- The Mother
Common Name: Rose
Botanical Name: Rosa ‘Paul Neyron’
Spiritual Name: Perfect Surrender
Interestingly, a quick check on the word processor’s list of synonyms for the word ‘surrender’ revealed its equivalents to be ‘give in’, ‘give up’, ‘ admit defeat’, ‘lay down your arms’, ‘submit’, ‘yield’ and ‘capitulate’. These synonyms bring to mind what the Mother has spoken about how generally, the Westerner would find it difficult to surrender, since “they have been taught to fear and avoid all that threatens their personal independence ….. surrender means giving up all that.” The synonyms of ‘surrender’ in English seems to reflect that frame of being. However, in yoga, the word ‘surrender’ is taken to mean more than these meanings. Surrender, as in Sharanam, is taken to mean surrender to the divine. In this surrender too, a loss of independence is declared, but it is an independence reliant on the narrow, limited personal will and strength that is given up in order to be transformed into a dependence on the infinite power of divinity. It implies a loss of an association with the ego.
Sri Aurobindo mentions, “It is the first principle of our sadhana that surrender is the means of fulfillment.” And of this surrender, “Self-surrender to the divine and infinite Mother, however difficult, remains our only effective means and our sole abiding refuge.” Sri Aurobindo goes on to explain what exactly self-surrender means: “..our nature must be an instrument in her hands, the soul a child in the arms of the Mother.” The Mother lays it down in simple and absolute terms, “Give all you are, all you have, nothing more is asked of you but also nothing less.” In deed, The Mother, sweetly but decisively lays down the expectation for this Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo typifies “true surrender” as a condition when one is able to “accept the knowledge from above in place of his own ideas, the will of the Divine in place of his own desires, the movements of the Truth in place of his physical habits – and as a result is able to live wholly for the Divine.”
One can make a quick survey of the state of one’s internal being and then the outer and make a comparison between what is and what is to be, where the simple virtue of ‘surrender’ is concerned, in our own lives.
The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have extolled the virtue of surrender as an aid and a means to this sadhana. However, attaining a true state of surrender appears to be a sadhana within a sadhana, in its own right. But this too, inevitably, needs to be put in its place in our lives, if at all we are given to this yoga.
As if to assure us faced with the magnitude of true surrender, Sri Aurobindo states, ‘..a complete surrender is not possible in the beginning, but only a will in the being for that completeness. It is only when the surrender is complete that the full flood of the sadhana is possible. Till then there must be personal effort with an increasing reality of surrender.”
Till that state of completeness, surrender remains something we can make real in our own lives, more and more complete and perfect, constantly asking for help from that same Divinity towards which this Yoga proceeds.
Calm they repose on the eternal Will.
Only his law they count and him obey;
They have no goal to reach, no aim to serve.
Implacable in their timeless purity,
All barter or bribe of worship they refuse;
Unmoved by cry of revolt and ignorant prayer
They reckon not our virtue or our sin,
They bend not to the voices that implore,
They hold no traffic with error and its reign;
They are guardians of the silence of the Truth,
They are keepers of the immutable decree.
A deep surrender is their source of might,
A still identity their way to know,
Motionless is their action like a sleep.
(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 4)
A: The Mother: Try to make them understand, as one does with a child who does not understand, by all kinds of means: pictures, explanations, symbols. Make them understand the necessity of union and harmony with the other parts of the being; reason with them, try to make them conscious of their acts and the consequences of these. Above all, be very patient, do not tire of repeating the same things.
Q: In this work, can the mind be of help?
A: The Mother: Yes, if a part of the mind is fully enlightened, it is surrendered to the psychic light and has a sense of the truth, the mind can be of great help, it can explain things in the true way.
(“Aspiration” compiled by Vijay from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)
“The progressive surrender of our ignorant personal will and its merger into a greater divine or on the highest summits greatest supreme Will is the whole secret of Karma Yoga. To bring about the conditions in which alone this vast and happy identity becomes possible and to work out the lines we must follow to their end if we are to reach it, is all the deeper purpose of this discipline.”
Then comes self-offering: “Here I am, a creature of various qualities, good and bad, dark and enlightened. I offer myself as I am to you, take me up with all my ups and downs, conflicting impulses and tendencies- do whatever you like with me.” In the course of your self-offering, you start unifying your being around what has taken the first decision – the central psychic will. All the jarring elements of your nature have to be harmonized, they have to be taken up one after another and unified with the central being. You may offer yourself to the Divine with a spontaneous movement, but it is not possible to give yourself effectively without this unification. The more you get unified, the more you are able to realize self-giving. And once the self-giving is complete, consecration follows: it is the crown of the whole process of realization, the last step of the gradation, after which there is no more trouble and everything runs smoothly. But you must not forget that you cannot get integrally consecrated at once. You are often deluded into such belief when you are having for a day or two a strong movement of a particular kind. You are led to hope that everything else will automatically follow in its wake; but in fact if you become the least bit self-complacent you retard your own advance. For your being is full of innumerable tendencies at war with one another-almost different personalities, we may say. When one of them gives itself to the Divine, the others come up and refuse their allegiance. “We have not given ourselves”. They cry and start clamouring for their independence and expression. Then you bid them to be quiet and show them the Truth. Patiently you have to go round your whole being, exploring each nook and corner, facing all those anarchic elements in you which are waiting for their psychological moment to turn up. And it is only when you have done the entire round of your mental, vital and physical nature, persuaded everything to give itself to the Divine and thus achieved an absolute unified consecration that you put an end to your difficulties. Then indeed yours is a glorious walk towards transformation, for you no longer go from darkness to knowledge but from knowledge to knowledge, light to light, happiness to happiness
The complete consecration is undoubtedly no easy matter, and it might take an almost indefinitely long time if you had to do it all by yourself, by your own independent effort. But when the Divine’s Grace is with you it is not exactly like that. With a little push from the Divine now and then, a little push in this direction and in that, the work becomes comparatively quite easy. Of course the length of time depends on each individual, but it can be very much shortened if you make a really firm resolve. Resolution is the one thing required-resolution is the master-key.
- The Mother
(The Mother, ‘Words of The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)
O secret Spirit and Nature housed in me,
Let all my mortal being now be blent
In Thy still glory of divinity.
I have given my mind to be dug Thy channel mind,
I have offered up my will to be Thy will:
Let nothing of myself be left behind
In our union mystic and unutterable.
My heart shall throb with the world-beats of Thy love,
My body become Thy engine for earth-use;
In my nerves and veins Thy rapture's streams shall move;
My thoughts shall be hounds of Light for Thy power to loose.
Keep1 only my soul to adore eternally
And meet Thee in each form and soul of Thee.
- Sri Aurobindo
(Sri Aurobindo, ‘Selected Poems’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)
Ask for the fullness of Grace-
But weigh not the measure of Response,
Nor repine if it seems doled out scantily, niggardly.
The high wisdom knows and gives just what is needed-
Could we only rest contented and move in its rhythm
and not transgress its will,
Serene would be the path and perfect and even prompt the achievement;
But our greed and vanity and self-love
Magnify our worth and distend our girth:
We lay claim to that and pull at that which is beyond our desert,
We force the supreme Bounty and infinite Abundance,
And in answer it condescends to come down….
But we are unable to contain it and the inflated receptacle
we have made ourselves to be
Bursts and crashes a ruined and shattered heap!
Give yourself wholly and ever more and more,
It is your unreserved giving that will create the spaciousness
to hold safely the gift from the Divine.
- Nolini Kanta Gupta (09-Oct-1936)
(Nolini Kanta Gupta, ‘To The Heights’, Translated from ‘Vers Les Hauteurs’, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry)
Sri Aurobindo says,
“Give yourself, give completely without condition, without reservation so that all in you shall belong to the Divine Mother and nothing left to the Ego.”
It is quite difficult to surrender as it involves the co-ordination of mind and body without the interference of one’s built- up ego. True Surrender enlarges our mind.
In everyday life we have lots of problems. Generally we trust ourselves or we trust others when we are not able to solve the problem, then finally we look up at the Divine. Instead, if we start surrendering all our chores, tasks and opportunities to the Divine, Mother will take us through.
In Sri Ramakrishna’s anecdote, also recounted by The Mother, we would have seen that the monkey’s infant will cling on to its mother when they move around. Whereas in the case of the cats, the mother cat carries the kitten by its mouth and moves around. The kitten leaves everything to its mother and is carefree. We should behave as kittens in front of our Divine Mother with the belief that everything will be taken care of.
The Mother has given a spiritual name for one variety of the rose flower as “total surrender”, as no part of the flower is hidden; it is always wide open. Let us also surrender ourselves fully to the Divine Mother like that rose flower so that the great beacon of light of the Mother’s Grace may shine on our dark and desolate valley to bring us onto the sunlit path.
“How beautiful, grand, simple, and calm everything becomes, when our thoughts turn to the divine and we give ourselves to the Divine.”
- The Mother
• The Mother (sincerity and surrender). Shri Aurobindo Ashram Website : http://intyoga.online.fr/mothr03.htm
• Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (2006). Oli Porunthiya Pathai, (The Sunlit Path, a translation in Tamil). Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
• Anandabala (2003). Chaithanyamayi. Sri Aravinda Annai Dyana maiyam, Chennai
• Sri Aurobindo Society, Chennai (1993). Mantras of The Mother (A translation in Tamil). Sri Aurobindo Society, Chennai
The above visionary words from Sri Aurobindo on internationalism written in early 20th century are getting materialized in the 21st century. Several international organizations are being formed in every sphere of life. More and more groups of nations are forming into unions to cooperate among themselves to allow free movement of their citizens across their national boundaries. Nothing today is exclusively confined to one nation whether it is in the field of art and literature, science or technology. Even internal political and administrative decisions of one nation today would bear more impact on the world at large than in the past. National identities are merging into a single international body for social and economic development and peaceful coexistence of humanity is taking shape by leaps and bounds.
20th century was a century of upheaval. Two great wars that have taught us in a hard way about the importance of mutual respect and understanding between nations for the very survival of human race on this earth. During this century new nations were formed redefining their geographical boundaries and with new socio political systems of governance by democracy. No nation can today exist or survive in isolation. We have been recently observing that many are taking citizenship of the countries where they have moved for career or entrepreneurial interests while their other siblings and nearest relations are still citizens of the nation of their birth or origin. It is very common that the members of one extended joint family bear citizenship of different countries. This is a clear indication that we are moving towards the concept of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ the dream of the ancient Rishis that the world is one family.
Scientific and technological advancements and global means of information sharing through the Internet and fast electronic media have bridged the geographical distances, thus drastically increasing interaction between people from different nations. As a result, two friends living at a distance of thousands of kilometers are able to experience the closeness of living as next door neighbors. The very idea of somebody being a foreigner is gradually being replaced by global identity. Uniform life style consisting of a fusion and merging of different ethnic and cultural habits and customs is an acceptable norm. The greatest contributor in helping Mother Nature in its aim of unification is science and technology and fast means of communication and transport.
Next to science it is trade and commerce and economic interdependence that are compelling the unification of the world. We often feel pessimistic that the world is getting commercialized and we are turning towards materialism but the world in the past too witnessed the exchange of cultures, knowledge and all rounded progress whenever ancient kingdoms and countries interacted with one another for trade and commerce. The differences based on ethnic and racial origins too are getting diluted with inter-racial marriages and socio-economic associations and an undercurrent of cultural and social exchange is taking place while people are freely moving across the globe in search of their livelihood.
The major disharmony prevailing in the world arising between different religious groups too will soon disappear when all religions will realize that the very purpose of their birth and existence is to help man to know himself and his Divine origin. The Truth of One in the Many and the Many in the One or Unity in Diversity that the great prophets and saints in the past have realized through their inner experiences must again be re-emphasized in all religious preachings and guidance. Subsequently all external differences arising from various forms of worship and practices will be completely eliminated. The spiritual essence of religions will soon make us realize that we are all parts of a one single Brahma (Godhead) manifest in different forms. The Vedas proclaim that ‘ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti’ ‘One Truth is said in many ways by the Learned’.
We all know that unification is an external form of linking together the nations of the world for materialistic motive. The real unity will come when all will start realizing the oneness and indivisibility of the universal soul and experience the Truth that we are parts of the One and that the outer division is only an illusion or Maya.
In his profound spiritual visions of the destiny of humanity, Sri Aurobindo has clearly stated that human oneness based on spiritualized social order will become the bright destiny of mankind. We need not get disheartened or pessimistic looking at some external disturbances and misunderstandings. The outer unification and uniformity are predecessors for the inner unity that is yet to be realized in the near future.
“Of the universe he is a part; in all but his deepest spirit he is its subject, a small cell in that tremendous organic mass: his substance is drawn from its substance and by the law of its life the law of his life is determined and governed. From a new view and knowledge of the world must proceed his new view and knowledge of himself, of his power and capacity and limitations, of his claim on existence and the high road and the distant or immediate goal of his individual and social destiny” (Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle, Volume: 25, [CWSA], p. 28).
• Sri Aurobindo (1997). Ideal of Human Unity, Vol: 25, page 526, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
• Sri Aurobindo (1997). The Human Cycle, Vol: 25, page 28, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
• Also in Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo [CWSA], http://sabda.sriaurobindoashram.org/catalog/show.php?id=cwsa
We started off with a bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin which took about 10-15 mins. After reaching Pulau Ubin, some of us (the younger ones) rented bicycles and we did some basic stretching before we set off. However, during all the times that I’ve been to Pulau Ubin, since it was during camps, I’ve never had the opportunity to cycle and so it was exciting to cycle through Pulau Ubin for the very first time.
The trails in Pulau Ubin are far from what we have here in Singapore. The roads are not even with many uphill and downhill slopes. While it is very exhilarating to cycle down the slopes albeit with some caution, it is just as tiring to push the cycle up the uphill slopes. The bicycle ride also gave us the opportunity to see Mother Nature untouched. We got to see chameleons, geckos and even huge spiders bigger than your palm.
After reaching our destination, Chek Jawa, we waited for the other group who were walking there. We also got a glimpse of Naveen’s amazing never-before-seen dancing and singing talent. Finally, after the other group came to the entrance of Chek Jawa, we set-off into Chek Jawa itself. Chek Jawa is right next to the sea and thus, when we set foot into Chek Jawa, we immediately felt the cooling sea breeze which was a welcome change from the hot and humid forest.
We went for the boardwalk route and climbed the 5 storey high viewing tower which was right at the start of the route. The view from the viewing tower was absolutely amazing. We could even see the mainland from the viewing tower. It was a breathtaking view and after taking a few memorable pictures, we climbed down and continued the walk.
After that, we saw a lot of different types of mangroves and even the nipah plant which I’m sure many of you had studied in Primary School. Even though I had heard of it before, it was the first time I’d actually seen it before me. We saw other wondrous aspects of Nature that we’d never seen before. We even got to see a small snake and tons of tiny crabs that had probably just hatched then.
After the walk around Chek Jawa, we cycled back to the jetty while the adults took the van. After reaching the jetty, we ate some well deserved food and sat around to reflect on the walk so far.
Each of us shared our views about the importance of communing with Nature by being near it and how privileged we were to still be able to experience Nature untouched by Man. Nature is truly a wondrous gift that we should try to preserve as it allows us to discover ourselves once again. When the walk finally ended, on the way back home, I couldn’t but help think how lucky I was to shed my earlier inhibitions and go for the walk.
- K. Ragavendra
Aspiration brings to mind a movement, holding in it a deep yearning for something sublime; a seeking after that takes place in the very psychology of our being, for that for which there is no second. In aspiration too, there prevails the fragrance of a self-offering for the one thing that is worth attaining, the highest of all, simply because it is in order in the being, something quite natural.
Of Aspiration The Mother writes: “It is truly like a great purifying flame of will, and it carries in its core the thing that asks to be realized.” The Mother exemplifies the power of aspiration further, thus :
“In one’s aspiration not to make any more mistakes, one eliminates any occasion for making them. It is not a cure.”
Here is a power suggestion of a certainty, coming from The Mother. She has been known to be one with the most ardent aspirations, recorded in Prayers and Meditations, whose very utterance can create a charged atmosphere, wherever it is being read, with an open mind and offered heart.
Here is what Mother indicates of the highest aspiration and signs of its power:
“To live within, in a constant aspiration for the Divine, enables us to look at life with a smile and to remain peaceful whatever the outer circumstances may be.”
Are there any conditions for aspiration? The Mother enlightens:
“Your will is free, it is deliberately left free and you have to choose. It is you who decide whether to seek the Light or not, whether to be the servitor of the Truth or not…or whether to have an aspiration or not, it is you who choose.”She leaves the whole of its manifestation on our hands. Whether we aspire or not, it is up to us.
Perhaps there is one condition that aids aspiration – silence of the heart, a state where vital cravings and desires have died down and what remains is an aspiration for the one Highest, The Divine.
“In the silence of the heart burns the steady fire of aspiration. Keep the fire burning steadily and wait quietly for the sure result.”
Aspiration. It is an aid; it appears to be a journey too.
It is a question of a new creation, entirely new, with all the unforeseen events, the risks, the hazards it entails - a real adventure, whose goal is certain victory, but the road to which is unknown and must be traced out step by step, in the unexplored.
Something that has never been in this present universe and that will never be again in the same way. If that interests you... well, let us embark. What will happen to you tomorrow, I have no idea. One must put aside all that has been foreseen, all that has been devised, all that has been constructed and then... set off walking into the unknown. And - come what may!
We invite you to join us on this great adventure, one in which we would like to explore what The Mother has written about education through a series of intellectually and spiritually enriching activities. Here are the some themes we have proposed for this year.
Sincerity on 12th September 2010 3pm to 5pm: Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
You and Your body on 26th September 2010 3pm to 7pm: West Coast Park, Singapore
Aspiration on 10th October 2010 3pm to 5pm: Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
Harmony on 14th November 2010 3pm to 5pm: Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
In Harmony with Nature on 26th December 2010: Sisters Island, Singapore (To be confirmed)
We invite you to register for this year’s IEP and to take part in the activities. If you are interested, please contact us for a copy of the registration form. A fee of $10 will be charged per child for materials and logistics.
If you need further information, please contact Kiruthika (firstname.lastname@example.org ) at 9649 0670, ShreeValli (email@example.com ) at 90266795 or Jayanthy (firstname.lastname@example.org ) at 9652 2197.
Anjali and I proceeded to stack the chairs and create the space for the integral enrichment retreat. We played music and lit up the lamps and incense. Toy corners were created, with crayons, playdough, blocks and simple games for the children to retreat to, should they need some quiet time. They were used, and frequently, by various groups of children throughout the day.
We began the games at 9.30am. Icebreakers was followed by a game of kabbadi - a game which all the parents took part in. At 10.30am, we came back for reflections. A short break was followed by a two hour craft session. Breaking tradition, instead of running activities sequentially, we set up activities as stations running parallel to each other. The children could move between activities and come back and forth between them.
Several times over the day, I regretted not bringing my camera. This was one of those times. It was a sight to see heads bending seriously over a piece of work. It was even more of a sight to see them delighted over their creations. Four stations were conducted in parallel - painting, sculpture, engineering and crafts.
The object of the painting session was free exploration. The children made their own paints - with face powder and food coloring. It was a delight to watch Rooshad's face splitting into a grin of astonishment as he mixed blue color onto his yellow color and wow! The whole thing turned a bright green. Of course, then all the children wanted to mix colors to their own concoctions and before we knew it, everyone was painting with variations of mostly purples and black.
The sculpture station was meant to be one where children could mould flour to form dough. But by an unfortunate combination of circumstances, some very gloopy things were created. These gloopy things, we didn’t know what to do with, until we decide to mix food coloring to them. Four or five children were up to their elbows in gloop, which they washed up and then made paints with colorful gloop. The gloop mixture, we discovered, could be put on paper and then, when the paper is folded and flattened, makes interesting symmetrical patterns. Several patterns surfaced - butterflies, nests and in one particular case, a pattern which we could decide whether was an eagle or horse.
Aravind and Raghu were manning the station where the children explored hands-on how to make catapults. This was an activity for the older children, and they experimented on making the toy out of various recycled materials like shoe boxes, matchboxes and rubber bands. The children investigated how they could change the behavior of the catapult by playing with the length of the arm.
Meenakshi set up the fourth and final station. It was one where the children made crafts from popsicle sticks. When i peeked into the station at one time, there was a whole circle of children, sitting around a set of popsicle sticks fashioning keychains, triangles and even a small home.
After the activities, we had a short circle time, followed by lunch. After lunch, it was back to the center for drama time. The children were split into three groups according to their age, and given a story. They were also given the task of dramatizing their stories. Anjali, as the witch on the broom, making friends with a cat (Amrita), dog (Surya), bird (Sweta) and frog (Vedika), to finally overcome a dragon (Harish), was based on the book Room on the broom. The toddlers enjoyed reading the story, choosing their characters, watching their mothers make props for them, and enacting the story.
The lower primary children enacted the story of "Follow the swallow", where a blackbird (Shree) needs to pass a message to his friend the swallow (Rooshad) who was flying to Africa. "Come to the tree", is the message. The messengers are a dolphin (Priyanka), a monkey (Anu), A crocodile (Bharat) and a camel (Viji). But does the message get delivered? It was a quaint adaptation of Chinese whispers.
The older children put up a dramatization of Robert Munsch's mildly controversial "Paper Bag Princess". Pradeepta as the dragon very creatively used several props to give the feeling of burning forests. Vishnu, as the brave ill fated princess who rescued the prince (Abhi) put on an impressive, though comical performance, which had many of us giggling.
At 4pm, the children went out for games again. Vishnu rallied the older children for ball games, while the younger children played crossing the river. Anjali took her witch costume with her and in the end, the children played a little bit of what they called "follow the witch". I am not quite sure what that means, though.
We ended the session at 5pm, with a short circle time and a couple of minutes of meditation.
As the children went home, I realized that one central characteristic of the day's events were how kid-driven they were. It was heartening to see some of the alumni of IEP step forward as facilitators, lend their strengths to the day's activities and make them fun and enriching for the little children and toddlers. As such, here is a big thank you to those children who come back often to facilitate and to continue their learning.
Common Name: Maple
Botanical Name: Acer Rubrum
Spiritual Name: Flame of Aspiration
The earliest explanations of the mantra Samhitās are in the Brāhmanās. Some of those written on palm-leaves and birch-barks, date back to 800 BCE. Since then, over several centuries many commentaries have been written. The following table lists some of the important ones in a chronological order. We will go through their contents and impact, especially in the light of spiritual and psychological interpretations given by Sri Aurobindo followed by Sri Kapāli Sāstry.
1 Brāhmana books: 3000-800 BCE -Covers all Four Vedas
2 Yāska Āchārya: 800 BCE or earlier- On 100 Rig Veda Sūkthās
3 Shaunaka: 900 BCE: Author of Brhad Devata
4 Jaimini: 3rd Century BCE - Author of Mīmāmsa Sūtrās
5 Ādi Shankarāchārya: 788 – 821- CE- Founder -Non-dualistic school of Vedānta
6 Ramānujāchārya: Not clear – 1137 CE- Founder- philosophy of Qualified Monism
7 Madhvāchārya: 1238 – 1317 CE - Founder of dualistic school of Vedānta
8 Sāyana Āchārya: 1315 - 1387 CE-On all Samhitās and several Brāhmanās
9 Rāghavendra Thīrtha: 1595 - 1671 - Expanded the works of Madhvāchārya
10 Wilson: 1786 – 1860 CE: Translations based on Sāyana’s works
11 Max Muller: 1823 – 1900 CE - Translations based on Sāyana’s works
12 R.T.H.Griffith: 1826 – 1906 CE - Translations based on Sāyana’s works
13 Swāmi Dayānanda: 1824 – 1883 CE Founder of the ‘Ārya Samāj’
14 Sri Aurobindo: 1872 – 1950 CE - Spiritual & Psychological Interpretations
15 T.V. Kapāli Sāstry: 1886 – 1953 CE - Spiritual & Psychological Interpretations
In the spiritual practice of interpreting the meaning of the Vedās, the first tools are the Brāhmana holy texts. The language of the Brāhmanās is a separate stage of Vedic Sanskrit during the ‘Iron Age’ (900 – 600 BCE). Some Vedic mantrās in those texts have been quoted and discussed from the point of view of sacrificial fires (yajna). The authors of the Brāhmana texts believed that all the ancient commentaries were written only for the sake of sacrificial fires and that the meaning associated with the rituals in the sacrificial fires must be that implied by the sage who visualized the Sūkta and compiled it. Even though the Brāhmana books, give in general, a ritualistic explanation of mantrās, in places they clearly mention the spiritual interpretation. For instance Aitareya Brāhmana declares that ‘yūpa’, the sacrificial altar (i.e., the altar on which the animals are sacrificed) is really the ‘yajamāna’ or the performer himself. Most unfortunately, this aspect was not given any importance by later commentators such as Sāyana.
The Aitareya and Kausītaki Brāhmana, compiled by followers of the Rig Veda, include discussions of daily sacrifices, the sacrificial fire, new- and full-moon rites, and the rites for installation of kings. The Panchavimsa, Shadvimsa, and Jaiminiya Brahmana discuss ‘soma’ ceremonies, and atonements for mistakes made in the rituals. The Shatapatha Brahmana introduces elements of domestic ritual, and the Gopatha Brahmana treats the priests' supervision of sacrifices.
Sri Aurobindo on Brāhmanās:
“The Brāhmanās and the Upanishads are the record of a powerful revival which took the sacred text and ritual as a starting- point for a new statement of spiritual thought and experience. This movement had two complementary aspects, one, the conservation of the forms, another, the revelation of the soul of Veda, - the first represented by the Brāhmanās, the second by the Upanishads.
The Brāhmanās labour to fix and preserve the minutiae of the Vedic ceremony, the conditions of their material effectuality, the symbolic sense and purpose of their different parts, movements, implements, the significance of texts important in the ritual, the drift of obscure allusions, the memory of ancient myths and traditions. Many of their legends are evidently posterior to the hymns, invented to explain passages which were no longer understood; others may have been part of the apparatus of original myth and parable employed by the ancient symbolists or memories of the actual historical circumstances surrounding the composition of the hymns. Oral tradition is always a light that obscures; a new symbolism working upon an old that is half lost, is likely to overgrow rather than reveal it; therefore the Brāhmanās, though full of interesting hints, help us very little in our research; nor are they a safe guide to the meaning of separate texts when they attempt an exact and verbal interpretation.”
Yāska Ācharya - (800 BCE or earlier)
The next tool for the interpretation of the Vedās is the ‘Nighantu’ text and Yāskā’s ‘Nirukta’.
Yāska is the oldest and pioneer commentator of the Vedās. A celebrated ‘Sanskrit scholar and Grammarian’, he is believed to have flourished, as early as eighth century BCE. He has authored a well known ancient work on ‘etymology’ (origin & history of words) of ‘Sanskrit’ words, known as ‘Nirukta’. Being one of the six ‘Vedānga’ disciplines of Hinduism, this is a compendium of Sanskrit dictionary and ‘Thesaurus’ taking into consideration the usage of letters and words with their meaning in Vedās and also the then existing different dialects of Sanskrit which differed from region to region.
The word Nirukta can be divided into two parts, ‘nir’ and ‘ukta’. Nir means that which is total and ukta means that which is said or explained. In the Nirukta, words have been described comprehensively. It is not a mere explanation of the meaning of words but also elucidates the origin of the word associated with that particular meaning. In other words every word is minutely analysed. They emphatically proclaim that though such a grammatically ruled word is not proven from a root of similar meaning one should not bother about it. Ignoring the rules of grammar one should firmly adopt the meaning suggested by the Name. Wholeheartedly obeying this directive, Yāska and the authors of the Nirukta before him, created new words. Vedic words should be interpreted according to the context and the same origin of the word should be given when it is used with the same meaning. However, when it is used with a variety of meanings, different origins may certainly be given.
Yāska compiled the ‘Nirukta’ text as a commentary on the ‘Nighantu’, which already existed. According to him, the ‘Nighantu’ was a collection of rare or difficult words gathered by earlier sages for easier understanding of Vedic texts. The ‘Nighantu’ is now traditionally combined with the ‘Nirukta’ as a unified text and forms the basis for lexicons and dictionaries.
Yāska, vigorously answers the critics of Veda like Kautsa, who declared that Veda had no meaning. He then emphasized that Veda has at least three levels of meaning namely:
1. The physical or naturalistic (ādibhautic) interpretation in which the various cosmic powers like Agni, Indra are regarded as the physical powers of nature such as fire, rain etc.
2. The interpretation (ādidaivic) of Veda as rituals or prayers for the popular deities like Agni, Indra etc. Here yajn͂a is viewed as external rites to please the deities who will give them favours.
3. The spiritual, psychological interpretation (adhyātmic) in which everything both within man and cosmos is viewed as one aspect of the Supreme One.
Sri Aurobindo on Yāska Āchārya:
“In Yāskā’s lexicon, our most important help, we have to distinguish between two elements of very disparate value. When Yāska gives as a lexicographer the various meanings of Vedic words, his authority is great and the help he gives is of the first importance. It does not appear that he possessed all the ancient significances, for many had been obliterated by time and change and in the absence of a scientific Philology could not be restored. But much also had been preserved by tradition. Wherever Yāska preserves this tradition and does not use a grammarian’s ingenuity, the meanings he assigns to words, although not always applicable to the text to which he refers them, can yet be confirmed as possible senses by a sound Philology. But Yaska the etymologist does not rank with Yāska the lexicographer. Scientific grammar was first developed by Indian learning, but the beginnings of sound philology we owe to modern research. Nothing can be more fanciful and lawless than the methods of mere ingenuity used by the old etymologists down even to nineteenth century, whether in Europe or India. And when Yāska follows these methods, we are obliged to part company with him entirely. Nor in his interpretation of particular texts is he more convincing than the later erudition of Sāyana”.
1. ‘ The Light of Veda – A Practical Approach ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
2. ‘ A New Light on the Veda ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
(Originally written in Sanskrit under the name ‘Siddhānjana – Bhūmika’, translated into English by Sri M.P.Pandit and thoroughly revised by the author himself, in 1952. Published by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore. (SAKSI) )
3. ‘ Agni in the Rig Veda ’ - by Dr R.L.Kashyap
4. ‘ Why read the Rig Veda ’ – by Dr R.L.Kashyap
to be continued……
There are two powers that alone can effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavour, a fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from below and a supreme Grace from above that answers.
The statement is clear enough. From our end there has to be an aspiration. Aspiration is a seeking to grow, to get, to grow into a condition which we do not have, to get something we do not possess. Aspiration is a movement of our will.
There are two adjectives used with the word “aspiration”;
Fixed- it is not enough to have an aspiration today which may be replaced by another tomorrow. Often our aspiration goes on changing with our moods, with our circumstances, with the strength or weakness of our spirit. If we find an obstruction tomorrow in working out an aspiration, or if we find ourselves too weak to work it out, we are ready to dilute it and choose a lesser aspiration. But that way we show that we have no constancy in our will. Before we decide upon an aspiration we must have a clear view of our capacities, of our circumstances, of the help that is available, of what is practical under the circumstances and then fix an aspiration around which our life-movement is to be organized. And till it is achieved the aspiration must not be deflected from. That is the first condition.
Unfailing- The aspiration should never slacken, never flag. It should always be active and moving. It should not fall back at the first obstruction. It should persist and push on.
It is not enough to have a passive, silent aspiration; it must be an aspiration that is alive and alert, that calls from below, that constantly exerts a pull and draws from above.
- M.P. Pandit
(M.P. Pandit - ‘Sat-Sang (Volume 2)’, Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002)
A: The Mother: Do you know what that means? The aspiration must be formulated during the time the star is visible; and that doesn’t last long, does it? Well, if an aspiration can be formulated while the star is visible, this means that it is all the time there, present, in the forefront of the consciousness- this does not apply to ordinary things, it has nothing to do with that, it concerns a spiritual aspiration. But the point is that if you are able to articulate your spiritual aspiration just at that moment, it means that it is right in front of your consciousness, that it dominates your consciousness. And necessarily, what dominates your consciousness can be realized very swiftly.
I had the opportunity to make this experiment. Exactly this. The moment the star was passing, at that very moment there sprang up from the consciousness: “To realize the divine union, for my body.” That very moment.
And before the end of the year, it was done.
But it was not because of the star! It was because that dominated my whole consciousness and I was thinking of nothing but that, I wanted only that, thought only of that, acted only for that. So, this thing which generally takes a whole lifetime- it is said the minimum time is thirty-five years! Before twelve months had passed, it was done.
But that was because I thought only of that
And it was because I was thinking only of that, that just when the star flashed by I could formulate it- not merely a vague impression- formulate it in precise words like this: “To realize union with the Divine”, the inner Divine, the thing we speak of, the very thing we speak of.
Therefore, what is important is not the star but the aspiration. The star is only like an outer demonstration, nothing else. But it is not necessary to have a shooting star in order to realize swiftly! What is necessary is that the whole will of the being should be concentrated on one point.
(“Aspiration” compiled by Vijay from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)
The hour must come of the Transcendent’s will:
All turns and winds towards his predestined ends
In Nature’s fixed inevitable course
Decreed since the beginning of the worlds
In the deep essence of created things:
Even there shall come as a high crown of all
The end of Death, the death of Ignorance.
But first high truth must set her feet on earth
And man aspire to the Eternal’s light
And all his members feel the Spirit’s touch
And all his life obey an inner Force.
(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)