So that everyone has an opportunity to know and follow the Holy Teaching of Heaven, the Rgvedaschool translates and publishes English translations of the first of ten mandalas, or books, of the Rigveda, widely considered the oldest spiritual text in the world. Written in the Sacred Language of Sanskrit, but when is speculative since no surviving documents older than 600 years exist. India’s oldest texts were bound together palm leaves that maintained their structure about that long under perfect conditions. So, praise is due to the monks and devotees of the mountain retreats who rendered a great service to humanity by meticulously copying the Rigveda and countless other spiritual texts from palm leaf to palm leaf for thousands of years. Some believe the Rigveda was first scribed around 1,500 BC, some say older and some say younger.
Whatever the case, the Rigveda is of the Oral Tradition and that has existed since the very beginning. Humans have likely engaged in spiritual activity as long as humans have existed. Likely an innate characteristic of humans, but not necessarily limited to humans as many creatures can be seen meditating in the sunshine. Anatomically modern humans appeared on the earth about 150,000 years ago. The earliest documentation of human spiritual activity appears in cave art, found throughout the world. Some cave art has been dated to 70,000 BC, such as that of the San Bushmen of South Africa and the Aborigines of Australia. The cave art in France and Spain dates to 20-30,000 BC. It is the same in India, and there, rock shelters have been discovered going back 100,000 years. Gobekli Tepe in Turkey was a large religious site around 10,000 BC, and the many megalithic stone circles unearthed contain exquisite carving. People have engaged in spiritual activity a long time on the earth, but when they engaged in the activity described in the mantras is speculative because very few clues have survived.
Current archaeological research reveals an urban culture by 6,500 BC in Eastern Pakistan and Northwestern India, an area some researchers think the text of the Rigveda originated. The settlements of Mehrgarh and Mohenjo-Daro were well-planned cities by 3,000 BC and of considerable size for the time, populations of twenty to forty thousand inhabitants. People lived in brick houses with running water and bathrooms, with a sewer system constructed under the streets. Because there were no fortifications for safety in Mohenjo-Daro and the largest structure being a public bath, the times were likely peaceful.
The Indus Valley Culture, as it is called, is believed to have collapsed after the Sarasvati River partially dried up around 1,900 BC to partially flow today as the Gagger-Hakra River. The river flowed from the Himalayan Mountains so earthquakes were the likely cause of that. The Indus Valley Culture was huge, over 2,500 towns and cities have recently been unearthed from the sands of what is now the Great Indian Desert. At the same time as the Indus Valley Culture flourished, there was an urban culture in Peru called Caral that archeologists believe was peaceful, and because of that, the philosophy of kindness advanced in the Rigveda was practiced in 3,000 BC.
Some researchers say the Indus Valley Culture was built upon an older and larger culture known as the Naga Empire and it would have been peaceful as well. The word naga in Sanskrit means serpent, teacher, and the word nagara is the written character. Devanagari is the name of the written script of the Sanskrit alphabet, often translated as City of the Gods but Divine Written Character is closer. Sanskrit is the root of most western languages, including English, and considered a Divine Language with many of the world’s oldest spiritual treasures, such as this one, written in it. Rigveda translates as the Sacred Text of the Sacred Knowledge, and many scholars claim the text is an archaic form of Sanskrit and describe the difficulty in translating it. Their translations reflect that difficulty as they are difficult to read, make little sense, and truthfully, best forgotten. Translating the text is difficult, tricky, nevertheless the mantras can be fully and accurately translated, and when done so, reveal the path to heaven.
Shrila Vyasadeva put the Rigveda into writing before authoring the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The Veda is of the Oral Tradition, but written down in Sanskrit before the Kaliyuga to preserve it through the Kaliyuga, the Dark Age of Humanity. The Dark Age began taking effect around 900 BC. It was an unfortunate and terrible time to be alive because people were horrible and brutal, but around 1700 during a period in Europe known as the Awakening or the Renaissance things began to change for the better. We are now in the early part of Dvaparayuga, the Second Age, where things will be different but ignorance and bad behavior will stick around a bit. A sad feature of the Dark Age is that no enlightened being appears on the earth to save the people when so desperately needed. During the time, many made the claim, some deemed to be saviors or messengers of heaven, but no, not in the heavenly sense. Fortunately, the Sacred Text written down before the Kaliyuga for preservation worked for it survived intact and the Sacred Knowledge has already been deciphered.
Yaska, a Sanskrit scholar, lived during the early part of the Dark Age and authored a book on obscure words from the Rigveda and he said the text was meaningless, so by 400 BC, the knowledge of enlightenment had already disappeared from the human race. The commentary on the Rigveda by Sayana, or Sayanacarya, called Vedartha Prakasha dates to the 1400s, and is the foundation of the first English translation of the Rigveda, attributed to H. H. Wilson, which appeared in six volumes between 1849 and 1874. Wilson previously authored a Sanskrit-English Dictionary based upon native scholars published in 1819, and before his death, the reference material for that was given to Sir Monier-Williams who published a more complete Sanskrit-English Dictionary in 1899. Such is the dictionary the school uses to translate the Sacred Texts.
The Rigveda is connected with three other texts, the Samaveda, Atharvaveda, and Yajurveda. The Samaveda is a collection of songs and most were original to the Rigveda. The Yajurveda is a collection of rituals and prayers and about a third appear in the Rigveda. The Atharvaveda is a collection of spells with many suktas, hymns, for healing, eventually becoming a system of healing called Ayurvedic medicine. It is still widely practiced and has many similarities to traditional Chinese medicine. Of these four books, the Rigveda is the oldest.
The whole of the text is separated into ten mandalas, books, and eight ashtakas, parts. There are 10,589 mantras collected into 1,017 suktas, plus 11 supplemental to equal 1,028 suktas that are gathered into anuvakas, chapters. In the first mandala, one sukta contains one mantra and another fifty-two but the average is about twelve. The first mandala contains 191 suktas and 2006 mantras separated into twenty-four anuvakas and two ashtakas.
The universe begins with a loud expression of surprise, called the Big Bang. An explosive sound that many alphabets around the world begin. The Sanskrit alphabet like many others begins with the letter ‘a’ and in Sanskrit, sounds like the ‘a’ in father or the ‘u’ in up. Expel a breath with that sound and a little puff of air returns. It is called visarga in Sanskrit, and is the final vowel and transliterated to Roman characters as an h with a dot under. Sarga means a gust of air and vi means to roar. In Sanskrit, ‘a’ is a letter and a syllable although here an h is added for appearance. Ah in Sanskrit means to speak, express, signify, hold, consider, acknowledge, accept, occupy, and to state or declare with reference to. In English ah is an expression of surprise, delight, satisfaction, pain, and so on, so ah has meaning and appears here as AH to separate it from the mundane.
Everyone in the world is familiar with the sound of AH and produces it regularly. A natural expression of the body, it just comes out. Say a person is thirsty and drinks water, quite often the AH sound follows, naturally produced. Think of a time when struggling with a problem, and all of a sudden, light flashes and the answer appears, possibly accompanied by the sound of AH. Hit a finger with a hammer rather than a nail and AH is likely to follow. The AH sound is an unconscious expression of the body and a conscious expression heard throughout the air, oceans, and forests of the earth.
Brahma has many names such as Divine Absolute, Lord, Grandfather, Holy One, Holy Spirit pervading the universe, the Creator, the Divine Essence from which all created things emanate, namely, the universal, one, the highest, the unborn, and so on. In the event known as viraj, the Big Bang, Brahma separates into male and female, Divine Father and Mother, Vishnu and Lakshmi, heaven and earth, and we are the descendants. Everyone upon the earth is related, breathes the same air, and the teaching is to live peacefully together and care for others as family. Heaven and earth are outside for a place to exist and inside of us to rise to heaven. Brahma separates out of love for all beings, separates for comparison, conceptions, and to join to enjoy oneness in heavenly bliss.
Grandfather refers to a person as a descendant, a mortal, mover, coverer, reflection, appearance, and the body as a non-entity. A coverer, the ego, is the defender of the cover, the body, and for those with a body the breath is necessary. Brahma promises a breath for life and the freedom to do whatever, albeit with consequences. The teaching is to live happy, so do what makes you happy, but do not impede the happiness of any other creature that grasps for the breath and cries. Be a kind and caring person happy to help anyone and the breath comes for that. The breath comes to saint and sinner alike and to accommodate everyone, the earth is a garden of delights or a place of misery, the difference being a person’s actions or misfortune. The amount of time spent in selfless giving to others and holding to the teaching makes all the difference in the world. Brahma says favors will come twice as often.
This world with all its wonders and diversity is meant to be enjoyed but unfortunately, mortality brings suffering. Just as our current situation on the earth is a result of past actions, our future is dependent upon actions today. We are the weaver with choices, and the mantras say we will be here upon the earth repeatedly, life after life, until we choose to follow and master the Veda, the Sacred Teaching, and become awakened and a guide to others. A Buddha is a title for those who have gone beyond but return to live on the earth as an example of the doctrine. The heavenly state is attained through service to heaven, and service to heaven is served on the earth and benefits all beings.
A Rishi, a seer, a person with extraordinary perception is associated with every sukta in the Rigveda, and in old age, they became Buddhas. There were many lineages but the one associated with the First Mandala and the last Buddha to grace the earth is the Angiras, and many Rishis used Angiras or Gotama in their name. Shakyamuni was the last Buddha and called Angirasa Kumara, Gotama Buddha, or simply, the King, and was the last of the linage. There are nineteen Rishis connected with the first mandala of the Rigveda and two hundred or so in the whole of the text.
Atman is the Sanskrit word for the life-giving aspect of the air we breathe. Atman refers to the principle of life and sensation, the transcendent unitary self, a witness, the breath, soul, or spirit. The breath rules the world and fits the definition of God perfectly, every creature on the earth lives because to breathing and the moment it stops, life and sensation fade away. All creatures are family to live together on the earth, breathe the same air, and the Sacred Teaching of heaven is to be kind and helpful to all creatures that cry and grasp for the breath.
The school has translated mantras and verses from all the most important ancient spiritual texts, the root texts to all the major religions, and discovered that the Creator is the author of all of them. The true teaching of the texts is different from the religions they are associated with today but identical to the philosophy presented here. The Rigveda, however, is unique among the texts because it is a dialogue between Brahma and a Rishi, and the reason no other text is a dialogue, is because the linage ended before the beginning of the Kaliyuga.
The philosophy has many names, such as the way, the Middle Way, the path, the good path to good fortune, the knowledge of happiness, the Philosophical System of AH, and so on. A philosophy is a theory of the principles or laws regulating the universe and knowledge. A system of forming an arrangement of things into a whole and for that, a course of conduct is given. The Sacred Text is a call to become a saint, a wonderworker, a tireless promoter of unity among all people, and to go towards to help the disadvantaged and the disturbed of the world is the religious calling. There are many titles for the spiritually enlightened, but only one way to attain a title, and that, master the philosophy and abandon the ego. The text says it takes virtue and going beyond, and herein is the same teaching all enlightened beings adhered to for that.
The stillness of heaven is everlasting just as the teaching and opposite to the state of movement upon the earth, so the teacher beckons us to stop and abandon the mortal condition and life after life of suffering for a state of peace. We do not have to search far to find suffering in the world. It is everywhere, listen to the news and you will hear about a world in turmoil. Today, people are quick to anger and fight, and carry weapons to kill, with little regard for others. It is sad, but killing is not condemned in the earthy religions enough and in some, it is a practice. Today, you can hear misguided zealots who think killing is justified extolling the greatness of God in the very act of killing. A mixed-up world indeed, and should you wonder if hell and endless suffering exists, look no further, it is here. If a person does not follow the heavenly path, after death, the destination will be here, the hereafter. An endless cycle of living and dying here until one adheres to the resolve to follow the way and abandon the mortal condition. Here on the earth, a precious opportunity exists for cutting the bind for heavenly bliss. The purpose of the teaching is to arise and go beyond, for the wisdom and happiness to serve the lowest.
The Sacred Teaching of heaven disappeared as a recognized religion on the earth long ago, but going towards the homeless and disadvantaged to help and care for is recognized as the way. Such is the teaching, and today, those who engage in selfless giving to others are living examples of the oldest philosophy upon the earth. Volunteering in food shelves, clothing distribution centers, or anywhere that helps people and creatures in need is virtuous and the virtuous are rewarded by extra blessings from the highest. If you want to see the teaching of heaven in action, avoid the lavish halls of worship and hit the streets, there you will find an illustration of the Holy Path of caring for others in action.
This introduction is meant to give you a foundation to begin your travels on the path to freedom. Some of the basics have been covered, but the mantras will take you beyond. Let me repeat, this is a beginning, there is much to discover. To come to an understanding of the teaching is very important, and more so, acting upon. In this text is the rationale for making a serious life change, and for the most serious change, escape worldly existence by quitting, withdrawing, and mastering the teaching. Without that, there is a one-hundred percent chance of being reborn of a mother, not necessarily in a safe place, and not necessarily human. It depends upon what you do now.
All of the mantras of the Rigveda are composed in meter. There are over thirty different meters and here are the three most common. The first line of the Gayatri meter has sixteen syllables and the second has eight. Both lines of Jagati have twenty-four syllables, and both lines of Trishtubh have twenty-two. Knowing the meter of a mantra is important for chanting, and is helpful in the preservation of the text. The text was orally transmitted, generation-to-generation for thousands of years before writing, and there are checks in the text to help a devotee remember. There are people alive today able to recite the whole of the text. Over time, a syllable in a mantra has disappeared here and there, but the version we have today is amazingly accurate.
The Superintendent of Schools is the Creator of the universe, and the Headmaster of the Rgvedaschool is the Awakened One. Today the Headmaster position is vacant, I am the trustee until one arises from the mortal condition. The Rigveda is the featured text of the school, although it translates and publishes verses and mantras from many ancient religious texts of the world. The teaching spread all over the world at one time and it appears in all the old spiritual texts, if one knows the way to translate. The ancient texts in books today have been translated as a common language, when it is a Sacred Language. Although the teaching is quite different from the popular religions of today like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and so on, there is a consistent message of non-discrimination, non-violence, and caring for all breathing creatures the cry.
The school uses its own dictionary for translating the mantras, although ninety-nine percent of the words are from the Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Sir Monier Monier-Williams. The dictionary was published in 1899 and H.H. Wilson, who is credited with the first English translation of the Rigveda, was instrumental in its coming to fruition. He had previously published a Sanskrit dictionary, but before his death, turned over all reference material to Monier-Williams. The school uses the dictionary meaning of the Sanskrit word in the translation with very little alteration and this gives the mantras a certain flavor. The sentence structure of the maker is a little different than English speakers are accustomed too, but is similarly understandable.