Rig Veda Samhita, Hymns to Agni from Secret of the Veda and Hymns to the Mystic Fire

Sri Aurobindo chose a series of hymns from the Rig Veda to quickly illustrate and support his insight to the psychological meaning of the Veda and the dual-sense of the symbols chosen by the Rishis.

It is difficult to systematically study and appreciate the Rig Veda other than through audio programs, inasmuch as considerable force of the revelation comes through in the poetic force and recitation of these verses, and thus, we have created a series of audio files which include the recitation of the Sanskrit text of the Rig Vedic hymns chosen, and the English translation provided by Sri Aurobindo. All recordings were created in 1973 at Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Commentary and Translation by Sri Aurobindo. Recitation in Sanskrit by Sri Vinayak. English recitation by Santosh Krinsky. Click on the enclosed links to go directly to each of the audio files included here. Page references to the U.S. edition of The Secret of the Veda by Sri Aurobindo, as well as to Hymns to the Mystic Fire, also published by Lotus Press, are provided for further elucidation and reading on the subject of each hymn.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “My object has been to show in as brief a compass as possible the real functions of the Vedic gods, the sense of the symbols in which their cult is expressed, the nature of the sacrifice and its goal, explaining by actual examples the secret of the Veda. I have purposely selected a few brief and easy hymns, and avoided those which have a more striking depth, subtlety and complexity of thought and image, — alike those which bear the psychological sense plainly and fully on their surface and those which by their very strangeness and profundity reveal their true character of mystic and sacred poems. It is hoped that these examples will be sufficient to show the reader who cares to study them with an open mind the real sense of this, our earliest and greatest poetry. By other translations of a more general character it will be shown that these ideas are not merely the highest thought of a few Rishis, but the pervading sense and teaching of the Rig-veda.”

Chapter 6 of the Secret of the Veda provides something of an overview to the role of Agni, the mystic fire. In addition, he chose one of the Hymns to Agni in the section titled ‘Selected Hymns’ and went on in the section titled ‘Hymns of the Atris’ to translate a number of the hymns to Agni.

The Secret of the Veda, Chapter VI, Agni and the Truth, pp. 54-64 Sri Aurobindo describes Agni as “the most important, the most universal of the Vedic gods.”  (The Secret of the Veda, pg. 265).  Agni is the divine will, the mystic fire, the flame of aspiration, and the “knower of all things born”.   Sri Aurobindo focuses considerable attention on Agni in both The Secret of the Veda and in his translation of the hymns to Agni in the volume titled Hymns to the Mystic Fire.   He devotes an entire chapter in The Secret of the Veda to Agni.   It is this chapter covered here with extracts from Sri Aurobindo’s commentary and the first hymn of the Rig Veda, Mandala I, Sukta 1, recited in the Sanskrit to illustrate that commentary.  (The Secret of the Veda, Chapter VI, Agni and the Truth, pp. 54-64).  The English translation of this hymn is from Hymns to the Mystic Fire, pp. 39-40

The Rig Veda sets forth in symbolic language the spiritual aspirations and teachings of the Vedic sages.  The outer sense and symbolism often breaks down as the true, inner, psychological meaning breaks forth to reveal the profound meaning of the Veda.  The Secret of the Veda provides an expansive review of the psychological method of interpretation that Sri Aurobindo employed, along with numerous illustrations of the method.  Hymns to the Mystic Fire provides translation of the large number of hymns of the Rig Veda devoted to Agni.

The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation and any excerpts from Sri Aurobindo’s commentary recited by Santosh Krinsky

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 1 Hymn to Agni (the first hymn of the Rig Veda) Secret of the Veda, Chapter 6, Agni and the Truth, pp. 54-64 and Hymns to the Mystic Fire, pp. 39-40 and 439-464 (an extensive word by word analysis of parts of this Hymn). The first hymn in the Rig Veda is described and translated by Sri Aurobindo.  In The Secret of the Veda Sri Aurobindo utilizes this hymn to show the psychological significance of the Veda and to illustrate its method of dual meaning of the terms, having both an outer, exoteric, and an inner, esoteric significance.  He translates this hymn in full in Hymns to the Mystic Fire.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Later in the Secret of the Veda, in a section titled Hymns of the Atris, Sri Aurobindo undertakes to translate a number of additional hymns to Agni: We include one of them here:

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala V, Sukta 6 Hymn to Agni, pp. 378-380. The translation of this hymn along with Sri Aurobindo’s introductory comments, appears in The Secret of the Veda, pages 378-380,  The Sanskrit text along with an alternative translation appears in Hymns to the Mystic Fire, pages 213-215.

The following hymn was included by Sri Aurobindo in The Secret of the Veda, Selected Hymns:

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 77 Agni: the Illumined Will, pp. 263-271

Sri Aurobindo continued the focus on the hymns to Agni in the separate volume titled Hymns to the Mystic Fire.

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 12 Hymn to Agni, pp. 40-42. Sri Aurobindo describes Agni as “the most important, the most universal of the Vedic gods.”  (The Secret of the Veda, pg. 265).  Agni is the divine will, the mystic fire, the flame of aspiration, and the “knower of all things born”.   Sri Aurobindo focuses considerable attention on Agni in both The Secret of the Veda and in his translation of the hymns to Agni in the volume titled Hymns to the Mystic Fire.   The translation of this hymn appears in Hymns to the Mystic Fire, pages 40-42.

The Rig Veda sets forth in symbolic language the spiritual aspirations and teachings of the Vedic sages.  The outer sense and symbolism often breaks down as the true, inner, psychological meaning breaks forth to reveal the profound meaning of the Veda.  The Secret of the Veda provides an expansive review of the psychological method of interpretation that Sri Aurobindo employed, along with numerous illustrations of the method.  Hymns to the Mystic Fire provides translation of the large number of hymns of the Rig Veda devoted to Agni.

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 13 Hymn to Agni, pp. 42-43 (verses 1-5).

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 94 Hymn to Agni, pp. 66-69

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala II, Sukta 1 Hymn to Agni, pp. 81-84

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala VI, Sukta 7 Hymn to Agni, pp. 259-260

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala VIII, Sukta 39 Hymn to Agni, pp. 337-339

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala X, Sukta 51 Hymn to Agni and the Gods. In The Secret of the Veda, Sri Aurobindo showed that there is a deep, esoteric sense to the Vedic hymns that is the real sense of the hymns.  This Hymn to Agni and the Gods describes the relationship of the aspiration and will to the powers of the creation.  The English translation was provided by Sri Aurobindo in Hymns to the Mystic Fire, pp. 405-407..  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala X, Sukta 191 Hymn to Agni (the last hymn of the Rig Veda). In The Secret of the Veda, Sri Aurobindo showed that there is a deep, esoteric sense to the Vedic hymns that is the real sense of the hymns.  This Hymn to Agni is the very last hymn of the Rig Veda.  The English translation was provided by Sri Aurobindo in Hymns to the Mystic Fire, pp. 435-436.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, Hymns to Agni, pp. 54-64, 263-271, and 351-420 and Hymns to the Mystic Fire (entire volume)

Rig Veda Samhita, Hymns to Indra from Secret of the Veda

Sri Aurobindo chose a series of hymns from the Rig Veda to quickly illustrate and support his insight to the psychological meaning of the Veda and the dual-sense of the symbols chosen by the Rishis.

It is difficult to systematically study and appreciate the Rig Veda other than through audio programs, inasmuch as considerable force of the revelation comes through in the poetic force and recitation of these verses, and thus, we have created a series of audio files which include the recitation of the Sanskrit text of the Rig Vedic hymns chosen, and the English translation provided by Sri Aurobindo. All recordings were created in 1973 at Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Commentary and Translation by Sri Aurobindo. Recitation in Sanskrit by Sri Vinayak. English recitation by Santosh Krinsky. Click on the enclosed links to go directly to each of the audio files included here. Page references to the U.S. edition of The Secret of the Veda by Sri Aurobindo, published by Lotus Press are provided for further elucidation and reading on the subject of each hymn.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “My object has been to show in as brief a compass as possible the real functions of the Vedic gods, the sense of the symbols in which their cult is expressed, the nature of the sacrifice and its goal, explaining by actual examples the secret of the Veda. I have purposely selected a few brief and easy hymns, and avoided those which have a more striking depth, subtlety and complexity of thought and image, — alike those which bear the psychological sense plainly and fully on their surface and those which by their very strangeness and profundity reveal their true character of mystic and sacred poems. It is hoped that these examples will be sufficient to show the reader who cares to study them with an open mind the real sense of this, our earliest and greatest poetry. By other translations of a more general character it will be shown that these ideas are not merely the highest thought of a few Rishis, but the pervading sense and teaching of the Rig-veda.”

Chapter 8 of the Secret of the Veda provides something of an overview to the role of Indra, and in particular translates those verses of Mandala I, Sukta 3 that are a direct invocation of Indra.

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 3 Hymn to Ashwins, Indra, Vishwadevas and Saraswati pp. 78-85 and 517-519 (the translation here was taken from Chapter 8 of The Secret of the Veda. For an alternative translation, refer to pages 517-519.

Later in the Secret of the Veda, in a section titled Other Hymns, Sri Aurobindo undertakes to translate a number of additional hymns to Indra:

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 5 Hymn to Indra, pp. 491-501 (includes an introduction by Sri Aurobindo from Secret of the Veda to the role of Indra)

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 7 Hymn to Indra, pp.502-503

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 8 Hymn to Indra pp. 504-505

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 9 Hymn to Indra pp. 506-507

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 10 Hymn to Indra pp. 508-510

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala I, Sukta 11 Hymn to Indra pp. 511-512

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala VIII, Sukta 54 Hymn to Indra and Vishwadevas pp. 513-514

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala X, Sukta 54 Hymn to Indra pp. 515-516

The following hymns were included by Sri Aurobindo in The Secret of the Veda, Selected Hymns:

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 170 The Colloquy of Indra and Agastya, pp. 241-244

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 4 Indra, Giver of Light, pp. 245-253

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala I, Sukta 171 Indra and the Thought-Forces, pp. 254-262

Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, Hymns to Indra, pp. 241-262 and 491-521

Rig Veda Samhita, Mandala X: Various Profound Hymns

Sri Aurobindo notes that the entire Rig Veda is of profound significance, but that the tenth Mandala holds some deep and philosophically important hymns. In The Secret of the Veda, Sri Aurobindo showed that there is a deep, esoteric sense to the Vedic hymns that is the real sense of the hymns. .Among these are a number of famous hymns which are set forth below:

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala X, Sukta 129 Hymn to Creation Sri Aurobindo cites this Hymn in The Life Divine, Chapter The Knot of Matter.  Here we present a brief background to the Rig Veda and its significance and then the Sanskrit recitation of the Hymn of Creation, followed by the English translation provided by Sri Aurobindo and Nolini Kanta Gupta.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English commentary and translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala X, Sukta 90 Purusha Sukta  This Hymn the Purusha Sukta, relates to the Divine Being that encompasses the entire universe, creator, containing and embodying the entire creation at the same time.  The English translation was provided by Nolini Kanta Gupta.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala X, Sukta 125 Devi Sukta This Hymn the Devi Sukta, relates to the supreme Goddess, the executive power of the creation of all that exists.  The English translation was provided by Nolini Kanta Gupta.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala X, Sukta 127 Ratri Sukta  This Hymn the Ratri Sukta, explores the relation of the Night to the Dawn, the “sister” who brings the light.  The English translation was provided by Nolini Kanta Gupta.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Rig Veda Samhita Mandala X, Sukta 121 Hymn to Hiranyagarbha, the Golden Child in the Womb  This Hymn to Hiranyagarbha, the Golden Child in the Womb, explores the web of the universal creation and manifestation.  The English translation was provided by Nolini Kanta Gupta.  The recordings were made at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1973.  Sanskrit recited by Sri Vinayak.  English translation recited by Santosh Krinsky

Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda. Sri Aurobindo weaves a discussion of many of these very profound hymns through the Secret of the Veda as well as various passages in The Life Divine.

The Upanishads: Summary and Conclusions

The Upanishads state they are “the secret of the Veda”.  This implies that there IS a secret hidden within the Veda, that it is not all on the surface to be seen, and that there is an esoteric meaning to be understood by those who have the ears to hear, the eyes to see, the mind to grasp, and the heart to understand.  The Veda has always been something of a mystery to the modern mind, due to the symbolic language utilized and the imagery conveyed which spoke to a different age of humanity.  With his substantial insight into the symbolism employed, Sri Aurobindo was able to unlock and reveal the “secret of the Veda”.  It turns out that it is a scripture of spiritual growth, development, aspiration and experience of reality from a different standpoint than what we ordinarily experience in our focus on the outer life of work, family, and society.

Another implication of the Upanishadic statement is that they actually are able to reveal the secret of the Veda.  If that is the case, we should be able to understand the meaning of the Upanishads and thereby grasp the meaning locked within the Veda.  The Upanishads have been revered as scriptural authority for some thousands of years, and in some cases, with their connection to and use of symbolism from the Veda, they have become obscure to us as well.  However, it is important to recognize that the obscure references are a small part of the much larger picture provided by the Upanishads.

Certain recurrent themes become obvious and these can guide the seeker to the vast spiritual truths that the Rishis saw and experienced.  “One without a second” is one such truth.  The One includes, encompasses, creates, and directs, while concurrently exceeding any limitations of the outer world.  “All this is the Brahman” makes it clear that the world itself, and all the beings that inhabit it, and the entire universal creation, and the entire action of birth, life, decay and death is indeed the Brahman.  “Neti, Neti”, “Not this, Not that” makes it clear that the Brahman cannot be limited by any specific form, definition or line of action, as the Brahman transcends all.

The Upanishads also provide a guidebook for spiritual development, as well as a description of the experiences of realised souls.  The practices of raja yoga are delineated.  Various states of consciousness, waking, dream, sleep and transcendent are described and shown to be both part of the external world, and descriptions of inner states of spiritual experience.

Sri Aurobindo focused on certain major Upanishads out of the much larger body of works collected under that name.  He was not predominantly interested in philosophy but rather, in finding keys to the nature of, growth and development of consciousness.  He integrated what he found in the Upanishads by incorporating numerous quotations in his own magnum opus, The Life Divine, in particular in chapter headings to tie in the ancient knowledge to the systematic approach and development he was setting forth therein.

In the end, the Upanishads are not about creating a line of thought or philosophical understanding, but about preparing the inner being for the “knowledge by identity” that transcends the limits of the mind and the speech, and opens the seeker to the vast, indeed infinite, and eternal consciousness of the Brahman.  The student of the Upanishads need not be an adherent of a particular religious persuasion, as the Upanishads are not about religion.   The Upanishads are concerned with the truth of our existence, and the ability of the individual to experience that truth directly, and thus, the Upanishads are open to anyone from any tradition, background or religious direction, who truly wants to know.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Summary and Conclusions

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

Salutation to Rudra: a Prayer to Bestow the Blessings of Grace, Not Destruction, on the People

Sri Aurobindo translates Nilarudra Upanishad, First Part, Verses 4-5:  “Salutation to thee who bringeth the world into being, salutation to thee, the passionate with mighty wrath.  Salutation be to thy arms of might, salutation be to they angry shaft.  The arrow thou bearest in thy hand for the hurling, O thou that liest on the mountains, make an arrow of blessing, O keeper of the hills, let it not slay my armed men.”

Sri Aurobindo provides his own commentary on these verses:  “In the fourth verse he salutes the God.  Rudra is the Supreme Ishwara, Creator of the World, He is the dreadful, wrathful and destroying Lord, swift to slay and punish.  … Bhamamanyave … means, one who is full of the passion of violent anger.  Rudra is being saluted as a God of might and wrath, it is therefore to the arms as the seat of strength and the arrow as the weapon of destruction that salutation is made.”

“Rudra is coming in a new form of wrath and destruction in which the Aryans are not accustomed to see him.  Apprehensive of the meaning of this vision, the King summons the people and in assembly prayer is offered to Rudra to avert possible calamity.  The shaft is lifted to be hurled from the bow; it is prayed that it may be turned into a shaft of blessing, not of wrath.  In this verse the Prince prays the God not to slay his men, meaning evidently, the armed warriors of the clan.”

We find here the reaction of the human individual to an overwhelming intensity of vision where the destructive powers of existence are unveiled in their unrestrained might.  Arjuna had a similar experience in the vision he was vouchsafed by Sri Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and, witnessing the predetermined destruction of the Kuru race in the forthcoming battle, and the power that was making this come to pass, he prayed for Grace and to see the beneficent form once again, as the vision of the  destructive aspect of the creation is overwhelming to the human being who has been granted this vision.

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

Nilarudra Upanishad: Rudra the God of Might and Wrath

Sri Aurobindo translates Nilarudra Upanishad, First Part, Verses 1-3:  “OM.  Thee I beheld in thy descending down from the heavens to the earth, I saw Rudra, the Terrible, the azure-throated, the peacock-feathered, as he hurled.  Fierce he came down from the sky, he stood facing me on the earth as its lord, — the people behold a mass of strength, azure-throated, scarlet-hued.  This that cometh is he that destroyeth evil, Rudra the Terrible, born of the tree that dwelleth in the waters; let the globe of the storm winds come too, that destroyeth for thee all things of evil omen.”

The seer of the Upanishad has had a vision of the divine power of destruction which is part of the cycle of birth, life and death that functions to provide opportunity for growth, change and development.  This force, when it manifests, is terrifying and overwhelming to the human being.   We witness the reaction of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita when he is confronted with the vision of the Time-Spirit, the universal destroyer that is wiping away all of the obstacles to the next phase of evolution.

Sri Aurobindo has provided insight to these verses:  “The speaker … records a vision of Rudra descending from the heavens to the earth.  … the image  in which he beheld the Divine Manifestation is described, Rudra, the God of might and wrath, the neck and throat blue, a peacock’s feather as a crest, in the act of hurling a shaft.  … He descended fiercely, that is, with wrath in his face, gesture and motion and stood facing the seer … on the earth and over it, … in a way expressive of command or control. … The people see Rudra as a mass of brilliance, scarlet-ringed and crested with blue, the scarlet in Yoga denoting violent passion of anger or desire, the blue sraddha, bhakti, piety or religion. …  Rudra, whom we know as the slayer of evil, comes.  The Rajarshi describes him as born of the tree that is in the waters.  … The asvattha is the Yogic emblem of the manifested world, as in the Gita, the tree of the two birds in the Shwetashwatara Upanishad, the single tree in the blue expanse of the Song of Liberation.  The jala is the apah or waters from which the world rises.  The Rishi then prays that the  … mass of winds of which Rudra is lord and which in the tempest of their course blow away all calamity, such as pestilence, etc., may come with him.”

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

Kaivalya Upanishad — the Significance of the First Verse

Sri Aurobindo has translated the first verse of the Kaivalya Upanishad, as well as provided a commentary:  “OM.  Ashwalayana to the Lord Parameshthi came and said, ‘Teach me, Lord, the highest knowledge of Brahman, the secret knowledge ever followed by the saints, how the wise man swiftly putting from him all evil goeth to the Purusha who is higher than the highest.’ ”

This verse is tightly packed with important guidance for the spiritual seeker, as Sri Aurobindo explains in his commentary.  There is specificity as to the type of knowledge sought:  “It is … the best or highest, because it goes beyond the triple Brahman to the Purushottama or Most High God; it is secret, because even in the ordinary teaching of Vedanta, Purana and Tantra it is not expressed, it is always followed by the saints, the initiates.  The santah or saints are those who are pure of desire and full of knowledge, and it is to these that the secret knowledge has been given sada, from the beginning.  He makes his meaning yet clearer by stating the substance of the knowledge — yatha, how, by what means won by knowledge, vidvan, one can swiftly put sin from him and reach Purushottama.”

“There are three necessary elements of the path to Kaivalya, — first, the starting point, vidya, right knowledge, implying the escape from ignorance, non-knowledge and false knowledge; next, the process or means, escape form sarvapapam, all evil, i.e. sin, pain and grief; last, the goal, Purushottama, the Being who is beyond the highest, that is, beyond Turiya being the Highest.  By the escape from sin, pain and grief one attains absolute ananda, and by ananda, the last term of existence, we reach that in which ananda exists.  What is that?  … that which is beyond … good and evil, … calm and chaos, … duality and unity.  Sat, Chit and Ananda are in this Highest, but He is neither Sat, Chit nor Ananda nor any combination of these.  He is all and yet He is neti, neti (not this, not that).  He is One and yet He is many.  He is Parabrahman and He is Parameshwara.  He is Male and He is Female.  He is Tat and He is Sa.  This is the Higher than the Highest.  He is the Purusha, the Being in whose image the world and all the Jivas are made, who pervades all and underlies all the workings of Prakriti as its reality and self.  It is this Purusha that Ashwalayana seeks.”

Several points should be noted.  The term “sin” does not have the same sense as we use it in modern day language.  Sin is anything that disrupts, disturbs the being, distracts or distorts the reality, so that the seeker is unable to focus the attention with a calm, serene and tranquil mind and heart.

The Bhagavad Gita describes the Purushottama as being beyond the Kshara Purusha (the conscious awareness in the manifested world) and the Akshara Purusha (the conscious awareness in the Unmanifest).  The Purushottama contains and exceeds, witnesses and sanctions both what is or has been manifested, and that which remains unmanifest, latent and potential, and yet is not bound by either or both of these aspects as He is beyond them.

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kaivalya Upanishad, pp.387-390

Suitability for the Teachings

Sri Aurobindo translates Shwetashwatara Upanishad, Chapter Six, Verses 22-23: “This is the great secret of the Vedanta which was declared in a former time, not on hearts untranquilled to be squandered nor men sonless nor on one who hath no disciples. (Or, Thou shalt not bestow it on a soul untranquillized, nor on the sonless man nor on one who hath no disciple.)  But whosoever hath supreme love and adoration for the Lord and as for the Lord, so likewise for the Master, to that Mighty Soul these great matters when they are told become clear of themselves, yea, to the Great Soul of him they are manifest.”

The teachings are to be given to those who are prepared inwardly to benefit from them.  Planting a seed in rocky ground is not going to be fruitful.  The realized soul who understands, recognizes that without this inner preparation the effort is useless, and it is best not to disturb the balance and focus of those who are still attached to the outer life and its fruits.  At the same time, the spiritual teachings can lead to imbalance if they are taken up by those who do not have the experience and understanding of the outer life of the world, those “sonless” or “without disciple”.

In the Christian tradition, Jesus is credited is stating that one should not “throw pearls before swine”, which was his colorful way of describing that the teachings he was propagating should not be placed before “hearts untranqillized”, that is, people who simply were not ready to hear and respond to the teachings.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna makes it clear that it is better for a man to follow an imperfect faith that is suited to his stage of evolutionary growth than to try to follow the faith of another that is not suited to him.  He admonishes not to disturb the faith of an individual unless that individual is ready, able and receptive to taking up a new growth or direction.

The spiritual truths of Oneness, of harmony, of peace, and the experience of infinity, eternity and the sense of timeless presence are covered over by the disturbed energies of desire, attachment and acquisition.  The quiet mind and heart can open with a sense of receptivity to a different order of truth and experience that brings forth the possibility of knowledge by identity.

The Upanishads recognize the need for a rise in Sattwa to counter either the darkness and sloth of Tamas or the hectic, disturbed rush of Rajas, in order to achieve the proper standpoint for spiritual experience.  Sattwa brings with it a calm mind and a heart that is open with love and devotion.

Swami Vivekananda in his lectures on Raja Yoga, describes the process of attainment as needing the quieting of the mind-stuff, the chitta, so that the radiance of the Truth may reflect in the still depths of the being.  This is the foundation of the experience of Samadhi.

Spirituality is not a belief.  It is not philosophy, nor religion.  It is the direct experience of the Truth of existence.  The preparation of the being provides the basis for the Grace to act.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Shwetashwatara Upanishad, pp.369-384

Concentrated Devotion and the Grace of God Leads to Knowledge of the Eternal

Sri Aurobindo translates Shwetashwatara Upanishad, Chapter Six, Verse 21:  “By the might of his devotion and the grace of God in his being, (Or, By the grace of the Lord, by the energy of his askesis,) Shwetashwatara hereafter knew the Eternal and he came to the renouncers of the worldly life and truly declared unto them the Most High and Pure God, to whom the companies of seers resort forever.”

As we see in a number of Upanishads, the power of tapasya is considered essential.  Concentration of will in the thought, one-pointed devotion to the seeking, is necessary preparation for the seeker to loosen the hold that external perceptions and events have on him, so that he can be ready and receptive for the response from the Divine, the Grace of God, to provide the illumination.  This triple process Sri Aurobindo describes in The Mother as one of aspiration, rejection and surrender.  The resultant receptivity in the being is the opening needed for the Grace to respond.

The seeker cannot command the Grace.  The seeker can only create the conditions within which the Grace can act if it so chooses.  When the seeker obtains the realisation, he becomes capable of communicating the process and the necessary pre-conditions to others who have similarly prepared themselves by renouncing attachment to the outer life of the world.

The question of renunciation of the worldly life is one that is subject to interpretation.  Ascetic paths ask the seeker to entirely abandon all actions in the world, other than those specifically necessary for basic survival and the inner focus needed for the realisation.  Others, including the Bhagavad Gita, define this renunciation as overcoming attachment to the objects of desire in the world.  The Taittiriya Upanishad refers to those “whose soul the blight of desire touches not.”  For those who achieve the knowledge by identity with the Eternal, there is a liberation from the bondage but a continuation of the participation in the manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Shwetashwatara Upanishad, pp.369-384