Significance of Rig Veda

Discussion in 'Rig Veda' started by garry420, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    No deep understanding of RV is possible without having a clear perception of the two most widely occurring words in the RV namely deva and yajna. Deva occurs in about thirteen hundred verses. Since Agni, Indra and so on, are characterized as devas, almost every verse in RV refers to a deva directly or implicitly.

    Deva is derived from the word div, to shine or illumine. The devas are beings endowed with consciousness, but without a physical body like the humans. Thus they are supra-physical beings endowed both with knowledge and power. The sages of RV were great observers of not only nature external to them like the mountains, rivers, etc. but also were aware of the world within them. They recognized different types of powers pulsating behind and within all aspects of manifestation. Behind each cosmic power, they divined the presence of a conscious being denoted as deva or devi. Each deva is a distinct cosmic power. Even though RV mentions thousands of devas, about thirty of them get detailed attention like Agni, Indra, Sarasvati, to mention a few.

    RV gives a picture of the qualities common to all devas in the forty hymns dedicated to the vishve-devah, the collectivity of all devas. Individual devas are described in different suktas. Indra is described in two hundred forty hymns or roughly twenty five thousand verses.

    Even though devas like Agni or Indra are mentioned in Puranic texts also, they are quite different from the devas in RV. There is no need to bring in the stories of Purana to describe the events of RV. A careful reading of RV can answer all the questions regarding the devas.

    To get an idea of a deva, consider Indra. The sages of RV were aware that the minds of the individual human beings are not completely isolated. They are all projections of the cosmic mind, the deity or deva behind it being Indra. Thus Indra is the Lord of the Divine Mind. Note the adjective divine qualifying the mind. The ordinary human mind has several imperfections due to many reasons such as its close association with the material human body. The divine mind is free of all these imperfections. Similarly, Agni is the cosmic power of heat and light in the manifested universe. But he is not confined to them. He is also the power of the Divine Will connected with Wisdom which vitalizes the entire human beings.

    All the devas are considered as the children of the devi Aditi, the goddess of infinity, whose power is aptly described in the verse RV (1.89.10). Aditi is the earliest known conception of infinity which encompasses everything.

    Then What is the relationship between these devas and the Supreme Being, termed as the One ekah or tat, That or ekam sat, That One Truth as was done in the later Upanishad texts? These devas are the limbs of the Supreme Being. Each deva is a distinct power and personality of the Supreme. The Divine consciousness and force which permeates every aspect of manifestation, living or non-living is termed as Vaishvanara Agni, the Universal Force, described in about ten hymns of RV. Even a stone is endowed with consciousness according to RV (1.70.2).

    A unique feature of the Rig Vedic Gods is their camaraderie with the humans. The different Vedic Gods do not support different human beings and cause them to fight one another as the Greek Gods do in books like Iliad. The Vedic Gods are eager to help a person and manifest their power in him provided the person expresses his aspiration by recognizing the delight of existence present everywhere, releases it by his/her activities and offers it to the Gods. The Gods like Indra manifest in the human, remove the effects of hostile forces like Vrtra in the inner life of the person and promote the all-round growth and happiness of the person.

    RV does not associate a distinct deva with each human being or animal or plant. Each human being has a soul in him/her called as jiva or atma and this is not regarded as a deva. The different devas manifest their powers in the various aspects of the manifested nature. The functions associated with the different animals or plants are possible only because of the power given by the corresponding devas. By means of the practices described in Rigveda, she/he comes in contact with these cosmic powers that are called as Agni, Indra, Ashvin, Soma etc. She/he tries to reach that state of consciousness or contact directly these universal powers. This is called as the ascent mentioned in several places. The first power to be contacted is the Agni power. Hence Agni is called the First God.
  2. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    अग्नि॒म् ई॑ळे पुरो॒हि॑तं यज्ञ॒स्य॑ देव॒म् ऋत्वि॒ज॑म् । होता॑रं रत्नधा॒त॑मम् ॥
    agním īḷe puruhitaṃ / yajñásya devám ṛtvíjam / hutāraṃ ratnadhâtamam : 1-1-1

    “I adore the flame who is in the vicar, the divine Ritwik of the Sacrifice, the summoner who founds the ecstasy.”

    अग्निः पूर्वेभिर्र्षिभिरीड्यो नूतनैरुत | स देवानेह वक्षति ||
    agniH pUrvebhirrSibhiridyo nUtanairuta sa devam eha vaksati

    “The Flame adorable by the ancient sages is adorable too by the new. He brings here the Gods.” :1-1-2

    अग्निना रयिमश्नवत पोषमेव दिवे-दिवे | यशसं वीरवत्तमम ||
    agninÀ rayimasnavat poSameva divedive yasasam viravattamam

    “By the flame one enjoys a treasure that verily increases day by day, most full of hero-power.” :1-1-3

    अग्ने यं यज्ञमध्वरं विश्वतः परिभूरसि | स इद्देवेषु गछति ||
    agne yam yajnamadhvaram visvataH paribhUrasi sa id deveSu gacchati :1-1-4

    “O Flame! the pilgrim sacrifice on every side of which thou art with the envisioning being, that truly goes among the Gods.”

    The Spiritual Significance:

    The Universal Sacrifice:
    The universal life is like an immense sacrifice. God himself is the lord of the sacrifice. God is Shiva, and Nature is Uma. Though she carries the image of Shiva in her heart, still she misses his visible form; she yearns for his tangible body. This yearning is the deep significance of the universal life.

    The knowledge as well as the action of mind are afflicted with the same strife, indigence and failure. Instead of the smiling and effortless divine dance of the Truth action, there is the shackled attempt of the will-power of the inferior Nature struggling in agony with the inextricable bonds of truth and falsehood, virtue and vice, poison and nectar, action, inaction and wrong action.

    Can the terrestrial Nature, ensnared in the noose of the finite and untrue ever hope to obtain that limitless Existence, that boundless Consciousness-Force, and that immeasurable Bliss- Consciousness, and if so, by what means? The sacrifice is the means. The sacrifice implies surrender, and self-immolation. What you are, what you have, what you become in future by your own effort or by the divine grace, what you can earn or save in the course of your action, pour all like clarified butter, into the fire of divine energy, as offering to the all-Blissful. By giving a tiny whole you will receive the infinite whole.

    Nature is shown the path of her salvation; by what means can the Jiva in fetters be delivered? By means of sacrifice, self-surrender and self-immolation. Instead of being under the domination of Nature and being offered by her, the Jiva has to rise, become the sacrificer and offer all that it possesses.

    This indeed is the profound secret of the universe that the Purusha is not only the god of the sacrifice but the object sacrificed as well. The Purusha has surrendered into the hands of Prakriti his own mind, life and body as offering, as principal means of performing the sacrifice. There is this hidden motive behind his self-surrender that one day, becoming conscious, he will take the Prakriti by the hand, make her his consort and companion in the sacrifice and himself perform the ritual.

    Man has been created to fulfill this secret longing of the Purusha who wants to play the Lila in a human body. Selfhood, immortality, the multiple infinite bliss, unlimited knowledge, boundless force and immeasurable love must be enjoyed in a human body, in a human consciousness. All these forms of delight exist within the Purusha himself and as the Eternal he enjoys them eternally. But creating man, he is actively engaged in relishing the opposite taste of oneness in the multiplicity, the infinite in the finite, the inward in the outward, the suprasensible in the senses and the immortal existence in the terrestrial life. Seated at the same time above our mind, beyond our intellect in the hidden Supramental principle of the

    Truth and in the secret plane of consciousness behind the heart within us, in the cavern of the heart, in the concealed ocean of submerged consciousness where heart, mind, life, body and intellect are only little ripples, the Purusha experiences the delightful taste of the blind effort and search of the Prakriti and her endeavour to establish unity by the shock of duality. Above, he enjoys in knowledge; below, he enjoys in ignorance; he carries on these two actions simultaneously. But if he is forever immersed in this condition, then the deep intention, his supreme purpose cannot be fulfilled. That is why the day of awakening is fixed for each human being. The inner godhead will one day give up this mechanical, merit-less, lower self-immolation and begin in knowledge, by chanting his own mantra, the performance of the sacrifice.

    To perform the sacrifice consciously and with the right mantra is the ‘Karma’, the work, mentioned in the Veda. It has a double objective; a completeness in the universal plurality, what is known in the Veda as the universal godhead and the universal manhood, and the realization of immortality in the oneself being of the supreme Divine. The gods mentioned in the Veda under the names Indra, Agni, Varuna are not the inferior small godheads of later days disdained by the common people; they are different forms of the Divine, powerful and luminous. And this immortality is not the puerile heaven described in the Puranas, but the svar, the world of Divine Truth desired by the Vedic Rishis, the establishment of the Infinite Existence; the immortality mentioned in the Veda is the infinite Being and Consciousness of the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

    -Sri Aurobindo.

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