object:2.02 - Indra, Giver of Light
book class:The Secret Of The Veda
Indra, Giver of Light
Rig Veda I.4
1. The fashioner of perfect forms, like a good yielder for the milker of the Herds, we call for increase from day to day.
2. Come to our Soma-offerings. O Soma-drinker, drink of the Soma-wine; the intoxication of thy rapture gives indeed the Light.
3. Then may we know somewhat of thy uttermost right thinkings. Show not beyond us, come.
4. Come over, question Indra of the clear-seeing mind, the vigorous, the unoverthrown, who to thy comrades has brought the highest good.
5. And may the Restrainers1 say to us, "Nay, forth and strive on even in other fields, reposing on Indra your activity."
6. And may the fighters, doers of the work,2 declare us entirely blessed, O achiever; may we abide in Indra's peace.
7. Intense for the intense bring thou this glory of the sacrifice that intoxicates the Man, carrying forward on the way Indra who gives joy to his friend.
8. When thou hadst drunk of this, O thou of the hundred activities, thou becamest a slayer of the Coverers and protectedst the rich mind in its riches.
Or Censurers, Nidah.. The root nid bears, I think, in the Veda the sense of "bondage",
"confinement", "limitation", which can be assigned to it with entire certainty by philological deduction. It is the base of nidita, bound, and nidana, tether. But the root also means to blame. After the peculiar method of the esoteric diction one or other sense predominates in different passages without entirely excluding the other.
Arih. kr.s.t.ayah. may also be translated, "the Aryan people", or "the warlike nations".
The words kr.s.t.i and cars.an.i, interpreted by Sayana as "man", have as their base the roots kr.s. and cars. which originally imply labour, effort or laborious action. They mean sometimes the doer of Vedic Karma, sometimes, the Karma itself, - the worker or the works.
9. Thee thus rich in thy riches we enrich again, O Indra, O thou of the hundred activities, for the safe enjoyment of our havings.
10. He who in his vastness is a continent of bliss, - the friend of the Soma-giver and he carries him safely through, - to that Indra raise the chant.
1. "The doer of (works that have) a good shape, Indra, we call daily for protection as (one calls) for the cow-milker a good milch-cow.
2. "Come to our (three) libations, drink of the Soma, O Somadrinker; the intoxication of thee, the wealthy one, is indeed cow-giving.
3. "Then (standing) among the intelligent people who are nearest to thee, may we know thee. Do not (go) beyond us (and) manifest (thyself to others, but) come to us.
4. "Come to him and question about me, the intelligent one, (whether I have praised him rightly or not), - to the intelligent and unhurt Indra who gives to thy friends (the priests) the best wealth.
5. "Let of us (i.e. our priests) speak (i.e. praise Indra), - and also, O you who censure, go out (from here) and from elsewhere too, - (our priests) doing service all about Indra.
6. "O destroyer (of foes), may even our enemies speak of us as having good wealth, - men (i.e. our friends will say it of course); may we be in the peace (bestowed) by Indra.
7. "Bring this Soma, that wealth of the sacrifice, the cause of exhilaration to men, (the Soma) that pervades (the three oblations) for Indra who pervades (the Soma-offering), that attains the rites and is friendly to (Indra) who gives joy (to the sacrificer).
8. "Drinking of this, O thou of many actions, thou becamest a slayer of Vritras (i.e. enemies led by Vritra) and didst protect entirely the fighter in the fights.
9. "O Indra of many actions, for enjoyment of riches we make thee abundant in food who art strong in the battles.3
10. "Sing to that Indra who is a protector of wealth, great, a good fulfiller (of works) and a friend of the sacrificer."
Madhuchchhandas, son of Vishwamitra, invokes in the Somaoffering Indra, the Master of luminous Mind, for increase in the Light. The symbols of the hymn are those of a collective sacrifice. Its subject is the growth of power and delight in Indra by the drinking of the Soma, the wine of immortality, and the consequent illumination of the human being so that the obstructions of his inner knowledge are removed and he attains to the utmost splendours of the liberated mind.
But what is this Soma, called sometimes amrita, the Greek ambrosia, as if it were itself the substance of immortality? It is a figure for the divine Ananda, the principle of Bliss, from which, in the Vedic conception, the existence of Man, this mental being, is drawn. A secret Delight is the base of existence, its sustaining atmosphere and almost its substance. This Ananda is spoken of in the Taittiriya Upanishad as the ethereal atmosphere of bliss without which nothing could remain in being. In the Aitareya
Upanishad Soma, as the lunar deity, is born from the sense-mind
Note that Sayana explains vajinam in v. 8 as "fighter in the fights" and the same expression in the very next verse as "strong in the fights" and that in the phrase vajes.u vajinam vajayamah. he takes the base word vaja in three different significances, "battle",
"strength" and "food". This is a typical example of the deliberate inconsistency of Sayana's method.
I have given the two renderings together so that the reader may make an easy comparison between both methods and results. I enclose within brackets the commentator's explanations wherever they are necessary to complete the sense or to make it intelligible.
Even the reader unacquainted with Sanskrit will be able, I think, to appreciate from this single example the reasons which justify the modern critical mind in refusing to accept
Sayana as a reliable authority for the interpretation of the Vedic text.
in the universal Purusha and, when man is produced, expresses himself again as sense-mentality in the human being. For delight is the raison d'etre of sensation, or, we may say, sensation is an attempt to translate the secret delight of existence into the terms of physical consciousness. But in that consciousness, - often figured as adri, the hill, stone, or dense substance, - divine light and divine delight are both of them concealed and confined, and have to be released or extracted. Ananda is retained as rasa, the sap, the essence, in sense-objects and sense-experiences, in the plants and growths of the earth-nature, and among these growths the mystic Soma-plant symbolises that element behind all sense activities and their enjoyments which yields the divine essence. It has to be distilled and, once distilled, purified and intensified until it has grown luminous, full of radiance, full of swiftness, full of energy, gomat, asu, yuvaku. It becomes the chief food of the gods who, called to the Soma-oblation, take their share of the enjoyment and in the strength of that ecstasy increase in man, exalt him to his highest possibilities, make him capable of the supreme experiences. Those who do not give the delight in them as an offering to the divine Powers, preferring to reserve themselves for the sense and the lower life, are adorers not of the gods, but of the Panis, lords of the senseconsciousness, traffickers in its limited activities, they who press not the mystic wine, give not the purified offering, raise not the sacred chant. It is the Panis who steal from us the Rays of the illumined consciousness, those brilliant herds of the sun, and pen them up in the cavern of the subconscient, in the dense hill of matter, corrupting even Sarama, the hound of heaven, the luminous intuition, when she comes on their track to the cave of the Panis.
But the conception of this hymn belongs to a stage in our inner progress when the Panis have been exceeded and even the Vritras or Coverers who seclude from us our full powers and activities and Vala who holds back the Light, are already overpassed. But there are even then powers that stand in the way of our perfection. They are the powers of limitation, the
Confiners or Censurers, who, without altogether obscuring the rays or damming up the energies, yet seek by constantly affirming the deficiencies of our self-expression to limit its field and set up the progress realised as an obstacle to the progress to come.
Madhuchchhandas calls upon Indra to remove the defect and affirm in its place an increasing illumination.
The principle which Indra represents is Mind-Power released from the limits and obscurations of the nervous consciousness. It is this enlightened Intelligence which fashions right or perfect forms of thought or of action not deformed by the nervous impulses, not hampered by the falsehoods of sense. The image presented is that of a cow giving abundantly its yield to the milker of the herds. The word go means in Sanskrit both a cow and a ray of light. This double sense is used by the Vedic symbolists to suggest a double figure which was to them more than a figure; for light, in their view, is not merely an apt poetic image of thought, but is actually its physical form. Thus, the herds that are milked are the Herds of the Sun, - Surya, God of the revelatory and intuitive mind, or else of Dawn, the goddess who manifests the solar glory. The Rishi desires from Indra a daily increase of this light of Truth by his fuller activity pouring rays in a rich yield upon the receptive mind.
The activity of the pure illuminated Intelligence is sustained and increased by the conscious expression in us of the delight in divine existence and divine activity typified by the Soma wine. As the Intelligence feeds upon it, its action becomes an intoxicated ecstasy of inspiration by which the rays come pouring abundantly and joyously in. "Light-giving indeed is the intoxication of thee in thy rapture."
For then it is possible, breaking beyond the limitations still insisted upon by the Confiners, to arrive at something of the finalities of knowledge possible to the illuminated intelligence.
Right thoughts, right sensibilities, - this is the full sense of the word sumati; for the Vedic mati includes not only the thinking, but also the emotional parts of mentality. Sumati is a light in the thoughts; it is also a bright gladness and kindness in the soul. But in this passage the stress of the sense is upon right thought and not on the emotions. It is necessary, however, that the progress
in right thinking should commence in the field of consciousness already attained; there must not be flashes and dazzling manifestations which by going beyond our powers elude expression in right form and confuse the receptive mind. Indra must be not only illuminer, but a fashioner of right thought-formations, surupakr.tnu.
The Rishi, next, turning to a comrade in the collective Yoga, or, perhaps, addressing his own mind, encourages him or it to pass beyond the obstruction of the adverse suggestions opposed to him and by questioning the divine Intelligence progress to the highest good which it has already given to others. For it is that Intelligence which clearly discerns and can solve or remove all still-existing confusion and obscuration. Swift of movement, intense, energetic, it does not by its energy stumble in its paths like the impulses of the nervous consciousness. Or perhaps it is rather meant that owing to its invincible energy it does not succumb to the attacks whether of the Coverers or of the powers that limit.
Next are described the results towards which the seer aspires. With this fuller light opening on to the finalities of mental knowledge the powers of Limitation will be satisfied and of themselves will withdraw, consenting to the farther advance and to the new luminous activities. They will say, in effect, "Yes, now you have the right which we were hitherto justified in denying. Not only in the fields won already, but in other and untrod provinces pursue then your conquering march. Repose this action wholly on the divine Intelligence, not upon your lower capacities. For it is the greater surrender which gives you the greater right."
The word arata, move or strive, like its congeners ari, arya, arya, arata, aran.i, expresses the central idea of the Veda. The root ar indicates always a movement of effort or of struggle or a state of surpassing height or excellence; it is applied to rowing, ploughing, fighting, lifting, climbing. The Aryan then is the man who seeks to fulfil himself by the Vedic action, the internal and external karma or apas, which is of the nature of a sacrifice to the gods. But it is also imaged as a journey, a march, a battle,
a climbing upwards. The Aryan man labours towards heights, fights his way on in a march which is at once a progress forward and an ascent. That is his Aryahood, his arete, virtue, to use a
Greek word derived from the same root. Arata, with the rest of the phrase, might be translated, "Out and push forward in other fields."
The idea is taken up again, in the subtle Vedic fashion of thought-connections by word-echoes, with the arih. kr.s.t.ayah. of the next verse. These are, I think, not the Aryan nations on earth, although that sense too is possible when the idea is that of a collective or national Yoga, but the powers that help man in his ascent, his spiritual kindred bound to him as comrades, allies, brothers, yokefellows (sakhayah., yujah., jamayah.), for his aspiration is their aspiration and by his completeness they are fulfilled. As the Restrainers are satisfied and give way, so they too, satisfied, must affirm finally their task accomplished by the fullness of human bliss, when the soul shall rest in the peace of
Indra that comes with the Light, the peace of a perfected mentality standing as upon heights of consummated consciousness and Beatitude.
Therefore is the divine Ananda poured out to be made swift and intense in the system and offered to Indra for the support of his intensities. For it is this profound joy manifest in the inner sensations that gives the ecstasy by which the man or the
God grows strong. The divine Intelligence will be able to move forward in the journey yet uncompleted and will return the gift by fresh powers of the Beatitude descending upon the friend of
For it was in this strength that the Divine Mind in man destroyed all that opposed, as Coverers or besiegers, its hundredfold activities of will and of thought; in this strength it protected afterwards the rich and various possessions already won in past battles from the Atris and Dasyus, devourers and plunderers of our gains.
Although, continues Madhuchchhandas, that Intelligence is already thus rich and variously stored we seek to increase yet more its force of abundance, removing the Restrainers as well as
the Vritras, so that we may have the full and assured possession of our riches.
For this Light is, in its entire greatness free from limitation, a continent of felicity; this Power is that which befriends the human soul and carries it safe through the battle, to the end of its march, to the summit of its aspiration.
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