New terminology I came across, when I started going back and back in time …
Vedism (Vedic Religion), the religion of the ancient Indo-Aryan peoples who entered India about 1500 BCE from the region of present-day Iran. It takes its name from the collections of sacred texts – the Vedas. Vedism is the Oldest Stratum of religious activity in India for which there exist written materials. It was one of the major traditions that shaped Hinduism.
Ethics in the Vedas are based on the concepts of Satya and Rta pronounced Rita or Ritam). Satya is the principle of integration rooted in the Absolute, whereas ṛta is the expression of satya, which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.
In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders. Conceptually, it is closely allied to Dharma and Karma – two terms which eventually eclipsed Ṛta in importance as signifying natural, religious and moral order in later Hinduism. ‘Sacrificial’ replaced by ‘Religious’ Conformity with ṛta would enable progress whereas its violation would lead to punishment.
The Vedic religion gradually metamorphosed into the various schools of Hinduism, which further evolved into Puranic Hinduism.
The Rig Veda - There are 1028 hymns in the Rigveda, most of them dedicated to specific deities.
Deities by prominence:
List of Rigvedic deities by number of dedicated hymns.
Vishvadevas (all gods together) have been invoked 70 times.
Soma 123 (most of them in the Soma Mandala)
The Asvinis 56
The Maruts 38
Vayu (Wind) 12
The Rbhus 11
The Apris 9
Surya (Sun) 8
Dyaus and Prithivi (Heaven and Earth) 6, plus 5.84 dedicated to Earth alone
Apas (Waters) 6
Vishnu – 6 times
Rudra – 5 times
The Sarasvati River / Sarasvati 3
Parjanya (Rain) 3
Vāc (Speech) 2 (mentioned 130 times, deified e.g. in 10.125)
Kapinjala (the Heathcock, a form of Indra) 2
The period after the Vedic religion, is the formative period for Hinduism – arguably ‘The Oldest Living Religion’. This was a time when traditional religious practices and beliefs of the Vedic Religion were reassessed. Some of the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, namely karma, reincarnation and ‘personal enlightenment and transformation’, did not exist in the Vedic religion. Neither did ‘The existence of ONE God or ONE Supreme Being’.
Here I stumbled upon the White Island, The Jeweled Island and the Milky Ocean – Story of Narada & sages Nara Narayana … And it took me to various other stories. The story of the Sages Ekata, Dvita and Trita. And I stand stupefied when I read …
The Mahabharata also refers to “Atala, the White Island”, which is described as an “island of great splendour.” It continues: “The men that inhabit that island have complexions as white as the rays of the Moon and they are devoted to Narayana . . . Indeed, the denizens of White Island believe and worship only one God.” (Santi Parva, Section CCCXXXVII)‘
The Santi Parva also describes Atala as being inhabited by white men who never have to sleep or eat. (Ibid.) Interestingly enough, the Greek historian Herodotus (450 B.C.) describes a tribe of Atlanteans who “never dream and eat no living thing”. (History, Book IV) Can this be coincidence? And just as the god Poseidon is very much involved in the Atlantis story, likewise in the Sanskrit accounts we find Varuna (the Hindu Poseidon) very much involved in Atala.
In other words, Atala, the White Island is remarkably similar to Plato’s Atlantis, even down to its circular capital city, Tripura!
Laden with metaphor ! All our Puranas. Is it metaphor? That I am struggling with here?
Bhagvad Gita SECTION CCCXXXV
Narada is wondering … “Nara and Narayana, are now dwelling here engaged in penances for the object of enhancing their merit. These two are the highest refuge of the universe. What can be the nature of the daily rites these two perform? They are the sires of all creatures, and the illustrious deities of all beings. Endued with high intelligence, what is that deity whom these two worship? Who are those Pitris whom these two Pitris of all beings adore?
“Narada said, In the Vedas and the Puranas, in the Angas and the subsidiary Angas thou art sung with reverence, thou art unborn and eternal. Thou art the Creator. Thou art the mother of the universe. Thou art the embodiment of Immortality and thou art the foremost of all things. The Past and the Future, indeed, the entire universe has been established on thee! The four modes of life, O lord, having the domestic for their first, ceaselessly sacrifice to thee that art of diverse forms. Thou art the father and the mother and the eternal preceptor of the universe. We know not who is that deity or that Pitri unto whom thou art sacrificing to-day!
“The holy one said, This topic is one about which nothing should be said. It is an ancient mystery. Thy devotion to me is very great. Hence, O regenerate one, I shall discourse to thee on it agreeably to the truth. … “–that is called the in-dwelling Soul of all existent creatures. That is known by the name of Kshetrajna. Transcending the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas, that is regarded as Purusha in the scriptures.
“Even He is what we worship in all those rites that we perform in honour of the deities and the Pitris. There is no higher deity or Pitri than He. O regenerate one, He should be known as our Soul. It is him that we worship.”
This is the settled conclusion of the scriptures that these persons freed from these seven and ten attributes, (viz., the five senses of knowledge, the five senses of action, the five vital breaths, and mind and understanding), who have cast off all acts, and are divested of the five and ten elements which constitute the gross body, are said to be Emancipate. That which the Emancipate attain to as their ultimate end is called by the name of Kshetrajna. He is regarded (in the scriptures) as both possessed of and free from all the attributes. He can be apprehended by Knowledge alone. We two have sprung from Him. Knowing him in that way, we adore that eternal Soul of all things. The Vedas and all the modes of life, though characterised by divergences of opinion, all worship Him with devotion.
I have now, O Narada, discoursed to thee on what is high mystery moved by the love I bear to thee for thy devotion to me. Indeed, in consequence of that devotion which thou professest towards me, thou hast succeeded in listening to this my discourse!” – Said Narayana !
Talking of the soul within. The life within us. You & I and Life – The Purusha. And Prakriti. Not Brahma, Vishnu or Maheshwara. Or the Devi …
The universe is described by the Samkhya School as one created by the ‘purusa-prakṛti’ entities – Human & Nature infused with various permutations and combinations of variously enumerated elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind. During the state of imbalance, one of more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage, particularly of the mind. The end of this imbalance, bondage is called liberation, or kaivalya, by the Samkhya school.
Kaivalya (कैवल्य), is the ultimate goal and means “solitude”, “detachment” or “isolation”. It is the isolation of purusha from prakriti, and subsequent liberation. A fine balance – So complicated, yet so simple – “Knowing that a human is fused with the nature, Yet Separate. That is a Happy Soul, A state of Heaven, Ultimate Bliss !