THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 12, October, 1931
(Pages 535-539; Size: 15K)
(Number 44 of a 59-part series)
SRUTI means Revelation. Smriti results from remembrance of "what is heard," i.e., Sruti. In the Western religions, both in modern Christianity and in its parent Judaism, Revelation connotes that which is revealed by God to his chosen Prophets. In Hinduism it does not mean that at all. By purity of life, study, and meditation the human soul becomes capable of hearing the Song of Life which Mother Nature chants in the Voice of the Silence; such highly evolved souls repeat in the language of words what is heard; that repetition is Sruti or Revelation. On the banks of the sacred rivers, in the heart of the living forests, wise ones heard by the soul what the Mahatmas and Nirmanakayas and Devas said and sang; they saw by the Soul what the "upholders of the universe" who are "the knowers of the essence of things" were doing by way of duty and of sacrifice; what they heard and saw they described and that faithful description is the Sruti. This is not the work of one or several isolated individuals, but is the great record of Truth made by checking, testing and verifying the work of each with that of all others and by centuries of experience.
The Sruti is composed of the Four Vedas. Occultism teaches that these were delivered by Primeval Sages on Lake Manasa-Sarovar beyond the Himalayas, tens of thousands of years ago.
It is, comparatively speaking, not important to argue out the exact era in which the Vedas were first transcribed, or subsequently arranged. The stages seem to be, first, the age when they were heard and remembered; second, the age when they were fully transcribed; and third, the age when they were rearranged till their present form was reached. H.P.B. says, "They are the most ancient as well as the most sacred of the Sanskrit works."
There exist to-day four Vedas: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Whether or not the Vedas known to-day retain their Original Impulse and their Original Vision is doubtful; this, however, may be taken as certain, that the efficacy of even what exists does not consist in their surface-meaning, but in their correct chanting. Originally there were three classes of priests, learned and holy, Hotri, Adhvaryu, and Udgatri; the first used the Rig, the second the Yajur, and the third the Sama. The use of the fourth or Atharva Veda was confined to a few versed in the esotericism of the three.
The Hymns of the Rig Veda are highly philosophical and describe the processes of visible and invisible Nature and name the Presiding Genius over every such process. Even to-day by right repetition pure minds can understand the plan of action in Nature which is a Living Whole.
The Chants of the Sama Veda are songs of peace and praise which unveil the Powers and Potencies of that Living Nature; even to-day rightly sung they produce results.
The Rites of the Yajur Veda detail the performance of all sacrifices; why, where, when and how these rituals should be performed is taught. The real knowledge is mostly lost, for it rests on that Faith or Will which is so rare, and so even the intellectual understanding of what is meant and implied has become difficult. With the rise of Spiritual Knowledge, which strengthens Spiritual Will, the effective art of pure ritual will again become known -- first in India, and then in the world.
The sacred incantations, formulas and aphorisms which cure all diseases, bodily, mental and moral, and also by which magical phenomena can be performed, are given in the fourth or Atharva Veda.
These four make the foundation of Sruti or Revelation, on which a majestic edifice stands.
Each Veda is divided into three parts: Mantras or Samhitas, Brahamanas and Aranyakas. Mantras are verses used as charms and made up of sounds of power. Samhita means collection. In each Veda there are verses of sound power, and all these as a collection are known as the Mantra Samhita of the Veda. They make majestic poetry addressed to the Devas and sing their glory. In days of old these Mantras were practically efficacious in their use. At present all recognize them to be mystical and powerful but the knowledge and their practical use are confined to the charmed circle of Mahatmas and Their disciples; but their mere repetition is very general and while people do not know how to use them they are aware because of tradition that a certain Mantra is meant to produce certain definite results. Their occult power, however, does not reside in the words but in the inflexion or accent given, and the necessary sound originated thereby. Among very orthodox Brahamanas even to-day, there are a few who have acquired by heredity-osmosis the correct intonation and their automatic repetition is not altogether fruitless.
There is, however, an extended meaning which should be given to the institution of Mantra to understand fully all that this section of the four Vedas stands for. Every letter of the alphabet represents a Number, has a form and colour, besides a sound. In the Sanskrit alphabet there are forty-nine letters, each a number with a colour, sound and form, and each is representative of a hidden Power in Nature, of a Force of the invisible universe, called a Deva, a Shining One, a Resplendent God. Deva-Nagari is the name of the characters of the Sanskrit alphabet.
There are therefore Words of Power like Aum, Sat, Tat; or phrases and sentences like the Gayatri. Thus to give an example of these words lit by and born of fire: Manu records that Prajapati milked from the Vedas three fiery words -- Bhur from the Rig, Bhuvah from the Yajur, and Swar from the Sama. All three are creative potencies. The Satapatha Brahamana explains that they are "the three luminous essences" extracted from the Vedas through heat by Praja-patis, Progenitors. Brahmá uttered Bhur, and lo! the earth; Bhuvah, and thereupon materialized the firmament of Astral Light; Swar, and there was the Heaven of Ideation. It is said, and truly indeed, that Atharva-Veda yielded the fourth luminous essence and the word Mahar, but it is so purely magical that its very intonation cannot be even taught, but results from the purification of the lower triad in man.
Brahamanas are distinct from Mantras. They are authentic commentaries on those portions of the Vedas which were intended for the ritualistic use and guidance of the caste of Brahamanas, and include prayers. The real Brahamana caste (not the one of Census reports) is composed of men and women who are all twice-born, Dwijas, born in the Occult World, of the Race of the Deathless Ones, in the Home or Lodge of the Parentless -- Anupadaka. Real Brahamanas are the Sons of the Fire Mist. The numbers of that Deathless Race were and are recruited from the races of men, which live and die. Time was when the institution of caste (Varna or colour) was real and was known and recognized; to-day it is real in process and operation, because it is a fact in Nature, but is unknown and unrecognized. In modern India, however, caste has become a corrupt and degrading superstition and Brahamanas, lawyers, clerks or cooks, are no more twice-born than the most despised chandâla. These latter are known sometimes as those who eat the flesh of dogs, behind which also there is a mystic meaning. Now alas! most Hindus, though strict vegetarians on the physical plane, eat, metaphorically and metaphysically speaking, dog's flesh. The untouchable caste, the Pariah or Panchama, is really not only the one-sixth of the Indian people who are submerged and depressed from the socio-economic point of view; but from the inner and occult point of view most Hindus are black in colour (Varna) having polluted themselves with that which in our phrase is represented by "dog's flesh." Another graphic expression which is a metaphor is that the true Brahamana is the protector of the kine. Chapter after Chapter in the Mahabharata is devoted to the subject, but the modern Hindu, who is meticulous on the physical plane not to be cruel and who builds pinjra-pols where old animals are fed till they die, is not the protector of the kine in the real sense.
Now the Brahamana portion of the Vedas contains ceremonies and prayers which are efficacious only when performed or said by the real Brahamana -- the dwija or twice-born. In the hands and on the lips of the ordinary temple-priest they are a farce, and worse than a farce. Millions superstitiously indulge in the second-hand performance of these ceremonies, and hope against hope that the purohit's lips are still capable in some kind of a way of charming the inflexible gods of justice who are also merciful! Thus we have in India the ludicrous superstition, immoral and weakening, which is a variant of the laying on of hands by ordained priests of Roman and other Christian churches. The Brahamana priests' "apostolic succession" is more clever, nearer to the base of truth, from which all priest-caste have strayed, and so more dangerous, more glamorous.
Aranyakas are books for forest dwellers -- "meditation in the forest." They were studied by holy hermits and sages endowed with great mystic powers. These were the Gymnosophists spoken of by Hellenic writers -- "the air-clad" mendicants. Retiring into the forest they reach, through great austerities, superhuman knowledge and experience. The world famous Upanishads form part of the Aranyakas of the Vedas.
In addition to these three there are treatises on science and philosophy.
Shad Angani or Vedangas -- Six Limbs, or Limbs of the Veda -- may be said to be the complement of the Brahamana portion of the Vedas. They consist of very condensed aphorisms called Sutras and commentaries on them. They deal with some seventy sciences classified under six main heads:
(A) Shiksha (Phonetics), (B) Kalpa (Rituals), (C) Vyakarana (Grammar), (D) Niruktam (Etymology), (E) Chhandah (Prosody), and (F) Jyotisham (Astrology).
It is not possible in this series to deal with the science lore of ancient India. Interested readers should turn to the Positive Background of Hindu Sociology, by Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarkar, which deals with geography, ethnology, mineralogy, botany, zoology, physiology, biology and mechanics; also to The Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus, by Sir Brajendranath Seal; then to Hindu Chemistry, by Sir P. C. Roy.
In the closing article we will examine in outline the six schools of Indian philosophy known as Shad Darshanani.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
ANCIENT VS. MODERN THOUGHT
The ancient Initiates, who were followed more or less closely by all profane antiquity, meant by the term "ATOM," a Soul, a Genius or Angel, the first-born of the ever-concealed CAUSE of all causes; and in this sense their teachings become comprehensible. They claimed, as do their successors, the existence of Gods and Genii, angels or "demons," not outside, or independent of, the Universal Plenum, but within it. Only this Plenum, during the life-cycles, is infinite. They admitted and taught a good deal of that which modern Science teaches now -- namely, the existence of a primordial "World-stuff or Cosmic Substance," from which worlds are formed, ever and eternally homogeneous, except during its periodic existence, when it differentiates its universal diffusion throughout infinite space; and the gradual formation of sidereal bodies from it. They taught the revolution of the Heavens, the Earth's rotation, the Heliocentric System, and the Atomic Vortices -- Atoms -- in reality Souls and intelligences. But those "Atomists" were spiritual, most trancendental, and philosophical Pantheists. It is not they who would have ever conceived, or dreamt that monstrous contrasted progeny, the nightmare of our modern civilized Race; namely -- inanimate material, self-guiding atoms, on the one hand, and an extra-Cosmic God on the other. --S.D. I, p. 569.
THE SIX DEMONSTRATIONS
(6 of 6)
(Part 45 of a 59-part series)
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(1) Isis Unveiled, II, p. 30.
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