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object:1.19 - The Victory of the Fathers
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Chapter XIX

The Victory of the Fathers


HE HYMNS addressed by the great Rishi Vamadeva to the divine Flame, to the Seer-Will, Agni are among the most mystic in expression in the Rig Veda and though quite plain in their sense if we hold firmly in our mind the system of significant figures employed by the Rishis, will otherwise seem only a brilliant haze of images baffling our comprehension. The reader has at every moment to apply that fixed notation which is the key to the sense of the hymns; otherwise he will be as much at a loss as a reader of metaphysics who has not mastered the sense of the philosophical terms that are being constantly used or, let us say, one who tries to read Panini's Sutras without knowing the peculiar system of grammatical notation in which they are expressed. We have, however, already enough light upon this system of images to understand well enough what Vamadeva has to tell us about the great achievement of the human forefathers.

In order to hold clearly in our minds at the start what that great achievement was we may put before ourselves the clear and sufficient formulas in which Parashara Shaktya expresses them. "Our fathers broke open the firm and strong places by their words, yea, the Angirases broke open the hill by their cry; they made in us the path to the great heaven; they found the
Day and Swar and vision and the luminous Cows," cakrur divo br.hato gatum asme, ahah. svar vividuh. ketum usrah., (I.71.2).

This path, he tells us, is the path which leads to immortality;
"they who entered into all things that bear right fruit formed a path towards the immortality; earth stood wide for them by the greatness and by the Great Ones, the mother Aditi with her sons came (or, manifested herself) for the upholding" (I.72.9).1 That
A ye visva svapatyani tasthuh., kr.n.vanaso amr.tatvaya gatum; mahna mahadbhih. pr.thiv vi tasthe, mata putrair aditir dhayase veh..


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is to say, the physical being visited by the greatness of the infinite planes above and by the power of the great godheads who reign on those planes breaks its limits, opens out to the Light and is upheld in its new wideness by the infinite Consciousness, mother
Aditi, and her sons, the divine Powers of the supreme Deva. This is the Vedic immortality.

The means of this finding and expanding are also very succinctly stated by Parashara in his mystic, but still clear and impressive style. "They held the truth, they enriched its thought; then indeed, aspiring souls (aryah.), they, holding it in thought, bore it diffused in all their being," dadhann r.tam dhanayann asya dhtim, ad id aryo didhis.vo vibhr.trah., (I.71.3). The image in vibhr.trah. suggests the upholding of the thought of the Truth in all the principles of our being or, to put it in the ordinary
Vedic image, the seven-headed thought in all the seven waters, apsu dhiyam dadhis.e, as we have seen it elsewhere expressed in almost identical language; this is shown by the image that immediately follows, - "the doers of the work go towards the unthirsting (waters) which increase the divine births by the satisfaction of delight," atr.s.yantr apaso yanti accha, devan janma prayasa vardhayanth.. The sevenfold Truth-consciousness in the satisfied sevenfold Truth-being increasing the divine births in us by the satisfaction of the soul's hunger for the Beatitude, this is the growth of immortality. It is the manifestation of that trinity of divine being, light and bliss which the Vedantins afterwards called Sachchidananda.

The sense of this universal diffusion of Truth and the birth and activity of all the godheads in us assuring a universal and immortal life in place of our present limited mortality is made yet clearer by Parashara in I.68. Agni, the divine Seer-Will, is described as ascending to heaven and unrolling the veil of the nights from all that is stable and all that is mobile, "when he becomes the one God encompassing all these godheads with the greatness of his being. Then indeed all accept and cleave to the Will (or the Work) when, O godhead, thou art born a living soul from the dryness (i.e. from the material being, the desert, as it is called, unwatered by the streams of the Truth);

The Victory of the Fathers

all enjoy godhead attaining to the truth and the immortality by their movements, bhajanta visve devatvam nama, r.tam sapanto amr.tam evaih.. The impulse of the Truth, the thinking of the
Truth becomes a universal life (or pervades all the life), and in it all fulfil their workings," r.tasya pres.a r.tasya dhtir, visvayur visve apamsi cakruh..

And in order that we may not, haunted by the unfortunate misconstruction of the Veda which European scholarship has imposed on the modern mind, carry with us the idea of the seven earthly rivers of the Punjab into the super-terrestrial achievement of the human forefathers, we will note what Parashara in his clear and illuminating fashion tells us about the seven rivers.

"The fostering cows of the Truth (dhenavah., an image applied to the rivers, while gavah. or usrah. expresses the luminous cows of the Sun) nourished him, lowing, with happy udders, enjoyed in heaven; obtaining right thinking as a boon from the supreme (plane) the rivers flowed wide and evenly over the hill," r.tasya hi dhenavo vavasanah., smadudhnh. ppayanta dyubhaktah.; paravatah. sumatim bhiks.aman.a, vi sindhavah. samaya sasrur adrim, (I.73.6). And in I.72.8, speaking of them in a phrase which is applied to the rivers in other hymns, he says,
"The seven mighty ones of heaven, placing aright the thought, knowing the Truth, discerned in knowledge the doors of felicity;
Sarama found the fastness, the wideness of the luminous cows; thereby the human creature enjoys the bliss," svadhyo diva a sapta yahv, rayo duro vi r.tajna ajanan; vidad gavyam sarama dr.d.ham urvam, yena nu kam manus. bhojate vit.. These are evidently not the waters of the Punjab, but the rivers of Heaven, the streams of the Truth,2 goddesses like Saraswati, who possess the Truth in knowledge and open by it the doors of the beatitude to the human creature. We see here too what I have already insisted on, that there is a close connection between the finding of the Cows and the outflowing of the Rivers; they are parts
Note that in I.32 Hiranyastupa Angirasa describes the waters released from Vritra as "ascending the mind", mano ruhan.ah., and elsewhere they are called the waters that have the knowledge, apo vicetasah. (I.83.1).


The Secret of the Veda
of one action, the achievement of the truth and immortality by men, r.tam sapanto amr.tam evaih..

It is now perfectly clear that the achievement of the Angirases is the conquest of the Truth and the Immortality, that
Swar called also the great heaven, br.hat dyauh., is the plane of the Truth above the ordinary heaven and earth which can be no other than the ordinary mental and physical being; that the path of the great heaven, the path of the Truth created by the Angirases and followed by the hound Sarama is the path to the Immortality, amr.tatvaya gatum; that the vision (ketu) of the Dawn, the Day won by the Angirases, is the vision proper to the Truth-consciousness; that the luminous cows of the Sun and Dawn wrested from the Panis are the illuminations of this truth-consciousness which help to form the thought of the Truth, r.tasya dhtih., complete in the seven-headed thought of Ayasya; that the Night of the Veda is the obscured consciousness of the mortal being in which the Truth is subconscient, hidden in the cave of the hill; that the recovery of the lost sun lying in this darkness of Night is the recovery of the sun of Truth out of the darkened subconscient condition; and that the downflowing earthward of the seven rivers must be the outstreaming action of the sevenfold principle of our being as it is formulated in the
Truth of the divine or immortal existence. Equally then must the
Panis be the powers that prevent the Truth from emerging out of the subconscient condition and that constantly strive to steal its illuminations from man and throw him back into the Night, and Vritra must be the power that obstructs and prevents the free movement of the illumined rivers of the Truth, obstructs the impulsion of the Truth in us, r.tasya pres.a, the luminous impulsion, jyotis.matm, which carries us beyond the Night to the immortality. And the gods, the sons of Aditi, must be on the contrary the luminous divine powers, born of the infinite consciousness Aditi, whose formation and activity in our human and mortal being are necessary for our growth into the godhead, into the being of the Deva (devatvam) which is the Immortality.

Agni, the truth-conscious seer-will, is the principal godhead who enables us to effect the sacrifice; he leads it on the path of the

The Victory of the Fathers


Truth, he is the warrior of the battle, the doer of the work, and his unity and universality in us comprehending in itself all the other godheads is the basis of the Immortality. The plane of the
Truth to which we arrive is his own home and the own home of the other gods, and the final home also of the soul of man. And this immortality is described as a beatitude, a state of infinite spiritual wealth and plenitude, ratna, rayi, vaja, radhas, etc.; the opening doors of our divine home are the doors of the felicity, rayo durah., the divine doors which swing wide open to those who increase the Truth (r.tavr.dhah.) and which are discovered for us by Saraswati and her sisters, by the seven Rivers, by Sarama; to them and to the wide pasture (ks.etra) in the unobstructed and equal infinities of the vast Truth Brihaspati and Indra lead upward the shining Herds.

With these conceptions clearly fixed in our minds we shall be able to understand the verses of Vamadeva which only repeat in symbolic language the substance of the thought expressed more openly by Parashara. It is to Agni the Seer-Will that Vamadeva's opening hymns are addressed. He is hymned as the friend or builder of man's sacrifice who awakes him to the vision, the knowledge (ketu), sa cetayan manus.o yajnabandhuh. (IV.1.9); so doing, "he dwells in the gated homes of this being, accomplishing; he, a god, has come to be the means of accomplishment of the mortal," sa ks.eti asya duryasu sadhan, devo martasya sadhanitvam apa. What is it that he accomplishes? The next verse tells us. "May this Agni lead us in his knowledge towards that bliss of him which is enjoyed by the gods, that which by the thought all the immortals created and Dyauspita the father out-pouring the Truth"; sa tu no agnir nayatu prajanann, accha ratnam devabhaktam yad asya; dhiya yad visve amr.ta akr.n.van, dyaus.pita janita satyam This is Parashara's beatitude of the Immortality created by all the powers of the immortal godhead doing their work in the thought of the Truth and in its impulsion, and the out-pouring of the Truth is evidently the out-pouring of the waters as is indicated by the word,
Parashara's equal diffusion of the seven rivers of the truth over the hill.


The Secret of the Veda

Vamadeva then goes on to tell us of the birth of this great, first or supreme force, Agni, in the Truth, in its waters, in its original home. "He was born, the first, in the waters, in the foundation of the vast world (Swar), in its womb, (i.e. its seat and birthplace, its original home); without head and feet, concealing his two extremities, setting himself to his work in the lair of the Bull." The Bull is the Deva or Purusha, his lair is the plane of the Truth, and Agni the Seer-Will, working in the truth-consciousness, creates the worlds; but he conceals his two extremities, his head and feet; that is to say, his workings act between the superconscient and the subconscient in which his highest and his lowest states are respectively concealed, one in an utter light, the other in an utter darkness. From that he goes forth as the first and supreme force and is born to the Bull or the
Lord by the action of the seven powers of the Bliss, the seven
Beloved. "He went forward by illumined knowledge as the first force, in the seat of the Truth, in the lair of the Bull, desirable, young, full in body, shining wide; the seven Beloved bore him to the Lord."
The Rishi then comes to the achievement of the human fathers, asmakam atra pitaro manus.ya, abhi pra sedur r.tam "Here our human fathers seeking possession of the
Truth went forward to it; the bright cows in their covering prison, the good milkers whose pen is in the rock they drove upward (to the Truth), the Dawns answered their call. They rent the hill asunder and made them bright; others all around them declared wide this (Truth) of theirs; drivers of the herds they sang the hymn to the doer of works (Agni), they found the light, they shone in their thoughts (or, they accomplished the work by their thoughts). They with the mind that seeks the light (the cows, gavyata manasa) rent the firm and compact hill that environed the luminous cows; the souls that desire opened by the divine word, vacasa daivyena, the firm pen full of the kine." These are the ordinary images of the Angiras legend, but in the next verse Vamadeva uses a still more mystic language.

"They conceived in mind the first name of the fostering cows, they found the thrice seven supreme (seats) of the Mother; the

The Victory of the Fathers

females of the herd knew that and they followed after it; the ruddy one was manifested by the victorious attainment (or, the splendour) of the cow of Light," te manvata prathamam nama dhenos, trih. sapta matuh. paraman.i vindan; taj janatr abhyanus.ata vra, avirbhuvad arun.r yasasa goh.. The Mother here is Aditi, the infinite consciousness, who is the Dhenu or fostering Cow with the seven rivers for her sevenfold streaming as well as Go the Cow of Light with the Dawns for her children; the Ruddy One is the divine Dawn and the herd or rays are her dawning illuminations. The first name of the Mother with her thrice seven supreme seats, that which the dawns or mental illuminations know and move towards, must be the name or deity of the supreme Deva, who is infinite being and infinite consciousness and infinite bliss, and the seats are the three divine worlds, called earlier in the hymn the three supreme births of
Agni, Satya, Tapas and Jana of the Puranas, which correspond to these three infinities of the Deva and each fulfils in its own way the sevenfold principle of our existence: thus we get the series of thrice seven seats of Aditi manifested in all her glory by the opening out of the Dawn of Truth.3 Thus we see that the achievement of the Light and Truth by the human fathers is also an ascent to the Immortality of the supreme and divine status, to the first name of the all-creating infinite Mother, to her thrice seven supreme degrees of this ascending existence, to the highest levels of the eternal hill (sanu, adri).

This immortality is the beatitude enjoyed by the gods of which Vamadeva has already spoken as the thing which Agni has to accomplish by the sacrifice, the supreme bliss with its thrice seven ecstasies (I.20.7). For he proceeds; "Vanished the darkness, shaken in its foundation; Heaven shone out (rocata dyauh., implying the manifestation of the three luminous worlds of Swar, divo rocanani); upward rose the light of the divine Dawn; the
Sun entered the vast fields (of the Truth) beholding the straight
The same idea is expressed by Medhatithi Kanwa (I.20.7) as the thrice seven ecstasies of the Beatitude, ratnani trih. saptani, or more literally, the ecstasies in their three series of seven, each of which the Ribhus bring out in their separate and complete expression, ekam ekam susastibhih..


The Secret of the Veda
things and the crooked in mortals. Thereafter indeed they awoke and saw utterly (by the sun's separation of the straight from the crooked, the truth from the falsehood); then indeed they held in them the bliss that is enjoyed in heaven, ratnam dharayanta dyubhaktam. Let all the gods be in all our homes, let there be the truth for our thought, O Mitra, O Varuna"; visve visvasu duryasu deva, mitra dhiye varun.a satyam astu. This is evidently the same idea as has been expressed in different language by
Parashara Shaktya, the pervasion of the whole existence by the thought and impulse of the Truth and the working of all the godheads in that thought and impulsion to create in every part of our existence the bliss and the immortality.

The hymn closes thus: "May I speak the word towards Agni shining pure, the priest of the offering greatest in sacrifice who brings to us the all; may he press out both the pure udder of the
Cows of Light and the purified food of the plant of delight (the
Soma) poured out everywhere. He is the infinite being of all the lords of sacrifice (the gods) and the guest of all human beings; may Agni, accepting into himself the increasing manifestation of the gods, knower of the births, be a giver of happiness."
In the second hymn of the fourth Mandala we get very clearly and suggestively the parallelism of the seven Rishis who are the divine Angirases and the human fathers. The passage is preceded by four verses, IV.2.11-14, which bring in the idea of the human seeking after the Truth and the Bliss. "May he the knower discern perfectly the Knowledge and the Ignorance, the wide levels and the crooked that shut in mortals; and, O God, for a bliss fruitful in offspring, lavish on us Diti and protect Aditi."
This eleventh verse is very striking in its significance. We have the opposition of the Knowledge and the Ignorance familiar to
Vedanta; and the Knowledge is likened to the wide open levels which are frequently referred to in the Veda; they are the large levels to which those ascend who labour in the sacrifice and they find there Agni seated self-blissful (V.7.5); they are the wide being which he makes for his own body (V.4.6), the level wideness, the unobstructed vast. It is therefore the infinite being of the Deva to which we arrive on the plane of the Truth, and it contains

The Victory of the Fathers

the thrice seven supreme seats of Aditi the Mother, the three supreme births of Agni within the Infinite, anante antah. (IV.1.7).

The Ignorance on the other hand is identified with the crooked or uneven levels4 which shut in mortals and it is therefore the limited, divided mortal existence. Moreover it is evident that the Ignorance is the Diti of the next half-verse, ditim ca rasva aditim urus.ya, and the Knowledge is Aditi. Diti, called also
Danu, means division and the obstructing powers or Vritras are her children, Danus, Danavas, Daityas, while Aditi is existence in its infinity and the mother of the gods. The Rishi desires a bliss fruitful in offspring, that is in divine works and their results and this is to be effected through the conquest of all the riches held in itself by our divided mortal being but kept from us by the
Vritras and Panis and through the holding of them in the infinite divine being. The latter is to be in us protected from the ordinary tendency of our human existence, from subjection to the sons of
Danu or Diti. The idea is evidently identical with that of the Isha
Upanishad which declares the possession of the Knowledge and the Ignorance, the unity and the multiplicity in the one Brahman as the condition for the attainment of Immortality.

We then come to the seven divine seers. "The seers unconquered declared the Seer (the Deva, Agni) holding him within in the homes of the human being; thence (from this embodied human being) mayst thou, O Agni, aspiring by the work (aryah.), behold by thy advancing movements these of whom thou must have the vision, the transcendent ones (the godheads of the
Deva)"; kavim sasasuh. kavayo adabdha, nidharayanto duryasu ayoh.; atas tvam dr.syan agna etan, pad.bhih. pasyer adbhutan arya evaih.. This is again the journey to the vision of the Godhead. "Thou, O Agni, youngest power, art the perfect guide (on that journey) to him who sings the word and offers the Soma and orders the sacrifice; bring to the illumined who accomplishes the
Cittim acittim cinavad vi vidvan, pr.s.t.heva vta vr.jina ca martan. Vr.jina means crooked, and is used in the Veda to indicate the crookedness of the falsehood as opposed to the open straightness of the Truth, but the poet has evidently in his mind the verbal sense of vr.j, to separate, screen off, and it is this verbal sense in the adjective that governs martan.


The Secret of the Veda
work the bliss with its vast delight for his increasing, satisfying the doer of the work (or, the man, Now, O Agni, of all that we have done with our hands and our feet and our bodies the right thinkers (the Angirases) make as it were thy chariot by the work of the two arms (Heaven and Earth, bhurijoh.); seeking to possess the Truth they have worked their way to it (or won control of it)," r.tam yemuh. sudhya "Now as the seven seers of Dawn the Mother, the supreme disposers (of the sacrifice), may we beget for ourselves the gods; may we become the
Angirases, sons of Heaven, breaking open the wealth-filled hill, shining in purity." We have here very clearly the seven divine
Seers as the supreme ordainers of the world-sacrifice and the idea of the human being "becoming" these seven Seers, that is to say, creating them in himself and growing into that which they mean, just as he becomes the Heaven and Earth and the other gods or, as it is otherwise put, begets or creates or forms
(jan, kr., tan) the divine births in his own being.

Next the example of the human fathers is given as the original type of this great becoming and achievement. "Now also, even as our supreme ancient fathers, O Agni, seeking to possess the Truth, expressing the Word, travelled to the purity and the light; breaking open the earth (the material being) they uncovered the ruddy ones (the Dawns, the Cows); perfected in works and in light, seeking the godheads, gods, forging the Births like iron (or, forging the divine births like iron), making Agni a pure flame, increasing Indra, they attained and reached the wideness of the Light (of the Cows, gavyam urvam). As if herds of the Cow in the field of riches, that was manifested to vision which is the Births of the Gods within, O puissant One; they both accomplished the wide enjoyments (or, longings) of mortals and worked as aspirers for the increase of the higher being"; a yutheva ks.umati pasvo akhyad, devanam yaj janima anti ugra; martanam cid urvasr akr.pran, vr.dhe cid arya uparasya ayoh..

Evidently, this is a repetition in other language of the double idea of possessing the riches of Diti, yet safeguarding Aditi. "We have done the work for thee, we have become perfect in works, the wide-shining Dawns have taken up their home in the Truth

The Victory of the Fathers


(or, have robed themselves with the Truth), in the fullness of
Agni and his manifold delight, in the shining eye of the god in all his brightness."
The Angirases are again mentioned in IV.3.11, and some of the expressions which lead up to this verse, are worth noting; for it cannot be too often repeated that no verse in the Veda can be properly understood except by reference to its context, to its place in the thought of the Sukta, to all that precedes and all that follows. The hymn opens with a call to men to create Agni who sacrifices in the truth, to create him in his form of golden light (hiran.yarupam, the gold being always the symbol of the solar light of the Truth, r.tam jyotih.) before the Ignorance can form itself, pura tanayitnor acittat. The god is asked to awaken to the work of man and the truth in him as being himself "the
Truth-conscious who places aright the thought", r.tasya bodhi r.tacit svadhh., - for all falsehood is merely a wrong placing of the Truth. He is to refer all fault and sin and defect in man to the various godheads or divine powers of the Divine Being so that it may be removed and the man declared finally blameless before the Infinite Mother - aditaye anagasah., or for the infinite existence, as it is elsewhere expressed.

Then in the ninth and tenth verses we have, expressed in various formulas, the idea of the united human and divine existence, Diti and Aditi, the latter founding, controlling and flooding with itself the former. "The Truth controlled by the
Truth I desire (i.e. the human by the divine), together the unripe things of the Cow and her ripe and honeyed yield (again the imperfect human and the perfect and blissful divine fruits of the universal consciousness and existence); she (the cow) being black (the dark and divided existence, Diti) is nourished by the shining water of the foundation, the water of the companion streams (jamaryen.a payasa). By the Truth Agni the Bull, the
Male, sprinkled with the water of its levels, ranges unquivering, establishing wideness (wide space or manifestation); the dappled
Bull milks the pure shining teat." The symbolic opposition between the shining white purity of the One who is the source, seat, foundation and the variegated colouring of the Life manifested


The Secret of the Veda
in the triple world is frequent in the Veda; this image of the dappled Bull and the pure-bright udder or source of the waters only repeats therefore, like the other images, the idea of the multiple manifestations of the human life purified, tranquillised in its activities, fed by the waters of the Truth and the Infinity.

Finally the Rishi proceeds to the coupling, which we so repeatedly find, of the luminous Cows and the Waters. "By the
Truth the Angirases broke open and hurled asunder the hill and came to union with the Cows; human souls, they took up their dwelling in the blissful Dawn, Swar became manifest when Agni was born. By Truth the divine immortal waters, unoppressed, with their honeyed floods, O Agni, like a horse breasting forward in its gallopings ran in an eternal flowing." These four verses in fact are meant to give the preliminary conditions for the great achievement of the Immortality. They are the symbols of the grand Mythus, the mythus of the Mystics in which they hid their supreme spiritual experience from the profane and, alas! effectively enough from their posterity. That they were secret symbols, images meant to reveal the truth which they protected but only to the initiated, to the knower, to the seer, Vamadeva himself tells us in the most plain and emphatic language in the last verse of this very hymn; "All these are secret words that I have uttered to thee who knowest, O Agni, O Disposer, words of leading, words of seer-knowledge that express their meaning to the seer, - I have spoken them illumined in my words and my thinkings"; eta visva vidus.e tubhyam vedho, nthani agne nin.ya vacamsi; nivacana kavaye kavyani, matibhir vipra ukthaih.. Secret words that have kept indeed their secret ignored by the priest, the ritualist, the grammarian, the pandit, the historian, the mythologist, to whom they have been words of darkness or seals of confusion and not what they were to the supreme ancient forefathers and their illumined posterity, nin.ya vacamsi nthani nivacana kavyani.

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