The song of the infiniteMount Holyoke College; South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA 28 November 1972
The Vedas are the most ancient scriptures in the library of consciously evolving humanity. For our own conscious evolution we may be inspired to read the Vedas by Max Müller’s encouragement: “I maintain that for everybody who cares for himself, for his ancestors, for his history, for his intellectual development, a study of Vedic literature is indispensable.”
The Vedas embody intuitive visions, divine experiences and life-illumining Realities. From the ignorance-sea we have to enter into the knowledge-sea. The Rig Veda inspires us, saying, “The vessels of Truth carry men of good deeds across the ocean of ignorance.”
Present-day human life is nothing but an endless despondency. To come out of the trap of despondency is almost impossible. But the Yajur Veda offers us a solution: “He who sees all existences in the Self and the Self in all existences, falls not into the trap of blighting and weakening despondency.”
The Vedas are universal; hence, the West can claim them as well as the East. The great American philosopher, Thoreau, said something most significant about the Vedas: “What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary which describes a loftier course through purer stratum, free from particulars, simple, universal. The Vedas contain a sensible account of God.” Undoubtedly they do.
The firm belief of Sir William Jones is challenging and, at the same time, illumining: “I can venture to affirm, without meaning to pluck a leaf from the never-fading laurels of our immortal Newton, that the whole of his theology, and part of his philosophy, may be found in the Vedas.”
The Vedic commandment for the human physical is saucam. Saucam means ‘purity’ — purity in the body and purity of the body. Without the body’s purity nothing divine in us can expand; nothing divine in us can be permanent.
The Vedic commandment for the human vital is ahimsa. Ahimsa means ‘non-violence’ — non-violence in the vital and non-violence of the vital. It is from non-violence that man gets his greatest opportunity to feel that he does not belong to a small family, but to the largest family of all: the universe. India’s philosophy of non-violence was first put into practice by the compassionate Lord Buddha and his followers and by the Lord Mahavira and the followers of Jainism. Gandhi’s non-violence was a most precious gift to the life-loving humanity of the present.
The Vedic commandment for the human mind is satyam. Satyam means ‘truth’ or ‘truthfulness’. Truthfulness in the mind and truthfulness of the mind alone can lead us to a higher life, a life of illumining Divinity and fulfilling Immortality.
The Vedic commandment for the human heart is isvarapranidhana. Isvarapranidhana means ‘the heart’s loving devotion to the Lord Supreme’. When we have pure and spontaneous devotion for the Supreme Lord, we feel our inseparable oneness with Him, with the Eternity of His Spirit, with the Infinity of His Body and with the Immortality of His Life.
In the Vedas, the concept of sacrifice looms very large. We sacrifice to God what we have: ignorance. God sacrifices to us what He is: Perfection. God’s sacrifice is always unconditional. Our sacrifice at times is conditional and at times is unconditional. In conditional sacrifice we fight and win the battle. In unconditional sacrifice we do not have to fight at all, for the Victory is already won. Victory is our birthright; it is forever ours.
Sacrifice is self-offering. Self-offering is self-fulfilment. Self-fulfilment is love-manifestation and Truth-perfection. Through our outer sacrifice we become a divine part of Mother Earth. Through our inner sacrifice we become an immortal part of Father Heaven. We make the outer sacrifice when we come out of the domain of binding desires and enter into the domain of liberating aspiration. We make the inner sacrifice when we try to manifest God in the world of ignorance after having achieved God-realisation. The outer sacrifice demands the strength of a hero. The inner sacrifice demands the power of an army. With our outer sacrifice we see the Truth. With our inner sacrifice we become the Truth.