Bright Space Son of Dark Space

By David Reigle on March 6, 2016 at 2:51 am

Book of Dzyan, stanza 3, verse 7:

“7. Behold, oh Lanoo! The radiant child of the two, the unparalleled refulgent glory: Bright Space Son of Dark Space, which emerges from the depths of the great dark waters.”

I am always trying to find the Sanskrit terms that might lie behind the English terms used by Blavatsky in her translation of stanzas from the “Book of Dzyan.” When the Sanskrit terms can be identified, we can then search for them in extant Sanskrit texts and see how they are used there. This will often allow us to learn more about the sometimes obscure ideas found in the Book of Dzyan.

“Bright space son of dark space,” is an unusual phrase. While looking up the word rajas in A Practical Vedic Dictionary by Suryakanta a few years ago, I saw that he referred to “dark space,” kṛṣṇa rajas, and he contrasted this with rocanā dyauḥ, which means the shining or bright (rocanā) sky or heavens or space (dyau). Further investigation, utilizing A Ṛgvedic Word Concordance by Alexander Lubotsky, showed that the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas occurs only four times in the Ṛg-veda, and three of these are in a single hymn.1 This hymn, Ṛg-veda 1.35, is addressed to Savitar, who is the divinity associated with the sun. The famous Gāyatrī mantra, Ṛg-veda 3.62.10, invokes Savitar. Ṛg-veda 1.35 seems to describe the sun in its course through day and night, where kṛṣṇa rajas describes the night sky. About rajas, R. N. Dandekar in his article, “Universe in Vedic Thought,” writes, “The word rajas in the Ṛgveda usually denotes: when used in singular, the midregion; and when used in plural, the worlds or regions in general.”2

The ancient Ṛg-veda is a very obscure text, being written in poetic verses, and its meanings are far from certain. For long ages Indian tradition has regarded this text as being the most sacred of all, suggesting that it may have more than surface meanings. In another part of the ancient world, Plato has Socrates saying that the ancients “concealed their meaning from the multitude by their poetry” (Theaetetus, Loeb Classical Library, p. 143).3 Whether or not there is any other meaning in Ṛg-veda 1.35 than a description of the sun in its course through day and night, it will be worthwhile to look at how the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas, “dark space” or “black realm,” is used in this hymn. In verses 2 and 9 it is found in the singular, where the general meaning “midregion” or “mid-space” for rajas would be applicable as referring to the night sky. In verse 4 it is found in the plural, rajāṃsi, which is glossed in the Nirukta, an ancient text explaining Vedic words (at 4.19), as lokāḥ, “worlds.” Worlds or realms beyond our own, being invisible to us, are often thought of as being somewhere up in the sky, which perhaps explains why rajas is often translated as “sky, atmosphere, mid-space,” etc., even when it may refer to the (invisible) worlds postulated in Indian cosmology. These rajāṃsi are also referred to in a secret commentary quoted in The Secret Doctrine.4

Because the meanings of the Ṛg-veda words and verses are often uncertain, I cite this hymn below in the original Sanskrit and then from all six available complete English translations of the Ṛg-veda. As may be seen, there are significant differences between the translations. In verse 2, the first verse in which the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas occurs, four of the translations say that Savitar arouses or establishes or inspires the immortal and the mortal, while two say that Savitar lays to rest or brings to rest the immortal and the mortal. The Sanskrit word is niveśayan, a present participle. Yet the same basic word as it occurs in verse 1, the noun niveśanīṃ, is translated there by all six in the sense of brings to rest. The parallel passages in Ṛg-veda 4.53.3, 4.53.6, 6.71.2, and 7.45.1, contrasting niveśayan or niveśana, “bringing to rest,” with prasuvan or prasava, “bringing to life, arousing,” show that brings to rest is the correct meaning of niveśayan.5 Then, for the phrase, ā kṛṣṇena rajasā vartamāno, “coming through the dark realm,” the same verse as it appears in the Black Yajur-veda Taittirīya-saṃhitā has the noteworthy variant satyena in place of kṛṣṇena, “coming through the realm of truth.”

There are also differences of translation in verse 4, the second verse in which the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas occurs (here in the plural: kṛṣṇā rajāṃsi), and uncertainty of meaning. We have a double accusative in the fourth metrical foot, kṛṣṇā rajāṃsi, “dark realms,” and taviṣīṃ, “strength, power, might.” Since the present participle dadhānaḥ is from the verb-root dhā (“put or place, bear or hold or support”), which does not take a double accusative (two objects), we know that some other grammatical case was intended for one of these but could not be written because of fitting the meter. The various translations take this phrase variously, usually supplying a different grammatical case for kṛṣṇā rajāṃsi, and taking taviṣīṃ as the actual accusative and object of the participle dadhānaḥ. None of the six translations takes kṛṣṇā rajāṃsi as the actual accusative and object of the participle dadhānaḥ, and supplies the instrumental case to taviṣī, as does the commentator Veṅkaṭa-mādhava: “Savitar . . . supporting the dark realms with [his] power.” This understanding agrees with the parallel passage in Ṛg-veda 1.166.4, where rajas is in the accusative case and taviṣī is in the instrumental case: rajāṃsi taviṣībhir (both plural).6

In verse 9, the third verse in which the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas occurs, the meaning is also uncertain. The phrase in which it occurs, abhi kṛṣṇena rajasā dyām ṛṇoti, is again taken differently in the different translations. Is it that Savitar “overspreads the sky with gloom, alternating radiance” (Wilson), or “spreads the bright sky through the darksome region” (Griffith), or “overspreads the sky, extending from the dark interspace to the celestial region” (Sarasvati and Vidyalankar), or “From the dark lower worlds, he attains the supreme station” (Kashyap), or “He inspires Soorya to cover the black, dark sky” (Gautam), or “he reaches to heaven through the black realm” (Jamison and Brereton), or something else? In relation to the verb ṛṇoti, “goes,” is the separated verbal prefix abhi here to be understood in its meaning “over, all around,” thus giving the sense of “overspreads, pervades”? So the commentator Sāyaṇa understands it, sarvato vyāpnoti, “pervades all around,” followed by Wilson, Griffith, Sarasvati/Vidyalankar, and Gautam. Or with “goes” is it to be understood in its meaning “to,” thus giving the sense of “reaches, attains”? So Kashyap and Jamison/Brereton understand it. Also, is there some reason why the phrase kṛṣṇena rajasā, which is declined in the instrumental case, “through the dark realm,” should be taken in some other sense? Half of the translations do this: Sarasvati/Vidyalankar and Kashyap take it as “from the dark realm,” while Gautam appears to take it as if in the accusative case.


Complete English Translations of the Ṛg-veda

The first ever English translation of the Ṛg-veda was made by Horace Hayman Wilson and published in six volumes starting in 1850. It closely follows the Sanskrit commentary thereon by Sāyaṇa, who lived in the fourteenth century C.E. Although Sāyaṇa lived long after the time of the Vedas, his commentaries on the Vedas became the standard ones because earlier commentaries were lost.

The next English translation of the Ṛg-veda was made by Ralph T. H. Griffith and published in four volumes starting in 1889. By then, Western scholars had largely rejected Sāyaṇa’s commentary as being an untrustworthy guide to what the much older Ṛg-veda words and verses actually meant, and had attempted to interpret the Ṛg-veda by internal word studies, comparative linguistics, etc. Griffith utilized this Western scholarship on the Ṛg-veda as well as Sāyaṇa’s commentary in his translation into metrical English. Note that, just as the Vedic Rishis sometimes had to sacrifice correct grammar and clear meaning in order to fit the meter, so Griffith sometimes had to adapt his wording in order to have the number of English syllables required for his metrical translation.

An English translation of the Ṛg-veda by Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar was published in India, 1977-1987, 13 volumes in 12 (vols. 5 and 6 are bound in one). It follows the Arya Samaj understanding of the Vedas, in which the various Vedic gods, Agni, Indra, Varuṇa, etc., are merely various names for the one God. Thus it substitutes simply “God” for the various Vedic gods. Other than this and a relatively small number of other things, this translation to a large extent copies Wilson’s translation, sometimes adopting his wording and sometimes re-phrasing it.

An English translation of the Ṛg-veda by R. L. Kashyap was published in India, 2004-2009, 10 volumes in 12 (vol. 1 is in 3 parts). It incorporates the psychological interpretation put forth by Sri Aurobindo and used by T. V. Kapali Sastry in his unfinished Ṛg-veda commentary. Kashyap provides a descriptive English title to this hymn, “Savitṛ Establishes the Worlds,” indicating that he understands it differently than as a description of the sun in its course through day and night.

An English translation of the Ṛg-veda by a team of six scholars in Nepal led by Prasanna Chandra Gautam was published in Nepal in 2012, and then in India in 2014, in four volumes. It is titled, Modern English Translation of the Rig Veda Samhitaa, since it tries to use contemporary language. It is the first translation to accompany the Sanskrit text and English translation with word by word meanings, thus showing how each word was taken in this translation.

Not until 2014 was another English translation of the Ṛg-veda produced by Western scholarship. In the meantime, Western scholarship relied on the 1951 German translation of the Ṛg-veda by Karl Geldner. The 2014 English translation by Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton, in three volumes, is now the standard translation of the Ṛg-veda.

Below is Ṛg-veda 1.35 in the original Sanskrit, followed by, in sequence, the English translations of H. H. Wilson (1850), of Ralph T. H. Griffith (1889), of Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar (1977), of R. L. Kashyap (2009), of Prasanna Chandra Gautam (2012), and of Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton (2014). The phrase kṛṣṇa rajas, translated as “dark space” by Suryakanta in his Vedic dictionary, occurs in verses 2, 4, and 9. As may be seen, Wilson translates this phrase as “darkened firmament,” “darkness,” and “gloom,” Griffith as “dusky firmament,” and “darksome region,” Sarasvati/Vidyalankar as “obscure regions,” “darkness from the regions,” and “dark interspace,” Kashyap as “dark path,” “inertia of the worlds,” and “dark lower worlds,” Gautam as “dark heavens,” and “black, dark,” and Jamison/Brereton as “black realm.”


Ṛg-veda 1.35, to Savitar

hvayāmy agnim prathamaṃ svastaye hvayāmi mitrā-varuṇāv ihâvase |
hvayāmi rātrīṃ jagato niveśanīṃ hvayāmi devaṃ savitāram ūtaye || 1 ||

1. I invoke Agni first, for protection: I invoke, for protection, Mitra and Varuṇa: I invoke Night, who brings rest to the world: I invoke the divine Savitṛi, for my preservation. [Wilson]

1. Agni I first invoke for our prosperity; I call on Mitra, Varuṇa, to aid us here. I call on Night who gives rest to all moving life; I call on Savitar the God to lend us help. [Griffith]

1. I invoke the foremost adorable God for well-being; I invoke Nature’s other bounties such as the pair of lightning and clouds for protection. I invoke the night which brings rest to the world and I invoke the sun for prosperity. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

1. First I invoke Agni for our happy state. I invoke Mitra and Varuṇa to guard the yajña. I invoke the night, the support of the mobile world. I invoke Savitṛ for our increase. [Kashyap]

1. I call Agni first for our welfare. I call Mitra and Varuna for protection. I call the goddess Raatri, the giver of rest to the world. I call god Sabitaa for protection. [Gautam]

1. I invoke Agni first, for well-being; I invoke Mitra and Varuṇa here, for help. I invoke Night, who brings to rest the moving; I invoke god Savitar, for aid. [Jamison and Brereton]

ā kṛṣṇena rajasā vartamāno niveśayann amṛtaṃ martyaṃ ca |
hiraṇyayena savitā rathenâ devo yāti bhuvanāni paśyan || 2 ||

2. Revolving through the darkened firmament, arousing mortal and immortal, the divine Savitṛi travels in his golden chariot, beholding the (several) worlds. [Wilson]

2. Throughout the dusky firmament advancing, laying to rest the immortal and the mortal, Borne in his golden chariot he cometh, Savitar, God who looks on every creature. [Griffith]

2. The refulgent sun, springing through the obscure regions, arousing mortal and immortal, beholding the several worlds, comes as if mounted on a golden chariot. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

2. Moving along the dark path, duly establishing the immortal and the mortal, God Savitṛ comes in his golden car, beholding the worlds. [Kashyap]

2. The god Sabitaa comes continually on his golden chariot from the dark heavens, looking at all the regions, inspiring the mortals and the immortals (to righteousness). [Gautam]

2. Turning hither through the black realm, bringing to rest the immortal and the mortal, with his golden chariot Savitar the god drives here, gazing upon the creatures. [Jamison and Brereton]

yāti devaḥ pravatā yāty udvatā yāti śubhrābhyāṃ yajato haribhyām |
ā devo yāti savitā parāvato ‘pa viśvā duritā bādhamānaḥ || 3 ||

3. The divine Savitṛi travels by an upward and by a downward path: a deserving adoration, he journeys with two white horses: he comes hither, from a distance, removing all sins. [Wilson]

3. The God moves by the upward path, the downward; with two bright Bays, adorable, he journeys. Savitar comes, the God from the far distance, and chases from us all distress and sorrow. [Griffith]

3. The self-effulgent sun travels by an upward and by a downward path, deserving adoration. It journeys on two white horses (northern and southern solstices); it comes hither from a distance removing all darkness. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

3. The God Savitṛ moves by the downward path, and the upward. Master of yajña, he comes with his two white horses. The god Savitṛ comes from the realm of beyond, destroying all evils. [Kashyap]

3. The venerated god Sabitaa comes from far by two white horses, destroying the entire misery. He goes through the slope. He goes through the incline. [Gautam]

3. The god drives on a downward slope; he drives on an upward one; he drives with two resplendent fallow bays, he who is worthy of the sacrifice. God Savitar drives hither from afar, thrusting away all obstacles. [Jamison and Brereton]

abhīvṛtaṃ kṛśanair viśva-rūpaṃ hiraṇya-śamyaṃ yajato bṛhantam |
âsthād rathaṃ savitā citra-bhānuḥ kṛṣṇā rajāṃsi taviṣīṃ dadhānaḥ || 4 ||

4. The many-rayed adorable Savitṛi, having power (to disperse) darkness from the world, has mounted his nigh-standing chariot, decorated with many kinds of golden ornaments, and furnished with golden yokes. [Wilson]

4. His chariot decked with pearl, of various colours, lofty, with golden pole, the God hath mounted, The many-rayed One, Savitar the holy, bound, bearing power and might, for darksome regions. [Griffith]

4. The many-rayed effulgent sun, having power to dispel darkness from the regions, comes mounted on a lofty, high-standing, well-decorated golden chariot, and furnished with golden yokes. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

4. Savitṛ, the master of yajña, rich in lustres mounts the vast car. The golden car with universal form, with golden yoke is nearby. He bears the might to disperse the inertia of the worlds. [Kashyap]

4. The venerated Sabitaa with unique glow, with all his might aiming at the dark heavens, ascended the gold plated big chariot of many forms with golden yoke. [Gautam]

4. (It is) covered over with pearls, having every beauty, with golden yoke-pins, lofty—his chariot has bright-beamed Savitar mounted, (he) worthy of the sacrifice, having assumed his own power throughout the black realms. [Jamison and Brereton]

vi janāñ chyāvāḥ śiti-pādo akhyan rathaṃ hiraṇya-praugaṃ vahantaḥ |
śaśvad viśaḥ savitur daivyasyôpasthe viśvā bhuvanāni tasthuḥ || 5 ||

5. His white-footed coursers, harnessed to his car with a golden yoke, have manifested light to mankind. Men and all the regions are ever in the presence of the divine Savitṛi. [Wilson]

5. Drawing the gold-yoked car his Bays, white-footed, have manifested light to all the peoples. Held in the lap of Savitar, divine One, all men, all beings have their place for ever. [Griffith]

5. White beams, swift like the white-footed coursers, harnessed to the car with a golden yoke, have brought light to mankind. Men and all regions are ever in the close presence of this effulgent sun. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

5. The tawny steeds with white feet reveal the light, to the peoples who stand continuously near the divine Savitṛ; the persons in all other worlds (continue to be in the darkness). The steeds draw the car with the golden yoke. [Kashyap]

5. The entire regions and men live in the lap of Sabitaa of the heavens. The white footed horses, pulling the chariot with the golden joint of yoke for harnessing, always illuminate the men. [Gautam]

5. The dusky (horses) with white feet have looked out across the peoples, while drawing his chariot with its golden forepole. The clans, all the creatures ever abide in the lap of divine Savitar. [Jamison and Brereton]

tisro dyāvaḥ savitur dvā upasthāṃ ekā yamasya bhuvane virāṣāṭ |
āṇiṃ na rathyam amṛtâdhi tasthur iha bravītu ya u tac ciketat || 6 ||

6. Three are the spheres: two are in the proximity of Savitṛi, one leads men to the dwelling of Yama. The immortal (luminaries) depend upon Savitṛi; as a car, upon the pin of the axle. Let him who knows (the greatness of Savitṛi) declare it. [Wilson]

6. Three heavens there are; two Savitar’s, adjacent: in Yama’s world is one, the home of heroes, As on a linch-pin, firm, rest things immortal: he who hath known it let him here declare it. [Griffith]

6. Three are the luminaries—two (terrestrial and celestial) are in the proximity of the effulgent sun, and the third one somewhere beyond the space for the liberated souls. These first two luminaries depend on the sun as a chariot upon the pin of its axle. Let him who knows (this truth) declare it (to others). [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

6. Of the three worlds of light, two are in the proximity of Savitṛ. The third is the dwelling of the all-ruling Sūrya. The immortal Gods stay resorting to Savitṛ, as the car on the linchpin. Let him who knows declare the secrets of Savitṛ. [Kashyap]

6. There are three heavens; two are near the sun; one is in the region of Yama. Let him, who understands that the immortal constellations surround the chariot of Sabitaa like the pin of the axle, declare this here. [Gautam]

6. There are three heavens: two are the laps of Savitar, one is the hero-vanquishing one in the world of Yama. Like a chariot (wheel) on the axle-pin, the (creatures) have taken their place on his immortal (foundations?).—Whoever will perceive this, let him declare it here. [Jamison and Brereton]

vi suparṇo antarikṣāṇy akhyad gabhīra-vepā asuraḥ sunīthaḥ |
kvêdānīṃ sūryaḥ kaś ciketa katamāṃ dyāṃ raśmir asyâ tatāna || 7 ||

7. Suparṇa, (the solar ray), deep-quivering, life-bestowing, well-directed, has illuminated the three regions. Where, now, is Sūrya? Who knows to what sphere his rays have extended? [Wilson]

7. He, strong of wing, hath lightened up the regions, deep-quivering Asura, the gentle Leader. Where now is Sūrya, where is one to tell us to what celestial sphere his ray hath wandered? [Griffith]

7. The solar ray illuminates the three regions (celestial, interspace and terrestrial), is deep-quivering, life-bestowing and is well-directed. Where now is the sun, the source of these radiations? Who knows to what sphere his rays have extended? [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

7. The happy-winged ray (of Sun) lights up the higher region. (Rays are) profound of sight, powerful, and lead to the felicities of light. Where is now Sūrya? Who knows? What heavenly regions are pervaded by this ray? [Kashyap]

7. Soorya, the giver of life, vibrant, the guide showing the best way, with fine rays illuminated the heavens. Where is he now? To which region have his rays spread? Who knows thus? [Gautam]

7. The eagle has surveyed the midspaces—the lord possessing profound inspiration, who gives good guidance. Where now is the sun? Who perceives it? To which one of the heavens does his rein extend? [Jamison and Brereton]

aṣṭau vy akhyat kakubhaḥ pṛthivyās trī dhanva yojanā sapta sindhūn |
hiraṇyâkṣaḥ savitā deva âgād dadhad ratnā dāśuṣe vāryāṇi || 8 ||

8. He has lighted up the eight points of the horizon, the three regions of living beings, the seven rivers. May the golden-eyed Savitṛi come hither, bestowing upon the offerer of the oblation desirable riches. [Wilson]

8. The earth’s eight points his brightness hath illumined, three desert regions and the Seven Rivers. God Savitar the gold-eyed hath come hither, giving choice treasures unto him who worships. [Griffith]

8. He (the sun) has lighted up the eight points of the horizon (east, north, west, south, and the four at corners), the three regions of the living beings, the seven galaxies. May the golden-eyed sun come hither. May he bestow worthy riches on the Nature’s lover. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

8. He lighted up the eight quarters; illumined the three terrestrial desert regions, and the seven streams. Thus arrived, God Savitṛ with the golden sight, gives special ecstasies to the giver. [Kashyap]

8. The god Sabitaa illuminates the three heavens connecting all eight quarters and also the seven oceans. The golden-eyed comes bearing superior wealth for the generous giver. [Gautam]

8. The eight humps of the earth he has surveyed, the three wastelands three wagon-treks (wide), the seven rivers. Golden-eyed god Savitar has come hither, establishing desirable treasures for the pious man. [Jamison and Brereton]

hiraṇya-pāṇiḥ savitā vicarṣaṇir ubhe dyāvā-pṛthivī antar īyate |
apâmīvāṃ bādhate veti sūryam abhi kṛṣṇena rajasā dyām ṛṇoti || 9 ||

9. The golden-handed, all-beholding Savitṛi travels between the two regions of heaven and earth, dispels diseases, approaches the sun, and overspreads the sky with gloom, alternating radiance. [Wilson]

9. The golden-handed Savitar, far-seeing, goes on his way between the earth and heaven, Drives away sickness, bids the Sun approach us, and spreads the bright sky through the darksome region. [Griffith]

9. The gold-handed, all-beholding luminary travels between the two regions of heaven and earth, dispels diseases, and this, verily, is known as the sun, and it finally overspreads the sky, extending from the dark interspace to the celestial region. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

9. Golden-handed, all-beholding, God Savitṛ, moves between the Earth and Heaven. He dispels distress and attains the supreme Sun. From the dark lower worlds, he attains the supreme station. [Kashyap]

9. The golden handed, all-seeing Sabitaa goes to the middle of heaven and earth. He dispels disease. He inspires Soorya to cover the black, dark sky. [Gautam]

9. Golden-palmed Savitar, whose boundaries are distant, shuttles between both, both heaven and earth. He thrusts away affliction; he pursues the sun; he reaches to heaven through the black realm. [Jamison and Brereton]

hiraṇya-hasto asuraḥ sunīthaḥ sumṛḷīkaḥ svavāṃ yātv arvāṅ |
apasedhan rakṣaso yātu-dhānān asthād devaḥ pratidoṣaṃ gṛṇānaḥ || 10 ||

10. May the golden-handed, life-bestowing, well-guiding, exhilarating, and affluent Savitṛi be present (at the sacrifice); for the deity, if worshipped in the evening, is at hand, driving away Rākshasas and Yātudhānas. [Wilson]

10. May he, gold-handed Asura, kind Leader, come hither to us with his help and favour. Driving off Rākṣasas and Yātudhānas, the God is present, praised in hymns at evening. [Griffith]

10. May the golden-handed, life-bestowing, well-guiding, exhilarating, and affluent sun be present with us at the place of worship. The solar radiations drive away worms and germs, particularly in the evening, if duly utilized. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

10. May the golden-handed and mighty person, well-guiding and rich, come in front, making us happy. Repelling the demonic Yātudhāna-s, the God is present (in the house) accepting the lauds every night. [Kashyap]

10. May the golden handed, giver of life, the guide, pleasant, rich, god come before us. He is prayed every night. That god remains driving away the hurtful demons. [Gautam]

10. The golden-handed lord of good guidance, of good grace, of good help—let him drive in our direction. Repelling demons and sorcerers, the god has taken his place facing evening, while being hymned. [Jamison and Brereton]

ye te panthāḥ savitaḥ pūrvyāso ‘reṇavaḥ sukṛtā antarikṣe |
tebhir no adya pathibhiḥ sugebhī rakṣā ca no adhi ca brūhi deva || 11 ||

11. Thy paths, Savitṛi, are prepared of old, are free from dust, and well-placed in the firmament. (Coming) by those paths, easy to be traversed, preserve us to-day. Deity, speak to us. [Wilson]

11. O Savitar, thine ancient dustless pathways are well established in the air’s mid-region: O God, come by those paths so fair to travel, preserve thou us from harm this day, and bless us. [Griffith]

11. O sun, your paths are set from olden days; they are free from dust, and well-determined in space. May you travel along these paths, unobstructed and preserve us day-to-day. O effulgent, may you bless us. [Sarasvati and Vidyalankar]

11. O Savitṛ, (come) now to us by the ancient paths, (which are) in the midworld, perfected and dustless, well-laid and easy to traverse. O God, guard us and speak to us. [Kashyap]

11. O Sabitaa! Your ancient dust free ways in the sky have been made well. Come for us today through these ways which are easy to travel. O god! Save us and give blessing to us, too. [Gautam]

11. Your age-old paths, Savitar, dustless, well-made in the midspace, along these easily passable paths (come) to us today. Both guard us and speak on our behalf, o god. [Jamison and Brereton]


There is another Ṛg-veda verse that has both words kṛṣṇa and rajas, but separated. This is verse 1 of hymn 6.9 addressed to Agni. Here rajas is twofold (rajasī, in the dual), the dark half of a day and the bright half of a day.

ahaś ca kṛṣṇam ahar arjunaṃ ca vi vartete rajasī vedyābhiḥ |
vaiśvānaro jāyamāno na rājâvâtiraj jyotiṣâgnis tamāṃsi || 6.9.1 || (to Agni)

6.9.1. One half of day is dark, and bright the other: both atmospheres [rajas] move on by sage devices. Agni Vaiśvānara, when born as Sovran, hath with his lustre overcome the darkness. [Griffith]

The usage of the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas as apparently the night sky in hymn 1.35, verses 2 and 9 (in the singular), agrees with the usage of rajas as the dark half of a day. Ṛg-veda 6.9.1 also applies the word rajas to the bright half of a day. As is well known, the days and nights of Brahmā spoken of in Indian tradition refer to the manifestation and dissolution of the cosmos. The phrase “bright space son of dark space” from Book of Dzyan 3.7 refers to the manifestation of the cosmos from its period of dissolution, its night. Neither Ṛg-veda 1.35 nor Ṛg-veda 6.9 are cosmogonic hymns, which we have very few of in the Ṛg-veda. When speaking of cosmogony, the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas could easily be used in an ancient such text, alluding to the night of the cosmos. I think that kṛṣṇa rajas is very likely the Sanskrit phrase behind “dark space” in Blavatsky’s translation of Book of Dzyan 3.7.



1. The other occurrence of the phrase kṛṣṇa rajas in the Ṛg-veda is in hymn 8.43, addressed to Agni, verse 6. Here the two commentators Sāyaṇa and Veṅkaṭa-mādhava gloss the plural rajāṃsi as pāṃsavaḥ, “dust.” In accordance with this, five of the six available English translations take rajas here in its meaning “dust” rather than “space, firmament, region, world, the heavens, realm.” Thus, for example, Griffith translates: “the dust is black beneath his feet.” Only the Jamison/Brereton translation remains consistent with the meaning given for kṛṣṇa rajas in hymn 1.35, “black realm”:

kṛṣṇā rajāṃsi patsutaḥ prayāṇe jātavedasaḥ |
agnir yad rodhati kṣami || 8.43.6 || (to Agni)

8.43.6. Black are the realms at the feet of Jātavedas on his advance, when Agni grows on the earth. [Jamison and Brereton]


2. Universe in Vedic Thought,” in India Maior, 1972, p. 100, fn. 4.


3. This reference was provided by my friend Eric Fallick.


4. The word rajas is specifically used in an excerpt from the secret “Commentaries” given in The Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, pp. 621-622 (the reference to Atharva-veda 10.105 should be Ṛg-veda 10.105.7). There it refers to the three worlds, as it sometimes does in the Vedas. See, for example, Ṛg-veda 4.53.5 and 5.69.1:

trir antarikṣaṃ savitā mahitvanā trī rajāṃsi paribhus trīṇi rocanā |
tisro divaḥ pṛthivīs tisra invati tribhir vratair abhi no rakṣati tmanā || 4.53.5 || (to Savitar)

4.53.5. Savitar thrice surrounding with his mightiness mid-air, three regions, and the triple sphere of light, Sets the three heavens in motion and the threefold earth, and willingly protects us with his triple law. [Griffith]

4.53.5. Savitar (encompasses) the midspace three times in his greatness; he encompasses the three dusky realms and the three realms of light. He speeds the three heavens and the three earths. With his three commandments he guards us by himself. [Jamison and Brereton]

trī rocanā varuṇa trīṃr uta dyūn trīṇi mitra dhārayatho rajāṃsi |
vāvṛdhānāv amatiṃ kṣatriyasyânu vrataṃ rakṣamāṇāv ajuryam || 5.69.1 || (to Mitra-Varuṇa)

5.69.1. Three spheres of light, O Varuṇa, three heavens, three firmaments ye comprehend, O Mitra: Waxed strong, ye keep the splendour of dominion, guarding the Ordinance that lasts for ever. [Griffith]

5.69.1. The three realms of light and the three heavens, the three airy spaces do you two uphold, o Varuṇa and Mitra, strengthening the emblem of your lordship, protecting your unaging commandment. [Jamison and Brereton]

Elsewhere in The Secret Doctrine, in a footnote (vol. 2, p. 385), Blavatsky refers to the six worlds, using the word rajas in the plural, rajāṃsi. This is as in Ṛg-veda 1.164.6:

acikitvāñ cikituṣaś cid atra kavīn pṛcchāmi vidmane na vidvān |
vi yas tastambha ṣaḷ imā rajāṃsy ajasya rūpe kim api svid ekam || 1.164.6 || (to the Viśvedevas)

1.164.6. I ask, unknowing, those who know, the Sages, as one all-ignorant for the sake of knowledge: Who is that Mysterious One, in the form of the Unborn, who has established these Six Regions. [translated by Vasudeva S. Agrawala, Vision in Long Darkness, 1963]

1.164.6 Unperceptive, I ask also the perceptive poets about this in order to know, since I am unknowing: What also is the One in the form of the Unborn [=the Sun] that has propped apart these six realms (of heaven and earth)? [Jamison and Brereton]


5. Savitar niveśayan prasuvan:

āprā rajāṃsi divyāni pārthivā ślokaṃ devaḥ kṛṇute svāya dharmaṇe |
pra bāhū asrāk savitā savīmani niveśayan prasuvann aktubhir jagat || 4.53.3 || (to Savitar)

4.53.3. He hath filled full the regions of the heaven and earth: the God for his own strengthening waketh up the hymn. Savitar hath stretched out his arms to cherish life, producing with his rays and lulling all that moves. [Griffith]

4.53.3. He has filled the heavenly and earthly realms. The god makes his signal-call to support his own. Savitar has stretched forth his two arms, at his impulsion causing the moving world to settle down and impelling it forth through the nights. [Jamison and Brereton]

Savitar prasavītā niveśano:

bṛhatsumnaḥ prasavītā niveśano jagata sthātur ubhayasya yo vaśī |
sa no devaḥ savitā śarma yacchatv asme kṣayāya trivarūtham aṃhasaḥ || 4.53.6 ||

4.53.6. Most gracious God, who brings to life and lulls to rest, he who controls the world, what moves not and what moves, May he vouchsafe us shelter,—Savitar the God,—for tranquil life, with triple bar against distress. [Griffith]

4.53.6. Possessing lofty benevolence, the one who impels forth and causes to settle down, who exerts his will over both the moving world and the stationary, let him, god Savitar, hold out to us shelter providing threefold protection against distress for us and for our dwelling place. [Jamison and Brereton]

Savitar niveśane prasave ca:

devasya vayaṃ savituḥ savīmani śreṣṭhe syāma vasunaś ca dāvane |
yo viśvasya dvipado yaś catuṣpado niveśane prasave câsi bhūmanaḥ || 6.71.2 || (to Savitar)

6.71.2. May we enjoy the noblest vivifying force of Savitar the God, that he may give us wealth: For thou art mighty to produce and lull to rest the world of life that moves on two feet and on four. [Griffith]

6.71.2. May we be (there) at the best impulsion of the god Savitar and for his giving of goods—you [=Savitar] who are (busy) at bringing to rest and at impelling forth the whole two-footed and four-footed creation. [Jamison and Brereton]

Savitar niveśayañ ca prasuvañ ca:

ā devo yātu savitā suratno ‘ntarikṣaprā vahamāno aśvaiḥ |
haste dadhāno naryā purūṇi niveśayañ ca prasuvañ ca bhūma || 7.45.1 || (to Savitar)

7.45.1. May the God Savitar, rich in goodly treasures, filling the region, borne by steeds, come hither, In his hand holding much that makes men happy, lulling to slumber and arousing creatures. [Griffith]

7.45.1. Let god Savitar drive here, possessed of good treasure, filling the midspace, journeying with his horses, holding many things meant for men in his hand, bring the world to rest and impelling it forth. [Jamison and Brereton]


6. The Maruts ā avyata, “traverse” (Wilson, Kashyap), or “have stirred up” (Griffith), or “move through” (Sarasvati/Vidyalankar), or “cover well” (Gautam), or “enveloped” (Jamison/Brereton) the rajāṃsi, “regions, realms, worlds,” by or with their taviṣībhir, “strength, power, might”:

yasmā ūmāso amṛtā arāsata rāyas poṣaṃ ca haviṣā dadāśuṣe |
ukṣanty asmai maruto hitā iva purū rajāṃsi payasā mayobhuvaḥ || 1.166.3 ||
ā ye rajāṃsi taviṣībhir avyata pra va evāsaḥ svayatāso adhrajan |
bhayante viśvā bhuvanāni harmyā citro vo yāmaḥ prayatāsv ṛṣṭiṣu || 1.166.4 || (to the Maruts)

1.166.3. To whomsoever, bringer of oblations, they immortal guardians, have given plenteous wealth, For him, like loving friends, the Maruts bringing bliss bedew the regions round with milk abundantly.

1.166.4. Ye who with mighty powers have stirred the regions up, your coursers have sped forth directed by themselves. All creatures of the earth, all dwellings are afraid, for brilliant is your coming with your spears advanced. [Griffith]

1.166.3. To whom the immortal helpers have given riches and prosperity—to the man who does pious service with oblation—for him the Maruts, like (steeds) spurred on, sprinkle the many realms with milk—they are joy itself.

1.166.4. Of you who with your powers enveloped the realms—your spontaneous dashes swooped forth. All creatures and habitations take fright. Brilliant is your course when your spears have been extended. [Jamison and Brereton]

Category: Book of Dzyan | 1 comment

  • Robert Hütwohl says:

    Regarding, at David’s fifth paragraph: “Plato has Socrates saying that the ancients . . ..,” certain confusion has existed regarding the view as to Plato’s contempt and, at other places, support, for poets and their poetry.

    Because Socrates was put to death at 399 B.C. due to holding certain views, it is probable Plato, in his writings, inserted Socrates as his mouthpiece in place of his own views so that he would not be held in jeopardy with the State, such as in the dialogues of Theaetetus, which was a conversation between Socrates and Theaetetus.

    There are misleading views that Plato despised poets and their poetry. Plato sincerely viewed the value of poets and their poetry as a teaching method for society when poets did not peddle their wares as salesmen for profit and rather, maintained the motivation of revealing the workings of the higher mind beyond the world of appearances. Otherwise, we can safely ascertain, Plato, who was a high initiate and therefore unable to reveal certain teachings directly, chose blinds as one of his preferred vehicles as a means of esoteric conveyance. Orpheus, Homer (the “singer of stitched words”), and Hesiod, all used poetry, via metre, didactic poetry and prosody, as their primary teaching method. As with the Veda, the ancient Greek method began as an oral tradition.

    [Various views for Plato’s support and incursions on poetry and the Hesiodic classical tradion are treated in “Plato’s View of Poetry,” by William Chase Greene. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 29 (1918), pp. 1-75; Plato and the Poets. Edited by Pierre Destrée and Fritz-Gregor Herrmann (Mnemosyne Supplements 328) Brill Academic Publishers, 2011; Plato & Hesiod. Ed. by G. R. Boys-Stones and J. H. Haubold. Oxford University Press, 2010; Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens. Rosalind Thomas (Cambridge Studies in Oral and Literate Culture) Cambridge University Press, 1992; The Poems of Hesiod. R. M. Frazer, Hesiod. University of Oklahoma Press, 1983]

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