Book 6. The Family Book (2002)
At a later period the occult priests undertook tremendous efforts to distort and besmirch the significance of the ritual acts of Vedic times. They started a rumour, for example, that the Vedic people mindlessly worshipped the element of water. And that they held a yearly sacrifice of young girls who had not yet known love, throwing them into a lake or a river. Or that, tying them to a raft, they pushed them off from the shore and despatched them to their doom.
The element of water — a lake or a river — was indeed con-nected with many acts among the Vedic people. But it had a completely different significance — in support of life, not death. Let me tell you about just one of these. It is still practised today in a superficial form. But the resemblance is only superficial. In today’s variant its great rational and poetic significance has been replaced by obscurity and occultism.
In various countries today there is a celebration involving water, whereby wreaths or small rafts with beautiful lanterns or candles are set afloat on a water surface and pushed away from the shore in a plea to the water to grant good fortune. But let us see where this particular celebration originated and how rational and poetic a significance it had in its pristine form.
In Vedic times it sometimes happened that one or two girls (how many is of no importance) did not find someone they could love within their own community. And even at large festivals involving several communities they did not succeed in choosing their intended. This would not have been on account of a limited selection. Indeed, they were presented with a whole array of splendid young men with intelligent countenances — almost like gods, who shone in their celebratory performances. But while the heart and soul of the girl in question were filled with great expectations, they were not visited by love. The girl was dreaming of someone, but of whom? She herself did not know. Even today, no one can explain the mystery or freedom of choice inherent in the energy of Love.
This is why on a designated day the girls would go down to the river, and in one of the little bays set a small raft afloat. Its edges were decorated with a garland of flowers. In the middle stood a small jug of wine or fruit infusion. Pieces of fruit were placed around the jug. The drink was to be prepared by the girl herself, and the fruit to be plucked by her from the trees she had planted by her own hand in her family garden. She might also place on the raft a woven linen headband, or some other object, but it had to be something made with her own hands. Lastly she would place on the raft a little lampadkaj
Around a fire burning on the shore the girls danced their khorovod and sang about a beloved of whom they were not yet fully aware. Then, taking one of the branches burning on the fire, they lit the wick of the lampadka. They pushed their rafts out of the bay into the mainstream of the river, where the current would catch it and tenderly convey it down to the river’s farthest unknown reaches.
And each girl followed her raft with a hopeful gaze as it receded into the distance, until only the little light of the lampadka was still visible. But the girls’ hearts were aflame with the fire of hope. A feeling of joy and tenderness grew within, directed to one whom they were yet to know.
Hastening back to their homes, the girls retreated to their rooms and excitedly began preparing for the anticipated meeting. He, the desired one, might come with the dawn or at sunset time — the hour did not matter. But how did it happen? What would draw him to her? Was the meeting the result of mysticism or rationality? Or perhaps of the knowledge to which the Vedic people had access through their feelings? Decide for yourself which way.
After all, the girls’ rafts were carried along by the current on specific days. All the communities, even the distant ones, were aware of these particular days.
Their journey might last a day, or two or three. On all these days and moonlit nights young men who had not yet known love were waiting hopefully in their loneliness all along the river’s bays.
Upon seeing the little lights in the distance being carried along by the current, a young man would at once leap into the water and swim toward the little lights of love he had seen. The current did not inflame the young man’s heated body, but tenderly cradled it with the transparent water of the stream. Closer and closer came the little lights and now the young man could make out the outline of the rafts — each one prettier than the next, it seemed. He chose one of them. It was not clear why this particular one fell under his special esteem.
He drew the raft from the middle of the stream to the shore, either pushing it with his hand or nudging it along by pressing his cheek to its side. It seemed as though the river current was engaging him in play But his body was constantly being arrayed with strength, more and more, and he scarcely noticed the river’s play Besides, his thought was already on the shore.
Placing the little raft carefully on the land, the young man snuffed out the lampadka, took an excited drink from the jug and quickly headed home to prepare for his journey. He took with him whatever he had found on the little craft. Along the way he took a taste of the fruit, and was thrilled by its taste.
By and by he arrived at the village from where the raft had been launched, and was able to accurately determine which garden and tree whose fruit had sweetened his journey
Aha! — some might wonder — one cannot escape mysticism entirely: how on earth could young men of that time find their future loved ones with such accuracy?
One could say that it was Love leading them by a path known solely to Love. But I can simplify the explanation — the lampadka also played a role. Notches had been cut in the
small vessel carrying the brightly burning wick floating in the oil, so that everyone could tell how long the lampadka had been alight. The speed of the river’s current was also widely known. It was a very simple calculation, and quickly executed. For a young man of the Vedic age, it was no task at all to find in the village the particular tree from which the fruit he had eaten had been plucked.
Pieces of fruit resemble each other only superficially. The fruit of trees and plants of the same species, even two trees growing side by side, can show marked differences in shape, colour, fragrance and taste.
There is only one thing that cannot be explained with complete accuracy. How was it that he and she always fell in love with each other upon meeting for the first time? And their love was extraordinarily passionate.
“It is all quite simple,” a philosopher of the present day might say. “Their feelings for each other were already being set afire by their own dream even before they met.”
But back then a wizened wise-man would have responded to such a question with a wink: “Our river has always had a mischievous streak in her!”
Of course, if he wanted to, the wise-man could always go into the details of each moment of the ritual I have told you about and explain the purpose of each one of those moments. He could write a great treatise on it. But no wise-man would bother wasting his thought on such a venture. The whole point is, Vladimir, that they... They did not analyse life, they CREATED it!