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Immortality in the Vedas

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Mahakavi Bharati, in some of his poems, prays to God for long life. In some others, he prays for immortality. Given below is an example for each.

கனக்கும் செல்வம் நூறுவயது
இவையும் தர நீ கடவாயே

சாகா வரமருள்வாய் ராமா.

We know that long life is something different from immortality. So we consider these requests as opposed to each other. Were they composed at different periods when his moods were different? No. In one and the same Vinayakar Nanmani Malai, he prays for long life in one stanza and for immortality in another.

நோவு வேண்டேன் நூறாண்டு வேண்டினேன்

நோவும் சாவும் நீங்கிச்
சார்ந்த பல்லுயிரெல்லாம்
இன்புற்று வாழ்க

This is nothing to be surprised about. The Vedas which Bharati respected very much also contain such different prayers. Vedas say that life gets eroded day by day at every dawn; that none among men knows his own life's duration and desire to live long is common to all men, but life is cut short by diseases, ill-will against others and sinful thoughts.

Look at the following Rig Vedic quotations recognizing the ephemeral nature of life and praying for long life:-

1-89-9 God! You have ordained one hundred years as the life of man.
7-23-2 None among men knows his own life's duration.
1-92-10 Ushas wastes away the life of mortals, like a skilled hunter cutting birds in pieces.
1-24-11 Varuna, I ask this of thee that life which the yajamana craves with his oblation. Stay here and be not angry; steal not our life from us.
2-33-2 I could keep busy in productive work for a life span of one hundred years. Not only may I keep sickness out of my body, I should also remove sinful thoughts from my mind, and in particular ill-will against any fellow man.
10-9-7 O Waters, teem with medicine to keep my body safe from harm,
So that I long may see the Sun.
2-33-2 With the most saving medicines which you give, Rudra, may I attain a hundred winters.
Far from us banish enmity and hatred, and to all quarters maladies and trouble.
1-116-25 Asvins! May I, enjoying lengthened life, still seeing, enter old age as 'twere the house I live in.

Here are some verses which pray for immortality.

5-63-2 This world's imperial Kings, O Mitra-Varuna, ye rule in holy synod, looking on the light.
We pray for rain, your boon, and immortality.
5-4-10 Vouchsafe us high renown, O Jatavedas, and may I be immortal by my children.
8-48-3 We have drunk Soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
Now what may foeman's malice do to harm us?
9-113-7 O Pavarnana, place me in that deathless, undecaying world
Wherein the light of heaven is set, and everlasting lustre shines. Flow, Indu, flow for Indra's sake.

(The next part will appear on next Wednesday)
Sorry friends,
The title of the thread is wrongly spelt. That should read Immortality in the Vedas. I can not edit the title. I have left it to Sri Praveen.
Now we come to the question, “Can a mortal ever become immortal?” Rig Veda replies in the affirmative citing the story of Rbhus.

Rbhu, Vibhu and Vajas were the sons of Sudhanvan. The three brothers went to Savita after a long journey praising his unhidable radiance. They made the one chalice of the devas into four. They fashioned the two swift tawny steeds which carry Indra. They made a lightly-rolling car out of their mind, by thought, the car that never errs. They had served with zeal at sacrifice as priests. Out of a skin they formed a cow, and brought the mother close unto her calf again. With surpassing skill they made their aged parents youthful as before. So they were given immortality by Savita. They gained friendship with Indra. They skillfully perpetuated themselves through the work and won everlasting life, serving with holy rites and noble acts.

RV says that gods are friend of only those who work hard. श्रान्तस्य सख्याय देवाः

Bharati says that service to others is yoga.
ஊருக்கு உழைத்தல் யோகம்
In another context, he quotes Gita to tell that skill in one’s work is yoga. योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् and says that by obtaining the friendship of the devas one can attain immortality and that is the essence of Vedas and Gita.

எப்போது மானந்தச் சுடர்நிலையில்
வாழ்ந்துயிர்கட் கினிது செய்வோர்
தப்பாதே இவ்வுலகில் அமரநிலை
பெற்றிடுவார். சதுர்வேதங்கள்
மெய்ப்பான சாத்திரங்கள் எனுமிவற்றால்
இவ்வுண்மை விளங்கக் கூறும்

இன்பத்தையும் துன்பத்தையும் நிகராகக் கருதும் அந்தத் தீரன் சாகாதிருக்கத் தகுவான். (கீதை 2-15) இஃதே பகவத் கீதையின் சிகரம். சாகாதிருத்தல், மண் மீது மாளாமல் மார்க்கண்டேயன் போல் வாழ்தல், இதுவே கீதையின் ரஸம். அமரத்தன்மை. இஃதே வேத ரகஸ்யம். இந்த வழியைக் காட்டுவது பற்றியே வேதங்கள் இத்தனை மதிக்கப்படுகின்றன.

இந்திரன் முதலிய தேவர்களை யாகத்தினாலே தோழமை கொண்டால் ...... நமக்கு அமரத் தன்மை உண்டாகும்படி செய்கிறார்கள். யாகம் என்பது நமது உடல் பொருள் ஆவி அறிவு அனைத்தையும் தேவர்களுக்கு அர்ப்பணம் செய்து விடுதல். இந்த வேள்வி செய்தால் மண் காற்று வான் (உடல் உயிர் அறிவு) என்ற மூன்று படிகளிலும் தேவர் வந்து நிலை பெற்று அமிர்த பானம் (சோமரஸம் குடித்தல்) செய்கிறார்கள். இது மகரிஷிகளின் யோகானுபவத்திலே கண்டது. இதனை நன்கு அறிந்து கொண்டால் மந்திரங்களின் பொருள் தெளிவு படும்.
(to be continued)
We know that Bharati died at the age of 39. His prayer for long life was not answered. Shall we tell that his desire for immortality was also not fulfilled?

But Bharati claims that he has become immortal. Was he exaggerating as is usual with poets? No. He solemnly affirms that he is telling the truth and will never tell a lie even if it means his death. Look at his verse.
நோவாலே மடிந்திட்டான் புத்தன் கண்டீர்
அந்தணனாம் சங்கராசாரியன் மாண்டான்
அதற்கடுத்த இராமானுஜனும் போனான்
சிலுவையிலே அடியுண்டு யேசு செத்தான்
தீயதொரு கருணையாலே கண்ணன் மாண்டான்
பலர் புகழும் இராமனுமே யாற்றில் வீழ்ந்தான்
பார் மீது நான் சாகாதிருப்பேன் காண்பீர்
மலிவு கண்டீர் இவ்வுண்மை, பொய் கூறேன் யான்,
மடிந்தாலும் பொய் கூறேன் மானுடர்க்கே.

How do we reconcile his two statements that he has become immortal and that he would never tell a lie?

Now we have to look into the same Veda to know the exact meaning of immortality.

According to RV, death and deathlessness are not antagonistic to each other. They are two birds on the same tree, shadows of the same god. RV 1-164-20, 30. While death pertains to body, immortality spoken by the Veda does not. It is related to something indifferent of body. It is made of three items- fame/glory, progeny, and bliss. When one gets all the three, he can be deemed to have become immortal.

Look at the following quotes.

1-31-7 For glory, Agni, day by day, you lift up the mortal man to highest immortality,
5-4-10 I am a mortal and you are eternal, O God! I praise you with devotion, and ask you two favors: that we may earn glory, and that we may gain immortality through an unbroken line of descendants.
9-94-4 For glory born be has come forth to glory: he gives life and glory to the singers.
They, clothed in glory, have become immortal.

From the above, we come to know that attaining glory is tantamount to immortality. How does one attain glory? By accomplishing great tasks. The Rbhu brothers did what others could not do. So they attained fame and were rewarded with immortality.

(To be continued)
...How do we reconcile his two statements that he has become immortal and that he would never tell a lie?
Dear Vikrama, Bharathi did attain immortality, his name will never be forgotten. But, this is not the kind of immortality Vedas promises. What Vedas is about is life after death, i.e. your own life/spirit/jeeva, not just memory of your life. Vedas is about heaven, hell and moksham, all that comes after you are dead.

Therefore, I submit to you, with due respect, conflating Bharati and Vedas is unsustainable.

Dear Sri Nara,
Rig Veda nowhere says about heaven, hell, or Moksha or life after death. These concepts came into Hinduism during the Upanishadic period (before or after the atheistic religions of Buddhism and Jainism). Bharati was very much well-versed in the Vedas. He regarded the Samhitas as true Vedas (பச்சை வேதம்) and regarded the Upanishads only so far as they agreed with the Samhita portion of the Vedas. He studied Vedas jointly with Aurobindo and Bharati's poems and prose writing reflect the line of thinking of Sri Aurobindo. Please note his following verse.

செத்தபிறகு சிவலோகம் வைகுந்தம்
சேர்ந்திடலா மென்றே எண்ணியிருப்பார்
பித்த மனிதர்,அவர் சொலுஞ் சாத்திரம்
பேயுரை யாமென்றிங் கூதேடா சங்கம்! 1

இத்தரை மீதினி லேயிந்த நாளினில்
இப்பொழு தேமுக்தி சேர்ந்திட நாடிச்
சுத்த அறிவு நிலையிற் களிப்பவர்
தூய ராமென்றிங் கூதேடா சங்கம்! 2
2) The Vedic seers considered that being blessed with an unbroken line of descendants is a constituent of immortality. This is known from the following.

5-4-10 O Jatavedas, may I be immortal by my children.
Satapata Brahmana says आत्मा वै पुत्र नामासि. It means that a son is the father himself born again.

3) Before we take up the third constituent of immortality, a word on Vedic symbolism. In the Vedas, most verses do not give a direct meaning. For example, we have seen that Agni in Rig Veda means not only the physical fire but also the sun, appetite, sexual urge, intelligence, life force and many other things. In various contexts they mean differently. Altar, ghee and other things associated with fire also have different meanings according to context. In the same way, Soma not only denotes the exhilarating juice of the hilly plant, but also denotes the bliss experienced by sages and seers in their meditative state.

(Here a word about the difference between Santosha and Ananda. Santosha is happiness or satisfaction. It is derived from the root तुष् to be satisfied. Ananda is derived from नन्द् to rejoice. While santosha refers to the satiation of wants, Ananda is a state where one transcends all wants. It is absolute bliss.)

Look at the following words of Sri Aurobindo in his book, The Secret of the Veda.

The Soma wine symbolises the replacing of our ordinary sense-enjoyment by the divine Ananda. Page 80

Soma is the delight, beatitude, Ananda inseparable from the illumined state of the being; and as there are, according to the Veda, three planes of mentality in us, so there are three portions of the ghr.ta dependent on the three gods Surya, Indra and Soma, and the Soma also is offered in three parts, on the three levels of the hill, tris.u s¯anus.u. We may hazard the conjecture, having regard to the nature of the three gods, that Soma releases the divine light from the sense mentality, Indra from the dynamic mentality, Surya from the pure reflective mentality. Page193

The Soma is the immortal delight of existence secret in the waters and the plant and pressed out for drinking by gods and men. page243

How can one attain that ananda? JK says that all our thoughts are associated either with our past or future. The mind is always wallowing in the past or imagining about the future. That makes us restless. Die to the past and live in the present. Observe what is and let the observer become the observed. Thereby one can attain the state of timelessness or deathlessness or bliss, he says.

When a person is blessed with all the three constituents of immortality, (fame, progeny, ananda) he can be said to have attained immortality.

(one more post yo follow)
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When a person is blessed with all the three constituents of immortality, (fame, progeny, ananda) he can be said to have attained immortality.

Bharati attained all the three. He became famous in his own life-time and continues to be so even after 100 years. He has an unbroken line of descendants. He was free from petty desires, worries, fears, falsehoods and anger. He enjoyed divine bliss by identifying himself with what he oserved, as is seen from his poems. So it is no wonder that Bharati claims that he has attained immortality.

While Buddha, Sankara, Ramanuja, Jesus and Krishna became famous and they enjoyed the divine bliss, they were not blessed with an unbroken line of descendants. In this respect, Bharati surpasses them. So he claims that he will not die as Buddha and others did.

Look at his poems given below.

நலிவுமில்லை சாவுமில்லை கேளீர் கேளீர்
நாணத்தைக் கவலையினைச் சினத்தைப் பொய்யை
அச்சத்தை வேட்கை தனை அழித்து விட்டால்
அப்போது சாவும் அங்கே அழிந்து போகும்.

வானில் பறக்கின்ற புள்ளெலாம் நான்;
மண்ணில் திரியும் விலங்கெலாம் நான்;
கானிழல் வளரும் மரமெலாம் நான்,
காற்றும் புனலும் கடலுமே நான். 1

விண்ணில் தெரிகின்ற மீனெலாம் நான்
வெட்ட வெளியின் விரிவெலாம் நான்,
மண்ணில் கிடக்கும் புழுவெலாம் நான்,
வாரியிலுள்ள உயிரெலாம் நான். 2

கம்பனிசைத்த கவியெலாம் நான்,
காருகர் தீட்டும் உருவெலாம் நான்;
இம்பர் வியக்கின்ற மாட கூடம்
எழில் நகர் கோபுரம் யாவுமே நான். 3

இன்னிசை மாத ரிசையுளேன் நான்;
இன்பத் திரள்கள் அனைத்துமே நான்;
புன்னிலை மாந்தர் தம் பொய்யெலாம் நான்;
பொறையருந் துன்பப் புணர்ப்பெலாம் நான். 4

மந்திரங் கோடி இயக்குவோன் நான்,
இயங்கு பொருளின் இயல்பெலாம் நான்,
தந்திரங் கோடி சமைத்துளோன் நான்,
சாத்திர வேதங்கள் சாற்றினோன் நான். 5

அண்டங்கள் யாவையும் ஆக்கினோன் நான்,
அவை பிழையாமே சுழற்றுவோன் நான்;
கண்டநற் சக்திக் கணமெலாம் நான்,
காரண மாகிக் கதித்துளோன் நான். 6

நானெனும் பொய்யை நடத்துவோன் நான்;
ஞானச் சுடர்வானில் செல்லுவோன் நான்
ஆனபொருள்கள் அனைத்தினும் ஒன்றாய்
அறிவாய் விளங்குமுதற சோதிநான்! 7
namaste shrI Vikrama.

An enlightening analysis of BhArati that highlights the ultimate purport of his poetical expressions. With some elaboration, I think you should publish it into a small book for the benefit of BhArati rasikas.

It seems to me that BhArati has strongly recommended the two main messages of the upaniShads: the path of jnAna, and Self-Realization. I found these examples in this regard (there could be other examples too).

அறிவே தெய்வம்

ஆயிரந் தெய்வங்கள் உண்டென்று தேடி அலையும் அறிவிலிகாள்!--பல்
லாயிரம் வேதம் அறிவொன்றே தெய்வமுண்தாள்மெனல் கேளீரோ? 1

உள்ளதனைத்திலும் உள்ளொளியாகி ஒளிர்ந்திடும் ஆன்மாவே--இங்கு,
கொள்ளற்கரிய பிரமமென்றே மறை கூவுதல் கேளீரோ? 8

ஒன்று பிரமமுளதுண்மை அஃதுன் உணர்வெனும் வேதமெலாம்--என்றும்
ஒன்று பிரமமுளதுண்மை அஃதுன் உணர்வெனக் கொள்வாயே. 10


"பூமியிலே வழங்கிவரும் மதத்துக்கெல்லாம்
பொருளினைநாம் இங்கெடுத்துப் புகலக் கேளாய்:
சாமி நீ; சாமி நீ; கடவுள் நீயே;
தத்வமஸி; தத்வமஸி; நீயே அஃதாம்;
பூமியிலே நீ கடவுளில்லை யென்று
புகல்வதுநின் மனத்துள்ளே புகுந்த மாயை;
சாமிநீ அம்மாயை தன்னை நீக்கிச்
சதாகாலம் ’சிவோஹம்’ என்று சாதிப் பாயே!"

aRivE deyvam

Ayira~n deyva~ggaL uNDenRu thEDi alaiyum aRivilikAL!--pal
lAyiram vEdam aRivonRE deyvamuNdALmenal kELIrO? <lang=eng;>1<-lang>

uLLadanaitthilum uLLoLiyAki oLir~ndiDum AnmAvE--i~ggu,
koLLaRkariya biramamenRE maRai kUvudal kELIrO? <lang=eng;>8<-lang>

onRu biramamuLaduNmai aHdun uNarvenum vEdamelAm--enRum
onRu biramamuLaduNmai aHdun uNarvenak koLvAyE. <lang=eng;>10<-lang>


"bhUmiyilE vazha~ggivarum matatthukkellAm
poruLinai~nAm i~ggeDutthup pukalak kELAy:
sAmi ~nI; sAmi ~nI; kaDavuL ~nIyE;
tatvamaSi; tatvamaSi; ~nIyE aHdAm;
bhUmiyilE ~nI kaDavuLillai yenRu
pukalvadu~nin manatthuLLE puku~nda mAyai;
sAmi~nI ammAyai tannai ~nIkkich
chadAkAlam 'sivOham' enRu sAdip pAyE!"
Namaste Sri Saidevo,
Thank you for the compliments. One of my published books is on Bharati and Vedam. The present essay is an elaboration of one of the essays in it with materials gathered after the publication.

Bharati has spoken of Brahman in many places, though he uses many terms as its synonyms. Of all I like this one expressed in a pithy phrase.

சூழ்ந்ததெலாம் கடவுளெனச் சுருதி சொல்லும்.

What all surrounds us is nothing but God, so say the Vedas.

Are we not reminded of the first verse in Isavasya Upanishad?

ईशावास्यं इदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत्

He expands this idea in another poem.

கேளப்பா சீடனே கழுதை ஒன்றை

கீழான பன்றியினைத் தேளைக் கண்டு
தாளைப் பார்த்திருகரமும் சிரமேற் கூப்பி
சங்கர சங்கர என்று பணிதல் வேண்டும்
கூளத்தினை மலத்தினையும் வணங்கல் வேண்டும்
கூடி நின்ற பொருனனைத்தின் கூட்டம் தெய்வம்
மீளத்தான் இதை மட்டும் விரித்துச் சொல்வேன்
விண் மட்டும் தெய்வமன்று மண்ணுமஃதே

சுத்த அறிவே சிவமென்றுரைத்தார் மேலோர்
சுத்த மண்ணும் சிவமென்றே உரைக்கும் வேதம்;
வித்தகனாம் குரு சிவமென்றுரைத்தார் மேலோர்,
வித்தையிலாப் புலையனுமஃதென்னும் வேதம்;

பித்தரே அனைத்துயிருங் கடவுளென்று
பேசுவது மெய்யானால் பெண்டிரென்றும்
நித்த நுமதருகினிலே குழந்தை யென்றும்
நிற்பனவுந் தெய்வமன்றோ நிகழ்த்துவீரே?

உயிர்களெல்லாம் தெய்வமன்றிப் பிறவொன்றில்லை;
ஊர்வனவும் பறப்பனவும் நேரே தெய்வம்;
பயிலுமுயிர் வகைமட்டுமன்றி யிங்குப்
பார்க்கின்ற பொருளெல்லாம் தெய்வம் கண்டீர்;

வெயிலளிக்கும் இரவி, மதி, விண்மீன், மேகம்
மேலுமிங்குப் பலபலவாம் தோற்றங் கொண்டே
இயலுகின்ற ஜடப்பொருள்கள் அனைத்தும் தெய்வம்;
எழுதுகோல் தெய்வமிந்த எழுத்தும் தெய்வம்
[பாரதி அறுபத்தாறு]


This subject is discussed in Katha upanishad. Mantras 6.14 and 6.15
( yathaa sarvE pramuchyanthE......brahmasamachnuthE 6.14
yatha sarvE prabhithyanthE hrydayasyEha granthatha:.....
anusaasanam 6.15 ). In a nutshell, when desires are annihilated, one
attains immortality.

Again, we can refer to Sanatsujathiyam in Mahabharata. The sage says
' pramadham is mrityu ' , which means that swerving away from your
real Self -sat chit ananda roopam - is death. If you are established in
your Self, you are immortal.

Srimad Bhagavath Gita, Sri Vishnu sahasranamam, Vidura neethi and
Sanatsujathiyam are some of the gems in MB.
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The best anectode is the life of Bhagawan Ramana. Before casting away his
physical body, he consoled all the devotees with this immortal words -
நலிவுமில்லை சாவுமில்லை கேளீர் கேளீர்
நாணத்தைக் கவலையினைச் சினத்தைப் பொய்யை
அச்சத்தை வேட்கை தனை அழித்து விட்டால்
அபபோது சாவும் அங்கே அழிந்து போகும்.” -பாரதி
Who Goes? What dies? whom am I? If I am immortal, why do I need to achieve it?
I believe I am Immortal (aham Brahma asmi), but realization is not there yet. That is my quest.

As Juggy Vasudev says:
"Samadhi means a state in which one has transcended the limitations of the body and mind, and this must happen in life and not in death. So, for those who are in a state of samadhi, there is no such thing as death. Death belongs to the realm of the body."Your body is just something you accumulated. It is a piece of earth you imbibed through food. This is just a piece of earth," he said, tapping his chest, "prancing around like this. Your body is on loan from the planet. All the countless numbers of people who have lived on this planet before you and me have all become topsoil, and so will you. This planet will collect back atom by atom what it has loaned to you. No interest, though," he said, winking."If one is constantly, experientially aware that both the body and the mind are accumulations one has gathered, then that is samadhi. You are in the body, but you are not it. You are of the mind, but you are not it. That means you are absolutely free of suffering because whatever suffering you have known enters you either through the body or through the mind. Once your awareness is keen enough to create a space between these two accumulations and who you really are-this is the end of all suffering.”
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