We have seen how the three hymns of the Rig Veda express some of the most fundamental ideas of the Hindu systems of thought. They are repeated in a different form in another hymn of the same Veda, and it will be interesting to examine it in some detail.
- Of this benignant Priest, with held grey-colored, the brother midmost of the three is lightning. The third is he whose back with oil is sprinkled. Hence I behold the Chief with seven made children.
- Seven to the one-wheeled chariot yoke the Courser; bearing seven names the single Courser draws it. Three-naved the wheel is, sound and un-decaying, whereon are resting all these worlds of being.
- The seven who on the seven-wheeled car are mounted have horses, seven in tale. Who draw them onward? Seven Sisters utter songs of praise together, in whom the names of the seven Cows are treasured.
- Who hath beheld him as he sprang to being, seen how the boneless One supports the body? Where is the blood of earth, the life, the spirit? Who may approach the man who knows, to ask it?
- Unripe in mind, in spirit undiscerning, I ask of these the Gods' established places; For up above the yearling Calf the sages, to form a web, their own seven threads have woven.
- I ask, unknowing, those who know, the sages, as one all ignorant for the sake of knowledge, What was the One who in the Unborn's image hath established and fixed firm these world's six regions.
- Let him who knoweth presently declare it, this lovely Bird's securely founded station. Forth from his head the Cows draw milk, and, wearing his vesture, with their foot have drunk the water.
- The Mother gave the Sire his share of Order: with thought, at first, she wedded him in spirit. She, the coy Dame, was filled with dew prolific: with adoration men approached to praise her.
- Yoked was the Mother to the boon Cow's car-pole: in the dank rows, the cloud, the Infant rested. Then the Calf lowed, and looked upon the Mother, the Cow who wears all shapes in three directions.
- Bearing three Mothers and three Fathers, single he stood erect; they never make him weary. There on the pitch of heaven they speak together in speech all knowing but not all impelling.
- Formed with twelve spokes, by length of time un-weakened, rolls round the heaven this wheel of during Order. Herein established, joined in pairs together, seven hundred Sons and twenty stand, O Agni.
- They call him in the farther half of heaven the Sire five-footed, of twelve forms, wealthy in watery store. These others say that he, God with far seeing eyes, is mounted on the lower seven-wheeled, six-spoked car.
- Upon this five-spoked wheel revolving ever, all living creatures rest and are dependent. Its axle, heavy-laden, is not heated: the nave from ancient time remains unbroken.
- The wheel revolves, un-wasting, with its felly: ten draw it, yoked to the far- stretching car-pole. The Sun's eye moves encompassed by the region: on him dependent rest all living creatures.
- Of the co-born they call the seventh single born; the six twin pairs are called Rishis, Children of Gods. Their good gifts sought of men are ranged in order due, and various in their form move for the Lord who guides.
- They told me those were males, though truly females: he who hath eyes sees this, the blind discerns not. The son who is a sage hath comprehended: who knows this rightly is his father's father.
- Beneath the upper realm, above this lower, bearing her calf at foot the Cow hath risen. Whitherward, to what place hath she departed? Where calves she? Not amid this herd of cattle.
- Who, that the father of this Calf discerneth beneath the upper realm, above the lower. Showing himself a sage, may here declare it? Whence hath the Godlike spirit had its rising?
- Those that come hitherward they call departing, those that depart they call directed hither. And what so ye have made, Indra and Soma, steeds bear as twere yoked to the region's car pole.
- Two Birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship, in the same sheltering, tree have found a refuge. One of the twain eats the sweet Fig-tree's fruitage; the other eating not regardeth only.
- Where those fine Birds hymn ceaselessly their portion of life eternal, and the sacred synods. There is the Universe's mighty Keeper, who, wise, hath entered into me the simple.
- The tree whereon the fine Birds eat the sweetness, where they all rest and procreate their offspring. Upon its top they say the fig is luscious: none gaineth it who knoweth not the Father.
- How on the Gayatri the Gayatri was based, how from the Tristup they fashioned the Tristup forth. How on the Jagati was based the Jagati they who know this have won themselves immortal life.
- With Gayatri he measures out the praise-song, Sama with praise-song, triplet with the Tristup. The triplet with the two or four-foot measure, and with the syllable they form seven metres.
- With Jagati the flood in heaven he established, and saw the Sun in the Rathantara Saman. Gayatri hath, they say, three brands for kindling; hence it excels in majesty and vigour.
- I invocate the much-cow good for milking, so that the milker, deft of hand, may drain her; may Savitar give goodliest stimulation. The caldron is made hot; I will proclaim it.
- She, lady of all treasure, is come hither yearning in spirit for her calf and lowing. May this cow yield her milk for both the Asvins, and may she prosper to our high advantage.
- The cow hath lowed after her blinking youngling; she licks his forehead, as she lows, to form it. His mouth she fondly calls to her warm udder, and suckles him with milk while gently lowing.
- He also snorts, by whom encompassed round the Cow lows as she clings unto the shedder of the rain. She with her shrilling cries hath humbled mortal man, and, turned to lightning hath stripped off her covering robe.
- That which hath breath and speed and life and motion lies firmly established in the midst of houses. Living by offerings to the Dead he moveth, Immortal One the brother of the mortal.
- I saw the Herdsman, him who never stumbles, approaching by his pathways and departing. He clothed with gathered and diffusive splendour, within the worlds continually travels.
- He who hath made him doth not comprehend him; from him who saw him surely is he hidden. He, yet enveloped in his Mother's bosom, source of much life, hath sunk into destruction.
- Dyaus is my Father, my begetter, kinship is here. This great earth is my kin and Mother. Between the wide-spread world-halves is the birth-place: the Father laid the Daughter's germ within it.
- I ask thee of the earth's extremest limit, where is the centre of the world, I ask thee. I ask thee of the Stallion's seed prolific, I ask of highest heaven where Speech abideth.
- This altar is the earth's extremest limit; this sacrifice ours is the world's centre. The Stallion's seed prolific is the Soma; this Brahman highest heaven where Speech abideth.
- Seven germs un-ripened yet are heaven's prolific seed; their functions they maintain by Vishnu's ordinance. Endued with wisdom through intelligence and thought, they compass us about present on every side.
- What thing I truly am I know not clearly: mysterious, fettered in my mind I wander. When the first born of holy Law approached me then of this speech I first obtained a portion.
- Back, forward goes he, grasped by strength inherent, the Immortal born the brother of the mortal. Ceaseless they move in opposite directions: men mark the one and fail to mark the other.
- Upon what syllable of holy praise-song, as there their highest heaven, the Gods repose them. Who knows not this, what will he do with praise-song! But they who know it well sit here assembled.
- Fortunate mayst you be with goodly pasture, and may we also be exceeding wealthy. Feed on the grass, O Cow, at every season, and coming hitherward drink limpid water.
- Forming the water-floods, the buffalo hath lowed, one-footed or two-footed or four-footed, she, who hath become eight-footed or hath got nine feet, the thousand syllabled in the sublimest heaven.
- From her descend in streams the seas of water; thereby the world's four regions have their being. Thence flows the imperishable flood, and thence the universe hath life.
- I saw from far away the smoke of fuel with spires that rose on high o'er that beneath it. The Mighty Men have dressed the spotted bullock. These were the customs in the days aforetime.
- Three with long tresses show in ordered season. One of them sheareth when the year is ended. One with his powers the universe regardeth: of the one the sweep is seen, but not his figure.
- Speech hath been measured out in four divisions the Brahmans who have understanding know them. Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division.
- They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman. To what is One, sages give many a title: they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan.
- Dark the descent: the birds are golden-colored; up to the heaven they fly robed in the waters. Again descend they from the seat of Order, and all the earth is moistened with their fatness.
- Twelve are the fellies, and the wheel is single; three are the naves. What man hath understood it? Therein are set together spokes three hundred and sixty, which in nowise can be loosened.
- That breast of thine exhaustless, spring of pleasure, wherewith you feedest all things that are choicest, Wealth-giver, treasure-finder, free bestower bring that, Sarasvati, that we may drain it.
- By means of sacrifice the Gods accomplished their sacrifice: these were the earliest ordinances. These Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there where the Sadhyas, Gods of old, are dwelling.
- Uniform, with the passing days, this water mounts and falls again. The tempest-clouds give life to earth, and fires re-animate the heaven.
- The Bird Celestial, vast with noble pinion, the lovely germ of plants, the germ of waters, Him who delighteth us with rain in season, Sarasvan I invoke that he may help us.
Ideas of the Hymn: The ideas of this Hymn may be summarized as follows:
- No one can know the origin of life. No one has beheld the Creator as he sprang to life, or seen how he supports Prakrti. No one knows from whom to ask, and we ask the sages in vain.
- There are three principal theories of the creation of life, related to Buddhi, Mind, and Ether respectively. These three energies are compared to three brothers. The eldest is grown grey and has seven children, and refers to Buddhi with its seven energies; the midmost is lightning or electric energy, referring to Mind; while the youngest is steeped in oil, literally, Ghee or clarified butter; and it has been pointed out that Go or the Cow and all that refers to the animal milk, curd, butter, ghee, etc. relate to Ether.
- According to the Buddhi theory of life, there is one Purusha who creates the universe; and the One becomes Many. There is a Chariot, the Chariot of Life: its single wheel or the single courser is Buddhi, which has seven names, itself, Mind, and the five elements.
- There are three Gunas which embrace all life. The wheel of the Chariot is the Wheel of life, and its three naves are the three Gunas.
- The one energy of life is transformed into seven, which are all creative, and may be separately considered. There are seven energies which may be compared to seven Horsemen mounted on seven horses; they are creative, being accompanied by seven Sisters, and a woman is always conceived as an instrument of creation.
- After the Buddhi-theory of life comes the Mind-theory, according to which Life is created by two energies, Purusha and Prakrti. The Mother of the universe is said to wed the Sire in the Mind (Sk. Manas, mistranslated, Spirit), and gives him his due share in the creation of life; hence the union of Purusha and Prakrti in the light of the Mind-theory of creation.
- After the Mind-theory we have the Ether-theory, according to which Life is created by Prakti and not Purusha; and the latter either does not exist or is a mere spectator of the work of Prakrti. We are now introduced to the Mother Cow and her Calf; and the Cow, as already explained, refers to Ether, and (Prakrtic) Ether to Prakrti. The Calf represents the universe born of Prakrti, and is said to rest in Motion (Vrjana, mistranslated as cloud), and looks up not to his father but mother, Prakrti, the Cow, who wears all shapes in three directions.
- Thus there are three theories of the creation of Life, in each of which, directly or indirectly, we get the idea of Purusha and Prakrti. The Calf of the universe has, accordingly, three mothers and three fathers.
- Buddhi is represented by the number twelve (seven and five), Mind by six, and Ether by five. The Wheel of life has twelve spokes, for it is governed by Buddhi (7) made manifest in Ether (5); and so the Supreme Purusha of Buddhi has twelve forms, is five- footed, and rich in Prakrti (watery store). According to some, however, Buddhi (God mounted on the seven-wheeled car) may be associated with Mind (six spokes); while others believe that the universe (with its five-spoked wheel) is rooted in Ether.
- In the Buddhi theory of Life the universe is said to be created by Purusha, and he creates Prakrti; in the Mind theory the two are together from the very beginning; while in the Ether theory there is Prakrti alone. Accordingly the first is represented by the number 12 consisting of seven and five or Buddhi associated with Ether; in, the second we have seven and six together (the seven-wheeled, six-spoked car or Buddhi associated with Mind); while in the third not only is the wheel five-spoked (referring to Ether alone), but its axle is never heated or affected by the energy of the Sun (the Purusha of Buddhi).
- Of the seven energies of life, from Buddhi to the element "Earth", one alone (Buddhi) is truly Purushic; the rest are all characterised by the male and female counterparts (corresponding to the positive and negative aspects of the electric and north and south poles of the magnetic current) These six energies, from Mind to "Earth" are sometimes spoken of as male, and sometimes as female; but they are really more Prakrtic than Purushic. All the energies from Buddhi to the element "Earth" are co-born or created simultaneously but the seventh (Buddhi) alone can be considered by itself; while the remaining six are twins (that is, have a dual aspect, Purushic and Prakrtic). These six are said to be males (Purushic), but are really females (Prakrtic).
- According to the Ether theory of life,, all creatures arise from Ether without the intervention of the Supreme Purusha; and the universe is regarded as divided into two halves, male and female, in between which is born the Child of the world. This Prakrti (Cow) has an upper and a lower half, and the Calf of the universe is born in Ether (at the foot). The Mother is there, but no one has seen the Father of the Calf.
- There are two energies, the positive and negative currents of life, that flow backward and forward, and in opposite directions, inseparable and linked together by their inherent strength.
- There are two entities in a living creature, the individual self (Jivatman) and the Supreme Self (Paramatman). They may be compared to two Birds, who are friends and live together in one tree; but only one of them (the individual self) tastes the fruit of the tree (experiences the joy and sorrow of life), and the other (the Supreme Self) does not. This idea is repeated in the Upanishads and other sacred works and it has been pointed out that according to one aspect of Yoga and Sankhya systems of thought, the Supreme Purusha is a mere spectator or onlooker of the work of Prakti, who alone creates.
- Whatever the value of the Ether theory of creation, excluding the idea of the Supreme Purusha, it cannot be denied that it is incomplete for it is based on the magnetic energy of Ether, which in itself depends on the electric energy of the Mind. Prakrti, conceived as Ether, (Cow) yearns in her Mind (Manas, mistranslated, spirit) for her Calf; and though all life is made manifest in Ether, (she yields milk for the two Asvins, who represent the twofold character of Ether), she seeks something higher; and having turned to lightning or Mind-energy, reveals herself in her true light.
- These are but different theories and speculations; the ultimate cause of Life remains a mystery forever.
- Life becomes manifest through four stages; so does its counterpart, Speech. The word for Speech in the text is Vak, which may be analyzed into V, a, k, and would mean, Prakrti (V) leading to (a) Purusha (k), thus expressing the whole manifest life. The term Vak, therefore, is used in a very wide sense in the sacred works, and is associated with Mind, Prana, and the Supreme Purusha (Prajapati) and we have seen how each order of creatures passes through four stages of life to become manifest. Speech too is said to have the same four stages, Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama, and Vaikhari, of which the last alone is audible.
- There is one Purusha, called by many names, Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, etc.
- There is but a single Wheel of Life, and creatures may be said to be born of the cycle of Buddhi made manifest in Ether, and represented by the number twelve; then there are the three Gunas (the three naves); and this is the explanation of it.
- All creation is the result of Sacrifice.
Other Hymns: These are some of the ideas contained in this extraordinary hymn addressed to Visvedevas or All Gods; and a detailed examination of its language, in the light of our letter-analysis, will disclose some more interesting points still. But this will take us far outside the scope of our work. It is enough to point out that there are several other hymns which contain equally important ideas, and a few might be mentioned here.
(a) The original energy of life is Rajasic or Mind energy, identified with Lightning. It is made manifest in Prakrti, but its origin cannot be found. Within the Waters runs the Moon, he with beauteous wings in heaven. Ye lightenings with your golden wheel, men find not you abiding place.
Explanation: Waters refer to Prakrti, and the Moon to the Mind. Within Prakrti (Waters) there is the Rajasic or Mind energy, which may be called lightning; and, though we know that it exists in Prakrti, we cannot find its origin or abiding place.
(b) Motion and not the absence of it in Prakrti is the law of life. The flowing of the Flood is law.
Explanation: The flood refers to Prakrti, and flowing to its motion. All life is characterised by motion, and its counterpart, action; for these are the two twin aspects of Ether in which it is made manifest; and any theory based on the absence of these is erroneous. Hence we see the importance of the idea of Gou, Cow, or Ether in motion, and understand why Vrtra, who stops the floods, must be killed.
(c) The proof of the idea of God is to be found in the two-fold character of Ether, Purushic and Prakrtic. In the Cow's home was born the great Eternal.
Explanation: Gou (Cow) as already explained refers to motion in Ether; and we have seen how all ideas of the Eternal meet in this element. Hence we may say that the great Eternal is born in Ether (Cow). This agrees with the idea of the importance of Ether (Cow), as already explained.
(d) The energy of life is a dual one, Purushic and Prakrtic; the one is bright, and the other dark; the one hidden and the other manifest. Both are creative, and so may be spoken of as sisters, woman being regarded as an instrument of creation. Ye valiant Pair have made yourselves twin beauties: one of the twain is dark, bright shine's the other; And yet these two, the dark, the red, are sisters. Within a wondrous place the twain are treasured; the one is manifest, the other hidden.
Thus we see that the hymns of the Vedas are not mere invocations addressed to different gods, but contain the essence of all systems of thought which in after years, came to be developed more fully and completely. It is possible to multiply instances, but that would take us away from the scope of this work. Enough has been said to show that, in the light of our interpretation, the hymns are found to be characterised by a highly philosophical and perfectly consistent system of thought. But before we can accept this conclusion we should be able to show that the gods of the Hindu pantheon, as hymned in the Vedas, represent in themselves but different aspects of the same law of life.