Although language and culture are intimately connected, Arya does not denote a speaker of a particular language. In the Vedic view, a person speaking a Dravidian language is Arya if he possesses the virtue called Aryattva… (p10). Arya is defined one who is noble and refined in ideas and action, and these depend on a “world view characterised by a belief in certain concepts like Rta, Satya, Tapas, Yajna, Brahma etc.” (p10)
Aryattva is a blending of virtues that lead to the highest material and spiritual achievement. Rta simply means the order and harmony of the universe which the Rig Vedic Rishis saw in their physical environment, Nature.Yajna, the ritual of the fire, homa, is not only a tribute to the fire Deva, Agni, but embodies the orderly working of the universe reflected in Vedic astronomy. The intricate celestial relationships that the Rishis actually observed with the naked eye are clearly explained by BN Narahari Achar in ‘Sarasvati River and Chronology: Simulations using Planetarium Software’ (cited in Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilisation, 2008, ed. S Kalyanaraman).
Satya (usually translated as Truth) represents the mirroring of the cosmic order in society and the individual’s alignment with this cosmic order. Likewise, Tapas or self-discipline (austerity) was practiced by the Rishis for the welfare of society and therefore the universal application of this to individuals who embodyAryam/Aryattva.
These ideals of virtuous living came to the consciousness of Vedic Rishis as they saw the heavens, the earth around them, the rivers, forests and lakes and all living creatures. Aryam was a holistic ideal which passed into Hindu consciousness and society as Dharma. A recent contemporary explanation of Dharma and Rta is provided by Shrinivas Tilak, A Reawakening to a secular Hindu nation (p13-16, 2008).
Dharma in Tilak’s interpretation (though not explicitly stated by him) is related to Aryam/ aryattva which is the social derivative of Rta as the Vedic seers envisioned it. Tilak provides a very lucid explanation of other aspects of Dharma.
The Vedic peoples engaged in international trade and were familiar with maritime travel and also engaged in the intellectual fields of mathematics and astronomy. The ideal of Aryam came to them on the banks of the Sindhu and Sarasvati. This was the basis of their spiritual bond with the two rivers.
Sindhu and Sarasvati were not only rivers that provided the livelihood of the Vedic peoples. In a previous article, the writer spoke of the role of the Sarasvati as the giver of ‘light’ (‘Sarasvati and the Resurgence of Hinduism’, Haindava Keralam, 08/05/2013). In the Rig Veda, Sarasvati is not only a river but the giver of ‘light’. Western scholars have traditionally dismissed the presence of the Goddesses (hereafter referred to as Devatas and Devis) in the Rig Veda and downplayed their importance.
Nevertheless, for a correct reading we have to see Sarasvati not only as a river Devi giving abundance and plenty to the Rig Vedic peoples, but also as the giver of ‘light.’ The very first book of the Rig Veda says : ‘…Sarasvati, the mighty flood, she with light illumines, She brightens every pious thought’ (Book 1, Hymn 3, Line 12, Griffith translation). The ‘light’ here refers to intellection and devotion and explains the origin of Sarasvati as patron of learning, knowledge, music, arts, etc. Book 1 is the work of Sage Agastya, also known for his famous Sarasvati Sthrotram (Ya kundendu tushaara, haara dhavala…) where he hails the Devi as the source of knowledge.
The ten books of the Rig Veda contain seventy references to Sarasvati. Of these, two are directly addressed to her, as one who gives prosperity and plenty. She is the mighty river that flows from the mountains to the sea. She is life giving water. There are some references to her as the origin of holy thoughts, but none as clear cut as the reference to the giver of ‘light’ by Agastya.
Hence, one can infer that the Rig Veda signalled the importance of knowledge. This fits in with NS Rajaram’s thesis that Vedic Mathematics was central to the civilisation and that the geometric/algebraic notions of the period influenced Old Babylonia and Egypt and thence the Greek philosopher Pythagoras whose theorem is well known to most readers (See ‘The Origins of Indo-Europeans’ and ‘The Third Wave’, Folks Magazine, Dec. 2012, Feb, March 2013).
Pythagoras (570 BC-495 BC) always wanted to visit India. There is a missing period of ten years in his life and scholars have speculated that he may have come to India during that time. He had, of course, visited Egypt and Babylonia. If he did come to India, it is reasonable to assume that he learned his Mathematics directly from India and not through Old Babylonia and Egypt.
It is not accidental that Sarasvati is deified as the source of ‘light.’ Rajaram points out that the mathematical formulae used for the bricks for the Vedic fire altar were borrowed by the Harappan civilisation (via the Sulba Sutras) whose peoples lived on the banks of the Sarasvati and Sindhu.
The Sindhu has been mentioned in the Rig Veda more than a dozen times, the most arresting being in Book X, where the power and might of the river are invoked. It would seem that this aspect overawed the Vedic peoples.
Verses from the Rig Veda make this abundantly clear:
Sacred Space and Akhand Bharat
Akhand Bharat, then, in which Sindhu and Sarasvati are integral parts, is a sacred space unique to the subcontinent. Here live the Devas and Devatas that the Rig Vedic Rishis sighted and were commemorated by them in the Rig Veda. As time went by, some of the names changed and more names were added to the Hindu pantheon. They still continue to inhabit the land mass from the Himalaya to Cape Comorin and from west to east.
In a discussion of rashtra as a culturally nuanced space, Shrinivas Tilak observes: “As a culturally integrated unity, the idea of rashtra inevitably developed a nuanced network of ideology, outlook and traditions inspired and informed by the particular geo-morphological features of the Indian landmass.” (Rewakening to a secular Hindu nation, p.20)
This culturally integrated unity which Hindus call the motherland was given several thousand years ago by the Rishis of the Rig Veda who first lived on the banks of the Sindhu and the Sarasvati.
Courtesy ~ Vijaya Rajiva