How Vyasa conveys Truth through RigVedic Signifiers and structure-architecture by Indrajit Bandyopadhyay SignUp
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How Vyasa conveys Truth through RigVedic Signifiers and structure-architecture
by Indrajit Bandyopadhyay Bookmark and Share

Krshnadvaipayana [1] is the Acarya of Vedic-Hinduism. He collected-collated-editted and arranged the Vedas (ca. 2nd cent. 4th millennium BCE [2]) and came to be known as Vyasa (literally, ‘diameter’, implying splitter of static circle). Owing to him, later Shakalya Shakha (c. 800 BCE) and other Shakhas, and Katyayana’s Sarvanukramani (c. 2nd cent. BCE) [3], which records every detailed aspect of RigVeda, that we know the Vedas as text. Vyasa’s importance in Dharma has been acknowledged by Gautama Buddha [4] and Mahavira.[5].

Importance of Vyasa by that very name suggests, the structure-architecture or Form of Vedas is as important as the Content, that is, Vedas = Form-Signifier + Content-Signified; and Form-Signifier is not < Content-Signified; rather, Form-Signifier = Content-Signified [Since this writing is in English, I am using semiotic terms of Western thinkers.] [6]

What do I mean by RigVedic Form-Signifier and structure-architecture?

Brahma or the Truth is avanmanasagocaram [7]. Form-Signifier means how the Truth is expressed, and is audible, visible (as text) and transmitted involving 3 sense organs: Jihva (Vac), Karna (ear), and Eye. Vyasa’s structure-architecture is the Dharma of Vedas – that holds (√dhr) the Vedas through Form-Signifier and Content-Signified.

The Form-Signifier (Nama-Rupa) consists of –

i. Vyasa’s giving structure-architecture to hold the orally transmitted Mantras into a text and his choice of the Mantras for -

a. Dividing his collections into two – RigVeda (what are Samaveda and Atharva Veda were included in that corpus) and Yajurveda. ‘Vyasa’ suggests division of a Circle into two; that’s the reason of my inference that the original division was two

b. Further sub-dividing RigVeda into RigVeda, Samaveda and Atharva Veda [8]

c. Later sub-divisions (not by Vyasa) into Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad/Vedanta, though they are overlapping, and no clear demarcation is possible [9}

d. Arrangement of Mantras into Suktas (number of Rks in an Sukta etc), and arrangement of Suktas into Mandalas; also arranging the Suktas in pattern within a Mandala (to Agni first, then to Indra, and then to other Devatas) – giving a Chanda to all

ii. Form-Signifier of the Mantras means –

a. The language (Sanskrit), diction and etymology [Dhatu or Root is the Dharma of a word that holds (√dhr) diction; Nirukta or etymology decodes diction]

b. The etymology of name of Rshis and Rshikas, Devatas and Chandas -

1. Names of Rshis/ Rshikas of the Rks and Suktas (seen or composed by whom – the individual and the coding in the name)

2. Devata or Devatas of the Suktas (that is, to whom addressed or who invoked)

3. Chandas or metres of the Suktas and their Rks (- the Dharma of an Rk or Sukta, that holds the Rk and Sukta)

Now, what is Truth? What Truth is coded in Vedas thus? What Truth is conveyed?

Reality is part-aspect of Truth; it is also hypothetical and individualistic because reality is always filtered through individual consciousness. So -

i. Reality or sense of reality is an assumption; it is Subjective Perception or Subjective Reality assumed to be Objective Reality.[10]

ii. Brain-Mind cannot function without forming Concept-Image, and when those concepts or images are selectively arranged in a preferred narrative, Grand Narrative is formed.[11]

iii. Individual Mind-Brain-Heart always operates through Belief System – the belief that ‘My subjective perception is reality out there or Truth.’ None can be beyond belief system. Astika and Nastika all have belief systems. The Nastika may deny the Astikya’s belief system, however, since his own belief system exists, he is Astika.

iv. To be Adhyatmika or spiritual is to be Nirapeksha; impartial to all belief systems even own’s, the capacity to accept the simultaneity of all belief systems. However, ordinaria psyche has the propensity to be partial to one’s own belief system, When the self-partiality is impassioned, it results in Grand Narratives like: “I am Right, You are Wrong” or “My Path is the only Right Path” or “My Dharma-teaching is best” or “I am the best Dharma-Teacher” or “My ideology is best, better than all others’.” This is the birth of sectarianism, communalism and dogmaticism.
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v. Truth is an ever dynamic process. River is metaphor or symbol of this ever-flowing dynamism. The worship of River as Mother conveys this Truth on dynamism.

The Vedas deconstruct all such Concept-Stasis through Form-Signifier and Content-Signified so that one may go beyond partiality for one’s own subjective perception. Yet, Vedas represent different subjective perceptions in collective form, so that all religious or atheistic beliefs in the world are in models of one or many streams of that collective wisdom. The purpose of deconstruction of Concept-Stasis is to lead one to Truth – the true significance of Vedas – from text-Vedas, that is, beyond the text.

Let us see now how the structure-architecture and Form-Signifier conveys Truth.

1. Dynamism in etymology of key Signifiers

Vac connects Brahmana Guna and Shudra Guna. The Rshis expressed SHruti and Drshti through Vac which has Pada – the metrical measures of Chandas. Pada is a unique pun which denotes Foot of human beings (animals) too. The Vedas thus connects Eye, Ear, Foot and Vac and deconstructs any Concept-Stasis of Eye, Ear, Foot and Vac. While Eye, Ear, and Vac have their locale in the Head (the Brahmana, in terms of Purusha Sukta), the Foot is what a human being stands on and moves (Shudra), pointing to -

i. how Vedas connote dynamic progress [Foot, Horse and Shudra are metaphors for progress] [12], and conveys the message that true Brahmana Guna must have Shudra Guna

ii. Hereditary Varna System or later Caste-System has no Vedic sanction

All Vedic key terms- Veda, Rshi, Rta, Dharma, Sindhu, Indu, Arya – have roots or morphemes suggesting ‘dynamic movement’, suggesting that Vedas are all about Dynamism [See Note 1 below for details]

2. The 10 Mandalas and the number of Suktas in each Mandala

a. RigVeda of 10 Mandalas and 191 Suktas in each of 1st and 10th Mandala

RigVeda is arranged in 10 Mandalas. Mandala connotes “a circle, globe, orb, ring, circumference, ball, wheel” etc. Vyasa, the splitter of Circle creates another Mandala-Circle conveying the message that there is no escape from system so long Mind-Brain-Heart functions in the reality of Concept-Image. ‘Mandala’ suggests Space-Time – both abstract and concrete. Kala-Time as Cakra (symbolic weapon of major Devas), the Yugas and Kalpas, and the Rashtra-Mandala in Rajadharma [13] are extended metaphors of Mandala. The ‘10’ suggests the 10 directions, [14] implying ‘everywhere’, Knowledge-Wisdom is everywhere, free, and can be obtained from any source. Nature, environment and existence are Vedas; in this sense too, Vedas are eternal.

The first Mandala and the 10th Mandala has 191 Suktas. The first Sukta of 1st Mandala and the 1st Rk of the 191st hymn of 10th Mandala have Agni Devata, both seen by Vishvamitra – RV. 1.1 by Madhuchandasa Vaishvamitra, and RV. 10.191 by Aghamarshana Madhuchandasa or Samkalana Rshi [15] or Samvanana Angirasa.[16]

Vyasa’s structure-architecture thus envelops the RigVeda in ideology through Rshi names;

i. Vishvamitra = friendly to the World – Nature and Environment
ii. Madhuchandasa Vaishvamitra = “Honey [17] -rhythm friend of the world”
iii. Aghamarshana Madhuchandasa = “Evil-effacing forbearing honey-rhythm”

Samkalana connotes “joining or adding or holding together”. Samvanana connotes “causing mutual fondness, propitiating, subduing (especially by spell), charming, and fascination”. So, even if the Rshi’s name is different, the same ideology is expressed, filling the mind with Positive Energy – also through Agni at the beginning and end.

The beginning and end with Agni suggests that Energy envelops existence. The 1st Mandala and 10th Mandala structure the RigVeda with two protective coverings, allegorizing the necessity of structure in social life. The last 191st Sukta speaking of harmony suggests going beyond structure – from the Self to All. The equal number of hymns suggests Balance which is one key Vedic message - Balance of Purusharthas or the balance between material and spiritual life.

The ending of RigVeda with uncertainty in Rshi-name points to the Truth of Uncertainty Principle. [18]. The Vedic message: Life is always open to possibilities and probabilities; Life cannot be fixed in any script, Life is always dynamic.

The ideology at the individual level is to be balanced, being positive minded, energetic and friendly, so that one can live and let live in harmony with human beings, beings, nature and environment. The ideology at the social and Rashtriya level is harmony, coexistence, fraternity and equality. The Upanishad further clarifies: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The Whole World is One Family) (Maha Upanishad VI.71-73). The Atharva Veda says “Earth bears people of many a varied language with different Dharma as suits their dwelling” (12.1.45).

The Vedas thus sets the manifesto of Dharma and Bharatavarsha and the world as Unity in Diversity – and the Rshi sums up that message in the last Rk of RigVeda: “United be our resolve; United be our hearts; United be our spirits./ May we live together (in a nation) in unity and brotherhood” [19] That is Dharma.

b. Another arrangement is 8 Ashtakas

The 10 Mandala structure was later structured as eight ashtakas to deconstruct Concept-Stasis of 10 Mandalas. The Ashtaka division has eight adhyayas, each adhyaya has thirty-three vargas, and each varga has five verses. The "8" (Ashtaka) symbolizes:

i. the "8" Gotra-pravarttaka Rshis – Vashishtha, Kashyapa, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni (BhRigu), Bharadvaja, Atri and Agastya – known as the eight pravarar?s?is – who are also the composers of Vedas [20]; the Rshis represent All humanity

ii. The Ashta-Dikpalas: Indra, Varuna, Kubera, Yama, Agni, Nirrti, Vayu, Ishana. They represent ‘everywhere’ or Space-Time. Yajnavalka explains in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad how "8" symbolizes Nature, Environment and Life

iii. "8" symbolizes Vac-Sarasvati, Gayatri/ Savitri, and Purusha, [21] (and later Krshna [22]

iv. The last Sukta of RigVeda, RV. 10.191, a benediction litany for the samana “unity” (10.191.1-4), repeats and invokes samana eight times (10.191.3-4)

The symbolism of "8" and “33” has thereafter influenced world [23] and Bharatiya civilization greatly. For example, Mahabharata is composed primarily in Anushtup Chanda with 8888 syllabic structure (93% in present-Text) [24]. Its original version, the Jaya or Bharata, had 24000 Shlokas (3x800, resembling Gayatri of 8 syllables in each line and total 24 syllables) with 8808 Vyasa-Kutas. [25]

Panini (anywhere between 1000 BCE to 450 BCE) [26] composed Ashtadhyayi (8 chapters). The Sangam literature (Tamil: canka ilakkiyam) historically known as 'the poetry of the noble ones' (Tamil: Cantor ceyyul) has the Ettuttokai ("Eight Collections") [100 BCE to 250 CE [27]] with the following poems: Ainkurunuru, Akananuru, Purananuru, Kalittokai, Kuruntokai, Narrinai, Paripatal, Patirruppattu.

In the Sanauli (1900 BCE) excavation in Uttara Pradesh by ASI in 2018, "8" burials have been found, and one royal coffin had a decorated lid with "8" anthropomorphic figures such as headgear, and pipal leaf, pointing to their connection with the Vedas.

Gautama Buddha too regarded Gayatri as the chief of Chandas. He adopted this Mystic Number "8" in his Ashtangika Marga which he ascribed to the Rshis. [28]

c. Dual arrangement of “10” and "8" significance

The Concept-Stasis of ‘10’ Mandalas and Ashtakas are mutually deconstructed to suggest Dynamism. Life must have structure, but the structure is not all. The purpose of structure is to go beyond static structure – Evolution – caraiveti [29] Similarly, Mahabharata, the ‘Vedan Pancaman’ (1.57.74), symbolizes this Dynamism through dual parvan structure of 100 parvans [30] and 18 parvans (present-Text). It has three titles: Jaya, Bharata, Mahabharata, suggesting liberty from Static Concept. It also deconstructs any fixed genre-identity [See- Mahabharata – Text and Textuality].

d. Allegory of Mandalas explained in Vedas

Shatapatha-Brahmana and Aitareya Aranyaka (2.2.1-2) explains the arrangement of the Mandalas as allegory of different expressions of Prana. Mandalas – Circle – representing Prana suggests the all pervasiveness of Prana or consciousness. The primacy of Prana is Vastavavadi, pragmatic. Upanishads regard Anna (Food) and Prana the Highest Gods.[31] That material is the base for Evolution is suggested in the Pancakosha Tattva.[32] It is same message as Body holds Atma, therefore, Form-Signifier = Content-Signified.

e. Rk numbers and Sukta numbers in pattern-breaking pattern

Life has rhythm and pattern; however, the pattern is not static, and there are variations. The breaking of rhythm or pattern sometimes is a rhyme of the Greater Rhythm. The rise and fall – the image of Wave (or crescent of waxing and waning Moon), together forms the rhythm of Life. The rise and fall need not be regular, that is the reality of Life.

The number of Suktas and their Rks allegorically point to the pattern-breaking pattern of Life. The Numbers of Suktas in the 10 Mandalas are: 191+ 43+62+58+87+75+104+103+114+191 = 1028

The Numbers of Rks in each Mandalas are:

2006 + 429 + 617 + 589 + 727 + 765 + 841 + 1716 + 1108 + 1754 = 10552

Scholars like Oldenberg [33] believed that various hymns or sections of hymns have at later points been interpolated into the text so that the ascending pattern of the Suktas is lost. If so, then Vyasa’s original Samhitas suggested Evolution in that arrangement.

Even if the hypothetical original ascending pattern is now lost, Shakalya gives us the pattern: peak-falling-rising-falling-rising-rising-rising-falling-rising. This is no less an apt metaphor for Evolution because evolution is neither Fixed Script nor Flat-Narrative.

In each Mandala, “the hymns to Agni come first, followed by those to Indra. After these collections are the hymns to other deities, generally arranged by the decreasing number of hymns to each deity within the mandala. Within each deity collection the hymns are arranged by their length, beginning with the longest hymns. If two hymns are of equal length, they are ordered according to meter, with the hymns in longer meters placed before those in shorter meters.” (Brereton & Jamison)

The Structure gives the Image of successive inverse pyramids – Shakti symbol – gradually decreasing – an apt metaphor for the Truth of Life where life must come to a tapering end or Prana-Shakti must decrease till the Jiva dies. The successive inverse pyramids are apt metaphor for continuity of Life, and also suggests a rhythmic pattern.

f. Uncertainty in number of Suktas and different Shakhas of RigVeda

RigVeda defies Certainty which is static; thus different Shakhas of RigVeda deconstructs the Concept-Stasis of fixed number of Suktas. From Vyasa’s original Samhita to many Shakhas, it is analogy of Ishvara or Nature manifesting in various forms. RigVeda is one text of many texts, simultaneously one text and many texts. Mbh. is similar.

While Shaunaka's Carana-Vyuha lists five Shakhas - the Shakala, Bashkala, Ashvalayana, Shankhayana, and Mandukayana, there could be more Shakhas: seven according to the Atharvaveda Parishishta, and twenty-one schools according to Patanjali (ca. 150 BCE).

Together the Shakhas create the image of the inverted Tree – an imagery mystically described in Katha Upanishad: “This peepul tree with root above and branches down is eternal. That (which is its source) is certainly pure; that is Brahman and that is called immortal. On that are strung all the worlds; none passes beyond that. This verily is that (thou seekest).” [34] In the Gita, Krshna says: “They (or the wise) speak of the eternal Ashvattha tree having its origin above (in unmanifest Brahman) and its branches below (in the cosmos) whose leaves are the (Vedic) Chandas. One who understands this is a knower of the Vedas” (15.01). [35]

The Chandas are part of Form-Signifiers, which give access to the root – the Brahma. I take Krshna’s teachings as the guidance to understand the importance of Form-Signifiers.

2. The Rshis and Rshikas, the ‘being’ seers, mythological seers, and unknown seers

The Vedas have been seen by various and varied Rshis and Rshikas, conveying the message that Knowledge-Wisdom has to be collective. The sumtotal of Subjective Perceptions of different Rshis and Rshikas united through Hrdaya is the Dharma of humanity.

The Mahabharata exemplifies this through the presence of multiple Narrators and Avataras in same age. Krshna is Vishnu’s central Avatara or Amsha, however, Vyasa and Arjuna are also Narayana’s incarnation. Similarly, both Vidura and Yudhishthira are Dharma-incarnates. Other than Krshna’s Gita, there are other Gitas.

In Vedas we have Gotra affiliated Rshis (belonging to a family-line or tradition or School of Thoughts) and non-Gotra affiliated Rshis (parentage and family unknown) and we have both Rshis and Rshikas (female Rshis). Gotra affiliated Rshis suggests the value of Samskara (tradition, and value handed over and disseminated in a family, the family culture) other than merit. Non-Gotra affiliated Rshis suggest that Truth is not property of any birth-based privilege. Speaking anachronistically, any Hereditary Varna System or pedigree and claims of bloodline purity is rejected (- the ideology of Knowledge and Wisdom for all and by all). The Rshikas, of course, reject any gendered notion of knowledge-wisdom. Anachronistically speaking, patriarchy is denied, and the message is of Gender Equality.

Name of some Rshis and Rshikas are abstract, which might be proper names but symbolic too in deconstructing bipolarity of concrete and abstract. For example: Shraddha Kamayani, the seer of Shraddha Sukta (RV. 10.151). Shraddha connotes reverence, respect.

 

We have Rshis and Rshikas assuming name of animals: Matsya Sammada 8.67 (1 hymn; 21 verses) or Fish; Jaratkarna Airavata 10.76 (1 hymn; 8 verses) or Elephant or Naga; Sarama Devashuni (10.108.2,4,6,8,10,11) or Dog; Sarparajni (10.189) or Snake; Jaritari, Sarisrkva, Stambamitra, Drona are ‘Bird-Bards’ (RV. 10.142). [36]

The animal-named Rshis and Rshikas suggest a broad view that scheme of existence is not Human-Centric. Indeed, scientific knowledge has returned us this knowledge-wisdom that human being is only a species among species; the world is in fact network of beings. [And we have to re-learn this after having tampered with Nature and Environment]

The Rshis thus found human superior but not the central. This is also a valuable message for posterity on environment consciousness, that Nature is the Mother and Guru. This message is further elaborated in the Upanishadik narrative of Satyakama Jabala [37] who acquires Brahmajnana without his Guru’s verbal teachings but just being in contact with Nature and Environment. Truth or Ishvara or Nature is all for all species – the Praja. Praja connotes all Beings and not just human being.

The overall message: Vedas as ‘seeing’ of Truth is not exclusive domain of any individual person, family or gender or even human beings. Every human being and Being has free access to Truth without intervention from any other human being.

There are mythological Rshis like Trita Aptya (10.1–7) and Trishiras Tvashtra (“Three-Headed Son of Tvashtar”) (10.8–9). It suggests that tradition is more important than individual merit, and individual merit is indebted to tradition. It also suggests that individuals should be self-effacing in pursuit of Truth.

2.1. Indetermined Rshi name

There are Suktas where the name of the seer Rshi is indetermined, and at least two different names are remembered in tradition. For example: 5.15 (Angira Apatya Rshi or Dharuna Angirasa); 6.15.1-18 (Vitahavya Angirasa or Bharadvaja Barhaspatya). There is Sukta with No Rshi: e.g. 8.58. The Concept-Stasis that a creation must have creator is deconstructed thus.

Remembering Roland Barthes’s (1915–1980) argument, [38] I would say, Vyasa, by incorporating Suktas with indetermined Rshi names, presages the idea of ‘author is dead’ and goes one step ahead in deconstructing the Concept-Stasis of ‘no author’ and ‘almighty text’ that post-structuralism ironically and paradoxically produces.

2.2. Joint compositions

Even in so-called Family Books or Mandalas which contain Suktas of one particular family (Mandala 2 to 8), there are Joint Compositions, that is, one Suktaseen’ by two Rshis. Sometimes the Rshis are of same family as in 9.6-24 (Asita Kashyapa, Devala Kashyapa); sometimes they are of different families. For example: 3.62 [Vishvamitra Gathina and Bhrigus Jamadagnya Bhargava (16-18)]; 5.44.10-12 (Atris and Kashyapas).

Then there are Suktas seen by multiple Rshis: e.g. 5.24 [Bandhu, Subandhu, Shrutabandhu, Viprabandhu Gaupayana, or Laupayana (non-gotra-affiliated or Kashyapas)]; 9.67 by Bharadvaja, Kashyapa, Gautama, Atri, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Vashishtha, Pabitra etc.

The messages are loud and clear:

i. Truth cannot be copyright of an individual.

ii. Truth cannot be exclusive domain of a single family; blood-line does not matter. No privilege by birth or heredity exists in seeking and accessing Truth.

iii. Seeking Truth is cooperative venture

2.3. Deconstruction of the concept of blood-line ‘purity’ and Vedic liberality

Further, one Rshi-family hails the progenitor of another Rshi-family as their progenitor too. The RigVeda gives us unique picture of Shraddha - reverence and acceptance, and also deconstruct any notion of bloodline purity. For example:

1. Rshi Shakti-Putra Parashara (Vashishtha) regards Angiras as his forefather (“our sires”), and at the 4th Rk of same hymn, Parashara identifies himself with Bhrigu [39]

2. Rshi Vashishtha Maitra-Varuni regards Angiras as their father [40]

3. Rshi Nabhaka Kanva regards Angiras and Mandhata as his forefather [41]

4. Rshi Yama Vaivasvata (of BhRigu) regards “Angirases, Navagvas, Atharvans, Bhrigus” as their fathers who deserve Soma. [42]

5. Rshi Shankha Yamayana (Bhrigu) regards Vashishtha as his ‘ancient father.’ [43]

2.4. Rshi names as coded message on Prana or as metaphors for Prana

Similar to the allegorical explanation of the arrangement of the Mandalas, the names of Rshis have been explained as different expressions of Prana in the Aitareya Aranyaka (2.2.1-2). These explanations show that name of Rshis are metaphorical too and the Vedas’ central message is primacy of all-pervading Prana.

2.5. Further deconstruction of Social Identity of Gotra

The Rshi of Mandala-II, Grtsamada Shaunaka previously was Grtsamada Shunahotra as descendant of Shunahotra Angiras, that is, previously he was Angiras, and later became Bhrigu. Gotra was not just blood-line identity but the identity of one’s choice or alignment. One could take one’s Guru’s Gotra.

3. The Devatas of the Suktas

Devata is concept-image or idol. Devata is divine because human psyche cannot function without concept-image; therefore, concept-image is the law that rules the mind. The Devatas of the Suktas recognize this psychological reality. The Vedic philosophy is realization of One God (ekam sad) [44] but without pretension and false claim that human psyche is capable of realizing One God through concept-image or language-discourse.

The Concept-Stasis of One God (Nirakara Ishvara) is deconstructed through different and varied Devatas of the Suktas and Rks. The Concept-Stasis of Devatas of human form (Sakara) like Indra, Agni, Varuna etc, is deconstructed by deified human being (e.g. Angiras or Brhaspati or Vashishtha and his sons or Yajamana and Patni); the Concept-Stasis of human form is deconstructed by nature Devatas like Night, Forest and Water; that Concept-Stasis is again deconstructed by abstract Devatas like Jnana, SHraddha, Dana, Dakshina etc; and all Concept-Stasis are mutually deconstructed by Devatas like King, and materials like Soma press-stones, weapons of war, Dice, and animals like Frog and Dog, and Creation and even No Devata (8.58). Even Dead Man is Devata (10.154). The Rshis’ message: everybeing everything has value and worthiness.

Now, varied Devatas also suggest the pluralistic tendency of human heart’s devotion. This Concept-Stasis is again deconstructed through Suktas without Devatas: e.g. the Apri-Suktas which are special invocations spoken previous to the offering of oblations. [45] There are sometimes multiple Devatas in one single Suktadeconstructing the pattern of one-Devata-one-Sukta. For example, Rshi Medhatithi Kanva’s 1.22 [Rk nos. in brackets]: Ashvins (1–4), Savitar (5–8), Agni (9–10), Gods (11), Indrani, Varunani, Agnayi (12), Heaven and Earth (13–14), Earth (15), Vishnu or Gods (16), Vishnu (17–21)

Deconstruction of Concept-Stasis of clear identity of a Devata and uncertainty operate simultaneously; e.g. Devata of 1.24.9 is either Prajapati Harishcandra or the Soma-Pressing Hide. Even the same Rk 23 of Sukta 1.23 has both Water (23ab) and Agni (23cd)

Thus the Veda sanctions devotion to anything imagined or non-imagined, believed or not believed, conceived or not conceived, abstract or concrete. The one universal message is that, the human heart has to have devotion, feelings of worship, or dedication for Ishvara, or any Devata or any person or any abstract or material or ideology.

The Devatas thus represent every imaginable concept-image and Concept-Stasis. Vyasa collated Suktas with varied Devatas to convey the message of Continuous-Deconstruction of Static Concepts-Images.

4. The Chandas

The Vedic metres are as varied as: Gayatri, Ushnih, Anushtubh, Brhati, Pankti, Trishtubh, Jagati, Viraj, and Kakubh. [46] Even this fixed entity is deconstructed in that there are several varieties to each Chanda. For example: The seven Rks in RV. 10.132 [Devatas: Mitra and Varuna] by Rshi Shakaputa Narmedha have Chandas: nyankusarini 1, prastarapankti 2, 6, viradrupa 3–5, mahasatobrrhati 7

RV. 10.136 [Devata: Kesi?ns “Long-Haired Ones”] by Rshi Vatarashana’s seven sons (Juti 1, Vatajuti 2, Viprajuti 3, Vr?shanaka 4, Karikrata 5, Etasha 6, Rshyashrrnga 7) is in Anushtup Chanda. Multiple Rshis of same family but in same Chanda shows harmony in family.

The very next Sukta 10.137 [Devata: All Gods] by different Rshis [Bharadvaja 1, Kashyapa 2, Gotama 3, Atri 4, Vishvamitra 5, Jamadagni 6, Vasishtha 7] of different Rshi-families but in same Anushtup Chanda shows harmony of different families.

Vyasa’s placement of 136 and 137 is remarkable. The Vedic messages in Chandas:

i. Life has its rhythms

ii. Life’s rhythms are multiple and with variety

iii. The variety and various rhythms coexist in Life [life is not Flat-Narrative]

iv. Multiple Chandas in an Sukta is allegory of complexity within a single Entity

v. Harmony or rhythm of Life is not individual or family specific

The Vedic message in Chandas is summed up in the last Rk (10.191.4). The benediction litany for the samana “unity” voices the allegorical message of the Chandas, further conveyed through the Rshi name: Aghamarshana Madhuchandasa (= Chanda).

5. Conclusion

The Truth revealed by the Vedas has various levels and layers depending on and relative to the ‘receiver’. The Truth manifests through the ideological and realistic goals of individual life and social life (society and Rashtra) including the famed ideologies of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and the Purusharthas.

Vedic-Hinduism does not believe in any false claim or illusion of individual-centric absolute conveyance of Truth; there is no false claim that Truth reveals only to a particular individual or prophet; there is no false claim that there can be any so-called Last Prophet. The claim of Truth in a single hand is never safe for humanity.

Most Vedic-Hindus having Shraddha for the Content-Signified do not even read the Vedas, or do not have even basic idea on the Vedas. Even if a Vedic-Hindu does not read Vedas, merely remembering the name Vyasa, remembering that Vedas are Apourusheya (impersonal, eternal, universal), and a glimpse of name of Rshis and Rshikas, Devatas and Chanda will convey the whole Truth of Vedas.

This is the uniqueness of Vyasa – which he gave to the Vedas through structure-architecture and Form-Signifier – giving us the eternal message that Dharma is the future of humanity and the world. Dharma holds when we are dynamic, when we believe in Continuous-Deconstruction of Static Concept.

NOTE-1

Vedas from √vid connotes ‘to know’ which is dynamic because there can be no end to knowledge-wisdom for a human being. Rshi is connected with both Foot and Eye. rsh connotes “to flow, flow quickly, glide, move with a quick motion, to go or move” – the Foot in Motion; and Rshi perhaps from an obsolete √rsh for √ drsh, connotes “to See” which is dynamic because there can be no end to seeing.

r means ‘movement’; Rta is the dynamic Truth; rtam is ‘to go the right way, be pious or virtuous.’ Arya stemming from √r, therefore, does not mean only a respectable or honourable or faithful man, but also dynamic person. Dharma from √dhr has the √r having that dynamism; Karma from √kr has that √r having that dynamism. Brahmana from √brh has that √r suggesting the Guna of a dynamic person who evolves.

The Vedic Civilization was Sarasvati-Sindhu centric. Now, Sindhu stems ‘probably fr. √sidh,’ ‘to go' [47] or from indu - ind = √und, 'to drop' – having same dynamic significance. [Also Indra, originally from Indha, the dynamic leader of Devas and Asuras]. If Sindhu is from Sa + Indu, it means “accompanied by / along with / having / containing Soma, Moon, Amrta, Homely Protection and Security” This seems to be the most appropriate origin of the term Sindhu, because the RigVedic Rshi regards the “sons/people of Bharata” as “Amrtasya Putra.” [48]

REFERENCES

Brereton, Joel P. & Jamison, Stephanie W. 2014 (trans.). The RigVeda: The Earliest Religious Poetry of India. Volume Set. 1-3. Oxford University Press

Dutta, Ramesh Chandra. 1885 (Reprint 1976). RigVeda Samhita (Bengali). Kolkata: Haraf Prakashani

Griffith, R. T. H. 1999 (reprint). Hymns of the RigVeda. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal

Footnotes

  1. Taittiriya Aranyaka 1.9.2 (/35); Gopatha Brahmana – 1.1.29.25; Bauddhayana Dharmasutra 2.5.9.14
  2. Traditional date
  3. All dates are tentative
  4. Gautama said in a previous incarnation he was Krshnadvaipayana Vyasa [Kanhadipayana-Jataka (No 444)]
  5. Aupapatika Sutra mentions Parashara and Kanha Dvaipayana at Verse No. 76 with great reverence. The Sutrakrtanga 1.1.4.6 and 1.3.4.3 mention Vyasa as perfect great sage
  6. Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure introduced these terms as the two main planes of a sign: signified pertains to the "plane of content," while signifier is the "plane of expression." Saussure, in his 1916 Course in General Linguistics, divides the sign into two distinct components: the signifier ('sound-image') and the signified ('concept'). "Contemporary commentators tend to describe the signifier as the form that the sign takes and the signified as the concept to which it refers."
  7. Dashakumaracarita: 2, 9, 24.0; Ashtavakragita: 2, 14.2
  8. Rich philosophic content in many Mantras of Atharva Veda shows that Atharva Veda cannot be flatly labeled as ‘book of charm, magic, spell’ etc. Similarly, many Mantras in RgVeda, mostly in the 10th Mandala, have ‘charm-like’ nature. It is a Vedic message that borderline is never clearly demarcated
  9. E.g. Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. It is Aranyaka and Upanishad, and is part of Brahmana.
  10. For example, when one sees a tree, only a part is actually seen (subjective perception or Point of View), and the rest is assumed (subjective reality); the mind thinks the part or fragment to be Whole and assumes and concludes (subjective perception), there is a Tree out there (objective reality). For example, standing before an idol in any puja festival, one’s Bhava is stimulated by the Form of the Deva or Devi seen from front. The Bhava is an assumption of the Whole (‘the whole idol is like what I see’). However, if one goes to the other side or back side, one finds straw and mud. The Bhava renders the Part as Whole.
  11. For example, the idol of Deva-Devi seen from front forms the concept-image of the Deva or Devi; and the Grand Narrative in this case is: “The Deva or Devi is like this”. So, the Grand Narrative is an assumption that suits the Subjective Perspective. That is why, the back-side of an idol is never completed. So that, if one goes to the back-side and sees straw and mud, the Grand Narrative (“The Deva or Devi is like this”) would be deconstructed and one would realize that the idol is representation of Ishvara, not Ishvara. Immersion of the idol is part of that deconstruction. The whole purpose of idol worship in Vedic-Hinduism is to convey the Vedic message of Continuous-Deconstruction of Static Concept to become Dynamic or Brahmana [√brh, “to increase, grow, expand, and evolve”]. 
  12. Evident in Horse-Imagery and the Shudra connection with horse. In Sihatapatha-Brahmana (13:3:3:1), horse’s foot is metaphor for Foot in Mantra / poetry (Anushtup and Gayatri), and horse itself is metaphor for Mantra / poetry. Horse is Vajra (Shatapatha-Brahmana – 2.1.4.16). In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (1.2.7), horse is metaphor for Body and Kala. Taittiriya Samhita equates Shudra and horse [7.1.1.5].
  13. Elaborated in Mahabharata and Kautilya’s Arthashastra
  14. North (Uttara, Udici), South (Dakshina, Avachip), East (Purva, Praci, Prak, Aruna), West (Pashcima, Pratici, Apara), Northeast (Ishanya), Southeast (Agneya), Northwest (Vayavya), Southwest (Nairrtya), Zenith (Urdhva), Nadir (Adhah)
  15. Romesh Chunder Dutt’s Bengali translation
  16. Brereton & Jamison
  17. Madhu is also Amrta – divine necter and immortality
  18. Ref. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in Quantum Physics
  19. samani va akutih samana hrdayani vah/samanam astu vo mano yatha vah susahasati; RV. 10.191.04
  20. Parashara: the original 4 Gotras were Angira, Kashyapa, Vashishthas and Bhrgu (Mbh. 12.285.17).
  21. Later identified with Krshna – Krshnastu Bhagavan Svayam.
  22. See - Mahabharata Krishna Gita In Rig Veda Mandala "8"
  23. Both the Mystic Numbers “8” and “33” were adopted by Abrahamik religions
  24. “Over 93% of the verses in the Mahabharata are Anushtup …” – according to John D. Smith
  25. Vyasa’s dense messages, or deeply coded messages difficult to understand
  26. Bamkim Candra Chattopadhyaya. 1886 [Reprint: 1983 (Bengali Year 1390)]. “Krishnacharitra, 1st Khanda 12th Pariccheda”, in Bankimchandra Rachanavali, 2nd Khanda. Kolkata: Sahitya Samsada
  27. Kamil Zvelebil (1974). Tamil Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 9–10 with footnotes.
  28. Buddha said that his Ashtangika Marga (Eightfold Path) “is the ancient path…traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. I followed that path.” [Samyutta Nikaya, 12.65, Nagara Sutta]
  29. Indra says caraiveti and then says - “Kali he becometh who lieth/ Dvapara when he riseth / Treta when he standeth erect/ And Krta when he moveth”. [Aitareya Brahmana - vii.15/ 33.3: Kalih shayano bhavati samjihanas tu Dvaparah \ uttishthams Treta bhavati Krrtam sampadyate caramsh]
  30. Mentioned in Adi Parvan of Mahabharata, but that text is not extant
  31. Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (3,9.8); Chandogya Upanishad (1,3.6).
  32. The Pancakoshas are divided in three bodies – (i) Sthula Sharira (gross body made up of physical matter) consisting of Annamaya Kosha and Pranamaya Kosha; (ii) Sukshma Sharira (the subtle body) consisting of the Manomaya Kosha and Vijnanamaya Kosha; and (iii) Karana Sharira (the causal body) consisting of the Anandamaya Kosha. [Brahmandavalli Chapter, Taittiriya Upanishad, Taittiriya Samhita, Krshna Yajurveda]
  33. Hermann Oldenberg (October 31, 1854 -March 18, 1920 in Göttingen). Prolegomena (1888)
  34. urdhvamulo avakshakha esho 'shvatthah sanatanah / tad eva shukram tad brahma tad evamrtam ucyate / tasmiml lokah shritah sarve tad u natyeti kashcana // etad vai tat // KaU_6.1 //
  35. urdhvamulam adhahshakham ashvattham prahur avyayam / chandamsi yasya parnani yas tam veda sa vedavit Bhg_15.001 [=MBh_06,037.001]
  36. In Mbh, they are also composer of an Agni hymn (1.223.6-19)
  37. Chandogya Upanishad-4.4.1-5
  38. 1967 essay "The Death of the Author" (French: La mort de l'auteur)
  39. RV. 1.71.2
  40. RV. 7.52.3
  41. RV. 8.40.12
  42. RV. 10.14.6
  43. RV. 10.15.8
  44. ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti (‘That Which Exists is One; Sages call the One by Various Names’) [Dirghatamas Aucatya: RV. 1.164.46(2)]
  45. RgVeda 1.13 (Medhatithi Kanva), 1.142 (Dirghatamas Aucathya), 1.188 (Agastya Maitravaruni), 2.3 (Grtsamada Bhargava Shaunaka), 3.4 (Vishvamitra Gathina), 5.5 (Vasushruta Atreya), 7.2 (Vasishtha Maitravaruni), 9.5 (Asita Kashyapa or Devala Kashyapa), 10.70 (Sumitra Vadhryashva), 10.110 (Jamadagni Bhargava or Rama Jamadagnya)
  46. Gayatri [syllable structure: 8 8 8. No. of verses: 2447. Examples: RgVeda 7.1.1-30, 8.2.14]; Ushnih [syllable structure: 8 8 12. No. of verses: 341. Examples: RgVeda 1.8.23-26]; Anushtubh [syllable structure: 8 8 8 8. No. of verses: 855. Examples: RgVeda 8.69.7-16, 10.136.7] ; Brhati [syllable structure: 8 8 12 8. No. of verses: 181. Examples: RgVeda 5.1.36, 3.9.1-8]; Pankti [syllable structure: 8 8 8 8 +8. No. of verses: 312. Examples: RgVeda 1.80-82]; Trishtubh [syllable structure: 11 11 11 11. No. of verses: 4253. Examples: RgVeda 4.50.4, 7.3.1-12]; Jagati [syllable structure: 12 12 12 12. No. of verses: 1318. Examples: RgVeda 1.51.13, 9.110.4-12]; Viraj [syllable structure: 10 10 10 10]; Kakubh
  47. Monier-Williams
  48. Amrtasya Putra (RV- 10.13.1c) – Rshi Vivasvan Aditya – hymn to Havirdhana
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19-Jun-2021
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