object:1.20 - The Hound of Heaven
book class:The Secret Of The Veda
The Hound of Heaven
HERE yet remain two constant features of the Angiras legend with regard to which we have to acquire a little farther light in order to master entirely this Vedic conception of the Truth and the discovery of the illuminations of the Dawn by the primeval Fathers; we have to fix the identity of Sarama and the exact function of the Panis, two problems of
Vedic interpretation which are very closely related to each other.
That Sarama is some power of the Light and probably of the
Dawn is very clear; for once we know that the struggle between
Indra and the original Aryan seers on the one hand and the sons of the Cave on the other is no strange deformation of primitive
Indian history but a symbolic struggle between the powers of
Light and Darkness, Sarama who leads in the search for the radiant herds and discovers both the path and the secret hold in the mountain must be a forerunner of the dawn of Truth in the human mind. And if we ask ourselves what power among the truth-finding faculties it is that thus discovers out of the darkness of the unknown in our being the truth that is hidden in it, we at once think of the intuition. For Sarama is not Saraswati, she is not the inspiration, even though the names are similar. Saraswati gives the full flood of the knowledge; she is or awakens the great stream, maho arn.ah., and illumines with plenitude all the thoughts, dhiyo visva vi rajati. Saraswati possesses and is the flood of the Truth; Sarama is the traveller and seeker on its path who does not herself possess but rather finds that which is lost.
Neither is she the plenary word of the revelation, the Teacher of man like the goddess Ila; for even when what she seeks is found, she does not take possession but only gives the message to the seers and their divine helpers who have still to fight for the possession of the light that has been discovered.
Let us see, however, what the Veda itself says of Sarama.
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There is a verse, I.104.5, which does not mention her name, nor is the hymn itself about the Angirases or Panis, yet the line describes accurately enough the part attributed to her in the
Veda: - "When this guide became visible, she went, knowing, towards the seat that is as if the home of the Dasyu," prati yat sya ntha adarsi dasyor, oko na accha sadanam janat gat. These are the two essential characteristics of Sarama; the knowledge comes to her beforehand, before vision, springs up instinctively at the least indication and with that knowledge she guides the rest of the faculties and divine powers that seek. And she leads to that seat, sadanam, the home of the Destroyers, which is at the other pole of existence to the seat of the Truth, sadanam r.tasya, in the cave or secret place of darkness, guhayam, just as the home of the gods is in the cave or secrecy of light. In other words, she is a power descended from the superconscient
Truth which leads us to the light that is hidden in ourselves, in the subconscient. All these characteristics apply exactly to the intuition.
Sarama is mentioned by name only in a few hymns of the
Veda, and invariably in connection with the achievement of the
Angirases or the winning of the highest planes of existence. The most important of these hymns is the Sukta of the Atris we have already had to take note of in our scrutiny of the Navagwa and
Dashagwa Angirases, V.45. The first three verses summarise the great achievement. "Severing the hill of heaven by the words he found them, yea, the radiant ones of the arriving Dawn went abroad; he uncovered those that were in the pen, Swar rose up; a god opened the human doors. The Sun attained widely to strength and glory; the Mother of the Cows (the Dawn), knowing, came from the wideness; the rivers became rushing floods, floods that cleft (their channel), heaven was made firm like a well-shaped pillar. To this word the contents of the pregnant hill
(came forth) for the supreme birth of the Great Ones (the rivers or, less probably, the dawns); the hill parted asunder, heaven was perfected (or, accomplished itself); they lodged (upon earth) and distributed the largeness." It is of Indra and the Angirases that the Rishi is speaking, as the rest of the hymn shows and
The Hound of Heaven
as is indeed evident from the expressions used; for these are the usual formulas of the Angiras mythus and repeat the exact expressions that are constantly used in the hymns of the delivery of the Dawn, the Cows and the Sun. We know already what they mean. The hill of our already formed triple existence which rises into heaven at its summit is rent asunder by Indra and the hidden illuminations go abroad; Swar, the higher heaven of the superconscient, is manifested by the upward streaming of the brilliant herds. The sun of Truth diffuses all the strength and glory of its light, the inner Dawn comes from the luminous wideness instinct with knowledge, - janat gat, the same phrase that is used of her who leads to the house of the Dasyu in I.104.5; and of Sarama in
III.31.6, - the rivers of the Truth, representing the outflow of its being and its movement (r.tasya pres.a), descend in their rushing streams and make a channel here for their waters; heaven, the mental being, is perfected and made firm like a well-shaped pillar to support the vast Truth of the higher or immortal life that is now made manifest and the largeness of that Truth is lodged here in all the physical being. The delivery of the pregnant contents of the hill, parvatasya garbhah., the illuminations constituting the seven-headed thought, r.tasya dhtih., which come forth in answer to the inspired word, leads to the supreme birth of the seven great rivers who constitute the substance of the Truth put into active movement, r.tasya pres.a.
Then after the invocation of Indra and Agni by the "words of perfect speech that are loved of the gods", - for by those words the Maruts1 perform the sacrifices as seers who by their seer-knowledge do well the sacrificial work, ukthebhir hi s.ma kavayah. suyajna . . . maruto yajanti, - the Rishi next puts into the mouth of men an exhortation and mutual encouragement to do even as the Fathers and attain the same divine results.
"Come now, today let us become perfected in thought, let us destroy suffering and unease, let us embrace the higher good," eto nu adya sudhyo bhavama, pra ducchuna minavama a varyah.;
"far from us let us put always all hostile things (all the things
The thought-attaining powers of the Life as will appear hereafter.
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that attack and divide, dves.amsi); let us go forward towards the Master of the sacrifice. Come, let us create the Thought, O friends, (obviously, the seven-headed Angiras-thought), which is the Mother (Aditi or the Dawn) and removes the screening pen of the Cow." The significance is clear enough; it is in such passages as these that the inner sense of the Veda half disengages itself from the veil of the symbol.
Then the Rishi speaks of the great and ancient example which men are called upon to repeat, the example of the Angirases, the achievement of Sarama. "Here the stone was set in motion whereby the Navagwas chanted the hymn for the ten months, Sarama going to the Truth found the cows, the Angiras made all things true. When in the dawning of this vast One (Usha representing the infinite Aditi, mata devanam aditer ankam) all the Angirases came together with the cows (or rather, perhaps by the illuminations represented in the symbol of the cows or Rays); there was the fountain of these (illuminations) in the supreme world; by the path of the Truth Sarama found the cows." Here we see that it is through the movement of Sarama going straight to the Truth by the path of the Truth, that the seven seers, representing the seven-headed or seven-rayed thought of Ayasya and Brihaspati, find all the concealed illuminations and by force of these illuminations they all come together, as we have been already told by Vasishtha, in the level wideness, samane urve, from which the Dawn has descended with the knowledge (urvad janat gat, v. 2) or, as it is here expressed, in the dawning of this vast One, that is to say, in the infinite consciousness. There, as Vasishtha has said, they, united, agree in knowledge and do not strive together, sangatasah. sam janate na yatante mithas te, that is to say, the seven become as one, as is indicated in another hymn; they become the one seven-mouthed Angiras, an image corresponding to that of the seven-headed thought, and it is this single unified Angiras who makes all things true as the result of Sarama's discovery (verse 7). The harmonised, united, perfected Seer-Will corrects all falsehood and crookedness and turns all thought, life, action into terms of the Truth. In this hymn also the action of Sarama is precisely that of the Intuition
The Hound of Heaven
which goes straight to the Truth by the straight path of the
Truth and not through the crooked paths of doubt and error and which delivers the Truth out of the veil of darkness and false appearances; it is through the illuminations discovered by her that the Seer-mind can attain to the complete revelation of the Truth. The rest of the hymn speaks of the rising of the sevenhorsed Sun towards his "field which spreads wide for him at the end of the long journey", the attainment of the swift Bird to the
Soma and of the young Seer to that field of the luminous cows, the Sun's ascent to the "luminous Ocean", its crossing over it
"like a ship guided by the thinkers" and the descent upon man of the waters of that ocean in response to their call. In those waters the sevenfold thought of the Angiras is established by the human seer. If we remember that the Sun represents the light of the superconscient or truth-conscious knowledge and the luminous ocean the realms of the superconscient with their thrice seven seats of the Mother Aditi, the sense of these symbolic expressions2 will not be difficult to understand. It is the highest attainment of the supreme goal which follows upon the complete achievement of the Angirases, their united ascent to the plane of the Truth, just as that achievement follows upon the discovery of the herds by Sarama.
Another hymn of great importance in this connection is the thirty-first of the third Mandala, by Vishwamitra. "Agni (the
Divine Force) is born quivering with his flame of the offering for sacrifice to the great Sons of the Shining One (the Deva,
Rudra); great is the child of them, a vast birth; there is a great movement of the Driver of the shining steeds (Indra, the Divine
Mind) by the sacrifices. The conquering (dawns) cleave to him in his struggle, they deliver by knowledge a great light out of the darkness; knowing the Dawns rise up to him, Indra has become the one lord of the luminous cows. The cows who were in the strong place (of the Panis) the thinkers clove out; by the mind the
It is in this sense that we can easily understand many now obscure expressions of the
Veda, e.g. VIII.68.9, "May we conquer by thy aid in our battles the great wealth in the waters and the Sun," apsu surye mahad dhanam.
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seven seers set them moving forward (or upwards towards the supreme), they found the entire path (goal or field of travel) of the Truth; knowing those (supreme seats of the Truth) Indra by the obeisance entered into them," vl.au satr abhi dhra atr.ndan, praca ahinvan manasa sapta viprah.; visvam avindan pathyam r.tasya, prajanann it ta namasa vivesa. This is, as usual, the great birth, the great light, the great divine movement of the Truthknowledge with the finding of the goal and the entry of the gods and the seers into the supreme planes above. Next we have the part of Sarama in this work. "When Sarama found the broken place of the hill, he (or perhaps she, Sarama) made continuous the great and supreme goal. She, the fair-footed, led him to the front of the imperishable ones (the unslayable cows of the
Dawn); first she went, knowing, towards their cry." It is again the Intuition that leads; knowing, she speeds at once and in front of all towards the voice of the concealed illuminations, towards the place where the hill so firmly formed and impervious in appearance (vl.u, dr.d.ha) is broken and can admit the seekers.
The rest of the hymn continues to describe the achievement of the Angirases and Indra. "He went, the greatest seer of them all, doing them friendship; the pregnant hill sent forth its contents for the doer of perfect works; in the strength of manhood he with the young (Angirases) seeking plenitude of riches attained possession, then singing the hymn of light he became at once the Angiras. Becoming in our front the form and measure of each existing thing, he knows all the births, he slays Shushna"; that is to say, the Divine Mind assumes a form answering to each existing thing in the world and reveals its true divine image and meaning and slays the false force that distorts knowledge and action. "Seeker of the cows, traveller to the seat of heaven, singing the hymns, he, the Friend, delivers his friends out of all defect (of right self-expression). With a mind that sought the
Light (the cows) they entered their seats by the illumining words, making the path towards Immortality (ni gavyata manasa sedur arkaih. kr.n.vanaso amr.tatvaya gatum). This is that large seat of theirs, the Truth by which they took possession of the months
(the ten months of the Dashagwas). Harmonised in vision (or,
The Hound of Heaven
perfectly seeing) they rejoiced in their own (abode, Swar) milking out the milk of the ancient seed (of things). Their cry (of the
Word) heated all the earth and heaven (created, that is to say, the burning clarity, gharma, taptam ghr.tam, which is the yield of the solar cows); they established in that which was born a firm abiding and in the cows the heroes (that is, the battling force was established in the light of the knowledge).
"Indra, the Vritra-slayer, by those who were born (the sons of the sacrifice), by the offerings, by the hymns of illumination released upward the shining ones; the wide and delightful Cow
(the cow Aditi, the vast and blissful higher consciousness) bringing for him the sweet food, the honey mixed with the ghr.ta, yielded it as her milk. For this Father also (for Heaven) they fashioned the vast and shining abode; doers of perfect works, they had the entire vision of it. Wide-upholding by their support the Parents (Heaven and Earth) they sat in that high world and embraced all its ecstasy. When for the cleaving away (of evil and falsehood) the vast Thought holds him immediately increasing in his pervasion of earth and heaven, - then for Indra in whom are the equal and faultless words, there are all irresistible energies.
He has found the great, manifold and blissful Field (the wide field of the cows, Swar); and he has sent forth together all the moving herd for his friends. Indra shining out by the human souls (the Angirases) has brought into being, together, the Sun, the Dawn, the Path and the Flame."
And in the remaining verses the same figures continue, with an intervention of the famous image of the rain which has been so much misunderstood. "The Ancient-born I make new that I may conquer. Do thou remove our many undivine hurters and set
Swar for our possessing. The purifying rains are extended before us (in the shape of the waters); take us over to the state of bliss that is the other shore of them. Warring in thy chariot protect us from the foe; soon, soon make us conquerors of the Cows.
The Vritra-slayer, the Master of the Cows, showed (to men) the cows; he has entered with his shining laws (or lustres) within those who are black (void of light, like the Panis); showing the truths (the cows of truth) by the Truth he has opened all his
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own doors," pra sunr.ta disamana r.tena duras ca visva avr.n.od apa svah.; that is to say, he opens the doors of his own world,
Swar, after breaking open by his entry into our darkness (antah. kr.s.n.an gat) the "human doors" kept closed by the Panis.
Such is this remarkable hymn, the bulk of which I have translated because it both brings into striking relief the mystic and entirely psychological character of the Vedic poetry and by so doing sets out vividly the nature of the imagery in the midst of which Sarama figures. The other references to Sarama in the Rig
Veda do not add anything essential to the conception. We have a brief allusion in IV.16.8, "When thou didst tear the waters out of the hill, Sarama became manifest before thee; so do thou as our leader tear out much wealth for us, breaking the pens, hymned by the Angirases." It is the Intuition manifesting before the Divine Mind as its forerunner when there is the emergence of the waters, the streaming movements of the Truth that break out of the hill in which they were confined by Vritra (verse 7); and it is by means of the Intuition that this godhead becomes our leader to the rescue of the Light and the conquest of the much wealth hidden within in the rock behind the fortress gates of the Panis.
We find another allusion to Sarama in a hymn by Parashara
Shaktya, I.72. This is one of the Suktas which most clearly reveal the sense of the Vedic imagery, like most indeed of the hymns of Parashara, a very luminous poet who loves always to throw back something more than a corner of the mystic's veil. It is brief and I shall translate it in full. "He has created, within, the seer-knowings of the eternal Disposer of things, holding in his hand many powers (powers of the divine Purushas, narya purun.i); Agni creating together all immortalities becomes the master of the (divine) riches. All the immortals, they who are not limited (by ignorance), desiring, found him in us as if the
Calf (of the cow Aditi) existing everywhere; labouring, travelling to the Seat, holding the Thought they attained in the supreme seat to the shining (glory) of Agni. O Agni, when through the three years (three symbolic seasons or periods corresponding perhaps to the passage through the three mental heavens) they,
The Hound of Heaven
pure, had served thee, the pure one, with the ghr.ta, they held the sacrificial names and set moving (to the supreme heaven) forms well born. They had knowledge of the vast heaven and earth and bore them forward, they the sons of Rudra, the lords of the sacrifice; the mortal awoke to vision and found Agni standing in the seat supreme. Knowing perfectly (or in harmony) they kneeled down to him; they with their wives (the female energies of the gods) bowed down to him who is worthy of obeisance; purifying themselves (or, perhaps, exceeding the limits of heaven and earth) they created their own (their proper or divine) forms, guarded in the gaze, each friend, of the Friend. In thee the gods of the sacrifice found the thrice seven secret seats hidden within; they, being of one heart, protect by them the immortality. Guard thou the herds that stand and that which moves. O Agni, having knowledge of all manifestations (or births) in the worlds (or, knowing all the knowledge of the peoples) establish thy forces, continuous, for life. Knowing, within, the paths of the journeying of the gods thou becamest their sleepless messenger and the bearer of the offerings. The seven mighty ones of heaven (the rivers) placing aright the thought, knowing the Truth, discerned the doors of the felicity; Sarama found the fastness, the wideness of the cows whereby now the human creature enjoys (the supreme riches). They who entered upon all things that bear right issue, made the path to Immortality; by the great ones and by the greatness earth stood wide; the mother Aditi with her sons came for the upholding. The Immortals planted in him the shining glory, when they made the two eyes of heaven (identical probably with the two vision-powers of the Sun, the two horses of Indra); rivers, as it were, flow down released; the shining ones
(the cows) who were here below knew, O Agni."
So runs this hymn of Parashara, translated with the utmost possible literalness even at the cost of some uncouthness in the
English. It is clear at the very first glance that it is throughout a hymn of knowledge, of the Truth, of a divine Flame which is hardly distinguishable from the supreme Deity, of immortality, of the ascent of the gods, the divine powers, by the sacrifice to their godhead, to their supreme names, to their proper forms, to
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the shining glory of the supreme state with its thrice seven seats of the Godhead. Such an ascent can have no other meaning than the ascent of the divine powers in man out of their ordinary cosmic appearances to the shining Truth beyond, as indeed
Parashara himself tells us that by this action of the gods mortal man awakens to the knowledge and finds Agni standing in the supreme seat and goal; vidan marto nemadhita cikitvan, agnim pade parame tasthivamsam. What is Sarama doing in such a hymn if she is not a power of the Truth, if her cows are not the rays of a divine dawn of illumination? What have the cows of old warring tribes and the sanguinary squabbles of our Aryan and
Dravidian ancestors over their mutual plunderings and cattleliftings to do with this luminous apocalypse of the immortality and the godhead? Or what are these rivers that think and know the Truth and discover the hidden doors? Or must we still say that these were the rivers of the Punjab dammed up by drought or by the Dravidians and Sarama a mythological figure for an
Aryan embassy or else only the physical Dawn?
One hymn in the tenth Mandala is devoted entirely to this
"embassy" of Sarama, it is the colloquy of Sarama and the Panis; but it adds nothing essential to what we already know about her and its chief importance lies in the help it gives us in forming our conception of the masters of the cavern treasure. We may note, however, that neither in this hymn, nor in the others we have noticed is there the least indication of the figure of the divine hound which was attributed to Sarama in a possibly later development of the Vedic imagery. It is surely the shining fairfooted goddess by whom the Panis are attracted and whom they desire as their sister, - not as a dog to guard their cattle, but as one who will share in the possession of their riches. The image of the hound of heaven is, however, exceedingly apt and striking and was bound to develop out of the legend. In one of the earlier hymns we have mention indeed of a son for whom Sarama "got food" according to an ancient interpretation which accounts for the phrase by a story that the hound Sarama demanded food for her offspring in the sacrifice as a condition of her search for the lost cows. But this is obviously an explanatory invention
The Hound of Heaven
which finds no place in the Rig Veda itself. The Veda says, "In the sacrifice" or, as it more probably means, "in the seeking of Indra and the Angirases (for the cows) Sarama discovered a foundation for the Son," vidat sarama tanayaya dhasim (I.62.3); for such is the more likely sense here of the word dhasim. The son is in all probability the son born of the sacrifice, a constant element in the Vedic imagery and not the dog-race born of Sarama.
We have similar phrases in the Veda as in I.96.4, matarisva puruvarapus.t.ir vidad gatum tanayaya svarvit, "Matarishwan
(the Life-god, Vayu) increasing the many desirable things (the higher objects of life) discovered the path for the Son, discovered
Swar," where the subject is evidently the same but the son has nothing to do with any brood of puppies.
The two Sarameya dogs, messengers of Yama, are mentioned in a late hymn in the tenth Mandala, but without any reference to Sarama as their mother. This occurs in the famous
"funeral" hymn X.14, and it is worth while noting the real character of Yama and his two dogs in the Rig Veda. In the later ideas Yama is the god of Death and has his own special world; but in the Rig Veda he seems to have been originally a form of the Sun, - even as late as the Isha Upanishad we find the name used as an appellation of the Sun, - and then one of the twin children of the wide-shining Lord of Truth. He is the guardian of the dharma, the law of the Truth, satyadharma, which is a condition of immortality, and therefore himself the guardian of immortality. His world is Swar, the world of immortality, amr.te loke aks.ite, where, as we are told in IX.113, is the indestructible Light, where Swar is established, yatra jyotir ajasram, yasmin loke svar hitam. The hymn X.14 is indeed not a hymn of Death so much as a hymn of Life and Immortality.
Yama and the ancient Fathers have discovered the path to that world which is a pasture of the Cows whence the enemy cannot bear away the radiant herds, yamo no gatum prathamo viveda, nais.a gavyutir apabhartava u, yatra nah. purve pitarah. pareyuh..
The soul of the heaven-ascending mortal is bidden to "outrun the two four-eyed varicoloured Sarameya dogs on the good (or effective) path." Of that path to heaven they are the four-eyed
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guardians, protecting man on the road by their divine vision, yau te svanau yama raks.itarau caturaks.au pathiraks. nr.caks.asau, and Yama is asked to give them as an escort to the soul on its way. These dogs are "wide-moving, not easily satisfied" and range as the messengers of the Lord of the Law among men.
And the hymn prays, "May they (the dogs) give us back bliss here in the unhappy (world) so that we may look upon the Sun."
We are still in the order of the old Vedic ideas, the Light and the Bliss and the Immortality, and these Sarameya dogs have the essential characteristics of Sarama, the vision, the wide-ranging movement, the power to travel on the path by which the goal is reached. Sarama leads to the wideness of the cows; these dogs protect the soul on its journey to the inviolable pasture, the field
(ks.etra) of the luminous and imperishable herds. Sarama brings us to the truth, to the sun-vision which is the way to the bliss; these dogs bring the weal to man in this world of suffering so that he shall have the vision of the Sun. Whether Sarama figures as the fair-footed goddess speeding on the path or the heavenly hound, mother of these wide-ranging guardians of the path, the idea is the same, a power of the Truth that seeks and discovers, that finds by a divine faculty of insight the hidden Light and the denied Immortality. But it is to this seeking and finding that her function is limited.
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