The Inner Discipline:
This is the process of Vedic Yoga. What is the inner discipline followed by the Vedic sages? The first and the most important is the Act of Sacrifice, Yagna, which we have already discussed in some detail in our earlier article. The outer vedic ritual is a symbol of the inner sacrifice. In the outer ritual of sacrifice, a sacred fire is lit in the altar and oblations are offered into the fire. In the inner sacrifice, the fire of spiritual aspiration is lit in inner altar of the heart all the inner and outer activities of the body, mind, heart, sensation and vital impulses are offered in this fire of aspiration to the Gods. When Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram was asked how to ignite this inner fire in the heart she replied:
“By aspiration—-By the will for progress, by the urge for perfection. Above all it is the will for progress and self-purification which lights the fire—-Those who have a strong will, when they turn it towards spiritual progress and purification, automatically light the fire. And each defect one wants to cure or each progress one wants to make¾if all that is thrown into the fire, it burns with a new intensity. And this is not an image, it is a fact in the subtle physical. One can feel the warmth of the flame, one can see in the subtle physical the light of the flame. And when there is something in the nature which prevents one from advancing and one throws it into the fire it begins to burn and the flame becomes more intense.” (8, 252)
The second factor which kindles the inner flame of aspiration is humility, submission and surrender to the higher power. The Mother said in one of her conversations, that fire of aspiration is kindled between Will and Humility. Vedic sages gave much importance to this inner attitude of a humble submission and surrender to the Divine which in the vedic terminology is called as Namas. As a vedic verse eulogizes Namah:
“Namas is truly powerful. In Namas I take refuge. Namas uphold Heaven and Earth. Namas to the God. Namas is their ruler. By means of Namas I take refuge from whatever actions I may have committed” (RV, VI, 51.8)
The third aspect or principle of vedic discipline is Mantra. The Vedic sages laid a great emphasis on expressing the inner aspiration, illumination or experience in the spontaneous, exact and inevitable word, Mantra. Inability to do this is considered as a great spiritual defect by the vedic sages. For example, it is said in the Vedas, that panis, who are one of the dark forces hostile to the gods, are not always dark. Some of them are rich with Light stolen from the gods. But their light is useless and ineffective because they refuse to sacrifice and are not able to express or mentalise the light in right words. The manthric word has an almost instantaneous power of realisation. It can instantly dissolve an obstacle or difficulty. The Vedas describe how sages and gods are able to break-open or destroy the fortress of dark powers by uttering the right Word or the Cry. The Mantra can also invoke the help of Gods by uttering their names or create the desired spiritual condition. A vedic verse says “with mantras of truth they generated the dawn of illumination” (RV, VII, 76.4)
This is the spiritual utility of the Mantra. For the illumined Vedic seer and the sage, Mantra is also the means to establish the inner experience or realization in his consciousness, even in his physical and vital instincts and sensations and also perhaps in the collective consciousness of the race.
The third principle of the Vedic disciple is Tapas or dhyana, some form of inner focusing, concentration or energizing of the consciousness. The word Tapas and dhyana occur frequently in the Vedic literature. The art and science of inward meditation was probably quite well-developed during the period of the vedic samhithas. We have the well-known vedic prayer, given in the Gayathri Mantra “Let us meditate on the beautiful splendour of God Savithri, that he may illuminate our understanding”. Another vedic prayer states: “invigorate our meditations, invigorate our visionary insights”(RV, VIII, 35.16). The British Egyptologist Jeanine Miller in her perceptive and detailed study of Vedic meditational practices writes “The practice of meditative absorbtion (dhyana) as the crux of yoga goes back to Rig Vedic times when the rsi had already achieved mastery in the wielding of thought as an instrument of power and consequently of the word as creative activity.” Accroding to Miller, vedic meditation can be classified into three categories: Mantric Meditation which is “absorbtion in sound and its effect on psche”, visual Meditation which is “a deliberate forging of thought into visionary insight”; and Absorbtion in Mind and Heart, resulting in a “deepening of the powers of vision”.
The vedic meditation sometimes ended in complete identification with the object meditated upon, or knowledge by identity which is something unique to Indian spirituality. For example in the Devi Suktha of the Rig veda, the seer of the verse, probably a woman-sage, identifying herself with the supreme creatrix declares “The Queen,—–I am the first among the gods, such as I, the One, permeating and taking possession of the Manifold—far beyond the heaven, far beneath the Earth, so vast my largeness I have become”. Similarly in another verse of the Vedas, the seer expresses his identify with many things at the same time: “I was Manu and now I am the Sun, I am the seer and poet-sage Kakshivat, I am the sage Kutsa Arjuneya. I am the poet-sage Ushanas, Behold me!”