Tantra's Influence on Indo-Aryan Civilizationby PR Sarkar
The Aryans were not the original inhabitants of the present India.
When the Aryans entered India through the Northwest Frontier Province, they contemptuously called the indigenous population whom they defeated in battle,
The “Anáryas” was applied to all the then inhabitants of India in general:
- the Mongolians
- the Austrics
- the Dravidians (a mixture of Austric and Negro).
The original home of the Aryans was in the northern part of Central Asia.
- They were a fair, tall and healthy race.
- They were nomadic, living by hunting.
When they could no longer hunt, they started rearing cattle.
But the merciless nature of Central Asia made their lives unbearable:
- snowstorms diminished the numbers both of their people and of their animals
- there was a chronic shortage of animal fodder.
Just to survive, they had to spend almost all their time collecting food.
- This also led them into perpetual inter-group skirmishes and even slaughter.
The constant fighting during this period, this kśatriya-dominated era, led to the eventual emergence of a class of intellectuals, called rśis, who greatly assisted the kśatriya-dominated society. They:
- provided the kśatriya leaders with new inventions and discoveries
- satisfied their mental hunger by sharing their knowledge and wisdom.
The group leaders:
- revered these mighty intellectuals
- followed the precepts framed by them.
The society used to call their ideology Árśa Dharma [Religion of the Sages].
These rśis were wiser and more intelligent than the people of the time.
But as script had not yet been invented, there was no means to keep a record of the wise discourses given by the rśis.
The rśis’ disciples had no choice but to learn the rśis’ discourses by heart as they were being spoken.
Since the discourses were memorized upon being heard, they were called shruti [literally, “ear”].
The level of intelligence of the Aryan mass at that time was so low.
They were unable to understand these profound discourses.
- This is why they called them veda, meaning “knowledge”.
They believed that the innovative rśis and intellectual munis were not ordinary men, but superior beings who heard the words of the gods.
- They also called them draśt́a [seers], as they “saw” with their own eyes the supernatural phenomena that they talked about, and uttered with their own mouths the benign incantations and mantras which produced those phenomena.
Thus, every composer of the Vedic mantras was called a seer, and not a writer or composer.
Generally, people believed that the composers of the Vedas were not men but veritable gods.
Even though the Vedas were considered as the infallible creations of God, theism or spirituality was not fully awakened among the Aryans of that time.
- They only sang hymns and eulogies to appease the different natural forces.
In that age of undeveloped science, they thought that smoke and the clouds in the sky were the same thing.
That was why they burned ghee in sacrificial fires.
- They wanted to make smoke out of it to propitiate the different gods.
They believed that:
- the smoke would soar into the sky and turn into clouds
- rain would pour down from the clouds and nourish the earth causing an abundance of trees, plants and grass to sprout forth and then multiply their domestic animals who feed on them.
That was why sacrifices were very common back then.
- Those simple people believed that some gods would be propitiated by ghee, wine, and animal blood.
Human nature thinks that what is dear to oneself must be dear to everybody.
- So the ghee-, meat- and wine-loving Aryans thought that such food items would be liked by the gods also.
Thus, after each inter-clan war, the chief of the conquering clan would offer that clan’s favourite food to the gods, either in:
- Ashvamedha Yajiṋa [Horse Sacrifice] or
- Gomedha Yajiṋa [Cow Sacrifice] or
- Rájasúya Yajiṋa [sacrifice performed by a sovereign ruler], etc.
Each of the gods and goddesses of the polytheistic, nature-worshipping Aryans had his or her individual nature, characteristics and váhana [mount].
- They did not worship idols because they lacked the refined artistic sense necessary to make the idols.
All their gods and goddesses were laokik figures [creations of the people], arising out of the peoples’ worldly needs.
Hence the storm, the thunder, the lightning, the rain, the sun, and the moon were all their gods.
They feared most the darkness of night.
- They regarded the night and the evening as their gods and actually revered them.
In their fear, they would try to escape from the darkness by making fire with flint.
They would never dare to displease the night and the evening, so whenever they made a fire they would first make obeisance to the evening with the fire before doing anything else.
At night’s end, when the eastern horizon glowed red, the Aryans would sing the song of the dawn in unison.
Aruńa, the mythological charioteer of the sun’s seven-horsed chariot (the seven horses corresponding to the seven distinct colours of the sun’s rays), was also their god, as, indeed, was the sun itself.
Some of the rśis understood the truth that there was a Supreme Entity above these gods, a Supreme Controller.
- This God of gods was the rśis’ Brahma.
- The common people were not familiar with the word Brahma.
The kings or chieftains staged sacrifices with great pomp and ostentation to appease the gods.
- The common people used these occasions for boisterous revelry.
- They lived in cold countries, and so wine and meat were not harmful to them.
They would often entertain their guests with meat-cakes and wine.
- The children were given honey instead of wine.
- In the Aryan language of that time, wine was often called “honey”.