Aeon Centre of Cosmology (ACC), (situated on the land known as Skambha,) was established in 1986 near Perumalmalai in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu, South India, by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea). The Centre ‒ 18 km below the tourist area of Kodaikanal ‒ stretches across acres of hillside and pastures, bordering the Gangavar River. Aeon Centre of Cosmology is supported by Aeon Trust, a not-for-profit Educational Trust registered by the Home Ministry of India, holding 80G status.
In January 1987, Thea wrote to her newly appointed Board of Trustees about the founding of her Centre:
The focus of this past year has been the founding of the permanent site for our Aeon Centre of Cosmology, with considerable success. Its location is a very sacred place and propitious for our work. I would like to point out that this is not an ‘ashram’ in the traditional sense of the word. Nor is it a conventional educational institution.
For this reason I am calling it a ‘centre’, meaning a central focus of a new force working in the world, where people may come who are interested in the new Consciousness that is manifesting on Earth, a place where they can come into contact with the living essence of that Consciousness and learn to become channels for its expression in life. To establish the ‘life divine’ of Sri Aurobindo’s vision. This is a centre of cosmological/yogic studies, by an applied cosmology, and a practice of Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary Supramental Yoga.
Because of this newness, it is not possible to compare ACC to any other place on Earth, find models for this work in any other organization or ashram. We are ‘hewing a path’, and therefore it is often not possible to explain a work that is unveiling itself before the clear lines of its new course have been traced. We are discovering and disclosing a completely new path, ‘a new way’.
…. This work can be a beacon, a stable point in the midst
of a dying civilization. For this reason I have named the new land ‘Skambha’,
that ‘Support of the world’ sung of in the Arthavaveda,
that ‘cosmic pillar’, that ‘axis mundi’.
When all else falls and collapses, Skambha shall ever remain.’ With blessings, Thea
Visitors to Skambha always comment on its exquisite planning and construction, honoring every tree and stone and contour of the land. It is hard to believe the estate was once a bare scrubbed mountainside. Thea’s primary concern always included improvement of the environment as well as the living standards of the people from the adjacent villages.
In a document she wrote in 1989, titled Project Proposal, Cheese Factory and Related Services, she gives a detailed description of her objectives and the situation at that time. Perumalmalai was considered a rural territory with a population of about 1500, and the region which once had housed thick shola had been significantly denuded by contractors over the years. The people employed on the estates were primarily a floating population of immigrants from Sri Lanka who had very sporadic work; their homes were mostly mud and thatch roof. The road passing down into the valley from the main Palani Ghat Road was ‘more akin to a river-bed and not fit even for walking’.
In this proposal, Thea states that the Trust and Aeon Centre of Cosmology had a role to play:
“We do not believe in charity. We do believe in Development. Nor do we believe in a development which benefits only a few, and usually the more affluent. The Aeon Centre of Cosmology does not wish to grow in the midst of poverty. And it is ideally situated and prepared to bring about an integral development of the small area where it operates. It is the aspiration of the organization that this valley will one day be in a position to stand as a model for the rest of India, in particular the hilly regions…”.
Aeon Trust and Aeon Centre of Cosmology have acquired a reputation over the years of integrity and seriousness of purpose. The result has been that with little funding Thea, her students and staff have enriched the lives of the local people.
In a paper titled, Aeon Centre Of Cosmology, Its Nature And Activities, Thea wrote that the study of universal harmonies is the focal point of her yoga and of her centre: ‘… EVERY activity at the Centre is measured and assessed according to this cosmological yardstick, the Gnostic Circle:
‘With this tool, work at the Centre encompasses every aspect of life in an apt reflection of Sri Aurobindo’s injunction. ”All life is yoga”. But the objective of the work at the Centre is to unveil the deepest inner truth of life’s varied expressions… In this light the Centre at Skambha is on the order of a laboratory. In this ‘nuclear space’ the formulas of the new cosmology are tested on the basis of non-speculative LIVED experiences… Its correct description is an APPLIED Cosmology, with time and its various cycles as the field for this verification…’
Skambha remains the place where Thea’s students aspire, in their daily lives, to apply this cosmological tool, The Gnostic Circle. Currently students are:
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
PO Box 11, Kodaikanal TN India 624 101
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Last December, Prime Minister Modi announced that 2022 would be dedicated to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s birth. He aptly referred to Sri Aurobindo as a revolutionary leader, as ‘the Prophet of Indian Nationalism’ (using Dr Karan Singh’s words). In a paper published on the Ministry of Culture website, the author (mha.gov.in) writes that Sri Aurobindo has been described as a ‘rishi, a poet, a scholar, a literary critic, a philosopher, a yogi…and much more; … but the question still remains, Who really was Sri Aurobindo?’
Based on the yoga and cosmological insights of our Founder, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea, 1938 – 2016), we offer that he was first and foremost, the 9th Evolutionary Avatar. The question and the answer are exceptionally important for India. Thea writes that ‘the Sanatan Dharma contains an inbuilt system of renewal
… unique on this Earth in that it forms the undisputed core of the Dharma or the backbone of the structure. This is the Line of Ten Avatars… a string of births stretched over many millennia but nonetheless thoroughly linked through the substance of the missions to be accomplished. The Avatar’s work, though spread out over vast aeons, is one process with one finality: the establishment of the reign of Truth, or the Golden Age, known as the Satya Yuga.’(1) and (2)
Thea calls Vishnu’s ‘Line of Ten’ the Evolutionary Avatars.. They show the next step in the divine unfolding on Earth, they become ‘the seed of the movement’, she writes. Sri Aurobindo is that ‘seed’ for this 9th Manifestation (3), just as Sri Rama was for the 7th and Sri Krishna for the 8th Manifestation.
The credentials for the Line of Ten Evolutionary Avatars is based totally on the cosmic harmonies. They use Time for their action: each appears at a specific Time, every 6480 years, during the Ages of Preservation (ibid, p. 23). Sri Ram appeared as the 7th during the Age of Leo, 12,000 years ago, Sri Krishna followed as the 8th in the Age of Taurus, and Sri Aurobindo, appeared as the Evolutionary Avatar for the 9th Manifestation during the Age of Aquarius.
Gautam the Buddha, widely considered to be the 9th Avatar, does not possess these cosmic credentials, having been born circa 500 BCE.
In the Map, each section of 6480 years is called a Manifestation; they are twelve in number, the same twelve signs of the zodiac. The Map is based on the Precessional movement of the Earth, her slow westward motion along the path of the Earth’s ecliptic. It takes 25,920 years for the Precession of the Earth to make one complete round through the twelve signs of the zodiac.
Thea turns to the Rig Vedic verses to Vishnu to confirm the ancient wisdom; but she offers a new seeing: she writes that Vishnu, the God of Preservation is measuring out the universe NOT by steps through space, but by steps through TIME, via the Precession of the Equinoxes (4).
Let our strength and our thought go forward to Vishnu the all-pervading,
the wide-moving BULL whose dwelling-place is on the mountain,
he who being One has measured all this long and far-extending seat
of our self-accomplishing by only three of his strides.
The symbol figures in the verses above, Lion, Bull and Friend, which describe Vishnu’s famous steps, are three of the four fixed signs of the Zodiac. The zodiacal signs of fixed quality correspond to Sattva of the Indian Gunas, as in Rajas, Sattva and Tamas. Or they can be categorized as signs of Preservation as in the trinity of Creation, Preservation, Destruction/Dissolution (ibid).
The first of his three steps takes the universe through the time epoch known as the Age of LEO (verse 2, the Lion), during which the 7th Evolutionary Avatar, Sri Ram made his appearance. This is followed by the next step – the Age of TAURUS, (verse 3, the Bull), and the coming of Sri Krishna, 8th Avatar.
It is no small feat that Hinduism can still lay claim to this ancient body of knowledge through its four Vedas, exclaims Thea; thus we know that the ‘Dasavataras are of Vedic origin and not Puranic, as most believe’ (5). That the appearance on Earth of Vishnu’s last three emanations can be located with such exactitude is obviously for the purpose of preserving the Sanatan Dharma.
The primary focus now is on the 9th Manifestation (see Map, red arrow), a period of transition and tremendous possibility as the Earth evolves from the realm of Mind into Supermind – set on its way in 1872, when Sri Aurobindo took birth on Earth as the 9th Avatar of Vishnu. It was a joint mission carried out by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. As Thea explains:
‘…almost the entire focus was to reverse the direction the quest assumed by all the yogas approximately after the time of the Buddha. It was a joint mission to turn the tide – a tide virtually with the power of a tsunami – in that all the great realisers over the past 2000 years, barring very few, had opted for an escape out of the material dimension so as not to face the challenges posed by a creation in matter which appeared insurmountable given the totality of circumstances at this stage of evolution of the species…’(6)
It was on 29 February, 1956, that the yogic breakthrough took place, releasing the descent of a power that would ultimately bring about an entirely new principle operating within the evolutionary process. When the Mother announced that the Supramental Manifestation had occurred, she described it in these words:
‘This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine. As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that “the time has come”, and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces. Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.’ (ibid)
As the Time Spirit arrived in the Ninth Manifestation at the Age of Aquarius, in 1926, when Sri Aurobindo, the true 9th Evolutionary Avatar took up where Sri Krishna left off, he was not recognized.
The fact that Gautam the Buddha could be erroneously inserted into the list of Hindu Avatars as the 9th in the line of ten happened only because over time, veils began to cover the core of Hinduism. The keys to that ancient Vedic Knowledge allowing the Dharma to remain ‘eternal’ were lost (7). Buddhism played an important role in this collapse of energies. It sowed ‘seeds of undermining’ which developed later into a split between Matter and Spirit in the way Reality was perceived – ‘the Spirit was no longer experienced through the Soul, or the Mother…the seeker was encouraged to overstep the Cosmos…’(ibid). With the soul dislodged from its centrality, Thea explains, the Hindu civilization by the Middle Ages, lost its binding energy.
Because the foundation of the Dharma had always been unity, the wise men and women of that Dark Age simply incorporated the Buddhist realisation; ‘it was their lived experience that the Brahman included everything, even the darkness…’. With that the Buddha became the 9th of the Puranic Line of Ten Avatars (ibid). The Puranas however describe his participation in the Line as ‘ruse of the supreme’: one purposefully sent to mislead the seekers, in order to fool the hostile powers.
Thea asks why was it necessary to have a false avatar, a ruse, interjected into the line? ‘Was the fall of the Dharma seen to be a necessary corollary to a rise?’ She refers to Sri Aurobindo’s own words about a ‘wider harmonisation which only the present Age of Supermind can unfold’ (ibid):
‘…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 realization, 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, Book 1, Part 5, ‘The Meaning and Purpose of Avatarhood’, Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 28).
The erroneous insertion of the Buddha into the Line of Ten Evolutionary Avatars has had enormous consequences on the Dharma.
Hinduism could no longer locate the periods of Vishnu or determine the exact time of the appearance of the Avatar. In fact, at this point, Thea exclaims, the next appearance of Vishnu is not expected ‘until the fourth millennium of our era!’ (8).
2. In addition to losing its time measure, the purpose and value of caste fell into disrepair. In the Vedic Journey, in the sacrifice of the Year, each part of society revealed their highest realisation. ‘Caste was not divisive, it was a path to wholeness and completion’ (9). Chaturvarna was totally based on the cosmic foundation, ‘… an expression of the cosmic Parush, limbs of a single body’ (ibid).
The Divine Purpose of birth on Earth is to move into creation rather than out of it or beyond it, writes Thea, ‘to experience the imminent Transcendent in the heart of each created thing, the Hiranyaretas, or the golden Seed, light of the worlds’…
The purpose of Chaturvarna 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 this 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…’ (ibid)
During this 9th Manifestation of the Earth there is one place on the planet that holds as the ‘centre’ during the dismantling of the old earth and its evolution from the mental to the supramental consciousness. India has always carried the tremendous ‘burden of her destiny’ as the planet’s soul-centre, writes Thea: the link to the ‘other side’ – that replenishing eternal fount of light and power and bliss, Sat – Chit – Ananda (10). The nation lives on while others, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, have faded and waned out of existence.
India’s ‘centreship’ is not an enviable position; it means that all the problems our civilization has inherited from the last Age of Pisces (234 BCE – 1926 CE) which have been drawn into this destined centre must now be dealt with. India found herself, at the start of the new Aquarian Age (1926), shackled with many unresolved problems, the same ones that are creating havoc across the globe today, arising, it must be noted, from the divisiveness caused by religions. And because she is the Earth’s true cosmological centre what is being worked out in her grand plan, what transpires and unfolds in her consciousness, can affect the whole planet (11). India is rooted in the Sanatana Dharma and therefore ‘exclusivism’ of any sort cannot be permitted.
The Line of Ten Evolutionary Avatars means a march forward, with Hinduism providing a firm foundation upholding the progression. Thea assures us that
’Hinduism is one of the rare expressions on Earth of a progressively unfolding cosmic Truth… because its soul is that very Cosmic Truth, it is one with the deepest purpose of the planetary evolution.
Hinduism can therefore be identified as the vahana (vehicle) of the Earth’s own soul, a truth exquisitely conveyed in the ancient Vedic symbol of the white steed, Agni, carrying Usha, the divine Dawn, across the horizon of the Earth’s awakening cosmic Day.’ (12)
The mission of Shri Ram, the 7th Avatar, was fulfilled thousands of years ago, in the 7th Manifestation; the Ayodhya issue has served successfully as a rallying point to awaken dormant energies, calling attention the Line of Ten Avatars, the most vital feature and backbone of the Sanatan Dharma.
But now is the time to focus on what is transpiring today – a turning point has been reached in Hindu civilization, in the world. It is the evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo – 9th Evolutionary Avatar, that carries us forward in our march. Thea explains the special ‘tapasya’ that he undertook to anchor the Earth in a new time:
‘…The avatar must take on the full burden of the work he or she comes to do, Unconsciousness of parts of this manifestation, or an unknowing of the outcome of the struggle and its details, are often essential elements for securing the victory. It must be remembered that a fundamental aspect of the avatar’s function is to live the process, to himself be the field, the Kurukshetra of the divine consciousness in evolution. This cannot be a travesty or a make-believe drama. The avatar lives the process in full; for this he accepts the yoke of ignorance placed upon him by the Supreme, for the benefit of the work to be done. This in fact, is his true great work for humanity, his really noble sacrifice. In this way he serves humanity as no other could do.’(13)
May this 150th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s birth serve to revitalize the spirit and soul of the Hindu nation. May we hear his call for a ‘new spiritual awakening in India’. Let the residue which has accumulated surrounding the core of Hinduism, for over 2500 years, be cast aside so that the crusts that veil the true 9th evolutionary avatar be dissolved.
The Third Premise
The recent articles of David Frawley and Michael Witzel concerning a possible historic content in the Rig Veda have opened up areas that need to be explored. It is an undeniable fact that the work of scholars such as Frawley has dealt a blow to the upholders of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), the colonial-inspired speculations on the origins of Indian civilisation. It was simply the product of a mindset that had to justify colonisation and wholesale destruction of ancient cultures. Finally it is being laid to rest and other voices are heard.
However, in the effort to disprove the quasi-defunct theory of a civilisation imported from perhaps Central Asia, the defenders of the age and place of the Saraswati Civilisation have also missed the point. David Frawley’s conjectures regarding the numerous references to oceans and seas in the Rig Veda are a case in point. While offering suggestive evidence that the composers of the hymns did not descend into the subcontinent from a landlocked region, Frawley’s interpretation of the Rig Veda as a purely historic document fails to take into consideration that the text is the product of the vision of Rishis; ‘poets’, according to Witzel. We cannot overlook this fact in seeking to unravel its mysteries.
It is curious that apart from Sri Aurobindo (The Secrets of the Veda), few are willing to accept the Vedic symbols for what they are. Thus, the true character of the text is lost, and the true historic value the Rig Veda does indeed contain. But this historic content has to be discovered on the basis of the language the Rishis employed. In this regard, I find Witzel has been more faithful to the original sense and purpose than Frawley.
For example, let us consider the sea imagery. Frawley and others have used it to reinforce their theories. However, lacking the proper preparation, scholars cannot appreciate the cosmological character of the Rig Veda. In a cosmological context – and none will deny the cosmic moorings of Vedic culture – the sea is the cosmic ocean in which the galaxies and systems are immersed. In some cases it is the ecliptic of our particular solar system in which the planets (‘ships’, ‘golden boats’) navigate. This does not displace the theories of a more mundane interpretation because, similar to dream experiences, the images chosen by the subject as ‘symbols’ in the night time experience are usually taken from the physical world he or she knows in the waking state.
We find this cosmic intent corroborated by Witzel. His reading of the references to oceans and seas is closer to the mark than Frawley’s. He quotes Rig Vedic references to the ‘four oceans’, or the ‘eastern and western oceans’; or else the Atharvaveda ‘northern, upper ocean’. All of these are clear and unmistakable pointers to the cosmological content of the Veda. They cannot be interpreted otherwise, as Frawley has sought to do. Specifically, they are references to the cardinal points on which the Earth is balanced as she voyages through the cosmic sea in orbit of the Sun. The Atharvaveda mention of the northern ocean is especially meaningful since that would refer to the Capricorn north cardinal point, precisely the ‘upper hemisphere’ in cosmic harmonies, which still today holds pride of place in Hindu culture. Witness the annual celebration of the Makar Sankranti, the Sun’s apparent entry into Capricorn (PNB, 1975, 1981, 2001, 2002). This month/sign, Capricorn, is further honoured in the Veda itself since it is in that month of the twelve that the Aryan warrior is victorious.
The ancient dictum of Hermes Trismegistos can be applied here: ‘As above, so below.’ The ‘above’ is the cosmic ocean that may well find its reflection in the physical ocean the Rishi knows so well in his experience of life in ancient Bharat. The sea, the river, the ocean were and remain such vibrant parts of the culture that their incorporation in the hymns does suggest that the Vedic people did not descend upon the subcontinent from some land-locked location; which in any case finds no mention in the Rig Veda, to my knowledge. But unless taken in its cosmic perspective, much of the true meaning is lost. Nor can the formulas involving cosmic energies (the Gods and Goddesses) of the Veda be applied today as they had been in the ancient past.
For instance, Frawley refers to the births of Agastya and Vashishta as ‘born in a pot or kumbha’, the Sanskrit word. He interprets this as ‘a vessel or a ship’ to reinforce his theory of a seafaring civilisation. To begin, I must indeed agree with Witzel that for a civilisation at home with the oceans as Frawley sustains, one fails to understand why the Rishi would need to make Agastya emerge from a pot if indeed he had been born at sea! A pot is a pot and a ship is a ship!
More to the point, in making this deduction Frawley misses an important clue. Kumbha in the Rig Veda is what it still is today, thousands of years after the hymns were recorded: the zodiacal sign Aquarius, the Water Carrier, who, from the jar he carries, dispenses upon the whole world the waters of a divine substance; it is known in Sanskrit as Kumbha. This is the same Kumbha that gives its name to the world-famous Mela we celebrate year after year during the very same zodiacal month of Kumbha (PNB, 1978, 1981, 2001, 2002).
A point needs to be made here. Myths evolve from the cosmic script, and not the reverse. In the Indian context regarding the Kumbha Mela, mythology tells us that the precious amrit from the Moon was taken in a jar back to Earth. Where drops of this immortalising substance fell, the ground was sanctified. Thereafter, celebrations were held in those locations according to specific planetary progressions. We can recognise here elements of the same cosmic script in the pictograph of the Aquarius Water Carrier.
Indian scholars will contend that these zodiacal figures are equally ‘imports’, similar to an ‘imported civilisation’. Therefore, those who seek to support their theories of an indigenous culture will argue that the zodiac as we know it today was brought to India by the Greeks, long after the Rig Veda was penned; and that therefore its symbols cannot possibly be found in the Veda.
These arguments are easily countered. A simple perusal of the praises to Vishnu (RV, I, 154) will prove that the so-called Western Zodiac was not only fully known in Vedic times but that it was a fundamental part of the culture (PNB, 1981). Vishnu’s famous three strides (to measure the universe) cannot be more revealing. The first ‘step’ is like a lion (Leo), according to the Veda; the second is a bull (Taurus); the third, and most revealing of all, is the Friend. This is the same Aquarius of Agastya’s birth, which is also known as the sign of the Friend. More conclusively, they are given in their correct backward moving order, and are Vishnu’s own zodiacal domains because of their quality of PRESERVATION (‘Fixed’ in zodiacal terminology, stable, balancing). This is just one among many explicit references in the Rig Veda to the tropical zodiac with the same symbols still in use throughout the world, except in India.
To further illustrate their universal reach, we find the very same images recorded in The Revelation of St John (Chapter 12, 7.), written on the Greek island, Patmos, around 70 AD (PNB, 1976). With respect to that same cosmic sea the visionary sees four ‘beasts’ therein: the first is a Lion, the second is a Calf, the third is a Man, and the fourth an Eagle. If the Eagle, the fourth sign, was left out of Vishnu’s measuring it is because this Eagle is Garuda, his own carrier. He begins his measuring from that point in the wheel, also known as Scorpio, and takes ‘three steps’. Scorpio, otherwise known as the zodiacal Eagle, would be the fourth in correct sequence, similar to John’s text.
The stumbling block in discovering the tropical zodiac in the Rig Veda is another ‘lobby’ we have to contend with: vested interests of the ‘Vedic Astrologers’. Witzel begins his rejoinder to Frawley by providing us with the latter’s credentials as a prominent practitioner of this school, an ‘unacademic’ pursuit.
I must take the matter a step further by reminding both Frawley and Witzel that the composers of the hymns did not have credentials that would satisfy contemporary academia. Their method of discovery was through Yoga, which opened up vistas as wide and as deep as the cosmic oceans of which they sang. To fathom the meaning of such texts it is clear that academic credentials are simply not enough; others are demanded. To begin, since the hymns reveal an indisputable cosmic content, surely this would be the best approach. But this is where the various ‘lobbies’ come in with their vested interests.
Frawley will not be able to make use of the zodiacal clues such as the births of Agastya and Vashishta from a ‘kumbha’ precisely because of his Vedic Astrology proficiency. Let it be clear that I make this point not to lend weight to Witzel’s contention that this lessens Frawley’s qualifications as a scholar, but rather that this involvement limits his perception.
Vedic Astrology is actually a misnomer. It has little to do with the Veda and should rather be called post-Vedic astrology (PNB, 2001, 2002). Though this would be a lengthy discussion and cannot be treated in this brief space, it has to be mentioned since it is responsible for the very clear cosmological/zodiacal content of the Veda to be missed. The propagators of so-called Vedic Astrology ignore references to the tropical zodiac simply because they refuse to believe that this zodiac, with the same hieroglyphs and pictographs we use today, can form a part of the Veda. This is another un-Vedic ‘import’, it is believed, a foreign imposition of a much later date, and hence it cannot be found in the ancient Veda. What they fail to admit is that their so-called Vedic Astrology finds no place at all in that Veda!
The Rig Veda is replete with references to what is now considered a tropical zodiac import and in no way related to the sidereal zodiac in vogue for the past 1000 years in India. This is another case in point to support Frawley’s closing statement, also quoted by Witzel but for different reasons. Frawley justifiably laments the fact that India, unlike any other nation on Earth, is so ‘negative’ regarding the ‘ancient glories of its land’. Following Frawley’s line, we must then question why India has such difficulty accepting the true origins of the zodiac used throughout the world today, clear traces of which are rooted in its own most ancient sacred text, thereby throwing an entirely new light on the subject of its origin as well as its age? This might well make India the originator of that cosmic script, and not Mesopotamia as currently believed. It would further clarify much of what is considered ‘history’, such as the kumbha of Agastya’s birth, mentioned above. Even more significantly, with this cosmological key, the Epics tell a very different story. Their ‘history’ is revealed.
There can be no doubt that Witzel has dealt the knock-out punch, at least for this round. His reading of the text is closer to the original conception, though he has no cosmological foundation to interpret the images accurately. Nonetheless, by calling the Vedic ocean ‘mythical’, and the description of the night time sky as that ‘ocean’, he has pointed readers in the right direction. His reading of the text is certainly closer to the ancient spirit.
I have given here only a few hints of the cosmological content of the Rig Veda (for further discussion, see www.aeongroup.com). However, I must close by stating that history is indeed recorded in the Veda, as well as in the Epics, but one has to use correct cosmic formulas to make this discovery, bearing in mind that the ancients were not at all concerned with keeping records for posterity as we do today. Their concern was the vast movement of consciousness and the oneness of micro and macrocosm; and the eternal character of the cosmos is what adds a timeless value to the language they used to compose the hymns. If we learn that language we can easily understand what appear to be cryptic phrases. However, we must also bear in mind that the Rig Veda is not a textbook or a manual. It is a collection of praises, hymns, in a free-flowing language whose multi-dimensions are largely ignored today. But in the Vedic Age, as the scripture reveals, this language was universal and required no elaboration. To make a connection with that ancient culture, we have to live the same inner experience, leaving aside the methods of scholarship for a while, as well as all our conditioned preferences and vested interests, if we want those symbols of another age to speak to us once again.
There was no time earlier to reply to Avtar Krishen Kaul’s (AKK hereinafter for brevity’s sake) recent paper, though we are all familiar with his basic premise: there are no symbols and signs of the zodiac (Rashis) in the Veda. Since these are widely found throughout the later texts such as the Puranas and works on Jyotish, his contention is that they are of Babylonian/Greek origin. They were then imported into India and widely adopted. This follows orthodox scholarship entirely and does not seek to probe deeper. In fact, no one really knows where and when these symbols arose. That the Rashis and their planetary rulers form the woof and warp of the entire Hindu Culture which we find preserved in myths, scriptures, and in temples across the land, to go by this orthodox non-conclusion would then appear to be a further proof of the loss of the earlier Vedic Knowledge in favour of an imported culture. But AKK has by no means furnished conclusive evidence of the precise origins of the Rashis. Therefore, his entire premise collapses since this is the pivotal argument sustaining his entire campaign against their use. How then can he be taken seriously? (In addition to the points I have made, please refer to the latest posting of Shri Jai Maharaj on the Forum, entitled ‘Astrology-Astronomy Origins’, dated 23.12.2006. what we learn from the evidence he presents further supports my objections to AKK’s statements.)
I would like to refute his long paper point by point, but firstly I am obliged to deal with his curious statements regarding the Supreme Master of our line of Knowledge, Sri Aurobindo. From what AKK writes one would have to believe that he has a profound understanding of Sri Aurobindo. Of course this is not so. Without any compunction he suggests that Sri Aurobindo is wrong in the translation of ‘mrigah’ as Lion in the Vishnu praises of Rig Veda I, 154. He mentions that ‘some astrologers’ interpret these epithets to be the Fixed Signs of the zodiac. To my knowledge no astrologer other than me has done so; this discovery is mine. However, it needs to be stated that a true astrologer, and I employ the title with reservations, cannot fail to grasp the meaning of these verses in which Mahavishnu is, precisely, measuring the universe. He is not engaged in some abstract exercise that we cannot follow. All we need to do is to accept what the Hymns themselves sustain, without any further ado. We need to use the same measuring rod Mahavishnu employed and which is made absolutely clear in the text – and that is the zodiac in use throughout the world in the Vedic Age until today, even in India. Moreover, these provide evidence that the Precession of the Equinoxes formed a solid part of Vedic Cosmology (see Jai Maharaj’s posting of 23.12.2006).
A competent astrologer, one who has earned this hallowed title, cannot fail to acknowledge that the astrological signs each ‘stride’ describes are precisely those of Vishnu’s own domain in that zodiac: the Fixed Signs which belong to the mode PRESERVATION. Anyone even minimally versed in the basics of Hinduism knows that this mode belongs to Vishnu of the sacred Trinity. Therefore, to deny bombastically, simply for the sake of denying, is not to refute my discovery at all. The members of the Hindu Calendar Forum may be taken in by this sort of ‘scholarship’, but the real savant is not. Who can shout the loudest will not do. AKK has not provided any evidence at all that my reading of the verses is inaccurate. Hence my discovery stands unchallenged to date.
Back to the question of mrigah. In his heated denials AKK does concede that Sayana has also translated mrigah as lion. In my library I have several translations other than Sri Aurobindo’s. The use of Lion is evenly divided between them; and since I know that the Rig Vedic path stood central to Sri Aurobindo’s own tapasya, I must state that his translation stems from depths that scholars, no matter how erudite, can never approach. If one is to truly follow the ancient Vedic way, then we must agree on one point: the Seer’s vision and perception stand above the scholar’s, whosoever he may be and regardless of the volumes he has penned to support his thesis, whatever that may be. The final word lies with the Sage of standing.
Having established the above, given the more or less even distribution of ‘Lion’ in the various interpretations, we have to concede that Sri Aurobindo’s choice was also academically correct and acceptable. In fact, in ancient times this seems to have been the accepted meaning of the word; Sayana’s translation would support this conclusion. Thus, Sri Aurobindo is not to be dismissed as an intruder; to do so simply reveals a mindset which reserves any right to interpret the Veda as the exclusive preserve of Sanskritists. Therefore, on this point too Avtar Krishen Kaul’s denials have been effectively countered and he should cease from disparaging a discovery which can only encourage the updating and spread of one of the most basic tenets of Hinduism, the Dasavatars of Sri Vishnu’s line. But, we realise, if he were to concede defeat on this one point, his entire tirade against the Rashichakra would fall flat.
What AKK does not realise is that Sri Aurobindo was an in-depth student of astrology. In unpublished documents which have surfaced after his departure, he is found to have written, ‘…I have faith in astrology – ten years experience confirmed. But also amongst a thousand [astrologers], nine hundred know nothing about it…’ The Sri Aurobindo Archives & Research editor adds to the above, ‘The letter is remarkable mainly for showing Sri Aurobindo’s interest in astrology, which, at this period of his life was profound. Around this time he went through and made notes on a large Sanskrit and Bengali astrological tome entitled Horabijan Rahasyam, by Narayan Chandra Jyotirbhusan Bhattacharya…’ (SA&R, Vol, 5, No.1, April 1981).
This was written in 1912 when Sri Aurobindo had settled in Pondicherry; it reveals that the Rashichakra was well known to him since that was the astrology widely in use then as now. It is also known that the Rig Veda constituted a central axis of his own tapasya. Furthermore, the Mother his co-worker, an advanced adept in occultism and the ancient paths of wisdom to no less a degree than Sri Aurobindo, designed a symbol for herself that precisely conveys the structure of the zodiac: 12 outer petals, 4 inner petals, enclosed by 3 concentric circles. I assume the members of this Forum are familiar enough with the basics of astrology and the threefold and fourfold division of the ecliptic to recognise what the Mother was conveying. Did she spell these out as Aries, Taurus, and so on? Of course not. That discovery was reserved for those disciples who understood and were able to penetrate these Mysteries more deeply. But she did transpose this entire structure to sacred architecture when she designed a chamber based on her Symbol and specifically stated that the twelve were ‘the months of the year’. (Visit www.matacom.com for further proof of the Mother’s credentials in this area.)
In like manner, as was the custom in those ancient times the Knowledge was passed on only after intense tapasya just as Sri Aurobindo himself underwent, the result of which can be gauged from his magnum opus, The Secret of the Veda. Ridiculing this traditional method for making oneself a vessel worthy of the Knowledge, as AKK does repeatedly, is certainly a terrible injustice and a disservice to the community he pretends to guide. In itself this attitude provides the proof we need to know that the real understanding of the Veda cannot arise in one who has not undergone the required tapasya.
Conclusions to Instalment 1
AKK provides no evidence
1) as to the true origins of the Rashichakra;
2) to sustain his rejection of Lion as an academically acceptable translation of mridah;
3) that Vishnu’s three strides cannot to be equated with his Fixed signs of Preservation Leo, Taurus and Aquarius.
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
26 December 2006
(To be continued)
4 January 2007
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
My original intention was to dedicate time to an in-depth refutation of Avtar Krishen Kaul’s long paper which sets about ridiculing anybody and anything that does not conform to his views, changeful as they have been demonstrated to be over the years. But in going through his text – along with Subash Kak’s ‘Babylonian and Indian Astronomy’, since Kak and I are AKK’s latest targets – I realise that this is not the way I am permitted to use my time. I find nothing but obscurity in AKK’s text; and by this I mean no enlightening clarity. His research and accompanying texts will never lead a person to that luminescence of old. In other words, this is just the opposite result of what a Vedic tapasya must bring. Here we find only a deepening labyrinthine confusion. There is page after page of a jumble of ideas, conclusions that always turn out to be non-conclusions, thoughts jumping helter-skelter like monkeys trapped in a cage – this is the state one is driven into when reading such texts. Subash Kak’s is closer to the quality we seek when dealing with matters Vedic, but his deductions also stem from a mental preparation and discipline that is far removed from the consciousness of the Rishi and the pathways that led to the formulations we discover in the Vedic texts.
However, there is one portion of Kak’s paper that I wish to comment on. This is on page 28, subtitled ‘On Observations in Indian Astronomy’. The point he makes is that there was ‘observational astronomy’ in the Vedic Age, contrary to ‘the falsity of the 19th century notion that India did not have observational astronomy’ and hence this has had ‘devastating consequences for the schoolbook histories of early astronomy’.
I am not surprised that there is some confusion regarding the methods the Rishis used for their discoveries, and that after the split between science and the sacred there should be attempts made to demonstrate that India did possess observational astronomy, contrary to the conclusions reached by historians. I have pointed out in a number of books and articles – more recently in ‘The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline’ – that the realisation of the Rishi was an inner-dimensional one, and not extended outward. The whole universe was within the Seer’s consciousness. There was indeed no ‘observational astronomy’ involved because the method is through the ancient Vedic system of CORRESPONDENCES and EQUIVALENCES, for which astronomical calculations and observations are not required. Just the contrary. Those observations might constitute a dilution of the experience. I realise this may not be comprehensible to anyone who has not experienced the same path as followed in those ancient times; but when the seeker is guided to follow the ancient way, an entire body of knowledge is uncovered, but exclusively within the innermost universe of the soul. I am not making vacuous statements since I myself, through the same pathways, have formulated and documented an entirely new Body of Knowledge, an Indo-centric cosmology that would itself appear to be the outcome of external observations but which was entirely the fruit of an inner exploration.
Kak ends his paper with these prescient lines, ‘The observational protocols used in Indian astronomy has become an interesting question to be investigated further.’ But what if the evidence I am presenting here of a different direction (within not without) were taken into account as a part of that investigation by researchers? The conclusions reached would necessarily present an entirely different picture of the ancient methods; and the confusion would be cleared up by recognising that the wisdom we find in the Veda does not depend on external observation at all. Rather, those discoveries are the fruit of a rigorous tapasya which is fully described in the Vedic system itself.
AKK debunks any reference made to tapasya – but more unacceptable is the fact that in his paper he jumps to conclusions by equating tapasya with meditation. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But not having pursued the path as per the Veda, he can never know the difference. Thus his customary facetiousness drives him to make serious errors of judgement when he thrusts my yogic endeavour into a category where it does not belong. This endeavour has been fully reflected in my published works since 1972 to the present. In this Body of Knowledge there is not a trace of this confusion. Nor can I recommend that AKK read my work to prove this for himself because his mind cannot seem to rest and read what is written on the printed page. He would constantly impose his limitations on the text before him and these preconceptions would not allow any light they might contain to penetrate. And so, we can look forward to more and more confusion. Year after year AKK’s efforts have led farther away from the light. Since I have been strung up and quartered a number of times by him in what he has been writing over the past few years, it is certainly within my right, but above all my duty, as in dharma, to deal with what AKK misrepresents.
His (latest) tirade against my work is found on pages 29 and 30 of this text. In Part 1 of this refutation I have explained the basis for Sri Aurobindo’s selection of words such as Lion for mrigah and how it must be considered academically correct, even if one dismisses the yogic aspect as AKK would like to do. But his statements to debunk my work through these supremely important verses reveal his lack of a knowledge that was an initiatic language the Rishis of former times knew so well. Since the Harmony from where this vision sprang is still with us intact, it is reasonable to believe that if one were similarly initiated into the methods employed then the result would be the same Language. But AKK does not have this knowledge; and so he brushes aside any serious penetration into these mysteries as gibberish – simply because he is not an astrologer. For instance, he ridicules my references to the three, Lion, Bull, Friend, of Sri Aurobindo’s translation, as the three FIXED SIGNS of the zodiac. It is not clear what he actually debunks – nor am I going to attempt to fathom the unfathomable that is his mindset. I will simply give the particulars and readers can consider their worth.
The Veda usually refers to three elements that constitute the foundation of the wheel of time: 360 ‘bands’ (of the wheel) as in 12 parts, and ‘spokes’ of 360; but there are also three hubs.
One is the wheel; the bands are twelve;
three are the hubs – who can understand it?
Three hundred spokes and sixty in addition
have been hammered therein and firmly riveted. (AV X, 8)
Similar to these verses to Skambha in the Atharvaveda we find the same 12 and 360 elsewhere. The 360 divided into 12 is understandable, the three hubs are not. Since their meaning is not clear, they are usually set aside; only what is recognisable is dealt with, 360 and 12. And yet this triadic arrangement is the key that leads us to unravel the mystery of the Vishnu verses; and through them to understand the greatest revelation of all, the Dashavatars of Hinduism. These ‘hubs’ would represent Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable signs of astrological lore. They describe energy flows; hence they are reflected in the Hindu transcription as rajas, sattva, tamas; or in another expression as Creation, Preservation, Destruction. In other words, they apply to the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. It is a mark of the confusion amidst a deepening darkness that set in to note that this simple and obvious correlation was somehow lost sight of; yet it is entirely obvious to a real astrologer. AKK is excluded from this fold by the many demonstrations he has given of his ignorance of the art.
The FIXED signs – Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, Scorpio/Eagle – are Vishnu’s ‘domain’; but this does not explain the full importance of the arrangement. The FIXED SIGNS point to the astrological ages when his emanations (the Line of Ten) will take birth, separated by 6480 years between each appearance. One of the Emanation’s tasks is to re-set the Cosmic Timepiece which, with the passage of 6000 years, is bound to have suffered what we see around us today: the tyranny of Phantom Ayanamshas. The Avatar of the Line of Ten does this by his own birth into our Earth time which becomes the lodestar, as it were, the philosopher’s stone that we can use to test our assumptions and deductions, and by which means we are led to the light. We are led out of the confusion and darkness that characterise any kaliyuga. This almost pitch darkness is the condition of a consciousness that approaches these mysteries in the pedestrian manner reflected in a text such as AKK’s. Nonetheless, when darkness is deepest the grace of Vishnu through his emanations has been revealed to be fully operative. Thus the cosmic harmonies are made new through the details of this descent, connected as they are to the former appearances – the 7th of the Age of Leo, and the 8th of the Age of Taurus (see The New Way, Aeon Books, 1981).
AKK again reveals his lack of astrological preparation when he laughs at the ‘pitcher’ (Aquarius, the Water Carrier) as having anything to do with the Friend. The Avatar’s appearance in our present Age of the Friend, just as the Vedic verses to Vishnu indicate, indeed bear out the tradition in no uncertain terms when we know that the Friend (all astrologer know that the 11th sign/house refers to friends primarily in a horoscope) is located in the Uttarayana quarter of the wheel divided into four parts, resting on the solstices and equinoxes. Uttarayana is not just one point on the wheel, the highest or the Midday Cosmic Sun. The solstice indicates ENTRY into that quarter which covers, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Of the three Aquarius is Vishnu’s sign/domain, and hence the Age in the precession of the equinoxes when his emanation will appear to re-set the Cosmic Clock.
If one is ignorant of these details than one can only scoff at any of the metaphors the Rishi has used for these three ‘strides’, and especially his references to a MOUNTAIN in the imagery. AKK exclaims, ‘There are no lions or bulls in the mountains!’, in his inimitable pedestrian manner. But in these verses the Rishi clearly places these strides as stages in a sequential progression that is represented as a mountain climb to the summit. And there we do find the Friend or Aquarius, our present Age. One who has not done the required tapasya (not meditation, please) can never understand the image of the Mountain as representing the successive stages along the way to the highest victory. AKK is ignorant of this Tradition, but sages of former times all concur in this symbolism, to the extent that it and it alone formed the basis of the sacred architecture of all Hindu temples. One need only approach any temple, large or small, to join the Rishi in his experience while standing before a Gopuram which in stone represents that very same Mountain. The summit is the 10th month/sign, the true sign of the Mountain. And this is Capricorn which begins at the December Solstice. Why do we wish to discard this wonderful tradition? Why do we waste our time arguing over where and when this tradition arose, or if it came into or went out from the subcontinent millennia ago, when all one needs to do is to explore the very same inner universe as the Rishi and make those very same discoveries today.
Having stated this, due credit must be given to Subash Kak because he has provided conclusive evidence in his article, ‘Babylonian and Indian Astronomy’, that the astronomy/ astrology of Vedic India was firmly in place long before the Mesopotamian and Greek traditions came into being. This evidence should have sufficed to silence AKK: his declaration that the Rashichakra was imported from Babylon and Greece into India is revealed to be entirely unsubstantiated.
To conclude with Kumbha, the friendly Water Carrier who dispenses the sacred waters from his pitcher throughout the universe, these are the inspirational rivers so often acclaimed in the Veda. They carry the seeker – and in this Aquarian Age the whole Earth – into the realm where the Cosmic Harmonies the Carrier embodies flow to the Earth since it is precisely the period when the last of Vishnu’s emanations of the Line of 10 will grace our planet (in this Line there is no place for the Buddha since Vishnu’s emanations can descend only in his FIXED periods, the signs of PRESERVATION like our own; the Buddha’s birth was 2000 years too early, though with the loss of the Knowledge he was erroneously added to the Line).
I could provide hundreds of examples of this sacred Language employed throughout the Veda; but I realise that these examples are meaningless to anyone who is not open to the Vedic Wisdom as it truly is. But allow me to close this refutation by referring to Indra in order to demonstrate the way a planet or a luminary’s ‘Exaltation’ has been conveyed or made use of in the Veda. It may not be explicitly called Exaltation, but the manner in which the Godhead is eulogised reveals this ‘exalted’ status; and as such we find this essence captured by the tradition of cosmic harmonies and preserved in astrological lore to this day. This clear and concise symbolism related to the Gods indicates that it was a system of Knowledge so thoroughly widespread and accepted that explanations of the sort we demand today were not required. Thus, Indra is often eulogised as the Bull, and sometimes though to a lesser degree as the Ram. His eyes are the Bright Eyes of swar, – one the Sun, the other the Moon. We know that the Sun is exalted in Aries the Ram of the zodiac, while the Moon is exalted in Taurus the Bull. There was no need to spell these connections out explicitly since the entire population in those ancient times knew the one Language, the divine Cosmic Harmony which is all light and no darkness. Whereas today that cosmos has become the preserve of astronomers, such as AKK aspires to become. The separation of astronomy from astrology is complete, and so it must stay because astrology demands the exploration of an INNER universe where these Divine Harmonies exist eternally and by which we can experience the Hermetic aphorism, ‘As above, so below’. It is not the reverse. We cannot explore the heavens and then seek to impose our findings on the inner universe of Light.