How I Became A Hindu - My Discovery of Vedic Dharma By David Frawley SPIRITUAL PATHS AND DISCOVERY OF THE VEDAS Discovery of the Vedas/ Sri Aurobindo
Among the spiritual teachers whose writings I studied, most notable in terms of my own thought and expression, was Sri Aurobindo. Aurobindo possessed an intellectual breadth that was unparalleled by any author I had ever read. One could swim in the field of his mind like a whale in the open sea and never encounter any limits.
He dwarfed the Western intellectuals that I studied and even the Western mystics. Relative to Indian teachers, his teaching was clear, modern, liberal and poetic, not tainted by caste, authority or dogma. Aurobindo’s vision encompassed the past, revealing the mysteries of the ancient world that I had long sought. But it showed the way to the future as well, with a balanced and universal vision of humanity for all time.
Aurobindo synthesized the great traditions of India and transformed them into something of global relevance, pioneering a New Age of consciousness. He clearly understood western culture, both its intellectual heights and its spiritual limitations. He could reflect what was valuable in western literature and philosophy, while also being a devastating critic of the western mind and its attachment to outer forms and material realities. I studied a number of Aurobindo’s works, notably the Life Divine, which unraveled all the secrets of the philosophies of India from Vedanta to Samkhya, Yoga and Tantra.
In it I noted the various verses from the Rig Veda that he used to open the chapters. I found these to be quite profound and mysterious and wanted to learn more of the Vedas. In looking through the titles of Sri Aurobindo a book called Hymns to the Mystic Fire, which was hymns to Agni from the Rig Veda, struck a cord with my poetic vision.
It led me to another book Secret of the Veda, which more specifically explained the Vedic teaching and opened up the Vedic vision for me. Secret of the Veda became a key work in my life, which I read many times. I remember one particular instance in which I was taking a bus from Colorado to Canada where I was visiting friends, reading the book late at night. It must have been spring of 1971. A Vedic epiphany dawned on me.
I could sense the march of Vedic dawns unfolding a continual evolution of consciousness in the universe. I could feel the Vedic wisdom permeating all of nature, unfolding the secrets of birth and death, the days and nights of the soul. The Veda was present at the core of our being like an inextinguishable flame and carried the spiritual aspiration of our species.
It was sad to contemplate how far we had fallen – that culturally we had closed the doors on these ancient dawns and become mired in a dark night of greed and arrogance.At that time I became a Vedic person, not simply a Vedantin. While becoming a Vedantin was the first level of my inner change, becoming Vedic was the second stage.
These two transitions overlapped to a great degree. I followed the Vedas in the context of Vedanta. But later a more specific Vedic vision emerged and came to dominate over the Vedantic view. It brought a wider and more integral Vedanta and one that connected with poetry and mantra.
After a more thorough study of Vedanta I soon learned that few Vedantins study the Vedas or see in them the depth of wisdom that Aurobindo did and which seemed so natural to me. Becoming a Vedic person took me to another place than most Vedantins, who mainly reject the Vedas as only of ritualistic value. I saw the Vedas as adding a symbolic or mantric level of knowledge to Vedanta.
Eventually this dimension of Vedic mantras became more interesting than Vedantic logic or inquiry. It was like entering into another time, another state of mind, a different language and a different humanity. The philosophical side of my mind gradually receded in favor of a Vedic mantric approach.
I had to break through my attachment to the sophisticated philosophical dialectic of Vedanta and Buddhism in order to appreciate the primeval images of the older Vedas. This was perhaps as difficult and radical a change as moving from a western intellectual view to that of yogic spirituality. It was also one in which I found myself even more alone. Then in summer of 1978 my Vedic work, which would dominate the rest of my life, first emerged. I was inspired by some inner energy to write a set of poems about the ancient dawns and the ancient suns that directed me back to the Vedas. I decided to study the Vedas in depth in the original Sanskrit. wanted to directly confirm if Sri Aurobindo’s view was correct that the Vedas did have a deeper spiritual and Vedantic meaning.
I found that most people were looking at the Vedas through the eyes of Western intellectual thought or, at best, with a Vedantic or Buddhist logic. I realized that the Vedas were not written according to either of these views and required a very different approach. It is not enough merely to translate the Vedas; one has to recreate the background the Vedas came from, in which context they were fresh and alive. The Vedas presumed a certain state of mind on the part of those who studied them.