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object:2.04 - Agni, the Illumined Will
book class:The Secret Of The Veda
author class:Sri Aurobindo
class:chapter


IV

Agni, the Illumined Will
Rig Veda I.77

1. How shall we give to Agni? For him what Word accepted by the Gods is spoken, for the lord of the brilliant flame? for him who in mortals, immortal, possessed of the Truth, priest of the oblation strongest for sacrifice, creates the gods?

2. He who in the sacrifices is the priest of the offering, full of peace, full of the Truth, him verily form in you by your surrenderings; when Agni manifests1 for the mortals the gods, he also has perception of them and by the mind offers to them the sacrifice.


3. For he is the will, he is the strength, he is the effecter of perfection, even as Mitra he becomes the charioteer of the
Supreme. To him, the first, in the rich-offerings the people seeking the godhead utter the word, the Aryan people to the fulfiller.


1
Or "enters into the gods".


4. May this strongest of the Powers and devourer of the destroyers manifest2 by his presence the Words and their understanding, and may they who in their extension are lords of plenitude brightest in energy pour forth their plenty and give their impulsion to the thought.


5. Thus has Agni possessed of the Truth been affirmed by the masters of light,3 the knower of the worlds by clarified minds. He shall foster in them the force of illumination, he too the plenty; he shall attain to increase and to harmony by his perceptions.


COMMENTARY
Gotama Rahugana is the seer of this Hymn, which is a stoma in praise of Agni, the divine Will at work in the universe.

Agni is the most important, the most universal of the Vedic gods. In the physical world he is the general devourer and enjoyer. He is also the purifier; when he devours and enjoys, then also he purifies. He is the fire that prepares and perfects; he is also the fire that assimilates and the heat of energy that forms.

He is the heat of life and creates the sap, the rasa in things, the essence of their substantial being and the essence of their delight.

He is equally the Will in Prana, the dynamic Life-energy, and in that energy performs the same functions. Devouring and
2
Or "enter into the words and the thinking".

3

Gotamebhih.. In its external sense "by the Gotamas", the family of the Rishi, Gotama
Rahugana, the seer of the hymn. But the names of the Rishis are constantly used with a covert reference to their meaning. In this passage there is an unmistakable significance in the grouping of the words, gotamebhir r.tava, viprebhir jatavedah., as in verse 3 in dasmam arh..


278

Selected Hymns
enjoying, purifying, preparing, assimilating, forming, he rises upwards always and transfigures his powers into the Maruts, the energies of Mind. Our passions and obscure emotions are the smoke of Agni's burning. All our nervous forces are assured of their action only by his support.

If he is the Will in our nervous being and purifies it by action, he is also the Will in the mind and clarifies it by aspiration. When he enters into the intellect, he is drawing near to his divine birthplace and home. He leads the thoughts towards effective power; he leads the active energies towards light.

His divine birth-place and home, - though he is born everywhere and dwells in all things, - is the Truth, the Infinity, the vast cosmic Intelligence in which Knowledge and Force are unified. For there all Will is in harmony with the truth of things and therefore effective; all thought part of Wisdom, which is the divine Law, and therefore perfectly regulative of a divine action.

Agni fulfilled becomes mighty in his own home - in the Truth, the Right, the Vast. It is thither that he is leading upward the aspiration in humanity, the soul of the Aryan, the head of the cosmic sacrifice.

It is at the point where there is the first possibility of the great passage, the transition from mind to supermind, the transfiguration of the intelligence, till now the crowned leader of the mental being, into a divine Light, - it is at this supreme and crucial point in the Vedic Yoga that the Rishi, Gotama
Rahugana, seeks in himself for the inspired Word. The Word shall help him to realise for himself and others the Power that must effect the transition and the state of luminous plenitude from which the transfiguration must commence.

The Vedic sacrifice is, psychologically, a symbol of cosmic and individual activity become self-conscious, enlightened and aware of its goal. The whole process of the universe is in its very nature a sacrifice, voluntary or involuntary. Self-fulfilment by self-immolation, to grow by giving is the universal law. That which refuses to give itself, is still the food of the cosmic Powers.

"The eater eating is eaten" is the formula, pregnant and terrible, in which the Upanishad sums up this aspect of the universe, and

Agni, the Illumined Will

279
in another passage men are described as the cattle of the gods. It is only when the law is recognised and voluntarily accepted that this kingdom of death can be overpassed and by the works of sacrifice Immortality made possible and attained. All the powers and potentialities of the human life are offered up, in the symbol of a sacrifice, to the divine Life in the Cosmos.

Knowledge, Force and Delight are the three powers of the divine Life; thought and its formations, will and its works, love and its harmonisings are the corresponding human activities which have to be exalted to the divine level. The dualities of truth and falsehood, light and darkness, conceptional right and wrong are the confusions of knowledge born of egoistic division; the dualities of egoistic love and hatred, joy and grief, pleasure and pain are the confusions of Love, perversities of
Ananda; the dualities of strength and weakness, sin and virtue, action and inaction are the confusions of will, dissipators of the divine Force. And all these confusions arise and even become necessary modes of our action because the triune powers of the divine Life are divorced from each other, Knowledge from
Strength, Love from both, by the Ignorance which divides. It is the Ignorance, the dominant cosmic Falsehood that has to be removed. Through the Truth, then, lies the road to the true harmony, the consummated felicity, the ultimate fulfilment of love in the divine Delight. Therefore, only when the Will in man becomes divine and possessed of the Truth, amr.to r.tava, can the perfection towards which we move be realised in humanity.

Agni, then, is the god who has to become conscient in the mortal. Him the inspired Word has to express, to confirm in this gated mansion and on the altar-seat of this sacrifice.

"How must we give to Agni?" asks the Rishi. The word for the sacrificial giving, dasema, means literally distribution; it has a covert connection with the root das in the sense of discernment.

The sacrifice is essentially an arrangement, a distribution of the human activities and enjoyments among the different cosmic
Powers to whose province they by right belong. Therefore the hymns repeatedly speak of the portions of the gods. It is the problem of the right arrangement and distribution of his works that

280

Selected Hymns
presents itself to the sacrificer; for the sacrifice must be always according to the Law and the divine ordainment (r.tu, the later vidhi). The will to right arrangement is an all-important preparation for the reign of the supreme Law and Truth in the mortal.

The solution of the problem depends on right realisation, and right realisation starts from the right illuminative Word, expression of the inspired Thought which is sent to the seer out of the Vast. Therefore the Rishi asks farther, "What word is uttered to Agni?" What word of affirmation, what word of realisation? Two conditions have to be satisfied. The Word must be accepted by other divine Powers, that is, it must bring out some potentiality in the nature or bring into it some light of realisation by which the divine Workers may be induced to manifest in the superficial consciousness of humanity and embrace openly their respective functions. And it must be illuminative of the double nature of Agni, this Lord of the lustrous flame. Bhama means both a light of knowledge and a flame of action. Agni is a Light as well as a Force.

The Word arrives. Yo martyes.u amr.to r.tava. Agni is, preeminently, the Immortal in mortals. It is this Agni by whom the other bright sons of Infinity are able to work out the manifestation and self-extension of the Divine (devavti, devatati) which is at once aim and process of the cosmic and of the human sacrifice. For he is the divine Will which in all things is always present, is always destroying and constructing, always building and perfecting, supporting always the complex progression of the universe. It is this which persists through all death and change. It is eternally and inalienably possessed of the Truth. In the last obscuration of Nature, in the lowest unintelligence of
Matter, it is this Will that is a concealed knowledge and compels all these darkened movements to obey, as if mechanically, the divine Law and adhere to the truth of their Nature. It is this which makes the tree grow according to its seed and each action bear its appropriate fruit. In the obscurity of man's ignorance,
- less than material Nature's, yet greater, - it is this divine Will that governs and guides, knows the sense of his blindness and the goal of his aberration and out of the crooked workings of the

Agni, the Illumined Will

281
cosmic Falsehood in him evolves the progressive manifestation of the cosmic Truth. Alone of the brilliant Gods, he burns bright and has full vision in the darkness of Night no less than in the splendours of day. The other gods are us.arbudhah., wakers with the Dawn.

Therefore is he the priest of the offering, strongest or most apt for sacrifice, he who, all-powerful, follows always the law of the Truth. We must remember that the oblation (havya) signifies always action (karma) and each action of mind or body is regarded as a giving of our plenty into the cosmic being and the cosmic intention. Agni, the divine Will, is that which stands behind the human will in its works. In the conscient offering, he comes in front; he is the priest set in front (puro-hita), guides the oblation and determines its effectiveness.

By this self-guided Truth, by this knowledge that works out as an unerring Will in the Cosmos, he fashions the gods in mortals. Agni manifests divine potentialities in a death-besieged body; Agni brings them to effective actuality and perfection. He creates in us the luminous forms of the Immortals.

This work he does as a cosmic Power labouring upon the rebellious human material even when in our ignorance we resist the heavenward impulse and, accustomed to offer our actions to the egoistic life, cannot yet or as yet will not make the divine surrender. But it is in proportion as we learn to subjugate the ego and compel it to bow down in every act to the universal Being and to serve consciously in its least movements the supreme Will, that Agni himself takes form in us. The Divine Will becomes present and conscient in a human mind and enlightens it with the divine Knowledge. Thus it is that man can be said to form by his toil the great Gods.

The Sanskrit expression is here a kr.n.udhvam. The preposition gives the idea of a drawing upon oneself of something outside and the working or shaping it out in our own consciousness. A kr. corresponds to the converse expression, a bhu, used of the gods when they approach the mortal with the contact of Immortality and, divine form of godhead falling on form of humanity, "become", take shape, as it were, in him. The

282

Selected Hymns
cosmic Powers act and exist in the universe; man takes them upon himself, makes an image of them in his own consciousness and endows that image with the life and power that the
Supreme Being has breathed into His own divine forms and world-energies.4
It is when thus present and conscient in the mortal, like a "house-lord",5 master in his mansion, that Agni appears in the true nature of his divinity. When we are obscure and revolt against the Truth and the Law, our progress seems to be a stumbling from ignorance to ignorance and is full of pain and disturbance. By constant submission to the Truth, surrenderings, namobhih., we create in ourselves that image of the divine Will which is on the contrary full of peace, because it is assured of the
Truth and the Law. Equality of soul6 created by the surrender to the universal Wisdom gives us a supreme peace and calm. And since that Wisdom guides all our steps in the straight paths of the Truth we are carried by it beyond all stumblings (duritani).

Moreover, with Agni conscious in our humanity, the creation of the gods in us becomes a veritable manifestation and no longer a veiled growth. The will within grows conscious of the increasing godhead, awakens to the process, perceives the lines of the growth. Human action intelligently directed and devoted to the universal Powers, ceases to be a mechanical, involuntary or imperfect offering; the thinking and observing mind participates and becomes the instrument of the sacrificial will.

Agni is the power of conscious Being, called by us will, effective behind the workings of mind and body. Agni is the strong God within (maryah., the strong, the masculine) who puts out his strength against all assailing powers, who forbids inertia, who repels every failing of heart and of force, who spurns out all lack of manhood. Agni actualises what might otherwise remain as an ineffectual thought or aspiration. He is the doer of the
4
This is the true sense and theory of Hindu image-worship, which is thus a material rendering of the great Vedic symbols.

5
Gr.hapati; also vispati, lord or king in the creature.

6
Samata of the Gita.


Agni, the Illumined Will

283

Yoga (sadhu); divine smith labouring at his forge, he hammers out our perfection. Here he is said to become the charioteer of the Supreme. The Supreme and Wonderful that moves and fulfils Itself "in the consciousness of another",7 (we have the same word, adbhuta, as in the colloquy of Indra and Agastya), effects that motion with this Power as charioteer holding the reins of the activity. Mitra also, the lord of Love and Light is even such a charioteer. Love illuminated fulfils the harmony which is the goal of the divine movement. But the power of this lord of Will and Light is also needed. Force and Love united and both illumined by Knowledge fulfil God in the world.

Will is the first necessity, the chief actualising force. When therefore the race of mortals turn consciously towards the great aim and, offering their enriched capacities to the Sons of Heaven, seek to form the divine in themselves, it is to Agni, first and chief, that they lift the realising thought, frame the creative Word. For they are the Aryans who do the work and accept the effort, - the vastest of all works, the most grandiose of all efforts, - and he is the power that embraces Action and by Action fulfils the work. What is the Aryan without the divine Will that accepts the labour and the battle, works and wins, suffers and triumphs?
Therefore it is this Will which annihilates all forces commissioned to destroy the effort, this strongest of all the divine
Puissances in which the supreme Purusha has imaged Himself, that must bestow its presence on these human vessels. There it will use the mind as instrument of the sacrifice and by its very presence manifest those inspired and realising Words which are as a chariot framed for the movement of the gods, giving to the
Thought that meditates the illuminative comprehension which allows the forms of the divine Powers to outline themselves in our waking consciousness.

Then may those other mighty Ones who bring with them the plenitudes of the higher life, Indra and the Ashwins, Usha and Surya, Varuna and Mitra and Aryaman, assume with that formative extension of themselves in the human being their most
7

R.V. I.170.1.


284

Selected Hymns
brilliant energies. Let them create their plenty in us, pouring it forth from the secret places of our being so as to be utilisable in its daylight tracts and let their impulsions urge upward the divinising thought in Mind, till it transfigures itself in the supreme lustres.

The hymn closes. Thus, in inspired words, has the divine
Will, Agni, been affirmed by the sacred chant of the Gotamas.

The Rishi uses his name and that of his house as a symbolword; we have in it the Vedic go in the sense "luminous", and
Gotama means "entirely possessed of light". For it is only those that have the plenitude of the luminous intelligence by whom the master of divine Truth can be wholly received and affirmed in this world of an inferior Ray, - gotamebhir r.tava. And it is upon those whose minds are pure, clear and open, vipra, that there can dawn the right knowledge of the great Births which are behind the physical world and from which it derives and supports its energies, - viprebhir jatavedah..

Agni is Jatavedas, knower of the births, the worlds. He knows entirely the five worlds8 and is not confined in his consciousness to this limited and dependent physical harmony. He has access even to the three highest states9 of all, to the udder of the mystic Cow,10 the abundance of the Bull11 with the four horns. From that abundance he will foster the illumination in these Aryan seekers, swell the plenty of their divine faculties. By that fullness and plenty of his illumined perceptions he will unite thought with thought, word with word, till the human Intelligence is rich and harmonious enough to support and become the divine Idea.


8
The worlds in which, respectively, Matter, Life-Energy, Mind, Truth and Beatitude are the essential energies. They are called respectively Bhur, Bhuvar, Swar, Mahas and
Jana or Mayas.

9
Divine Being, Consciousness, Bliss, - Sachchidananda.

10
Aditi, the infinite Consciousness, Mother of the worlds.

11
The divine Purusha, Sachchidananda; the three highest states and Truth are his four horns.




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