September 20, 2018

Truth, Beauty, Delight, Life, and the Spirit

The First Hymn of Rishi Vāmadeva
Rig Veda Mandal IV Sukta 1
By RY Deshpande_Part-1


The fourth Mandala of Rig Veda essentially coming from Rishi Vamadeva is a masterpiece in the Vedic literature. It has 58 Hymns with 589 verses. The first 15 Hymns are devoted to Agni. For our present study we have picked up the opening one. It has all the necessary elements of Vedic thought, symbolism, esotericism, spirituality, Vedic aims and goals and, of course, all the rich elements of the Vedic poetry. It is felt that study of this Hymn itself should prove quite rewarding to get into the spirit of Vedic compositions.

What a delightful thing the Gods have done for the mortal! They sent Agni inwards, the most welcome Guest, विश्वेषाम्अतिथिःमानुषाणाम्, he the Immortal in us the mortal, अमर्त्यंयजतमर्त्येषु. Because of him begins our journey to the World of Truth-Bliss-Immortality.

Yes, this is poetry whose soul is essentially the soul of Truth-Light, Truth-Light with Truth-Joy and Truth-Force accompanying it. It is the Truth which speaks of the Truth, speaks in the language of metrical or rhythmic Sound and the Truth that sees things with the quickness of theseeing Eye. The utterance is in the company of the Gods of Truth-Right-Vast, सत्यम्-ऋतम्-बृहत्, even as the Gods speak to us in that language.

But in the urging poetry there should also enter in not only the Gods of the Truth-Right-Vast; there should also be the supreme Gods of Mind and the Gods of Life and the Gods of Matter. There is the Beauty of form, there is sensuous beauty, there is imaginative beauty, there is intellectual beauty, there is the ideal beauty; there is the psychic beauty, of love and joy and lilt; there is the beauty of the spirit in its vastness, in its calm, in its splendour and glow, of oneness; there is the beauty of the form as much as there is the beauty of the formless. Beauty is there everywhere, and it is that we must express.

The Gods of Life-Force give dynamism to the Spirit’s expression, its Power and Strength working in it. Even so do the Gods of the mental world bring another dimension of Wisdom into play. There should be through poetry the manifestation not only of the Gods of Heaven but also of these Gods, the Gods of Beauty, of ennobling Dynamism, of Thought leaping to Intuition and Knowledge. The art of poetry should open itself to it.

In the thoughtful profundity of poetry and in the intensity of its inspiration there have to be aglow the five suns of poetry, the Suns of Truth, Beauty, Delight, Life, and Spirit.

This is the aspect of Rig-Vedic ArsPoetica, the Art of Poetry, which goes far beyond Horace stressing only the aspect of Art; there cannot be Art for the sake of Art only. Horace is perhaps unaware the power of Inspiration. He stipulates for a poem “unity secured by harmony and proportion, and having a wise choice of subject and good diction. Metre and style must be appropriate to theme and to character.” But the Vedic theory has an altogether different view. There is the Chhanda, छंद, metre, in the world of Truth-Rhythm, eternal and dynamic, in the movement of the Truth, ऋतम्. There is Gāyatri of Gāyatri, and Anushtubha of Anushtubha, and Hexameter of Hexameter, and it is that which must come through our expression. It is the Inspiration that brings with it the Art. This is the Vedic foundation of the Æsthetic Theory of Art. Nor is it just Art for the sake of expression of the Truth, it is Truth with the tremendous impulsion to let itself go in the forms of Beauty, Truth and Beauty in the rhythms and movements of Joy, of Bliss, of Ananda, they bringing with them greatnesses of Knowledge and Power and Feelings and Thoughts, bringing in the abundances of the revealing Spirit, they aglow in the Suns of Poetry.

Can it come back? But maybe it is a far cry, appears to be a far cry in today’s milieu. But the aspiring spirit of art, the aspiring spirit of man, of this creature, is not going to remain quiet, is not going to rest where he is. There is the looking for something in that Vedic direction, something beyond the mere mental; but it is not yet able to figure out how to achieve what should be achieved, something more perhaps than what the Veda did. There are white gods of the Veda who from below ascend to heaven; there have to be the gods who in their shining speeds rush towards the earth and bring their strength to her.

Vedic Gods, and immortality, and the home of Truth, and the movements in the measures of the truth-metres, — that is high and noble and very Aryan. It is gloriously Aryan. But there is Life, there is the beauty of form, there is the divine thought and wisdom, there is the dark ocean, and the dark Woman waiting to find her divine meaning and divine significance and divine prospects. There are the powers of the Spirit that have not yet entered into the working of the terrestrial scheme, have not yet into our speech; but these must, these must. The Veda has brought to our world of mortality strength and light that is full of Truth, that is full of Wideness, that is flaming with the fire of Agni, and is in possession of the wisdom of Varuna. That is extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary at the very dawning of the soul-seeking, truth-seeking, immortality-seeking civilisation itself. But there are other aspects, there are aspects of this material creation also, of this mortal world opening to the spirit’s thrills and raptures; these must acquire form and shape and beauty and joy and possess the power of the manifold Word, brahma, ब्रह्म, itself. Time is waiting for it to happen. Time seems to be arriving at it.

Those five suns of poetry have to blaze in the intensity of their joy, they have to shine not only in the Home of Truth, ऋतस्य्सदनम्, but must bring their light and fire to the terrestrial sky also, their beauty, their life, their delight, bring them to the world of this earth. It is that poetry which would voice the supreme harmony of five eternal powers, Truth, Beauty, Delight, Life, and the Spirit. In the words of a Vedic poet-seer, “New states come into birth, covering upon covering awaken to knowledge, till in the lap of the Mother one wholly sees.” We have to see wholly in the lap of the Mother.

Sri Aurobindo takes it forward:

Aditi, the infinite Mother, cries in the ancient Vedic hymn to Indra the divine Power now about to be born in her womb, “This is the path of old discovered again by which all the gods rose up into birth, even by that upward way shouldst thou be born in thy increase; but go not forth by this other to turn thy mother to her fall,” but if, refusing the upward way, the new spirit in process of birth replies like the god, “By that way I will not go forth, for it is hard to tread, let me come out straight on the level from thy side; I have many things to do which have not yet been done; with one I must fight and with another I must question after the Truth,” then the new age may do great things, as the last also did great things, but it will miss the highest way and end like it in a catastrophe. There is no reason why we should so limit our new birth in time… .

There an attempt will lead us in the journey to the goal — as didthe Vedic Agniof the Old, the fiery giver of the word, yuvākaviḥ, युवाकविः, priyoatithiramartyoṛtacit, प्रियोअतिथिर्अमर्त्योऋतचित्, ṛtāvā, ऋतावा, the Youth, the Seer, the beloved and immortal Guest with his honied tongue of ecstasy, the Truth-conscious, the Truth-finder, born as a flame from earth and yet the heavenly messenger of the Immortals. The Immortal is here seated in the mortal to achieve this objective. That will be the song of unrealised heavens sung by our heart and our soul.

The Rishis of the Rig Veda gave us Poetry of the Gods, of the Truth-Vast. But even as the Gods of the Heart found their expression in the Bhakti song, the Gods of the material Body, the Gods of the Life-Force, the Gods of Mind and its powers of Intuition, the Gods of the Soul of Man, the Gods of the Spirit of the Earth are waiting to find their tongue and their utterance, their language, the phrase and the idiom, full of harmonies and full of visions, multi-tonal multi-hued harmonies, great concordances, all in dynamics of the Truth-Right-Vast, सत्यम्-ऋतम्-बृहत्. The coming age should prepare itself for them to run on the tracks of the world of Transcendent Speech, परावाणी.

Goddess Vāk, वाक, Speech, travels with the Rudras and the Vasus and the Ādityas and All-Gods, and she holds aloft Varuna and Mitra, Indra and Agni, and the Aśvins:[X:125]

अहंरुद्रेभिर्वसुभिश्चराम्यहमादित्यैरुतविश्वदेवैः |

But the day is dawning when she will also travel with the Gods that have not been active this long, the Gods who have not awakened in our creation to the powers of the Spirit. We prepare ourselves to be in her company, she who gives wealth to the zealous sacrificer who pours the juice of delight and offers his oblation, keeps the Yajna kindled and ascending, ascending to newer and newer skies. She is the Queen, अहंराष्ट्रीसंगमनीवसूनां, the gatherer-up of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship. We have to become her adorers, we have to receive the boons of new expression from her, receive new Word from her, the Word speaking in the materiality of matter, in the noble vitality of the life-forces, in the possibilities of reason living in the greatness of the Word itself. With the ease of all confidence, and in the distinctness of voice, she declares:


Beyond this wide earth and beyond the heavens has this Queen of Speech become mighty, mighty in her grandeur.Let us live, and do poetry, in that grandeur of hers.

If this hurried study of the Poetry of Rig Veda has led us to these grand prospects of the future, we must say that the Queen of Speech has taken us forward.

The First Hymn of Rishi Vāmadeva
Rig Veda Mandal IV Sukta 1

by RY Deshpande (Author), Dr David Frawley (Foreword)

The Foreword says

RY Deshpande is a great Vedic scholar, prolific author, disciple and writer on Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, including how it relates to the Veda. He has taken one of the key hymns of Rishi Vamadeva that explains the mystery of the ancient seers and their spiritual origins, notably the great Angirasas, the oldest and most central of the Vedic rishi families (gotras). He studies the hymn as a point of entrance in the vast Rigvedic universe beyond the ordinary human mind and its limited perceptions.

The book addresses this monumental mantric hymn on all levels of meaning, application, chanting, symbolism and structure. Having examined the existing literature of translations and interpretations of Vedic hymns, I do not think that any such comparable detailed and comprehensive study of a single hymn of the Rigveda has been made, and certainly not from a deeper vision like that of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga.

Deshpande’s study approaches the Rigveda as a Book of Poems, primarily as a book of deep spiritual poems, a Book of Poetry, and other factors follow in the sequel afterwards. He searches out the sources from which these mantric poems originate, linking them to inspirations from the worlds of Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition, and Overmind, the spiritual planes beyond Mind, as described in Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga. He follows Sri Aurobindo in his various writings about what he calls the Overmind Æsthetics.

This poetic study by Deshpande vis-à-vis Rigveda is perhaps the first of its kind in the field. It shows that the Rigveda constitutes a much more exalted type of mantric poetry that opens the mind to higher planes of awareness far beyond the concerns of poetry in ordinary aesthetics that are largely confined to the intellect. Our inner being can follow such a mantric poetic energy towards a fundamental change of consciousness to a level of truth perception that takes us far beyond the ignorance of the world.

The attached image shows the full cover.
Indian Print
The First Hymn of Rishi Vāmadeva
Price: Rs 600/-
pp. xxiv + 416
Hard Cover, opens fully

can be had from

Savitri Foundation
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Sri Aurobindo accepts that all the 25,000 verses of veda was originally one collection, later divided into four samhitas. Some particular suktas like RV (10.70) is called ‘late’ by Sri Aurobindo.

The potential reader of your book has to have some exposure to Veda, Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri and your high class English which is beyond the pale of the most modern Indians of call-centre tradition.

SAKSHI is proud to publish the complete translation of four Vedas in 3 other Indian languages Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Its smaller books are in 7 Indian languages. We teachveda chanting to children in govt. schools in low income area houses, 3500 students in about 50 schools in Karnataka. The Veda mantra are in Kannada script with meaning. The feedback from students is very very positive.

With best regards
R.L. Kashyap