Commentary on the first verse of the Rig Veda

THE holy Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world, begins with the following verse :

“ O Agni, I adore thee !

Thou art the benefactor of all.

The chief priest, a repository of gems …”

Thinkers in search of a universal law governing human conduct, explore the avenues of nature, delve into the psychic mysteries of man and exercise their imaginative faculty to the full. Quack idealists like Marx and Engels, founders of social institutions, religious prophets, wise sages and psychic humbugs all predict that an Eldorado will be created as a consequence of the practice of their ideology.

The common factor in all their ideals is universal benevolence, which means a society in which man lives peacefully with his brother man, untroubled by the thorns of enmity and disharmony. The Chinese sages Yo and Shun do not advocate revolution as a means to this end, but according to them the Eldorado may be achieved through the practice of virtue. Sincerity, loyalty, benevolence, courage and filial piety constitute the way to human happiness, says Confucius.

Let us examine briefly the creed and programme of revolutionists. A revolution is planned for the wellbeing and success of a minority, if necessary at the sacrifice, ruthless and cruel, of millions. The instigators of a revolution are neither humanists nor universalists. Take the case of a man who is ill. A quack doctor advises the amputation of both arms and the slashing off of the nose and ears to cure him. The doctor is merely a rude theorist.

He has never practised his method on anybody, with any measure of success or failure. If it happens that the patient is cured, he is as good as dead. If he is not cured, then he is many times worse off than before. Such is revolution. The followers of Marx and Engels advocate the slaughter of a vast number of members of society in the hope of establishing a communist state. The basis of the law of their criminal jurisprudence is—it does not matter immensely if innocent men are punished.

According to the Vedic dictum, the whole of humanity is an organic being called Fir at. You cannot do any good to humanity unless it is universal good. A wise doctor treats the constitution of the patient, and not a particular organ. There is a beautiful hymn in the holy Rig Veda in which humanity is treated as one mighty soul {purusha).

‘ In our times Herbert Spencer has taken great pains to show the organic condition of a State.

That humanity is governed by a benevolent Ruler is suggested in this verse from the Rig Veda. Max Muller, Monier Williams and others translate lAgni ’ as ‘ the fire deity ’; but to understand the true import of the holy and most ancient verse, one has to go to the seers of the Aryan days.

The Acharyas translate ‘Agni ’ as ‘ the shining, ever-luminous Atman ’, or ‘ the Universal Self ’.

“ We adore the Self-luminous One.” By reverence, love and service of the indwelling Lord in all beings we comprehend the Truth, and in no other way. Romain Rolland has rightly remarked that to know a person you have to make a loving approach to him. Paramahansa Rama Tirtha says that it is the key of intellectual love and active benevolence to a person, that opens the chamber of the integral beauties of that person.

The Supreme Spirit (Purochit) is said to be benevolent. The expression of the Absolute as Virat and Hiranyagarbha is traceable to the will to serve. Though not wholly correct, the Hegelian idea that the Absolute is realising Himself in the relative has some beauty in it. In the highest state of spiritual unfoldment, nobody remains a stranger. As the rivers, with their variegated deposits falling into the sea, all become the sea, so all beings, who through reverence, love and benevolence understand the secret of nature, become identified with the substratum. Thus adored, the Lord opens His treasury of gems to human beings. These are not physical gems. They are the complete liberation from all illusions, the state called ‘ Shanti ’ (Peace) and the ever-bubbling fountain of moral and intellectual love for all that exists.

Those who have noticed the first warblings of the birds at early dawn, will have found that the song is begun by an individual bird, followed by a chorus of thousands. Similarly a few emancipated beings pave the way for the emancipation of millions. Jesus preached to a few fishermen and to-day His followers are preaching His gospel throughout the world. This is the way to universal good set forth in this holy verse. In the Devi Bhagwat Purana, an Asura (demon) is mentioned, every drop of whose blood was transformed into a thousand asuras. Know for certain that every sankalpa (idea) of a man who has drowned his separative identity in universal consciousness will gather momentum as it travels and create aspirants to God-head.

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