Narach Philosophy

THE GODS OF THE VEDAS: VRTRA


It has been observed that there are nine principal ways of creation, personified in the gods of the Vedas; and in one of these the universe is conceived as created by Purusha alone, in another by Prakti alone, while in the remaining seven by the union together of Purusha and Prakrti. As we shall presently see, the first is represented by Vishnu; the second, where Prakrti alone is said to create, by Vrtra; and the remaining seven by Agni, Indra, Varuna, Rudra, Soma, Dyava-Prthvi, and Vayu; and these are the principal deities hymned in the Vedas. Invoked in different ways, and praised for various achievements, they all agree in three things, protection of Cows, control of Horses, and slaying of Vrtra.

Vrtra, represented as a dragon or serpent is said to, have been slain by almost all the chief gods of the Vedas, by Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vishnu, Soma, Vayu, the two Asvin, and Surya nor are any of his followers spared. The reason why Vrtra is slain by the gods is that he represents the idea of Prakrti as the sole creator of life; and slaying, as has been pointed out, means assigning to Prakrti. But before we come to this conclusion we must understand the meaning of the name Vrtra in the light of our letter-analysis, and see how far it agrees with his description in the Vedas. We have also to understand the significance of slaying in this connection, more clearly.

VRTRA

Meaning of Vrtra: The word Vrtra may be analyzed into V, rt, ra, and would mean, Prakrti (V) avoiding (fit), speed or change of place in motion (ra). From this we may conclude that Vrtra represents Prakrti in a state of rest, devoid of any change of place in motion, if it has any. But, we have observed in a previous chapter that, according to our method of interpretation, the significance of the name of a Vedic hero or god should be understood by examining the places occupied by the letters composing it along the ellipses of the alphabet. According to this Vrtra may be represented as follows:

In this connection we have to bear in mind that for convenience sake we have to put down the vowels as well as consonants on the same ellipse, assigning to the vowels a place on the consonant-ellipse corresponding to that which they would occupy along the vowel ellipse. We have also to remember that some vowels are merely intended to help in pronouncing consonants, and in that case would have no special meaning. The last of Vrtra is of this character.

Significance of the Diagram: It will be observed that the line of Vrtra's name is mainly Prakrtic; and it is only in connection with the letter r, which belongs to the region of Mind in our diagram of the alphabet, that it touches the Purushic side. All other letters composing his name belong to the left side of the Egg, which, as has already been explained, is identified with Prakrti. Accordingly the line of Vrtra's name indicates that he represents, for the most part, Prakrti.

The idea of the letter r is significant. It belongs to the region of the Mind, and indicates that Prakrti, as represented by Vrtra, is characterised by Mind or electric energy.

In this connection it would be of interest to note that the ovum, before its conjugation with the male seed, is in a state of rest. Accordingly, if Vrtra represents Prakrti without Purusha, the former must be conceived in a state of rest; and so Vrtra would represent life devoid of Motion, and its counterpart, Action. As we have found, this is indicated by the very name, Vrtra; and we shall see how far this is further borne out by his description in the Vedas.

Slaying of Vrtra: It is necessary to understand the meaning of the word, slaying, in connection with Vrtra. We have observed that Vadha, killing, really means assigning to Prakrti; that is, showing that an object belongs to Prakrti and not Purusha, and the idea of death is the same. But the word for slaying used in the text is, Han, and we have to see how far its meaning agrees with that of Vadha.

Han, according to our letter analysis, may be resolved into Ha, n, implying the relation of Prakrti (Ha) to Ether (n); and it has been shown that Ether is often conceived as representing Prakrti. Thus the idea of Han is the same as that of Vadha; and if we distribute the letters, H (a) and n along the diagram of the alphabet we shall see that they represent the same idea, and that their line is Prakrtic and almost identical with that of Vrtra.

Thus Vrtra represents Prakrti (a) as sole creator, (b) in a state of rest, and (c) characterised by electric energy. Now, we have seen that the ovum is in a state of rest when it is not conjugated with the male seed, or anywhere near it, or subjected to a change of temperature (implying heat, or the energy of the Sun or Purusha) and a state of rest is a negation of Motion and its counterpart, Action. Thus, if Vrtra represents Prakrti in a state of rest, and the latter is symbolized as Water, he must stop all motion in waters, flowing rivers, torrents, currents, floods.

VRTRA IN THE VEDAS

A Stayer of the Floods: Accordingly Vrtra is spoken of in the Vedas as one who encompasses the torrents, imprisons them, and stops their flow beleaguers the mighty river; stays our currents obstructs the floods besets the waters and dries them up. For a similar reason, since clouds are charged with rain or water, and falling rain implies motion in water, Vrtra is spoken of as a stayer of the flow of clouds withholds rain and the rain-cloud is said to lie fast in his hollow side.

Vrtra the Dragon: Vrtra is spoken of as Dragon or Serpent, and called Ahi in the Vedas. We have seen that the first manifestation of the Golden Egg is a Serpent-wave, whether we regard the former as purely Prakrtic or else the meeting place of Purusha and Prakrti and as Vrtra represents the former, he is properly described as a Serpent.

We shall see that this idea is in harmony with the word Ahi, which may be analyzed into A, h, i, and would mean, a personification (A) of Prakrti (h), characterised by Mind-energy (i); and agrees with the idea of Vrtra as already explained, as well as with the creation of the Serpent-form out of the Golden Egg under the action of electric or Mind-energy.

Vrtra Footless and Handless: Vrtra is spoken of as footless and handless in the Vedas. As already explained, feet are the instruments of motion, and hands of action; the former referring to Ether, and the latter to Air for their element. As in the order of creation Air follows Ether, where there is no Ether there can be no Air; and so a creature who has no feet can have no hands; but as the presence of Ether does not necessarily imply that of Air, a creature with feet may not have hands; but a creature with hands must have feet, for wherever there is Air there must be Ether. Now, as Vrtra represents Prakrti in a state of rest, he is devoid of Motion, and so footless; and consequently handless too. Further, as we see, a serpent is without feet and hands; and as Vrtra is a serpent, he is spoken of as footless and handless. This would imply that cases of parthenogenesis, represented by Vrtra, do not relate to creatures with hands and feet, that is, the viviparous.

Vrtra a Magician: Vrtra is also called a Magician, and the word used in the text in this connection is Mayavin, meaning a possessor of Maya; and Maya is usually interpreted as Magic or Illusion.

The idea of Maya has been examined at some length in an earlier chapter, and it has been shown that it refers to the creative energy of both Purusha and Prakrti. In connection with Vrtra, however, it would refer to the energy of Prakrti which he represents. The word may further be analyzed into Ma, ya, and would signify, She who (ya) represents Prakrti or Water (ma).

Means of Slaying Vrtra: If Vrtra represents Prakrti in a state of rest and as sole creator, to the negation of Purusha, and if slaying means assigning to Prakrti, the means of slaying him should explain the idea. Now we are told that Vrtra is slain by Indra with the thunderbolt (Sanskrt, Vajra). Indra slays him after quaffing Soma, the energy of the Mind or the Moon; and when he is slain, claims Soma for his reward. Again, it is said that it is Soma juice that slaughters Vrtra. These two weapons, therefore, Vajra and Soma, should explain the idea of slaying Vrtra.

We have already pointed out that the Vrtra idea refers to Prakrti in a state of rest and characterised by electric energy; and implies a negation of the Supreme Purusha. Now the point of view expressed by this idea can only be established if it is possible to conceive of electric or Mind energy in itself, without reference to any other energy, and in a state of rest. But we have seen that the Mind is immediately transformed into Ether, which has a twofold aspect, Purushic and Prakrtic and is characterised by magnetic energy and two kinds of motion, elliptical or with no comparative change of place, and speed, resulting in change of place in motion. Thus electric energy, as we know it, is really dectro-magnetic; and it is not possible to think of Mind or electric energy in a state of rest, or without reference to Ether, with its two kinds of motion: and it is in the light of this that Vrtra is slain and shown in his true colours, as a Prakrtic and not a Purushic energy.

Thus to slay Vrtra we have to consider Mind or electric energy in relation to (a) Purushic Ether, characterised by elliptical motion and the senses of knowledge, and (b) Prakrtic Ether, characterised by speed and the senses of action; and both of these are magnetic, the former south-seeking and the latter north-seeking. The first is represented by Soma and the second by Vajra or the thunderbolt; and as we shall presently see, Soma (Sa, u, ma) personifies (sa) the relation of Mind (ma) to Purushic Ether (u); while Vajra or the thunderbolt is electric (Mind) energy characterised by speed, for that is the idea of a thunderbolt; and speed is associated with Prakrtic Ether. These are, accordingly, the most appropriate weapons for slaying Vrtra; and the idea of his being killed by all the principal gods of the Vedas is to prove the existence of the Supreme Purusha which he denies.

Vajra: Vajra the weapon with which Vrtra is slain means lightning or the thunderbolt, which is Mind or electric energy in a state of speed, as has already been explained. But Vajra is used in a more significant sense, implying the idea of lightning of the Heart or super-electric energy, and may be analyzed into Va, j, ra, meaning, Mind energy characterised by speed (ra), born (j ) in Prakrti (Va); and as the letter; refers to Heart energy, Vajra is associated with it too.

Soma: Soma means the Moon, which personifies the Mind; it is also called Rajan, and thus associated with Rajas, the Guna of the Mind. It may be analyzed into Sa, u, ma, meaning, He who (sa) is Mind (ma) in relation to Purushic Ether (u).

Gods of the Vedas: From Known to Unknown: Thus we see that Vrtra represents Prakrti or the ovum in a state of rest, characterised by electric energy, unconnected with Ether or with Purusha. This suggests that the ancients must have made a scientific study of life, based on the cell, and proceeded in their investigation in a systematic manner. As the first state of the ovum is one of rest, and it is represented by Vrtra, we should be able to refer its states of activity to other gods of the Vedas. We have seen that cases of parthenogenesis, where the ovum alone creates, relate only to lower forms of life, and the viviparous are born of the union of Purusha and Prakrti. Now the conjugation of the male seed with the ovum or its proximity produces excitement and action in the latter, and this takes the form of (1) elliptical motion (limited in space), and (2) motion characterised by change or displacement of the constituents of the ovum. These two kinds of motion are associated with the two aspects of Ether; and we have seen that both Heat (Sun energy) and Electricity (Moon energy) complete their action in them. Heat or Sun energy, associated with Purushic Ether or the senses of knowledge and elliptical motion, is personified in Agni; and that associated with Prakrtic Ether or the senses of action and speed, is personified in Indra. Further, the cell is characterised by magnetic and electro-magnetic energy, heat and super-electric force; and these contribute to its development, maturation, and division. The magnetic energy is represented by the twin Asvins and Heaven and Earth; the electro-magnetic by Soma and Rudra; heat made manifest in Purushic and Prakrti Ether by Agni and Indra respectively; and super-electric or Heart energy by Vishnu, Varuna, and Vayu.

This is but another way of examining the problem from the manifest to the unmanifest. All knowledge is from the known to the unknown, and the ancients proceeded from the simple to the more complex. We have before us the outward form of life or Prakrti in the universe, and may consider it without reference to the unmanifest power that makes it what it is; and so we might regard it as self-existent, permanent, devoid of motion or change: this is Vrtra. But this cannot satisfy us; for there is the unmanifest beyond the manifest, and change is the law of life: thus from the manifest or Prakrti we pass on to Purusha and from motionlessness to motion. But motion is of two kinds, (1) limited in space, and (2) characterised by change of place or speed, leading to action; and Purusha in association with the one is personified in Agni, and with the other in Indra. Further, all motion is related to Ether, and its two kinds correspond to the twofold character of Ether, with its senses of knowledge and action; and these are personified in the two Asvins. Then Ether is characterised by magnetic energy breaking it into two equal halves, with the two magnetic poles; and this is personified in the idea of Heaven and Earth or Dyava-Prthvi. But Ether is not the highest energy of life; there is the Mind above it, characterised by electric energy; but Mind or electric energy is changed into electro-magnetic, and may be considered in relation to (1) Purushic Ether and (2) Prakrtic Ether; and these are personified in Soma and Rudra. Again, there is Buddhi above Mind, making itself manifest in Ether, which is characterised by elliptical motion and speed; and this gives us Agni and Indra once more. Finally, there is Heart energy, the unmanifest, higher than Buddhi; and the different ways in which it may be examined are personified in Vishnu, Varuna and Vayu.

There is yet a third way of examining the question. Reference has already been made to the nine ways of creation, and it has been observed that the different positions of the Golden Egg in relation to Purusha are personified in the gods of the Vedas. It would be necessary to see how far all this is borne out by Vedic authority.