It is possible to demonstrate graphically the effect of the lost wisdom on the civilisation of the subcontinent, as I have done in Parts I and II. Graphics often speak louder than words; this presentation may well prove the point.
Cosmic harmonies are largely grounded in geometry. This is because one starts computations and analyses with a whole in which parts are set in place and joined together creating a web, a system formed of interrelated lines. The process is an ancient one, inherited from the Vedic and Sangam periods. It forms the basis for a key feature of that wisdom to function as an applicable formula. This is referred to as a system of correspondences. Unlike other ancient schools, the Indian premise has always been one of Equivalencies. This stands for that because in their essential being they are equal. Therefore the Sage uses that essence which may be equated with a seed, and the compact or minute therein reveals the larger of which it is connected as a web to its centre that holds it in place.
However, this ancient method can function only within the overall framework of the Circle. If that does not exist (in consciousness or perception), we have linear forms that cannot provide the wisdom of Correspondences. The degeneration witnessed in caste is a case in point and can reveal, geometrically, how what once was an enlightened structure lost its superior cosmic qualities when the vision of spherical perceptive capacity of the Ancients was lost. Linearity replaced the circular. Then the Cosmic Man does not fit into the circle as the zodiac laid out in the diagram in Part II reveals; the image is restricted to the upright progression, always valid indeed, but an incomplete perception subject therefore to unavoidable decay. The pyramidal diagram below describes caste as we know it today given our lost spherical perceptive capacity which has been replaced by the linear.
Caste remains in spite of the lost spherical capacity, for indeed its cosmic roots make it indestructible, but the circle has vanished. The four segments are perceived as stacked one upon the other as in a pyramid. The base is of course the largest, the first caste, Shudra: the entire pyramid rests on this first foundation/mass. Therefore, rumblings, agitations, disturbances (Maoists?) cannot be allowed at that level of the structure or else the entire edifice would be threatened. Thus are born machinations to exploit or else to keep the lower in check, come what may – often by unholy means. It is simply a question of self-protection, given the loss of spherical perception. In a true cosmic-based society, what we may call planetary, these problems do not arise.
The next segment is Vaishya followed by Kshatriya, and finally the Brahmin. If we assume that the apex of the triangle is the position that connects the sections to the heavenly, or to the Supreme, then the position of the Brahmin is secure in a linear society because all approach to the highest must be done through that loftiest segment. The individual in such a society is stationed somewhere in one of the lower portions and cannot connect to the Supreme Reality directly; he or she is obliged to approach the Highest through representatives – in this case the Brahmin, or the priest as in orthodox religions of the West, all of which took shape during the very period when the Vedic vision began to decline. The Brahmin or priest is therefore rendered indispensible and he too must put in place certain protective devices, one of which is to establish ownership over rituals and scriptures, thereby eliminating the threat of intruders from other segments of the pyramid. This becomes the sole preserve of the Brahmin or the officiating priest by which the populace can be led to the portals of the Highest.
But there have been rumblings in the lower ranks, and the security once enjoyed has been disrupted, sometimes ruthlessly. This is the fate of linear perception. It must implode when top-heaviness occurs by the weight of its contradictions; or else when the base becomes unable to continue lending support to a system that has exceeded its utility.
The real cosmic foundation is not pyramidal but spherical, as indicated in the image below. This is appreciated when we turn to the One Circle where these contradictions are resolved. Above all, as noted in this graphic, it offers equal access to the Centre, to God, or the highest ideal of the civilisation, requiring no intermediaries. This is truly equality and respect for all segments of society. There is an upper hemisphere and a lower – but this does not refer to superior or inferior, lesser or more privileged. This distinction, which is one of the foundations of astrological principles, applies to function, above all. It is similar to the seasons: each one compliments the other. There is neither good nor bad, best nor worse. In the true cosmic harmony, caste is not the prerogative or the bane of birth. The horoscope, in the hands of a true astrologer, provides the means to discover one’s caste. Or the part one plays in society as part of the system.
There are two keywords to describe the new cosmic-based order: Unity and Integrality. The former is of the nature of the circle; the latter is the linear that extends from the centre or the connecting lines to the central Point. Without integrality there is no web to position the lines drawn by Time. We may have circles within circles, but lacking the definition that lines within the circle describe, half the equation is missing. This is again a demonstration of each thing in its place.
We can visually appreciate the condition if we imagine a spider’s web without its linear components that extend from the circle’s centre to provide the solidity a web requires for it to serve as the spider’s habitat. The spider and web is a wonderful metaphor for the creative act of the Divine Maya to give form to the Transcendent Absolute. The Absolute BECOMES the universe (the web) through the medium of the Divine Mother (the spider), she who is one with the Transcendent and gives shape to all created things. He becomes the universe because of her power, without which the Transcendent cannot manifest.
This analysis and its visual images reveal that the two, circle and line, must join in a harmonious design to provide the cosmic plan for evolution to inhabit and within which it may evolve by the aid of Time to a higher status on the ladder. Unity cannot be the lived experience of a creation in matter without the Integral. Both have their origin in the centre, the Point, and must inevitably find their just and harmonious place within a contained cosmic manifestation such as our universal system. The two together describe the complete nature of the reality of our material world. Up there, in some heavenly extra-cosmic dimension, if it exists and can be reached, circles may suffice. Here below, in matter, the Line is required to create a vehicle on which evolution may travel to fulfil its purpose.
The current pyramidal structure of caste is all lines, no circle. Therefore it cannot survive in a world that has overcome the obstacles encountered during the evolution of human consciousness to become equipped with a consciousness of a higher level that alone is able to integrate the final fourth quarter.
Here we have the four planes of consciousness placed within the circle, and their Vedic designations on the outside. The fourth section is the issue because this plane – Swar – is the void as far as material creation on this Earth is concerned. All spirituality, eastern and western, considers this fourth to be extra-cosmic. Heaven, it is called, and in our minds this evokes a static, unchanging, indeed eternal world or plane or dimension, beyond Time, beyond Space.
However, the geometry of the circle, as also the zodiac it contains, does not imply otherworldliness at all. In fact, the fourth quarter is the most materially earthly of all the quadrants. The lived experience of the fourth segment – that is, when it becomes an integrated part of the evolving consciousness – is when the true role of the Earth in the cosmic harmony is revealed. Until now glimpses of that integrality and Earth-centredness have been perceived. The travails of society today are precisely efforts to move deeper into the Point, the centre of the centre itself, as in the centre of the spider’s web out of which creation emerges, the Centre where all created things are held together and from where lines extend to draw the whole into the experience of Oneness. Indeed, the innermost central point is the One, the Divine Child of almost all traditions, the anticipated saviour – not for the few elect souls who have followed the dogmas faithfully, but for the Earth herself.
At our current level, with the weapons of mass destruction that exist, with the desecration of the physical Earth, with the decimation of her living creatures, it is clear that an integral all-encompassing Power has to be unveiled that can save our planet from the devastation brought to her by the present limited human species which to all appearances possesses the ability to destroy in toto the web of its own habitat. That habitat, the metaphorical spider’s web, is constructed by Time, by the lines Time draws in the evolutionary matrix. Just as disorder is brought into the cosmic order by using the circle and its properties against itself, so too can we experience Time as destroyer of its own creation; or time as the motor of evolution to bring humanity on this third planet to a new order of which Time itself holds the key.
This is the sense implied in the Maya ‘end time’ predictions for 21 December 2012. True or false, a correct reading of the Maya calendar and its pictographs or not, we have reached the ‘end of Time’. But a qualification is required. It is the old time that is dissolved, and all the forms it has given rise to, those crumbling structures of the old world that are imploding. It was a world created by a severely hampered human consciousness. Its incompleteness is the signal that it must, as time moves on, evolve into the wholeness contained in the innermost Point itself, it must shed the old forms similar to a serpent that sloughs off its lifeless and purposeless old skin.
We are living the collapse of the old – but we are also part of the new that is concurrently arising to replace the old. Cosmos, caste and calendar play fundamental roles in this transition to wholeness, particularly in India, the nation that has never severed those connections. The cosmic harmonies formed the foundation in ancient times for the subcontinental civilisation to carry the burden of the evolution through darkness into an age when the Vishnu Avatar re-appears to lay the guidelines of a new creation of Light. The limitations of the physical, mental, and emotional structure of the human being are being exceeded, the boundaries of the old structure are being dissolved, leaving before the human species an entirely new world to discover along with the processes that will transform the Earth into the paradise we have been led to believe can only exist beyond time and cosmos; when it is actually Time itself that brings the new things divine onto our planetary home.
This new Light can hardly be called ‘spiritual’ any longer because the old world appropriated the term and it is therefore no longer adequate to describe the nature of that Light. The fourth (Swar) is the home of that superior experience of Reality and the secret of our new age is that the time for the unveiling of its Earth-centredness has come.
To conclude, the very first step to bring Hinduism back to wholeness so that the things promised can be fulfilled is to rid itself of the Ayanamsha Chaos. If that simple first step is not taken, caste and all that was once real and true cannot re-make itself and India cannot guide the world to the new Order. For how long are we to continue denying the self-evident fact that the Vedic Calendar, with all that finds a legitimate place in its four-fold eternal structure, must be restored. We lament the degeneration of caste, but we need to realise that the whole of Indian society and not just caste is in a state of decay because 80% of the population’s energies stand hopelessly divided. This is due not to caste but to the lack of the unifying element the subcontinent had always known and for which reason it was able to survive the ravages of time and circumstance. Continuing to accede to the pressure of vested interests that impede this transformation, which would re-make society by releasing and unifying energies that are now being wasted in futile attempts to reform the periphery, while the centre of the circle itself stands veiled and, for all practical purposes, ineffective and inoperable, is not the way to make ‘all things new’. Nothing is in its place, indeed. But foremost is the centre-point itself.
Like Guha, Shiva’s mighty warrior Son, the need of the hour is to unveil the Centre that holds. And indeed this requires the courage of the Warrior.
The fourfold One Circle is the Chaturvarna of caste. Its roots lie in the cosmic harmony like everything else the civilisation of the subcontinent has to offer of eternal value. But when that One Circle is dismissed in favour of the subjective relativism of science, and the Ayanamsha Chaos becomes the determining factor of our expression of the Sanatana Dharma, then of course caste must also degenerate since it too owes its being to that same geometric form.
Here is the very same diagram presented in Part I, page 5, but with each of the four castes entered in the positions they occupy in the Circle divided in four. In so doing we learn how indeed all can be one – but one within the correct perception of the cosmic harmony which the calendar regulates for collective purposes. Caste is one such means to regulate society. This formulation can be found not only in India as inherited from ancient times but throughout the world, when we consider that globally the very same four-fold division exists. Here are the broad categories; they can be embellished further to include the full gamut of each quadrant: 1) labour, service, crafts; 2) finances/banks, industries, commodities; 3) government, military, judiciary. And finally the fourth and highest – equivalent to Uttarayana in the Hindu Calendar – which in contemporary society including the Indian has been usurped by elements that bear no credentials for the fourth position – in ancient times occupied by Rishis and Seers. Today intellectuals, philosophers, scientists are likely to occupy this important position; their writs often stand uncontested and any consideration of higher principles goes ignored or even ridiculed. The wiseman’s voice is lost in the din of political and social activism and the intellectualisms of think-tanks, bearing little or no relation to the duties of the fourth quadrant. This is the most interesting aspect of our transitional phase on the road to a new world order: the necessary call of the hour is the integration of the fourth quarter and to identify its role in the new global society. This integration of the fourth is essentially the all-encompassing subject of my treatment. The point to bear in mind is that the Chaturvarna is a cosmic fact which has structured civilisations across the globe throughout history, disregarding cultural and ethnic differences. Indeed, this is the value of a cosmic-based vision: it influences the entire human species irrespective of caste or creed or political ideology. How much more valuable and effective is such a structure in a civilisation like the Vedic which, from its inception, followed superior cosmic laws? When the Vedic prescription of One Circle is understood, we realise that this single geometric form can knit together all the diverse elements it contains in an experience of oneness which might otherwise appear disconnected when taken singly or linearly. The value of Oneness is irrefutable, but because it is a delicate balance when attained, if that One Circle is disturbed or erased from the collective consciousness, the element that unifies and integrates society is turned against itself. It is then that lesser formulations come to usurp the place of higher principles that might otherwise impact society. (In minor ways we see this happening when aspects of the democratic system such as freedom of speech, human rights, and so forth, are used against itself to bring down the system.) . Consider the role of nationalism. It can be an energising sentiment in the population, with the ability to focus the collective consciousness on a single noble goal; but it can also degenerate into its shadow – Nazism, for example. As well, there are certain political ideologies that tend to disturb the fourfold balance by emphasis on one quadrant of the wheel. Communism is one example. There we find an overpowering of just one quarter, the first (Shudra, labour). While the ideal underlying such ideologies may be noble, due to a congenital imbalance the unregenerate human condition can carry the emphasis beyond tolerable limits. In so doing, this may lead to totalitarian means to reach a desired end, thereby extinguishing the very foundational premise of the new universalism: freedom. Today, after the demise of Communism as a potential for global unification which its international ideology proposes, another section of the Circle has taken over the attempt to unify humanity by seeking to replace the Communist failed effort by imposing its values on the whole. The factors constituting the second quadrant (Vaishya – economics, financial powers, banks, industries, etc.) have come into prominence of late. The entire globe is sought to be brought under the umbrella of an economic system the opposite of Communism, but also holding as it does an international agenda. In both cases the universal character of the cosmic influence is sought to be given expression in one form or another because we cannot escape the pressure to cast aside dividing barriers, given that the Cosmic Dial has moved into the Age of Aquarius, the zodiacal sign bearing the most affinity with the cosmic harmony. Thus, globalisation, liberalisation of economies, free market, and so forth, pretend to encourage in humanity the experience of oneness based on a projected economic well being. The inescapable result of this overpowering of one quadrant over the others is ultimately collapse under the weight of its own incompleteness and resultant contradictions, just as Communism collapsed for a similar reason. Witness the travails of the European Union, founded solely on elements of the second quarter which, standing alone, lacks true binding power. The lack of freedom Communism demands brought about its downfall, insofar as freedom is one of the pillars of the new Aquarian ideal. In the Communist model the vital breath that a society requires to course through free and open spaces as a necessary ingredient for growth is suffocated. On the other hand, in open societies and their model of economy, freedom proves to be excessive, often degenerating into abuses such as greed and debauched excesses of various types, often aided by the trade of illegal substances that plagues societies across the globe; again, the openness of the society is used against itself. Clearly the two stand in apparent opposition to each other; but in fact they are simply sides of a single coin. The rise of one forces the emergence of the other. This has been the story of our entire 20th-century world affairs We are still in the throes of an unprecedented economic upheaval, without really understanding the reasons why; whereas, the truth be told, it was brought about by the overpowering rise of the second quadrant as a reaction to the imbalance involving the first. This is the destiny of incomplete systems: they constantly seek to balance themselves out, but not being aware of the complete and integral ‘circle’, these attempts are never successful. Certainly through this latest collapse we have learned one lesson: the universalism of Aquarius has also been felt in the current crisis which has indeed affected economies across the globe. Interestingly, the least affected have been the Asian economies – perhaps indicating a sign of things to come. The electronic media, which plays such a prominent role in our entire 21st-century civilisation, in politics, economics and culture, is another sign of the Aquarian times, perhaps more so than anything else. This is an especially interesting topic which may be left for another time, since space does not permit me to do it justice.
The fourth quarter of the circle is the great void. The origins of this vacuum lie in the innards of the quarter itself. That is where we must locate the root of the problem and study dispassionately all its ramifications. In the course of this treatment those roots will be uncovered, along with the means to heal the ills caused by the existent void. In a sense the fourth quarter is the cause of incompleteness and an inadequate expression of the other three quarters. Thus the blame for the failure to resolve societal issues harmoniously can be laid at the feet of the spirituality of escapism that had monopolised the higher reaches of human consciousness over the past two thousand years, leaving the lower regions to their own resources to seek some means to fill the resultant void. We note that displacement is another key word. Regarding the final quarter, for example, the wisemen of old have in large measure been replaced by the judiciary. While the role of law and the courts plays an admirable role in contemporary democracies, it too has been displaced from its true position in the third quadrant of the Cosmic Order. The result is usurpation of powers, with the judiciary having to play the role the executive may often fail to do. As a consequence we see the new phenomenon of judicial activism on the rise, particularly in countries such as India. It not only sets a dangerous precedent but also overburdens the courts. This usurpation may not be desired by judges; rather, it can often be an instinctive reaction so as to fill a void for the good of society that had been left by the executive branch. In all these cases we learn that the Cosmic Order has suffered because of a common factor: nothing is in its place. When that occurs naturally certain segments overstep, usurp and finally become overpowering by having taken on a burden which is legitimately another’s to carry. The same assessment can be carried out regarding all four quadrants of caste. But the fundamental issue remains: emphasis on any one over the others creates imbalance that finally leads to collapse.
The question may be asked, What is it that actually experiences collapse? In this treatment the nature of the elements in a state of collapse will be analysed. At this point we must focus on the subcontinent and its struggles to remake itself in a modern image, without entirely desiring or being able to discard the forms of old. One such is caste. The first mention of the Chaturvarna is found in the world’s oldest scripture, the Rig Veda. In X, 90, 11-12, known as the Purush Shukta, it is stated,
11. When they divided up the Man into how many parts did they divide him? What did his mouth become? What his arms? What are his legs called? What his feet?
12. His mouth became the brahmin; his arms Became the warrior-prince [Kshatriya], his legs The common man who plies his trade [Vaishya]. The lowly serf was born from his feet [Shudra]. (Translation, Raimundo Panikkar)
This imaginative description of the origin of caste could be dismissed as the mystical fantasies of a Rishi in ancient times, bearing little or no connection to our contemporary society. However, it is the calendar that once again makes caste eternal and for which reason it just refuses to die. Again, as long as the cosmos exists, which provides the structure for the real Vedic calendar, and insofar as caste arises from within that same structure, it will live on in spite of concerted efforts to extirpate it from society. Certainly attempts to eliminate caste have been relentless in independent India. But what if we approach the matter differently? What if we embrace caste as it is in its original highest cosmic sense and in the process try to discover just why and when that noble Order began to degenerate to what we now have in its place? It may not be immediately apparent how the above Rig Veda verses can be equated with the calendar. To clarify the issue, another element of the ancient lore has to be added if that connection is to be understood. This is the zodiac. The Vedic praises sing of caste as emerging from different portions of the body of the Cosmic Purush. All astrologers, east and west, know that the human body is ruled by different signs of the zodiac. In the Medieval design presented here, the animal and human figures connected to the signs have been placed on the body over the portions that they are said to rule and also in the circumscribing oval with its further details. This composition provides the first step to understand the correlation by the placement of the signs on the body and also in the surrounding oval; it helps to visualise the cosmic harmony as internal as well as external – or the oneness of inner and outer.
The Cosmic Person and the Zodiac
Next would be to visualise the same Man in a circular position, with his head located at the position of Aries (Mahavishuva – March Equinox, the beginning of the zodiacal year) on the wheel, his neck at Taurus, arms at Gemini, and so on through the circle until we reach Pisces and the feet. The knees, ankles and feet, upholding the upright human body, its distinguishing feature, are located in the final quadrant of the circle, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces respectively. The Cosmic Purush in a circle would be similar to the ancient Ouroboros, the serpent biting its tail, representing precisely the ceaselessness of cyclic time. Its head and tail join at the location in the zodiac of the Zero Point or ayanamsha where the first sign Aries meets the last, Pisces. In this figure, as in the variations on the same circle presented in this treatment, the outstanding characteristic is that these months/signs ‘effortlessly move one into the another’, as the Rig Veda pointedly states to drive home the fact of a unified progression, a perception that is lost on most contemporary astrologers, especially in India. We are dealing with a continuous uninterrupted flow (of time) which Ouroboros depicts so clearly. As demonstrated in the course of this treatment, there are many symbols that have been handed down to us from ancient times, each one presenting the same vision of unity in one form or another.
I must stress once again that if hostile powers seek to disrupt Hindu society, the simplest strategy is to disturb the calendrical connection to the cosmos, which has also been the binding power of a unified diversity in the societal order, i.e., caste. This is effectively done first and foremost by losing the correct ayanamsha or point of entry into the wheel – the Serpent’s head and tail juncture. In that wheel the zodiac provides the sense and purpose of evolution; it is our inheritance from the Ancients as a gnostic guide for our individual and collective journey through the months/signs of the year. This has been the secret doctrine of all Mystery Schools across the globe and across the ages. Without that enlightened script there is no ‘soul of knowledge’ involved, let this be clear. We may even be in possession of the correct Zero Point as in the calendar employed in the West, but lacking the eternal wisdom the zodiac contains of the 12-month journey across the ecliptic plane, it is a lifeless and meaningless science, not dissimilar to our contemporary science which offers neither purpose nor goal but simply the mechanical and vacant directionless churning of a machine. With the addition of the zodiacal script, the ‘soul of knowledge’ finds a means of expression in society, a structure by which that cosmic essence can materialise on Earth through the human instrument. Failing which, a slow and steady disintegration sets in which caste and all things cosmic are experiencing on the subcontinent. But having an eternal foundation (the zodiac/cosmos), things once true and real just do not collapse and disappear: they degenerate and linger on as bodies in a state of decomposition. They persist as part of the culture, but in name only. This has been a most ingenious strategy to set into disarray the only enduring civilisation with cosmic roots and an unbroken link to the Vedic and Sangam eras: structures are not sought to be eliminated; they are just distorted. Thus, though calling it Vedic, there is actually nothing left of that original oneness and authentic sense of unity of old. However, and this is most important to note, if the things valid and true are to be restored, all we need to do is to retrace our steps and correct the ayanamsha that can in itself connect us to that cosmic harmony again.
I have just read an Internet posting regarding a report in circulation on Caste put out by the Hindu American Foundation. I have not yet read the report itself but I feel I must comment on a statement by N. S. Rajaram to the Foundation, carried in this posting. He used a disparaging word to describe one of the contributors to the discussion, Ramesh Rao. Since this is the same word he used to describe me in a scathing attack which was published by the Organiser in its October 23, 2002 issue, under the title, Indology: Skeletons in the Closet, I could not refrain from offering my point of view. One may disagree with my views, but to use such language damages the cause Rajaram wishes to further. This appears to be a chronic malady because though many years have passed he continues to cast the same aspersion on anyone who may disagree with his viewpoint. My impression at the time was that Rajaram had not studied my work at all. This is not the place to contest Rajaram’s diatribes word for word, and I must repeat that I have not read the report in question, nor am I familiar with Ramesh Rao’s work. It is the disparaging attitude that must be addressed since it is does not reflect true scholarship and academic training.
In the Internet report reference was made to Swami Dayananda Saraswati regarding the same issue of caste. I was recently invited to speak at the First National Panchanga Ganitam Conference held at Tirumala, 24-26 December 2010, under the auspices of the organisation Swami Dayananda Saraswati heads. What transpired then made me realise that the Sanatana Dharma is being held hostage to certain elements that seek to gain a monopoly over a belief system and way of life which had not succumbed to any such imposition. In fact, this is what distinguishes it from all other organised bodies, particularly those that gained ground over the past two thousand years. Any such monopoly or exclusivist leaning is anathema to the Vedic Way, the lack of which is the very factor that makes the Sanatana Dharma superior to other belief systems and more appropriate for the twenty-first century. The freedom we espouse for humanity as a whole is the very same that must prevail in our approach to a higher reality. Only Hinduism offers the freedom to know and experience God in whatever manner suited to each individual seeker, and even to deny the premise entirely. However, this freedom is also a bane. The desired grouping of the Hindu Samaj under one umbrella, in this case the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha that claims to represent the majority, is an impossible task; yet there remains the problem of the confusion this maddening diversity creates among followers of the Dharma. The well-meaning Acharyas would like to resolve the problem since it causes difficulty of management in a world that is uncomfortable with the eclecticism of Hinduism. Be this as it may, there has always been a precise method to bring this diversity into a unique experience of unity. It is the existence of this method – an enlightened process of time reckoning – and its persistence over the millennia that renders the Dharma eternal. Lamentably, this characteristic has been disturbed over the past few centuries; the calendar has not been allowed to serve the Samaj as it had always done since time immemorial. Interestingly, this is the same method or structure which illumines the true nature of caste, revealing it to be a superior classification entirely drawn from the harmony of our solar system. Even more interesting, when that cosmic harmony lost its grounding in veda, then both calendar and caste were precipitated into the severe decline we live with today. The key to the desired unity was lost; we are left with only a riot of diversity afflicting both caste and calendar. On the surface the connection between the two may not be readily appreciated but in the course of this treatment their interconnection will be made clear. In view of the decline and the inability to present a single voice to counter the inroads of organised exclusivist religions during this same period – the past Age of Pisces, 234 BCE to 1926 CE – well meaning souls such as the Swami-ji have sought to create a single voice for the majority through consensus. But this has not been the Vedic Way – nor will it ever be. The calendar has always been the method to unify the grand diversity that is the Sanatana Dharma. This is not a contrived system but is taken from the actual harmony of our solar system. The Vedic legacy in Hinduism demands that the same ancient method be re-instated if unity is to be the factual and not imagined experience of the Samaj, without the imposition of any fabricated uniformity. It was just such an attempted fabrication that I experienced at the Conference in Tirumala under the auspices of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha. The call of the organisers was for uniformity. Of interest to note is that this was the word used to describe the goal of the Conference: to bring about uniformity from among the many calendars, each with their respective ayanamshas, for the timings of temple observances and horoscopy. We are all aware of the fact that each panchanga publication puts forth a different timing for festivals and rituals. Over the years this has resulted in total confusion because the success of such publications depends precisely on the different calculations they offer the public. There are at least twenty almanacs in use, each with different timings based on their exclusive calculations. These include the calculations of Lahiri, Sri Yuktiswar, BV Raman, Fagan, Mercier, Sassanian, Hyber, and many more. If uniformity is imposed by selecting one of these as the resolutions adopted at the Conference suggested, those vested interests stand to suffer losses which cannot be regained once the true Vedic system is re-adopted. There could then no longer be space for any confusion nor the need for any arbitrary selection or imposition. I came away from the Conference with the sad realisation that, as Sri Aurobindo stated in the beginning of the last century regarding the condition of the Veda, ‘The soul of knowledge had fled from its coverings’ (The Secret of the Veda). There was not a single participant whose speech offered the true basis for deliberations on matters of higher knowledge. There were scientists present in large numbers, astronomers and astrologers, as well as religious heads; indeed, the meetings were presided over by the Sankaracharyas. But none among these illustrious participants presented the true Vedic Way. Hence unity would never be achieved under the circumstances – or even uniformity – in this vital matter affecting the entire Samaj. Rather, when the basis is higher knowledge, it is self-evident and requires no authority for its imposition, except the authority that emanates from the realisation of that Truth. Lamentably the yogic approach has been lacking all along, and since it does not form the basis of time-reckoning for the Hindu Samaj, calendar and caste suffer from the same cloak of ignorance because both owe their essential being and purpose to the harmony of the cosmic surround. If the right understanding of the cosmos regarding caste as also the calendar are not perceived, can there be any breakthrough given the fact that the Sanatana Dharma has its grounding in that Harmony which is the very basis of its eternal character? As long as the cosmos exists and our planetary base remains what it is, so long will the Dharma live on. However, the cosmic surround speaks in the voice of Knowledge. Its harmonies express the most elegant and exquisite melodies to which the human consciousness can be attuned. The Rishis have bequeathed their sublime cosmic Seeings to us in the Rig Veda. It is lamentable that we find ourselves so thoroughly distanced from them that we have lost the key they left to preserve the Dharma in the face of any future adversity. When I brought this out in my speech at the Conference, the scientist who followed began his own with this statement: This is science not Veda. That he could make such a comment when attending a gathering purportedly dealing with matters of higher knowledge in itself reveals the true condition. There can be no other basis for any discussion on calendar matters but veda. And since the same cosmic harmony describes caste, I must state that scholarship and science, though admirable in their own spheres, can never reveal the Cosmic Truth that the Rishis knew. What we have today is Cosmic Ignorance – and ironically science is largely to blame for the decline though it believes otherwise, by having corrupted the means for a civilisation rooted in veda to realise a unification of its collective energies without the need for uniformity and its attending dogmas. Hence, disunity and confusion pose serious threats to the Dharma because of the condition which can be described in one phrase: the Ayanamsha Chaos.
We must start with the basics since there are no shortcuts in matters Vedic and cosmic. The basis is the cosmos as perceived from Earth. Unfortunately, this Earth-centeredness has been lost in India because science labelled astrology a pseudo-science precisely because of its Earth-centeredness. For centuries we have been fed this false notion, and one of the most sacred Arts, mother of all sciences, has been wickedly maligned. That no astrologer arose to accept the challenge and set matters right is the real surprise, for it is science that demonstrates its ignorance by condemning the Art in this manner. Astrological calculations indeed are Earth-centred because that is our position in the solar system. When the astrologer draws up a horoscope or engages in time-reckoning for temple purposes, naturally the Earth is his or her point of observation. This does not imply, as science would like us to believe, that the Ancients were ignorant of the true structure of our system, but simply that the Earth becomes the point of convergence for matters cosmic applicable to our location – i.e., the centre of the converging universe. We are not elsewhere, we are not in a distant galaxy, nor are we concerned with discovering the centre of the universe as a whole. Philosophy thrives on such speculations, as does theoretical physics; but the practitioner of the sacred arts is practical in his or her approach. Calculations are Earth-centred because it is here, on this blessed third planet that the human instrument has evolved so that we can consciously live the Harmony. We can develop our consciousness to become knowing and pure instruments through which that superior harmony is applied on Earth. Ignorance prevails, as presently the case, when the key that unlocks the door to that heavenly vault is lost. When physical science proclaims itself the keeper of that key, then we know that the Dharma stands on the brink of what I call the Abyss of Time. Indeed, we do stand on the brink in India due to the slippage of time caused by the Ayanamsha Chaos: the Dharma either takes up the challenge to emerge restored and stronger, or it perishes forever. Since it is the channel of the Earth’s own soul-expression, when the Sanatana Dharma perishes the Earth cannot bear the loss. The Earth’s position in the solar system is blessed indeed; the phenomenon of eclipses is enough to prove the point. But as there exists a detailed perfection for eclipses to occur, demonstrating the perfect harmony between Earth, Moon and Sun, so too does the entire system reveal an eloquent harmony in every detail when viewed from Earth. Indeed, this is the reason why consciousness has evolved instruments with an increasing ability to perceive, to see. Therefore, if we wish to honour the Earth’s role in the harmony, we must always place our planet at the centre of observation and refuse to be lured into a search for distant heavens and the static peace of a Beyond. Our planet is circular just like all the other heavenly bodies. Therefore, this is the very first lesson of the new updated cosmology: to acquire the capacity to perceive in circles, spherically – not linearly. The difference is essential to establish and plays a prominent role in questions of caste and calendar. The failure to perceive spherically lies at the root of the problem uniformity poses vis-à-vis unity.
The first basic element of the Earth’s harmony is her balance on four pillars which we experience as the Equinoxes and Solstices. The circular graphic above illustrates the role of the Cardinal Poles as well as the necessity for perceiving spherically, just as the diagram indicates. It is divided into four quarters, each of which is marked off by an Equinox or a Solstice and consists of 90 degrees of the circle’s 360. However, most important of all to consider, particularly with regard to caste and calendar, is the circle’s zero point, or ayanamsha. But the issue is how is this point to be determined, on which hinges the entire exercise of calculating right timings? After all, a circle is a closed form which can imply that we are free to establish entry at any one of its 360 degrees. In the world of scientific relativism this freedom to choose is legitimate, but in the Vedic world that relativism is the Mother of Ignorance – Diti in the Rig Veda, the Mother of Division. In the Earth-centred Vedic perception the Zero Point is an absolute and is never relative or subjective. The Equinoxes and Solstices dispel all ignorance in these matters and provide the indisputable ayanamsha which should be the basis for all calculations to conclusively remove the vested interests of relativism which have created the harmful confusion that the Ayanamsha Chaos has inflicted on the Hindu Samaj. Equinoxes and Solstices constitute the supporting pillars of the Sanatana Dharma, reflected in the fact that every Hindu temple is oriented to those Cardinal points. They are astronomically verifiable, stable and constant, requiring no yearly or daily correction to render them ‘accurate’ as the current Nirayana System is believed to do, based on its subjective relativism.
The culture of the subcontinent in so many aspects reflects the incorporation of the four Cardinal Poles and their Equinoxes and Solstices. We may examine one of its expressions, which plays such a prominent role in Indian society, cutting across caste and creed. This is the classical music of Bharat, particularly of the South. We all agree that Indian classical music is cosmic-based. We agree because we are repeatedly told this is so by the savants. Of relevance for our discussion is the prominence of the Equinoxes and Solstices in the composition and execution of the ragas: they were composed to be played only during certain seasons and even during specific times of the day. The latter involves the Earth’s daily rotation around her axis in the 24 hours of our day; the former is, of course, the result of the Earth’s balance on the four Cardinal Poles which she reaches in the course of our 365-day year for the experience of the four seasons established by the Equinoxes and Solstices. Thus, when a raga is executed, the musician brings to the audience a cosmic experience. Though less ostentatious there is a deeper cosmic connection in Indian classical music to discover. This is provided by the drone, the very first sound by the instrumentalist, after which the others join in on this backdrop of the never-ending shruti. Similar to the four pillars of our System, the drone offers the same support to the musical composition that planet Earth enjoys through the Equinoxes and Solstices. Probing even deeper into the nature of the Shruti reveals that it establishes musically the very same portrait of Reality as the Veda. This is, in a word, fullness, the Veda’s quintessential characteristic. All else may disintegrate and fade away across the ages, but if the perception of Fullness remains, so too will the Veda because this is the true nature of a material creation. Indeed, if there is a single word that can express the ancient way it is this one; and it is responsible for the immense diversity we find in the subcontinental culture. The paths that gained ground during the last millennium have gradually distanced themselves from this concept/perception, paths such as Mayavada. They are, in fact, partly responsible for the Ayanamsha Chaos, and are certainly attuned to the relativism that plagues our society. While these paths extol the Self above all else, they have done so at the cost of the Universal Mother. It would appear to be an improvement in the apparently chaotic spirituality India offers the world, but in truth wisemen in the subcontinent simply succumbed to the wave that swept across the entire globe in the last Age of Pisces. That wave brought an end to the venerable place the Goddess held from time immemorial. Stark monotheism alone was thought to be real. All else was the beguiling work of the temptress Eve, or her eastern sister Maya, illusion. This left matters Earthly and Cosmic victims of the imposition of relativism just such a dismissal provoked. In music the traditional position, the experience of Fullness, remains – at least structural if not in execution: ragas are seasonal and temporal in concept regardless of the fact that today their execution is not bound strictly to the seasons; for the most part they are heard at any time of the day and year. Nonetheless, the drone continues to remind listeners of the Vedic Fullness as the Womb out of which a voluptuous diversity arises. The Shruti is the true sound of silence. Silence abides ceaselessly and is not interrupted by Sound which is rather a wave, a vibration that lifts up from that essential Fullness. The two, Silence and Sound, are simultaneous, contiguous. The cosmos is not born of nothingness and the Void, but of this most sacred Fullness. Indian classical music expresses this superlative experience of Reality. And it is a tribute to the Ancients who first ‘heard’ the Shruti that they could so exquisitely give a musical form to so elusive an essence, thereby consolidating the Vedic experience of Reality each time the Shruti is sounded – the Fullness of Silence. But all this is lost when that Cosmic Order is disturbed by the wrong time reckoning which exists today. The Veda honour Time in verse after verse; and this connection has been carried across the ages in temple sacred architecture, while in the Puranas Time is considered to be above all the Gods. And interestingly, this is the form that the 9th/10th Avatar of Vishnu takes in this Aquarian Age of his coming. Equally interesting is the fact that time reckoning has been so disarranged that the cosmic credentials of the Avatar can no longer be read in the heavenly harmonies because the sacred keys have been forfeited, giving science a free hand in matters beyond its competence, in a field where it must follow and not pretend to lead. We are justified in suspecting a method to this madness. The Vishnu Line of Ten Avatars is the backbone of subcontinental civilisation. Once the cosmic connection is lost imposters, interlopers, usurpers can claim the title, while the time-tested Vedic method to distinguish the real from the false is smothered in a process that can never provide the accuracy demanded of a sanatana Dharma. The conspiracy, if it may be so called, has been well planned: to use the key to unity against itself through a distortion that is the outcome of the Ayanamsha Chaos. The Epics of the 7th and 8th Avatars are further proof and both clearly provide the proper cosmic credentials as long as the correct system is used for their deciphering. This is simply the solar system exactly as it is experienced by inhabitants of Earth as she journeys around the Sun on the ecliptic plane. She is supported by the Equinoxes and Solstices just as the drone of classical music supports the raga – another demonstration of their common cosmic source. In the current contrived Nirayana system used throughout India there is no such ‘support’. There are no Equinoxes or Solstices in the constellations, therefore there is no absolute method to determine the correct and changeless Zero Point for the wheel of Time to begin turning and to open before us the twelve months of the year, as the Rig Veda describes,
Certain eternal worlds are these which have come into being, Their doors are shut to you (or opened) by the months and the years; Without effort one (world) moves into the other And it is these that Brahmanaspati, Has made manifest to knowledge. (RV. II.24-5)
Time and again in the Veda the Rishis speak of one circle. Indeed, this is the simplest and most important key of all, and somehow it is the most difficult to grasp: One Circle. This means that all calculations, all divisions, solar, lunar, and so forth, have to be contained and executed within one circle. As indicated:
Twelve spokes, one wheel, navels three. Who can comprehend this? On it are placed together Three hundred and sixty like pegs. They shake not in the least. (Rig Veda 1.154.48)
That one circle is the eternal foundation of the Dharma. For that to be applicable in a universe in constant motion, we must have a method to locate the ‘Immobile amidst the Mobile’. Our planet’s journey within the ecliptic plane that extends out from the Sun and wherein the journey of all the planets takes place, provides stability upholding change. The Earth measure is our constant – in the Veda it is the Divine Maya. She tilts with respect to that plane because of her axis and revolution around the Sun, south and north, and thus the Equinoxes and Solstices come into being. This absolute and not relative astronomical phenomenon is unchanging within the change that the entire universe experiences – without which there would be no universe. Therefore, to be appreciated is that the journey, as the Rishis called the Earth’s monthly progression through the circle of 12, cannot be experienced in the fanciful and amorphous grouping known as the constellations which lacks an equatorial plane and is therefore entirely lacking in the accuracy of a single, incorruptible ayanamsha. This stability in change, this rest in motion is a property only of our solar system as perceived and lived on Earth. The constellations of the Nirayana system are devoid of these configurations that make the Earth’s journey unique.
Following its evolution from ancient times, in search of of keys for renewal and application today
‘… [F]or some two thousand years at least no Indian has really understood the Vedas…’
The Great Divide
– Its purpose and implications for survival of the Veda
India is a good model to use if we want to follow a civilisational development from the beginning of at least recorded history to the present. For this purpose there is the abiding discipline of cosmology. The earliest recorded example of that discipline, or rather its product – a certain widespread level of awareness along the particular lines the record indicates – would be the Rig Veda. Few would be willing to accept that this early record of cosmic praises can be considered cosmology. But if we follow the unbroken line from that period to the present we easily note the relevance. And we are also able to understand the fundamental difference with our world as it moves in toto to its ‘brave new’ complexity.
The important element that distinguishes the cosmology of the Vedic Age and our present scientific brand is the focus on the human element and the development of a superior consciousness central to the collection. The difference can also be evaluated by the simple fact that to the modern Indologist and historian the hymns are simply the emotional outpourings of primitive nature worshippers – pagans, as they are labelled in the religiously-influenced mind of monotheistic academicians and theologians. Only very few have detected anything deeper in the Veda. And yet the text, to one initiated into the same system it propagates, is our best example of what contemporary cosmology lacks. Scientific cosmology makes no mention of the element so central to that of the Vedic Age – the evolution of human consciousness in harmony with the cosmos and able to use its harmonies for self-perfection and the perfection of the entire civilisation it spawned – a society in which the ills of the modern world would appear to have been absent. As an example, the approach to Nature in those former times reveals a very different connection. The world was alive, a living being; the same awareness was extended to the entire solar system with each planet given an identity and imbibed with a consciousness. Indeed, the significant difference between then and now is that there was clearly in evidence a spirit of oneness, making the Earth and the surrounding cosmos a single being.
In our times this understanding has only come through certain mystical experiences to select individuals. It is an awareness that has been aggressively eliminated from our sciences, with the exception of certain trends somewhat outside of the mainstream such as the Gaia Hypothesis of James Lovelock in the 1960s. Given the thirst abroad upon the planet to find connectedness and purpose, it became a beacon for New Age and ecology groups throughout the world. But even the Gaia Paradigm, now considered a theory and no longer an hypothesis, does not incorporate a precise method to evolve a higher consciousness and a spirit of oneness which we find elaborated in the Veda, for indeed there are the guidelines of such a system in the ancient text.
The Rig Veda has preserved its yogic method of the evolution of consciousness for all times. But evolution cannot be fooled. The very fact that the verses are in the main incomprehensible, or have been poorly interpreted to support a largely fossilised ritualism rather than the deeper aim of self-perfection, confirms that the old cosmology had lost its bearings. Somewhere along the line the human component was eliminated, which had previously been the central objective of the process. Having deliberately secured that elimination the resultant scientific cosmology has brought the world to a critical crossroads. Science and technology have run amok with their successes. Almost every branch of learning and technology has carried us collectively to a dangerous crossroads without being able to ensure us that these remarkable discoveries will not carry us to a partial or complete annihilation of the human species.
This impasse would have been unthinkable in the Vedic Age precisely for the reason stated: the focus was on the human element and the development of all parts of consciousness-being in harmony with the cosmos. Perception of the binding integrality and oneness of creation is lacking today, though with every breakthrough science makes we are faced again with the disastrous effects such ignorance can cause to humanity. We could argue that being so ‘primitive’ and ‘technologically under-developed’ the inhabitants of the subcontinent had little choice but to concentrate on the only available laboratory for experimentation: the human component.
While that focus bore the desired results in producing a society in harmony with the cosmic surround, this was only part of Nature’s plan. As it turned out, this one-sided development of sorts while essential would not have served the evolutionary purpose as mapped out in cosmology itself. Our good fortune is to be living in the age of synthesis. To play out the cosmic Purpose there had to be a separation, a determining divide precisely in what has come to be known as the concerns of the spirit in contrast to those of material existence. Both had to go their separate ways and be left to their own resources for the destined synthesis to evolve. The question now is to examine those developments on either side of the divide. In the process we will uncover the way to that Synthesis.
The unravelling begins
Early in the Age of Pisces (234 BCE to 1926 CE), the definitive split between the way of the Spirit and that of Science became consolidated. It was also then that the Vedic Way began to suffer a decline. The effects of the parting of ways was harshly felt in the subcontinent in that gradually a corrosion set in with the loss of an emphasis on a cosmological system geared toward establishing a society of a higher model by first consolidating that superior level in the individual and collective consciousness. On the other hand, science on its own, bereft of the control a higher consciousness can provide, veered off and gradually produced a global society demonstrating this failure in that its proclivities have carried us to the brink of annihilation. If we do not bring about our downfall through global warming and its consequences, we may well do so by the unstoppable stockpiling of lethal weapons of mass destruction. Regarding the latter, it is now generally accepted that it is just a question of time before something of that stockpile falls into the hands of extremists who are playing out their religious or ideological beliefs on the world stage. For instance, the arrival of religions offering salvation in an afterlife made it possible, when carried to an extreme, to convince vulnerable youth that martyrdom is the way to that salvation, the quickest and surest way. Thus armies are gathering, weapons are amassed to play out a final Judgement Day, but one that may be quite different from what is prophesied in our holy books.
Scholars often become victims of the parameters set around their respective disciplines; they tend to miss the forest for the trees. The true purpose of cosmology is to transcend those limitations. As a discipline it alone among all others is capable of revealing a consciousness of unity and oneness such as the ancient sages enjoyed and which will be the solution to our problems today. In this essay I will introduce a cosmology that calls up that ancient way but now brought fully into the context of our contemporary civilisation. This exercise will prove that in understanding the ‘logic’ of the cosmos the culprit at whose feet the divisive consciousness of our times can be laid is, in a word, otherworldliness, with its focus on an afterlife. But it is not only exclusivist Piscean-Age religions of the Middle East that have inculcated this belief in a redeeming Beyond; the subcontinent has been its victim as well. After the great divide all spirituality, with perhaps only few exceptions, took the same route away from an Earth-based realisation such as the Vedic Age had produced. The only difference between this development and the occidental model based on that Piscean exclusivism is the continuity we find in India, extending to a former Age prior to the Piscean. Though the Veda is a closed book for thinkers today, it remains the bedrock of the evolution of consciousness and the many spiritual disciplines that have evolved over this period. Fortunately we can make use of this continuity to discuss the problem the great divide has caused in order to pinpoint that culpability and thereby to learn the manner in which it can be overcome.
To this end the cosmology bequeathed to us from the Vedic Age has to be updated. In so doing when we seek to apply the system today, not only will its inadequacies be revealed but also that the need for updating is upon us. None of the postulations of the Age of Pisces will adequately serve us in this process, precisely because of the otherworldly emphasis they all harbour. But in maintaining the thread of development intact, even if distorted, we find ourselves in a position to discover exactly how and when the degeneration set in and, above all, what its purpose has been. In the realm of spirituality just as in science it had become imperative to lose the original poise in order to encompass a wider base, global in fact; this would be provided by science set upon its own discoveries, thereby creating a new field where cosmology of the Vedic type could flourish in an unprecedented manner because science had paved the way.
The key lay in integrality. This was present in the Vedic Age as we will discover, but the scope or reach of the realisation was perforce limited to the subcontinent. Today cosmology must be integral and all-encompassing: it must cover the entire globe.
Universalism and wholeness
It would be unfair to lay the blame entirely on spirituality for our woes; the materialist consciousness out of which science arose plays its role in the conundrum as well. If this material life is all that matters and there is neither an afterlife nor future births to consider, then the control religions could hold over human beings is eliminated by dissolving the notion of sin, punishment and recompense. With that elimination, however, went a certain respect for our planetary base: science of the staunchly materialistic kind repeatedly demonstrates this disrespect, to the point that in an uncontrolled frenzy it has collaborated with the spiritual camp to bring us to the brink of extinction.
Based on a study of the development of cosmology from the Vedic Age to the present, we are able to note the limitations that brought about the need for the great divide; and also how processes are constantly evolving to prepare avenues of expression for the new dispensation so that the whole Earth can benefit and not just the subcontinent. This analysis will provide evidence to suggest that the cosmology of the Veda continues to be not only the bedrock of Indian spirituality but how the survival of the thread connecting today’s expressions to that bedrock in itself indicates the necessity for the planet to preserve and protect that continuity for the survival of not only the Veda but the species itself. In this exercise it will be interesting to note how these discoveries can be made simply by observing the degeneration that set in after the Vedic Age had passed, and the inadequacies of the old cosmology when analysed with a contemporary eye. These made it imperative for science to lend a helping hand by providing an Earth whose body itself had become whole in the last half of the second millennium; this perception of wholeness has been further consolidated by space travel and the image of an undivided borderless planet irrespective of the ills a divisive consciousness continues to generate, depriving human beings of that binding sense of Oneness which is our natural birthright.
We will attempt to follow the thread connecting us to those former times via one precise area: cosmology. Ervin Laszlo, whose thoughtful book, The Creative Cosmos, makes the case for cosmology as the one discipline capable of expressing and answering the concerns of our contemporary world, writes on page 26,
‘…The next great paradigm shift in science will be by nature transdisciplinary – it will be a cosmological revolution in the classical sense in which cosmology has always been the science of the whole of reality (kosmos, after all, means ‘ordered whole’ in classical Greek).’
In this essay I intend to present just a few examples of the way a cosmology or a philosophy can escape fossilisation. In point of fact, it will become clear that only a culture, a civilisation rooted in the cosmic harmony can indeed escape the dogmatism that must perforce accompany a system without such an in-built mechanism. There are two aspects to note. One is that a certain stable constant exists which when discovered serves as an axis similar to those proper to every planetary and stellar object; indeed, proper to the centre of our galaxy and universes beyond. We could almost state that the Axis is the basic premise and truth of existence in a material creation. Without this ‘centre that holds’, there can be no formation of a cosmos; at least as we are able to discern from observation of our particular dimension.
An axis is the pole whereby that which is static becomes dynamic. It does so by involving certain cosmic ‘directions’. There are two such directions in our manifest universe, contraction and expansion. When we speak of ‘the other side’, we actually mean the intensified compaction of its essence, beyond the reach of our present mathematical aids, in an ever increasing drive as if in a descending movement. The borderline or threshold is the barrier beyond which that ‘drive’ cannot pass without, it would appear, disappearing into nothingness. But since our world is born of fullness, this never occurs. Fullness is thus the unalterable upholding quality or principle of our universe.
When this compacted essence meets or crosses that threshold, it turns back upon itself. The result is the emergence of a pulsating point born of this intense contraction in its self-generated drive. That threshold is the direction of expansion. Contraction and expansion wrap around each other, in a sense, and an axis is born. These conjoined directions stabilise each other everlastingly – a steady state as it were. Thus there is no material aspect involved, measureable with our current tools. Nor is it exactly an energy. The ‘substance’ of an axis is simply the marriage of two directions which can be described as contraction and expansion. The ancients did not rely on measuring devices to plumb the depths of Reality and its true nature, as we understand the term; they experienced the creative process in their innermost beings. The result is the record they left of those experiences, the Rig Veda. Naturally its hymns are incomprehensible today; they belong to another world, another time, another poise of consciousness.
The lived experience in the human consciousness of the conjoined directions is a new balance; that is, when the proper balance or harmonisation occurs an axis can emerge, be this macro- or micro-cosmic, the result of a cross-sectioning of these basic cosmic directions. The Rig Veda hymn, Nāsadīya Sūkta (RV X, 129), translated by Raimundo Panikkar as the Hymn of Origins, states in verse 5:
A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
What was described above it, what below?
Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
thrust from below and forward move above…
Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
Even the Gods came after its emergence.
Then who can tell from whence it came to be?
And the Rishi concludes with these inimitable, profound words,
That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows – or maybe He does not!
The origins of material existence in this view would not be a ‘big bang’ but rather the combined directions similar to the breathing mechanism with its own contraction and expansion, born of a primordial Pulsation (tapas) which lies at the root of all motion. However, we experience breath as a contiguous rise and fall. In the creation of a cosmos they are simultaneous. In the Rig Veda the axis that is formed of these intertwined ‘directions’ is known as Skambha, the cosmic Pillar, support of the worlds and the fulcrum of creation. Panikkar defines it in the Glossary to his book, The Vedic Experience, as ‘The cosmic pillar, understood to be the stable center of the universe (axis mundi) and its hidden support.’ (All India Books, 1977.)
Being creation’s ‘centre’ this axis or skambha supports movement, essential to all consolidated bodies in this universe whose essence is perforce movement. In point of fact, it would be the first stirrings within that original ‘something’ that ultimately creates an axis which in turn becomes the binding energy of that particular body. The ancients on the subcontinent called that first stirring OM – the primordial sound at the Origin and which reverberates endlessly in the great diversity that is the universal manifestation. Science calls it, or seeks to discover this secret ‘something’, by other names – the Big Bang for one. The two are hardly comparable, we must admit; OM creates or reproduces that stirring vibration every time it is sounded with the correct intonation and within the correct context. We can hardly expect ‘big bang’ to do the same!
Again we must not miss the forest for the trees. Whatever the origin the result is a constant unfolding or ‘becoming’ of that original Being of a compressed pulsation. Thus, Becoming is truly the grace we are granted to escape fossilisation, once we realise that we are only more and more complex displays of that original creative Sound.
It is possible to state that each consolidated body in our universe strikes a particular note in this immensity, and its axis obliges that body to mark out a certain tempo as in a musical composition. But all have their origin in OM – however we wish to call it. In other words, using the Becoming of that ‘sound’ we can not only find our way to Being but we can discover just what our ‘note’ might be in the grand scheme of things.
Encouraging the observing Eye to seek and dwell on the ‘first moment’, as science does, is to move farther and farther away from the means not only to discover that ‘note’ but to take our place in the cosmic design, fully conscious of what we are meant to contribute. Therefore the ancients in the subcontinent focussed on the method to bring the human being to the point where he or she could join the cosmic symphony in full awareness of its overall Harmony embracing both the vast and the small in a sublime experience of Oneness. They provided a background for the process which reproduced both Being and Becoming close at hand. They did not extend the eye of perception beyond their recognised ‘field’ so that a certain intense concentration (tapas) would come about that could provide each individual with the energy demanded to undertake the sacred ‘journey’, as it was known in the Vedic Age. The parameter for the process was our solar system. It was viewed as a single ‘family’, and as we are creatures born of the Sun’s third ‘offspring’ our experience of life in all its aspects must be coloured by our position within this family unit, as it were.
There is a certain temporal aspect to the issue: contemporary science uses evermore complex instruments to peer through the folds of space in the effort to reach that First Moment, that Big Bang and the beginning of Time. In other words, it is a penetration into the past. There is no other way for science to proceed because of the POISE it has adopted, – almost an obsession with the known, with what has been and will never more return. This is a positioning external to the fact. It might be argued that quantum physics proceeds in the opposite direction and hence into the minute present; but experience records that the phenomenon observed cannot be separated from the action of observation. While this indicates a certain desirable unity, it more likely indicates that this method of discovery is also inadequate; and though the timeframe is shortened to the extremes our observational techniques permit, simultaneous identification is withheld, the keystone of the Vedic experience.
Extension beyond is simply another manifestation of the belief in an Afterlife that religious adherents cling to in the expectation of salvation. The scientist of course does not dwell on the future, heavenly or otherwise, which to him and his kind cannot be known or proven. On the other hand, religions put all their cards only in the basket of that future condition, whose reality, if any at all, can only be speculated on and never proven as science demands. It must be believed. There is no factual proof of the existence of ‘heaven’ of whatever sort. It is a condition which can be known only by crossing the threshold of Death. And as we experience Death today, we cannot then consciously re-enter life to factually prove what that heaven might be and if it truly exists. At the time of death the human being experiences the same contraction to a ‘point’ as described in the passage across the border of our material dimension. But our transitional stage of evolution makes the passage an experience of nothingness not Fullness, ergo …‘dust unto dust’.
Thus the unknown future blocks the aspirant’s path with only faith to sustain him through life’s tumultuous avenues of pain and suffering. The scientific method, on the other hand, would appear to be far more concrete and believable, because one is constantly dealing with the known, the accumulation of past experience, be this for the individual as in psychoanalysis, or for the theoretical physicist and scientific cosmologist who peers into space, carrying his perception deeper and deeper into the past and to that First ‘Bang’.
The Vedic practitioner, in contrast, does neither. Its initiate does not extend his perceiving eye into the past or into the beyond and the future. Moreover, and this is important to note, the only ‘telescope’ used for the purpose of discovery rather than an extension outward carries the aspirant deep within to that inner most point of the Soul. This reveals the different poise adopted – neither into the known past, nor beyond and into the unknowable future. The inner point is the temporal Present; it is attained through centering of the consciousness on the axis of being that comes through a perfect balance in time and space. In that innermost dimension the truths of the cosmos are unveiled through the lived experience, as the Rig Vedic Hymn of Origins reveals.
The stabilising Axis of Being
Being and Becoming are offered to us eternally, for as long as the solar system exists. The quality of Being is cosmically conveyed by the Stable Constant. It is the ecliptic upon which, within which the entire Family travels; and through the respective tilts and rotations of axes, our System creates its very own music of the spheres.
In our solar system the ecliptic ‘densifies’ the cosmic directions of contraction and expansion via the Solstices and Equinoxes. Within the 365 days of the year, at four points in our annual circumambulation of the Sun, this same function is carried out to become ingrained in the constitution of all things born on planet Earth.
As creatures of planet Earth, it appears that we alone in the Family are provided with a special device whereby we can not only ‘hear’ that music but we can become conscious of our role and contribution to the Harmony. If we observe our solar system within the parameters laid out above, the Axis stands out among all other aspects of the System as a determining factor; yet so little is known of its own origin and the cause for its emergence at a given time and place. The purpose of this essay is not so much to uncover the origins of an axis but how a deeper understanding of the special assembly of axes in our solar system can help us fulfil the destiny of the Earth.
In the Vedic Age the axial function was understood in depth. The hymns of the Rig Veda are testimony to the fact that the solar system with its rhythms and harmonies was a living being and all its planets and living creatures were expressions of that particular ‘note’ the System contributes to the total Reality. While the ecliptic stable constant exists for the entire universe, it is the abiding truth of all its individual components. In our solar system the ecliptic stable constant is the eternal pathway of the planets around the solar Paterfamilias, whose own axis is truly the pole of our existence, the ultimate ‘centre that holds’ the Family together. For the ancient Rishis fulfilment was clearly connected to understanding the cosmic harmony and discovering a method whereby not only would that understanding come but the aspirant undertaking that special journey would discover the internal axis and thereby his or her place within the whole, commonly known as one’s inner truth (swadharma) and destiny. It was never a question of disengaging from the Harmony but rather to become evermore conscious of its ‘sounds’; and in the process the individual note each soul contributes to the symphony in praise of the Sun.
Regarding the Axis, macro- or micro-cosmic, we must take note of the fact that its origin is largely unknown because the axis is our link to the beyond – that is, beyond science’s singularity. When in the new cosmology we refer to compaction of the trinity in the Zero, expressed in Number as 9, 6, 3, and from that Zero the first point of space emerges, or in the number 1, we are actually describing the origin of the axis. It would be a further densification of OM. There are the three dimensions of Time whose fourth dimension is the first point of Space. It could also be said that Time’s fourth dimension is precisely the point of the origin of the Axis. These three dimensions of Time are properties of the side beyond the singularity of material science. Naturally they cannot be examined because, as we know, the laws of scientific cosmology break down at that threshold. The cosmologist stands before a closed door. Thus, however much he pushes his probing into the depths of the past, he will always crash up against this tightly-sealed door. Access is barred because his poise of consciousness is not a harmonious balance of time and space, or contraction and expansion. It is that balance produced by alignment born of centering which offers the possibility of access to that dimension on the other side of the Zero. Out of that Zero comes the Point; its pulsations (tapas) ultimately create an axis: Skambha of the Veda which in turn is personified as Agni, navel of the world, the Son of Force, and the primordial Fire.
The Contingency Plan
I have laid emphasis on the disease of Otherworldliness, which we have inherited from the Age of Pisces with its clear evidence of the Great Divide, because it demonstrates what the result must be when we reject our place in this material universe in favour of an unprovable Beyond disconnected from our solar system and its harmonies. The critical crossroad we have reached is only because we stand on the edge of the Divide and we must make a choice. That choice is not of one side or the other of the divide, i.e., spirit or matter. It is the greater harmony of Synthesis that must be the choice if we are to continue on this journey as a global society. To reach that synthesis we have to accept our destiny and place in the cosmic manifestation and cease fleeing from the ‘land of our birth’.
That land is our solar system. The ancients understood this by universalising their consciousness to the point where they experienced the whole world as their abode, kutumbhakam vasu…. Naturally today’s Indologists, historians and pundits cannot understand the records they have left of that vastness and wideness of consciousness because their approach is one of an a priori rejection, even in the best of cases. The key to unlock the door to the worldview they enjoyed is to retrace our steps and seek to recapture their acceptance of the cosmos as the only path to integral self-perfection, and thereby to the establishment of a society, now global, that can express the harmonies of the System and so to eliminate the cacophony we now know and attempt to prolong, though we all realise its death is near at hand.
Indeed, as I have written, evolution is not to be fooled. Therefore, the decline in consciousness and the poise of rejection had to have been a carefully crafted part of the universal Becoming of Being like everything else. The experience of Oneness makes this obvious. The Divide would necessarily bring quake-like disturbances: cacophony would be the result. But to help the evolving species survive the tumultuous breakdown, an escape route was devised. This was the focus of all religions and yogic systems of the Age of Pisces when the global disruption was destined to begin. It is often stated that religions are the major cause of discord in the world, incongruous as this would seem. But if we understand that they were part of a merciful ‘contingency plan’, we understand how this incongruence can be true. Buddhism is an example. It had to be a mahatma of the Buddha’s calibre, with his immeasurable depth of compassion, to introduce the reversed direction away from life and not flowing with it. Proponents of Buddhism may argue that it seeks to do just the contrary, to join the flow, as Zen Buddhism in particular encourages. The truth be told, there is only one vehicle available to the human being to ‘join the flow’. That vehicle is the Soul, and Buddhism disregards its place and purpose in the scheme of things.
This was a deliberate act because the Buddha’s only concern was to free human beings from suffering, from entrapment on the wheel of endlessly generated samskaras. Given the unavoidable breakdown after the Vedic Age, the method or contingency plan, which would carry evolution through the most dangerous period of its trajectory somewhat in tact until the arrival of better times, would be to preach the illusion of that suffering itself. It was unreal, or only as real as the subject’s poise of consciousness would allow. With the loss of the true and full Harmony and given the breakdown with its attending diminished awareness, those seeds of undermining were easily planted. They have been flourishing ever since.
The soul is precisely the element that can harmonise Being and Becoming in the individual. It is the compact essence of the Transcendent and Cosmic powers/principles as they become embedded in our universe and in particular in the consciousness of the highest species on planet Earth. The compacted Transcendent is born as the Immanent in each individual consciousness. But it stands that a world where Death is lord and master with the consequent suffering this lordship entails, the soul, the Earth’s very own contribution to the universal harmony of an integral truth, had to be rejected. This rejection continues into the present and can be identified as the root of the destruction of our habitat itself. Rather than free ourselves of suffering by this denial, we have become more solidly entrapped in this diminished state where Death is the sole master.
We must realise that the breakdown the Divide caused is not external to the whole; therefore, it too must ‘make sense’, as indeed it does. But the contingency plan is also part of the whole and its very existence points to the ultimate solution.
When the ecliptic is the foundation, the stable constant of our existence, the ups and downs of the evolution of consciousness can be understood as the increase and ebb tides of destiny. One follows the other, even as the Earth dips and rises below and above the plane of the ecliptic, similar to ocean tides. But plateaus are reached from time to time in the ascent of consciousness. The ‘downs’ are experienced from ever higher levels as we scale the evolutionary mountain. At this stage in our journey we are almost at the summit, the mountain’s apex from where a steady state can be attained: from truth to greater truth.
The past holds such a fascination for all of us that we are unable to see the same thread of an ancient knowledge weaving its way across the ages into the present. We search for the hidden, the arcane and esoteric, and therefore we often miss the forest for the trees, preferring to concentrate on discovering in our long lost past the answer to who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Atlantis, legendary or real, holds the answers we seek if we could just locate its ruins. Or else it is Lemuria, Mu, the prehistoric Maya or Vedic India of many thousands of years ago. Given the lamentable state of our contemporary civilisation, the present does not seem to be much help in discovering what was of real and lasting value to the ancients and which we intuit may show us the way out of our present unenlightened condition. There is indeed evidence of advanced civilisations having populated the Earth in ages gone by, and a history that extends into a past far more distant than any contemporary academic would allow us to believe. But surely the question to ask is why we permitted this ‘sleep’, as I call it, to overtake us so thoroughly as to cause us to forget who we are. How did it come about, what were its causes? Above all, why do we refuse to awaken even when faced with undeniable evidence of what was called in the Vedic Age the ‘lost sun’? Compared to the accomplishments of those former times it is obvious that we are primitives seeking the light. For instance, the Great Pyramid at Giza stands right before us and displays a technology so far in advance of our own wonders of this 21st century that we do not need to search any further. It has been preserved with meticulous care and concern – with the obvious intent of leaving clues to help us in our search when darkness would descend. The Great Pyramid tells us what we need to know but not about its ancient builders, – aliens from afar or otherwise. Rather, it provides an unmistakable pointer to the path we must follow today in order to find our connection with the solar system we inhabit; as the ancients had done so long ago, permitting the creation of such monuments. Measure, alignment, precision – these were and remain the keynotes of our quest. But the problem is that for the past several thousand years we have been afflicted with a spirituality which has undermined the foundation that gave meaning to these words. Not so in the age of the Great Pyramid; or in ancient Vedic India. The undermining began at a later date. It remains the scourge of our times and it is the reason why technology and science are impotent to provide us with a direction to our quest that can give us a sense of purpose and connectedness with the cosmic surround. A number of centuries ago a great sleep descended on humanity across the entire globe. It overtook the East as well as the West. If there were wise men and women who understood the danger, they also knew that the scourge was inevitable. And the wise of a much more ancient vintage foresaw the inevitable, and thus the Great Pyramid was born. In India the Ancient Ones also realised that a very deep sleep would overtake the civilisation, and these wise souls did whatever was in their power to preserve the Word. And thus was born the compilation known as the Veda, – Rig, Saman, Yarur and Atharva. In Egypt, for reasons we will explore further on, the preservation was in stone; in ancient India it was through the human channel by virtue of an unbroken line of Seers who had REALISED the truth of the way through the yogic process described in those preserved documents, as well as in the Great Pyramid itself. Indeed, the very same process. These Vedic texts have come to us only as fragments of the ancient knowledge, whereas the Great Pyramid was designed to defy intact the ravages of time and humanity’s destructive tendencies when faced with what it cannot understand and must therefore destroy. The primitive state of humanity at the end of the Pyramid age was such that it would not be in a position to demolish the evidence this colossus would preserve for many thousands of years up to our very own times, this blessed Age of Aquarius, the period of revelation and completion. Egypt of the Pyramid age and even of the Pharaonic period is lost to us as a civilisation, thanks to the great Sleep that allowed shadows to edge out the light of the deep wisdom preserved in those timeless monuments. We note though that the mysterious Sphinx was installed as a companion to the mighty Pyramid; for one, because it was necessary to leave a sample of the language of celestial harmonies, but above all to demonstrate that it is eternal, truly the language of the Gods. And as long as our solar system continues to journey through space and time, so long will that celestial language live. However, to lose that knowledge only a simple technique was required: an undermining of the foundation that was indispensable to make any sense at all of what stands before our eyes. That foundation is our planet Earth. In denying to measure, precision, alignment any ‘spiritual’ substance, we deny the truth and purpose of our planetary home in the higher scheme of things. Thus, the sleep that fell upon us permitted a chasm to arise in our collective consciousness, affecting the course our evolution would take. The result has been an abysmal split that was entirely unknown in ancient times – the divide between spirit and matter. As time moved on and ‘science’ became the exclusive preserve of the materialist, men and women of the spirit increasingly took refuge in the quest for a ‘beyond’, precisely because the Earth as base was as if covered in a thick mist due to the constant undermining from within the ranks of the spirit itself. The critical crossroads we have reached is expressed simply as an imperative need to heal this divide, to bridge the chasm, to restore a consciousness of unity wherein such a split is unthinkable. However, this is no simple task primarily because we do not have the right tools to help us make the discoveries needed to construct the bridge. We turn to spirituality of various hues for answers, little realising that all the paths we know today are a product of the great Sleep. All of them drive us farther and farther away from the goal we must seek. Thus, we may make astonishing discoveries regarding the technology used to build the Great Pyramid, exposing in the process the pathetic state of scientific orthodoxy of our times which tries to hide the truth; but these discoveries take us no closer to understanding WHY that great civilisation laboured to leave this monument on Earth for a future age. For example, we marvel at the precision of alignment of this enormous construction; we focus on the tools, techniques, technology to achieve this because that is the way our 21st century minds work. We do not ask the obvious: Why was alignment so important? What message is that preserving for us today? Since spirituality cannot provide the answer because it has denied any truth to matter, precision and measure – the things of our Earth earthly – and embraced instead the Beyond and the after-death state for the light of salvation, we turn to Science, entirely convinced that if we pursue scientific methods to their logical conclusion we will ultimately find all the answers we seek. But even the most recalcitrant materialist has to admit that the more science uncovers, the greater the danger of self-annihilation, be it either through physics, chemistry, or now biology which presents the threat of a genetic manipulation that may ultimately destroy the human race as we know it. Our moral codes are breaking down; religions hold no power to help us control our destructive impulses; while our spirituality continues to undermine the reality of this material base we call home. And so the destruction continues unabated. Nonetheless, the mysterious Sphinx broadcasts the message not only of the age in which it was built but also that in the present Aquarian Age the destined time has come to uncover a third way. The Rig Veda interestingly tells us the very same thing. Yet both remain enigmas, inscrutable mysteries – the Rig Veda no less than the Sphinx. Both have survived because of an abiding respect for the demands of our material base: precision, measure, alignment. Both preserve the truth of the Third Way – and for us today, a new way. Indeed, this is a new discovery, and it forms the core of this essay. If we respect the demand of our planetary home for precision, measure, time and space – unlike all the spirituality and religions we know, in spite of their protestations to the contrary – then we learn the method to heal the divide and bridge the chasm. We are guided to the true unitary consciousness that was the natural state of at least an elite in ancient times. While our technologists must admit that the Great Pyramid could not be built today to equal its precision, and that a missing link exists in the evolution of culture which left a huge gap in our understanding of past accomplishments on this planet, there is no such admission in India regarding the very same knowledge preserved in the Rig Veda. While there appears to be an unbroken thread in Hinduism from the Vedic Age right into the present, the yogic realisation is lacking today that could permit a real and not an imaginary continuity with the line established by the Seers of those former times. That realisation was the bedrock or the ‘fulcrum’, as one Sanskrit scholar has called it, of the Vedic way; yet it does not figure in the vast collection of minutely documented paths of Indian yogas of any school after the Vedic Age. And, lamentably, India moves farther and farther away from attaining that lost realisation with each passing day. This is more than a deep sleep; it is denial, while at the same time we hear the constant refrain, ‘We are truly Vedic!’ All these remains of the ancient civilisations we are discussing give us the same message. Not that this was their intention – though certainly the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx were constructed with a mind to preserve the Knowledge for our times. The message was and remains simple: themeasure of the year, and the cardinal point alignment that forms a part of this sacred measure. It is the Earth’s contribution to the solar system – her own harmony, the means by which the planet can contribute her ‘note’ to the cosmic symphony. It is what the Earth adds to the overall scheme, with the other planets similarly offering their own measure. And thus the Music of the Spheres arises. From the time the great Sleep began to overtake humanity, right up to Isaac Newton himself, the keys to this ‘music’ have been sought. It was the primary focus of all ancient civilisations, if the extant clues they have left are to be believed. But all the academics who study the matter fail to discover the obvious. They invariably focus their search on the constellations and various stars therein; but the Earth’s own measure in the ecliptic of her home base is disregarded. Yet we are aware of the Great Pyramid’s near perfect alignment to the ecliptic’s four cardinal points and not to the constellations beyond our system. But we do not carry the discovery forward to answer the real question: Why was orientation so important, and what is it that was actually being aligned? Primarily it was the Earth’s place and alignment on the ecliptic within our solar system; and only secondarily, and as a result of the former it must be noted, a measure involving the constellations. Orientation was of central importance in the Vedic Age as well. The complex geometry of the vedi – simple brick structures based on sacred geometry where the homam or sacrifice was carried out – honoured before all else this same alignment. It was the basis for everything that followed in the rituals and offerings. In contemporary Hindu society a pundit will commence construction of a temple or an individual dwelling by first establishing true North and aligning the building to as near perfect a degree as possible with the four quarters of the ecliptic. What the pundit does is to recreate a horoscope on the ground, just as we do when we draw up a chart for an individual. It is called Vastu Purush, the cosmic Man. In other words, the cosmic surround based on the ecliptic alignment is transferred from the heavens to the site and construction begins once that transposition is accomplished according to processes established for the purpose. Up to that point all is in order. But when time is added to the process everything collapses in the current scheme of things. The pundit or priest, similar to the scholar, seeks the right time measure in the constellations rather than through the Earth’s own harmony, a point I will elaborate further on to reveal that Hindu civilisation is, unfortunately, a far cry from its Vedic ancestor. The Earth in toto is floundering, East no less than West. Advances are being made in science that seem to border on the miraculous. But there does not appear to be any focus to these advancements, contrary to the ancient way. Yes, there is undeniable evidence that the builders of the Great Pyramid possessed a superior technology; but it was not technology for its own sake, as ours is today, – an end in itself without a connected purpose drawing together the efforts of many different branches of science, all supportive of a central purpose. Yet when we observe with an Initiate’s eye the monuments and documents of old, we perceive immediately that however formidable the technology and science, they were a servant to something greater, something all-encompassing, something that gave a deep and abiding logic to everything that emerged out of the collective efforts of those civilisations. It is when such a consciousness arises that the Theory of Everything (TOE), as it is called in scientific circles, will be discovered. First a vision of unity has to be established in the consciousness of the observer by which he becomes one with the thing observed; and then a unified theory emerges out of that consciousness. This perception of unity and oneness was a global phenomenon in very ancient times. We marvel today at the fact that civilisations across the globe, apparently disconnected from one another, reveal an underlying affinity. This is precisely the point that needs to be made: they were all aware of the means to speak in one voice – the voice of the Cosmic Truth. And they all made use of the same tool: the circle of 360 degrees divided into four, – i.e., the days and nights of equal measure, and the shortest and longest days of the year, or our seasonal rhythm due to the tilt of our planet’s axis with respect to the ecliptic. That is the magical circle which provides us with the knowledge we need to transform the dross that we are into pure gold. It is not that there was a mysterious connection between these remote civilisations; or that aliens were visiting our planet and planting the same message here and there. This may well have been the case, but it is immaterial to our present problem which is that we have no such knowledge today binding our endeavours around a single purpose. And that purpose is to find the sense in the Earth’s place in the system and her special contribution to the music of the spheres. We are not even aware that such ‘music’ exists, much less that we can ‘hear’ its sounds; and far less that this sacred music can provide the means to create harmony where now only cacophony exists. We inhabit the third planet from the Sun in the third orbit; and it is a third way which we are in the process of unveiling as an element that can make cosmic sense of our existence. Currently the belief prevails that we could be anywhere and it would all be the same since in any case it is all just ‘coincidence’. This belief alone reveals that we were wrenched from our planetary roots, just as we were cut off from our ancient past when the great Sleep overcame us as a planetary society. In fact, this sleep too is recorded in the ‘script’ the ancients left for us: the zodiac, the language the ecliptic uses through our annual orbit of the Sun to speak to us of things abiding and eternal.
The knowledge the ancients preserved is eternal in the sense that the same truths of old can be discovered today. On that basis we learn who we are and where we are headed as a civilisation. We know our past, present and future. If the Great Pyramid preserves the message of alignment to the four cardinal points, it is clear that in the ecliptic which is marked off by these points we can begin to find the clues required. But a primary ingredient in the discovery is the measure the Earth provides. Without this ingredient that circle tells us nothing. We need the correct Zero Point. With that we can always find our place in the cosmic harmony; and finding our place tells us who we are eternally. That is, we can understand what the Earth’s purpose is and why she alone in the System houses a species capable of conscious awareness. Above all, why evolution is the bedrock of her planetary purpose. Most ancient scriptures, including the Bible, describe the evolution of the species quite openly. Genesis for one is a perfect example. The text reveals a continuous fragmentation of an original ‘cell’, similar to the multiplication an organic cell undergoes as it grows to produce a mature form. But orthodoxy has concealed this self-evident message in the text, since most interpreters have lost the ability to decipher the language of Symbols. Even in India, where knowledge, or veda, is supposed to be present in its original form in an unbroken line, we must state that around the time of the Cosmic Dawn – that is, when there was a convergence between the Zero Point of the Precession of the Equinoxes and the equatorial zero point of the ecliptic, 0 degrees Aries – this line was if not completely broken at least severely damaged. It was by then, in the third century BCE, continuously under attack, for that was the period when the great Sleep reached its deepest level. Contrary to popular belief, it overtook India no less than the rest of the world. In the west it was the abolition of Goddess worship and the ancient Mystery Schools, which were finally replaced by orthodox religions from the Middle East. In India the Goddess survived but yogis succumbed to an focus on otherworldliness in contrast to the Vedic Way which was entirely Earth-oriented. The Precession of the Equinoxes is produced by a slow gyration the Earth makes like a spinning top, because of which her equatorial plane (hence a precession of the equinoxes) traces a complete circle in space. It takes 25,920 years for this movement to be completed, or for this circle to close and return to the starting point. This greater circle is also divided into twelve zodiacal sections of 30 degrees each, just like our ecliptic. And similarly, the Precession is of no value without the correct zero point, the start of the wheel from where we begin the count. We must also appreciate that, contrary to the accepted notion, this cosmic rhythm originates on Earth as the result of her own unique axial tilt whose slow gyration is the architect of the larger zodiac projected onto the constellations. Out there, there is nothing; out there we seek only one thing: a marker, a location in the vast beyond that can serve as a sort of docking station when the two zero points must converge. Once again it must be emphasised that the zodiac is the key, the language that allows the Precession to speak to us and show us our place in the cosmic harmony. However, Hindu tradition provided clues to help resuscitate the knowledge when the Precession would reach the Age of Aquarius, our own times. One such important clue is the Hindu Line of Ten Avatars. Sri Aurobindo has rightfully called this Line a ‘parable of evolution’. Indeed, it does describe an evolutionary process very specifically, beginning with the ‘Fish Avatar’, an obvious reference to the origins of biological species, and then on through the Line until the human creation emerges. With the help of the Precession of the Equinoxes, coupled with the yearly journey of the Earth around the Sun as the planet marks off the cardinal points of equinoxes and solstices, we can read all the details of that evolution we are a part of and which Hindu tradition has preserved, though in its own place of birth that knowledge was later sent underground. The ‘parable of evolution’ gives us the details of that retreat as well. The key issue is the correct Zero Point. As this study progresses and we uncover more and more layers until the full knowledge is revealed, we will understand why that sacred Point was essential to know. Losing that, the Earth and her civilisations would be swimming in a vast cosmic ocean without a goal in sight, and without a lighthouse to lead the way. But we need not project our vision out to the constellation-circle which the Precession deals with as it covers a round of that larger projection of the zodiac approximately every 26,000 years. We experience the very same journey here on Earth in our annual orbit of the Sun in twelve stages – the twelve months of the year which the Veda sustain are the doors we must pass through for access to the supreme Light. The smaller (in time and space) and the larger speak in one voice: the stages of zodiacal progression in a measure of twelve. They both describe the evolutionary process; but while the equinoxes and solstices mark off the yearly orbit – the Earth’s sacred measure – the Precession of the Equinoxes allows for that annual Aries Zero Point to be inserted into the larger cycle and by this link up to provide us with the greater patterns of evolution. Through this means we can insert ourselves into the flux and flow of the vast cosmic sea while yet remaining anchored to the Earth’s zero point in time and her measure of twelve; and thus to remainconnected to the planet we inhabit and not to seek a purpose for existence in a beyond that bears no connection with our home base. The Hindu line of Ten Avatars deals exclusively with the larger cycle of twelve traced by the Precession. Of particular relevance – from the time the great Sleep took effect – are the last three stages covering approximately 12,000 years, or the appearance of the last three Avatars, bringing the Line to a close with Kalki. It was during the last round of the Precession that the Earth was approaching a do-or-die crossroads. The Great Pyramid arose during that round of 26,000 years and has stood as a silent witness waiting for the moment when its own purpose would be unveiled. The Sphinx indicates that this would be in the present Aquarian Age. She provides this information by virtue of the zodiacal symbols of her form: Lion and Man. The former indicates the Age of Leo as the time of construction of both the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid, – now confirmed by geologists; and the Man portion refers to the time of revelation, the Man sign, or Aquarius, known in Vedic India as the Friend, Mitra. (Similar to the Sphinx, the Rig Veda also points to our Aquarian Age as a culmination, though this is ignored in India today because the true Zero Point is unknown.) With the correct zero point we discover when that Age would begin: 1926 CE; coincidentally, the same year that the Sphinx herself was finally uncovered in the vast sands of the Egyptian desert. Obviously it becomes important to have the correct insight into the Precession time-frame in combination with the yearly rhythms; otherwise we risk missing the moment, – as India is doing because of miscalculations. The interesting factor concerning India is that Hindu civilisation even today professes an abiding faith and adherence to the cosmic harmonies. All of its culture, including music, dance, drama, temple art and architecture arose on the basis of a cosmic perception of life and the organisation of society according to the rhythms etched out by the cosmic harmonies. It was a civilisation in the Vedic Age that understood the Earth’s position in time and space, vast and small. Out of that understanding came the outflow of a culture unparalleled today. But unfortunately the essential item that made this grandeur possible – the Zero Point – was lost, incredible as this may seem in the land that gave the concept of zero to the world. Since then, close to three thousand years ago, there has been a steady decline. Today, as if to stress the point, there are perhaps a dozen ayanamshas, as the zero point is called in Sanskrit, in the different almanacs and ephemeredes employed to regulate all individual and collective celebrations by Hindu society. None of the pundits can agree on when the yearly orbit of the Sun truly begins, much less on the beginning point of the larger cycles of the Precession. The result is that the Aries starting point of the zodiacal year is celebrated 23 days late. Aries is believed to begin on 14-15 April, and not on the March Equinox. One thing must be stated, however: India does at least honour that Zero Point, giving it its due place of reverence in the Hindu calendar, though the date is alarmingly incorrect. I call this period of 23 days, the measure of the Hindu civilisation’s ‘sleep’. What do the Veda say? And the Great Pyramid? The emphasis in both remains the balancing points of the yearly equinoxes and solstices. That is, the same message the Great Pyramid preserves in its immaculate alignment to the four quarters is also central to all ancient Vedic Scriptures on the subject. The alignment, so carefully calculated in the Great Pyramid, was not to some elusive point in the far-off constellations as post-Vedic Hindu pundits have determined. While a constellation or sidereal alignment does exist for the Great Pyramid to Orion’s Belt, it was meant to record the time of construction – approximately 12,000 years ago. But by its ecliptic alignment the Great Pyramid preserves the Earth’s eternal contribution to the cosmic harmony. And on that basis we can discover the very same knowledge the ancients had and finally we can learn to live in the same consciousness they enjoyed.
While the Great Pyramid records in stone the importance of the Earth’s alignment to the four quarters of the ecliptic and the equinoxes and solstices, Vedic texts have also laid stress on the same harmony – the Earth’s sacred measure and her contribution to the combined harmony of the 9 planets in orbit of the Sun in a twelve-stage progression through the zodiac. Each planet offers its own ‘note’ to make up the cosmic symphony of our solar system; but of special significance is the ‘note’ our own planet contributes. All ancient traditions have honoured this knowledge. It is only our technological age that finds itself completely cut off from the sense and purpose of these rhythms of the universe. Never before have societies the world over been so utterly disconnected from the planetary family of our solar system. The Earth in this situation is similar to an orphaned child. This may well be the prophetic meaning in the tale describing the abduction of Persephone by Pluto, Lord of the Underworld. Her imprisonment in the region of the Dark God mirrors the dark consciousness of our 21st century civilisation. But this myth also gives us a clue to the zodiacal mystery since Persephone, we are told, is allowed to spend one third of the year with her Divine Mother in Elysium (from where she was abducted); the remaining portion of the year she must spend ruling over the Underworld with Pluto. If we divide the ecliptic in three parts, two-thirds (the period in the Underworld) takes us to the zodiacal Scorpio; the remaining one-third begins in Sagittarius and closes the wheel with Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Indeed, Scorpio is Pluto’s realm, the region of death and the dead. In Hindu tradition the 8th in the series is Martanda, 8th of the divine mother Aditi’s twelve sons. He is the progenitor of our mortal human race and his name means, appropriately, dead egg. However, to explain more fully the meaning of Scorpio, it is the sign of the deep Sleep, which may be more easily comprehended today if it is known as Inertia. Death, as the mortal species experiences, is the individual’s inability to break through the stranglehold of the Scorpio inertia. Truly there is no ‘death’; there is no ‘end’. Death is merely a transition. However, for us in our present stage of evolution, it is indeed an end because of the deep sleep we experience and the plunge into complete unconsciousness and oblivion that this brings about. Many myths of the ancient world preserve the same knowledge. However, more significantly than myths, it is only the zodiac that can bring these tales into our dynamic experience because it connects the twelve-stage journey to time. Thus, as the Rig Veda informs us, it is the months of the year that hold us back or else that allow us access to Knowledge. When we see the zodiac as the map of evolution, we understand that it contains a knowledge unlimited by temporal and spatial boundaries. What it conveys is eternally valid at whatever stage the human species may be in its evolution – provided, however, that we have the correct zero point and can find our location in the cycles the zodiac describes. The 8th month is therefore the stage where an irresistible inertia overtakes the voyager; and this iron hold can come about because of the ‘sleep that is death’. The ‘sleep’ must occur for Inertia to succeed in holding the traveller back from completing the journey on Earth as a continued process. In other words, we can succumb to sleep and inertia and experience the remaining one-third ‘in heaven’; or we can use the key the zodiac provides to unlock the doors to the secret chamber where the Knowledge is held of our true immortal condition. Mortal creation, the present state of the species, is one possibility. It is the stamp in our cells by choice, as molecular biology is now discovering. However, until this 9th Manifestation there was really no ‘choice’ since as a species we were never born. We were unaware of the higher potential which is also our birthright – if we exert our right to choose. For humanity at this 9th stage of its evolution the choice means to be a passive victim of Inertia and to continue arresting the journey at the 8th stage of Scorpio, or to realise the higher potential, as the Ancient Ones have done, and experience immortality. That is, the transmutation of the Scorpion into the Eagle. The 8th sign was always known in ancient traditions as the Eagle. St. John’s Revelation confirms this. In Chapter IV the visionary describes the ecliptic as a ‘rainbow about the throne [the Sun] in sight like unto an emerald’ (3). And further on in verse 6, even more clearly the ecliptic is described as ‘a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind’. These four are then given the same symbol-forms as the four signs of Preservation, Vishnu’s signs, the zodiacal Fixed cross of lion, calf, man and eagle (see the Map of the 12 Manifestations*). In an even more remote age, the Vedic Rishi used the very same symbols precisely in praise of Vishnu the Preserver: lion, bull, man. The Seer sees Vishnu taking three strides (not the full four). It is as if he stands with Vishnu in the 8th position which we know of as Scorpio; and from there Vishnu begins to measure the universe, moving as the Precession of the Equinox does in a clockwise fashion. But from where he stands, according to the Scriptures, the 8th sign is his own vahana or carrier – the Eagle Garuda. The knowledge is preserved impeccably from an age countless centuries before St John penned his equally famous verses; and both concur exactly to confirm the ancient knowledge. Most Christians would not accept this unmistakable zodiacal content of The Revelation; but neither would Hindus, historians, or pundits accept that the Rishi preserved the knowledge by way of the very same zodiac we use today throughout the world. This is lamentable because that was the basis of all belief systems and cults in those former times before the onslaught of orthodox exclusivist religions. Only in our times has the universal language been discarded in favour of beliefs and dogmas that cut one off from one’s fellow creatures and from the cosmic vastness, – this great Clock whose cogs and wheels we help to perpetuate. We have made neat compartments and missed entirely the underlying script that provides a purpose to our sojourn on Earth. This universal script is so accurate that it also speaks of the great Sleep that was to overtake humanity as a whole, and exactly when. With the Precession of the Equinoxes we can locate the moment in evolution when the Sleep began and engulfed the world, west as well as east, if India’s famous epic, the Mahabharat, is to be believed. It too accurately informs us of the wave that overtook the orient at the same time western cultures succumbed. Indeed, it is via a combination of the Hindu epics and Vishnu’s famed three strides to measure the universe that we learn what happened to the Earth; and, above all, where we are meant to go in this collective experience once we fully awaken from the Sleep. It all centres on Scorpio, the 8th sign, and the transmutation of Scorpion to Eagle. It is the story of the choice humanity can make in order to escape the hold of Inertia.
We know that the ancients had the key to transmutation because closer to the Great Pyramid age, or the Ramayana and Mahabharat epochs, the zodiacal Scorpio was universally known as the Eagle, a symbolism which indicates this transmutation. Today no one knows the 8th sign by that name. However, we do have a significant clue to the state of consciousness and being of those sages of old in the remains found in Egypt of the Pharaonic age. Indeed, the tombs and mummies archaeologists have unearthed are our best guide. With these remains we can unravel the enigma, though this may not concur with the theories prevalent today. First of all, we must accept that there is no connection between the Great Pyramid and the pyramid-tombs of the Pharaohs. But what these structures in combination do reveal is that a huge gap exists in our analysing process based on the extant ruins of both periods. If we step out of the cage in which scientific orthodoxy is trapped, we are forced to acknowledge that a period of perhaps several thousand years separates one from the other. Darkness engulfs those astrological ages until a thread is taken up once again as the Precession of the Equinox ‘clock’ seems to be set ticking once again. In the ensuing period, the 8th Manifestation, the pyramid-tombs began to emerge and we find ourselves in the full-blown era of the Pharaohs. Meanwhile, contemporaneously in Vedic India the same gap was closed when the Mahabharat was connected to the Ramayana of the previous 7th Manifestation– equally via the Precessional ‘clock’. The reason for this gap is clearly established by Vedic tradition in that it is always in an Age of Preservation – Vishnu’s mode of manifestation – that the ‘ticking’ is set loud enough for us to hear. For this reason a later text like The Revelation also mentions only Vishnu’s four Fixed signs of Preservation out of the twelve. They are the symbols of most of extant sphinxes (see the crosswise section of the Map of 12 Manifestations). Indeed, preservation seems to have been an obsession, if you will, of Pharaonic Egypt. The latter’s obsession was not the thread of the Precession as it was in Vedic India, which was lost in Egypt. Rather, it was the actual mortal remains of the Pharaoh. This development does indeed reveal the consciousness of the ancients more conclusively than anything we could hope to uncover in our own peculiar obsession with tomb hunting. The Egypt of the Pharaohs bears no resemblance to the Egypt of the builders of the Great Pyramid. The only connection is that pyramids continued to be built, but nothing more. However, they were significantly different from the early specimens, not only in technological expertise for their construction but above all in their explicit ‘purpose’. In the Great Pyramid there is no evidence whatsoever that it was a tomb, the dogmas of scientific orthodoxy notwithstanding. Yet because the pyramids of the 8th Manifestation reveal beyond any doubt their funerary intent, it is assumed that the Great Pyramid must have served a similar purpose – if we could only find the evidence, now lost, robbed, ravaged, disintegrated in the structure or elsewhere to confirm the hypotheses. Nothing having been discovered so far, we are forced to conclude that this is, indeed, nothing but a hypothesis not at all substantiated. The evidence has never come to light. Instead the two remnants, side by side, tell their own tale unmistakably: there is a gap, a black hole plaguing our awareness of continuity. The gap has never been closed. However, if we look at what IS, quite simply, dropping all the dogmas science and scholarship have foisted on us over the past few centuries – indeed, even from Herodotus, the noted Greek historian – we see the obvious: Immortality was the issue. And this simple ‘obsession’ discloses that in some manner it was a physical immortality. More than that we cannot extract from Pharaonic Egypt because the knowledge of this superior state was long lost to these ‘descendants of the Sun’. It was indeed a physical state of immortality that was achieved; but similar to Vedic India this was a ‘heaven on Earth’, if it may be so described. That is, the alignment message of the Great Pyramid, as well as the Rig Vedic text, are absolutely clear on this point. After the ‘sleep’ set in, this Earth orientation and a birthright of immortality could only be interpreted as a transmutation centred on the physical body itself. The point was entirely missed though generations of Pharaonic ‘descendants from the Sun’ continued to persevere in this ephemeral quest, with the results we see today: meaningless tombs cluttered with inconsequential artefacts which scientific orthodoxy can utilise to prove that 1) all the extant tombs, including the Great Pyramid and its two companions, were tombs to house a megalomaniac Pharaoh, and that 2) this reveals the superstition and ignorance of former civilisations, however impressive their cultural achievements. This line of reasoning only served to lead away from the true path of discovery. But it did serve to convince us that our present civilisation is the apex of the evolutionary scale, and that everything before us, be it in the west or the east or midway between, was a long and dark age redeemed only by science and technology. To sustain this belief, it has been imperative to hide the truth of the technology employed to build the Great Pyramid. Similarly, theories had to be made into dogma regarding India’s hoary past to spread the belief that nothing existed in the subcontinent before 1500 BCE, when pagan-worshipping hoards from the north descended on a land devoid of any significant civilisation and culture. Both orthodoxies have served the same purpose: our contemporary civilisation has been brainwashed to believe that it is the fruit of millions of years of evolution and represents the highest level attained so far in the evolution from ape to man. But let us explore another premise that is more in harmony with the ground reality, and that answers question the above theory cannot. At the same time, this premise does not diminish our present status but rather helps us to regain a knowledge of ourselves and of the world that has been long lost.
The Egyptian obsession with the preservation of the physical body after death stems from the remembrance of things long past, the memory of Immortality and the period when the Gods walked the Earth. Whenever we find a culture with a similar obsession – such as the ancient Inca of pre-Colombian America – we know that it is the same memory of a lost state enjoyed on Earth that still haunts them. In the Rig Veda we discover the very same ‘obsession’, which none who have studied the text can deny. But this was not carried over to the physical in the Egyptian manner; and through this we discover the difference in the way the decline set in both in Egypt and India. For Egypt it was focussed entirely on the physical, and hence the art of mummification was developed to a remarkable degree. It came to influence even the development of an exquisite and unparalleled art in an effort to preserve the physical features of the deceased who was somehow to realise the same immortality of old, if the right rules were followed. But what were those ‘rules’? The chasm was too complete. It proved impossible to bridge and the anticipated transformation never materialised in spite of trial after trial which the extant new pyramids and the relics they contain demonstrate. Nor did those ancient Gods reappear who could guide the Pharaoh through the labyrinthine mysteries of the afterlife journey. That much is indeed recorded in an age closer to ours: the deceased was expected to meet his Guide and be ferried to the shore of the Immortals in his very own physical body, similar to the earlier Gods. Being ‘Descendants of the Sun’ they were expected to attain that same state – i.e., physical immortality. Important to note is that in Egypt it was all centred on the physical body, not a state of consciousness as we find in India. The reason is that there was no such chasm, a stark before and after, as we can clearly perceive in the Egyptian progression. The Great Pyramid and the more recent imitative structures of Pharaonic Egypt indicate this complete severance, which we do not detect in India and which the Rig Veda confirms; a point we will develop further on. Perhaps Egypt experienced the Great Flood recorded in a number of myths and scriptures of that area. Certainly passage over the first cardinal point in the Precession of the Equinoxes, 0 degrees Cancer, around 8000 BCE, could provide the answer we seek. And being the point of Cosmic Midnight, and a sign of the water element in fact, it would have presaged this plunge into the oblivion that the great Sleep induced and which is so clearly demonstrated in the before and after that we find today in Egypt. The accompanying diagram can make this clear. The Precessional period we are discussing stands at the end of the Age of Cancer (where the arrow points), moving backwards through the signs or in a clockwise movement. The deep night of Cancer was the signal that darkness was soon to descend. But in India the decline was gradual. It was a slow and steady deviation, as if one had introduced a gradual change in direction and the space ship of consciousness was imperceptibly steered toward a different location, a far-off horizon in the Beyond, an otherworldliness that could perhaps grant the nectar of Immortality, – Soma, as it is called in the Veda, which tradition tells us is found on the Moon. Immortality for the yogi of the Vedic Age was a matter of an attainment of a state of consciousness, first and foremost, though Vedic tradition does preserve stories of physical survival after death and in numerous instances of a conscious passage to the other world, whatever that might be. Tradition in India records that many Rishis had the ability to leave their bodies at will. It is a tradition carried right into the present; there are cases recorded today of a form of conscious transition. Since there is an unbroken thread to the ancient way in India, the result is that the state of Immortality of the Gods developed into a state of consciousness exclusively, due to the slow and largely imperceptible change in the direction of the quest over several thousands of years, allowing the yogi to believe that he was still on course, as it were. The Rishis who penned the Rig Veda knew better, however. The text very clearly indicates that there was something missing – and these sages were fully aware of the fact. The final verses of the famous Nasadiya–Sukta, (RV X, 129), known popularly as the Vedic Hymn of Creation, states,
Who really knows it? Who can presume to tell it? Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation? Even the Gods came after its emergence. Then who can tell from whence it came to be? That out of which creation has arisen, Whether it held it firm or it did not, He who surveys it in the highest heaven, He surely knows it – or maybe he does not! (Translation: Raimundo Panikkar, The Vedic Experience, All India Books)
Time after time we encounter this sort of questioning (‘Who truly knows?’) to indicate a lost knowledge that must be retrieved, the ‘lost sun’; and finally a perplexing exclamation at the end of a profound revelation. Since there was no dramatic severance with the former culture, unlike in Egypt, the great Sleep affected the ‘fulcrum’ of the ancient Vedic path which was the very first step on the way to the full realisation of Immortality. This fulcrum was hailed as Skambha, the cosmic pillar, centre of the world and upholder of the realisation. With the removal of Skambha the integral realisation became impossible, covering all the planes down to the physical. Dislodging the essential Cosmic Pillar resulted in what we have today: a civilisation that calls itself ‘vedic’ and believes itself to be what it was of old, but which preserves that condition only in the four Vedas. It is not found on the ground today. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, ‘The letter lived on when the spirit was forgotten; the symbol, the body of the doctrine, remained but the soul of knowledge had fled from its coverings.’ (The Secret of the Veda.) If we wish to piece together history before the great Sleep, this is the method: we look deeply at what IS, like the Rig Veda encourages the Aryan Warrior to do. For us today this means that we must have the courage to dismiss the many falsehoods that orthodoxy of all types has saddled us with over the centuries, all of which can be proven to be coloured by motives incompatible with the pursuit of truth. What such a penetration reveals is an Egypt where the great Sleep resulted in an entirely physical memory, and consequently an obsession with the preservation of corpses because Egypt did not experience continuity through the human channel of yogic realisation. It woke up one day and found the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx before its bewildered collective eye. From that point onward its wisemen began piecing together the tradition of old with whatever tools it could find amidst the ruins at its disposal. It is as if the great Flood had submerged the continent – indeed as the Bible states – destroying everything but the Great Pyramid with its two companion pyramids and the Sphinx, all of which were very consciously built to survive the holocaust because the Precession of the Equinoxes would have foretold what lay ahead. Thereafter, no trace was found of the state of consciousness of the ancient builders, the Gods who walked the Earth in a physical embodiment, only the distant memory of things now lost. From that point onward, when the Precessional clock began ticking loudly once more at the onset of the Age of Taurus, or Vishnu’s sign of Preservation in the 8th Manifestation, an awakening from this induced stupor began. The magnificent civilisation of Pharaonic Egypt did the best that it could under the circumstances to attain the same height of the former age of glory, copy-cat fashion. And thus countless imitative pyramids arose to somehow bring the mummified corpse to the promised shores where the Gods could be seen. To sum up, the point to be made is that, as the Precession indicates, passage over the cardinal point of 0 degree Cancer, the Cosmic Midnight of the zodiac, brought a complete dislocation with the former 7th Manifestation when the Gods seemed to have walked the Earth. In the next Manifestation, the 8th, the great Sleep (or Flood) in the case of Egypt, whose destiny was centred on space and on the physical, would result in an obsessive striving to regain that former state as a reality of the Earth, and not a heaven beyond – though ultimately, as the distance increased from the age of the Gods, so to speak, the Earth orientation began to take on the appearance of a location beyond our solar system and into perhaps other galaxies. In India, whose destiny was determined to be a voyage of Consciousness before all else from the beginning of this last round of the Precession (approximately 20,000 years ago), the unbroken thread with the age in question resulted in the preservation of a text that fully indicates the lost knowledge; ‘the lost Sun’, as it is called in the Veda. The object of the quest described in the text is the retrieval of that lost Sun. There can be no mistake that a deviation set in because the Veda itself records this happening. In exploring the verses to Skambha from the Atharva Veda, we will see not only that the lost state was known then to the Rishi, but also exactly what that loss would indicate for the subcontinent in ages to come; and, with great precision, the area that would be afflicted most by the loss, resulting in a society believing itself to be Vedic but having lost its Vedic essence simply because the Cosmic Pillar had been dislodged. In the Chandogya Upanishad, penned in an age closer to the Vedic than the later Upanishads, we read in III, 12, 2-9:
‘What the Gayatri is, that indeed the earth is also, for it is on the earth that this whole universe is established; it does not extend beyond. What the earth is, that indeed the body in man is also, for on it these vital breaths are established; they do not extend beyond it. What the body in man is, that indeed the heart within man is also, for on it these vital breaths are established; they do not extend beyond it. The Gayatri has four feet and is sixfold. About this a verse of the Rig Veda says: ‘Such is the measure of his greatness, but greater still is the Man (RV X, 90).’ All beings form a quarter of him, three quarters, the immortal in the sky. What is called Brahman, that indeed the space outside a man is also; what the space outside a man is, that indeed the space within a man is also; what the space within a man is, that indeed the space within the heart is also. That is the full, the unchanging. Whoever knows this obtains good fortune, full and unchanging.’ (Translation: Raimundo Panikkar, ibid.)
Notwithstanding the above and to demonstrate the logical finality of a quest centred on the Beyond and the extra-cosmic, preservation of the corpse has not at all been a part of civilisation on the subcontinent – right into our own times. The body of the deceased is cremated – an adequate symbol of its ultimate fate of impermanence and inevitable dissolution, and a return to the elements from whence it arose. In other words, a complete contrast to Pharaonic Egypt. Cremation is utterly in keeping with the emphasis on a swar –as the goal is called in the Veda – beyond physicality. It is, however, a symbol-end contradicting everything that is stated in the Chandogya Upanishad quoted above and in countless other scriptures, the direction having changed by 180 degrees, pointing away from the Earth entirely. What else does this ‘symbol’ tell us? For there is far more to discover regarding the course both civilisations etched out for themselves over the centuries on the fabric of time and space. There is the question of continuity, for example. Why did every civilisation in Egypt result in a cul-de-sac? The Pyramid Age left nothing but a few structures behind to mark its passage; Gods or aliens, humans or divine beings disappeared entirely leaving no trace other than these colossi. And as for Pharaonic Egypt, after the turmoil and upheaval that befell the land when the Pharaohs disappeared, Islam soon stepped in and once again no traces are to be found of the magnificent civilisations of old. Egypt today bears no similarity to anything of its great past. And yet those cultures attained levels which may never be reached again. But Egypt was not obsessed with time. India always has been, even in the most ancient Vedic Age. Consequently India could never experience a total disconnection from any experience it met along the way. It could only embrace the new and absorb it into its being because of the spherical properties of Time itself, in contrast to the linearity of Space of the Egyptian obsession, resulting later in temples of massive size perhaps in an effort the recapture the lost glories of the Pyramid Age. Furthermore, India’s perennial relationship with Mahakal¸ the Great God of Time as Shiva is known, condemned it to a slow and steady evolution. For it is in evolution that we find the secret to her continuity. In Egypt we note something of an intrusion. The Great Pyramid is somehow out of place in time. It is disconnected from the race that later came to inhabit the area, and from everything else evolution seems to have attained up to that age. This can never happen in India. There can be no such intrusion of anything disconnected from the whole. All must evolve organically in a process where Time is the great and immortal presiding deity because the essence of Skambha is time itself. And on this cosmic pillar the entire civilisation, from beginning to end, reposes. But the deviation took its toll and the yogic realisation of Skambha was lost; with it came the loss of the sacred measure of the Earth that lies at the heart of the process of evolution, confirmed in so many of the civilisation’s ancient scriptures. However, the multitude of scriptures which form the most impressive array of yogic documentation the Earth has ever known are meaningless without the realisation of Skambha, fulcrum for all the rest. Continuity hinging on the human channel across the ages, it is logical that in India time and evolution should be the civilisation’s instruments in a continuous flow without any drastic break in the thread time and circumstance weave through the larger or smaller cyclic movements. Nothing confirms this assessment as well as the Puranic Line of Ten Avatars, from the Fish Avatar through to the tenth of the present Age of Vishnu, our current Age of Aquarius.
In the 26 May 2004 issue of The Hindu, an article appeared that is relevant to this discussion, entitled ‘Skeletons, inscriptions found at ancient burial sites in Tamil Nadu’. The report carries details of the very latest findings of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu. Over a dozen burial urns were found containing human skeletons, dating to pre-Megalithic times; that is prior to the 3rd century BCE.
‘…The skeletons found in two or three urns show that prior to the Megalithic period, these people used to enter the dead in urns along with the items they had used. Early Tamil Sangam works contained elaborate description of the urn-burial custom.’
The report further states that the urns were found in layers of soil which indicate a possible dating of the 7th or 8th century BCE, a number of centuries earlier than the original estimates. For the ASI the main interest is that inscriptions were found on the urns in early Tamil Brahmi script, previously considered to have come into usage at a much later date. But considering our topic, of significance is the fact that interment, of whatever form, seems to have been practiced perhaps up to the Buddhist era, – at least in South India. It appears that some time thereafter cremation became the means to dispose of corpses. It was also thereafter that to take birth at all came to be regarded as a ‘fall’, even though this was not explicitly stated until a later date. For the Buddhist, nirvana was a means to rid oneself of the bondage samskaras create, pinning one down to endless rebirths which are intended to finally liberate the individual from this incarceration. The Buddha was not as much concerned with the illusion or reality of material creation as with liberation from the suffering such bondage engendered. But in denying the soul any reality in the equation because it was tied to everything that appears to be impermanent, it was just one small step to Advaita and Mayavada which sustain that this material creation is an ‘illusion’ engendered by maya. The latter was no longer perceived as in Vedic times, a divine power, but rather something similar to Eve of Judeo-Christian tradition: a temptress, a beguiler and certainly disconnected from the higher strata of the Spirit. Therein the only permanent reality is the Self, extra-cosmic, transcendent. By that time cremation would have been the proper ‘symbol’ for a cultural shift of this order from the Vedic perception. Material substance was then awarded its just due by complete dissolution; no importance at all was attached to that ‘sheath’ of little or no value, since transcendence was the true goal. By the time cremation became the norm, the split between matter and spirit was complete. Though we like to believe that such a split is a Western affliction and finds no place in the Eastern perception of reality, in the practicalapplication of the different yogas, this split exists, just as it does in the West. The wave that clouded the evolving human consciousness was global. While all forms of pagan worship were targeted in occidental cultures, and came to be replaced by the exclusivist religions arising in the Middle East, in the orient it was, simply put, otherworldliness. But the result was the same, East and West: a total divide between matters of the spirit and of the flesh. For this reason, since such a division was not engrained in Hinduism with its roots in the Veda, it has been more difficult for India to cope with the demands a divisive postulation of this nature imposes, as we find in western cultures where no such foundation exists. Therefore we witness a notable material decline in the East and a rise of the West. India could not operate in a world where matter was somehow separated from spirit due to a conflict caused by this divisive perception because of the Vedic realisation of wholeness and integrality which lay at the root of its origin. The result was a weakening of the inner fibre of the society due to a diminished ‘fuel’ that was required to keep the spaceship of consciousness directed toward the Earth. This ‘fuel’ is released and made available only through processes of yoga and founded on the realisation of Skambha, the ‘support’ of all the worlds, the Point that fills the void and provides an anchor, a stability amidst change, a centre that holds. Without this nurturing fuel finally invasions took their toll bringing with them a relentless denial of the earlier wisdom, similar to what was transpiring in the rest of the world. And India, like many societies where paganism was uprooted, succumbed to colonial rule, which not only depleted the nation of its riches and skills and a loss of its self-respect, but also permitted a tactical undermining of the youth through educational institutions which are entirely based on Western religious/cultural perceptions far removed from the civilisation’s Vedic roots. Now the ancient hallowed Vedic texts are simply repeated like slogans. Today they cannot inspire the youth in a world where material accomplishments are the ultimate one can aspire for; they have no power to guide the nation to the discovery of a third way wherein the Veda themselves again become the foundation on which that new world can be built. We have these important archaeological discoveries coming to light precisely while we are pondering over the way human remains were treated in ancient times in Egypt and Vedic India. This is an example in itself of the play of circumstances becoming integrated right in the preparation of this essay, ‘supporting’ our endeavour as ‘Skambha’, the anchor for that play, is wont to do. Thus these archaeological discoveries confirm our deduction that cremation was post-Vedic and is an appropriate symbol of the different orientation of the quest and a fixation on the Beyond rather than an apotheosis on Earth as we find in the Rig Veda. Cremation in lieu of interment simply reinforces the post-Vedic changed direction. This is not to suggest that cremation is somehow less desirable and Hindu India should return to the former ‘symbol’ (burying the dead), to honour the physical body as one’s vahana (carrier) during sojourn on Earth. It is simply a question of unveiling the inner ‘eye’ to then perceive these symbols within an entirely new framework. In the third way it is not a question of a symbol representing something else but BEING THAT VERY THING. The symbol is the very thing symbolized, be this cow or horse, rising Sun or nighttime sky illumined by a resplendent Moon. In a context of the symbol being the thing symbolized, the introduction of cremation, now the universal Hindu custom, means exactly what it is: dissolution (nirvana) of the physical just as the seeker is encouraged to dissolve all threads of consciousness binding one to the physicality of an Earth-rooted consciousness. In ancient Vedic times the quality of life was different because the goal of the quest was different. Immortality was sought but not by denying or undermining the base of our quest, the Earth, as we do today however camouflaged.
The point to be made is that arcane, hidden formulas comprehensible only to sages are not required at this stage of evolution to understand where we are and how and why we got there in this long and steady process of decline. All we need to do is observe what is; but only if we reacquire the ability to observe the world we live in through a re-made ‘lens’. We need to bring into focus the reality before our eyes so that this material world will no longer be seen as separate from its inner essence. And it is that inner essence that must be allowed to speak to us once again through all the elements of a world in time and space. The focusing required allows us to apply the yoga of ancient times within our contemporary society and to perceive that same Truth in this 21st Century. When the Becoming is integrated solutions manifest. It is this, the play of circumstances, that must provide the harmonious way which alone can integrate the total reality. Then there is no choosing, as such, no exertion or imposition of the individual will. In the true sense of the word we are conscious instruments for the Divine Will to manifest, through the instruments that we have become, and to thus express Itself in material creation. This is our ‘purpose’, our sacred birthright. If we realise this condition we do not need to flee the world, to seek nirvana or samadhi or any other strategy to disassociate ourselves from a world in constant movement. By this accomplishment, our birth on Earth is not at all a bane as religions and spirituality encourage us to believe; because it is only in a material creation that this integral realisation can be experienced. Thus, it is only in a body devised for the purpose that the Absolute can BE and MANIFEST. This is a radical departure from all the former paths. Indeed, it is only a radical solution that can bring back the divine Purpose into our lives and allow us to accept birth on Earth for what it is: a sacred playing field where the human species manifests increasingly the higher truth, the one relevant truth – not a single Prophet or Saviour, or a one God, all of which becomes irrelevant in this context – but the truth of what we are, of a creation in matter which exists so that the Absolute can manifest unceasingly. And since the play is infinite and eternal, so are the myriad possibilities of manifestation open to the human species until all is the Divine.
1 Age (1 sign) = 2160 years 1 Manifestations (3 signs) = 6480 years 1 Round (12 signs) = 25,920 years 1 Great Circle (12 Manifestations) = 77,760 years 1 Greater Circle (4 Great Circles, or 144 signs) = 311,040 years
From: Symbols and the Question of Unity, The Gnostic Circle, The New Way, Aeon Books (1974, 1975, 1981)
The successful re-timing of the Jupiter transit rituals in the temples in Tamil Nadu where they have been traditionally held caused me to marvel, once again, at the wealth of Knowledge each temple contains and how they have been used in times of great turbulence to preserve the Vedic origins of the civilisation. But I wondered, as I have many times over these past 30 years, how it is possible that such a total loss of the connecting links could come about. At this stage what is required more than anything else if some sort of RESTORATION is to come about is the ability to RE-CONNECT. At this stage this will surely be the most important contribution The Movement can make to Hindu culture.
In light of the breakthrough, I took up Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita once more and leafed through it. I had gone through this text in M. Ramakrishna Bhat’s translation into English a number of years ago (1981); it was copiously underlined and commented by me in the margins. I also looked through Gheverghese Joseph’s more recent The Crest of the Peacock (1991) where he explores the ‘non-European Roots of Mathematics’; and several other volumes in my library. My interest was to look through these works again in the light of this breakthrough, and also the discoveries that have been made in the interim regarding the Saraswati Civilisation and the now-defunct Aryan Invasion Theory.
I have a book on my shelf, The Hindu Temple by George Mitchell, an ‘introduction to its meaning and forms’ with a wonderful series of photos and floor plans. Mitchell writes, ‘Only if the temple is constructed correctly according to a mathematical system can it be expected to function in harmony with the mathematical basis of the universe. The inverse of this belief is also held: an architectural text, the Mayamata, adds that “if the measurement of the temple is in very way perfect, there will be perfection in the universe as well.”’
But the limitations of Mitchell’s 1977 text is that he relies totally on the ‘word’ of Indologists that Hindu civilisation was a import from the West brought by Aryan nomads. He simply repeats the now discredited theories that sought to impress upon scholars, and Hindus above all, that the subcontinent was ‘empty’; it was only a vast receptive womb of nothingness that cultures from abroad could fill at their pleasure. How consciously was this idea disseminated with a specific purpose in mind, (to justify invasions and colonial rule) remains to be seen. The restoration we aim for will not be fully accomplished unless we deal with the root cause of this inculcation – and particularly WHEN it was set in place. Afterwards the decline of the civilisation was as predictable as the rise of tomorrow’s Sun.
The Hindu temple, it is held, needs this perfection the Mayamata refers to in order for the community to benefit from the wisdom the sages have handed down through various means, one of which is architecture. But these are lifeless structures if other aspects of the Knowledge do not form a part of the transmission. Therefore Myth comes to our aid, together with astrological tradition. When temple culture took over from the vedi [geometric altars] of the Vedic Age, in a remarkable manner the essence of these myths was transposed to the temple structure. But this could not be done without the astrological background as part of the process. And thus was born the epoch that gave us so much wonderful evidence of the quality of the true Vedic Roots; but unfortunately, the very need to preserve the Knowledge in stone indicated that a serious decline had begun: the Knowledge would go underground if it was to be saved.
The texts I have cited above provide the information we need to support this assessment based on the yogic experience. To a person of Knowledge it is evident that the consciousness of the Vedic Rishi was very far removed from the later propounders of the ‘knowledge’ such as Varahamihira. I enclose the word in quotation marks because from my standpoint what we find in the Brihat Samhita is not Knowledge as I use the term. The decline that had set in is made fully evident in this text which deals almost exclusively with astrology as a predictive art and makes no attempt to explore its deeper roots, those we do find throughout the Rig Veda, for example.
The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline – 29 December 2006
In Part 1 of this analysis, I presented an example of the evolution of Hindu Society across the centuries based on the few texts available to contemporary researchers. I have focussed on jyotish, astrology, because in so doing we may follow the investigation into contemporary India and learn much about the nature of the decline, what caused it, and where it has led Hindu Society as a collective body. We acknowledge that Hinduism is a vast umbrella covering an almost infinite number of sects, and yogic and philosophical systems. But though these systems are like individual stars in this umbrella-firmament, there is one underlying and pervasive ‘ocean’ within which all these systems navigate. This Cosmic Ocean binds them within a common time-wheel, enhancing the eclectic and catholic quality of Hinduism. Rituals to the numerous Vedic Godheads or to the innumerable personal deities may vary; but the timing of the collective celebration of those rituals is what knits them together to maintain, across the ages, the continuity we experience as Hinduism. One example is the Kumbha Mela which, on a particular date and time established by the Pundits, draws millions of yogis, sants and devotees to the banks of the sacred rivers in a common worship that cuts across sectarian and denominational divides. For this reason a study of the calendar, by which the timing of these festivals is determined, can be shown to be a valuable device for locating when and perhaps why the decline set it.
Gheverghese Joseph, in Chapter 9 of his ‘The Crest of the Peacock’, substantiates the core of my analysis by noting that the development of mathematics and astronomy between approximately 500 BCE and 500 CE was limited. He writes, ‘Yet this hiatus in our knowledge [is] particularly puzzling given the wealth of evidence we have for the same period in other fields, notably medicine and chemistry, and in philosophy where outstanding work was produced… Various explanations have been offered for this apparent discontinuity [emphasis mine]. The virtual disappearance of Vedic sacrifices removed, as it were, the raison d’être for continued interest in geometry…’
We can fully agree that the disappearance of the geometrical vedi which required very great precision if the Sacrifice was to bear the desired results, impacted the development of mathematics, – and also astrology, as we shall see. It is to be noted that the ‘hiatus’ was spread over almost a thousand years, but within this period Temple Culture arose and remains with us to this day. Notwithstanding the gap the absence of texts covering these areas of knowledge attests to, one important factor to underscore became consolidated during this period: the split between astrology and astronomy. The Brihat Samhita is an astrological text from the period after the split; it provides some substantial evidence of the lack of a direct continuity with the Vedic Age.
We can approach the topic and reach the same conclusion as above simply by studying the extant scriptures of the periods under scrutiny. Readily we do note that there is a discernible chasm between the Rig Veda, for example, and the contents of the Brihat Samhita. The former was composed by Initiates whose language was of a quality that is lacking in the later text, or even in the later Upanishads. As the mathematical historian records, there was a time vacuum and during this ‘void’ the decline of Hinduism began which left the earlier hymns and prescriptions incomprehensible to later generations. However, it was precisely during this ‘blank space’ that the Puranas arose to become the secret repository of everything that was most sacred to Vedic culture; the Myths were in turn preserved in the Hindu Temples, as if each one was a treasure-book in stone.
Can we expect a mathematician or an historian to interpret this time-chasm correctly? In the early part of the last century, Sri Aurobindo wrote an insightful essay on this very theme entitled, On the Importance of Original Thinking. It was published in its complete form in the April 1981 edition of the Sri Aurobindo Archives:
‘We have had recently in India a great abundance of speculations on the real causes of that gradual decline and final arrest which Indian civilisation no less than European suffered during the Middle Ages. The arrest was neither so sudden as in Europe nor so complete; but its effect on our nation, like the undermining activity of a slow poison, was all the more profoundly destructive, pervasive, hard to remedy, difficult to expel. At a certain period we entered into a decline, splendid at first like a long and gorgeous sunset, afterwards more and more sombre, till darkness closed in, and if our sky was strewn with stars of a great number and brilliance, it was only a vast decay, confusion and inertia that they lighted and emphasised with their rays.We have, most of us, our chosen explanation of this dolorous phenomenon…Such explanations, like most human thoughts, have their bright side of truth as well as their obscure side of error; but they are not, in any case, the result of impartial thinking…’ (Volume 5, p. 27 – Emphasis mine).
When we discover a particular substratum that can act as an impartial graph which embraces the entire period Sri Aurobindo mentions above, onto which we can draw a line of development, errors are more likely to be eliminated. But to do so we have to extend our framework to cover an arc from the Vedic Age to the present. All researchers may agree that there was a pause in the development of mathematics and astronomy; but none will relate the decline to a loss of the ancient knowledge of astrology which we uncover by a scrutiny of the Vedic Hymns, where this lore exists as an initiatic language accepted by the entire community. It was so pervasive that no explanation of its symbolism was required. However, it took approximately an entire millennium for the link with the civilisation that composed those hymns to vanish; or at least to go securely underground.
The astrology we find in a text such as the Brihat Samhita bears no resemblance to the astrology/cosmology of the ancient Veda. Its value, however, lies in one area and one alone, albeit of immense importance: the preservation of the symbols of the zodiac for each of the 12 months of the year, a knowledge that was taken for granted in the Vedic Age; and the beginning of that year on the Equinox of March when days and nights are of equal measure. Ten months later the most important of all astrological prescriptions for the Hindu Samaj follows: the celebration of the Makar Sankranti on the December Solstice, or the shortest day of the year. There was, even into Varahamihira’s epoch, no separation between the two – shortest day and gateway to the zodiacal Makar/Capricorn were one and the same. So special was this passage that in the Rig Veda it was hailed as the month of the Warrior’s conclusive victory; indeed the culmination of the entire Vedic Journey.
When the Brihat Samhita was composed the months/signs were known as they are today, beginning with the zodiacal Aries the Ram, followed by Taurus the Bull, and so on through the twelve month/signs. But some ‘nationalist’ post-Vedic astrologers/historians have now decided that this was an import from Mesopotamia and Greece and should no longer serve us as backdrop to the Vedic Journey through the months of the year, Varahamihira notwithstanding. In so doing, they are undermining the entire cultural fabric of the civilisation which is solidly grounded in the eternal Myth these symbols contain, and which has been masterfully carried over into Hindu temple architecture.
Given the historic split between science and the sacred, this type of transmission of Knowledge can be grasped now only through the practice of a special Yoga. Therefore, in Sri Aurobindo’s The Secret of the Veda, the very same deeper psycho-spiritual sense of the hymns has been conveyed without reference having been made to astrology at all; yet through his translations the knowledgeable and competent astrologer recognises instantly the same ancient body of knowledge. This is not evidenced in the Brihat Samhita and texts of that period, when astrology and astronomy were in the process of being separated for good. Still, the time factor based on the true Vedic calendar prevailed: the Solstices and Equinoxes were the indisputable crosswise demarcations of the Sacrificial Year. But ‘forces’ were about to intervene to introduce the ‘undermining activity of a slow poison’ that was to result in the loss of even that binding tool of the Hindu Samaj, to carry it into a ‘more and more sombre’ darkness until ‘only a vast decay, confusion and inertia’ had finally overtaken even the area of knowledge that had managed to survive into Varahamihira’s time.
We proceed forward through our graph and having noted that the system of Vedic computation for the calendar was still preserved even a thousand years after the chasm between the Vedic Age and medieval India arose, M. Ramakrishna Bhat offers us one precise date as a clue to when the ‘slow poison’ hit its target in the organism. Though the objective in conveying his conclusions in the Introduction to his translation of the Brihat Samhita was meant to sustain – as I too sustain – that the zodiac in use during Varahamihira’s time and into the present was of Indian origin and went westward rather than being an import, unwittingly he provides us with the exact means to locate not only when the ‘poison’ set in but what its very precise target was. Thus, on page xiii, he introduces Al-Biruni (born in 973 CE), the astrologer-traveller who came to India ‘with the object of studying Hindu astrology and culture’. Al-Biruni translated some major works such as the Brihat Samhita into Arabic. He came with the wave of invasions from the West and his objective was indeed to study Hindu astrology, the knowledge of which he brought back to Arabia. A number of its concepts have since come down in history as his inventions, such as what is known in western astrology even today as Al-Biruni’s Lunar Stations or Mansions. These are simply the Nakshatras of the Indian system, a division of the 360-degree wheel into 27 parts based on the mean motion of the Moon, i.e., 13.20 degrees per day. Though the Nakshatras as such are not used in the western system, this division, applied differently, certainly holds a prominent place.
Bhat misses the point that should have captured his attention, but nonetheless he serves our purpose when he cites a portion from Al-Biruni’s famed travelogue, India, which fully supports my argument. Bhat’s reason for quoting Al-Biruni’s statement was only because he considers it to be a misrepresentation of Varahamihira’s astrological knowledge: ‘The Arab scholar takes our author [Varahamihira] to task for his statement on the solstices and remarks: “The solstice has kept its place, but the constellations have migrated, just the very opposite of what Varaha has fancied”. (India, II, p.7)
The above is an example of the manner in which a ‘slow poison’ was injected into the innermost organism of Hinduism so that the ‘scientific’ intrusion into the domain of the sacred would gradually undermine the confidence of the Pundits in their own sacred science by causing them to believe that what Al-Biruni injected was more ‘scientifically correct’. Rather than a poison, the effect of this type of suggestion was akin to a deadening intoxicant that caused a blanket of inertia to descend on the subcontinent. There was no need at all to demolish temples when this substance had been successfully administered, as we shall see. Al-Biruni came to India 500 years after Varahamihira’s time, whose Brihat Samhita proves that the Constellations were notto be confusedwith the Tropical Zodiacwhich never varies in time and whose 12-month segments of the year are inseparable from the solstices and equinoxes.
This is the true VEDIC astrology. It was still in force when Al-Biruni came to India in the 11th century. The ‘gorgeous sunset’ Sri Aurobindo mentions in his essay quoted earlier, pertains to this period when the true Vedic astrology/cosmology still prevailed via respect for the correct Vedic time-frame in temple worship. However, though the Divine Measure was respected, the knowledge validating its use was, like a setting sun, falling into oblivion. By the 11th century all that was needed were a few well pointed ‘poison arrows’ to bring about a ‘vast decay, confusion and inertia’, the inevitable result when Knowledge by initiatic Realisation, the very method minutely detailed in the ancient Veda, no longer exists. It would await the next Age of Vishnu, or the passage of another millennium, to be resuscitated. This Age is now upon us.
To sum up succinctly, suggestions like Al-Biruni’s that the ‘constellations have migrated’ and should no longer be synchronised with the Solstice have been so successful an underminer that all Hindu temple practices are tied to these pronouncements through the prescriptions of its Pundits who, notwithstanding the fact that they can be proven to be un-Vedic (and even unscientific), follow them unquestioningly. We even have courses in this brand of Astrology included in university curricula under the title ‘Vedic Astrology’. It is well to remember that for the ‘undermining activity of a slow poison’ of this nature to take effect, all that is required is to bring about a disconnection between Solstice and Zodiac, just as Al-Biruni suggested; for then it is Time itself that draws the inseparable apart with each passing day THROUGH THE TIMING OF TEMPLE WORSHIP, until the distance between the two bears a discrepancy of almost one full month/sign of the zodiac. Presently the mis-measure is 23 days, or a shift from the Solstice on 21-22 December to the current arbitrary 15 January. But with each passing day and month and year the distance goes on increasing through these wandering phantom ayanamshas. Finally the ‘…only a vast decay, confusion and inertia…’ remain(Sri Aurobindo, Ibid).
Hinduism is still paying for this calculated undermining. It lies at the very heart of its decline. Therefore this is the area we must focus on if we wish to bring back the soul of Vedic Wisdom to the culture, particularly through its vast network of illustrious Temples.
The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline – 3 12 December 2006
‘…But our Hinduism, our old culture are precisely the possessions we have cherished with the least intelligence; throughout the whole range of our life we do things without knowing why we do them, we believe things without knowing why we believe them, we assert things without knowing what right we have to assert them, – or, at most, it is because some book or some Brahmin enjoins it, because Shankara thinks it, or because someone has so interpreted something that he asserts to be a fundamental Scripture of our religion. Nothing is our own, nothing is native to our intelligence, all is derived…’
Sri Aurobindo, On the Importance of Original Thinking, Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research, Volume 5, No 1, April 1981
Of the paragraph from Sri Aurobindo’s essay quoted in Part 2 of this analysis, three lines were withheld which we may take up now as his examples of ‘part truth/part error’ judgements. They refer to two predominant ideas in circulation during his time as to the causes of the decline of Hinduism. The first he describes as the patriot attributing the decline ‘to the ravages of foreign invasion and the benumbing influence of foreign rule…’ (Ibid). While these have played a significant role in the loss of national self-esteem, particularly regarding Hinduism, it is one of those part-truth/part-error hypotheses I set aside in Part 2 by establishing a root-cause at a much earlier date than the beginning of invasions and the foreign rule of the Moguls and the British Raj.
Sri Aurobindo then turns to the second hypothesis, by far the most widespread to this day, and the most damaging to Hindu Culture. Like the first, it too is both truth and error. Sri Aurobindo writes ‘…The disciple of European materialism finds out the enemy [of the civilisational decline], the evil, the fount and origin of all our ills in our religion and its time-honoured social self-expression…’.
Students of Sri Aurobindo’s thought will verify that he did not consider Hinduism’s ‘time-honoured social self-expression’, the caste system, as evil. In fact, throughout his writings on this subject he is more often than not found to uphold the structure, though acknowledging that a serious degeneration had set in. More recently scholars and original thinkers have reached the same conclusion, and I have certainly contributed to this shift through my own revelations regarding the cosmic backdrop of Caste citing the Rig Veda, and therefore how inextricably it is linked to the cosmic foundations of Hinduism. In pulling down caste by a wholesale demolition, we do risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In a recent interview appearing in TheNew Indian Express, the noted writer and Nobel Laureate, V.S. Naipaul, on whom we may certainly confer the title ‘original thinker’, has expressed his views on caste and reached the same conclusion.
Like the Aryan Invasion Theory which continues to be taught in schools throughout the world not as theory but as fact, so too the reason for Hinduism’s decline is laid at the doors of the caste system without further ado. And if Hinduism, accounting for approximately 80% of the population, suffers from the stranglehold of Caste, we may hypothesise that the same ‘evil’ can be extended from the predominate majority to the development of the innumerable socio-economic groups that make up the societal structure of independent India. This has indeed been the case since caste-based divisions have been largely driving the social agenda, spilling over to the minorities from religions that are supposedly unsullied by the caste ‘devil’.
It is necessary to clarify this issue because otherwise we will remain blocked at this iron-clad door, barring any further penetration deeper into the past as I have done in Part 1 and 2, in order to locate the real root-cause of the decline. When we discover that root the true nature of the caste system degeneration, along with all the rest, is made apparent. For it must be borne in mind that the ‘evil of caste’ is not at all the root-cause of Hinduism’s decline, though this has been the doctrine ‘European materialism’, to quote Sri Aurobindo, has succeeded in promulgating in scholastic circles throughout the world for the past two centuries. Rather, the root-cause which we are sleuthing out through these pages brought an eventual degeneration in the Chaturvarna just as it affected simultaneously all other aspects of Hindu Culture.
However, laying the blame on Caste has become rewarding for ‘European materialism’. Serving a largely political agenda, it has fuelled class wars which have not subsided till today, as well as the agendas of various proselytising religions which offer salvation without caste. Meanwhile the real root-cause passes by undetected and continues to contaminate the entire organism. It uses the channel of calendar observances because that is, as pointed out in Part 2, the umbrella covering the entire Hindu Samaj regardless of caste or sect or denominational/devotional preferences. But – take note – the delinking of Solstice from Zodiac, as imposed by astronomers like Al-Biruni, was also not the root-cause we seek, but simply its ‘engine’ to carry those seeds of undermining across the centuries so that the contamination would continue ad infinitum.
We have not yet laid bare the true origin of the undermining in this discussion, though I have indicated the channel of its perpetration affecting the entire culture. As in all things Vedic, we must turn to the prescriptions of the Veda themselves if we wish to understand what went amiss in that very distant past to cause the decay we see all around us, not just in caste. The clue to discover this root-cause is indicated clearly in the botched up calendar reckoning because all is ONE. If we penetrate deeply enough we will observe that the nature of the shift Al-Biruni and his fellow astronomers encouraged tells us all we need to know about the distant root-cause of the malaise. It was actually initiated over two millennia ago, and is still with us today. In addition, this discovery uncovers the way to rectification; precisely because, as stated, all is ONE. However, if we stop halfway at the much later effect (the degeneration of caste) rather than to continue probing until our ‘original thinking’ carries us to the cause, our purpose in reinstating the soul of Vedic Wisdom will not be served.
It is also essential to bear in mind that the origins of the Chaturvarna can be traced through the Veda directly to the Cosmic Harmony, – that very same Harmony as it was observed by the Vedic Rishi, and as it continues to exist today without any shifts and mutations, Al-Biruni notwithstanding. Disrupting that Harmony by insisting on separating Solstice and Zodiac, which affects all Hindu Society, is the method to continue stoking the engine of divisiveness that this separation fosters; unless rectified the juggernaut of division continues to gain momentum with each passing day.
The ‘oneness’ I describe can be illustrated very easily by the use of a simple diagram – the circle divided into four parts:. Each of these crosswise sections is one of the four castes, the earliest description of which is found in the Rig Veda, X 90, 12:
…When they divided up the Purush, Into how many parts did they divide him? What did his mouth become? What his arms? What are his legs called? What his feet?
His mouth became the Brahmin; his arms Became the Kshatriya, his legs The Vaishya who plies his trade, The Shudra was born from his feet.
How this Vedic Purush can be equated with the above diagram is learned through the ancient wisdom which reveals that the one circle reflects both time and space. Thus, that same circularyearly ecliptic orbit of the Earth around the Sun, also divided into four quarters as per the Equinoxes and the Solstices, is the very same Cosmic Purush out of whom the castes are born; simply because the signs of the zodiac in that ecliptic do indeed refer to a ‘body’, as all astrologers know. But in the case of the Vedic Purush it is of cosmic proportions, while in the human being the proportions are microcosmic. The zodiac pertains to both, the ancient tradition informs us, and it covers the Body from head to toe, just as the Rishi has enumerated in these verses via the time-tested Vedic formulas of Correspondence and Equivalence. And via that same Cosmic Harmony this fourfold division could be extended in this embrace of Unity to the entire civilisation via the celebrations of rituals and festivals the timings of which arise from the very same ‘circle’.
While these ‘original thoughts’ may appear too complex for the average devotee to digest, it is the duty of Pundits officiating over these rituals and bearing a responsibility for their timings to be aware of these equivalences and to never lose sight of this Oneness which is the foundation of all that is truly Vedic. It is the duty of Pundits to reinstate that Vedic Soul once again into the organism that is Hinduism. In so doing the pristine truth of Caste will automatically find its place again and all the ugliness that has accumulated over the centuries to hide its universal sense and beauty and purpose will fall into the cosmic wastebin, along with all the other debris the wrong time factor has perpetrated.
The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline – 4 13 December 2006
A Seer of the calibre of the Vedic Rishi perceives and extracts from ‘the seat of our self-accomplishing…where the many-horned herds of Light go travelling’ the fruit of his or her yogic attainments. The ecliptic is that River of Light where the Earth travels through time and space and, together with the other planets, creates the heavenly Harmony which the Seer not only SEES but can also HEAR. It is the visionary quality conveyed in the word Sruti, a ‘heard seeing’, if it may so be called. We encounter this faculty only in the four Vedas precisely because the Rishis honoured that ‘seat of our self-accomplishing’. They did not extend their goal to a locality beyond this River of Light even while using a star in the distant heavenly sphere as a marker-axis to keep them on course while they navigated through the yearly Sacrifice. In so doing, they replicated the movements of their planetary abode within their own consciousness-being. They became THAT. The Harmony came to them SEEN and HEARD because of this exalted experience of Oneness very few have achieved since the age came to an end in which the Rishis lived.
The point to be highlighted, for it helps us understand why the sublime verses of the Rig Veda are largely incomprehensible today, is that the Ancients never allowed themselves to drift hither and thither in the encompassing vastnesses. They were as if anchored to the ecliptic through a realisation that was the fulcrum of the Vedic Way in that very distant past: the Rishis could navigate the River of Light without drifting off course to beyond the dharma-parameters birth on Earth prescribes because of Skambha, the cosmic Pillar described as the ‘support of the worlds’ – this world and not a beyond.These reflections carry us to the heart of the decline of Hinduism, beyond the more superficial layers scholarship has cast on the subject, thus keeping its root-cause hidden for several millennia. Like Guha, Siva’s divine Son, one by one each such veil is lifted until the full form of this mighty War God is disclosed. Indeed, to carry out this penetration the courage of the Hero is demanded, such as this particular Godhead embodies. We then discover that Hinduism began its slow and steady decline not when Solstice and Zodiac were separated but when the Vedic experience that revealed their inseparability had faded into oblivion.
The cleavage became more and more consolidated when that Unity was superseded by other considerations, other priorities. Of course the Harmony remained because it is eternal; but the axial alignment of the Yogi’s consciousness-being lost its ‘skambha’, its cosmic pillar of support. Then, like a vessel adrift in an infinite vastness, the practitioner’s Seeing Eye became dissolved in this Beyond, having lost his footing (Skambha) on Earth.
From that point onward his formulation of that Cosmic Harmony conveyed the same rootlessness. No longer was the ecliptic in his experience balanced on the four pillars of Equinoxes and Solstices as the foundational base of his Seeing. The new Seers allowed their consciousness to seek the Beyond as the goal of their journey, in contrast to the Ancient Ones so often extolled in the Rig Veda, whose Swar was an experience of this very Earth dimension.
In practical terms this meant that the zodiac projected onto the backdrop of the perpetually mutating constellations became the only map to follow, no longer the zodiac of the tropical ecliptic where the solar system travels and which remains faithful in time to its never changing four pillars, the Equinoxes and the Solstices. This projection, which eventually became frozen in the Hindu calendar, arose out of a void left by the displacement of the Vedic Earth-oriented Swar in favour of trends that were set in motion because of the demands of the Time-Spirit. Realisers could only experience what was made permissible by Mahakala. The time of renewal had arrived. This was signalled by the cosmic harmonies themselves which can be read as one reads a book; and therein we learn that from approximately 500 BCE, Skambha was lost and the realiser’s ‘lighthouse’ was projected into the constellations and no longer rooted in the Earth’s own planetary system based on her own divine Measure. The slow poison of ‘migrating constellations’ had won the day.
In his essay, Sri Aurobindo does reflect on the dangers attending ‘original thinking’ when by hastily demolishing existent structures such voids are created ‘…I must have no wish to destroy it, senseless and evil though it may be, until our new system is ready. For it fills a place the vacancy of which the Spirit that uplifts and supports our human effort would greatly abhor…’ Indeed, if Nature abhors a void, the Spirit does to an even greater degree. Thus into the void of the Spirit the new seers plunged; it became filled thereafter with seekers after the Beyond who increasingly abandoned the Mother Base, forgetting her sacred Measure and Sequences. That Beyond then became projected into the devices that convert the Seer’s vision into the measurable quantities which grant the population at large the means to live and extend the Seer’s realisation across the breath of the land. Thus, the alterations in the spiritual domain laid the ground for the mutation in the calendar of observances. If yogic realisers became obsessed with the Beyond as the goal of their quests, however camouflaged initially, the calendar had to reflect the very same obsession since the projection starts from the consciousness of the Seer. The way was then paved for the shift from the tropical zodiac to the sidereal. The latter was formalised centuries after the Vedic Way had faded into oblivion; then indeed drifting and shifting became the bywords, with an ever-increasing distance between Solstice and Zodiac now amounting to a Makar Sankranti 23 days off from its true timing.
This confusion reflecting a rudderless ship was displayed in Tamil Nadu where the recent transit of Jupiter was celebrated with the appropriate rituals on three different days and as moving into two different signs. The reason for this confusion lay in the fact that there were three different days to choose from three different almanacs. Just in case, and possibly to accommodate each faction, all three dates were celebrated!
Let us be clear: Guru has moved into Scorpio or into Sagittarius, to the 210th degree of the 360-degree circle of the year, or to its 240th. One or the other, it cannot possibly be both. The rational mind and pure heart must rebel at such aimlessness and incompetence that affects millions.
When the Vedic Skambha realisation exists and can then serve as the ‘anchor’ for the civilisation, a confusion of this nature simply cannot arise. The calendar of observances must be an expression of the cosmic Order as perceived by the highest Vedic Authority. That is, the one who has realised that Order within, through processes of Yoga given in great detail in the Rig Veda itself. In these matters there is no pretence. If no one can authoritatively say when Guru changed zodiacal signs, then we know the darkness has reached its deepest pitch. But with the inseparable Solstice/Zodiac on the shortest day of the yearas one’s Anchor, such confusion can never take place. The passage occurs on one day only, not two or three or ten. And certainly we are given cause to wonder how a restoration will ever take place if the movements of perhaps the most important planet of all, the one whose transits determine the day and time of the nothing less than the 12-yearly Kumbha Mela, are treated so shabbily.
It was indeed a gradual process of decline because increasingly birth on Earth was considered a scourge. Finally, the entire cosmos itself became contaminated with the poison, through and through, when it was experienced as an illusion which demanded to be dissolved. Liberation, salvation came to be equated with freedom from Earth birth, thereby chaining the Hindu Samaj to the sidereal sphere of fixed stars millions of light years away from our planetary home in our solar system. It was a pure and simple expression of the void foisted on Hindus by seekers after Nothingness in contrast to the Vedic Fullness. Given the radical shift to a Beyond, everything Vedic, or the old order, necessarily began to break down. Yet if Hinduism remains eternally true to its cosmic roots, then that very cosmos speaks to its heart of its sunsets as well as its dawns. And though it was a ‘gorgeous sunset’, in Sri Aurobindo’s apt description, the Sun was indeed setting, – but certainly to await a new and brighter Dawn.
Cosmic Harmonies in Hindu Civilisation and Society
‘O soul of India, hide thyself no longer with the darkened Pandits of the Kaliyuga in the kitchen and the chapel, veil not thyself with the soulless rite, the obsolete law and the unblessed money of the Dakshina, but seek in thy soul, ask of God and recover thy true Brahminhood and Kshatriyahood with the eternal Veda; restore the hidden truth of the Vedic sacrifice, return to the fulfilment of an older and mightier Vedanta.’
Sri Aurobindo Thoughts and Aphorisms
We begin this portion of the essay with a recapitulation. For this purpose, I shall present a diagram which incorporates in one design everything discussed so far. Indeed, in so doing an important service is rendered to the cause of higher knowledge by highlighting its distinguishing features. Employing just one geometric form to draw together all the elements so far analysed is the most effective means of describing the unitary, integrated perceptive capacity. This act will be engaged in throughout the remainder of our study in caste and cosmos. The very fact that a single design is capable of incorporating numerous dimensions and planes, related both to the individual and society as a whole, reveals a salient feature of the new consciousness seeking to become established on Earth: the experience of Oneness. Central to the perception lies Time. In this portion of the study, I will describe the manner in which the process of integration is carried out almost exclusively on the basis of a gnostic vision and utilisation of Time. Vast cycles are connected to the smaller, always through the same diagram. And these are rooted in the consciousness of the human being via his or her individualised ‘measure’: the Earth Year.
In the diagram (below) I have incorporated several major divisions of the circle which draw together various apparently separate branches of Knowledge, the relatedness of which may not be fully appreciated without this visual aid. The main division is fourfold. Each section combines various elements of our analysis. For example, the first of the four segments refers to caste (Shudra), and time via the first quarter of the zodiacal year, the sign/months Aries, Taurus and Gemini, or April, May and June, starting with the March Equinox. In addition there is Twashtri’s ‘Bowl’ of the ancient Vedic school in which the fourfold division refers to planes of consciousness and parts of the being, in this case the Physical. But Twashtri’s Bowl does not restrict itself to the human being. It refers to the subtle dimensions as well and the ‘being’ of a civilisation or a society. Consequently, it is intrinsically connected to caste. Each caste has an affinity with one of the subtle planes of consciousness-being which this ‘Bowl’, or the celestial sphere, describes. As the study progresses, we shall locate these divisions in the greater harmony, in the workings of evolution itself and in the movement of the Cosmic Ages. In the process, I am confident that a new perception of the destiny of India will emerge, an offshoot of which is a radically different concept of nationalism, for the latter too has its roots in the cosmic harmony.
The Uniqueness of Indian Nationalism
India is the centre of the new Aquarian Age. Given that Aquarius is a sign of Preservation or Fixed energy flow, it is the Sattwa period designated for the appearance of one of the ten Avatars in Hindu tradition. But being a ‘centre’, and the only centre of the Age, a heavy burden is cast upon India, one that sets it apart from the comity of nations. Indeed, at the heart of the matter lies precisely the question of nationhood. What, exactly, is meant by a nation; and in this special case, a nation whose destiny lies in being the ‘centre’ of the 9th Manifestation’s Age of Aquarius?
The definition is very precise and unequivocal, albeit somewhat obscure for the layman not versed in the specifics of the new cosmology. For it involves the question of cosmos, and by consequence the definition of ‘centre’ itself. The Indian nation is not merely a landmass, sacred through it may be as revealed by the application of the Capricorn hieroglyph, or tradition’s hallowed ‘Name of God’, on this landmass. It is the physical-consciousness manifestation on Earth of a new cosmos. This, succinctly, is the description of the Indian ‘nation’: a cosmic body. Insofar as the Divine Mother is that very Cosmic Body of the Brahman, we aptly refer to this landmass as Bharatmata, or Mother India. Thus, the nation is far more than the land enclosed within its borders. It is a creation on Earth of the Cosmic Truth; or, more precisely, it is a portion of the Earth upon and through which that Truth is given physical/consciousness expression. To understand this singular type of ‘nation’ demands therefore that we discover the nature of that Cosmic Truth itself. In other words, the nationhood of India is described in and by the cosmic harmonies. Inasmuch as this also describes the foundations of Hindu Dharma, it stands that as we unravel the mysteries of India’s nationhood, we also reveal the intricacies of Hindu Dharma, and vice-versa.
The heavy burden of such a destiny is obvious, for the world is not an image as yet of that high Truth. The presiding powers are agents of the Cosmic Ignorance. It is India’s destiny therefore to work out this cosmic ‘knot’ for the world, which alone can permit light to replace darkness. Thus, a true and uncontaminated concept of Indian nationalism is obliged to incorporate an appreciation of this service to be rendered, the effects of which extend far beyond the nation’s borders.
When this cosmic foundation of the Indian nation is disregarded or unknown, the result is varying degrees of chauvinism. For India, and India alone, the dividing line between the two may be thin – but, at the same time, there is a great chasm separating one poise from the other. Chauvinism, within the Indian context, is nationalism which ignores the nation’s cosmic character. It seeks to cage the national soul in the boundaries of the separative, divisive consciousness. To provide a practical example, the soul of the nation is its COSMIC substance as described in the Capricorn symbol-map of the subcontinent. The area the symbol delineates is thus the true nation. These would be or should be its borders in the higher vision of its cosmic destiny as the Centre of the 9th Manifestation.
If higher knowledge is employed in the determination of such essential issues, it is evident that the partitioned condition of Bharatmata exposes the fact that this cosmic truth was unknown at the time Pakistan was sliced out of the landmass and organised into a separate state and Bengal became divided. Similarly, Sri Lanka, Burma, and since 1971 Bangladesh, all stand as aberrations or denials of that Cosmic Truth. To have attempted to stand, integrated and whole, as a landmass united to form the Capricorn hieroglyph at the time of Independence would have meant a conscious espousal of these guidelines. Or a nationalism not tinged with ignorance as was the case in 1947. Had the nation been in a position to listen to and follow the indications Sri Aurobindo was giving from the early days of the freedom movement, the 9th Evolutionary Avatar would have been able to guide the people of India to the fulfilment of that cosmic destiny, swiftly and benignly. That is, the organisation on Earth of the Centre of the Age and the direct representative of the Cosmic Truth in the comity of nations – an element which is lacking at present. Insofar as no other nation can occupy that centre, the position stands as a void. In that ‘black hole’, energies are compressed which demand now to be released.
The totality of prevailing conditions did not permit this guidance. The result was Partition. The ‘nation’ that emerged stood as representative on Earth not of that unifying Cosmic Truth but of the Cosmic Ignorance. Indeed, the very power which has been in command of the evolutionary process for many millennia and which is sought to be vanquished.
The Vedic Dharma describes the mechanism by which the Cosmic Truth is manifested on Earth. The truncated nation we know today as India presents the world with a denial of the purest, highest expression of that Truth. The Indian ‘nation’ is simply the lived embodiment of that Dharma. That this has been denied and combated, in the effort to uphold a confused brand of secularism, is also evident in the dismembered condition of the symbol-map; while the ‘nationalism’ which seeks to take hold of the people of India in this last ennead of the millennium is simply the perception of the nation as a sacred landmass, embodying for the Earth that cosmic Truth or Hindu Dharma.
When this cosmic purpose is lost sight of, the result is chauvinism which in the Indian context is nationalism divorced from the enlightenment this Cosmic Truth provides. Thus, to awaken true nationalism in the hearts and minds of the people of India signifies that we must simultaneously unveil India’s cosmic purpose; and this in turn implies that the Vedic Dharma is revealed as the foundation of that nationalism. Since this was not the case during the freedom struggle, in the fullest terms which it is now possible to do, the result was a nationalism coloured by concepts which stood in stark opposition to the fundaments of the soul of the nation. The outcome was Partition, and since then a gradual disintegration not only of the nation’s body but also of its collective will.
The answer is therefore only one: an awakening of true nationalism which is the unveiling of the nation’s soul whose essence is the Cosmic Truth, and which, in turn, forms the indisputable foundations of the Hindu Dharma. While we continue to deny or oppose these facts, we postpone the act of integration and in the meantime we continue to suffer the anguish of diseases which have set into the body of the nation due to this denial and for which we have no cure.
Religion is not involved in this process in any way. The Cosmic Truth that is the Vedic Dharma is akin to an umbrella under which all expressions of life may take shelter. It is a synthesising, integrating agent – NOT a unity of religions but revealing a superior reality beyond religions, towards which the world as a whole is rapidly moving – a reality which stands well above organised religions of whatever brand. Partition, signifying the denial of India’s cosmic Purpose, drew into the nation’s destiny a lesser struggle for which it was ill prepared. Indeed, for which the contaminated condition of its collective consciousness had no effective means to combat or counteract. Partition, and everything that led up to it over the centuries, thrust before the nation the ugliness of the religious consciousness, a totally alien concept which came into the body of Bharatmata through a series of invasions and foreign conquests. India today continues to grapple with this alien concept. Yet lamentably the tools it uses to do so are themselves products of those alien concepts, – impotent in the extreme as elements for the unveiling of the true spirit and soul of the nation. That the intelligentsia of the country believes these concepts to be the only ones which can arrest the impending slide into a further partition and a complete disintegration of the collective will, is the measure of the success of those foreign conquests. India is thus still a prisoner of ‘foreign rule’, the meaning of which is ideologies, concepts, formulas, programmes which fail to take into account the nation’s cosmic essence and hence the true quality of the Vedic Dharma and its central place in the formation of the new India. If Islam and Christianity were the avenues for those alien concepts to take root in the consciousness-soil of Bharatmata, the method to the madness was not that they be integrated and a ‘synthesis’ emerge of the resulting cocktail. Rather, they were drawn into the nation to serve her in the process of conquering the power that feeds these limited expressions of human society and holds the entire Earth prisoner of a divisive, separative consciousness.
These concepts did not enter into the symbol-nation to enrich the Vedic Dharma but simply to provide a field in which the soul of the nation could express its cosmic purpose through a struggle which has been described in a series of epics and myths recorded in the nation’s collective memory. The finality of the struggle will be to rid the Earth of the scourge inflicted upon her by the divisive consciousness. And none can deny that religions throughout the world are tools to divide rather than unite. The seeds of the religious consciousness were thus drawn into the Centre of the Age not to conquer but to be conquered – i.e., to force the soul of the nation to stand erect and unveiled in its cosmic purpose, to unveil this before the eyes of the people of Bharat and the world.
I write these lines at a most incongruous moment, it would appear. I write as the nation seems to face a further dismembering. To appearances this is so, but it is also true that in this darkest hour of her history, India prepares to conquer. India prepares to experience for the first time in her long history of thousands of years, the fullest depths and heights of true nationalism rooted in the fully revealed precepts of its Vedic soul. This study in caste and cosmos is one more ingredient in the process of kindling the flame of that true nationalism by a revelation of the cosmic background of caste and therefore how in antiquity the Chaturvarna served as a vehicle for Indian society to express that Cosmic Truth on Earth. The decline of caste proceeded pari passu with the decline of the Dharma, and it accompanied the infiltration of alien concepts meant to hasten the collapse so that the soul of the nation could be more swiftly born.
The time has come for that birth, insofar as the Earth has become one whole, a global ‘being’. That is, the necessity for a ‘centre’ to emerge hinges on the uncovering of the periphery of the circle. Until the Earth was fully explored, and until space exploration had revealed its boundary-less condition of oneness, the purpose of the Centre could not be fulfilled. It must be borne in mind that India has always been this ‘centre’. That is, India’s role in this capacity is a development stretching over thousands of years – approximately 50,000. It has been a progressive unfolding or unveiling. This is an evolutionary process, the contours of which are provided by the Ten Evolutionary Avatars of Puranic tradition. In an explanation of the Gnostic Circle geography in Volume 2 of The New Way, I have disclosed certain elements of the new cosmology which reveal India’s predestined role as Centre of the Age, when the Earth’s entire periphery would be known and the Centre would be called upon ‘to hold’.
Fullness versus Void
Having laid the foundations for an assessment of the cosmic background of the caste system, it is important at this point to discuss briefly the elements which served to weaken the system. Not so much because, in the view of certain religions, it was an inhumane treatment of a large segment of the society, but because those religions opposed the cosmos itself. Hence caste became a target for their attacks.
The case of Buddhism is quite clear. While Buddhism did not directly bar the cosmos and material creation from its vision of reality, it did plant the seeds for a slow and steady decay in the spiritual dimension of Vedic civilisation by a remarkable process of undermining. This was achieved through the introduction of a certain realisation which in itself served as the undermining agent. It was the dissolution of the consciousness (Nirvana), whereby the nexus binding the individualised consciousness to the planet and the cosmos, as an integrated, vibrant particle in the network of time and space, was disintegrated. The result was moksha or ‘liberation’. Hence it is held that Buddhism denied the existence of the soul, for indeed it is this component of the human incarnation which provides the link between cosmos and man. The Cosmic or Universal Purush is thus a description of that supreme Atman or Soul through which the microcosm (multiple souls) is equal to the macrocosm. Caste was a system whereby the entire society became the reflection of that greater harmony by organising it in such a way as to provide the Cosmic Being with every possible channel of expression for its evolutionary purposes. Each section of the ‘circle’ embracing the four castes was intended to be the collective instrument for that superior, integral manifestation.
The Purush is the cosmic Soul. The individual born on Earth partakes of the macrocosmic by embodying in the physical universe a spark, shall we say, of that all-encompassing Flame. Time is the essence coursing through this network, as breath rushes through the body, and it utilises the soul for creating a cosmos; or, in a succinct description of our world: a unified multiplicity. Consequently, two features of caste cannot be overlooked in a truly deep study of the matter: time and cosmos. Both hinge on the soul and the part it plays in the physical universe in this act of harmonising and integrating.
Thus, if the Buddha undermined the soul’s central position in the civilisation, it was only a matter of time before the edifice of caste would collapse. However, it did not collapse entirely, as history records and an assessment of present-day society affirms. Rather, as Sri Aurobindo wrote in the early part of this century ‘…old names and formulas have been preserved while the thing itself was profoundly modified until its original sense remained only as a pious fiction.’ (TVN, 6/2, p. 31.)
Referring to our diagram on page 16, we may situate the soul at its central Point, the centre without which ‘the circle cannot hold’. The Point or the Soul having been undermined, the channel which feeds the periphery and the infinite diverse segments of the circle was attacked. Seepages of energy began, drains on the system. Buddhist practice and related methods of ‘liberation’ secured in India that the Centre would no longer hold the periphery together or be the bridge to the Cosmic Fullness of the Mother. Rather, it would be the shadow of that Fullness, – i.e., the Void.
In practical terms, in the spiritual world this introduced the first perceptible seeds of what was to develop fully later, in Shankara’s time: an almost complete split between Spirit and Matter in the perception of Reality and the experience of yoga. The Spirit was no longer experienced through the channel of the Soul, or the Mother, but rather, in a series of yogic realisations which in varying degrees continued the process initiated by the Buddha in his experience of Nirvana, the seeker was encouraged to overstep the Cosmos as Sri Aurobindo has explained:
‘…But in speaking of the supreme liberation I was simply taking the Buddhist-Adwaita view for granted and correcting it by saying that this Nirvana view is too negative. Krishna opened the possibility of overmind with its two sides of realisation, static and dynamic. Buddha tried to shoot from mind to Nirvana in the Supreme, just as Shankara did in another way after him. Both agree in overleaping the other stages and trying to get at a nameless and featureless Absolute. Krishna on the other hand was leading by the normal course of evolution. The next normal step is not a featureless Absolute, but the supermind. I consider that in trying to overshoot, Buddha like Shankara made a mistake, calling away the dynamic side of the liberation. Therefore there has to be a correction by Kalki.’
‘Letters on Yoga’, p. 402-3
The consolidation of these realisations in the spiritual evolution of Indian society had the devastating long-term effect of undermining the cosmic bridge, the soul, and all that this signifies for a creation in matter. The soul was thus the target; in the terminology of the new cosmology, it is the Third in the descending scale of 9-6-3-0/1. If the 3 (the soul) and the 6 (the Mother) are eliminated, the realiser shoots from the 9 directly to the 0. In that case, without the ‘fullness’ of material creation in between, the 0 stands as Shunya, or the Void. It has not thrown up the One, the divine Son Agni. In a word, it is an incomplete perception of Reality, entirely un-Vedic, with devastating results on the society that embraces these concepts, driving it to devise evermore sophisticated means of escape. Again, Sri Aurobindo writes…
‘According to both Buddha and Shankara liberation means laya of the individual soul in some transcendent Permanence that is not individualised – so logically a belief in the individual soul must prevent liberation while the sense of misery in the world leads to the attempt to escape.’ (Ibid, p.66.)
Returning to our diagram once again, this process can be visually appreciated if we locate the area of dissolution or annulation OUTSIDE the periphery of the circle. In that realm there is no individualised consciousness. The nexus or the binding energy that constitutes the soul is dissolved (‘nirvana’). Thus, the embodied consciousness of such an individual, who in the proper terms of the experience can no longer lay claim to that title, does not offer sufficient concentration of energy to serve as a channel on Earth for the influx of an integral flow. In other words, the individual is no longer centred, no longer poised at the centre of the influx and harmoniously aligned so that he or she may express that totality. The centre is a void and the binary structure of an incomplete energy base is the result. Such individuals or the society they form can never be the instruments on Earth of a divine manifestation:
‘What are you going to do with all these people? If you want Nirvana, you have either to expel them or stifle them or beat them into coma. All authorities assure us that the exclusive Nirvana business is a most difficult job…and your own attempt at suppressing the others was not encouraging, – according to your own account it left you as dry and desperate as a sucked orange, no juice left anywhere. If the desert is your way to the promised land, that does not matter. But – well, if it is not, then there is another way – it is what we call the integration, the harmonisation of the being. That cannot be done by the mind and vital being – they are sure to bungle their affair. It can be done only from within by the soul, the Spirit which is the centraliser, itself the centre of these radii…’ (Ibid, p.53.)
Fullness versus Void is most clearly expressed in the art Buddhism and Hinduism have inspired. Pure Buddhism, not influenced by Tantra, is bare, placid, revealing no other state or emotion but a static Peace. On the other hand, Hindu art and temple architecture offer always exuberant displays of the Fullness; and, above all, dynamism. Even its representations of Peace in certain creations depicting Shiva, for example, are dynamic and serve to convey one of the highest experiences available to the practitioner of the Integral Yoga – the supramental state of a harmonised unity and multiplicity, or the simultaneous experience of rest and motion. For the whole of society it would be the correct blending of Stability and Change. This would be the true VEDIC experience, shorn of these intermediate developments, in the fullest sense of the word: veda meaning knowledge: a Gnostic Society.
‘…The harmonisation is in the Supermind – the Divine Truth at once static and dynamic, a withdrawal and extinction of the Ignorance, a recreation in the Divine Knowledge.’ (Ibid, p.79.)
Most spiritual realisations offer the seeker only unity, or rest, or stability. Change, movement, dynamism became equated with a lesser deceptive power whose objective it was to imprison man within that Circle where movement is perceived as the impermanent and hence the unreal, impeding his escape to the Beyond by entangling him in the coils of a ceaseless, inebriating motion, an entanglement in what has come to be known as the veils of Maya or Illusion. Escape can be achieved only on the basis of the experience of Dissolution or disintegration of the consciousness in one form or another by a prior denial of reality to that deceptive conspiracy of circumstances labelled samskaras, or one’s fixed responses to past patterns within the web of time and space.
This development or emphasis reached a peak in the Middle Ages. If we refer to our diagram again, Hindu civilisation quickly became the shell of itself once the Soul had been dislodged from its central binding throne, once the Point had been rendered an empty space.
Hindu Dharma was ill prepared to contend with the consequences of Nirvana, having no recourse to dogma, to bigotry, to expulsion or excommunication. The foundation of the Dharma was unity, and the lived perception and experience of the One embracing the All. Therefore its response was the only possible one if wise men and women in that dark period of the Age of Pisces were to be faithful to the Vedic foundations of the Dharma. Their reaction was thus to incorporate the Buddhist realisation, for it was the lived experience that the Brahman included everything, even the darkness. At the same time, they knew that even if contained in the All, Nirvanas and Voids were underminers of the Atman.
Hence the Buddha was incorporated into the Puranic Line of the Ten Avatars, but his participation was a qualified one: the ruse of the Supreme meant to mislead the asura-seeker. This incongruous description for an Evolutionary Avatar of the Line points to two facts: one is the all-embracing nature of the Vedic perception, and the other indicates that perhaps the decline was anticipated and accepted and foreseen in the renovating mechanism of the Dharma as a means to attain greater future manifestation. That ‘fall’ was seen as a necessary corollary to a future rise. In the terms Sri Aurobindo provides, the wider harmonisation which only the present Age of the Supermind can unfold.
But the results of the decline were fast in coming. Thus, in the early 700s the subcontinent witnessed the first invasion from the west. The seeds of Islam were brought into India as a perfect symbol of the denial of the soul which had already become consolidated in the civilisation by that time. The capacity for Islam to serve as this symbol lay in the fact that one of its pillars of the faith is the condemnation of idol worship. Given the proliferation of Hindu Gods and Goddesses with their many arms, vahanas and whatnot, it is clear that Islam’s almost complete denial of FORM, or the Mother who is the FORMATIVE POWER of the Brahman, would present a chasm between the two civilisations which has never been bridged, partly because most do not realise what it is that really separates the two. The compulsive destruction of Hindu Temples by these invaders and their replacement by mosques is simply a very physical albeit brutal means to affirm the supremacy of a religion which has radically veered toward the masculine pole in its perception of Reality, and which, when denied the companionship of the Feminine, is able to espouse a vision of God entirely formless.
The undermining Nirvana and similar realisations set in motion simply served to dissolve the energies which could have coped with the invasions. At the same time, we must admit that Islam was merely fulfilling its own dharma via those relentless incursions into the Body of Bharatmata. Thus, no blame can be attached to their bold thrust. Nonetheless, we must realise that the conquests by these foreign powers were simply reflections of that inner disintegration. From the standpoint of the conquered, it ought to be stressed once again that the purpose was to queer the pitch, as it were, to heighten tensions. It was a divine strategy to play out before the civilisation the results of an original denial of the soul.
This play-out has been central to Indian life for the past 2000 years. With each passing year the results of the great Undermining became more and more devastating because the imbalance of energies was accentuated. Today the nation has no energy/will to eject definitively the viruses from its sacred form which are the offspring of those original ‘seeds’ planted so long ago.
Half-lights of History
In the June 1991 VISHAAL (6/2), I discussed at length the areas in the physical landmass through which invasions took place. By the application of the Capricorn hieroglyph, I pointed out how perfectly in tune they were with the cosmic harmony, albeit negative expression of that harmony – that is, representing Vedic civilisation’s decline and the disintegration of its collective will. I repeat, having begun more than 500 years prior to the first invasions from Arabia, by the Middle Ages the inner disintegration was such that invasions could not be conclusively repelled. Historians speculate endlessly about the underlying causes of India’s inability to contend successfully with these invasions. Many consider the degeneration of the caste system to be the principal reason, or at least one of the main expressions of the inner decay and subsequent collapse, presenting the invaders with a society at war with itself and unable to unite its forces due to an inherent divisive quality in the system itself, where the four castes were not complements but antagonists. However, this is only partially true.
To begin with, I find the reasons given for the degeneration of the caste system to be entirely unsatisfactory. The prevalent view is that the preponderance of the priestly caste caused the structure to collapse under the weight of this sacerdotal despotism. While I might attribute the decline to that segment of the society, the reasons I give are quite different. Such a system, founded on a SPIRITUAL perception, can disintegrate only when that perception has been corroded. And this was exactly the case.
Be this as it may, the fact is Hindu civilisation could not contend with Arabic, Persian and Moghul invasions. Within a span of several hundred years, and though greatly out-numbering the aggressors, almost the entire subcontinent came under foreign rule and Islamic influence.
The problem lay in the fact that the unifying power of the subcontinent, the binding force of Hindu civilisation, was the Dharma. Thus, in spite of the fact that there was no POLITICAL unity meeting the aggressors, with the subcontinent presenting a very disunified appearance, it was the Vedic Dharma that made of India a unified civilisation, entirely unique and not to be found anywhere else on the globe in ancient times. India was a ‘nation’ regardless of the separate kingdoms the subcontinent housed.
As already established, the Cosmic Truth is central to that Dharma; the soul is, in turn, central to the Cosmic Truth. With the denial of the soul, and by consequence the denial of the Mother or the Formative Power of the Brahman, it is understandable that Islam and later Christianity – religions which both nurture an aversion to form as demonstrated in their condemnation of idol worship, labelled paganism – moved into the subcontinent with relative ease, except for isolated periods and incidences of effective resistance here and there. The latter, however, were not conclusive or all-encompassing enough to protect the Body from an implantation of divisive elements in the system which would take decades and centuries to eliminate.
The degeneration of caste was thus contingent on that original denial and undermining. Indeed, it was a wave which, in a very brief span, engulfed the entire planet. The Age of Pisces, dating from 234BC to 1926AD, witnessed the almost complete collapse of one element which in itself encapsulates the entire process described above: the prominence of the Mother or the Goddess in almost all philosophies, belief systems, schools of yoga, and cults of worship. In a word, the dismantling of the ancient world which in its entirety could be labelled ‘pagan’ since the Goddess was indubitably central to all belief systems that in the Piscean Age earned that label.
With the spread of the Middle-Eastern religions, in particular the proselytising ones such as Christianity, the Goddess and all that the Feminine Power stands for in the collective consciousness of the Earth, was almost entirely dislodged from the elevated status she had always held. The symbol of this displacement was the simple act of condemning idols, a tenet shared by all the young faiths which emerged from the Age of Pisces. Accompanying this displacement was a loss of perception of the sacredness of the Earth itself, – indeed, mother Earth. This too was reflected in the new tenets in a blanket condemnation of ‘nature worship’, a corollary to ‘paganism’ in theology, and ‘animism’ in philosophy. Both carried the connotation of uncivilised and barbaric. By implanting this sense of inferiority in the masses of the subcontinent, conversions to the new religions were easily achieved, its corroding power being far more potent than the discriminations of caste. These incursions into the core of Vedic belief, affecting especially the elite of the society, was to peak in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Thus, the seeds of the great Undermining which began at the outset of the last Age, the first of the three which comprise our 9th Manifestation, allowed for two different though related foreign conquests in India, Islamic and Christian. The former signified military subjugation above all else, in keeping with Islam’s character. Islam, being so utterly different from Hindu worship and culture, posed little danger of invading and replacing the indigenous philosophies and cultural substratum of Hinduism, or even contaminating it in any essential way. Conversions were effected by force or otherwise, but these did not strike at the core of the unitary consciousness which pervades Hinduism, primarily because Hinduism was not a religion as Islam was. The twain could therefore never really meet or mutually influence each other in substantives.
The situation regarding Christianity was quite different. It was not Christian religion that conquered or made definitive inroads into Hindu civilisation. Rather, it was the consciousness which had overtaken the entire world as a result of Europe’s colonial exploits. Christianity, with its dogmas of faith and discomfort in dealing with matters material and of the flesh, had forced the rise of science (as separate from pursuits of the spirit), rationalism, the logic of the Age of Reason and ‘enlightenment’. And finally a worldview entirely overshadowed by a materialism divorced from the more subtle influence of the Spirit, – a split unknown in the ancient world and even, though greatly reduced in vigour, in India at the time of the appearance of the traders/conquerors from the British Isles. These are the ‘seeds’ that Christianity planted through British rule, stressing, as we must, that this rule occurred not at Christianity’s peak of influence but rather at a time with the seeds of its own decline were evident. And the conquering continues though the conqueror has left because the consciousness that invaded India was ‘secular’ and bore profound affinities with the ancient Indian spirit.
The Indian mind, while not enjoying any particular affinity with Islam, was entirely at ease and comfortable with the ‘scientific temper’ and with ‘secular’ concepts, – these having been part and parcel of India’s ancient culture and civilisation millennia before the appearance of these latter-day secularists and scientists. Rationalism, logic, science, the demand for empirical proof and practical substance which characterise all schools of Indian yoga, founded on direct experience rather than blind faith, were part of Indian civilisation before the advent of Jesus. When these attitudes arose in the West as a reaction to religious dogmatism and obscurantism, they were easily accepted in India of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, insofar as they were concepts closer to the character of Indian philosophy and systems of yoga than any religion might be.
Thus, the two waves, Islamic and Christian, each in their own way continue to ‘conquer’: Muslims, with their demand for a dismembering of the subcontinent on the basis of religion at the time of Independence, and presently with a rise in Islamic fundamentalism which, in the form of another wave from the West, has stoked the fires of secessionism and has not ceased to encourage a sense of instability, a nation perennially threatened with a new partition. While the brand of secularism which the West firmly planted in the consciousness of the elite of pre- and post-independent India through British conquest and influence is a constant underminer that does not allow the nation to appreciate its own soul and the deepest truths of the Vedic Dharma. This is attainable only when the true nature of Hinduism is explored and its unreligious character is discovered. In other words, the western concept of secularism, introduced in Europe because of a necessity to counteract the dominance of religious obscurantism, is inadequate to contend with the fissiparous forces at work in the subcontinent. Western secularism cannot unify because the seed of its own origin is divisive. It was an entirely reactionary formulation, with no inherent and substantial power and truth; unlike the Vedic Dharma founded on the Cosmic Truth.
Caste, Time and the Calendar
The first appreciable casualty in the loss of the cosmic vision was the caste system. When the Beyond became the goal, and life in the cosmos and on Earth was held to be a prison of consciousness, the spherical perception disappeared and in its place remained caste as a linear, pyramidal structure (see: TVN 6/3, diagram p.24). In the very same period, Hindu civilisation lost its vision of an enlightened perception of Time, a development which I have discussed in ample detail in the series ‘The Capricorn Factor’ (TVN 2/4, 2/5). The Divine Maya or Measure was lost and this had a direct effect on caste because caste and time are quasi synonymous. That is, without the Divine Measure there can be no Cosmic Purush reflected in a society on Earth, integrated in all its parts, each limb or organ supporting the other limbs and parts of the Being. Nor could there be any all-encompassing fabric integrating the diversity that has always characterised the societies of the subcontinent. Time provided the means to achieve this integration. Hence, the means to record and regulate the flow of time in a cosmic society is fundamental. We understand, therefore, why the Year occupied such a central position in the knowledge of the Vedic Age (and also in Mayan America), as revealed in the extant hymns of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda. The Rishis were forever singing praises to the various components of the Year, – the seasons, the periods of the 24-hour day such as the dawn, the night; or else the elements which are energy manifestations within that time structure: fire, earth, air and water, elements which Time uses to give form to consciousness.
It must be borne in mind that the diagram by which we have integrated all the elements of our discussion (p.16) – or the circle of 360 degrees divided into four – is also the year. Thus, Shudra, Vaishya, Kshatriya and Brahmin can also be allocated to a portion of the Earth Year. This means that there is a beginning and an end, a 0 point and a 360-degree point to both the year and caste. It means that while 90 degrees of the 360 comprise three months – those of Spring, for example – they also ‘comprise’ the Shudra in the collective Body. It means that the twelve months of our Earth year and the calendar we devise to monitor the passage of time within that span are intrinsically related to caste and are essential to its right functioning. Given the disintegration of caste, whereby only its shell remains, and the proliferation of divisions within each segment which are indications of the degeneration, it is not surprising that we should find the same process to have afflicted the methods for a collective systematisation of the time experience: the calendar. India today does not possess just one calendar; there are many. Almost each State and community have a different system of reckoning, as well as each religion – Islam, Christianity (the Gregorian calendar in use throughout the world), Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, and so forth. There are five principal methods employed; that is, some may use the lunar year, some the solar. In addition, there are 300 almanacs in use throughout the country, each different from the other, each catering to the needs of the different communities.
The Cosmic Truth, which uses time via the Divine Measure for its binding and formative creative operations, is reflected in the calendar. An enlightened calendar is the hallmark of an enlightened society. This means a calendar which comes as near as possible to aligning society with the Cosmic Truth unrolling through the flow of time during the Earth year. Thus, we can easily appreciate why the Rishi declared in the Rigveda, ‘Certain eternal worlds are these which have come into being, their doors are shut to you (or, opened) by the months and the years; without effort one (world) moves into the other, and it is these that Brahmanaspati has made manifest to knowledge.’ (II,24-5)
The essential feature of that superior alignment was the correct zero point, or the start of the year, which then set ‘each thing in its place’ as time moved on in the course of the ensuing twelve months. If that 0 point was miscalculated or otherwise tampered with, the flow was disfigured accordingly and time’s ‘gestation’ produced either a stillborn or maimed creature. A society that had lost that correct calculation of the 0 Point could not hope to experience any significant harmony within itself or integration of its diverse limbs, not to speak of a proper relationship with the cosmos, since the act of integration hinges on the correct ‘axis’ or ‘alignment’. In the Veda and the earlier Upanishads, this ‘axis’ was the property of the God Agni.
Before proceeding further, a word ought to be said about the proliferation of symbols, personifications of the Gods and their carriers via animal or other images in India, since this practice is one that divides contemporary society from almost all ancient civilisations. In all parts of the world there has been a complete break with this ancient form of conceptualisation. India is perhaps one of the few nations today where we find that this practice is still a vibrant part of the country’s cultural and spiritual life, given the fact that myth, epics and, above all, the still prevalent guru/disciple parampara or tradition, are vigorous ingredients in the socio-cultural fabric. The need to transmit knowledge in this fanciful manner was not a frivolous indulgence of a pagan, nature-worshipping and naïve mind. Rather, that the Seers of the Vedic Age (and rare modern visionaries) chose to frame their knowledge in this way was an indication of a very high degree of sophistication. The purpose was to achieve an integral seeing. For example, this meant that the use of Number alone, or even the enlightened use of diagrams as a means of transmitting facts about matter, time and the cosmos, could only appeal to and develop the mind without engaging other equally important parts of the being and planes of consciousness. Hence, they were not adequate if exclusively utilised, as we do today, for the transmission of concepts. Indeed, in so doing the result is information leading to the manipulation of those facts, never an understanding of the integrality and oneness of our world and the interconnectedness of its many planes and dimensions. Number might appeal exclusively to only one of those planes – the mental; while the animal image, for example, drew in the visualisation capacity of the human consciousness, the art of seeing, and hence the vital to a large extent.
Or else there was the utilisation of hieroglyphs, for instance of the twelve signs of the zodiacal year – a highly sophisticated means of transmitting knowledge which drew into the exercise the higher mind and higher vital centres. Today this capacity to see in such an integral fashion is entirely lacking. Consequently, there are no seers, no Rishis.
Let me provide an example of the above which illustrates the capacity for ‘seeing’ in an area connected to the present topic under discussion: the calendar related to caste. Agni’s vahana or carrier is known to be the Goat. This image must not be construed as a meaningless designation born in the mind of pagan nature-worshippers, for the Goat in Agni’s imagery refers to the Year and the correct alignment under discussion. There are two complementary 0 points which describe the Divine Measure and bear a very special relevance to the act of ‘setting each thing in its place’. One is the Ram 0 point, or the first zodiacal sign Aries, and the second is the other goat image, Capricorn, the tenth sign/month. In terms of number-power they are both 1 – the 10 simply being the 1 after the completed cycle of 9 numbers; 10 starts the new cycle and is, numerologically speaking, a 1. Both correspond to the power of the Son, or the One: the divine Agni.
Hence, the Vedic ritual may begin (and end) with an invocation to Agni, first manifestation of the Gods, first of the elements (fire=Aries), ‘leader of the hosts’ in his aspect of Mars, ruler of Aries; Mesham, in Sanskrit, the first month. These correspondences are found throughout the hymns. Thus to ignore the zodiacal character of the Rigveda is to deliberately and wilfully seek to thrust upon this bedrock of Hinduism a character which is entirely foreign to its true nature and purpose. This was indeed the case when 19th– and 20th-century Indologists sought to cram the Veda in the entirely inadequate slot of History. That they succeeded in doing so is the measure of success of the contamination set into the Indian mind via the western secular onslaught.
After Aries – first sign or first manifestation of Agni/Mars – the ‘journey’ or the ‘sacrifice’ brought the initiate to the 10th sign/month/’door’ and entry into Swar, the realm of the Truth-Consciousness. But this passage was not a simple matter. It was fraught with danger, for it involved the 8th stage, Scorpio, also ‘ruled’ by Mars; it was then that the real trouble began – in the imagery of the Veda, the rescue of the cows (rays of Light, or Knowledge) from the cave of the Panis. Scorpio is the sign of Death in traditional astrology. It was the same in the Vedic Age, ample proof of which is given in the references to Martanda, the eighth son of Aditi, the ‘fallen star’, whose very name comes from the root meaning death.
If the energy of Mars is not transmuted or released (the ‘release’ of the cow/rays), death meant the obliteration of the consciousness and disconnection with the physical plane. It meant that the ‘victory’ in the 10th month of Capricorn, traditionally known as the exaltation of Mars, could not be achieved on Earth and connected to its evolutionary processes, but only in ‘heaven’. The decline of the Dharma saw this drama enacted in full, with spiritual energies posited in that ‘heaven’ beyond and withheld from a process which alone could unify and conquer on Earth.
On the other hand, when the Mars transmutation occurred and the Sacrifice was ‘pleasing’, the energy was released which provided fuel for the rise to the mountaintop or the sign/month Capricorn, India’s very own zodiacal ‘ruler’, according to tradition the world over. Interestingly, at that point Agni became the Horse, the white steed – indeed, horse-power. This was indicated by the 9th sign sandwiched between Scorpio and Capricorn: Sagittarius, precisely the sign of the Horse. And in order to emphasis the Earth-oriented essence of the realisation, rather than a heaven beyond of a dimension outside of this cosmos and our material creation, that immaculate Steed which is Agni transmuted, is the vahana of none other than Usha, the divine Earth-Dawn. Agni, as the Horse (9th sign/month), ushers in the Dawn, be it of the Earth day, or the year or twelve months, or the cosmic year of many thousand months.
We may now refer to our diagram on page 16 and locate this process of transmutation, of conquering, in the third segment of the Circle – the Kshatriya. In so doing, we instantly confirm the connection between caste, time, the calendar and the Vedic Dharma. To provide even more conclusive proof, it may be recalled that an aspect of Agni is the Hindu War God Kartikeya. His birthday is celebrated precisely in the heart of this Kshatriya segment: late November, or with the correct 0 point, in the sign/month Sagittarius. In Sanskrit the month is known as Kartik.
Thus the Rigveda, the oldest book in the world and foundation-seed of all that is contained in Hindu culture, establishes a remarkably rich and poetic connection between cosmos, time, year, Earth – and caste. The only problem is that the great Undermining produced the unfortunate result of a loss of the Divine Measure. Contingent upon that loss is the lack of a single calendar uniting the collective consciousness. There is not one but dozens, and each has a different 0 or starting point. Hence, though these multiple calendars may still use the backdrop of the 360 degrees of the celestial sphere and the division of that sphere into 12 segments or months, initiating their counts at different times reflects the inability of Indian society to become integrated. Indeed, for a person of Knowledge it is as if one were observing the unfolding of present-day Indian society through a painfully unfocussed lens: no matter how hard one tries, clarity just will not attend one’s efforts. The chaos brought before one’s vision is simply another indication of that lost Measure. Notwithstanding the fact that at the time of Independence the Gregorian calendar was adopted for official purposes in order to align India with the rest of the world, the different communities and religions continued to use their own methods of reckoning. Any attempt to bring about a ‘focussing’ in this time-lens would be similar to the demand voiced by certain quarters for a uniform civil law code, whose adoption is also hotly contested by communities which view such a step as a threat to their ‘separate identities’. In fact, a true discussion of caste and cosmos is, by definition, precisely one of identity, of essential truth of being, of individual and collective dharma. This aspect of the study will be explored further on.
To return to our discussion of the stages of the Vedic Sacrifice, or progression through the year, we note that passage through the 7th, 8th and 9th stages, or the Kshatriya/warrior caste segment, was considered crucial. Indeed, in the successful ‘crossing’ of this zone lays India’s ability to survive as a nation and a civilisation. But to appreciate how this may be and what connection these ancient prescriptions may have with contemporary Indian society, we must expand our time vision and study the Chaturvarna on the backdrop of the larger measures of time, the cosmic Ages, or, as I have called them, the Twelve Manifestations. In this way we shall appreciate why it is that the 7th and 8th Avatars, and indirectly the 9th, have come to such fierce prominence of late, through the contentious issue of ‘temple or mosque’ at Ayodhya, and how this issue is singularly reflective of the grand Sacrifice described in the ancient Rigveda as precisely involving the 7th, 8th and 9th stages of the Journey. And by this interrelated seeing, we shall discover how the last three decades of the millennium, the 70s, 80s and 90s, have recapitulated or condensed in this very special time span the Vedic passage through the most dangerous and determining portion of the Circle.
As we proceed with the next portion of the study, once again we engage in that magical feat of harmonisation and integration, whereby caste and time continue to reveal the profound truth in the Hermetic aphorism, ‘As above, so below’. This further act of perceiving the equality of macrocosm and microcosm will assist us in drawing together these multiple time-threads in a concentrated focus on caste within contemporary Indian society, in its individual and collective expressions; and what might be its relevancy to the civilisation that gave it birth, if any at all.
Cosmic Harmonies in Hindu Civilisation and Society
Caste has been an issue of ongoing contention in contemporary Indian society. In the course of this essay I have referred to this situation and the manner in which inhibiting forces have been exerted on certain traditional castes, resulting in an undermining of the dharma of that particular community. The community in question, the Sikh, presents a rather obvious example. But the same inhibition has been inflicted on most segments of this ancient system of structuring society. In one way or another the essential purpose and function of the various castes has deteriorated, to the point where little is left of that original intention. Added to this, or perhaps as a result of this loss, a fragmentation process set in, or a splintering. Each of the four major divisions of caste – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra, known in Sanskrit as the Chaturvarna, or ‘four colours’ – became divided within themselves, and then again subdivided in a process of fragmentation leading to an increasing differentiation of groups. The India mind has a superb ability to define and codify. This has been one of its most interesting features from ancient times, a capacity which we find reflected in contemporary Indian society by the high percentage of scientists and technicians among Indians – both in the country and residing abroad, placing the nation in the forefront in this regard.
Some believe that the exercise of defining inhibits free expression and development of a society. This is an objection especially prevalent in 20th Century society in which freedom is the foremost concern. It was not a concern during the last Manifestation several thousands of years ago. To define meant to be in a position to harmonise and integrate. Having lost that capacity to some extent, the difficulties contemporary Indian society experiences with integration are understandable.
The capacity to define and codify was thus employed in the ancient division of Hindu society in an important exercise which originally enhanced the caste system’s ability to integrate a people. For integration can only reach its fullest expression when the parts to be integrated are known and defined. A system such as the Chaturvarna was, in essence, an act of ‘putting each thing in its place’. It collected all the segments born of the act of defining and set them in their proper position within the whole.
Indeed, it is that very WHOLE which will be the focus of this analysis, insofar as with the passage of time the original function of the Chaturvarna – the Whole composed of its well-defined Parts – has been lost sight of. Consequently, the two qualities which describe the purpose of such an arrangement and its raison d’etre – integrality and wholeness – have largely disappeared with just the opposite in evidence. There appear to be nothing but the fragments left – isolated, well segregated from one another due to the act of defining. But these parts abide in a void, being deprived of certain essential elements, – i.e., a centre that holds, and a circle or sphere in which that centre may act as a binding or integrating force. In other words, we have the innumerable parts floating in a void, or a chaos not a cosmos. The overall binding energy of the Chaturvarna has vanished almost completely.
In this portion of the essay, we shall therefore concentrate almost exclusively on this question of the Chaturvarna’s essence or essential purpose. In the process, the indisputable cosmic foundation of the system will be explored, for it is this foundation that provides the answer we seek regarding the origin, purpose, function and consequent decline of caste. This essay will also highlight other aspects which need to be dealt with. Once we have established the connection between caste and cosmos, and insofar as Hinduism’s roots lie firmly embedded in the Cosmic Truth, it will be revealed that in any attempt to re-establish Hindu Dharma this question of caste will perforce surface and demand to be dealt with. Amidst the decline and degeneration experienced in India of its ancient civilisational and cultural bases, an analysis of the true foundations of the Chaturvarna will also reveal that caste was perhaps the single element most responsible for providing a binding component to Hindu civilisation, cutting across and through a series of separate kingdoms and fiefdoms.
It is known that the administrative ‘unity’ introduced by the British during colonisation of the subcontinent was the only time that all these kingdoms were gathered under a single administrative umbrella, thus paving the way for a united nation. However, in the course of this essay I have presented certain ancient keys of higher knowledge which, because of their central position in Hinduism, indicate that in a particular dimension of the nation’s collective consciousness this sense of unity existed long before the Moghuls or the British came on the scene. The basis for this all-embracing unity, cutting through the barriers of these multiple kingdoms, was what we call today Hinduism. The Sanatan or Eternal Dharma was the unifying, binding force of the civilisation which has inhabited the subcontinental landmass from prehistoric times.
More importantly, in these pages I have presented the means by which Hinduism was granted the unusual capacity to endure, to hold a civilisation together in spite of these barriers; indeed, to be a civilisation at all. The key lay in the cosmic harmony. Forming as it does the basis of Hindu Dharma, and being a harmony unending in its unfolding, by means of which Hinduism organised its civilisational expressions, it is logical that the Chaturvarna would also reveal its origins to have stemmed from that same cosmic harmony. Given this fact, it is easy to appreciate that when the Divine Maya (Measure) was lost some centuries ago, which provided the enlightened link with that cosmos, the Dharma was fated to decline since its renewing mechanism hinged precisely on that connection. By consequence, the caste system, equally rooted in the cosmic harmony, began to experience a degeneration by virtue of an act of defining and division run rampant, having been cut off from its fount of integrating power.
Essential to an understanding of how this degeneration came to pass is the question of exactly what was lost in the vision and expression of the Chaturvarna. It is apparent that no historian or authority on Hindu civilisation has really been able to pinpoint this failing. Indeed, had it been possible to do so, the decline would have been arrested and the aspired reestablishment of the Dharma would have already taken place. Therefore, a fundamental, central feature of this analysis is that lost element in the perception which alone could hold the system together. This was the all-embracing vision of the Cosmic Truth which in ancient times provided the unifying factor. All expressions of the Dharma could be found related to that Cosmic Truth – or the true perception of the cosmic harmony, and, above all, its divine Maya or Measure, as the means to give effective expression in the society to that Truth. The closer this came to a shadowless perception, the nearer was the Satya Yuga or Golden Age of Truth drawn.
The Inadequacy of Mental Formulas
In the second part of this series (TVN, 6/2), the threefold basis of the Hindu Dharma was discussed, also taken from the cosmic harmony. This triune play of energy – creation, preservation and destruction – was seen projected onto the subcontinental landmass via the Capricorn hieroglyph (see page 10, TVN 6/2), or, as it is sometimes called in ancient traditions, the Name of God. In Part II, I made brief mention of the fourfold order. Together with the threefold, this combination provides the essence of Hindu Dharma as mirrored in these celestial exchanges. In the present essay, we shall consider the trinity, Rajas, Sattwa and Tamas, and how it is related to the fourfold caste system. To do this we may use the principle ingredient in the study of cosmic harmonies – the circle. With this simple geometric form it is possible to explain the origins of caste and, at the same time, its relation to the gunas, or the triune play of energies.
If the circle here presented is taken as the circumscribing heavens, we are establishing our first premise: the four castes are perceived as four segments of the heavenly sphere; and this division, in turn, is employed on earth to provide a cosmic basis for the structure of society. Indeed, this circle divided into four is the astronomical symbol of our planet Earth, the four angles indicating the four cardinal points.
It is apparent that the evolution of a civilisation – and indeed the evolution itself – cannot be on the basis of a mental formula. By this we mean a formula that springs from a divisive consciousness. Efforts to impose such a mental formula would be doomed to fail. In fact, this is precisely what has transpired regarding the ancient caste system. When the original formula and measure were lost, substitutes arose from the mind of a humanity which had lost contact with a plane of perception higher than the mental. All on earth was sought to be made ‘in man’s image’ and not the Divine’s as mirrored in the cosmic harmony. The result has been a severe fragmentation of society: the parts seek to assert themselves via these divisive mental formulas, and in so doing their capacity to find their place within the Whole is forfeited. Again we return to our original premise: cosmic harmonies offer a vision of wholeness and integrality. Mental formulas, which are human perceptions disconnected from a higher source, are characterised by an inability to harmonise and integrate, to situate the parts within the whole, insofar as there is no conscious awareness of that totality. Hence, these formulas do violence to a society. Indeed, the increasing violence of our worlds, and in particular the astonishing display of minds capable of fabricating the most sophisticated instruments for mass destruction, are results of a development devoid of any light higher than the mental. The consequences are an increasing fragmentation, divisiveness, isolation, segregation, splintering – in the name of a search for ‘identity’, or an assertion of national or ethnic rights. These may or may not be connected to religions. When they are, the product is an explosive brand of assertiveness, highly intolerant of diversity, which we label fundamentalism.
These manifestations in contemporary society are representative of minds incapable of a perception of wholeness, or a unified multiplicity. The most accurate description of the aberration is a linear in contrast to a spherical perception. Further on I shall demonstrate graphically how this aberration has played a crucial role in the degeneration of the caste system with its attending disassociation from the cosmic harmony.
In our study the circle represents that spherical capacity of perception – a consciousness capable of seeing the parts within the whole. At the same time, the circle is the celestial sphere comprised of the planetary harmony. We have divided this circle into four parts. Each section corresponds to one of the four castes: Shudra, the labour class; Vaishya, the traders or providers; Kshatriya, the warrior/rulers; and Brahmin, the person of knowledge, adviser of kings and governments.
It may be asked how this division can be effectively connected to or bear any real relation to the cosmic harmony with its planetary/orbital patterns, in any way other than merely a symbolic representation – hence, another mental formula. Indeed, it is legitimate to question whether the factual and not simply symbolic relationship can truly express itself in a civilisation or in the evolution of consciousness on Earth. The argument is similar to what we encounter in the scientific community’s debunking of astrology. For the scientist also claims, How can it be held (and proven) that the planets ‘influence’ mankind or regulate or determine the lives of human beings? I have dealt with this objection elsewhere in my writings and need not reopen the debate. I intend to reveal the existence of this connection in the present analysis by exceeding the boundaries which cage in the contemporary scientist and relegate him or her to a status far inferior to that of the seers of old. The limitation, I may point out, is the linear perception in lieu of the spherical.
An ancient dictum holds that the macrocosmos is equal to the microcosmos, – i.e., the human being, to name just one component of that microcosm, was held by the ancients to mirror or TO BE that cosmic pattern in miniature. Consequently, a penetration into the mysteries of the cosmos, based on the spherical capacity of perception and not the linear, discloses that what holds ‘above’ holds ‘below’. Cosmic harmonies describe the intricate patterns of our solar system, but at the same time they speak of the human being in his or her physical constitution as well as psychological. In a word, these harmonies of which the circle is the geometric symbol, speak of the many layers, dimensions, planes of the embodied consciousness, both individual and collective. ‘As above, so below’ would then point to an interconnection, a oneness, a magical fact of unity as the governing principle of our world. This fact of our planetary existence has clearly been overlooked. Contemporary society is a product of that lost perception. The travails of our times, this last decade of the millennium, expose the pressure human societies are feeling to regain that beatific state of wholeness and completion and integration of the parts within the whole.
Thus, having established this fact of oneness and unity, we come closer to understanding the sense behind one of the oldest references to the Chaturvarna, or the Fourfold Order. It is found in the Rig Veda, Hinduism’s most ancient collection of sacred hymns. In the ‘Purush Sukta’ (X, 90), the seer describes the universal Purush, or Being. All parts of creation are seen to emerge from or find their place in this Being. The body of man is used to provide the connecting link between the vast and the minute. At the same time, the sphere that is this Universal Being is divided into four quarters. The seer states that three fourths, however, are ‘above’…
…Such is the measure of his might, and greater still than this is the Purush. All beings are a fourth of him, three fourths are the immortal in heaven. Three fourths of the Purush ascended high, one fourth took birth again down here. From this he spread in all directions into animate and inanimate things. Using the Purush as their oblation, the Gods performed the sacrifice. Spring served them for clarified butter, Summer for the fuel, and Autumn for the offering.
And several verses further on, after enumerating all the creatures of the Earth who have originated in this Cosmic Being, the seer proceeds to describe the Chaturvarna…
…When they divided up the Purush, into how many parts did they divide him? What did his mouth become? What his arms? What are his legs called? What his feet? His mouth became the Brahmin; his arms became the Kshatriya, his legs the Vaishya who plies his trade. The Shudra was born from his feet… (Translation largely Raimundo Pannikar’s) The Vedic Experience)
The above is considered to be the first mention of the caste system in Hindu scripture. Its origins can therefore be situated in the bedrock of Hinduism, the Veda. More especially, the Rig Veda. In studying the fourfoldness of the division of the celestial sphere in depth, we come to realise that the zodiac as we know it today, with its major division of four (the four Cardinal points) and overall 12, formed the basis of the order used for the Chaturvarna. In the above hymn the Rishi makes the connection explicit when he refers to the seasons, – interestingly, he mentions only three. We might consider that these correspond to the three fourths ‘above’: Spring, Summer and Autumn. The fourth omitted we may assume to be the one fourth left for the human creation ‘below’. But there seems to be more to this omission considering that the Rishi would have located this creation on the subcontinent, whose astrological ruler is the zodiacal sign Capricorn – or the first Winter month, the only season left out of the hymn. To lay further stress on this point, we have the hieroglyph of Capricorn superimposed on the map of India in a perfect synchronism of symbol and form. This is an immensely important clue to the cosmic rather than the historic context of the Rig Veda; as well, it assists us in piecing together the cosmic Mosaic which forms the backdrop of the Hindu Dharma.
These clues, found in abundance in the Rig Veda, have encouraged me to believe that the origin of the zodiac was the ancient civilisation which inhabited the subcontinent. Indeed, so firmly were the roots of zodiacal wisdom embedded in the civilisation that they have never ceased to exert a predominant influence in Hindu society; not only in Hinduism’s body of ritual but also in contemporary Indian society through an involvement with astrology and other forms of predictive arts which have this cosmic foundation.
The precise origins of the twelve hieroglyphs are unknown. They seem to have always been a part of the civilisations which made use of a system of 12 for the division of the year. Western scholarship has always considered Mesopotamia to be the location of their origins, but this is without foundation. There too the script may have been imported from farther east, just as the concept of the Zero was taken from India by the Arabs and brought to Europe, with many western historians and mathematicians still attributing the discovery to Islamic civilisation. The oldest civilisations which are acknowledged to have fed the evolution of thought in Europe are limited to the Middle East. This has consequently produced a lopsided world, tilted in one direction on this axis of partial seeing.
It is quite possible that the origins of the zodiacal script were in ancient and legendary Lemuria, the submerged continent described in a number of old texts, but particularly in the ancient Sangam literature of Tamil Nadu. The oldest of these books speaks of this submerged continent, dating back more than 30,000 years, where an advanced civilisation dwelt which then migrated to what is now Tamil Nadu at the time of the cataclysm. A pointer to this possibility lies in the Tamil language itself which causes us to believe that it too was a means of conveying higher knowledge of cosmic import, consisting as it does of 12 vowels and 18 consonants. In all there is a combination of 216 letters in the alphabet, or 12 times 18. I have always felt that these 12 and 18 are not sufficient to capture all the sounds of the spoken language. It seemed rather that the structure of Tamil was used by ancient seers as one more key to the Cosmic Truth. Indeed, language and grammar were always considered limbs of the Knowledge, – witness the works of Panini and Patanjali. If we accept this thesis then we see that the vowels and consonants of Tamil point to two basic divisions of the Circle: its division into 12, or the zodiacal signs; and the threefold energy flow of 6+6+6 or 18, which is the same key contained in the division of the books of the Puranas, each 6-section corresponding to a member of the Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. This division was discussed extensively in Part II of this essay regarding the geography of India (TVN, 6/2, June 1991).
Needless to say, these theses are not accepted by contemporary scholars largely because there are none among them with any grounding in the subtleties of cosmic harmonies, its script, its language. Hence, no coherent sense can be made out of verses such as I have quoted above from the Rig Veda. The conclusion of western scholarship regarding the Purush Shukta seems to be that these verses have provided exemplary proof of the pagan, animistic roots of Hinduism – with the implication of course that these are inferior expressions of the religious spirit.
Be this as it may, let us proceed a step further with our unveiling of the cosmic foundation of the Chaturvarna. The Purush Shukta describes the Manifest as a fourth of the fourfold sphere. Three quarters are above, one quarter below. Yet, as the hymn develops and the evolution of material creation is described, when the seer comes to the caste system he does indeed mention the FOUR quarters and their connection with that same Cosmic Purush. The head with its mouth is allotted to the Brahmin. This clearly refers to the power of the Word the Brahmin is meant to possess. The arms are allotted to the Kshatriya, referring to power – the warrior’s power, yes, but also the ability to WIELD power, to rule as well as to protect. For example, the many arms of the Gods and Goddesses, particularly the Goddess of Victory, Durga, who conquers the embodiment of evil with her many arms, each of which wields a different weapon representative of different aspects of that power.
The seer goes on to mention the legs and feet in the lower hemisphere (of the circle – see page 16), the support of the body/system. This, it must be emphasised, is the vision from above, from the position of the three quarters. When this is played out below a reversal takes place. The zodiac, or the sacred script describing the evolution of the species, presents us with that vision below. Consequently, the flow of time is added, which regulates the processes of manifestation, which gestates the creation the zodiac describes. It is the key to this flow of time that was lost and hence the present inability to make the connections we have made in these pages, insofar as Time is the bridge between that ‘above’ and this ‘below’. The means to translate the Vision into material reality is by an enlightened perception of Time’s essence, purpose and methods. This knowledge was a central feature of the ancient Dharma. Today only its shell exists, certain fragments which serve to inform us that the foundations of Hindu Dharma are to be found and explained in this Cosmic Harmony.
In another ancient text of the subcontinent the portion above is expressed by a different image: the primordial, inverted Tree with its roots in ‘heaven’ and its trunk and branches extending downward to form or become the material creation. This symbol intends to convey that the source of manifest creation lies in the subtle dimension or ‘heaven’. The human being sees only its external form; the sage perceives what is hidden but essential.
Regarding the caste system and the zodiac, we find this same concept conveyed, diverting from the Purush Shukta’s classification of the Brahmin as the mouth of the Cosmic Being. In the zodiac the fourfold order is more pointedly given a cosmic backdrop, inasmuch as the zodiac is the division we know and employ of that same heavenly sphere, with the additional ingredient of Time. But zodiacal tradition reverses the allocation, while yet maintaining the same fourfold division. The divine Purush is projected onto the Wheel head first (Aries), and then through the rest of the signs which all correspond to a portion of his Body in a downward movement. But though there is the same fourfold division, the zodiac begins with the Shudra as the first (hence the head, throat, etc). Finally, at the last quarter of the signs Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, corresponding to the knees, ankles and feet, respectively, we have the Brahmin caste. Thus, similar to the primordial Tree with its roots ‘above’, we see that the cosmic harmony considers the Brahmin equally to be the support of the system, the element which allows the body to stand erect and hence to be distinguished from the animal and other species.
The reason for this reversal is also borne out by the fact that the Brahmin caste, while being the ‘highest’ of the four, was traditionally deprived of ownership of material possessions. The Brahmin’s right of possession was Knowledge and the heavenly attributes of wisdom and truth-seeing. And these were used in the society to furnish it with those flawless foundations, or the Tree sustained by its roots in heaven, fed by that highest Source.
Twashtri’s Bowl: the Journey into the Integral
The Rig Veda also describes this celestial sphere divided into four as Twashtri’s Bowl, Twashtri being another name of the Divine Architect, Vishwamitra (see The New Way, Volume 2). Differing from these four designations, the four sections are related to the four planes of existence – the Physical, the Vital, the Mental, and the Spiritual. Again it can be observed that they also correspond faithfully to the four casts: Physical/Shudra, Vital/Vaishya, Mental/Kshatriya, and Spiritual/Brahmin.
The last section of Twashtri’s ‘bowl’ is the Vedic heavenly Swar. With the decline of the Knowledge this highest plane of consciousness, the attainment of which was the main purpose of the Yoga described in the Rig Veda (called variously the ‘journey’, the ‘sacrifice’, and so forth), came to be considered another dimension or plane of consciousness disconnected from the remaining three. Swar was attained by a disassociation of the consciousness from the body and from material creation with all its interconnections and interrelatedness. However, its true meaning was to be found in the inverted Tree. In other words, the embodied consciousness of the Vedic seer was rooted in that Swar, while yet engaged in the Earthly evolution. Indeed, the meaning was quite clear: this highest plane was the source of the Brahmin’s vision, which was then used in support of the kingdom by translating that Knowledge into a system upon which the civilization could flourish as a harmonious, mutually enhancing body.
With the decline of the Dharma the oneness of manifest and unmanifest or subtle was lost. The stark divide between Spirit and Matter arose which has been humanity’s affliction for the past several thousand years. In such a worldview, based on the principle of division, it can hardly be expected that the Brahmin will serve society according to the dictates of his/her inherent dharma or inner truth. Similarly, the other castes cannot hope to find their correct place and expression in a society which has lost its connection with those roots, borne out by the relegation of Swar/Brahmin to a plane apart from this creation and a resulting chasm (which the Brahmin is meant by destiny to bridge) dividing this world and that ‘heaven’.
On this basis, however, it is simple enough to understand how the Brahmin came to occupy an isolated, privileged and special place in Hindu civilisation. I shall now present a GRAPHIC image of the distortion which the hierarchical, exclusivist approach introduced into the caste system during the period of decline, or when the linear consciousness entirely displaced the Vedic spherical perceptive capacity. The higher then had no contact with the lower, just as Swar/spirit had no relation to Earth/matter. The twain, indeed, could never hope to meet. In addition, the highest at the apex of the structure could be construed as ‘closer to heaven’ than the lower, thus indubitably enjoying a tremendous advantage and hold over the people, especially in a society solidly grounded in spiritual tradition and reverence for higher knowledge and for those who have attained the divine Consciousness. At later, more degraded stages, the upper echelons acquired additional ‘top-heaviness’ due to an inner decay and loss of the dharma; that is, when material wealth replaced the spiritual and the Brahmin, having lost the knowledge and contact ‘above’, with his legendary obesity, virtually became the physical reflection of that accumulated MATERIAL wealth, filling the void the loss of the spiritual engendered. Then the lower levels began to feel the pressure as they had to bear this top-heaviness due to the loss of the dharma of the upper castes which sat heavily upon the lower. The degenerated form is described in this symbol:
This pyramidal form is a faithful graphic representation of the decline of the Chaturvarna; as well, it provides us with the understanding of WHEN and HOW poverty began its steady and slow march to deaden the civilisation in centuries to come. The Chaturvarna does not take poverty and backwardness into account, since it forms no part of the vision for obvious reasons. But we shall deal with this particular aspect of the decline further on. At this point, the pyramid is meant to impress upon the student the LINEAR and UNI-DIMENSIONAL consciousness that came into being during the Hindu civilisation’s dark age. Above all, it is separative and serves to foster divisiveness and segregation in a society, contrary to the Chaturvarna’s most important function. The Shudra may come into contact with the Vaishya, but nothing beyond; or the Vaishya with the Kshatriya, and so on. But the lowest can never hope to reach the highest. In a word, the pyramid demonstrates the total and complete loss of the Chaturvarna’s purpose of setting each element in its place in the sublime experience of a harmonious integration of the parts within the whole.
With the spread of the linear consciousness the Divine Maya was very quickly lost, the sacred Measure whereby Hindu civilisation maintained its contact with that Source, or the truth-consciousness of the cosmic harmonies. This true purpose and function can be properly conveyed only through the circle, thus:
The key to understanding this diagram and its connection to caste is that each segment converges on the centre. That is, each segment has EQUAL access to the Source; while each of the four castes among themselves join at the centre. The Centre being the shadowless domain of the Truth-Consciousness, it is only in its proximity that ALL ARE EQUAL.
This is one of the most important conclusions drawn from a study which connects caste to cosmos. It is not that differences do not exist in creation. Diversity, degree, gradation – indeed, hierarchy – are facts of life; nay, they describe the beauty and fullness of life and the divine Consciousness in manifestation. The multiplicity, where differentiation has its play, is unity carried through the various dimensions of creation, where that same unity expresses itself in an infinitude of forms. But that immense variety can return to the Source, for indeed it had never left it; just as Silence does not cease when Sound arises, the latter being simply the movement of the Silence. Similarly, diversity is the flowering of unity through the multiple dimensions of cosmic existence. The Breath of Brahman is said to be indrawn when those layers of creation are gathered back into the Source, to be then exhaled as the Seed of Unity fills creation with infinite expressions of the flowering of Itself.
The Chaturvarna, having this cosmic foundation, is also an expression of that perfect blending of diversity within unity. All human beings are not equal in the sense of uniform. Thus, caste defines certain varied expressions of the Cosmic Purush as organs and limbs of a single Body; and with the correct spherical perception, one can appreciate that each segment has an entirely equal relationship to the central Source, a horizontal convergence, and this is important to note, of all parts onto single binding Point. Once that Source is attained or realised, the individual of whichever of the four segments may be said to have exceeded his or her original boundaries and realised the integral nature of God in humanity. Because of these roots of the Chaturvarna in this truth-seeing, it has been held from very ancient times in Hindu civilisation that the person of God-realisation steps out of the limitations caste may impose. The realised individual, be he or she a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, or whatever, is thus free of the boundaries of caste. However, this noble precept of the system has also suffered considerable degeneration which we must now deal with, insofar as it is the causal agent of the decline.
Into the Beyond: Dissipation of the Power
When Nothingness, the Void, the Beyond became the summit of the spiritual quest, those who had attained these realisations considered themselves to be beyond time and space or material creation, since their consciousness was placed OUTSIDE of the cosmic border, which by then was equated with the lesser Maya, the Mother divested of her divine attributes. Thus they were also beyond caste, since it is in a creation of time and space that the Purush comes into being. The Divine Maya is precisely the formative power of the Absolute, in the macrocosm and moving into and through the countless dimensions of creation to the minutest point. The distortion that overtook the realiser was the attempt to escape from the confines of this superlative Body of the Absolute. It can be visualised in this way: each segment instead of converging onto or moving into the centre, moves outward (the arrows in the diagram, page 25). That is, the direction changed and instead of the consciousness converging ever inward, into the Source, or that central Bija or Seed, it moved outward and experienced dispersion, dissolution, decentralisation, disintegration. Indeed, the realiser, being beyond the cosmos, no longer had the power to influence the creation he or she had left behind. With the passage of time, that orphaned creation was overtaken by the darkness resulting from a withdrawal of that light: the human creation it had abandoned fell thoroughly under the control of the Ignorance.
The central Seed is the immanent Transcendent in the heart of each created thing, the Hiranyaretas, or the golden Seed, light of the worlds. It was in that sacred, centremost space that the individual could come to realise the integrality of all the parts and planes of his or her embodied consciousness, made in God’s own image, for this was the divine Purpose of caste within cosmos. Thus, to move INTO THAT CREATION rather than out of it was the purpose of caste and life on Earth within such a superior structure. To assist the individual in that integral attainment, rather than dissolution (nirvana) of the consciousness because the mis-direction outward implies that there cannot be a concentration of the power or energy sufficient to explore and integrate all the parts and levels of embodied being. This, in concise terms, is the real description of the decline of Hindu Dharma and consequently of caste. In view of that decline regarding this essentiality of direction or poise of consciousness, it is understandable that a society which continues nonetheless to embrace caste faithfully can only be a shadow reflection of that Truth, that divine Cosmic Purush. It must, therefore, display in the subsequent evolution of the civilisation under aegis of this Shadow, all the distortions such as mis-direction and poise must engender. Poverty is one result, a leprotic disease afflicting the Purush with ugly eruptions covering its skin, and which, because of the mis-direction, came to be synonymous with the Divine. In God’s image then meant the poor are closer to God’s kingdom, in some way more expressive of the ‘true’ nature of God. This exaltation of poverty and renunciation is a direct consequence of the wrong direction, a direction outward, beyond a creation in matter, into the nirvanic Void rather than the rich and intensely blissful fullness of the Mother, particularly in her aspect of the divine Lakshmi, goddess of plenty, wealth and increase, of beauty and harmony in a physical creation fashioned in her image.
Diversity was then the bane of human existence, with all its avenues of expression such as the body and its senses. One dissolved one’s consciousness in the Beyond, one renounced the world and material creation, or the divine Mother, and attained a naked realisation, denuded of the luxuriant robes of the manifest creation. This, we must repeat, was not the original aim of the Chaturvarna, and it could never allow for the fulfilment of its main function: harmony and integration.
The purpose of such a system is to allow the individual the possibility to realise his or her inner truth, in material creation, in a body, on this planet Earth. Birth on Earth and into the caste system, or into the magnificent harmonies of the cosmos as one more note of the Infinite, was not intended to be a means of escape from that material creation and a plunge into nirvanic Nothingness or the indifferentiated Absolute. The process would thus be a senseless exercise if the only goal was to shed each and every vestige of this diversity. Yet, this is the ‘truth’ of every philosophic system, every religion, every path of yoga: birth may be a privilege, but only because it provides us with the possibility of dissolving whatever we may have had the misfortune to accumulate during the process of birth and the evolution of consciousness on Earth, finally returning to the source whence we came in an unfettered condition. In other words, we enter baggageless, we accumulate baggage, and then we are obliged and expected to follow the spiritual paths which will help us to shed that baggage and attain that pristine state of nakedness in order to merge with that original source once more.
But the Divine Consciousness is not such a senseless thing. This is simply the human inability to cope with diversity, multiplicity, richness and fullness – with life in its totality. It is simply a projection of God ‘in man’s image’, – i.e., purposeless and inane.
This perception, which took hold of India in the early centuries of this Manifestation, had to produce a decline in the Chaturvarna. A ‘God realisation’ of this sort could only undermine one’s faith in life on Earth. Thereafter, what sense could there be to a system such as the Chaturvarna? It was then that a very heavy blanket of inertia began to descend upon the consciousness of the people of Bharat, of ‘high’ caste and ‘low’ in equal measure, since the function of such a System had been corrupted.
The caste system’s essential purpose was to offer the individual an ideal FIELD and CONDITIONS within the System to explore the many layers of consciousness and make contact with one’s inner dharma or truth. That is, the individual in any of the four segments, starting from the periphery of the diagram, from birth to birth moves closer to the Centre. In the process the richness of his or her temperament, psychology, and even physical attributes and potentials were unveiled and integrated. The act of ‘setting each thing in its place’ within oneself could then be extended from microcosm to macrocosm. These attributes and aspects of one’s consciousness can be said to exist equally in all beings, but in seed form. The experience of the Chaturvarna was an aid to the development of that potentiality according to the overall dictates of the individualised destiny: the harmony of the parts within the whole.
Closer to the divine Source, the heart of the process was reached, the inner Chamber where the divine Purpose stands as the cosmic pillar of creation, as the immobile Agni amidst the mobile, or the divine Skambha. The Vedic journey in the sacrificial period of the year unveiled the magnificent diversity of creation and offered this at the feet of the Divine Mother, each part an instrument expressive of the highest realisation of her diversity in unity. Caste like cosmos was not divisive. Rather it was the path to wholeness and completion.
In the next portion of this essay, we shall explore Time’s function in the Chaturnarna and why the Year was of such singular importance in the Vedic vision – both the Earth year and Cosmic, and its relation to caste.
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