By Alex Hankey PhD


In the course of over 50years teaching and research on the Vedic sciences and their different applications, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became the 20th century’s greatest commentator on the Rig Veda, of which he made the first complete video recording in the early 1970’s with the help of Brahmarishi Devarata from Karnataka, reputedly the greatest Rig Veda pundit of his generation. This paper starts by tracing the events leading up to the recording: Maharishi’s intellectual roots in the Vedic tradition; the roles of his Master, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, and of Kashmiri Shaivism from his deep and long-time friendship with Laxmanju, the head of that order in the mid-20th century. Following the recording of Rig Veda suktas, Brahmarishi Devarat and Maharishi commented on various richas that had been recorded. Their commentary, which remains on videotape in the library of Maharishi Vedic University is unique. The most famous previous commentary, that of Sayana, had dealt with relative and mundane aspects of the richas, for the purpose of explaining their meaning on that level to pundits of his time. In contrast, Brahmarisihi Devarata and Maharishi’s commentary is the first authoritative one from a purely adhiatmic, spiritual perspective. It elucidates the Rig Veda’s deep inner structures and spiritual meaning, as is here shown from various different perspectives.



His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had an essentially unique training at the hands of his spiritual master. Swami Brahmananda Saraswati had become the Shankaracharya of the northern monastery of the Shankara order, Jyotir Math (literally, the ‘Monastery of the Spiritual Light’) at the ripe age of 72, after being begged to take up the position for almost quarter of a century. Those who experienced his presence reported that he carried a quality of spiritual atmosphere which was unparalleled at the time. He had long been regarded as the greatest authority of his age on Hindu spirituality and its Vedic antecedents. Having left home at age nine with his mother’s blessings to become a renunciate, his manifest devotion led him to be compared with Prahlad and others of India’s renowned child saints. Five years later, at age fourteen, he finally found a master meeting the supreme standards he had set – a realized soul who was both a life-long celibate and an authority on Vedic philosophy – in Uttar Kashi on the upper Ganges in the Himalayas. In the hands of Swami Krishnananda Saraswati, he was soon sent to practice secret techniques of realization alone in a cave some way from the ashram, and attained realization shortly thereafter. After two decades spent in his Master’s company, he was finally initiated as a full, renunciant Dandi Sannyasi at the Kumbha Mela in Prayag at age 36. His Master then directed him to perform Tapas for the next 12 years, for which he repaired to the upper reaches of the river Narmada, living in the village traditionally said to harbor the place where all the life force of the planet retires during the mahapralaya – a place said to be like a bridge between worlds.  Returning for similar 12 year periods twice more, he finally became Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math shortly before the young Mahesh joined him.

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Such was the power of his Guru Dev’s presence that Maharishi described the manner of his service and spiritual training as like being in the field of a supremely powerful magnet. He simply became ‘spiritually polarized’ by his Master’s presence, and all aspects of spiritual life and spiritual knowledge slowly became clear to him, ‘passed silently from heart to heart’.

The Shankaracharya reputedly understood all the spiritual paths and could advise aspirants on any of them. Swami Rama, later Shankacharya of the South, and founder of the Himalayan Institute in Holmesville, Pennsylvania, recorded in ‘Living with the Himalayan Masters’ how Swami Brahmananda had directed him to manuscripts in the Maharaja’s Palace in Mysore, which became the foundation of his life’s work. As Shankaracharya, Swami Brahmananda was consulted by the great and the good from all walks of life. Maharishi recorded how he helped host visits by both the first two Presidents of India.

Among Brahmachari Mahesh’s more formative experiences was organizing the performance of Ati Rudra Abhishek on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi in early 1944. His Master had instigated it to bring the Second World War to a speedier end; the future Maharishi got firsthand experience of the power of Veda and Vedic Yagas to fulfil the needs of mankind. Such events laid the foundation for his realization that the future of civilization depended to a large extent on preserving the Veda and India’s appreciation of the light of its wisdom.

After serving as his Master’s secretary for 13 years and organizing the funerary rites after he had ‘dropped the body’, Brahmachari Mahesh retired to meditate in Uttar Kashi, reaching a point of mental silence so deep that he recorded that the thought which finally led him to come south two years later had been ‘the first thought in a week’.


Science: the young Mahesh had been instructed by his Master, long before joining him, that he should complete his degree in physics at the University of Allahabad, where his name is still to be found among the lists of graduates. His scientific education was to serve him in good stead for the rest of his life, and mean that he was never out of his depth in discussing scientific matters, or taking advantage of the advances in modern technology. When his teaching began to seriously expand at the end of the 1960’s, so that he had thousands of students to reach around the world, he made use of modern recording equipment, first audio recording every lecture that he held, and then, from the beginning of the 1970’s keeping a private team video-recording all meetings of importance. This made it attractive for senior pundits to come and work with him.

Soon after leaving Uttarkashi, Maharishi, began teaching a system of meditation centered on a supremely simple and powerful mental technique given to him by his Guru Dev, and which he named ‘Transcendental Meditation’. He taught the technique in a form designed for the householder, Grihasta, emphasizing that it is simple and effortless to practice, involving neither concentration nor contemplation. Concentration, he said, involves effort, and, fixing the mind on one level of experience, is counter-productive; it should instead be allowed to move to the goal naturally and spontaneously, which it will do automatically, given ‘the right angle’. In this way, Maharishi emphasized that the Vedic tradition’s approach to meditation is completely natural, and that results of its regular practice accrue naturally. He was confident that scientific investigation would easily confirm the benefits reported by his students. Once he had established a number of centers to teach Transcendental Meditation around the world, he therefore started stimulating scientific research programs that would make it so popular.

A major goal throughout Maharishi’s career was to revive the Vedic tradition of training pundit children to chant the Vedas, and use their power to bring fulfillment to the needs of the people. The need for revival stemmed from the increasing erosion of the traditional pundit families who were losing their children to modern life, and dying out. Maharishi determined to reverse this. To do so, he encouraged scientific work to research and analyze all aspects of the Vedic sciences, of which for him the science of meditation was first and foremost. His scientific training helped him foresee that science would eventually demonstrate the validity of India’s ancient Vedic sciences. Rather than continuing to cause them problems, it would eventually become the key to restoring confidence in the whole Vedic tradition.

Philosophy: each year Maharishi would take students at his Ashram in Rishikesh to Kashmir to avoid the worst of the heat: he was thus able to meet and talk with Laxmanju, the head of Kashmiri Shaivism, well versed in the path to enlightenment described by Abhivanagupta and other Kashmiri sages of the early second millennium. Maharishi found their account of mental silence in deep meditation, and its qualities, very clear, and a perfect complement to his own understanding of states of consciousness experienced in meditation.

The Vedic description of such levels of mental experience is given in the Sankhya philosophy of Maharishi Kapila. Sankhya lays out many aspects of the world of subjective experience, naming five organs of action (karmendriyas), five physical senses (jnanendriyas), five forms of corresponding sensory information (tanmatras), and five aspects of matter to which those forms of sensory information pertain (bhutas)[1]. To these 20 ‘tattvas’ (as Kashmiri Shaivism terms them), Sankhya adds five more, all subjective aspects of mental experience:

(1) the mental substrate for information – both sensory and mental information, Manas,

(2) the power that discriminates and decides, Buddhi,

(3) the power that asserts identity i.e. separateness from other things and people, Ahamkar,

(4) the wider aspect of nature (in its state of equilibrium), Prakriti, and

(5) the pure subjective ‘self’, first experienced clearly in deep meditation, Purusha.

Kashmiri Shaivism then continues where Sankhya leaves off. In addition to the 25 tattvas of Sankhya, it identifies 11 further tattvas, all concerning the problem of how consciousness can manifest all aspects of creation. The first 5 of these are ‘Shuddha tattvas’, ‘pure tattvas’, which are said to exist as interior aspects of the Absolute basis of creation, enabling it to manifest the relative world while remaining unmanifest and Absolute. [2]

One must, however, state certain caveats in this whole approach, particularly that one is attempting to describe in language the realm of consciousness from which language itself emerges, and to which in a precise sense it does not apply. It is like trying to describe colors seen in an opal: opalescence transmits a sense of vibrant color, but if you try to catch any one of them you cannot, for they are too evanescent and fluctuating to do so with the unaided eye. All colors are present, but fixating on any one of them, as can be done with a picture, is not possible. Even in Shankara Vedanta this problem arises, for statements of realization like “Ayam Atma Brahma”, or “Aham Brahmasmi” use three words in each, but, for example, ‘Aham’, ‘Brahman’, and ‘Asmi’ are not separable entities in the Absolute Unity of Brahman, though use of common language might make it seem that way. Individuality (Aham), Totality (Brahman), and Being (Asmi), are only ‘flavors’, inseparable like colors in opalescence.

Maharishi’s approval of the Shuddha tattva concept is clear from the names he gave forms of experience in meditation: pure existence, pure awareness, pure intelligence, pure knowledge, pure creative intelligence, and pure consciousness. One of the five Shuddha tattvas is actually called the ‘pure knowledge tattva’ (Suddha vidya tattva); another, the ‘Siva Tattva’, is usually translated as ‘Pure Consciousess’, so correspondence is without doubt. For the others, it is: Shakti Tattva – pure creative intelligence, Ishwara Tattva – pure intelligence, and Sadashiva Tattwa – pure existence. The tattva in Sankhya, which these all concern, is Purusha, the first aspect of pure consciousness experienced in meditation, termed by Maharishi ‘pure awareness’.[3]

Kashmiri Shaivism holds that the five Shuddha tattvas give consciousness the power to know itself (i.e. to be consciousness), and endow it with supreme power and authority. They also seem to form an inner basis for Sankhya’s last five tattvas:

Purusha (pure awareness) – Siva Tattwa,

Prakriti (nature in equilibrium) – Shakti tattva,

Ahamkara (ego) – Ishwara Tattva,

Buddhi (discriminating intellect) – Sadashiva Tattwa, and

Manas (the receptacle for mental information) – Shuddha Vidya Tattwa.


The correspondence between the terminologies of Maharishi and Kashmiri Shaivism indicate the value of his conversations with Laxmanju.  In particular, his use of the Shuddha tattvas to express subtle distinctions between deep aspects of meditative experience, as in the Kashmiri school, enabled him to discuss aspects of Vedic philosophy never previously attempted in English. In his approach to explaining Vedic cognition, Maharishi’s debt was redoubled, for he made extensive use of concepts related implicitly to the Shuddha tattvas.

The five tattvas constitute major contributions to understanding the nature of mind and spirit. They underly subjective experience, making it possible; they express the Absolute’s ability to express so many forms in the relative world: Pure Consciousness, by its manifesting power (Shakti), can remain Pure Consciousness, yet appear as all aspects of the universe. Chief of these are the categories which Maharishi used to analyze Veda, those of Knower, Process of Knowing, and Known – i.e. the worlds of subjectivity, active intelligence, and objectivity.

Maharishi always expressed the highest regard for Veda. In the introduction to his Translation and Commentary on Chapters 1 to 6 of the Bhagavad Gita, he explicitly says that, ‘the Vedas are the light of life for all mankind’. He adds that their revival age by age has always brought renewed spiritual vigor to the Land of the Veda, and hope for the common man to cross this ocean of miseries. A remarkable aspect of the Vedic sciences is that they assert that Veda is not the composition of the human mind. The Vedic seers – Rishis and Maharishis – first cognized Veda as the hymns or ‘suktas’ arose within the deepest state of mental silence, not as intellectually conceived structures on the normal level of discursive thought. This idea, that Veda is not of human origin, was something that Maharishi would pursue and comment on for the rest of his life. How could things like the Vedic suktas with apparently normal linguistic structure not originate as intellectual constructions?

In his effort to revive the Vedic tradition, Maharishi was to solve this problem completely. In the early 1970’s, he took his first step, to propose making a recording of the first of the four Vedas, the Rig Veda, in collaboration with the greatest pundits willing to join him.


The greatest Rg Veda pundit of that generation was considered to be Brahmarishi Devarata, widely known and revered throughout his native Karnataka, one who had even had cognitions of his own on the level of Veda. Brahmarishi Devarata was therefore the first that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi invited to collaborate with him to make the world’s first video recording of the entire text of Rig Veda (around 10,000 richas), together with a commentary on them from an enlightened, spiritual perspective. As we know, Brahmarishi Devarata accepted the invitation, and over the following two years, the two worked together to complete the project.

Brahmarishi Devarata also brought his son, another skilled pundit, who spent long hours with the two of them, often chanting the richas being recorded along with his father. It was not only his skill in chanting that Devarata brought to the project. He also brought the fruits of a lifetime’s study and appreciation of the text, so that his commentary was full of unique insights and subtleties. To those, Maharishi would add his own perspectives, filled with insights from his Master from the Vedic tradition, new angles born of his teaching work all over India, and from his forays into Kashmir and Kashmiri Shaivism.

Out of this collaboration was born Maharishi’s PhD program in Vedic studies, which started in 1974-1975, and which eventually led Maharishi to discover his Apaurusheya Bhashya (uncreated commentary) of Rig Veda, and, on that basis to establish pundit schools all over the Indian subcontinent, beginning in NOIDA outside New Delhi. The Devarata-Maharishi collaboration was truly an historic venture.


Brahmarishi Devarata and Maharishi worked together in the following fashion: Devarata set about chanting the ten mandalas of Rig Veda by himself, or with his son, sukta by sukta with the video equipment recording every aspect of the proceedings. Later he would videotape the commentary (Bhashya) with Maharishi sitting beside him, translating his words into English and adding additions and clarifications, meeting with nods of approval, for Maharishi’s additions were often profound, original contributions in their own right. Theirs was the first comprehensive Rig Veda commentary since that of Sayana, which they declared Adhibhautic, i.e. concerning the Relative aspect of reality. In contrast, the new commentary was Adhiatmic i.e. from the perspective of the Absolute, with sections that were Adhidaivic, concerning the Gap between Absolute and Relative.

For example, in his commentary, Brahmarishi Devarat identified an instruction to go to the Absolute state of awareness i.e. to ‘transcend’ the relative aspects of consciousness named in Sankhya philosophy. The instruction, which occurs in sukta X.2.3 in Rig Veda’s tenth and final mandala, is thus to enter the states of pure awareness and pure consciousness. The sukta is attributed to Maharishi Brighu as rishi, while the Devatas are the cows (Chhandas varies). The key word, Nirvartadhvam, occurs throughout the sukta, and instructs the cows to ‘retire’ i.e. from the relative world to inner consciousness.

As the commentary explains (on the Adhidaivic level), the cows symbolize the five senses (panchendriyas). The symbolic (again Adhidaivic) meaning of the instruction ‘Retire’, is thus for the listener to ‘retire’ with respect to the cows i.e. from the world of the five senses’, and enter the Yogic state of pratyahara which is a spontaneous accompaniment of the process of transcending and a precondition for the state of transcendence – Turiya, the fourth state of consciousness, and the focal point for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation technique. Later, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi simply translated the word ‘Nirvrtadhvam’ as, ‘transcend’ – a truly Adhiatmic interpretation.


The appropriateness of this commentary is confirmed by the seer, Maharishi Brighu, being famed for his process of enlightenment contained in his conversations with his father. These, as recorded in the famous ‘Brighu Valli’ in the Taittriya Upanishad, end with the famous statement of realization ‘aham vishvam’ – ‘I am the Universe’, a realization also recorded by Kasmiri sages like Abhinavagupta, who maintain that it requires unlimited expansion of the inner consciousness under the influence of the xxx Shakti.

The verses of the hymn continue to develop the instruction to transcend. They symbolically represent a sequence of instructions concerning successive stages of application of the senses, the cows. Following them and successively ‘retiring’ from different states of conscious experience, the sstudent (shishya) eventually gains full enlightenment.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi traced how the symbolism used here corresponds to that in the story of Satyakarma who, as the Upanishads relate, converted 100 cows to 1000 cows with the aid of the God Vayu. The phrase ‘100 cows’ represents the Adhidaivic level of mastery of sense perception, the ability to communicate with the Devas. In contrast, ‘1,000 cows’ represents the Adhiatmic, level of sense perception,where the Absolute basis of all things is realized, as expressed in the higher mahavakyas, like Aham Brahmasmi – ‘I am Totality’, and Ayam Atma Brahm – ‘This Self is indeed Brahman’, discussed above.


The Adhiatmic, Absolute, aspect of the new commentary was very fortunate, since, as was mentioned in the first section, the nature of Veda can really only be understood from the perspective of the dynamics of consciousness moving within itself. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was subsequently to make this the foundation for centre of all his profound teachings on the structure of Veda and the Vedic literature. Just as the Kashmiri sages ascribed the ability of consciousness to be ‘conscious of itself’ to a profound ‘dynamism’ within ‘purusha’, the state identified by Maharishi Kapila in his Sankhya sutra as the basis for subjective experience, Maharishi ascribed the cognition of Veda to a similar dynamism within consciousness.

This realization, that ‘dynamism within consciousness’ is responsible for cognition of Vaidik richas, became enshrined in all Maharishi’s later teachings. He explained this as follows: first, when pundits chant a Sukta of Rig Veda, they traditionally start by naming the Rishi, Devata and Chhandas of the Richas in the Sukta, naming them individually for each sukta in which they differ; second, the totality of Suktas of each Veda forms a ‘Samhita’ or wholeness. These two well known facts mean that Veda possesses a fundamental structure: it is a ‘Samhita of Rishi, Devata and Chhandas’, a unified wholeness of knower, process of knowing and known. For the rishi (seer) of each richa functions as a knower, the Devatas govern the various jnanendriyas (senses) i.e. the processes of knowing, while the Chhandas represents the structure of richa on an objective level, the known.

Here, the knower, process of knowing and known are not separate entities as they apparently seem in waking state consciousness. Rather they constitute dynamic aspects of the underlying unity, in the same way that the various Suddha Tattvas of Kashmiri Shaivism represent inseparable aspects of the Absolute. Rishi, Devata and Chhandas are never separable entities. Rather they are holistic aspects of Samihita, the wholeness of Brahman, like an opal’s colors. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi thus transformed the Kashmiri sages’ realization, that pure consciousness can be ascribed various tattvas to describe its inner dynamism into the statement that Veda is cognized by means of the same properties of inner dynamism represented in this case by Rishi, Devata and Chhandas. These form a similar irreducible unity – the wholeness of Samhita. Veda itself Maharishi termed ‘pure knowledge’ here, explicitly using a term from Kashmiri Shaivism (Suddha Vidya Tattva).

This is truly ascribing an Absolute structure to Veda, and elucidating that structure in ways that can justifiably be said to be from an Absolute, Adhiatmic, perspective. It also explains how, in that state of awareness, consciousness, having retired from, the five senses, the internal mental activity of mind, the discriminative activity of the intellect, and the selfish concerns and attitudes of the little ‘ego’, can stands alone by itself, and continue to have ‘self-knowledge’. The dynamism within the singular state explains the continuing sense of existence and identity, though in the enlightened sense of unbounded existence, infinite and eternal, as comes to be experienced in deep meditation, long before Veda is cognized.


Maharishi coined a special term to describe the dynamism afforded by the structure of Rishi, Devata and Chandas within Samhita. He referred to it as the ‘self-interacting dynamics of consciousness’. The first three were inseparable aspects of the fourth; each played specific roles in structuring consciousness as we experience it, both as knower (Rishi), and wholeness (Samhita); but not only those, we also experience ourselves as intelligence (Devata), and, when we can know our state of mind, we can experience ourselves as the known (Chhandas).  Yet, these four are inseparable, so if subjective awareness is ascribed to one, it must be ascribed to all. This may begin to explain the basis for the cognitions by which Maharishi applied his ‘self-interacting dynamics of consciousness’ to elucidate the structure of Veda and the Vedic literature.

The cognitions were so simple that Maharishi turned them into a song about consciousness, the Veda Lila, which was taught to all the children in Maharishi schools around the world, and became their schools’ anthems. The Veda Lila declaims first, how there is a four-fold structure to consciousness – the Samhita of Rishi, Devata and Chhandas. In its simple form, it simply explains the meaning of Knower, Process of Knowing and Known, accompanied by appropriate mudras, it which innocently enlivening the values of ‘Rishi’, ‘Devata’ and ‘Chhandas’ within the child. Through many repetitions the values of these suddha tattvas are slowly enlivened, and they come to experience and live them. Its more advanced form, the Veda Lila explains how Samhita, Rishi, Devata and Chhandas each have consciousness, and how each can ‘view’ the others.

In this way, the song is a means to develop the inner awareness of Maharishi’s aphorism:

Pure Knowledge is Structured in Pure Consciousness’,

which represents, at the higher level of the suddha tattvas, the aphorism that Maharishi had earlier introduced in his Science of Creative Intelligence and adopted as the motto for his system of education:

Knowledge is Structured in Consciousness’.


Even more profound was Maharishi’s use of Veda Lila to show how Veda emerges from consciousness, and thus demonstrate the Truth of the converse of these aphorisms:

From the Structure of Consciousness comes the Structure of Knowledge’.

As originally taught to members of Maharishi’s Purusha and Mother Divine programs, Veda Lila clearly explains how, from the ‘interacting dynamics of consciousness’ emerges the structure of Pure Knowledge, the Veda.

Veda has two portions, Mantra and Brahmana, the former consisting of the four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda, and the latter portion consisting of the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads, the oldest texts in the Vedic literature other than the Vedas themselves. Veda Lila explains how these parts of the Vedic literature emerge: when Samhita is aware of itself, Rig Veda emerges; when Samhita is aware of Rishi, Sama Veda emerges; when Samhita is aware of Devata, Yajur Veda emerges; and when Samhita is aware of Chhandas, Atharva Veda emerges. Conversely, in the other direction, when Chhandas is aware of Samhita, the Brahmanas emerge, when Devata is aware of Samhita, the Aranyakas emerge, and when Rishi is aware of Samhita, the Upanishads emerge. (In answer to questions by members of his Purusha group, Maharishi also explained the significance of interactions between Rishi, Devata and Chhandas alone, and higher levels of interaction.)

Maharishi structured a small drama using Veda Lila as a script, and by this means firmly implanted the sequence of realizations in the minds of all his students. Even young children in early grades of Maharishi Schools were able to repeat with conviction this fundamental fact of life: the term ‘pure consciousness’ means the state where consciousness knows itself – something that visiting scholars from India found intensely moving. One, in particular, Vice-Chancellor of one of India’s Vedic Universities, remarked that many of India’s pundit scholars did not understand this fundamental point so simply and clearly.


This is also consistent with the final teachings of the Vedic sciences, Vedanta, which, in the form of Advaita Vedanta, holds that, in pure consciousness, knower, process of knowing and known are unified, they have become one i.e. the knower knows him/herself, the knower has become the known, and that this is an Absolute, inseparable unity. In this way, Veda itself is seen to be Brahman, for pure consciousness is Atman, and Atman is Brahman. Veda contains, within its own structure, all the truths transmitted by the mahavakhyas in the Upanishads. This is the import of the Adhiatmic commentary on Rig Veda.

A particular Richa, on which Brahmarishi Devarat commented, and Maharishi elaborated was: Richo Akshare Parame Vyoman, Yasmin Deva Adhivishve Nisheduh … ‘The Richas of the Veda are structured in the transcendental indestructible reality, in which reside all the impulses of creative intelligence.’ Here, Veda itself directly confirms the interpretation of the Adhiatmic commentary: Veda is structured in the infinite dynamism of pure consciousness. Subsequently, Maharishi used this verse as a paradigm for all eternal knowledge, and thus for the laws of science. In his World Conference on Vedic Science, teams of scientists were set to demonstrate that all scientific laws, and all disciplines of science, conform to its structure.

The Richa in question continues: Yastanna Veda kim richa karishyati, Ya itadvidusta ime samasate. ‘He who does not know Veda, what can the Richas accomplish for him? He who knows it is profoundly established in it.’ The ability to cognize Veda requires complete establishment in the state of pure consciousness, enlightenment, the state in which the Richas are to be found. Thus, the Vedas are indeed, ‘The Light of Life for all mankind.’ This is why Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads (the Brahmana portion of the Veda ) concern the state of enlightenment, and its development. The Brahmanas describe Yagyas that clear the path to enlightenment; the Aranyakas are forest texts used during long time periods pursuing meditation away from human habitation on the path to enlightenment (like Maharishi’s Guru Dev on the upper Narmada river), while the Upanishads are records of the Rishis greatest lectures about enlightenment and the path leading to it.

NITYA APAURUSHEYA VEDA (After the ‘structure of Veda?)

In making their deeper commentary, more concerned with personal growth and progress on the path to enlightenment, Brahmarishi Devarata and Maharishi produced an account of Rig Veda’s understanding of itself contained in such statements as ‘Nitya Apaurusheya Veda’ – ‘Eternal and uncreated is the Veda’ – an account of the deep understanding of reality and life that Veda itself  promotes. This phrase in particular was something that Maharishi returned to often in his subsequent work on Veda and the Vedic literature. How can Veda be said to be eternal? In what sense is it ‘uncreated’? Maharishi considered these questions deeply while conducting his PhD program in Vedic studies in the years 1975-1978.

At one point, pursuing the question further, Maharishi suggested that what makes the Veda indestructible and eternal must somehow be intrinsic to Veda itself. He began to consider whether the structure of Veda must be what makes it eternal. What is its structure? Veda is cognized by Rishis paying attention to particular Devatas, or modes of cognition (each of the five main Devatas is regarded as a governing intelligence for one of the five senses), resulting in phonemes in particular meters, or Chhandas, coming out. The resulting Richas cognized by the Rishis were collated by the great Maharishi Veda Vyasa into Suktas and Mandalas, and eventually into the entire Samhita of each Veda.

Obviously, from this perspective, the Veda is an expression of the Absolute state of consciousness, and consists of fluctuations within the unified state. It can only be nitya, eternal, and Apaurusheya, uncreated. This is a truly Adhiatmic, or Absolute perspective on Veda. It also represents the perspective of Vedanta, meaning ‘the end of Veda’, the celebrated final work in the Shad Darshanas (or ‘Six Systems of Indian Philosophy’). The Veda itself reveals the structure of Vedanta as an aspect of its own structure. Advaita (non-dual or unitive) Vedanta is implied by, and contained in Veda.


Brahmarishi Devarat’s work with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was thus able to unfold deeper implications of Veda. It blossomed into a revolutionary new understanding of Veda, the relationship of its Mantra and Brahmana portions, and its relationship to the Shad Darshanas particularly Vedanta. The new understanding illustrated how and why, ‘The Vedas are the Light of Life of all mankind, leading all life to fulfilment’.

Like Brahmarishi Devarat, Maharishi always maintained that the state of consciousness in which the Suktas of the Veda can be cognized is the highest state. The Vedic Richas constitute fluctuations of the primordial state of consciousness out of which the universe itself is created. They form an eternal reality transcending all relative expressions occurring in space-time after creation has taken place. They give knowledge of all processes in space-time and in the worlds of the spirit. They are the ultimate Laws of Nature. To know them is to know the power that structures all things.


[1] bhutas are not elements in the material sense, since the overall philosophy is holistic and not reductive; likening them to chemical ‘elements’ is to confuse categorical contexts.

[2] The Kashmiri sages named another set of five ‘Pure/Impure’ Tattvas responsible for the dynamics of the relative world, and for activities of consciousness within the world of space and time: these govern Time, Space, Form, Power, & Desire.

[3] These five tattvas are not really five, but constitute in their essence a singular unity, apparently only describable in different ways, owing to the mind’s inherent limitations.