David Frawley, Author of the Month for December 2008
The Vedic Literature of Ancient India and Its Many Secrets (cont.)
By David Frawley
Sri Yukteswar, guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, in his Holy Science relates the fifth and last Manu or founder of Indian civilization to a period that ended around 6700 BCE. This information is similar to what the Greeks found in India at the time of Alexander circa 300 BCE. Megasthenes in his Indika, still available in fragments, recorded a tradition of 153 kings in India going back over 6400 years, to a date around 6700 BCE. The king lists of Egypt are not as long as these.
This Vedic view of the Yugas or world ages, particularly the 24,000 Great Year, such as Yukteswar describes, is important for understanding Vedic thought and its antiquity, as well as its outlook for the future.[v] It tells us that we cannot put the Vedas in an historical time line of three thousand years as scholars would still like to do.[vi]
My Work as a Vedic Scholar and Vedic Practitioner
In my personal work, I have spent more than thirty years studying, translating and writing on the Vedas and connected Vedic sciences including Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology. I have written several books on the Vedic view of ancient history as well as translated over a hundred of the Vedic hymns. This has resulted in more than thirty books and over a hundred articles on these topics.
I learned traditional Vedic Sanskrit and have gone through the Vedic texts repeatedly in the original language with recourse to Sanskrit commentaries and the works of modern yogis like Ganapati Muni. I approached the Vedas according to an inner vision born of poetry, study of symbolism and a practice of Yoga and meditation. I received a training in the Vedic tradition itself, studying with gurus, pandits and yogis in India. For this reason my views of the Vedas can be different than those of scholars writing on the subject from training outside of the Vedic tradition and usually unaware of its views.
My views, therefore, will be from 'inside the tradition', noting also such ancient traditions still have their own voices. Hopefully, they will at least provide a good alternative to the outside the tradition and non-spiritual approach to Vedic texts which is what is usually presented in universities today. It was early on in my studies obvious to me that what we find in existing historical accounts and translations only touch the surface of the Vedic teachings.
Points of Discussion:
Vedas and Ancient Yogic and Occult Knowledge
The Vedas contain spiritual, occult and cosmic secrets that we are just beginning to become aware of. The great India based religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism may represent only later aspects of ancient enlightenment traditions that were probably more common during the Vedic era. The Vedas represent the remains of these early traditions, of which there were no doubt many more.
Vedic literature portrays an ancient solar religion of Yoga and enlightenment, such as was once common throughout the entire world. The Sun is a symbol of the higher Self, the Atman or Purusha of yogic thought. This Vedic religion of light is a religion of consciousness, which is the supreme form of light.[vii]
The Vedic teaching centers a worship of the sacred fire, called Agni, through which we can connect to the cosmic powers. It details many yajnas or 'fire sacrifices' that can help attune us to the blessings of the universe and which remain the foundation of yogic and Hindu rituals to the present day.[viii]
The Vedic teaching used special sacred plants, called Somas. These were powerful plants and plant preparation to help promote longevity, counter disease, aid in rejuvenation and help us access higher states of consciousness. Vedic doctors are mentioned in Vedic texts along with special herbs, oils (ghees), and Soma mixtures of great power.
Yet Soma was not just an outer plant but an inner practice. The Vedic science of Soma included ways of accessing our own sacred plant or inner set of energies through the spine, brain and nervous system. Indeed the original Soma was not a single plant but an entire science of inner and outer healing, with outer Soma plants having their correspondence in the inner yogic Somas of mantra, Pranayama and meditation. Such yogic Somas are more important than the plant Somas and more crucial for not only accessing but remaining in higher states of awareness.[ix]
Outer Vedic ritualistic practices mirror inner Yoga practices balancing the fire and water, Agni and Soma within us. Vedic literature contains the secrets of the practice of Yoga, including the ascending of the Kundalini-fire force and the descent of the Soma nectar that open all the chakras. The practice of Yoga itself arose from the inner Vedic sacrifice in which speech, mind and prana were offered to the immortal Divine Fire present within our own hearts.[x] Vedic deities reflect a profound psychological and spiritual symbolism relative to the practice of Yoga and meditation, not just outer ritualistic concerns.
The Vedas may hold in their mantras the keys to the yogic and shamanic secrets of ancient humanity. The Vedic rishis describe in their hymns various higher states of consciousness including Self-realization, like the great sage Vamadeva (Rig Veda IX.26.1) who proclaims "I was Manu and I am the Sun," a statement quoted in the Upanishads (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I. 4.10) relative to the realization of Brahman or the Absolute.
[v]Frawley, article, Secrets of the Yugas or World-Ages, adopted from the book Astrology of the Seers by David Frawley.
[vi]Relative to the Vedic view of the Yugas, I would agree with the views of Yukteswar who places us in the early stages of an ascending Dwapara (Bronze) age of 2400 years, which has given humanity knowledge of and control over subtle forces of electricity and nuclear energy. According to this view, we will not get out of the darker phase of this beginning cycle until around 2100 AD. This may be the topic of another discussion. Note article Keys to the Yugas or Cycles of the Ages by David Frawley.
[vii] Frawley, book Wisdom of the Ancient Seers, for a discussion of Vedic deities and their meaning.
[viii] Frawley, book Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self-realization and Planetary Transformation, for the role of Fire in ancient religions and as a cosmic symbol.
[ix] Frawley, article The Secret of the Soma Plant.
[x] Frawley, article Vedic Yoga, the Oldest Form of Yoga, note also Frawley book, Yoga, the Greater Tradition.