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 3 – Part 3.2 (Continued from TVN 8/3)
- 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 3.5
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.4
- Culture and Cosmos – 3 Part 1
- Culture and Cosmos – 3 Part 1.2
- Culture & Cosmos 3 Part 1.3
- Culture & Cosmos – 3 Part 2.2 (continued from TVN 7/6)
- Culture and Cosmos 3 – Part 2.3
- Culture and Cosmos 3 -Part 3.1 (Continued from TVN 8/2)
- Culture and Cosmos -3 Part 2.1 (continued from TVN 7/4)
I have written that what is especially inspiring in the Vedic Way is the consistency of the Knowledge, or the manner in which certain essential elements have been spread throughout the fabric of the civilization which for many millennia has been housed in the Indian subcontinent in an unbroken line. I have used the Capricorn hieroglyph, superimposed on the subcontinental landmass as a focal point, or as a means to demonstrate this consistency. Indeed, the hieroglyph is especially revealing for this purpose, insofar as the Knowledge I refer to centres on this tenth sign of the zodiac.
This is carried over to many aspects of life, many cultural expressions. In modern India it is seen to be relevant given the fact that Makar, the Sanskrit name for the sign, is the most auspicious period of the year. It is the time when pilgrimages are made throughout the breadth of the land, to numerous particularly sacred places established as far back as in the Puranic age and even earlier. The national highways are flooded with pilgrims making their way on foot to these sacred sites in this auspicious Capricorn month.
Indian astrologers made a special effort to determine the correct beginning of this segment in the 12-month year. Of very special importance in connection with this timing was the exact Solstice measurement. A perusal of the old texts does indeed reveal that the establishment of the solstice axis – Capricorn/Cancer – was one of the main concerns of astrologers of old. And we also note that at a certain point in the passage of the Ages it was precisely this measurement, so central a part of the cultural life of the civilisation, which was ‘lost’, as I have pointed out on many occasions in these pages.
But in what way was it ‘lost’? And how could such an easily verifiable measurement have been missed or overlooked when so much emphasis had been placed on its correctness from time immemorial?
Given this factor of central importance, with a number of festivals needing to be located within this time-frame with exactitude, it is clear that the loss of accuracy was itself central to the unfolding destiny of the civilisation. It was not a lapse of one astronomer, or one school imposing its views, or a mistake of some sort which somehow crept into the calculations and then went on compounding itself to the present-day when we realise that the solstice axis is something like 23 degrees off the mark. And furthermore, that it will go on compounding and before long there will be no correlation with the Capricorn/Cancer axis at all, or the shortest and longest day of the year.
At the same time, I have shown in this series the overwhelming importance of Capricorn in the cultural fabric of the civilisation to the point where the hieroglyph even delineates the specific landmass wherein this sign would fulfil itself, at it were, where that Swar, or Heaven, would ‘descend’ upon Earth. The landmass exists and verifies the accuracy of the hieroglyph’s design and the astounding proficiency of the Seer who gave the civilisation this particular symbol. But we find that similar to the time demarcation, or the accurate location of the beginning of this very sign/month in the Earth’s yearly trajectory around the Sun, there has been a ‘loss’ regarding the geographical measurement relating to the same symbol. We note that India looks to her future of independence from foreign subjugation with this loss figuring not only in the time dimension but in space as well. Indeed, as we all know after Einstein’s contribution to physics, the two are interconnected and cannot be separated. Similarly, I contend that the loss of the exact position in time of the Capricorn solstice point resulted in the same disfigurement in space when at the birth of the new India that sacred landmass delineated by the hieroglyph was torn asunder, and at crucial places in the design.
The important point to note is that, as stated, there is a consistency even in the loss. And that it too serves to confirm the immense importance of all things Capricorn in Vedic civilisation from time immemorial. For, while dismembering of the symbol occurred in contemporary history, the dislocation of the time-axis occurred in the early part of the first millennium of our era.
Exactly when this dislocation was first rooted in the cultural fabric is not so easily pin-pointed. But we do have a clear indication of the approximate time in the work of the noted astrologer/mathematician, Varahamihira, and his famous treatise, Brihat Samhita, compiled around 500 AD.
Perusal of this text is a fascinating exercise, especially for students of the New Way. Indeed, the Brihat Samhita appears in many ways to be a precursor of The New Way. The latter is a synthesis of a number of disciplines; and it is the fact of this synthesis which places it out of bounds for academicians. Yet, the Brihat Samhita is a similar synthesis. Moreover, it reveals that this holistic approach was common to the ancient way. The fact that this new Way is incomprehensible or unappreciated by scholars, especially those of the spiritual path today, is logically revealing of just how far removed we are from a poise of consciousness enjoyed by the ancient Seers but lacking even in representatives of contemporary society who are supposed to be descended from those early Rishis.
In fact the problem does indeed lie in the spiritual domain. For it was in that dimension of the ancient civilisation, where the ‘loss’ was first registered. Varahamihira simply carried over into the astronomy of the day that spiritual transgression.
But I must clarify that in those days this designation did not exist. That is, spiritual in contrast or in opposition to material; just as astrology was not divorced from astronomy. In fact, it is this split that engendered the loss of the divine Measure and specifically related to the sign Capricorn. And this severance occurred in the domain of yogic realisation. The time frame was the last 500 years of the millennium before Christ – or the period initiated by the appearance of Gautam, the Buddha. As I have pointed out in the course of my work, the crux of the problem lay in a dissolution (nirvana) of the element which had been serving the human being in his quest, or in the realisation of the inherent purpose of evolution on Earth. As indicated earlier, birth on Earth and into the cosmic process was understood to be an aberration which had to be corrected. This could be done by rejection of the material world of the senses which were responsible for the accumulation of karma and served to chain the human being to the round of birth and death and rebirth. The trick was to sever the chain somehow, to snap one’s ties with this material existence which seemed to be a trap for the seeker of ‘liberation’. The sense-world was a deceptive web which at all costs had to be dissolved. And that was in part accomplished by a process of undermining. The web itself was undermined by decreasing its importance gradually, and finally equating it with the fallen sister of the Divine Maya of the Veda – the temptress and lesser Maya whose name then became synonymous with Illusion.
The web was thus a filament which had no intrinsic reality or real substance, truth-essence. It was simply a tissue of lies fabricated by our imperfect sensorial instrument. Its numerous flaws resulted in a world of suffering and samskaras. This could be dissolved, and along with it the suffering and grief which characterised the lesser world of Maya, by simply undoing the central hub or axis of that unreal web. This axis is known as Skambha in the Atharvaveda. The point of this ‘pillar’ which connects the subtle dimension (Swar) to the physical is known in the spiritual lexicon as the individual soul.
When the sacred Pillar was snapped, it is not that the soul ceased to exist. It is simply that everything connected to its purpose in the evolutionary process suffered. Skambha/Agni up-pillars the worlds, the material dimension from less dense to densest. A severance in that ‘support’ was akin to a corroding process eating into the foundations of life, as if one’s base in this material dimension were being eaten away by termites. Collapse of the structure is the result of a very long process of just such undermining, though to the lay observer only the final caving in is apparent. But the sage and yogi understand the process and some are able to prop up the structure by the specialised knowledge they possess.
This may be done individually with no essential difficulty. The real problem is found in the collective experience. A critical threshold is finally reached when the mass in the periphery outweighs the substance in the core and the civilisation, gradually at first and then at a more accelerated pace, begins to show the very clear signs of imminent collapse. It is when the undermining reaches specific areas of collective life that we know the degeneration has set in irrevocably and has the power to bring the civilisation to an end.
In India’s case these elements are easily identifiable because of her special mission in the Earth’s evolution. I repeat, they involve the space and time dimensions, both of which are centred on the Capricorn hieroglyph. It is this symbol that reveals the root of the problem by exposing the dualistic/separative poise of consciousness which sets in and overtakes the consciousness of the people, where once the overall vision was of the essence of unity.
The diagram below helps us to see the problem very graphically and therefore diminishes the abstractness of the matter. At the same time, it helps to establish once again the position of Capricorn in the nation’s destiny.
Certain features of this important diagram need to be highlighted. First, it is divided into four parts similar to the diagram I presented earlier in the study (see TVN, 6/3 & 6/4) which revealed the cosmic foundation of the caste system, already in evidence in the Rigveda where verses appear which do indeed link the system to the cosmic harmony. Equally, this fourfold dimension of the zodiac draws in the four planes of reality we find in the Veda as also cosmically rooted. That is, the same celestial sphere, sometimes referred to as Agni Vaishwanara, or the Cosmic Purush, and divided into four castes as parts of his ‘body’, is also indicative of the four planes of existence.
In tracing this correspondence – as above, so below – the important feature is the material/evolutionary rootedness of the vision or postulation. This celestial harmony is the 12-part division of the ecliptic. That is, it is part and parcel of our planetary existence. We are an intrinsic element in the design; our planet is one in a family of 9, and as a single unity this family expounds in its orbit of the central Sun the exquisite raga we know as the cosmic harmony. Again in this analysis, I am able to demonstrate that ever and always the dharma and its laws can be traced back to this single figure: the circle or ecliptic divided into 12 parts – our 12 months of the year. Thus we establish that two numbers are especially significant: the 12 (signs) and the 9 (planets). Together these form the Gnostic Circle. In the company of the 0, they offer us one of the most revealing diagrams in the corpus of higher knowledge of the integral and supramental Yogas.
Being the image of our actual cosmic abode there is, by consequence, nothing otherworldly in this design and its correlations. The four planes of existence of the ancient Vedas are measurable in this cosmic harmony, or reflected therein. As intrinsic elements in this design, we are that very harmony in each cell, in each atom. In other words, ‘above’ is ‘below’, and the ancient yogic path offered a means to realise this intrinsic oneness. It is the path described in hymn after hymn of the Rigveda. The Aryan warrior was its champion, who, in the course of the year, forged this oneness in him or herself, and thereby in the entire civilisation.
I wrote in the last VISHAAL that Swar, or ‘heaven’ had descended upon Earth. This diagram helps us to appreciate the measurable character of the statement and its practical application. Swar of the Vedic fourfold division covers the last segment of the zodiacal wheel, comprising the signs Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. The ‘gateway’ to this fourth and highest plane is Capricorn . Is it any surprise then that the date of the Makar Sankranti, or the Gateway of Capricorn, has always been celebrated throughout the land? Moreover, we cannot now fail to appreciate, by means of the correspondences I am drawing on the basis of this multidimensional diagram, that in introducing a yogic realisation into the collective experience which undermined the reality of that sacred harmony and its oneness with all of creation, this undermining had to affect the most important portion of the wheel: the Makar Sankranti. Or else, the solstice axis points of Capricorn and Cancer, or the Sun’s farthest reaches south and north of the Equator.
When the undermining had reached a substantial degree of effectiveness, Swar was then otherworldly. It could not simply cease to exist, but it could be diminished in material, tangible relevance. This is a most important point to bear in mind. The celestial wheel itself was dismembered. That is, three of its four segments, demarcated in time and space by the four Cardinal points, were Earthbound; but the fourth was in heaven, beyond this existence. Consequently, the measure of that segment was lost. The Gateway to Capricorn being located ‘in heaven’, was gradually seen to lose its connection with the solstice axis so easily determined by the Sun’s northern and southern reaches, or the longest and shortest days of the year. Insofar as the sign Capricorn can be proven to be the underlying ‘note’ of the civilisation, expressing itself through numerous cultural modes and yogic realisation, this phenomenon could not fail to leave an imprint on the national psyche for many years to come.
The decay manifested in a shift, dramatic and deadly. The Gateway was no longer pertinent to the Earth and her yearly orbit of the Sun – i.e., her Divine Maya of 365 days. Undermining the Earth-oriented reality was reflected in precisely the ‘position’ of that sacred Gateway. It was no longer to be determined by the actual physical southernmost reach of the Sun. It was to be hereinafter established by the constellation of fixed stars BEYOND our solar system. And yet we find such key importance given to determining the longest and shortest days of the year – i.e., the solstice points. But this effort was rendered futile when Capricorn was measured beyond the ecliptic.
Varahamihira played a central role in fixing this new method, this new Gateway. To him the history of science attributes the new calculations: rectification of the Hindu calendar. He concluded that the constellational gateway to Capricorn was the true point to measure and that the calendar had to be brought into line with that outer circle beyond our solar system. Anything less would be inaccurate and scientifically untenable. Or at least if he was not the originator of this idea, he was perhaps the one most responsible for the ‘respectability’ it attained.
It is to be noted that when Varahamihita was carrying out his empirical observations, the two points were nearly coinciding. That is, in 234 BC the start of the zodiacal wheel, 0° Aries, or 21/22 March in calendar time, was aligned with Aries of the constellational sphere in the far reaches of our circumscribing space. Thereafter, at the slow pace of 72 years per degree of celestial longitude, the two circles or their respective 0 points, began to drift apart due to what is known as the Precession of the Equinoxes. By the time Varahamihira entered the scene the distance between them was considerable but not easily visible (and even today their exact location varies from school to school). In the intervening 700 years or so, the separation was less than 10°of celestial longitude. Today it is a full 30 degrees: the sign of Pisces plus 1 degree into the constellation Aquarius. In calendar time it is 2160 years plus 67, which brings us to 1993, the 2160 of the Age of Pisces and the first 67 years of the Age of Aquarius from its inception in 1926 to the present date.
This contribution of Varahamihira is celebrated by a contemporary mathematical historian, George Gheverghese Joseph, in his recent publication, The Crest of the Peacock (Penguin Books, 1992). Perusal of this book provides interesting reading in view of the emphasis in our study on the Euro-centric perversion which has done such great damage to the Hindu psyche. Gheverghese has focussed on this same point in his discussion of the contribution of the orient to the evolution of mathematics. His work also establishes that biases in scientific quarters have diminished Asia’s indisputable position in the formation of contemporary scientific thought.
However, the similarity in our focus ends there, insofar as Gheverghese makes no attempt to rectify certain long-standing errors regarding the origins of this civilisation and its time frame. Whereas, in this study I have demonstrated that without clarifying this particular aspect of the perversion, the rest is immaterial. Indeed, Gheverghese Joseph considers the period marked by Varahamihira, and then Aryabharat and Bhaskaran to have been India’s golden age of science and mathematics. In the light of the new cosmology, however, it is seen as the beginning of the decline, or in a certain sense its peak.
Science, Veda, and Centeredness
What is extremely interesting about the public discourse now in progress in India (to the limited extent that any discourse can be public with much of the media so heavily controlled), generated by the Ayodhya affair, is the way in which central premises are being strengthened either by negation or assertion. One important premise is related to the so-called Aryan Invasion Theory.
As I have discussed in the October, 1992 issue of VISHAAL (TVN 7/4), this theory can honestly and scholastically be considered nothing more than that: a theory. In fact, there is sufficient reason to campaign for the total rejection of this theory, largely because of the almost entire lack of supporting evidence. I do not wish to re-open the issue at this point. My intention is to focus on a particular problem the debate highlights. It has been my contention for a long time that this sacrosanct theory is a key element in any sound and secure divide-and-rule policy. Indeed, in India’s case it can be argued that the colonial hold over the subcontinent could not have been as effective as it was without this theory. I further contend that if at all the desired renaissance of the Vedic spirit and culture is to ensue, the first element to be dealt with must perforce be this theory insofar as its existence prolongs that divisive rule in the psyche of the population.
My reasons for making this statement are many, but I will deal with one aspect considering that it is the most relevant to our present discussion. This is the centeredness of India’s destiny. That is, its destiny of being the Earth’s centre, from where certain influences emanate, spread out to consecutive peripheries beyond this centre-most point on the globe, which we have seen to be delineated accurately by the Capricorn hieroglyph. If there is a movement called Hindutva in India, which literally means Hindu-ness and which is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds, we may also call our New Way centeredness. For both mean the same thing under deeper scrutiny.
The meaning of centeredness is that the circle or periphery is held together by this Point; and more importantly, that it is a growth, a continuous evolution from within, from the centre outward. There are indeed two movements, expansion and contraction, in any cosmic process; and this is also relevant where this special centredness exists. Outside influences, whatever they may be and from wherever they may emanate, are drawn into the area of the Symbol by contraction. But given the existence of the Point, the Centre, they do not precipitate a destructive process and cause collapse, simply because there is no central void into which such a collapse can ensue.
Regarding invasions, for example, whatever enters or is drawn into the area of the Symbol has to find its place in the periphery given the existence of the Centre – or rather, given the fact that there is no ‘void’. In other words, conversions of the indigenous population in such a circumstance could not be entirely successful; at least to the degree where the entire character and spirit of the civilisation would be irreparably altered. In-roads were made, but ultimately a counter movement, a wave, must arise by virtue of the laws governing the centeredness we are describing. A balance of intake and output exists in such a system. And Time regulates the mechanism.
Earlier in this study I have described this system as an ecliptic, similar to that of our solar system. This Vedic ecliptic base is an unchangeable fact of Indian civilisation. Periodically, regulated by laws governing the mechanism, the counterbalancing wave arises, generated from within, from the Centre, and each thing that had entered the system, or the ecliptic base, from outside the symbol delineation is perforce put in place within the system. It is not even a question of an attempt. It is an irrevocable fact of destiny, given the seed of the Veda which lies at the heart of the civilisation. Or better said, which stands as the central Sun, holding this cosmos together and preventing collapse.
However, a key feature of centeredness is the very element which is so ferociously being attacked at present by the presiding intelligentsia. It is the question of the validity or not of the Aryan Invasion Theory. For if such an invasion, migration and colonisation did take place, the very first premise of this destiny of centeredness would be invalidated. And with its abolition the entire structure or cosmos would be doomed to collapse.
In the above cited VISHAAL, I wrote that the continuity of the nation seems to hinge on maintaining this theory in place in the educational system. Indeed, in view of the fact that the Hindutva movement brought changes into text books in some northern states of the nation, rectifying the assumption of a ‘foreign origin’ of the civilisation, there has been a ferocious response from the intelligentsia and all such rectifications are now to be undone and the modified text books are to be returned to their original state – i.e., a further cementing of this great scholastic hoax.
The reason is evident. The Aryan Invasion Theory is to Indian civilisation what the premise of the Void is to this new cosmology. In the latter the theory of the central Void explains the nature of the Cosmic Ignorance. Similarly, the Aryan Invasion Theory implants this concept of central emptiness – which, it goes without saying, can be filled by any usurper; that is, invader or coloniser.
The essential feature of the cosmic Ignorance is the inner Void, causing collapse. It is the same with the Aryan Invasion Theory, and similarly it cannot engender a system that endures. If this theory were even minimally correct, long ago Vedic culture, still alive in the subcontinent, would have become diluted by each and every wave that had moved into the nation through its western flank. Finally, it would have been dissolved.
We do see the effects of incoming waves in the north, where much of the culture was ‘influenced’ by these invading waves. But they were arrested before they could overtake the area that matters most, – the south. However, these were obvious intrusions, easy to identify. The more serious invasion was in the educational system. A key perversion in this domain refers to the origins of the civilisation.
Now that the Centre has exerted its power as of 1983-84, it has become possible to chip away at this apparently firmly set theory and begin to dislodge it from its commanding throne in the mind of the intellectual elite and its hold on the educational system.
But the hysteria generated by the first attempt, which was predictable but never expected to reach the shrillness it did, is nowhere better demonstrated than in the 5.2.1993 editorial of The Times of India. I quote,
‘…The unproven and indeed completely unhistorical assertion about Aryans being the original inhabitants of India echoes the Nazi attempts artificially to Aryanize Germany racially…’.
The editor continues by citing another ‘wild proclamation’ and the need to eradicate any vestiges of these ‘fascistic’ notions:
‘…In the Indian context, the assertion that “the country’s freedom struggle began 2,500 years ago” is menacing as it threatens to tear asunder the very culture and civilisation of India and pit the so-called “mainstream population” against the Adivasis, a constructed majority against minorities, and so on…’.
I am not aware of the origin of the ‘threatening quote’ the editor cites regarding the actual beginning of the freedom struggle as ‘2500 years ago’. But I must admit that whoever has made this statement was certainly inspired by a true understanding of the root of India’s subjugation which indeed can be located at about 500 BC.
I have referred to the consistency of the Vedic Knowledge. It is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in a scrutiny of the history of mathematics of Indian origin such as Gheverghese has presented. There we do find proof that about 2,500 years ago a shift occurred, something very profound, deeply wounding the very heart and soul of the civilisation. The wound gradually produced the severance of so-called religiously-based geometry of the Vedic order from the secular which was first noted in the Bakhshali Manuscript, dated around 200 or 300 AD. The ‘secular’ system this manuscript presents, the manner of its presentation, indicates that it is a compilation of older texts, and therefore we can safely assume that the shift to this form of emphasis was firmly in place some centuries before the actual penning of this particular text.
The wound in question was undoubtedly of the Vedic Dharma. The realisation of Nirvana (‘dissolution’) which surfaced in the civilisation precisely around 2,500 years ago, was one aspect of the undermining. It diminished the validity of the cosmic manifestation to the point where the central premise of Vedic civilisation was shaken to the core: that is, as above, so below, to borrow the Hermetic aphorism.
In other words, the salient feature of every single cultural expression of this unique civilisation hinged on the recondite knowledge of equivalency. Or, what I have termed, the Laws of Correspondence. That is, the Vedic Seer not only had the deepest insights into the nature of Reality but was cognisant of the laws whereby ‘heaven’ was brought down to Earth. Thus, prior to the undermining, the whole point of Vedic sciences was to recreate the cosmic harmony either in music, sculpture or temple architecture, for example, and thereby to establish an intrinsic oneness with the Cosmos as the foundation of the civilisation.
With the 2500-year old undermining of the reality and validity of the Cosmos, this orientation suffered almost irreparable damage. Thus we find a clear gap in the historian’s analyses of the development of those sciences of approximately 1000 years – from 500 BC to 500 AD. During this time the Divine Measure was lost and this became reflected in the shift from ecliptical to constellational measurement of the Capricorn Gateway. This miscalculation was then carried over to all facets of cultural expressions where time played a part – i.e., the entire collective life.
The Vedic foundation was never dissolved by the undermining. It was simply clouded over, veiled, driven underground, as it were. This was made especially easy by the divide between astrology and astronomy, for example. Science was measurable. Pseudo-science (astrology) was not. And the gap widened to our present times where, as an example of the extremes this attitude has produced, we have a ‘secular’ architect in Auroville in charge of building a Seer’s vision and plan of a temple grounded solidly in Vedic science and tradition, and whose demolition of that Vision is fiercely upheld simply because it makes no sense to him and all others of his ilk who are in positions of power and able to continue inflicting the same critical damage on the civilisation as of old.
There are traces of sound knowledge of complicated mathematical and geometric processes in the ancient Vedic culture earlier than about 500 BC. It is interesting that no one can account for the proven existence of such knowledge given the assumed primitiveness of the race that was supposed to have migrated into and colonised the land. I will quote from Gheverghese once again in his discussion of the Sri Yantra of Tantric tradition:
‘Many of the accurate constructions of sriyantas in India are very old. Some are even more complicated than the one shown [here]. There are those that consist of spherical triangles for which the constructor, to achieve perfect intersections and vertices falling on the circumference of the circle enclosing the triangles, would require knowledge of “higher mathematics [which] the medieval and ancient Indian mathematician did not possess” [Kulaichev, 1984, page 292). Kulaichev goes on to suggest that the achievement of such geometrical constructs in Indian mathematics may indicate “the existence of unknown cultural and historical alternatives to mathematical knowledge, e.g. the highly developed tradition of special imagination”.’ (The Crest of the Peacock, page 239.)
This ‘special imagination’ was of course the sound tradition of the Act of Seeing as the method to garner knowledge about anything worth the trouble. But though it seems to be a lost art, there is evidence of the practice, even in contemporary Indian society, for example in the work of the noted South Indian mathematician, Ramanujan. He is known to have reached certain conclusions by great leaps in logic, overstepping usual procedures, clearly akin to the ‘special imagination’ referred to above by the historian. Even years after his death mathematicians continue to grapple with Ramanujan’s conclusions which are known now to be accurate but the processes leading to the final results are often bewilderingly foggy. It is also worth mentioning that Ramunajan dealt with numbers in a way reminiscent of this new cosmology and the ancient tradition. They were for him ‘beings’, invested with ‘personalities’. In addition, he is reported to have received his highest inspirations from the Goddess. Again true to the ancient Vedic tradition.
The editorial of The Times of India goes on to label the new wave in education as reflective of ‘divisive, unscientific and prejudiced ideological underpinnings’. And further on he states that …’It is reassuring, therefore, that the country’s intelligentsia has finally woken up to the mischief that is sought to be done through such abuse of the educational system’.
The only ‘mischief’ sought to be done is simply to rid the educational system of its colonial biases and set in its place the true indigenous culture so that the student may feel secure in his roots laying deeply in the soil he treads and not in a shallow top soil brought from the Middle East and Europe. But this is unacceptable. Just as the Mother’s Vedic Temple was unacceptable and the western architect was allowed by all the powers-that-be in Auroville and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry to dismantle that Vision in each and every detail, leaving in its place a meaningless, purposeless structure whose only notoriety lies in its ‘technological’, ‘unsuperstitious’ and ‘secular’ character.
The rise and establishment of Separatism
Following closely upon the heels of the separation between this world and that, this Earth and that Heaven beyond, the same distinction was played out in certain key areas of Vedic sciences. Astrology (jyotisa) was the first and most important. With the contribution of the scientific trio, Aryabharat, Varahamihira, and Bhaskara, among others, the split between astronomy and astrology became fixed – similar to the fixed and unchanging point in the sky which was the reference point of all subsequent astrological calculations after Varahamihira’s rectification of the calendar. Thereafter astrology began to suffer from an increasing subjugation to science. And this was separate and apart from the Vedic cosmological paradigm. Science could measure with accuracy what the other was able to establish only through the Act of Seeing, or via the yogic realisation of oneness or knowledge by identity. This was too ‘vague’, too much subject to error and not verifiable empirically. And these early scientists were in a position to expose the errors. In the process, because the yogi was not equipped to deal with the impositions, science succeeded in imposing its measure and relegating the yogi and the seer to the other side of the fence separating ‘reality’ from illusion. With the passage of time it became increasingly easy to label the Vedic approach as mere superstition. This condition has peaked in our century.
Again I must draw the discussion back to the original point made: the entire exercise centres on the accuracy of the Gateway to Capricorn. By the time that Gateway will be reached not in the yearly passage but in the long movement of the Precession of the Equinoxes determining the astrological Ages, covering two more signs, the distance in Hindu reckoning between these two 0 points will be one full quarter of the wheel. That is, all of ‘Swar’ will have been relegated to the cosmic dustbin, swallowed up by the Black Hole of otherworldliness.
But this, of course, in an impossibility, given India’s unalterable destiny; the reason being that very mechanism we are dissecting, described by the ecliptic itself and which harbours within its own method of rectification; or in this case of reestablishment.
Thus, the Vedic tradition sustains that periodically the Avatar incarnates to do the work of the Time-Spirit. The tales describing the missions of those who have passed and those to come, explain the work as a struggle between good and evil ostensibly. But, conditioned as we are by the latter-day religious consciousness which accompanied the split I have discussed in these pages, we are unable to appreciate the true character of these appearances and the connection the unfolding of their lives has with the evolution of the planet’s species and the fulfilment of its deepest purpose in the family of 9. Interestingly, the specific details of these appearances and the nature of the work accomplished or to be accomplished, can be read in that very celestial sphere we are dissecting at present with regard to the Capricorn Gateway. By the time the 10th Avatar appears, Kalki as he is known, the work is done. And that work is entirely described in the Capricorn hieroglyph, the 10th of the zodiacal 12. The reestablishment in question is the rectification whereby Swar is drawn down to Earth, rooted in the planet’s soil and in the area on the globe where that hieroglyph is embodied in the substance of our earthly mass. In other words, when oneness comes to replace duality and the perception of unity replaces the separative.
The importance of a text such as the Brihat Samhita lies in the fact that it reveals unequivocally the Earth-oriented character of the Vedic spirit. I am not concerned with the ‘science’ it is supposed to explain, but simply that this and similar texts indicate in no uncertain terms that for the Vedic Seers ‘heaven’ was not removed to another dimension accessible only through the practice of Yoga which was necessarily out of bounds for the ordinary mortal. It was a reality of our planetary abode – I repeat, a measurable space on the body of the Earth herself. These texts therefore display this intrinsic perception of oneness by the fact that they document the sense the sage was able to perceive in everything that went into the composition of his culture and civilisation.
Thus on page after age of the Brihat Samhita we find innumerable examples of what we have come to call ‘omens’. Or else there are many chapters dedicated to the study of physical features, both in animals and humans, which mean something or other. Naturally our present-day scientific culture ridicules these prescriptions, labelling them all ‘superstitions’, particularly because, as I have written earlier, these texts are not discussing ‘symbols’ and we cannot take refuge in the comforting phrases of all modern treatments of ‘symbols’ – i.e., one thing standing for another. Varahamihira, as others of his epoch, simply states facts: This IS that, it does not ‘stand for that’.
The fact is that we are far removed from such a consciousness, therefore we can only consider its expounders superstitious. But essential to note is not the truth or falsehood of the ‘omens’ but the fact that for some now inexplicable reason, the ancient Seers believed it was possible to read the forms of Nature as one would a book and discover meanings which are lost to us today. In other words, Nature’s manifold display was rendered sacred by this factor of deciphering a message hidden in form, a meaning completely lost to the eye of the contemporary scientist; and in most cases even to the eye of the modern yogi.
For both have become victims of ‘otherworldliness’. Swar is beyond, not here. And it is that truth-conscious Sun whose rays (cows) instil each and every element of our material creation with the seeds of this divine Purpose. Thus two of the most compellingly attractive deities of the Vedic pantheon are Usha, the divine Dawn, and Agni her ‘steed’. These early rays of the rising Sun are the first display of that truth-conscious Solar World, spreading its beneficence throughout the physical dimension.
The world of Varahamihira was already considerably removed in time from the epoch of the ancient Seers. In his period we are already into the decline of the Knowledge. This is revealed precisely in the chapters of the Samhita which deal with the means to accurately locate (in time) the solstice of Capricorn, or the shortest (and longest) day of the year. He reveals in his treatment of the subject that already in his day the divine Maya of the Veda was lost. Nonetheless, his emphasis on this particular point is especially important in that it helps us to locate the truly relevant portions of such studies and the prominence this solstice Gateway has always enjoyed.
In addition to the above, Varahamihira’s compilation from older texts shows us that the synthesis of various disciplines, various features of the culture, was possible because the backdrop was always the cosmic harmony, then as now.
For this is the salient feature of the eternal Dharma: it is eternal by virtue of the fact that it is grounded in that eternally unfolding cosmic harmony. As long as the cosmos lives, this Truth lives on.
When creation became a meaningless web of illusion, a tissue of cosmic and Earthly lies, forms of this creation could no longer be ‘read’; for the measure by which this was accomplished had been lost as a predictable outcome of the realisation of Dissolution. That which was dissolved in the experience was the pivot which provided the central position or poise from where any such ‘reading’ could ensue. That is, from the centremost Point, from soul to soul, or the deepest depths of every created thing. The direction, as I have pointed out time and again, was inward, a plunge to the Centre – not outward and beyond.
But this was a realisation known only to the earliest Rishis. Thereafter the direction changed. And even today when we speak of the soul, it has little resemblance to that Point of the Vedic realisation. The wonder of it all is that in spite of the relentless attacks on this Point, India has managed to preserve its high truth. But a deeper scrutiny of its history of the past two thousand years helps us to appreciate that first the attack was so-called spiritual, or in the realm of the yogic realisation proper. Then it passed on to the more tangible aspects such as the astronomical/astrological divide, the life of renunciation in contrast to the ‘worldly’ life, and so on down to our times and the division of secular and non-secular and all the confusion this separation engenders in societies which have something of those ancient roots intact.
In the vision and lived experience of Unity and Oneness, these stark divides are non-existent. Another example is the Ashramas, or the four stages of life: childhood, youth, householder and recluse, or retreat to the forest and a life dedicated to the inner pursuits. This simplified version of life was again a means to convey an integral realisation. After all, the stages were taken from the cosmic sphere, as all else in the Vedic Seeing. And in that wheel we do find the four quarters related to these very stages. Therefore, while utilising the circle as the backdrop, divided into these four periods of one’s life, again the message was driven home that time held the key, but that each segment was contained in the one vessel. As time unfolded the inner essence from the seed, these different stages found expression.
Important to note, however, is the fluidity of the design, a key feature which has become lost over the ages and the usual hardening has crystallised the moving sphere into a set and fixed pattern, more often than not presenting the individual with an ‘ideal’ which he or she cannot possibly attain.
Gheverghese’s book gives us a rather clear confirmation of my contention that the spiritual realisation preceded the subsequent decline which became visible in various areas of the collective life. This is especially confirmed precisely by the time factor. From his reading of the situation, based on the approximate turning points in the evolution of science in the subcontinent, we are able to appreciate that something occurred right at the time I have pinpointed on the basis of an understanding of what that new realisation brought into the civilisation. This period was the time of Gautam the Buddha, as well as the rise of Jainism. But it was also the beginning of the Age of Pisces, or 234 BC. It is important to note for our study that this is considered to be the period, covering perhaps half a millennium, when, as Gheverghese explains, ‘…The resulting decline in offering Vedic sacrifices, which had played such a central role in Hindu ritual, meant that occasions for constructing altars requiring practical skills and geometric knowledge became few and far between. There was also a gradual change in the perception of the role of mathematics: from fulfilling the needs of sacrificial ritual, it became an abstract discipline to be cultivated for its own sake.’ (Ibid, pages 250-251)
Thus, we note that when that earlier central perception was lost, around which hinged the geometry and mathematics of those days, the emphasis shifted and mathematics became more ‘secular’. It was no longer oriented to the construction of the Vedic alter (‘vedi’). And it was most probably during this period that the shift from the Earth-oriented measure of the solstice to the constellational sphere took place, in exclusion of all the rest. Thus, in the 6th century Varahamihira corrected the Hindu calendar, according to scholars, so that the precessional point would be more ‘accurate’. But this accuracy lost sight of that earlier perception, and with it an entirely different orientation.
The rediscovery of what has come to be known as ‘Vedic Mathematics’, which I have discussed earlier, highlights a very important shift that came about in the period we are analysing and which has become fully consolidated in our times. I refer to the fact that in the ancient system the striking aspect of the sages’ mathematics is its character of Unity. That is, the underlying principle of all Indian philosophy and yoga was reflected in that earlier arithmetical system by the fact that sums or other processes were carried out on the basis of a reference to a whole and undivided factor. As Gheverghese points out in his analysis of Vedic Mathematics, ‘…There are benefits from looking at a number not just as itself, but also in relation to a suitable base’ (Ibid, page 248, italics mine). This means that an operation was always carried out by referring to a whole, a unity, clearly reflecting the then consciousness of unity enjoyed by those who engaged in these sciences for purposes other than just as an ‘abstract discipline’.
To my knowledge, no one has cared to draw the connections I am making here. Perhaps because there is a rejection a priori of the idea that these more material and practical processes were preceded by the spiritual realisation. And that this yogic shift had the inevitable result of producing its effects in many areas of the civilisation’s cultural expressions. Indeed, most would consider that the shift I refer to was actually a progress and reduced the ‘superstitious’ content and paganistic animism to some extent; or that this signified a greater sophistication. Or else we read time and again that this development which was introduced or accentuated by Buddhism, was the answer to a growing predominance of the Brahmin caste and its suppression of those lower down on the echelon. However, if we study the matter deeply on the basis of the effects such a spiritual realisation necessarily produces, we realise that superstition must follow in the wake of a loss of an ‘eye that sees’. For it is when the ability to read the forms Nature produces on the basis of the true and higher Knowledge that those empty shells, as it were, become the property of the Cosmic Ignorance – i.e., the undivine Maya, or the lower Prakriti divorced from Purush, or Form devoid of sense; and this ‘empty space’ is then usurped and becomes the habitat of the Cosmic Lie. This separation, this divide is what characterises the Cosmic Ignorance. It is what produces rigidity and the fluidity mentioned above is lost. That hardness then becomes the fixed denominator of caste and affects so many other crucial areas of life. We see this clearly reflected in Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita, a text which carries all the characteristics of that hardening, for by then that Vedic realisation had become a thing of the past.
There was one area, however, that retained much of its pristine quality. This was architecture, namely of temples.
The Eternal Mountain
I doubt that it is possible to find an architectural form which reproduces in stone with such exactitude the deepest essence of a philosophy as we find in the Hindu Temple. Every aspect of the structure illumines the profoundest contents of the Veda. Insofar as the axis is the most important feature of the structure, along with and correlated to its alignment, I shall discuss this aspect of Vedic sacred architecture in depth. In so doing, the purpose will be to highlight the precise manner in which these paramount features of the art have been carried over into our times. This transposition involves not only the Mother’s vision of a contemporary version of the ancient Seeing in precisely the plan of a temple, but also a certain mythological content with its equally exact symbolism. For the two go hand in hand in the true Act of Seeing.
The main focus is on the central axis of the temple and around that ‘churning stick’ the mountain takes shape. The Hindu temple is thus a most exact description of one of the most important of all Puranic myths, the tale of the Churning of the Primordial Ocean. Each Hindu temple, constructed anew today or standing in our midst from antiquity, reproduces this tale, with all that it signifies for a Capricorn-rooted civilisation.
Thus that axis is the pivot of Mount Meru, the churning stick with the serpent Vasuki wrapped around and tugged at by the Asuras and the Devas, the titans and the gods. Again, this appears to be a simple tale, primitive and quaint. Yet I am obliged to state that it contains the highest content of cosmological knowledge of our Age. And furthermore, that it is practical and applicable. On the basis of a comprehension of its multiple meanings we can discover our true purpose as a civilisation founded on a Vedic content, and the role India must play in this and the next millennium.
But this axis is not reserved for temples solely. We find the same content in all the ancient art forms of the subcontinent which are still practised today. It is found pre-eminently, so easily recognisable, in music where the drone is the axis, or the silent Sound out of which all sound arises and sustains itself. The drone is the churning stick, the immobile Centre which supports the action and movement of the raga, which permits a controlled expression to evolve. Or rather, which roots the experience (the raga) onto or into this Earth, just as Mount Meru is the physical India, the immobile centre of the globe, without which the same control in the evolution could not exist. Time could not function for us in the manner I have demonstrated in these pages without the axis of Mount Meru as a physical reality rooted into the planet’s very being.
I repeat, this was carried into all the other major art forms. In iconography it is especially evident but no less in dance. Bharatnatyam, for instance, is entirely based on this fact: the function of axial alignment. S. V. Rajee Raman has mentioned this in an article on the subject of Indian dance in the 14.2.1993 Sunday Mail.
‘Indian dance seeks to depict the perfect point or moment of balance along the vertical medium (brahmasutra), so much so that all movements emerge from and return to the sama or point of perfect balance akin to the samabhanga of sculpture. Indian dance concerns itself with movements of the human form in direct relation to the pull of gravity. No one has dared to challenge or change this.’
Clearly, given the fact that it is the same Mount Meru the dancer is called upon to reconstruct, and that this is the essential message of the Veda, it is obvious that to be faithful to this singular cosmic content the dancer must respect this feature and indeed it cannot be changed.
Dr. Stella Kramrisch, in her comprehensive study, The Hindu Temple, has also emphasised the special importance of the mountain symbol and its central axis in her analysis of the content of the Hindu temple. I shall quote extensively from her chapter, ‘The Image of the Mountain and the Cavern’, to help the student appreciate the manner in which the new cosmology has incorporated the most ancient Vedic knowledge which we still find preserved in India today. As far as temple architecture is concerned, this is especially true of Tamil Nadu where Aeon Centre of Cosmology is located. Kramrisch writes,
‘Meru, Mandar and Kailasa are the first three names amongst the twenty types of temples described in the early texts, the ‘Brihat Samhita’ and the “Matsya Purana’; all three are names of the Mountain, which is the axis of the world; that is Meru, the pole of this earth; Mandara as churning rod, planted on Vishnu, the tortoise, during the Satya Yuga, the first world age after the great commotion; and Kailasa, seat of Shiva, in the Himalaya. In these names rises the temple, the image, the aim and destination of this world edifice.’ (The Hindu Temple, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers)
In a footnote to the above, Kramrisch mentions a series of inscriptions, dating from the 5th century of our era, which extol certain important temples as the Mountain. Of particular interest, specifically related to our study of the importance of Capricorn as the high noon point, or the Cosmic Midday, is an inscription at Deopara in which, to quote Kramrisch, ‘the high temple of Pradyumnesvara is compared to the (central) Mountain on which rests the sun at midday [italics mine], and this is the only Mountain worth mention among all the mountains’ [Ibid].
Indubitably, this provides proof that the cosmological content of the Hindu temple rested on knowledge of the zodiacal sign Capricorn, the sign of the ‘sun at midday’, and its singular importance in the destiny of India, given its revered place in the body of Vedic knowledge. But what is important to note is that Mount Meru, representing India and Capricorn in the Hindu temple, is not just a geographical location. Its primary significance is its connection with the cosmos. That is, what is really being depicted is the uttarayana, or the higher hemisphere of the celestial sphere. The peak of the Mountain would thus be the uppermost northern sign of that hemisphere, Capricorn. And within the sign the peak is the 15th degree of the full 30 [degrees?] which each sign of the zodiac contains. In other words, the Hindu temple was concerned with capturing this cosmological fact in stone, with connecting the structure to that heavenly sphere, or with bringing that sign to Earth, with all that this act signifies in the ‘marriage of Heaven and Earth’.
Mount Meru is also Kailasa which is Shiva’s abode. In his marriage to Parvati, a hierogamos still celebrated with great fervour throughout India today during the main festival to Shiva, the Shivaratri, Shiva is that ‘heaven’ and Parvati is that ‘earth’ made sacred by this divine commingling.
Kramrisch discusses at length the ‘verticality’ of the superstructure of the temple which is devised in such a way as to emphasise the mountain imagery. Then, she passes on to the interior, as if one were penetrating the mountain itself, to discover in its innermost recesses ‘a cavern’. In the Vedic terminology, this is known as the Garbhagriha, the womb-house. She writes,
‘Within it and below the superstructure is the Garbhagriha, the ‘womb of the house’, a small chamber, square, in the majority of the preserved temples, and dark as a cave in a mountain. It is the innermost sanctuary…’ (Ibid).
The author stresses the fact in her penetrating analysis and compilation of the ancient texts that from this ‘womb’, similar to the seed or bija, the entire temple develops:
‘The seed is deposited at night in the womb of mother Earth, as Garbha, a germ of the temple… In the vertical, in the upward direction, which is that of growth, from below,…the power of germination lifts as it were the lid of the Garbhagriha… The Garbhagriha is the nucleus of an all sided increase on the outside, in the horizontal, a stepping forth from the dark interior into expanding bulk and multiplicity of form and meaning . . . ‘ (Ibid, p. 165).
The two important universal directions are emphasised here – vertical and horizontal, or contraction and expansion. In the new cosmology, contrary to the connection Kramrisch seems to be drawing here, contraction is related to the vertical direction by way of Involution; expansion relates to the horizontal and the Evolution. But the important point to note is that in the Vedic temple we find centrally incorporated these two directions. In the original plan of the Mother’s temple, the same directions are emphasised.
In the next section entitled, ‘The Superposition of Shapes along the Vertical Axis’, Kramrisch turns to the fundamental importance of the vertical axis in the temple design; indeed, she makes it clear in her analysis that the question of the central axis from the Garbhagriha, cutting through the peak of the superstructure – or the apex of ‘the mountain’ – is common to all Hindu temples and that it is the single most important element.
‘On this vertical axis are threaded the levels of the building, its floors (bhumi) and profiles, their projections and recesses. Expansion [in this instance equated with the horizontal] proceeds from the central point of the Garbhagriha, in the horizontal, in all directions of space; this spread with its particularisation is gathered up towards the apex; the broad mass with its many forms is reduced to a point,…beyond its total form… Its mass diminishes while it is drawn along the vertical to a high point, straight above the centre in the dark small space of the interior…’ (Ibid, page 167).
Further on she writes,
‘Symbols such as the vertical axis or pillar along which the varied forms are threaded on different levels or the cave in the mountain, and architectural forms such as the convergence of ascending lines which connect the perimeter of the building with the end of its vertical axis, or the various shapes of the superstructure, these and other images and forms constitute the symbolical and concrete structure of the temple. The temple under the name of the mountain resembling it by its peaked form, is always the One Mountain, an image of manifestation in its hierarchy along the central axis of being. This axis passes through all the strata of existence and shows them linked to the highest point, at different levels. From the highest point the line passes in the centre and pierces the ground in the middle of the Garbhagriha where the Linga or image is. From the perimeter of the (temple) towards its highest point rises the bulk of the building, a vesture of the central axis, in its folds and throughout its extent, it is an exposition of the total meaning of the temple in the particular application to each single spot.’ (Ibid, page 168)
My purpose in quoting Stella Kramrisch in detail on this particular aspect of the Hindu temple is the need to establish certain focal points of reference so that we may recognise these same elements in the contemporary experience. My intention is to demonstrate factually the precise manner in which the Vedic Dharma is re-established. As stated earlier, this is achieved exclusively on the basis of that same Act of Seeing which the ancient Rishis made use of in their foundation-laying of what we know as Hinduism today. The temple which ultimately emerged from this act, reproduced throughout the centuries and across the breadth of the subcontinent, is veritably a Book of Knowledge. Each one contains the detailed Knowledge of the most essential features of the Vedic experience.
For the Hindu, therefore, the temple is not merely a place of worship, a place for congregating, a stronghold of the priesthood, the Bhramin caste, or whatever. The Hindu temple is a vibrant documentation of the seed of the Veda, and the power, it is most important to note, which is generated from a scrupulous adherence to the sage’s specifications regarding the measurement, design, orientation and materials employed in the man-made construction which allow it to serve as the vessel for certain cosmic energies of a particular order to be deposited on Earth.
There are thus several elements to be noted for the purpose of demonstrating the manner in which a true reestablishment comes into being. First is the Mountain symbol, then the Cave, or garbhagriha at the centre of the Mountain, and finally the Vertical Axis rising to the top through the centre’…like a hollow reed… This hollow reed passes through its centre. The pillar inheres in the (temple) which is the universe in a likeness. The Pillar of the Universe, the Axis Mundi, inheres in the World Mountain…’ (Ibid, page 175). And, of course, this ‘pillar’ is Skambha.
The re-established ‘Mountain Axis’
In 1970, I wrote The Magical Carousel. The book was the fruit of an ‘act of seeing’, a veritable projection onto the point between my eyebrows, as if there was a screen therein on which this vivid projection took shape. The result was a contemporary myth, conforming to all the demands of this type of oral and literary creation.
I will quote portions from Chapter 10 of this story, precisely the chapter describing ‘the land of Capricorn’. In so doing, the student will be able to appreciate that indeed the Veda is based on an Eternal Truth, a sanatan dharma, in as much as the Act of Seeing occurred well beyond the borders of subcontinental India and at a time when I had no knowledge of all the intricacies of the Hindu temple, much less its relation to the Mountain, and, above all, to the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. Yet it will become more than clear from the portions quoted that a certain timeless dimension opened its doors, or drew aside its veils and allowed me to see. In so doing, an act of reestablishment occurred in the domain of myth, so essential a feature of Vedic culture.
Chapter 10 is entitled. ‘The Universal Mother, Conquest and Crystallisation in Matter’. It begins when the two protagonists, the children Val and Pom-pom, are transported by the heroic Centaur of the previous sign-land, Sagittarius, and deposited ‘at the border’, beyond which he is not permitted to go. It is the special boundary which the Aryan Warrior of old sought to cross in his quest, in his ‘journey’ to the top of the Mountain in the tenth sign-month. (We shall discuss the nature of this ‘border’ further on and its relationship to the Supramental Creation.) Once across the border and in the land of Capricorn, the children come face-to-face with ‘the Mountain’.
‘An enormous steep mountain rises before them, a majestic sight that juts up from the plains and stretches to the ‘heavens’. Silhouetted against the bright sky it would seem as if the mountain were living, actually breathing, for the shadows formed by the crests and crevices make it appear as the face of a very ancient and wise person.’ (The Magical Carousel, page 103)
This first seeing establishes certain facts which are contained in the Veda and in the New Way. To begin, we have the land epitomised in the Mountain symbol. Added to this is that it [this it?] is equated with the ancient sages, the ‘wise person’. This is the ‘One Mountain’ Kramrisch refers to in her analysis of the Hindu temple, the ‘only Mountain worth mention among all the mountains’.
The children begin to scale the Mountain and when they stop to rest, surveying the land below in the far distance they see a vast bed of water. There is a splash and ‘some sort of animal emerging from the water (which) they suspect to be a crocodile’. When this strange animal reaches the children, they realise it is a Goat with the tail of a fish – or the traditional animal-symbol of Capricorn. But mention of a crocodile in connection with the sign is significant in this type of spontaneous seeing. The Sanskrit work for Capricorn is makar, which is translated as ‘crocodile’. Referring to Kramrisch’s text once again, we shall see how pointedly this ‘crocodile’ surfaces in the garbhgriha of the Hindu Temple, and its precise relation to Capricorn, the apex sign of the uttarayana, or the ‘northern hemisphere’ of the ecliptic. In a footnote Kramrisch refers to the ‘water in the cave’,
‘The ‘water in the cave’ is in the Garbhagriha the water with which the Linga or image are laved in the daily rites. It passes from the image to a drain on the floor which traverses the middle of the north wall of the Garbhagriha, and leaves through a spout carved in the likeness of a Makara, etc. The water in which the Linga or image has been bathed is sanctified and therefore is made to flow to the north. The Ganges too is most sacred where its course turns northward. The northern direction implies an upward course, back towards the origin – high up in the mountains and higher still in the celestial region.’ (The Hindu Temple, page 171, italics mine.)
It does not require much special insight to recognise that this is specifically Capricorn emerging once again in a most precise manner in the interior ‘cave’ of the Hindu temple. Both the sign’s symbol (Makar), as well as the position of the spout in the north wall so that the sacred water is made to ‘flow northward’ echo two of the most important elements of the sign. But it is curious to note that in spite of these very obvious clues, indicating to the researcher where to seek for the [seek the?] temple’s deepest significance and purpose – that is, the sign Capricorn – Kramrisch does not do so, similar to other researchers and scholars. Ignoring the Capricorn connection makes it impossible to render temple architecture a living art and eternally renewable. For it is Time, and in India’s case, Capricorn or the Makar Sankranti which hold the key to this renewability.
To return to our contemporary myth, the Goat-Fish (makar) carries the exhausted children further up the mountain and finally deposits them before a door which leads into the heart of the Mountain. They protest. They had wanted to reach the peak, but the Goat-Fish explains, ‘You cannot reach it by the outside. It is only through the inside that you may come to the peak’… (The Magical Carousel, page 105).
In view of the extensive description from Kramrisch’s work which I have quoted, precisely regarding the interior and the vertical axis leading to the top of the temple, or the peak of the mountain, these lines reveal that in penetrating the deepest recesses of the sign Capricorn, on which the Hindu temple is based, anyone, anywhere can see the form of the Hindu temple as devised by the ancient Seers, and that in its most essential details, the contemporary act of seeing will coincide perfectly with the experience of the earlier Rishis. But let us proceed with the story and the ‘ascent’ in the interior of the mountain.
The children do indeed experience the ascent once inside the mountain. But instead of reaching the peak, propelled by the Force they come into contact with, they find themselves.
‘….thrust into a solitary, isolated chamber of bare walls…Val and Pom-pom are at a point of utter despair when an insistent, continuous ticking is heard through the heavy silence. The sound increases and increases, becoming louder with each tick until it is right upon them and apparently in their very presence. They begin running round and round, passing their hands along the bare walls to make sure there are no secret doors and are soon at the point of exhaustion and collapse to the ground.
‘Lying there in complete stillness they become aware of a hole in the middle of the room, which seems to have been there all the while. The children crawl up to it, peer over the rim and down below they see an old, old man with flowing beard and long white hair, seated at a table with a huge book open before him. Behind him stands a great clock, unusual and unique for there are only three symbols drawn on its face: a minus to the left, a plus to the right and a circle in the middle. But there are no hands pointing anywhere as one would normally expect. The ticking is loud and strong now for it comes from this very clock.
‘As they gaze at the scene below, the old gentleman, table and clock slowly rise into the centre of the room through the hole.’ (Ibid, pages 109-110)
The essence of this Mountain chamber, so obviously the garbhagriha of the Hindu temple, also constructed on the basis of the mountain symbolism and Capricorn, is the Time-Spirit, or Mahakala of Vedic tradition. And this is Shiva. In the footnote from Stella Kramrisch’s book quoted above, the water which had been used in the inner sanctum of the Hindu temple and made to flow northward, was to bath [bathe?] the linga, an image sacred to Shiva. In our contemporary act of seeing it is precisely Shiva whom the children encounter, in the form of Mahakala, the Great Time.
In the desire to make this study non-speculative, I have quoted the above portions of The Magical Carousel in order to emphasise the point that in any attempt at reestablishment, the first prerequisite is the ability to carry out the same yogic process which produced the original Seeing. And this must be a spontaneous and non-mentalised approach. One cannot mentally create a myth, insofar as myths emerge from the fount of the soul and can be transcribed only on the basis of a plunge into this ‘cave’ in the mountain of one’s inner being, similar to a penetration as Val and Pom-pom have done into the interior of the Mountain where they meet the Time-spirit who deciphers the script of their soul, that is, their destiny, by finding their page in the great Book of Life.
When this is accomplished, the Time-Spirit encourages them to continue their journey, to reach ‘the top of the mountain’ and the coveted vision of Omanisol, or the Universal Mother, essence of the very mountain itself. Or, the essence of creation. But to reach this Presence the children must do so through a shaft, a ladder of 99 steps, which carries them through the centre of the chamber to the top, as if it were indeed the ‘hollow reed’ Kramrisch describes as the vertical axis of all Hindu temples, leading through the ‘mountain’ of the superstructure from the garbhagriha to the peak. Likewise, in our contemporary Act of Seeing, there is a vertical axis which is the only means to reach the top of the Capricorn Mountain, and the divine Mother.
‘A woman sits before them.
‘She is clothed in robes that blend in colour with the mountain, in fact she herself appears to be a continuation of the mountain itself. She sits on the ground with legs crossed and covered by the robes, immobile and breathing ever so slightly, in a manner which makes one feel the physical life in her is suspended. Her face is not old but rather ancient, and her half-closed eyes reveal an understanding that is of the nature of the mountain over which she presides. Omanisol is cloaked in an aura of serenity and strength, of timelessness and intensity, which become a part of the children merely by being in her presence…
‘The mountain peak is enveloped in the rays of the brightest midday sun, which, however, Val and Pom-pom cannot locate in the sky. This vivid light makes it possible to see over an enormous distance, an unending stretch of land on all sides, revealing every type of landscape – dominated by the abode of Omanisol…’ (Ibid, pages 111-112).
What is described here is the land of Bharat Mata, our Omanisol, who is the centre of the World Mountain and from which central point one can see ‘an unending stretch of land on all sides.’ This is indeed India, Mount Meru, or the ‘churning stick’, that immobile rod or Axis Mundi. The analysis of the Hindu temple, presented by Dr. Kramrisch with many compilations from the ancient texts, tallies in almost every detail with the essential elements of the Capricorn chapter of The Magical Carousel. Inasmuch as my Act of Seeing was via the zodiac, a ‘journey’ through its twelve signs in the course of the year, I came upon the same Knowledge of old simply by penetrating the deepest recesses of the ‘sign-land’. What I discovered was the fundaments of the Hindu Temple in virtually all its details, at a time when I had no knowledge at all of Hinduism and its places of worship. Nor did I have any knowledge of sacred architecture of sacred geometry then. This too proves that the first step is the Act of Seeing, rather than the dry study of architecture and geometry. That is, devoid of that Vision, that Sense, these disciplines are simply academic exercises. They arise in the mental plane and bear no resemblance to the Vedic experience.
The point of the above is of course to demonstrate how the act of reestablishment of the Vedic Dharma takes place on the basis of a renewal which respects the essential Seeing but has the power to carry that experience into the present in an organic, harmonious process which is bereft of even the slightest tinge of dogmatism, rigidity and fossilisation. Time moulds the vision into the contours of its eternal present and [is?] influenced by the circumscribing conditions at any given moment. But central to the experience is the Evolutionary Avatar.
In The Magical Carousel it is the Avatar whom the children meet in the person of the Time-Spirit, for indeed the Avatars of Hindu tradition are known to be offspring of the Time-Spirit. But in this myth the form taken is specifically that of Mahakala because this is indeed the 9th Manifestation and therefore the Evolutionary Avatar of this sacred period of the eternally revolving Wheel is the 9th, who embodies the essence of that very Time-Spirit, or Shiva. And indeed, true to the Act of Seeing, it is Sri Aurobindo who appears before the children, the ‘old, old man with flowing beard and long white hair’.
The vertical axis, or the ladder of 99 steps, offers another clue to the Avatar. Apart from being that central shaft of the Hindu temple, in this case the ‘measure’ is 99. Indeed, when I did come to India, to the very abode of that Time-Spirit in the form of this 9th Avatar, it was in 1971, or in Sri Aurobindo’s 99th year. Joined with him in this renovation of the Divine Veda is the Mother. In our contemporary Act of Seeing it is Omanisol, the essence of the Capricorn Mountain. These two Beings are connected in the story by this ‘measure’ of 99. And indeed, the only way to the mountain top is through the centre, the interior dimension of being, a truth captured in every Hindu temple from time immemorial.
We have seen how reestablishment is carried out in the dimension of myth, so essential a feature of Vedic culture and contemporary Indian society. Now let us turn to the other facet of this Reestablishment, that of the actual temple plan. Or the Vedic Temple made new for this 9th Manifestation, respecting, however, every aspect of the old and ancient Way. Indeed, carrying that earlier Seeing to unimaginable heights of unparalleled splendour. This is not a fundamentalist’s imposition or a revivalist’s frenzy. It is simply Veda, the eternal Truth, eternally renewed by the Evolutionary Avatar – a phenomenon unique to India.
March of 1993
Aeon Centre of Cosmology
at Skambha (to be continued)