Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
  Vision of Unity - Part II


We shall now study the ancient history of India, and we shall start with the Vedas…The word Veda comes from the word vid in Sanskrit. Vid means knowledge and here it means higher knowledge. The Veda is fundamentally a record of experiences based on intuition and revelation. They contain inspired utterances of seers and sages;.. Rishis heard these compositions during their deep meditations. They are therefore known as Sruti.The Vedic truths were originally transmitted by the rishis to their disciples for over a thousand years. At a later date, Sage Vaasa compiled them and put them into writing…

There are four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Vedam, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda is the most pre-eminent one… The Vedas were written in an archaic Sanskrit; yet all Sanskrit scholars understand the language though they may sometimes miss out on the symbolic meaning and certain forms of expression because of its antiquity …However history tells us that tare have been four major attempts to interpret the Vedas. We shall touch upon them briefly. The first one was by Yaska, the second by Sayanacharya, the third by Max Mueller and other Indologists and the last one by Sri Aurobindo, We shall make a quick survey of these different interpretations.

The first interpretation by Yaska was one might almost say lexicographic. It gave a detailed dictionary meaning… its great use lay in giving us a precise sense of the terms used in the Veda.

The work of Sayanacharya was more scholarly and ritualistic. He tried to disengage and reveal the meaning of the Vedas by giving the words a symbolic sense. He however stressed more on the ritualistic sense of the Vedas, on its external aspects such as the sacrifice. Sacrifice. Sacrifice was the principal institution and symbol of the Vedic tradition and knowledge .He gave it solely an external and ritualistic meaning and thus robbed it of the deeper spiritual sense…

The work of the modern European scholars was based on a study of Philology. They too stressed on the ritualistic aspect of the Vedas and came to the conclusion that the Vedas were composition of a primitive people with no real and profound sense. This fits in perfectly with the modern view of history that primitive man was barbarian and that civilisation has been the result of a gradual development of the mind.

Lastly we have the interpretation of Sri Aurobindo. He has explained that the Vedas had a double significance, one for the significance, one for the ordinary physically minded men and another for the initiates and the more spiritually evolved men. The physically minded man is the man who is in the first stage of evolution and is mainly concerned with the material interests of life; he has not yet reached the stage where he can seek for a higher mental and spiritual development. And in India it has always been considered unwise and unsafe to reveal highest knowledge to those who are not ready to receive it; to them has to be given a simpler and more external truth, which they can easily assimilate. Thus the Veda has been written in a double language- we shall illustrate this now. Let us take as an example the word ‘go’ in Sanskrit, which means cow. This word has a double meaning- in the external sense it means cow but in the symbolic sense it means light. Thus one of the most revered spiritual figures of India, Buddha has been known as Gotama the Buddhha and that means the “most enlightened one” and not as the external sense would have conveyed the greatest cow. In the same way it can be shown that many of the important words – in fact the keywords,- have a double meaning, an external sense and a symbolic significance; necessarily this alters the whole significance of the Vedas. It will then be seen that the Vedas are not the composition of a barbarian people but that they contain great and profound spiritual revelations. The Vedas have a double meaning –one in its external sense for the less developed man and another with a profound sense and a deeper psychological import. We shall illustrate with some more examples in the following table.


A Symbol

B Deeper meaning

Cow - Go


Horse - Asva

Energy and Force

Dawn - Usha

Spiritual dawn

Fire - Agni


Usha the dawn is described as Gomati asvavati. In its literal translation it means Dawn gives to the sacrificer horses and cows. In its deeper meaning, it was symbolic of richness of mental illuminations and abundance of vital energy.


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