Updating the Vedic Altar – 9

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology
October 14, 2011

An anecdote regarding the Mother’s first meeting with Sri Aurobindo was often told in the Ashram. I was captivated by this story because of my specialised field: symbols. It involved the way the Mother confirmed that Sri Aurobindo was the master she had been seeking. When she met Sri Aurobindo in India in 1914, just before the First World War broke out, she showed him a geometric symbol and asked him to explain it to her, to decipher its meaning. When he did, the profundity of his reply convinced the Mother that he was the one. It was confirmed for her simply by his knowledge of the symbol – which, inter alia, became his own as we know it today: the two interlaced triangles, one descending, the other ascending. In Hindu symbology it is the symbol belonging to Kartikeya, Shiva’s divine Son, while the Swastika belongs to his other Son, Ganesh.
A somewhat similar story was often told by the renowned teacher I. Gurdjieff of the last century. His favourite symbol was the enneagram (below), a circle divided into 9 parts with the dividing lines arranged according to a fraction of the seven-tone scale, the musical octave (0.142857) and which he used as a teaching tool. Gurdieff held the enneagram to be the most sacred and meaningful of all such symbols, containing the profoundest esoteric knowledge. He related that if two people unknown to each other were to meet in a desert, they would know the degree of their spiritual attainments simply by what each one could explain of the enneagram’s contents.

In a sense we are doing the same with the Mother’s symbol. The knowledge it contains had never been explained in depth as I am doing in this series; nor had I done so in my earlier treatments. The focus of the present series is the Veda – more particularly the vedi. Therefore her symbol can be explained in this context in greater depth than otherwise because it is so entirely VEDIC. Likewise, any offshoot of her symbol – like the updated vedi – would also be properly understood by reference to the Veda. This correspondence allows us to reveal dimensions of the Mother’s expertise in the field of occult symbols more thoroughly than before.
Much has transpired since the Mother first designed the symbol and adopted it as her own; foremost was the Supramental Manifestation of February 29, 1956. As I explained in Part 8, it is the flowering of Supermind in our midst that permits all things ‘to be made new’, to borrow a phrase from The Revelation of St John (‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Chapter XXI). In the time of the great transformation, it is not the things in themselves that change but rather that the eye of the beholder will see as never before.
In The Revelation there is another phrase that merits attention not only because of its profound meaning but also because the same phrase occurs in the Rig Veda: A new Heaven and a new Earth (‘And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…’ Ibid). This was to characterise the Second Coming. When we read this oft-repeated phrase, most of us can imagine a new Earth easily enough, simply because we see right before us what needs to be changed to be ‘made new’. But what of ‘a new Heaven’? And yet this is the most important part of the description: without that new model of the universe, nothing can possibly change here below; for it is the heavenly vision, made new, that allows us to make all things new here and then to realise that the Earth too by extension is made new to our seeing Eye. The new understanding of the cosmos is ‘the new heaven’ of the Veda as well. The Mother’s symbol gives us this precious opportunity to ‘make all things new’, just as the Rishis had foreseen.

I will now carry the analysis of the Mother’s symbol to deeper levels. To do so we need to set it in motion. This necessary ingredient, dynamism, is added by the 3 in the Formula; and regarding her symbol itself, the Mother gave the key that would turn the lock and release its dynamism in torrents, similar to the gushing descent of the heavenly Ganga. This key was the name the Mother gave me in 1971, precisely so that her symbol could reveal its deepest secrets. The name consists of three Greek letters Θ ε α (Th-e-a) which are also the numbers 9-5-1. When applied to the Mother’s symbol of 12, they are the triad of Fire of the zodiac.
Tradition holds that the zodiac comprises four basic elements – Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Each element has three signs of the 12. Thus, the Fire element consists of Aries (1), Leo (5), and Sagittarius (9). The dynamic factor applied to the symbol reveals when the Vishnu Avatars will take birth on Earth. Logically, this can only happen in the astrological ages that ‘belong’ to Vishnu – that is, the signs of Preservation, for indeed he is the all-pervasive great Preserver. This qualification is defined in the zodiac by the trinity Creation, Preservation and Destruction which is repeated four times in the wheel of 12. They are known in astrology as Qualities – Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. When seen in their gunaic extension, they are Rajas/Sattva/Tamas, in this order; and on this basis the Mother’s symbol moves. This is the dynamism of the Divine Shakti. All things are contained in her, all things move within her being, on and on eternally into infinity, propelled by her gunas. This is the secret knowledge contained in the Mother’s symbol, and rightfully so since she is the 6 in the triadic descent of 9, 6, and 3, the embodiment of the Cosmic Mother.
To summarise, the symbol consists of those 12 ‘spokes’ of the Rig Veda, and these 12 are then divided in such a way as to make the symbol operational on Earth – that is, a division of 4 within which are 3 signs. All of this can be easily seen in the Mother’s symbol: 4 inner petals, 3 concentric circles, 12 outer ‘spokes’. Moreover, this is an example of ‘the new heaven’ because we take that cosmic vision and we apply it to Earth in such a way as to ‘make all things new’ in an eternally renewing process to become the basis for a Dharma to be Sanatana: A new Heaven and a new Earth. There can be no other factual way: the cosmic surround, the harmony that is engrained in our very cells must be seen anew. Then life on Earth can be fashioned according to that superior vision.
The Mother has granted this boon to the Earth by her own symbol and the Name. Let us now discover not only what the symbol and name reveal of the Vishnu appearances, but also why it is this very geometric design that has become the new Vedic Altar.

To apply the knowledge of the updated Vedi we may quote the Rig Veda once again for an indication of what to look for or how to read the Mother’s symbol that forms the foundation (floor plan) of the vedi. With these verses we realise that both months and years are contained in the 12. With the key to dynamism through the Name, the symbol starts to spin as the Earth does on her axis:

Certain eternal worlds…are these which have come into being,
their doors are shut to you (or opened) by the months and the years;
without effort one (world) moves in the other, and it is these that
Brahmanaspati makes manifest to knowledge. (RV, II.24.5.)

Note that the Rishi sings only of Months and Years. Certainly this small, apparently insignificant detail has been overlooked when seeking to understand the verse’s content; but, as I will point out, the answer as to whether or not the ancients knew of the Precession of the Equinoxes, lies in these very lines. Moreover, it is clear from this stanza that months and years were the means to enter the 12 ‘worlds’ described in the verse. I have discussed this in great detail elsewhere and need not repeat the explanation in this series; the Rishi, in fact, instructs the aspirant to find the correct key, the harmony of gnostic time by which he or she can enter those worlds – so intimate a part of Earth life insofar as they ‘open’ before Earth’s inhabitants each month in the planet’s annual rotation of the Sun. These worlds, our Earth’s months, constitute the stages within the Vedic Journey that must be traversed and which are within the grasp of every human being on this planet, without any distinction, any limitation of culture or national boundary. Time is all-pervasive, neutral. For the Rishi, Time was virtually a field which each of us can explore in search of Truth.
Each stage (month/year) encourages a certain attainment on the part of the initiate embarked on the Journey, which is explained by the zodiac’s hieroglyphs combined with the pictographic symbols pertinent to each sign. Since this zodiacal knowledge has, in its deepest Vedic sense, been largely lost, Sanskrit scholars and pundits claim that there is no evidence of it in the hymns; they believe it was brought to India by the Greeks. And yet it is the thread running through the entire Rig Veda.
More importantly, the Rishi who composed the above stanza, goes so far as to lay emphasis on a key aspect of the zodiac by stating ‘…without effort one (world) moves into the other’. In this simple manner he highlights precisely what is lacking in astrology throughout the world, even beyond India where the tropical zodiac is the accepted basis of the art. This is its undeniable unity – one sign moves into the other in a meaningful, connected sequence. Moreover, the very fact that this Vedic experience is called the ‘journey’ drives home the point that one ‘world moves into the next’, mapped out sequentially in the zodiac, and which is directly related to the year.
In March of 1970, using the zodiac and astrological tradition as a backdrop, or map, I wrote a tale of a similar ‘journey’ through the zodiac’s sign/months, a contemporary myth, as it were.1 It also describes an initiatic progression identical to the Rig Veda, though at the time I had no knowledge of Hinduism or the Veda. It was written in Rome, thousands of kilometers away from India, but stands as proof of the eternal quality of the Dharma that knows no boundaries, no constraints of colour or creed, true to the Vedic chant Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’.
We are familiar enough with the Mother’s symbol and the Rishi’s verses in terms of months. But we need to see its application regarding years, as the verses indicate. I reproduce here the dynamic form of the Mother’s symbol wherein each ‘hub’ or concentric circle becomes a spiral when activated or set in motion. This ‘map’ relies on the Precession of the Equinoxes for application. The Precession is the motor of the Map; the Mother’s symbol and the Vedic verses provide the signposts along the way, the details of the Map in the act of defining that is so much a part of our present Age. This, when applied as indicated, becomes the evolutionary map of the Ages. As noted in the description of the timeline below the graphic, the symbol’s three spirals comprise 77,760 years. More importantly, the Mother’s symbol adds a decisive feature: the fourfold division (4 inner petals) of the basic circle – that ‘one wheel (circle)’ established by the Rishi in the verses quoted in Part 8. It has been long overlooked in India that the Rishi establishes the circle as one only, within which all the divisions occur, as in the Mother’s symbol. Without this fourfoldness the Map cannot possibly be read properly, as I will explain.
Further, the cross section dividing the circle into quarters, or the Cardinal Points, when extended to the larger value of years and astrological ages, offers the most significant and important time frame, which I have called Manifestations – 12 in each round of 77,760 Earth years. Each Manifestation consists of 3 signs. Ours is the 9th, it is important to note, because in this Manifestation the last round of 25,920 years begins. These discoveries took place based on the Name of 9-5-1, being the Fire Trinity in the Map.
The Vishnu Avatars’ time of appearance, as well as their respective tasks, is explained in the Mother’s symbol in terms of years (Manifestation) as the Vedic verses indicate, for we do calculate the extension of the annual rotation of the Sun from months to years when applying the Precession. For the individual it is the passage of the 12 months that is relevant; for the evolution it is years as indicated in the Precession of the Equinoxes, the years being equivalent to months of the annual rotation. However, though the Rishi insists that ‘the circle is one’, its time application varies according to context. The zodiac serves both the individual and the evolution with this One Circle – a point that has been overlooked in Hindu astrology – wrongly called Vedic – due to the interference of scientists who have established that the evolutionary application must be used for individuals and temple timings. I repeat, an aberration known only in India, though the astrology in use is falsely labelled ‘Vedic’.

From: The Gnostic Circle
and The New Way,
Aeon Books

The Evolutionary Avatars take birth during the astrological ages proper to Vishnu’s essence of Preservation. In the Map above these periods are marked off by the arrows pointing to his signs of Preservation, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio/Eagle, and Aquarius. The latter is our present Age which began in 1926. These four signs of Vishnu (within the trinity Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva – or the astrological qualities Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable) are the famous four figures of the classical Sphinx of ancient symbology – the most renowned of which still stands today in Giza, Egypt. However, the ancient Egyptian Sphinx consists of only two of the four – Lion (Leo) and Man (Aquarius, the Water Carrier) because it was constructed for the purpose of revealing the two astrological ages that form the axis of evolution involving a certain process destined to culminate in our times. As such, the ‘mystery of the Sphinx is no secret at all when the initiation of the Vedic Journey has been completed successfully. In Hindu tradition this period Lion-Man is registered in the culture by the 7th appearance of Vishnu, Sri Ram in the Age of Leo, and the 9th in our Aquarian Age, as well as in the praises to, precisely, Vishnu in the Rig Veda. In between Leo and Aquarius of the Sphinx we have the Age of Taurus, as the arrow indicates in the Map, and the appearance of Sri Krishna, indeed renowned for precisely his affinity with the bovine creation (Taurus, the Bull). The equivalency and correspondences are exact, provided we follow the Vedic injunction: One circle, within which all measuring is done, all defining.
To conclude, I must present the Vishnu praises from the Rig Veda, his famed Three Strides (to measure the universe), which conclusively prove that the Rishis were conversant with zodiac symbology as it is known throughout the world till today. In fact, it is my contention that this branch of higher knowledge arose in India itself millennia ago and was exported from India farther west. They are the only verses to Vishnu in the entire collection and were certainly included as a guide for future ages when the key to discover the identity of his Evolutionary Avatar would need to be restored after passage through a dark age had erased memory of these cosmic harmonies. And it must be borne in mind that Vishnu is described as ‘measuring the universe’ – the physical universe, and not the subtle planes/lokas as is believed.
Not only do we recognise the symbols pertaining to his zodiacal signs of Preservation – Lion (Leo), Bull (Taurus), and Man (Friend-Aquarius) – but these verses establish once again that the Precession of the Equinoxes was known in the Vedic Age because the progression is backward through the wheel in the manner of the Precession. I have highlighted the zodiacal signs indicated as one of his three steps, which have eluded all translators prior to Sri Aurobindo. He did indeed emphasise the zodiacal connection by capitalising the signs that I have highlighted. In Sanskrit there are no capitalisations for the translator to follow; it requires the insight provided by the initiation of the Vedic Journey to understand the symbology, a ‘journey’ few have undertaken in contemporary society. Further to be noted is the last ‘step’ of Vishnu, the ‘highest’ which is indeed in the higher hemisphere and the last of the sequence. In astrological tradition it is Aquarius, also known as the sign of the friend, Mitra of the Veda.

Of Vishnu now I declare the mighty works, who has measured out
the earthly worlds and that seat of our self-accomplishing he supports,
he the wide-moving, in the threefold steps of his universal movement.

That Vishnu affirms on high by his mightiness and he is like a terrible LION
that ranges in the difficult places, yea, his lair is on the mountain-tops,
he in whose three wide movements all the worlds find their dwelling-place.

Let our strength and our thought go forward to Vishnu the all-pervading,
the wide-moving BULL whose dwelling-place is on the mountain,
he who being One has measured all this long and far-extending seat
of our self-accomplishing by only three of his strides.

He whose three steps are full of the honey-wine and they perish not
but have ecstasy by the self-harmony of their nature; yea, he being One
holds the triple principle and earth and heaven also, even all the worlds.

May I attain to and enjoy that goal of his movements, the Delight,
where souls that seek the godhead have the rapture; for there in that highest step
of the wide-moving Vishnu is that FRIEND of men who is the fount of the sweetness.

Those are the dwelling-places of ye twain which we desire as
the goal of our journey, where the many-horned herds of Light go travelling;
the highest step of wide-moving Vishnu shines down on us here
in its manifold vastness.

(RV, I, 154, Sri Aurobindo’s translation)


1 The Magical Carousel, Aeon Books, 1972, 2nd edition, 1979.

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