We have explained in the previous volume that the gods of the Vedas refer to the different ways in which we can examine and understand the creation of the universe. This is the opinion of the ancient philosophers too, and we are told that, "they hold that the Vedas exist for ever in their own right the hymns (of the Vedas) deal with the eternal phenomena of nature. The names occurring in them are of universal applicability and do not have any historical reference. Visvamitra means the all friendly and not any historical character".
As we have pointed out, the ancients proceeded from the known to the unknown in their quest of Truth, and the range of ideas relating to the creation of the universe, associated with the Vedic gods, constitutes the limit of thought beyond which it is not possible for the human mind to go.
Creative Energies: We have observed that there are five great creative energies of life in the universe, the Heart, Buddhi, Mind, and the twofold character of Ether, corresponding to which we have the senses of knowledge and action.
The Heart, the Soul, Vital Energy and Breath: Of these the Heart is characterised by super-electric energy, which may be described as electric energy with a very high voltage, and, like the latter, it has its positive and negative sides of these the soul, said to abide in the Heart, may be regarded as positive, and the vital (fluid) energy or semen virile, created out of food, negative; while Prana or vital Breath, the vehicle of the soul as well as the swallower of food, and so the connecting link between them, positive and negative both.
Prana or Breath is super-electric, with both its positive and negative sides, as, with every breath we draw, a small but a most powerful current of electricity is actually produced, and it is that which enables a creature to live and act. Now Prana or Breath is not merely the physical element Air; for if that were so, by forcing air into a creature, we could make it live. It is also the vehicle of the soul; for so long as breath continues to flow in and out, a creature lives; but as soon as it passes away, so does the soul, and all life is dead.
Then Prana or Breath is said to swallow food, and the Vegetable kingdom constitutes the basis of all food, and even the carnivorous live finally on the herbivorous. The latter again live on the earth, which, accordingly, is spoken of as the common mother of all. Now we know that plants are characterised by a very powerful electric charge; and while animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbonic acid gas, they do the opposite. Hence, if the super-electric energy of animals be regarded as positive, that of plants must be taken to be negative. Then again we know that food taken by an animal is transformed into blood and that in its turn into vital seed or vital energy. Thus we might say that the soul, or the centre of animal life, is charged with positive super-electric energy, while the vital fluid or semen virile, the essence of plant life or food, with its negative counterpart; and Prana or vital Breath, the connecting link between them, is both positive and negative, that is, completely super- electric. Hence it is that with every breath we draw a small but a powerful current of electric energy is produced; and that is super-electric energy or electric energy with a very high voltage, with both its positive and negative sides.
The soul, Prana, and vital energy are all connected with the Heart, and so the latter may be regarded as super-electric in character too. The soul is said to abide in the Heart whose physical function is the purification of blood, transformed out of food and changed again into the vital fluid; and breath too is closely associated with the function of the Heart and the purification of blood, and is, at the same time, the vehicle of the soul. The soul, vital fluid, and Prana or breath may, therefore, be said to be the three aspects of the super-electric energy of the Heart positive, negative, and positive and negative both.
Buddhi: Buddhi or Reason is the higher energy of the brain, and corresponds to the energy of the Sun or heat. It is the first manifest form of the unmanifest soul or energy of the Heart, and so, for practical purposes, identified with it. It is characterised by serenity, certainty, and peace.
Mind: Mind is the lower energy of the brain, and corresponds to the energy of the Moon or electricity. As electric energy is similar to super-electric energy, Mind and Heart are regarded as akin. It is characterised by desire, raising doubts and asking questions, which it is the business of Buddhi to answer and allay.
Twofold Ether: Ether is characterised by magnetic energy, and its twofold character corresponds to its north and south seeking magnetic poles. These again are connected with the five elements and their properties as well as the senses of knowledge and action in man.
Vedic Gods and Creative Energies: These are the five great creative energies of life in the world super-electric energy, heat, electric energy, and the two poles of magnetic energy. The idea of Vedic gods is, as we have explained, exactly the same. Vishnu, Varuna, and Vayu refer to the threefold character of the Heart soul, vital energy, and breath; Agni and Indra to Buddhi; Soma and Rudra to the Mind; and Dyaus and Prthvi and the two Asvins to the twofold character of Ether, with its north and south magnetic poles. These are the great creative energies in the universe; it is these that are personified in the gods of the Vedas; the idea of the Upanishads and systems of Hindu Philosophy is the same; and it is this that is pictured in the Epic of the Mahabharata in story form. But in order to understand all this we have to show how the gods of the Vedas are the foundation of all sacred thought of the Hindus, and then we shall be able to see how the Story of the Mahabharata is a great picture of it all.
The Organic Cell: We have explained that all ideas of the Hindus, including those of their Vedic gods, are based on the form, structure, development and division of the organic cell, out of which they evolved their great conception of Brahmanda or the Universal Cell, Hiranya-garbha or the Golden Womb of the universe; for it is said, "As it is in the cell, so is it in Brahmanda". In this connection we have shown how all the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of the ancient Hindus can be explained in the light of the cell, and how its chief creative energies the Centrosome and the Chromosomes, corresponding to which we have the Visarga and Anusvara in the Sanskrt alphabet refer to the great creative energies of life, from the Heart to the twofold character of Ether. Thus, as the gods of the Vedas refer to the same creative energies of life, we see how their idea is identical to that of the energies of the cell; and we shall presently see how the account of each, as given in the Vedas, is nothing but a description of the action of the Centrosome, or the dynamic (Purushic) energy, on the Nucleus (or the Prakrtic energy) in the body of the cell.
Then we shall see how the same five creative energies of life constitute the basis of the five great systems of Hindu Philosophy Vedanta, Yoga, Vaisesika, Nyaya and Sankhya and so there is but one single idea at the root of them all. Thus the phenomena of the cell the form, structure, action and interaction of its parts, its development, division, and decay constitute a body of scientific facts which men can observe and understand; and as the cell is the basis of all organic life, its laws apply to everything in the world. And, as we have observed, it is the idea of the cell that has been developed into that of Brahmanda or the Universal Cell; and both together explain all that the ancient Hindus imagined or understood. It is on this that they founded their science of Physics, Biology and Astronomy, their theories of numbers, and their speculations in Astrology, their idea of a language, and their systems of religion. We have dealt with some of these problems in a previous volume, and in this we shall conclude our examination of the rest; and then we shall be in a position to see how far the great Epic of the Mahabharata is a picture of all Hindu thought in story-form.
The Cell: We have already explained the form, structure, and development of the organic cell; but for the sake of convenience the principal points in this connection may be summarised again.
All forms of life, of both animals and plants, are composed of a vast number of vital units, called cells a cell may be defined as a region of a minute mass of protoplasm or jelly like substance, containing within it another region of finer fluid substance called its Nucleus. The cell is the smallest particle of living matter, and the cell body is called the Cytoplasm.
Nucleus: The Nucleus contains a fibrillar and a more fluid part. The former consists of two parts, one of which does not take a stain, and the other which does. The latter is called Chromatin.
Centrosome: The Centrosome is a clear spherical substance which is found to lie sometimes in the Nucleus and sometimes in the protoplasm, outside, but in the neighbourhood of the Nucleus. The Centrosome plays a most important part in the development and multiplication of the cell. It is its centre of dynamic activity, and around it the small grains of the cytoplasm are arranged in radial lines. It breaks into two before the division of the cell takes place, and its two halves become centres of attraction, and their action may be compared to the lines of force in a magnetic field. The action of the Centrosomes on the Chromosomes or segments of the Chromatin is the cause of the development and division of the cell. The Centrosomes are seen to appear, disappear, and re-appear in the process of cell development. They disappear just before the division of the cell takes place, and re-appear in the new divided cells.
Direct and Indirect Division of the Cell: Every cell is formed by division of a pre-existing cell, called the mother-cell. The mother cell divides into two equal parts, called the daughter cells, each of which possesses all the characteristics of the mother cell. Each of the daughter cells then sub-divides into two equal halves, the grand-daughter-cells; and each of these into two again, and so on, till they form a meshwork of cells from which arise the differentiated parts of an organism. This is called Direct Division of a cell.
But there is also an Indirect Division, which is a more complicated as well as a more important form of cell-division. The process is characterised by a series of complex changes in the Nucleus, in which the Centrosome, acting on the Nucleus, plays a most important part. This leads to a subdivision of the cell.
The Course and Stages of Cell-Development: The first condition of the cell is one of rest. Starting with the cell in a resting condition, we notice that the changes leading to its division take place in four phases; and so we might say that there are four stages in the division of the cell, and that division takes place in the last or fourth stage.
In the first stage the Centrosome appears like two points, one over the other, thus like the sign of Visarga in the Sanskrt alphabet. Then the two points separate and pass to the opposite poles of the Nucleus, and there appears between them a spindle that rotates. They act on the chromatin or the colouring substance of the Nucleus, and it forms first a continuous thread and is then divided into segments, called Chromosomes. The nuclear membrane, dividing the Nucleus from the Cytoplasm, then disappears, and the cell appears an undivided whole. The Chromosomes pass along the spindle between the Centrosomes in different ways, and are finally arranged around the Centrosomes at the two polar ends, like the figure of an Anusvara in the Sanskrt alphabet, thus, then the cell divides into two, each complete with a Centrosome, Nucleus and a Cytoplasm, possessing all the characteristics of the mother-cell.
This is a brief description of the cell and its division, and we shall see how far it is identical with the account of the different gods of the Vedas.