The Origins and Nature of Hindu Decline – 1
28 November 2006
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 – 2
9 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 Constellationswere not to be confused with the Tropical Zodiac which 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 year as 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.