March 04, 2008

Sri Aurobindo brings the Vedic world alive to us and opens up for us the vistas of the Vedic mind

Reviews Written by David Frawley (Santa Fe, NM)

Secret of the Veda, New U.S. Edition by Aurobindo
The Deeper Spiritual Meaning of India's Oldest Spiritual Text, May 5, 2007: The Rig Veda is probably the oldest and best preserved of the ancient spiritual literature of the world, dating from anywhere from three to five thousand years or more according to different scholars and mystics. The Rig Veda is also the oldest book in an Indo-European language and contains many keys to Indo-European language, culture and religion long before the Christian era. Yet there is still much debate and controversy as to what the Vedas mean, who composed them, when and where. Besides this important historical debate about the origins of the Vedas is a perhaps yet more significant debate about their real meaning and import.

  • Do the Vedas reflect an older and deeper spirituality of humanity, the lost yogic teachings of earlier ages of light long before the present spiritual Dark Age or Kali Yuga?
  • Or are the Vedas are they just fragments of primitive poetry which we should not read too much into?

While modern academics hold to the latter, mystics and yogis uphold the former. The Secret of the Veda is probably the most important book that attempts to show a deeper spiritual and yogic meaning to the Vedic teachings, its deities, practices and sages. It is also highly noteworthy that it was written by Sri Aurobindo (1872 - 1950), widely regarded as one of the greatest gurus, sages and philosophers of modern India, with a spiritual fame that exceeds that of Mahatma Gandhi in the country.

The Secret of the Veda is the only extensive book on the Vedas written in the English language from such a reputed sage and enlightened master. Sri Aurobindo brings the Vedic world alive to us and opens up for us the vistas of the Vedic mind. He does not just project his opinions on to the Vedic experience but brings unfolds the Vedic experience from within. For anyone looking for the spiritual meaning of the Vedas, the Secret of the Veda is easily the best and most accessible place to begin. It includes a deep study of Vedic deities and seers and reveals the hidden background of their thoughts and their meditations.

As a published scholar on Vedic knowledge over several decades, including having written translations and interpretations of the Vedas, as well as studies in Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurveda, I count the Secret of the Veda as one of the most important books that I ever read. It was the key text that encouraged me to follow the Vedic work that has become my life mission. I believe the book has the ability to change the life of anyone who seriously contemplates its deep knowledge. It takes us through the spiritual origins of our species to our connection with the eternal consciousness in its ever new unfolding.

Hymns to the Mystic Fire, 1st US Edition by Aurobindo

Fire or Agni as a Divine Principle, May 5, 2007: An ancient religion of fire and light appears to have once prevailed throughout the world going back before the dawn of history. The Vedic religion of ancient India was centered on the sacred Fire, which was found in every home. The same was true of the ancient Iranian religion, the Zoroastrian, which made special sacred fires on the mountain tops. We find the sacred fire in Greek, Roman, German, Celtic and other ancient pagan traditions of Europe, replete with special chants and offerings. It is there in the Bible, with the sacred fire altar at the temple in Jerusalem. Native American traditions record a similar use of the sacred fire, among both nomadic and pueblo people. Even the ancient Chinese I Ching echoes the same.

The Rig Veda of India preserves the oldest hymns to Fire, called Agni, as a Divine principle of any of these traditions. It may therefore contain keys to the inner meaning of this ancient tradition of fire and light. Hymns to the Mystic Fire consists of nearly all the fire hymns or hymns to Agni from the Rig Veda translated into a deeply poetic English. It brings us into direct contact with that inner fire at the core of our being and of our spiritual search. Perhaps more importantly, the book is the product not of any mere scholar or comparative mythologist, but of the great yogi Sri Aurobindo, one of modern India's most famous gurus and seers, and an important focus of his special transformative inner Yoga. For those looking to understand the ancient fire religion of humanity, and our ancient spiritual legacy based upon it, there remains no better book than Hymns to the Mystic Fire.

The book contains the Sanskrit of the Vedic fire hymns, Sri Aurobindo's translation and his notes and interpretations which bring these ancient mantras alive and make them relevant to our own inner quest. Whether one is a poet, a yogi, interested in ancient history or just sensing a greater spiritual past to humanity, the book is a masterpiece worthy of long study and meditation. Hymns to the Mystic Fire is not a complete translation of the Rig Veda. It contains only about a quarter of the hymns, those to Agni or fire. But it remains the best translation of the Rig Veda that we have in print, at least from a yogic perspective.

It is far better than academic translations that tend to be superficial and literal and are unaware of the spiritual depth power of the ancient mantras. As someone who has been reading the Rig Veda in the original Sanskrit for more than thirty-five years, and has written extensively on the Vedas both in India and the West, I still consider Hymns to the Mystic Fire to be the best book for those who want to study the hymns of the Rig Veda. It shows us how the ancient seers viewed Yoga and Yoga's origin in the sacred fire of our hearts.

Vedic Symbolism Keys to the Vedic Yoga, May 5, 2007 By David Frawley (Santa Fe, NM) - See all my reviews

Vedic Symbolism is an important compendium of the main terms and primary ideas behind the Rig Veda, India's oldest teaching and the source book for all Vedic and Vedantic knowledge. The book contains translations from several important Vedic hymns as well. Vedic Symbolism is especially valuable for those seeking to explore the older Vedic Yoga and its understanding of the powers of the cosmic mind.

As a Vedic scholar of many years myself, I find it to be a good reference work to keep close at hand. The book is based upon the work of Sri Aurobindo, one of modern India's greatest Yogis, who examined the Vedas in great detail in his many published writings. M.P. Pandit, one of his chief disciples, has compiled key information from Aurobindo's approach, presenting the essence of Sri Aurobindo's Vedic views in this particular work. Will definitely provide you a deeper vision of the Vedas.

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