kindliest of all and thy bow which is well-omened and that thy quiver which beareth blessing, by that thou livest for us, O lord of slaughter.  That thy body, O terrible One, which is fair and full of kindness and destroyeth sin, not thy shape of terrors, in that thy body full of peace, O mountaineer, thou art wont to be seen among our folk.  This Aruna of the dawn that is tawny and copper-red and scarlet-hued, and these thy Violent Ones round about that dwell in the regions in their thousands, verily, it is these whom we desire.”

The overwhelming experience of seeing the Lord in his destructive aspect shakes the peace of mind of the seer, and elicits the spontaneous prayers for the peaceful and nurturing forms of the Divine.  At the same time, the seer recognises that powers of destruction are a necessary element in the development of society, and thus, the implements of destruction, the bow, the arrow, the quiver, are bringers of blessings.

Dawn in the Veda is the harbinger of the rise of the sun of illumination.  This is an inner uprising of knowledge that comes about when the resistance of the being is crushed under the onslaught of the powerful forces which destroy all that resists and opposes this illumination.

The inner sense of the Upanishads, as of the Veda, focuses on the development of the deeper knowledge that recognises the Oneness of the creation and brings about the status of “knowledge by identity”.  The aspect of destruction is required to sweep away those things within the being which prevent or obstruct this recognition.  We can see that in the phrase “destroyeth sin”.  The focus here is not on physical destruction, but on an inner change.  Sin in the Vedic context represents those things which distort or deflect the conscious awareness from the calm, tranquil, serene and receptive state that is a basis for the higher realisation.  The aspiration goes forth from there to achieve the illumination with the coming of the dawn.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Nilarudra Upanishad, pp.393-396

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