Meaning of Vedas
The Veda – The Word-form of Brahman
The Indian or rather the Aryan mind is saturated with the idea that the Veda is Sabdabrahman, that is the Word-form of Brahman, and therefore as vast and infinite as the Brahman itself.
The Taittiriya Brahmana, an ancient commentary on the Yajurveda, substantiates this deep-rooted conviction in the Aryan. There we find an interesting story of sage Bharadvaja. It is narrated there that he lived a man’s full life span of a hundred years and devoted himself to the study of the Vedas, but could not finish it. So he prayed to Brahma, the creator, to extend his life for another full span of a hundred years for the pursuit and completion of his studies. The boon was granted, but this further extension also proved to be insufficient. So the sage asked for yet another lease of a full span of human life. Brahma, pleased with the sincere devotion, rigorous austerity and diligent pursuit of studies, accorded him the desired boon and the sage engrossed himself once again in studies but the end of the task was nowhere in sight. Thereupon there was a spontaneous utterance from his heart: ‘Anantaa vai Vedaah’, that is, ‘Infinite indeed are the Veda!’ The story suggestively indicates that writers of these Brahmanas, the Vedic commentaries, did not consider the four Vedas as encompassing the entire Vedic lore. According to them, these sour Vedas were as if only four handfuls of gems picked up by our creator, Brahma, from the huge mountain-heap of Divine Knowledge, and given to humanity as necessary for the present cycle of creation.
The Veda – The Eternal and Infinite Knowledge
In other words, the Veda is not confined to the four books or to any number of books for that matter. In fact, the adherents of other religions, for example, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Parsees maintain that God gave them the inspired knowledge in the form of either a divine edict or a book. But the Veda, according to the most ancient tradition, is knowledge infinite and eternal. The word Veda means derivatively knowledge as a direct experience. If the Veda is the word, it is not the written word but spoken, or rather a word heard, sruti, as it is called. That means the language of the Veda itself stems from a non-human or impersonal source. Sri Aurobindo has said, ‘The language of Veda itself is sruti, a rhythm not composed by the intellect but heard, a Vivine Word that came vibrating out of the Infinite to the inner audience of the man who had previously made himself fit for the impersonal knowledge.’ It follows that the Veda as a Divine Gospel is unbounded, unlimited, and infinite. Issuing from the ineffable sources it penetrates and permeates the hearts of Rishis. Sri Aurobindo has explained the self-same Truth in yet another way. In The Synthesis of Yoga he writes: ‘The supreme Shastra of the integral Yoga is the eternal Veda secret in the heart of every thinking and living being. The lotus of the eternal knowledge and the eternal perfection is a bud closed and folded up within us. It opens swiftly or gradually, petal by petal…’This statement of Sri Aurobindo’s corroborates and buttresses the traditional conviction that the Veda is not a book but an eternal and infinite knowledge, embedded in the heart of each individual.
‘Veda’ Means the Knowledge of Sacchidaananda
The conviction is also supported by the etymological derivation of the word ‘Veda’ which is derived from the root ‘vid’. The famous grammarian Panini indicates three senses to this root according to three different conjugations. ‘vid’ in the fourth conjugation means ‘to be or to exist’, vid sattaayaam; in the second conjugation it means to know or to be conscious or aware of, vid jnaane; in the sixth conjugation it means to gain, to attain, vidlr laabhe. The word Veda derived from vid to be or exist would mean Being or Existence, that is, the Sat of the Vedantic Sacchidaananda, and again derived from vid to gain or to attain, it would signify the highest gain or attainment, that is the bliss or Ananda of the Vedantic Sacchidaananda, since bliss is the highest gain, the highest thing worth striving for, as it has been rightly said by the wise: ‘Aanandaanna paro laabhaha’, that is, there is no gain greater than the bliss. Thus the word Veda combines in itself all the three senses of the three roots and connotes Sacchidaananda and the nature of his manifested creation, the evolutionary world-nature, and world-action.
Contents of the Veda
Coming to the contents of the Veda we find that various theories have been advanced on this subject. But we confine ourselves to Sri Aurobindo’s view which strictly based on his direct self-experience. It is interesting to note here that even before he commenced the study of the Vedas he had direct vision of certain Vedic deities, saw them in their manifest forms, had an insight into their nature and function and came to know the symbolic pursuing certain lines of self-development in the way of Indian Yoga, there began to arise in his mind some symbolic names. They pertained to certain psychological experiences, which he was privy to regularly. Among those experiences ‘…there came the figures of three female energies, Ila, Saraswati, Sarama, representing severally three out of the four faculties of the intuitive reason, – revelation, inspiration and intuition. Two of these names were not well known to me as names of Vedic goddesses, but were connected rather with the current Hindu religion or with old Puranic legend, Saraswati, goddess of learning and Ila, mother of the Lunar dynasty.
‘But Sarama was familiar enough. I was unable, however, to establish any connection between the figure that rose in my mind and the Vedic hound of heaven, who was associated in my memory with the Argive Helen and represented only an image of the physical Dawn…’
In course of time he had a direct inner experience of the nature of these three goddesses as also the goddess Dakshina. He said that these goddesses represented ‘…. the four faculties of the rtam or Truth-Consciousness, – Ila representing truth-vision or revelation, Saraswati truth-audition, inspiration, the divine word, Sarama intuition, Dakshina the separative intuitional discrimination.’ In ancient Indian terminology Ila corresponds to Drsti, Saraswati to Sruti, Sarama to Smrti and Dakshina to Smarta Viveka.
Thus we have seen that even before studying the Veda, Sri Aurobindo had a vision of the Vedic goddesses and the touchstone of his own inner vision helped in revealing to him their symbolic nature and all this happened in the same way as the Mantras of the Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda dawned in the hearts of the four great seers. Agni, Vayu, Aditya and Angiras respectively in the beginning of human creation. Therefore, the secret meaning revealed to Sri Aurobindo has the solid backbone of experiential authority. Consequently the method he has evolved to interpret and annotate the Vedic text is the most authoritative, flawless, and holistic in its scope.
In another context he has himself clearly said, ‘Sri Krishna has shown me the true meaning of the Vedas, not only so, but he has shown me a new Science of Philology showing the process and origins of human speech so that a new Nirukta can be formed and the new interpretation of Veda based upon it. He has also shown me the meaning of all in the Upanisads that is not understood either by Indians or Europeans.’
Sri Aurobindo’s Way of Interpretation
What then is the way of interpretation evolved by Sri Aurobindo and what is the secret meaning that emerges by following his method? Indian tradition recognizes three distinct ways in which Vedic hymns may be interpreted, – the aadhyaatmika, that is, the inner subjective, the aadhibhautika, that is the objective material, and the aadhidaivika, that is, the one pertaining to gods. The three types of meanings derived by these three methods are also termed aadhyatmika, aadibhautika and aadhidaivika. Sri Aurobindo attaches the utmost importance to the first method of interpretation, the spiritual, psychological, esoteric or Yogic method, and the sense derived by it is considered by him as the true significance and the kernel of the Vedas.
Four Ways of Interpretation of the Veda
Apart from these three is a fourth one introduced by European scholars. They approach the Veda with a rationalistic outlook and seek to interpret the Vedic texts and commentaries in their historical perspective bringing in comparative religion and philology as aids. Notwithstanding their admiration for the Vedic texts, with the exception of a select few, most tend to brand them as ‘sacrificial composition of a primitive and still barbarous race.’ The ritualists have no answer to this line of criticism. On the other hand, they lend their over-emphasis on rites and ceremonies, neglecting thereby the higher and profounder significance of this ancient legacy. Sri Aurobindo, after a thorough study and critical analysis, impartially states what his own spiritual experience revealed to him, thus: ‘The ritual system recognized by Sayana may, in its externalities, stand; the naturalistic sense discovered by European scholarship may, in its general conceptions, be accepted; but behind them there is always the true and still hidden secret of the Veda – the secret words, ninyaa vachaamsi, which were spoken for the purified in soul and the awakened in knowledge.’
The Psychological Significance of Deities
But whatever may be the method we choose in trying to understand the true significance of the Vedas, it is of paramount importance first to grasp the nature of the Vedic deities. In the esoteric, spiritual interpretation of the Vedas, the deities are psychological powers inherent in universal Nature, that is to say, they are powers of Cosmic Will, Cosmic Mind and other Cosmic, all-penetrating forces with whose help Nature is able to effect her work within us and in the external world. Sri Aurobindo has elaborately dealt with the esoteric nature as well as the pragmatic functions of these universal powers of deities in the second part of The Secret of the Veda, entitled ‘Selected hymns’, in which he has commented upon thirteen hymns pertaining to different deities in the manner of traditional commentators. From these luminous explanations we know that Agni is the foundation of what is known as ‘Will’ in psychology, although with a wider and extended significance. ‘He is the Lord of the Will, the Divine Will-force or Cosmic Will-force.’ Similarly Indra is the Lord of the Divine Mind, the God-mind; it is he who imparts the light of consciousness. The host of the deities called Maruts, are the powers assisting Indra and thus they are the thought-powers and the life-forces assisting the divine mind. Surya is the sun of divine truth and Usa is the dawn of divine light, divine consciousness, and divine knowledge. The Asvins, twin brothers, Asvini-Kumaras of the Puranas, are the Lords of bliss. Some is the Lord of delight and immortality. Following the psychological clues thus provided, Sri Aurobindo has amply elucidated the images of many of the ancient Vedic deities. Each one has special individuality, a form belonging to none else and if sincerely concentrated and meditated upon, can manifest and appear before the seeker and help him. These deities are not merely formless powers or featureless idea-forces of the Supreme Lord, they are the powers of the Supreme emanating in embodied forms and working both in man and the cosmos for well-defined and specific objectives.
Key words of the Veda and their Meanings
The knowledge of the psychological significance of the nature of gods and goddesses is an indispensable key of penetrating the inner temple of the Veda. Besides, there are certain words in the Veda, which are used in a sense quite different from what obtains in popular usage. The secret meanings of such words provide another key for opening the sealed gates that lead to the secret of the Veda. To illustrate our point, we mention a few words by way of example. The words ‘go’, ‘asva’, ‘ghrta’, ‘ap’ recur frequently in the Veda. They are suggestive and symbolic. Again there are words ‘rta’, ‘radhas’, ‘kratu’, ‘kavi’, which admit multiple meanings. But Sri Aurobindo holds that these seminal worlds should have, each one of them one definite sense throughout the Vedas in order to arrive at a coherent sense falling in line with a mystical interpretation. This view of Sri Aurobindo is based on his own psycho-spiritual experience and constantly refers back to the testimony of the Vedic text itself.
Thus, in Sri Aurobindo’s opinion, the word ‘go’ invariably expresses the divine light everywhere, the word ‘asva’ symbnolises spiritual force everywhere. ‘Ghrta’ denotes clarity of mind or the clear light of the mind, clear mental consciousness. ‘Aapah’ which in ordinary Sanskrit means stream of water, bears in the Veda the spiritual meaning of the outpouring of Sacchidananda, the shower of conscious existence, the ‘rain of God’s bounty’, the shower of truth, consciousness, and delight from the eternal Divine Being. The word ‘rta’ denotes divine truth. ‘vana’ conveys the sense of delight. ‘ratna’, ‘rayi’, ‘raadhas’, all of which express plentitude and prosperity, point to the plentitude of delight, ‘kratu’ is will-force, ‘sravas’ the inner audition of the inspiration, the word of knowledge heard within. ‘Kavi’ connotes esoterically the seer possessing inner vision. Sri Aurobindo avers that if the inward meanings of certain specific terms in the Veda are fixed carefully, they can be applied throughout the gamut of hymnal literature successfully. In fact, they must be consistently applied everywhere in the Veda, otherwise there will be no end to inconsistency, unremitting chaos, and failure would be the fruits of our folly.
An obvious example of such chaos is the commentary of Sayanacharya, the famous commentator of the Veda. A great scholar whose commentary is truly monumental, Sayana had a strong predisposition towards a ritualistic or exoteric interpretation. To the same word he attached different meanings in different verses to suit the performance of Vedic rites and sacrifices. For example, to the simple word ‘rta’ he attributed two different meanings in two separate verses – water, sacrifice. In yet another place he argues that the word is the past passive participle, derivative from the root ‘r’ and so it means ‘gone’. And all this is done to avoid the obvious psychological meanings of dynamic truth, right. When all the exoteric meanings do not fit in a certain passage, Sayana is obliged to accept the psychological meaning in spite of himself. To conduct the study of the Vedas with such prejudices and preconceptions and to adopt such a laisses-faire treatment of a sacred body of mystic scripture and divine knowledge cannot be conducive to the discovery of its true meanings.
Dayananda: the First Giver of the Key to the Hidden Meaning
The esoteric meanings of the key words of the Veda, which Sri Aurobindo saw, can stand the test of grammar and etymology equally well. Vedic words have derivative and etymological meanings, ‘yaugikaartha’, not conventional, ‘rudhartha’ nor etymological cum conventional, ‘yogarudhartha’. Swami Dayananda also interprets them etymologically taking his stand on a solid spiritual vision and experience. Sri Aurobindo acknowledges the debt we owe to Dayananda. In his book Bankim-Tilak-Dayananda he says Dayananda has given us the key to disengage the meaning of the Veda. This key is nothing but that of etymological interpretation. That alone can unravel the mystic secret of this most ancient scripture.
We have indicated above the psychological nature and function of the Vedic gods and goddesses on the basis of derivative meanings of certain special words. The crucial question we must address ourselves to next is: what is the mystic knowledge or doctrine that emerges from the Veda if we follow this way of interpretation?
The Tradition of a Secret Meaning
Sri Aurobindo accepts the existence of mystic schools and mystic knowledge in Vedic and pre-Vedic times as we find in the case of Egypt and Greece. In his book Hymns to the Mystic Fire, he writes: ‘….there was indeed almost everywhere an age of the Mysteries in which men of a deeper knowledge and self-knowledge established their practices, significant rites, symbols, secret lore within or on the border of the more primitive exterior religions. This took different forms in different countries; in Greece there were the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries, in Egypt and Chaldea the priests and their occult lore and magic, in Persia the magi, in India the Rishis.’ (Foreword, p.3-4) ‘….the tradition of a secret meaning and a mystic wisdom couched in the Riks of the ancient Veda was as old as the Veda itself.’ (Ibid.p.5).
The fourfold Mystic Knowledge
The secret meaning and the mystic knowledge which had been lost have again been discovered by following Sri Aurobindo’s way of interpretation which constantly refers to his direct self-experience. This knowledge is fourfold. The first principle around which all is centred is the seeking after Truth, Light, and Immortality. The Veda says there is a Truth deeper and higher than the truth of outward existence, a Light greater and higher than the light of human understanding, which comes by revelation and inspiration, there is an Immortality towards which the soul has to rise. We have to find our way to that, to get in touch with this Truth and Immorality, rtam sapanto amrtam, to be born into the Truth, to grow into it, to ascend in spirit into the World of Truth and live in it. to do so is to unite ourselves with the Godhead and to pass from mortality to Immortality.
All these ideals are set forth in the latter half of one couplet thus:
Bhajanta visve devatavam naama rtam sapanto amrtam evaih. (Rig. 1.68.2)
‘All enjoy the Name, the Godhead; by the movements they touch Truth and Immortality.’ – Sri Aurobindo, 11:55.
And in another Mantra,
Satyam tad Indro dasabhir dasagvaih, suryamviveda tamasi kshiyantam (Rig. 3.39.5)
‘With the ten, the Dashagwas, Indra found the true Sun (or, as I render it, the Truth, the Sun), dwelling in the darkness.’ – Sri Aurobindo, 10:150
Eulham jyotih pitaro anvavindantsatyamantraa ajanayannusaasam (Rig. 7.76.4)
‘Our fathers found out the hidden light, by the truth in their thoughts they brought to birth the Dawn.’ (Ibid. 10:123)
All these mantras point to the self-same Truth and Light.
The Means to find out that Knowledge
The realization of this Truth, Light, Divinity, and Immortality is possible by no other means than those dictated by that Truth. This is stated in another Mantra of the Veda thus:
Abhudu paarametave panthaa rtasya saadhuyaa. Adarsi vi srutirdivah. (Rig. 1.46.11)
‘The path of the Truth has come into being by which we shall travel to that other shore; seen is all the wide way through heaven.’ – Sri Aurobindo, 10:124
All these truths and the means to attain to them are inherent in man because deep within him is their source and the divine power to realize and manifest them. This fundamental capacity can be activised and made dynamic. To do so is the principal object of all the prayers and psalms and offerings we find embodied in the Mantras of the Veda. The hymns are addressed to the Divine Grace variously as and when that Grace progressively reveals these truths to men.
We now come to the second mystic doctrine or the second principle of the mystic Vedic knowledge.
It is clear from the Vedic text that this universe of ours contains a truth and is not an illusion. But this is a truth of an inferior order, intertwined as it is with much falsehood and error. The mixed nature of this world is clearly brought out in a Mantra:
Ime chetaaro anrtasya bhoorermitro aryamaa varuno hi santi. (Rig.7.60.5)
‘These are they that discern and separate all the much falsehood in us, they the Lords of Love and Strength and Purity.’ – Sri Aurobindo, 10:536.
Brahma Satyam Jagat Satyam
But howsoever mingled with falsehood our world may be, it is yet real. This is evident from this very Mantra in which there are mentioned powers and presences like Mitra, Aryaman and Varuna who discern the falsehood and lead the world out of it by their respective divinities, that is, by their divine qualities and functions. In other words, Mitra, by virtue of his love, friendship, unity, harmony and concord, and Varuna, applying his purity and vastness, and Aryaman, by his fearless and continued battle and war against adverse forces are all striving to transform this world of ignorance and falsehood, death and suffering, into a world of truth and light and life, divine and immortal. Hence the clarion call of the Vedas, according to Sri Aurobindo, is not ‘Brahma satyam jaganmithya’ (viveka-Chudamani, 20), ‘Brahman is true, the world is an illusion‘, the traditional call of the non-dualistic illusionism, but ‘Brahma satyam jagat satyam sarvam brahmamayam jagat, ekamevaadviteeyam tajjeevo brahmaiva naaparah.’ ‘Brahman is real, the world is real, the whole world is full of Brahman; it is all one without any division, the soul too is that Brahman and naught else.’
Truth’s Own Home
Whenever the reality of this phenomenal world is admitted, it is at the same time stressed that in the uppermost level truth resides in its own home, its self-abode. The ultimate reality is described in the Vedas in various worlds, such as rtachit, rtasya sadanam. Between these two worlds, ours and the highest, there are innumerable gradations, each grade having its own speciality. But that home of Truth, Rta, is alone the highest world of supreme light or of the Sun of Truth. The nearest approximation, which may describe it, is given in the words satyam rtam brhat, svah, brhatii dyauh. The Veda guides and enlightens man in finding his way to that goal.
The third principle of the mystic Vedic knowledge is that our life is a Kurukshetra, a battlefield where the powers of the Gods and Asuras are pitted against each other. On the one side are Agni, Indra, Surya, Mitra, Varuna, Bhaga, Aryaman – all deities representing powers of divine Light. Entrenched against them are Vrtra, Vala, Pani, Dasyus, Namuchi, Shushna and other Asuras. To defeat these powers of darkness one has to invoke the powers of Light, which descend into our consciousness, dispel the darkness within us and, through paths hewn out of truth, lead us to states of Immortality, states that are luminous and beneficent. The divine fulfillment awaits us in those miracled summits yet unwon.
Vedic Sacrifice and its Fruit
The means to that divine fulfillment is the inner sacrifice. Sri Aurobindo is not at all opposed to the ancient saying, Vedaa hi yajnaarthamabhipravrttaah, the Vedas are indeed intended to serve the purpose of sacrifice. Sri Aurobindo does not dismiss ritualistic interpretation, but declares unequivocally and with undiluted emphasis that the Vedic sacrifice, in all its aspects and details, is purely symbolic. It is pre-eminently esoteric and not exoteric, psychological and not ritualistic in its conception. All the various parts of the Vedic sacrifice are here within us. In the human being there is the fire, the altar, the offering and the priest. Within him are the Rishi, the Mantra and the Godhead. Deep within him are the chief priest of the sacrifice, Brahma, and his assistant, udgaataa and the chant of the hymnal music. Along with these divine presences are lodged within us the enemies of gods, Vrtra, Vala and others, in their dens of darkness. Seated somewhere within, is the Divine Mind, the god Indra, who can destroy Vrtra. All the elements of the sacrifice, the performer of the sacrifice, the priest, the offering, the sacrifical fuel, the clarified butter, Soma wine, Purodaasa and the fruits of the sacrifice find their counterparts within.
The individual soul is the performer of the sacrifice, the heart is the altar, the Divine Will burning within in the form of human aspiration for the Deva, and the Divine is the priest. What are the samidhs or fuels for the sacrificial fire? There are three principal ones – the body, the life force and the mind, which are the initiating fuels, the various parts of the being are the other. The clear stream of the mental and intellectual light corresponds to the clarified butter, ghrta. This is the state of pure mental light. The offering, however, includes all the various states of consciousness, cognitive, co-native and emotive – the thought-waves, the impulsions of will, the feeling-currents. All the actions undertaken and performed in the pursuit of truth are nothing else but offering.
What then, one may ask, can be the fruit of such subtle inner offerings! It is the shower of Grace in the form of light, peace, strength, truth, delight, and immortality, the plentitude of divine fulfillment.
As the flame of divine will is kindled and waxes higher and higher with the growth of human aspiration for the Divine, the performer of sacrifice also ascends higher and higher. The sacrificial fire climbs up from this material world by stages to reach heaven, the plane of divine consciousness. In response to this ascent of the sacrificial fire, Agni, Indra, the Lord of Heaven with his lightning-forces, the Maruts, descends to earth and renders the human aspiration fruitful; the God-mind brings down its light to the material sheath where Vrtra holds sway. Indra kills him and removes the veils of darkness and obfuscations native to physical consciousness, shatters the limiting barricades, crosses all hurdles in the march towards the divine life and renders possible for the sun to rise on the firmament of the individual soul. The Sun is the direct symbol of Truth. Indra has another function when he appears in the form of the rain-god, or Vrsan, and brings with him showers of knowledge, light, power, and all other divine plenitudes.
Thus we have briefly stated the symbolic significance of the Vedic sacrifice. This symbolic, inner, or esoteric sacrifice is, in the language of the Veda, a pilgrimage, a journey upwards to higher and higher ascensions for the attainment of the Godhead. This journey assumes the nature of a battle, since a relentless war has to be waged against the forces and powers of darkness and obscurity. This pilgrim-sacrifice can be safely accomplished only with the help of the God Agni, who is invariably kept as Purohita, as the priest set in front in the sacrifice.
But all these details of a symbolic, inner, or esoteric sacrifice don’t mean that Sri Aurobindo dismisses the ritualistic interpretation as of no value whatsoever. Rather he is of the view ‘…. the Rig-veda is itself the one considerable document that remains to us from the early period of human thought…. When the spiritual and psychological knowledge of the race was concealed … in a veil of concrete and material figures and symbols which protected the sense from the profane and revealed it to the initiated.’ In another context he says, ‘At the same time the exoteric sense need not be merely a mask; the Riks may have been regarded by their authors as words of power, powerful not only for internal but for external things. A purely spiritual scripture would concern itself with only spiritual significances, but the ancient mystics were also what we would call occultists, men who believed that by inner means outer as well as inner results could be produced, that thought and words could be so used as to bring about realizations of every kind, – in the phrase common in the Veda itself, – both the human and the divine.’
The Summit of the Teachings of the Vedic Mystics: The One Reality without Second
Finally, as the summit of the teaching of the Vedic mystics, comes the secret of the one Reality, ekam sat, or tad ekam. The entire universe is pervaded and penetrated by the One Existence, That One, which is without a second. There is nothing exterior to That One. This secret has been repeatedly declared in hundreds of Mantras. A few out of the mass of such ones are cited below by way of example:
Indram Mitram Varunamagnimaahuratho divyaha sa suparno garutmaan
Ekam sadvipraa bahudhaa vadantyagnim yamam maatarisvanamaahuhu (Rig. 1.164.46)
Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, they call him; and he is also the heavenly Garutmaan of lovely plumage. The One Existent the illumined ones a\call variously, call it Agni, Yama Matarisvan.
Aaneedavaatam svadhayaa tadekam tasmaaddanyanna paraha kim chanaasa (Rig. 10.129.8)
That one lived without breath by his self-law, there was nothing else, or aught beyond it.
Eka evaagnibahudhaa samiddha ekam suryo visvamnu prabhootaha
Ekaiveshaaha sarvamidam vi bhaadyekam vaa idam vi babhoova sarvam (Rig. 8.58.2)
The same Agni is kindled here in various ways in various forms; only one Surya is spreading his influence, his valour in the universe; only one Usaa is enlightening all this. Doubtless that One alone has become all this.
Na dviteeyo na triteeyaschaturtho naapyuchyate Ya etam devamekavritam veda
Na panchamo na shashthaha saptamo naapyuchyate Ya etam devamekavritam veda
Naashtamo na navamo dasamo naapyuchyate Ya etam devamekavritam veda (Atharva. 13.5.16-18)
This God is designated not as the second, nor the third, not even the fourth. He is neither the fifth nor the sixth, not yet the seventh. Eighth he is not, nor ninth, not yet the tenth. One who understands this sole God as existing and pervading alone is the one who knows truly.
Tamidam nigatam sahaha sa esha eka ekavrideka eva (Atharva. 13.5.20)
This power certainly abides in the God. Such a God is one. He alone exists. He alone is.
Tadevaagnistadaadityastadvaayustadu chandramaaha Tadevashukram tadbrahma taa aapaha sa prajaapatihi (Yajur. 32.1)
He alone is Agni; He the Surya; He the Vayu; and He alone is the Moon. He is Sukra and He is Brahman. The Waters are He; and He the Lord, the Creator.
To summarize then, there is truly speaking only One Supreme Godhead personal-impersonal. Agni, Indra, Mitra and others are but the names and embodied powers of that Godhead. The reason for our existence here, our raison detre, is to seek that Deva, deity, to realize, receive into ourselves His light, the light of that whose nature is Sacchidananda and try to embody here his being and nature. This alone is the teaching of the Veda, its sole view, and its recondite meaning. The Supreme Lord reveals this secret and thus assures us of our destiny in a simple Mantra which is pregnant with meaning:
Richo akshare parame vyoman yasmin devaa aadhi visve nisheduhu
Yastanna veda kimrichaa karishyati ya ittadvidusta ime samaasate (Rig. 1.164.39)
In this Mantra, our two original questions, namely, what the Veda is and what it contains, are answered; the hymns and the verses abide there in the Parabrahman, the supreme and eternal Godhead whose sound-body is Aum. All the gods abide there. What can one do with the hymns, one who knows not that Brahman? If one is ignorant of the Supreme and the ultimate Reality that is affirmed in these hymns, of what use to him are the empty worlds therein? On the contrary, those who have grasped that Reality, who are united with it and constantly abide in it, are established therein.