We have discussed in our previous articles some of the main tenets of the vedic vision and the principles of vedic psychology. Let us now examine how they are applied in Vedic Yoga.
The First Stage: Agni and Indra
The process begins with Agni who ignites the flame of aspiration in the heart, sends the call and brings down the bounties of the gods to the human soul. Then comes Indra, who with the aid of Maruts liberates the psycho-physical being from the subconscient powers of darkness, panis, releases the cows, the rays of light hidden in the cave of the panis, and forms the illumined and liberated mind and vitality in the seeker, rich with the cows of light and strong and energetic with the horses of energy. Light and energy in the mind, heart, life-force brings also Soma, the joy of life. One of the Vedic images describes the Horse as dripping with Soma-wine.
So, Light in the mind, force, strength, energy in the vitality, and delight in sensation and emotions — this is the first stage of psychological and spiritual perfection which the vedic sages tried to realise in their being with the help of the gods. Cows, Horse and Soma-wine, three of the most sought-after gifts in vedic hymns are not any material gifts but the symbols of the inner gifts in the form of inner light or illumination, force and delight. This amounts to some form of descent of the light, energy and delight of the higher consciousness into the human nature. The result of this transformation was also describes by vedic sages in strikingly suggestive symbolic figure of the clarified butter grhta and heroes vira.
Clarified butter ghrtha is a very concrete image of a spiritually illumined and transformed mind. It signifies at once luminous clarity and density. For in a spiritually transformed mind what are ethereal abstractions to the intellectual mind becomes concrete experiential realities of consciousness or in other words, abstract ideas of the intellect becomes clear, luminous, dense and concrete realisations. The term “vira” or heroes is another striking symbol used by the vedic sages to describe the characteristic quality and powers of the true and essential nature of the vital being and its energy in man which manifests when this part of the being is transformed by the higher spiritual light and force.
There is in the depth of our subliminal consciousness, a deeper and inner vital being behind the surface emotional-vital formation of the frontal persona. This inner vital being is the true vital personality (pranamaya purusha) which is in intimate communion and harmony with the universal vital energy and very receptive to the influence of the higher consciousness and its powers. It is in its very nature heroic, adventurous and courageous and seeks for power, vigour, strength, indomitable energy, mastery, victory and enjoyment. When this inner vital being is brought forward from the subliminal depths by yogic discipline and illumined and transformed by the powers of the higher consciousness, it becomes a a great force for victory in the vedic sacrifice.
For the vedic sacrifice and yoga is at once a constant journey and a battle. It is a difficult upward journey over the various levels of the individual and cosmic existence — imaged by the vedic sages as the “Hill” of being — which has to be climbed against the constant downward gravitational pull exerted by the subconscient and inconscient parts of our being It is also a constant battle against hostile forces, Panis, Vrittas and Valas, which oppose vehemently every step of the upward march. The path requires tremendous inner energy, courage, strength and heroism. Only an illumined, liberated and surrendered vital being-surrendered to the higher powers-can provide all these qualities indispensable for victory in the vedic sacrifice. “Horses” Ashwa and “Heroes” Vira, symbolise the powers of the liberated and illumined vital being. The word used by vedic sages to denote the condition of the illumined and liberated vitality is Suvirya. The equivalent and corresponding vedic terminology for the mind is Sumathi.
Another important factor which has to be kept in mind in understanding the vedic spiritual ideal is that vedic rishis are not world-shunning ascetics who denied power, wealth, enjoyment — inner and outer, secular, occult or spiritual. Their ideal is not the negation of life and its powers and values in an exclusive quest for the spirit but spiritual fulfillment of the whole of life in all the levels of the individual and collectivity – physical, vital, mental and spiritual.