November 01, 2007

Prajna and taijasa continue to sit day and night

Significantly enough, the state of sleep by no means remain completely bereft of guards. According to Yaska, it is attended by two set of guards which he calls prajna and taijasa. Prajna is the source of wisdom, while taijasa is the power of illumination operating constantly as the medium of manifestation of that wisdom. It is the intermediary operating between the Atman and what are characterised as guards of the waking state. It is by virtue of their functioning one has in the state of dream knowledge sometimes of objects and events placed at considerable distance in space and in future even. Thus, it shows their defiance of the constraints of time and space. This is why they are considered as immortal in contrast to the group of seven guards characterised as seers who obviously are mortal. Seers come and go but the gods remain constantly the same. They operate in the waking state also but their operation in this state gets mediated by that of the senses, the mind and the learning.
This point is brought out still prominently through the figure of two types of sacrifices -- daily and yearly. While the seven seers are conceived as taking their seats beside the sacrificial fire only for the day and retiring at the advent of the night, prajna and taijasa are taken to continue to sit day and night throughout the whole year symbolising the whole of life. From this perspective, life is considered as a sacrifice in which the object is being constantly offered as oblation to the fire of the subject by the senses, the manas and the learning on daily basis while by the prajna and taijasa permanently (Nirukta, XII.37.) ...
This façade of actuality dashes down to the ground, the moment we take into consideration Yaska’s rendering of the seven seers into the seven indriyas. Unlike the case of the previously quoted mantra, here he renders saptarsayah by seven indriyas alone excluding manas and vidya. This he does by taking eyes, ears and noses in twos as they each form two holes in the head. Mouth as the seat of taste makes the total number of the holes in the head seven. As all of them are seats of operation of the sense organs, they are taken as indriyas. In this enumeration, vak is added as the eighth seer. It is said to be in alliance with Brahman. The alliance of vak with Brahman is a highly significant idea. It recurs elsewhere in the Rgveda in the form of collateral existence of vak and Brahman (RV.X.114.8.).
The recurrence bears out its axiomatic position in the Vedic thought reflecting intimate relationship between the word and the Reality in the vision of the seer. It is in view of this singular relationship as well as the amazing perceptual, conceptual and inferential power of the sense organs and the mind, all located in the human head, that the latter has been stated in the mantra as the repository of the entire glory of the world. This glory obviously lies in the human head supposed to have embedded in it in microcosmic form whatever lies there in the totality of the reality including the universal and the transcendent. In spite of embodying material drawn pre-eminently from the objective world and showing the plausibility of its explanation in terms of the sun and its rays, Yaska opens the door to the depth of meaning put in this mantra (Nir.XII.38).
Substitution of manas, taijasa and atman of the previous mantra suggests to the equivalence of language with knowledge as well as the reality behind it in the understanding of Yaska. It is this cognisance of equivalence of the word with the knowledge and the reality both which forms the basis of the regard for the Veda, as the repository of all knowledge representing the totality of the reality. It also suggests very well to its origin from the human head as the latter is supposed to have compressed in it all knowledge whatever. Herein lies the justification for referring to the openings of the head as the seven seers. The idea of the alliance of vak with Brahman also reminds us of the spectacular experiences of Vagambhrni recounted in Rgveda X.125 where she feels herself as moving in the company of all the gods including the Rudras, Vasus and Adityas, doing everything for them as well as for seers and as having given birth even to the heaven and not to speak of lesser things including the earth.
About The Author -- Professor S.P. Singh Professor Satya Prakash Singh is renowned Vedic scholar.
He is a Ph.D. of the Banaras Hindu University and D.Litt. of the Aligarh Muslim University.

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