Also in this Series
Dadhikravan [the Vedic Horse] is he of whom now we must do the work; may all the Dawns speed me on the path! For the Waters and for the Dawn and the Sun and Brihaspati, he of the puissance, the Victor.
May this Power of being who seeks the full-bringing and seeks the Light and who abides in all activity turn into inspiration and impulsions of the Dawn, may he abide in their speed that carries us beyond. Dadhikravan who is the truth in his running, – yea, he gallops and he flies, – brings into being the impulsion, the abundant force, the heavenly light.
When he runs, when he speeds in his passage, as the wing of the Bird is a wind that blows about him in his greed of the gallop; as the wing that beats about the breast of the rushing Eagle, so about the breast of Dadhikravan when with the Force he carries us beyond.
For the abundance of his strength he carries his impeller beyond, a rein binds his neck and a rein holds him about the chest and a rein is in his mouth. Dadhikravan puts forth his energy according to the will in the mind and gallops along the turning of the path.
This is the swan that dwells in the purity, the lord of substance in the middle world, the Priest of the offering whose seat is upon the altar, the guest in the gated house. He dwells in Man, he dwells in the Truth, he dwells in the wide Ether; he is born of the Waters, he is born of the Light, he is born of the Law, he is born of the Hill of Substance, he is the Law of the Truth.
Rig Veda, IV, 40, 1-5
Translated by Sri Aurobindo
Hymns to the Mystic Fire
CE, Vol. 11, pages 197-8
‘Between the beings of the supramental world and men, almost the same separation exists as between men and animals. Some time ago I had the experience of identification with animal life, and it is a fact that animals do not understand us; their consciousness is so constructed that we elude them almost entirely. And yet I have known pet animals – cats and dogs, but especially cats – that used to make an almost yogic effort of consciousness to reach us. But usually, when they see us as we live and act, they do not understand, they do not see us as we are and they suffer because of us. We are a constant enigma to them. Only a very tiny part of their consciousness has a link with us. And it is the same thing for us when we try to look at the supramental world. Only when the link of consciousness is established shall we see it – and even then only the part of our being which has undergone transformation in this way will be able to see it as it is – otherwise the two worlds would remain apart like the animal and human worlds.’
The Mother, 19.2.1958
TMCE, Vol. 9, page 271
There has been much speculation on the role of animals in the new creation, whether or not they would evolve, whether they would acquire higher faculties or remain as they are and, if so, in what way would they participate in the Supramental Manifestation. Many are curious to know what effect the new Power would have on species other than the human, if any at all.
This speculation has been particularly prominent among disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, insofar as the Mother’s involvement with animals is a part of the history of the Ashram she created. From the beginning the Mother’s ‘work’ with animals, in particular cats, was witnessed by her disciples. It was, as many understood, an occult work. There are numerous anecdotes on the Ashram files about this work, but none provide the real key to the nature of the Mother’s involvement with the feline species.
In 1976, an Ashram journal published a piece entitled ‘Immortality Day’, in which the author/editor of the magazine mentions a particular incident concerning a cat named ‘Amar’. I have discussed his piece in a footnote in The New Way, Volume 2, page 422, and I would like to reproduce what I wrote there for VISHAAL readers:
In an article entitled ‘Immortality Day’, (Mother India, February 21, 1976) K. D. Sethna writes about this mysterious day that was celebrated for a short time in the Ashram, but then completely forgotten. He reports that the Mother declared an important, fundamental event took place that day but it was ‘both very sacred and secret’.
One part of Sethna’s investigation of Immortality Day, – which, it is interesting to note, he undertook in late 1975 and early 1976, just at the time when the true significance of the Day was to be revealed – concerns a cat born precisely on 26 November, 1926 [Immortality Day]. The Mother named the cat ‘Amar’, signifying immortal. This cat then died, by falling into a well, and it appears that the Mother seemed to feel the death was symbolically connected with her work, Sethna reports.
The cat ‘Amar’ may well have been a prophetic organ, and his death an indication of the ‘death’ Sri Aurobindo would have to succumb to twenty-four years later, his sacrifice so that he could return on that very Immortality Day. Moreover, the manner of the cat’s death – its plunge into a well – is also revelatory of his sacrifice, because it symbolises Sri Aurobindo’s plunge into the ‘bottomless pit’ (see The New Way, Chapter 7, Volume 2). Thus, the Mother had every reason to look upon Amar as a symbol connected with their work…’
For students of the new way this report cannot be surprising, especially the association the Mother drew between Amar’s death and her work. The cat, as stated, was named Amar because it was born on Immortality (‘Amar’) Day. This was 26 November, and it is the date of Sri Aurobindo’s return. The Mother was therefore justified in perceiving that the circumstances of the cat’s death in some way bore a relation to their work. Amar’s plunge into a well is certainly representative of Sri Aurobindo’s ‘plunge’ in 1950, when he left this plane wilfully, only to return on that very ‘Amar’ Day.
This is one of the records we have of the way in which the Mother understood the role of animals in her work, in this case concerning perhaps one of its most important aspects. In 1926 the Mother could not have known all these details. It was sufficient for her to perceive, however, that the circumstances of the cat’s death bore a relation to Sri Aurobindo’s work – indeed, to his own passing. Time would do the rest.
However, Amar’s symbolism went beyond that. The cat not only conveyed something especially important regarding Sri Aurobindo’s passing – albeit unbeknown to all at the time – but the date of Amar’s birth gave an even more precious piece of information, which required many decades to comprehend and to confirm.
Thus, in this specific example of the Mother’s involvement with animals, we discover a few important facts. One is that the Mother saw that often animals do convey messages, as magicians, sorcerers, shamans, and tantriks have sustained throughout the ages; another is the fact that the time of Amar’s birth on Immortality Day is what gave to the animal a position of prominent representation in the Mother’s assessment. It was his birth on that special day which made the Mother realise that Amar might have a message to convey, or that the circumstances of his life would cast light on important aspects of their work, primarily because that date witnessed something that was ‘both sacred and secret’ which the Mother never revealed to her disciples. This adds another dimension to the matter. We are justified in surmising, therefore, that Amar’s representation was connected to that something ‘both sacred and secret’.
Indeed, there were more dimensions involved, and time was needed to bring a fuller understanding. Over the years a number of immensely important points have been clarified concerning the participation of the animal kingdom in the supramental creation, to the point where we are able to state that this particular participation has been essential. Without it the Yoga of the Chamber, which I have described in the previous issue of VISHAAL, could not have come to pass.
However, it must also be stated that sentimentality has to be overcome if we wish to understand the true nature of this precious collaboration of Mother Nature via the animal species. On the surface the conditions of the Work are often difficult and harsh. By consequence, the roles that animals have played were also difficult to bear at times. For example, their deaths were their special contributions for a number of years, similar to Amar’s but far more exacting in all their details. The truth of Amar’s birth and death required FIFTY YEARS to be revealed. Whereas the precise role of animals in the New Way was perceived within a question of months and sometimes even immediately. This is a further proof of the ‘acceleration of time’ at this level of the Supramental Manifestation. Indeed, a key feature of the Manifestation to come is the immediate and direct perception of truth and action in the world on the basis of clear, sure and tested knowledge, no longer a fumbling in the dark, in the labyrinth of the speculative mind caught up in the waves of the untransformed vital being.
Nonetheless, to perceive this contribution is not easy. We may review the material that exists in the Ashram archives on this subject to realise that essential points have been missed entirely when researchers, disciples, students of Sri Aurobindo’s teaching seek to incorporate the animal in any assessment of the Yoga. The major flaw is the following: All involvement with animals is undertaken within the framework of the mental human structure. That is, researchers seek to study animal participation from this particular poise. The result is an imposition on the animal not only of a structure that is limited even for the human species, but that bears scant relation to the inner truth of the animal. The important factor to bear in mind in assessing the course of the change the Supermind is bringing about is that, as the Mother so emphatically emphasised, ‘each thing is put in its right place’. It is this correct placement that allows the inner truth of each element to manifest and to contribute its real worth to the new world.
Thus, regarding the animal species, there will indeed be a change in their expression and purpose on Earth as the supramental transformation increases its effective power, but this change will not be an imposition of a false, external dharma. Rather, each thing in its place allows even the animal to experience an enhancement and hence a superior poise. But that enlargement will never contradict its inner truth.
Therefore, to work with animals in the New Way the first requirement was a consciousness open and unconditioned regarding these creatures – a virgin field, we may say; and at all times a refusal to expect or to demand that the animal behave or manifest traits foreign to its true nature and its ‘place’ in creation. These demands are nothing but a violence done to it by an inferior mental imposition. But then, we are justified in questioning, what exactly would the animal participation be?
I propose to present students with clear examples of the manner in which animals have participated in our work from the beginning of the present decade. Indeed, we could state that because their participation was essential and already ‘existed’ in the just, albeit unknown, order of things to come, the establishment of the new seat of Sri Aurobindo’s work in Kodaikanal under favourable climatic conditions and natural surroundings, and finally at Skambha in a totally rural area, was indispensable. For in our work we were not only dealing with the smaller species such as cats and dogs. It was primarily the larger. The two principal elements were the Cow and the Horse, India’s oldest and most sacred symbols, pillars of her most ancient and revered scripture, the Rig Veda.
To be more precise, exactly when it became necessary in the Yoga to deal with the Veda and by direct knowledge to incorporate its deepest truths into this new body of knowledge, we were unexpectedly given first a cow and then a horse – for in this exciting work ‘the symbol is the thing symbolised’. Consequently, it would not suffice to have a mental and external appreciation of this participation. The issue had to be immediate and direct, experiential to the fullest degree.
I use the word participation purposefully. These animals were not only given to serve as objects of observation in order to bring a certain increase in information. On the contrary, that observation came via a sensitive perception of their CONTRIBUTION to the work, of the manner in which such creatures are utilised in the supramental change as equal participants. Indeed, to observe and share in that collaboration for this great change was the key to the success of the endeavour. On this basis, no imposition from the human conditioned mind was allowed or possible. To seek to do so would have meant missing the point of that collaboration entirely. But I am obliged to repeat that a sentimental attitude – common to most animal lovers – is an attitude inimical to this type of work. Equanimity was the key ingredient; and indeed work with these wonderful creatures helped to achieve this most important realisation of the integral yoga in the midst of the often disturbing experiences that were a part of the early stages of the establishment of the new Cosmos.
More on the Yoga of the Chamber
It was in this decade that the animal became an integral part of the work. I have referred to the Yoga of the Chamber in the previous VISHAAL. To make any sense of the present topic I shall have to go into greater detail of that unusual and new process which began in 1980. Its goal was the ‘construction’ of the Mother’s Chamber, in particular the room’s central shaft – the most important feature of the temple requiring a great precision of knowledge, externally expressing itself in a precision of ‘measurement’. Thus the ‘dimensions’ of the chamber become the means to express the lived experience of the Yoga, and thereby to link various planes of existence; or rather, to open channels on Earth through which the truth of the supramental planes can permeate the atmosphere of the planet.
In this special process, as in other stages and aspects of the integral and supramental yogas, representative energies were required. These were embodied in people and animals, without distinction; that is, without distinction in the value of their contribution, or the degree of advancement it would bring. However, there was a qualitative difference between the two. The human contribution invariably brought problematic knots for their undoing. The animal contributed what might be called pure and free-flowing energy. Essential lines in the emerging cosmos were drawn with these energies which the animal provided by its uncontaminated participation.
This statement must not be considered judgemental. I am not allocating to the animal a higher status when I write of this fluidity and largely positive contribution. The animals’ responses are more direct and less complicated, this is true; but at the same time the human being in the midst of his or her complex and often twisted reactions, renders the process far more sophisticated, with a much wider horizon as a result. The animal may provide the energy needed for the crossing, for extension of the boundaries. It may provide the fluid lines for the enlargement of the boundaries from the mental to the supramental creation; but a pivotal element in this expansion is a conscious participation, an ‘eye that sees’, that cognises, that evolves in full awareness. This is not the role of the animal. It is the contribution of the human being; and because of the complex but inferior poise of the instrument the human creature possesses, this contribution is, for the most part, twisted, knotted. Indeed, in my experience the human element brought to the process the deformed condition that Mind has produced in this transitional phase of evolution – being the highest organ and therefore limited because it occupies a temporary fictitious apex. By consequence it has become the deforming organ. It is as if the animal contribution, because it lacked the complexity of self-awareness drew clear lines in the blueprint as a sort of backdrop onto which the human element could engage in the more difficult labour of ‘undoing knots’ and laying new lines devoid of the former deformation.
When this process is studied within the framework of the ‘construction’ of the Mother’s Chamber, as I have described in the series, ‘The Mother’s Dream’, it is as if the animal participation represented the construction of the TRUE chamber, in a sense, uncontaminated by the distorted physical construction taking place in Auroville; as if the animal was utilised to represent that original, undeformed plan, disconnected from the distorted version. Whereas, the human elements utilised in this ‘construction’, this Yoga of the Chamber, were clearly the representatives of the reasons why that distortion in the plan came about. They offered themselves as ‘symbols’ of the flaws in the human creation which were the determining causes for the architects’ opposition to the Divine Will. And with that representative material the true chamber had to come into being, rectifying those flaws, undoing those knots. Thus the Yoga of the Chamber provided the condensed means to undo the old and to establish the new, to lay the right foundations in knowledge, to erect the new axial balance of a superior species.
It is evident that in order to appreciate a process of this nature a sound foundation in knowledge is required. Passage to a higher poise, an extension of the present boundaries of the consciousness of the species will not happen spontaneously, without effort. The effort may be of just a few – and indeed this seems to have been the case – but effort is nonetheless a key ingredient. Implied in the word is knowledge, for an effort devoid of gnosis not only leaves us as we are but often imprisons us even more tightly within the constricting walls of mind.
When evolution passes from the lower to the higher hemisphere, it is distinguished by one feature primarily: a conscious participation, a conscious evolving. But this cannot be a mental formula and hence illusory. It must be the evolution of a gnostic principle. Thus in the term is implied a practice of yoga which posits as its central aspiration the unfolding of a true seeing which alone can draw aside the disfiguring veils of unconscious mental gropings.
The Responsible Agent
Over the past fifteen years I have had occasion to observe the manner in which disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother approach the question of animal participation in the new creation. Until I had had a direct experience in the matter I always refused to comment when questioned about their future role. Always wary of the scourge of the speculative mind and the drain of precious energies it produces, I have refused to be drawn into any discussion of aspects of the work about which I have not had experiential knowledge to draw from. Therefore it was only in this decade that the way opened for such a direct experience. As I have described earlier, this direct involvement and the knowledge it provided made it evident that to deal with the question of the role of animals in the new supramental creation, a new consciousness was required. My experience proved that the only truly significant change was this: the emergence of a new consciousness which is the responsibility of the higher species. That is, the animal will not evolve to a near human level or develop other and higher faculties. It will be simply a question of the human being reordering his instrument so as to allow that so-called lower species to participate in the transformation as the Divine intended it to do.
This may be somewhat disappointing to those who have evolved elaborate ideas about the new order, wherein animals are expected to move up on the scale; for this is what is demanded of them in the manner in which some have dealt with this issue. I repeat, it is a violence done to the species, an imposition of a way of being totally foreign to their inner truth. This imposition pertains as well to methods of observation and criteria employed to assess the nature and role of the animal in the new creation. This question of the ability to express one’s inner truth is, of course, the distinguishing feature of the supramental creation.
We can understand from this that there is a validity to this question of a ‘higher’ expression for the animal in the new creation; but this, as many things ill-perceived, has been rather deformed. The responsibility lies with the highest in the scale. The new faculty evolving has the explicit purpose and ability of ‘putting each thing in its right place’. The implication is a power of seeing that allows for such an ordering to take place. And this is where the Yoga enters the scheme of things: a new seeing evolves which by its intrinsic ability to put each thing in its place, permits the animal to contribute its true self to the evolution. That is, the collaboration between human and animal resides in this expansion wherein ‘the symbol is the thing symbolised’ to our perceptive faculties.
Symbols in the Path of Knowledge
This brings us to one of the oldest and most enduring activities of the human consciousness: the formulation of symbols. Why do we require this sort of transposing at all? And why has this been such a prominent aspect of higher knowledge from time immemorial?
During the Age of the Veda it is clear that civilisation, or at least a gnostic elite, had an entirely different conception of symbols. Symbols were not something separated from the essence they captured. In addition, the symbol chosen bore a direct relation to the inner knowledge of that essence, to its deepest meaning. In many ways it was an enhancement of that meaning and a tool for encouraging the human being to appreciate the oneness of creation. Thus in the Rig Veda we find a usage of symbols so foreign to our present appreciation that these hymns of such evident enlightened seeing have not been properly understood. By this I mean that the seeker has lost contact with the manner in which the symbol becomes the thing symbolised and thereby participates in the Yoga on an equal basis; and, above all, with no separation in the mind of the seeker. For example, when a disciple of Sri Aurobindo says, ‘The Sun symbolises the Supermind,’ repeating the Master’s words as if by rote, he engages in this process of dividing the real from the image. That is, unwittingly he fortifies the concept of an ‘illusory’ material creation, for in his consciousness, his lived experience of life, at no time has he made contact with the Sun in such a way as to bridge this gulf and render the symbol of the Sun that very thing symbolised.
In Sri Aurobindo’s work this issue assumes great importance, for what lies at the bottom of it all? The root of the conflict resides in the great divide that Mind has introduced in the evolution of consciousness, especially fortified over the past five thousand years. It is the conflict between matter and spirit, or form and essence. A human being structured on the binary blueprint cannot heal this division in his consciousness. For him there is always an unbridgeable chasm between form and essence, or matter and spirit. It is only a unitary consciousness which can appreciate that the symbol is the very thing symbolised. And unless this new poise comes into being, the animal cannot offer its real contribution to the work, to the Earth. For the distinguishing feature of the animal is an undivided awareness. The direct and undistorted responses we see in the animal are the result of an undivided consciousness-being, undisturbed by the mental apparatus which drives a disfiguring wedge through our perception and hence distorts our experience of life.
To some extent the Vedic Rishi enjoyed a consciousness which was free of this distortion, this divisive perception. Thus, the Sun was the physical representative in a material universe of the divine Truth-Consciousness. How could it be otherwise? We need only observe the structure of our solar system to appreciate this divine correspondence. A student of the New Way can have no difficulty in accepting this central aphorism of our work – the symbol is the thing symbolised – when he or she lives the Gnostic Circle, realises that the unitary consciousness we seek to establish can only be truly expressed in symbol by the physical structure of our solar system. The Sun is unitary, central, commanding, harmonising, integrating, binding. The planets add the play of the many, the charm of the multiple, the harmonies of the superbly orchestrated music of the spheres. These are no different from the human consciousness and being, both essentially and physically. The means by which we may conclusively obliterate any division in our awareness between the Sun as symbol and thing symbolised is by discovering and utilising the formidable key that is Gnostic Time.
An enlightened study of the Rig Veda proves that for the Rishi time was also the means to draw aside the divisive veils, as well as to provide the basis for a knowledgeable practice of the yoga. When the Rishi sings… ‘Certain eternal worlds are there, their doors are opened to you by the months and the years…’ we need not seek a contrived interpretation, belabouring the analytical mind to fortify the cleavage. The Rishi meant exactly what his words convey: the months of the year open those sacred doors, drawing the many planes of existence together into one harmonious whole. Thus the key protagonist of those sacred hymns was necessarily the Year, the Divine Measure of our planetary abode. Likewise, zodiacal tradition presents a similar key in the symbols it offers to describe each of those sacred months. Devoid of the power of Time the zodiacal script is a static representation that goes nowhere; the symbols are inert, dead, non-progressive. It is Time that makes the sacred Wheel move eternally, in an unending progression; and it is the Year, the Divine Measure of 365 days, that opens those doors between the worlds, from the highest to the lowest.
For the Rishi the Cow and the Horse were the symbols of consciousness-force, respectively. Sri Aurobindo has unveiled the psychological/spiritual content of the Vedic symbols through a profound discussion of the language in which the hymns were composed. He has shown how Sanskrit itself was a means to bridge various dimensions and convey diverse meanings of different levels and depths. Sanskrit offers an exoteric or an esoteric and highly sophisticated symbolism in which words are the outer forms conveying the different nuances of essence. The scholar who sees in the Rig Veda merely the babblings of pagan nature worshippers (whatever that is intended to mean), is simply trapped in the exoteric mould of the word.
My work with the Veda has served to confirm Sri Aurobindo’s exposition and to carry the discussion from the realm of enlightened analysis into the dimension of the lived experience and practice of the supramental yoga. For it is in the supramental yoga that the truth of the Veda manifests conclusively, inasmuch as it is this revolutionary yoga that ‘puts each thing in its right place’, and by consequence that renders the symbol the thing symbolised. The supramental yoga closes the gulf in human consciousness which produces a divisive perception of reality. When the chasm is bridged the Cow and the Horse, to name just two sacred ‘symbols’, provide an impeccable means to enhance our appreciation of the oneness of material creation and, at the same time, by referring to the Gnostic Circle and the revelations the Yoga of the Chamber has introduced, to cease engaging in one of the most damaging activities to which seekers and even realisers of Truth are prone. This is to demand that the ‘spiritual’ experience be separated from the lived experience of life in the universe as we know it.
When the cosmic harmony lost its sense as well as its ability to serve as a dynamic and progressive model for the realiser, it was the signal that the deformation had become complete. The realiser could no longer SEE WHAT IS, for that reality had become an illusory veil devoid of truth-essence. There was Essence and there was Form, but no real relation between the two. The cosmos could no longer serve as the model to verify the Hermetic aphorism, ‘As above, so below’, for that ‘above’ was viewed as an impermanent Maya whose sole purpose was to deceive the seeker and by a negative experience to catapult him into a void somehow disconnected from the universal manifestation.
Over the ages the spiritual experience has become a means to distort the reality and truth-essence of the universe we inhabit. The language which then evolved out of that experience bore no relation to our physical world. When the realiser could no longer use the cosmos to express his spiritual experience, he introduced the cleavage I have described above between form and essence. More importantly, that essence itself became deformed. The experience conveyed an unfocussed vision of what is and immediately ‘nothingness’ and ‘voids’ became the way to describe that higher Truth. This was a logical development in a world in which the cosmos lost its sense, its purpose and its relation of oneness to the human being and the evolution of consciousness on Earth. Above all, material creation became divested of true sacredness.
For what is the true nature of the sacred? Any object in creation is sacred or becomes sacred in our experience when there is perceived the unbroken link between the object’s inner truth and its outer form. Form then becomes a means to express an inner truth which instills in that material substance a quality which renders it sacred. The Power, the Presence is seen to inhabit that form. In addition, form enhances the expression, renders it tangible and ‘materialised’. This is experienced only in the practice of certain yogas or processes which open the consciousness of the practitioner to the hidden essence within that form.
However, the new supramental yoga is characterised by a process that enhances one’s consciousness to the point where form no longer hides or masks essence. It becomes the direct expression of that inner seed of truth. Form is truth of being crystallised in an individualised structure to give full expression to the play of the One and the Many.
The animal lives in a state of constant harmony between the inner and outer substance. Similar to the whole of creation, this grants to the animal the quality of sacredness. But it is the human experience of this relation that unveils the sacred in the animal, to name just one aspect of creation. When a seer perceives a certain role the animal plays in creation, as a direct instrument of the Supreme Shakti, then that creature acquires a special status. Thus the cat Amar in the Mother’s experience perforce came to occupy a place that set it apart from its peers, or from other species in the animal kingdom.
Throughout the ages seers have had experiences of this order with different species. The Cow and the Horse are examples from very ancient times in India. In Egypt and in Greece, indeed throughout the pre-Christian world, it was common to hold a particular species as sacred and representative of certain attributes, or to play ‘symbolic roles’.
However, we have passed through a dark age during which these truths have become deformed. Consequently, we observe that in our present times, even in countries where this activity is still in vogue, a dogmatic formula has replaced the lived experience of the sacred. In India, for example, the Cow is ‘sacred’ – but there is hardly a person in India who has actually lived the process which unveiled to the ancient Seer that special quality. It is simply a question of respect for the tradition and the enlightened revelations from the past which no one would wish to question or place in doubt.
The result is that a purely external act such as the injunction not to eat the flesh of the cow, or the effort to ban cow slaughter entirely, has gradually covered over the true meaning and has fostered a superficial approach in the believer. Yet for external considerations such as these, the followers of many faiths are even ready to kill those who they believe have been irreverent toward the symbol or who seem to have desecrated it in any way,
An unexplained (and embarrassing) enigma exists in this area: The sacredness of the Cow is rooted in the bedrock of Hinduism – the Veda. No other more recent scripture in India has added anything significant to the matter, except to uphold what the Veda sustains. Thus, on the basis of the authoritative Veda the prohibition against beef-eating has come into practice.
However, historians seem to concur in the discovery that in the Vedic Age beef-eating was the norm. Therefore, in the context of our present approach to the subject, how can we reconcile this with the current injunction concerning the sacredness of these symbols and the consequent command that to eat beef is to desecrate that supreme symbol that is the Cow? We cannot claim that in later ages seers saw more deeply into the matter and therefore these latter-day injunctions represent a superior realisation. This is certainly not the case. In fact, the question of the interpretation of animal symbols in the Veda has produced a considerable display of ignorance in India, in particular after the advent of the western indologist and the proselytising missionary who went to the other extreme and revealed a new brand of ignorance. Thus, as far as is evident from the sacred texts at our disposal, all references to the sacredness of the Cow are from the Veda, based on the experiences of those formidable Rishis of old. Moreover, as Hinduism became more and more codified with passage through the Earth’s Dark Age, an external and dogmatic injunction came to replace the true understanding of the sacred by direct knowledge.
We may safely assume that it was not the Rishi’s refusal to eat the flesh of the cow that reflected his appreciation of the animal’s sacred representation. Indeed, abstinence or indulgence are of little consequence in the question of the sacred experience. And it goes without saying that if more believers could make the effort to have that true experience and not remain closeted in the external codification, there might be less suffering and discord and divisiveness, produced by the intolerance that often accompanies positions of this nature.
I propose in this analysis of the animal in the supramental creation to provide students with concrete and non-speculative ways to understand the manner in which a particular animal may become invested with certain qualities. The Yoga of the Chamber of this decade, or the ‘construction’ of the Mother’s Temple, provides the best means at our disposal to illustrate the above. In the process, this analysis will help to re-establish a truth that has now become entirely buried in the deadly tomb of Dogma, to the point where the lived and direct experience is virtually impossible. For the fact is the seeker has lost the key which ‘opens the doors’ to those sacred dimensions, those ‘worlds’ the Rishi sang of in his hymns to the Sacred and to Time, wherein form and essence are one. Thus it is necessary to reveal those keys once again; but in the process – and this is by far the most important point to bear in mind – to establish a new body of knowledge whose corpus has expanded in view of the expansion demanded of our awareness in this new Age of Supermind.
The Horse, Victim of the Binary Sacrifice
A degeneration took place in India. This is made evident by one important fact, often overlooked by historians and seekers. And yet this fact speaks volumes of the true nature of the problem we face in our passage to a higher status.
In the Vedic Age both Cow and Horse were sacred symbols – and they were often coupled to convey a single truth. But we observe that over the millennia since those ancient times of pre-history, a perception evolved which resulted in a focus on one of those symbols alone, to the exclusion of the other. Thus the Cow became the supreme symbol; the Horse gradually faded into insignificance. Hinduism became more and more structuralised and dogma came to serve as the binding element for the masses rather than the direct experience of truth which was reserved for the elite.
However, the degeneration I describe concerns precisely the condition that afflicted the seer and the realiser of truth, the spiritual elite. In India the masses have always moulded their consciousness, albeit in diluted form, to the contours provided to the collectivity by the realisations of the seers. Therefore, it stands to reason that when the full impact of Buddhism was felt and the goal of the quest became the ‘otherworldly’ experience almost exclusively – such as the realisation of the transcendent Brahman, in the practical application of the experience disconnected from the other aspects of the Supreme Reality – this was then reflected in an individual and collective worship entirely focussed on the Cow. For the Cow symbolises the Light and pure Consciousness. Indeed, the Sanskrit word for cow, ‘go’, means also light or ray (of the Sun). In the Rig Veda, however, the Cow was much more, the word being pregnant with meaning. She was synonymous with the Supreme Mother Aditi, and hence a symbol intimately connected with a creation in matter.
Taken alone, the Cow as synonym for Aditi, the Mother of Unity or undivided pure consciousness-being, is as if lacking the effective power she is supposed to possess in order to give shape through the Divine Maya to the material creation as an extension of the Transcendent. In fact, we may be even more specific. The entire theme of the Rig Veda is precisely this: the myth describes the process of manifestation wherein division must ensue producing a binary condition which, if left unchecked, would result in a complete and crystallised schism – indeed, that very schism we have been discussing in the latest issues of VISHAAL between Spirit and Matter in the binary structure of our present civilisation. The Rig Veda is therefore a prophecy of our times, of this particular Manifestation in the scheme of 12 Manifestations stretching over 77,760 years, wherein the problem of unity and multiplicity must be resolved, in the human being, in society, in civilisation. The Rig Veda describes the completed process or passage from division to unification through ‘redemption of the rays/cows of the Sun’.
The story is a simple one, deceiving in its simplicity, to the extent that its true meaning has been almost completely lost today. The cows are stolen by the adverse forces, closed in their pens or caves; they are subsequently rescued by the warriors of Truth. The entire theme of the myth is the struggle that ensues between the sons of the two Mothers – Aditi, the mother of unity and light, and Diti, the mother of division and darkness – to gain possession of these cows/rays.
The symbolism is rather obvious and does not require extensive elaboration. The cave is dense matter, similar to the dark kingdom of Pluto, the God of the Underworld [see TVN, 3/3, August 1988]. The story then goes on to describe in plain and clear terms what happens to those ‘rays of the Sun’. They are released from the pens or caves by the power of the Word and the Truth (there are numerous symbols used to express these powers in the text), and this results in the victorious, accelerated rise to and attainment of Swar, or the highest plane of consciousness.
I have discussed this story in great detail in The New Way and in a series of collected essays entitled, Time and Imperishability, as well as in various articles in VISHAAL and elsewhere; there is no need to take up the matter again except to highlight one fact for the purposes of our present discussion. Though the main theme of the Rig Veda is the victory of the integral, integrated Truth, the nature of that victory has become distorted over the ages. Swar was seen as a heaven beyond material creation, or a plane of consciousness to be realised disconnected from human embodiment, rather than a plane fully integrated into existence here, on this Earth. I believe that I have provided sufficient proof of this fact in the works mentioned above. The victory over the adverse forces and the Dark Mother has been misunderstood, for we are analysing the matter from the poise of our present disunified perception, therefore we foist upon the struggle the goals we have come to believe are real; in the process we continue to solidify the spirit/matter divide.
This division found its expression in the fading importance of the Horse in Hindu symbology, with almost exclusive focus on the Cow. Indeed, we may safely say that the condition prevailing among schools of yoga, and by consequence in India as a whole, demonstrates more clearly than anything else that the full truth of the Vedic myth has not only not been experienced but that its real meaning has been completely obscured. The very cleavage described in the story that must be overcome is what we find crystallised in existence today. More lamentably, this split has become extolled as the highest truth to which the seeker can aspire.
It is not difficult to understand, by consequence, how the Rig Veda has been utilised to divide the nation; for if this distortion crept into the consciousness of the realiser, how could one prevent it from infiltrating the condition of Indian society? And indeed the distortion has played a major role in consolidating, among other things, the North/South divide by attributing to the myth an historical import which is intended to fuel the Aryan/Dravidian binary opposition.
What then is the element in the story that has been missed or misconstrued or misinterpreted? It is what the Horse symbolises. Consequently, today the Horse is no longer the object of veneration it was of old. Only the ‘undivided’ Light (read unmaterialised) of the Cow is placed on the altar of collective worship. But a division of the two is the best means we have to describe the sorry condition of civilisation and the scourge of the crystallised binary pattern to which the human race is subjected. We play out this division at every step of our way through time.
To provide just one example, the split which resulted in the degeneration of the Horse symbol has become reflected in the loss of true power, especially evident in a distorted expression of the warrior element in society. This is evident in present-day India, in particular in the Sikh conundrum.
Yet there are no scriptures anywhere in the world comparable to those we find in India for conveying the sacred dimensions these animals embody. We have, for example, the majestic description in the Brihadaranyak Upanishad of the universe precisely in the form of a Horse. All the parts of its body are aspects of material creation, while ‘Time is the self of the Horse sacrificial’.
But this particular Upanishad is one of the earliest, still very close in time to the Vedic period. Yet, in spite of all, based on these scriptures Hinduism continues today to extol those elements which in conjunction served to secure the victory the Vedic myth announces. Hinduism in this way is indeed the preserver of the eternal Truth, regardless of the fallen condition its outer form may take.
Thus, Agni, the Son of Force, who is interchangeable with the white Horse, is easily the most important deity in the Veda, and by consequence, in the entire Hindu pantheon of Gods, we might expect. Nonetheless, the Horse has lost its place in the galaxy of symbols in terms of the effective power which the lived experience of Yoga provides. I repeat, this became crystallised when the split was complete and the otherworldly realisation became the goal – not to speak of the formulations of voids and nothingnesses and the like – all denials of the COMBINED essence of Cow and Horse, or Consciousness-Force.
Indeed, consciousness (Cow/Ray) has lost its effective power in our divided binary world. Force (Horse) is as if left to roam untamed, unreined and wild, deprived of its Rider who its released energy is meant to carry to realms beyond the constricted space of a binary mental creation. The inner dharma and purpose of the Horse has become completely obscured. In our work, in the Yoga of the Chamber, this situation is redeemed. And it was redeemed largely with the help of a living horse.
We have experienced that the Horse is the propelling power, the movement, the speed which allows for solidified bodies to come into being (hence the Upanishad presents the material universe in the figure of a horse). From time to time in my writings I have exposed the fact that Movement is taboo in the experience of the realiser who sustains that Nothingness is the highest truth – Krishnamurti, for example (‘…The only security lies in nothingness…’). For the spiritualist, and in particular the Buddhist and all seekers who have been caught by the Nirvanic appeal, what moves is impermanent and hence unreal. Logically, such a realisation must present the entire universe – movement being its essence – as an unreal and deceptive disfiguration.
The Horse is hence that movement of the Supreme Consciousness without which no form can arise. In a world where creation is seen as illusory, it is to be expected that the Horse gradually lost all relevance in its sacred symbolism, except for a token worship entirely devoid of true and effective power. The Horse, we may say, is the materialisation of energy. By consequence, in the Rig Veda it is the energy in the ‘cave’ which, when released, provides the vehicle and fuel for extension of the boundaries from mind to supermind. In the language of the zodiac this is confirmed by the symbol of the Man-Horse, the Centaur, or the sign Sagittarius, the sign in which Immortality Day falls. This sign indeed represents passage to the higher realm beyond mind.
In the New Way this symbol is the property of the 4th Power of the Solar Line – born precisely in the month of Sagittarius and on Immortality Day.
Thus, from whatever angle we approach the issue of the contribution of the Horse, we come to the one conclusive fact: as in the Rig Veda, the energy we must redeem or release is symbolised by the Horse. In our work, where the symbol is the very thing symbolised, and wherein the animal is an equal participant, it was precisely a living white horse who not only ‘represented’ that Energy but who himself released this formidable power, allowing the work to experience a reversal in 1984 and its boundaries to become effectively extended.
‘The minds of men who seek the godhead
converge towards the flame even as their seeings
converge in the sun; when two dawns of
different forms give birth to this Fire
the white Horse is born in front of the days.’
Rig Veda V, Sukta 1,4.
(To be continued)
Skambha, August 1988