The Vedas: Immortality's First Call

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The Vedic bird of illumination1

Dear sisters and brothers, I shall be giving seven talks on the Vedas at the Seven Sister colleges. Interestingly, the Rig Veda itself deals with seven special sisters. It tells us that there is a divine chariot with only one wheel, and that this chariot is drawn by one horse with seven names. Seven sisters sing spiritual songs while standing before the chariot. While singing, the seven sisters reveal the concealed message of life’s Liberation and humanity’s Perfection.

Seven is an occult number. In the spiritual world the number seven has a most special significance. In the hoary past there were seven great Indian sages who saw the Truth, lived the Truth and became the Truth.

There are seven important rivers in India. A river signifies movement; water signifies consciousness. The movement of consciousness is a continuous progress towards the farthest Beyond.

There are seven notes in the musical scale. Each note has a special value of its own. Music is the mother tongue of humanity. God is the Supreme Musician. It is through music that we can enter into the universal harmony. It is through music that God’s Beauty is being manifested in His all-loving creation.

There are seven colours in the rainbow. These colours indicate the stages of our spiritual journey towards the ultimate Goal. Here we all know that a rainbow is the sign of good luck and future progress. In the spiritual world, each colour of the rainbow is the harbinger of a new dawn.

There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. An aspiring human being enters into one of the seven higher worlds and makes progress in the inner life. Like a bird his aspiring consciousness flies from one world to another, until finally he finds himself in the seventh world, satchidananda, the world of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. There he becomes consciously and inseparably one with the Supreme Pilot. But when a human being deliberately and knowingly does wrong things, heinous things, he is compelled to enter into one of the seven lower worlds, which are the worlds of darkness, bondage and ignorance.

Mother India is an aspiring tree. This aspiring tree has the Vedas as its only root. The root is Truth, the tree is Truth, the experience of the tree is Truth, the realisation of the tree is Truth, the revelation of the tree is Truth, the manifestation of the tree is Truth.

The Vedic seers saw the Truth with their souls, in their heavenly visions and in their earthly actions.

"Satyam eva jayate nanritam
  Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood."

This Truth teaches us how to be true brothers of mankind, conscious and devoted lovers of God and perfect masters of nature.

The Vedic teachings are universal. In the Yajur Veda we clearly observe that the teachings of the Vedas are for all — the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, the Sudras, even the Chandalas, who are the degraded and the abandoned. Men and women alike can study the Vedas. God is for all. The Vedas are for all. In the Vedic church no one is superior, no one is inferior; all are equal, all are children of God. These children of God can live in the heart of Truth and become the veritable pride of God.

Each Vedic seer is a poet and a prophet. In the case of an ordinary poet, his poems are quite often based upon imagination. Imagination gives birth to his poetry. In the case of the Vedic poets, it was intuition that gave birth to their poems. This intuition is the direct knowledge of Truth. As regards the prophet, very often we see that an ordinary prophet’s prophecy is based on a kind of unknown mystery. But in the case of the Vedic prophets, it was not so. Their prophecies were based on their full and conscious awareness of direct and immediate Truth. They just brought to the fore this dynamic Truth to operate in the cosmic manifestation.

The present-day world believes that the mind can offer the highest possible experience of Reality. The Vedic seers gave due importance to the mind. But they never considered the mind to be the source of the highest possible experience of Reality.

The Vedas have the eternal wisdom. It is for us. The Vedas are more than willing to illumine us if we dare to hearken to their message.

"Shrinvantu vishwe amritasya putra
  Hearken, ye sons of immortality."

This is their generous invitation.

When we live in the mind and do not want to go outside the boundaries of the mind, we remain bound in the trammels of the body. We remain in bondage. It is only the Light from within and the Guidance from above that can liberate us from the teeming ignorance which has enveloped us. When we live in the mind we live in the fabric of form. When we live in the soul we enter into the formless and eventually go beyond both form and formlessness. We become, at that time, the individual soul universalised and the Universal Soul individualised.

The outer world is synonymous with the mind. The inner world is synonymous with the heart. The world of the eternal Beyond is synonymous with the soul. The outer world has past, present and future. The inner world has the glowing and fulfilling future. The world of the Beyond has only the eternal Now. When we live in the outer world, the ignorant “I” destroys us. When we live in the inner world, the illumined “I” satisfies us. When we live in the world of the Beyond, the Infinite “I” fondly embodies us, reveals us and fulfils us. When we live in the mind, we cannot go beyond the judgement of destiny. Our human will is at the feet of destiny. When we live in the soul we have free will. This free will is the Will of the Supreme. It is the will of the soul, which constantly identifies itself with the Will of the infinite Beyond.

Whether others believe it or not, the lovers of the Vedas know perfectly well that the Vedas are a significant contribution to the world of literature. These sublime literary scriptures are not just of national interest, for they have international inspiration and universal aspiration. Just because they are international and universal they fascinate and illumine sincere seekers in different countries at all times.

The Vedic mantras, or incantations, help us develop will-power in boundless measure. Even if we do not take the trouble of learning and repeating the mantras, we cultivate some will-power just by studying the Vedas devotedly. The paramount question is how we are going to use this will-power: to dominate the world, or to serve God in the universe. If we live in the body for the pleasures of the body, we shall want to dominate the world. But if we live in the soul for the transformation and illumination of the body, then we shall serve God, love man and fulfil both God and man.

To say that the Vedas are badly infected with asceticism and otherworldliness is to betray one’s own ignorance. The Vedas are divinely practical and their message is of constant practical value. Needless to say, a great many Vedic seers were householders, and most of their pupils at the end of their instruction went home and became family men. The teachers in the seers taught their students the secret of eternal life and not the secret of unending death, which we learn from some of the destruction-loving teachers of science.

The Vedas do not embody depression, repression, self-mortification, sin-awareness or hell-consciousness. The Vedas embody the divine duty of the earthly life and the ever-increasing beauty of the heavenly life. The Vedic seers accepted the heart of life to found the ultimate Reality upon earth. The Vedic seers accepted the body of death to carry it into the land of Immortality. Inspiration of the clear mind they liked. Aspiration of the pure heart they loved. Realisation of the sure soul they became.

VI 1. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass., 14 November 1972

The glowing consciousness of Vedic Truth2

In Vedic times people lived with nature and played with intuition. The modern world lives with the mind’s barren desert and plays with the body’s frustration and the vital’s destruction. In those days life was simple, and life’s approach to the Goal was direct. Now man’s life is complex, and man has two names: Lifeless Machine and Loud Noise.

Spontaneous intuition was the wisdom of the past. Constant suspicion is the wisdom of the present. In the Vedic age people knew the divine art of self-abnegation and self-dedication as today we know the human art of self-glorification and world-destruction. They cared for self-perfection first and then for world-perfection. We do not care for self-perfection at all; we care only for world-perfection. They were convinced that self-discipline would liberate them. We feel that self-discipline will limit us. They knew that self-discipline was not the end, but a means to the end, and that the end was ananda, Delight. We also know that self-discipline is not the end, but a means to the end. But for us, alas, the fatal end is self-destruction. The Vedic seers needed freedom. We also need freedom. To them, freedom was self-dedication to the Life Divine and the ever-transcending Beyond. To us, freedom is the imposition of our own reality-power on others.

There are four Vedas: the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda has 10,552 mantras. Mantra means incantation or simply, stanza. The Sama Veda has 1,875 mantras, the Yajur Veda has 2,086 and the Atharva Veda has 5,987. A number of the Rig Vedic verses are also found in the other three Vedas. Most of the mantras in the Vedas are in the form of lucid poetry, except for some that are written in thought-invoking and rhythmic prose. The Vedas house the earliest poetry and prose literature of the searching, striving and aspiring human soul. He who thinks that the Vedic poetry is primitive and the Vedic literature insignificant is unmistakably wanting in mental illumination. How can primitive poetry offer such sublime and enduring wisdom to the world at large?

The body of the Vedic poetry is simplicity.
The vital of the Vedic poetry is sincerity.
The mind of the Vedic poetry is clarity.
The heart of the Vedic poetry is purity.
The soul of the Vedic poetry is luminosity.

There are two ways to study the Vedas. When we study the Vedas with the mind we are constantly admonished by the strict vigilance of conscience. When we study the Vedas with the heart we are unceasingly inspired by the flowing spontaneity of glowing consciousness. The achievement of the mind is a scholar of the Vedas. The achievement of the heart is a lover of the Vedas. The scholar tries to satisfy the world without being satisfied himself. The lover feeds the world with the Light of illumining manifestation and the Delight of fulfilling Perfection.

There are two words in the Vedas which are as important as the Vedas themselves. These two words are satya and rita, eternal Truth and eternal Law. Realisation and Truth embody each other. Manifestation and Law fulfil each other. If we do not live the Truth, we cannot reach the Goal. If we do not follow the Law, we cannot grow into the Goal.

The Vedic seers accepted the laws of others not only with their hearts’ frankness but also with their souls’ oneness. They saw the One in the many and the many in the One. To them, the Absolute was not their sole monopoly.

"Satyam eva jayate nanritam
  Truth alone triumphs, not untruth."

Asato ma sad gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityor ma amritam gamaya

Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.

Unreality is untruth, and Reality is Truth. Satya is invoked by the pure heart. Rita is invoked by the brave vital. Love of Truth takes us from darkness. Love of divine Order takes us from the human body to the divine life.

VI 2. Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass., 14 November 1972

The inner revelation-fire3

Why do we appreciate the teachings of the Vedas? We appreciate the teachings of the Vedas because they inspire us to rise and go beyond the body-consciousness. The Rig Veda inspires us to make the world great and perfect. The Sama Veda inspires us to become one with the divine Melody and cosmic Rhythm. The Yajur Veda tells us, “May our lives be successful through self-sacrifice. May our life-breath thrive through self-sacrifice.” The Atharva Veda inspires us to go forward along the path of continuous progress. It tells us that Brihaspati, Guru of the cosmic gods, is leading and guiding us.

The Vedic seers saw fear in the outer world. They felt freedom in the inner world. They wanted to bring to the fore the freedom of the inner world through aspiration. In the Atharva Veda, the seers have offered us a significant prayer: “May we be fearless of those we know not, and of those we know.”

Fear of darkness is fear of the unknown.
Fear of Light is fear of the known.
Fear of the unknown is stupidity.
Fear of the known is absurdity.

What we need is the soul-will. Soul-will is God-Freedom.

Uru nastanve tan
Uru ksayaya naskridhi
Uru no yandhi jivase

The Rig Veda’s fiery utterance means: “Freedom for our body. Freedom for our home. Freedom for our life.”

The Vedic way of life cannot be separated from ritual. In Vedic times, rituals were an integral part of life. In performing rituals seekers in the Vedic era made remarkable progress. In the Rig Veda, however, we see more emphasis on mental and inner philosophy than on ritual. This combination of ritual and philosophical wisdom is the wealth of the Vedic culture. Devotion and dedication loom large in ritual. Aspiration and meditation loom large in philosophical wisdom. In those days ritual disciplined and regulated life. Inner philosophy illumined and liberated life. In the heart of philosophy the Light was discovered. In the body of ritual the Light was manifested.

The Vedas specifically speak of three worlds: Prithivi, the earth; Antariksha, the sky; Dyaus, the celestial region. On earth, matter is all. In the sky, divine activity is all. In Heaven, sentience is all.

Poetry and philosophy run abreast in the Vedas. Philosophy illumined the minds of the Vedic seers. Poetry immortalised their hearts. The philosopher is a poet in the mind. The poet is a philosopher in the heart. The philosopher likes outer religion and inner science. The poet likes outer art and inner literature. The philosopher says to the poet, “I give to you my precious wealth: wisdom, which is the constant and conscious instrument of intuition.” The poet says to the philosopher, “I give to you my precious wealth: my devoted oneness with the life of Light.”

Many seers have seen the Truth, but when they reveal the Truth, quite often their revelations are not identical. What is really deplorable is that on different occasions, under different circumstances, their own revelations of the same Truth are found to be anything but identical. Here we must know that the differences exist only in the realisation and revelation of the Truth. There can be no difference in the Truth itself. Why do the differences occur? The differences occur because human individuality and personality do not see the Truth the way it has to be seen. When the human personality and individuality are dissolved, the Truth remains one in realisation and one in revelation. Needless to say, the Vedas are the direct revelation of the seers’ illumination, and not gifts from the unknown skies above.

There are people who think that the Vedas deal only with spirituality, and not with science. They are mistaken. Advanced seekers and spiritual Masters are of the opinion that in the Yajur Veda there are many scientific truths which modern science has not yet discovered or acknowledged. The scientific knowledge of the Atharva Veda cannot be looked down upon either. The Vedic seers were aware of the process of cloud formation. They were fully aware of the different seasons. They knew the science of arithmetic, and worked with figures in the millions, billions and trillions. In the Yajur Veda there is something even more striking. There we see evidence of the existence of airplanes. The Vedic seers used to make actual non-stop flights for hundreds of miles. They also knew the secrets of geology, medicine and other sciences. All this, four thousand years ago!

The Vedas have been translated into many languages and admired and appreciated by many foreigners. The great German philosopher Schopenhauer considered the Upanishads to be the consolation and illumination of his life. We know that the Upanishads are the most powerful and most illumining children of the Vedas. But there is much truth in the saying that a translation cannot do full justice to the original. In the case of the Vedas this is certainly true. Many people have translated the Vedas, but no matter how sincerely or devotedly they worked, a considerable amount of the Vedic beauty was lost.

There are four Vedas: the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda deals mainly with the forms of prayer. The Yajur Veda deals with sacrificial formulas. The Sama Veda deals with music. The Atharva Veda deals with medicine, science and magic formulas. In the Rig Veda the message of human evolution begins. The Rig Veda tells us the meaning of existence, and of man’s contribution to the world. The Yajur Veda teaches us how to perform the sacrifices correctly, and how to control the universe. This Veda gives more importance to the mechanical side of sacrifices than to their spiritual aspect. The Sama Veda teaches us how divine music can elevate our aspiring consciousness into the highest realm of Bliss and make us conscious channels of God the Supreme Musician for the transformation of human darkness into divine Light, human imperfection into divine Perfection, human impossibilities into divine Inevitabilities and human dreams into divine Realities. The Atharva Veda teaches us how to control the spirits and lesser deities, and how to protect ourselves from evil spirits and destructive beings.

VI 3. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N. Y., 15 November 1972

The Rig Veda4

The Rig Veda is the oldest of all the Vedas. Most students of the Vedas are of the opinion that the Rig Veda is the most inspiring, most soulful and most fruitful Veda. This Veda embodies the earliest monument of India’s aspiration and realisation. India’s poetry, India’s philosophy, India’s literature, India’s religion and India’s science all owe their very existence to the Rig Veda, which was their source.

When it is a matter of choice between quality and quantity, the wise long for quality and the ignorant cry for quantity. The highest quality and the greatest quantity almost never go together. But to our great joy, the Rig Veda surpasses most strikingly the other three Vedas both in quantity and in quality. The Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda have borrowed a considerable amount of wealth from the Rig Veda.

In the Rig Veda, the gods are seen as personifications of nature-power. The seers invoke the cosmic gods with their heart’s prayers and their life’s dedication. These gods were supposed to have been thirty-three in number. Each god had his own origin; all of them did not come into being at the same time. It is said that at first they accepted human incarnation and were mortals, as we are now. But by drinking soma, nectar, immortal they became. In the subtle physical plane, they are retaining the quintessence of their physical forms and earthly appearances. Some are warriors, while others are priests. Indra is the champion leader of the warriors, and Agni is the champion leader of the priests.

Power they have. Power they are. Some have the power of Silence and Peace, while others have the power of Light and Delight. Ceaselessly they fought against the formidable forces of evil, and eventually they did win the victory.

The Rig Vedic gods are kind and compassionate. With their boundless kindness and compassion, they fulfil the desires of the matter-loving world and the aspirations of the spirit-invoking life. They live in different homes: Heaven, air and earth. Heaven is the home of Vishnu, Varuna, Surya, Mitra and a few others. The atmospheric region is for Indra, Rudra, the Maruts and others. Agni and Brihaspati are well known among those who are considered to be terrestrial gods.

In the Rig Veda we see the pure presence of devotion and the sure presence of knowledge. Devotion tells us how sweet and compassionate God is. Knowledge tells us how high and great God is. Devotion and knowledge find their complete satisfaction only in service. Service is concentration. Devotion is prayer. Knowledge is meditation. Only concentrated service, devoted prayer and illumined meditation can make us divinely great and supremely perfect.

According to the Vedas, action is a most essential part of life. Action is the conscious acceptance of our earthly existence. Action needs the body, which is its temple and fortress. Action needs life, which is its inspiration and aspiration. A man of action is an ideal hero in the battlefield of life. He lives with God’s human body, the earth, and works for God’s divine life, Heaven. Action is outer sacrifice and inner oneness. The Rig Veda offers us a supreme secret as to what kind of sacrifice we can make on the strength of our oneness. In action we see the universal presence of God. In action we embody the spirit and reveal the form. In the spirit is God the Absolute. In the form is God the Infinite. The Rig Veda speaks of God the Power:

"Twam Indra balad adhi sahaso jata ojasah...
  O God, the existence rests on strength, valour and energy.
  O Mighty One, You are Strength itself."

In order to manifest God considerably on earth, the seeker must live a long life.
"Aum bhadram karnebhih srinuyam deva...
  O cosmic gods, may we hear with our ears what is good and auspicious.
  May we see with our eyes what is good and auspicious..."

But merely living a long life lacking in divinity is nothing short of stark ignorance.

The seers of the Rig Veda regard God as the eternal Father, Mother and Friend. They also feel that God is their Beloved. God has many aspects, but a devoted seer prefers the aspect of God as Lord. He prays to his Lord for compassion and benediction. He has come to realise that if he has God’s Love and God the Love, then he needs nothing else from either earth or Heaven.

The Rig Vedic seers are the teachers of mankind. The Rig Vedic gods are the saviours of mankind. The teachers are teaching the world the message of Light and Truth. The saviours are healing the unaspiring, blind and deaf world, and championing the genuine seekers. The Rig Vedic seers are the builders of Hindu culture and Hindu civilisation. They represent the dawn of Hindu inspiration and the noon of Hindu aspiration. They offer to the world at large the ultimate meaning of religion. According to them, religion is the code of inner life. In each religion is the love-branch of the Truth-Tree. The Rig Vedic gods tell us to accept life with love, enjoy life with renunciation and fulfil life with surrender to the Will of the Absolute.

The Vedas tell us that we are cattle of the gods. Unfortunately, we are now compelled to feel that we are slaves of the machine. Let us aspire. Our aspiration will once more make us cattle of the gods. Later, our realisation will make us lambs of the gods. Finally, our manifestation will make us lions of the Absolute Supreme.

Aspiration we have.
Realisation we need.
Manifestation God and we together need.

With loving gratitude I offer this talk to my eldest brother, Hriday Ranjan Ghose, who is a great lover of the Rig Vedic lore, and an erudite exponent of the four Vedas.

VI 4. Barnard College, New York, N. Y., 17 November 1972

The song of the Infinite5

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 shaucham. Shaucham 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. 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 ishwarapranidhan. Ishwarapranidhan 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.

VI 5. Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass., 28 November 1972

Intuition — Light from the Vedas6

Scholars as well as students disagree over the origin of the Vedas. I find this controversy foolish. The Vedas are as old as the conscious aspiration of the universe. But the universe is consciously or unconsciously evolving into Perfection, whereas the Vedas contain the beginning of inspiring Perfection and the end of illumining Realisation.

When we say that the Vedas are eternal, we do not mean that the four scriptures have no beginning and no end. What we mean is that the real meaning of the Vedas, which is the Knowledge of God, has neither beginning nor end. The Vedas are the direct experiences and revelations of the Rishis of the hoary past. These experiences may be had by any sincere seeker of the Truth, at any time and in any place.

Unlike other scriptures, the Vedas have the sincere and brave heart to say that they are not indispensable; nay, not even important. They say that what is really important and supremely indispensable is the realisation of Brahman, the One without a second. Nevertheless, if we want to study the Vedas, we have to study with the help of an illumined teacher. The Vedas themselves instruct the seeker to approach a teacher. They also say that the teacher has to be approached with a heart of humility and a life of dedicated service.

Karma, which means work or service, and Jnana, or knowledge, are the principal teachings of the Vedas. Through Jnana we realise the absolute Truth, and through Karma we manifest our realisation.

According to the Vedas there are four important stages in life: student-life, marriage-life, retirement-life and renunciation-life. Student-life is self-discipline. Marriage-life is self-control and self-regulation. Retirement-life is peace and tranquillity. Renunciation-life is the offering of what one has and what one is to the absolute Supreme.

"Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti
  Truth-existence is one.
  Sages call it by various names."

This Truth-existence is experienced and realised in different ways by each seeker of the infinite Truth according to his own inner development. Just because of this lofty message from the Vedas, India’s religious heart is large and cosmopolitan. India’s spiritual heart knows how to accept other religions, how to appreciate other religions and how to admire other religions. India’s spiritual heart has realised that for each new religion there is a new approach to the Goal. Each path is right and indispensable for its own followers.

In order to realise the highest Truth we need three things: inspiration, aspiration and intuition. Inspiration asks us to run towards the Goal. Aspiration asks us to fly towards the Goal. Intuition asks us to see and feel the Truth directly, and to grow into the very essence of Truth.

The word sarama symbolises intuition. Sarama is the hound of Heaven who enters into the world of inconscience and discovers its concealed treasures: Light and Delight. Sarama is the dawn of Truth in a dedicated body, dynamic vital and aspiring heart. Sarama and the straight path go together. Sarama follows the straight and sunlit path and arrives at the Truth. The path of fear and doubt, error and terror, sarama never follows. Sarama secretly and cautiously enters into the heart of illumination, and openly and bravely walks in the life of revelation, so that the hostile forces cannot thwart or destroy her progress. So that the Truth-consciousness can be realised as a whole by all seekers, sarama travels between earth’s cry and Heaven’s smile. Sarama is the seeker who seeks Truth-consciousness. Sarama is the lover who loves earth’s conscious ascent and Heaven’s illumining descent. Sarama is the player who plays with the seer’s vision in the inner world and plays hide-and-seek with the beginner’s inspiration in the outer world.

The Vedas are at once the Sky of Light and the Sea of Delight. The Light-Sky is the vastness of Truth. The Delight-Sea is the immensity of Truth. Light and Delight are perpetual runners. Sometimes Light precedes Delight. Sometimes Delight precedes Light. When Light touches the earth-consciousness, earth is divinely transformed. When Delight touches the earth-consciousness, earth is supremely fulfilled.

Light is the birth of God.
Delight is the life of God.
Light is the smile of universal Oneness.
Delight is the smile of transcendental Perfection.
Light is what God has.
Delight is what God is.

VI 6. Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 28 November 1972

The wisdom-sun of Vedic Truth7

When we study the Vedas we should be aware of two different things: the esoteric interpretations of the Vedas made by illumined spiritual Masters, and the mental conclusions made by scholars and historians. Each esoteric interpretation by a Master is founded upon a direct intuitive vision of the Truth, whereas each mental conclusion of a scholar or historian is founded upon unillumined mental analysis and hesitant, uncertain research.

The seers of the hoary past saw the Truth and revealed the Truth. Seekers of all ages feel the Truth and use the Truth. But most scholars do not care for the realisation of the Truth; they care only for the manifestation of the Truth. They care more for the form than for the spirit of the Vedas. Most historians put the lesser truths mentioned in the Vedas, those relating to the caste system and magic formulas, in the vanguard of their discussions, and pay little attention to the highest Truth, the Knowledge of Brahman. They have no time to know soulfully and devotedly the life-energising and life-fulfilling messages that the Vedas actually contain. The life-giving and life-revealing messages of the Vedas do not seem to satisfy them. The birth of the Vedas, the outer growth of the Vedas and the decline of the Vedic influence on India are more than enough to satisfy them.

The Vedas are meant for the lovers of eternal Time, not for the lovers of fleeting earthly time. The Vedas are meant for those who love God, the Truth, and not for those who love merely the body of obscure history, which embodies the life of complication and confusion.

Professor Max Müller undoubtedly loved India. He wrote considerably on Indian scriptures. But there was something in him which a true lover of India cannot forgive. Those who feel that Max Müller’s love for India had a secret motive are perfectly correct. In utmost secrecy, in the inner recesses of his heart it seemed that he wanted to convert India, the Indian mind and the Indian heart, to Christianity. For example, he wrote to the Secretary of State for India, the Duke of Argyl, in 1868:

"The ancient religion of India is doomed and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?"

And to his wife in 1886, he wrote:
"I hope I shall finish the work, and I feel convinced, though I shall not live to see it, that this edition of mine 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 the religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3,000 years."

When he extolled India to the skies, he was sincere in his praise. It came from the depths of his heart. But his desire to convert India to Christianity was equally sincere. That feeling too, I am sure, came from the depths of his heart. His was a life of complexity.

Had Max Müller not studied the Upanishads, had he not been illumined by the Light of the Upanishads, he would not have been acclaimed by the entire world. His name would have remained unknown in the world’s literature. If it is true that he brought the Upanishads to the world at large, then it is equally true that the touch of the Upanishadic Light brought him fame.

The Vedas and the Vedic hymns are inseparable. Each hymn is an invocation to a particular god or deity. Each hymn is a discovery of a kavi, rishi or vipra: a Vedic poet, a Vedic seer or a Vedic sage. Each Vedic discovery is a boon from God. Each boon is a spark of Light. Each spark of Light is an accomplishment of God in man and an accomplishment of man in God. Man’s ultimate accomplishment is the transformation of human nature. God’s ultimate accomplishment is the perfection of the earth-consciousness.

Life is an idea.
Life is an ideal.
Life has a soul.
Life has a goal.

The Vedic idea of life is the idea of Truth. The Vedic ideal of life is the ideal of Bliss. The Vedic soul is the soul of multiplicity in unity. The Vedic goal is the goal of unifying earth’s wideness and Heaven’s abundance.

India had the Vedic seers of Truth. India has seekers after Truth. The supreme task of the seers was to bring the cosmic gods and deities down into the earth-consciousness. They performed their task. Now it is the task of the seekers to keep the gods and deities here on earth and help them in their cosmic play. The Supreme saw His infinite potentialities and possibilities in the seers. The Supreme sees His manifesting Reality and fulfilling Perfection in the seekers.

VI 7. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Penn., 29 November 1972

Editor's introduction to first edition

Some time in the millennia before Christ, there appeared in India a race of people known to later times as the Aryans, and among the Aryans there arose a race of sages, knowers of Brahman the Absolute. These seer-poets were the composers of the Vedas or "Knowledge", the world's earliest body of literature. Every Hindu, no matter what his beliefs and type of spiritual practice, regards the wisdom of the Vedic Rishis as the source of Hindu spirituality, the Vedas as the most sacred scriptures of his religion, and the Vedic culture as the seedbed and original form of Indian culture. But although the Vedas are revered and assiduously studied, even in India their innermost meaning has been lost to both priest and pandit. The language and imagery of the Vedic poetry, with its symbolism simultaneously meaningful on many levels of consciousness and being, is no longer understood by most of those who read it. In the West, the religion of the Vedic age is looked upon as little more than an unsophisticated nature-worship, and because scholars have not recognised it as founded upon a fully developed system of yoga, they have failed to grasp the real significance of the Vedic mantras, the Vedic sacrifice, and the Vedic gods.

In Sri Chinmoy, India has brought forth in modern times a spiritual titan equal in stature to the greatest of her past giants. The fullness of his realisation enables him to interpret the Vedas as only one Master can interpret the expressions of another. Although familiar with the Vedas in their original Sanskrit, Sri Chinmoy does not approach them academically, nor does he speak from the dogmatic standpoint of orthodox religious tradition. With the intuition of a great Yogi, he goes beyond the outer cultural forms of these scriptures, and penetrates to the essence of the spirituality they embody. The experience of the Vedic sages he himself fully possesses, and in the realms of consciousness known to them he moves with total freedom. Entering into the soul of the Vedas, he brings forth from their depths the profoundest truths they contain, and these truths he offers to the readers of this book.

In Sri Chinmoy's intuitive mind we feel the inspiring depths of the Vedas and in his illumining heart we see the beckoning heights of the Vedas.

— K

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