By Manju Gupta
PROF. R.L. Kashyap, Director, SAKSIVC (Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture) has published 20 books, and has developed several audio cassettes and website to disseminate information on Vedas, Upanishads and Tantras. Based on almost 20 years of study, he released in 2000-01 three volumes entitled Rig Veda Samhita: First Ashtaka (Vols. 1, 2 and 3).
Most of the English translations of the Rig Veda Samhita view the books as anthropological and ritualistic curiosities rather than as books of wisdom. Even though Hinduism contains many important religious books of later times, the wisdom of the Vedic age is relevant even today. What is an important aspect is that the Vedic books do not exhort everyone to take up sannyas or cessation from daily activities for pursuing a spiritual life.
As it is not possible to review all the publications of SAKSIVC, we have taken up three books at random for review.
Rudra Mantras (from Taittiriya Samhita), containing 136 pages shows the importance of these mantras in our life as they help us to manifest the power of healing and upward evolution of consciousness.
To cite one of the Veda mantras on meditation, note the poetic verse below:
Apatala nabhah sthalanta bhuvana brahmandam avisphurat
Jyotih sphatika linga mauli vilasat purnendu vantamrtaih
Astokaplutam ekam isham anisham rudranu-vakan japan
Dhyayat ipsita siddhaye dhrwapa-dam vipro abhishin-chet shivam.
Another book by R.L. Kashyap is entitled Essentials of Atharva Veda which brings to light the views and achievements of the Vedic age which are relevant even today. This book gives unique principles of education, health and longevity, family life, vastu, polity and governance, selection of spouse, marriage, etc. Containing 105 pp, Atharva Veda is one of the four Veda mantras which give the picture of Vedic life and names. It does not differentiate between worldly and spiritual life and describes how to invoke the supreme spirit in all human activities.
In the Ode to Earth, the earth is exposed to the psychological forces of darkness and ignorance and the human foes who are under the influence of these forces of ignorance. These forces, symbolised by Vrtra, are opposed to the divine powers and committed to the acts of covering the knowledge, hoarding of resources so as to render them beyond the reach of humans.
A very interesting feature is that the Vedic poets were not committed to a policy of blind non-violence. Need was felt for battles (both psychological and physical), against the foes opposed to light. Wherever Indira-Vrtra conflict is mentioned, the foes led by Vrtra are the usual six foes, namely greed, anger, jealousy, arrogance, delusion and lust. The Veda mentions that the earth herself drove away the enemies with war-cry and drum sounds.
Kashyap'syet another book Shanti Mantras from the Upanishads & Veda Samhitas stresses on the importance of peace since lack of it leads to misunderstandings with others, as amply proved by the ancient adage ‘war begins in the minds of men’. The Veda mantra invokes the powers of peace, bliss and overall well-being. The associated Sanskrit words are shanti, sham, svasti and bhadra.
This Veda mantra reveals itself to the inner ear of the rishi or sage in a state of deep consciousness termed parame vyoma (the supreme ether). Each mantra is embedded with intense power which manifests itself in the subtle body of the person who repeats the mantra with faith and understanding. We may ask, “What can a mantra do for me?” It focuses on the following realms, namely health and healing; restoring harmony in communication; creativity and problem solving and healthy longevity.
A somewhat different book by Kashyap is entitled Work Enjoyment and Progress which is in the form of questions and answers. The interesting and complete interplay between our calling the Divine for His help and His response is brought out in these questions and answers. An important aspect of this book is the classification of concepts such as desire, enjoyment, particularly work and the purpose of work and life.