Friday, April 26, 2024

Pre-Dayanada and Post-Dayananda period of interpretation: SAYANA-DAYANANDA-AUROBINDO

Pre-Dayanada and Post-Dayananda period of interpretation: SAYANA-DAYANANDA-AUROBINDO

Author Dr. Swami Satya Prakash

Reproduced by Dr. Vivek Arya

Aurobindo presents the problem of the Vedic interpretation in the following words: "We have in the Rigveda,-the true and the only Veda in the estimation of European scholars, a body of sacrificial hymns couched in a very ancient language which presents a number of almost insoluble difficulties. It is full of ancient forms and words which do not appear in later speech and have often to be fixed in some doubtful sense by intelligent conjecture; a mass even of the words that it has in common with classical Sanskrit seem to bear or at least to admit another significance than in the later literary tongue; and a multitude of its vocables, especially the most common, those which are most vital to the sense, are capable of a surprising number of unconnected significance's, which may give according to our preference in selection, quite different complexions to whole passages, whole hymns, and even to the whole thought of the Veda," [The Secret of the Veda, Centenary Edition Vol. x. p. 2]

During the past several centuries, there have been at least three types of major attempts to fix the sense of these ancient litanies:

(i) The first of these attempts exists only by fragments in the Brāhmaṇas and the Upanisads, (ii) An interpretation almost in the same strain has been followed by another Indian scholar Sayanṇa-this is the traditional ritualistic interpretation of the Vedic texts, as if the entire text of the Rigveda (and the Yajurveda other too), was meant to be used for one or the other purpose in sacrifices. (iii)Lastly, we have another mode of interpretation which has been introduced. by modern Western scholarship (European and American), based on comparisons and conjectures, i. e. claimed to be based on the comparative philology, and systematic study of human behaviors through ages in different lands.

In respect to the traditional ritualistic interpretation, and the conjectural Western interpretations, Aurobindo rightly remarks as follows:

"Both of them present one characteristic in common, the extraordinary incoherence and poverty of sense, which their results stamp upon the ancient hymns. The separate lines can be given, whether naturally or by force of conjecture, a good sense, or a sense that hangs together; the diction that results, if garish in style, if loaded with otiose and decorative epithets, if developing extraordinarily little of meaning in an amazing mass of gaudy figure and verbiage, can be made to run into intelligible sentences; but when we come to read the hymns as a whole, we seem to be in the presence of men who, unlike the earlier writers of other races were incapable of coherent and natural expression or of connected thought. Except in the briefer and simpler hymns the language tends to be either obscure or artificial; the thoughts are either unconnected or have to be forced and beaten by the interpreter into a whole. The scholar in dealing with his text is obliged to substitute for interpretation a process almost of fabrication. We feel that he is not so much revealing the sense as hammering and forging rebellious material into some sort of shape and consistency." (Vol. X. p. 3)

These observations of Aurobindo are valid in regards to the interpretations given by either Sayana or by our Western scholars like Max Muller, Geldner, Oldenberg, Griffith or Wilson. If these interpretations are accepted, then the hymns of the Rigveda (and other Vedas) would be justifiably qualified by such terms as "obscure and barbarous compositions". But one thing is exceptionally remarkable. These so called obscure and barbarous composition have had the most splendid good fortune in all literary history. They have been the reputed source not only of some of the world's richest and profoundest religions, but of some its subtlest metaphysical philosophies. In the fixed tradition of thousand of years they have been revered as the origin and standard of all that can be held as authoritative and true in Brahmanas, Upanishads, in the Six Systems of Indian philosophy, and even in the later and medieval literature of Indian thought. They have been invariably regarded as the literature of ultimate Supreme Authority (Svataḥ Pramāņa). They have inspired the teaching of all saints, seers and sages. The name borne by them has been the Veda, the knowledge, a term which stands for the highest spiritual truth of which the human mind is capable. But, as Aurobindo rightly remarks- if we accept the current interpretations, whether Sayanas or the modern theory, the whole of this sublime and sacred reputation is a colossal fiction. If we accept the traditional or Western interpretations, the hymns would be nothing more than the näive superstitions fancies of untaught and materialistic barbarians concerned only with the most external gains and enjoyments and ignorant of all but the most elementary moral notions and religious aspirations. Of course. rituals have some value in life but the entire Vedic texts have nothing else in them but rituals is an idea repugnant to any rational thought. As we have said, the Vedas were held in the highest esteem by all the Systems of Indian Philosophy, particularly of the Upanishads, and it is so well known that the true foundation or starting point of religions and philosophies are these Upanishads, and if so, if the Vedas are to be traditionally interpreted, then these Upanishads have to be conceived as a revolt of philosophical and speculative minds against the ritualistic materialism of the Vedas. The entire Vedānta, the Yoga, the Samkhya, the Nyaya or the Vaisesika system can be directly traced to elaborate the theses propounded in the Vedic texts.

The European' scholars have confuses issues beyond expectations. Aurobindo writes in this context: "But this conception, supported by misleading European parallels, really explains nothing. Such profound and ultimate thoughts, such systems of subtle and elaborate psychology as are found in the substance of the Upanishads, do not spring out of a previous void. The human mind in its progress marches from knowledge to knowledge, or it renews and enlarges previous knowledge that has been obscured and overlaid, or it seizes on old imperfect clues and is led by them to new discoveries. The thought of the Upanishads supposes great origins anterior to itself, and these in the original theories are lacking. The hypothesis, invented to fill the gap, that these ideas were borrowed by barbarous Arya invaders from the civilized Dravidian's, is a conjecture, supported only by other conjectures. It is indeed coming to be doubted whether the whole story of an Aryan invasion through the Punjab is not a myth of the philologists. (Vol. X p. 4).

In fact, the Veda has to be seen from another perspective. It is the revelation of an age anterior to our intellectual philosophies. It is Shruti and not a Shastra. In that original epoch, when it was given to us, thought proceeded by methods other than those of our logical reasoning and speech (the accepted modes of expression) which in our present day habits would be inadmissible. The wisest then depended on inner experience and the suggestions of the intuitive complex for all knowledge that ranged beyond mankind's ordinary perceptions and daily activities. Their aim was illumination, as Aurobindo puts it, not logical conviction, their ideal the inspired seer, not the accurate reasoner. The Rishis was not the individual composer of the hymn, but the seer (drasta) of an eternal truth and an impersonal knowledge. The language of the Veda itself in Shruti, a rhythm not composed by the intellect but heard a divine word that came vibrating out of the Infinite to the inner audience of the man who had previously made himself fit for the impersonal knowledge (Aurobindo Vol. X. p. 8.). So speaks- Dayanand about the Vedas, so spoke the older Rishis, and so speaks Aurobindo about the Vedic revelation. The words themselves, draft and śhruti, sight and hearing, are Vedic expressions; these and cognate words signify, in the esoteric terminology of the hymns, revelatory knowledge and the contents of inspiration (Sabda, artha, and the sambandha).

There is a progressive preparedness for the reception of the divine revelation in the hymns themselves so often. Knowledge itself was a travelling and a reaching, or a finding and a winning (as Aurobindo puts it); the revelation of the mysterious comes only at the end, the light was the prize of a final victory. There is continually in the Veda this image of the journey, the Soul's march on the path of Truth. On that path as it advances, it also ascends; new vistas of power and light open to its aspiration; it wins by a heroic effort its enlarged spiritual possessions. If a coherence is to be appreciated in a particular hymn, this type of approach has to be constantly kept in mind. The hymn would by and by raise you from an exoteric to an esoteric realm, A particular verse might be referring to mundane fire for the time being, but by and by it would raise you to the realm of the cosmic Fire and then finally take you to the Inner Fire, the Divine Warmth, which is the secret of life. And similarly, a casual reference to ordinary broad day light or the light appearing every day at dawn, may take you through a series of successive steps to the cosmic light and finally to the Inner Spiritual Light of one's own consciousness or even the Divine light of the supreme self.

If one gets familiarized with this technique of the Soul's march on the path of Truth, then to him, the Veda would neither be a collection of verses, being an attempt to set down the results of intellectual or imaginative speculation, nor would they consist of the dogmas of a primitive religion.

The Vedas were revealed to the earliest man, and since then, they were traditionally handed down to posterity with utmost care in accuracy. It is difficult to say when they were for the first time classified into the details of the Samhitas. But there are certain considerations which justify us in ascribing to it an almost enormous antiquity. An accurate text, accurate in every syllable, accurate in every accent, was a matter of supreme importance to the Vedic ritualists; for on scrupulous accuracy depended the effectuality of the sacrifice. We are told, for instance, in the Brahmanas the story of Tvasta, who, performing a sacrifice to produce an avenger of his son slain by Indra, produced, owing to an error of accentuation, not a slayer of Indra, but one of whom Indra must be the slayer (Indra-Stara). The prodigious accuracy of the ancient Indian memory is also notorious and proverbial. And the sanctity of the text prevented such interpolations, alterations, modernizing revisions as have replaced by the present form of the Mahabharata, the ancient epic of the Kurus.

The ancients were not satisfied with the Samhita pathas of the Vedic verses in which the rigid rules of euphonic combination of separate words (Sandhi) were applied. The Vedic Rishis, as was natural in a living speech, followed the ear rather than fixed rule; sometimes they left them uncombined. And therefore, they have not only retained with accuracy the Samhita- combined the separate works, sometimes they pathash, but the Pada-pathas also with proper accentuation. In these Pada-pathas, all euphonic combinations are again resolved into the original and separate words and even components of compound words indicated.

A few illustrations of the Samhita and the Pada-pätha for the same Rigvedic mantra are given below:

1. Samhitāpāṭha

अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्यं देवमृत्विजम् होतारं रधातमम् । (with accents)

Agnimle purohitam yajñasya devamṛ tvijam; hotāram ratnadhatamam. (without accents)


अग्निम्। ईले। पुराऽहितम् । यज्ञस्यं । देवम् ऋत्विजेम् । होतारम् । रत्न ऽध्धातमम् || (with accents)

Agnim ile purah' hitam yajiiasyn devam ṛtvijam hotāram ratna' dhatamam. (without accents)

(These pada-pathas would be a help in proper ghana-päthas, māte päthas, jatā pathes, etc.), besides the interpretations depending on accents too.)

Coherence in the Vedic hymns.

"We can thus entirely reply on the Vedic texts available to us today. In the form of the Pada-pätha. Very few are the instances in which the exactness or the sound judgment of the Pada-patha can be called into question. "We have then", as Aurobindo says, "as our basis a text which we can confidently accept and which, even if we hold it in a few instances doubtful or defective, does not at any rate call for that often licentious labour of emendation to which some of the European classics lend themselves." Aurobindo further says, "Nor is there, in my view, any good reason to doubt that we have the hymns arrayed, for the most part in the right order of their verses, and in their exact entirety. The exceptions if they exist are negligible in number and importance. When the hymns seem to us incoherent, it is because we do not understand them. Once the clue is found, we discover that they are perfect wholes as admirable in the structure of their thought as in their language and their rhythms." Vol. X p. 16.

Natural meanings of Vedic terms.

"The only literature of the closest proximity to the revealed Vedic texts, is of the Brahmanas and the Aranakas; and both of them belong to the ritualistic period. Perhaps, there must have been a gap of millenniums between the dawn of the Vedic knowledge, and the liturgical books of the Brahmanic period. And therefore, Aurobindo is right when he says, that "for even in the earlier days of classical erudition, the ritualistic view of the Veda was already dominant, the original sense of the words, the lines, the allusions, the clue to the structure of the thought had been long lost or obscured; nor was there in the erudite that intuition or that spiritual experience which might have partly recovered the lost secret. In such a field, mere learning, especially when it is accompanied by an ingenious scholastic mind, is often a snare as a guide". (Vol. X. 16-17).

There has been a great contribution of the people of the ritualistic period, in that they preserved the Vedic texts with great care, but on the contrary, the greatest disservice they did was that they obscured the natural meanings of the Vedic texts. The mantras were held sacred by them, but the real meanings were lost of them. And therefore, for the last so many centuries, the Vedas ceased to have any dynamic impact on the life of an individual or on society. Thanks to the insight and inspirations of Dayanand at the close of the Nineteenth Century, followed by spiritual experiences of another great servant of the present century, Sri Aurobindo, there has been a complete metamorphosis of our thinking and evaluation of the Vedic texts. The greatest contribution of these two great sons of the soil has been the emancipation of the Vedic interpretations from the tragic hands of ritualistic periods and medieval scholists.

Maxmuller and other scholars of the West labored hard on the Vedic texts, not only as pure academicians, but they were also sure, that if they could show to Indian people how meaningless and debaseful the concepts of their own Vedic scholists were, their future generation, more enlightened on account of the advances of modern philosophy and sciences, would refuse to accept the Vedas and the Vedic theology as their solace.[i]

The great sage Yäska compiled one of the earliest lexicons of the Vedic terms, known as the Nighantu, and he wrote his own commentary on this book, known as the Nirukta. The Nighantu constitutes one of the six Vedängas, the others being the Siksha (orthography) by Panini, Chanda (prosody) Pangala, Jyotish (astronomy) by Vaistha etc., Vyakarana (Grammar) by Panini, and Kalpa (Litany and Liturgy) by various scholars of the ritualistic year. The study of these Vedāngas is supposed to be very essential if one wishes to arrive at the correct interpretation of the Vedic texts. But no academic knowledge of our rigorous scholarly disciplines can be a substitute of inspirations and personal experiences, of a highly elevated self. The seers of the Upanishads, could, therefore, reveal the mysteries of the Vedic texts much more than any other academician. We are fortunate in this respect that persons of the eminence of Panini (the celebrated author of the Astádhyâyi) and his commentator, Patanjali (the author of the Mahabhashya were not only academicians but were also inspired seers of deep experiences, and so were the authors of the six systems of Indian Philosophy.

Every great interpreter of the Vedic texts has taken help from Yaska, the lexicographer and the etymologist, and also from the derivations given in the Brāhmaṇas, in the Unādikosa, in the Prätisakhyas, and from Pāniņi's grammar as well as from the Mahābhāṣya. All these books accept the principle of the multiplicity of the Vedic interpretations, the interpretations belonging to three major categories! (i) the historical, or Sāśvata Itihāsa, the natural perpetual cosmological history, (ii) the ritualistic, pertaining to the Yajnas, and (iii) the spiritual or the mystic with deeper inner meanings. Dayānand has added one more category to it, as would be seen from his commentaries. To Dayanand, the Vedas constitute the living force, both mundane and spiritual. His is the dynamic realistic philosophy of life and compatible with this concept he gets inspirations from the Vedas for all the disciplines of life. To him, the life is real and purposeful and the propriety in mundane life is a step of advancement towards the attainments of the spiritual realm. And therefore, he has declared that the Vedas constitute a store house of all true knowledge for the evolution of man. To him, God is not only a creator of the Universe, living and non-living. He is prime source of all true knowledge also, and therefore, there can never arise a conflict between true sciences, spiritual philosophies, and the right conducts of theological practices. And therefore, the Vedas contain the natural material to inspire us in all the multi disciplines of life. That code alone could be regarded as rightful, which leads to individual and social success in life and to the spiritual attainments of the highest order God Himself is the Highest Personification of an ethical ideal, and this ideal has to be emulated in every sphere of human life, mundane and transcendental.

Of course, Sayana, or as a matter of fact, any other scholists of the period, could not have been inspired with this realism and purposefulness of human life, and therefore, his interpretations, however, masterly, fall short of natural expectations. And, therefore, Aurobindo is correct when he says:

"Yet, even for the external sense of the Veda, it is not possible to follow either Sayana's method or his results without the largest reservation. It is not only that he admits in his method licenses of language and construction which are unnecessary and sometimes incredible, not that he arrives at his results, often, by a surprising inconsistency in his interpretation of common Vedic terms and even of fixed Vedic formulae. These are the defects of detail, unavoidable perhaps in the state of materials with which he had to deal. But it is the central defect of Sayana's system that he is obsessed always by the ritualistic formula and seeks continually to force the sense of the Veda into that narrow mould. So he loses many clues of the greatest suggestiveness and importance for the external sense of the ancient scripture-a problem quite as interesting as its internal sense. The outcome is a representation of the Rishis, their thoughts, their culture, their, their aspirations, so narrow and poverty-stricken that, if accepted, it renders the ancient reverence for the Veda, its sacred authority, its divine reputation quite incomprehensible to the reason, or only explicable as a blind and unquestioning tradition of faith starting from an original error”. (Vol. x p. 18).

The errors in Sayana's interpretations are as follows:

(i) Śhruti is known for deep spiritual, philosophic and psychological meanings which ascribe sanctity to the text. Sāyaṇa usally refuses to enter into these depths. He does not go sufficiently beyond the current verbal interpretations. He mentions for instance, but not to admit it, an old interpretation of Vritra as the Coverer (acchadakaḥ, Dayānanda) who holds back from man the objects of his desire and his aspirations. For Sayana, Vṛitra is either simply the enemy or the physical cloud-demon who holds back the water and has to be pierced by the Rain giver.

(ii) Sāyaṇa is led away by the Paurāņic myths and mythological events, as if the mythologies existed prior to the revelation of the texts. He does not go deeper into the root meanings or the etymologies or mystic sense behind these terms. The stories of the Puranas were woven round the Vedic words, capable of natural interpretations, millennium of years afterwards. The Vedas were always held sacred in Indian Society, and the words, used in common parlance, were given as proper names to family children or to the personal figures in literature. The names of the four Rișhis Agni, Vayu, Aditya, and Angiras, and so many other Rişhis associated with the Vedic hymns also belong to this category, not to speak of kings and princes of repute, who came to be so well known in epics and mythologies. A few such instances are quoted below: The modern Vedic scholars, who seek to interpret history on the basis of Vedic texts, have erred a step ahead of Sayana in this respect..

1. Rāmā and Krana in the Atharva-veda:

Naktam jätäsyosadhe Räme-Krsne asikni ca (Av. I, 23.1)

2. Dasaratha in the Rigveda:

Catvāriniśad daśarathasya śoņāḥ ( Rv.1.126.4)

3. Bharata in the Rigveda:

Asadya barhir bharatasya sūnavaḥ (Rv. II, 36.2)

4.Visvamitras in the Rigveda

Visvamitraya dadatmaghāni (Rv. III. 53.7)

Visvamitra arāsota (Rv. III.53/13)

5. Visvamitra and Jamadagni in the Rigveda:

Sute Sätena yadyagamam vam prati visvamitra-jämadagni dame ( Rv.X.167.4)

6. Vena in the Rigveda

Venanti venāḥ patayantyä diśaḥ (Rv. X. 64.2)

Venä duhantyukṣaṇam giriṣṭhām (Rv. IX. 85.10)

Vena Bhargava is the Seer of the Süktas IX. 85 and X. 123, whilst vena is also the devata of X. 123. This vena has been identified with the planet Venus also X. 123.1):

7. Pururavah and Urvasi in the Rigveda

Pururayaḥ punarastam parehi (Rv X. 95.2)

Pra-urvasi tirata dirghamayuḥ (Rv. X. 95.10)

(For Urvasi, also see V. 41.19; IV. 2.18; and X. 95.17)

8. Arjuns in the Rigveda

Ghoşeva Samşam-arjunasya natśc (Rv. I. 122.5)

9. Vasisthas in the Rigveda

Prävadindro brahmaṇā yo vasisthäh (Rv. VII. 33,3)

10. Suśruta in the Rigveda

Yah Karmabhir-mabadbhiḥ Suśruto bhūt (Rv. III. 36.1)

(iii) A third element is the legendary and historic, the stories of old kings and Rişhis, given in the Brahmanas, or by later tradition in explanation of the obscure allusions of the Veda. Sayana's dealings with this clement are marked by some hesitation. Often he accepts them as the right interpretation of the hymns; some. times he gives an alternative sense with which he has evidently more intellectual sympathy, but wavers between the two authorities.

(iv) Ritualistic conceptions dominate over naturalistic interpretations. Not only are there the obvious or the traditional identifications, Indra, the Maruts, the triple Agni, Sürya, Usha, but we find Mitra was identified with Day, Varuna with the Night, Aryaman and Bhaga with the Sun, the Rbhus with its rays. We have here, as Aurobindo remarks, the seeds of that naturalistic theory of the Veda to which European learning has give so wide an extension. The old Indian scholars did not use the same freedom or the same systematic minuteness in their speculations. Still this element in Sayaṇa's commentary is the true parent of the European Science of Comparative Mythology (Vol. x p. 20).

But here again, as Aurobindo remarks, it is the ritualistic conception that pervades; that is the persistent note in which all others lose themselves. In the formula of the philosophic schools, the hymns, even while standing as a supreme authority for knowledge, are yet principally and fundamentally concerned with the karmakāṇḍa, with works, and by works was understood, pre-eminently, the ritualistic observation of the Vedic Sacrifices. Sāyaṇa labours always in the light of this idea. Into this mould, he moulds the language of the Veda, turning the mass of its characteristic words into the ritualistic significance's,-food, priest, giver, wealth, praise, prayer, rite, sacrifice.

Wealth and food;- for it is the most egoistic and materialistic objects that are proposed as the aims of the Sacrifice, possessions, strength, power, children, servants, gold, horses, cows, victory, the slaughter and the plunder of enemies, the destruction of rival and malevolent critic. As one reads and finds hymn after hymn interpreted in this sense, one begins to understand better the apparent inconsistency in the attitude of the Gītā (or the Upanisads) which, regarding always the Veda as divine knowledge (Ģītā XV. 15), yet censures severely the champions of an exclusive Vedism (Gitā II. 42),-all whose flowery teachings were devoted solely to material wealth, power and enjoyment.

It is, as Aurobindo observes, the final and authoritative binding of the Veda to this lowest of all its possible senses that has been the most unfortunate result of Sayaņa's commentary. The dominance of the ritualistic interpretation had already deprived India of the living use of its greatest Scripture and of the true clue to the entire sense of the Upanisads. Sāyaṇas's Commentary put a seal of finality on the old misunderstanding which could not broken for many centuries. (Vol. X p. 20.)

When Dayanand talks of Yajna or karma, he takes a very wide view of life. The Vedic philosophy is a philosophy of plenty, of prosperity and liberality. To Dayanand, yajna is not only the sacrificial ritual; it embraces all the achievements on a social plane to ameliorate the conditions of our worldly living against poverty, miseries, sickness and disease, and in the subsequent stage to assure a better future beyond death even. It is not the ritual that would lead to that goal; it is the hard, honest and sincere devotion in all departments of knowledge, science, technology, philosophy and spirituality-that would assure the fruits of the yajna. The para and aparā vidyās both have to be acquired to meet these ends. Dayanand finds in the Vedas an inspiration for such a life, which strikes a balanced note between the material prosperity and spirituality: vidya and avidya, Jnana and karma, sambhūti and asambhūti, yoga and Samkhya, all taken as complimentary to serve the highest aspirations of our individual and also of the society. Dayanand and Aurobindo both have thus given new interpretation to the Karma.kända, are not the one belonging to the ritualistic period, and which had brought the Divine Vedas to disrepute and ridicule.

Viniyoga or the Ritualistic Application of the Vedic Texts

It has been rightly pointed out by the Vedic scholars, Western and Indian, that between the actual composition of hymns (or the actual revelation of hymns), and the age of the Commentators like Skandasvathi, Venkata Mahadava or Sayana, or even between the revelation and the days Niruktas, grammarian, and lexicographers, or time of the composition of the books like the Taittiriya Samhita (which is of book rather to be placed in the rank of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas, than may be regarded as an independent Veda, the Krsna Yajurveda), so many milleniums must have elapsed that neither the Brahmanas or Aranyakas nor the Niruktas, grammarians and the Commentators and scholists can be regarded as the true interpreters of the Texts; they at the most may be regarded as representing the notions of the times, and the practices of the days, when they were present. In this sense, Sāyaṇa, Mahidhara and others are in no way the representatives of the very old traditions even. Sāyaṇa was born in fourteenth century A. D.; not to speak of the Rajasuya or the Aśvamedha yajñas, even the darsapurnamasa yajna and the somayagas were obsolete in his times and very few rituals, which survived, also got so much mixed up with Pauranic Gods and Goddesses, that they could hardly be regarded as the representative of the Vedic traditions of millennium B.C.

The objective of the Vedic revelation was manifold; to prescribe an eternal code of conduct for man; to show to the man his relationships with his surroundings and with the Creator; to impress upon him the cause of his bondage and to indicate in the broadest terms the way to attain freedom from that bondage; to reveal to the man some of the mysteries of Nature as to give him a start for further explorations; to lead the bonded soul on the path of truth, enlightenment and immortality. All these points may be summed up into three words: Jnana (enlightenment) Karma (duty and action) and Upāsānā (devotion, dedication and love towards God). Man has to be instructed in respect to all these three and hence was the necessity of a special type of revelation to him; he alone has been provided with a characteristic intelligence to explore into the mysteries of the Unknown of inner and external realms, provided he gets initial directions and subsequent encouragements.

Thus it had been the the unique privilege of man that the Shruti was revealed to him at the earliest history, and has been his guide throughout. Man held this Shruti in his highest esteem, and had always regarded it as his privileged sacred lore.

By and by, man's culture grew, and his activities became multifarious. During the course of his social evolution, as demand of his aesthetic sense, he developed rituals, formalities and ceremonies. These rituals were centered round certain dialogues, utterances, invocations. dramatizations, and performations of several types. The old seer was acquainted with the Vedic Mantras, and as his love knew no bounds for God and His Word, the Śhruti, he took out the passages from this Divine Text and associated them with rituals and ceremonies which he held so sacred. The rituals became doubly sacred on account of these associations. This is how the viniyoga of the Mantras in numerous yajnas started millenniums ago.

By viniyoga is meant the recitation of mantra (verse) or its part, taken from the Vedic Samhitas and some other similar texts, along with the operations accompanying rituals and ceremonies. It must be remembered that the texts existed before the currency of the ritual; the text was not composed to be utilized in the rituals, it had its sanctity even otherwise. But since the devotee had high regards for the texts and for the rituals both, he relevantly or even otherwise, got the two associated together. After a long and continuous usage of the text in the ritual, it was natural for people to have perpetuated this association to such an extent that one could not have thought of text without its association with the ritual. Thus in the course of time, we had, in a way, the degradation of the text. The deeper meanings of the texts were forgotten and their association with rituals only survived. This is why we say that Sayana, Mahdhara and other scholists in their commentaries do not give the true meanings of the texts. They merely depict the relation of the text with the ritual.

The viniyogas (ritualistic applications of the texts) are relevant and irrelevant both. Relevant ones are known to possess rupa-samrddhi. The term has been defined in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa as follows:

Etad vai Yajnasya samṛddham yad rūpa-samṛddham karma-kriyamāṇam ṛg-abhivadati (Ait Br. I.1.4)

i.e. if one speaks out such a mantra, in which the operation to be performed in the sacred ritual is described verbally too, this is known as the relevancy of the text (its rupa-samrddhata). They (the invitatory and offering verses) are perfect in form (rüpa-samrddhata, as being addressed to Agni and Visnu; that in the sacrifice is perfect, which is perfect in form, that real which as it is performed the verse describes. (A.B. Keith's translation.)

Unnecessarily, a great emphasis has been laid on this concept of relevaucy or the rūpa-samṛddhatā; usually, it would be seen from the illustrations quoted in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa itself, the relevancy is only verbal or nominal; on the basis of one or two words, occurring in the text, the relevancy is imposed on the verse without looking into the real purport of the text. This is why, the viniyoga has done more harm than actually and material good. Dayanand has been the first man in the history to have taken away the stigma or stink of the viniyoga from the natural meanings of the texts. This has been his great contribution to the Vedic scholarship.

The viniyoga had given altogether a wrong impression about the prose and poetry of the Yajurveda text. This Veda has been rescued from the fetters of the viniyogas by Dayānand. The greater bulk of the Yajurveda, particularly from Chapter I to XVII, and several other chapters, had, it appears, no use other than of their recitation on the occasion of some of the elaborate ceremonials which developed around them, such as: "Darsapaurṇamāsa Yajna (rituals associated with full moon and no moon), Agnihotra (the fire-ritual), Agrayana-işţi (concerned with food), Daksayana yajna (associated with Daksa Prajapati) Chăturmasya yajna (pertaining to the rainy season), Soma Yaga (ritual connected with Soma plant), Vājapeya Yajna (yajna of the Brahmanas concerning food grains), Rajasuya (a yajna of the kṣatriyas concerning the glory of the State), Cayana niripana (details concerning funeral pyres), Ahşvamedha and numerous others. The entire Satapatha Brāhmaṇa (barring the last Upanisadic Chapter the Brihadaranyaka) deals with these details. Of course, occasionally the Satapatha Brahmana also refers to the deeper mystical and philosophical spirit behind the parables and the rituals. The beautiful Sukta of Creation and of Social Order, the so-called the Purusha Sukta has been nicknamed as the Naramedha Chapter (rituals dealing with human sacrifice), when we come to the Commentary of Mahidhara and Uvata (Chapter XXXI).

Allusions to Mental and Supra-Mental Realm

Whilest Dayanand also referred to the mental and supramental realms, whilst commenting on various Vedic mantras in his commentaries and elsewhere, this subject as an exclusive specialization has been taken over by Aurobindo. He poses the problems thus; "Our first duty, therefore, is to determine whether there is, apart from figure and symbol, in the clear language of the hymns a sufficient kernel of psychological notions to justify us in supposing at all a higher than the barbarous and primitive sense of the Veda. And after- wards, we have to find, as far as possible from the internal evidence of the Suktas themselves, the interpretation of each symbol and image and the right psychological function each of the gods. A firm, and not a fluctuating sense, founded on good philological justification and fitting naturally into the context wherever it occurs, must be found for each of the fixed terms of the Veda." (Vol. X. p. 32). After having given a serious thought to such problems, Aurobindo has formulated his "psychological theory" and. has tried to explain the mystic reality behind such terms as Agni, Varuna Mitra, the Asvins, the Maruts, Indra, the Viśve- devas, Sarasvati and her consorts, oceans and Rivers, the Seven Rivers or the Sapta-Sindhu, the Dawn, Cow and Angiras, the lost Sun and the lost Cows, the Angirasa Rișhis, the Seven- headed thought, svar and dasagvas, the Pitrs, the Hound of the Heaven, the Sons of Darkness, and Dasyus and the conquest over them.

Aurobindo took to the comparative study of Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, and in this connection, he says, "It did not take long to see that the Vedic indications of a racial division between Aryans and Dasyus and the identification of the latter with the indigenous Indians were of a far flimsier character than I had supposed. But far more interesting to me was the discovery of a considerable body of profound psychological thought and experience lying neglected in these ancient hymns. And the importance of this clement increased in my eyes when I found first, that the mantras of the Veda illuminated with a clear and exact light psychological experiences of my own for which I had found no sufficient explanation, either in European psychology or in the teachings of Yoga or of Vedanta, so far as I was acquainted with them, and secondly, that they shed light on obscure passages and ideas of the Upanisads to which, previously, I could attach no exact meaning and gave at the same time a new sense to much in the Puranas." (Vol. X. p. 37)

I shall not enter here into the details, which my readers could read in the original writings of Aurobindo (See The Secret of the Veda, Centenary Library Edition Vol. 10, 1972). renderings arrived at by I shall be satisfied with quoting a few of the psychological Aurobindo of the Vedic terms:

Term (Psychological Sense)

Rtam (Truth),

Dhi (Thought or understanding ),

Raya (Spiritual felicity),

Vāja (Homogeneous totality of thought),

Yajna (Action, internal or external, consecrated to gods),

Yajamāna ( Soul or personality as doer),

Gbrta (Thought or mind),

Indra (Illuminated mentality),

Indra's two horses (Double energies of mentality),

Guo or Cow (Light, as symbol of divine knowledge),

Asva or horse ( Vital energy),

Go-Aśva (Light-Energy companionship),

Bhūḥ Earth (Anna),

Bhuvaḥ (Middle-region [antariksa] präna),

Svah Heaven (manas),

Mahas (Vastness and truth),

[Vijnā] [Satyam-ṛtam-ṛtam-Bṛhat]),

Seven Worlds Seven psychological principles-Sat, Cit, Ananda, Vijnana, manas, prāņa anna, Death (Mrtyu) Moral state of matter, with mind and life involved in it.],

[Immortality (Amrta) [ State of infinite being, consciousness and bliss-Sat, chit- ananda.],

Rodast (Heaven and Earth) [Mind and Body.]

In this context, Aurobindo further writes, "The Vedic deities are names, powers, personalities of the Universal Godhead and they represent each some essential puissance of the Divine Being. They manifest the cosmos and are manifest in it. Children of Light, Sons of the Infinite, they recognize in the soul of man their brother and ally and desire to help and increase him by themselves increasing in him so as to possess his world with their light, strength and beauty. The Gods, call man to a divine companionship and alliance; they attract and uplift him to their luminous fraternity, invite his aid and offer them against the Sons of Darkness and Division, Man in turn calls the gods to his sacrifice, offers to them his swiftness and his strengths, his clarities and his sweetness,-milk and butter of the shining cow, distilled juices of the Plant of Joy, the Horse of the Sacrifice, the cake and the wine, the grain for the God-Mind's radiant coursers. He received them into his being and their gifts into his life, increases them by the hymn and the wine and forms perfectly,- as a smith forges iron, says the Veda, their great and luminous godheads." (Hymns to the Mystic Fire, Vol. XI, p. 30).

Whilst Dayanand's concept of the Vedic texts is very much the same as the concept of -Aurobindo, yet there are essential differences too. Dayanand's concept leads to pure monotheism in which the Supreme Self may be addressed. recalled or invoked with various names according to His qualities, characteristics, functions and attributes. He is one, though known by various names. His names are not meaningless ; the etymology of the word directly appears to refer to the reason why God is known by that particular name. According to Aurobindo each deity represents "Some essential puissance of the same Divine Being". This concept of Aurobindo, whilst on on hand possesses the kernel of monotheism it leads in subsequent steps to monistic, patheistic and even polytheistic views of the cosmos. Whilst commenting on Dayanand's Vedic monotheism, Aurobindo writes "Such a theory is obviously, difficult to establish. The Rigveda itself, indeed asserts (Rv. I. 164.46) that the gods are only different names and expressions of one universal Being, who in His own ality transcends the universe; but from the language of the hymns we are compelled to perceive in the gods not only different names, but also different forms, powers and personalities of the one Deva. The monotheism of the Veda includes in itself also the monistic, pantheistic and even polytheistic views of the cosmo and is by no means the trenchant and simple creed of modern theism. It is only by a violent struggle with the text that we can force on it a less complex aspect." (The Secret of the Veda, Vol. X. p. 30).

It is difficult to comment on the two concepts of the Vedic gods, propounded by the two great masters of the soil, Dayanand and Aurobindo. Aurobindo treads on dangerous grounds, as much as his mysticism may lead to the worst kinds of superstitions (of course, be takes a rational view), and may deteriorate into polytheistic pantheism. Aurobindo's symbolic mysticism is truly applicable to about a few thousands of the Vedic verses, with strenuous stretch of imagination; his interpretations answer to the needs of mental and super mental realms; Dayanand saw in the Vedic texts a wider application to the multi purposeful life; Dayanand's interpretations embrace in themselves the viewpoints of Aurobindo, and simultaneously provide a little beyond his realm too on both sides of the spectrum.

Note: F. Maxmuller, as a true Christian, was convinced of the fact, that his translations of the Vedic Hymns based on the interpretations of Sayana and other scholists, would take away the faith of Indians from the Vedas, and in consequence, Indians, would also become Christians in due course. We are told that he wrote a letter to his wife in 1868, in which he remarked thus, whilst he was busy in editing the Rigveda:

"I hope I shall finish that work and I feel convinced, though I shall not live to see it, yet this edition of mine (of the Rigveda) and the translation of the Vedas will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of Souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, the only way of uprooting all that has been sprung from it during the last three thousand years."

Of course, the result has been otherwise. Due to Dayanand and people who have shared his views, the Vedas are much more popular in Indian Society today than in Maxmuller's days, and their teachings have started exercising a dynamic impact on our society.

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