Symbolism of the Veda

A. The secret of the Veda


Sri Aurobindo was one of the advocates of the secret double meaning of the vedic scriptures. He disclosed parts of this inner meaning in his extensive book "The Secret of the Veda" and in his commentary on the Rig Veda : 'Hymns on the mystic fire'.

'The forces and processes of the physical world repeat, as in a symbol, the truths of the supra-physical action which produced it. And since it is by the same forces and the same processes, one in the physical worlds and the supra-physical, that our inner life and its development are governed, the Rishis adopted the phenomena of physical Nature as just symbols for those functionings of the inner life which it was their difficult task to indicate in the concrete language of a sacred poetry that must at the same time serve for the external worship of the Gods as powers of the visible universe.' (Sri Aurobindo . On the Veda, S. 328-29)

This view of Sri Aurobindo is illustrated in his commentary on Ŗgveda I.170, a short hymn of five mantras, which includes a dialogue between god Indra and the seer Agastya. The latter, according to Sri Aurobindo, represents the highly developed human soul, which strives hard to reach the ultimate reality in the form of the absolute, transcending everything under it, including the gods.

This aspiration of the human soul is represented at this moment by the seer Agastya. It appears to Indra as a violation of the integral plan of things. He reminds the seer of the dangers that lie before him on his way.

He instructs him that it is almost impossible to reach the Absolute with isolation from anything else. The argument, which he argues in this context, is revealing. It is contained in the opening mantra of the anthem. This mantra was also noted by Yaskazur, but just to illustrate the use of nūnam in the Veda. As such, he explains the rest of the mantra in an informal manner.[1]

B. VISIONS : In his 'letters on yoga', Sri Aurobindo also speaks about visionary symbols.

Visions come from all planes and are of all kinds and different values. Some are of very great value and importance, others are a play of the mind or vital and are good only for their own special purpose, others are formations of the mind and vital plane some of which may have truth, while others are false and misleading, or they may be a sort of artistry of that plane. They can have considerable importance in the development of the first yogic consciousness, that of the inner mind, inner vital, inner physical or for an occult understanding of the universe. Visions which are real can help the spiritual progress, I mean, those which show us inner realities.

Visions do not come from the spiritual plane – they come from the subtle physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic or from the planes above the Mind. What comes from the spiritual plane are experiences of the Divine, e.g. the experience of self everywhere, of the Divine in all, etc.. [1]

All visions have a meaning of one kind or another ... This ability of inner vision is very important for yoga and should not be rejected, although it is not the most important. The most important thing is the transformation of consciousness.".

All other faculties, such as those of the inner vision, should without attachment be considered as belonging to yoga and developed beneficial to him. Visions are not essential. They are a help when they are of the right kind - that is all. Visions and voices have their place when there are real visions and true voices. They are, of course, not realizations, but only steps along the way, and one must not allow them to be included by them  or regard all of them as valuable.

In the earliest stages of sadhana, most of the things looked at are formations of the mental plane. It is not always possible to recognize their precise meaning, because they depend on the individual mind of the Sadhak.

At a later stage, the power of the inner show becomes important to the sadhana, but at first, one must go forward without appraising the details of excessive importance until consciousness has further evolved. The only important thing in yoga is always the opening of consciousness for Divine Light, Divine Truth, and Divine Presence.

... Through this opening-up one becomes aware of the subtle levels of experience and of the worlds of existence, which are different from the material. For the spiritual life, a further opening-up towards an innermost consciousness is necessary, by which one recognizes the self and the spirit, the eternal and the divine.

[1] SRI AUROBINDO - Letters on Yoga -Book 3 : Visions and symbols

Bird Human soul
Buffalo Gross vital force
Building New creation
Car, Train, Airplain A travel within symbolizes a specific progress of a part of consiousness
Chakra/Diskus Energy in Action
Child Psychic Transformation process in the heart.
Colour Begin of inner Vision (sūkşmadŗşţi). After it begins the vision and one sees figures, scenes and people
Cow Divine light
Dawn Beginning of a new creation within the consciousness
Dog One’s fidelity to the Divine
Elefant Strength
Fire Purification which one is undergoing.
Fish in Ocean Experience of the Sachchidananda.
Flower psychic activity, blossoming in the consciousness
Lotus Flower Opening in the consciousness.
Horse Force which acts for the progress
Lion Vital force
Moon Spiritual Ananda, spirituality in the mind
Mountain Ascending hill of existence with the Divine to be reached on the summits.
Pfau Spiritual victory
Rain Descent of Divine Grace
Sea Indicates the vital plane or some expanse of consciousness.
Sky Mental or overmental consciousness
Snake Hostile or evil force of the vital plane.
Snake with open hood Indicates the victorious or successful activity of the Kundalini.
Square A new creation is being established within our consciousness.
Star Promise of the Light to come.
Sun Power of the inner or higher Truth. There are different Suns in the different planes each with its own colour.
Swan Liberated soul
Tiger Depends on the attitude of the tiger. If fierce and hostile, it may be a form of an adverse force, otherwise it is simply a power of vital nature which may be friendly.

[2] From :  Symbols seen during spiritual experiences

* Sri Aurobindo and the Mother : On Dreams