Hymns to Agni from the Rig-Veda translated in their esoteric sense with original Sanskrit text, a Foreword, and an essay, “The Doctrine of the Mystics”.
In the Foreword and in the “Doctrine of the Mystics”, Sri Aurobindo summarises the philosophic system of the Vedic mystics, the inner meaning of the Vedic rites, and the significance of the more important Vedic deities and symbols. On his rendering of these hymns to Agni, Sri Aurobindo comments: “This is a literary and not a strictly literal translation. But a fidelity to the meaning, the sense of the words and the structure of the thought, has been preserved: in fact the method has been to start with a bare and scrupulously exact rendering of the actual language and adhere to that as the basis of the interpretation; for it is only so that we can find out the actual thoughts of these ancient mystics. But any rendering of such great poetry as the hymns of the Rig-veda, magnificent in their colouring and images, noble and beautiful in rhythm, perfect in their diction, must, if it is not to be a merely dead scholastic work, bring at least a faint echo of their poetic force, – more cannot be done in a prose translation and in so different a language.”
Contents: translation from nine of the ten mandalas of the Rig-veda, Five essays: “The First Rik of the Rig-veda”, “Riks of Madhuchachandas”, “The Vamadeva Hymns to Agni”, “A Great God has been Released” and “Word-Formation.”
“The Veda possesses the high spiritual substance of the Upanishads, but lacks their phraseology; it is an inspired knowledge as yet insufficiently equipped with intellectual and philosophical terms. We find a language of poets and illuminates to whom all experience is real, vivid, sensible, even concrete, not yet of thinkers and systematisers to whom the realities of the mind and soul have become abstractions. Yet a system, a doctrine there is; but its structure is supple, its terms are concrete, the cast of its thought is practical and experimental, but in the accomplished type of an old and sure experience, not of one that is crude and uncertain because yet in the making. Here we have the ancient psychological science and the art of spiritual living of which the Upanishads are the philosophical outcome and modification and Vedanta, Sankhya and Yoga the late intellectual result and logical dogma. But like all life, like all science that is still vital, it is free from the armoured rigidities of the reasoning intellect; in spite of its established symbols and sacred formulae it is still large, free, flexible, fluid, supple and subtle. It has the movement of life and the large breath of the soul. And while the later Philosophies are books of Knowledge and make liberation the one supreme good, the Veda is a Book of Works and the hope for which it spurns our present bonds and littleness is perfection, self-achievement, immortality.”
Sri Aurobindo, Hymns to the Mystic Fire
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