A Devoted Disciple

R K Mishraji was a prolific writer and his works encompass decades of his experiences. His knowledge was not limited to the long and pivotal journalistic career but he also devoted a large part of his time to the study of the Vedas in Sanskrit under the guidance of Late Pandit Motilal Shastriji of Jaipur. He thus inherited the Vedic scholarship started by the Late Pandit Madhusudan Ojha, the Guru of Motilal Shastriji, in the early 1900s and handed down to Shri Motilal Shastriji and from him to Shri R K Mishraji. This was a study into the “insights” or the vijnana-bhashya or “scientific explanations”of the various Brahmanas & Upanishads of the Vedas. This tradition is unique both in its content and style. These “scientific treatise” have detailed explanation of the meaning and significance of each mantra of the Principal Upanishads with cross-referencing amongst other Vedic texts. These lectures of Motilal Shastriji had attracted the attention of the Late Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of independent India who encouraged the publication and was the chief patron of large number of Shastriji’s books.

On the transition of Shastriji in 1960, at the early age of 52 years, R K Mishraji  took upon himself to carry this work forward in English and more modern western scientific terms. The untimely passing away of Shastriji had left a vast cache of unpublished manuscripts and it fell on R K Mishraji’s shoulders to have them preserved for posterity. Between Ojhaji and Shastriji they had more than 233 books and over 80,000 pages of writings on the Vedas. In his turn R K Mishraji published four volumes in English detailing a large number of the hereto not understood Vedic concepts and meanings in the light of contemporary Science and Metaphysics. These volumes are : Before the Beginning and After the End: Rediscovering Ancient Insights, The Cosmic Matrix: In the Light of the Vedas,  The Realm of Supraphysics – Mind, Matter, Energy and The Ultimate Dialogue.

Before the Beginning and After the End: Rediscovering Ancient Insights was published aptly on Guru Punima 28th July, 1999. On this day of the Full Moon, it being summer in India, the Sun is the closest to us and consequently the energy of the high-tide waves in the ocean is at its annual peak. This book, and the subsequent Volumes, have all been dedicated to Pandit Motilal Shastriji.

In the introduction of this volume Mishraji lays the very foundation of this work and the Volumes to follow. He gives the evolution of Western science from Newton to the 20th century break-through of Relativity & Quantum Mechanics and brings up the wave-particle duality. This scientific dilemma was further evident when fundamental particle researchers were lead to “energy resonances” in their particle accelerators that were identified as a veritable zoo of atomic particles. Mishraji sums up in the words of Thomas Kuhn, the author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions –“scientists cannot make any further headway, even given adequate resources”; Kuhn “saw that reality is ultimately unknowable and that any attempt to describe it obscures as much it illuminates”. This made prominent western scientists look towards ‘Eastern Mysticism’ to solve their problems of language and concepts. Mishraji extracts from Sir James Means (The Mysterious Vision) and Erwin Schrödinger (The Mystic Vision) – “The reason given by the physicists for using the language of mysticism is that there is nothing in our ordinary language to which the events they observe in the particle accelerator may correspond. It is true, for example, that there is nothing in our language to correspond to the principle of complementarity: how can something be a wave and a particle at the same time?” This was the advent of Metaphysics in the west and a sudden interest and openness to the philosophy of the east.

Mishraji next lays the foundation of the Vedas and how these works encapsulate both Vidya and Vigyan. And how, both these are translated as ‘science’ by eminent western scholars and ‘Indologists’. In fact, he points out “some plainly ridiculous misinterpretations were handed down as translations of the original Sanskrit texts, all of which resulted in grave misunderstanding of the Vedas and caused confusion…” although on the other hand he also credits them-“We must also express our gratitude to a large number of western scholars who have continued to study the Vedas… But for the fact that commentaries, translations and other publications in the English language have been made available, the generations of Indians groomed in the colonial education system would have no opportunity to become acquainted with this ancient wisdom”. Therefore, Mishraji has taken upon himself the onerous task, in all these Volumes, to correct these misinterpretations wherever possible and to come up with improved English language versions. For example, he explains, that ‘Vi’ as a prefix denotes ‘movement’ and therefore ‘Vigyan’ is the ‘jnana’ or knowledge of all the external vibrations of the Universe. On the other hand ‘Vidya’ is the information of the ‘Divya’ region that is beyond the visible but can be accessed only by the ‘brightness’ of the mind or ‘mana’. Thus, whereas, Vigyan deals with external knowledge and its measurement Vidya “deals with the factors, principles and processes which lie behind natural phenomena” i.e. it is internal, interpretive and non-measurable.

Another very important contribution that Mishraji has made through these Volumes is to eradicate the deliberate distortions of those translators “serving the interests of British colonialism and, secondly, lending support to the proselytizing activities of Christian missionaries”. He explains at the outset of his first Volume how “Max Müller made three assertions: 1. The Rig Veda, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed around 1200 BC; 2. The Rig Veda is a work of the Aryans; and 3. The Aryans were a foreign race of people who invaded India and subjugated the indigenous people. Overwhelming evidence is now available to the effect that each of these propositions is utterly untenable. However, so deep has their impact been, and so strong the support they received from entrenched vested interests, that these falsehoods hold sway even today”.

It is indeed extremely difficult to sum the extent of Mishraji’s scholarship in these writings or to do justice to them in limited pages. But, the best approach would be to choose some pearls from this vast treasure house.

Explaining the structure of the Four Vedas viz. Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda Mishraji first gives us the extent of the Veda Shastra or the entire extent of the branches of the Vedic knowledge. They are fourteen branches in total. The main four Vedas have six Vedangas or auxiliary texts : Shiksha (phonetics), Vyakarana (grammar), Chhands (meter), Nirukta (etymology), Kalpa (real life applications of rituals and rites) and Jyotisha (astronomy/ astrology). This makes it Ten so far. The Four Vedas are ‘shruti’ texts i.e. they precipitated as mantras into the minds of the meditating rishis and the rest that follow are all ‘smriti’ texts i.e. they were developed from the minds of the subsequent scholars and then committed to memory.

The balance four are Meemamsa (directs the practitioner in how to put the Vedic rituals into practice), Nyaya (logic), Puranas (metaphorical myths & ancient anthologies) and Dharmashastra (doctrine of duties & law of the land). Thus these are the fourteen branches of Indian tradition. [Mishraji outlines subsequent four more practical, everyday life Vidyas bringing this total to eighteen in all viz.: Ayurveda (the science of healthcare), Arthashastra (knowledge of political practices & economy), Dhanurveda (warfare) and Gandharva Veda (the practice of music).]

Mishraji, quoting his grand-guru Ojhaji, also corrects the categorization of the six Darshanas or schools of philosophy given by western scholars. These schools evolved as a cross discussion to “satisfy the enquiries which arise in people’s minds”. Instead of the popular translations that the six philosophical systems are Purva-Meemamsa, Uttara- Meemamsa, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya and Yoga the corrected version should be 1. Charvaka; 2. Baudha; 3. Jain; 4. Vaisheshika; 5. Samkhya and 6. Vedanta(and Srimad Bhagwad Gita).

Mishraji outlines at the beginning of each Volume different aspects of the speech used in Sanskrit scholarship. Each Veda has a phonetic treatise attached to it called Pratishakhya that with meticulous care gives the pronunciation, rules for prosody and accentuation of the shabdas or the words of the mantras. To quote – “Words in Sanskrit are living organisms. They grow from a root, like a plant…… As it grows, with the addition of prefixes and suffixes, it acquires new dimensions and numerous facets.” This leads to understanding the spoken words –“Indian seer-scientists have discussed in detail whether the relation between a linguistic term (Shabda) and its meaning (Artha) is permanent or a human invention. They maintain that a linguistic item is not merely the sound but that unit or symbol which, when articulated, brings about the notion of the meaning.” Thus the power of the metaphor is largely used in the Vedas and what seems a story or myth at the primary level is deep philosophy as its etymology unfolds. This often happens after repetitively chanting the mantras and also as the perspicacity of the student alters with experience and age i.e. the awastha. Mishraji writes further – “Mantras do not openly express or explain. They reveal their ‘message’ by means of their indicative meaning and in so doing, guide us to the Truth.” Therefore the Vedas are divided into increasing layers of intricacy. The initial collection of mantras is the Samhita and the last of the philosophical extract is the Vedanta or Upanishads. The root verbs grow into the shabdas and in the words of Mishraji –“If the Mantra or Samhita is the tree, then the Brahmana is the flower, the Aranyaka is the fruit (in its unripe stage), and the Upanishads are the mellow or fully ripened fruits.”

This essentially lays the basis of the structure of Sanskrit as a language that pre-dates and is as intricate as pure mathematics. This fact is recognized by the father of modern Metaphysics – Fritj of Capra in his famous book –‘The Tao of Physics’ where in the Chapter titled “The Parallels” he places the equations of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity on one side and the mantras of Rig Veda, with all their phonetic accents, on the other side and asks the question –“Are these two knowledge equivalent even though separated by 5000 years?”

Misraji touches upon the uniqueness of the structure of the Sanskrit language in Before the Beginning and After the End. He explains how the words have various layers of meaning which change with the perspicacity of the scholar. Using Bindu as a remarkable example he shows how it can be derived from the word indu to mean “a bright drop; a spark” or it can be derived from the root bhid to mean a “hole”; yet, in the Shiv Sutras, it is a dimensionless point that gives birth to the entire Creation.

Talking further about the nature of sound Misraji explains ‘the distinction between the word (shabda) and the sound (dhwani)’ as being like the body and the soul. Motilal Shastriji explains this in his scientific treatise on the Shatpatha Brahmana that there are two ways to look at the energy of nada (sound energies) – firstly, the mantras unfold the sound energies as we view outwards from the Earth and talk to each other. This view is termed bhugolik or earth-centric and our speech is called vaak. If we look from the heavens downwards, filtering the cacophony, we hear the natural sounds or what is called dhwani or music. And this view is termed Khagolik. Thus Vaani is the ‘words that are sung’ and it is both vaak and dhvani put together. This is the Divine song.

Misraji talks about the “Supraphysical Universe” in his first Book – “Before the Beginning and after the End” and then he has devoted the entire third Book- “The Realm of Supraphysics” to this unique insight. What is the Supraphysical? It is the realm that gives us an “extra-sensory” awareness. Any object or pinda has an emanation or mahima around it that is subtler in energy and this is the “Supraphysical” dimension of that object. He links the knowledge of an object, according to the Vedas, at three respective levels viz. first is the knowledge gained through the senses – Rik Veda, second is the knowledge gained through the mind – Sama Veda and the third is the knowledge gained by the AtmaYaju Veda. In the later Book Misraji goes into more details and explains the further sub-division of the mahima as five groups of prana or life-force energy. He clearly establishes the basic Vedic premise that one is a replica of the entire macrocosm and therefore one can be aware of anything in this Universe just by delving into one’s own consciousness.

This leads to the understanding of the performing methods of the yajnas and the sacrifices to agni, the sacred fire. The “Supraphysical” energies are variously enhanced and these are the Devatas or the Semi-Gods that have control various powers. This knowledge clearly touches upon the paranormal and the power of the mantras over the physical world.

Consciousness is another subject that Mishraji has covered extensively in his writings. In the The Cosmic Matrix, talking about ‘The Universe of Modern Science’, Mishraji writes-“Many theoretical physicists believe that in fact all the laws of physics are unified, and several acknowledge that the phenomenon of mind and consciousness actually do exist. The signals from the Vedas could be of profound significance for such people.” The main dilemma of Quantum Physics remains the wave and particle duality of matter.

In 1950s Erwin Schrödinger, one of the main exponents of Quantum Mechanics, who was a great believer in the Upanishads writes in his book ‘Mind and Matter’ – “The reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: because it is itself that world picture….There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads.”… He goes onto say about this in another book ‘What is Life?’ … “The only possible alternative is simply to keep to the immediate experience that consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception (the Indian MAYA) ; the same illusion is produced in a gallery of mirrors, and in the same way Gaurishanker and Mount Everest turned out to be the same peak seen from different valleys.”…. “Dating back some 2500 years or more from the early great Upanishads the recognition ATMAN = BRAHMAN (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from blasphemous, to represent the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world.”

According to the author the Brahman is the Unknown and only its reflection can be understood as Ishwara. The Atman, on the other end manifests as the Jeeva. The realm of the “Supraphysical” is the ‘Mind’ of the Supreme Consciousness, Brahman while the play of the individual consciousness is the brain and its entanglement within the space-time continuum. When the sentient being analyses, with his senses, he perceives simultaneously both the external and internal dichotomy of the Universe. On the ‘outside’ he can observe the ‘four’ realms of Vedas viz. Atharva, Shukla-Yaju, Krishan-Yaju and the Rik. The emanations of this knowledge converge as it moves ‘outwards’ in the Cosmos and the night sky. On the ‘inside’ this reflects as the Sama Veda which gives rise to both the mental layers of consciousness as well as the five koshas that support the physical body of the Jeeva. The emanations of Sama appear to expand as they move forward in the chit-akasha or the infinite ‘imaginary’ space of the individual mind.

Mishraji further explains in The Ultimate Dialogue – “Although the mind is sentient by nature, it appears as a conscious agent capable of knowing and functioning due to its contact with Atma…. It is indivisible, without limbs or parts, and is thus unlimited. It has no attributes, being neither harmonious or contradictory nor spontaneous and divisions arise in it suddenly.”

These apparent divisions of the anthaha-karna (self-consciousness) are – mana (mind or brain), ahamkara (ego or the ‘seat of the self’), buddhi (intellect) and ananda (supra-mind) at an individual level. All this is supported by the physical body and the brain in the material realm that is termed bhootakasha.

The energies of the Supreme Mind are collective. These are invoked by the mantras of the ‘external’ Vedas and are called Vaishwanara, Taijasa, Prajna and Turiya. This constitutes a higher order of infinite than the chit-akaska of the individual mind[1] and is therefore called chid-akasha.

Vak or speech therefore is the outward expression of our inner self-energy. It precipitates through the layers of our consciousness as para, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhari. The acronym of these four states is Pranav that is the sum total of all words. The opposite of this is Aum and is the involution or drawing inwards of all these energies. Hence it is the universal mantra. The entire Creation closes in on this ‘sound’ and it is also the pratyahara[2] of the names of the four Vedas – Atharva, Yaju, Rik and Sama thus representing the entire gamut of the Universe.

  1. K. Mishraji has done an invaluable contribution to the lineage of scholarship of Ojhaji and Motilal Shastriji. He has knitted the concepts so brilliantly in an intricate, contemporary tapestry of words, that at the end, one paradoxically still feels wanting for more – beyond The Ultimate Dialogue.