My forward to the book:
Symbolism of Rigveda – Social, Spiritual and Psychological import of Veda Mantras. By Dr.Jayanti Manohar. Amrutha Vahini, 2013, Pp.xxiv+220, Price Rs 250.
Vedas are considered by the vast majority people of to day as those chanted by priests in temples and during religious rituals and ceremonies or as means of appeasing umpteen numbers of gods for fulfillment of material desires. Only a very few would take up Vedas to hasten ones reach towards Self Realization and God Realization. Dr. Jayanti Manohar takes up just such a study in this book with authority and scholarship.
What is written here is not yet another imagined creation or ‘modern’ interpretation of Vedas. In fact, the task was begun some four thousand years ago by Maharshi Yaskacharya and expounded further in recent times by erudite scholarship and profound experiences by Maharshi Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Maharshi Sri Aurobindo, Vasishta Ganapati Muni (a disciple of Great Sage Ramana Maharshi too), Sri Kapali Shastri, Prof. R L Kashyap, Dr. David Frawley and others in that line, says Dr. Jayanti Manohar. Her present work is in that lineage too.
The key to understand Vedas is in the symbolic language with which they are coated and attempt is to be made to decode like a poet ( as well as seer ) using both rational and non-rational ( but wholly experiential ) mode. In fact, poet for us is not the one who weaves imaginative tales but a person who reveals the hidden meaning in the mantras to the multitude. Mantresu karmani kavayo yany apasyams tani tretayam bahuda santatani (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.1). Truth is multifaceted, multidimensional and multimodal and no language in itself can capture it in its entirety. As another Upanishad puts it, words and mind return baffled without attaining it, yato vaco nivartante aprapya manasa saha. Symbols offer an excellent means through which approximation to Reality can be made.
Dr. Jayanti Manohar demonstrates with brilliant illustration from Rig Veda and in a very telling way what we miss by not attending to other meanings by unraveling the symbols of the mantras. We miss the wholesome truth by getting stuck with the only partial. For instance, Gou is not just the cow but the Light and Sun too. Similarly, Agni is Heat; Indra is Mind and Action fighting the negative forces (Vrta and Vala) for the sake seekers of knowledge. Vayu is Life Energy, Mitra is Love and Harmony, Varuna is master of Infinity cutting asunder restrictive thinking that separate us, Saraswati is Inspiration. What is more, Asvamedha is assimilation of Power by conquering senses and even refers to pranayama (downward movement of diaphragm in in-breath as offering vapa into Jatharagni, a fire of stomach). All these interpretation throws up a great inner psychic dynamism that moves us towards self discovery aided and supported by the forces invoked. Similar scintillating exposition of Agnihotra and Yajna is also available in the book.
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The book, while decoding symbols, opens up a journey (adharva) to the core of inner being and its connection to all that exist in the cosmos that is deeply spiritual with offering powerful psychological tools to unravel. In the end, the reader is left wondering at the marvel of wisdom in the Vedas whose reach is universal, applicable to all times for our enlivenment and as aid to reach the destination. In the process, the author dispels with authority the prevailing misconception on Vedas as discriminating caste and gender, on multitude of gods, including the myth of Soma as intoxicating drink!
Dr. Jayanti Manohar deserves our congratulations and gratitude for the difficult job undertaken and executing it splendidly while unfolding the hidden treasure in mystic symbols of Rig Veda.
Dr. Jayanthi Manohar, PhD(Samskrit)
#001, Sterling Court Apts., No.21, Kanakapura Road,
Basavanagudi, Bangalore 560004.