Updating the Vedic Altar – 2

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
September 17, 2011

My intention with this series is to offer broad guidelines that can disclose something of the superior quality of the Vedic conceptualisation in ways that perhaps had not been fully appreciated earlier. However, this would not be possible if we did not have a contemporary model of the same quality and intent at our disposal. We would not be able to appreciate exactly in what way the Rishi stood above the Godman and woman of today. For we do acknowledge the Vedic Rishis to have been outstanding, even in a civilisation that has produced some of the most brilliant spiritual personalities the Earth has known. There have been men and women of wisdom and spiritual accomplishments in all the different branches of Indian Yoga down the ages. Each one has added a special piece to the mosaic that constitutes the spiritual universe of Bharat. And yet, even with this proliferation and abundance, the Rishis continue to soar high above them all; Hinduism continues to honour them by acknowledging that whatever followed the Vedic Age has arisen out of the seeds that were planted in the rich and fertile soil of the consciousness of the Vedic Rishis. Intriguingly, this honour is conceded even though little is understood of their greatest achievements. For example, the Rig Veda remains a sealed book today; its secrets are yet hidden. Therefore, how and why is it that they continue to retain such pre-eminence?
It might be argued that every religion can trace its origin and inspiration to an outstanding prophet, a divine messenger, even a Son of God. However, what distinguishes the Vedic manifestation is not the pre-eminence of a single Rishi and his gospel but its eternal character, a quality – sanatana – that has come to describe the Dharma in a very specific way. What is implied is an in-built capacity to replenish the original soil, to periodically allow for a renewal but ever connected to that original source. This mechanism permits the original ‘seed’, to absorb and nourish itself on elements from whatever soil it encounters in the course of time so as to enhance those original components without any loss of essence. Rather, an enrichment occurs, provided the mechanism established at the origin is maintained.
This acknowledged fluidity is the reason why Hinduism does not fit into the category of religion, though often it is bracketed with what have come to be known as orthodox or exclusivist religions dating from the Age of Pisces. This renewal mechanism of Hinduism is not found in the more recent religions though it is very clearly defined in Hinduism by the periodic appearances of Vishnu’s Avatars. This tradition is supported by the nation’s two Epics which continue to influence the culture in many ways.
Problems arise, however, when the cosmic connection is lost, as is the case today. Then the mechanism of Avatarhood is also lost sight of because it is rooted in the cosmic harmony. The safeguard is that the Appearance is determined by that Harmony itself; that is, Time itself, whose periods arise in the cosmic surround, explains the phenomenon and determines the time of the descent as well. Similarly, if, as stated earlier, the key to Time and Cosmos is lost, the ability to recognise the Avatar and to read his credentials in the cosmic harmony is also lost, along with the reason and necessity for the Appearance, the particular evolutionary task that each of the Ten is meant to fulfil. The result is then a proliferation of ‘avatars’, none of whom can seriously lay claim to the title because none possess the required cosmic credentials.
Sri Aurobindo referred to the Dasavataras as a ‘parable of evolution’. Within the context of the evolution as a progressive unfolding, the last three complete the round consisting of 25,920 years, bringing us to our times. I call them Evolutionary Avatars because each one adds a further stage in the development of the species. This process is mapped out in the cosmic harmony very clearly. It is our good fortune that the phenomenon was understood and preserved for humanity by the Vedic Rishis so that when a time of ‘darkening’ would come to pass that sacred Script would be available, indicating when the veils would be lifted by the appearance of the next in line.
This ‘darkening’ is the definition of the Kaliyuga, the interim Age of Darkness. In the myths it is described as a period when evil suppresses the good, when the cosmic order as expressed in the caste system, for example, lies in disarray, when Ignorance is widespread and Knowledge retreats. These numerous portents simply indicate a plunge into chaos in lieu of cosmos, a degeneration of the natural order which the Avatar is meant to set right. We can all agree that in many ways this is precisely the state of affairs today. But perhaps unrecognised is the root of the disarray which lies in the lost keys of higher knowledge, since to do so would mean the ability to follow the link from the present into a very distant past; more specifically, as in the case of a civilisation such as the Vedic, the key precisely to that mechanism of renewal – the periodic descent of the Vishnu Avatars – without which the Dharma cannot be eternal and would ultimately perish.

It has been argued that the avataric phenomenon is of later vintage and belongs to the Puranic Age. The reason for this misconception is the best indication we have of the lost key to the mechanism, a key of higher knowledge that is found in the Rig Veda itself. But surely one thing we can all agree on: the Rig Veda remains largely incomprehensible. Therefore, in order to lift the veils for a glimpse into the ancient psyche, the only method is to reveal in the present the very same high quality of knowledge now updated, but not for that lacking in essentials. My point is that we cannot comprehend the accomplishments of the Ancients by diligently scrutinising whatever remains available to us of their legacy. This also describes the difficulty historians face in their attempts to reconstruct the past; up to a certain point it is possible to do so adequately – that is, when it is more recent history. But when we are dealing with a past so distant that the extant document or monument reflects a very different system of knowledge and emphasis than what we possess today, the problem is compounded. Our civilisation is a distant relative of the former, particularly since the advent of science and technology which are largely functional and hence lacking in a foundation of unity so prominent a feature of the consciousness of the ancient seers. But Hinduism solves the problem by the periodic appearances of the Vishnu Avatars for the purpose of re-establishing the Dharma in its essentials, while re-invigorating it by the present play of circumstances at the service of the original revelation. We will be able to appreciate how this has come about when we examine in detail the contemporary vedi.
Since this mechanism is the most important feature of the Dharma, naturally in times of a prevailing darkness it will be the element that is attacked. It cannot be eliminated because of the unbroken link to the civilisation’s Vedic origins wherein it is firmly rooted. But it can be distorted. The Seeing Eye is slowly rendered ‘out of focus’ as it were. One observes the heavenly display as the Rishi did, but without the same realisation the ability to bring the cosmos into focus is significantly handicapped. Bit by bit the ‘lens’ is made less sharp, less able to define and to set each thing in its place within the cosmic order. Confusion then is seen to abound and there appears to be no solution to an increasing weakness and disintegration.
Hinduism explains the development and provides the seeker with a vast array of ‘helpers’ to not only understand the problem but to find the solution. For example, there is Mahasaraswati, the Goddess of learning, of perfection in detail, of science. She, more than any other, embodies the capacity to ‘put each thing in its place’ as the times demand, thereby ‘focusing the lens’.
Thus, the Avatar has helpers to carry out his mission, especially in the form of shaktis who engage in the re-establishment of the Dharma along with him. The feminine component is especially important given the nature of the operation which is Earth-bound – i.e. material, as the root of the word explains: from mater, mother. Indeed, we find that the Gods are always accompanied by consorts in the myths, sometimes more than one. In our times the Avatar did require the same collaboration in order to bring the cosmic harmony into focus and thereby to unveil his cosmic credentials which in themselves are the mechanism of renewal. The updated vedi I am discussing in this series will make the process clear. At the same time, it will demonstrate non-speculatively how Equivalency operates today as it had done millennia ago.

The objective of this series is not to enter into a detailed exposition of the avataric appearance of our times. I have done so elsewhere and need not repeat the exercise for the present purpose to be served. If the reader is interested in learning the intricacies of the ‘science’ behind the avataric tradition, copious details are available in my various publications on the subject of the new cosmology (see The Gnostic Circle, The New Way 1-3, and more recently Secrets of the Earth, Aeon Books). But it ought to be noted that while this cosmology can be called ‘science’, it is vastly different from our contemporary brand primarily because of the purpose it serves and also its uniqueness as being founded on what perforce must be called absolute truth. Having had its origin in a consciousness of unity, this ‘science’ is able to re-establish that core-truth throughout the ages ceaselessly, to build on that original foundation without experiencing any severance.
Science of today does not enjoy the same eternal quality. In fact, it would be blasphemous to appropriate a label such as absoluteness to itself. However, the absolute truths of the ancient way lie in their emergence from a consciousness of unity enjoyed by the ancient sages that could produce ‘seeds’ as it were; and by a superior knowledge of Time and Cosmos, those ‘seeds’ would flourish throughout the ages, faithful always to the original essence. It could not have been otherwise given the contents of the ‘seeds’ from which the entire destiny of Hinduism has evolved. Regarding our contemporary science, we are constantly required to discard former hypotheses in favour of new discoveries. It is thus a development of a linear order, moving from less to more, unlike the process the Rishi engaged in which was to start from an initial wholeness, allowing for the parts to unfold by the aid of Time. Therefore an understanding of the mechanics of Time and Circumstance and a cosmic model to serve this purpose were required. This Knowledge came through a realisation of Oneness and evolved into the system of Equivalency which is the hallmark of the Vedic Way. The updating I am undertaking will demonstrate empirically how this unfolding takes place by the aid of Time, and how the earlier vision is enhanced by the circumstances our new age offers.

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