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↩