Also in this Series
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 2
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.1
- Culture and Cosmos – I
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 1
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.6
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.2
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.3
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.4
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.5
- Culture and Cosmos – 3.2
- Culture and Cosmos – 3.1
If there is one cosmic ‘note’ to summarise the character and destiny of India it would have to be the 3, the third number-power in the descending scale of 9-6-3. In metaphysics the 3 would be the Daughter Principle of the trinity Father (9), Mother (6) and Daughter (3). This triad can be considered the building blocks of material creation. The philosophical/yogic expression of the same triad is the Transcending Divine (9), the Cosmic Divine (6) and the Individual Divine (3). The latter is therefore the condensed ‘note’ of India’s destiny.
This destiny equation also has its physical expression which we discover in the way Indians view the subcontinental landmass. For most it is Bharat Mata, Mother India. But the myth that conveys this aspect of divinised geography involves Parvati, Shiva’s consort. While Parvati is revered for her union with Shiva as his ‘shakti’ and as the mother of his two divine sons, Ganesh and Kartikeya, and this special ‘motherhood’ in turn allows her to stand as the presiding Goddess of the physical landmass as Mother India, she is more particularly honoured as the daughter of Himavat, the Mountain King. In view of this, daughters throughout India traditionally return to their parent’s home on the last day of the main festival in celebration of the exploits of the Goddess, the Navaratri or Durga Puja. On the tenth and last day, this return to the parental home occurs and the Goddess, in spite of being consort and mother, ever remains the divine Daughter of the pantheon.
To further highlight this quality, a key location in the subcontinental landmass is named after the Goddess, but in her virginal aspect of kanya or kumari, both words signifying maiden, – the first in Tamil and the second in Sanskrit. Thus, the southernmost tip of the descending ‘V’ of the Capricorn hieroglyphic map of India is known as Kanyakumari. The northernmost area is dominated by the Himalayas, or the abode of Himavat, father of Kanya, and abode also of Shiva, her divine Consort. Regardless of her changed status through her union with Shiva, Durga continues to be this divine Daughter in addition to all the rest.
In the contemporary context, a further proof of the prominence of the 3 or the Daughter Principle in the Indian destiny is found in the year of birth of the new India at the time of independence from British rule: 1947, which bears the 3 power (1+9+4+7=21-3). The full date and sum, 15.8.1947, being 8 indicates that though occurring on the birthday of the 9th Avatar, Sri Aurobindo, the process was not complete. Something more remained to be accomplished, and involving precisely the Third Power.
Thus, the cosmic principle central to India’s destiny, and by consequence to the destiny of every inhabitant of the subcontinent, is the INDIVIDUAL DIVINE. The 9 (transcendent) and 6 (cosmic) are ‘compressed’ into the Third Power or Principle – the Individual. The channel or abode of this compression is the soul. Thus the 3 is the number-power in the new cosmology which describes the soul. By consequence, India, as the embodiment of that power, can fulfil the role of soul of the Earth better than any other nation. In the remainder of this series I shall explore deeply the significance of this singular representation. But to begin with, it must be stated that this high destiny requires a realisation which is crucial to that expression. It is the question of ‘alignment’, of ‘centering’. That is, India’s higher destiny requires that particular and special realisation proper to the Third Power: the birth that fills the void, – or, the creation of a ‘centre’, a ‘centre that holds’. Her trials and tribulations over many millennia form a part of the intricate process of fulfilling that destiny, of taking her place on the globe as the embodiment of the Earth’s soul. Thus, the question of ‘filling the void’ is the most essential element of India’s millennial destiny, a progression covering 54,000 years and the consecutive appearance of nine Evolutionary Avatars. With the unveiling of the tenth, the ‘centre’ is firmly in place, the ‘birth’ has occurred which has ‘filled the void’.
In this portion of the study I propose to demonstrate that this question of centering and alignment lies at the root of the Rigvedic yoga, especially expressed through Agni. And in the process it will also be made evident that a reassessment of the Veda shall have to be undertaken. The ‘history’ it records, contrary to the opinion of scholars, is the process I am describing in these pages, comprehension of which can explain much that has been obscured by academia in Hindu civilisation. Indeed, the Rigveda is the ‘seed’ of all that we know as Hinduism today and describes in very great detail the destiny of India within herself and for the world.
The question of alignment is often conveyed in the Rigveda in descriptions of chariots and their central pole and yoke. However, scholars such as S. Piggott prefer to see in this a confirmation of an Aryan invasion of the subcontinent from Europe or perhaps Central Asia, since in Homeric times and Celtic Britain there seems to be evidence of the same mechanism he believes is described in the hymns. Yet these references invariably involve cosmic alignments. Hence the importance given to the chariot of the Sun, Surya, so obviously a cosmic symbol.
The dating of the Rigveda to about 1500 BC is equally an aberration. The problem is that to begin with a ‘fact’ had to be established – for reasons which conformed to an imperialist design rather than truth. This ‘fact’ was the refusal to admit of a civilisation on the subcontinent which surpassed those of the Middle East and Mediterranean world at the time the Veda was supposed to have been formulated.
Two premises were essential to establish. The first was that the hymns could not refer to anything more sophisticated than what an uncivilised, pagan mind could articulate; the Veda could express concepts appropriate to a primitive society only. The second, connected to the first, was the time factor. These hymns could not date to a period other than one in which Europe and the Middle East could be accommodated as superior in culture and sole inspirers of everything that is denied to the Vedic civilisation.
With this established the Rigveda a priori could not suggest anything other than a conquest from foreign lands by ‘Aryans’. All interpretations had to confirm that the evolution of philosophy to more sophisticated heights beyond primitive worship as expressed in the Veda was an import. On the soil of Bharat nothing more evolved existed but the communities of the Indus Valley which the Aryan invaders were said to have destroyed. Anything of philosophic, scientific or artistic consequence was thus the result of this invasion and conquest. The Rigveda, as a document of history, confirmed that the land was populated by unevolved nature worshippers. It is according to scholars such as H. J. J. Winter that these Aryans introduced (from beyond) the concept of ‘one supreme cause’, but which, as he writes in A. I. Basham’s A Cultural History of India, Chapter XII, in spite of the ‘gradual development of philosophy’ did not entirely eliminate pagan worship. Let me quote Winter, for the subtle nuances of his thought are revealing:
‘The Aryan invasions of northern India (c.1500 B.C.) may be said to mark the end of the Indus valley civilisation. From henceforth the growth of Indian science is to be influenced by the speculative and philosophical mind, to become richer in generalisation, to transcend the limited technology of Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Chanhudaro. In the hymns of the Rig Veda is to be found the first account of the way of life of the Indo-European conquerors, their recognition of and devotion to one supreme cause, their realisation that behind the phenomena of the natural world, which appear shifting and changeable, there is a constant principle (rita) or order in events. Piggott has shown (Prehistoric India to 1000 B.C.) that the war-chariot (ratha) of the Rig Veda had a central pole and yoke harness, the so-called throat and girth harness, not only unpleasant for the horse but most inefficient mechanically, yet nevertheless common to the regions of Indo-European colonisation, for example Homeric Greece and Celtic Britain. Despite the gradual development of philosophy the personification of the primal forces of nature in, for instance, the god of the sun, Surya, of the god of fire, Agni, continued. Sacrificial altars, at first mere heaps of turf, evolved into elaborate designs demanding arithmetical and geometrical calculations.’
I have various objections to the above. The first is the external origin of the Rigveda and its ‘historic’ interpretation as evidenced in Winter’s deductions. I sustain that the Rigveda was entirely a product of a very sophisticated and evolved civilisation which originated on the soil of the subcontinent, wherefrom fragments of its very evolved perceptions of reality and the evolution of consciousness and the origin and purpose of creation spread spherically beyond its borders. And that these perceptions had a cosmological base that has served as the foundation for all the expressions of the civilisation and culture.
I also object to the dating of the Rigveda around 1500 B.C. In view of what has been revealed recently regarding the new evidence dating the Sphinx at Giza to approximately 4000 years anterior to the hitherto accepted 2500 B.C. (see TVN, 6/Special Issue), it will not be too bold to state that all estimates concerning the Rigveda have been similarly flawed, contrived as they were to support certain theories which needed propping up in colonial times. Further on Winter writes of the astronomy of Babylon (c.1000 B.C.) and its passage to India through Iran whereby the lunar mansions (27 nakshatras) came to be used by Hindu astronomers/astrologers; he also refers to the ‘zodiac of Mesopotamia’ (Ibid, page 143). Considering that I have found clear references to the symbols and knowledge content of the zodiac in the Rigveda, as well as the correspondence of the Capricorn hieroglyph with the subcontinental landmass, and insofar as Winter dates the Rigveda to 1500 B.C., or 500 years earlier than the Babylonin astronomy which he claims was the origin of these things, then I suggest it is time for historians to reassess their earlier work, divested of imperialist prejudices.
If further proof is needed, let me quote from the Atharvaveda, considered to be the last of the four Vedas (Rig, Sama, Yayur and Atharva), from Raimundo Panikkar’s book The Vedic Experience (All India Books, Pondicherry 1977). On page 31, Panikkar has this to say of this Veda which is… ‘somewhat removed from the other three by virtue of the “popular” character of many prayers against ills, incantations, and spells which it contains. It also has, however, a number of hymns with an important philosophical content.’ Those which he seems to consider in that bracket, the content of which he often finds puzzling and difficult to comprehend, are the hymns to Skambha, the cosmic pillar or axis mundi. Regarding the same verses, Jeanine Miller, in her The Vedas (B. I. Publications, Bombay 1976) has written… ‘The core of Vedic prayer is expressed in the Atharvaveda; “Those who know the most exalted Brahman thereafter fully know the axis mundi”’ (page 57). It is precisely in the profoundest hymns of the Atharvaveda concerning Skambha that we find the proof not only of its zodiacal structure but also of the very diagram I have been using throughout this study to convey knowledge that is indeed ‘the core’ of Hinduism, the Map of 12 Manifestations with its division of 12, and, more importantly, its threefold spiralling progression:
‘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.
‘Take heed, O Savitr. Six are twins;
one is born singly. The twins desire
to united with the one that is born alone.’
(Raimundo Panikkar’s translation.)
Regarding the dating of the Veda and the question of origin, Pannikkar follows the conventional theories of academia, – that is, between 1500 to 600 B.C. Of course it would be most inconvenient to extend the Veda farther into the past, beyond Babylonian times and to root it in indigenous soil, since the only ‘case’ for an Aryan foreign origin lies in the Rigveda. I intend to analyse these and other verses from the Atharvaveda extensively in the next portion of this study. At this point, suffice to say that with these, perhaps considered some of the most enigmatic hymns of the Veda, we shall be able to draw a direct connection between those very ancient times and contemporary Indian life. And we shall also pinpoint the period when the divine Measure was lost and time for Hindu civilisation began to spin off its axis to its present mis-measure. We are able to do this by a penetration into the mystery of the Third and the place this power holds in the Vedic Dharma; for it is through this Third that the One, or Skambha, comes into being. And insofar as the entire Dharma is ‘held together’ by this One, this ‘point’, the 3 is thus crucial to its destiny.
Thus it is safe to state that the entire development of Indian spirituality can be summed up in the 3. The emphasis, for example, on freedom, or the spiritual ‘anarchy’ which has characterised the spiritual genius of India from time immemorial is an expression proper to the Third Principle. The stress is therefore on the individual Divine. In other words, India is by destiny a nation of ‘exalted individuals’. Essentially each is a law unto him or herself because this is the character of the 3. There is no intermediary at that level. It is the human soul in close and intimate contact with the inner Beloved, or rather housing that Godhead. No earthly or cosmic power can interfere or dictate to this third embodied Principle. Consequently, India is populated by a race which defiantly rebels against any infringement on this free and liberal association with the inner Divine and an existence controlled exclusively by that factor. In this light, it is obvious that in order to ‘conquer’ India, invaders would have had to contend with the indomitable individual will, sustained by that ‘point’ in the innermost recesses of the soul. Thus, this was carefully done by attacking first and foremost that Third Principle embodied in each inhabitant of Bharat Mata. And it is this great Secret of Secrets which travelled from India in very ancient times and left its mark on certain esoteric schools beyond its borders.
The spiritual freedom, so essential a quality of the Yogic experience, is thus a prime causal agent in India’s development throughout the ages. This reached an apex in the Upanishadic period; from that point the decline began. The reason was the supremacy the Nirvana realisation of Buddhism gained, which contributed notably to an undermining of that third Principle, or the soul upon which the destiny of the entire Vedic Dharma rested and everything it fostered in the civilisation. In myths, however, this knowledge of the One born of the Three is preserved in, precisely, the tale of Parvati and the birth of Skanda or Kartikeya, who is, in turn, Agni or the One.
Paradoxically, the undermining occurred by the aid of that very cosmic note which characterises the Vedic Dharma: the 3. The imperative of spiritual freedom at all costs resulted in a liberal atmosphere in which even the force of its own destruction was allowed free play, to the point where the civilisation lost its collective will. It was the beginning of the first perceptible signs of a perversion of the cornerstone of the Dharma, – that is, FREEDOM. Indeed, with the passage of time the perversion became compounded to the extent that Indian society presents us today with all the effects of this form of undermining. Corruption, terrorism, secessionism are simply concretisations of that initial perversion of the Principle of Freedom of the Third Power. What may now be called the system of bribery is an example of the degeneration where the individual obeys not the inner Divine and serves its higher purpose, but rather becomes trapped in the soul’s shadow domain, the realm of the ego. It is understandable therefore that in order to cure these ills, we must penetrate to the root of the matter fearlessly and deal with that original ‘knot’.
Cancer/Capricorn and the Vedic ‘Purpose’
In zodiacal tradition this confrontation between soul and ego is mirrored in the all-important axis we have been discussing extensively throughout this study of caste and cosmos: Cancer and Capricorn, two signs in opposition on the wheel. Or as the Atharvaveda would have it…‘twins which desire to unite with the one that is born alone’. This extraordinary confrontation is corroborated by a physical correspondence, as if the Earth herself had been struggling to harmonise the discord via the channel of the evolutionary species she houses. I refer to the tilt of the planet on her axis, an alignment discrepancy of 23.27 degrees, which results in the Sun’s north and south declination from the equatorial plane that cuts through the centre of the planet and on which the Earth and all the other members of the solar system orbit the Sun. This means that our evolution can be understood or explained by a deep scrutiny of the earth’s tilt, or her axial balance and rotation with respect to this vast plane extending from the Sun. In fact, the complex infirmities of the human species can also be understood via a scrutiny of the individual’s own ‘axial tilt’.
In so doing, we note that the periods of maximum declination north and south of the Equator, or when the Sun appears to stand still in the heavens and then change direction, are fundamental pieces of information if we wish to unravel the Earth’s purpose in the planetary harmony. These periods to the extreme north and south are the Solstices. They occur when the Sun is perceived to enter the signs Capricorn and Cancer. The former, 21/22 December, is the time of the day’s increasing light – hence the all-important Festival of Light (see, TVN, 6/Special Issue, December 1991). Realising the significance of these shifts, Indian tradition has always given prime importance to these periods, the apex points of the uttarayana (‘northern pathway’) and dakshinayana ‘southern pathway’. The northern is considered highly auspicious; the other the reverse. In the course of this study I shall demonstrate how this highest and most auspicious northern apex is the subject of the entire Vedic quest. An example would be from the Skambha verses already cited,
‘Three generations [quarters] are past already;
others have followed in the relay of praise.
On high is positioned the measurer of space [Sun].
The Golden One has entered the green-gold plants.’
But there is another celestial phenomenon which enhances the importance of at least one of the solstice points. In the first days of January each year, be it either north or south of the Equator, the Earth in toto is at her maximum approach to the Sun in the elliptical orbit she traces around the luminary. It is known as Perihelion. Thus the Festival of Light is ‘luminous’ in more ways than one.
With this special relationship enhanced by the physical phenomena, the importance of Capricorn in India’s destiny is clear. Also clear is the celebration of the Makar (Capricorn) Sankranti, albeit at the wrong time. Most significantly, we note that the Earth’s tilt consists of 23 degrees. As if taking this cue, the Capricorn Sankranti in this century is celebrated in India precisely 23 days late. At the relation of l day for l degree, which is the approximate amount of celestial arc that the Earth traverses in 24 hours, having reached the 23rd degree/day indicates that the time has come for a ‘realignment’ in the national consciousness and for this accumulated inaccuracy to be corrected at last. Twenty-three degrees in the precession of the equinoxes would be equivalent to approximately 1700 years. There is thus that much of ‘time-shadow’ collected in the national consciousness. Understandably, much precious time-energy has passed under the cosmic bridge, and much of the edifice of India’s mediaeval and contemporary history has been constructed with the aid of this distorted measure. It is a colossal edifice to seek to undo. As well, I am convinced that the dire prophecies regarding the supposed shift of the Earth’s axis by clairvoyants such as Edgar Cayce, which is anticipated to cause terrible cataclysms across the globe, are simply vague perceptions of this ‘realignment’ which India, soul of the Earth and hence womb of its time-axis, must one day carry out in this precise area. The solstices in the national consciousness have to be set right, brought into harmony with the calendar. Failing which the error will continue to be compounded with an increase in the degeneration we see so clearly around us.
Further on in this study, I shall draw into the analysis the item in India’s destiny wherein this alignment operation was to take place, involving precisely the solstice points, the Festival of Light, and the ‘entries’ of Cancer and Capricorn. The fate of that operation, mirrored in the off-axis of the Matrimandir in Auroville, will provide factual proof of the almost impossible conditions which impede this realignment. These involve the Third Principle, the question of Freedom, and the western secular model of society which has dominated India for the past two hundred and more years. But more pertinent than any of this is the question of the Void and the ‘birth’ by which it must be ‘filled’.
India and the Yoga of the Earth
Indeed, at the heart of all these problems lies the perversion of the Third Principle. In the planetary harmony this is the Earth herself, evidenced by her position in the System. But moving around the sun together with the Earth in this third orbit is the Moon. The latter in fact is the ruler of Cancer – that is, Capricorn’s opposite or ‘shadow’. Capricorn stands for the soul, Cancer for the soul’s shadow, the ego. When the alignment in question, both in the nation’s time-axis as well as in the physical axis of the Matrimandir, is flawed, we observe a society that ‘casts shadows’. It is not a collective experience of perfect midday alignment (Capricorn, of the Cosmic Midday) which casts no shadows. Rather, it is characterised precisely by the shadow it does cast, the ‘length’ of which can be measured in terms of the solstice points, or the entries into Capricorn and Cancer. With a discrepancy of 23 degree/days, India has obviously reached her maximum misalignment. The shadow she now casts is the longest she will know in her recorded history. Indeed, this fact in itself informs us that the degeneration has reached its most critical level, what I call, the critical threshold. In terms of prevailing conditions, we observe that it is no longer a degeneration measured in the ratio of 1 degree for 1 day. India has reached her ‘solstice’, her point of standstill and suspension. In that stillness she observes herself deeply, and she either realigns or her axial rotation spins her off and beyond, resulting in a total disintegration of her age-old civilisation. The effect is played out physically, for it is not only the Vedic Dharma that vanishes but the experience of disintegration is common to all the States collected within the subcontinental landmass of Capricorn which have become afflicted with the virus of separation and disunity.
At the same time, it is quite appropriate to state that before the dawn there is the darkest hour:
‘Dawn like a dancer puts on her ornaments;
as a cow yields her udder, so she bares her bosom.
She creates light for all living beings, flinging wide
the gates of darkness, as cows their enclosure.
‘We have beheld the radiance of her shining.
Advancing she drives away the horror of night.
Like a coloured post, anointed at the sacrificial feast,
so the Dawn, Heaven’s Daughter, is adorned with wondrous splendour.’
Rigveda l,92, translation R. Pannikar
In terms of the figures we are using, it would be expressed as the longest shadow cast before the increase begins. That is, before the path of the Sun is seen to rise in the heavens, the ‘lover of the Divine Daughter’, climbing to its high noon position where it is directly overhead and therefore causing no shadows to be cast. This position is allotted to Capricorn, the cosmic Midday; the nadir point is the opposite Cancer, Cosmic Midnight. It is as if this deep darkness had enveloped the entire nation and coloured the consciousness of all its people. Everything stands thus contaminated by this Shadow.
In Indian mythology – for we must expect to find the phenomenon very clearly detailed in the myths, as is everything else regarding the nation’s evolution – it is known as Chhaya (‘shadow’), the illusory replacement of Samjna, consort of the Sun in his aspect of Viswakarma, the Divine architect (see, The Hidden Manna and the New Way, Volume 2). In another image, tradition describes the degeneration as the cyclic arrival of the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age. Indeed, the descriptions of the Kali Yuga given in the Puranas do seem to be highly accurate prophecies of our very times.
But it is also prophesied that the tenth Avatar, Kalki, takes birth precisely to dispel that darkness and usher in the dawn of the Satya Yuga, or the Age of Truth. If this is so, we can expect that the tilt or the ‘time-warp’ cannot exceed the 23 days already attained. At that point of maximum incline there is a suspension, a solstice. This intermezzo is our present period of transition wherein everything appears to be preparing for a great collapse into the abyss beyond the rim of the Tropics, indeed the ‘edge of Time’. But at this extreme point there is evidence of a rising sun on the horizon.
The cosmological phenomenon of a 23-degree tilt of the earth’s axis would be seen therefore to express a very deeply ingrained ‘purpose’. Consequently, we shall endeavour in these pages to penetrate the mysteries of this hidden message. In a nutshell, it describes the essence of our entire evolution as a species. When we perceive the human species as an ongoing development leading to a progressively more evolved creature, and even a gnostic being, it is an evolutionary development the accomplishment of which is beautifully foretold in the axial tilt of the planet with the resultant solstices at very specific time intervals and points on our calendar year. To further this evolutionary purpose, India has had to live the experience of the fullest darkness confronting the highest light. She has thus had to fulfil her Capricorn destiny of the abyss and the mountaintop and to harmonise these extremes of nature and being. In a word, the Yoga of the Earth is lived in India. No other nation can take up this task and play out this high drama foretold in the earth’s own axial inclination. In the course of this study, I shall also reveal that this ‘yoga’, in very great detail and sophistication of language, is the theme of the Rigveda. The Rigveda is not an historical document, much less a religious one. It is yogic. But a yoga of a very special order in which time and cosmos are central and which disappeared from India for an interval of over 1800 years and more. Only to reappear in this century. It is a yoga the ultimate purpose of which is the soul’s triumph over the Void.
Caste and the Individual
What does this mean for the people of India? Apart from the experience of decline, is there anything else that might brighten the panorama to some extent, lighten the burden? India faces disintegration, it would appear. But the problem has been long in developing, the accumulated years of the false measure. I would like to analyse this phenomenon in the context of what is relevant for each individual born on Indian soil or of Hindu parents. This is caste. Though before all else, it must be pointed out that caste distinctions are very deeply ingrained and have not been entirely eradicated in spite of social reforms or mass conversions over the centuries to Islam and Christianity, religions which profess to be egalitarian and free of caste.
The Chaturvarna is therefore an ideal element to demonstrate the extent of the damage the lost measure has brought in its wake, primarily because the origin of caste can be traced to the Cosmic Purush or the zodiacal sphere, the same circle of 12 divided into 4 (the four castes). In addition, that celestial sphere is the measure of the Earth’s day and year. Thus if we state that the divine Measure is 23 degrees/days off, then it is clear that this same discrepancy will be reflected in the caste system, product of that same celestial sphere or cosmic Purush. It means, therefore, that nothing is in its proper place. The 23-day late Makar Sankranti is not only brought to bear on the sign/month Capricorn. It affects the entire wheel, as if there were a wheel within a wheel, turning at a different speed. Instead of a perfect alignment between the two, synchronising their 0 points, the inner circle is set back by that much mis-measure. This has a direct bearing on caste and hence on every individual born into the system. It is for this reason that the Puranas describe the dreaded Kali Yuga as a time when the boundaries of caste are ignored. Shudras take on the role of Brahmins, and so on. Because indeed, with the false measure the celestial/zodiacal ‘segment’ of the Shudra has been shifted somewhat into the Brahmin’s quarter, occasioned by the slippage of time. Who, then, in such a system of mis-measure, is a Shudra, who is a Vaishya, a Kshatriya, or a Brahmin?
When I draw this discussion to a close, I expect that the real basis for dismissing caste distinctions will have been made clear. For unless this is done, caste in its present degenerated form will continue to plague Indian society as a lingering shadow that cannot be dissolved. At the same time – and here is the paradox – it will be made equally clear that even if we were to eradicate these societal designations, this would not eliminate caste. Indians would still be born a Shudra, and Brahmin, and so on. Indeed, what is remarkable is that even an American or a Russian or an Irishman is a member of the same caste system. For the simple reason that each human being born on this planet breathes him or herself into the cosmic harmony with one’s first breath as an individual entity. And this harmony is universal.
Let me provide an example. Similar to all other nations, Indian newspapers carry daily horoscopes. This is based on what has come to be called the Western System, in contrast to traditional Hindu astrology. The so-called Western is founded on the tropical zodiac which is the system described in these pages. Its 0 point is the March equinox, the time when night and day are equal at the Equator and the first sign Aries begins. Or the Earth’s alignment with respect to this plane extending from the Sun and cutting through the planet at the Equator.
There are a few very important points to note in this alignment. One, that it is a play between Sun and Earth. Or rather, it is the Earth’s alignment vis-à-vis the supreme light of our solar system. It is when the Earth finds her ‘equilibrium’ with the plane of the ecliptic, or when the Sun is directly overhead at the Equator at the time of this alignment. The tropical zodiac is the ecliptic extending from the Sun, divided into 12 parts starting with Aries at the 0 point or the March equinox, or when the planet is aligned with that plane in such a way as to experience the Sun directly overhead at noon. Day and night are equal and the all-important cardinal points are an even 90 degrees or days apart.
A fact to be noted in this analysis is that the point of reference is not outside the system. The constellational sphere, for example. And this is where the Lost Measure enters. When ‘science’ in India began to intimidate the proponents of cosmology in the first half of the Age of Pisces, and undermined their understanding of things which are measured by a different ‘yardstick’ – to be exact, the Divine Measure – then the 0 point which until that time was located within the system and a harmony between Sun and Earth, underwent a dramatic shift. It was no longer a reference point within the solar system and an intrinsic part of the cosmic harmony of our planet and the Sun. It was instead projected BEYOND the system and located in the ‘fixed’ constellations of the stars. The 0 point was then determined by a so-called ‘fixed point’ in that constellational sphere. What was considered by these new scientists to be the ‘shifting’ zodiac (impermanent?), wholly bound to the Earth and Sun, was somehow seen as valueless. The Divine Maya or Measure, which for the Earth is the year deriving its 0 point from the Sun, lost relevancy. Clearly wisemen no longer knew what it was that they were called upon to measure. The Yoga of the Veda gradually became shrouded in mists of this accumulating time-energy.
This of course coincided with the rise of concepts in the spiritual domain involving impermanence, perishability, and finally ‘illusion’ or Maya, as opposed to her Vedic sister. Maya was thus her lesser ‘shadow’, Chhaya.
It would be safe to assume that the time when this shift took hold and displaced the tropical zodiac’s function in the harmony was when the Zero notation also underwent a shift. Originally, it has been established, the symbol for Zero was a point or dot. Eventually this ‘point’ grew to the notation we know today, 0. Concurrently, it became known as shunya, or ‘void’. And even today in the languages of India this Buddhist nomenclature persists. Winter, in his earlier cited text, mentions the Zero as a point or bindu and then the closed circle (page 157) in works of the 7th Century. The development – point to circle – describes the entire degeneration very accurately albeit in a language only initiates can understand; and it sets it within the period of history when this philosophic shift is known to have taken place. It was an attack precisely on that ‘point’, sometimes referred to as Skambha or the axis mundi: Agni. The question now before us is how to retrieve that Measure in a manner which will affect not merely an elite but an entire civilisation. For this matter of ‘shunya’ has permeated every aspect of contemporary life. Even the flag of the independent nation bears a symbol belonging to one of India’s most prominent converts to Buddhism, – the Emperor Ashok’s chakra.
To return to caste, with the tropical zodiac 0 point displaced and accumulating ‘residue’ each year to the point where a full 23 degrees/days are now amassed, the caste ‘wheel’ has also been displaced. With this there is no objective means to determine one’s true caste or inner dharma. It is now simply a question of birth into a family of a particular caste, rigid and binding by this lesser value. It is no longer birth into the cosmic wheel that is the denominator. It is simply a ‘birth certificate’, for the horoscope under these circumstances is inaccurate. Nonetheless, old habits have a way of persisting. In fact, it can be said of the consciousness that has overtaken the world in such matters that the objective is not exactly to eliminate entirely these true things but rather to pervert them, to disfigure them to the point where we are encouraged to believe that all is still as it once was. In effect, nothing of the original remains because its essence is gone, its content in Jnana or Knowledge. The telltale signs of this lost Knowledge, to the initiate, are glaring. The layman suspects nothing. Thus, in keeping with the COSMIC nature of Hindu society, every Sunday Indian newspapers carry advertisements placed by parents seeking spouses for their offspring. These are usually entered in columns according to caste. And for the most part the applicants are requested to furnish their respective horoscopes.
What is the point? Or should we ask, What stands behind this age-old custom that persists into modern times, regardless of the ‘scientific temper’ which has overtaken the country and supposedly displaced such ‘superstitions’? Indeed, the request for a horoscope, if it is based on the mis-alignment is nothing more than superstition.
This revelation is not likely to perturb the parent in search of a spouse, especially since science has come to his aid and debunked the art of cosmic harmonies undermining the entire system. Environment and even genes have come to represent the essential moulding influence. No longer is it that first Cosmic Breath. No longer is it that Breath that connects us to the All and interconnects each individual to every other individual born of the same cosmic Womb.
Indeed, environment and above all family conditioning are potent elements which lay upon the human being an outer encasement, like a particular dress which substitutes for the real thing. In other words, throughout our lives we live camouflaged by this costume before our fellow human beings; and, worst of all, before our innermost selves. Rarely does the individual born into such a mis-alignment come into any real and deep contact with what is known in India as one’s innermost Dharma, or essential truth of being.
There are two signs in the zodiac which describe this condition afflicting the entire human race. As could be expected given the content of this portion of the study, the signs are precisely Cancer and Capricorn – the tropical ‘rims’ or ‘edges of Time’, the farthest reaches of Shadow and Light. In The Magical Carousel, I have explained the position through the experiences of Val and Pom-Pom in Cancer(land) first, and then in Capricorn(land). In the former they meet the Queen of Night, equivalent of Diti in the Veda and Chhaya in the Puranas. She is forever ‘putting on shows’, masquerading, enveloping her adoring progeny in veils and all manner of comforts. She is mesmerising and utterly endearing in her concern for her offspring and her (unconscious) efforts to pin them down to their humanity and ‘name’, with a small ‘n’. For Cancer is the family and the human mother. But Val and Pom-Pom harbour in their innermost recesses that divine voice from the resounding ‘cosmic note’ at the start of their odyssey, commanding them to ‘follow the Sun’ ever and always and to pursue relentlessly the onward ‘journey’ in harmony with the divine Measure of the year.
When the children finally reach Cancer’s ‘twin’ or opposite pole, Capricorn and the land of the Time-spirit, their lesser ‘names’ and ‘masks’ and identities are rejected. The Time-Spirit demands to know their true Names – this time with a capital ‘N’ – and their real identities. It is then that upon opening the Cosmic Book the Time-Spirit reveals their inner truth, their inherent Dharma or ‘duty’.
This depicts the relationship of individual to cosmic spirit. The chamber deep in the heart of the Capricorn Mountain where the children make this discovery is entirely bare. They are completely alone. There is only a ‘pulse’, the rhythm of their inner mechanism harmonised with the inscrutable Cosmic Clock.
This story is the same ‘myth’ we find in the Rigveda. Indeed, there too the victory of Swar is attained in the tenth month/sign, or Capricorn. The central focus of both is the question of Dharma. And there is perhaps no other Sanskrit word that has suffered a greater disfiguring in translation, – a revealing fact when we note that the Vedic Way centres precisely on the discovery and realisation of one’s inner Dharma. The Aryan warrior is he or she who has successfully completed the journey to that Truth-Conscious realm of the Time-spirit and has discovered his or her inner Truth.
This draws us once again to a focus on the number 3, prime ‘note’ of India’s destiny. It is the ‘note’ of the soul in the cosmic harmony. And it is in the soul – that ‘hidden chamber closed and mute’ – where the individual’s dharma or inner truth or law of being is ‘written’. The object of one’s journey through life on this particular planet in this particular solar system, is to gain access into that chamber and discover the magical lines of one’s individual contribution to this special harmony of time and cosmos.
One may succeed in this endeavour as an individual via some path or another of yoga, disregarding the divine Measure and consequent mis-alignment. But only if the goal is posited OUTSIDE the cosmic dimension, beyond the Earth and this solar system. Indeed, the system India’s wisemen adopted for cosmic/time reckoning many centuries ago, compelled the seeker to focus on that extra-cosmic goal. And this could only be achieved if a system evolved whereby one’s connecting links to that Cosmic Pulse and Purpose were somehow severed. Thus dissolution (‘nirvana’) took the place of the Vedic cosmic odyssey into the depths of the Capricorn mountain inner chamber where Varun of the Law stands, where the NEXUS or connecting links lie. For the individual this meant that the innermost point of the circle of one’s destiny – that binding compressed energy born of the Zero, or in the language of the Rigveda, Agni, the divine Son – had to be dislocated or veiled to such a degree that, like the proverbial black hole, no speck of its ‘light’ could possibly emerge.
The tactic involved death. The immortals of the Veda knew the secret law whereby this ‘compression’, this intense movement into the core of matter and material creation would not produce a collapse of the star of one’s consciousness into the void that is Death. This was the ‘lost ray’, the light of Gnosis hidden in the cave of the hostile Panis, or Dasyus. This was the knowledge to be retrieved: the Cow of light and giver of life. It is a yoga in which an entire civilisation participates. And it is a civilisation nurtured on FULNESS and not nothingness. Again the hymns to Skambha come to our aid,
‘From fullness he pours forth the full;
the full spreads, merging with the full.
We eagerly would know from whence
he thus replenishes himself?
Axial alignment – a National Obsession
Being as obsessed as the native of Bharat is with the practice of yoga, it is obvious that yogas themselves could not be expected to disappear into nothingness in the collective/individual consciousness. The tactic was therefore to use that very obsession and simply shift the axis – or in the language of the Veda, steal the Ray(Cow) and hide her away. As explained, the ‘scientific’ description is the adoption of the fixed constellation of stars – beyond our system – as the denominator or definer of the 0 point. One’s reference point would no longer be located in the system into which one was born but the Beyond. The Cosmic Womb became one’s prison and not the giver of bliss, abundance, wealth and goodness.
The result of this shift was ingenious because as time marched on irreversibly, the ‘alignment’ between the two – tropical zodiac and constellational – suffered an inexorable distancing. A full 25,920 years would have to transpire (minus the approximate 1700 already traversed) before the 0 point of the tropical zodiac would be aligned with that ‘fixed’ point beyond and gain legitimacy once more. But even then the legitimacy would be present for a mere 72 years. In other words, the ‘purpose’ of a species caught in this nefarious shadow-play could only be described as a quest for a way out, an escape from this senseless round leading nowhere but deeper into the pain resulting from this devastating purposelessness; or an existence that from the outset offers nothing more than a display of perverse dislocation.
Indeed, this in brief may be said to be a very accurate description of all yogas which have, subsequent to the appearance of Gautam the Buddha at the end of the 8th Manifestation, ‘integrated’ the realisations of nirvanas and mayavadas into their corpora.
The Chaturvarna, which arose at the dawn of the Veda, demands the observation of the correct 0 point, a product of the play between Earth and Sun. The individual may indeed find solace in the numerous paths offering escape from the Wheel, but for society and civilisation the matter is entirely different. Just as the individual must destroy the point within that serves as his or her binding energy to the Harmony, if dissolution is to provide escape, so too the civilisation that follows such a course must also set about the same destructive act – or rather, the act of auto-destruction. In the attempt to ‘reach beyond’ and to express that goal in its collective consciousness and being, the only way is to turn upon itself and eat itself away to the point of disintegration. Such a civilisation is thus one in which ‘the centre cannot hold’. Contemporary Indian society can find no better words to express its present state.
Today, as a consequence, nothing is in its right place. Indeed, the Shudra may operate as the Kshatriya, the Brahmin as the Vaishya. This is reflected in the zodiac, for on the basis of Hindu astrology, a native of Capricorn according to the tropical zodiac is, in the Hindu constellational zodiac, a Sagittarian. A Sagittarian is in turn a Scorpio, and so on through the wheel. The dislocation involves precisely the sun’s position as seen in the heavens from Earth. That is, the ‘centre’ of the Harmony we are born into is displaced, thrown off by as much as the Earth’s axial tilt.
Consequently, none of these ancient keys can be properly utilised to serve as ‘philosopher’s stones’ in one’s quest and inner discovery. They are meaningless and falsifying. They therefore persist as mere superstitions, with no effective power other than ‘belief’ to yoke the individual to his inner anchor of truth or to knit society together in a coherent, integrated harmony of points within the whole.
But I must again repeat, so powerful has been that Vedic ‘seed’ that it lives on in the depths of the national psyche. The only imperative of the times is realignment. This, lamentably, is easier said than done. For the success of the endeavour lies in that most blessed of all discoveries on Indian soil: the Zero. And the ‘heart’ or ‘core’ of the Zero itself is the POINT, or Agni. Finally, it needs to be said that if the Zero lies at the heart of the civilisation as the womb of Vedic fullness, it must have accomplished its task of giving birth to the Point, to Agni. The formula is thus: 9/6/3 – 0/1. The Zero is the OM into which have been ‘compressed’ the 9. 6. and 3. Out of that 0 compression the Point arises, – or the 4th dimension of Time. Thus, the Point is the first of all the Gods, Agni, the divine Son, the One. For the numeral 1 is the first extension from that compressed Point.
This ‘formula’ encapsulates all of Vedic wisdom, as the OM does of which it is the numerical expression. And every fact of Indian civilisation since that first OM was chanted thousands of years ago, can be described as manifold expressions of the formula – its affirmation or its denial. The development of the Zero notation itself from Point to Void is thus perfectly representative of the act of denial of that seed-purpose.
At the same time, ever true to the role of preserver of the Knowledge, the Point is another national obsession. Every Hindu man, woman and child adorn their foreheads daily with, precisely, the bindi (‘point’), or variations thereof. Most are unmindful of the sacred nature of the act as an expression of the Veda’s deepest ‘purpose’ and its connection to Agni. But the Tantric knows and in Tantra some essentials of this special knowledge have been preserved.
The importance of the Point can never be overstressed. In the new cosmology the Zero is the OM indeed, but its triadic structure (9-6-3) is formed by compressed time. Thus 9/6/3 are the ‘three times’ – in Sanskrit known as trikala, and the power of three-time perception known as trikaladristi, of which Sri Aurobindo has written in the last chapter of his Synthesis of Yoga… ‘held of old to be a supreme sign of the seer and the Rishi, – not as an abnormal power, but as its normal way of time knowledge’. Indeed, the Zero is that OM of compressed past, present and future, but unextended. The great Reversal of the new cosmology is the moment of ‘birth’ when the Golden Womb of compressed time gives forth the Point or Agni, the Son. This, in turn, is Time’s FOURTH DIMENSION – the first manifestation of the seed of Itself in and as spatial reality.
The individual is also a compression of the entire cosmos. One’s horoscope, be this of a native of whichever caste, consists of all four segments of the Chaturvarna circle. Therefore the human being bears within ALL the possibilities and potentials each segment of the fourfold order offers. The quest is, How to integrate this fourfoldness. And the answer pertains not only to the individual but to society as a whole. The means have to be re-established whereby the precise knowledge of these varied temperaments and destinies must replace the rigid laws followed today which do not integrate but merely serve to divide. The horoscope contains this vital information; but it cannot serve us in this endeavour while the mis-measure persists. The discernment of temperament, character, disposition, as well as destiny, has always been a part of the ancient Vedic sciences, of Hathayoga, of Ayurvedic medicine, for example. And while in these familial and physical conditioning play a role, they are not the prime factors. The widest range of one’s true potential could only be found in that innermost ‘point’ of the soul ‘no bigger than a thumb’, according to the Upanishad, which draws into our being with the first breath the vastness of the cosmic harmony. It is the duty of educators to discover the true caste of each and every child in his or her care, unmindful of their ‘birth certificates’. Indeed, this, it may safely be stated, is the only real purpose of education. When such an understanding emerges, the true nature of educational reforms, which are forever topics of dispute, will evolve.
When the soul-nexus is undermined in the individual, naturally the Chaturvarna becomes something of a meaningless appendage and a wearisome burden. The imbalance is a heavy cross to bear. But this was not the original purpose of caste. Just the contrary. It was a system whose explicit reason for being was to provide society with a means of integration. As this took place within each segment of society, each individual that is, it was also reflected in the larger extended Body. But, as stated, undermining the Point and in its place leaving the Void as the goal, or the Beyond, simply removed the binding energy or the ‘centre that holds’. Regarding caste, the position degenerated to the point where birthright replaced Dharma. The effect on youth born into such a system is the near impossibility of self-discovery in the free and liberal atmosphere of the true Vedic quest and the exigencies of India’s original cosmic ‘note’ of destiny, the 3 or the Individual Divine, and the penetration into one’s innermost core uninhibited by the present bonds which so thoroughly obstruct the youth in this most important of all purposes in life: the discovery of one’s true self and one’s individual Dharma or law of being.
In the last part of this study I shall demonstrate how the Point was effectively undermined architecturally in the Matrimandir built in Auroville, and how that episode encapsulates the entire development through the ages which I am describing in these pages – that is, the denial of veda of Gnosis.
The Act of Defining
I risk losing my readers in technical points, I realise. But this too is a function of the Third Power: the act of defining. It is only at the third level of the supramental descent that one can engage in this act of defining because the prior stages and levels have been worked upon. In the Yoga of the Earth, this involves the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to ‘loosen’ certain hard crusts in the spiritual and cosmic domain respectively. The Third proceeds to define thereafter; or, more appropriately, to put each thing in its place.
Insofar as India’s pulse of destiny is the Third Power, we may expect this quality or defining capacity to play a prominent role in the civilisation. Indeed, there is no other nation in the world that has accumulated a larger reservoir of yogas, disciplines in which the act of defining plays a most prominent part. Yogas of whatever school, provided they are true disciplines, offer very accurate methodologies for the transformation of consciousness and the attainment of states of enhanced awareness; or else the attainment of certain ‘powers’ or siddhis, as they are known in India. Indian yogas reach depths and heights the western science of psychology can never attain, inasmuch as the latter deals with a ‘layer’ of consciousness which, when compared to the regions explored by yogis, can only be described as external or peripheral or on the surface of consciousness. This applies even to some of its best exponents – notable among them is the renowned Carl Jung.
In the West, the discipline which evolved from Egyptian lore and which more closely resembles some of the Indian schools is alchemy. But while in India all yogas survived, even though somewhat disfigured or practiced imperfectly, largely because of the lost measure, alchemy is dead in the West. Notwithstanding the fact that eminent scientists such as Newton and a few others, and even Leonardo da Vinci, were ‘believers’. More than that, they practiced the discipline in quest of the same ‘gold’ or solar essence or Ray/Cow ‘hidden in the cave’. And indeed, similar to the Rigvedic way, the apotheosis was the ‘birth’ of the Male Child (connected also to the philosopher’s stone), located at the navel centre – a counterpart of Agni, navel of the world; or else Kartikeya who, in Indian iconography, holds his sacred Spear in a specified manner so as to cross the navel.
The greater depth and heights of the disciplines evolved in India can be attributed once again to the fact that all have evolved from the same foundation of the Veda which is the cosmic harmonies. Thus the individual was always brought to EXCEED him or herself. To reach those vaster realms there had to be a plunge within in the same proportion as the expansion into that vast cosmic womb: the deeper within, the wider was the range of discovery without. In the ancient way the vision was not extended into that vault of heaven before the inner plunge had provided that stable base and infinitesimal Point.
The Point, or the Immobile amidst the Mobile, as Agni is known, is the ‘reversal’ born when the threshold is reached in the compaction into the Zero. This then is no ‘shunya’ or Void. This is the essence of all creation compressed into that infinitesimal ‘space’, similar to the compactness of a seed holding the entire evolution of its predetermined future growth. In the Zero, likewise, we find the entire range of universal powers compressed. When the ‘reversal’ occurs or ‘birth’, the Point emerges as the first ‘space’. Thereafter Time extends itself, for it is Time that is compressed in that Zero/OM. All Number (and name and Form) thus evolves from the compact fullness of the Zero. All form is simply varied arrangements of these ‘points’ bearing within the triadic structure of Transcendent, Universal, and Individual Divine. The Trinity via the Point is thus the foundation of all creation.
The Point is then the perfect CENTRE – or the perfectly balanced convergence of two essential cosmic directions: contraction and expansion. There is no question of void or emptiness or nothingness in such a creation. There is simply balance, alignment, and an axial rotation the result of the very special ‘pulse’ which is lodged in this ‘centre’. Throughout the ages wisemen and women have sought to unravel the secrets of this ‘pulse’, sought to discover evermore accurate and refined means to locate this pulsation lodged deeply in the heart of each human being. And in the process to discover nature’s deepest Purpose. In April of 1962, the Mother experienced this deepest Purpose also as a pulsation ‘…formidable pulsations of the eternal stupendous Love, only Love: each pulsation of the Love was carrying the universe further in its manifestation…and the Supramental Manifestation is realised’…
Similarly, there are a number of records here and there on the planet, remnants of these efforts or attainments. Or else products of civilisation in which this Knowledge coloured every aspect of life. I am describing in these pages evidence in Hindu culture which attests to this fact: that the India we know today is an uninterrupted product of a cultural reservoir which from ancient times contained certain profound secrets of creation and whose wisemen and women were able to evolve a civilisation wherein all aspects of its life reflected this Knowledge. I have been focussing on the caste system for obvious reasons. Though in contemporary society it is but a shadow of the true thing, its basic structure remains intact and is therefore easily utilised to connect the Dharma with the cosmic harmony. At the same time, an analysis of its present degenerated condition is an equally precious means to discern the light this shadow has come to obscure.
But all areas of Hindu culture are equally precious in establishing the real basis or foundation of the civilisation as Vedic – now as then. It is possible to recognise in every branch of art or science the same cosmic Knowledge and the same ‘obsession’ with ALIGNMENT. The ancient Rishi knew what modern science one day must discover if it wishes to exceed its self-imposed limitations. At the same time, I can demonstrate by the use of certain select cultural symbols intact today, just how far apart this culture stands from all that we know of the planet’s recorded period of history, and how talk of a cultural/religious ecumenism in an ‘interfaith’ context and perhaps involving Hinduism is an illusion and can never come into being. We are dealing with cultures at cross-purposes, in a very literal sense, I may add. Or better, in such an attempt we are brought fact-to-face with the heart of India’s Yoga for the world – the resolution of the conundrum of Fullness versus Void.
It is immature to expect that there can be a ‘harmonisation’ between the two; or even a peaceful coexistence. The latter would indeed be possible provided that this act of defining is respected. That is, Void and Fullness could somehow cease to be opponents poised on ends of a linear pole, only if knowledge replaced ignorance – to use the terms of yoga: vidya in place of avidya. But if such were truly the case, the conundrum would be resolved and transformed into something else. Whereas we live in a world where Knowledge is forced underground. On surface levels the leaders of society are people very far removed from the light of the gnostic Sun.
An example of this situation can be found in the refusal to DEFINE. In other words, there is considerable talk of ‘national integration’. But concurrently, there is no one willing to define what must be integrated.
Integration in terms of the supramental gnosis and yoga is precisely the act of ‘putting each thing in its place’, the objective of which is to form a harmonious whole. But to do so one must first dissect the elements demanding to be integrated. Lacking that knowledge by which to engage in this act adequately, we cannot expect to set each of those elements sought to be integrated in their proper place within the whole – which in this case is the national collective consciousness and being. And in the latter we include even the physical boundaries which would be the true ‘body’ of that embodied collective consciousness. The nation’s leaders not only refuse to do so, they are incapable of any such profound discovery and analysis. Moreover, to seek to do so invites panic responses. Thus, in the apt image of the ostrich with its head buried in the sand, the leading ‘lights’ of the nation persist in closing out the truths which alone can really permit any sort of integration – either individual, national or international. As a result, India today is disjointed within and dislodged from the wider international sphere she is meant to be a central part of. One reason for this external and internal calamity is this refusal to look at WHAT IS.
A Rishi, a yogi, cannot permit himself this indulgence in obfuscation, based on sloth and timidity. The true seeker of Knowledge must, above all else, have the courage to look at what is. This has ever been the hallowed tradition of India, testimony of which is the Rigveda, to name just one. And the bizarre interpretations which have been cast on the Veda for a good many centuries is also a pitiful testimony to the fact that the courage TO SEE, so essential to the Vedic way, has somehow evaporated. Much less the capacity to express that Seeing fearlessly and in a language adequate to do so in an objective and impartial manner. Clearly when the cosmic vision and knowledge were undermined through loss of the Divine Measure, the capacity for this objective positioning was also diminished.
I can provide some examples. There is constant speculation on the way in which India has been ‘enriched’ by invading cultures. On a certain superficial level we may accept this premise. Cultures have come into and through India and left their mark – some extremely refined and noteworthy. Some, like the Taj Mahal in North India, have come to be considered wonders of the world, attainments which transcend aesthetic boundaries in time and place and which contemporary observers can only stand in awe of and perhaps never hope to emulate or repeat. But the conundrum India faces is INTEGRATION. First, we must be clear what that really signifies. I repeat, it is simply the act of setting each part within the whole. In this context, the whole would be the national consciousness made up of these innumerable ‘parts’, one of which would be the culture the Taj Mahal epitomises.
But where are they to be set? The whole itself demands definition. We learn then that there are degrees of relevance, levels of importance to be considered. And further, we are dealing with a cosmos, properly speaking. And it is a spheric creation not linear or pyramidal. All parts converge on the centre – like the caste system as described in this study. But similar to our solar system or our private ‘cosmos’ in the heavenly vastness, there has to be a constant, a plane upon which these parts within the whole are set, whose function is akin to the ecliptical plane extending from the Sun, in and on which all the planets (the parts within the whole) have their liberal yet controlled and harmonised play. The formula in such a case is a harmony of centre and periphery in toto, accompanied by a harmony of each part with every other part on the periphery – that is, between themselves; and finally all these integrated points in harmony and alignment with the centre. This trifold Harmony is the description of a gnostic society and civilisation.
But the first requirement is that plane, base or foundation. If that is not understood and recognised and accepted, there is no BASIS for integration. Everything spins in a void. There is no centre because for the centre to come into being there must be the convergence of the two cosmic directions I have mentioned, which in turn generates the plane. And without the centre there is no binding energy, no ‘centre that holds’ and permits the encircling harmony to respect the limits of the cosmos and not spin off in all directions – indeed, orbitless and directionless.
In hymn after hymn to Skambha in the Atharvaveda we find minute descriptions of the point, the centre and the base.
‘The base on which both Gods and Men
are founded, like spokes set firmly in a hub
in which the waters’ flower by supernatural means
made its appearance – who or what is he?’
This construction is the reality of the universe we inhabit and from where our material being has evolved. This means that it is a harmony, a structure, relevant to and inherent in each and every thing and being in the cosmos. Every galaxy is formed in accordance with this ‘plan’. The convergence of ‘directions’ is what permits the ecliptical plane to arise which would be the result of the direction of Expansion; while Contraction produces the vertical axis that permits individual bodies to form and occupy the horizontal plane with individualised axial rotations or ‘pulses’. Truly speaking, the one cannot come into being without the other. The plane is thus the foundation or ‘field’ wherein contraction generates, by establishing first an ‘axis’ and then gathering around itself an encasement according to an inherent pulsation, a series of ‘planets’. In the human body this development is observed in the torso where the spine is the axial alignment. Contracting gravity weighs heavily on the spine, pressing it down, a knowledge confirmed by studies undertaken in the weightlessness of space by astronauts. There is much more to be presented on this question, but briefly it may be stated that alignment is as relevant to the human being as it is to the solar system. Our limitations as a species can be read in the spine; while our individual ‘plane’ of existence is the boundary of our destiny.
A nation, like an individual, has a ‘plane’ where its destiny is noted. In India’s case the unusual feature of this destiny is that, given the Rishis’ superb insights into cosmic harmonies and laws, the civilisational base or plane of the nation’s destiny is the same ecliptical plane extending from the Sun, divined into the 12 parts of the zodiac. Hence the prominence of zodiacal wisdom in the Rigveda, or the Capricorn hieroglyph corresponding to the subcontinental landmass. The identification was so complete that they were able to go right to the source and found an entire civilisation on this basis of Unity and Oneness, where spirit and matter join, similar to the 0 and the 9, or the Serpent biting its Tail in the alchemical symbolism. But such a civilisation which then reaches a point where it does not respect these harmonies or these laws and finds itself baseless, is destined to disintegrate. It has no ETERNAL foundation because the perfect harmony I am describing provides the means for ceaseless renewal. This is what is happening to India because that ecliptical base is denied. That base is the Veda.
On the other hand, when the foundational plane is accepted and understood in its proper terms, there can be an integration of all the parts in relation to it, and their place on the periphery is determined by this relationship. If we mask this reality to ourselves, we can never experience integration. Again, I repeat, there has to be an incisive act of seeing and defining for this experience to succeed. Exclamations of ‘hurt psyches’ cannot be permitted to interfere with this process. When each thing is set properly in its place and thereby contributes its TRUE worth to the Harmony, there is never room for this peculiar brand of self-importance to arise.
But let me provide concrete examples. In the next part of this study, I propose to demonstrate how this act of seeing and defining must reveal the heart of things and may then help us to understand the distinctions I have drawn. That is, there is only one foundational plane for India, today as ever, regardless of what has transpired since the first Rishi chanted OM. This is the Vedic Dharma. And I propose to show how that Dharma remains entirely untouched by any culture which has spread like a wave across the eternal ecliptic of Vedic civilisation. Expressions of the waves exist, and therefore by the act of true and dispassionate seeing we can verify that they have done nothing essential to enrich the civilisation. Rather, that civilisational plane onto which they have moved has served as a backdrop by providing a ‘field’ of truth-foundation which has the explicit characteristic of pitilessly expressing or forcing the expression of WHAT IS. Each element is compelled by the luminous sun of Knowledge or Veda to reveal its inner truth. And this is the enrichment which all invading cultures have experienced in India. One simple and even sublime example I can furnish is the Taj Mahal, apex, by all standards, of Islamic culture in India. We shall analyse it in depth in relation to that plane of Vedic India’s ecliptic. As well, we shall explore the content of the mosque and even the church of Christiandom in this comparative study, using the solar system as our focus and measure.
Finally, with the same yardstick, we shall discover how everything discussed so far in this study has been encapsulated in the Matrimandir constructed in Auroville, deviating from the Mother’s original plan and in defiance of certain basic laws of sacred architecture which are a direct product of Vedic civilisation. As it stands today, the Matrimandir is a denial of all that the Veda signifies. Indeed, of all that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother came to accomplish on this planet. By taking the Mother’s original plan as presented in The New Way and analysing her design compared to what the architect and builders in Auroville have constructed, ostensibly as her design and measurements, we have a splendid example of the vast world that separates the Vedic temple from the weak, effete and meaningless commercial architecture we observe in the Auroville construction.
Lamentably, the Mother’s original plan was meant to restore the ancient Vedic art and knowledge, and this too can be proven through a comparative study of the two. In view of the perverse disfiguration that took place, it is understandable that the Mother, given her outstanding clairvoyance, exclaimed in an effort to convince her disciples of the need to respect her vision: NO ARCHITECTS! No one heeded her admonitions, and thus we have on Indian soil today a concretisation in cement and steel of the perishable and valueless ego realm of Chhaya or Diti. The Matrimandir in Auroville, to a person of Knowledge, is a hymn to the centreless Void.
Aeon Centre of Cosmology
(to be continued)
‘The instinct for order and freedom at once in any field of human activity is always a sign of a high natural capacity in that field, and a people which could devise such a union of unlimited religious liberty with an always orderly religious evolution, must be credited with a high religious capacity, even as they cannot be denied its inevitable fruit, a great ancient and still living spiritual culture. It is this absolute freedom of thought and experience and this provision of a framework sufficiently flexible and various to ensure liberty yet sufficiently sure and firm to be the means of a stable and powerful evolution that have given to Indian civilisation this wonderful and seemingly eternal religion with its marvellous wealth of many-sided philosophies, of great scriptures, of profound religious works, of religions that approach the Eternal from every side of his infinite Truth, of Yoga systems of psycho-spiritual discipline and self-finding, of suggestive forms, symbols and ceremonies, which are strong to train the mind at all stages of development towards the Godward endeavour. Its firm structure capable of supporting without peril a large tolerance and assimilative spirit, its vivacity, intensity, profundity and multitudiness of experience, its freedom from the unnatural European divorce between mundane knowledge and science on the one side and religion on the other; its reconciliation of the claims of the intellect with the claims of the spirit, its long endurance and infinite capacity of revival make it stand out today as the most remarkable, rich and living of all religious systems. The nineteenth century has thrown on it its tremendous shock of negation and scepticism but has not been able to destroy its assured roots of spiritual knowledge. A little disturbed for a brief moment, surprised and temporarily shaken by this attack in a period of greatest depression of the nation’s vital force, India revived almost at once and responded by a fresh outburst of spiritual activity, seeking, assimilation, formative effort. A great new life is visibly preparing for her, a mighty transformation and farther dynamic evolution and potent march forward into the inexhaustible infinities of spiritual experience.’
Foundations of Indian Culture
III, Chapter 1