February 23, 2006

Inseparability of man from his world and the sacredness of both

J.N. Mohanty, Classical Indian Philosophy (Oxford: 2000) p.126
On the surface, the hymns of Rig-Veda appear to be a sort of “naturalistic polytheism,” which then matures, through stages of internal development, successively into a “henotheism,” a monotheism, and finally an agnostic monism (“who knows that One Being?”). But this reading, combined with the ritualism one ascribes to the Vedic religion, makes use of more modern ideas of “nature” and “naturalism,” and also of “rituals.” It may be more appropriate to use conceptualizations that are
  • prior to the Cartesian divide between nature and spirit
  • and also the anthropologist’s idea of “rituals.”

Luckily, in more recent times, our understanding of the Vedic language has been deepened. As Sri Aurobindo has brought out, the key Vedic words…, even etymologically, carry inner, deeply psychological meanings. Spanning the divide between the outer and the inner, these “deities” or devas (or “shining ones”) show both

  • the inseparability of man from his world
  • and the sacredness of both.

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